Leap of Faith
Chapter 27: Greasy Spoon
The ‘Vette pulled down our driveway, and I was down the steps running for the car before Eric could turn off the engine. He climbed out, and I launched myself at him; my arms and legs wrapping around him with a squeal. He held me, laughing, and turned us around so he could lean me against the side of the car, and then brought his hands up to my hair and started kissing me. We were locked together, devouring each other with our mouths, completely unaware of our surroundings.
A door slammed, and Eric groaned as his lips gave me one final peck, and then his forehead rested on mine. I couldn’t take my eyes off of his to see who was here, but I saw Eric’s eyes dart away and then come back to mine. He grinned and started to release me, but I wouldn’t let go.
“Jesus Sookie, climb off poor Eric before you strangle him,” Jason called out.
“Leave her be. She’s missed him.”
“Hoyt, you’re such a woman.”
I sighed as I released him. “Your moving crew is here.”
“I see that. My stuff should be here anytime. Blackbeard wasn’t too far behind me, but I have to admit I, ah, had a little bit of a lead foot this morning.”
“More so than usual?” I raised an eyebrow. “Wait, who the hell is Blackbeard?”
“Sorry. That’s what everyone calls Twinings’ brother. He looks just like Charles, but-”
“He has a black beard?” I finished.
“Right. And they both kind of look like pirates, so it fits.”
I ducked under his arms and walked over to greet Hoyt and Jason. Eric was right beside me, his hand on my lower back.
We talked for a few minutes and then a large black truck came rolling down the driveway, loaded with Eric’s boxes and several pieces of furniture. He’d left most of his furnishings at his place in Jacksonville since he would stay there on occasion, and the farmhouse was loaded to the gills with Gran’s and my furniture anyway.
Eric introduced everyone, and I had to stifle a giggle when Hoyt elbowed my brother about Blackbeard, saying, “He looks like a pirate.”
I propped the front door open and went back to the kitchen to finish making lunch. I had offered to help and four pair of eyes told me without a sound that I wouldn’t be lifting any boxes.
It didn’t take more than an hour to unload the truck, then we all sat down to eat ham sandwiches and homemade potato salad. By the time we finished eating, Hoyt and Jason were promising Blackbeard that they’d come visit him in Jacksonville sometime with Eric.
As they drove away, I realized it was real; Eric was home. This was our home. I felt my eyes fill with tears and tried to wipe them away before Eric caught me crying. He was in the living room, looking at something to do with the wiring or hook-ups so he could set up the surround sound speakers he’d had me buy. I’d offered to have the Geek Squad come set it up before he moved in so it would be one last thing he needed to worry about, but he had laughed at me, calling it a waste of money. As I watched him out there muttering and shaking his head, I wondered if he was willing to reconsider, but knew he never would.
I leaned against the door frame. “What can I do to help? What do you want to unpack first?” It was my not so subtle hint that this shouldn’t be the priority since our house was full of boxes and misplaced furniture.
He looked at me over his shoulder and started to say something, but stopped. He stood and came over to the doorway, taking me in his arms, and running his lips up my neck to my ear. “Let’s take a couple of boxes to the bedroom.”
We settled into a rhythm living together. It was funny, after all the time we’d been together before, and again now, this was the first time we lived together for an extended period of time. Even the last year in New Orleans, I still had my own apartment, a sort of refuge to escape to when the testosterone of Eric and his roommate got overwhelming, or when I had my period and wanted to hide in bed for a week.
I was surprised, that we hadn’t had any major problems. Sure, we argued about where some of his things would go and why his ugly painting would not replace an old picture my Gran had taken in the foyer, but the other things, the male/female roommate things, were going smoothly. Eric was good about putting the toilet seat down and changing the toilet paper roll and he’d started at least putting his dishes in the sink even if he didn’t wipe down the counter the way I would have. I tried really hard not to question how he managed to create such an insane amount of laundry and learned to adjust to the fact that there were rarely leftovers in the house, and if we had any, they never lasted more than a day.
We had started a Sunday tradition of trying a new recipe for dinner. It leveled the playing field in the kitchen; I didn’t want to improvise until we had at least tried the dish once, and Eric was fine following the instructions to the letter. I teased him about improvising as a Marine but being so rigid in the kitchen. He laughed at my comparison, saying that improvising was easy when lives were at risk, but not when a meal was at stake.
While I worked during the day, Eric unpacked his boxes and worked on things for the Dog House. His things were slowly infiltrating the house, and it was definitely becoming more ours than mine or Gran’s. Our weekends were filled with yard work and small chores around the bar, but Eric was trying to take the weekends off from there, because he knew how much time he’d be spending there once it got open.
One Saturday, I had gone out to the old shed to get my gloves before weeding the front flowerbed and had been amazed at the shiny new tools and organized shelves. The most touching thing out there however, was an unfinished porch swing with a can of varnish standing in the corner. I knew exactly what he intended with it and I loved him even more.
Weeding forgotten, I went to find Eric. He was in the office going though papers and entering information into the computer. He looked up and smiled at me, as I walked across the room towards him. I climbed into his lap and circled my arms around his neck.
“Well, hello,” he laughed.
“Hi.” I kissed him and then sat back to see his face. “So, I think I found a something you meant as a surprise.”
“Oh?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah. I went to get my gardening gloves out of the shed.”
“Oh.” His face grew serious. “That was supposed to be a surprise. How do you feel about that?”
“I feel like I have the best husband ever.”
“Well, that’s a given. How do you feel about the swing?”
“I love it. Thank you. I’m looking forward to sitting on it with you. I’m not sure it will ever become my favorite place to sit, but it’ll be nice not to have to avoid it anymore.”
“Good. It could have gone either way.”
I laughed. “Yeah. Well, I’m doing a little better these days. I have a new husband, you know?”
“Really?” He sat up a little in the chair, fitting us tighter together.
“Yeah. He makes me pretty happy.” I rocked my hips against him.
“If he makes you so happy, what are you doing in here with me?”
“Nothing, yet.” I bit my lip and looked at him in anticipation.
He shook his head and smirked before my lips covered his. I kissed him, sliding my tongue against his and my hands over his chest.
“Fuck,” he said, his hands moving to the button on my shorts. “We’d better get busy before he gets here.”
“Oh, yeah.” I was getting hotter and wetter by the second. “Take me hard and fast. Hurry, before he comes home.”
I stood and stripped out of my clothes quickly and watched Eric do the same. Pushing him down into the chair, I climbed back on top of him. He reached forward, cupping my breasts with his hands as he kissed his way down my chest to lick and tease my nipples. Suddenly, I didn’t care about anything but feeling him inside of me. I ran the head of his cock along my wet folds until his head slid into my entrance, and we both groaned. I bit my lip and lowered myself on him, my body stretching inch by inch as he filled me.
My breath caught as our bodies met. Our eyes locked, and I lifted off him slowly, until he was barely inside of me, and then dropped myself, taking him hard and fast. It felt incredible, his body wrapped around me and his hard length pushing straight up, through my center. I bit my lip, and moaned, there was nothing that compared to this.
Eric’s eyes closed and his head dropped back when I impaled myself on him. He exhaled and raised his head again to look at me. “Sookie,” he breathed.
My mouth crashed against his as I began to raise and lower myself in short quick movements. His hands were firm on my hips as he took control, his strokes longer and harder than mine had been. We moved against each other, panting and sighing; nothing compared to the way I felt when Eric was filling me. My mind wandered, unable to focus on anything but feeling until I heard a low growl in Eric’s chest; the sound reverberated in my ears. It was possessive and primal, and I felt my body clamping down on him before my orgasm exploded.
He continued working my body, thrusting his hips towards me as he pulled me down on top of him. We were breathing heavily and Eric had begun mumbling to himself, “Fuck yeah. God you feel so good. Jesus.”
I moved my hands to his chest and teased his nipples while my mouth ran along his collarbone, kissing and nibbling. I knew he loved it, and I knew he was close. I scraped my teeth over his Adam’s apple and he groaned, arching his back, and slamming me down onto him. I lowered my mouth to his chest, circling his nipple with my tongue then sucking lightly, before I bit down and sent him over the edge.
We sat together, heads on each others shoulders, a sweaty mess, as we waited for our breathing to get back to normal.
“Jesus. How am I supposed to get any work done in here? That’s all I’ll be able to think about.”
“Ha! Well, serves you right. I’m lucky I ever get anything done in the kitchen.”
“I can’t help it. You always dance around and wiggle your ass when you cook.” His hands slid over my hips to emphasize his words.
“It must be a new habit, because you never attacked me in the kitchen in New Orleans.”
“God no.” He shuddered. “I had a roommate, remember? He always showed up at the worst times. And you’re the only one who ever cleaned that kitchen. It was disgusting. You’ve always made me hot when you were cooking.”
“Even when I don’t follow the recipe?” I teased.
“Oh, especially then.”
I snorted and laughed. He was so full of shit.
I was working hard getting the bar ready to open. I had hired contractors to do most of the work, but couldn’t help going over there daily to pitch in. I met with Sam and was in contact with local distributors for all of the supplies we would need; everything from alcohol to toilet bowl cleaner.
Sookie seemed impressed with my knowledge of running a bar. I laughed and explained that although I was overseas the majority of the time I owned the Spear, Thalia kept me involved and informed about decisions. I also admitted to her that I was on the phone with Sam and Thalia almost every day.
The decorating was coming along. We changed out the bar stools and booths from vinyl covered seats to all wood and put in a new bar. The old one was so beer soaked and warped that it was disgusting. The walls had been covered in slats and then painted grey to make it look like the siding on a dog house. Pam wanted to put pictures of dog houses up on the wall, but I vetoed it and hung beer signs and bar mirrors up instead. Sookie wanted the floor refinished, but Jason finally got her to understand how ridiculous it was by spitting on the floor in front of her.
“There’s stuff worse than that that’ll end up on the floor in here, sis.”
“Point taken.” She had a disgusted look on her face, and turned towards me, “You bought the strongest floor cleaner out there, right?”
“Of course, Sook, but I still wouldn’t eat off it.”
“Oh, gross!” She slapped me on the arm and changed the subject with a laugh.
Overall, Sookie and I were taking advantage of our time together. We were hanging out when she got off work, doing projects around the bar on the weekends, spending time with our families and visiting with old friends when we could.
We weren’t really talking about it, but we knew that when the bar opened I’d be working late nights until we made a little money and I found a good manager to close up at night for us. We had about a month to go before the bar opened. Final inspections were scheduled and delivery dates confirmed. I had interviews scheduled with a number of locals for waitstaff and bartenders, but what I still needed was a cook.
I tried to see Beatrice every week, she was growing so fast. Pam teased us about having kids, and somehow it wasn’t nearly as offensive as it had been when Jessica did it. Sookie and I were still trying, well, not preventing getting pregnant. I’d been a little freaked out when I found prenatal vitamins in the bathroom, but Sookie had walked in on me holding the bottle and laughed hysterically at the look on my face. When she stopped crying, she explained that her doctor had told her to start taking them before we got pregnant so her body would be ready to carry the baby.
Sookie and I had settled into Gran’s house. I’d finished the swing after she found it and let Sookie toss the match on the fire to burn the old one. We’d painted the living room a soft brown, and although I loved the memories it held from years ago, we bought a new couch that I could almost stretch all the way out on. The second bedroom downstairs had been painted a soft yellow, and Sookie was using it as a library. I wasn’t fooled though, it was a pre-nursery, and we both knew it.
I came home one night, after working at the bar all day installing a new dishwasher to find Sookie sitting on the steps. It had been rainy and cool most of the day, but it had finally cleared off. I loved the smell after the rain, but Sookie was more of a fresh cut grass and sunlight girl.
“What’s up? Everything alright?”
“Yup. Come on.” She started walking towards her car.
I tried not to groan, but small sound escaped. I was filthy and tired.
“Time’s a’wasting big man.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, but she was smiling and handed me a Coke when I got in the car.
“You can sleep ’til we get there.”
“I don’t need to know where we’re going?”
“You’ll recognize it.”
She wasn’t going to tell me. I gave her a hard look and settled back in the passenger seat closing my eyes. I fell asleep quickly and woke up when she parked the car. Looking around the parking lot, I raised an eyebrow at Sookie.
“Why are we here?”
“You’ll see.” She smiled and came around to my side of the car.
We were sitting in the parking lot of a greasy spoon the next exit up from the bar. I had no idea why we were here; with Sookie there was no telling. She took my hand and led me inside. A waitress smiled at us as we slid into a booth, but the biggest reaction came from a young man behind the grill.
“Miss Sookie! You comin’ to visit me?” He came out from behind the counter grinning at us.
“Of course, Stan. Remember I told you that my husband was coming home from the Marines? This is Eric. Eric, this is Stan.”
I shook his hand and said hello, but I was still trying to figure out what Sookie had up her sleeve.
“What’s the special today?”
“We got comfort food today on account of the weather earlier. The homemade macaroni and cheese and Chili are the specials. Lettie May cooked some carrot cake for dessert. Ya’ll take a look at the menu and let Bonita know when you’re ready to order.” He nodded politely, and then went to a sink behind the counter to wash his hands before returning to the grill.
“So, that’s Stan.” Sookie said quietly. “He and his wife Isobel have two kids. His sister died in that horrible car accident over in Monroe last month.”
“Sookie,” I cautioned. She was notorious for picking up strays.
“Wait, just listen. Stan’s sister died and he and Isobel took in her three kids. So now they have five kids under the age of seven in their house, and well, you need a cook and he needs a better job.”
I exhaled. “Bird, I know you’re just trying to help.”
“I am. Let’s not talk about it until we’ve eaten. Okay? I think I’m going to order the chili. What do you want?”
I scanned the menu; it was standard diner food with a few southern favorites. The specials sounded good, but I was in the mood for a greasy burger. Lettie May came by and we placed our orders.
We sipped our fountain drinks and talked about our days. Sookie had been in the office all day, with no emergency calls or families that needed home visits. She’d made phone calls and done reports, it was what she called a good, boring day. I told her all about the new dishwasher with a double rack that would quickly wash dishes and glasses much faster than the older model we’d sold on Craig’s list.
Our food arrived and it both looked and smelled delicious. Sookie had an odd expression on her face for a second, then she shrugged, and dug into her chili, sprinkling crushed saltine crackers over the top. My burger was cooked perfectly and the fries appeared hand cut. We ate without much talking and Lettie May brought us over a large piece of carrot cake.
“We didn’t order that,” I said as she walked away.
“No. We didn’t have to. They both know I can’t resist it.”
I put my fork into it, getting both cake and frosting on the tines and took a bite. “Ohmygod,” I mumbled while chewing. It was amazing.
“Yup. That’s why I can’t resist.”
She put a forkful up to her mouth and paused with it in front of her mouth as if she was smelling it. With a shake of her head, she put the cake in her mouth and sighed. Damn Sookie and her food porn.
We finished the cake and she leaned back in the booth. “So?”
“So, he cooks a mean burger and makes some good chili.”
“You also noticed that he hand cuts his fries and is a stickler about cleanliness. Don’t pretend you didn’t see that.”
“If he wants the job, why hasn’t he asked about it or applied?”
She huffed and gave me a pissy look. “Because no one has ever encouraged him or told him he could get a better job. And because until last month he was making ends meet here.”
I sighed. “What do you want me to do?”
“Give him a chance. Ask him if he’s heard about the bar and if he’d like to talk about picking up some hours. It can’t hurt.”
He was the best lead on a local cook I had in a few weeks. Sam had suggested paying big bucks for a chef out of New Orleans, and I had laughed at him, but I’d been considering it recently. I nodded and she all but clapped.
Sookie called Stan over to talk to us while I paid the bill. When I joined them, I asked if he’d heard about the Dog House and if he might want to see about cooking there. He was excited, but looked at Sookie nervously.
“It’s okay, Stan. Eric won’t mind if you work here too.”
He looked down. “It’s just that, well Mr. Northman, I’ve got some extra mouths to feed.”
“I heard about that, Stan, and you can call me Eric. It’s a good thing you’re doing. We’ll try to get you as many hours as we can so you can take care of your family.”
“Thank you. We’re still trying to make it all work.” He gave a little laugh.
“We’ll talk soon.” I shook his hand and Sookie said goodbye as well.
I opened the door for Sookie when she paused and looked back. “Stan, was there something different about the chili today?”
He smiled and at the same time, they both said, “Cinnamon.”
She laughed. “And pinapple in the carrot cake?”
“Good nose, Sookie!” Lettie May beamed.
“Not usually,” she mumbled, then called out another goodnight as we went out to the car.