I have never been what anyone would call religious, but watching Sookie eat was quickly becoming my favorite way to worship. The noises she’d make as she sampled everything Jesus brought were giving me a raging case of ‘hardonitis’.
“Oh my God! That was the best meal I’ve had since my Gran died! Thank you guys!” Lafayette beamed at Sookie’s words as he cleared away the dishes.
“So, Eric, you going back to work anytime soon?” Jesus flipped a towel over his shoulder and leaned on the counter, cocking his head to the side as he waited for an answer.
“Uh-Pam can manage another week or so without me. And they gave me time off school when all that shit happened last month. I’ve got until the end of Christmas break.” Lafayette gave me the hairy eyeball as he and Jesus carried the dishes back to the kitchen, grumbling to each other lowly. I glanced at Sookie, who was massaging her stomach lightly as I raised my voice. “I think we’re gonna head back to the house. We have some friends to grill.”
Sookie began giggling. Jesus and Lafayette, who’d just emerged from the kitchen once again, looked at her like she’d sprouted another head.
“Sorry y’all. I just-I got an image in my head of tossing Amelia and Godric on an actual grill. It was quite funny.” She snorted adorably again.
The smile I felt on my face was, I’m sure, extremely stupid looking. In fact, I’m pretty sure I looked like a badly drawn cartoon-hearts beating out of my eyeballs and everything.
I pulled out my wallet, but Jesus waved me off. “Consider it a congratulatory meal. On us, man. It was really good to meet you, Mrs. Northman.”
She grasped his hand and beamed at the wink he aimed her way. “Thank you so much, Jesus. And you, Lafayette. It really was delicious!”
Lafayette rounded the counter again and grabbed her into a hug, making her flinch in pain. My blood pressure spiked I’m sure, but her pleading eyes kept me quiet.
“You comes back to see me, sweet thang! Like I’s told yo’ fine ass hubby-I gots to put some meat on those bones!”
As he rounded on me and enveloped me in a huge bear hug once again, I saw a blush rise on Sookie’s cheeks.
“I’ll call you, Laf!” And with my hand on the small of her back, I led Sookie back out to the car. “So, back to the house to deal with Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber?” I asked.
She giggled and nodded as I started the car. We drove past Raymond James Stadium and Sookie shook her head.
“Ya know, it sucks that the Bucs are so horrible. Seriously, what the hell is with their offensive line?” Her indignant tone made me chuckle before I processed her words.
My eyes went wide and I know my heart stopped. Sookie was gorgeous, she was kind and patient, and she liked football? I had to have died and gone to some weird afterlife. There’s no way I deserved her. I let myself muse over the ways this girl seemed perfect for me until there were too many internal questions to concentrate on any one in particular.
“So, how do you want to do this? Should we find out what’s going on with them first and then kick them out so we can talk?” I finally asked as I drove.
Her brow wrinkled delicately and she sighed. “Yeah, I guess that would be good. I just-” She turned in her seat, slipping her flip flop off and propping her foot up underneath her. “I really wish I didn’t have to do any of this. I hate feeling so pathetic and…damaged.”
Even though her voice trailed off, I could still hear her and my heart broke just a little. “Sookie, look at me.” I waited until her eyes were on mine, thankful that we were stopped at a red light. “You are not damaged. I don’t know what happened to you and what makes you think that, but it’s not true. You are perfect. I don’t know much about you, but I just–I just know.”
Surprisingly, given my general assholish nature, I knew I meant every word wholeheartedly. Her goodness shone out of her like some ethereal light that only I could see. She glowed just for me, warming me from the inside out as I contemplated our odd situation.
A honk sounded behind me and I snapped back to attention and began driving.
“Thank you, Eric. I really appreciate that.” Her quiet voice floated to me and I smiled.
The silence that engulfed us as I continued the trek home was anything but uncomfortable. I caught Sookie glancing at me occasionally and I smiled, knowing that I was doing the same.
With a heavy sigh as we pulled into the driveway, we both glared at Godric and Amelia. They stood from the steps, where they’d been sitting.
“You have a key. Why didn’t you go in?” I asked Godric snippily. Wow, I sounded like I was on my metaphorical period.
To give him some credit, Godric met my eyes fearlessly. “We figured we didn’t want to overstep our boundaries.”
“Little late for that, don’t you think?” Amelia’s brow wrinkled at Sookie’s grumbled words, though it wasn’t nearly as cute as when my wife did it.
“Sookie, I-” I held up my hand, silencing her quite effectively.
“Come on. Let’s do this inside. I don’t want all my neighbors getting a free show.” I unlocked the door as I spoke, motioning for Sookie to walk ahead and following her with my hand at the small of her back again.
Call me crazy, but there seemed to be a magnet in my palm directly connected to that one spot on her back. Not to mention the twin dimples above her luscious ass were just begging me to lick them…no! I couldn’t go down that road or we’d never get any answers.
Sookie sank slowly onto my couch, marveling at the sheer size of it. I had to stifle my laughter-she just looked completely dwarfed. I settled down next to her and pulled her into my side, pleased when she didn’t resist at all.
“So. I believe you two have some explaining to do.” Sookie nodded at my words and glared at her friend.
Amelia squirmed and Godric sat heavily on one of my chairs.
“You’re making this into a bigger deal than it is. I swear, we didn’t set you up and force you down the aisle.” He started. Sookie snorted and I squeezed her shoulder slightly. She rolled her eyes and huffed quietly, miming a zipping motion at her mouth.
“See?!? That right there is why we wanted you to meet, though! Can’t you see how perfect you are for each other?!” Amelia’s shrill voice pierced through my brain and I cringed. This time it was Sookie wielding the calming influence as she stroked my leg.
“Ames, I’m not saying that I regret what happened. I’m very happy to have met Eric, and yes I do believe he’s a great guy. I do want to see where this could potentially go with us-” Amelia squealed over Sookie, who jolted forward, silencing her friend immediately. “But that does not give you the right to start playing God with my life!”
While I agreed with Sookie’s point of view, I also couldn’t help but be a teeny bit thankful for our friends’ meddling. After all, we lived in different states. We had much different jobs and we probably would never have met otherwise. My heart clenched at that thought and I gasped slightly. Even after this short amount of time, I couldn’t imagine my life without Sookie in it. Whether or not we stayed married, I still wanted her in my life.
“How about we just explain it to them, Amelia? They aren’t going to get over this unless they know the whole story.” Godric’s voice of reason prevailed and Sookie leaned back into my body, waiting for someone to start talking.
“Remember back in January when I was planning that cruise?” Amelia began as Sookie nodded slowly. “Well, I was surfing around Facebook and Tumblr trying to get people’s opinions on where to go. Godric runs a travel blog. So we started chatting.”
Amelia paused, probably trying to give me a coronary. Sookie huffed again, fidgeting anxiously.
“Well, we became friends. So, we began talking…about everything. And I told him about you because you are my best friend-” Sookie’s indignant whine stopped Amelia for a moment. “Sookie, I didn’t tell him everything. Just…enough to give him a general idea.”
I squeezed Sookie’s hand again and wrapped my arm more securely around her shoulders.
“Well, I also began telling her about you, Eric. Ya know, best friends? And you two sounded absolutely perfect for each other. Then Amelia told me about Sookie’s wedding and how it was a sham. We thought maybe if we could just get you to meet, then maybe you’d hit it off.” Godric explained.
“Amelia, you knew why I was getting married. It wasn’t like it was what I wanted. Why would you think that I’d just drop everything for a guy I’d just met?” Sookie squeezed my hand. “No offense, Eric.”
I balked as she brought up her failed engagement. I had to choke back some weird possessive fury that welled up in my chest, and Godric raised his eyebrow at me. I took a few measured breaths to calm down before shooting her a small smile.
“None taken. If you knew Sookie was engaged, then how would we hit it off? Did you think she’d just magically call off her wedding? What in the world were you thinking?” I asked in exasperation. I shook my head as a million questions raced through my brain. Something wasn’t sitting right with me. “I still feel like I’m missing something. Was it just fortuitous timing then? Did Amelia plan their weekend away first or were you somehow psychic?” Godric’s eyes widened fractionally as I spoke and Sookie glanced at me, a question in her eyes.
“We were in Vegas because…my dad died. It was my way to just-fuck off and forget.” I explained, hesitating. I knew I’d still have to elaborate, but hell if I’d do that while our supposed friends were staring at us in pity.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Eric.” Sookie’s eyes held sympathy that I didn’t want, but probably needed.
“It’s fine. We’ll talk about it more later. Back to you two…you’re not off the hook yet.” I pursed my lips and waved them on.
“When Godric told me that you guys were going to Vegas, I surprised Sookie with a bachelorette weekend just for the two of us. I figured if we got you two to meet maybe you’d hit it off and give her a reason to break away from all that wedding bullshit. But when I found her creeping out of your room I had no idea that you had actually gotten married!” Amelia wrung her hands, as she continued to fidget in her seat.
“She’s telling the truth. We met up in a casino, acted like it was a spur of the moment thing, then you two started talking and you seemed to get on really well. So we gave you some space to see where things would go…then you broke away from us. We saw you doing shots at the bar for awhile, but then you disappeared. We didn’t see you again for the rest of the night. I was coming to find you the next morning-to make sure you’d made it back to your room-when I saw Sookie and Amelia scurrying away. If you recall, which you probably don’t, I tried to ask you about her. But you just grunted at me, rolled over and fell back to sleep. We really had no idea.” Godric’s apologetic tone finally broke through the anger I’d managed to hang on to.
“This whole thing was stupid, you know that right? Next time-not that there will be a next time-maybe just mention that you have someone you want me to meet, huh?” Sookie said sarcastically and Amelia immediately bobbed her head in agreement.
“Alright, I guess I can get passed this with you Godric. Amelia, I can’t speak for Sookie-” I glanced at her and she waved her hand dismissively at her friend. “But for now, the two of us need some time alone. We have things we need to talk through.”
“Sookie, are you sure you want to stay? I mean, you can come back tomorrow…” Amelia trailed off hesitantly, clearly still proceeding cautiously.
“Amelia, I appreciate your concern. I can sleep on the couch here or Eric can bring me back to the hotel later on. Don’t worry about me.” Sookie stood slowly, unfurling her body languidly.
With a sigh, she reached for Amelia, pulling her up and into a hug. My heart skipped a beat as the two women began walking out towards the porch. Seriously, I needed to get a grip. She was out of my sight for less than a minute and I was already getting anxious.
“Are we okay?” Godric’s voice broke me out of my Sookie-stupor and I turned to face him.
“We will be. I just-I need to figure this out with her. I feel….I dunno. I just feel right with her. As much as I’m sorta blindsided and freaked the fuck out…I really want to explore these feelings I’m having.” I confessed.
“And we all know you’re not used to having feelings, huh?” He smiled at me and nudged my shoulder gently. “Come on, walk me out. Then you can sweep your wife off her feet and carry her over the threshold like a good husband should.”
I rolled my eyes, but pulled myself up obediently and followed Godric to the door. His eyes swept over Sookie and Amelia who were hugging by their rental car.
“You’re never gonna let her go, are you?”
I smiled. “I don’t think so Godric. I just don’t see myself without her now.”.