Converted. Completely and totally. I may have a new favorite food. Anything that can make Sookie moan like that has to be a good thing and when I taste the bite she feeds me, I see I’m right.
We spend the rest of dinner fitting conversation between bites. I glance around the table and see other makeshift couples doing the same. The only one that doesn’t look completely comfortable with their dinner partner is Danielle, but I chalk that up to who her partner is. Jason seems fun and likeable enough, but he doesn’t appear to have a filter between his brain and mouth and tends to blurt out whatever inane thought that crosses his mind.
I ask Sookie to dance again after dinner once I convince her to share a dessert with me. When the waitress asks, Sookie gives her a big smile and says, “Peach cobbler with two forks, please.” She turns to me and winks. “I assume you’re still up for trying more Southern cuisine?”
“Sure,” I agree and stand to lead her back to the small dance floor. “As soon as you give me directions to the nearest gym.”
She laughs again and looks up at me. “Okay, first, your binder will have everything you need. Second, have you even looked over the paperwork about the house and property yet?” I grimace sheepishly and she giggles. “Well, you have a three-quarter mile trail going around the property through the woods. If you really want to drive out to a gym and work off the calories there, you certainly can, but at this time of year, with the cool mornings and evenings with low humidity, I’d rather stay home and enjoy the silence without the racket of Zumba classes and grunting weightlifters in the background.”
With her looking up at me so innocently, I can only think of a more pleasurable way to exercise than jogging, but knowing the house I’m staying at has that extra feature is a plus. More and more, I’m glad I came here early and got to meet this little Southern belle. We only have time to dance to one song before the waitress brings out a plate oozing juices that mix with slowly melting ice cream.
‘Uh… Sookie… what is this stuff?”
She sits and claims one of the forks. “Didn’tcha heah me, dahlin’? Peach cobblah with fresh made ice cream. So good it’ll make ya wanna write home to ya momma ‘bout it.”
Fuck. She was sexy before and had a barely-noticeable accent on certain words, but when she deepens her drawl, I feel my jeans get a little tighter. It only gets worst when she takes a bite of the dessert and moans with her eyes closed. I can’t help but think of other things that can get her to make those sounds with the expression of rapture on her face.
She’s fucking ruining me.
She also makes me want to taste. The crust on top is flaky and the fruit is perfectly ripe. I’m surprised by how sweet it is and Sookie winks at me again. “The ice cream is to dampen the sweetness,” she says cheekily and takes another bite. “I can make this too.” I try a second bite and find that she’s actually right. The creaminess of the ice cream cuts the sweetness perfectly.
Even together, we aren’t able to finish the massive serving and she passes the bowl over to her brother, who immediately polishes off the rest. I spend a little while making conversation with the rest of the dinner guests before Holly says it’s “pumpkin time” and has to leave if she wants to be awake in time for work tomorrow. Danielle and Sookie look at their watches and determine the same. Jason and his friends walk the other girls out, leaving Sookie and I to settle the bill.
She swipes it when the waitress lays it down and pulls out her wallet. I lay my hand over her to stop her. “Let me, please. I’m the reason everyone came out to eat Let it be my treat.”
I can see her consider it, then smirk. “Yeah… no. These are my friends, Eric and I’m the one that issued the invitation. You’re the guest. It’s my treat,” she says and slips her card into the folder and hands it to the server before I can object further. I roll my eyes at her and toss some cash on the table.
“Fine, but the tip is on me. Thank you for the dinner.”
“It was my pleasure, Eric. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Maybe I can introduce you to a few other hidden gems around here.” She signs the slip and puts her card back. “I’ll walk you out.”
We get to the dim parking lot and she takes a deep breath. “It’s so different around here from when I grew up. When I was little, all of this was farm land. As more people started moving here, businesses did too and now it’s barely recognizable. When I came home from college, it was a shock because all of a sudden there were extra lanes of road and stop lights where there weren’t before.”
“I grew up in the city and have never really experienced living in such a rural area. I can only imagine what a difference things like that would make.” We inch closer to her midnight blue Explorer. “I’m not ready for the night to end yet, Sookie.”
She looks up at me with a frustrated expression. “I have to get home, Eric. I’m already out later than I should be and I do have to work tomorrow.”
I want to tell her to come home with me. To call in sick and let me worship her body in more ways than she can count until she can’t walk or even remember her name. The whole evening has been an exercise in self-control; I suppose I can make it another five minutes. And it doesn’t escape me that her boyfriend isn’t the reason for not staying out later. “Perhaps another time, then. But before you go,” I say as she unlocks the SUV, “I wonder if you share the same ideology as your grandmother. Do you believe in ‘If it feels good, do it’?”
She shrugs. “Sure, in moderation. Feeling good isn’t a bad thing.”
“Good to know.” I take her at her word, bend down, and press my lips to hers.