It seemed to take forever to get everything unpacked, but finally, I was nestled into my very own apartment. I looked around with a big smile on my face, proud of myself for all I’d accomplished in the last few months. My smile faltered when my eyes landed on a picture of me with my Gran. I tried not to focus on the fact that it was only her death that made any of this possible. She’d raised me and my brother Jason from the time we were kids. Our parents died in a freak accident during a flash flood and she’d taken us in. She’d died when I was still in college. She’d left me our family’s old farmhouse and the land it was built on.
Because the house was so old it was made a landmark home and was purchased by the Renard Parish Historical Society. They owned the house but not the land. I’d retained ownership of that. They wanted to restore the house to its former glory and I couldn’t say yes to their proposal fast enough. So I’d sold them the house, along with the vast majority of the furniture inside because it had been handcrafted by one Stackhouse or another, and decided it was time to take my show on the road.
I was a college graduate, floundering in a job as a barmaid at the local watering hole. It wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life and the romantic prospects in a town as small as Bon Temps were slim to none. In fact, I was pretty sure my ex, John Quinn, was probably the best I’d ever do and I’d already done him. I had no intention of going back for sloppy seconds so I decided it was time to get while the getting was good.
I’d always loved being outside. I loved sunshine and water, so I wanted to move to a place where I could be near a beach. I ended up choosing Los Angeles because my friend Tara was already here. She’d moved with her trainer boyfriend, JB DuRone, and she swore it was the best thing she’d ever done. I did some apartment scouting on-line and I had Tara take some tours for me, sending me pictures of each apartment she saw. Via gchats and twitter conversations we were able to pic the appropriate apartment for me. I filled out the application on the internet and signed a lease without ever actually touring my potential new digs myself.
I packed my things and took what furniture I had stipulated I wanted in the contract when I sold Gran’s house. I was using the money from the sale to finance my move, as well as padding my bank account until I was gainfully employed. Tara was working at an upscale boutique but that sort of thing wasn’t for me. I was willing to concede that any job was better than none until the right opportunity presented itself. At the same time, I knew that I was a creature of habit. I would sink my teeth into something just so I’d have a routine to follow. I’d get comfortable and rather than pushing myself to do something more with my life, I’d stay right where I was because it felt familiar.
Hence the moving to Los Angeles before I could talk myself out of it. Now, here I am putting a celebratory frozen pizza in my oven. I grabbed a coke from the fridge and went out to the patio to watch the sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous. I had a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. I watched as the lights of the city slowly came up and I couldn’t help but smile. I listened for the timer to go off inside.
I’d just finished plating up my pizza when my cell phone made a sound that let me know I had a new email waiting to be read. I went to my laptop and fired up the internet. It was an email from Tara, of all people, who’d overheard one of her regular clients at the boutique talking about an open position for an executive assistant for a modeling/talent agency called Genesis West. She even provided the link for me to check out the company and the posting listed for help wanted.
I clicked on the link and was taken to some fancy schmancy website that needed a moment to load because of the background music and flash player required in order for the site to function properly. The screen flashed a bit like a photographer was taking pictures. The posting was a simple one.
Executive Assistant to C.E.O.
PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES: Provide high level of administrative support to leadership team including coordinating meetings and presentations screening mail and phone calls, setting up and maintaining files and filing systems, making travel arrangements, and other daily duties. Assist the Chief Executive Officer with preparation of annual department expense budgets and monthly tracking of actual expenses.
• Minimum of 3-5 years previous administrative experience.
• Proficient in MS Office to include MS Word, PowerPoint and Outlook.
• Advanced MS Excel skills (i.e., if, subtotal, sumif, vlookup, filtering, linking worksheets, formulas)
• Strong oral and written communication skills with the ability to communicate and work well with all levels in the Genesis West.
• Excellent Organizational skills with the ability to follow through on tasks.
• Ability to multi-task with strong attention to detail.
• Work independently while completing work accurately.
• Ability to maintain confidentiality and professionalism a must at all times.
• Post High School Education
• Knowledge of fashion industry
I looked at the things listed on the posting, noting that while I certainly had the ability to become that person, I wasn’t really there yet. I definitely didn’t have the required minimal experience working in administration but I could certainly fudge that, couldn’t I? I tapped nervously on my desk, wondering if I should take a chance and send in my resume. What could it hurt? The worst that could happen is that I wouldn’t get a call back.
I decided to do a little more looking around on the website before sending in my resume. I read about the company’s inception. Turns out it was run by a former model looking to be more behind the camera than in front of it. He, yes I said he, wanted to help other struggling ‘artists’ to reach the level of fame he’d once claimed for himself. His name was Eric Northman, according to the website. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that for a girl, I know surprisingly little about fashion. I’d always chosen comfort over style. I hated high heels and trying to figure out accessories. I was a simple, down home kind of girl. I would always be more comfortable in a well fitting pair of jeans than I would be a designer dress. That was just me.
But then I saw Eric Northman’s picture and my jaw dropped. It was easy to see why he’d been such a successful model. He was drop dead gorgeous. I sat there catching flies for a good sixty seconds before I remembered to breath and close my mouth. That might be my new boss? Hello, heart palpitations, how nice of you to join me this evening. I quickly closed out my browser. No way could I work for that man. I’d always thought it was a mistake to mix business with pleasure and I was pretty sure I’d throw that policy right out the window within seconds of meeting Eric Northman.
What sane woman wouldn’t?
All of my red flags went shooting up in the air and waved furiously. Applying to be Eric Northman’s assistant would be a huge mistake. I decided I wasn’t going to think about it anymore. Yet, all through dinner I kept thinking about the sparkle in his bright blue eyes and what it would be like to have those eyes to look into on a daily basis. Nope, not gonna go there, I told myself. I needed a career, not a sexual harassment suit.
I put Eric out of my mind and went back to people watching from my balcony, a much safer activity.
I spent the next day at the beach working on my tan. I decided I had a few days before I had to seriously start looking for a job. I had enough money in my bank account to keep me afloat for several months if nothing panned out but I didn’t want to rely on that money if I didn’t have to. It was all I had and I didn’t want to have to return to Bon Temps with my tail between my legs. Although, my previous employer had promised me I would always have a job waiting for me if I changed my mind and came home.
I figured that was Sam’s way of telling me he liked me without having to actually say the words. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Sam just fine and if it weren’t for the fact that he was my boss, I probably would have considered him as a possible boyfriend. Sam was reliable and sweet. As far as potential husbands go in Bon Temps, I could have done a lot worse than Sam Merlotte, even if he was about ten years my senior. It was too easy to see what my life would be like with him which was part of the reason I’d been so steadfast in the idea of not getting involved with him.
I didn’t want a predictable life. I wanted a little excitement before I settled into a marriage with two kids and a dog. I wanted the chance to see what else was in the world, what else there was for me to experience before I locked myself into a daily routine. I needed the growth. Sam had been disappointed, to say the least, when I told him I was leaving. He seemed to understand, being that he wasn’t a Bon Temps native. Still, it didn’t mean he wanted me to go and I suspect it didn’t have as much to do with my waitressing skills as he wanted me to think it did.
I got back from the beach shortly before sunset feeling refreshed and deliciously tan. My skin was just a little bit tighter from being in the sun all day. I took a long bath in hopes of regaining some of the moisture I’d lost. I was sitting on my couch, lotioning my legs when my cell rang. It was Jason. I wasn’t really in the talking mood so I let the call go to voicemail. Chances were, he was calling to ask me some hair-brained question that would just make me roll my eyes.
I loved my big brother but he had the sense of a box of hair. He left a voicemail and I promised myself that I’d listen to it later. I flipped through the channels on TV, hoping to find something slightly educational. I found myself watching one of the old seasons of America’s Next Top Model, amazed at what could be done with computer programs to make photos look like they did. Seeing the photo shoots got me to thinking about Eric again.
“Ugh!” I groaned in frustration.
I’d chased him out of my head a good three times while I was at the beach. I’d been in that lovely stage that was somewhere between sleep and awake when I started to fantasize that he was rubbing lotion on my back. If this was how it was going to be maybe it would be better if I just submitted my resume to the email address so my conscience would shut the hell up and find something else to obsess over.
I ended up back on the Genesis West website, looking at the photo gallery. Most of the pictures were of Eric’s clients but there were a few of him, as well. After watching the things I had on ANTM, I was convinced there was no way he was really that good looking. Okay, so maybe there was a great base there but his coloring and skin had to be edited by some genius graphic artist. No way was he that beautiful in person.
I tried googling him and came across his fan site. The pictures there were equally flawless. I read a few of the comments left by his fans and it was obvious to me that he was quite the ladies man. A few of the comments left were scathing, clearly written by women he’d been with but hadn’t been willing to commit to. I couldn’t help but snicker at their immaturity.
“If I looked like that, I wouldn’t want to settle down either.” I said out loud to myself.
The man was rich and famous with what appeared to be a booming business on his hands. Why would he want to settle for one woman when he could have every woman he ever wanted, and then some? Why not play the field? A part of me thought maybe not settling down would be easier for him. There would be no worries over pre-nuptual agreements or the worries that he was simply being taken for half of everything he had. I had no idea what he was worth but I could look up the financials for the company.
After doing just that, I was stunned. Eric was the sole owner of Genesis West. He had also been the face, or should I say body, of several very successful modeling campaigns. He’d traveled the world over and got paid to be sexy. And I was quite sure he was paid very well to do it. To say Eric was a millionnaire several times over would be a big understatement. Yeah, if I were him, I’d stay single, too. I watched enough TV and movies to know there were plenty of sharks in the water. Hell, it was Eric’s job to be one of them.
I debated a while longer over whether or not to send my resume. I clicked through the many, many hits that came up on Google when I searched Eric’s name. While looking through some of the pictures I came across one by a photographer named Lisel. I’d had to look at several other pictures before I got to the ones she’d taken of Eric. While I can’t deny that I enjoyed the other pictures I’d seen in which he smoldered at the camera, she’d managed to capture a vulnerability in him that didn’t seem contrived or forced. I saw something in his eyes, a depth that was lacking in the work of others. There was almost a sadness there that made me want to hug him and I didn’t even know him.
And then, the last shot she had was one of him smiling in such a genuine way that it made my heart thud. It was obvious to me that picture hadn’t been planned. She’d simply caught him at the right moment. I tried to figure out what his laughter would sound like and that was when I knew I was in deep shit. I resigned myself to the notion that I could keep on obsessing over Eric, wondering what he was like, or I could just email my resume and find out what he was like. Assuming I got a call back.
I pasted my cover letter into the body of an email and attached my resume to it. Before I could change my mind, I clicked send. I sat back, staring at the screen. I switched tabs, staring at Eric’s smiling face. My heart skipped another beat and I slammed my laptop shut.
What the hell was I doing?
Believe it or not, my plan to email my resume to get Eric out of my head actually worked. Well, for the most part, anyway. The only time I saw him after that was in my dreams and it was always him laughing. I was standing behind a camera where he was being photographed and I would just watch, hoping he would laugh at something. My brain tried out several different laughs before I decided the one I liked best sounded like a rumble that started deep in his chest before exploding from his mouth. He would throw his head back and practically howl, sort of like a werewolf.
I would wake up in the morning chastising myself for going there, even in my dreams. As if I could control those, or something. I went about my life and applied for other jobs that I saw postings for. Before I knew it two weeks had passed and I hadn’t heard a peep from anyone at Genesis West. I decided it was probably a lost cause. If I was going to continue to admire Eric Northman, it would have to be from the anonymity of my dreams.
Tara called me to meet her for lunch and it was while we were milling around Fred Segal’s afterward that my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number that came up on the display but I figured it was probably a prospective employer so I took the call.
“This is Sookie Stackhouse.” I answered in my most hospitable voice.
“This is Pam. You submitted a resume to Genesis West, yes?” The woman had just a touch of a British accent.
“Yes, I did.”
“After reviewing your resume, Eric has asked that you present yourself tomorrow at eleven a.m. Are you available to meet with him?”
I was a bit flabbergasted. I was also incredibly thankful I was at Fred Segal’s. I needed a new dress. Maybe new shoes. Before I could get too carried away, I remembered Pam was waiting for my answer. “Yes, Pam, I can be there.”
“Excellent. I will email you the address. Do you need directions?”
“Uh, no, thank you. If I can’t figure it out, I’ll Google it.”
“How resourceful.” Pam snickered. “Good day, Miss Stackhouse.” Before I could say another word, Pam hung up on me.
“Who was that?” Tara asked when I stood there too long staring at my cell phone like it was going to cure cancer.
“That was Pam.” I said as though that should explain it all. A nudge from Tara got me to finish the story. “I have an interview at Genesis West tomorrow morning at eleven.”
“I told you so!” Tara pulled me into a hug.
I laughed nervously. While I was excited about the potential job, I was suddenly terrified about meeting Eric. I’d built up his character in my head, creating him from scratch. I imagined he was slightly arrogant and had no problem letting everyone know just how much he thought of himself. But there was a twinkle in his eyes that told me he probably had a wicked sense of humor. I shook those thoughts from my head. I had to let my Dream Eric go. I was going to meet the real thing and I couldn’t go walking in there with any preconceived notions about who he was.
It was bad enough I was sure he would probably be able to smell my fear. He certainly would be able to see it. I let Tara give me the mother of all pep talks while we shopped. I found what I hoped would be an appropriate outfit for my interview the following morning, as well as a pair of shoes that might just be the last pair I ever owned if I couldn’t control my spastic limbs while wearing them. Something told me if I started working for Eric Northman, I better get used to dangerously high heels, and fast.
By the time I got back to my apartment I was feeling a bit more confident. Tara had even asked me mock interview questions while we were walking around the store so I could practice my answers. I got the coffee ready to go for the following morning and made sure to set my alarm so I would be up and ready in plenty of time. I got directions to the address that Pam had emailed me. I had everything ready to go for the next day.
I crawled into bed just before midnight and said a quick prayer, hoping that God would be willing to do a little extra looking out for me. Even if I didn’t get the job, I just didn’t want to make a complete idiot of myself. My nerves started to get all frazzled again but then the memory of Eric’s smile in that last picture came to mind, and suddenly, I felt myself drifting off. Eric’s smiling face was the last thing I saw before I fell into my dreams.