Title: Leap of Faith
Chapter 25: Seeing Red
A gazillion thanks to JulieKohler for emailing me details about the Marine Corps Ball and pictures from past balls she has attended with her Marine to help me get this chapter right! I used a lot of her comments in the details. She even preread for me, to make sure I didn’t get anything really wrong. I can’t thank her enough!
I tried to distract myself as the plane began to taxi for takeoff. I was flying to North Carolina for the last time, well the last time without Eric. The Marine Corps Ball was this weekend, and I couldn’t believe how fast the time had gone. The ball was the last milestone before Eric would finish with the Marines; he only had three more weeks after this, and then he was fully and completely, mine.
I had been talking with Soph and Thalia for months about the ball, since before Eric got home even, trying to figure out what I was going to wear. When Soph first asked me if I’d been looking for a dress, I thought she was crazy.
“Isn’t the ball in November? I haven’t even thought about it.”
She looked at Thalia, then back at me. “Sookie, has Eric told you anything about the ball? Like, what it’s for, or what you should wear?”
“He said I needed a ball gown. Actually,” I laughed. “He said I needed a dress, but he didn’t know what to call it.”
Soph snorted. “Sounds like him.”
“It’s a big deal Sookie,” Thalia sighed. “It’s the annual birthday party for the Marines. You have to find a dress that will compliment his uniform, but not steal the show.”
“Yes,” Soph agreed. “Exactly. It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard, but it’s not like you can just go buy a prom dress. It needs to be formal, but not pageanty-”
“Or slutty.” Thalia added.
“Right. You want a sophisticated, or classic look. The color needs to look good with his dress blues, and it needs to look good on you, but you can’t look better than him. So actually, you’re kind of limited in what you can wear.”
I looked at each of them; they were serious. “Um…okay. Is there somewhere I should start looking? I mean, is there a store you recommend?”
Soph laughed. “No, but you need to start looking.”
“Is there anything else I need to know?”
“The ball is like a combination of your high school prom and graduation,” Thalia laughed. “But with cocktails. There’s nothing like it.”
I unlocked the apartment, expecting Eric to be there waiting for me as he’d been each time I had come to visit, but he wasn’t there. The TV was on, but I didn’t see him sitting in the living room.
“Eric?” There was no answer.
I hefted my garment bag up, hanging it on the bedroom door and saw that Eric wasn’t in there either. The bathroom was open; it was empty too. What the hell? I sighed and walked to the kitchen, wondering if he’d gone down to the bar. I grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge, and as the door shut I heard a startled snore. I tried not to giggle, and walked over to the back of the couch and peered down. Sure enough, my gorgeous husband was sound asleep, with his mouth half open, and television remote in hand.
Shaking my head, I went back to the kitchen and put the dishes in the dishwasher, closed up a box of crackers and put them away, then wiped down the counter top before going to the bathroom to get ready for bed. It was only 10:30 p.m., but I’d had a long day traveling, and clearly Eric was done for the night.
I pulled the remote from his hand and turned the television off. Kneeling down next to him, I leaned in and kissed his forehead. His eyes opened and he smiled.
“It’s a good thing you’re done in the Marines if a noisy girl like me can sneak up on you.”
“I woke up when you came in, but I fell asleep again waiting for you to find me.”
“That’s your story?” I laughed.
“And I’m sticking to it.” He smiled and reached over, pulling me into his arms for a kiss. He sighed, “Mmmm. You smell good.”
“So do you.” I stood and pulled on his hands. “Let’s go to bed.”
“Mmm. Let’s.” He still sounded groggy, and I laughed, Eric’s mind was always on sex. I swear, he would have sex with me in his sleep if he could.
“To sleep, champ. I’ll take a rain check.”
He laughed and stood, pulling my back against his chest and nuzzling the crook of my neck with his nose. “I love you.”
Eric walked me to the bedroom and we climbed under the covers. I pulled his arm over me and snuggled it to my chest. His breathing evened out, and he was asleep in seconds.
I woke up in the morning, trapped under the dead weight of Eric, who was on his side, covering me with one of his arms and a leg. I tried to roll out from under him, and he tensed, using both limbs to hold me against him.
“Where are you going?” he mumbled.
“I have an appointment for a manicure and pedicure this morning with Soph and Thalia.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“No,” I laughed. “What’s up?”
“You’ve been here less than twelve hours and you’re leaving me again?”
“Oh, poor baby. I might get something waxed while I’m there, does that make it better?”
“Oh fuck.” He groaned, and I felt his erection nudge my backside. “I’ll go make the coffee.”
I showered and blow dried my hair, not worrying about styling it, because I knew I was going to take another shower in the afternoon before the ball. I could hear Eric talking in the other room, and his words became clear when I walked into the common area.
“Well I didn’t know they got all crazy like this. I’ve gone stag every time I’ve gone to the ball. I know, she told me the other day it took her months to find a dress. Hang on, Cal,” He moved the phone away from his mouth to talk to me. “Sook, I poured your coffee and toasted you a bagel.”
I smiled, walking over to give him a quick kiss, and picked up my breakfast. I heard him go back to his conversation as I walked out the door.
I met Soph and Thalia at the day spa, and we sat next to each other in the pedicure chairs, surrounded by other Marine wives and girlfriends preparing for the ball as well. I had refused to tell Eric about my dress, saying that all he needed to know was that Soph approved.
Between my pedi and mani, I paid a visit to the aesthetician for a Brazilian wax. I had started getting waxed in high school as my bikini bottoms had gotten smaller, and sexier. I liked the feeling of being smooth, and I knew Eric liked it too. But over the years that we’d been apart, I’d become pretty slack about getting waxed. Your grooming habits definitely slip when you’re single for long periods of time. I looked at myself in the mirror before getting redressed, and smiled. I felt younger and sexier, and I couldn’t wait for Eric’s reaction. When I came back into the main area of the spa, Thalia waggled her eyebrows at me and Soph grinned, she had the next appointment for a wax.
When I got back to the apartment, I found a note from Eric, “Out for a run. Back soon.” I made lunch and was just sitting down to eat, when he came through the door, shirtless, and gleaming with sweat. I looked him up and down, then swallowed hard.
“Oh no you don’t.”
“What?” I said, trying to clear my mind of naked pictures of us together.
“You don’t get to look at me like that now. We don’t have time. We could have fit it in this morning, but now we need to go.”
“Really? I thought we were just checking in to the hotel. Are we in a hurry?”
He leaned against the breakfast bar; I struggled to keep my eyes on his face and not his sculpted chest. “We aren’t in a hurry, but here’s the thing, once I get you underneath me, I won’t be letting you up for a while, and we don’t have time for that.”
“Oh.” Sometimes he could just suck the words out of my head.
“So, I’m getting in the shower, alone, and you’re going to finish packing. Then we’ll hit the road.”
I nodded at him, my brain stuck on the part where he was going to have me beneath him, for a while.
We took the Vette to New Bern. During the drive, Eric told me what to expect at the ball. It was sweet, even though I’d heard most of it from Soph and Thalia earlier in the day.
“After we check in, we can shower and get ready, have a couple of drinks, and then walk over to the convention center. There’s a cocktail reception and a photographer to have your pictures taken like you get at prom. Then there’s a guest speaker and dinner, and we can dance a while before we head back to the hotel for the party part.”
“Yeah, well, we’re all on our best behaviors, sort of, when we’re at the ball. Then we can go to the hotel and cut loose.”
“Where in that itinerary is the Sookie has hot sex with her husband part?”
Eric laughed loudly. “Well, that part is whenever you want, well, except for when we’re at the actual ball. That wouldn’t go over well.”
I smiled at him. “Well then, I’ll surprise you.”
“You usually do.”
We were staying within walking distance of the convention center with most of Eric’s friends. When we got to the hotel the lobby was full of other couples and a number of single men checking in as well. Eric said hello to a few people and I kept hearing people say, “Happy Birthday, Marine.” After someone said it to Eric, I turned to him and raised my eyebrow.
“You know the ball is to celebrate the Marine Corps birthday, right? So, it’s sort of all of our birthday tonight.”
“Oh, yeah. That makes sense.”
He continued, telling me more about what to expect. There would be a ceremony for dinner where the band would play the Marine Corps hymn and the colors, which I knew meant the American flag, would be carried in to the room between two rows of Marines standing with their sabers out to protect the colors. As part of the ceremony, the cake would be brought in and the guest of honor would be escorted in by the commanding officer. Eric said there would be a lot of standing and sitting for all of the Marines, but they tried to move things along as fast as possible.
Eric carried our things to the room, and I waited until he had hung the garment bags before I pounced on him, pushing him down on the bed. We were laughing and kissing, teasing each other, and then it changed. He kissed me hard, and suddenly we were tugging at each others clothes, struggling to get our bodies flesh to flesh. It seemed like we were always frantically attacking each other like this, and I certainly wasn’t complaining, but I was looking forward to the days when we weren’t always missing each other and feeling desperate for our bodies to connect.
We had gotten our shirts off, and I was pulling my bra straps down my arms when I felt his hands on my zipper. His mouth seemed to follow his fingers, kissing my waist, then down, as he revealed my skin. I should have known when I teased him about getting waxed that he’d go straight there to investigate. Now that I thought about it, I was surprised we made it to New Bern without him at least copping a feel, and then I stopped thinking all together. His fingers slid under the silk of my thong, just long enough for him to realize I’d really done it. Then he was yanking my panties off, licking and kissing my newly bare skin.
“So beautiful,” he murmured, as he spread my folds with his thumbs. Then his tongue was lapping at the wetness that had pooled there and I was in ecstasy.
My back arched and my hands went to his hair as his tongue and fingers worked me, circling and pumping, driving me to release. I was gasping for breath as he moved up my body, pausing to worship my breasts until I pulled at his hair, bringing him up to kiss me. I tasted myself as I stroked my tongue in and out of his mouth. I was trying to get his pants off, simultaneously working at the zipper and rubbing myself against his thigh, and he finally pushed my hands out of the way to do it himself. He shoved his pants down, and my hands moved between us reaching for him. My eyes rolled back, and I groaned at the feel of his hard length and the heat coming off his body.
He turned his head, placing small kisses behind my ear and down my neck. We were stroking each other, rocking our hips and beginning to breathe heavy. His teeth scraped along my skin, nipping at my pulse, and I cried out, guiding him to my center.
My breath caught as he stretched me, and I bit my lip. “Yes. Oh god. Fuck.” I didn’t say it on purpose, but as soon as the word ‘fuck’ left my mouth, I heard Eric growl and I knew I had pushed him over the edge.
He began pounding into me, moving hard and fast. He hitched one of my legs up higher, changing the angle he entered me, but never slowed down. My nerves were on fire, and he was relentless, thrusting his hips and pressing on my clit. I could feel my body tightening around him, and I bit his shoulder to muffle a scream as I came.
“Fuck. So tight. Ung. Oh fuck.” His back arched, pushing himself as far inside of me as he could go, then threw his head back as he came, pulsing inside me.
He rested briefly, then moved off of me, flopping onto his back with an arm over his eyes. I rolled over on my side, needing to touch him, and put my hand on his chest and my leg over one of his. We were sticky and sweaty, still breathing heavy, and I was glad we had driven down to the hotel early. A little while later, I knew I needed to get in the shower or I was going to fall asleep; that or be ravaged again.
I started to pull away from him and he mumbled something incoherent.
“What was that?”
He cleared his throat,but didn’t move his arm from covering his eyes. “I said; I’m not finished with you.”
I laughed, which finally made him look at me. “I’m getting in the shower, so if you’re not finished you better come with me. Otherwise, you’re cut off until after we get pictures taken.”
He smirked. “So, between pictures and dinner, you’re fair game?”
“Not any more,” I said, lightly slapping his cheek before moving off the bed and going into the bathroom. Eric joined me a few minutes later; I knew he couldn’t resist shower sex.
We made love under the spray of the water, then washed each other slowly, turning the water temperature down to cool off. Eric got out and dried off while I washed my hair. He went into the bedroom area while I finished getting ready in the bathroom. At one point, I heard Cal and at least one other guy talking with Eric, and the distinct sound of ice being put into glasses.
I cracked the door, and they were all still lounging in shorts and t-shirts. I hated them for how easy it was for guys to get ready for formal events; when all was said and done it would take me several hours to get ready.
I was just finishing my hair when I heard Eric and Cal yell in unison, “What the fuck are you doing? Throw that away.”
I peeked out again to see what was going on and had to laugh. Twinings was holding the screw top for a fifth of vodka and looking like he’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
“You know the fucking rules.” Cal shook his head. “Throw the cap away. You will not need it again tonight, and if it looks like you will, I will pour the rest of that vodka down your fucking gullet.”
They all laughed, and I wondered if they were serious. I got the impression Twinings wasn’t sure either. Cal poured a round of shots and I felt a little better, at least they didn’t expect him to drink the entire bottle by himself. Eric brought me a gin and tonic, and I finished getting ready.
Still wearing my robe, I joined the guys in the in the room for a drink, and Cal and Twinings called Soph and Jessica to join us. Jessica was doing well after her miscarriage; she told us that they were already discussing trying to get pregnant again. All eyes turned to Eric and me, silently wondering if we were trying. Jessica had the balls to come out right out and ask us.
Eric shrugged and said, “We’ll keep you posted.” It was vague enough to not give anything away, but enough of an answer to shut her up.
Eric and I were both surprised at how soon after we got married the questions about getting pregnant had started, and had decided that our lack of contraception was nobodies business but our own.
We relaxed with everyone for about half an hour, drinking and laughing, and after a final round of shots for the guys, everyone went back to their own rooms to get dressed.
Eric put on his blues in the room while I changed into my dress on in the bathroom. He didn’t know what my dress looked like, just that it was red. Soph and Thalia had been right when they told me it was hard to find a dress. I didn’t want to be too plain or too flashy, and I had to find something that still looked good on my figure. The dress I decided on was a little more glamorous than I had been looking for, but I loved it, and both Soph and Thalia said it would be fine. It had a lightly gathered bustline and beaded straps that drew attention towards my, let’s just say assets, and wrapped around to criss-cross in the back. The skirt was floor length and had just enough body to sway as I moved.
I opened the door to go back into our room, and froze at the site of Eric bent over to tie his shoes. He heard the door open and turned to me, his fingers fumbling as he looked me up and down. I was excited to go to the ball, and I knew it meant a lot to Eric, but in that moment, I wouldn’t have cared if he tore the dress off me and threw me on the bed. And I have to admit, I did briefly think about what he would look with a ring of red lipstick around the base of his cock, but I somehow managed to pull my mind out of the gutter. He looked amazing. Those damn dress blues multiplied his hotness factor by at least ten.
“You look beautiful.”
I smirked, and probably blushed a little. “You look good too. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve dreamed about you in your dress uniform.”
He walked towards me, caressing me with his eyes, and I was seriously trying to figure out if we could have sex standing up without wrinkling my dress or screwing up my hair and makeup before we went down to the ball. He put a hand on my hip and kissed me, just to the side of my lips, knowing better than to ruin the lipstick I had just put on.
Stepping forward, his hands slid over my ass and pressed our bodies together while his eyes looked straight into my soul. “I’ve been dreaming about you in nothing at all.”
“Mmm,” I sighed as he ran his fingers along the beaded neckline.
He placed a gentle kiss below my ear and leaned back. “Ready?”
I closed my eyes and inhaled, hoping that a deep, cleansing breath would slow my racing pulse. Eric’s hands moved to my wrists, his thumbs rubbing circles over the backs of my hands. When I opened my eyes, he was grinning back at me. Bastard. “Let’s go.”
We made our way to over to the conference center, it was a short walk, even in heels. We milled about, chatting with his friends and sipping drinks during the reception hour.
As I looked around, I was quite pleased with the dress I was wearing. Some of the younger women were dressed in gaudy pageant gowns or slutty prom dresses, while there were a few older women had on dresses that you could tell had, at one time, been bridesmaid dresses.
As we waited for the dinner hour to arrive, we made sort of a loop of the reception area, talking with different people, and hearing “Happy Birthday Marine!” called out around us. We came to a far corner and I smiled. There was, in fact, a photographer set up, taking posed pictures of couples.
Eric raised an eyebrow at me and I laughed. “Why not?”
We waited in line, then posed, with Eric standing behind me with his arms around my waist. While we waited for Cal and Soph to get their pictures taken as well, Eric got us another round of drinks. We continued chatting with them, saying hello to their friends and other Marine wives until it was time to take our seats and Eric led me into the ballroom. He walked us past an empty that he explained would remain vacant to recognize fellow Marines considered POW’s or MIA’s. I was touched by the simple gesture that spoke volumes about honor and respect.
When everyone was seated, they began the ceremony that Eric had described earlier. Then an officer gave a blessing and the cake was cut, which seemed totally odd to me since we hadn’t eaten yet. They gave the first piece of cake to the guest of honor, and then what was really cool; they gave a piece of caked to both the oldest and youngest Marines in attendance. The guest of honor gave a short speech, then the colors were retired and the Marines who had been standing at attention guarding it marched out, and dinner was served.
The DJ began playing while we ate, and people started to take the dance floor as they finished their meals. It was like a testosterone fueled wedding reception, with the large cake and a room full of Marine’s, alcohol and music.
The DJ played a good mix of music including a few slow songs, and I danced with Eric for all but one, when we traded partners so I danced with Cal and he danced with Soph. I hadn’t slow danced with Eric since we went to a wedding together in college, and it was heavenly. He had one arm around me, while his other hand entwined with mine, resting near my heart. My head rested against his chest; my eyes closed, and we swayed to the music.
The music picked up for a while, playing classic all-American party songs, like, “Shout!,” “Mony Mony,” and “Celebration.” We were all out of breath from dancing, and I had long since taken off my shoes, when “The Lady in Red,” started playing. It was sweet; at least a quarter of the women in the room were wearing red gowns, and Eric took me in his arms again to dance. The music played and I moved my mouth to they lyrics, watching other women dancing doing the same thing, as Chris De Burgh sang,
“The lady in red is dancing with me cheek to cheek
There’s nobody here, it’s just you and me,
It’s where I wanna be,
But I hardly know this beauty by my side
I’ll never for get, the way you look tonight.”
The song finished, and Eric leaned down, kissing me sweetly. I sighed, and stepped back, taking his hand. “Ready to go?” I certainly was. I wanted to get out of my dress, have a moment or two alone with him, and party with our friends.
He smirked and nodded. His eyes were dark, I knew he was thinking the same things I was about having some alone time, and he led me from the dance floor.
We said a few goodbyes, which were really more like, ‘see you back at the hotel,’ and headed out. I had crammed my feet back into my shoes, and couldn’t wait to change into some jeans and sandals. We held hands, Eric’s thumb caressing my skin the way he always did, and walked in the moonlight.