Leap of Faith
Chapter 8: Full Circle
Holding Sookie in my arms, laughing, I could pretend that the shit I’d seen and the hellish warzone I’d lived in the past few years didn’t exist. Fuck, especially if I imagined her wearing nothing but a thin scrap of a thong under her shorts. She’d always been a boyshorts girl before, and I had thought that was sexy, but this, I was fucking hard just thinking about it.
Kissing my chest, she giggled. “We have to go out there.”
“Then you need to stop that or we’re never leaving this room,” I said, rolling us over so that I was on top of her.
“Oh, that’s not going to help!”
“I know,” I said, running my nose along her neck and gently rubbing my cock against her center through our clothes. “I’m just afraid that when I let you go I’ll wake up or something crazy and this won’t be real.”
She bit my shoulder and I tried to pull away from her. “Fuck. Ow. What was that for?”
“You’re not dreaming. Now let me up so I can find my clothes. We should go have lunch with Amelia, and I think my cousins will be back soon from their trip to the spa in Shreveport.”
“Shit, I thought they left.”
“Sorry pal,” she said, hooking her bra and pulling on her shirt. “They’re staying until the will is read. They’re here two more days.”
Pulling my shirt on, I muttered something about Claudine being a bitch under my breath.
Sookie started for the door and I grabbed her hand, “Wait, just one more kiss, for the road.”
Pulling her against my chest, I took her face in my hands and planted a searing kiss on her. If I was going entertain myself with thoughts of her ass in that thong all day, she needed to have something to think about as well. I got a little caught up in the moment and the kiss last longer than I intended, but eventually I pulled away from her, kissing her nose and stepping back.
She looked at me, dazed and blinking. I waggled my eyebrows, took her hand, and headed for the porch.
Amelia was on her cell phone when we joined her outside. Sookie sat with her on the stairs and I took a seat on the walkway in front of them. It was a beautiful day and the sun felt good, shining on my face. The sun here was so much different than in Iraq. Over there, the dust and heat were suffocating; but here, in Louisiana, the sun was simply warm on my skin and there was just enough breeze to prevent you from getting too hot. Sookie and I watched each other, smirking, waiting for Amelia to finish her call.
Hanging up the phone, Amelia looked at Sookie and me, giving us what I imagined to be her “shame on you look,” but it failed when she burst out laughing.
“Christ on a bike! I guess you two kids are making up, or out, or whatever!”
I really liked her. I got the impression that Amelia had kept Sookie’s spirits up a number of times over the years.
“Sorry, Meels. We’re figuring things out as we go,” Sookie said with a smile.
“Yeah, well next time you go there, close the door,” Amelia teased. “So, soldier, what did you bring us for lunch?”
“Subway,” I said. “I figured there was enough other food here that we could find side dishes if we needed.”
We wandered into the kitchen, piecing together lunches out of subs and leftover potluck salads from the day before. Amelia entertained us with stories from the restaurant as we ate.
We were washing our dishes when Claude and Claudine got home. Claudine followed her brother into the kitchen wearing gigantic black sunglasses that made her look like a fly. Carrying herself like a stereotypical rich bitch, she had her oversized handbag on her arm with her wrist cocked to show off her perfect nails and sparkling rings.
Looking down her nose, she started in on me, “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Enjoying a nice lunch with two lovely ladies,” I said sweetly.
“Isn’t it about time for you to leave again or something? Don’t you have some war to go fight that’s more important than Sookie?”
Closing my eyes, I clenched my teeth and bit back a response. I pictured myself, standing up so fast that I knocked over the chair and punched her in the fucking mouth. She deserved it.
The sound of a chair actually scraping across the kitchen floor startled me; Sookie was standing, fiery eyes full of tears. “Enough,” she said angrily spat. “You’re such a bitch, Claudine.”
Sookie’s footsteps were the only sound as she walked out the back door.
“Look what you did,” Claudine said, giving me a dirty look.
Fucking bitch. I shook my head and stood to follow Sookie. “You need to be gone when she gets back to the house,” I said over my shoulder as I went out the back door.
I found Sookie in one of her favorite spots way out in Gran’s yard, almost to the cemetery, sitting under an ancient tree, with her arms curled around her knees. She wasn’t crying, in fact, she looked pissed. Taking a seat across from her on the grass, I looked at her expectantly, because I knew she had something to say.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have stormed out like that.”
“Don’t apologize to me. I wanted to deck her.”
“Thank you for not actually doing it,” she said with a sigh.
“What’s going on? She’s always a bitch to me. Why are you upset?”
She put her head in her hands, tugging at her hair. Very quietly, she said, “You haven’t told me what’s happening in two weeks.”
“I have to go back to base,” I answered equally as quiet.
She looked at me through sad eyes, “And then what?”
Fuck. Suddenly, we were facing the one conversation that I never wanted to have with her. Meeting her eyes, because she deserved nothing less, I answered her, “And then in another week or so I leave for a year.”
“It’s a done deal Sookie, there’s nothing I can do. I wish I could, but the papers are signed.”
I moved forward, so my knees straddled hers and I took her hands. “What do you want me to do? Do you want me to leave? I’ll walk away right now if that’s what you want.”
She gasped, looking at me hard, and then lit into me. “How dare you assume that I want you to leave? It didn’t work out so well for either of us last time.”
“I just want to protect you. If leaving will do that, it’ll fucking kill me, but I’ll do it, for you.”
“Protect me? That’s what you think you did before? Fuck you, Eric.”
“Don’t Sookie me,” she said, exasperated. “You have no idea.”
“Then tell me. If you don’t want me to leave now, why are you so upset?”
Why was I so upset? Shit. Because Claudine was exactly right. He was leaving again and the future was a mystery that felt like a black hole of despair waiting to suck me in. I had no idea what he wanted from me, or what he thought was next for us. I was terrified of being left behind again, of disintegrating into nothingness when he walked away from me.
“Because you’re going to leave and you don’t know how hard it’s going to be for me.”
“It’s going to be difficult for both of us.”
I sighed. I knew it would be tough on him, at least I hoped it would. “I know, you’re right. It’s just that, well, you’ve heard that I was pretty bad when you left before, but I don’t think you really get it.”
“Then tell me,” he repeated, putting a hand on my cheek.
The only thing I had told him so far was that I had been a mess when he left, and that was such a simplified description of the devastation I experienced. Meeting his eyes, I exhaled and told him about the wreckage he’d left in his wake.
“Eric, I couldn’t function when you left, literally. Jason found me on the porch swing the next morning. I didn’t say a coherent word to anyone for close to two days,” I said, pausing. Looking down, I focused on my hands, and continued.
“As time went on, I just struggled to get by. Every time I thought it was getting over you, it didn’t work. Like going back to school; I didn’t even graduate from Tulane. Did you know that?” I said, glancing up to see the confusion in his eyes.
“I stayed in New Orleans for about a week and that was all I could take. You were everywhere. Wherever I went I thought about you and I was dying inside. I transferred to UGA up in Athens, that’s how I ended up in Atlanta.”
“God. Sookie, I’m so sorry,” he said, taking my hands in his. “I feel like I owe you more than that, but I don’t know what to say.”
“I knew that you would be upset. I knew that it would be hard, on both of us, but I had to go, and I didn’t want you to have to worry about me,” he continued. “I thought that after a couple of weeks we’d both be okay. Gran and Jason said you were fine and I wanted it to be true.”
Pausing, he put his hands on his knees and rolled his shoulders back. He cracked his neck and spoke again, “I just…I buried myself in the Marines to forget about you. I worked hard and did well. Time just ticked by, but I wasn’t really living. And then I went to Iraq and, it was … I mean, my training was tough, but it was nothing compared to that. The fighting, the desert, the death; Jesus, it was awful. They try to prepare you, but Sook, the things I saw; you didn’t need to be a part of that.” He shook his head, his mind made up for both of us.
“I didn’t need to be a part of that?” I said flatly. “Do you think that just because you broke up with me that I didn’t worry about you? That every time I heard the casualty count or about the fighting over there I wasn’t terrified?”
He looked at me, a little shocked. “I didn’t think about it that way. I mean, I’m sure you were worried, but you didn’t need to know all of the gory details. I couldn’t have told you about most of the things that happened, and I still can’t.”
“No, you didn’t share anything with me,” I said, my anger rising to the surface again. “I had to imagine what was happening. I had to wonder where you were and if you were alive. No one told me anything about you. The only thing I ever knew was that you were in Iraq. Jason said, and I quote, ‘I was afraid that I’d have to tell you later that he was dead and I couldn’t do that if I hadn’t told you he was there first.'”
Eric looked like he wanted to interrupt, but I was on a roll. “I don’t know your rank or what your job is in the Marines. I can probably count on one hand the number of times anyone mentioned your name to me after the first week you were gone. It’s like everyone is afraid I’ll break if I hear your name. They don’t even talk about you in front of me. But you know what? I still worried about you every single day and no one ever gave me an ounce of reassurance. So your brilliant little plan to protect me from everything didn’t work.” Damn. That felt good.
“Jesus,” he said taking in my rant. “I didn’t want that.”
“Well, that’s what happened,” I snapped. But that was all in the past. Although it felt raw and new this weekend, it was, in fact, history. I knew there were more details to consider, but when Claudine made that comment about him leaving again, I felt something inside of me crack. There was no keeping him here with me forever, not yet, but there was right now, and I knew that we were meant to spend it together.
“You can’t keep me in the dark this time. I have to know what’s going on,” I said softening, and I saw his face relax. “I don’t want you to leave now, Eric. I…shit. You need to understand; when you leave this time, I have to know that you’re coming back. I mean, I know there’s a chance that you might not; and I don’t even want to think about it, but, I have to know that you want to come back, that there’s only one thing that would keep you away this time.”
“Sookie, I will come back to you,” he said, pulling me into his arms. “God, you have no idea how much I love you.”
“I think maybe I do,” I sighed, putting my head on his shoulder.
Rubbing my back he spoke softly, “The rest of it, Bird, is just details. We’ll figure it out. I’m just so happy to have you right now and to know that you’ll be here when I come back.”
“I think I’ve always been waiting for you,” I whispered.
We sat together, under my favorite tree, holding each other and, in my case, thinking about our future. After a while, I was starting to get uncomfortable. We were scrunched up on the ground, my butt was hurting and Eric’s knees were jutting out at crazy angles. I giggled at the absurdity of it.
“What?” he mumbled into my hair.
“You’re like a giant, all folded up around me.”
He moved my hair to the side, and rubbed along my neck with his nose. “Folded up around you is my favorite place to be,” he whispered.
It amazed me that after all this time, something as simple as that could make my body tingle, or maybe it felt so good because it had been so long. Either way, I wanted more. My hands ran up his chest and he lay back, pulling me down on top of him in the grass. Stretching, I rubbed myself against his chest and kissed him. He grabbed my hips, moving me so that I rested against his arousal. I had dreamed of him, off and on for seven years and now he was here, beneath me, kissing me, touching me; it was so much better than my dreams. I felt myself getting wet, and when he rocked his hips against me; I think I actually whimpered.
His hands lifted my shirt, I sat up long enough to pull it off, and then he was unhooking my bra, tossing it to the side as well. The feel of his warm hands on my flesh was heaven. We were kissing again, our tongues stroking each other into a frenzy.
“Jesus,” he muttered as I sat back, sliding against him to remove his shirt.
Kissing his chest, I licked and nipped at one of his nipples while he pinched and tugged at both of mine. Moaning, I gave up all pretenses and started moving against him in a primal rhythm, wishing our clothing would disappear. His hands had moved to work at my fly and then pushed my shorts down over my hips as I moved to pay attention to his other nipple.
I felt wanton and free, like I was releasing some inner sexpot that had been hiding inside of me. I would have worried that he didn’t like it or thought I was too forward, but the way he thrust against me told me he was enjoying it.
He pushed my shorts as far down as he could then rolled us over to look down at me. His eyes were dark and hooded, gazing at me with desire that made me reach for his waistband. My shorts caressed my skin as he slid them down my legs. We were tangled limbs and reaching hands. I was able to get his zipper down, but he moved out of my reach, kissing his way down my stomach to the top of my thong.
“Fuck, Sookie. Black lace with little bows?” he said, sliding a finger under the elastic on one hip.
Biting my lip, I nodded.
“Are these for everyday?” A finger slipped under the elastic on my other hip.
“Can we talk about this later?” I asked, arching my hips toward him.
“Did you want to talk about something else?” He licked my belly, his tongue following the top of the fabric, and then he grinned up at me.
Talk? I couldn’t even think. Shaking my head, I put my hands in his hair. “No talking.”
“Christ,” he growled, and I felt the elastic snap on both of my hips as he ripped my underwear apart and threw it aside. It was so unexpected and unbelievably sexy. He rubbed his face against my tight curls, mumbling to himself, as he slid back to stretch out between my legs.
Using his thumbs he spread my lips and ran his tongue through my wetness in one long stroke. “Fuck, Sookie,” he said, meeting my eyes. “I’ve dreamed about this. You taste the same, like summer and honey.”
Licking his lips, he smiled and moved his attention back to my center. His tongue circled my clit as he slid two fingers inside of me. I managed to say his name as I writhed in the grass. He put his free hand on my stomach, holding me in place so he could continue ravaging me with his tongue and fingers. My nerves were burning; heat started in my belly and moved outward with each flick of his tongue. He drew my clit between his lips, sucking on it, and I came undone, calling his name and praising the Lord.
Placing light kisses along my stomach, he worked his way up my body while I caught my breath. Taking my head in his hands, he kissed me, sweetly and deeply. Our bodies shifted and I felt his erection on my stomach. Sweet Jesus. He’d shucked his pants while I was in an orgasmic haze.
Leaning back, he asked the question with his eyes, and I pulled him back to me, kissing my answer. He ran the tip of his cock through my wet folds, and we both groaned. Pushing into me slowly, he dropped his forehead to mine.
“You’re so tight. Jesus. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I will kill you myself if you stop now,” I said, running my hands down his back to pull at his hips.
Kissing me, he created a distraction as my body stretched around him. Easing his way into me slowly, we both sighed when our pelvises finally touched. We were still for just a moment, my heart was pounding. “Sookie, I can’t… I have to…Jesus.”
“Fuck,” he said, and then he did. Pulling back, he made long strokes that I swore touched every nerve ending in my body. I moved with him, matching him thrust for thrust and panting.
“Yes, yes. Oh God yes,” I chanted as he picked up the pace. I felt myself clenching around him and was damn glad we were far away from the house as I cried out and came. He moved faster and harder, plunging into me and drawing out my orgasm until his muscles tensed and he buried himself in me, grinding out his release.
Collapsing on me, I felt his weight for only a second and then he rolled us over, still sheathed inside me, so that I lay on his chest. He rubbed my back and kissed the top of my head as we lay still. We were quiet, and I began to think about what we had just done. I didn’t regret it, that wasn’t the issue, but despite his words earlier, I wondered if this truly meant the same thing to Eric as it did to me.
“Stop,” he said, murmuring in my hair. “Don’t analyze this. I love you.”
Knowing that we had come full circle, finding our way back to each other, brought tears to my eyes. I kissed him, just over his heart, and he squeezed me. I wanted the moment to never end.
The silence was broken by a loud wolf whistle. I sat up, looking for my clothes to cover myself.
“If that’s Amelia, this better be good,” Eric grumbled.
“Hey ya’ll!” we heard Amelia yell and I snickered.
“Put your panties on and get up here!” she continued. “Eric’s cell has been ringing off the hook. I gave up and answered it. His sister’s in the hospital.”