Leap of Faith
Chapter 26: There’s No Such Thing as an Ex-Marine
The entire day had been kind of surreal. Having Sookie here, at her first and my last ball made things interesting. I was taking everything in for the last time, and she was awed by her first experience with a Marine event. Even though it was a ball, things were well organized and on a schedule, the Marines were nothing if not a well oiled machine, even at functions like these.
Sookie had found a dress that looked perfect on her and was just right for the ball. I was glad Soph and Thalia had helped her find it; I couldn’t have explained to her what to look for. She looked beautiful,, and she had been lucky to get out of the room without me ravaging her, literally.
When she stepped out of the bathroom in that red dress, I wanted to hike it up around her waist and take her against the wall. She always looked fuckhot to me, but the damn dress had a beaded neckline drawing my eyes to her breasts, and she was wearing heels that made her legs look incredible. I was definitely going to enjoy taking that dress off her later.
We were standing in the lobby, having just finished with the photographer, when it was time to go into the banquet room and find our table. We walked past the vacant table for POW’s and MIA’s and I explained it to Sookie, after I’d said a silent prayer in my head for the Marine’s this table honored.
Reaching the table that we shared with Cal, Soph and two other couples from our unit, we took our seats. The colors were presented shortly after we sat down, and I felt a lump in my throat. I was surprised by my feelings, but they were natural I supposed. I was ready to move on with Sookie, but being Marine had been an important part of my life, and it was hard watching the ceremony, knowing it was my last time here as a Marine. In reality, I would always be a Marine, and I had been a damn good one, but it was time to go.
The ceremony continued while I was lost in my thoughts. I remembered meeting Cal the first week I was in South Carolina, finishing Recon School, leaving for my first tour, the never ending heat of the desert, and missions, good and bad, that I would never be able to forget. The Guest of Honor finished his speech; he was a retired Marine that had a show on T.V. and did some consulting on military movies for Hollywood. His speech was meant to be motivational, but I hadn’t heard most of it.
We ate a wonderful dinner, talking and laughing, telling our wives stories about our previous tours and practical jokes. The music had started, and the prom component of the evening was about to begin. The men would hit the dance floor for a while, only because they were liquored up, dancing both fast and slow with their wives. Then there would be a turning point, where people wanted to go back to the hotel to have drinks with their friends and sneak away with their significant others.
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed dancing with Sookie until I took her in my arms. Our height difference made it so she rested her head on my chest, not my shoulder, and it always seemed like she was listening to my heart as we swayed. We danced to some faster songs, like we were at a wedding, and I was glad that I had been drinking. I was a tall man, all limbs and although I had rhythm, it wasn’t all that pretty when I fast danced. The music cycled through, fast, slow, fast slow, and I danced with both Soph and Sookie.
Another slow song came on, and I pulled Sook into my arms, thinking that I was ready to go whenever she was. We had experienced the ball together, and I had said goodbyes to some people that I might not see in the next few weeks, but most importantly, the night had given a feeling of closure, or finality, in terms of my career as a Marine. With this night behind me, I was truly ready to be done. The next few weeks were going to fly by, and then my life would be my own, well, Sookie’s and mine. She was really the only thing in my future that mattered. Everything else could fall apart, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that we could get through it if we were together.
We swayed to the music, her body molding against mine as I held her. We danced to an old 80’s song, the Lady in Red. I couldn’t remember who sang it, but they played it at every ball because it was romantic and so many of the women wore red dresses.
As the song played, Sookie’s body shifted against mine, her breasts teasing my chest and her belly rubbing against my arousal. Dancing had become torture. I needed to get her out of that dress. The final notes of the song played, and I gave Sookie a squeeze, kissing the top of her head. She squeezed back, and then took a step back and looked up at me. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the lust in her eyes matched mine.
She took my hand, “Ready to go?”
I decided that ‘Fuck yes’ was not the appropriate answer, but couldn’t form any other words, so I smirked and nodded. I was more than ready to go, and more than ready to strip that gorgeous dress off of her.
We made our way out of the banquet room, stopping to say goodbye to a few people; and telling a few more that we’d see them back at the hotel. Small groups and couples began leaving the conference center, walking towards their hotels. Sookie had put her heels back on to walk outside. It looked painful, the way she crammed her tired feet into her heels, but they still looked sexy as hell.
I took her hand and we walked toward our hotel, bathed in moonlight.
We rode in the elevator with Twinings and Jessica; they pawed at each other like teenagers in heat and Sookie turned her head trying not to laugh. They stepped off the elevator, pausing in their make out session long enough to tell us they would see us in a while. As soon as the doors closed behind them, Sookie burst out laughing.
“Oh my god! I wanted to say, ‘Get a room!’ but they already have one! That was just, eeww. I saw his tongue. Gah.”
I laughed at her reaction, because really, he was only doing to his wife the things I wanted to do to Sookie, I was just waiting until we got to the room. Sookie’s laughter and the look on her face were irresistible.
Giving up, I pressed her against the wall of the elevator, my hands were on either side of her head and my hips tight against her belly as I kissed her. I heard the elevator door open, but it seemed far away. I tried to step back, but Sookie was holding me close and matching my ferocity as she returned the kiss. I stretched back, thankful for my long arms, and was able to hold the door open.
I dragged my lips away from hers, and stepped back. We were both panting, but I managed to say, “Room.”
She nodded, and I led her by the hand out of the elevator and down the hall.
Sookie had her shoes off before the door was closed, and I painstakingly unhooked the buttons to take off my jacket, which the Marines actually called a blouse. She watched me finish with the buttons, it took forever to get that thing off, and we smiled across the room at each other.
Then she walked over to the bed where I stood, turned around, and looked over her shoulder at me. “Unzip me?”
I moved behind her, reaching down to gather her skirt as I slid my hands up her thighs to her waist. Leaning forward, I moved her hair over her shoulder and whispered in her ear, “What’s the hurry, lover?”
Sookie shivered at my words and her head dropped back towards my chest.
“I’m going to fuck you in this dress.” I loved the way that dirty talk turned her on.
She whimpered, and I walked us forward, so she could brace herself against the wall.
I stripped my white undershirt off and pulled the rest of her skirt up around her waist, pressing her back down so she was leaning slightly and the dress hung down in front of her. I slid my hands over her hips and took in the sight of her red thong. Her underwear had been the source of fantasies while I’d been gone, thinking about her gorgeous ass with nothing but a tiny scrap of lace between her cheeks. It was a hell of an image, but she looked better with nothing on. I pulled at the fabric, ripping the sides open, then slid the satin out from between her legs and dropped it beside us.
I opened my fly, releasing my erection, which strained towards her. Closing the distance between us, my cock brushed against her back. Pushing my leg between her thighs, I nudged her legs apart.
“Fuck. You’re so hot.” I was reverting to a caveman, running out of words and reduced to primal urges. I reached one hand forward, running my fingers through her wetness, and stroked myself in anticipation with my other hand.
“Eric,” she breathed, looking back at me. “Please.”
That was all I needed to hear. With one smooth motion, I filled her. We both sighed, and after a heartbeat, I began to move. My hips churned behind her, crashing against her soft curves as she pushed back against me. Our bodies moved together; finding the perfect rhythm. I was sweating and breathing heavily, when I felt her body start to tighten around me as I continued pushing into her fast and hard. I kept one hand on her hip holding her dress up and slid my other hand to her front and rubbed circles around her clit.
Sookie arched her back, crying out. “Ohmygod yes.”
I was so close. My balls pulled up and my chest tightened as her muscles started to pulse around me. I began pulling out to the tip, then burying myself to the hilt. It only took seconds, and as I felt the final ripple of her orgasm, I drove into her, shooting my release with a growl.
Wrapping my arms around her, she straightened, and we stood together, panting. I lightly kissed the back of her neck and shoulder, waiting for my pulse rate to return to normal.
She tilted her head, giving me more access to her neck, then reached back, putting a hand on my hip. “Eric,” she laughed. “I need to lie down. My legs are like jelly.”
I chuckled. “Give me a second, I don’t think I can move yet, but I’ve got you. I won’t let you fall.”
“That was…I don’t think there’s a word for what that was,” she said as she squeezed my hip. I think it was the only thing she was capable of at that point.
“That was fanfuckingtastic.”
She giggled. “That about covers it.”
I felt like my senses had returned enough to move us. I hitched my pants up enough to walk, and kept an arm around her waist as we took a few steps to the bed. I undid the short zipper at her waist and looked at the crisscrossed halter top of the dress. “I have no idea how to get you out of this dress, bird.”
Sookie smirked, her eyes laughing at me, and reached up to her shoulders, lifting the straps over her head, then stepped out of the dress. She watched as I kicked off my shoes and let my pants fall to the floor.
“We don’t need to go out there yet, do we?”
God, I fucking loved her. “No, Sook. The party will go on all night.”
“Good. Then take your socks off and come here, I want to get you underneath me.”
“Using my words against me?” I raised an eyebrow at her. “That’s pretty fucking ninja, Sookie.”
She climbed up the bed, her amazing ass wiggling as she crawled. “My husband’s a Recon Marine, he taught me to be sneaky.”
“You are so full of shit,” I laughed, she’d been sneaky before we ever started dating.
“But you love me, now get up here, Marine.”
“Yes Ma’am,” I said as I climbed up and stretched out next to her.
When we finally made it out down the hall to the party in Victor’s room, it was in full swing. Like us, everyone had changed into casual clothes and looked much more relaxed. People were handing Eric drinks and shots and others were shouting at him, “Happy Birthday, Marine!” or “Get some!” Marines were drinking like it was going out of style, doing shots, guzzling beer from bongs and stabbing cans with pens to shotgun them. I felt like I’d stepped into the movie Animal House.
I must have looked a little overwhelmed, because Soph came to my rescue.
“Sookie! Let’s go make a drink in our room while these animals ply your husband with liquor.”
She led me down the hall to their room and I snickered at the hastily made bed. No wonder they were partying in a single Marine’s room, all the married guys had gotten laid before they joined the party.
“Okay, so remember the party after you guys got married?”
“That was minor league compared to this. Everyone is going to get shitty drunk and you’re probably going to have to drive home tomorrow. Oh, and they’re going to tell a million stories, smoke cigars and try to practical joke each other.”
“Nice. So it will be a long night?”
“Yes,” she laughed.
We joined the party down the hall and I was transported in my mind back to Tulane. Eric was in a group of guys playing quarter bounce. He looked up at me and winked. He was a master at that game; he had been since before we started dating.
The hotel was really cool about the partying. It was noisy, as only a group of drunk Marine’s could be, and there were people spilling out of hotel rooms into the hallways. Soph and I chatted with a few other wives for a while, many of them telling me how much their husbands would miss Eric. It was sweet, and reaffirmed what an all around great guy he was to everyone. I was under no illusions. I was lucky to have him for a husband.
The room next door seemed to erupt in laughter and cheers, and the crowd headed over there to see what was going on. I was expecting to find someone chugging some kind of alcohol, but instead I saw three guys in a race to eat bread. Before I could ask someone what was going on, I felt Eric’s hands on my hips and his chin on top of my head.
He kissed my hair, then leaned down to talk quietly in my ear. “Those idiots are trying to eat two pieces of bread in one minute without drinking anything.”
“Oh. Is that hard?”
“Yeah. It can be done, but it’s not easy.”
“It certainly doesn’t look fun,” I said as I watched the three men chewing, their faces turning red. People were cheering them on and laughing at them as Eric placed a soft kiss on my neck. Time ran out and only one person had successfully eaten his bread. Guys were patting him on the back and cursing at the other two. It was like a scene from a playground, or a frat house, and I couldn’t help but laugh.
We stepped back into the hallway and Eric wrapped me in his arms holding me tight. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else. You okay?”
“I’m good.” He sighed. “I kind of can’t believe it’s over.”
“Hey, there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine.”
“No,” he laughed, “There’s not.”
I smoothed the hair on his forehead. I wasn’t sure how much he’d been drinking since I’d been gone with Soph for a while, but he seemed relatively sober. “You need a drink?”
“Yeah, I’ll go make us some. I saw some moonshine in there, so don’t take a drink from anyone but me or Cal and Soph.”
“Hey, you don’t have to behave because I’m here.”
He wrinkled his brow. “Sook, I’m fine. Merlotte’s last month wasn’t the norm for me. If I wanted to,” he looked over his shoulder at a staggering Marine, “I’d be like him. I’m exactly where I want to be, doing exactly what I want to do.” He leaned forward and kissed me slowly, sweetly, amazingly.
Someone yelled, “Get some!” as they walked past us in the hall and then I heard Soph’s laughter coming from nearby.
“Aren’t they sweet?” she teased.
“They’re fucking ridiculous. Newlyweds,” Cal grumbled.
Eric ended the kiss, and then turned his head just enough to whisper in my ear, “I love you, bird.”
I squeezed him in response and then turned towards Call and Soph.
“You’re an asshole, you know that?” Eric was smiling, as he teased Cal.
“I’ve been an asshole as long as you’ve known me jackass.”
“That is true.” Eric laughed. “Need a drink?”
“I do. Thanks. Will you put a little umbrella in it?”
“We’ll be on the balcony.”
Eric went to freshen up our drinks while Cal, Soph and I wandered back to Victor’s room and went out to the balcony. The night was clear, and the stars reminded me of sitting worlds apart from Eric, looking at the night sky.
I was distracted, daydreaming about Eric finally coming home to live with me in Bon Temps, when I realized Cal was talking to me.
“Sounds like he’s paying Twining’s brother to drive his stuff to your place. He’s got a big truck, and you know Eric, he’ll have to drive the ‘Vette himself.”
“Oh yeah. He told me he was driving it.” I chuckled.
“Eric’s not the best at keeping in touch,” he started.
“We’ve got it covered.” I smiled, glancing at Soph. She and I had become good friends, we talked often on the phone and emailed back and forth.
“Good. Well, be sure to come visit us when Eric comes out to check on the bar.” He was quiet for a minute.
“Of course.” I hadn’t really thought about how hard this would be for him. Eric was his best friend. They had been through hell together, and undoubtedly, Cal would have to go back without him. Soph leaned her head on his shoulder and I saw Cal relax.
I heard Eric in the other room and saw him walking towards us, talking over his shoulder to someone, “Because I’m older and wiser, and I’ll wake up in bed with my gorgeous wife tomorrow, while you wake up on the floor in the head.”
Eric came through the door. There was laughter and jeering from the room, and he pulled the sliding door closed behind him. How he had managed to navigate his way through the other room carrying four drinks was beyond me.
“Ah, peace and quiet,” Cal said quietly.
“Remember when we laughed at the guys out here on the balcony with their wives?” Eric had an arm around me. He was smiling at his friend.
“Yeah. We were young and dumb,” Cal laughed.
“Oh honey,” Soph said sweetly, “You’re still dumb.”
We all laughed and then it grew quiet. I knew that this was an important moment between Eric and Cal, and I felt like maybe Soph and I should give them a minute alone.
Eric must have sensed the shift in my muscles. Before I could actually take a step, his arm tightened and he leaned down brushing his lips over my hair. “Don’t go, Sook. Just, stay.”
I nodded, and moved so I was standing in front of Eric, his body warm along the length of my back. He and Cal made small talk, or that’s what it would have sounded like to anyone that came out to join us. Soph and I glanced at each other and smiled, understanding in our eyes. The reality was that these two men were acting like nothing had changed, like Eric wasn’t leaving, and it was a bizarre man code indication that they were okay and their friendship was still strong.
Cal handed Eric a cigar, telling him one of Victors uncles had smuggled them from Cuba. They puffed at them, and I closed my eyes for a second, relaxing against Eric. I giggled a little when Eric coughed, clearly he wasn’t used to smoking. Soph told us about a charity event she was helping with to send care packages to deployed Marines who didn’t have family. We all laughed, making a list of things that they would want.
When our drinks were finished, we moved back into the room to spend time with their other friends. The guys were funny, and several confessed undying love for my husband. Time flowed by us, as people laughed and talked, drinking games were played, and Marine’s insisted on dropping their pants to moon each other.
I sipped my gin and tonic and took everything in. I could tell that Eric trying to stretch out his time with everyone. I knew he was ready to move on, but being ready and actually closing the door were different. He was in a group of guys telling a story with Twinings. They were talking about blowing something up, and I wondered just how a person could adjust to regular life after doing such spectacular things and seeing war. I blinked away tears, still amazed that Eric had chosen me over his life of adventure.
Eventually, the party thinned out and Eric took my hand, leading me into the hallway; Cal and Soph were right behind us. We told them goodnight and as Eric put the keycard in the door, Cal called out from their door down the hall.
“Thor, breakfast at 0900?”
“You’re on, Wolfman.”