Chapter 56: Girl Talk
At any given moment when she was at home, Sookie knew that Pam might be only twenty feet away from her. After all, Pam lived on the floor right below Eric and—as of about four hours before—her. However, as she rode the elevator to Pam’s home, that one-floor difference seemed like a mile.
Sookie had taken the day off from work that day. Sam was actually glad she’d asked for it since the people in the HR department didn’t like for vacation days or sick days to accumulate. And, even with Sookie taking two weeks off in July, she still had a cache of such days built up.
It hadn’t taken Sookie much time to pack the rest of her belongings at Amelia’s brownstone, especially since her friend had taken the afternoon off to help her. She and Amelia had promised to have cocktails and/or dinner every Thursday—at the very least. And Amelia had volunteered to bring Sookie’s mail when they got together—since having it sent to Eric’s home would leave a paper trail that could be followed.
For practicality’s sake, Sookie had left a few items at Amelia’s, and since she was going to continue to pay 1/3 rent for the room—an arrangement which she and Amelia had gone ’round and ’round about since Amelia hadn’t wanted her to pay anything—Sookie felt okay in doing that.
Beyond the few toiletries and the single outfit she left behind, everything Sookie owned—not counting the items she’d taken to Eric’s earlier in the week—had fit into two medium-sized boxes.
Sookie shook her head. No wonder Pam had been shocked that she was with Eric.
Eric had rented Sookie a small van—along with a driver—so that she wouldn’t have to try to manage her belongings in a taxi or on the subway, and he’d apologized profusely that he couldn’t be there to help her. However, he had meetings all day.
In truth, Sookie hadn’t needed any heavy lifters. Most of the books she read were from the library, and all of the furniture and linens she used were Amelia’s. The only items she actually owned were her clothes and shoes, a small wooden box with a couple of pieces of jewelry inside, her toiletries, her two pictures, some notebooks, a few paperbacks from her time at college, a data storage device, and the jar that she’d bought to house the tiny slips of paper that decided which gallery of the MET she would visit each week.
People looking in from the outside might have thought her life empty if they took into account only her possessions, but Sookie now felt that her life was amazingly full.
Having transferred her library membership to a branch on the Upper West Side, she’d asked the mover Eric had hired to stop by the Carroll Gardens branch so that she could return her and Eric’s checked-out books. That errand done, the mover had driven her to Eric’s home—their home—and Henry had insisted upon carrying Sookie’s items up for her.
After half an hour, Sookie had been completely unpacked and the empty boxes had been broken down by Henry, who couldn’t stop talking about the cookies she’d made for him and the rest of the crew the week before. It hadn’t been difficult to work out that he was fishing for more treats—even as he pilfered one of the Pop Tarts in Eric’s pantry—but she’d smiled at him indulgently, knowing that she’d be making a lot more sweets for the guards of the building as long as she lived there.
Eric had arrived home at 6:15 and had found her taking a relaxing bath. Neither of them had said a word as he’d climbed into the tub with her. She was still on her period, so there had been no hanky-panky—beyond kissing and caressing—but they’d both been satisfied with just being close.
The same had been true the night before. A few minutes after Pam had left, Eric had sent Bobby to make sure that she was okay, and then Sookie and Eric had settled into the hot tub outside for a while. The cool night had amplified the experience as Sookie and Eric had held each other, both glad that the long, difficult day was over.
At 6:45, Sookie had kissed Eric soundly on the lips and left their bath. She’d dressed quickly, opting to wear a pair of navy capris and a white and navy blouse; she’d also worn her running shoes.
Eric hadn’t missed the symbolism of the shoes when he’d been waiting at their elevator to see her off; of course, the fact that he’d been wearing only a towel hadn’t made it any easier for her to go—not at all! Just as she’d been contemplating whether he looked better in the towel on in the buff, he’d given her a long, slow kiss and reminded her that she could come home at any time if Pam made her feel uncomfortable.
In truth, Sookie had already planned her escape route—thus, the running shoes. Early during her stay the week before, she’d been entered into the security system by Henry, so she could access the emergency stairs as well as the elevator. Also, when Henry had carried up her belongings, she’d told him that she had “officially met” Pam as Eric’s girlfriend and that Pam had asked her to come over earlier than Eric that night in order to have some “girl talk.” Henry’s reaction had been to write down a code Sookie could use to open the emergency exit doors at Pam’s house without setting off the building alarms.
Eric had shown her the locations of the emergency staircases in his house already; there was one in the kitchen and one in his office. Sookie figured it would be easy enough to find the exits in Pam’s house as well since the doors led to common stairwells. Since she’d been entered into the security system, all she had needed was the code out of Pam’s house. She already knew the code to get back into her and Eric’s home; it, like the codes to the terrace doors, was “poptart” and required her fingerprint as well. She patted her pocket to make sure Pam’s code was there; it was.
Sookie smiled a little. She was already planning to make a batch of cookies for Henry the next evening, and she’d be writing more Pop Tarts onto the grocery list as well.
She took a deep breath as the elevator stopped and the doors opened; Pam was waiting in her foyer. Sookie quickly slapped on a smile that probably looked as fake as it felt.
“Hi, Ms. North—I mean—Hi, Pam.”
“Hi, Sookie. I wasn’t sure you’d come early,” Pam said cautiously.
“Eric said you needed help—uh—cooking,” Sookie replied, even as she thrust out her hand to give Pam the bunch of flowers she’d picked up earlier. Gran had taught her to never go to someone’s house the first time without a gift.
“Thanks,” Pam said, taking the flowers. “And yes. I could use your help with some things.”
“Sure,” Sookie said nervously as Pam led them to the side of her house that was right under the “gray area” in Eric’s home. However, instead to taking Sookie to a kitchen, Pam led her to an elegant living room area, complete with a gas fireplace with a richly detailed hearth.
Pam gestured toward the couch and then laid the bunch of flowers down carefully onto the coffee table before sitting down as well.
Sookie looked around nervously. Pam’s home was definitely more feminine than Eric’s. The side of the house she was in was open, just like the “gray side” above her. However, Pam had decorated her space in blues. There were pops of color here and there from flowers or paintings, and the overall effect was quite lovely.
Neither woman spoke for almost a full minute.
“Uh—you have a lovely home,” Sookie finally said, her apprehension clear.
“You should see my closets,” Pam said, brushing off the compliment.
Sookie couldn’t quite stifle her nervous giggle.
“What?” Pam asked.
“Yeah. He said that you were irritated when he beat you at Rock, Paper, Scissors and got the house with the terrace. But he also said that you reconciled yourself with the fact that you had more square footage for closets here.”
Pam smiled a little. “Yeah—well. I’m sure he uses the terrace more than I would have. He’s always liked,” she paused for a moment, “being outside.” She shook her head and brushed a tear from her eye quickly, pretending as if it was never there.
There was more awkward silence between them.
Pam finally broke through the quiet. “When we were young—during Christmas breaks—Eric would sometimes hang out with Nora and me. And, of course, after Alexei was born, he’d be around too.” She paused. “There’s a pool room at Daddy’s place, and we always hung out in there. Nora’s mom set up lots of games in there too.”
Sookie nodded for Pam to continue.
“Nora loved to swim, and I had fun in the pool too,” Pam conveyed, “but for some reason Alexei was afraid to learn how to swim.” She smiled as if accessing her memories. “He was a cute kid though. And he’d get into the pool with us, but he always had to have these big wing things on his arms. He cried when anyone—including Daddy—tried to get him to take them off.”
“Eric is teaching me to swim,” Sookie supplied with a little smile when Pam didn’t speak for a while.
Pam nodded. “It was Eric who finally taught Alexei to swim without his little wings on. Eric’s always been good with us though—with me, Nora, and Alexei. And then later with Gracie and now Appius, Jr. He’s got this sense of quiet calmness about him.” She sighed. “It’s easy to trust him.”
Sookie nodded. “Yeah.”
Pam chuckled. “He was amazing with Alexei. Father had been trying to teach him to swim for months, but Eric taught him in a day.” She shrugged. “And the funny thing was that he didn’t even have to try! Eric, Nora, and I were in the pool playing Marco Polo during one of the days that Eric was home for winter break. I think Alexei was around seven, which would have made Eric almost fifteen. Anyway, Alexei was just sitting by the side of the pool and motioned for Eric to swim over. He whispered something to Eric, and the next thing Nora or I knew, Alexei was in the water, floating on his back like he didn’t have a care in the world.”
Sookie smiled. She could easily visualize Eric helping his little brother like that. “He taught me how to float first too,” she volunteered.
Pam took in the woman who so clearly loved her brother. Twenty-four hours before, her main question had been how Eric and Sookie could have gotten together. However, now that question seemed unimportant and irrelevant. After what Pam had come to know the night before, she was just glad that they had.
Pam continued her story. “Not two days later, Alexei was swimming like a fish and playing Marco Polo with us, though Eric always lost to him—to all of us—on purpose. Eric was such a good swimmer though—amazing even.”
Sookie nodded in agreement.
Pam smirked a little. “Frankly, I was always a little unnatural in the water. I wasn’t really afraid—at least not in the pool where it was easy to get to the sides or the shallow end. But in the lake near Mormor’s house, I was always a little apprehensive.” She looked at Sookie probingly. “But Eric always seemed to know that. I never said anything and he never said anything, but whenever I was in that lake, he was always around. It’s still that way.”
Sookie smiled. “That sounds like him.”
Pam closed her eyes. “I’m not going to lie and say that it doesn’t hurt that you seem to know him better than I ever have.”
Sookie surprised herself and Pam by reaching out to pat Pam’s arm. “I think that if you look inside yourself, you’ll find that you do know him,” she said softly.
Pam nodded and quickly brushed away another tear. “As I said,” she resumed, sitting up a little straighter, “there were some days when Eric would hang out with Nora, Alexei, and me in the pool room. But there were other days when he wouldn’t play with us at all—when he just went outside and read. And there would be nothing Nora or I could say to talk him into playing with us on those days. I always thought that Eric was weird for wanting to be outside so much—especially since it was usually so cold when he visited.” She sighed deeply. “And—then—there were some days when he just seemed to disappear altogether. He’d be at dinner, but he wouldn’t speak. And—the rest of the time—I wouldn’t be able to find him, not even if I went outside to look around.” She paused. “Those days were all I could think about when I got home last night. And then it hit me!”
“What hit you?” Sookie asked, when Pam was silent for half a minute.
“Eric basically vanished on the days when Father wasn’t working at NP—on the days when he was at home,” Pam said. She took a deep, shaky breath. “No matter how cold it got—or even if it was snowing—Eric went outside when Father was home.” Her voice grew quieter. “And I think that Eric found a hiding place outside—a place where no one could find him.” She shook her head. “I just never recognized the connection between Father being home and Eric disappearing before.”
Sookie brushed her own tear away as Pam continued to speak.
“The more I thought about the times when Eric was at the house, the more I remembered little things,” Pam paused, “like Eric not getting very many presents under the Christmas tree each year. Beth—did Eric tell you about her?” Pam paused to ask Sookie.
“Yes,” Sookie answered softly.
“Well—Beth made stockings for Eric and me the first year after she married my father; she was good at making things like that, actually. And the stockings were huge! They had our names in big letters, and I helped her by putting glitter on the names.” Pam smiled at the memory. “Eric’s stocking had a train on it, and mine had a Christmas angel. Even though I was only four, the memory of seeing Eric’s stocking is vivid to me, and my angel stocking is still used every Christmas.” She paused. “But I never saw Eric’s again. Even that first year, it wasn’t hung up with the other stockings. I remember asking Daddy where it was, and he told me that Eric didn’t believe in Santa Claus, so he was not left anything by him. I was so young at the time, but I remember thinking that Eric was crazy to not believe in Santa because he brought toys only to kids who believed in him.”
Pam continued. “When we were kids, Nora, Alexei, and I always got stockings filled to the brim, as well as dozens of toys under the tree. I thought and I thought and I thought last night, and I couldn’t remember Eric ever getting anything like that. Even when Nora and I got older and stopped believing in Santa, we would receive tons of gifts—electronics, games, purses, jewelry, expensive clothing. I remember bustling around with Nora every Christmas morning showing everybody my new things. I remember opening present after present from Daddy and Beth and—later—from Tamara. But I had a hard time remembering Eric at all on those mornings. And then I thought about how he acts at Christmas now, and I realized that he’s always been kind of the same.”
“Will you tell me?” Sookie whispered.
Pam closed her eyes as if she were collapsing twenty-five Christmases into a single memory. “The Christmas tree is always set up in the large family room, and there’s a chair kind of off to the side of the room. Eric sits there—every year. Daddy always sits on the main couch, and I realized that, with the tree set up, Daddy wouldn’t even be able to see Eric from where they are both sitting.” She shook her head. “I remember Eric always getting boring things when we were growing up; he would just get clothes—simple ones too—like off-brand Polo shirts and plain coats. Never anything trendy like the rest of us got. I always wondered why he would put only cheap clothes on his Christmas list.” She sighed. “But since Nora, Alexei, and I always got exactly what we wanted, I assumed that Eric did too.”
Her eyes opened, and they looked a little haunted. “In my mind, I developed this idea that Eric didn’t really want gifts, and when I think about where that idea came from, I remember something my father told me about Eric not liking to play with toys. It was just one more thing that made Eric strange to me, but I didn’t question whether Daddy was telling me the truth.”
“Why would you?” Sookie commented reassuringly.
“That’s kind of you to say,” Pam said quietly before resuming her story. “When I got older, I figured that Eric may have been against the consumerism of Christmas—or something ridiculous like that. I never asked him.”
She shook her head with regret. “Eric certainly never gave out gifts to anyone when he was young, though the rest of us exchanged. From the time we were pretty small, Beth helped Nora and me pick out presents for other family members. And later—once we were getting our allowances—we always chose the gifts we would give out. Daddy told us that we shouldn’t get anything for Eric since he didn’t like Christmas and couldn’t take things to school anyway.” She sighed. “But then—out of nowhere—Eric gave the family little presents when he was nineteen. Do you know why he gave them to us that year?” she asked Sookie with curiosity in her eyes.
Sookie could only guess, but she told Pam what she thought. “After Eric graduated from high school, he went to Harvard on a full scholarship, which included room and board. Before he turned 18, Appius would make sure he had some new clothing each year, and he also purchased Eric’s airline tickets to Sweden each summer. As far as I know, Eric didn’t have much money of his own, except for what he’d earned helping to take care of the horses at his boarding school. However, when Eric was eighteen, he,” she paused, “got into a little trouble when he tried to use the money he’d saved to come to Manhattan for Christmas Day. Godric, his headmaster from Murray Academy, talked to Appius that year, and—after that talk—I know that Eric was given forty thousand dollars to cover his expenses until he turned twenty-one.”
Sookie sighed. “Eric had to use most of that money for clubs that your father told him to join. And some of the money was used to buy his summer tickets to Sweden, as well as clothing and school books. And, of course, he used it to fund his meals and travel expenses during other school vacations too. The presents must have come from that money as well.” Sookie paused. “I think that was probably the first time that Eric had any money he could use for gifts.”
Pam took a deep breath. “During my college years at Stanford, I didn’t want to live in the dorms, even though I had a scholarship to cover them, so Daddy bought me a house—a fucking beach house near Miramar—and he sent me five thousand dollars a month for expenses even though he always paid all my bills. Sometimes I asked for more.”
Sookie laughed a little to keep from crying. “Eric wouldn’t have asked for more, but I know he made due. I know that he was very grateful at that time because his scholarship didn’t allow him to get a job for his first few years of college.”
Pam shook her head a little. “I was an unimaginable bitch to Eric that first year he got us all gifts. I was seventeen at the time, and his gift stuck out because I’d never gotten anything from him before. He’d bought me this little set of nail polishes, but I could tell the polish was cheap. Hell—it was a generic brand! Nora received the same thing, and I remember us throwing the gifts away.” She sighed with regret and brushed away a tear that she didn’t even try to hide this time. “We didn’t intend for Eric to know that we’d tossed out his gifts, but he was helping Markus with the trash for some reason, so he saw them. Nora and I apologized, of course, and explained that we couldn’t use the polish because it was cheap and would stain our nails yellow. We thought he was just a dumb guy who didn’t know the right brands to get, so we wrote them down for him.”
Pam shook her head ruefully. “He didn’t buy us anything for a few years. We thought he was pissed at us or had gone back to his anti-gift-giving ways. When he did start again, he bought us really nice things. He still does—you know. Every year, he’ll buy us an amazing pair of shoes or an expensive purse due out in the spring.”
“He knows that you will like those things,” Sookie said carefully.
“Looking back, I realize that the gifts started again when Eric was twenty-one, which was when he would have had access to his inheritance from Grandfather John.” Pam sighed. “I can’t remember a time when I got Eric a gift.” She shook her head. “Of course, that’s because everyone knows he doesn’t like gifts,” she added remorsefully.
Pam closed her eyes tightly. “Of course, Eric never told me that, but I just assumed because of what my father said when we were kids. Again—I thought it was some kind of political statement or something. Now, Sophie-Anne insists upon giving him something each year—usually a God-awful Christmas tie. She thinks she’s being funny or ironic, and she calls him Scrooge. But I’ve,” she paused, “noticed that Gracie gives Eric something every year, but it’s handmade.”
Sookie smiled. “She makes him a card every year. He’s got a stack of them. I found them in my nightstand the other day.” She paused. “And what about the pictures you took in Sweden? You gave those to Eric—right?” Sookie asked, trying to make Pam feel better. “Eric told me that those were a housewarming gift.”
Pam sighed. “Sort of. He asked me for copies of the pictures, and then I made sure they were framed properly because I didn’t trust his taste.”
“Well—I think that counts,” Sookie said decisively. “And I know that Eric doesn’t need gifts to know you love him.”
“It’s not just the gifts though,” Pam said with another deep sigh. “Looking back there are a hundred things that showed just how badly Father treated Eric. I mean—I was always a little jealous of Nora because she was Father’s favorite, but I was sort of Beth’s favorite in a lot of ways, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. And Father still spoiled me and Alexei and then Gracie before Tamara and he divorced. And he dotes on little Appius, Jr. But I’ve never seen my father do one nice thing for Eric; I’ve never heard him say one nice thing. I guess I just assumed that he did those things when I wasn’t looking, but that’s not the case—is it?”
“No,” Sookie confirmed.
“Is he okay? I mean—is Eric okay now?”
Sookie nodded, though her eyes held a lot of pain for the man she loved. “He’s doing the best he can with the hand he’s been dealt.” She sighed. “I also had a parent who mistreated me, and that mistreatment was my normal; it’s all I ever knew. It’s the same with Eric. Part of him, however, will always want to please Appius—because part of him will always be the little boy sitting in the shadow of the Christmas tree who didn’t understand why everyone else was being treated differently than he was. Part of him will always be the little boy being told by Appius that he wasn’t good enough. And the part of him that internalized that message will always feel that Appius was right—even though he has intellectualized that Appius was simply being cruel for the sake of his revenge against your mother.” She paused. “I can empathize with Eric in a lot of ways, but in other ways your father was even crueler to him than my mother was to me. But—importantly—I’m no longer trapped by my mother, even though I still sometimes hear her critical voice in my head.”
“But Eric’s still trapped,” Pam observed.
“You’re helping him—though—to be happy?” Pam asked.
“We’re loving each other,” Sookie responded. “And since neither of us has ever had someone who loved us like we love each other, it’s helping both of us.”
“Pam?” Sookie asked after a minute.
“I hope you’ll be there for Eric when he and I have to say goodbye,” Sookie said quietly. “Will you promise me that you will be? I worry about him. He thinks he’ll be okay because—as a child—he became so numb to losing the things that mattered to him. And his defense has always been not to allow things to matter to him too much. But some things have slipped in: NP, you, Gracie, A.J., your mormor, Bobby, and now me. I think he’s always been afraid that Appius would do something to alienate his siblings from his life, but he hasn’t been able to keep himself from caring for you all. He really does love with his whole heart too; I’ve felt it. But he’s so afraid of losing something he loves that he’s frightened to say he loves it out loud. He’s afraid that Appius will come swooping in and take it, just as he took away his friends and the things he liked doing when he was a child.”
Pam brushed away another tear, again not trying to conceal it. “I’ll always be there for Eric. Nothing my father does could stop me—especially now that I know what he has done to Eric over the years.”
Sookie sighed. “I am not condoning Appius at all, but it’s clear that his hatred of Eric stems from his own pain. However, Appius wasn’t a strong enough individual to overcome that pain, and he took it out on Eric, and I hate him for that. But—for you—it must be hard. He’s always treated you well.”
“Yes,” Pam said as uncertainty and guilt filled her eyes. “I don’t know what to do about my father, Sookie. I love him, but the man that did what he did to Eric is someone I hate.”
Sookie reached over and patted Pam’s arm again. “I don’t envy your situation, Pam.”
“Shit!” Pam exclaimed as another tear slipped down her face. She glanced at the clock. “Shit!” she repeated more loudly. “Come on!” She rose quickly and grabbed the flowers Sookie had brought before leading Sookie through a section of the large space that looked like a sitting room. Next, Pam went through a door, which led to a small dining room, and then into a kitchen. Both rooms had white as their dominant color; however, the kitchen had a few oak cabinets to complement the starkness of the white.
“I’ll just put this in the oven to warm,” Pam said, taking a large tin from a bag that said Marcello’s on the side.
Sookie suppressed a grin. Eric had told her that Pam’s idea of “cooking” was ordering take-out and heating it up. Pam grabbed a bottle of white wine from the refrigerator and quickly uncorked it and poured two glasses. She took a long drink immediately.
“Eric will be here in fifteen minutes, and you shouldn’t look like you’ve been crying,” she said matter-of-factly. “If he sees that you have been, he will assume I made you cry by saying something to offend you, which I haven’t—have I?”
“No,” Sookie replied with a smile.
“Good,” Pam said proudly. “I’ve been trying very hard to be nice.”
Sookie shook her head a little. “Um—thanks.”
“It’s just that I wanted someone to talk to about all this stuff,” Pam explained. “And I’m not ready to talk to Eric about it yet. And Bobby and I didn’t . . . .”
“Talk much?” Sookie supplied helpfully.
Pam smirked a little. “I knew that Eric knew about Bobby and me. Bobby just likes to pretend that he doesn’t.”
Sookie smiled a little. “It’s good that you had Bobby last night.”
Pam nodded. “I wish he . . . ,” she paused.
“Were a woman?” Sookie finished.
“Exactly! Bobby with a vagina and a nice pair of tits would be perfect!” she exclaimed.
Sookie and Pam both chuckled.
Pam sighed. “Maybe when we’re in Sweden, Eric and I can talk,” she said taking another big gulp of wine before putting her glass down onto the counter. “And though I really tried to talk to Bobby last night, I just fell into bed with him—not that I don’t want to fall into bed with you,” she rambled. “Now that I’ve really looked at you, I’ve realized that you’re actually quite attractive and close to the type of woman I’ve been going for lately. You don’t swing that way—do you?”
“Pity,” Pam said, still sizing Sookie up.
Sookie took a long drink of her own wine, but then laughed.
“What?” Pam asked.
“Eric warned me that there might be lesbian weirdness.”
“Oh come on,” Pam grinned, her eyebrow arching just like her brother’s might, “haven’t you ever even tried a woman?”
“I’ve barely tried men,” Sookie chuckled. “And after your brother, I’m pretty certain about my sexual orientation.”
Pam chuckled and then grabbed Sookie’s hand. “Come—let’s fix our faces before Eric gets here.”
She led Sookie through the kitchen to a hallway and then entered the first door on her left. Sookie gasped a little.
“You like?” Pam asked with a smirk.
“Wow! What is it with you Northmans and tubs?” Sookie exclaimed as she took in the amazing bathroom. It had large windows along one side, and anyone in the bathtub would have a gorgeous view of the park. There was also a clear shower, not as large as Eric’s shower, but still quite impressive. It also was next to a floor-to-ceiling window.
“It’s a Swedish thing,” Pam said offhandedly.
“Aren’t you scared that people will be able to look in?” Sookie asked.
“The windows are tinted, making that almost impossible.” She grinned with satisfaction. “Eric might have a hot tub on his balcony, but I think he still envies me this tub and shower. He’s just pissed that his little ‘man cave’ is in the interior of his house,” she cackled a bit.
Sookie shook her head fondly as she thought about that “man cave” and the many pleasurable hours she’d spent there with Eric.
“Here,” Pam said, turning around and going to the long counter that ran along the wall opposite the windows. She grabbed a wash rag and handed it to Sookie. “You can use this to wash your tear streaks.” She pulled out another washrag and a makeup bag. “You can help yourself to anything in here too,” Pam said, gesturing toward the bag.
Looking in the mirror, Sookie couldn’t really see anything amiss, but she indulged Pam anyway by dutifully rinsing her face. Since she’d been wearing minimal makeup, she was done “fixing her face” in just a moment, while Pam applied some eyeliner, powder, and lipstick as if it were an Olympic sport.
“This side of the house is where my master bedroom is,” Pam volunteered, “so you needn’t ever worry about being loud with Eric—not that I could hear anything anyway with the way this building has been constructed.”
Immediately, Sookie blushed a deep crimson. “Uh—okay,” she said awkwardly.
“When Eric and I decided to both live in this building,” Pam continued, “I think he purposely put his master bedroom on the opposite side of the building from mine because he didn’t want to hear what I was up to.” She moved on to mascara.
“Uh—okay,” Sookie repeated, not really knowing how else to respond to Pam’s topic. She tried to occupy herself by once more looking around the bathroom.
“Take a look around the house if you want,” Pam suggested. “Yes—explore the house. Eric will be here in a little while, and I’ll meet him at the elevator.”
Sookie nodded. “Okay.”
Pam smiled. “Thanks. Just come back around to the kitchen when you’re done,” she said.
“Uh—okay,” Sookie said yet again, a little surprised that Pam had invited her to wander around, but glad to have something to do other than watching Pam apply makeup. Plus, she didn’t want to begrudge Pam and Eric a minute or two alone together. She knew that they needed it.
Sookie went to the door at the far end of the bathroom, which she figured led to Pam’s bedroom. She was right.
Pam’s room looked like something out of a magazine. The color pallet was white with a little bit of gray and a little bit of pink. Along the outer wall, different sizes of windows had been placed to create an interesting pattern. And other squares had been cut into the wall to make shelves. The effect was unlike anything Sookie had ever seen. She figured that the room put the “Feng” into Feng Shui.
Once Sookie exited the bedroom, she saw two sets of French doors across the hall. Entering the first one, she gasped.
“Geez,” she muttered to herself. “It’s not a closet; it’s a boutique!” Wide-eyed, Sookie looked around. Actually, the room was more like a shoe boutique. There were shelves and shelves full of shoes, as well as shelves and shelves brimming with purses and other accessories. Sookie left that room and then entered the other set of French doors. Not surprisingly, there was another amazing room/closet, this one actually for clothing.
As Sookie continued to explore Pam’s house at a moderate pace, she could tell that the same tasteful, elegant hand had decorated every room. There was a music room complete with a grand piano and a harp. There was another living room/sitting room and then an entertainment room, complete with a little theater. There was also a small office as well as two guest rooms. All in all, the house was gorgeous and well-styled, just like Pam herself. By the time she’d worked her way back to the kitchen, she heard Eric’s voice.
“I think I’ll go look for her,” Eric said.
Pam scoffed. “Really, Eric, it’s not like I killed her and hid the body,” Pam said in a snarky tone, even as Sookie walked into the kitchen. “See? She’s perfectly unharmed.”
Eric was next to Sookie in two long strides. “You okay?” he asked.
Sookie smiled and rose onto her tiptoes to kiss his cheek. “Yeah—a little lesbian weirdness aside—Pam’s been the perfect hostess,” Sookie said, grabbing the glass of wine she’d left on the counter and taking a sip.
“I told you so,” Pam said triumphantly.
Eric looked at Pam with mild surprise. “So you did.”
Sookie smiled at the siblings, envying the fact that they were close, despite the differences in the way they’d been raised. In the sibling department, Eric had been lucky. From what Sookie had heard, all of Eric’s siblings—including even Nora—seemed to think highly of him. Sookie was glad, at least, that Appius hadn’t actively bred derision between Eric and his brothers and sisters. But she was also sad that she and Jason would never share a moment like the one she was witnessing between Eric and Pam.
“What is it?” Eric asked, a look of concern on his face. Pam was wearing a similar look, and Sookie realized that a tear had fallen from her eye.
Sookie smiled sheepishly. “Sorry. I was just envying you and Pam a little because of Jason,” she said.
“Jason?” Pam asked.
“Yes—my brother,” Sookie said. “Unfortunately, we were never close. My mom encouraged him to be,” she paused, “distant from me.”
“Oh,” Pam said. She smiled up at Eric. “Yes. We’re lucky to have each other. I’ve heard horror stories about other big brothers, but mine was always nice to me.”
Sookie couldn’t help the smile that tugged at her lips at seeing Pam and Eric together. She could tell that Pam’s knowledge of Eric’s background would only make them closer, and she was grateful about that.
“So—Sookie agrees with me that my bathroom is head and shoulders above yours,” Pam winked over at Sookie.
“You just made yours like that because I was already planning on putting in a hot tub,” Eric returned.
The two siblings continued to squabble—the casual playfulness of their jesting being just what they needed, given the emotional nature of the previous day. Sookie enjoyed the moment. It was a family moment, and she felt like she belonged in it.
A/N: I’ve been working all morning to get you one more chapter before Christmas. I hope that you enjoyed it. This was both a fun and a difficult chapter to write. I always loved Pam and Sookie’s interactions in the books (at least until the last book). I think that they had a real friendship, and I wanted to lay the foundations for that. Pam is still having a hard time, but she is, at heart, an extremely loyal and discerning person.
Thanks for all the wonderful comments about the last chapter!
Much love and Merry Christmas!!! if you celebrate. If you celebrate a different holiday, I hope that you have a blessed one. If you don’t celebrate, then just have an “awesomer” day than usual. 😉