Leap of Faith
Chapter 7: The Last Straw
As Eric held me, my mind jumped around like popcorn in hot oil. I wanted to forget everything and take him to my bedroom. I wondered why he didn’t come find me after Hadley died. I considered spending every moment with him that I could; and I wanted him to leave me alone to think. No single thought stayed long enough for me to hold onto, so there was nothing coherent for me to say.
Letting out a deep breath, Eric released me and leaned back so we could face each other. He shook his head and licked his lips. “Wow,” he said, “I so didn’t mean to unload on you like that. I mean I wanted you to know, but it just all came out at once. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” I said, smiling. “Sounds like you needed to tell someone.”
“I needed to tell you.”
I bit my lip. “Okay.”
“I just needed you to know,” he said quietly. “I mean, I can understand if you want me to go after hearing all of that.”
Oh, God. He thought that if he told me about her death that I would blame him. Seriously, we were fifty shades of fucked up.
“Eric, don’t be ridiculous,” I said, putting my head on his shoulder. “It was not your fault.”
After a few minutes, he asked, “Are you alright?”
“I guess so. It’s a lot to take in Eric.”
He genuinely smiled, “So was the Cajun.”
“Sookie, you asked me, so, I have to ask too. Did you love him?”
“Alcide?” I said, “No. I thought I did for a while, but really, when he proposed, it was so unexpected. I think that probably was part of my reaction. I was so lonely and depressed, Eric; even three years ago when I met him. He wanted to spend time with me, it was flattering. I felt, wanted, for the first time in a long time.”
I shook my head, continuing, “But I didn’t love him. If I had, God, I can’t imagine what that would have done to me. I mean, when I was telling my therapist about everything, I laughed about how many women Alcide had cheated with. I wasn’t that upset about it. I knew we weren’t meant to be together.”
“Do you still see a therapist?” Eric asked quietly.
“Yeah, I do. It’s not a big deal. I go about once a month. She really encourages me to try to get out and do things. I think I just use her as a crutch, really. I know she’s there if I freak out about something, which hasn’t happened in a while. She’s going to flip out when I tell her that I’ve been spending time with you, though.”
“Is that good or bad?”
I chuckled. “Probably both. We haven’t actually talked about you in a while. I think she’ll be worried about me. I’m worried about me; but, I can’t just walk away. I mean, when you left last night, my chest actually hurt. I want to know if we can work, but I’m so afraid. God, I don’t make any sense.”
“No, you do. I don’t want to push you. I don’t want you to be scared. Shit, at this point I’m amazed you haven’t kicked me out.”
“I’m not kicking you out. We’re a mess, you know that?” I laughed. Standing to take the dishes to the sink finally, I asked, “How about we stop talking about it tonight?”
“Okay,” he said, hesitantly.
I wasn’t trying to be seductive or anything; it was the second time I’d said something that could have totally been misinterpreted. Damn.
“I mean, let’s go watch a movie. I think I left some DVD’s here the last time I visited.”
Claude, Claudine and Amelia returned a few hours later to find us asleep on the couch. I tried to introduce a sleepy Eric to Amelia, but they laughed, saying that they had met earlier while I was still greeting mourners on the porch.
The three of them headed upstairs to the guest rooms to get ready for bed, leaving us alone once again.
“I should go,” he said.
“Yeah, you probably should.”
“When can I see you tomorrow?”
“Amelia and I are going to start sorting through Gran’s things. You could bring us lunch if you wanted.”
“Alright,” he said, pausing, and then he asked, “Sookie, when do you have to go back to Atlanta?”
That was a big question. My boss, Chow, had given me free reign; I could take the weekend off or be back in a month. He told me to give him a call at the beginning of the week. Foster Care is a tough business, there’s a lot of burnout in the field, and Chow told me upfront that I could take a leave of absence if I needed it. He just hoped I’d come back to work eventually, because he didn’t want to have to replace me.
“I’m not really sure, Eric. I need to call my boss Monday morning,” I said, looking up at him as he sat on the arm of the couch.
My nerves were wreaking havoc on my system and my mind was still clashing with my feelings, but I knew I had to try. I had to see if what was left between us could be saved. “I think I might decide to stay here for the next week or so. How does that fit with your plans?”
He gave me a lopsided grin. “That sounds good. I’ll be here about the same amount of time.”
“Well, I guess that works out,” I said, pretending that my two weeks didn’t have anything to do with his scheduled leave.
“What’s going to happen to Gran’s house?”
“I don’t know. Seems like Jason and I will sell it and split the profit; as awful as that sounds.”
“You would sell it?”
I sighed, “I don’t want to. I can’t think about it until we hear the will. Gran just said she would take care of us as best she could.”
“I should go,” he said for the second time.
“Yes, you should,” I laughed. “Go on. I’ll see you at lunch tomorrow.”
He put his hand out and helped me up; pulling me into his arms. I had spent a lot of time there today and I wasn’t going to complain. Being in Eric’s arms was a nice place to be.
Our faces gravitated towards each other, moving into a familiar position, and our lips met, caressing ever so lightly. I think I sighed, and his hands came up to my face. My hands were in his hair, and he softly traced the seam of my lips with his tongue. I moaned and my lips parted, allowing our tongues to meet, gliding together slowly. We kissed leisurely at first, but then things changed.
I pulled him tighter against me and felt his long erection against my stomach. My concerns about our pasts and future disappeared in a haze of pure lust, and I couldn’t to stop myself from grinding against him. His hands moved downward, slowly caressing my arms, and finally, pressing my hips to his. I moaned and, without thinking about what I was doing, found my hands on the buttons of his shirt.
When my hands touched his chest, Eric muttered, “Fuck,” breaking from my mouth. He placed little kisses on my eyes and nose, trapping my hands between us as he held me still. We stood, holding each other again, and I considered just taking his hand and going to my room.
While I was still making up my mind, he sighed, saying, “I’m going to leave now, or it’s not going to happen. Just stay here and lock the door when I go, alright?”
I nodded, understanding that if I followed him to the door we would be kissing again and he would not, in fact, be going. He kissed the top of my head and released me, leaving me feeling suddenly cold and adrift. He was right; as much as I wanted to fall into bed with him at that moment, I wasn’t really ready.
“Lock the door, Bird,” he said as he walked away.
“Okay,” I replied, touching my lips, in a daze.
The door shut behind him, and I locked it right away, knowing that he was waiting on the other side of the door to hear the lock click. After the tumbler slid into place, I leaned on the door, listening to his footsteps going down the stairs, and his engine starting a few seconds later.
When I couldn’t hear his car on the gravel drive any longer, I slid to the floor, hugging myself. I thought about what he had confessed to me, how he had been so worried about telling me about Hadley’s death, and I just didn’t understand it. How could I think it was his fault? While his guilt broke my heart, it showed me again what a caring person he was, whether he believed it or not.
Shaking my head, I realized that I was falling completely and helplessly back in love with him I knew it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, and I knew, without a doubt, that I was going to regret opening my heart to him again at some point, it was inevitable.
Several hours later I was lying in bed, still awake, sorting through my feelings and memories. I heard a noise outside and my heart skipped with fear; then I heard it again. Realizing what it was, I smiled. I should have known; it had been so long I didn’t recognize the sound of someone climbing the trellis.
The window slid up, and I heard a muffled curse as Eric hit his head climbing in. I felt his weight on the bed and heard his shoes hit the floor as he swore again under his breath at the noise they made. Then the bed jostled as he stood, and I heard his zipper slide down.
Oh sweet Jesus. I could picture him, in nothing but boxers, and it was an amazing lifted the covers and slid in bed behind me, fitting his length along my body, spooning me as he’d done so many times before. Despite my pretending to be asleep, he felt my muscles tense, and smoothed a hand over my hair.
“Shh..little Bird. I couldn’t sleep. Please, let me hold you. I’ll be gone in the morning. Just close your eyes,” he whispered.
Thinking that I could handle a good night of snuggling, I relaxed and savored both his warmth and his scent as they surrounded me. The last thing I remember is the feel of his breath on my neck and the sound of his heartbeat in my ear.
When I woke to the sun shining in my window, he was gone.
I wiped the sleep from my eyes and sat up in bed, smelling coffee and cinnamon. Mmmm. Amelia’s still here. Cinnamon rolls.
I got up to head for the bathroom and the heavenly smell coming from the kitchen, and saw my cell phone sitting on the dresser, closed around a scrap of paper. Okay, I know I didn’t do that myself. I opened my phone and saw a barely discernible smiley face and a carefully written phone number.
Amelia and I were making good progress in Gran’s old room. We made three piles: keep, donate and toss. We’d been working for several hours and the donate pile was particularly large, which made me feel good. Gran would have liked it too. Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually get rid of, or give away, any of it until after the will was read on Tuesday.
We were sorting through boxes from the back of Gran’s closet when Amelia found a box full of letters.
“Oh my Lord!” she said excitedly. “Do you think these are from your Granddaddy? Or maybe Gran had a beau that was sweet on her during the war!”
Taking a better look at them, she looked at me with confusion. “They don’t look that old, Sook.”
“Are they addressed to Gran? What are they?”
She flipped them over and her face got visibly pale. “Hell in a hand basket,” she muttered, holding them out to me. “They’re addressed to you.”
“What?” Why was there a box of letters addressed to me in Gran’s closet?
“I don’t know what to say, Sook. I’ll be outside.”
Sweet Shepherd of Judea. They cannot be what I’m thinking they are. But when I saw his handwriting, and the way that each letter of my name and address had been painstakingly penned so that they could be recognized, I knew. It was a box full of letters from Eric. There were about twenty letters and cards, none of them opened. My hands were shaking and it was a good thing I was already sitting down. Tears quickly filled my eyes, and I held them to my chest, rocking myself.
I didn’t hear him come in, so it surprised me when Eric pulled me into his lap, putting his arms around me. I couldn’t stop crying to explain to him what was going on, how devastated I was by one more deception from my family, and how my heart hurt knowing that he had sent me all of those letters.
He rubbed my back and murmured in my ear, trying to calm me down, and I couldn’t stop. After a few minutes, I think I was scaring him because he pulled me away from his chest and tried to hold my face in his hands. “Sookie, you have to tell me what’s wrong. Please, I don’t know what to do. Shit. How can I help?”
Trying to stop my sobs, I made some awful gasping sounds, but they just turned into more sobs.
“Jesus, Sookie. Are you hurt?”
I shook my head rapidly, and tried again to stop crying. I had no idea what I was going to say anyway, so I just held out the stack of letters that I had been clutching to my chest.
“Fuck,” he muttered when he realized what they were. “When you didn’t know about the phone calls I figured you hadn’t gotten those.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked, still crying.
“I didn’t think she kept them, Sookie. I mean, I addressed them all here, but I never knew what happened to them.”
Sniffling, I shook my head, “I just can’t believe this. When did you start writing these?”
“After the first time I tried to call,” he said, sighing.
“Eric, I just…this is too much. I just don’t understand what they were thinking.”
“I don’t know Bird, but they thought they were doing what’s best.”
“How can you be so calm?”
“I’ve been pissed since I figured out you didn’t know I called. I’ve had some time to process it all,” he said, kissing my forehead.
Still holding the letters, I wrapped my arms around him and put my head on his chest. “Should I read them?”
“I don’t remember what they all say. Probably a lot about how hard Basic was and that I hope you’re doing well.”
“These are they all from while you were at Basic?”
“No,” he exhaled, “I wrote you off and on for about two years. At first I wrote because I was worried about you and I missed you. But I could always tell you anything, and I needed to tell somebody about everything that was going on in my life, so I just started telling you in the letters. I just kept sending them even though you didn’t respond; it was cathartic to write shit down and mail it to you.”
“I think maybe I don’t want to read them while you’re here. It might be, too much,” I said, reaching behind me and setting the stack of letters up on the desk, then putting my arms back around Eric’s waist.
“That’s good. I don’t think I want to be here when you read them,” he laughed. Smoothing my hair with his hand, he kissed the top of my head. “Are you okay?”
“Do you want some lunch?”
“No,” I sighed, not wanting to let go of him or move from the spot we were in. I was struggling again to process everything that I had learned in the past few days. The new information swirled around in my brain, and mainly, it added up to the fact that everything I believed about our breakup had been wrong. I mean, yes, he did break up with me, that hadn’t changed; but all of the ill will I felt towards him for walking away and never looking back was unwarranted. He had looked back; in fact he had reached out to me, over and over.
“Do you want me to help you sort some things?”
“Okay,” he chuckled. “What do you want to do?”
I sat up and took his face in my hands, I whispered, “I want to kiss you.”
He looked back at me with wide eyes, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, and I touched my lips to his. Closing my eyes, I nibbled his bottom lip, and put my hands in his hair. His tongue slid along my lips and teeth, making its way to stroke my mouth. It was nothing like the kiss yesterday. This was seven years of fantasies and desperation translated into dueling mouths and roaming hands.
He was whispering between kisses, “Jesus, Sookie. You feel so good. I’ve missed this. I’ve missed you.” His words ran together, and I heard myself saying practically the same things.
Pulling his shirt out of his waistband, I ran my hands up his muscled chest and around his back to hold him closer. He kissed my neck while his hands went to the hem of my shirt. We untangled our limbs to get of our shirts off, and then we sat back, taking in the view of each other’s chests. He cupped my breasts in his hands and I moaned. I had missed this, missed him so much. Gliding my hands across his torso, I leaned in to kiss him just below his ear. Lightly sucking his earlobe in my mouth, I accidentally bit down when his thumbs rubbed over my nipples. He knew what I liked and rolled them between his fingers, tugging slightly.
I was going crazy, I needed more. Pressing against his shoulders, I pushed him back onto the floor and straddled his waist. This position fit us together perfectly and allowed us to thrust against each other. It was silly, dry humping like we were in teenagers, but it felt amazing. He unhooked my bra and tossed it to the floor. We were skin to skin from the waist up and I heard myself sigh as my nipples rubbed his chest. One of his hands slid up the back of my thigh into the leg of my shorts and he groaned, caressing my ass.
Arching my back I rubbed myself against his straining fly. He ran a hand down the center of my chest as he sat forward, taking one of my nipples in his mouth. Both of his hands were at my waistband working on the button of my shorts. I bit my lip and held his head to my chest, feeling my body humming, wanting Eric to touch me everywhere.
The noise of the zipper coincided with the sound of the screen door on the porch opening and closing. I leaned forward heavily, forcing Eric back to the floor with his hands caught between us and my breasts pressed against him.
“What the fuck?”
“Amelia,” I whispered, trying not to laugh, and then she was yelling from the hallway.
“Sook, are you guys okay?” she hollered as she walked into the room.
“Sweet baby Jesus! My eyes! I guess you’re alright. I’ll be outside, again,” she said laughing. I heard her muttering about needing a cocktail and a cigarette after seeing us as she walked away.
“We’ll be out in a minute,” I yelled after her.
We laughed for a few seconds, and then Eric squeezed me tight in a bear hug.
“God you feel good in my arms,” he said.
“It feels good to be in your arms.”
“You’re not freaking out?”
“Nope. Not right now at least.”
“Good,” he said. “I kind of am though.”
“You are?” I asked. What was he panicking about?
“Yeah. Shit, Sookie. When the fuck did you start wearing thongs? Because really, I’m not going to be able to think about anything else for the rest of the day.”