Leap of Faith
Chapter 21: Premonition
Christmas had always been one of my favorite times of year, but not this one. This year it was lonely and terrifying. I hadn’t heard from Eric in over a month, and three nights during the last week I’d received sobbing phone calls from Soph. She’d been having a recurring bad dream. Someone was hurt, but she couldn’t tell if it was one of the guys or one of us.
The first time she called, she told me about the dream. She said the image was cloudy, but she heard a doctor shouting orders about prepping for surgery, and someone was saying, “Everything is going to be fine. Do you hear me? You’re going to be fine.” She woke up after that, heart pounding, covered in a cold sweat, feeling compelled to call me. Then she told me it was probably nothing, so not to worry. Like that was an option. The second time, she told me to be careful, that she was starting to worry.
Last night, she begged me to come to the beach. She said she knew that we needed to be together. I couldn’t focus, and certainly couldn’t drive. It was five days before Christmas, and I’d been miserable at home without Gran anyway, so I’d packed enough for a couple of weeks and flown into Wilmington. Thalia picked me up, and we silently drove from the airport to Cal and Soph’s house. Maybe if I stayed there we would both feel a little bit better, and not so alone.
I was shocked when I walked in the door; Soph looked bad. She’d sounded upset on the phone, and she clearly hadn’t slept since then. It looked like she hadn’t been sleeping well since the dreams started.
She sniffled at the sight of me. “I’m so sorry, Sookie. I don’t know what’s going on.”
“It’s okay. We’ll figure it out.” I pulled her into a hug. “You look exhausted, let’s go lay down.”
She fought, saying that she wasn’t tired, but I put my foot down, and we stretched out on the bed. I curled behind her, the way I loved Eric to sleep behind me, and we held hands as she cried.
We spent Christmas Eve at Thalia’s house. We drank wine and watched movies, all three of us trying not to think about men that were gone. We went to the beach on Christmas day, walking along the shoreline and looking at the endless horizon. Soph and I had both mailed care packages to them for the holidays, but we had no idea if they had arrived. The list of things Eric had asked me to send seemed ridiculous, but Soph assured me she had a similar list: Underwear, black socks, t-shirts, shower gel, toothpaste, medicated foot powder, sunscreen, Chapstick, playing cards, batteries, duct tape, cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli, and more drink mixes. Eric made a point of telling me that he truly needed underwear, batteries, and foot powder; the rest would just be nice to have.
Soph and I had each received Christmas cards, but we didn’t get the phone calls we were waiting for. It was becoming very clear to me that I needed to break Soph out of her funk, or we were both going to have a real problem. She had woken up from the dream twice more since I’d arrived, and she was feeling more and more like it was one of the guys that got hurt. We were quickly deteriorating into a depression that would be hard to dig out of. Whatever we did, we had to stay somewhere with cell reception.
I decided I was giving Eric until New Years, not that it was really under his control, but if we hadn’t heard from them by then we were going to Key West. We needed a change of scenery, and we needed more sun. Soph had been reluctant at first, but I wasn’t taking no for an answer.
We were shopping in Target, and she came out of the bathroom looking terrified. I was afraid that she’d talked to Cal, but she put her arms around me and let out a sob. “I look awful. We need to get out of here. Book the tickets.”
On New Years Day, instead of watching football, we were packing our bags. I had a giant fake smile on my face and was telling Soph how much fun we were going to have, when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. It had been three days since the last time she had the dream, and I was hoping that it meant it was a mistake, or it wasn’t coming true. I knew that it had been months between her dreams and the events before, so that was just wishful thinking. The stress from waiting for bad news, added to a complete lack of contact from Eric for almost six weeks, was turning me into a crazy woman.
We had a flight from Raleigh to Miami. We turned off our cell phones when they announced that it was time to board, holding hands, and praying that they didn’t try to call during the two hours we were in the air. We turned our phones back on as soon as the plane landed, breaking the FAA rules and not waiting for the announcement. We sat anxiously as they powered up, sighing in relief that neither of us had voice mails. Soph got our luggage, while I got the rental car. It was around nine o’clock at night, and it was a little over an hour drive down US 1 to Key West, if there was no traffic.
We plugged our phones in as soon as we got in the car. It had been strange over the last two weeks, watching Soph do the same things I had been doing, charging her phone if it dropped down even a bar on the battery icon, leaving the ringer on at all times, checking her email repeatedly. I wondered if she was always like this, or if the dream was amplifying her normal routine. We checked into our hotel and stood on the balcony looking at the water.
“It’s funny. We left the beach to come to another one.”
“Yeah, but this is our vacation beach. It’s not home. We’re going to do fun things tomorrow. Mallory Square, Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, Hemingway house, and Margaritaville. I’m going to buy a painted coconut to mail to Eric.”
“That does sound fun.”
“Soph, we’re going to be okay. We can do this.”
“I know. Thank you, Sookie. I never imagined that you’d be the one taking care of me.”
I laughed. “I owe you for taking care of me the day they left.”
She gave me a look; I knew she didn’t agree with me. “If you say so.”
“Are you kidding me?” Cal was yelling at me, as I kicked his ass at poker, again.
It seemed like we’d been playing poker for a week straight, although, there had been a game of football or two mixed in there. The last week and a half had dragged. We were in the middle of nowhere again, time moved differently here, especially because every single Marine knew that we had been sitting here; waiting for orders, while our families at home, and the other Marines who were actually on base, celebrated Christmas and New Years.
We’d been camped out since our last mission, with word that orders were coming any day, but they hadn’t come. Tempers were flaring, if we were going to be out here, we better fucking do something. The only real excitement we’d had, had come the other night when Twining’s had appendicitis. He’d been rushed to surgery and would be out of commission a few weeks.
Victor came by and told us we needed to load our gear. It could either mean we were heading in to Fallujah, or we finally got our orders. Either way, I was glad to be moving again. We packed up and milled around the humvees, waiting. Deployment was a lot of hurry up and wait.
It turned out we were actually heading back to Fallujah, and we couldn’t get on the road fast enough. I was hoping that Sookie had sent some of the things I asked her for. I needed socks and powder for my feet. It was amazing how fast you wore out socks here, and the funk, from having hot sweaty feet all the time, you couldn’t comprehend it if you hadn’t been here.
When we finally made it back to base, I made a beeline for the shower, and then collapsed in bed. When I woke up, the day was in full swing. Guys were playing cards, listening to iPods and reading. I could hear the everyday noises of base outside, and it made me want to stay in bed. The only thing motivating me to get up was the thought of food, not out of a vacuum sealed container, and a phone call to Sookie. Cal was sleeping in the next rack over, snoring so loud I had no idea how I’d slept through it. I flicked him on the back of the head and sat back, out of arms reach if he swung at me, he didn’t like to wake up.
“What the fuck? Dick.”
“I’m going to use the phone. You coming?”
“What? No. Fuck. I called Soph when we got here.”
“You’re screwed.” He flopped back down, pulling his pillow over his head, and was asleep again before I stood up.
“Fuck.” I shook my head and headed out to wait for a phone, wondering exactly how pissed she was going to be. I checked my watch; we’d been back six hours. If Soph called her right away, she’d had time to get really pissed off. It was 1:30 p.m. here, so it was 6:30 in the morning in Bon Temps. Fuck. She’d probably been up all night.
I sat up in bed when I heard the cell phone ringing, and it took only an instant for me to realize that it was Soph’s phone, not mine. My heart was pounding. I was excited and terrified at the same time. If her phone was ringing, that meant they were back at a base, but it also meant that Cal was calling, and I had no idea if it meant anything. I mean, was Eric hurt? Or was Cal just faster to get to the phone this time?
I heard Soph’s side of the conversation.
“Hello? Calvin? Are you okay?” So much for a warm greeting, she used his full name. He had to notice that. I felt bad. She sounded panicky. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Is everyone alright?”…”Stop talking nonsense and answer my question.”…”Cal, stop.” She looked at me, and I thought I might need to run to the bathroom to vomit. “Cal, I had a really bad dream. Is Eric okay?”…”You know I’m serious.”
She put a hand over the phone and mouthed, ‘They’re fine.’
“In my dream someone was in surgery. I was so scared, baby. I didn’t know who it was; I thought it could have been me or Sookie too.”…”Of course I called her. She’s here, well, we’re together. I mean, we’re in Key West.”
Grabbing my phone and a sweatshirt, I went onto the balcony and curled up in one of the chairs. Tears were slowly falling down my face. I’d been so worried for the last few weeks that there was just no stopping them. He was okay. It was all that mattered.
A little while later, Soph came out onto the balcony. She sat down and reached over, threading her fingers though mine. “They’re fine.”
I sighed. It could still be one of us, but I honestly thought that would be easier to deal with. As if she read my thoughts, she eased my mind.
“It was Charles. He had to have his appendix out. He woke them in the middle of the night and had to be rushed to surgery.”
“Cal thought Eric was in the shower, but he wasn’t sure. I’m sure he’ll call soon.”
I woke up with a stiff neck, still sitting on the balcony with Soph. I checked my watch; it had been three hours since Cal called. I sighed, knowing that Eric must be fine, probably busy, and I prayed my phone would ring. I woke Soph and led her, still half asleep, back into the room. I tucked her in and crawled into the other bed, with my phone on the nightstand. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but I could at least be comfortable.
When he finally called, three more hours later, I was mostly numb. I felt neglected, annoyed, maybe even slighted, and I knew I shouldn’t be, but I was hurt. I was startled by the ring, but didn’t rush to answer it. Well, I didn’t rush as much as normal.
“Hey, Bird. How much trouble am I in?”
I smiled, and most of my bad energy was gone. “Oh, you are very lucky that you’re far away, Mr. Northman.”
“I took a shower and went to sleep. I woke Cal to call Soph before I came over here, and he told me he’d already called. I’m sorry. I know you were probably worried.”
I snorted. “You have no idea.” I heard Soph moving around and glanced over. She looked like she was going to go outside. “You don’t have to go.” I didn’t even think to cover the phone.
I almost felt Eric stiffen on the other end of the line. “Who are you talking to?”
“Oh fuck. You’re together?”
“Wait. Where are you? Are you at the apartment or in their guest room?”
“Neither. We’re in Key West.”
“What?” He sounded confused.
I laughed again. “Key West. It’s a long story.”
For a second or two I thought I could get away without telling him. He was going to feel bad, and worry about me worrying about him, and I was going to sound all kinds of crazy.
“I’ve been with Soph since Christmas. She had a bad dream and called me. Then she called me when she had it again. The third time, she told me to come to Jacksonville.”
“Fuck.” It was a muttered curse.
“I was having a rather lonely holiday season without Gran and you anyway, so I flew out and spent the Christmas and New Years with her. It was a pretty depressing couple of weeks waiting for you to call, and she was a mess. So, I gave you ’til New Years and told her if we hadn’t heard from you two by then, we were taking a trip. We just got here.”
“What did she dream?”
“It’s okay. We figured it out when Cal called.”
“Bird, what scared her so bad that she had you come out there?”
He wasn’t going to let me get away with not telling him. “She dreamed about someone going into surgery.”
“Oh.” He was trying to put his head around the implications. I knew them by heart, I’d been haunted by them for weeks, so I told him.
“We didn’t know if it was one of you or one of us. The longer we went without hearing from you, the more we thought it was one of you. But Cal told her what happened, so I guess it was about Charles. She hasn’t had the dream in a few days.”
He sighed. “Shit. He had surgery four days ago. That’s why the dream stopped. I’m sorry. I had no idea. I should have called you as soon as we got back. You probably didn’t even sleep after Cal called.”
“I slept a bit.” I sighed. “It’s okay. I was really hurt until I heard your voice now; just talking to you makes it better. How are you?”
“I’m alright. We haven’t been near base in forever. We kept getting more orders that required us to stay out, and then the last two weeks we sat waiting for directives that never came.”
“Ah. Hurry up and wait, then wait some more.”
“Pretty much. Bird, when do you start work?”
“Not ’til July, I think. It got pushed back again. Why? What’s up? You coming home to surprise me?” I snorted. Like that was going to happen.
“No, but you might be able to fly out and meet me somewhere in April.”
“What?” I thought for a minute that he said I could meet him somewhere in April, but that was crazy.
“We get two weeks leave, if possible, for a twelve month deployment. We don’t always get the break if they can’t spare us. We didn’t get to go during our last two tours, but right now, there are so many troops here that we’ll all get a break. So be thinking of where you want to go. I’ll know more about the dates the next time we talk. Oh, Soph might not know about it yet, I just found out while I was walking over here.”
I was stunned. It never crossed my mind that I’d get to see him sooner than a year.
“What? I mean, I can’t even think. Where should we go?”
“I’ll go to Kuwait first, and then they’ll let me go to Frankfurt or all the way to Atlanta. We could meet in Europe, or somewhere warmer. Thailand or something, it depends on how far you want to travel.”
“It doesn’t matter.” I just wanted to see him. “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t really want to be in the sand, but I can deal with it if you’re in a bathing suit. So, let’s think of somewhere with a beach.”
“Really? I have a nice new one-piece.” He was silent, and I giggled. “You know I haven’t worn one of those since junior high. I’m teasing.” I was getting excited about seeing him, even if it was a few months away. “Umm, I don’t know. What’s near you? What about Phuket? That’s Thailand, right?”
“Yeah. That sounds good, Bird. Check into it. I’ll give you the dates next time we talk, and then you can really plan. I wouldn’t book it until closer though, you know how things change. Use the credit card I gave you, it won’t be a cheap flight.”
I sighed, regretting the way I felt earlier. “I’m sorry I was upset.”
“Hey. This is a crazy ride. It’s okay.” I heard him sigh on the other end as well. “I got your package, and I’m guessing there are a bunch of emails waiting for me too.”
“Yeah. Enjoy your underwear and Tinactin foot powder.”
“Yeah, it’s sad how excited I am when you send that.” He laughed.
We finished the call on a much happier note than when it began, laughing as I promised to pack him some shorts and t-shirts from the apartment for our trip.
Ten very long weeks after telling her about my leave, I was in a cab, heading for the hotel to meet Sookie. I’d been traveling for twelve hours. It had taken Sookie over twenty-four hours to get here from New Orleans. I checked in at the desk, getting a key card and heading to the room.
Opening the door quietly, I stopped when I saw her, naked on the bed and sound asleep. I stood there for a moment, mesmerized by the site of her, and before I knew it, I had stripped down and was climbing on the bed next to her. I leaned over her, cupped her breasts, taking one of her nipples into my mouth, swirling my tongue around and scraping it with my teeth. She moaned and put her hands in my hair. I grinned, as I moved my attentions to her other breast.
She gasped then, and pulled back. “Oh shit. You’re really here. I thought I was dreaming.” Her eyes were tired, but she was grinning. “God, you look good. Come here.” She pulled my head towards her for a kiss, and I was more than willing to oblige.
Our lips met urgently, tongues dueling, and then my hand slid down her body, slipping between her legs. She was getting wet and I didn’t even think before moving over her, entering her in one smooth thrust. She arched her back to meet me, and we moved like we were on fire. It wasn’t sweet or soft, it was necessary, and it was fucking. Neither of us lasted very long. I rolled off of her and she crawled up onto my chest, draping her body over mine and nuzzling her head in my neck. Wrapping my arms around her, I breathed in her scent, the mix of her perfume and shampoo. No one smelled like her.
“God. It’s good to hold you.”
“Shhh. Just go to sleep. You looked exhausted before you had your way with me.”
“You said I looked good.”
“You did, but you looked tired.”
“I’m so fucking tired.” I ran my hands up and down her back; the soft flesh under my fingertips was soothing. I could barely keep my eyes open. “But you were so beautiful lying there, I couldn’t resist.”
“I’m glad you didn’t.” She yawned. “Now get some rest. We have ten days. I expect you to ravage me often. So you’ll need your strength.”
“Oh shit, you’re going to turn me on, again.” We laughed quietly, and I fell asleep feeling her hand running through my hair.
A/N: Surprise! LOL Um, so if you feel like this is unrealistic, the distance, the money, the fact that Sookie pulled Phuket out of her ass – let’s all take a deep breath, and remember that this is a work of fiction. I’m doin’ the best I can. : )
After extensive web searching, there are a lot of awesome looking hotels in Phuket, this is where I have them staying: J.W. Marriott Phuket