Runway: Chapter 8
I sat on Sookie Stackhouse’s sofa and watched her on the phone with Sam Merlotte, wondering if I’d lost my mind. Was I making a huge mistake going into business with her? At the very least, I was loaning her money, and I was very possibly becoming her business partner.
Logically, I should have nothing to do with her, but I couldn’t be logical when it came to Sookie.
I’d suspected she’d eventually have me wrapped around her little finger before I even met her. My sister, Pam, talked about her all the time—about what a smart girl she was, how young she was to be such a good agent. Sookie was bright, funny, sweet, honest. Then, I saw a picture of her and thought she must be something to get all those adjectives before she got beautiful, because at first glance, her beauty was what really stood out.
I assumed that Pam was in love with her until the day she said she thought I should marry Sookie.
“Marry her? I’ve never even met her!”
“Well, that’s easily changed if that’s your only objection. Trust me, brother, she’s perfect for you.”
I wasn’t exactly the kind of guy to chase a girl. Girls generally chased me. But, I had to admit that Sookie piqued my interest. I’d never seen Pam so taken with anyone before and if Sookie looked half as good in person as she did in the pictures my sister sent me then I knew I’d be pretty happy to finally meet her.
I never let on to Pam that I thought she might be right about me and Sookie. She was my sister, and almost always right about everything. And it killed me to admit that.
So, when I went to L.A. for the occasional job, I casually stopped by Merlotte’s to say hello to the agents, hoping to meet Sookie. The first time, she was out picking up lunch. The second time, she’d left early to go see one of her fashion shows. I hadn’t even spoken to her on the phone because she booked shows and I always did print in L.A.
Once I sat for hours at a party at Pam’s friend, Thalia’s, waiting for the elusive Miss Stackhouse to show up. I saw Pam step outside onto the patio and watched her text someone. She came back into Thalia’s kitchen and said, “She’s not coming. Has a cold.”
Pam just rolled her eyes. I tried not to look like I cared.
Since Pam had decided to whore me out to Merlotte’s in exchange for their taking her on for print, I’d spent more and more time in Los Angeles. Modeling rates in L.A. were lower than New York, but I enjoyed working there anyway. I really liked just spending time in L.A. in general.
The L.A. show rate really sucked. I knew this because it was how Pam made most of her living. Pam wouldn’t get rich doing shows in L.A., but she loved them and loved living there and I admired her for choosing to do what she wanted rather than what would make her the most money. I had plenty of money if she needed it, and occasionally she had. No big deal.
I mentioned to Sam one day that I’d like to do a show sometime with my sister just for fun—I didn’t care about the rate. So he booked me on a Calvin Klein show at The Mart one night. I hoped that meant I’d be dealing with Sookie, but it was Sam who gave me my booking information on the phone.
Pam came through for me though. She made sure Sookie would be at the show and made sure I knew about it. I acted nonchalant with Pam, but was very much looking forward to finally meeting this dream girl that Pam had been pushing on me for years.
I saw Sookie backstage before the show talking to some of the models and yes, she was as gorgeous in person as she was in her pictures. She had a sweetness about her—she seemed so open and…I don’t know…just genuine. I could see why Pam was so taken with her and I didn’t even know her yet.
She spotted me in the makeup chair and I gave her a smile. I hoped she’d come over to introduce herself, but she seemed to disappear into the hubbub backstage.
As soon as I walked down the ramp, I spotted her blonde hair in the audience. It was the same color as mine, but she had a lot more of it. Again, I smiled, and this time, I got one in return and I almost forgot where I was. I nearly laughed at myself on stage for being so affected by her smile.
It became a part of the show for me—smiling at Sookie and getting her to smile back. It was as if we were the only two people in the room and I wasn’t walking down a runway in front of a room full of people.
As soon as the show was over, I got a call from my friend, Maxwell Lee, who wanted to get together. I told him I wasn’t sure if I was free but I’d call him back if I was. I wanted to talk to Pam—find out if she had plans with Sookie that I could horn in on.
By the time I got off the phone, Pam seemed to have vanished. I texted her to find out her plans and found the men’s room while I waited for her reply. I headed back to the backstage area, but everyone had left, including Pam. On my way out, I peeked into the house from stage right and saw Sookie’s unmistakable head of blonde hair walking through the dark house.
I stepped out onto the stage and walked towards her as she crawled around on the floor near where she’d been sitting. I was mesmerized by her spectacular ass as she was on all fours. I had an instant fantasy of jumping down onto the floor and misbehaving with her, but snapped out of it and instead introduced myself. When she looked up at me, I felt like a teenager with a full-on crush.
All coherent thought left my hormonal brain as I jumped off the stage and landed a little too close to her. I got a whiff of her perfume or hair spray or laundry detergent—who the hell knows what it was, but suddenly, I couldn’t speak and I just kissed her.
I had never in my life kissed a woman at first meeting, of course, and don’t really know what I expected—maybe a slap? At the very least, a push away. What I got instead was the hottest, most sexually arousing response I’d ever encountered. We were two strangers in a dark room. She was a woman I had coveted like a fan for years. It was just an insane moment and I went with it, kissing her with all I had. For one unbelievable instant, I thought I might fuck her against the stage, but then I was broken from her spell by the show coordinator asking us to leave.
I almost burst out laughing at how ridiculous the whole incident had been. I wanted to apologize—start over, ask Sookie out, try to explain myself somehow. But, she was out the door and running away from me. I started to follow her but the show coordinator stopped me to chat and thank me for the show. I said a polite but brief “you’re welcome,” but the conversation slowed me down and by the time I got out the front door, Sookie was driving away.
I drove to Pam’s apartment. She rented half a duplex in Hancock Park. It was just a little one-bedroom, but I loved it. I had a thing for old buildings, and Pam’s duplex was built in 1929 and hadn’t been ruined by some bozo updating it in bad taste. I’d once considered buying an old house in Pam’s neighborhood just because I loved the house so much and had just happened to see it at an open house.
In talking to the realtor, however, I discovered some other old neighborhoods and fell in love with one in particular. I decided then that I would buy a house someday in Lafayette Square. I was just waiting for the right one and saving my money.
Pam finally texted me back and said she was spending the night with her girlfriend, Amelia, who was staying at The Biltmore Hotel downtown. I debated for a second about calling Maxwell Lee back to have a drink, but then opted instead to just go to bed early. I had an early flight back to New York the next morning.
When I got back to New York, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do about Sookie Stackhouse. I didn’t particularly want to call her at her office. That seemed so impersonal. I definitely wanted to see her again, but wasn’t sure when I’d be able to get back to L.A. I was booked all week on a catalog shoot.
On Sunday night, I started a text to Pam to ask for Sookie’s cell phone number, but deleted it. That felt like cheating. Plus I didn’t want Pam to have too much information to give me shit about.
I was pissed that I’d handled my first meeting with Sookie so stupidly. What kind of a bonehead just kisses a woman and then watches her run away? When it came to Sookie, I was clearly fucked up.
I made the decision to try to get back to L.A. as soon as possible and just go into the agency to talk to her in person. I’d ask for her number, ask her on a date, act like a respectable guy.
I felt more in control once I’d made my decision, but then all that flew right out the window the night of The Waldorf fire when I saw Sookie on the street. That night was one for the record books.