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Southern Belles – Chapter 19! It’s been a while in coming… no pun intended. I hope you enjoy it, I’m dying to know what you think 😉
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Clean slate in place, Eric and I embarked on something foreign for both of us; we embarked on the first few steps of a friendship. Sure, it was a friendship ripe with sexual tension, that we were both desperately trying to avoid at all costs of course, but it was still friendly and calm. Pam had left the week after, promising to email and call and that I wouldn’t leave any details out of my ‘fuck-ship’ as she was calling it, with Eric. I missed her of course, but I knew I had to stand on my own two feet, even if I had Eric as a friend to call on; I was enjoying my new found freedom once more. I’d taken weekend drives all around, just exploring the coastline and my new temporary home. I knew it was temporary, even if I knew nothing else. I liked Europe, the little of what I’d seen of it anyway, it was magical and steeped in history and had wonderful things to offer, but, it wasn’t home. I wasn’t sure where ‘home’ was yet, but I knew I had to keep looking for it. Louisiana was no longer my home, in truth I hadn’t felt at home there since I left high school, and yet I had overstayed for the fear of the unknown… I didn’t want to fall into that trap again that’s for sure.

Eric and I had continued to work together, six weeks went by and no one was shunned or ignored, and we’d fallen into a weird routine of sorts. We’d get all the editing done by the time the next shoot needed us, do what we were hired to do among the mass of spoilt clients and heiresses allergic to ‘bad lighting’, and then we’d be back in the office in time to catch Layette and the other leaving, usually roping us into group dinners and drinks after work. It was an unconventional bunch of people who worked for him, but they worked hard and they’d turned what I’d found out to be his small idea, into a giant, successful and lucrative reality, and I could see why. Lafayette was magnetic, he had this open personality that just made you love him right away, I could see why they were so loyal and willing to work so hard for him, I could see it in myself and my willingness to work as hard as I was working, for as little pay as I was getting, for him and his company – because I liked it there. Eric told me that it was one of the main reasons he’d spend as long as he had in that one place, and I agreed with him, it did have its…incentives.

As for Eric and I, well, we were muddling through. We’d put it all out there when I’d told him about my failed marriage and we’d both completed our respective apologies and guilt purging, and we’d done a good job of creating a base for a friendship, and an even better job at avoid the great big elephant in just about every room we entered together, the fact that underneath our high hopes for a platonic relationship lied an overwhelming desire to shun that ideal and grab each other with both hands and promise never to let go. A huge romantic notion, that much was true, but in my head it was what it was. I knew I wanted him still and I knew instinctively that he wanted me just as bad, but we also knew – only too well – that acting rashly and on instinct only left us with pain and suffering last time. So, we wanted as most do, to do things right this time. What right was though, I didn’t think either of us had much of a clue, but, this was the opposite of last time, I guess we figured we were both on a better track this time, this way. For now.

I’d been taking my Saturday reading very seriously since I moved ninety one steps from the nearest beach, and yes, I counted. I’d just gotten to a particularly juicy bit of my second read of the month when I felt the sun shadow over, the shadow being that of a six four, Swede. I took off my glasses and looked up, he was stood there with two cups of juice, and a smile on his face.

“You looked thirsty,” he said, handing me the juice.

“Thanks… how did you –“

“My place, it’s about a half a mile from here. I walk the beach every day; I’ve seen you here, a few Saturday’s in a row now, figured I’d butt in today. That’s orange and grapefruit on a lot of ice, by the way.”

“Thanks… you’ve seen me? Why didn’t you say hi, before?”

He shrugged, “you looked peaceful, and totally engrossed in those books, I figured I’d leave you alone.”

I looked at his feet then, and there was a dog, a very tiny dog…a Chihuahua to be exact. I then looked up and he had a rather sheepish look on his face, “oh, and I was walking Petal….she’s not mine!” he protested, his eyes wide, and his cheeks a little pink.

“She’s not yours?” I smirked.

“She belongs to Alexei and his boyfriend, but apparently she has to live with us because … well I’m not totally sure why, but they got her a few weeks ago. She’s annoying… pisses on everything, yaps a lot… I sat on her a few times… scared the shit out of me, thought she was a rat.”

At that I burst out laughing, and picked up the tiny dog to cuddle, she was exhausted.

“Eric, have you been walking the dog all the way from your place, and along the beach?”

“Yeah… why?”

“That’s a long walk.”

“Don’t dogs like to walk? I’m sure they do.”

“Well…” I inspected the thirsty dog, putting some of the water I had under my chair in the lid of the juice cup for her to drink, she lapped it up, “they do, but smaller dogs need smaller distances to walk…like puppies, they sleep a lot.”

He looked even more sheepish at that, if it was possible.

“Oh… she’s not dying is she? If she fucking dies I’ll never hear the end of it.”

I laughed and picked her up again, “Hi Petal…God he couldn’t have picked a gayer name, could he?” I laughed again, cuddling her, she was shivering.

“Does she have a coat?”

At that he raised his brows, “Okay look, I agreed to walk her at the weekends because I’m home and he’s not, but she’s a girls dog…she’s not even a real dog! And I’m doing it, because I’m not cruel, but I refuse…Sookie… it’s pink and bedazzled. I didn’t even know what bedazzling WAS until I moved in with Alexei!”

At this point I was laughing so hard I wasn’t making any noise.

“Aw, but she’s so cute. Are you worried she makes you look less manly?”

“A little… I mean people are starting to know me here, I don’t want them to know me as the guy with the toy dog, you know?” with that he smiled too.

“It’s very sweet of you to take care of her though, just maybe…shorter walks? And I can look for a more…manly coat for her. One with guns on it, if it helps you feel any better.”

He just faked a glare at me, and then at her.

“You hungry?” I asked, leading us both to what was fast becoming one of our favourite haunts. A little café around the corner from my place that did the best crepes and coffee for miles, all of which Eric and devoured outside since it was a nice day.

“So you want to tell me what’s up?” he asked, chomping on a strawberry.

“What’s wrong? Nothing’s wrong?”

“You’re restless, something’s wrong. You’ve been fidgety all week.”

“I guess I’m just having a little more trouble adjusting here, than I thought I would.”

“Is it the job? We’ve been really full on, I know but –“

“No, I love the job, I love learning…from you.” I said, somewhat bashfully, “I just… I like it here, I just don’t speak the language and it’s a bit intimidating, you know?”

He nodded, “It took me a while to pick up the basics, and thankfully people are kind enough not to call me an American asshole.”

“When in reality you can correct them, in Swedish.”

He laughed, “Little bit.” As he cocked his brows at me, his smile got bigger.

“I guess I just need to get used to it for a while.”

“And you need to get out more, since Pam left you’ve been kind of a recluse.”

“I have not, I’ve been exploring on the weekends, anti-reclusive, if you please!”

“Oh, I see…wandering woman, one with nature, that sort of thing?”

“If by nature you mean three star B&Bs up north, then…yes.”

He just rolled his eyes playfully at me.

“You should come out tomorrow night, it’s Layette’s birthday, there’s a thing…it’s an excuse to dress up, get drunk and have cake, what’s not to love?”

“I do love cake.”

“Who doesn’t love cake?” He asked, stealing a strawberry from my plate.

“Is it a posh thing, I didn’t really pack anything…posh, all my stuff from New York is in storage until I go back and I –“

“You’re going back?”

He didn’t look so thrilled at that possibility.

“I guess, at some point I will, I like here…for now. I just don’t want to get stuck, you know?”

He nodded, “I felt like that, for a long time, I know the feeling.”

“Felt… As in, you don’t feel that way anymore?”

“I haven’t for a long time now, I feel like I should be settling down, you know? I don’t really have a real reason to keep tramping around, I’ve got a full time gig here…”

“But you could get a full time gig just about anywhere, you just didn’t want to before.” I pointed out.

“I guess.”

“So, you see yourself here, forever?”

“I don’t know about forever, but it’s been good to me for the longest time so far… I see no reason to run away now.”

“And is that what you think I’d be doing if I were to go?” I didn’t like his change in tone; it went from casual, to almost accusatory in a very short space of time.

“No… well, maybe? I don’t know, I just think, you just got here… and you’re already thinking of leaving again, I know when I’d do that it was because there was no real reason for me to stick around and look for something more… permanent…”

“And?”

“And, I guess maybe I thought you’d have a reason or two to stick around here, now. I guess I was wrong.”

Clearly he meant him, he meant us, and now he was under the impression that I wasn’t willing to figure out whatever that meant.

“It’s not like that at all; I just…” I exhaled, trying to figure out the best way to express myself, “before I made all my decisions based on what other people wanted, now I try and make them based on what I need, on what I want. I mean this is what you were telling me I needed to do, back in Louisiana, remember? Well, I took your advice; I just took it a little late is all….”

“I get it I do, believe me!”

“You just don’t like it…” I answered, sipping my coffee.

“I guess I don’t, but what you decide to do with your life it’s never really been any of my business, has it? So if you decide to leave, I guess I should just be supportive of that.”

I looked at him then, and he seemed totally serious, that if I just left…he wouldn’t care? That made me feel like shit, and it ended our hanging out on a sour note.

He and I had done a lot of dancing around a lot of issues, for a lot of time, time that honestly I viewed as well wasted, but wasted none the less. I didn’t want to waste anymore time! So, I did what I thought was best for then and there, that Saturday night I put on my new dress, the dress I’d spent the Friday and Saturday looking for, I curled my hair, and took my time perfecting my makeup, perfecting myself. All to give me that extra confidence I needed to do what I was going to do. I was just so tired of wasting time. I’d wasted weeks since I’d come here, and I’d wasted years before that, I was going to do what I should have done over three years earlier. I was going to give him a reason to stay, and I was hoping he’d give me one back.

EPOV:

The president of some bank threw Lafayette his birthday party, the president was beyond happy with him because he’d made his shrill of a wife extremely happy with a spread in the magazine on her sixtieth birthday. Lots of backs were being patted and we got a night at an amazing casino, free booze and a lot of gambling. I sucked at gambling and lost five hundred dollars in a half hour, so I stuck to the bar, and a lot of observation. That’s when I met Celine, she was from Russia, but she was also half Swedish, telling me she had Swedish GPS and that’s how she found me. It was innocent, and considering that I was for all intents and purposes a very painfully single guy, why shouldn’t I flirt with the hot Nordic blonde with the nice rack? Why shouldn’t I enjoy the fact that she was touching my knee, and my hands and flirting with me? Well, that reason was one very pissed off looking Southern belle, who was across the room, looking nothing if not a beauty queen in a backless black slinky dress with her hair down around her, and red lips that were just so inviting – and that was from twenty feet away. She was the reason I brushed off the blonde, and she was the reason why I went to the gays.

“What is wrong with you, that woman was practically on her knees!” Lafayette said as I rejoined the craps table.

“Yeah…I can’t, I mean I could…but I can’t.” I said, my nerves and my voice, shaking.

“Why not?”

I looked to Sookie who was now deep in conversation with Bella, the admin girl who worked front desk and made us all sound good in the company’s press releases.

“Oh…” Lafayette said, patting me on the shoulder, “it’s like that huh?”

“Little bit like that, yeah.”

“You love her?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re spun…you don’t get that way over just a fling, Eric.”

“No, I know, I just … is it love? Or is it just some messed up idea of what something was, when it wasn’t that at all?”

He looked at me, confused.

“I’m too drunk to know what that means, but baby boy, you needs to sort your shit out. I can’t take much more of the tension and the pining and the looks… Shit or get off the pot, as my Mamma used to say.”

“How fucking romantic, Laf.”

He just grinned.

At that I felt a hand on my shoulder, lightly tanned skin, perfect nails… there were those lips again, and that determined look in her eye.

“Can we talk?”

Lafayette excused me before I could excuse myself, and Sookie grabbed my hand and led me on to a balcony. She looked out on to the water ofr a few seconds before she faced me, I just awkwardly shoved my hands in my pocket, waiting for her to grasp the moment.

“I don’t really know how to say this, elequantly or otherwise, everything is just a mess in my head…so maybe I should just say what comes to mind?”

When did she do it any other way?

“Eric, I’m tried of wasting time. I’m tired of waiting and wondering, and being unsure and scared of what to do here… Bottom line, I want you, and I want to have you.”

She rolled her eyes at herself, fidgeting with her bracelets, “I mean, I want us to have each other, I want us to give this…whatever this thing is between us… I want to give it a shot and I’m hoping, even after everything that you do, too.”

Well that was…out of the blue. Still I didn’t speak, she seemed to be on a rambled roll.

“When I’m with you, even when things are sort of uncomfortable… I still feel better. I feel like I can do and say whatever I want, and I know you won’t be judging me, I feel like it’s okay to be myself with you…”

She ran her hand through her hair, and turned away from me again, “I get it you know, why you’re cautious? With me, after everything? Honestly I’m just surprised you didn’t run a mile when you saw me show up that day. Had things been reversed and you’d done to me what I did to you? I don’t think I’d have been as understanding as you.”

“Who’s to say I understood? I wanted to hate you for a really long time, Sook.”

“And did you?”

I shook my head, “no, I didn’t…couldn’t. And I am cautious, because everything has always been…for the lack of a better term – a clusterfuck, with us. From the very second I met you, everything went wrong.”

“Because I was a dumbass and –“

“Not just you, all of it. I should have just told Alcide that I liked you from the start, I should have just let him fend for himself, and I should –“

“You wouldn’t though, because that’s not who you are…” she came closer to me then, “Eric, I’ll understand if you don’t want to go down this road with me, or hell, any road with me after everything that’s happened. But I’m asking because… I never asked before. I was never really free to fully comprehend the possibility of being with you, properly…. But now I am, and no one can get hurt from this, no one is lying or cheating or feeling morally conflicted…at least I hope not.” She laughed, taking my hands in hers.

“We never got a fair shot because of the choices I made, and now there’s nothing in the way of us, but us, and I’d like to get out of my own way and I’d like to –“

I stopped her in her frantic tracks with a kiss, a kiss I’d been wanting since the minute I saw her, and if I’m being honest, every moment since. She didn’t stop me, if anything she encouraged me with every piece of her. Hands, fingers, lips, moans, the struggle to breathe, it was all we were for those few minutes as I pressed her up against the railing of the patio. The sounds of the party floated in and out, we were aware there were people inside, but the only care either of us had in those moments were for each other, and it was the best feeling in the world.

When we finally broke apart for air, I found we’d moved to the wall, and out of sight of anyone else, cloaked by the shadow of the doors, and the plants.

“I take it that means you’re agreeing with my suggestion?” She asked with a shy smile, catching her breath but not letting go of her grasp on my shirt, just like I didn’t let go of my hold on her hips. I simply nodded my response and went for her neck again, fuck… I forgot how good she smelled, how soft her skin was, how warm and inviting she was. There we stood as close as we could get with our clothes on, just enjoying the moment for what it was, and then I felt her hands on my belt.

Well, that was interesting.

I looked straight into her eyes, and the shy smile came back, “You don’t want to?”

I looked behind me, and sure enough, just as before we were very alone as the party went on in full swing inside.

“Of course I do, but… here?”

She just nodded slowly, as I struggled not to let my eyes roll back in my head when she started palming my pants. My breath blew against her skin, making her hair move when I exhaled, she just didn’t seem to mind as she kissed me again, slipping her hand down my pants. After being celibate for as long as I was, it was like water to a man in the desert, her hands on my body, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on hers. So much so that I began to bunch up her dress, her very long and very slinky dress that too far too long to get where I needed it to be so I could reciprocate. I was on sensory over load as her hands worked their magic, and I attempted to work some of my own. Dipping inside her, listening to her breath hitch higher and higher as I went deeper inside, feeling her cling onto my arm with one hand and work me through wit the other, her lips on my neck, the wind from where were standing and the sounds of the dozens of people mere feet away… well it was frightening and fantastic all at once. There was no guilt this time, no stalling; no wondering what might happen if we went ahead with what we were doing. No one to hurt, no one to find out, no hesitation. So, when she whispered to me that she wanted me, that she needed me inside her right then and there? Well, who was I to say no?

“This will not last long…” I said, just being honest. I hadn’t been laid in a long ass time, and I knew by conversations we’d had that she hadn’t either, neither of us were going the long haul this time. She just laughed, pulled us further into the dark corner, and kissed me as if her life depended on it.

“Just shut up… and fuck me, Eric.”

The steely determination in her eyes, combined with all the lust flying around us, well I just about came in my pants right then and there. Thankfully though, I didn’t and we managed to fuck, her hand over my mouth, my hand over hers, as we both just began thrust the stress and the tension, and the questions and the pain away from each other and out of our systems. And, I was right, it wasn’t going earn either of us any records, but I got her off slipping my fingers inside her again, a matter of seconds before I lost all control myself. We stood there, afterward, me still inside her, her with her legs still wrapped around me, both of us still struggling for breath.

“Jesus….” She said, sliding down onto wobbly legs, readjusting her underwear, and her long dress.

“Fuck…I think we really needed to do that.”

“I think so too.” She agreed, checking her dress, and then checking me as I tucked everything back in. She laughed, “I um, really hope they don’t have security cameras out here.”

“Shit, I didn’t even think about that.”

“Me either, at the time…I didn’t really think of much else.”

Her face was flushed, her lips were swollen and red, and she was missing an earring. She never looked more beautiful.

“I really can’t stay.”

“What? Why?”

“Dude, you just came inside me… I’m in a dress…we’re in public?” she laughed again, “I need to get me to a shower, pronto.”

“We never had the best timing, have we, Sookie?” I kissed her once on the lips and drew back, tucking her hair behind her ears.

“No, timing has never been our strong point, at all. Even now.” She smiled.

“How about we fix that then? And get you showered, get us both showered and freshened up.”

She cocked a brow in my direction, “and how do you plan on doing that, we live –“

“Well, what if for once we made our timing work for us. Made the situation work for us?” I said, grabbing her hand and leading her though the casino fast, ignoring the calls from Lafayette as we past. I got us to the front desk in record time, Sookie still looked flustered but she clearly got the plan.

“Hi, I’d like to check in, please.” I said, awkwardly since in my head Sookie and I both had ‘we just fucked and it was awesome’ written all over ourselves.

The girl behind the desk just nodded, typed and nodded some more.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but we only have one available room tonight, and it’s the Garnier suite.”

Sookie shook her head, no.

“It’s 6,000 Euros, a night, sir.”

I didn’t want to faint right then and there.

“Eric, seriously –“Sookie tried to interject, but I wasn’t having it.

“That’s fine, thank you.”

Sookie’s eyes went wide, “We can’t do this –“

“Why not? Because of the money?”

“Yes!” she whispered, “it’s far too much we can just –“

I handed over my credit card, as I sensed Sookie freaking out at my side, signed what I needed to sign, and the girl happily gave us our room keys and wished us good night.

It was going to be a good night, and this room, I thought had better include a trip to space, for that money.

I took Sookie’s hand again, and we got as far as the elevator.

“It’s too much, Eric, I need to pay for half of it at the very least, it’s just so –“

“Extravagant, out of the blue, unplanned?”

“Yes! All of that…We could have just gotten a cab home.”

“Sure we could but that would have taken too long….Right?”

The entire time she was freaking out, her hand never left mine, her body left no space between mine and hers, she was internally having panic attacks, but she held on to me throughout it all.

“It’s so much money though…Please let me pay for half.”

“No.” I said quickly, pecking her on the lips, “forget about the money for a second, would you?”

“But it’s…”

“I know, its so much, I know, but other than that…is this a good idea?”

“It’s a fantastic idea, and I really can’t wait to –“at that the elevator dinged and the doors opened.

“Well,” she said, “I guess I don’t have to wait to be alone with you…huh?”

“No…”I said, leading her out and to the suite’s door slowly, “you don’t, and that’s the whole point… we have the whole night, just us, here…to do whatever we want.”

With that a slow grin formed on her face, “well, when you put it like that…”

“Hmm?” I said, nuzzling her neck as we walked inside the most expensive room I’d ever planned on having sex in. She closed the door walking inside, and unzipped her floor length dress, dropping it just as suddenly leaving her in her underwear and heels.

“Let’s make sure it’s the best money you ever spent!”

And we would, we really, really would.

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