When I woke up in the morning, I was alone in bed, and I could hear Eric in the shower. I briefly contemplated joining him, and then decided that I wasn’t quite that brazen. I was however, dressed in only a t-shirt and panties, while the only pair of shorts I had at his place were on the floor in the bathroom, with Eric. I sat up and sighed. He’d seen me in a bikini; at least I had a shirt on this morning.
I padded downstairs to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. My stomach growled and my mouth was dry. At least I didn’t’ have a major hangover. I had a slight headache, which I could certainly handle. I don’t know what I was thinking with those Long Island’s. I might not remember my tolerance, but that was just begging for trouble. As the coffee percolated, I looked for a box of cereal. Pouring a bowl of honey nut something or other, I sat at the breakfast bar and ate. Eric came down in shorts and a t-shirt and poured us each a cup of coffee. He poured himself a bowl of cereal as well, and kissed me on the top of the head as he came around behind me to sit on a bar stool.
“Morning. You feel okay?”
“Yeah. Thanks. And thanks for listening last night, I have a feeling I talked a lot.”
He laughed. “You did. It was sweet.”
“It was sweet? Didn’t I tell you about my room-mate and I getting drunk with the entire hockey team in college?”
“You did. And you told me that your brother threatened them all within an inch of their lives for even looking at you.”
“That was a good time. Jason and I were only at Northwestern together one year.” I took a couple more bites of cereal. “What are we doing today?”
“No plans. What do you want to do?” He sipped his coffee and smiled at me. I should have felt uncomfortable in my underwear and t-shirt. Something about him just made me feel totally at ease; safe even.
“When do we have reservations in Traverse City?”
“Tomorrow, but we can change them.”
“No, let’s go half-way today and stop in Ludington. We can relax and wander around. I really want to go wine tasting up in Traverse.”
“Sounds good. I’ll pack and then we’ll go to your place before we head out.” Everything with him was easy, it was quite disconcerting to my amnesiac brain, because everything else seemed to take so much effort.
Eric packed a bag and grabbed his laptop while I showered. We hadn’t talked about the night before. I wasn’t really sure, but had a feeling, that I’d done some dirty dancing with him, and I definitely remembered kissing him on the deck at the bar. I debated with myself as to whether I should pretend like it hadn’t happened, or act like it had. I finally decided that the best thing, was to act like we had kissed, and figure out how to do it again.
He’d basically told me that he liked me before we went out, something I was still trying to accept, and whether I wanted to or not, I really liked him. He was kind of amazing, an all around great guy. I was sleeping with him, just sleeping, and apparently most of the free world thought we were doing more than sleeping in his bed, so what did I have to lose? The only answer I could come up with was; nothing. It made me feel better to have had this little conversation with myself. I could do this; flirt. I guessed that I hadn’t done it much since I’d been married, but I thought I could manage.
I got dressed and put my things back in my beach bag before heading downstairs. Eric was on the phone, standing by the sliding door looking at the Lake. I set my bag down and exhaled. I. Could. Do. This. I moved behind him and put my arms around his waist, resting my cheek on his back. He looked over his shoulder, surprised, but smiling at me. His arm snaked around me, pulling me towards his chest and into a hug. Finishing the call, he put his other arm around me as well, rubbing my head with his chin. I totally made the right decision to act like last night happened.
“Who was on the phone?”
“It was Pam.” He ran his hands over my back.
“Oh my god, Eric. It’s like five in the morning there.”
“Yeah. She called me on the way to yoga.”
“Is there something wrong?”
“No. She wanted to make sure we knew that there are more pictures of us on the internet.”
“Oh. Does she do that? I mean, call you whenever there are more pictures of you posted?”
“No. She checks them to make sure they aren’t photoshopped all to hell and that they haven’t misquoted, or misrepresented me, but she doesn’t call me unless it’s something I should see.”
“Oh. So, they were bad yesterday?”
“No,” he chuckled, rubbing my arms. “Since they’re of both of us, she wanted us to know. She told me that Sophie-Anne and her boyfriend broke up again too. You know, she plays the vampire queen on Bloodlust? I should call her later to check on her.”
“That’s too bad, about Sophie Anne. Her boyfriend seems kind of weird though. He’s that goth rock star guy, right? Anyway, which pictures of us were published? What are they saying now?”
“Pam said they’re pictures of us leaving your place, and on the beach. They pretty much challenge me to deny the fact that there’s something going on between us.”
“Oh. I guess you could.”
He leaned back to see my face. “Sookie, I’m not denying it; here or there. Okay? ” I may have melted a little at his words. “We can look at the pictures whenever you want.”
I nodded and sighed. “Is Pam mad? She had that whole plan.”
“She’s over it. She’s using the publicity to try to get me lined up on some talk shows when I get back to California.”
“Can we look at the pictures? I mean, I don’t want someone to call or something and not have seen them.”
“Oh, yeah. Of course.”
He went over to the couch and pulled out his laptop before firing it up to load the pictures. I stood behind the couch, leaning over his shoulder to see the images. There were shots of us holding hands walking to the car, Eric holding the car door open for me, the two of us wearing our sunglasses leaving my driveway, and then, oh shit, the beach photos. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a picture of us when we first got down to the beach. I had taken my shirt off and Eric was staring at me like he was going to eat me alive. It must have been just before I caught him looking at me, but I hadn’t seen that expression on his face. That look was primal, and it cleared up any questions I had about whether or not he was attracted to me.
The other two pictures were equally eye opening. In one I was straddling Eric’s back applying sunscreen and had leaned forward to whisper in his ear; we were both smirking as if we’d shared some intimate secret. However, it was the final picture that I couldn’t stop looking at. He had surprised me at the waters edge, picking me up and spinning me around, we were grinning and laughing, and we looked very much like a couple.
The short article was rather sarcastic, saying that nothing about the two of us had officially been confirmed, but reminded readers that ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words,’ and they should believe what they wanted until Eric gave them the ‘truth.’ I wondered if Pam’s announcement would be enough, or if it would make the attention worse.
There was something else I’d been thinking about as well. I sighed. “Can I ask you something?”
I needed to know what he’d been thinking about me, about the poor girl that filed for divorce, and went to the lesbian commitment ceremony with her gay drag queen friend.
“What did Sam tell you about me?”
Eric turned, looking at me. “He told me the stories he heard from Martini, Lafayette, whatever you call him.”I loved the way Eric said his name, it came out as Laf-eye-ette, it was so cute. “He told me about you going to the Halloween party dressed as a Cinderella and Laf went as your fairy god mother. How you went on vacation with Amelia in Cabo and they lost your luggage. And that you went to a Bears game and he drank so much that you left him sleeping in the car so you wouldn’t miss the game. Stuff like that.”
“I remember all of those times. Why did Sam think I was perfect for you?”
He stood and came behind the couch, putting his hands on my shoulders. “Because you’re a fighter, and you have good friends that you look out for. Because you’re fun and funny, and you’re okay with people who are different, and life in Hollywood is nothing if not different. Because you’re beautiful and you’re kind. Should I go on?”
“No. I wish I knew those things about myself though.” He hugged me to his chest and I sighed, comforted.
“You don’t have to have your memories to know those things about yourself. You are all of those things and more, Sookie. Do you believe me?”
I shrugged, but I knew he felt it on his chest. He stepped back and kissed my nose. “Well, you are.” He held eye contact, giving me a long look, then smiled. “Should we go?”
“Yeah. Let’s head out.”
We headed to the car, where we were pleasantly surprised that there weren’t any photographers waiting for us. Eric drove us to my place and I traded my beach bag for a small suitcase. I sent him next door to tell Amelia we were heading out of town. I could have called her later, but I figured she’d appreciate my sharing Eric with her for a minute.
He met me at the door and we loaded my bags into the Jeep. I handed him a map and showed him where we were going. It was straight up the lake shore.
We’d been in the car about an hour when I glanced over at him, and laughed. Maybe I was tired, maybe the amnesia was overwhelming me, but I was suddenly struck by how bizarre it was to be riding in the car with him, like it was something I did every day.
“I”m sorry. This whole thing. You, me, us, or whatever. It feels totally normal. I’m more comfortable with you than Amelia and Tray and I’ve known them for years. ‘This’,” I waved my hand around at the interior of the car. “We have this comfortable silence thing going on, and we hardly know each other. It’s, not normal.”
“Sookie, who’s to say what’s normal? If things are right between us, they just are. Sometimes it takes people a while to get comfortable with each other, and sometimes it’s automatic. I’m pretty happy with how comfortable we are around each other. To quote a wise woman, ‘let me enjoy it’.”
I laughed. He had a point. I was trying to over think everything. “Okay. Okay. Enjoy away.”
He took my hand and kissed the back of it, then laced our fingers and set our hands on his thigh. We settled back into our seats, smiling at each other. The circles he was rubbing on my hand made me sleepy. I woke up a while later and he was quietly mouthing the words to something on the radio. I listened, and smirked, it was old school,Blister in the Sun by the Violent Femmes. I must have giggled a little, because he glanced over and stopped singing, mid-word, breaking into a goofy grin.
“Don’t let that stop you. I was about to start singing too.” I reached forward and turned the radio up and we sang along together, although I sang much louder than he did.
The song finished and he laughed. “So.” He was not going to let me tease him about car singing. “I looked through some of the visitors guides last week. I remember reading about an ice cream factory that is also a restaurant in Ludington.”
“House of Flavors. Mmmmmmm. They have good ice cream. The food is good, but it’s the ice cream there that’s the show stopper.”
“Sounds like dessert. Anything you would recommend for dinner?”
“Umm. Probably Blu Moon. It’s downtown. It’s fun and they have a great chef. The lobster pot pie is amazing.” Eric was grinning when I finished talking. “Oh hell. Well, if I remember the food is good do you think I’ll recognize the chef if he comes out to chat?”
“We can fake it if you don’t.”
I snorted. “Yeah. Good thing I’m traveling with an actor.”
He waggled his eyebrows. “Hotel ideas?”
“Probably the Four Seasons, but it’s not the like the Four Seasons you’re used to, it just happens to have the same name.”
“That’s fine. Do you know how to get there?”
“Nope. No idea.” I couldn’t explain how I remembered everything else about the place, but I didn’t know how to get there and had to use the map to navigate. There was no rhyme or reason to my memory loss. I gave him directions from one of the visitors guides he’d brought along. We made a quick detour to Subway for lunch, and then headed to the hotel.
We pulled into the parking lot and he looked over shyly. “I’ll go in and register. They’ll figure out you’re here eventually, but there’s no sense in advertising.”
“Eric,” I laughed. “It’s not like I’m embarrassed to be seen with you.”
“I know, and I’m not embarrassed of you. That’s not what I meant. Shit. I don’t want you to feel…I don’t want them to invade your privacy. I have none, and I’m used to it. Does that make any sense?”
“It does. And it’s sweet. I’ll come in with you. It’s fine.”
We walked into the hotel and Eric chatted with the girl at the desk. She was really flustered, and embarrassed to explain that the only room available had only one bed. I thought I was going to burst out laughing at her pained expression. On the other hand, I felt bad for her; she was trying to be sweet and not make any assumptions.
Eric smiled and told her it would be fine. She told us where to park and pointed out the display of area fliers and brochures for area attractions. He sweetly thanked her and even walked over and picked up some information on the way out.
He carried our things up to the room and flopped on the bed. I shook my head and smiled, climbing on the bed to stretch out next to him.
“What’s the plan?”
He propped himself on his elbow and grinned. “It’s early. We can shop or walk on the beach. What do you want to do?”
“You want to shop?”
“No, but we could.”
He was so sweet, to offer to shop because of me. “How about we walk down to the beach since we’re so close? Then we can wander through town and shop if we feel like it, and stop for a drink, or whatever?”
He reached out and touched my cheek; that simple contact felt so good that I had to close my eyes.
When I opened them, he was smirking and had leaned closer, then his lips were on mine. Slowly and sweetly, he kissed me. My arm went around him and his hand slid down my back. The distance between us disappeared, and we were touching from head to toe. Somehow my legs had tangled with his, unconsciously bringing us even closer together. Our mouths moved faster, our breathing hitched, and I felt myself pulling his hips toward mine. His lips moved to my neck, leaving a warm path on my skin wherever they touched and his hands found my breasts.
My hips instinctively met his, and I felt his impressive erection, the one I’d felt spooned against my backside in the mornings, as he arched towards me as well. He moved his mouth to my collarbone, and an “Mmmmm,” escaped my mouth. He groaned, his hands sliding down my back, gripping my ass and pulling me against him. His lips found mine, kissing me hard. With a gasp, he pulled his mouth from mine, laying his head on the bed so we were nose to nose.
“We need to go.” His voice was hoarse.
“Oh.” I giggled.
“Why don’t you go freshen up so we can go to the beach?”
Neither of us moved. We were gazing into each others eyes, his hand was caressing my back.
He said my name, it was almost a sigh. “Sookie.”
“What?” I whispered back.
He rolled away from me, lying on his back with a groan. My body grew instantly cold from the loss of his touch.
I exhaled, loudly. “I’m going.”
It took me a second to get my bearings, then I stood and headed for the bathroom. I knew he was right, that we needed to cool things off. But I flipped on every light in the room on my way through, just to be snarky.
The door to the bathroom clicked shut and I groaned. My hands raked through my hair and I exhaled deeply, tying to calm down. Holy shit. Whatever it was going on between us, there was no denying our chemistry. Reluctantly, I moved to the desk chair, in an attempt to ensure I didn’t pull Sookie back into bed with me.
She came out of the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror, brushing her hair and checking her make up. I watched her with a smile as she finished getting ready. She turned and walked over to me, stepping between my legs, smiling down, teasing me. I put my hands on her hips and gazed up at her. What the hell was she doing to me? She took my hand and stepped back, pulling me to my feet.
“Do you have the room key?”
I grabbed the key card from the top of the TV, showing it to her as I put it in my wallet. She put her purse over her shoulder, took my hand again and led me to the door.
We walked the few blocks to the beach, enjoying the sunshine and smiling at other tourists. I told Sookie about the beach I always went to in California. It was a quiet spot in Malibu, if there was such a thing, that I went to, to get away and relax. We wound up sitting in the sand, leaning back so we could soak up the sun. Her cell phone rang, playing some showtune, and she answered it with a smile.
“Laf! What’s going on?” She pushed a button, putting him on speaker phone.
“Sooks. There’s more pictures of you today with that hunka manmeat. Girl, you’ve been holdin’ out on me. And now Sam says he been tellin that man all aboutchu.”
“Oh. Yeah. Pam called this morning and told us there were more pictures. You’re on speaker, by the way.”
“Oh, sweet baby Jesus. Is that you Mr. Man?”
“It is. What did you think of the pictures?”
“Oh, they are fine, just fine. Only one problem with them, you got Sookie rubbin’ yo back instead of lil ol’ me.”
I had to laugh, he was something else. Sookie rolled her eyes, and hit the button taking it off speaker phone, before she began chastising him. It was hilarious. I heard her apologizing for not telling him that she knew me and I felt a little bad about our lie.
She looked over at me and bit her lip, then said, “Well, there may be an official statement in the next day or two. That’s all I can say really.” She listened, then sighed. “Laf, this Hollywood stuff is all new to me. You should understand, you’re mixed up in it all the time.” Her expression changed and she looked almost surprised, then sad. It only lasted an instant, and then she was smiling again, laughing at something Laf must have said. She looked over at me and finished the call, keeping her eyes on mine.
We were gazing at each other, her eyes seemed to hold me, and I couldn’t look away. Then she turned her head and looked down at the phone in her hands.
I realized that something was wrong. “Hey.” I nudged her shoulder. “Where’d you go?”
She shrugged. “Just something Lafayette said.”
“What?” I could only imagine. He was a piece of work.
“He just told me to be careful.”
For a minute I thought she was talking about birth control and I was a little shocked and excited, then I realized that wasn’t what she meant at all. Quietly, I asked, “What did he say?”
She looked at me again, sadly. “He just reminded me that this is your vacation. Your real life is out there.”
I exhaled. “He’s right that this is my vacation.” Putting my hands on each side of her face, I kissed her slowly, before whispering in her ear. “But Sookie, what’s going on between us is very real.”
She sighed. “Oh. Good. I mean, okay.”
I stood, reaching a hand down to her. “So, shopping?”
She surprised me with her answer and a silly smile. “I think I might need a drink first.”
We sampled the beers at Jamesport Brewing Company and walked around downtown, stopping in stores that had good window displays or if Sookie wanted to look for something. She got a cup of coffee and made me rest on a bench, people watching with her for a while, which was a total role reversal for me. First, because I never had time to sit down and relax, and secondly, because I was usually the one being watched. A few people had done double takes looking at me as we walked around, but no one even noticed us on the bench. We walked some more, talking and laughing as she remembered some of her past trips to Ludington.
I called Sophie Anne while we relaxed, but had to leave a voice mail. She was a nice girl, she just had poor taste in men. I hoped she wasn’t too upset, their fights had thrown off filming in the past.
The easiness between Sookie and I continued through dinner, neither of us addressing the steamy makeout session in the hotel room that we were going to have to face, since we were headed back to that same room tonight. Sookie was right, the restaurant was good. The chef didn’t come out to see her, much to her relief, because when we walked in she pulled me aside and whispered, “If I didn’t remember how much I loved the food here, I’d swear I’d never been here before. This is totally weird!”
I’d put my arm around her, kissing the top of her head and felt some of her tension melt away. After dinner, we walked to House of Flavors for ice cream, and I felt like we needed to have our conversation there, rather than with the walls of the hotel room closing in on us.
I cleared my throat. “So, about earlier.”
Her cheeks grew red and she focused on licking her chocolate ice cream cone, which was so not helping me.
“We should probably talk about it.” We were leaning against the building, and the sun was beginning to slide down the horizon.
“We don’t have to. It’s okay.”
“Sookie, if we don’t talk about it, I at least have something to say.” She nodded. “I didn’t stop because I don’t want things to go any farther; I stopped us because I do. As long as you understand that, and are alright with it, there’s nothing to talk about.”
She swallowed hard, her eyes wide. “Okay.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Okay, as in, you’re alright with that?”
She looked down at her dessert and took another lick. Oh, the places I wanted to feel that tongue on my skin were endless. Bringing her eyes back up to mine, she nodded. “Maybe not quite yet, not tonight, but yeah. I’m alright with it.”
There was a little bit of ice cream on her lip, and I felt the need to lick it away. I leaned forward, tasting the sweet chocolate, and turned it into a kiss that told her exactly what I wanted to do with her. I stepped back and sighed. “Don’t make me wait too long, okay?”
“Eric, it’s just. I keep thinking, what’s going to happen in three weeks when you go home?”
“Life is full of ‘what if’s.’ Who’s to say you’re not going to hate me in three weeks? Or that you’re not going to decide to move to California with me?”
“Can you really see me in California?”
“Sookie, don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to.”
WOOT! I hope you like the progression we’re seeing…Leave me some lovin and let me know what you think!