Leap of Faith
Chapter 12: Ursa Major
Grabbing the ugly afghan off the couch, I stepped back outside, taking Sookie’s hand to lead her over to the swing. I wanted to look at the stars with her and pick out constellations. Charles Twinings was a jackass, but he had taught me astronomy during long nights in the desert and I wanted to share it with her. It was something we could do together while we were apart, if that made any sense.
I was tossing the afghan on the swing when I felt resistance from Sookie’s arm. I knew she was tired, but I thought she’d enjoy looking at the sky with me so I gave her arm another tug and realized that she was firmly planted in her spot on the porch. What the hell? I glanced over my shoulder and she looked like a deer in the headlights, a deer that was about to be violently ill. What the…? Christ. I am an asshole. She was staring at the fucking swing like it was going to swallow her whole.
“Dumb ass,” I muttered to myself.
Slowly, I turned back to her and brought my hand up to her cheek. She leaned into me and seemed to focus her eyes on mine. I felt horrible. How could I have thought she would want to sit there? But if I brought it up, or apologized right now, it would make things worse.
I quietly told her what I had intended. “I just want to look at the stars with you. Where can we sit?”
She was working really hard to keep her shit together. She struggled, but whispered, “Anywhere else.”
“Let’s go sit on the bench out back.”
A total change of scenery was in order. Putting my arm around her waist, we walked behind the house and sat on the bench near Gran’s vegetable garden. Settling down, I pulled her back against my chest. She still seemed a little dazed. I hoped that holding her would help her relax. After a few seconds, she exhaled loudly and nuzzled against me.
“I’m sorry I freaked out. The stars are beautiful.”
“It’s okay.” It was my fault, but I knew she didn’t want to talk about it. I pointed at the stars to the north. “Do you see over there?”
“It’s the big dipper.”
“Right. Follow that line from the tip of the dipper over here; do you see two more stars in a line?”
“No, um, wait! Okay, yeah!”
“Okay. So what you’re looking at is the backbone of Ursa Major. The end of the handle is his nose and that second star off the tip of the dipper is his butt.”
She giggled and I helped her find the rest of the stars that made up the constellation.
“That is so cool! It really looks like a bear! Where did you learn that?”
“Twinings taught me, well, he taught a bunch of us. He has his own little astronomy class in the desert. He said the stars were the only thing that he and his dad could talk about without fighting.”
“Wow,” she laughed. “You must have been really bored.”
I laughed too. “Yeah. I’ve had a lot of late nights with nothing to do in the dark.”
“It’s great though. I mean, you always liked looking at the stars, but you could hardly find the Big Dipper before.”
“I know, right?”
We sat looking at the sky in silence for a while.
“This is nice,” she sighed.
“Sook, I wanted to do this with you, check out the stars, because it’s something I do when I’m gone, you know? So if you come out here by yourself, you’ll know I’m probably doing the same thing. Well, maybe not at the same time because of the time difference, but you know.”
She turned and put her arms around me. “Thank you. For thinking about how hard it’s going to be for me. This is a cool idea.”
I think one of the guys in my unit had seen it in a movie, a soldier telling his girl that they were looking at the stars at the same time. Logistically it was a little off, but it was comforting to think that the people you cared about were looking at the same stars and sky even if they were halfway around the world.
“Show me something else,” she said excitedly.
Looking into the sky, I got my bearings. “Okay. Look at Ursa Major again and find the toe of his back foot. Got it? Follow my finger down here to the brighter star.”
“I think I see it. What is it?”
“That’s Regulus, it marks one of the feet in Leo.”
We laughed as she struggled to find some of the stars I was pointing to. It was easier for me because I had been practicing. She was really yawning by the time I finished showing her the rest of the stars that made up the outline of a lion.
“Do you want to go in?”
“No. I want to stay out here with you looking at the stars.”
“Bird, you can hardly keep your eyes open.”
Pulling the afghan up around her shoulders, she leaned against my chest and looked upward. “You’ll carry me in when I fall asleep. I want you to talk to me about the stars. Just tell me what you see.”
So I did just that.
I woke in the morning to the familiar feeling of a large God wrapped around my body. I was naked save for my thong and it took me a minute to remember coming to bed last night. We had sat outside, looking at the stars until I fell asleep, then Eric had carried me in. Leaning over the edge of the bed I saw my clothes in a messy heap on the floor where I had groggily tossed them.
I heard a rumble from behind me as I moved back into his embrace. He rubbed his nose in my hair an sighed.
“Go back to sleep.”
“Aren’t you getting up to go to the gym or something?”
“No. Go back to sleep.”
“Really?” I flipped over to face him. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t getting up. Eric was not a sleeping in kind of guy.
He opened one eye and squinted at me. “I am not going to the gym, because I am planning on using your body as my exercise equipment today, making love until we pass out from exhaustion.”
Holy shit. What was I supposed to say to that? All I could come up with was, “Oh.”
He opened his other eye. “Oh?”
I put my arms around him. What the Hell. He was leaving soon. I had said that I didn’t want to spend all of the remaining time together with his dick, but it didn’t mean I didn’t want to spend a lot of time with it! If we spent a day or two in bed, it was fine by me. Leaning forward, I gave him a soft kiss.
“Then you’re right. I should go back to sleep.” Closing my eyes I snuggled against his chest. I probably wasn’t going to be able to fall asleep, but I figured I would try.
“Son of a bitch,” he muttered. I guess that wasn’t the answer he expected from me. I felt a kiss on top of my head and he gave me a squeeze. “I fucking love you.”
The next time I woke up, I heard a moan and then realized as I stretched that I was shoving my nipple farther into Eric’s mouth as I arched my back.
“Oh my God!”
He laughed; his body was camped out between my legs and he was paying special attention to one of my breasts. We spent the day in bed sexercising and it was amazing, earth shattering, multiorgasmic, and everything in between. I rummaged in the kitchen at one point, returning to the bedroom with peanut butter sandwiches and a pitcher of sweet tea. Eric had laughed at that, but he still ate his fair share of the snack.
We had done things in bed that we had never tried before and we’d done some old standbys repeatedly. I was sore in places that I didn’t realize could get sore. Glancing at Eric sleeping like a dead man, I felt a rush of desire even though I was exhausted. In such a short time he had wrapped himself back around my heart. I tucked myself against him and put my hand on his chest, listening to him breathe. I fell asleep thanking the lord for second chances.
In the late afternoon I woke up to the sounds of my cell phone ringing, but had no idea where it was, so it went to voice mail. Sitting up to get a drink of tea, my muscles ached everywhere. I was startled by the loud sound of Eric’s phone. It made me jump and I spilled a little tea on my stomach, which made me twitch again and giggle.
Eric woke, rolling to face me with a groan of his own. Sitting up, he paused to lick the tea off my stomach as I swatted him away. He grabbed my drink for a sip and flopped back next to me against the head board. He rubbed his hands over his hair to wake up and looked around the room.
“Do you know where my phone is? That’s what I just heard, right?”
“It was both of our phones, mine first, then yours. I haven’t looked for mine yet, and I have no idea where yours is, but based on the ring volume, they’re in here somewhere.”
He stood, giving me a fabulous view of his ass, and rummaged in his pile of clothes for his phone. Shaking his head, he dug around in my clothes, coming up with my phone, but not his. He handed it to me, still completely unfazed by his own nudity, and wandered towards the closet where his rucksack had ended up.
“Ah ha!” He pulled his phone out of his tennis shoe and climbed back into the bed.
We opened our phones, “Who called you?”
“Hoyt,” he said.
“He called me too.”
Eric grinned. “His momma’s having a shrimp boil.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Wanna bet? Why else would he call both of us?” He flipped his phone open and called Hoyt back. Sure enough, his momma was cooking up a storm and Hoyt invited us to come over in a couple of hours. Mrs. Fortenberry was a nosy old biddy, but in small towns that didn’t make a difference. She would do anything she could to help other local folks out. She might complain under her breath the whole time that they were sinners and going to hell, but she would help out. Plus she was one of the best cooks in the Parish. There was no question; we were heading over there for dinner.
Setting down my phone and glass of tea, I turned towards Eric and snuggled against his chest.
“You okay? You seem quiet.”
“I’m exhausted and my body hurts in places that I didn’t think possible.”
Putting his arms around me he sighed. “Shit Bird, I’m sorry.”
I laughed. “Don’t you dare apologize! This is the best kind of ache, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
“Oh really?” He lifted his eyebrow.
“Well, not this heartbeat.” I laughed again.
“What would you say to a hot bath?”
“Ooh. That sounds good. I would love a bath.”
“Alright then, I’ll be back.”
He got up with smooth movements that I was jealous of and disappeared down the hall. I heard the water running and sighed. It would take a few minutes for the tub to fill but I wasn’t going to be moving too fast, so I turned and sat on the edge of the bed. Arching my back to stretch, I felt the bed shift and Eric was behind me, his arms circling my waist.
“You are a sight to behold, lover.”
“Mmm. You’re not so bad yourself, big guy.”
“Come on. Let’s go soak.” He pulled me across the bed and I giggled. Then he lifted me up and carried me into the bathroom.
The water was almost too hot, but I knew that it would cool off quickly, so I stepped in with a cringe. I was a little surprised when he climbed into the tub behind me. We had never taken a bath together before. Smiling, I leaned against him and relaxed. Picking up a sponge and some bath gel from the rack next to the tub, he lathered the sponge and then began slowly rubbing it on my skin.
I must have fallen asleep again. I don’t know how much later it was when I heard Eric’s voice whispering near my ear. “Sook, we need to get moving if you want to do your hair before we go.”
Eric laughed quietly right next to my ear, and I felt his chest moving. He pulled the plug out of the drain with his toes and put his hands under my arms as he pulled me up to stand with him. He wrapped me in a towel and turned me around for a kiss.
“I’m going to go get changed and make coffee. Go wash your hair and get ready. Okay? I’ll bring you some coffee when it’s ready.”
I nodded and watched him grab his own towel to dry off. I felt the corner of my mouth lift, smirking as he left the room. He was easy on the eyes, that was for sure, but really I was smiling because he knew me so well. I needed coffee badly and he wasn’t being bossy when he told me what to do, it was more of a necessary reminder. He knew that without it, I would wander into my room in a haze and sit on the bed wasting time trying to remember what I should be doing.
A little while later I was bent over, blowing some volume into my hair, the smell of coffee was getting closer and closer. Eric’s bare feet came into view so I turned off the hair dryer and stood up. He was leaning against the door frame, holding a mug of coffee, dressed in jeans and a tank top.
Grinning, I walked over and took the coffee from his hand. Taking a long sip, I met his eyes over the rim. He raised an eyebrow at me, asking the unspoken question of how much longer I would be. We’d had this interaction a million times before.
He kissed my forehead. “I’ll be on the porch.”
There was no point in dressing up; eating at a shrimp boil was messy business. I threw on jeans and a t-shirt with flip flops, grabbing a sweater for later as I headed outside to meet him. He was sitting on the stairs and I wondered if he had chosen that spot on purpose, so I wouldn’t find him on the swing that caused my minor freak out the night before. He turned and smiled as I opened the door, then he stood to take my hand.
“Yup.” I nodded and we started walking to the car. About halfway across the yard I stopped.
“I just realized that at some point I’m going to have to rent a car or make it back to Atlanta to get mine.”
He laughed and pulled me behind him. “We’ll figure it out. We can pick your car up on the way or you can fly back to Atlanta from the beach to get your car.”
“Hey, we can stop over at my apartment. I hadn’t thought of that. But that’s a good idea. Maybe I’ll fly back there from the beach.”
“I’d like to see your apartment. And you know, you can always drive the ‘Vette back here and go to Atlanta when you need to.”
My feet stopped again. “Did you just say I could drive the ‘Vette?”
Picking me up, he put me over his shoulder, and carried me to the car. I laughed and slapped his ass. He’d been carrying me a lot over the last couple of days.
“Of course you can. Just don’t let anyone else drive her. Not even Pam, no matter how much she begs.”
Hoyt’s momma could cook. I had been eating since Sookie and I got out of the car, and the main course was still boiling over the fire on the grill. There were twenty or thirty people milling about the yard talking while some of the old timers played horse shoes.
“Eric! Come ‘ere!” I heard Jason yell. Glancing at Sookie at the end of the table with Tara, she rolled her eyes at me. There was no telling what he was calling me over for.
I grabbed another soda and walked over to where Jason was standing with Terry Bellefleur and Hoyt.
“What’s up gentleman?”
“We’re wondering what the plan is. What’s going on with you and Sook?’
Seriously? These numbskulls were fishing for information about my relationship with Sookie? I sighed. I should have expected it really. They were so protective of her, and just because we were together now didn’t make them stop worrying about her, especially since they knew I was shipping out.
“Well boys, we’re heading for North Carolina this weekend and then we’ll go from there. I’m leaving in a week, and I’ll be gone for a year. So, I hope ya’ll will take good care of her while I’m gone.”
That’s all they were getting from me. Sookie didn’t know my plans for us yet, I sure as hell wasn’t telling these yahoos.
“Well, at least Sook knows you’re leaving this time going into things.” Jason grumbled.
“Is she moving back Eric? You know we’ll watch out for her if she’s here.” Hoyt chimed in and Terry nodded.
“She’s going to see about working for the Parish, maybe taking over Miss Jane Bodehouse’s job.”
The conversation drifted, the guys started talking about the Bon Temps high school basketball team, and I just let it all filter through my brain. It was good to be able to relax with these guys for once. I hadn’t realized it before, but everyone had always been a little on edge around me, afraid of mentioning Sookie I guess, or perhaps afraid I would ask about her.
Lafayette arrived talking loudly as he crossed the yard. He sat down with Sookie and Tara and I heard the three of them laughing almost immediately. The guys had moved on to talking about football and I joined them in reminiscing about the good old days. A little while later Jason was telling a story about getting a blow job from the cheerleading coach while riding the bus home from a football game when Hoyt’s momma yelled that dinner was on. Thank God. If I heard another of Jason’s sex stories I might have lost my appetite.
I grabbed two sodas out of the tub of ice and made my way towards Sookie. She was saying something to Tara and Lafayette, and I stopped to watch her. She was so animated and full of life. Slapping Lafayette on the arm, I heard her squeal and laugh, “Ooh! That’s disgusting!” I knew he’d twisted something she said into a perverted joke. People were making their way towards the food, which smelled delicious, but I was transfixed watching her. Leaving her was going to fucking kill me. She turned then, still talking, seeing me out of the corner of her eye and smiling, motioning for me to come over.
“And that was the last time that woman tried to pull one over on me.” She finished her story as I set our sodas on the table. I had no idea what she was talking about, but she laughed melodically at herself, and when she wrapped her arms around me I didn’t care. “Let’s get plates before Hoyt gets all of the good stuff.”
There was at least half of a picnic table layered with newspaper and covered in hot food straight out of the pot. Hoyt’s momma had outdone herself boiling up shrimp, corn on the cob, spicy Andouille sausage and crab legs for the lot of us. Everyone was piling food on their plate, and a few people had two plates, one for the salads and other sides and another for the main course.
We ate and talked making a mess with all of the finger foods. Hoyt’s neighbor brought out a tray of pineapple upside down cake and there were groans from a number of guests. The thought of putting another bite of food in my mouth was insane, but just like all of the other men who had groaned, there was no way I was passing up a slice of that cake. We finished eating and the crowd thinned out. Hoyt and the guys were heading to Merlotte’s for a beer because his momma wouldn’t allow alcohol on their property, and Sookie and I decided to head home.
We were both exhausted from our marathon sexercising. I knew that I wanted nothing more than to go home and collapse, and from the looks of it, she felt the same. I made our excuses and Lafayette teased us about going home to have sex, which got him in trouble with Hoyt’s momma, and we made it to the car before we began laughing. If Lafayette only knew what we had done earlier…he’d have been damn proud.
I can’t believe I’m posting this link from evil U of M, but it’s where I got the constellation information from. Effing nerds. GO STATE.