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Chapter 29, how in the hell have I got 29 chapters of this thing?! Oh, well here we are, and it’s an all Eric POV this chapter and almost as long as the last one but not just! 7000words is just too long in one sitting per chapter, I won’t put you all through that again! O.0 But enjoy and review if you did! Love CA! xox

EPOV:

I hung up the phone and turned to Lafayette as we both reached the café and took our seats inside, the cold November chill hitting New York relentlessly. Everything felt different there than it did in Louisiana, the weather being no exception.

“Did I hear you right? She’s with Alcide?” he asked. And I just nodded, aiming for the menu.

Yep.”

“And you don’t think that’s…weird?”

“No, I mean… I guess it is and it isn’t. We’re good, you know? And I trust her completely, and he’s still very gay.”

“But?”

I sighed, not really wanting to get into it again but knowing he wouldn’t let it drop until I did, either.

“It’s just… I hear them together all that shit that we went through, all those months and months of self inflicted misery come back to me, and I hate that feeling. I hate being insecure, because I know logically at least I have no real reason to, she loves me.”

“But you still feel it? Maybe because you two haven’t really settled down yet. Everything with you guys seemed very casual.”

I raised my brows at him, unsure of what he meant.

“Huh?”

“I don’t mean the emotions, no, it’s obvious you guys are nuts for each other,” he smiled, “I just mean where things are going. I’ve had conversations with Sookie where it seemed like she never wanted to get married again, she’d been there, done that, and I’ve had conversations with you where it’s pretty obvious you want to be there and you want to do that – with her.”

I stayed silent and let him continue, “and there’s an obvious question that needs asking and it’s not been asked or even addressed as far as I can tell.”

“I never thought I’d want it, you know? With anyone, it always scared me, the idea of being tied legally and emotionally to something? Kids…It was always my worst fear.”

“And then she came along?”

“Yeah, something like that. I think I realized it for real when I watched her walk up that aisle to him, and I wished harder than anything that she’d been walking towards me, and she wasn’t.”

He sipped his water and took in what I’d said before he rolled his eyes “Y’all are so fucking dramatic, honestly, how is there not a movie based on your love?”

“Shut up…”

“Honestly, Eric, it’s not hard. You love each other, clearly, and yeah shit gets in the way, but you both found this chance and if it’s what you want, I say go for it.”

“I can’t, she’s been there, and she’s done that. And, I don’t blame her for not wanting to go there with us; we’re fine as we are, really. We haven’t even been together officially for a year yet, and a lot has happened in this eleven months dude, I’d be happy with a busy life with her just as we are too. I’m not saying I need a big white wedding, I’m not a girl…”

“Ah yes, but unofficially you’ve been in love with this girl for years now, and she with you by all accounts, and that love survived other relationships, distance, and a lot of time, that has to stand for something more than most, Eric. And no, if any of us is having that big white wedding it’ll be me,” he cocked his brows, “but I think you need a little something from her, to prove maybe that you’re in there now” me motioned to his heart, “and that you belong…”

I smiled, he was right, he was so right.

“I’m just saying, talk it out. You want that girl as your wife or even just a fabalush fiancé? You look at her and she takes that fear away? There’s just one question you need to ask her…”

I shook my head at his subtle as a brick pushing. “It won’t be happening, at least not while you’re keeping me chained to that camera here, when she’s there.” I dug into my steak, hoping he’d lay off, and for a time he did as we discussed work and him and his relationship for a change. I was thankful for the distraction because after that it was just me, alone in an apartment paid for by the magazine, alone, did I mention alone? Because I was, and it sucked, and so I did what I told Sookie I was going to do – I crashed, only to be woken up by my alarm on my phone at five the next morning.

Awesome, more pissed off, hungry, angry and high models to deal with before breakfast.

******

It was my last night shoot for at least two weeks; I was on the first flight out of JFK the next morning and I’d soon be wrapping myself in the arms of my Sookie, it sounded like utter heaven. For the time being I was in a warehouse, surrounded by managers, agents, stylists, and lights lots and lots of very hot lights. The theme of the second shoot was hunger, and it took forever because of the props, I had such a love hate relationship with props throughout my career, always in the way, but sometimes they just made the shot a thousand times better. By the time six pm rolled around I was just happy to be cutting loose, I just wanted to order takeout and stream some mind numbing movie before I went to sleep, that sounded good. Boring, but good. I liked boring, sometimes when you were really tired, and wanted to be somewhere else, boring was the best choice.

I wasn’t allowed to indulge in my evening of walking around naked and eating my body weight in New York City pizza, no, instead I had to be social and drop by Lafayette’s place for dinner and some drinks, and I knew it would also include a lot of work discussion.

By seven thirty I was starving, and we’d been served an array of tiny finger food before the actual dinner, apparently Jesus was a dab hand in the kitchen lately and we were his experimenters. It wasn’t half bad, but then again it wasn’t pizza. At the dinner it was Laf, Jesus, myself and one of the model’s from the shoot the day before, Nela, and her agent, and one of the investors for Lafayette’s magazine. So, I was right the conversation rarely went beyond business. Their business, their work, my work, the magazine, it was tiring but I pepped up when I went to the bathroom and managed to sneak a call to Sookie.

“You’re good at this though, you can schmooze with the best of them.” She said chewing on the other end of the phone.

“I know, I just don’t feel up to it tonight, it’s been a really long couple of weeks and I just –“

“Want to come home to me, my wonderfulness and the sex?”

I smirked. “Something like that, not just the sex though.”

“Yeah but almost three weeks without it, you want the sex, I know, I gets it, I know.” She laughed adopting a rather hilarious ghetto intonation.

“Well, as long as you know, there are models out there flirting with me too, it’s hot.”

“Bitches.”

I laughed out loud, “Nah, they’re cute…but crazy.”

“But I’m cute but crazy; oh my God they’re just your type!” she gasped, “Personally you should just go tap them, it might make you feel-“

“Don’t even joke about that, you know I would never.” I said making my way out of the bathroom and onto the patio, the other guests were being regaled in the living area and I went unnoticed.

“I know you wouldn’t, and just for the record, I would never either… six foot woman with no boobs? Not really my type, I mean if you’re going to go gay, at least get some motorboat action goin’ on.”

She giggled, and I loved that we were in that place. The place where everything between us was just that, between us.

“At least that’s what Pam tells me, she also tells me she’s coming back for Christmas; we should have her over –“

“I agree, I’ve missed her too.” I said looking out over the classic and never boring New York City skyline, I loved the city, I loved my job, but I loved my girl more and if she were here, all my loves would be in one place and I’d feel a lot less anxious and split in two. But I knew and accepted for now that just wasn’t to be. I wanted Adele well and happy, and having Sookie around was the main way to ensure that stayed the way it was. I couldn’t be selfish with her, I wouldn’t be.

“I have so much to tell you when you get home, mostly about how I made another show of myself to Alcide’s mom.”

“Shit, really?”

She sighed, “Yeah, it’s a long story, there was alcohol involved and outings, and I think I called her Gay-sist.”

I burst out laughing at that, “really?”

“Yeah…” she sounded like she was cringing, and cooking. I liked her cooking.

“Well, I look forward to it. I’ll be in by three at the latest I think?”

“Cool, you want me to pick you up?”

“Nah we’re good, I need a rental anyway.”

“Okay, well, I’m making Gran something to eat here, so I’ll let you go, but, tomorrow night…” I heard her grin.

“Of course.”

“Okay I’m going, being horny and indulging in improper phone etiquette with my Grandmother sitting like … mere feet away, it’s wrong. I love you, byeee.”

“I love you too.” I said before hanging up, and I still had a stupid grin on my face, when Nela came out, wine glass in hand. She was almost as tall as me wearing her scary looking heels, and a barely there dress that looked great on her darker skin tone, her hair was long and sleek just like the rest of her. It was November and I was in three layers and still freezing standing where we were, she was committed to that dress, that’s for sure.

“Are you hiding out here? We’re not that bad, are we?”

“No, of course not. I was just calling my girlfriend.”

“Oh.” Her face fell for a second, “I thought for sure since Lafayette invited us both here tonight he was going to try and set us up, I didn’t know you had a girlfriend.”

Awkward.

“Oh, well, that’s not what this is.” I shook my head and moved to make my way back inside, but she touched my arm, stopping me.

“It still could be, if you wanted it to be.”

I looked at her strangely, surely she wasn’t for real?

“Nela…”

“I liked working with you, Eric. You’re very capable, and I liked that I felt safe on that set with you. Like no matter what silly situation we were in, I was safe with you at the helm.” She flirted; it had been a while since I’d been so blatantly hit on. I wasn’t sure how to handle it.

“I…I’m really flattered…”

She bit her lip, and yes, she was a stunning woman, but I wasn’t that guy, not anymore.

“Nela, under any other circumstance, I’d probably be halfway back to my place with you right now.”

She smiled and I just felt like squirming.

“But, I’m with someone that I love, and it’s not something I’m willing to fuck up for anything, we’ve worked too hard at it for something like this to get in the way.”

She rolled her eyes, “She doesn’t have to know. She’s not even here.”

Classy.

“That’s not the point, look, you’re a beautiful woman, and it’s your job to be so of course you are. But I can’t…and more to the point… I won’t. Excuse me.”

“Where are you going?” she asked the flirtatious tone gone from her voice, now she just sounded annoyed.

“I want to be half way back to my place by now, alone.” I said as I made my exit, apologising to Lafayette and Jesus for bailing early, blaming my early flight.

****

It was still hot for November, well hotter than New York anyhow, which couldn’t have been difficult given it was below zero when I hopped on the plane. Touching down, I welcomed the heat and tried to get to the rental car place as quick as I could. Sookie had text, telling me she was making a huge lunch and that I’d better be all kinds of hungry, given the excessive amount of smiley faces and exclamation points, I’d gathered she was either excited or highly caffeinated. Or both, probably both.

I pulled up by the house and let myself in; the sound of music was coming from the kitchen, loudly, so very loudly. And there she was standing by the stove, shaking her ass and singing almost as loud as the iPod, she said she had ‘Moves like Jagger’ but it looked more like ‘Moves like an Epileptic’. I put my hand over my mouth to stop her from hearing me giggle, but it was hard not to laugh out loud at the sight before me. Shimming from side to side with her red jeans on, framing her ass magnificently with her white tee just fitting her figure perfectly, as well, giving me an excellent, if slightly hilarious view. Just as her little song and dance ended I spoke up, giving her the fright of her life.

“Sookie?”

JESUS!” she yelled, clutching her heart, turning around at rapid speed. “Oh my God you’re here…” she smiled and ran towards me and into a hug, and God I loved how good she smelled.

“You about scared me half to death!” she said breaking away, but I didn’t let her go and she didn’t let me go either, she smiled before she stood on her tiptoes to kiss me, it had been a kiss I’d waited weeks for. We broke apart and into a cuddle for a second; just taking each other in, enjoying the comfort we’d both clearly missed.

“Where’s Adele?” I asked, curious.

“She’s actually gone out, with Maxine. There’s a church fair to raise funds for new Christmas lights and to repair the big crib, she was feel great so she decided to go. Maxine said she’d bring her back here should there be any…changes.”

I nodded, “That’s great, that’s she’s feeling herself again.”

“I know, God Eric it was almost like old times this past week. Hardly any lost time, she was her old sweet self again, and it was such a relief.”

“Maybe the meds are working.”

“I hope so…” she said putting her head to my chest again as I breathed her in. Her, and the kitchen smelled amazing.

“What’ya cookin’?” I asked.

“Oh, it won’t be ready for another hour or so, big late lunch today, it’s more like a super early dinner, but you’re home so I felt the need to cook something big. Fried chicken, collared greens, mash potato, and Gran even made two of her famous pecan pies, and I even tried my hand at homemade cornbread.” She smiled, and damn my stomach just about rumbled at the sound of it all.

“Christ, you know how to welcome people home, huh?”

She grinned wider, and kissed me deeper.

“We do, with food…and other things…”

“I like Adele, I do, I just don’t think I’m really all that –“

She just slapped my chest before she turned to check on the oven and turned it off.

It’s two twenty; Gran won’t be back until four.” She said jumping quite literally into my arms.

“I assume you know the way to the shower.”

“Why the shower?” I asked heading for the stairs, she just giggled but then faked her serious face.

“Because airplane germs…we have to get them off you before I can get on you…” then she looked at our current positions and rolled her eyes, “metaphorically.”

“Oh, I see.” I sounded out taking the narrow staircase slowly with my precious cargo, “well literal or metaphorical I want it all, so, shower time it is.”

Images of my naked, hot, soaking wet girlfriend were soon to be more than fantasy, and I couldn’t wait!

A few minutes later we’d got the bathroom nice and steamed, the water wasn’t the only thing that was pumping. We had to tear ourselves away from the door to get inside the shower, neither of us all that willing to let the other go long enough to move. The hot water hit and between that and her nimble hands at work, I was in heaven. The stress of work, travelling in the too-small airplane seats, worrying about Adele, Sookie, all of it seemed to just melt away.

Bliss.

We soaped each other up enjoying the heat and sweet soapy smell, there was an intimacy to that act that I loved, even though I knew we were about to get as close physically as two people could get, getting to touch every inch of her body in such a way made everything before and after feel somewhat special. And the look on her face as she stood allowing me to wash her, her eyes closed, her mouth slightly open, and just a look of peace on her face was wonderful. She smiled, her eyes still closed before she spoke.

“I can fee you concentrating…its adorable.”

“Shh, hygiene is very important, Sookie.”

“Oh of course…” she giggled opening her eyes, then proceeding to draw circles on my chest.

“I’m glad you’re here you know? And not just all hard and naked in my tiny shower, just…here in my life, making it that much better.”

That made me smile, and leaned down to kiss her then, and before we knew it, I had her backed gently against the cold tile, she’d hiss in protest of the cold hitting her skin, but as I slipped my fingers inside her, I was glad to find she soon forgot about the cold and began chasing the orgasm right along with me. Soon she was the one deep in concentration, and that was adorable too. She clung to my shoulders when her legs started to give out, and I pushed us both under the shower spray again to heat us up just as her world began to spin as she came hard against my hand, whimpering and panting against my neck as she did so. If I was hard before, I was certainly in pain by the time she came down from her high, and I needed to do something about that. I made sure we were soap free before I stepped out of the shower, taking her hand silently to help her out too. I wrapped a towel around my waist and handed her a bigger one to do the same. We wordlessly made our way to the bedroom where she ran a smaller towel through her hair for a few seconds, and dropped her makeshift toga, allowing me to drink in her body before me. Slender legs, with hourglass hips, a waist she worked hard on and of course her breasts, those full handfuls of heaven that I had missed almost as much as the woman attached to them, almost. Her naughty smile was almost enough to set me over the edge, but thankfully she knew how much I needed her, as she pushed me back on the bed and swiftly mounted me with ease.

I held her hands together in front of me as I kissed my way up the side of her neck, onto her jaw line and finally got rewarded with her warm mouth on mine before I made my way back down to her breasts. I revelled in their softness against my lips, and in the slightly damp, shower fresh way they tasted. Kisses, licks, nibbles and kisses as she began ever so slowly to fuck me, carefully at first as she got her body used to me inside her, but soon she found her confidence again and things got more intense. Her hands went to my shoulders, pushing me down onto the bed flat, allowing me one of the best views in the world of my Sookie at work. Her chest was heaving with every breath, her still damn hair was starting to curl slightly as it dried, and her eyes closed as we both got ourselves lost in each other. I flipped us over, the change of pace and position welcomed as the intensity slowed a little for me, but not for her, she was on a mission once more, and I wasn’t about to stop her on her hunt for pleasure, in fact I would always actively encourage any pleasure that I could give her, and provide it freely when she wanted it. Her pleasure was ultimately mine, because my girl gave as good as she got, that’s for sure. Flipping us back over, ignoring her giggle as the old iron bed frame began to creak, I pushed her knees up, wrapping her legs around my ass, allowing her to have some control on how hard I thrust, not that she didn’t trust me to know the limits, but I just liked that feeling. Her hands were on me, urging me to go faster; her whimpers begged me to go harder and I did. Ignoring the beads of sweat forming on my body, ignoring the slight cramp in my foot, ignoring the fact that I really, really wanted to come but wanted her to come first – I wasn’t a douche, and if I could help it, which sometimes I just couldn’t, then she’d get hers before I got mine, and I always got mine so it seemed kind of unfair if she didn’t get hers. It’s like going out for ice-cream and eating a salad, it’s just cruel and unusual, and I wasn’t cruel…I was unusual though, but so was she so it balanced out nicely I thought.

By the time we’d cleaned ourselves up, again, and gotten redressed it wasn’t long before we heard a car pull up outside the house, Adele was home, and thankfully she was home with a smile on her face. Sookie had finished off the cooking, while I helped with serving. I might not know my recipes but I knew my manners, and I knew that Maxine was still sitting in judgement of me, I was the ‘other man’ after all, the one that ‘ruined’ Sookie’s marriage, although with the whole Alcide thing, it would be clear I wasn’t the only ‘other man’ in the picture and it had nothing to do with Sookie.

Over the next few days things managed to get back to a certain kind of normality for us, but with the revelations about Alcide spreading across town – I guessed no thanks to Sarah and her planet sized grudge, Sookie’s name was also dug up in the gossip. And so every time she and I stepped out the front door there was an issue.

“I still can’t believe you called his mom a Gaysist. That’s not even a word.” I said, laughing as we picked some things up from the market, I pushed the cart as she went through her little pink list of things that we needed.

“I know, don’t remind me. I like to make up words when I’m drunk apparently. I also called his sister a horrific-hair-ophile, I mean the woman practically has a mullet, them things should be illegal, but I kept referring to her as the HHP with invalid opinions…” she sighed, and the more I heard about her confrontation with Alcide’s family the funnier I found it. How Sookie and Alcide had all but attacked the house, came in drunk and there was something about a rainbow slinky – one that Sookie used to show his mother how all colours were different, and how all people were like colours – they were all different but all beautiful. It was confusing, because she remembered only bits of it, but apparently there was a gay metaphor in there too – the colours of the flag of her sons people and what not. I struggled not to laugh at her misguided good intention.

I mean, I felt bad for the guy, and I felt bad for his family, they weren’t bad people, they were just a little conservative in their way of thinking, and having a gayer than gay son, doesn’t really fit into that whole frame in which they live their lives – sadly.

“Did he ever call you back?” I asked grabbing a few boxes of cereal, the boring kind and the sugar filled kind, variety was the spice of …whatever.

“Nah, he said he was going to pack up a few of his things and just go visit a friend for a while.”

“And by friend…?”

“I’m guessing boyfriend, but hey, it’s better than staying here. Facing the wrath of small town American isn’t what he needs right now. He’s not the only gay in the village and he shouldn’t be made and treated as such.” She nodded with conviction as she grabbed the eggs.

“Speaking of Gays in the Village, Lafayette called. We’re invited to a wedding, it’s disgustingly cliché, it’s on Valentines.”

“Ohh, they’re doing it? They’re actually doing it?!” she came back to the cart, excited and bouncy, almost dropping the milk.

“They are, so we’ve been told to keep the date, as if we could forget it. They’re putting the plans in motion right now.”

“I mean it’s almost December can they plan a wedding that fast?”

I shrugged, I had no idea.

“I guess we’ll see.”

“Hm. I guess we will. I like them as a couple though they compliment each other really well.”

“They do.” I nudged her playfully, insinuating without words what I thought of us too. She smiled and made her way to the fruit aisle. I liked days like this, it was boring from the outside, and ten years ago had I been asked if I’d enjoy food shopping with my girl of the moment I’d probably have thought you were high. But, like all things, I grew and thankfully I grew up and not down. I realized girls of the moment were fine, but she was the girl that made the moments, and that scared the shit out of me too.

I’d been home – with her – for two weeks when I had to hit the road again, and I had that sinking feeling in my gut when I started packing up my things. Sookie had left the house that morning to go pick up ‘bits from home’ for Lafayette for me to pack and I was left with Adele. I like her, as a woman she was fun when she was with us, and she was sharp as a tack too. Never missed a beat but it all balanced on a very tight rope, that rope being her mental state, and the balance consisting of a cocktail of serious medications. She called me into her room, where she’d been resting for about a half hour that day, I gladly went when she called she seemed to be herself and as herself she was a joy to be around.

“Eric, Sweetheart can we talk, now that I’m here.” Adele said, sadness etched in her voice that bothered me, I hated to see the Stackhouse women sad, any of them.

“Of course, what do you want to talk about?” I said, taking my seat beside her bed again.

“Sookie. More to the point, you and Sookie.”

“Okay?”

“I wanted to give you something; it’s over in that drawer over there.” She pointed to her oak dresser at the other side of the room, I went to it, and she directed me to the third drawer. There were three small boxes velvet there, I brought them to her.

“This was my engagement ring, and my mother’s and her mother’s before her. It’s very old.”

It was also very beautiful; it was as she told me was a fourteen karat white gold band, with one large centre diamond flanked by two smaller ones. It was very dainty, and very feminine.

“It’s not the original band, sadly it broke on my mothers hand – a lot of hard work caused it if you ask me,” she smiled, “so my husband, Sookie’s grandfather, he took it before we got engaged and had the diamonds reset in a white gold band – modern for the day back then, and a very sweet gesture on his part. This ring meant a lot to me, Eric. And I’d like to pass it down to Sookie, and I figure you’ll be the one, if there’s anyone, that should be givin’ it to her.”

I really didn’t know what to say, it was a lot of information to take in, mostly that she thought Sookie and I would marry one day.

“Why didn’t you give it to your son?” I questioned after a few moments of regarding her and the ring with equal interest.

She simply tutted to herself and rolled her eyes. “That girl never deserved it. I knew from the moment I laid my eyes on her that she was trouble. But, my son being my son, he was set on marrying her anyway, even if we all knew it was a mistake. Much like Sookie and the other one.” She nodded, and I found it funny that she wouldn’t name him in my presence. It was adorable on her part.

“But you I like, and her I love, and well maybe I love you too.” She smiled, “you’re a good one, and you’ve really stepped up with this whole situation, one I loathe to put my Granddaughter in –“

“She does it because she loves you, Adele, and I do it because I love her…and you. You’re her family so that makes you like mine as well.”

She nodded, “just proves me right, you’re good. And I know you’ll take good care of her, you already do.”

“She takes good care of me too,” I added, taking the ring from the box and admiring it. The other two boxes held a necklace and a bracelet, one I was told was for Hadley and the other for Jason’s wife. It was very sweet.

“Just keep it, and use it whenever the time is right, okay?”

“I… yes, I will.”

She nodded. “Excellent, now, if you’ll hand me my walking stick I’d like to go to the living room, my stories are on and if I’m correct in thinking I’ve missed a few episodes when I was gone.”

‘Gone’ that’s how they referred to it now, when Adele wasn’t so much the Gran we knew and loved. She was just gone and in her place someone unfamiliar who wasn’t just as unfamiliar to herself as she was to ­­­us. But now, she was back and for the time being it was like a breath of fresh air in the house again. I looked at the ring again, and thought about my life, ten years ago – now – ten years from now. I’d found a job I loved a long time ago, I was good at it – or at least good enough to fool people into thinking I was good at it. I’d grown up a lot, even if most of the time I had the emotional instinct of a six year old on a sugar high, but I knew that and the key to anything is acceptance. I’d acceptance who I was, and what I wanted, and then Sookie came along and changed it all. I didn’t just want a wandering, lonely existence any longer. I wanted her smiles and her ideas and her crappy jokes and even her weird ass moods, so I took the beautiful ring and I hid it in my carry on luggage. There was no way that thing was leaving my sight, I had a lot of questions about what the future would bring me, but I knew all of them had to include her, that was non negotiable. I just hoped she felt the same.

First week in December, a mere three weeks until my first anniversary with Sookie – officially at least, the one we could tell people about, and the snow had hit and the city slowed down, which was an utter bitch of a situation when all you did was spend your days rushing from one studio to another. I’d been in the City a mere four days when I got the call from Sookie, one of the worst calls I’d ever received.

Adele was gone, and this time she just wasn’t coming back to us.

The inspiration for the ring –