Title: Halo Effect
Epilogue: Hollywood Dreams Come True
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Charlaine Harris. I just take 'em out to play, and give them flashy careers and Hollywood lifestyles.
First things first - I have signed up to write an SVM one-shot for the Fandoms Fight the Floods compilation and our Australian friends. Here's the link so you can read more about this and why they need your donations. Please take time to check it out. http:/fandomsfightthefloods(dot)blogspot(dot)com/p/home(dot)html
Where do I begin? I cannot thank all of you enough for taking this amazing ride with me. I had no idea when this started how huge it would become. I am humbled by the response to this story. Thank you for your kind words throughout the process. You made me smile and laugh, sometimes on days when I really needed it. For those of you who read but didn't leave a note, thanks to you as well. I'm glad to have shared my Tuesdays with all of you.
Oh man. I can't stop the tears at this point. To the Beta-babes A Redhead Thing, Sapfirerose and TVgirlSVM. You girls have been the greatest. I could not have asked for a better group of friends to read this over each week. Without you I would be publishing a comma filled mess of typos and misinformation about Hollywood. Thank you for your constant support and the countless laughs. Can you believe it's been a year since the inspirational halo picture? CRAZY
Now, for the future. I do have some stories up my sleeve that I've been working on. There's a short Tray/Amelia story that I'm excited to get going on and several Eric/Sookie fics that I've been mapping out. However, I'd like to take a little break from posting while I get ahead in writing. You know, not feel like I absolutely need to crank out a chapter each week. But I won't leave you hanging too long, cuz you know I'll be writing. I'm kind of obsessive that way.
Okay. Here you go. Thanks again.
Six Months Later - January
Eric and I were still trying to get pregnant, and I'd been riding a roller coaster of emotions on that front. When I first got back from Rachel's shower I was feeling better, positive about it even. I'd realized that my negativity wasn't helpful and that really, I was being ridiculous because we hadn't been trying that long. As time went on, those feelings began to wane, especially when I was laying on the bed holding a heating pad to my stomach for unbearable cramps. I would vacillate between feeling like it was hopeless and feeling like we just needed to keep trying and it would happen eventually, at least I kept telling myself that.
Eric and I went back to Pinks for hot dogs, and I'd purposely eaten my dog as slowly as possible, opening my mouth wide for every bite, enjoying torturing him. I think he was actually a little mad at me about it or maybe he was just sexually frustrated since we'd been on our way to the Hollywood Bowl for a jazz show. We went to Ben and Jen's again for their Fourth of July cook out, and I felt like Eric and I had our own traditions started. Memorial Day we'd had a cookout at our house with Martini, Holly and Liam, Pam and Portia, Sam and Daph, who was in fact pregnant.
We'd gone to Colorado for Sven and Rachel's Halloween wedding and then gone to Eric's parents for Christmas and spent New Years at the Lake house in Michigan, where Chris and Zee got engaged. I was exhausted. It was funny to me that I'd taken more vacations with Eric in the year and a half we'd known each other than I had in the last four years of my marriage to Bill. I had never imagined complaining about taking vacations, but at this point I really wanted a break before all of the awards and parties started, but it wasn't in the cards.
Eric was a presenter at the People's Choice Awards, and a week later I was sitting on a chair in my bathroom while Martini styled my hair for the Golden Globes. Eric was up for Best Actor in a Motion Picture for Western Sky. He was trying to stay calm and act like it wasn't going to hurt if he didn't win, but it was his first individual nomination, and he was honestly thrilled for that recognition alone. He'd written a speech, for just in case, he'd told me.
The Golden Globes themselves were kind of a nightmare in terms of the venue and the parties. The Awards were held in a ballroom at the Beverly Hilton that was so small that it was almost impossible to bring a date, and there were a number of parties held right there on the grounds. I hadn't minded last year when Bloodlust had been nominated, but I was a little sad that I couldn't be there this year when he was nominated as an individual. I was going to meet him at the In Style party inside the Hilton like I had last time. This year however, Eric had left early to walk the red carpet, and I was arriving later. It just made more sense than having me rush around to get dropped off around the corner.
I was wearing a great aqua blue Notte by Marchesa gown that Martini had been drooling over for days. It had pleated straps that extended up from the v-neck and was ruched at the bust with an empire waist. It was the waist that I was most happy with because holiday eating had not been kind to my diet. I wondered what kind of masochists decided that awards season should closely follow the holiday season of gluttony.
"There. Bootiful," Martini said, stepping back to look at me.
My hair and makeup were done, and I had an hour before the car came. We headed out into the kitchen, and I started to put away the snack that Eric had left on the counter when his car arrived. I didn't understand how a man who simply needed to shower, shave and dress could be running late when I had so much more to do and was an hour early. Grabbing a water from the fridge I glanced at the grocery list and ran through a mental list of things that needed to be added. I read the list again and thought one more time about what I knew should be on there. Then I went to double check. I carried the box back out to Martini, utterly confused.
"Um, thanks, but I don't need those, baby doll." She laughed.
"Neither did I."
I must have looked as confused as she did, but I wasn't. It had taken a minute, but I knew exactly what it meant, and I was trying not to freak out. She would kick my ass if I ruined my eye makeup.
"I didn't use them this month. I remembered that I was running low last month, but I didn't use them." I realized I was repeating myself, looking back and forth from the box of tampons to Martini, but I didn't know what else to say.
And then suddenly all hell broke loose. Martini was squealing and crying and spinning me around in her arms. She set me on my feet but continued to hold me.
"Oh, baby. I'm so happy for you," she murmured.
I stood there, almost frozen, afraid if I moved or said something it would all disappear in a puff of smoke.
She stepped back and put her hands on my cheeks. "You okay?"
I took a deep breath and then exhaled loudly. "I don't know what to think. I mean, what if I'm just late?"
"Ooh!" She checked her watch. "I can getchoo a test."
"No. No. I mean, I have some. I bought a ton so I'd have them on hand, but I kind of gave up checking because it was depressing."
"Oh! Let's go then!"
"Okay. Yeah." I still felt a little numb.
We went back to the master bath and I pulled the box of tests out from under the vanity. I opened one up and raised an eyebrow at Martini. I loved her, but I still wasn't peeing on a stick in front of her.
"Right." She laughed, realizing what I meant. "But don't wait in here by yoself."
I nodded. "I need your watch."
"Right." She handed it to me, and I went into the bathroom.
I read the instructions again for good measure, opting for the pee in a cup method because the other way was just too messy. Then I dipped the tester thing into it and laid it flat on the counter, checking my watch as I washed my hands. The waiting was the worst part. Well, that and deciphering the lines. I had always been looking for the faintest hint of the second line, questioning whether a dot or a speck could indicate something, but I knew that it didn't.
Opening the door, I went in the bedroom to sit on Martini's lap and wait. It always seemed to take forever waiting for those tests, but this time it was worse. I didn't want to check it too early, in case two seconds made a big difference, but I wanted to know as soon as I could; it was killing me. I kind of wanted to throw the door open and run in there and stare at the stick on the counter like I was watching a picture develop, but I sat in the bedroom, furtively glancing at Martini's watch until it was time to look.
I bit my lip and stood. "Are you coming?" I looked down at Martini.
"You want me to?"
I nodded, and she took my hand and followed me to the bathroom. I stopped at the doorway and pushed her in front of me. "You look."
She went ahead of me and picked the stick up off of the counter. I held my breath, and she turned back to me with tears in her eyes. Oh god. That could mean anything. Then she started to scream.
"I'm going to be an Auntie! Lordy!" She laughed. "Oh. We gonna have slumber parties and mani pedi's." She continued to ramble, but I didn't hear the rest.
She stopped mid-sentence and smiled. "Oh yes, baby. They's two lines. Clear as day." She held it towards me, and I could see them before I even grasped it in my hand.
I took it back out to the bedroom and sat down in the chair, shocked. I shouldn't have been. I mean, once I realized that I had missed my period, it was the logical explanation, the one I'd been hoping for for months, but I couldn't believe it was real. I wiped away a couple of tears as I thought about exactly how long ago it had been since I actually did have my period. I smiled when I remembered. It was Thanksgiving.
We'd been over at Sam and Daph's, who'd stayed in California because she was too pregnant to travel, and we went around the table saying what we were thankful for. Eric said he was thankful for me, and although he was sad we weren't pregnant, he joked that he wasn't sad about how often we were trying. I'd been finishing my period and had burst into tears at the table. Sam and Eric had looked terrified while Daph burst out laughing. I turned and climbed into Eric's lap, finally managing to mumble 'I love you' a few times through my tears.
"You gonna tell Eric tonight?"
"What?" Martini's voice startled me.
"You gonna tell papa bear tonight?"
I laughed. "Papa bear?"
"Sexy daddy?" She raised an eyebrow. Then she started laughing. "No! DILF!"
"Ohmygod! He will be a DILF!" I cracked up.
"But you get to F him! You don't get to call him that!"
"But I always want to F him when I'm not! I sooo get to call him that!"
"So do I!" She teased.
"No." I laughed. "Boundaries, Martini! Boundaries."
This was the dumbest conversation I could imagine having after just figuring out I was pregnant, but it felt great. We calmed down and sat grinning at each other for a second. Then she glanced at her watch and gasped.
"Baby girl! We got ten minutes to fix this," she made a circle with her hand pointing at my head.
"'S okay. Remember? Magic hands!" She laughed. "You jus need a touch up. Everything was waterproof in case Mr. Man won and you got all weepy."
It only took her a few minutes to freshen my face, and after I stepped into my dress she helped zip the back. She moved my hair aside and draped a diamond choker around my neck, and I slipped on my shoes before I grabbed some extra Kleenex to stuff in my clutch.
My phone rang, and Martini grabbed it off the dresser and answered, giving me a big smile. She ended the call and tucked my phone into my bag.
"Your chariot, baby."
"I think it's supposed to be m'lady." I giggled.
"Pssshhh." She waved her hand. "You ain't never been no lady."
"Oh! That's mean!" I laughed.
She gave me a loose hug, careful not to touch my hair or make-up. "You're not a lady, but you're always a princess, baby."
I stepped back and grinned at her. "Thank you. For everything today."
"Pshhh." She waved her hand at me.
"Love you," I said as I opened the front door.
"Love you, too. Give DILF a sloppy kiss for me."
I groaned at her last comment as I walked to the car. Climbing into the back seat, I greeted the driver and settled in for the quiet ride. I sighed and thought about how I was going to tell Eric about the baby. It seemed like something that I should have already planned out. I mean, when you want to get pregnant you should be prepared to deal with it actually happening, but I was just lost. It was mid January so I was six, maybe seven, weeks along. It meant that I was halfway through the first trimester, which according to everything I'd read, was the first real milestone in pregnancy. I certainly wasn't waiting that long to tell Eric, but maybe we could hold off on telling his mother until then.
Thinking about telling Elsa made me think of all the things that we would need to do before she practically moved in with us. We needed to turn a guest room into a nursery, and we needed to move all of the boxes of my things that we hadn't unpacked into the storage or maybe we should unpack them. That would be a novel idea. Then I returned to thinking about the nursery and what kind of theme we could have for the baby's room, which somehow led me to wondering if we were having a boy or a girl and made me wonder what the hell I would I do if it was a boy? I didn't have a penis. I didn't know what to do with one. Well, I knew what to do with one, but not if I had one. I had no idea how to pee standing up. What if he asked me how to tuck it into his underwear? What if it got caught in his zipper? Oh god. I wanted a girl. I was starting to work myself into a panic by the time we pulled up to the Beverly Hilton.
The driver opened my door, and I was glad that I had to pay attention to where I was going in order to find the party so I had something else to think about. The walk gave me time to take a few deep breaths and get myself centered. Tonight was about Eric.
I saw Jen Affleck give me a quick wave when I walked into the party. I joined her, squeezing her in a little hug to say hello. We'd gone to yoga together a few times and met for lunch with Holly as well. Jen continued to amaze me with how down to Earth she was. I mean, she was Sydney Bristow from Alias, and she was married to Ben Affleck, who was standing a ways away chatting with some producers, smiling at me. She could have been a total diva that ignored me or looked down her nose at me, but she wasn't. She was awesome.
I gave Ben a little wave and continued to be a little amazed that I was friendly with these Hollywood people. These nights always made me feel a little out of my element. They were unlike anything I'd ever experienced before moving to Los Angeles. Ben made a motion like he was sipping a drink and raised his eyebrows at us in question. I was relieved when Jen held up a bottle of Voss water and pointed at it. Voss was one of the event sponsors. I nodded at Ben as I repeated Jen's motion, and he gave us a thumbs up.
I hadn't really thought about what I was going to say when someone offered me a cocktail. It wasn't like people would pressure me or anything, but someone would probably ask if I wasn't feeling well, or shit, if I was pregnant. We had gone to the Heaven Gala the night before; I supposed that I could just say I was hungover. Should I lie? Why was it so difficult? Why did I care? Why would anyone else care? Why did everyone have to be so involved in my fertility?
"Sookie!" Ben's voice was close to my ear as he put an arm around my shoulder and gave me a hug. "How are you? Tonight's Eric's big night, eh?" He handed me some water.
"I'm good, thanks. Yeah. Eric's a little nervous."
"I'm sure he is. I heard you checked the odds last year."
"Oh my god! He told you about that?" I shook my head and chuckled.
Jen laughed as Ben shrugged. "Yeah. I'm a gambler. He knew I'd appreciate it. Plus I told him how Jen and I sometimes bet on our movie openings."
"Ohmygod. Shut up!" Jen laughed but looked shocked.
"Oh. Interesting," I teased. "Spill."
"Well," he said as Jen rolled her eyes at him. "It's like this, you see. If my movie makes the most money opening weekend, we have sex. If her movie makes more opening weekend...we have sex."
It was not at all what I was expecting him to say, and I was laughing hysterically.
"Ugh," Jen groaned. "I can't believe you just said that. What if someone else heard? You are so cut off." I wasn't sure if she was referring to drinks or sex.
He leaned in and kissed her sweetly. "Love you, baby."
"Love you, baby," she mimicked. "Come on, Sookie. There's Jen and Tobey."
I was still laughing at them as we walked towards the McGuires. Eventually, I found myself seated at my table waiting for dinner and the telecast to start. I felt a hand on my back and turned to see Sam and Daph.
"Hi!" I stood to hug them. "Did you just get here?" I was a little surprised to see them since Daph was practically in labor.
"We did." She nodded, leaning forward to give me a little hug even though we couldn't get very close together. "I had to get out of the house."
"Don't let her fool you." Sam laughed, leaning forward to kiss my cheek. "She wants to go to all the parties."
"Right," I laughed, knowing how tired Daph had been lately. They were seated with me, along with one of Sam's costars and his wife, and we settled in to a fabulous meal to watch the show. After the first commercial break I started to feel butterflies in my stomach for Eric, and they just continued to grow. Finally they announced that Eric's category was up next and broke away for an advertisement. I bit my lip, sipping my water and said a few "Please, please, pleases" to whatever God might have been listening.
The show had come back on the air, and Cameron Diaz and Tom Selleck took the stage to announce the nominees for Eric's award. I found myself holding my breath while Daph squeezed my hand as the names were read.
"And the Golden Globe goes to..." Cameron fumbled with the envelope and grinned when she caught a glimpse of the winners' name. "Eric Northman."
The camera zoomed in on Eric, and he smiled, shaking his head as Keira patted him on the back.
"Ohmygod!" I squealed, pulling my hand from Daph's to cover my mouth before I found myself pulled back towards he for a hug.
"Quiet. Quiet," I said to everyone at our table as Eric walked across the stage.
He adjusted the mic; they were never tall enough for him. "Wow. Thank you. It was an honor just to be nominated, especially among that group of actors. I'd like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. This is truly an honor. I'd like to thank my parents and my family. My mom would kill me if I forgot her..." The crowd laughed both in the theater and in the bar where I stood watching. Only those of us who knew the Northmans knew how true that statement was.
He took a deep breath. "I need to thank our director, Russel Eddington, for imagining me in this role. Everyone at Summit Entertainment. The cast, crew and everyone involved with Western Sky, especially Keira. It was a pleasure to work with you. I know I'm forgetting people. Pam Ravenscroft for keeping my life relatively sane. And of course, my wife, without whom none of this would mean anything to me. I love you." He raised his Globe, then gave it a kiss and stepped back before exiting the stage.
We finished dinner and went back to mingling near the bar, and it was sort of a whirlwind of hugs and handshakes. I felt a little strange as people congratulated me on Eric's win. I spent most of the night with Daph and was able to relax a little. I hadn't realized how nervous I was for Eric until his award had been announced.
People began to trickle into the party from the awards show, and I kept an eye out for Eric. He was generally easy to spot over the crowd. When I finally saw him, it took what felt like forever for him to make his way to me as people kept stopping him.
"Hey!" he said, leaning down to hug me with one arm and kissing my cheek to avoid my lipstick. "You look beautiful."
"You look great, too. Congratulations!"
He nuzzled my hair. "God, I wish we could just go home and celebrate."
I snorted. He had no idea. "Me too, but this is a big night. You need to go to the Summit party and shake a few hands and head over to the network party, too. You know." He needed to put in appearances both for Western Sky and for Bloodlust.
He groaned, and I heard his name being called from across the room.
"See?" I smiled. "You're popular tonight."
"Just tonight?" He laughed.
"Right." I tried to keep a straight face as someone I recognized from working on Bloodlust, but couldn't remember their name, congratulated him.
A little while later, Sam and Daph found us and gave him big hugs. Eric told us all how shocked he'd been when he heard them call his name. He and Sam were headed to the bar and asked if we needed drinks. Daph and I both held up full glasses of soda, and they said they'd be right back. By the time we saw them again, Daph was exhausted and wanted to go to another party so she could find somewhere to sit down. She and Sam headed out, but it took us another half an hour to make our way out of the event.
On our way to the Summit party Eric kept his hand on the small of my back, and I could hear him taking slow, deep breaths as he tried to relax. I giggled a little, thinking about what I needed to tell him, but I had figured out that I needed to wait. If I told him while we were at one of these parties, he would drag me out of there and take me home. We'd end up in bed, either fucking like rabbits or with him forcing me to put my feet up so he could baby me. Neither truly sounded bad, but that's not what the night was about. He might win other awards during his career, but this was his first, and I wanted him to enjoy it to its fullest. My news would thrill him, but it would overshadow something that deserved to shine on its own.
"You okay?" He glanced down at me.
"Is there something going on?"
"What? No." I kept walking and smiled without looking at him because I knew he would see that something was off in my eyes.
"You'll tell me soon enough."
Cocky bastard. He was right, though. He knew me.
We split up at the entrance to the Summit party so he could go through the photo line and do a few more interviews. I made my way to the restroom and freshened up. When I came back out to the main part of the party, Eric still wasn't anywhere to be found. I made my way towards some of the Western Sky cast that I recognized and got something to eat. A little while later, I heard Pam's voice, and knew that Eric was close behind. I stood and walked over to meet them.
"Don't be a fucking diva, Northman." Pam snarked. "Get a drink and smile for some pictures. Shake a few hands. Kiss a few babies. Jesus. You just won a Golden Globe. Enjoy yourself."
"I just need a minute to breathe, and I don't think there are any babies here." He rolled his eyes at her.
"It's a figure of speech, and I thought you wanted to leave."
Eric chuckled. "No, I said I wanted to find Sookie."
"Well, she's right there." She rolled her eyes at me. "There are some people at the network party you need to talk to tonight. Don't think you're getting out of that party either."
Eric was looking at her like he wanted to strangle her.
"We know, Pam." I put a hand on Eric's arm, and he leaned down to kiss my hair. "We're planning on going over there."
"I need a drink to deal with you people." She shook her head at us and walked away.
"How bout you? Do you need a drink?"
"No. I'm good." I smiled. It had been pretty easy so far to keep my secret. I had just kept a glass of water or soda in my hand, and Eric was none the wiser.
He looked at me, smiling for a few seconds, and then his face went blank. "You're not drinking."
I blinked, trying to fight the emotions that bubbled up, and then I bit my lip as took a breath. "No. I'm not."
"On purpose?" It was so quiet I read his lips more than heard him.
We were standing in the midst of a crowded and very noisy party, but in that moment, it was just us. Everything else faded away, and I held his eyes. It didn't matter that I'd thought I should wait, he needed an answer.
"Yes. On purpose." I smiled shyly. This wasn't how I imagined telling him at all.
"Oh my god." He put a hand on my cheek and continued looking at me, searching my eyes. "Sookie, do you mean? Are we..."
His voice trailed off as I began to nod, and he pulled me into his arms. To everyone else we were celebrating his Globe win, but to us, inside our quiet pocket of joy, it was so much more. He kissed me and then held my face in his hands, looking down. "Best. Night. Ever."
"Really?" I asked, not caring anymore that my eyes were full of tears.
"Yes!" He laughed. "How could you doubt that?" He kissed me again and then looked around quickly before pulling me to a more secluded spot off to the side of the party. There was a small seating arrangement, and he sat down, pulling me onto his lap. "Sookie, I'm so excited. I love you so much. How? I mean, when did you find out?"
I told him about figuring it out because of the grocery list, and he thought that was hysterical. He always made fun of my lists. I had my arms around his neck and was snuggled against his chest. "God, I love you." I sighed. "I'm so excited, but I'm also kind of terrified."
He laughed. "I think it would be wrong not to be terrified. This is huge, but you'll be fine. We'll be fine." He sighed. "I don't even know how to figure it out. When is the baby due?"
I laughed. Men. Of course he couldn't figure it out. "The end of August, I think."
"Wow. That's a long time."
"I know." I laughed. "I'm going to get so fat." I was smiling, but honestly, I wasn't excited about that part.
"You'll be even more beautiful," he said quietly. "Wow. I'm going to be a dad."
I sat up and looked at him. "You're going to be a great one."
"And you're going to be an amazing mother."
His thumb brushed along my jaw and we sat together, for I don't know how long, gazing at each other with goofy grins on our faces. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and then turned my head when I realized that someone stood near us.
Sweet shepherd of Judea. I tried not to gasp. Really, I did, but standing there, smiling at us, was Matt Damon.
"Eric! Glad I found you. Ben's talking to Pam Ravenscroft, but she was looking for you. She thought you might have snuck out without telling her." Then he cringed a little as he teased, "She's kind of scary."
We laughed and stood, and then Eric reached forward to shake hands. "Thanks, Matt. Good to see you."
"You too, and congratulations."
"Thanks. We just needed a few minutes." He looked down at me, his eyes laughing. "You okay, Lover?"
I grinned. "I'm great."
Eric threw his head back and laughed. "I better go find Pam." He kissed the top of my head and murmured I love you before leaving me standing there with Matt.
He cleared his throat. "Sookie, right? I'm not sure we've ever been officially introduced. I'm Matt."
I grinned and somehow managed to speak without stuttering, "Nice to meet you."
"Shall we?" He crooked his head towards the more crowded area of the event.
"Sure." I stepped forward, and he put his hand on my elbow.
"You have the food blog, right? There are a couple of restaurants I wanted to ask you about. Have you ever been to Boston?"
We walked together towards the party, and I tried to focus on what he was saying and not the butterflies in my stomach or the pounding of my heart.
Eric had been right, for so many reasons. Best. Night. Ever.
Okay. I'll make this short, cuz I'm already crying. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading and enjoying this little trip to Hollywood. I'll see you soon.
Oh! And thank you for indulging my love of all things Matt Damon. (FYI - he won a community service award for the water(dot)org charity that I pimped here before Christmas. Did you buy a water bottle? I did.)
Notte by Marchessa - Aqua Blue