Universal: Chapter 1
A/N: The Weekly One-Shot Challenge for week 11 of 2011 inspired this story. The challenge was: “Remember-your body is not only a temple. It`s also an amusement park.” I realize, of course, that I’m not exactly meeting the challenge correctly, but the amusement park part inspired me. I also decided to put the story in my current home of Los Angeles and post it as a promo fic for the contest I’m hosting with Thyra10, The Home Sweet Home Contest. I just beta’d a promo fic from her as well from the same challenge that I know you’ll enjoy called Your Body is an Amusement Park Too. She was kind enough to return the favor and beta this story for me—thank you, Thyra!
I don’t own these characters.
It was a hot Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles. I knew a sunny Memorial Day weekend would likely break attendance records at a place like Universal Studios and I was right. But I didn’t let that stop me when Pam invited me to come to the opening day of her new show.
There was a big push to advertise the opening of the Spiderman show at Universal. I’d seen it on TV and heard the radio ads and, of course, wondered if Eric would have anything to do with the show. That’s what he did for a living—directed live shows at theme parks, and this was a big one.
I knew Pam was in it, but I was careful to never ask about Eric when we spoke. I wasn’t sure how much she knew and hoped it was nothing.
But of course what had happened between me and Eric was far from nothing.
I got in the line out front that said “Will Call” and was relieved I wouldn’t have to wait in the long lines with everyone else. When my turn came, I gave my name and a free ticket was placed in the little metal tray before me. I took it and found the line to enter the park.
It took me a long time to find the theater. Just finding the directory map was difficult. I had to fight the sea of people coming and going, desperate for fun in the almost-summer heat of midday.
When I found the Spiderman show, I bypassed the line and found an usher at the front of the theater.
“Hi, I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I’m a guest of Pam Ravenscroft’s,” I said.
The usher nodded and disappeared through a door without a word. When he returned, he opened the door with a smile and led me inside. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dark, but I followed the usher to the front of the empty theater where he sat me in the center of the second row. I was relieved to find the theater cool after being in the stifling sun outside.
“Is this okay?” he asked.
“Great, thanks.” It was the best seat in the house, actually.
“I think we’re breaking a record today,” he continued.
“Yeah, I know. You mean with the number of people here at the park?”
“Well, yeah, that. But also I meant with the temperature.”
“Oh, right. Yeah, it’s hot alright.”
The usher left me alone, and I sat and retrieved my phone from my pocket to turn it to vibrate, wishing I had something else to occupy my hands. I wondered if Eric was watching me from backstage. Was he even here? The thought of seeing him again made my stomach do a little flip flop.
I hadn’t seen Eric since October—since working with him at Knott’s Scary Farm. Every October, Knott’s Berry Farm, the theme park in Buena Park, just past the L.A./Orange County line, transformed their venue into a spooky Halloween Fair. It was the premier haunted Halloween festival in the country and had been for decades.
I was bored with my job waitressing for Sam in West Hollywood and wanted to get into doing wardrobe for movies or TV or theater. I wasn’t sure how exactly to go about doing that, but when a customer told me Knott’s was looking for a wardrobe assistant for the month of October, I immediately contacted them and applied for the job. My customer was an executive at Knott’s, and apparently, put in a good word for me because I was hired right away.
Sam said he could cut my hours back for the month. He was a big fan of Knott’s Scary Farm, as were many people in L.A. and I promised I’d get him a ticket to the park if I could.
Working at Knott’s turned out to be one of best experiences of my life. I was always exhausted from the long, late hours, but working backstage at the live show was so exciting for me. We did four shows a night in the huge theater that was filled to its 5000-seat capacity every single show.
Our Vegas-style show had a live band onstage that played for the dozen singers and dancers who performed tirelessly night after night. They did their own “spooky” versions of popular songs dressed as zombies and vampires and assorted monsters.
My job wasn’t very glamorous—mostly helping the performers make quick changes backstage during the show, and then doing lots of laundry every night after the final show. When the cast came to work every evening, their costumes were clean and dry, waiting for them in their dressing rooms.
The costume designer, Sophie-Anne, seemed pleased with my work, and her assistant, Andre, taught me the ropes and made sure I did the most menial tasks so he wouldn’t have to.
I didn’t mind. I was having such fun being a part of the show and quickly grew to love the cast and crew. Pam and I were instant best friends. She was one of the “singers who could move,” as opposed to a dancer who could sing. Every cast member was amazingly talented in both departments.
Of course, I noticed Eric the first time I saw him a few days before opening night. As Andre was showing me the backstage area, I looked out to the empty house and saw a lone blond head sitting and watching the singers and dancers as they rehearsed. Even from a distance, I could see his intensely blue eyes and felt an instant attraction.
“That’s Eric Northman, the director,” Andre stated flatly, and then continued his tour.
Later, I passed Eric in the hallway backstage and tried not to stare at his tall, impressive body. He had on black jeans and boots and a simple black shirt, but he was so stunningly handsome, he seemed to fill the entire hallway with his presence. I glanced at his face as he got closer and smiled and said a quiet, “Hello,” but he said nothing. The way he looked at me made the hair on my arms stand up and I felt that first little stomach flip that I grew to expect every time I saw him.
Eventually, he did speak to me, but wasn’t overly friendly. I was about as low on the ladder of cast and crew as you could get, and he, as the director, was at the very top, so I didn’t really expect him to pay much attention to me.
He wasn’t there every night. He spent the first few nights there watching every show and giving notes to the cast between shows, but eventually, he wasn’t needed as the shows became tighter and tighter with repetition.
I found myself trying to look as cute as I could just in case he’d be there and felt like I had a high school crush, feeling my face flush when he spoke to me or even looked my way.
One night in the middle of the run, I was standing backstage waiting for one of the dancers who had a quick change. I had his shirt and pants draped over my arm and was kind of swaying to the music that I knew so well after so many nights. I felt a pair of eyes on me and instinctively turned around, spotting the familiar head of blond hair and feeling the usual little stomach flip. I gave Eric a smile and turned back around to watch the dancers onstage again.
I sensed Eric coming up behind me and felt his warm breath by my ear as he murmured quietly, “You’re Sookie.”
I turned and nodded, our faces a little too close. He smelled so good—clean and fresh, unlike the dancers who sweated through four shows a night.
He bent to my ear again. “I’m Eric.”
He pulled back a little and smiled at me. I just smiled back, knowing we couldn’t really have any kind of normal conversation backstage during the show and also aware that in mere seconds, my dancer would arrive and my attention would have to be on him.
I turned to face the stage just as my guy raced to me and began to strip. I helped him shed his clothes and held his pants and shirt for him as he scrambled into them. He bent to fasten the Velcro on his shoes and I crouched with him, trying to button his shirt. He stood and zipped up his pants just as I finished the shirt and then he was off, running back onstage.
I scooped up his discarded shirt and pants and turned to head back to the wardrobe room. Eric was nowhere in sight.
Many nights, the cast and crew met up at a bar on the way to the freeway, and I was always invited. Unfortunately, my tasks were never finished before the bar’s closing time of 2 a.m., and so I never got to go. I often wondered if Eric was there and what it would be like to socialize with him a little. I found myself fantasizing about Eric Northman quite a bit.
We always had Mondays and Tuesdays off, and on the Wednesday that began our final long weekend, Eric came in before the first show. I was mending a costume in the wardrobe room and was surprised to see him enter. It wasn’t a room I’d ever seen him in. I was worried that something was wrong—that there was a problem with the costumes, and stood to greet him.
“Hi. Is everything okay?” I asked.
He seemed startled by my question, and shook his head a little as he said, “Yeah, everything’s fine. How are you holding up?”
I was puzzled by the question. He had never addressed me in such a personal manner.
“So … ” He looked around the room while I waited. “What did you do on your days off?”
Was he worried that I wasn’t doing my job well enough? Did he expect me to work on my days off?
“Well, there really wasn’t anything to do with the costumes.” I held up the skirt I was mending. “This only tore tonight or I would have fixed it sooner.”
He smiled. “No, I didn’t mean to imply ….” He took a deep breath. “I meant, what did you do? Are you married … or …. ”
“No, I’m not married.” Did he just ask me if I was single? “I … um …I worked at my other job. I’m a waitress at Merlotte’s in West Hollywood.”
“You worked on your days off?”
“Well, yeah. I need to keep my job. After next week, this will be over.” Well, duh, Sookie. Of course, he knew that.
“Right. Merlotte’s. I’ll check it out.”
“So, you’re single.” It wasn’t a question.
I felt my face getting hot. “Yeah.”
He nodded and smiled a very small and very sexy smile before turning to walk away.
“I’ll see you later,” he called over his shoulder as he left the room.
I had to sit down as my knees were suddenly wobbly. Eric Northman had just flirted with me. My fingers shook as I continued my sewing. I replayed the brief conversation over in my mind. There was no mistaking it. He was flirting.
I didn’t get to talk to him again, but felt his eyes on me while I waited backstage. Once, I looked at him and we seemed to play a game of chicken in the dark. I finally had to look away when Pam appeared, needing a fast change.
As I passed him with her discarded costume, he gave me one of his smoldering smiles and reached out to briefly squeeze my hand before I floated to the wardrobe room.
I didn’t see him again until the final night of the month—Halloween night. There was a feeling in the air that this night was special. I detected alcohol on the breath of several of the dancers and band members even though drinking was forbidden. But I guess they figured they couldn’t be fired at that point and were celebrating a little early.
I’d seen Eric enter the band’s dressing room before the first show and felt a pang of jealousy, picturing them enjoying their last night and feeling like an outsider for the first time. I’d enjoyed being a part of the team and really, the cast and crew could not have made me feel more welcome. But on that final night, I felt sad. I knew that many of the dancers and singers would go on to their next shows and stay in touch with each other. And, I’d go back to my life.
I had learned that theirs was a very tight knit little group. I found myself wondering if Eric was dating any of the girls. They were all young and beautiful. I knew he wasn’t seeing Pam because she preferred women, but did he like the others? Was I a fool to think he’d returned my feelings? After all, he was the director of the show and I was simply a costume assistant. And a waitress.
Just before the final show of the final night, I was resetting the costumes and decided I had time to make a quick dash to the ladies room. I passed the side-by-side men’s and women’s dressing rooms and heard Eric’s voice talking and laughing with the cast.
I felt that new and yet familiar pang of jealousy and sadness as I entered the bathroom. I stopped before heading for a stall and caught my reflection in the mirror above one of the sinks. I looked sad and painted on a fake smile. It wasn’t like me to feel sorry for myself, and I didn’t like it.
At that moment, the door flew open and banged against the wall. It startled me and I turned to see Eric coming into the ladies room, his blue eyes burning into mine.
I started to speak—to tell him this was the ladies room, but as I opened my mouth, he took me into his arms and kissed me. For a brief second, I went limp in his arms as he pressed me back into the sink, his tongue roughly exploring my mouth.
Then, my body began to respond and my hands went into his hair, pulling him closer. I felt his hands underneath my butt, lifting me onto the sink and my legs instinctively spread as he pressed himself into me.
I moaned into his mouth and his kiss became more urgent and his hips began to move, rubbing himself against me. I wanted to say “yes,” but couldn’t speak. I began sucking on his tongue and one hand dropped to his perfectly glorious ass and gave it a squeeze.
I had never in my life had such a moment and lost myself in his kiss, in his body. I wanted him and thought of nothing else. I was out of my mind.
As suddenly as it had begun, Eric stopped the kiss and turned and left the room just as one of the women dancers was entering the bathroom. She didn’t seem to flinch at the sight of a man leaving the ladies room and didn’t even glance my way as she headed for one of the stalls.
I went into the one beside her, knowing I had no time to waste before the show started.
That final show was a blur. I was so discombobulated from humping the boss on the bathroom sink and all the dancers and singers kept hugging me and a few of them were crying between scenes. It was such an emotional night.
I promised Pam I’d try to come to the bar before closing, but I knew I wouldn’t make it. I looked for Eric, but never saw him again. The wrap party was the following Saturday night and I pinned all my hopes on seeing him there as I said my final farewell to Knott’s Scary Farm climbing into my car at 3 a.m. feeling exhausted, happy, and sad all at once.
I felt pathetic the following week at the wrap party, watching the door like a lovesick teenager. I danced with some of the dancers and laughed and tried to have fun, but I was sorely disappointed that Eric never came. I played that moment at the sink over and over in my mind, wondering what it meant to him, and finally, coming to the conclusion that it had probably meant nothing. Maybe he kissed all the girls on the final night of a run. Maybe I was just part of the celebration and nothing more.
It took me weeks to recover from the physical exhaustion of working those long, late hours and never having a night off—working for Sam when I wasn’t at Knott’s and never really being able to sleep well during the day. Plus, I had a raging crush on Eric and could see that more clearly as October got further and further into my past. He was my reason for fixing my hair just right every night and never feeling tired at work. I’d lived on the hope of seeing him at Knott’s, and thinking I might never see him again was tough.
I wondered if he’d remember where I worked and hoped he’d come into Merlotte’s one night, but he never did.
I stayed in touch with Pam and heard of the other singers and dancers through her. One had booked a show in New York. Another got a role on a soap opera. And then, several got the Spiderman show at Universal Studios. It was a good gig. It should have a much longer run than the show at Knott’s, which meant regular money for the cast.
I was happy for Pam and even happier when she invited me to opening day.
I sat and waited while the usher brought in a dozen or so special guests and then the house began to fill. I checked my watch and remembered how it had felt the night before the first show at Knott’s. I missed it and wondered how long I’d be satisfied with just waitressing again. I’d loved being part of the show, and of course, I missed how Eric Northman had made me feel.
The lights dimmed and the audience got quiet. The music came up and I watched my friends dance and sing the story of Peter Parker and how he became a superhero. Pam was wonderful, of course, and I felt so proud as she sang a solo, looking like a goddess.
Time flew by and before I knew it, the show was over and people began to stand and file out of the theater. I waited with the first two rows of guests until an usher came and got us and led us to a backstage door.
We followed a path that led us outside behind the theater. Pam was waiting for me, beaming and beautiful in her final costume. I hugged her and congratulated her as people all around us were doing the same. Some of the Knott’s dancers came to me and we hugged and I told them how much I’d enjoyed the show. A few of them disappeared into a door that I assumed led to their dressing rooms. As I watched them leave, I heard my name and every hair on my body stood to attention. It was Eric.
I turned around and he was smiling at me. He stepped forward and took me in his arms. He held me for a beat longer than felt casual and whispered into my ear.
“I have to go backstage to give notes. Can you stay for the next show?”
I nodded into his hair, lost in the feel and smell of him. I never wanted to leave.
“What’s your phone number?”
I wasn’t expecting that question and pulled back to look up into his stunning blue eyes. He watched my lips as I said my number and then he gave me a last quick hug before leaving. He went through the backstage door and then Pam was suddenly beside me telling me she had to go.
I found the usher and asked if I could see the next show as well.
He said, “Of course,” and led me back inside where a few of the guests had already been seated again. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to stay for a second show.
I hardly saw the show. My heart was pounding and I could still smell Eric on my clothes and in my hair. I relived the sink episode over and over while Pam and my friends sang and danced their hearts out.
When the lights came up, I went out back to find Eric. He was nowhere to be seen, but Pam came out again and as I was telling her again what a great job she’d done, my phone buzzed in my pocket, indicating a text message.
I pulled it out and saw: “Say goodbye and walk to your left between the buildings.”
I looked around, but didn’t see him. I hugged Pam and thanked her for inviting me. Then I turned to my left and began walking.
As I passed between the buildings, I came to a clearing and spotted Eric in the crowd. Because he was so tall, he was easy to find among the throngs of tourists. The heat knocked me down as I stepped away from the shade of the theater building. Or maybe it was just the sight of Eric smiling at me above the heads of the masses.
As our eyes met, he gave a little tilt of his head that meant “follow me,” and so I did. I was several feet behind him as we made our way through the bodies. I had no idea where we were going, but I knew I’d follow him anywhere.
The crowd began to thin as we approached a huge building that seemed to be empty. There were no signs on it to indicate what it was, unlike all the other buildings in the park. And I could see stanchions ahead blocking people from entering a road beside the empty building. I watched Eric squeeze past the stanchions and he turned and took my hand as I reached him.
He pulled me from the crowd and down the empty street, walking briskly and looking around him.
“Security can see us,” he said and grinned like a naughty school boy.
My heart raced. Would we get into trouble? And where were we going?
“This used to be the Terminator ride,” he explained as we sped past the building. “It’s nothing now.”
We passed a row of empty golf carts on our left and Eric pulled me behind what looked like a bus stop. It was essentially two walls with posters on them. He pressed me into the corner that the walls formed and kissed me.
“They can’t see us from here,” he said as he roughly kissed his way across my jaw and down my neck. My knees buckled and he held me up.
“But our feet …,” I began, realizing that the walls ended near our knees and surely the security cameras knew we were back there.
“We don’t have much time,” he mumbled into my neck and then his mouth was on mine again and I didn’t want to waste any more time talking.
I closed my eyes and was lost in the urgent passion we felt. His tongue hungrily found mine and our bodies pressed together, hands searching and probing. We got turned around so his back was against the wall and I opened my hand in his hair at the back of his head and gripped him to me as we kissed.
I was out of my mind for a split second—just long enough to reach into his pants with my free hand and wrap my fingers around him. He gasped into my mouth and I felt a surge of power that I’d never felt before. I knew this was wrong, and I loved how wrong it was. I had spent my life trying to be good and to do the right thing, and in one lust-filled instant, all that flew out the window.
I had Eric in my hand, literally, and it felt good. He was mine.
I gave his tongue one last swipe with mine as I unfastened and unzipped his pants with the hand that had been in his hair. Without giving any thought to the consequences, I blindly broke the kiss and bent to put him in my mouth.
I had no idea what I was doing, but simply did what felt good. Eric seemed to agree with me judging by the sounds he was making. Within seconds, I felt him hitting the back of my throat and used my hands to pull him to me, deeper and deeper with each thrust. Somehow, I knew instinctively when he was close even though I’d never done this before.
As I felt him coming, I closed my eyes and swallowed, squeezing him with my hands. It took a few moments, but he was finally all done, and so was I. I rubbed my lips across him one last time and said a silent goodbye to the object of my lust.
Eric pulled me to his mouth and kissed me deeply as he put himself back into his pants and zipped and buttoned himself back up.
I broke the kiss and wiped my mouth.
Eric said, “Oh my god,” and kissed me again. Then he looked around as if noticing for the first time where we were and said, “We have to go.”
It didn’t take me long to take his hand and start to head back down the street. I wondered if I could be arrested for what I’d just done. And had anyone seen us?
As we hurried back towards the crowded park, Eric and I just grinned at each other, walking briskly hand in hand. Oddly, I didn’t feel the need to say a word. I was just so incredibly happy.
As we passed the stanchions and entered the mob again, Eric dropped my hand and as we walked, he turned to me to say, “I have to get back. Where are you going?”
I looked around and couldn’t think for the life of me where I needed to go. For one surreal moment, I wasn’t sure where I was, what time it was, what day it was.
Then the heat hit me and I remembered. “Where’s the exit?” I asked.
Eric pointed to my right and I nodded. We stopped for a second and just looked at each other very seriously. People were bumping against us as they passed by. I wanted to kiss Eric goodbye but it felt wrong to do it here among all the people.
I just said, “Bye,” and turned and headed to my right. I took a few steps and suddenly missed him desperately. I looked back and watched his blond head heading away from me as he was swallowed by the crowd.
My eyes teared unexpectedly as I turned away and tried to get my bearings. Suddenly, the heat was unbearable and I felt overwhelmingly sad. No one seemed to notice as I cried; everyone was in amusement park mode. But every step I took took me further away from Eric and away from the woman I’d been for a brief moment with him.
I wasn’t sure what to make of what had transpired between us, but I knew that I would never be the same. This day was a day for breaking records and it seemed for changing lives. I left the park a different woman and wondered how I would ever be able to go back to being the same again. Eric had changed me for better or for worse. He would always be the man who made me feel like a woman—a real woman, for the first time in my life, and for that I would never forget him.
A/N: I am very much aware that this story depicts an unsafe sexual practice. This is fiction—a fantasy, and I do not condone this behavior for humans.
P.S. This is now no longer a one-shot, so please read on … 🙂