Present Day – December 2010
I drove a little faster than strictly allowed, dodging traffic lights and asshole drivers. I was anxious to see my girl. Sue me.
My phone vibrated again in my pocket and I leaned to try and dig it out. I was really going to have to start buying my own pants. These tight ones might be sexy for Sookie, but damn I couldn’t ever get in my pockets.
“Hello?” I didn’t recognize the number.
“Eric? Hey, it’s Claudine.”
I know I looked confused. My head waitress shouldn’t have any reason to call me. “Why are you calling me? Preston’s in the office.”
“Uh, no he’s not. I just checked,” her voice wavered.
I sighed and ran my hand down my face in frustration. “Okay, what’s up?”
As I dealt with the alleged crisis-although a missing delivery order which I’d already emailed to the distributor didn’t qualify in my book-I pondered where Preston had gone. Everyone was acting weird today. He’d JUST been there.
I said goodbye to Claudine and tossed my phone on the passenger seat.
December 22, 2007 – Winter Solstice
“Oh Sookie…” I called as I strode purposefully through the front door.
No answer. Hmmm, hide and seek anyone?
I crept quietly through the hallway, peeking into rooms as I passed. I grew concerned when I didn’t find her in the living room, dining room, kitchen or our bedroom or bathroom. I was creeping past the picture window in the hall on the way to the office when I caught a glimpse of something shimmery and purple. Ahhh, there she is.
From the looks of it, she’d fallen asleep on the deck, basking in the fading sunlight.
Thankfully she stayed asleep while I gathered what I needed and set it up. She really was perfect because I was pressing play on my iPod when she finally stirred.
“Oh, hey,” she looked around and her brow crinkled adorably. “It’s already dark! You should have woken me up!”
I smiled. “And miss watching you look like an angel? Never!”
She blushed and sat up slowly, bringing the towel with her to wrap around herself. The green water bottle next to her had been refilled by yours truly and she shot me a grateful grin as she gulped some down.
I crossed the deck to her and pulled her gently to her feet.
“Dance with me?”
Her eyes shone as she nodded and wrapped her dainty hands around my neck. I rested my hands on her tiny waist and swayed her gently back and forth to the music.
I smiled down at her as I noticed her nose twitch.
I laughed at her adorable predictability and nodded. I pulled her to me and laid a gentle kiss on her forehead. She sighed in contentment and I did the same. Then my stomach knotted up in nerves again.
I cleared my throat. “Come on. I’ve got steaks, grilled veggies, yellow rice and salads.”
She grabbed her towel off the lounge chair and followed me across the deck to the table. I pulled her chair out gallantly and she giggled as I scooted her in once she’d sat.
I beamed at her then whipped my shirt off, leaving me in just my swim trunks.
She raised an eyebrow at me as I served her a glass of super sugary sweet tea. How she drank that I have no idea. Just looking at it made my teeth feel like they were rotting.
“Just figured we should be even,” I leered as my eyes roamed over her bikini clad body.
We ate slowly, not feeling rushed at all. She told me about one of her regular customers that was always very specific about the way he liked his eggs cooked and she’d finally gotten it right today. Her animated tale, complete with hand gestures and sound effects, made my day seem dull in comparison. All I did was inventory and paperwork.
When we’d finished eating, she dragged me up and towed me back towards our lounge chairs.
“Come on! We’ve got a date with the Big Dipper,” she grinned back at me. Her tiny hand inside my much larger one was warm and soft. I stopped walking and tugged her to a stop. She looked at me with a puzzled expression, clearly wondering what the fuck I was doing.
I gulped and tried to smile, although by the look on her face I probably just managed to look constipated. I shook my head slightly and tried again.
“Dance with me. The stars will be there all night,” her eyes softened and I towed her body back towards mine. She laid her head on my chest as I looped my arms around her waist.
“This is so middle school,” she sighed as we swayed back and forth, no real motion between us. There was just pure contentment and love.
“True,” I chuckled and she giggled softly. “However, there’s no middle schooler in the world with as fine an ass as you.”
She let out a full on belly laugh and buried her head into my bare chest.
“Or your abs.”
Our laughter died down as we swayed to the dulcet tones flowing from my iPod. I stroked her hair and pressed a kiss to the top of her head as I took a deep breath.
“Sookie,” her big blue eyes trailed lazily up to meet mine. “I love you.”
Her face broke out into a smile. I leaned forward slightly, aiming my lips to hers for a kiss.
“I love you too,” she replied when we broke apart for air.
Sighing, I rested my forehead against hers and shut my eyes. When I opened them, staring into her azure depths, I gathered up my courage. I leaned down for another kiss and paused a millimeter away from her.
She froze. “What?”
If I wasn’t holding her so close, I don’t think I would have heard her. My heart leapt into my throat. I knew this was a bad idea. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.
“I love you. I want to marry you. I want to make you happy,” the almost desperate sound of my voice was evident.
I pulled back to see how badly I’d fucked things up. Her eyes were wide and glistened with unshed tears. Her mouth was open and ‘catching flies’ as her Gran would say. The furrow between her eyebrows deepened the longer I looked at her.
My hands dropped from her waist and I began to turn away from her, not able to watch her reject me.
Her tiny hands caught me and halted my progress. She grabbed my face roughly and yanked my chin, forcing me to look at her once more. Her beaming smile broke through the desolate haze in my mind and I waited.
She brought her face closer to mine and ghosted her lips across own. “Yes.”
It was my turn to freeze.
I expected her to say yes. I was devastated when I thought she was rejecting me. But my brain apparently didn’t get the memo that she said yes. I was engaged. Engaged to Sookie! Holy fucking hell! Sookie said she’d marry me!
I whooped loudly and grabbed her around the waist, swinging her in a circle. We laughed boisterously, the sound carrying on the slight breeze.
I pulled her close to me and nuzzled into her hair, pressing small kisses to her crown, behind her ear, down her neck-anywhere I could get to. Her hand in the center of my chest stopped my amorous motions and I took a deep breath before pulling away.
“So. Do I get a ring?”
Grinning, I dug into the mesh pocket on the back of my swim trunks and brought out a gleaming silver ring.
“What would you have done with that if we’d gone swimming?”
The smirk she tried to hide was a dead giveaway. I gently pushed the ring onto her finger before I hefted her over my shoulder and jumped straight into the pool. Despite the balmy December breeze on the deck, the water was frigid and I gasped as I broke the surface.
“You fucking ass!!!”
She pounced on my back, trying to dunk me and I jumped backwards, evading her clutches. We tired each other out wrestling in the pool before we settled down to watch the stars like we’d planned. Completely content, we drifted to sleep just before the sky began to lighten with the impending dawn.
March 30, 2008
“Pam! This is enough!”
Sookie and I let my sister plan most of my wedding and we let her pick out my outfit. We even let her go nuts with the food and decorations. I absolutely drew the line at her putting make up on me.
“But Eric! The pictures! This will even out your skin tone!”
She came at me again with a poofy thingamajig with some kind of tan powder on it.
“Pam! I’m a man! I do not wear makeup. Sookie likes me just fine without makeup, uneven skin tone and all,” I took a closer look at the powder she was trying to blot onto me. “Pam! It’s got sparkles in it!”
She huffed and rolled her eye. “It’s shimmer, not sparkles! Fine. Be ugly, I don’t even care.” She threw her hands up and began stalking off.
“Thanks SO much for ruining all my hard work, big brother!”
I sighed and wiped my hand down my face. I swear, you’d think it was HER wedding.
Lafayette and Preston scooted in the door, throwing terrified looks over their shoulders.
“Da FUCK?!?” Lafayette flopped into a plush chair in the corner and fanned his face with his hand.
“She’s gone off the deep end. I swear, I’m not going near that girl when she’s the one getting married,” Preston nodded at Lafayette.
I chuckled and agreed. There was a knock on the door and I pulled it open quickly, dreading who was on the other side.
“For fucks sake, let me in!” We collapsed into laughter as my dad darted inside and slammed the door shut, panting as he rested against it. “Your sister’s gone insane!”
After another round of laughter, we settled down and I began pacing. Again. I swear the linoleum would be worn out before they let me outside.
“How much longer?” I checked my watch. I shook the damn thing and held it to my ear. There’s no possible way it’s working. Time was just going too damn slowly.
“Chill yo fine ass, Northman. Whatcha worried bout? Sooks is gonna bring that fine ass o hers and y’all is gonna get hitched. I thought you wanted dis,” Lafayette pointed out.
“Dude. I’m not worried about Sookie. I’m not worried about getting married. I’m excited as all fuck about that. I’m worried about how much longer I can take Pam! And I’m wondering how much longer until Sookie gets fed up with her,” I wrung my hands lightly. “She can’t ruin Sookie’s day! I’ll kill her!”
Dad sighed. “You’re gonna make me go check on her aren’t you?”
Preston stifled a chuckle behind his hand.
“Just for that I should make you go.” His face paled considerably and he ducked behind Lafayette trying to hide.
“Nuh uh boyfriend. Yous on your own.” Lafayette pulled a fan hed hidden somewhere in his tight pants and began fanning himself dramatically.
“Oh I’ll go, I’ll go. I wanna make sure Sookie hasn’t come to her senses and tried to make a run for it,” Dad turned to grip the door knob.
“Shit! Wait!” I dashed to the duffle bag I had stashed in the corner. I rummaged until I pulled out a small gift wrapped box. “Give her this please.”
Dad beamed at me and took the outstretched package. He paused a moment at the cracked door, muttered what looked like a silent prayer and sighed as he stepped out into the hallway.
Lafayette, Preston and I sat and paced waiting for someone to come get us when it was time to begin.
I jumped about a mile in the air before dissolving into giggles. I mean-manly, burly belly laughs. Oh who the hell am I kidding, I giggled. Sookie had finally reached her breaking point and I could hear it all the way inside the house. I peeked out the windows, not seeing anything of course, but hoping to catch a glimpse of my love. The RV set up along the side of Jason’s house to serve as the girls area was parked around the other side of the house. Was it too much to ask that they move it closer to me?
I whipped around as the door to the room flung open, expecting Hurricane Pam once again. However I was faced with something much, much worse.
Lafayette and Preston both threw their handkerchiefs at me in terror and fled the room as my mom bustled in.
“Oh, baby boy! You look so grown up!” She sniffled into the handkerchief she already had. “I remember just like it was yesterday you were climbing trees and telling me that girls had cooties.”
“Mom,” I gently patted her shoulder. “I WAS climbing trees yesterday. I had to put up those god forsaken fairy lights, remember?”
I couldn’t tell if the resulting noise she let out was a laugh or a sob, but either way she was smiling. Mission accomplished.
“You look really pretty Mom. I’m so glad you decided to hang around,” I hugged her close to me, careful not to let her slightly smeared eye makeup get anywhere near my clothes.
Ever since Pam and I had grown up, my parents had spent most of their time gallivanting around the world, only stopping in at home occasionally. It seemed as though their travel bug had been sated and this was the longest stretch they’d been home in years.
“Well, we finally have some perspective on things. You all are way too important. I don’t want to miss anything else,” her eyes welled up and she sniffled lightly again before she choked back her tears. “And you look so handsome! Sookie looks gorgeous, of course. Seriously, does that girl ever look less than perfect?”
I sighed with what I’m sure was a goofy smile on my face. “Nope. She’s absolutely one hundred percent perfect all the fucking time!”
“That’s my boy!” She straightened out my shirt and checked to make sure my buttons were done correctly.
I check my watch once again and gulped. Time seemed to have warp sped forward all of a sudden. “Shit. I gotta get out there!”
“Relax, baby boy. Walk your mom out,” she held her arm out for me and I took it gladly, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.
We walked out to the backyard and down to the gazebo Jason had by the lake. Preston stood silently in the entrance, smiling as we approached. I smiled at Pam and Lafayette and handed Mom off to Dad as I took my place near Preston.
Lafayette turned and pressed play on the iPod dock we’d set up and a soft instrumental began playing. I turned to watch the RV and gulped in a huge breath as the door opened and Jason stepped out.
Then she stepped down onto the grass. My breath caught and I nearly fell to my knees. I felt the tears spill over onto my cheeks, but didn’t do a damn thing about it. My chest ached as I took in how perfect my love looked. Her flowing off white dress was shimmery and gauzy, giving her an ethereal air. Her blonde locks were gathered up haphazardly and secured with a thin silver headband. Her makeup was perfect, light and barely there. She didn’t need it anyways. She wore the silver bracelet I’d sent over with my dad on her dainty wrist and the diamond stud earrings that I’d given her for her birthday last year. Her feet, surprisingly were bare. She had some kind of flowery thing wrapped around her feet and ankles, but the bottoms were bare. She clutched her pink bouquet of daisies and beamed a glorious smile at me. I didn’t even notice that they’d reached me.
I gasped in a breath. Her eyes shimmered with tears as Jason kissed her cheek gently and put her hand in mine.
“You-” I gasped again. “You’re gorgeous!”
A tear spilled over onto her cheek and she giggled lightly, making no move to brush it away.
“Good thing I used waterproof makeup!”
The tension broke as Pam’s perfectly timed snark sounded behind us and everyone laughed heartily.
“Alright, alright, calm down y’all.” Preston waved his hands around and everyone settled. “I’m gonna make this short and sweet since its just us.”
We nodded at him in unison. Suddenly I was exceedingly happy that we’d agreed to let Preston get ordained and perform the ceremony.
“I’ve never known two people who are more perfect for each other. After everything you two have been through, you’re stronger than ever. And that-that is beautiful and I feel honored and blessed every day just to be near you,” my eyes misted over as Preston talked and I glanced sideways to see Sookie had tears streaming down her cheeks. “Eric, do you take Sookie to be your lawfully wedded wife? And everything that goes with it?”
Sookie gasped out a sob and squeezed my hand tightly. I brought her hand to my lips and laid a gentle kiss on her palm before letting our hands drop back down to our sides.
“And Sookie, do you take Eric to be your lawfully wedded husband? And everything that goes with it?”
I know my heart must have combusted. I beamed over at Sookie and moved to kiss her. A hand on my shoulder stopped me.
“Hang on. One more part,” Preston chuckled and was joined by everyone gathered with us. “Put the rings on each others fingers and repeat after me. With this ring, I am yours and you are mine.”
Sookie and I faced each other. She slid my ring on and I repeated the gesture.
“With this ring I am yours and you are mine.”
Our voices trailed off and I looked out the side of my eyes at Preston.
“Yes, go ahead.”
I grabbed Sookie and crushed my lips to hers. The hollers and whoops of our family around us were drowned out by the rushing sound in my ears. Her tongue begged for entrance to my mouth and I granted it, sweeping mine around hers.
We drew back when we needed a breath and I rested my forehead on hers.
“I love you. I cannot imagine being happier than right now,” Sookie sighed in contentment and I ran a finger down her cheek.
“Well. That sounds like a challenge love.”
We gripped each other tightly, collapsing into fits of giggles.
I mean…manly laughter. Shit.