Bobbie James & Vera Wang
“Good morning, Miss Sookie.”
“Hm – oh, good morning, Alicia.”
“I’m sorry to wake you up, Miss, but it’s 11 o’clock and Mr. Burnham called and said you would be interviewing personal trainers and a masseuse today beginning at 2:00. He asked me to help you with that, if you’d like.” She set the tray she was carrying over Sookie’s lap.
“Oh, yeah, I don’t really know what to ask.” The food smelled so good – oatmeal, whole wheat toast, scrambled eggs, and grape juice. “This looks so good, Alicia.”
“I thought the grape juice might be a little easier on your tummy. It was the orange juice yesterday that set you off. Also, I know you tend to prefer eggs over easy, but scrambled are less likely to irritate.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Do you have any idea how many people I’m interviewing today?”
“I believe there are three, set to arrive a half-hour apart. One does fitness training for pregnant women, one does massage and specializes in pregnancy and post-delivery massage, and there’s one that Mr. Burnham and I agreed was probably the best bet, who does yoga, fitness training, has experience with water aerobics and can also do massage. She’s very skilled.”
“Wow, she sounds great – why am I interviewing the other two?”
“Just to give you an idea of whom is available, what they do, and to see how your personalities mesh. You want someone you will be comfortable with when it comes to bodywork. “
“Are they all women?”
“Oh, yes, Mr. Northman was adamant about that. There were a couple of very qualified men but he said absolutely not. He’s a bit old-fashioned, that way I gather.”
“Yes, it’s because he’s so old. He’s very possessive, but I’m getting used to it – even starting to like it a little, “ she laughed. “What do I wear for these interviews? Do I need to dress up?”
“I was thinking a nice little dress – Mr. Northman said he prefers dresses, so that’s mostly what I’ve been buying – there’s a pretty one here that would be nice.” Alicia reached into the closet and pulled out a yellow flowered, sleeveless shirtdress with a full skirt.
“Oh, that’s pretty – I hope it fits.”
“I’m pretty sure it will, Miss. The fullness of the skirt will make allowance for your little baby bump.”
Sookie laughed and patted her tummy. Is it possible it had grown noticeably since yesterday?
“What kind of shoes should I wear?”
“I’d say these little sandals you’ve already got out – they’re very sweet and they’re good for your back. It’s probably best to avoid heels as much as you can right now.”
“Yeah, I guess so. Any ideas what I need to wear under it?”
“I’ve got a nice cotton slip for you here in this drawer. You wouldn’t need anything else if you didn’t want, or maybe just a pair of panties.”
“That sounds great. Is there a steno pad laying up there on the dresser?”
“Yes, here you go, Miss.” Sookie wiped her hands on her napkin and opened the pad.
“Ok, what do I ask?”
“Well, you ask where they were trained.”
Sookie wrote that down.
“What kind of certifications they have. Whether they have medical training.”
“You ask how many expectant mothers they have worked with.”
“You ask exactly which services they provide.”
“What would they expect from you.”
“When are they available.”
“Like what time and stuff?”
“Yes – I would expect you’d want them to come about two or three o’clock, though you could do it as early as noon. That would give you a couple of hours to work with them and then you’d have plenty of time to get ready if Mr. Northman has plans for you in the evening.”
“Yeah, that makes sense.”
“And then you just see how you feel with them – whether they seem warm or cold, too clinical, too spacey, not knowledgeable enough, kind, snippy. You want someone you’ll be happy to see when she shows up every day.”
“OK – and you’ll sit in on this with me?”
“If that’s what you prefer…”
“I would. If Eric’s not going to be there, I’d like another person’s opinion.”
“That will be fine. You finish your breakfast and I’ll be back for your dishes in a little bit. Would you like the television on?”
“No, not right now, thanks. I need to think about this.”
“Very good, Miss, Oh – here’s your monitor. I’ve got the other with me.”
Wow – now she understood why Eric hired Alicia. Sookie had no idea how to be the Lady of the Manor as Eric called it and Alicia was here to make sure someone had her back and could tell her how to dress and act so she wouldn’t seem foolish or be stressed out not knowing what to do. She realized he had thought about this, and thought about what she needed and how to make things easier for her.
A part of her could have assumed that he thought she was stupid or uncultured, but she knew it wasn’t that. It was more about having someone to guide her. He knew she had good manners and she’d want to seem graceful and in control. He was giving her the tools to do that.
He really is a smart man. Sookie realized that she forgets that sometimes. He’s not like anyone else she had ever known. He wasn’t like the guys from Bon Temps, or even big city guys. He was special and he thought she was special enough to go to all of this time and expense for. She was starting to realize that she’d been ungrateful several times and knowing that made her wince. She resolved to show him more appreciation, and to live up to his good opinion of her. She still wasn’t sure she deserved all of this, but he thought she did, so make the most of it. He was trying like hell to make her happy, so she owed him the same effort.
It was 12 by the time she finished eating and she began to get a little nervous. She had two hours to get ready so she went ahead and took her shower, got dressed in the outfit Alicia suggested and put on a little makeup. It was a good call – it did hide her tummy, which was definitely bigger, and it made her look like a lady. She still had over an hour to kill. Now what? She noticed her laptop sitting beside the bed.
She went over to the baby monitor and pushed the button.
“Do you know if the internet on my laptop will work downstairs?
“Yes, I believe there’s wireless available in the entire house. Would you like me to help you move downstairs?”
“No, I can do it. I’ll take the monitor with me and my laptop and I think I’ll set it up on Eric’s desk in the first floor study.”
“Alright, Miss. Just let me know if you need anything.”
Sookie gathered up her laptop, steno pad and baby monitor and headed down stairs.
She hardly ever saw this part of the house in the daytime, but she guessed she’d see it a lot when the pool was open.
There was a formal living room, really fancy formal dining room, Eric’s study, the den and that big Martha Stewart kitchen. She was standing in the entryway looking around when Margaret came out of the kitchen.
“Hello, Miss Sookie” she said cheerily.
“Hi, Margaret – I didn’t know you were working today.”
“Oh, yes, Mr. Burnham called about your interviews. I’ll have tea and refreshments for them when they get here.”
“Oh, that’s great. Are you serving the cake from last night?”
“I’ll have some of that and some healthier choices in case our guests prefer that.”
“Great.” Sookie started looking around again.
“Can I help you with something, Miss?”
“I’m not sure where I should do the interviews.”
“Well, Mr. Northman’s study is good, but it might seem a bit more formal than you’d like, so I was thinking I’d set things up in the living room so it will be a little more relaxed.”
“Oh, good, that’s great. Thank you.”
Sookie went into the study and found the power strip for the big desktop so she could plug her laptop in. She opened it up and got a little thrill because it was so pretty when it was open. The browser was still open so she did a search for wedding dresses. She knew she didn’t want a big white cake shaped thing covered with lace, but she wanted something full length, white and very classy. Wow, look at all those links. She had no idea where to start. She looked at the baby monitor. She looked at all those links. Back to the baby monitor. OK, Sookie, you know you need help, so ask her.
“I’m sorry to bother you again. Do you know of a good website to look for a wedding dress that doesn’t look big and poofy. Something more like a white evening gown?”
“Try VeraWangonWeddings.com, Miss”
“That’s V.E.R.A.W.A.N.G. on weddings, no spaces?”
“Yes, you’ll like those very much.”
“OK, Thanks, Alicia”
Sookie went to the website – wow. They have a lot of information. She clicked on the gown gallery and really liked what she saw. She started just going through the long row of gowns and saw two she really liked. One was strapless and had a green sash, and it looked like it belonged on a Greek Goddess. The other one was also strapless and the skirt was a little fuller than she had pictured, but she knew it would look great on her as long as she didn’t wait too much longer. She clicked on the details – $5,000 to $8,000! Holy smoke! She was thinking a couple of hundred dollars would be a lot. She closed the laptop and panicked just a little.
A few minutes later, Alicia came down stairs and looked in on her. Sookie was still sitting there thinking that surely that was too much money. Maybe Tara had something at her store that would do.
“Did you see anything you liked, Miss Sookie?”
“Yeah, they were gorgeous, but they’re so much money!”
“Has Mr. Northman given you a budget for the wedding?
“No, I haven’t asked about that yet. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to spend that much money on one dress, though.”
“Do you still have the dress that you liked on your computer screen?”
“Yeah, I just closed the lid – I think it will still be there.”
“Let’s have a look at it.”
Alicia came around the desk and Sookie opened the laptop. She clicked the bottom and opened a window that showed a larger view.
“Oh, that’s very pretty, Miss – it would look lovely on you if …”
“If I was going to wear it pretty soon?”
“Exactly. When is the wedding?”
“I’m not sure yet, but it’s got to be fairly soon because I want to do it before the baby comes and I won’t be able to fly a couple of months from now.”
“Where are you planning to go?”
“I think we’re doing a small ceremony in Las Vegas at one of the fancy hotels with just my brother and a couple of friends.”
“That will be very nice. This dress would be lovely for that.”
“But the price…”
“Let’s do this. Let’s keep this picture here and show Mr. Northman when he arrives and see what he has to say about it. Then you’ll know what your budget for a dress is, alright?”
“Would you like me to take what’s left of Margaret’s cakes up to your kitchenette for you?”
“Yeah, they were delicious.”
“Alright, I’ll do that right after our meetings.”
Sookie looked at the clock. Two o’clock was fast approaching and she was getting nervous. Margaret was already in the living room setting up tea and cakes and crudités. Sookie looked at herself in a mirror in the entryway, and smoothed her skirt.
“You look very nice, Miss. Why don’t you sit in the large rose colored chair by the fireplace, and have a cup of tea. I’ll bring the applicants in as they arrive.”
“Oh, I need my notebook” Sookie said as she quickly went back into the study to retrieve the steno pad.
She walked into the living room and noticed for the first time that it was decorated in shades of rose pink with burgundy accents. Sookie wondered about the woman who designed this room. It was very pretty, but it wasn’t Eric at all.
She sat in the large chair by the fireplace, which wasn’t lit because it was so warm, so there was a beautiful brass screen in front of it. Margaret had set the refreshments up on a little cart in front of it.
“Would you like some tea, Miss?” She motioned to a selection of tea bags.
“Uh… do you have anything without caffeine?”
“Yes, I do – there’s mint or raspberry.”
“Mint sounds nice.” Margaret poured her tea, added the tea bag and put two lumps of sugar in it without even asking – she already knew what Sookie would want.
Alicia moved a small side chair just to the left of the chair Sookie sat in, apparently for the applicant to use, then she walked across the room and opened the picture window drapes. Sookie had never seen them open before, and it made the room look gorgeous. You could see a pretty Roman statue that was a fountain that sat in the yard in front of the window. She never paid much attention to it at night, but in the afternoon it looked really impressive.
The first applicant arrived, and Alicia showed her in. Sookie stood and shook her hand and remembered to offer tea, which Margaret was there to serve. Sookie held the steno pad with both hands to hide the fact that they were shaking, and plastered her panic smile on her face. She went down the list of questions she and Alicia had put together and Alicia stood at the back of the room. Sookie would look at her and she would smile or nod to show Sookie she was doing fine.
The first woman was nice, but kind of hardcore fitness. She reminded Sookie of the trainer who had a show on BRAVO who was a little intense for her tastes. The second woman did massage for pregnant women, and she was nice but that’s about it. Sookie never felt as if she connected with her, and felt a little awkward. The third applicant was Bobbie James and they clicked. Bobbie was medium height and curvy with long brown hair. She was kind of a hippie and about 40 but seemed younger. She had tons of experience, could do water exercise, yoga and massage, plus she was into aromatherapy and mentioned she could do facials as well. Sookie had never had a facial before, but it sounded nice.
Sookie explained that the pool would be open very soon, and Bobbie offered to start working with her before hand, doing Yoga and massage. Sookie explained that they had a gym on the 4th floor, and Alicia offered to take them both up in the service elevator. She showed her the main room, which had Eric’s swords on the wall, and Bobbie didn’t bat an eyelash. She knew Eric was a vampire and that didn’t bother her. Sookie showed her the meditation room and the massage tables. Bobbie said this would be perfect for what she normally did.
Sookie asked her when she could start and they agreed she would begin working with Sookie the next day at 1:00.
Alicia nodded her approval, and added “Did Mr. Burnham go over the financial arrangements with you?”
“Yes,” Bobbie said, “that’s all been taken care of and I was told that Mr. Northman would want to meet me at some point, but Sookie had the final say.”
They stepped back onto the elevator to go down to the first floor.
“That she does. So, we’ll expect you at one o’clock tomorrow. Is there any special instruction for Miss Sookie regarding clothing or diet?”
“Wear something comfortable and loose, preferably cotton. Eat a good, low fat breakfast some time before noon so that your stomach has time to settle a bit. You already have yoga mats and bricks up there, so we should be all set.”
Sookie thanked her again as they got to the front door and Alicia saw her out to her car. Sookie went back into the kitchen and surprised Margaret.
“Hello, Miss, what can I get for you.”
“Can I have some cake, please? I’ll get it myself if you just tell me where…”
“That’s alright, Miss Sookie – you sit at that table there and I’ll get it for you. What kind would you like?”
“Can I have a piece of each and a big glass of milk, please? I’m suddenly really hungry.”
“It’s after 4:30 – are you sure you’ll be able to eat dinner?”
“Yes, I’m starved. It won’t be a problem at all,” Sookie laughed.
Sookie sat down and Alicia came in.
“That went very well, Miss Sookie. You just hired your first servant.”
“Of course, and you handled it very well. I’ll go shopping in the morning before I come in and get you some exercise clothes. You have a pair of leggings and several t-shirts that would work, but you’ll need more than one outfit and I’ll get you a couple of tank style swim suits for when the pool is open since that should be any day now.”
“Yes, Mr. Burnham said Mr. Northman wanted it immediately, so it should be ready one day this week.”
“That’s good – I really like to swim and lie in the sun. So you think I hired the right person?”
“Yes, I think you did. You got along very well and you were more comfortable with her than anyone. I don’t think you could find anyone with more perfect skills for what you need. Honestly, yoga is much safer for you than a more aggressive style of work out. She’ll be able to do massage for you after your work out, too. That’s going to help make you a lot more comfortable.”
Sookie sat in the kitchen, laughing and talking with Margaret and Alicia for over an hour. Mr. Burnham called Alicia’s cell to ask how Sookie’s interviews went and she told him Sookie had chosen to hire Bobbie James and she would be beginning the next day. He said he would call her to confirm the financial arrangements and told her to tell Mr. Northman that they were coming to work on the pool the next day.
Sookie was very excited to hear that. They were all still chatting when Eric came upstairs.
“Hello, ladies.” He nodded at Alicia and Margaret and walked over to kiss Sookie. “How was your day, today, dear one?”
“I hired a personal trainer and masseuse and I wasn’t sick at all.”
“Excellent. How did you find the trainer?”
“Mr. Burnham set up interviews for this afternoon. I talked the three people and one of them was perfect.”
He looked very surprised and looked at Alicia. “She interviewed applicants today?”
“Yes,” Alicia said, “and she did it very well. No one would have guessed she had never done it before. She also looked at wedding gowns on the Internet, but she was a bit scared by the prices.”
“Did you find a dress you liked, Sookie?”
“I didn’t look a whole lot because I got spooked by the prices. Are they all that expensive?”
“She was looking at Vera Wang gowns, Mr. Northman,”
“She’s an excellent designer, Sookie, many women would love to have one of her gowns.”
“But Eric, this one was between five and eight THOUSAND dollars!”
He laughed. “Is that all?”
“Is that all? Are you kidding?!”
“Sookie, I thought you were going to say it was forty or fifty thousand. Show me this gown.”
“OK, come into the study.”
“I’ll be right there, dear one. Alicia did she eat today?”
“She ate at around 11 am, and she just had 2 pieces of cake, but she hasn’t had dinner yet and I still need to make her snack for later tonight. “
“Alright, you take care of that and I will take it from here. Thank you for your help today.”
Eric came into the study and smiled at Sookie sitting behind his desk. He walked around the desk and gently pulled her up out of the chair, sat down and settled her on his lap.
“This is a very pretty dress you are wearing, my lover.”
“It’s one Alicia got for me – she said it would be ok for interviewing people today.”
“You know, I didn’t know you would be doing that. It sounds as if you handled it very well.”
“Alicia walked me through it. I would have been lost without her.”
“Well, good that you had her.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry I gave you a hard time when you hired her.”
Eric laughed and kissed her. “That’s 2 apologies from Sookie in 24 hours. That must be a record of some kind.”
Sookie couldn’t think of a good comeback so she bit his cheek- He purred “Mmmmm hold that thought. Let’s see this wedding dress.”
She turned the laptop to face him and his eyes lit up.
“My lover, that is very pretty and it would look wonderful on you. This is a very well known designer – very prestigious.”
“But the price…”
“Is fine. It would be stunning on you. Look through the site thoroughly and make sure there isn’t one you like better, and when you have your favorite, get Alicia to help you make arrangements to have a fitting. Choose all of the embellishments you want and do not worry about the price.”
“You do realize I’ll only be able to wear it once?
“Of course – though we will have it stored in case some day our son’s fiancé would like to wear it. Or maybe some day we will have a daughter!”
“Of course not. Wedding dresses of this sort are often passed down through the generations.”
She rolled her eyes at him and kissed him. He pulled her back and kissed her very deeply.
“You know,” she said, “I won’t be able to wear that design much longer.”
“Yes, well, I am expecting a call from Las Vegas at 7 pm. We will know more about the time frame we are working with after that.”
“Did we tell you about the pool?”
“No – what about it?”
“They’re coming to work on it tomorrow.”
“Excellent. I don’t know if it needs any repairs but even if it does it should be usable within a few days. I’m looking forward to swimming in the moonlight with you. And there’s a hot tub at the end of it, too.”
“Of course there is – Eric Northman would never have a pool without a hot tub, even if he had no intention of using it.” She teased him and nibbled on his ear. He squeezed her and then put his hand on her tummy. She smiled at him.
“Soon,” he said, “I will begin talking to him.”
“Talking to him?”
“Yes, I have read that babies can sometimes absorb and even respond when spoken to in the womb. If a normal human baby can do this, my son will certainly be able to understand me. It will help with our bond.”
“I never heard of that.”
“Well, I have, so we will try it in a few weeks. I must go upstairs and prepare for my phone call and check my email. Will you go up with me? I will carry you, of course.”
“Of course.” He slipped his arms under her back and knees and she grabbed her laptop to take with her. He stepped on the power strip so she could pull the plug out and carried her up to their bedroom. He gently sat her on the bed.
“So can I get naked now?” she asked.
“Not just yet, my lover. We still might need to go out. Wait for me and I’ll be back after my call.”
She started to object, but then Alicia came up with her dinner tray and she just settled down to eat.