We’re gifting another story today to our lovely Story Locator helper elves. Enjoy your pressie 4xamom!
Day 8: A Gift for 4xamom from eys1214
Betaed by MsStitcher
I fucking hated Christmas.
Hated everything about it –the prosaic carols, the vapid parties, the over-the-top decorations, the mandatory reunions, the rock-hard fruitcakes, presents I never asked for and that fucking mistletoe.
God, I hated mistletoe.
Seven Christmases ago…
“We’re running out of whiskey,” Pam said, waving an almost empty bottle of liquor at my face, blocking the blueprint on my drafting table.
Pam was my roommate. She had been for the past six years. We were in the same Ethics class in college and we came to a conclusion that we both had none. We both flunked the subject and had taken it again the next semester. We had been inseparable ever since. We might be attached to the hip but our hips had never been in contact – except for that one time when I’d grown out my hair and, in a drunken stupor, she had mistaken me for Kate Moss. As soon as she saw the thing dangling between my thighs she bolted like a vampire who had just seen the sun.
See, Pam was a lesbian. The linchpin of our harmonious living situation was that we had different tastes in women. She liked tall, skinny bitches and I liked someone who wouldn’t snap like a twig under me.
“Why’re you looking at me like it’s my problem?” I said, shoving her hand away before she spilled that damned whiskey on my desk and my precious blueprints.
“Because you’re the only one sober enough to make the run,” she slurred, pouting.
“So, what, I’m being punished for not getting shitfaced?”
Pam loved throwing parties. I loved ducking them. Not that I was a pariah or a recluse. I just didn’t like making small talk with people whose names I’d forget as soon as I sobered up. Besides I had more important things to do, life goals to reach — like having my name on a door.
“Please, Eriiiiic,” she whined, making me wince. Dammit, I should’ve have gotten a male roommate.
Putting my pencil down, I threw my head back with a groan. Pam could be pretty annoying when sober, imagine how insufferable she could be with a third of whiskey.
She jumped up and gave me a wet peck on the cheek while ruffling my hair. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
I grunted, wiping the spit off my cheek.
She smiled wickedly. “Tell you what, there’s a room full of former sorority girls who have had the hots for you since forever. Some are tipsy enough to jump you, but with a little more booze they might all agree to a full-on orgy. How’s that for incentive?”
My gaze flitted to my drafting table. I needed to hand in the design before New Years just to be considered for the pitch. If I worked non-stop over the holidays I might be able to pull it off. On the other hand, I hadn’t had sex since I’d broken up with Yvetta, the temp in my new firm, two months ago. Maybe a night of debauchery was just the thing I needed to release some tension. Pun intended.
Pam probably saw the glint in my eyes as I grabbed my jacket off the hook. “Atta boy!” she said, slapping my ass as I made my way out. “I’ll get them ready for you.”
I had a feeling she would.
I had been driving around Shreveport for over half an hour in search of liquor shops. I lucked out. What did I expect at 10pm on Christmas Eve? I deliberated going home empty handed until I remembered Pam’s incentive. My cock stirred in my pants – I know, boy, we need this. I shifted in my seat to tamp down the semi I was sporting and stepped on the gas to cross to the neighbour town of Bon Temps.
I was starting to lose hope that I’d find an open store at this time of the night when I spotted the flickering sign at the side of the road. Merlotte’s this way, pointed the arrow.
I made a quick turn and parked Pam’s minivan on the empty lot in front of the bar. Perhaps they’d be willing to sell me a bottle or two.
My shoulders slumped when I saw the ‘Closed’ sign on the door. Fuck. What now? I was about to give up when I caught a glimpse of someone sitting in one of the booths by the window. A customer?
I reached for the door and it swung open easily.
“Hello?” I called out.
“Excuse me?” I raised my voice.
The person at the booth jolted at the sound of my voice. A head popped up at the side.
A woman? That was a shock. Judging from her expression she was surprised too.
She swung her legs out of the booth and shot upright. Perhaps she had moved a little too fast because the next thing I saw was her careening forward. I dashed in front of her and caught her just before her knees hit the linoleum.
She slammed against my chest. “I’ve got you,” I said, holding her by her elbows. She gasped and I smelled whiskey on her breath. At least now I knew they had whiskey, if she hadn’t downed it all.
“Let go of me, you jackass!” she shrieked as she yanked her arms free to shove me back.
Oh, this girl has some nerve.
I stepped back and watched her sway on her feet. I almost scoffed to see her go off-kilter, but contrary to her previous statement I wasn’t a jackass. I was reaching for her elbow again when she swatted my hand away and grabbed the edge of the table, anchoring herself.
“Don’t touch me, perv,” she gritted out, her blue eyes hooded but still blazing.
“I’m not a pervert,” I spat back. “It’s not my fault you can’t hold your liquor.”
“What’re you, a cop?” she slurred, her ponytail bouncing as she looked me up and down. “You don’t look like a cop. You look like a douchebag. All men are douchebags.”
Oh, boy, here we go.
“Let me guess… you got dumped on Christmas Eve?”
She snorted jabbing a finger at her chest. “I’m the dumper not the dumpee, jerkface.”
Her finger had landed on the name tag pinned to her fitted white shirt. “Sookie,” I read out loud.
“How did you know my name? Are you a stalker? Did Bill send you?”
I pointed at her name tag and savored the blush that colored her already ruddy cheeks. Her lips formed an ‘O’ and I found myself chuckling.
“What’s so funny?”
“You. You’re a lousy drunk.”
She threw me another glare. Her heavily-lidded eyes were so damned sexy. If I didn’t know better I’d think she was trying to seduce me. I crossed my arms and studied her closely. She was tiny, almost a couple of feet shorter than my six-foot-three. She was wearing a pair of black shorts that showcased her sculpted, tanned legs and a snug white shirt, cinching her narrow waist and highlighting her perky tits. Not bad for a drunk barmaid.
“What’re you doin’ here anyway?” she asked, making my gaze rise back to her face.
“Huh?” I blinked.
“Didn’t you see the sign? We’re closed.”
“I’m uh —” What am I doing here again? Oh right, whiskey for orgy. “I’m hoping you could sell me a bottle of whiskey.”
Her eyes darted to the table littered with a bottle of half-filled whiskey and three cans of coke.
“We’re out,” she said, her cheeks flaring redder.
“Maybe I can buy that,” I asked, tipping my chin to the liquor on the table. It wouldn’t be enough for the girls back home. But right now all I could think of was saving this one girl from herself. Alone in this bar with nothing but misery for company, she was two shots away from making all sorts of bad decisions – like drunk calling a douchebag named Bill.
“That’s mine,” she said, squaring her shoulder. “Just go and choose somethin’ else from the bar.”
Shit. This was a bar. If I took this bottle she’d just go and grab another one off the shelf. “Know what, on second thought, why don’t I just help you finish this?”
“What?” She blinked.
“I make a mean old fashioned,” I said, picking up the whiskey bottle.
“Hey, I told that’s mine!” she griped, chasing after me as I made my way behind the fully stocked bar.
“It’s Christmas — the season of sharing. So stop pouting and let’s get this show on the road, shall we?”
She knotted her brows and folded her arms across her chest.
“Eric,” I said stabbing my hand in the air. “My name’s Eric, in case you’re wondering. And I’m dire in need of a drink. I’ll pay, don’t worry.”
She stared at my hand, obviously baffled. “No,” she shook her head, refusing to take my hand. “How do I know you’re not a rapist?”
I nearly laughed. If I wanted to fuck someone all I had to do was go home and whip out my dick.
“What if you’re the rapist?” I quipped. “You’re clearly drunk enough to take advantage of me.”
“Please,” she laughed and rolled her eyes. “You’re not my type.”
“I’m everybody’s type, Sookie.” God, I liked saying her name.
“Gimme your wallet,” she said, stretching her hand out to me while tapping her foot.
“You wanna drink? Then I wanna see some identification.”
“I assure you I’m of legal age.”
She lifted a brow and thinned her lips. I sighed, pulled out my wallet and slapped it on her upturned palm. She flipped it open and plucked my driver’s license from one of the folds.
“Eric Northman,” she murmured, reading my name. She took her phone from her back pocket and dialled a number. “Jase, it’s me, pick up.” She paused for a moment then let out a breath. “Guess you’re still out. I’m at Merlotte’s. If I don’t make it to brunch tomorrow look for Eric Northman…” then she rattled out my address.
Ha, look whose sobering up. Trying not to eavesdrop I started scavenging the bar for my cocktail ingredients. I found sugar cubes in the pantry, Angostura bitters on the shelf and club soda in the fridge. Perfect.
“Merry Christmas, Jase,” she whispered wistfully before she ended the call.
I quirked my brow at her. “Satisfied? Can I have my wallet back now?”
She put my wallet on top of the sticky counter and then circled around to perch herself on one of the barstools.
“Okay then, hit me with an old fashioned, Northman,” she quipped drumming her fingertips on the wood. The innuendo wasn’t lost on me and I wondered if it was deliberate.
“We’re last-name basis now, huh?” I teased, placing the small glass in front of her.
She took a sip of the cocktail and shook her head. “Sweet. Too sweet. You’re fired.” She hopped off the stool and made her way beside me. “Move,” she said, bumping her hip against my thigh. She threw sugar cubes, club soda and bitters in a shaker, gave it a few jiggle and poured the contents in a tall tumbler before topping it with rye and plain ice cubes before announcing, “This is an old fashioned,” then slid the glass to me.
I sipped and winced, the alcohol burned my throat. “Too much whiskey.”
“Don’t let anyone hear you say that, buster, or they’ll kick you out of Louisiana,” she quipped, her lips tugging in the corners.
“Is that a smile?” I smirked. “Did you actually smile at me?” As much as I liked her glares I realized I liked her smile even more. It lit up her face, blurring the sadness in her eyes.
She scowled. “Finish your drink so you can haul your ass outta here and leave me in peace.” Just when I was beginning to think she wasn’t so bad she’d say something like that.
“Gee, I wonder why you’re alone on Christmas Eve.” I didn’t even try to hide the sarcasm in my voice. I picked up my tumbler and slid in one of the stools.
I was expecting another retort but received none. I trained my eyes back to her and saw her head lolling before she disappeared completely followed by a loud crash. I quickly jogged behind the bar and found her hunkering down with her knees folded to her chest. Her shoulders quaked as she sobbed and my heart sank to my stomach at the sight.
Fuck, I made a woman cry. On Christmas Eve.
I sidled up next to her, grimacing at the way my palm clung to the sticky floor.
I gingerly placed a hand on her back. She went rigid at the contact and I braced myself for another hissy fit. There was none. She palmed her face and I felt stupid for not knowing what to do. This night went from wildly promising to mildly amusing to flat out depressing. How did I get here? I could have been home right now, getting blown while watching two women make out. Instead I was here sitting on grimy – not to mention gummy – linoleum trying to soothe a jilted woman with bipolar tendencies.
“Sookie?” I wondered if it were too late to bail. “Um… I uh—”
Can I go? See, my roommate promised me an orgy and I haven’t had sex in…
She looked up, wiping her tears furiously. “Will you stay?”
Shit. Only a prick would say no to that.
I swallowed thickly. “Of course.” Sorry, buddy, tonight’s not the night.
I helped her up and we moved back to the barstools. I fixed a couple more cocktails for us and we had our first civilized interaction. She was tight-lipped at first so I did most of the talking. I told her about my female – but not feminine – roommate; my parents who died in an avalanche while holidaying in Aspen when I was very young; my unhealthy obsession with cinnamon doughnuts; and of course, my five-year architectural plan in my new firm.
In five years, I told her, I’ll have my name on that door. My designs would grace the skylines of the major cities in the country in five fucking years, you can take that to the bank.
She was a good listener. Or maybe she had tuned me out. For all I knew, she was still thinking of douchebag Bill.
“I wish I could be like you,” she murmured, her glazed eyes turned pensive as she wiped beads of water forming outside her glass.
“Don’t you have a five-year plan?”
She smiled. I didn’t like this one, it didn’t reach her eyes. “I’m a 21-year-old waitress who has no plans of goin’ to college. I live with my grandmother because I can’t scrape together enough tips to get my own place. And I’m alone on Christmas Eve because I’m ashamed to go home and tell Gran that I caught my boyfriend, who was supposed to take me to Hawaii tomorrow by the way, elbow deep in his boss.”
She gulped her drink, avoiding my eyes. I didn’t know what to say. I had no training in this. Every time Pam broke up with a partner she’d just pack her bags and go to her sister’s place in California. Pam knew I’d be useless. This girl, however, was looking at me as though I was one of her girlfriends. Heaven help me.
“Sorry I’m ranting,” she said, sensing my discomfort. “Forget what I said.”
I could tell she was embarrassed so I murmured, “Elbow deep?”
She glanced at me and smiled. Ah, that’s the one. She fisted her hand and pumped it up and down in the air.
“Prolly has a needle for a dick that he felt that need to improvise,” she said before she slammed the rest of her drink down.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Then it struck me. “Probably? You haven’t seen it? Or was it that small?”
Hot damn, I am getting good at this ‘trashing men’ business.
“Why d’you think he wanted to bring me to Hawaii? I was ready to say ‘aloha’ to my hymen.”
It took me a few seconds to digest it.
She’s a virgin!
I didn’t know why, but that tidbit excited the hell out of me.
“Fuck him,” she muttered under her breath.
“Hear, hear,” I echoed, raising my glass and clinking it against hers.
I took a segue. “So you have no plans of going to college?”
She shrugged. “What’s the point? I’ll still be here in Bon Temps.”
“Don’t you wanna leave this town someday?”
“There’s nothin’ for me outside Bon Temps. Sides I can’t leave, Gran needs me. She’s old. I keep tellin’ her I don’t wanna move out cos I don’t want her to think she’s holdin’ me back.”
I regarded her closely.
“Nah, I think the reason you don’t want to leave Bon Temps has nothing to do with your Gran. I think you’re chicken shit. You’re scared to leave the coop. You’re scared if you try you’ll fail so you resigned yourself to a life of mediocrity.”
“You sayin’ I’m mediocre?” she challenged.
“Prove me wrong.” I inched closer, egging her on.
“You’re a prick. Just because my dreams aren’t bigger than yours doesn’t mean I don’t dream.”
“Dream bigger, Sookie, leap higher. No one’s stopping you.”
She went quiet, pensive. I let her and we drank in companionable silence.
“I think I’ve had enough,” she said, hopping off the stool. She went behind the bar and ran the tap. She was still swaying a little so I took it upon myself to help her clean up, returning the ice trays in the freezer and putting the bottle of rye and bitters on the shelf while she rinsed our glasses.
She disappeared for a moment and I heard the tell-tale sounds of metal bolts sliding to their cradles. She emerged a few minutes later and knotted her brows when she saw me standing by the door.
“You’re still here?”
“Of course. You can’t go home alone like that. C’mon, I’ll drive you. Just give me directions.”
“I don’t wanna impose. I can drive myself.”
“Bullshit. If anything happens to you, I’ll be the prime suspect.” I pushed the door open and kept it ajar with a small wooden ‘frog’ stopper.
The corners of her lips twitched as she stared at me. “Thank you for keepin’ me company,” she said as she reached the threshold. I could tell she meant it.
“No one should be alone on Christmas Eve.”
“Actually, I think it’s already Christmas.”
I glanced at my watch, 12.15am, “Huh, would you look at that. Merry Christmas, Sookie.”
She smiled, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Northman,” she murmured, tipping her head up to meet my gaze.
Then she went still, her eyes widened as she looked up, a blush blooming in her cheeks.
I followed her line of sight and noticed the mistletoe dangling from the door header.
Well, well, well…what do we have here?
“It’s silly. My boss put it there as a promo: free drink for a kiss,” she stammered nervously, her chest heaving up and down.
I bobbed my head, a smirk on my lips. “Come to think of it, I didn’t pay for my drinks,” I murmured as I loomed over her.
Her throat worked and tightened, swallowing slowly. “It was my treat. I was the one who asked you stay.”
“Nonsense, I want to pay my dues.” I dipped my head lower until it was mere inches from hers. My breath mingled with hers as my gaze flickered to her lips. She darted her tongue out and that was all the encouragement I needed to kiss her.
She moaned in my mouth. And that single sound made my dick spring to attention. I swept my tongue inside her, tasting the bitters, the rye and the sugar.
She was right, my mix was sweet and it was just how I liked it.
“Here’s your ticket,” said Thalia, my assistant, sliding a white envelope across my desk. “By some miracle, I managed to snag a last-minute, first-class ticket to L.A. leaving tonight. From LAX, you’ll have your connecting flight to Shreveport.”
I snapped my head, peering over my computer. “I’m not going to Louisiana.”
Thalia blinked at me through her horn-rimmed glasses. “But I thought you said you’re going home?”
Louisiana was not my home. Not anymore.
“I will need a car; I’ll be driving to Santa Monica from the airport.”
After I’d left for Sweden, Pam had moved to California to be closer to her sister, Karin. For the past five years I’d successfully avoided her until three months ago when my wily friend managed to track me down. Ever since then she had been nagging me tirelessly to come home for the holidays.
I’d deferred giving her an answer until last week, mostly because I didn’t know if I’d be ready to face my ghost of Christmas past.
“Oh dear, you should’ve told me sooner. Do you know how expensive these last-minute tickets are? My knees are going to wobble for sure when I get your credit card bill. Money might not be a problem for you but for us mere mortals it’s everything.”
That wasn’t true. There was a time when I was a mere mortal and given a choice between a shitload of money and the woman I’d sell my soul to the devil for.
I had picked her in a heartbeat.
Six Christmases ago…
“Are you sure I’m not underdressed?” she asked, worrying her lip. “I can change; Pam lent me her black Chanel, it’s in the back maybe I should wear that instead.”
“Don’t you dare,” I warned, taking my hand off the wheel of my company-issued red Corvette to take her hand and kiss her palm. “I know that dress; she calls it the dick-strangler for a reason. The only dick you’re allowed to strangle is right here,” I said tipping my head to point at my crotch.
“Aw, I love it when you get all romantic,” she fake-gushed, rolling her eyes at me.
I smirked, jerking the wheel toward the lobby of the hotel where my firm was holding its annual Christmas party. There was a queue at the valet service, five cars in front of us. I unbuckled my seatbelt and grabbed my tie from the backseat.
“Uh-uh,” she shook her head, “no tie.” She reached for my crisp white collar, adjusted it and ran her hand across my chest. I flinched, afraid she might discover the thing I’d been hiding under my shirt.
Her fingers grazed against my nipple making me groan. Her lips curved slyly to the side. Tease.
“Leave the top buttons open. It’s fucking sexy,” she rasped.
I squirmed in my seat, my pants getting a little snug. I discarded the red tie that matched the color of her dress and leaned in. She unclasped her seatbelt, pushing herself up but before she could get rid of the restraints, I tugged the metal lever under her seat and pushed her back.
She yelped, “The fuck, Eric!”
I crushed my lips to hers and muffled her protest. “Do you kiss your Gran with that mouth?”
She giggled against my lips and wriggled her arms free to wrap around my neck to return my kiss with the fervor that made me impossibly harder.
I reluctantly tore my lips off hers and pressed my forehead against hers. “I fucking love you, you know that?” I whispered.
She was panting, her breath warming my cheeks, “I can’t take you seriously when you’re wearing my lipstick.” She chuckled, wiping my lower lip with the pad of her thumb.
I was about to punish her again for teasing me when a horn blared behind us. I muttered under my breath. Fucker. The line had started moving. I jolted up and stepped on the gas. Sookie reached for something from the backseat and pulled her seat upright.
“Before I forget… here,” she said thrusting a box topped with a shiny red ribbon in my lap.
“Are we supposed to exchange gifts?” I asked a tad dramatically.
I came prepared of course, I wasn’t an ass.
After our brief but heated make-out session at Merlotte’s exactly a year ago today, I began pursuing her. She played hard to get for a while and I chased her like a lovesick dog. Two months and numerous failed attempts later, she finally agreed to a date.
And that was the last time I asked a woman out. Because after that one epic date — her words, not mine — she agreed to be my girlfriend. Yeah, we used labels like we were fucking teenagers. We were old-fashioned like that.
We celebrated monthsaries too. The first time Pam heard me say ‘monthsary’ she laughed me out of the house and called me pussy whipped. I didn’t mind the name calling, I was too happy to give a single fuck.
Although we didn’t officially get together on Christmas Eve, it was the night that had started it all. And I thought it was only fitting to celebrate that milestone with another — one that came with a big shiny rock.
I fingered the leather string dangling from my neck, concealing inside my shirt the diamond ring that burnt two of my last paychecks. I was going to give it to her tonight when the clock struck 12.15. See, I wasn’t entirely hopeless.
“Read the card,” she coaxed excitedly, grinning from ear to ear, as she squeezed my kneecap and shook it.
I plucked the card tucked under the ribbon and flipped it over:
There once was a barmaid named Sookie
Who couldn’t seem to hold her whiskey
A stranger walked in
And said ‘hey, how’ve you been’
That night she went home with a hickey
My laugh boomed in the car. “If memory serves me right, you’re the one who gave me a hickey.”
She play-punched my shoulder. “You wished! Just look inside.”
I tugged the bow carefully and lifted the lid. I thought my face would split from grinning so wide when I saw the bottle of Johnny Walker.
I whistled. “Green label.”
She beamed smugly. “Don’t say I don’t spoil you.”
I wondered how much she had spent on this. I couldn’t ask her though, my woman was a proud one. I scooped the bottle by the neck and held it up. “How about I fix you an old fashioned before we have old-fashioned sex later?”
My little kitten blushed before she jutted her lower lip and pouted. Damn, I loved it when she did that. “What, no toys tonight?”
I tittered loudly as my cock stood at attention. Who would’ve thought, my sweet, Christian virgin would turn into a wickedly delicious vixen?
“Don’t you start writing checks you can’t cash Miss Stackhouse,” I rasped. I dipped my head lower, angling for another kiss, when the car behind us pealed again.
I suppressed spewing a round of expletives along with the strong urge to flip the driver the bird.
The valet jogged to Sookie’s side and opened her door. The attendant held up his hand and my Southern girl took it, oblivious to the jackass’s lingering eyes. I gritted my teeth, sliding off my seat and tossing the keys to the guy who was ogling my gorgeous girlfriend. I dashed in front of her and she reflexively hooked her hand around my arm.
I gave the valet a pointed glare. I could not look more smug if I tried.
As the elevators closed, I stared at our reflections in the gold doors. God, she was divine. Her blood-red dress that squeezed her bosoms showing off just enough cleavage had given me a hell of a hard on the first time I’d seen it on her when I picked her up earlier. And when she pressed herself against me and planted an open-mouthed kiss on my lips I swore I was about ready to explode.
Ten months of dating and she still greeted me like I just came back from a war. She was fucking adorable like that. She loved me with a passion I wasn’t sure I deserved.
Every now and then I’d find a note in my pocket after our date with four words written on it: love me more tomorrow.
If she had any idea how much I loved her, she wouldn’t ask me for more.
I felt her hand tightening around my arm as the car ascended. “Don’t be nervous. I’ve got you,” I said, burying my nose in her hair.
“What if they figure out I’m wearin’ a clearance Walmart dress?”
“Is that your subtle way of letting me know I can rip it off you later without guilt?”
She ribbed me as she bit her lip, blushing furiously.
“I’m serious, Eric. What if they don’t like me?”
“I’ll tell them to fuck off and hand in my notice.” I wasn’t kidding. One nasty word and I’d be gone. Good luck finding another workhorse.
She smiled — my smile — the one that wrinkled the corners of her eyes and made everything right in the world. “I love you,” she whispered and brushed a light kiss on my lips.
Fuck that was too short and way too wholesome. I wanted more. I wanted to back her up against the wall and slam my lips over hers – book boyfriend-style. Yeah, I knew all about those fictional boys living in the pages of the raunchy romance novels tucked under her mattress.
Alas, I was too slow. The elevator jarred to a stop before I could make my move.
The doors opened wide and we stepped out hand in hand.
“Ah Eric, there you are! Glad you could make it!” chimed Sophie-Ann, the petite redhead who greeted us at the lobby, nursing a champagne flute.
I placed my hand on the small of Sookie’s back, guiding her forward. “Sookie, this is Sophie-Ann Leclerq, CEO of L&E Designs. Sophie, meet my other boss, Sookie.”
Sookie elbowed my ribs, cheeks flaring, before she shook Sophie-Ann’s hand.
“Happy holidays, Sookie! Pleasure to meet you,” Sophie-Ann cooed a little too enthusiastically. Sophie-Ann never cooed, ever. It made me wary.
“Pleasure’s mine.” Sookie beamed, oblivious to my growing anxiety.
Sophie-Ann turned to me, “Siegbert said you weren’t coming tonight.”
I wasn’t planning to. I didn’t like social gatherings, this one in particular. But when Sookie found the wrinkled invitation in the glove compartment, she could barely contain her excitement.
Can we go, please, she pleaded flashing her glassy kitten eyes. It sounds so classy. Look! It even has a dress code. Please, baby? This might be my only chance to go to a party where they don’t serve food on paper plates.
How could I say no to that? Sookie asked for so little when she deserved so much more.
I merely shrugged at Sophie-Ann before steering Sookie away from my employer. The farther we were from Sophie-Ann the better. We weaved our way through the crowd and kept outside interaction to a bare minimum, one-minute chit chat, tops. I felt wandering eyes on us — the lust-filled glances from men, the contemptuous glares from women. I couldn’t tell if she could feel them too.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, her brows drawn in concern.
“Nothing. Why?” I took a swig of my champagne.
“Your face is gettin’ red. You only do that when you’re mad.”
I threaded my fingers through my hair. “It’s just the booze,” I lied.
“Eric.” She gave me a look. “You know I have a very low tolerance for bullshit.”
What was the point of lying if she could so easily call me on it?
“I don’t like the way Alcide is looking at you,” I replied, throwing a glare in my colleague’s direction. Alcide had been in the firm a few years longer than me. He was Sophie-Ann’s golden boy before I had entered the picture. He had tried to disguise his simmering contempt toward me in the workplace and I had tolerated him and all his unsolicited advice on how to improve my designs.
But eyefucking my girlfriend from across the room was the one thing I couldn’t fucking tolerate.
She followed my gaze. The fucker didn’t even have the decency to look away.
She turned back to me, her lips tugging into a lopsided smile. “Let him look,” she husked.
I gaped at her. “Excuse me?”
She didn’t respond with words. Instead she hooked her arm around my neck and kissed me. Her soft lips languidly sucked me in. I couldn’t stop the growl that escaped the back of my throat as my cock pulsed wildly against the fabric of my slacks.
I was out of breath by the time she drew back. “Holy fucking hell,” I rasped.
She grinned, wiping her lipstick off my lips with her dainty little fingers. “If your friend wants to watch us, might as well give him a show, right?”
Christ, I loved this woman. My timid, prudish Sookie could be shameless when it came it to me.
I was like that guy in Blood Diamond. I had dug up a rare gem in the most unlikely place and I wasn’t about to share it with anyone. She was my salvation, my rock, my Sookie.
Three champagne flutes and a variety of passed hors d’oeuvres later, I was already itching to go. I had great plans for the night and the sooner we could leave the sooner I could shed off these damned pants that seemed to have shrunk a couple of sizes at the groin.
I patted my inside pocket, making sure the key card was still there. Unbeknownst to Sookie, I had booked us a room in this hotel. After weeks of grovelling, Gran had agreed to let Sookie stay with me until tomorrow as long as I promised to bring her back before their traditional Christmas day brunch. If I played my cards right tonight, we’d need a place to ourselves to celebrate.
“Have you tried the garlic shrimps? Man, they’re so good,” Sookie said, crumpling the napkin in her fist. I smiled to myself. She was so damn easy to please.
“Wait, you’re still gonna kiss me later right?” she gasped, covering her mouth.
I seized her hand and kissed her hard. I licked my lips and hummed, “Mmm, garlicky.”
Her cheeks flamed, slack-jawed. “You’re disgusting.”
“Oh, look at you two,” Sophie-Ann gushed, appearing seemingly out of nowhere. “Now I know why Eric’s been dragging his feet all this time.”
Shit. Shit. Shit.
“Beg pardon?” Sookie asked, smiling awkwardly.
“This is such a lovely evening, Sophie, let’s not ruin it by talking shop,” I butted in, hoping it wasn’t too late to get the hell out of Dodge.
“C’mon Eric, it’s been months. You have to make a decision. The Swedes aren’t gonna wait for you forever.”
“Swedes?” Sookie repeated, her smile faltering, her head ping-ponging between Sophie-Ann and I.
“Oh dear, you haven’t told her, have you?” It was a performance for the books.
“Good night, Sophie,” I muttered under my breath as I twined my fingers with Sookie’s and manoeuvred her toward the doors.
As soon as we were alone in the elevator, I pressed the button for the 17th floor and braced myself for the impending storm.
She hadn’t said a single word. Not a good sign.
She didn’t even ask why I had a key to one of the rooms. She just stared straight ahead while keeping her distance.
Fuck. This was why I didn’t want to go to this damned party. Because I was afraid Sophie-Ann would do something underhanded to strong arm me.
I guided Sookie inside the room and closed the door behind us.
“Sookie…” I murmured when she refused to move away from the door.
“Start talkin’,” she gritted.
I stabbed my fingers through my hair as I dragged a long breath.
“I was offered a job in Sweden. Our firm is opening an office in Stockholm and Sophie-Ann wants me to be the lead architect for its maiden project.”
She blew out a breath, her hand snaking around her waist as though she had been punched. I gnashed my teeth, the last thing I wanted to do was hurt her. I wanted to touch her, tell her I wasn’t planning on leaving her.
“How long?” she asked quietly.
“It doesn’t matter because I’m not taking the job.”
I crossed over to her, grabbing the sides of her face. “I love you. I love us. Why would I fuck us up for a goddamned job?”
“What about your five-year-plan?” I could see tears pooling in her eyes.
“You’re my five-year plan,” I murmured before I crashed my lips over hers.
I could taste the salt of her tears and fuck if that didn’t make the acid rise to my throat.
I seized her thighs, scooped her up and took her to the bed. I broke off our kiss only so I could slip the leather string over my head. A small gasp escaped her lips when she saw what was looped through the string.
“Oh my God,” she exhaled.
I dropped to my knees beside the bed and with the steadiest voice I could muster I asked, “Will you love me more tomorrow and all the days after that?”
Her face crumbled as she wept loudly. She was smiling and crying at the same time. Her shoulders shook, snot clogging her nose, black streaks running down her cheeks. It wasn’t her prettiest look but it would be the one I’d always remember fondly.
“Is that a yes?” I asked, swallowing the lump in my throat as I brushed the tears off her cheeks with my fingers.
She bobbed her head, sniffing, unable to utter anything comprehensible amid her sobs.
I kissed her fiercely, possessively. She didn’t even need to say the damned word. Just like that she crossed off the one thing on my bucket list.
I would be marrying the woman I couldn’t do without.
We made love all night – starting with an old fashioned, as promised. But I didn’t stop there, let’s just say, some of the things we did in bed – and off it — were banned in certain states.
I was deliriously in love. By the time I let her rest, she could barely walk to the bathroom.
We slept in until three in the afternoon. She had missed brunch.
She had called Gran and apologized profusely. Gran was rightfully crossed.
“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission,” I told her.
“You know she’s gonna kill both of us, right?”
“Let’s make the most of our last day on earth then.” I said, nipping the side of her neck.
She nudged my chin and kissed my lips. “I’m starved. What’re we gonna have for our last meal?”
“I want you with a side of doughnuts.”
“Same for me.”
We ordered room service – they didn’t have cinnamon doughnuts so we settled for their all-day breakfast of pancakes and bacon — before we resumed with our ‘celebration.’ One more aggravated phone call from Gran that evening, I grudgingly brought her home the following morning.
Gran didn’t even say hello to me when I dropped Sookie off at the farmhouse. She merely nodded in my direction when she handed me my Christmas present: a set of handkerchiefs with my initials embroidered on the corner. It almost made me feel bad for holding her granddaughter hostage for a couple of days.
When I got home I found a note in my pocket. Ecstatic, I pulled it out and read her message. This was different. There were only three words on it: You should go.
Without thinking, I dashed to my car, seething. I pulled out my phone to call her. To tell her not to dick with me and that we needed to talk. And that was when I saw the email Sophie-Ann had sent me that morning.
I hope I didn’t cause any tension between you and Sookie. Trust that it wasn’t my intention. But she needs to know what you’re giving up for her. She has to know it was your design that earned us the project in the first place. Without you, the Swedes will back out. We’ll lose the biggest project we have to date. Please, think this through. If she loves you, she won’t hold you back.
The email had been marked read. Sookie had read it.
She didn’t want to hold me back.
Ignoring the deathly glares from Gran, Sookie and I had a lengthy conversation at the porch. It didn’t matter what I said, she had made up her mind. She was as stubborn as fuck.
“You’re the one who told me to dream bigger, to leap higher, how can I live with myself knowing I’m the one keeping you on the ground?”
I wanted to ask her to come with me to Sweden but she had just started taking night classes in a community college. It wouldn’t be fair to her. She wanted me to go and chase after my dream, how could I possibly ask her to abandon hers?
We had finally reached an impasse and agreed to try the long distance relationship. We were so deluded, so goddamned stupid for thinking it might actually work.
Three weeks later, I left for Sweden.
As the title of this story aptly suggests there will be more of this
possibly even tomorrow. Many thanks to the awesome eys1214 for her wonderful contribution, do leave your comments and likes as always they do end up with her!
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