24. Tear in My Heart

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Sometimes you gotta bleed to know, oh, oh

That you’re alive and have a soul, oh, oh

But it takes someone to come around

To show you how

She’s the tear in my heart

I’m alive

She’s the tear in my heart

I’m on fire

She’s the tear in my heart

Take me higher

Than I’ve ever been

My heart is my armor

She’s the tear in my heart

She’s a carver

She’s a butcher with a smile

Cut me farther

Than I’ve ever been

The songs on the radio are okay

But my taste in music is your face

And it takes a song to come around

To show you how

My heart is my armor

She’s the tear in my heart

She’s a carver

She’s a butcher with a smile

Cut me farther

Than I’ve ever been

Tear in My Heart – Twenty One Pilots

EPOV

“You wanna tell me about it?” she whispers, her hand running down the back of my head, her chin resting on my shoulder as she looks at me. I’m quiet for several minutes so she rubs my back and kisses my shoulder. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to it’s okay.”

I turn towards her and kiss her fingers one more time before letting her go. “Can we lay down?” I ask.

“Sure,” she answers, stretching out behind me.

I wrap myself over her and take several slow, deep breaths trying to calm my stomach. It’s threatening to climb up my throat again.

I hate this. I feel like such a fucking weakling. First those fuckers did in my body and now they have my mind. I let go of the sheet clinched in my fist and flex my fingers trying to relax at least one part of my body. I keep going from panic to fury and back again.

“Sweetie, you don’t have to tell me, we can talk about something else.”

She can feel all the tension in me.

“Maybe if I tell you, it’ll make it stop?” I ask after a few seconds.

“It might, it helps me to talk to Claudine,” she whispers back.

I squeeze my eyes shut and her a little tighter, then let it spill out. “They tried to take you so I fought them. Of course they shot me. I couldn’t get up. You were screaming for me and there was nothing I could do. I had to lay there and watch them drag you out the door. You were so mad. You were kicking and screaming. You hit one of them, slapped him across the face…..he held the gun up….”

I can’t say the rest. But it doesn’t stop me from seeing her angry face just before he puts the gun to her head and pulls the trigger. She hangs there for several torturous seconds, blood pouring down from the hole in her forehead, eyes vacant. Then she drops. Dead weight onto unforgiving pavement. It never happened, but I can hear it. The sickening thuds and slaps as she hit. There was so much blood. I shake my head as if it’s an etch-a-sketch hoping to erase the mental image of hers busted open like a watermelon, the insides spilling out.

My heart is pounding in my ears. Cold sweat breaks out over my back and neck, my stomach heaving. I feel like I can’t breathe.

“Eric. Eric, look at me.” She’s shaking me, trying to push me off. I roll off of her onto my back, she’s hovering above me a second later her hands cupping my face. “I’m right here, Eric. You saved me. I didn’t get hurt, you didn’t let them hurt me or take me. You stopped them. It was just a dream, baby.” She takes one of my hands in hers and presses my palm over her chest. “I want you to breathe with me, okay? Feel it? Nice and slow. Make yours like mine. Watch my eyes and breathe with me.”

It takes some effort, but I finally get my breathing in sync with hers. Several minutes later, her gently coaching me the whole time, the panic finally passes. I pull her down on top of me and hold her tight, rubbing my hands all over her so I know she’s here and safe.

“Thank you,” I croak into her hair.

She squeezes me and kisses my chest a few times. “I’m glad I can help, but I’m so sorry,” she whispers.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Why can’t I stop thinking about what could’ve happened? Why the fuck do our brains go there?” I ask, when I know I can keep my voice steady.

“I don’t know, baby. I wish like hell they didn’t though.”

“I mean, I might have died and never got to know you. I wouldn’t have fallen in love with you. I would’ve died never knowing what this felt like. Or if you had…..God, I can’t stand that thought. Knowing I would’ve felt terrible, horrible that you did, but I would’ve gotten over it and moved on never knowing who you really were, what you could’ve been to me. They almost took away the best thing that ever happened to me. And the worst! You would’ve died alone, thinking you had no one, that nobody loved you. That! That right there! That fucking tears my heart out. I can’t stand it! Just a few slight differences and…” I swallow down the bile rising in my throat. “It makes me feel fucking sick and so fucking angry!”

“Hey, hey, hey,” she tries to soothe me, scooting up the bed and propping her head on one hand, rubbing my chest with the other. “Look at me.”

I move my eyes to hers. There isn’t an ounce of pity in them as they look down at me. She’s so incredible.

“I know what you’re feeling. The anger and the fear. They’re normal, sweetie. It’s okay to feel them. You need to feel them to get past them. But all those ‘what ifs’? They’ll bring you nothing but pain. I know it’s next to impossible to stop right now, I know it is, but you have to try to keep yourself from going there. It’ll eat you alive, Eric. It nearly did me. I had a thousand ‘what ifs’ haunting me night and day. They were like a broken record, just over and over on a constant loop. It was torture. You have to push them away when you feel them coming. Every time they try to take over, the second they pop into your mind, think of the good that came out of it instead. We survived and we did fall in love and we’re both happier than we’ve been in a long time, right?”

“Yeah, we are.”

“Have you thought that you’re feeling all of this because you love me? It makes perfect sense to be this upset when someone you love could’ve died. That’s a plus, right? Something to help you know I’m here and I’m okay. You couldn’t love me if I wasn’t.”

“You’re right and I know all of it here,” I say, putting her hand over my heart.

“But it’s up here that won’t leave you alone,” she finishes for me tapping her finger on my forehead.

“Yeah.”

“It’ll get better. I promise it will. It may take some time, but it will get better. And you know I’ll help you anyway I can.”

“I know you will,” I answer, pulling her palm up to my lips and kissing it. “And thank you, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

She smiles softly and gives me a kiss, “You don’t have to thank me and I don’t plan on you ever finding out, okay?”

“Okay. I’m sorry I’ve went off the deep end today. Maybe you can just stay within eyesight? I might not have this crazy need to have you in my arms twenty four seven if you do. If not, I’m just gonna take us to a deserted island so I know you’re safe. What do ya think about that, Bird? Wanna get lost with me?” I ask, trying to laugh off my nerves.

I’ve taken to shorting my nickname for her the last couple of weeks since she’s no longer so skittish. She’s so tiny and beautiful, Bird fits her just as good.

“Sure. Say the word and I’ll get us packed.”

She’s serious.

“You mean that don’t you?” She nods and hums. “You’d just pack up and take off with me?”

She smirks and shakes her head, “Silly man, of course I would. You have to know you’re the reason I’m still in Savannah. I wouldn’t be here if you weren’t. Nothing else is holding me here or in Louisiana for that matter. Tara and Lala don’t need me. I love you, if taking off on a long vacation is what you need I’m all for it. We can get Tristan to show us your PT exercises and I’m sure Dr. T would give us copies of all your records and suggest other doctors we could use just about anywhere. You can’t go back to work till the fall, we’ve got months free.”

“What about the trial?”

“Fuck it. Sid Matt is handling peacock Pardloe for us, he can handle Hardwick too. He doesn’t need us to convict them. That damn video is more than enough.”

“God, I love you. Do you have any idea how much?” I whisper, reaching up and running my fingers into her hair and pulling her sweet face down to mine for a kiss.

“Probably this much?” she scrunches her face all up, holding her finger and thumb about an inch apart.

“Times a million maybe,” I laugh for the first time all day, kissing her again.

“Well, I love you more,” she says after I let her have her lips back.

“No way.”

We just stare at each other for a few minutes. Her eyes slowly go from loving and happy to hesitant, making me nervous.

“What is it?”

“Would you do something for me?”

“Anything.”

“Think about talking to Claudine.”

Her therapist. She wants me to talk to a shrink. I don’t fault her for it at all, I know Claudine was huge in helping her, so why do I feel so adverse to the idea?

“It breaks my heart, Bird, but I don’t think anyone could help me better than you. Can’t we just talk?”

“Absolutely and I want you to talk to me, anytime, anywhere, about anything. But I’m not a doctor sweetie. She is. She has tons more experience than me. And yes, I’m doing much better, but I’m not one hundred percent, there’s parts of me still broken.”

I scowl at her, “Bird, you are not broken. We talked about that weeks ago. You’re stronger than anyone I know.”

“Thank you, sweetie,” she says, kissing me again. “But I’m still not a doctor. I really think it would help if you talked to her.”

I sigh, “Can we do it over the phone? I really don’t want to go to Mississippi and stay.”

Fuck, I sound like a whiny two year old.

“I’m sure she wouldn’t have a problem with it at all. She’s as much my friend as my doctor, she may even come out here to us.”

I take a deep breath and let it go, I still feel shaky and wrung out. “Okay, I’ll talk to her for you.”

Now she’s scowling. “No. For you, not for me. It has to be your choice or it won’t help you. I’m not trying to push you, sweetie. You don’t have to talk to her now, or tomorrow, or even next week. I just want you to know you have the option.”

“Alright, I’ll think about it, I promise,” I assure her, pulling her back down onto my chest and holding her.

“Thank you,” she whisper, kissing my chest and rubbing my side.

I try to do like she said and think about everything good that’s happened since that fucked up day. There hasn’t be a lot, but what there has been, is huge. My whole life has changed is such a short time. The things that were important before, pale in comparison to now and how important she is to me. I was joking, but I very well may take her up on going away for awhile. Some peace and quiet would be really nice for us. We haven’t had much of either. We could go anywhere we wanted, we’ve got plenty of money between us. I’ll talk to Pam and see what she thinks. I want to give Sookie a prom night and I’ll need her help, so if she has time now we’ll do that first, if not we’ll hop on the next plane outta town.

Sookie’s giggles bring me out of my thoughts. “What’s so funny?”

“You’re stomach is pitching a fit for some food. Can’t you feel it?” she asks, kissing it then sitting up.

I hadn’t even noticed I was so deep in thought, but now that she mentions it, I am kinda hungry. But fuck, she’s sitting there naked and gorgeous with her sexy bed head and a beautiful smile just for me. I don’t think she’ll ever not turn me on.

I hope that day never comes.

“Maybe I’m hungry for something else,” I tell her, reaching to pull her back down.

“Ah, ah, ahhhh. My lady bits need a break and you need food,” she laughs, evading my grasp. “Time for some breaksup.”

“Are you okay?” I ask a little worried. I’d hate to know I hurt her.

“I’m fine, honey. Just a tiny bit sore. I’ll be good by tomorrow, don’t you worry,” she winks.

“Oh. Good. Now, uh, what the hell is a break sup?”

“You know, breakfast for supper? Breakfast, supper. Breaksup?” she mumbles through the cotton of my T-shirt while she pulls it over her naked body.

Fuck me, my balls are already aching.

“You coming, or do you want breaksup in bed?” she asks, smiling at me through the dresser mirror as she’s twisting her hair up on her head. Her perfect little ass is peaking at me from under my shirt.

“Bird, you are fucking killing me. We’ll be cumming in this bed again if you don’t get outta here,” I groan.

She turns and sways her way back over to me, “If you’re a good boy and clean your plate, I’ll give you a treat later,” she purrs, licking her soft, pink lips within inches of mine.

I growl and reach for her, but she runs away squealing down the hall.

“You’re gonna pay for that woman!” I holler after her.

I can hear her laughing in the kitchen, not the least bit afraid of me.

God, I love her.

————————————-

“Eric! Pam’s here,” Sookie yells from the kitchen.

Right on schedule. Her schedule anyway. She was supposed to be here two hours ago.

Roxie scrambles off my lap and starts bouncing around like a pogo stick as I lug myself out of the recliner.

Damn, I’m stiff. I’m so ready to have my body back.

I’ve been in that chair or the bed basically all day except for prying Bird from the kitchen when I needed a distraction. I’m still reeling from yesterday. My insides feel raw and ragged. I hate myself for using her that way. We make love sometimes three times a day though, so maybe that keeps it from being too bad. She gets it and seems very willing to help me anyway she can whether it’s to do with sex or not. Last night after “breaksup” she treated me to one of her mind altering blowjobs again. Said it would knock me out. She was right.

Fuck me, makes my dick tingle just thinking about it.

I still feel like an asshole though.

“Come on, girl. Let’s go see Pam,” I tell Rox, who takes that as her cue to bolt out the door.

Sookie’s left it open for us and I can hear her and Pam talking and Roxie barking happily.

When I make it out onto the porch Pam is begging me with her eyes to save her from Sookie’s enthusiastic hug. I lean against the railing and give her a big smile and a wave. She shoots me a bird.

Damn, I missed her.

Sookie finally lets her go. I don’t miss her wiping her eyes or the way knowing it makes my chest tight. “Go tell him hey, Pam. I’ll get your stuff. And Eric Northman don’t you dare come down those steps,” she scolds me not even glancing my way. I’m convinced she has eyes in the back of her head.

Sis comes slowly up the stairs, looking me up and down. When her eyes meet mine she snarls and asks, “She has gotten bossy.”

“I heard that!” Sookie calls, her sexy ass in the air as she digs bags out of the back seat.

I laugh, pulling Pam into a hug, “She has and she has excellent hearing too.”

“Hey, big brother,” she mutters patting my back.

I squeeze her hard enough to make her grunt, “Hey, little sis. I missed you,” I tell her, kissing her head before letting her go.

“You look a hell of a lot better than the last time I saw you,” she observes as I watch Sookie go past us ladened down with bags.

“Bird, you didn’t have to carry it all at once,” I fuss at her. She ignores me so I give Pam my attention again. I wave my, now doctor approved brace free arm, around and grin, “I’m like a new man.”

She looks at me, hand on cocked hip and one eyebrow raised to the sky. “Bird?” Her fucking smirk is showing.

I just roll my eyes and push her towards the door. “We’ve been together twenty four seven for two months now, what do you expect?”

“I expect more than cutesy nicknames. I just saw the way you were looking at her and her cute little ass in those shorts. I know that look. It’s not the look of never having it and wanting it. That’s the look that you’ve had it and want it again, and again, and again.”

I manage not to growl at her for talking about my girl’s ass. She probably suspects Sookie and I are an item now, but as far as I know she hasn’t been given any conformation. Hopefully the house will save my ass from having to give it to her now.

“Go inside, she’s been keeping supper warm for you. She wouldn’t let me eat till you got here and I’m starving because you’re late.”

She snorts, but goes on in, immediately taking in the decor.

“Sookie, the house looks fabulous,” she calls out. “You never told me you could decorate. If you can do this good, why can’t you dress just as well?” she snarks.

“Pam, lay off,” I shove her.

Sookie isn’t even close by, but still, her hearing rivals Roxie’s.

I turn Pam’s attention to the kitchen which smells fucking amazing. Sookie’s had chicken tacos cooking in the crock pot all day. I’ve been salivating since lunch.

She’s coming down the hall as we head towards the living room. “I hope you’re hungry, Pam. If I don’t feed Eric soon he may revolt and fly the coup,” she teases me adding in an adorable wink.

Nope, not even if you starve me.

Pam looks between our smiling faces suspiciously. “I’ll eat since you went to the trouble. You do have salad stuff, right?”

God, she’s such a girl. I’m so glad Bird isn’t like that. She eats with gusto these days. I love the soft curves that’s giving her too.

“Yep! Sure do. I promise I won’t try to fatten you up over the next few days, Pam,” she smiles and reaches out to rub my back. “Show her the rest of the house, sweetie and I’ll get everything on the table.” She shoos us away and goes to do her thing.

“First bird and now sweetie. You two did finally fuck didn’t you?”

“PAM!” I bark at her a lot louder than I meant to.

Sookie sticks her head out of the kitchen, wearing a dark scowl. I shake my head and smile a little. Thank goodness she goes back to what she was doing.

Pam has an evil smirk on her face when I look back at her. “Oh, fuck me. This is priceless. You are so gone big brother,” she snorts. “How on earth did ya’ll manage it with you…”

“Pam. Enough.” I warn her. I could banter with her, but I don’t. “I love her more than anything else and she loves me. This isn’t just a fling until I’m better. She’s it for me,” I tell her, seriously. “As soon as I get these pins out and the trial is over, I’m gonna ask her to marry me.”

Did I just say that? Pretty sure I did.

Oh well, it may have popped up outta the blue, but it sounds like a great plan to me.

Pam looks only mildly surprised. “I knew things were deliciously tense between you two, but how long has this love stuff been going on?”

I start hobbling towards the hallway and motion her to follow me. I’ll answer her questions later. I show her where my room and the new bathroom are then take her to her room. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been in it. Sookie has all her stuff in my room. Guess it’s our room really.

“Nice. Even nicer view. Why don’t you two stay in here?” she asks, going to look out the wall of windows over the marshes.

“I don’t have to walk as far and the bathroom is much closer to the…” I trail off, a picture on the dresser catching my eye.

It’s them. The three of them, holding each other close and smiling out of the frame as if it’s the best day of their lives.

Tray isn’t quite what I expected. I have no idea what I expected, but he isn’t it. Lucas though, he looks just like her.

Looking at him makes my heart crack a little or maybe a lot. She’s lost so much, but I can’t help but think we could have a son that looks exactly the same. Maybe even two or three little blue-eyed blondes all just as beautiful as their Mama.

Pam takes the picture from my hand. I didn’t even realize I had picked it up until she did. “He’s a carbon copy of her,” she murmurs.

I nod. I don’t know what I’m feeling. There’s too much to sort through. I take the picture from her and put it back where it was.

“How is she doing with this?” Pam asks, motioning at their picture then to me.

“Better. Much better. I told her to talk about them and she does, sometimes. She hasn’t had an attack in over a week. The last one wasn’t bad either, lasted only a few minutes. We’ve learned some tricks I can use to help her. She’s happy now. You can see it in her. And that makes me ridiculously happy.”

“I could see it as soon as she walked out the door. She’s looks like a different woman. You look different too. So, how long? And why the fuck am I just now hearing about it? We talk twice a week,” she scowls, arms crossed over her chest.

I roll my eyes and turn to sit on the bed, “I think I’ve loved her since the moment I saw her honestly, but if you want to get technical, four, five, six weeks now. I don’t know, I lose track of time. We finally admitted it to each other the Sunday after I got here. Took us a week. Longest damn week of my life,” I laugh remembering my constant state of blue balls. “As for not saying anything, I don’t know. It just felt right to keep it between just me and her. Well, Al knows, but he figured it out on his own. Not that you would’ve caused any problems, but I didn’t want anything to scare her off, you know? She was so fragile and scared, I wanted to keep her in a bubble. Still do really,” I confess, my nightmare coming back to the front of my mind. “Fuck, Pam. I love her so goddamn much it hurts.”

She sits down beside me and leans her head on my shoulder. “Please tell me it’s a good hurt.”

I swallow down the lump in my throat, cursing my suddenly weak emotions. “The best,” I finally get out.

“Good. I’m happy for you. For both of you. I’ve never believed in all that “meant to be” bullshit, but you two? You could be the poster children for that phrase.”

I huff, “Yeah, we could.” I slap her thigh, “I have a job for you.” I need to talk about less emotional things.

“What?”

“Sookie never went to prom.”

“Seriously? Why the fuck not?”

“It doesn’t matter. I wanna give her one, but I want it to be a big surprise. Can you take her shopping for a dress while you’re here and come up with some excuse for why you need her to? Like maybe you’re looking for ideas for a new line or something. Then buy the one she likes best when she isn’t looking.”

Her face screws up, “I guess I can think up something. When are you doing it?”

“That’s really up to you and you’re schedule. I’ll need you for more than just the dress. How about two weeks?”

“Two weeks? Eric!” she yells jumping up.

“Shhhhh!”

“Sorry. But for fuck’s sake, that’s not enough time. You have to get a place, a DJ, decorations, the dress, your tux.” she fusses, going over the list one finger at a time. “And what about other people? It won’t feel like prom if it’s just the two of you.”

“Calm down. I have a place already. Stan said we could do it at the SCAD museum. I think I wanna do it in the courtyard. It’ll be plenty warm enough. It’ll have to be on a Monday night though, that’s when they’re closed. Him, Hoyt, and Al already know I want to do it and can bring dates. My students would probably love to come too. I’m sure most of the girls have dresses they can use. Hell, I’ll pay for the guys to get tuxes. I already have one. The rest should be easy.”

“Easy? You know nothing. But I’ll handle it. You definitely want to do it in two weeks though? What about your leg?”

“My PT guy says I should be able to handle a night of dancing by then if I don’t get too wild. And we’re thinking of taking off and getting away from this trial shit so the sooner the better. Can you come back for it that quick?”

“It’ll be a bitch getting away from Marcus, but I’ll do it. I’ll call him in a few hours and let him know I’ll need the time off. You know I’m not gonna be able to find her an amazing dress here. I mean we’ll find something, but it won’t be the best,” she grumbles. “You should’ve told me this weeks ago and I could’ve brought some with me.”

I smile at her annoyance. “It’ll be nicer than anything she ever had as a teenager, so it’ll be fine. Thank you, sis. I owe you big time,” I tell her.

“Yeah, yeah. I won’t let you forget I promise.”

—————

She did it. I don’t know how, but Pam pulled together the best looking prom I’ve ever seen. We’ll have to call it a high class prom of course, but it all looks great.

Sookie was already beside herself when I left earlier, she’ll flip when she sees this place.

I asked her to go with me Saturday afternoon in a big way.

I had my students make a huge banner with “Sookie, will you go to prom with me?” painted on it. They drove out and held it up on poles from the back of two of their truck beds. I knew they were coming so I kept Sookie busy in the bedroom so she wouldn’t know they were there until they started honking their horns.

She was in shock for a few long nerve- wracking seconds then she started bawling while the kids whooped and hollered. I was worried at first, then she managed to sob into my chest that I was the most amazing man in the world and she would love to go to prom with me. I guess I did good.

It may be tough to come up with a better proposal, but I’ll think of something.

Pam showed up with Sookie’s dress an hour later, right on time to calm her fears of not having one. She fussed at both of us for tricking her then hugged us to death while crying some more.

Pam’s been hiding out at my place since Friday Which is good cause Bird has been very enthusiastic about thanking me for doing this. She would have put a huge damper on that, but she showed up at Sookie’s bright and early this morning. She insisted that I had to leave the house after lunch so she could get Sookie ready and I could come pick her up like a proper date. Bird cried when Al came to get me. I nearly told Pam to kiss my ass I was staying, but Sookie pulled herself together and promised she would be fine. I gave her a kiss full of all the love I felt for her, told her I loved her, and left before I started crying too.

I wouldn’t have made it through the last two and half months without her, but I’ve  especially needed her these last two weeks. The nightmares have slacked off some, but I still have them and she’s been there everytime to talk me back down and to pick me up during the day when I get upset. I gave up and let her call Claudine last Thursday after we had to go in and be prepped for testifying. I nearly killed Hardwick when he drilled Sookie, preparing her for how the defense attorneys will probably treat her. She had to take me outside to calm me down and I did only because I could tell she was handling it all better than me and meant she was gonna do it no matter what.

Claudine and I talk for an hour every other day now. Sookie was right, it does help. Between the two of them I might just get past this.

Al took me to my house to get ready. I’ve missed the place, but not near as much as I thought I would. I walked around my shop and felt a small twinge to get back to work, but it was very small. I hefted myself up the stairs, Al sworn to secrecy, then sat at the bar just looking around imagining Sookie being there. Laying with me on the sofa watching TV, standing at the stove cooking in her bare feet, hair up in a bun wearing my white button up with nothing underneath. It was a perfect picture that made my heart squeeze and a warmth run low through stomach.

“You gonna move back here soon? Bring Sook with ya?” Al had asked after I had sat  in silence for awhile.

“We haven’t talked about it yet. We’re thinking about taking a long vacation. Like really long, till early August. I guess we can decide where we’re gonna live when we get back. I’ll stay wherever she wants though. I can move my shop to her place, the whole basement is empty. If that’s what we do I can sell this one or maybe we can switch out. Here during the week, there on the weekends.”

“This is a stupid question, but she’s the one isn’t she?” he asked.

“Yep, pretty stupid,” I laughed at him. “She’ll be the one until I die if I have any choice in the matter.”

I had gotten a huge slap on the back and a nod after that confession. “God sure works in mysterious ways, huh?” he muttered.

“That he does.”

That was three hours ago. I got a shower and all spiffed up in my tux, then we went by and got her corsage. Pam said kids don’t do those any more, but they did when me and Bird were in school so I got one for her. Now we’re at the museum checking out Pam’s handy work and to make sure things are on schedule. They are, thankfully. I just finished making sure the DJ had the playlist I wanted – mostly 80’s and 90’s slow songs. No fast ones for me.

I added a few new ones and some classics too. I want her to feel like she’s back in highschool as much as possible.

The limo should be here to pick me up in a few minutes so we can go get her then we’ll go eat. I’ve reserved us a private room at The Ole Pink House which is exactly as it’s title describes – a very old, very pink house – but the food is amazing and the service is even better. I doubt Sook has ever eaten in such a nice place. I’ve only been there a couple of times myself and that was with clients.

The limo pulls up right on time and I tell Alcide I’ll see him later. He’s going home to get ready himself. The ride back to the house takes a bit with the afternoon traffic. Gives me plenty of time to get my stomach twisted in nervous knots. I want this night to be perfect for her.

Finally we’re driving down her driveway and pulling up to the house. I was sternly instructed not to climb the stairs and come to the door, but to honk the horn instead and she’d come out to meet me. I grab her corsage and tell the driver to honk for me then carefully climb out. It would be just my luck to hurt my leg and ruin the whole night. Especially since I’m going sands crutch.

I walk to the front of the car and lean on the hood to rest my leg and wait. My nerves keep me fidgeting with my tie and jacket though. I’m so busy worrying with them I miss the door opening, but I do hear the gasp.

Holy fuck.

She’s…. There aren’t words. Not that I can find anyway. I think my heart has stopped. I know my lungs have. Somehow I manage to stand up and walk towards her. She’s as speechless as me, her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide and watery.

“Don’t you dare cry!” Pam shrieks at her. “Not after all that work.”

“Leave her alone, Pam. This is her night, she can cry if she wants too,” I admonish her, my eyes never leaving Bird’s.

She lets out a giggle mixed with a sob then starts down the steps, a wobbly smile on her beautiful face. Her dress is black as coal with a full billowy skirt that makes her look like she’s floating. The top is fitted tight to her gorgeous curves. Two thick straps hold it up, one over her shoulder the other starts there and comes down across her chest to end under her arm. Her full breasts are pushed up and framed perfectly between them.

I’ll keep her chest pressed against mine all night so no one else can oogle her. That gorgeous view is all mine.

Her hair is a wavy blonde halo around her happy face. Pam’s makeup job is great, but all I care about is how bright her eyes are shining and how big her smile is.

“You’re the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen, Bird,” I whisper to her as she comes to a stop on the bottom step. It and her heels make us the same height for once.

Her smile gets impossibly bigger and her cheeks flush red. “Thank you,” she giggles nervously. “I can say the same about you. I almost died when I walked out and saw you. I knew you would be handsome in a tux, but I had no idea. My heart can’t decide if it wants to beat outta my chest or stop. We may have to get an oxygen tank, cause sweet Jesus, I can hardly breathe you’re so perfect.”

I can’t help but laugh and pull her into a hug. She’s chattering like an over excited little girl and I’ve never felt happier than I do right this moment knowing I had something to do with it.

“No kissing!” Pam shrieks again. “I have to take pictures first!”

We’re too happy to get mad at her or what turns into an endless picture taking session. My face hurts from smiling already, but I can’t stop. Probably won’t all night.

I finally cut Pam and her camera off, we have reservations to get to, and help Sookie into the car. She keeps up with her excited chatter the whole way to the restaurant. I’m nearly high from making her so happy.

The driver lets us out and I lead her into the back entrance. I figured she wouldn’t want to be made a spectacle of by going through the front and all the other diners. A twenty something waitress is already standing at the stairs that lead up to where we’ll eat. Her eyes go wide as saucers and her mouth pops open when she sees us.

“Oh my God,” she gasps, her hand going up to cover her gaping mouth.

Sookie giggles, “He’s something to see, isn’t he?”

“Yes, ma’am, but so are you. Ya’ll have got to be the prettiest things I’ve ever seen!”

“Aww, that’s so sweet of you! Thank you. This amazing man is giving me the prom I never had growing up. Isn’t that the most perfect thing ever?” she gushes.

“Yes, ma’am it sure is,” the awe struck girl gushes right back.

“We’re upstairs, right?” I ask, gently moving them along. We’ll be making a scene soon, there’s already people staring at us from the kitchen.

“Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry! Yes, sir,  ya’ll are upstairs. Right this way, please,” she apologizes and leads us up the stairs.

Sookie scowls at me with worry as I use the handrails to hop up them, but thankfully lets me go. We get to the top, go down a short hallway and then enter the front room.

“Oh, Eric! It’s so perfect.”

She’s staring around the room, eyes wide and misty. It does look great. They’ve strung twinkle light from the ceiling, the whole ceiling. There’s so many they’re the only source of light. Our table is set by a large window over looking the street, and there’s soft music playing. It very small and intimate. Like she said, perfect.

I get her over to the table and help her sit down, then sit myself. Our little waitress immediately pipes up putting on her polite manners, “My name is Allie and I’m honored to serve you tonight. I’m gonna let you look over the menu a few minutes while I go get you some bread. Ya’ll are top priority tonight so please order anything you want, even if it’s not on the menu.”

“Thank you, Allie,” Sookie beams at her making the girl blush. “Isn’t she adorable?” she coos once Allie’s hurried away.

“You are,” I whisper, leaning over and brushing the backs of my fingers over her cheek.

“Stop. You’ll make me cry and Pam will have a fit,” she fusses, trying not to do exactly that.

I take her hand in mine and kiss her fingers. “I love seeing you so happy, Bird.”

“I love you for making me so happy. We’ve barely started, but this is already one of the best nights of my life. Thank you,” she finishes in a choked whisper.

“The pleasure is most definitely mine,” I tell her kissing her hand again. “I’m starving, let’s figure out what we want to eat.”

Allie came back and Sookie ordered a filet mignon with a twice baked potato and a salad, I got the grilled pork tenderloin with a sweet potato and mac-n-cheese. We decided to sample each other’s once they got here.

We have a few minutes and the music’s right so I stand up and hold my hand out to her, “Dance with me? I need a refresher course before we get there,” I confess with a smile

“I’d love to,” she says sweetly, taking my hand. “But only one, I don’t want to wear your leg out before we even get there.”

“I took it easy yesterday and today, I’ll be fine. I’ll take a pain pill if I need one. I promise I won’t let anything spoil out night,” I assure her, pulling her close and kissing her forehead. She puts one hand on my shoulder and hold her other one between us and we slowly sway and spin around the room, her head on my chest, mine resting on hers.

When the song changes to another she stops and looks up at me, “I love you so much, Eric. You’re too wonderful for words.”

“I love you more. I’m gonna kiss you now, Pam’s not here to yell at us and I’ve been dying to do it since I saw you on those stairs,” I whisper against her lips.

She smiles against mine and whispers, “It’s about time, I was beginning to think you never would.”

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23 thoughts on “24. Tear in My Heart

  1. I’m so happy to see an update for this! Thank you!!!!
    Aw! He is just so perfect for her! Love all the detail he’s putting into Prom. I’m glad that he’s talking to Claudine too. Sookie can help but talking to a professional will help even more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just couldn’t stand losing most of this chapter. Made me mad enough to buckle down and get it done, lol. It’s not exactly what I had down before, but it’s close 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it. I’m determined to finish this one by the end of March. We’ll see if I manage. Thanks for reading!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks do much for helping with the link. What a great chapter . So much happened and I really enjoyed reading it. I’m glad Eric told Sookie about his dreams and fears and is getting help
    The I loves yous were amazing .it was so fun to see Pam too. I clapped when Eric declared he was going to marry her. The way he loves her by showing her and planning the prom are truly amazing !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In my head, they are dancing to Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight… oh, it was so wonderful! So glad that Eric is talking to Claudine. Is it evil of me to hope those jerks get shanked in jail, and they never have yo go to trial and can take off for Tahiti!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh so happy to see an update!
    Eric is so sweet and perfect, gosh I cried all through the chapter!
    It’s good that Eric started talking with Claudine about his nightmares.
    Hugd
    Jackie69

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Awww (I seem to say that a lot). What a lovely chapter. The beauty of the prom mitigates the stress of the trial. Sookie’s been through so much, it could be that she won’t be fazed by the defense attorney. That’s what I’m hoping.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They deal effectively with the worst in each other; they deal seamlessly with the best in each other; they effortlessly evoke love from each other. Thoroughly enjoyed the update. Please don’t make us wait long for another!

    Liked by 1 person

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