Leap of Faith
Chapter 22: Thai Food
My nose itched, it was being tickled, and there was something slowly gliding over my back that felt amazing. I wrinkled my nose, but it still itched. I reached forward to rub my nose, thinking if it would stop itching, I could fall back asleep. My hand ran into something before it made it to my face.
“What the?” I muttered, running my hand along a strong arm. “Oh my god!” I sat up, looking into Eric’s laughing eyes.
“Hi! Wow, you’re really here, huh?”
He laughed. Our legs were tangled, and I was stretched out on top of him.
“Did you sleep well?”
“I did. How long was I out?”
“Mmmmm.” He inhaled. “Maybe, four hours? It’s almost dinner time. Are you hungry?”
“I am.” I giggled and bent to kiss him. Much later we called for room service.
Phuket was beautiful. An island in the south of Thailand, it’s located in the Andaman Sea. The area had a tropical climate and we were there just before the rainy season.
Our hotel was amazing, though we hadn’t seen much of it the first two days we were there. I finally told Eric that if he actually wanted to see my new bathing suit, we needed to go to the beach. We made it as far as the pool, when he looked wistfully at the lounge chairs, and I cracked up laughing.
I hugged him, and sat down my things, still chuckling. “It’s fine Eric. I understand, there’s no sand here at the pool.”
We slathered on the sunscreen and spent the day in the sun, and in and out of the pool. Eric took advantage of the poolside bar, and I snapped pictures of him, the sun on his hair and the water making his eyes sparkle. We spent two days that way, soaking in the sun during the day while immersing ourselves in each other at night, and then we joined the other tourists in site seeing.
I had booked us reservations with the Siam Safari Elephant Camp for a safari tour and dinner cruise. On our scheduled day, we boarded a van mid-morning, and rode through the city, into the jungle. It was lush and green, truly a jungle, like nothing I’d ever seen before in real life. I mean, the bayou is wild and full of vegetation, but it’s completely different, and the sounds that you could hear; bugs, birds and monkeys, it was magnificent. I couldn’t wipe the grin from my face.
When we arrived at the camp, we saw a demonstration about how coconuts were processed to make coconut milk and oil, but neither of us really liked coconut, so we didn’t pay too much attention. What we were both waiting for, was to see the elephants. Eventually, we sat down where they taught us about elephants and their history in Thailand. We saw how young elephants were trained, and then we were allowed to both pet them and feed them bananas.
Eric was laughing. “You know what this feels like? A pig.”
“When have you been petting pigs?”
“I’ll never tell,” he teased, waggling his eyebrows. “Come here, feel this.” He was holding up the elephant’s ear, stroking it with an open hand. They had these big eyes and long eyelashes. They seemed sweet, but you could definitely tell how powerful they were.
As part of the tour, we got to ride an elephant through the jungle. It was a short, but wonderful trip. Our bodies swayed as the elephants lumbered along the path. I was falling in love with these giant beasts.
The guides spoke to us about Thai elephant conservation, which included the ‘Ivory belongs on elephants’ campaign and a mobile veterinary clinic for elephants. Unfortunately, many of their efforts had been put on hold by the tsunami several years ago, when no tourists came to support the programs for almost a year, and they were still rebuilding.
We ended the day with a cruise on a traditional wooden junk in Chalong bay. We relaxed on the boat, having a snack and a drink, while we listened to the waves against the hull of the ship. We stood by the rail watching the horizon, and I tucked myself under Eric’s arm and tight around his side. It was breathtaking, looking out at the endless sea and feeling the salt air on our skin. He told me some stories about his friends in Iraq and I told him about Jason’s latest girlfriend. The sun started to set, and we headed back to the hotel. Our days were passing by, and I knew it wasn’t going to be enough time.
Another morning, the alarm went off and Eric prodded me to get in the shower. I had no idea what he had planned, but knew something was up because he had set the alarm. We were in the hotel lobby by 7:45 a.m., and Eric checked in with the concierge before joining me on a couch. A few other people seemed to be waiting around, but I still had no idea what we were doing. I was still confused when we were greeted by a man in a chef’s coat.
“Sa-wat dee. Hello. Are you here for the market tour?” Eric nodded, and they shook hands. “I’m chef Charanong, please, call me Char.”
“Khorb koon. Thank you.” Eric had been chatting up the waiters and bartenders, learning key Thai phrases. “We’re the Northman’s. I’m Eric, and this is my wife Sookie.”
Char grinned at us. “Welcome. It is very nice to meet you.” His English was accented, but easily understandable. I wondered if he’d gone to school in the states.
“Allow me to gather the rest of our group, and then we will travel to the Thai market. We shall begin your morning of Thai cooking lessons after we return and eat breakfast.” He moved away and greeted another couple.
I turned to Eric, who looked very proud of himself. “You booked us a cooking class?”
“Yep. You can say it, I’m the best husband ever.”
Laughing, I took his face in my hands and gave him a quick kiss. “You really are the best husband,” I said shaking my head. “Thank you.”
We boarded a shuttle van and drove to the fresh market, where we walked around with several other couples. It was so different than most places that we had in the states. Sure, you could go to farmers markets for herbs and vegetables, but fresh meat and fish? It was something that you would see in an ethnic enclave in a large American city; Chinatown in San Francisco or Little Mexico in Chicago. But there was nothing like it in Bon Temps, Louisiana or even Jacksonville, North Carolina, that was for sure. Eric joked around, putting his nose almost on a carcass of something; that if I had to guess, was at one time a pig. It wasn’t that I didn’t eat meat; I just didn’t want to see it out of its skin hanging from a hook. When you were away from the meat, the smell of spices in the market was delightful. We saw sweet basil, turmeric, lemon grass, and countless other herbs. Throughout the morning, Char bought items, handing off bags to the members of our group, as his hands got full.
Eventually, we headed back to the hotel for our breakfast, and then the cooking lesson. The menu for the day was Phad Thai, or Stir-fried rice noodles, with tamarind sauce and grilled prawns, green curry, and Som Tum spicy green papaya salad. We each participated in the preparation and cooking of the dishes, although I had to laugh at Eric’s stress level when Char repeatedly eyeballed ingredients and didn’t measure precisely. When everything was ready, we sat down to a marvelous lunch, chatting across the table with the students, laughing about things we had seen in the market and enjoying the food.
One evening, we went to a Vegas style show called Fantasy of a Kingdom. It took place inside the Fantasea Theme Park that we had opted not to spend an entire day at. Actually, I thought it might be fun, but Eric had laughed hysterically about it, so we didn’t go. The show featured acrobats, pyrotechnics, special effects, elephants and dancers to tell stories of Thailand’s Myths, Mysteries and Magic. It was kind of amazing actually, in a Bollywood meets Cirque du Soleil kind of way.
We spent a lot of our time together during the week talking, catching up on the years we had lost. It was odd, but it was such a great feeling to hear Eric introducing me as his wife, or to hear someone call us, “The Northmans.” When I was alone, saying I was married or mentioning Eric as my husband, was a reminder that he was gone, but when we were together, it was the most romantic thing I’d ever heard.
An Australian couple, the Prings, who we’d spent the day with at the pool invited us to join them ingoing to Phuket Town for the evening, so we went along. We’d heard the stories about the wild nightlife, and wanted to people watch and at least say, “Been there, done that.” We ended up having a blast. Phuket Town had a bit of everything; restaurants, beer bars, pubs, discos, lounges, and of course, transvestite cabarets. We ended up at Aussie Bar to watch rugby. The Canberra Raiders were playing the Brisbane Broncos, which was the Prings’ home team. By the end of the night we were singing along with the Broncos fans, shouting drinking songs at the top of our lungs.
In the morning, we nursed our hangovers at the pool, soaking in the sun. A couple of days later, we were tanned, relaxed, exhausted, and facing our last night together, again.
How the hell did ten days go by in the blink of an eye? We were lying in bed, panting and sweating, and all I could think about was that we were leaving in the morning. We had a romantic dinner at a restaurant overlooking the beach, complete with champagne and chocolates, then we had returned to the room to enjoy each other for dessert.
“I love you, Sookie.” It came out sounding more emotional than I intended.
“I love you, too.” She sighed, and ran her hand over my chest. Sitting up on her elbow, our eyes met, and we were still, looking at each other for a long moment. “What are you going to do when you come home for good? You talked about working with Bud at the Sheriff’s office, but, what about the bar? I didn’t even know you had the bar when you said that.”
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it. What would you think if we kept the bar? If I went out there a few days each month or something?”
“That’s fine. You don’t need to ask me if you can do that.”
“See, that’s where you’re wrong. You keep saying you, but this is about us.”
She punched my arm. “What will we do the rest of the time? Will you get another job, or manage the bar from Bon Temps?”
I scooted, angling my body so I could see her face. “What would you say to opening a bar in Bon Temps, too? It would be totally different, I mean, it probably wouldn’t have a dance floor, but it’d have pool tables, darts, and a jukebox.”
“It sounds good. Do you think it’ll compete with Merlotte’s? I mean Bon Temps isn’t that big.”
“Yeah. I’ve been thinking about the old tavern by the highway. It closed down last year after old man Eggs died. That would attract people from Monroe as well.”
“Is it for sale?”
“Hoyt said Egg’s son wants to unload it.” I brushed a hand over her hair, tucking some behind her ear. “You remember that I’ll have to stay in Jacksonville for a few months before I move to Bon Temps, right?”
“Yeah. You said you have to do debriefing stuff, and that you can’t actually retire until December first, right?”
“Right. I know you’ll be working, but we’ll see each other. Have I told you about the Marine Corps Ball? We’ll go to that in November. You’ll need a formal dress, what do you call that?”
“A ball gown?” She laughed.
“Yeah. A ball gown. It’ll be in late October or early November, but I won’t have the exact date until later.”
“Okay. And you’ll be in your dress blues?”
“Yup. It’ll be my last time in the blues.”
“Oh, I do love your blues. Sometimes I just sit and look at our wedding pictures, thinking about taking that uniform off of you, button by button.”
“Fuck.” My voice was hoarse.
“The only thing better than your blues is when you’re naked, like now.” Her hand slid down, finding my hardening cock, initiating round two for the night. “It makes it so much easier to do this.” Her hand pumped me as her voice teased. She tightened her hand, putting pressure on all the right parts, as her tongue caressed my ear. It was a huge turn on for me and she knew it.
For about a second, I thought about letting her play her little game with me, teasing me until I was ready to explode, instead I flipped over, trapping her beneath me. I rocked my hips, turning the tables on her as I moved against her, passing over the entrance she wanted me to slide into. I taunted her, slowly stroking against her clit as I kissed her neck and gently nipped at her pulse. She arched her back, trying to adjust her body so that she could get me inside her, but I resisted.
I kissed my way down her body, stopping to take each nipple into my mouth, savoring the tight pink peaks. Continuing lower, I opened her center with my thumbs, and brushed my tongue over the sensitive nerves. Adding my fingers into the equation, I brought her to the edge twice, only to ease off, making her whimper. I curled my finger forward inside of her, hitting her g-spot and pausing just a second, before repeating the motion, several times.
She was yanking on my hair, trying to pull my head towards her face, and I wanted to fuck her so bad I gave in. I moved up her body, kissing her hard on the mouth, as I pushed my cock hard and fast into her so familiar, hot, wet center. We both gasped, our nerve endings screaming at our joining. My hips began moving of their own volition, I couldn’t stop myself from driving into her. When my mind cleared enough to process thought, I realized Sookie was crying out with each stroke.
“Oh my God, yes. Fuck. Oh my God.”
I brought my hand between us, pressing on her swollen clit, and she screamed, her back arching and body going taught. I felt her muscles clench around me, her nails dug into my ass, and there was no stopping the orgasm that shot through me, pulsing into her.
“Oh, Christ.” I groaned, my forehead against hers, panting hard.
“Yeah,” was all she was able to say, as she caught her breath. I started to move off of her and she stopped me. “No. Stay.”
Resting my weight on my elbows as much as I could, I looked into her eyes, and she stared back, as she smoothed my hair over my ears. I leaned down, kissing her sweetly. She sighed, and I felt her shiver.
She laughed. “Okay, I can’t breathe.”
Shaking my head, I pulled out and moved beside her. We snuggled for a few minutes, and she went to the bathroom to clean up. When she came back, she jumped up onto the bed, landing on her knees, making me bounce. I raised my eyebrow at her, wondering where she’d found her energy.
“Let’s get dressed and go outside.”
“What?” It was the last thing I expected her to say.
“Come on! Are you too tired?” She hopped back up and threw on shorts and a t-shirt, with nothing underneath. I followed her lead and watched her grab a pair of towels and the extra blanket from the closet, wrapping it around the half full bottle of Moet champagne that had been in the ice bucket. She walked to the door and looked over her shoulder at me, like a fucking sex kitten.
I followed her like she had me on a leash, and we wound up on the beach, waling to the far side of the land owned by the hotel where the jungle began. She spread the blanket out and wiggled the bottom of the Moet bottle into the sand to hold it up upright. She pulled her shirt over her head, and it knocked me out of my trance. I stripped and chased her into the water. We splashed and played, trying to keep quiet so we didn’t get caught. That was the last thing I needed. We ending up dripping wet, having sex on the blanket. By the time we were finished rolling around, we were both covered in sand.
“That is so uncomfortable.” She sighed, rubbing at some sand on her neck.
“Welcome to my world. The good news, is that you’ll think of me next week when you find more sand in some random crevice of your body.”
“Oh, that’s not good news.”
I laughed. I loved her so much. I don’t think anyone else could have gotten me to roll around in the God forsaken sand while on leave. She tried to brush some grains of sand off my chest; I didn’t want to tell her it was pointless.
She exhaled. “I can do it.” She nodded, and I cocked my head at her. “I can make it ’til you get home. I was worried when you first left, and I was a little worried that seeing you here was going to wreck me, but I’m good. I can do it.” She made a little face, like, ‘Meh, no problem.’
“Well, good. I’ll be home in no time now.” I smiled. I didn’t really know what else to say, so I changed the subject. “We can go to the airport together in the morning. I’ll see you off and then hang out there until my flight leaves.”
“Are you sure?” She sat up on her elbow. “My flight is like three and a half hours before yours.”
“I’m sure, Bird. I don’t need to stay here without you.”
She put her head down on my chest. “This has been a great trip. I love it when you tell people I’m your wife.”
“I love to say it. I feel all possessive.”
“I know you do. I can’t wait ’til you say something like, ‘This is my son. Or daughter.'”
My heart practically stopped. “Sookie.”
“What? Oh, no! That’s not what I meant.”
“Are you still on birth control?”
“Eric! This is a fine time to ask me, after we’ve had crazy hot Thai sex for ten days!” I looked at her, waiting; she hadn’t answered. She sighed. “Yes, I am. I didn’t want to make a decision like that without you, and I didn’t want to ask you to wear a condom this whole vacation if you weren’t ready to start trying.”
I kissed her, quick and hard. “I’m ready when you are.”
“You are? Don’t you want to come home and get settled and all that?”
“Sookie, even if we start trying now, or when I get home, it could take months. After that it would be nine months before the baby was born.”
“Wow. Okay. I’m throwing the pills away when we get inside then.”
“You are?” Holy shit, we were on the same page with this.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m ready to start a family. I know all the stuff you just told me. I didn’t know that you knew it. And I didn’t know you were ready. I mean, we haven’t been married long. We haven’t even been back together long. I never really stopped loving you, but, you know.”
“I know.” I gave her a soft kiss. “I’m ready to start our family Sookie. I’m coming home, and you’re stuck with me.”
“That makes me really happy.” She had tears in her eyes.
“You make me happy. Come on, Mrs. Northman. Let’s go inside and try to shower off some of this sand.”
After our shower, we stayed awake, talking and making love all night, agreeing that we could sleep on the plane. We enjoyed a quick breakfast before checking out, and caught a cab to the airport. I held her hand as we sat talking at her gate, rubbing my thumb over the back of her hand, memorizing the feel of her skin. We had both cried in the hotel room, and I was hoping we could get away with minimal tears at the airport.
They called out to start boarding her flight and she fought back tears.
“Bird,” I whispered.
She closed her eyes, swallowing, and nodded. “I know. I’ll be okay.” Exhaling, she put her chin up and tried to smile. “Please be careful. I mean it.”
“I’m always careful, Sookie.”
“Well, be extra careful,” she huffed, and then we both laughed. “I love you, Eric. It’s not just you anymore.”
Fuck. I pulled her into my arms and did all I could not to cry. “I love you, Sookie. I’ll be home in no time.”
I felt her nod against my shoulder. “Okay. I’m going to board soon, and I’m not going to look back.”
“I understand.” I did. It would have been a knife to the heart to walk away and look back at her as I got on the plane.
“I love you. I can’t wait for you to come home and open a bar and make babies.”
I laughed, and kissed the crook of her neck. “I love you, too. I’ll be home soon.” I wasn’t going to say goodbye. I figured if I kept repeating that I’d be home soon, we might start to believe it.
She stepped back, looking at me for a second, before leaning in to kiss me. It was slow and tender, and it wrapped itself around my heart. She sighed, and pulled back before I expected her to. She bit her lip, and stared at me. The flight attendant called for boarding all passengers, and Sookie looked over her shoulder at the gate.
Turning back to me she nodded. “Love you.”
She took a step away from me, and I knew she meant what she said, that she wasn’t going to look back.
“I love you; I’ll be home in no time.”
“You better be.” She gave me a stern look and we both broke into genuine smiles.
She walked to the gate and I stood by the window, watching until her plane taxied out of sight.
Aussie Bar is real, so are the safari and cooking class:
OH – and Fantasy of a Kingdom and then theme park are real too. LOL Phuket-Fantasea