Runway: Chapter 7
I sat in the chair across from Sam’s desk waiting to hear what he wanted to say to me.
“I’ve had an offer on the runway division.”
I tried to smile, seem happy for him. “Great! Did you get what you want?”
“Close to it. I have three days to accept it or make a counter offer.”
“The good news is you’ll most likely be kept on as the booker. The buyer’s a businessman who knows nothing about modeling and just wants it as an investment.”
“Well, that’s good. So, he’s not in the business?”
“No. He’s an events planner. Name’s John Quinn.”
My blood ran cold. “Quinn?”
“Yeah, you know him?”
“Yeah, I do.” I stood to leave, my heart racing. “So, keep me posted, Sam.”
I held it together until I was at lunch with Pam about an hour later. Fortunately, we were sitting at a table in the corner of Doughboys and my back was to the room when I started crying.
“Sookie, what on earth is wrong?”
“I’m sorry, Pam. I’m just having a bad day. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I found out today that Quinn is buying the runway division of Merlotte’s.”
“Really? I didn’t know it was for sale.”
“So, you don’t want to work for him?”
“It’s not that. I’ve always wanted to buy it, but I don’t have enough money. I confided in Quinn about it and he went behind my back and made an offer on it after he told me he had no interest in it. He told me I would never qualify for the loan, and now I’m wondering if that’s even true.”
“Motherfucker. So, he’s screwing you both literally and figuratively.”
“No, not literally. At least not yet. We’re going to Santa Barbara tomorrow for our first time.” I made little air quotes when I said “first time.”
“Oh.” She wrinkled her nose.
“I’m sure you think I’m a big tramp, but that was just a mistake.”
“Never mind.” I shook my head, needing the subject to change.
“So, even though q-tip’s buying the agency out from under you, you’re still going to let him…you know…get under you?”
“I don’t know. I guess so. I’m so confused.”
“It’s okay. It’ll be okay.”
Seeing Pam’s look of pity made me tear up again, but when she squeezed my hand across the table, I felt a little better.
The afternoon passed without incident. As I was leaving the office, I had a text from Pam: Come to the show tonight. It’ll cheer you up.
I knew she was right. I loved watching my models in action. It made me so proud. I texted back: Good idea. See you there.
I sat in my front row seat at the theater in The Mart and watched as my girls strutted down the ramp. Pam gave me a wink once as she went by in a crimson sequined body suit that only Pam could pull off. After the show, I went backstage and congratulated the girls and Sophie-Anne on a great show.
I exited from backstage into the lobby. I was almost to the outside door when I suddenly felt like I needed to go back. Maybe I was just thinking about that night that I’d gone back and kissed Eric. It made me feel sad.
I knew it made no sense, but I thought it might make me feel better somehow to go back and have a last look at the theater. I turned around and headed back through the last of the people leaving, and as I entered the theater, I saw him sitting on the ramp, back lit just like he’d been on that first night.
“Hi,” he said. He didn’t seem surprised to see me.
“Hi. I didn’t know you were in town.”
He hopped off the stage and sat in a seat, patting the one beside him. I sat in it, very much aware of how close our bodies were to each other.
“Looking at a house. Lafayette Square.”
“Oh, that’s great. Are you going to buy it?”
“Maybe. It’s a nice one.”
He looked away as if he were trying to decide what to say next.
“Pam tells me your boyfriend is buying the agency.”
“And do you still want it?”
“Yeah, but I don’t have enough money.”
“Would you if you had a partner?”
He looked me in the eye and my heart stopped. There was a long silence as I tried to decide what to say.
“I need to lock up,” Sophie-Anne said from somewhere in the dark behind us.
We both stood up. “Right. Sorry,” I called out as Eric and I headed for the doors. “Good night,” I called back to her as we left.
Eric walked me out to my car as I explained how much Sam was asking for the agency and how much I had. I told him that Quinn didn’t think I could qualify for a loan, but that I hadn’t actually applied for one.
We stood beside my car for a minute before he said, “Can I follow you to your apartment? I’d like to talk about this some more, if that’s okay. I mean, unless you have to be somewhere…”
“No. No, I don’t. That’s fine.” I gave him the address and directions and waited for him in front of my building while he parked.
Eric was sitting on my sofa studying the papers I’d drawn up to calculate the expenses of the agency and profitability. I offered him a beer, but he asked for coffee instead. We spent over an hour discussing the purchase of what I hoped would be called Runway. I tried not to get my hopes too high, but the prospect of being able to really buy the agency was getting me very excited. Being in the room with Eric Northman may have had something to do with that as well. In the end, Eric offered to put in the cash I lacked.
“You can either keep me on as a partner or you can get a loan and pay me back. I think Quinn is mistaken about your ability to borrow the money, but the immediate problem is that Sam is probably going to counter Quinn’s offer or maybe just accept it as it is, so you don’t have time to get a loan right now.”
“But what about the house in Lafayette Square? Won’t you need that cash for the house? I mean, if it’s the one you want to buy.”
“Don’t worry about that. The good news is that I have enough that’s liquid at the moment because I was ready to open escrow on the house. I can write a check to Sam and he can cash it on Monday. How about you?”
“Yeah, mine’s in cash too. Just in a savings account.”
“Great. So, should we call Sam?”
My heart raced at the possibility of being able to buy the agency. It seemed too good to be true.
“Wait. Eric, why are you doing this?”
“I know what this means to you and how hard you’ve worked. I don’t want to see you lose out because of lousy timing. Or because your boyfriend’s a dick.” Eric looked away for a second. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“I hope you won’t let what transpired between us personally affect your decision. We can talk about that. In fact we should. But, all personal feelings aside, I think this is a good business decision. Honestly, I’d like to stay on as a partner, but I’ll leave that up to you. What do you think?”