Friday went by in a daze. I was glad that I had to be on set most of the day because it gave me something to focus on. When I got home, everyone was ready to go to dinner so I got back in the car, and we took Amelia and Tray to Duke’s in Malibu.
Sitting at the table with everyone, finally able to relax for the day, I felt myself starting to freak out. I wasn’t having a panic attack or anything, or worrying that Sookie would say no, but I was thinking about all kinds of things at once. I knew that about the time we got to the restaurant, Chris and Zaneta would be checking into the hotel, and I hoped that he was ready to deal with mom until the party. I thought about Sven, who had been acting weirder than normal, and I wondered if we’d get a moment alone to talk over the weekend. Then my mind would jump to something else, like how Amelia had been giving me strange looks, and I couldn’t figure out if they were related to the creepy fanfiction or if she was on to my plan. I thought about the stupid group Halloween costume that Amelia and Sookie had come up with and hoped to God no pictures of us ever made it out to the public. But more than anything, I kept imagining the moment I would propose to Sookie.
In my head, I went over what I wanted to do and say, rethinking my words a million times. I knew that there was a possibility that she wasn’t ready to get engaged, but I needed her to know that I was. I tried to prepare myself for what I would say if her answer was, ‘Not yet.’
I managed to nod and agree during the dinner conversation but contributed very little. It was like as soon as one thought stopped, another took its place. I finally started to calm down over coffee and Hula Pie, which had topped Church and State’s pot de crème as Sookie’s emergency dessert because it was insanely good and Duke’s was much closer to home. It might have been because Sookie had moved to practically sit in my lap to share the cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, and fudge covered concoction in front of us, but I didn’t really care why; I was just glad to be feeling better. When we finished the pie, I leaned back in my chair holding my coffee mug, and exhaled, feeling full and exhausted.
Sookie took my hand and gave it a squeeze. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” I nodded and smiled back at her. She had been right when she said I was acting weird, and I’d been doing it again tonight. Raising our joined hands, I brought them to my lips and kissed the back of her as I returned her squeeze.
We stayed at the restaurant a little longer, laughing and talking over our coffee, then headed back to the house. Sookie had a list of things that still needed to be done before the party, and she ordered everyone to get a full nights sleep. I wanted to laugh, it wasn’t likely to happen in my case.
First thing in the morning, Tray and I hosed down the pool area and raked the rocks around the edge of the cement that always piled up from rain. I watched Sookie and Amelia inside the house cleaning windows and wondered for the umpteenth time during the party preparation process why the hell I was still paying anyone to clean my house or take care of my yard.
According to Sookie’s plan, I was supposed to take Tray to lunch at the beach while the girls continued whatever it was they were doing. We climbed into the car around 11 a.m. to head out, and as we pulled out of the driveway he grinned at me.
“You realize I don’t give two shits about seeing women in bikinis, right?”
“Yeah, I know.” I smiled.
“Amelia suggested it, and I jumped all over it because I knew we’d need to get the hell away from them.”
I laughed and nodded.
“Anyway, I don’t care where we go for lunch.”
“We’ll just go to the beach anyway, it’s a nice day.”
I drove us towards the beach but pulled over before we got there and pulled up Roaming Hunger on my phone to find a good food truck. Our choices near the beach were a couple of Mexican trucks or Kogi, which was sort of Korean/Mexican fusion food. I left it up to Tray, fingers crossed he’d be adventurous and want to try Kogi, and he did. We waited in line, which was surprisingly short, and each got a spicy pork burrito and a water. We ate our food quietly and Tray loved his burrito, saying there was nothing like it at home. I laughed, imagining him telling everyone at Phil’s in Saugatuck about his Korean/Mexican burrito.
We headed back to the car and drove the remaining few blocks to the beach, where we sat in the sand watching the waves, stretching out the time we were gone a little longer. I’m sure it was relaxing for Tray, but it only reminded me of the time I spent at the beach with Sookie in Michigan, which made me think about how much I loved her, and that led me to thoughts of the proposal I had planned, all of which did nothing to relax me. While Tray soaked in the rays, I called Chris to check in on my family. Everyone was fine, and mom was really excited about surprising Sookie. Family was important to her, and she already considered Sookie part of ours. After a while we nodded at each other, agreeing it was time, and headed to get ice before going back to the house.
We pulled into the garage around 2 p.m., and I think I started to sweat due to my nerves as soon as I turned off the ignition. I had some time left to act as normal as possible and help Sookie get everything ready before I surprised her. I filled the coolers with beer, cokes and the rootbeer Amelia was so excited about for her Tootsie Roll drinks; and I made sure that Tray and I both knew exactly what needed to be grilled, just in case I had to throw the hail Mary and convince Sookie that I was open to a long engagement if she wasn’t ready to get married yet, but I was hopeful that it wouldn’t come to that.
Amelia and Sookie were doing the final touches on food in the kitchen and I knew it was time to start things in motion. I headed down the hall to the bedroom to get in the shower before Sookie did. She was going to be upset, because I knew full well it was going to take her much longer to get ready than me, but I needed time to prepare while she was in the bathroom.
She was expecting me to get into the crazy costume, so I got all of the pieces of it out of the garment bag and hung it on the back of the door. Hearing her footsteps in the hallway, I stepped into the closet so she couldn’t yell at me, or see me before she got in the shower. She shut the door heavily and made a disgusted noise in her throat before going into the bathroom and turning on the water.
I got dressed and waited for her to finish getting ready. I knew her routine well enough that unless she was doing something elaborate to her hair, once the hairdryer started I had about five minutes before she came out of the bathroom in her robe to put on lotion and get dressed. I took a deep breath and checked myself in the mirror. I was as ready as I was going to be.
Standing in the shower, I felt the warmth and the pressure of the water help me relax. I finally realized when I practically yelled at Amelia as she made fresh guacamole, that in the process of planning and getting ready for this party, I had crossed some line into insanity. I wanted everything to go smoothly, and I wanted all of Eric’s friends to like me. Add that to the homesickness factor and Eric’s strange behavior, and my neurosis was the result.
Eric’s moodiness came and went. He’d been off in his own head when we were at Duke’s for dinner, but Tray and Amelia were too good of friends to say anything about it, and he’d shaken it off and joined us mentally during dessert. We’d lain in bed all night, snuggled together, but restless. In the morning he’d jumped into my list of things to do with a smile on his face, but he clearly had other things on his mind. As soon as he and Tray left for lunch, I’d let out a sigh of relief. Amelia looked at me with concern from across the counter.
“What’s going on, Sook? Did you have a fight last night?”
“No, we’re good. I mean, I think we’re good. He’s got something going on that he won’t tell me about yet. Whatever it is, he’s tied up in knots over it, and he thinks I can’t tell.”
“Yeah, even I can tell something is going on with him.” She laughed as she chopped onion to add to the avocado in the bowl. “So, did he tell you when he’d be able to talk about it?”
I watched her scrape the onions into the bowl and begin to chop more. “That’s too much onion,” I snapped.
Her head came up and she looked at me, shocked for a second, and then her face broke into a grin. She chuckled as she raised her hands like it was a robbery. “Okay, okay. You’re in charge.”
“Shit.” I climbed onto a barstool and sat at the counter, putting my head in my hands. “I’m sorry, Meels.”
“No apology needed.” She put down the knife and washed her hands before sitting down on the stool next to me. Still drying her hands, she said quietly, “Start talking, sister.”
I let it all out, unloading everything without letting her get a word in. I told her about Eric’s and my talk about babies and marriage, how I still didn’t really feel like California was home, how the paparazzi were overwhelming, and how I wanted to believe that Eric and I could live happily ever after, but I was scared. And I told her that now I was even more afraid because Eric was acting weird, and I was worried that he was going to break up with me or something. I opened my mouth to tell her one more thing, and she held up her hand.
“Stop. Don’t even say it.”
“Don’t say what?” I tried to pretend that she didn’t know what I was about to say, but in reality I knew she did. She always did.
“It. We’ve been over this a million times. What happened with Bill was his fault. Entirely. You didn’t do anything wrong. He threw away the greatest thing that ever happened to him.” She sighed and took my hand, calming down. “I’m sure there’s a reason Eric is acting weird, but I don’t think there’s a chance in hell he’s going to break up with your, or anything else bad.”
“Frankly, Eric is so far up your ass that he couldn’t be surgically removed, and I don’t mean that like it’s a bad thing.” She smiled at me. “Sook, he’s the real thing.”
“God. I want him to be, Meels. I want to put everything in the past and believe in the possibilities with Eric. It’s just you know, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
“That doesn’t work when you apply it to two different people, genius.” She laughed. “Think about this; what if Bill had told you he wanted to relocate to California and open a practice here? Lord, could you see his pasty white skin in this sun? Gah. Anyway, what would you have said?”
“I probably would have said my life was in Chicago. Or at the Lake.”
“Exactly. What changed?”
I sighed, and it took only a second to know the answer. I smiled. “Eric.”
“Yeah. Eric. Your life is with him now. It doesn’t matter where it is.”
“You’re right. I know you are.” I sighed. “I’m just stressed out, and Eric’s making it worse.”
“Sookie, it’s a party. You’ve thrown a million of them.”
“I know. But, I don’t really know these people that well.”
She smiled. “I thought you were having the party to get to know them.”
“I am!” I laughed.
“Are you pregnant? You’re acting really hormonal.”
“No. That’s one thing I’m sure of.”
“Oh yeah? Some people don’t miss their first period,” she teased. “And don’t tell me you two haven’t been doing the baby making dance.”
“Shut up!” I laughed.
“You okay now?”
I nodded. “Thanks, Meels.”
“No problem, sweetie. Alright. Can I finish making this guacamole that I’ve made for you like a thousand times without you freaking out about what I’m putting in it?”
I laughed and nodded and we both got back to work. Eric and Tray came in a little while later, when we were taking a break and eating our own lunch. Tray carried on about the beautiful women at the beach, and Amelia flashed him her boobs to remind him he had his own woman sitting at the table. We all laughed at her, even Eric, who’d had a slightly pained look on his face since he walked in the door. After a few minutes, he and Tray went outside to put the drinks and ice in coolers and stack some wood near the copper fire pit. We were mostly finished getting ready, and even though I could admit to myself that I’d gone a little overboard in terms of food and decorations, I’d probably never tell Eric that.
I was shuffling somethings around in the refrigerator when I heard the sliding door open and close behind me. After finishing what I was doing, I turned to see Meels putting away some dishes while Tray was sitting at the bar with a beer. I looked around, but didn’t see Eric.
“Is he still outside?”
“No, I think he went to take a shower,” Tray answered.
“Ugh.” I groaned and rolled my eyes, then muttered under my breath. “Jackass.”
It took him like ten minutes to shower and get ready. He didn’t even have to dry his hair, he just used a towel. I hoped whatever he had going on with him worked itself out quickly, because he was seriously irritating me. Amelia patted me on the shoulder and reached across the bar to take a swig of Tray’s beer. The corner of my mouth lifted in a smile. I shook my head and laughed a little, what else could I do? At this point the whole thing was ridiculous.
I made my way to the master suite when Eric finished in the shower. He was nowhere to be seen when I walked through bedroom, and he wasn’t in the bathroom either. I figured he was hiding in the closet since he knew he pissed me off, but more likely he was completely oblivious to my feelings since he’d been spaced out lately.
I had plenty of time to get ready since I had planned and prepared so obsessively. The warmth of the shower felt great, and I tried to think positive things. I wanted to believe Amelia, that whatever was going on with Eric would work itself out. Eric himself had told me not to worry, that it was a good surprise but I hated surprises. I washed my hair and then shaved my legs. It was all going to be fine. If I told myself that enough, it would be, right? Maybe it was like the Emmys. Maybe I just needed to go into the bedroom and seduce Eric into fucking me into an orgasmic haze. God, that was wrong on so many levels.
Shower finished, I dried off and put on my make-up, heavy on the eyes to go with my costume. I dried my hair, fluffing it to give it volume, but otherwise leaving it down, and was all set to get dressed. Ready to put my big girl panties on, both literally and figuratively, I sighed and opened the bedroom door. I stopped short though, looking at Eric like I was seeing things.
“Why are you wearing a tuxedo?” I was shaking my head and I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath. “Please don’t tell me you’ve decided now not to wear the costume. There are four members of ABBA, not three.”
“Sookie, open your eyes.”
His voice was quiet, but it seemed closer to me than where he’d been standing when I closed my eyes to resist having a complete and utter temper tantrum. I opened my eyes slowly, and he was standing right in front of me smirking. I wanted to be mad, but there was something so sweet in the way he was looking at me that I couldn’t be. My anger and frustration sort of washed away, and I stood there, looking back at him in confusion.
He reached forward and took my left hand in both of his. I looked down at our hands and then back at his face in question.
“You know how much I love you; don’t you?”
I nodded, still confused, and he smiled. Then I realized that he was moving, downward, lowering himself to one knee. My eyes flew open, and I gasped, bringing my other hand to cover my mouth in surprise.
“Oh my god. Eric?”
He grinned up at me. “Sookie, you have made me happier than I’ve ever been. I know it hasn’t been very long, but I hardly remember my life before you were in it, and I can’t even imagine my future without you.” He looked down, then back up at me. “There were a lot of forces at work that brought us together. It seemed like it was inevitable, really, that we’d find each other. But there were a lot of near misses as well, I mean, we might have never met if things hadn’t happened just the way they did. I don’t want to leave the rest of our lives to chance. I want to be by your side forever, to wake up with you every morning, and make my home wherever you are. I want us to start our own family, together.”
My heart was pounding, and I was wiping tears from my eyes with my free hand, thinking about how crazy he’d been for the past couple of weeks; this was why. Every excuse that I’d had in my head for holding off on getting married was trying to push to the front of my brain, but all I could think about was Eric, and forever. It sounded amazing, and I really did believe it was possible.
He pulled a little blue box from his jacket pocket, and I thought I was going to hyperventilate before he actually asked me. He licked his lips before opening the box, and I caught a glimpse of a large, rectangular diamond on a platinum band, before he spoke again.
“I don’t want to rush you. I can wait until you’re ready. I love you, Sookie Stackhouse, forever. Will you marry me?”
“Oh my god!” I sobbed as I threw myself at him. “Yes!”
“Yes?” He seemed surprised and relieved.
“Yes!” I laughed. My arms were around his neck, and I kissed him as hot tears rolled down my cheeks.
He tried to balance since I had draped myself all over him, bringing his arms around me. I heard a small noise, and I pulled back, then I saw the Tiffany’s box on the floor and realized that I hadn’t even really looked at the ring or put it on. I giggled and picked up the box. He was grinning at me and I looked down at the box, so small in his hands, then up at to look in his eyes. He opened the box again and there it was; the most perfect, beautiful engagement ring I’d ever seen. He slid it on my finger, and it fit perfectly. I held my hand out, looking at the ring from different angles, and every single one made me smile.
Eric’s hands came up and framed my face. “I meant it, Sookie. If you want a long engagement, I’ll wait. All I need is you.”
I smiled at him, my hands coming up to rest on his forearms. We were tangled in a pile on the floor, and I stretched up to kiss him again. Afterwards, I said, “I’m not saying that I won’t panic at some point, but forever with you sounds amazing, and why should we wait to get started on that?”
“God, I love you. I was so afraid you were going to say, ‘yes, but not yet,’ or something. I had a whole speech prepared to convince you.” He laughed and raised my hand to his lips, kissing the engagement ring. “What changed your mind?”
“I’ve been thinking about what I said about having kids and that I didn’t see how we got there. I guess I realized there’s only one way that I want to get to that part, and it means that I have to put what Bill did to me behind me. I wanted to believe in you. In us.” I sighed. “Then Amelia said something today that really struck me; it was about my willingness to move here with you and leave everything else behind. You’re all I needed to give it all up. I’ve already started a future with you.”
“You have.” He smirked.
“Yeah. Even if you have been a complete freak for weeks!” I laughed.
He joined me laughing, his forehead falling to my shoulder for a second, then he sat up to grin at me. “I guess I’ve been a little preoccupied.”
I hit him lightly on the arm. “I thought you were leaving me, or something.”
“I’m not leaving you.”
“I know that, now.” We were still sitting together on the floor in the bedroom and I had no idea how much time had passed or if Tray and Amelia were out in the living room waiting for us in full costume. “I can’t believe you did this now!” I laughed. “What time is it? I’m sure I have raccoon eyes from crying!”
I reached for his wrist to check his watch. We still had about forty-five minutes, if no one came early.
He laughed. “No one’s going to look at your raccoon eyes.”
I snorted, “No, they’re going to look at my boobs in that low cut costume.”
He looked down at my chest, where my robe had fallen open, then leaned close to me, cupping my face, and whispered, “Lover, I’ll be looking at your chest, but everyone else will be looking at your engagement ring.”
I kissed him again, and before I knew it my robe was pooled around us on the floor and I was unbuttoning his shirt when there was a knock at the door.
“Um. Are you guys about ready?” Amelia called. “Tray wants to know if he should start the grill.”
“Yes,” we answered together.
“We’ll be out in a minute!” I called as I tried to untangle the web of our limbs and stand.
I wanted to call out and tell her we were engaged, I kind of wanted to cry it from the rooftops, but I was wearing nothing more than a lacy white bra and a white thong. It wasn’t that she hadn’t seen me naked before, but I needed to get my costume on, and it wouldn’t happen with the two of us squealing and crying, ogling my ring, and giggling like thirteen-year-olds.
Eric stood as well, kissing me one more time, and I stepped away, grinning. “We have to change clothes or we’re never going to get out there.”
He grinned and started taking off his clothes, knowing how absolutely sexy he looked. I went into the bathroom to fix my make-up and to force myself to stop watching him. Then I came back into the bedroom to put on my costume, a white satin mini-dress with kimono style sleeves. It had a solid band of blue satin around the entire edge, the hem, chest, and cuffs, as well as embroidered flowers on the sleeves and skirt. Amelia’s costume was a matching dress with red accents.
I sat on the end of the bed to pull on my white, knee high go-go boots and caught sight of Eric’s ass in tight white, almost spandex, pants and laughed out loud. The pants left nothing to the imagination. He gave me a dirty look as he pulled on the matching kimono style robe that somehow gaped open to show off his chest no matter how he adjusted the belt.
“You owe me for this,” he growled as he pulled on a pair of white ankle boots.
“Oh, baby, if you remember correctly, I prepaid my debt for this,” I giggled, waggling my eyebrows. He stood and looked at me, pouting, and I had to give him a hug. “The robe covers the most revealing part, Eric,” I said as my hands slid over the slippery material that was form fitted around his perfect butt. I giggled, “Just think, Tray’s wearing a matching outfit.”
“I know. We’ve already discussed how drunk we have to get to forget about these costumes.”
I laughed again and stood on my tiptoes to kiss him. “I love you, Eric Northman.”
“I love you, too, Sookie, someday to be Northman.”
“This is actually kind of perfect; we can tell almost all of our friends at the same time. Oh! We should call your parents. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that!”
“We’ll call them tomorrow, Sookie.”
“Won’t your mom be upset?”
“No, I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
I bit my lip. Maybe he’d already told them he was going to ask me. “If you’re sure?”
“I am. Now, run out there and jump on Amelia and tell her, like I know you’re dying to do.”
I gave him a quick peck on the cheek and grinned. “Okay!” I laughed, and then I opened the door and walked quickly, well, maybe I jogged a little, towards the kitchen to tell my best friend that we were engaged!
OMG! They’re engaged! Woot! Happy dance! Hugs you and twirls you around! Did you ever think we would get here? Schwoo! These two are so perfect for each other!
Thanks so much for reading and reviewing. Next week…Mom Northman’s reaction!
Are you on Tumblr? Have you seen Skarsgardlandmarkdessert ? They take a photo of a landmark and insert a picture of Askars as well as a picture of some kind of dessert. It’s hysterical. They take requests and I think I’ve forgotten to show you the Halo!Eric they whipped up for me. I give you – The Chicago River on St Patty’s Day, Skars and Tiramisu.