Chapter 4 – You’re My Forever
Sookie woke and was surprised to be in her bed and wearing yesterday’s outfit. After shaking off her sleepiness, she recalled the porch swing and figured that Eric put her to bed, then she praised herself for picking up the dirty laundry from her bedroom floor. She looked on her nightstand for a note from Eric but came up empty. After grabbing a quick shower she headed out of her room to search for the note downstairs. The door to Ella’s room was open and some motion caught her attention. When she approached the room, she had to stifle a laugh. Sleeping with his feet hanging off the end and a princess themed comforter covering only two thirds of his body was Eric. Sure he wouldn’t be happy about it but not caring, she grabbed her phone and snagged a few pictures. Ella was going to think it was hysterical that her current, favorite adult was in her bed. Sookie then thought that Ella might be mad to see Eric with her unicorn pillow pet tucked under his arm. Quietly, she moved around the room to get a photo from a different angle. Instead, he scared her by waiting for her to get close to the side of the bed and he opened his eyes and grabbed for her. Sookie screamed and her arms flailed around before he trapped her. What came next was a short tickle fight that had them both gasping for breath. Then he did something else that took her breath away; he kissed her. It was full of passion and promise and she relished the feel of his tongue massaging hers while their hands roamed everywhere.
When they broke apart she giggled. “What’s so funny?”
“We’re in Ella’s bed. I mean… her guest bed when she stays here.”
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Yes, her incredibly short bed.”
“Yes well, It’s not a midget bed, it’s a regular twin. Mattress manufacturers don’t build for “diants” on a regular basis you know.” He scowled at her comment and she ignored him. “I know you’re not really scowling on the inside. Anyway, my first passionate kiss in my house and we’re surrounded by a princesses and unicorns.”
He shrugged indicating he wasn’t concerned. “Makes it unforgettable.” He smiled and added quickly. “I mean especially unforgettable.”
“Good save. You know I was going to angry that you’d need unicorns to make it unforgettable.”
She watched as his expression changed from playful to serious. “I don’t need unicorns Sookie. Only you. I can’t wait for our first date tonight and moving forward from there.”
“I agree.” She gave into the urge to give him another kiss, the first she’d ever initiated, and he welcomed it. They broke apart quickly as her stomach growled. She looked down at it and frowned. “Traitorous tummy!” Then she looked back at his grin. “Would you like breakfast here? What time is our date? Are we parting then you’re picking me up later?” She was flustered at not knowing what to do when a man woke in her house. “I mean, did you have plans for the day?”
“We got my house in good shape yesterday. I do need to pick out a TV and I was planning to order one online and have it delivered. Do, ah… do you want to join me? Or . . . ah, I mean, I don’t want to take your Saturday off or have you chauffeur me around.”
She was suddenly shy but wanted to tell him the truth at the same time. “I want to spend it with you.” She could tell from his bright smile that she’d said the right thing. “Let’s start with breakfast before my stomach embarrasses me again.”
Several hours later, they parted to get ready for their first date. Eric hadn’t been home yet, thank goodness Sookie kept extra toothbrushes in the house, and he wanted to pick her up properly at her house. Sookie was equal parts excited and panicked about her first date ever. Though he assured her casual dress was appropriate, she still fretted over her outfit choices until Michelle showed up. “Thank GOD you’re here!” Sookie exclaimed as she yanked her sister-in-law into the house. I have no clue what I’m doing!” Still gripping Michelle, Sookie ran up the stairs to her room.
“Yes, your text indicated as much. What’s the problem?”
“What to wear! He said casual. Is that jeans, a sundress, shorts?” Sookie waved he hands over the clothing covered bed.
Michelle held in her laughter but Sookie could see it. “You think I’m nuts.”
Michelle took Sookie’s hand and gave her a tender look. “I think you’re a girl going on her first date. Your age doesn’t matter in this case. I also think you should enjoy the nerves, the butterflies, and that nagging ‘I’m going to trip and fall on my ass feeling’. Cause you have all that, right?”
Sookie held her hand out showing the tremors. “You forgot the shakes and nausea part.”
Michelle shook her head. “All normal Sookie, and really, I couldn’t be happier for you. Jason feels the same too.” She grabbed the woman’s shoulders and took a deep breath. “Breathe like this,” and she repeated the breath. “All will be well. You already love each other; anyone can see it.”
“I know. Thank you.” She took a few more breaths then turned back to the bed. “Pick something.”
Honing in on the far side of the bed, Michelle let out a chuckle. “I picked it when I walked in the room.” She pointed. “The red and white dress with your red wedge sandals, and a white cardigan in case you go somewhere with air conditioning.”
“That’s it? I’ve been staring at the clothes for an hour, and you knew when you walked in the room?”
Michelle nodded. “I had insider information.”
“What? I don’t know what you mean.”
“Captain America loves red.”
“Captain Am . . . Really?”
She waggled her eyebrows. “I’m pretty sure your captain is even bigger than Chris Evans. Taller for sure. And with those big feet and hands . . . well you know what that means.”
“I called you for help and you’ve crossed over from being helpful to making me anxious. I’m not that kind of girl, at least for the first date, and he knows it.”
Michelle’s eyes darted around and she started making excuses to go when Sookie cornered her. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“I told Jason I wouldn’t be long. I’ve got to get dinner for Ella.”
Sookie grabbed her arm. “TALK!”
“Jasontoldhimyouwereavirgin and youwerealady.” She took a breath. “You only heard the end part of that chat. It was after he had the ‘don’t push my sister physically chat’ that he threatened to kill him.”
“He already knew he’s my first everything.”
“I figured. Look, for this particular situation, I’m your friend before I’m Jason’s wife. If you want to talk about it, go for it, anything, let me know. You’re not sixteen, I don’t have an obligation to preserve your innocence on your brother’s behalf.”
“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind. I better get dressed though, he’ll be here in twenty minutes.”
“Have fun, enjoy it, take pictures so you can remember.” They broke away and Michelle moved to Sookie’s nightstand. She pulled something from her pocket and put it in the drawer. “In case.”
She was out of the room before Sookie could say a word. Curiosity got the best of her so she opened the drawer and confirmed her suspicions.
The drawer now contained a twelve pack of extra-large condoms.
Eric knocked on Sookie’s door but she was already opening it. They both burst out into grins. He loved her in the red and white dress, bare legs, and red shoes. Now he knew why Michelle had been asking about his favorite things. Since he’d also questioned Michelle to gather intel, he presented Sookie with a bouquet of wildflowers arranged in a pitcher. “Michelle gave me the hint about wildflowers, and I saw the collection of pitchers in your dining room hutch.”
“Perfect! I’ll always have the pitcher to remind me of this first date.” She tilted her head his way and he met her in a quick kiss. “I’m ready to go.”
Eric waited while she turned and locked the door, then she surprised him by handing him the set of keys. “These are yours.”
He raised his eyebrow and asked, “To your house?” She nodded. “When did you get these made?”
“Jason ran out for me.”
Eric raised his eyebrow in question. “Jason, the brother that warned me that you’re a lady; he made keys to your house for me?”
“After he heard that you slept here because you couldn’t properly lock the door, he ran out and made the keys from his own set so you wouldn’t have the excuse like that again.”
Eric burst out laughing as he was guiding Sookie to the car and driver he had hired for them. “That makes sense.” Then he leaned to her ear and whispered. “I hope that means I can still come up with other excuses to stay the night.” When he kissed her neck, he felt her shiver. “That is, if it’s alright with you.”
She spun to face him and offered her mouth for another kiss, this one a little less quick and chaste before she answered. “I’m sure we’ll find plenty of excuses, and frankly, he’s not my father.”
That comment required Eric to think of something, anything, other than sleepovers at Sookie’s. He didn’t think she’d appreciate a hard on before the date had even started.
They road to the next town over and pulled up to a fair at one of the local churches. Sookie panicked. “I’m in a dress!”
“And I told you, you look lovely. I would have said something at your house if your dress was a problem.” He took her hand to lead the way. “Besides, we have another destination after this.”
“And I need a dress for that?”
He shook his head. “I mean, the fair isn’t the only thing we’re doing tonight.”
He pulled out his wallet to buy tickets for games and food while she asked. “You gonna tell me where else we’re going?” He shook his head and she gave him a fake pout but it did no good. He made a motion to lock his lips and tugged gently on her arm to guide her to the food area. “Food first! Thank goodness, I’m starving!”
“Can’t have that.” He checked his watch. “We have lots of games to play here.”
“Oooh, are you planning to win me a prize from the fair?”
“You bet.” He watched as Sookie’s face lit up from his plans. In many ways, Sookie maintained a child like quality while having suffered through a harsh childhood and dealing with many difficult patients. He loved that about her; that she could separate the hard parts of her life and enjoy the here and now. Making her happy was something he always wanted to do. For the umpteenth time that day, he wondered if he could propose on the first date but he knew he needed to refrain for a few weeks at least. Besides, his mother’s ring was still in his safe deposit box in Pittsburgh; he had to make that trip soon.
“Can we split a dinner?” Sookie asked as they approached the chicken line.
The request puzzled him, but instead of wondering about her motives, he asked. “You aren’t going to turn into a woman that won’t eat in front of a man are you?”
“Wha…? No silly. I already saw funnel cakes and fresh cut French fries, so I’m ensuring I have room.” With her hands starting on her waist, she traced the outline of her hips and looked at him. “I mean, look at these hips. Do you think I could maintain these if I didn’t eat?”
She was too tempting and didn’t know it, Eric thought. His response was a growl. “No, you look perfect and we’re going to enjoy funnel cake and fries and dinner.” He emphasized each food item when he spoke. “Let’s get started.”
After chicken and fries, they waited in line for funnel cake. Sookie told him, “You know, my church’s barbecue has funnel cake too.”
“Did I miss that?”
“Nope, it’s three weeks from now.” Though she pulled her hair in a pony tail, she motioned with her hand to tuck some hair behind her ear only to discover no hair was loose.
“You know, you do that,” He pointed to her hair, “When you’re nervous about something.” He took her hand away from her hair and kissed it. “What’s got you nervous?”
“Well, I know you’re Catholic, did you know I was Catholic?”
“Yes, your brother told me last night. Well, you both became Catholic when he was getting married to Michelle.”
Sookie laughed. “Yep, she was the minority Catholic in our small Southern town. She wanted Jason to convert and,” She shrugged, “I went to the classes with him.” She tried to move her hand again and realized that Eric had a hold of it. She decided to plunge in. “Well, I kinda mentioned you to my Priest and he’s looking forward to meeting you and having another volunteer for the barbecue.”
Having mercy on her, he offered. “I’ll be joining you tomorrow at Mass and I’ll register next week.”
Her smile was brilliant. “I wasn’t sure if you were a Church-going Catholic or not. That’s great Honey.” She gasped and pulled her hand to cover her mouth. Worried that she crossed some line she looked at him nervously for a moment, then asked. “Is it too soon for nicknames?”
“I like it. Nobody’s ever called me Honey before. Does that make you my Sweetheart?”
Her reaction to his comments surprised him, tears pooled in her eyes though she was smiling. “What is it Sookie?” He asked, worried that he’d said something wrong.
“I never had a nickname before like this. It… I’m sorry… I mean.” She stopped stammering and took a breath. “Yes, I’m your girlfriend, so I’m your sweetheart too.”
He gave her a goofy smile and kissed her hand. “Sookie you’re much more than my girlfriend. You’re my forever.”
The tears in her eyes finally fell when she looked up at him to confirm. “I am?”
“Yeah, that’s my intention.”
He held his breath while he waited for his reaction, then relaxed when he saw her grin and say, “I’m good with that.”
They leaned in to share a kiss when the man behind them interrupted. “Ah, you guys are next for funnel cake, you gonna move up?”
They giggled having been caught in such an intimate moment in public and turned to order their treat.
After stuffing themselves, Eric suggested they walk around the midway and check out the games. Almost at the end of the row, they found a softball toss game and the top prize was a stuffed unicorn. “This one.” Sookie announced when they approached the booth.
Eric pulled out the tickets and paid for a game, and lost. He tried three more times for Sookie before she stopped him. “Stop! We can buy a stuffed toy for all those tries. I’ll give it one shot then we can walk away.”
“Go right ahead,” Eric said as he waved his arm toward the stack of balls.
She sauntered up to the ledge, grabbed the first ball, pulled her arm back and threw. The target fell over from the strength of her pitch. As she went for the second ball, he stopped her. “Something to tell me?”
She giggled. “Starting pitcher, all four years of high school girls softball. State Champions when I was a senior.” She pulled her arm back again. “Better step back.”
He gave an exaggerated bow and added, “I defer to your greatness.”
After the fair, they headed to their next destination while having a lively discussion about the unicorn sitting between them in the back seat. “I won him for you, I insist.”
Eric replied, “The intent was for you to have the prize though. The stuffy can go in Ella’s room; I don’t have anywhere … suitable for it.”
She laughed and he enjoyed the sound. “Good try buddy.”
He faked an annoyed look at being called Buddy but ignored it and instead changed the topic for the remainder of the drive. “So earlier today, I talked about the Marine Ball.” She nodded. “So, I ah… I don’t know how to ballroom dance. Well, any type of dance.”
“I’ve never tried ballroom dancing either. I can club dance but that’s it.” She smiled up at him. “What do you propose?”
Not knowing how she would feel about it, his expression conveyed his nervousness as he offered, “Dance lessons?”
“Why do you look concerned at your idea?” She took his hand. “I love the idea; another reason to spend time together.” She frowned. “Wait, is your leg, I mean you’re still limping.”
“I asked before I was discharged. It’s fine.” He looked out the window. “We’ll talk more about it later, we’re at our destination.”
Sookie watched as they turned into a shopping center and she was confused. “It’s after 9:00 PM, isn’t everything closed?”
“You forget the date.” He smirked to himself knowing he’d surprised her. “What book comes out tonight at midnight?”
“You’re taking me to a Harry Potter Party!” She squealed and jumped up and down in her seat
“I am, and there are some surprises in the trunk.”
The trunk was full when the driver opened it. Inside, Sookie found Harry Potter robes, wands, and other props for both of them. Given her blond locks, he’d gotten her what she needed to attend as Luna Lovegood while he was going to the dark side as Lucius Malfoy. At first Sookie expressed concern that they’d be out of place as adults at the event. A peak at the attendees while they waited to be sorted by the famous hat had Eric calming those concerns. “Look around, we’re not the only older fans. Relax Sweetheart. Let’s find our first horcrux.”
The date ended late, mostly since they had to stay at the Harry Potter party until midnight to buy the book. Somehow, though they were both tired, they suddenly had the energy for some wine and the porch swing. It had quickly become Eric’s favorite place at Sookie’s to sit, as long as she was right next to him.
They finished their wine as they chatted about the night’s events, planning for dance lessons, and play fought over who got to read the new book first. Eric thought the date was perfect and he was preparing for the good-night kiss part when Sookie abruptly stood and took their wine glasses inside.
Eric was puzzled for only a moment before he followed behind her; sure she was nervous about the end of the date.
Sookie’s nerves got the best of her as soon as they both finished their wine. Up until then they had kissed and cuddled, but she was unsure what the next steps would be. Knowing she was on fire and wanted more with Eric and having the confidence to move forward were two different things. So, she chickened out and left him on the porch. To continue her ruse, she moved to the kitchen sink and started washing the glasses. It didn’t take long before she was joined.
He moved behind her and wrapped his arms around her. Being so much taller, his head was over hers and he easily snagged the wine glasses from her hands, finished washing them, and set them to dry. Next, he enveloped her in a hug, her back to his front, and whispered, “Why did you leave me? You have nothing to be nervous about.” He kissed the side of her neck and enjoyed the shiver he felt as a result. “We’ll go at your speed, you say when to stop and we stop. You’re in the lead. We don’t even have to start anything tonight. I can go home.”
She cried out with a firm “NO!” then took a breath. Trying to appear bold, though she felt anything but, she leaned further into him and tilted her head for a kiss. The angle was awkward, but he obliged and she turned to deepen the kiss. When they broke apart, she admitted. “I know I want to start something, but I don’t know what to do. I can’t lead.”
“What do you want?”
“I don’t want to have sex tonight.” She quickly and enthusiastically added, “BUT SOON!” He chuckled at her and agreed. “How about more kisses for now?”
He smiled. “I can do that. For the record, you can lead perfectly well.” He grabbed her by the waist and placed her on the counter, then pulled her closer to the edge so he could fit in close to her.
Sookie couldn’t believe how easily they fit this way together. “I suddenly love my counter even more than ever right now.”
He took a breath and groaned out a “me too,” when he went for her mouth while his hands moved down to her ass. “God your ass is perfect.” Her legs wrapped around his waist and he lifted her with ease. Sookie felt movement, but paid no attention; she was too focused on licking and nipping his neck. Eric deposited them on the sofa, Sookie straddling him. Keeping their mouths attached, they used their hands to explore each other, above the waist and over clothes. Sookie felt like she could spend hours wrapped in his arms; every touch burned, every kiss she felt in her core. That’s when she knew it was time to break apart.
As soon as she started to pull away, Eric responded and stopped kissing her, but drew her to his chest. They stayed that way until they cooled down, some. She pulled her head back to look at him. “Thank you. I wanted to save some for after our next date.”
Without missing a beat, he asked, “Does attending Mass together count as a date?”
She burst out laughing at the very serious face he maintained while he waited for the answer.