Pam was waiting for me in the lobby of the hotel when I arrived. She hadn’t changed much physically in the five years since I’d last seen her: still a knockout. She still kept her naturally platinum hair around her shoulder blades and her dark blue eyes sparkled with mischief. But they always did, whether she was plotting something or not.
“Sookie! Oh my God, look at you! You haven’t changed a bit!” she exclaimed as she wrapped me in a hug. “You look amazing! It looks like advertising and Shreveport agree with you. I’m sorry I don’t get to meet your man, but I’m so glad I get to spend some time with you before the party.”
“You look amazing too! I can’t wait to meet the man who was able to convince you to settle down,” I told her was we walked to the front desk to check me in.
She smiled. “Stan isn’t like anyone I had expected to meet. And just because we’re getting married doesn’t mean I’m settling down. I’ll just be doing my crazy thing with the same person from now on,” she rationalized. She took the garment bag holding my dress and followed me to the elevator to get to my room.
Once in the room, I unpacked my suitcase and toiletries as she sat on the bed watching. Once I had that mundane task completed, I hopped on the bed next to Pam. “I want you to tell me everything that’s happened over the past five years. I’ve missed you so much! Why’d you go so far away when there were so many opportunities here in New Orleans?” she asked into my shoulder as she hugged me again.
“Pam, you know why I had to get away. You know the reason as well as I do. I’m just glad you brought it up first,” I told her, straightening up.
*flashback – graduation*
I don’t think anyone was more relieved that LSU and Tulane had their graduation ceremonies on separate days than Pam and Eric’s parents. They didn’t have to split up and determine who got to see which twin graduate. Gran and Jason came to see me get my degree in communications and took me out afterward. They were so proud of me and I couldn’t help but bask in their pride. The following day, I rode with Pam and the Northmans to Baton Rouge to see Eric get his degree in Marketing. After he had walked, their parents took all of us back to New Orleans where they were hosting a huge joint graduation party for the twins.
It was a great party. Half the room was decorated in purple and gold for LSU; the other half in olive green and sky blue for Tulane (hey, I didn’t pick the school colors), and they spared no expense in making sure the meal was perfect and the bar was fully stocked. With so many people I didn’t know, I started to feel a little out-of-place, and wanted to catch my breath outside. Eric kissed my cheek and gave me his blazer against the slight chill of the evening air.
I sat outside the reception hall and breathed in the fragrant air from the rose garden. It was the perfect time of year, where the humidity of the day went away in the evening. I pulled Eric’s blazer tighter around me as I walked the little path through the flowers. I leaned over to smell a particularly pretty multi-hued rose and heard music coming from the inside pocket of the blazer. I reached in and pulled out Eric’s phone.
I knew he had a personalized ring tones for everyone. He had been so excited when he got a phone that played actual music. He let me pick out my song. Whenever I called or texted him, his phone would play “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. Pam, on the other hand, had given herself “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks, which never failed to make Eric laugh. I knew this song. It was by All American Rejects and the name on the call ID was “Dawn”.
I knew I shouldn’t have done it. It was a total invasion of privacy. But without hesitation, I flipped open the phone to read the message.
“The fucking test was positive. I’m not ready for a kid. Get your ass over here now.”
What. The. Fuck? I read the first five words over and over. Thank God I was standing by a bench because my knees folded under me as I continued staring at the little screen. I didn’t know how to deal with the myriad of information that was flooding my brain with those seventeen words.
I don’t know how long I ended up sitting there staring before Eric came looking for me. “Hey, baby,” he said with his trademark grin. I just looked up at him. “Uh, what’s wrong?” he asked, seeing my expression. Still silent, I held the phone out to him. He took it with a confused smile, which dissolved as soon as he read the message. “Sookie, I can explain.”
My voice returned. “You can fucking explain? You can explain why Dawn is texting you about a positive pregnancy test? This should be good. Let’s hear it,” I demanded, my arms crossed over my chest.
“I got drunk. It was just one time, I swear. I just missed you and…”
I laughed bitterly. “I don’t buy that shit for a second, Eric. First, you obviously know her well enough for her to have her own ring tone, which, by the way, is what got me to open the phone. Really? “Dirty Little Secret”? Fuck, what the hell?” I was having a hard time keeping my tears at bay, but I was pissed.
“Sookie, you know we never agreed to be exclusive…”
Oh, he was not going to pull that shit with me. “We never agreed? So is that why I’ve been turning down offers left and right? We never talked about it specifically, but you know damn well it was implied.”
He was starting to get mad now, which was pretty fucking funny, in my opinion. “Hey, I made a mistake. It happens. I’m sorry!”
“No, you’re just sorry I found out. There’s a difference. Hope you and Dawn are happy together with your baby,” I said before throwing his blazer at him and storming out.
I headed blindly toward the exit. I felt Eric grab my shoulder to stop me, but the expression on my face convinced him to let me go. Pam saw the exchange and started to follow me out. “Sookie, what’s wrong?”
“Ask your brother. I’m going home,” I choked out before heading to the parking lot to call a cab to take me back to my apartment.
I had said home, knowing she would take it as our apartment. I had meant Bon Temps. Jason was still in town with his truck and I called him. He came over and helped me hurriedly pack my things. I had told him when he got there why I was so upset. It took some convincing to keep him from hunting Eric down and kicking his ass, but I was able to get him to help me with my needs first. All I wanted was to get back to Gran’s house, curl up on the porch swing in my ugly old afghan, and bawl my eyes out.
Before getting into Jason’s truck, I left Pam a note, thanking her for her years of friendship, but that I couldn’t be around Eric. It was cowardly, I knew. For months, I deleted every voice mail he left me without listening to it and every text without reading. Finally they stopped coming. I started checking with ad agencies in Shreveport so I could start working and put my degree to some use.
I finally found the courage to talk to Pam about the break-up. “So did you end up having a niece or nephew?” I asked quietly.
“You never listened to any of the messages he sent you, did you?” she asked, just as quietly.
“I couldn’t, Pam. He ripped my heart out by cheating on me. The pregnancy was just the salt in the wound.”
“She ended up having a miscarriage about a month after you left. He took care of her medical bills, then I’m pretty sure he forgot she existed. It took a long time before even I would forgive him for what he did to you.”
“Aww, hon, I didn’t want to get between you guys.”
“Sookie, he’s my brother. More than that, he’s my twin. I know him better than anyone. I am also the only person completely capable of calling him on his bullshit and able to tell without a doubt when he’s lying. After I started talking to him again, he did end up telling me a few things.”
I looked at her. “It’s in the past. It shouldn’t matter.”
She cocked her eyebrow, looking so much like Eric at that moment, it was a little scary. “It shouldn’t, but it does.”
I sighed, knowing she was determined to tell me whatever it was that she felt I needed to know. “Okay, so tell me.”
“He told me that she wasn’t the only one. He tried to be faithful to you, and he was for longer than I expected. But after junior year started, his ‘fan base’ grew. You used to tease him about his groupies? A few times they offered more than he was able to resist. He was always safe with the exception of the one time with Dawn. He was with her a few times, but only one time when he drunk, he decided to throw caution to the wind.”
“Damn, Pam, why tell me all of this now? Knowing I’m going to have to see him this weekend?”
She looked me straight in the eye. “Because Eric is a dumb shit. Despite not being able to keep it in his pants, he really did care for you. A lot. When Dawn had the miscarriage, he wanted to get back with you. Only his size kept me from beating the shit out of him for even thinking it was possible. He spent months before that damn dance talking to me, trying to convince me that he was capable of a relationship. I just wanted you to know… I didn’t know anything while it was going on.”
I put my arm around her and laid my head on her shoulder. “I never thought you did, sweetie. But listen, I’m exhausted from work and driving today. Are you booked up for tomorrow with party prep stuff?
“Nope. I cleared my schedule earlier when you called to tell me you were on your way here tonight. It’s been five freaking years, Sook. No way am I letting that kind of time go by again.”
I smiled. “Then, how about let me get some sleep and we can go on a shopping binge tomorrow? Maybe a little spa action? Now that I actually have money, it’ll be more fun than it was back in college.” That was an understatement. Going shopping with her when we were roommates sucked because I was always broke. I wasn’t anymore though.
She agreed and left to let me change and set some sleep. It didn’t come easily. All I could do was replay the lie that was my only real relationship in college. The man that I had stayed faithful to for almost three years hadn’t done the same. Sure, maybe he did for a little while. But his own sister had told me that he had cheated several times in the last two years that he and I had been together.
We never had the “relationship” talk the entire time we were together. We never spelled out how we really felt about each other. But I can look back and say honestly that I had been in love with him. I was committed to him. He couldn’t have hurt me the way he did if I hadn’t. And, although I never told him and nothing anyone could have offered me could have convinced me to say it out loud to anyone, I felt like I would have married him one day.
That graduation day was a great big eye opener and a big hit to my psyche. It took a long time for me to even attempt another relationship. So now, I was living with a man that I wasn’t crazy about, just waiting for something better to come along.
I really didn’t know what I was going to do when I saw Eric again. It did me no good to replay everything over and over in my head. I found an old, cheesy movie on TV that would distract me from my thoughts, but not to the point where I would be tempted to stay awake to watch it. It must have worked, because the next thing I remembered was Pam calling me to see if I was ready yet. I told her I wasn’t, but if she wanted, should could come up and wait for me in my room. I called the front desk and asked them to provide Pam with a key and I jumped in the shower.
The first thing I noticed when I got out was the smell of coffee. Pam was officially a goddess. I wrapped a towel around my wet hair and another around my body as I followed the scent. Pam was sitting on my bed with two huge Starbucks cups. “White Chocolate Mocha or Vanilla Latte?” she asked.
“Silly girl, how long did we live together and you have to ask?” I laughed and lunged for the mocha. I took the first fortifying sip and felt the warmth spread through my insides. “That is so good. Thanks.” I put the cup on the dresser while I pulled out my clothes. “Since we’re going to do the spa thing later, it’ll only take me a minute to get ready,” I told her. She just watched me and smiled, still familiar with my routine.
After pulling on jeans and a white button down shirt with a black tank top underneath, I put my hair in a messy bun and threw on some light makeup. I grabbed my sunglasses, my purse, and Pam’s arm and we were off.
We hit some of the nicer shops before heading to lunch in Jackson Square. There was a little Cajun restaurant there that we had discovered one weekend that Pam, Eric, and I had played tourist. From there, we went for facials, manicure and pedicures at Pam’s favorite day spa. It was a benefit of hitting the town with a native of means. If there wasn’t an opening, one was made available. We sat next to each other with our feet in tiny hot tubs at the foot of our chairs, our hands covered in paraffin wax in plastic bags and our mouths running a mile a minute.
She told me about Stan, telling me that she was the last person who thought that she’d be interested in a guy like him. He was only slightly taller than her, with black hair and dark brown eyes with a fair complexion. Hmm, considering she used to go for blonds with blue eyes, tans, and boobs, he was completely against type. Maybe that was what it took. He was on the geeky side, with black horn rim glasses, but she liked the “adorkable” parts of him and the fact that he made her laugh like no one before, and was head over heels in love with him. I was happy for her, if a little envious.
After we were deemed beautiful, we headed back to the hotel. I showed Pam my dress for her party and she smirked. She opened her mouth and I shook my head, really not wanting to know what she was going to say. I had a feeling I knew where she was going to go and I had no desire to travel in that direction. I was not going to think about the subconscious reason I had picked that particular dress.
We headed down to the hotel bar for drinks while we continued to catch up. I remembered why Pam and I had been such good friends and roommates and decided then and there that there was no way I was going to let another five years go by before we visited again. I drank my gin and tonic while she sipped a Bloody Mary and continued talking about everything. How she met Stan and how I met Bill. How we were living together, but that it wasn’t going to go beyond that. I liked Bill. Really, I did. But he just didn’t make my heart stutter like I knew it should, especially when you were living with someone, the presumable step before marriage.
“Why are you still with him, then, Sookie?” Pam asked seriously, as we got another refill on our drinks. “Have you had a serious relationship with anyone else since you and Eric broke up?”
“No. But that has nothing to do with it. This is nice. It’s comfortable. But it’s not passionate. And maybe passion is fucking overrated,” I replied vehemently. Maybe I was on my third… or possibly fourth… gin and tonic. “Not everybody gets passion. Passion tends to burn out and run its course. Comfort and companionship is better.” I nodded to emphasize my point.
“Ease and someone to spend time with is good, I’ll agree with you there. But if you take out the passion, do you know what you have? A fucking roommate. Someone you share a dwelling with and split the bills with. Sure, you have sex occasionally and sleep in the same bed, but still. And that’s what you have with this Bill guy. He’s a roommate with sex privileges,” Pam slurred, poking me in the shoulder. Maybe she’d a few more Bloody Marys than I had thought.
“So, what? I should just dump him?”
“You’ve been together for over a year now. If it was going to happen, it would have by now. You and Eric had passion.” She rolled her eyes at my hurt expression. “You did, Sook. I know he broke your heart, but he couldn’t have if you guys hadn’t had that hotness to begin with. When have you ever had that with anyone else, before or after?”
“I never got a chance to fucking find out! I wasted two and a half Goddamn years on your fucking brother, all the while he was sticking his cock in any warm, wet hole he could find! Who knows what I could have found if I hadn’t thought we were committed to each other and gone on my merry way fucking everyone who wanted me, like he did?” I knew I shouldn’t have ordered that last drink. Alcohol made me too damn honest.
“All you would have found is a need for antibiotics. I remember the skeevy guys that used to hit on you. Eric was a hell of a lot better than any of them!”
I raised my eyebrow. “I thought you were on my side here!”
Pam closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths, then looked at me. “I am, Sookie,” she said calmly,if still slurred. “But you’re looking at the wrong person if you want someone to vilify your whole relationship. I was there from beginning to end. I saw how he looked at you when he brought you home from that fucking dance. He wanted to make things work with you. When we had winter break, all he would talk about was you. I hadn’t seen him like that before. He’d never had a serious girlfriend before and he wasn’t used to acting that way. He had no impulse control when it came to what he wanted. Am I saying it was right? Absolutely not. Am I saying he should have been forgiven? Fuck no. Am I saying that he was a moron that probably ruined the best thing he ever had because he couldn’t keep a leash on his dick? Abso-fucking-lutely. But chemistry and passion was something you guys had in spades. Because the walls in our apartment weren’t soundproof. I heard the evidence whenever he spent the weekend with us. It wasn’t the passion that ruined your relationship; it was my fucking brother’s brain sliding below his belt too often. Don’t waste your best years on something comfortable because it doesn’t have the ability to hurt you if it ends. You deserve better than that.”
With that, and honestly nothing to say in response, I finished my drink, said good night to Pam, and weaved my way back to my room. She had given me a lot to think about. Unfortunately, thinking about anything with that much gin in my system was no easy feat, especially after I changed into my pajamas and flopped onto the bed. I had a few short minutes to think about all she had said before I passed out.
I woke up the next morning feeling the Gin Band banging away inside my skull. I dug a bottle of Tylenol out of my purse and grabbed a bottle of water from the minibar. I ordered a breakfast from room service, knowing that coffee and food would be as good a hangover cure as I’d be able to find. Once the cart with my French toast, bacon, and a huge carafe of black gold with a sugar bowl and tiny pitcher of cream was delivered, I sat at the table by the window to eat and look down and the waking French Quarter.
Once I had food and caffeine in my system, it was easier to look forward to the day and get motivated to do what I needed to do. I called Bill to say good morning, but only got his voice mail. I wasn’t surprised since I knew he would be working on the computers at the office all weekend. I knew that we weren’t going to last much longer. Pam had spoken truth that I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by staying in a ho-hum relationship.
I called the salon in the lobby of the hotel to confirm my hair appointment. My hair styles were either down and loose or some variation of a ponytail. Neither were suitable for a black tie function, and, though I would never admit it, I wanted to look fabulous for more than just my own self esteem.
I knew Pam would be busy today, getting ready for the night. I really was looking forward to meeting Stan and seeing them together. I was also looking forward to seeing her parents. Although I had been lower on the social ladder than them while Pam and I lived together, they had always been nice to me and treated me as part of the family, even before Eric and I had gotten together.
I got my dress out and made sure I didn’t have to steam any wrinkles out. I dressed in jeans and another button down shirt to go down to the salon, wearing my new shoes to break them in and scuff the soles just a little, for traction. I took the elevator to the lobby and made my way to the salon with my pretty headband.
I told the stylist what my dress looked like and the idea I had for my hair. I had a Greek goddess dress; I wanted hair to match the theme. After consulting some style books and a website or two, we decided on an updo of curls piled of the crown of my head held back with the headband and some tendrils loose around my face. I was extremely satisfied with the effect and headed back to my room to do my makeup.
I wanted dramatic but light makeup. I used a smokey pink eyeshadow and deep gray eyeliner to play up my eyes and went neutral on everything else. I put on earrings and a necklace that I had found that matched the beads in the headband. Checking the time, I had enough time to have a drink or two to calm my nerves and get my dress on before I called a cab to take me to the Northman house.
I pulled a couple of bottles of gin and tonic water from the minibar, not giving a damn what it was going to cost me, and mixed some liquid courage. I sipped and thought about how I would handle seeing Eric. It had been five years and I was really wondering how it would feel. I honestly didn’t know if I could handle all the feelings he was capable of bringing out in me, both good and bad.
Finally, after my two drinks, I slid on the pale pink thong and strapless bra that I had purchased specifically for this dress. I looked over myself critically in the mirror, trying to see any changes to my body in the past five years, and couldn’t find anything that I could notice. I knew I had changed, at least in some little way, but nothing I could pinpoint since I saw me every day. I decided to finish dressing after I called for a cab. I made the call, slipped my phone and a few essentials into the little clutch I would be carrying for the evening, and draped myself in the pink silk. The light color looked incredible against my early spring tan and with my hair style, I felt like a goddess come to life.
The cab took me to the address I had known well. The Northmans lived in the Garden District on what could only be called “an estate”. The cab made its way down the circular drive and let me off at the door. I paid my fare and walked up the stone stairs to the front door. The butler, Pierce, smiled in recognition. “Miss Stackhouse. It is lovely to see you again,” he said quietly in his slight Welch accent.
“It’s nice to see you again, also.”
“Everyone is in the ballroom. Have a wonderful evening,” he stated before closing the door behind me.
I headed down the hall. I had known they had a ballroom in the house, but I couldn’t remember ever seeing it. I decided to follow the music and sounds of people talking and knew I would eventually get to the right area.
I found the right room and walked in. It was magical. There were strings of glittering lights criss-crossing the high ceiling and every table was lit with candles, making shadows dance in the dimly lit room. I saw Pam in a pale sea-foam green dress and her hair cascading over her shoulders in ringlets. She was occupied with a few other people offering the couple their congratulations, but motioned that she would be with me in a moment.
I used the time to look over her fiancee. He was exactly as she described. He looked acutely uncomfortable in the tuxedo, but discomfort changed to adoration every time he looked at my former roommate. He was clearly in love, and, by the look on Pam’s face when she turned in his direction, so was she.
The other people moved on to mingle, giving me my opening to approach. “Pam, you look lovely tonight. And you must be Stan. I’m Sookie,” I said, greeting Pam with a hug and shaking Stan’s hand.
“So this is the old roommate. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard many stories, and I’m glad I can now put a face with the infamous name.” Oh, he was funny.
“Ah, now, Pam must have been exaggerating our adventures. We never did anything to cause infamy,” I bantered back lightly, while tossing teasing angry looks at Pam. She looked at the ceiling, faking a look of innocence, and corrupting it completely with a smirk.
We conversed back and forth easily and I found, to my surprise, that Stan complimented Pam perfectly and I was truly happy for her. I saw her parents and excused myself, not wanting to monopolize the guests of honor. I made my way to Gabriel and Ava to greet them.
Eric and Pam’s parents smiled widely when they saw me. I gave them both a warm hug and began to talk to them about their lives and mine for the past five years. I was laughing at one of Ava’s anecdotes about Gabriel’s retirement when a deep voice interrupted. “Sookie?”
I stopped my laughter and closed my eyes, taking a deep breath before I turned around. “Eric.”
He looked every bit as handsome as he did when we were together. I had known he would. Fate wouldn’t be kind enough to make him fat and/or bald. If anything, the maturity on his face and in his eyes made him even more alluring. Damn it. His hair was shorter than it had been in college, but that was the only real physical difference that I could immediately see. He wore his tuxedo with comfort and confidence. But his ice blue eyes looked only sad.
“I’m glad you were able to come tonight. I know Pam loves seeing you,” he said softly as his parents tactfully left us alone.
“I’ve missed her, too. We spent most of yesterday getting pampered, then blitzed in the hotel bar,” I quipped. I could handle small talk. Talking about the weather, the season the Saints were having, the changes in the city since I left… those were things I could deal with comfortably. Please, God, Krishna, Buddha, Allah, Zeus, let this stay easy.
“She’s not the only one who missed you,” he said sadly. Shit. Apparently, hastily made prayers are answered in the order in which they are received and mine was on hold for the next available deity. Shit.
I pulled him over to the edge of the room. “I’m not getting into this with you. Not here, and certainly not now. This is your sister’s moment, and I am here for her.”
“Don’t tell me you forgot what we had. When Pam told me she was inviting you, I couldn’t wait to see you. If you weren’t going to let seeing me keep you away.”
I huffed an impatient sigh. “Pam is one of the best friends I’ve ever had. This is a huge moment in her life. That is the only reason I’m here. But no, I haven’t forgotten what we had. I’ve been trying to forget for five years, but no luck.”
He looked hurt. “It wasn’t all bad, Sookie.”
I shrugged. “You’re right. But maybe the fact that you were fucking half the female population of LSU behind my back puts a tarnish on the good memories. I’m going to get back to the party. It’s been ni… it’s been, “I struggled to think of an accurate yet polite term and was unsuccessful. “I need to go, Eric,” I said, turning abruptly and heading back into the crowd. I couldn’t be that close to him and not remember how good we had been together. It was just too hard.
Gabriel and Ava swooped back in and took the opportunity to introduce me to some of their colleagues from northern Louisiana. I told them about the agency that I worked for, letting them know that I had specialized in public relations as well as advertising. It was black-tie networking, and I was good at it. But I could feel a pair of glacial eyes following me around the room.
The light music that had been playing while people came in and mingled around, eating little hors d’oeuvres being passed around on trays carried by unformed waiters, stopped. A well known cover band that played lots of current songs as well as oldies took the stage and set up. Pam shot me a happy grin. She and I had gone to see this band several times in college and the memories of our nights out made me smile as well.
She and Stan took the floor and the band started playing “In Your Eyes”, and doing a good job of it. It was clear watching them that Pam still had no coordination when it came to dancing, and it was a good thing that Stan had obviously taken lessons and was a strong leader. The adoration that flowed between them was beautiful to witness, and I was truly envious.
I was asked to dance by a few people I remembered from college that Pam had kept in touch with, as well as some of the connections Gabriel and Ava had introduced me to. I had been able to make my way back over to Pam and Stan again once the party was in full swing and got to know them as a couple better. To give Pam a breather, Stan asked me to dance when our conversation hit a lull. A few minutes into the song, Eric cut in. Stan stepped away so smoothly, I knew it had been planned and wondered if Pam had known. After our drunken confessional in the bar yesterday, she knew better than to have any hope for Eric and I to get back together.
“Sookie, don’t be mad. I asked Stan to get you on the floor so I could cut in.” I fucking knew it. “I wanted a chance to talk to you like I wanted to before. Please give me a chance to explain.”
By the angry look Pam was giving her fiancee, she’d definitely had no part in the plan. Knowing that he would follow me around until he’d had his say, I nodded to let him continue.
“I don’t know what Pam has told you, so I’m not sure where to start,” he said as we glided easily over the dance floor.
“You can start with the truth. Let’s try that novel idea for once,” I said, unable to hide the bitterness in my voice.
“I can tell she told you what I told her. I don’t have any excuse for my behavior except immaturity. You were the first girl that I had wanted that didn’t immediately want me back. I had to work to get your attention and that was… unusual.”
“Okay, so you were freaking Casa Nova until I came along. How does that excuse any of what you did?” I asked. I was genuinely curious.
“I already told you, I have no excuse. I was an idiot and possibly the stupidest thing I ever did was betray the woman I love for meaningless sex with girls I’ve already forgotten.”
Wait. Hold the freaking phones for just a minute. Present tense? “You what?” I asked. Stunned into immobility, I swayed to a stop on the dance floor. He led me off the floor.
“I was stupid. I didn’t realize that I was in love with you until you were gone. I still haven’t stopped loving you, even after all these years.”
“And you decide now is the time to make this kind of confession?”
He shrugged. “You never responded to any message I left. I had to wait until I saw you in person. I didn’t realize it was going to take five years, but there it is.” He looked at my astonished expression and gave me a small smile. “Can we get out of here and talk?”
My body, heart, and brain were going to have an all out war. My body wanted to say, “Screw the talking and fuck!”. My heart wanted me to run screaming for the hills, and my brain rationally wanted to hear what he had to say. Since my brain was the most logical, I sided with it. “Okay, where should we go?”
He led me out of the ballroom and down the halls to a staircase. This I remembered. We headed up to his old room and he closed the door behind him.
“I missed you so much, Sook,” he said as I sat at the desk in the corner. “There aren’t words enough for me to describe what it felt like when you left me.”
“Probably sightly better than finding out your boyfriend of over two years knocked up some girl while drunk at a frat party,” I mumbled. I could tell by his hurt expression that he had heard me clearly.
“Of all the stupid things I’ve done in my life, that is in the top two,” he admitted.
I cocked my head, confused. “What would be the other one?” I asked
He stepped forward and took my hand. “Not fighting for you harder. Not doing everything I was capable of to convince you to stay with me. Not having the ability to say ‘no’ when I had those girls throwing themselves at me. Not realizing how much you meant to me until I’d lost you.”
Wow. Find a girl that doesn’t melt even a tiny bit at an admission like that and I’ll freely admit she’s a stronger woman than I was. I was still stunned when he leaned in a kissed me softly. The feel of his soft lips on mine coaxed an immediate response and I couldn’t help but kiss him back before I pulled back and shook my head. “No, Eric, I can’t do this.”
He brushed my lips with his again. “Why not? You know we were always good here,” he said, making me shiver just a little.
I steeled my will. “You broke me, Eric. I loved you and you fucking broke my heart. After everything I found out since talking to Pam, it wasn’t even a one-time thing. You cheated on me multiple times, apparently without a second thought because you didn’t think I’d find out. What am I supposed to do with that?”
He kept holding my hand. “I was a stupid kid who didn’t know what he had. I’m smarter now,and willing to fight for what I want and how to cherish it once I have it.”
My body was still reeling from the kiss and was slowing winning the fight with my brain. I had to get out before it took over. “I have to go, Eric. I just can’t do this.” I stood to leave and head back to the party.
He came up behind me and wrapped his arms around me. “Just one chance. That’s all I’m asking for. Let me prove to you how much I still love you,” he whispered into my ear as my body pinned my brain to the mat and took it out for the count.
I melted into his chest, weak-kneed. His lips left wet kisses along my neck and jaw before he turned me around to face him. With a finger under my chin, he tilted my chin up to face him. “What’s this?” he asked, brushing my cheeks with his thumbs.
I hadn’t even realized I was crying until I felt the wetness on my face. “I still feel broken. I don’t know if I can give you what you want,” I told him honestly.
“Just a chance. That’s all I want,” he whispered again and leaned in to kiss me. “You know I hate it when you cry, and even more so when I’m the cause of it.”
“Don’t make me cry again, Eric,” I pleaded as I returned his kisses. I clung to him as our mouths and tongues performed the well practiced dance from years ago. He still knew how to get me to respond to him and a little part of me hated him for being able to wear down my walls so quickly.
His hands relearned the lines of my body as mine did the same. His hands moved to my back and slowly lowered the zipper of my dress and slid the single strap down my arm. The silk dress flowed off my body to the floor and his blue eyes roamed my body in my tiny pieces of lingerie. “My God, you’re even more beautiful now. I was a stupid, stupid man.”
I worked on untying his tie and getting his shirt unbuttoned silently. My brain was waking up from the K.O. and I really wasn’t ready or willing to put to much thought into this. I got the shirt unbuttoned and got to see the perfection that was his toned chest. He had kept in shape since school ended and it looked good on him. Too good. I couldn’t keep my hands off him.
He unclasped my bra and it joined my dress on the floor. He cupped my breasts, filling his warm hands. “You still have the most beautiful breasts I have ever seen,” he said before leaning down to kiss, suck, and lick them enthusiastically. Between moans and sighs, I managed to get his pants off. He was actually wearing boxer briefs, something he had rarely done in college. I found I didn’t like having an extra layer to work through. But the underwear was suffering its own stress. He was well endowed and his excitement was obvious through the clingy fabric. I stroked him through the cloth, earning me some moans and sighs of my own.
He picked me up and laid me on the bed carefully. He slowly removed the boxers while I stared, longing to see if I had built him up in my memories. I hadn’t. He was just as long and thick as I remembered. I wiggled out of my panties and tossed them to the floor where the rest of my clothing lay in a pile.
With his icy eyes darkened by lust, he lowered his body over mine. “Let me love you,” he whispered in my ear between kisses on my neck. “Let me convince you that we’re meant to be together.” He kissed his way down my body until his head nestled between my thighs. “You were always so wet around me, Sookie. Let me see if you still taste like honey and sunshine,” he growled before running his tongue through my folds. I couldn’t help crying out as he went to work on me. He always knew how to get a response from me. He slipped two fingertips into my entrance and teased me with them while his lips and tongue worked my clit furiously. His free arm held down my hips to keep me from bucking him off. When he finally thrust his fingers fully into me and hit my g-spot, I came hard, yelling his name. I felt him smile against me as he stroked and licked me though my orgasm until I was able to see straight again.
“It can always be like this, Lover. Let me take care of you,” he said in a husky voice that gave me shivers as he kissed his way back up my body. He reached into the drawer of his nightstand and pulled out a condom. Seeing my confused expression as to why he would have protection in the nightstand of a room he no longer used, he gave me a sheepish grin. “I had hopes, that’s all.”
He slid the condom on and teased me with his tip. It had been a while for me and Bill was nowhere nearly as big as Eric was. He eased himself into me slowly and I wrapped my legs around his trim waist. Once he was in a deeply as he could go, he looked down at me and it was a little heartbreaking how much love I could see mingling with the lust in his eyes. I lifted my hips and he started moving. Our bodies were so in sync, as they always had been. He leaned down, kissing me often, continuing to slowly thrust in and out of me. ‘I love you,” he kept whispering between kisses.
I could feel my orgasm building and I met his thrusts, urging him to go harder, faster. He met my silent demands and with an especially deep thrust, he had me coming apart. He kept going and came right after me, calling my name.
He fell the side and wrapped his arms around me. “I missed you so much. We can make it work this time. I know we can.”
I looked at the clock and realized that the party had ended while he and I were going at it. I felt bad that I hadn’t gotten to say good night to Pam, but I needed to do this. Eric fell asleep with his arms still holding me to him. I laid back on the pillows and thought long and hard.
Part of me felt like a hypocritical bitch, because I had just done the same thing to Bill that Eric had done to me. It was hard to feel a lot of guilt over that, though, because I had been planning to break up with him when I got home anyway. I looked at the innocent sleeping face to my side. My feelings were harder to define there. I had loved him and I suppose part of me always would. But I would never be able to trust him. Ever. There was no way I could live my life happily if I was always wondering if there was someone else. And I would always doubt him. Seeing him, talking to him, making love with him… everything had been necessary in order for me to close that chapter of my life and move on and find someone I could be happy with.
I extricated myself from his arms and watched as he shifted in his sleep, adjusting to my absence. I got dressed and sat back at his desk. I found a blank piece of paper and a pen and started to write.
Thank you for everything last night. I needed to know how you felt about me, so I could figure out how I feel now. I believe you. I believe that you’ve grown and I believe that you do love me. I still have some love for you and part of me always will. But without trust, love just isn’t enough. And as much as I once loved you, I know that I can never trust you with my heart ever again. We have good memories, cherish those. I will do my best to do the same and forget the bad. I need to do that, but only so I can move on with my life. And that will have to be without you. I deserve a man that I never have to doubt or wonder how much of himself is he giving to someone else. Give my love to Pam and your parents. Please don’t hate me. But I can’t stay.
I called a cab once I was in the hall and headed barefoot down the hall. I let myself out of the house and met the car at the curb. I went back to the hotel, changed clothes, packed, and checked out. I got my bags into the car and started driving north. I was halfway home before my phone started ringing. I turned the phone off and my iPod on and enjoyed the drive.