You’ve been running with the ghost again
Singing “It’s all gonna fall like we’re living a lie.”
You’ve been tearing up these walls again
Ain’t no place left here
For a girl to hide
You know I tell you just like it is
Gonna walk that far in the scars of another guy
And I’m not gonna give up all of this
There’s room left here for me to fly
And if our love is a hurricane
Baby you know I can stand the rain
Let it lift us off the floor
Build it up
Tear it down
Let it fall right to the ground
All the words
That we could bleed
Let it fly
Just you and me
The Conversation-Mat Kearney and Young Summer
“Here’s the steak. You get it started and I’ll work on the peppers and onions as soon as I swap the laundry.”
“Sure thing, sweet cheeks,” I smile, taking it from her with a kiss to one cheek and a pat on another one much lower.
She rolls her eyes as she walks away, but she’s grinning. I pull out what I need to cut and cook the steak and get started on our lunch.
It’s been three weeks since our prom night and thankfully they’ve been relatively stress free and happy.
The trial date has been set for January of next year, so that’s off our backs for a while. I’d much rather those bastards be dead, but rotting in jail will have to do.
We decided to hold off on our extended vacation till the end of the summer. I’m doing better emotionally with everything since talking to Claudine every week and we really needed to stick around until my leg is healed. Dr. T and Tristan insisted, but promised to do what they could to move that process along.
So I’ve been doing even more physical therapy. Tristan’s not a bad dude. He knows his shit and he’s helping me get into better shape than I’ve ever been in. I’m almost back to normal with my upper body strength and the leg is coming along too. He’s really happy with my progress. I still have pain, especially in the mornings and when it rains, but it’s not horrible. Considering I could’ve died, I can handle some aches and pains.
But I’m hoping after tomorrow I can get some relief from a few of them. Sookie and I are going to Dr. T’s first thing in the morning. I finally have the appointment to get my pins out, the external ones anyway. Fingers crossed I’ll really be able to get back to normal after that.
I’m so fucking ready to get behind the wheel of my baby again. I have missed driving more than I ever thought I could. Taking Sookie out on date this week is first on my agenda, I just haven’t decided where we’re going yet. Definitely the beach–I want to see her in that bikini again–but up the coast or down I’m not sure. I want it to be a nice long drive though. We can have the top down if we leave early enough in the day. It’s not too hot for that yet. I can already see her hair blowing everywhere and the smile on her face.
The two of us have settled into an easy routine. Like insanely easy. It was good before prom, but now I’m able to help her around the house instead of her waiting on me hand and foot. We’re equal partners now. We do everything together. Cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking. You name it.
I figured after being a bachelor for so long I wouldn’t like living with anyone–I’m a bit of a neat freak. But she is too so there isn’t any fussing about clothes strewn everywhere or toothpaste all over the sink. I don’t think we’ve even had an argument yet. I’m sure we will eventually, but I also know we’ll be able to handle it. And I know it’s still early, but it seems like we’ve been doing this for years already. And I don’t even really miss my place, she makes this one feel like the best home I could ever dream up.
We go on walks in the evening, or sometimes in the mornings if it’s too hot. Those have become my favorite part of the day. We talk about everything and nothing, just holding hands and walking barefoot in the grass or sand. We’ve even been fishing a time or two. Not to mention watched a hell of a lot of Netflix and having more than our fair share of sex.
It’s been perfect in my book.
“Should I start packing up your stuff while you’re at therapy?” she asks, startling me.
I didn’t hear her come back into the kitchen.
And pack up my stuff? What the hell is she talking about? Maybe that first argument is already here.
Or maybe not.
She’s standing at the sink, head down and her bottom lip is trapped between her teeth. She drops the bell pepper she’s washing off, her hands shaking as she scrambles to pick it up again.
I push the pan off the hot eye and turn the stove off too. I know exactly what’s going on and I’m gonna nip it in the bud right now.
She has it in her silly head that since I’m getting my pins out it means I’m moving back to my house.
I don’t know what she’s been drinking, but…
I walk over to her and turn the water off while gently lifting her face towards mine. Her eyes squeeze shut and a tear escapes down her cheek.
My chest gets that familiar, but unwelcome ache.
I pull her against me and wrap my arms around her. She starts sobbing just as I suspected she would, her wet hands cold on my bare skin.
While I’ve been doing better emotionally, her hormones–or at least that’s what she says it’s been–have had her out of sorts this week. She’s had two attacks, slept a lot more than usual, and even dissociated the other day. I hadn’t seen her do that in a while, it was hard to see. And scary. She cried for a good thirty minutes after she came out of it. She’s cried a lot this week. Including every time we’ve had sex, which I have to admit has been very disconcerting, but she always asks me to keep going, begs me even. So I have, but I’ve done my best to be as attentive and gentle with her as possible. She’s even cried during every episode of Lost we’ve watched, not to mention the number of commercials that have gotten her. She’s been really clingy too, not that I’ve minded that in the least.
I haven’t been able to get her to admit it was anymore than hormones though. I’ve tried not to push her. Pushing doesn’t work on me so….
I had a crazy mix of fear and excitement thinking she may be pregnant when I first realized she was acting different. But to my surprising disappointment she assured me she’s not.
I’ve tried not to think too much about how disappointed I was.
She swears she had mood swings like this the first two months too. Somehow I missed them. I figure I was too drugged on meds or love to notice till now. And things were so crazy for us too.
I rub her back and play with her hair as I shush her, swaying us back and forth, then hug her tighter and kiss the top of her pretty head. “Come sit with me.”
We get to the table and she tries to sit in the other chair. I reach out and hook an arm around her hips and pull her down on my lap. She doesn’t fight, instead burying herself into my chest as far as she can. I just hold her and let her cry for a few more minutes. It’s better to just let her get it out.
When her sniffing starts to slow a bit I grab a napkin or two off the table and hand them to her. She cleans up my wet chest first then blows her nose loudly making me smile.
She can be so cute.
“What are you smiling at?” she asks.
“I love the way you blow your nose,” I tell her, kissing it.
She snorts and rolls her eyes. “You’re ridiculous.”
I shrug. “It’s cute and if you think about it, it should answer your question.”
Her brow wrinkles so I sit her up and get her to straddle my lap then brush her hair back off her face and shoulders. “Do you want me to move out?”
She bites her lip again, dropping her head and shaking it. “No. No I don’t, but we haven’t talked about it and I just didn’t know if…”
I cup her face, making her look at me. “Good, because I wasn’t planning on going anywhere any time soon. Not unless you’re coming too.”
I can literally feel the relief wash over her. Her whole body relaxes and her eyes lose some of their sadness. Even her lips twitch a little.
The ability she has to break my heart knows no bounds.
I slide my fingers into her hair and pull her towards me for a kiss, keeping it soft and sweet. “I love you, Sookie. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispers.
I shake my head. “No, I’m sorry. We should have talked about it before now. We’ve been so happy I didn’t think it was necessary. But now’s probably a good idea, don’t you think?”
I decide to jump right in. “Do you remember our first night together?”
A sly smile blooms across her face, her eyes twinkling. I tickle up her thighs, grinning back at her. “Not those parts, dirty girl.”
She squirms and giggles, “But they were sooooooo memorable.”
“Yes, they definitely were,” I agree pulling her closer and kissing her again. This time not so sweetly.
After a few minutes of that she pushes away, panting, “Talking. We were talking.”
“Yeah, sorry. I’ll behave.” I smooth her hair back down then rest my hands on her hips and get back on task. “I was talking about what I told you when you were worried I didn’t love you.”
“I remember. I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
“Then why on earth would you think I’d want to leave?”
She shrugs, looking sheepish. “I don’t know. That was two months ago. And they’ve been amazing, but my stupid messed up brain starts thinking it’s all too good to be true. That I’m not enough, that you’ll get tired of me event…..”
I grab her face. “Please stop. You know none of that is true. Right?”
She sighs. “I want too, I really do, but you know how my brain works. I can’t help it.”
Sitting here looking at her like this, seeing her afraid again, I know once more I’ll do absolutely anything for her. Anything to free her of the pain and fears. No matter how crazy or impossible. And I won’t stop, however many times it takes I’ll keep going. I never want her to doubt herself or me again.
I rub my thumbs over her damp cheeks wishing it was as easy to wipe away her grief as it is her tears. Gathering everything I feel for her I pour it into my eyes and words. “Bird, I meant it then and I mean it now. You are my home. Wherever you are, that’s home for me. And I don’t ever want to leave home again.”
She lets out this pitiful laughing sob and throws her arms around my neck. “I don’t want you to either.”
I hold her to me as tight as I can without hurting her. “I won’t, I swear it. I love you too damn much. You’ll have to chisel me loose if you ever decide to get rid of me, okay?” I promise, kissing her hair.
“I love you too. I’m sorry I’m such a wreck this week,” she whimpers.
I squeeze her tighter then rub her back. “Shhh, it’s okay. It’s not like it’s a job for me to tell you how much I love you. I’ll do it all day everyday if that’s what you need.”
She does some more of the pitiful laughter and kisses my neck a few times.
I keep rubbing her back and pepper kisses over her shoulder. She wearing one of her sexy little dresses. There’s no straps holding it up so it leaves plenty of her soft skin for me kiss.
It brings a memory to the surface. One that’s too relevant not to wonder about God and his mysterious ways. I can’t keep it to myself either.
“I remember my mom fussing at dad one time that he didn’t say he loved her often enough. You know what he told her?”
“What?” she asks, sitting up again and wiping at her eyes.
Thank God some of the shadows have left them.
I reach up and stroke her cheek. “He smiled at her and said, ‘Honey, I told you the day I married you I loved you. If I ever change my mind I’ll let you know. Until then know that I do.’ Then he leaned over and kissed her shoulder before walking away liked he’d been on stage and had just said the last poignant line of a play.”
She laughs a little. “I’m not sure if that’s sweet or not.”
I huff, “Yeah, I wondered at first too. Mom had rolled her eyes at him, but when he walked away she got this smile. One I had never seen on her face before. She looked lighter, but also like she’d just figured out the key to everything. I was fifteen at the time, and had never given their marriage or love a second’s thought. They were just my parents, you know? But I thought about it then because she looked happier than I’d ever seen her. Than I’d ever seen anyone. I mean she’d always been a happy person, but right then she glowed. I stood there, leaning against the kitchen counter and couldn’t look away from her face. All I could think about was would I ever be able to make a girl smile that way.”
“Aww, sweetie,” she coos, leaning over and hugging me again.
I wrap my arms back around her, tucking my face into her warm neck. “I want to make you smile that way everyday. Nothing would make me happier. So I promise from here on out you’ll never have to doubt how I feel about you. I’ll tell you a thousand times a day if I need too. I love you. I don’t ever want to leave you. I don’t care where we live, here, my place, or back and forth between them. I’d even be fine if you wanted to sell em both and buy some place that’s just ours.”
She pulls back and looks at me surprised. “You want to buy a house with me?”
That’s what she got out of all of that?
I smile, and steal a kiss from her parted lips. “What part of, ‘I don’t ever want to leave you’ didn’t you get, silly? You’re it for me. I want to spend the rest of my life doing everything with you, Sookie.”
Her big blue eyes blink slowly, she swallows, starts to speak then stops.
Shit, that might have been too much of a declaration. Maybe she isn’t ready for that yet.
“Sookie, I’m…” I stop seeing a scowl gathering on her pretty face.
“Did you just propose to me, Eric Northman?”
Now I’m the one faltering because I have absolutely no clue if she’s mad or happy with me. Does a scowl always equal mad? Maybe? Probably?
“No? Not really?” I try.
Her eyebrows go up as she sits further back and crosses her arms over her chest.
“I plan to,” I rush out. “I guess you could say I was stating my intentions.”
She relaxes a little, her scowl disappearing. I take a risk and grab her hands, bringing them up to my lips and kissing her fingers.
“I want to marry you. I want you to be my wife and I want to be your husband. I want it all with you, Bird. I’ve been thinking of asking you for almost two months now. And I will ask you, properly. When the time is right and I’m sure you’re ready.”
“Two months? You’ve only known me for three. Isn’t a month kinda fast?”
“Maybe. But think about it. We got forced together pretty damn quick, and we’ve spent practically every hour of the last three months together, right? Not to mention everything we’ve been through. Lots of couples never go through the things we have.”
“Don’t you think we know each other better than people that’ve been together for three times that? Or six times? I mean if you stretched it out we’re probably more like a couple that’s been together for a year or so. We may have moved quick, but I for one don’t regret a minute of it. Even with everything we’ve been through, they’ve been the best three months I’ve ever had. Every week gets better than the last. I always find something new to love about you every day too. I’ve never felt this way about anyone but you, Sookie. I know you’re the one. I feel in my bones.”
She stares at me for a minute, a multitude of emotions crossing her face, finally she settles on a smirk. “Sappy much?”
I sniff, smiling back. “For you, yes. I can put the award for biggest sap next to my world’s greatest ass one,” I declare with a wink.
She laughs, running her fingers through my hair then cupping my face. “I think you could win all the awards, Mr. Northman.”
I sigh dramatically, rolling my eyes towards the ceiling. “It’s such hard work, but I do try.”
Her giggles fill the room as she wraps herself around me. “I love you so much, you goof.”
I hold her to me and kiss forehead. “I love you too, beautiful. More than you can imagine.”
We sit there for a while just enjoying being held. And even though we’ve cleared the air a bit, I need it clearer. It’s not a conversation I want to have, but one we really need to.
“I want you to know that I’m not trying to rush you. I’ll understand if it’s too soon for you. If you’re never ready to marry again and just want to keep going like we are, I can handle that. Just because I’m already there doesn’t mean you are. You’ve been where I am before. I don’t know if it feels the same or isn’t as good as it was with him, but…”
She pulls out of my arms and puts her fingers over my lips. “Shush.”
“Sorry,” I mumble because it’s all I can do.
She shakes her head a little, leaning over and kissing me. “I’m not upset with you. I’m glad you brought it up.” She looks down and starts playing with her dress. “There’s things I probably need to tell you.”
My heart drops into my gut and I have to swallow hard so it doesn’t come rushing up my throat. But I asked for this, now I have to deal with it.
It’s okay if she loved him more. I can handle it. I can.
Maybe if I tell myself that enough, I’ll eventually believe it.
But I’m glad she’s looking down still cause I don’t think I can look her in the eye right now.
I try not to ever think about them or wonder how often she compares me to him. It shouldn’t matter, I shouldn’t want to compete with a ghost. I shouldn’t want to be better than him. I can’t seem to help it though. That probably makes me a huge asshole. Like the World’s Biggest actually.
That’s a trophy I sure as hell don’t want.
She clears her throat and takes a shaky breath. I do my best to keep my body relaxed and not let her figure out how nervous I am.
“The reason I’ve been out of sorts this week isn’t all because of my hormones.”
Okay? Now I’m really fucking nervous. She seems to be waiting on me to respond so I nod, because I can’t speak.
Her eyes dart away. They’re filling with tears. “They…. died…..two years ago Thursday.”
Jesus Christ. No fucking wonder she’s been so out of sorts.
“God, Bird,” I pull her into my arms, stroking her hair. “Why didn’t you tell me? I’m so sorry, angel. I’m so so sorry.”
She clings to me and cries, but it’s not the sobbing I expected. Just quiet sniffles and shaky breaths. She stays still for only a minute or two then sits up. I grab a few more napkins and hand them to her. She starts dabbing at her eyes.
“I don’t know why I didn’t tell you, I’m sorry.”
“Sookie, you don’t need to be sorry for that. It’s okay. I mean if I had known I would’ve tried to do whatever you needed, but I probably would’ve tried too hard and made it awkward or worse.”
She shakes her head. “No, that’s the thing. You’ve done nothing but make it easier for me. I wanted to die this time last year. If I hadn’t been in Serenity I would’ve found a way.” She lets out a wry huff. “Hell, I wanted to kill myself three months ago. I had lost every ounce of hope I had, I couldn’t find joy in anything. Every day was just about surviving from one breath to the next. Now it’s different. It was a hard week, but I never once thought about dying except that I was grateful I never went through with it. Because I have you now.”
Her eyes turn huge and glassy as she reaches up and traces her fingers over my face. “You changed everything for me.”
I smile a little, taking her hands in mine and kissing her fingertips one by one. “You did the same for me.”
Her head tilts and she smiles back softly. “I don’t think you really understand how much though and I don’t know if I can explain things right, but I’m gonna try, okay?”
“When I first saw you? What I felt–just seeing you smiling at me, hearing your voice? It was like having a million butterflies on coke inside me,” she laughs softly.
I squeeze her hips. “I felt it too.”
Her smile gets a little brighter, but she looks down and starts playing with the draw strings on my shorts. “I’d never felt that before, that thrilling shock. Not with Trey, not with anyone. It scared me, but I didn’t want it to go away either. I felt alive for those few minutes. Then our day went to hell and you almost died and I was so scared and confused. I fought my feelings for a while because I didn’t think I should feel them. I thought I didn’t deserve to love again, because it would be like cheating on them. I felt so guilty, but I wanted nothing more than to stay by your side. I even tried to stay away and I couldn’t. It took me a couple of weeks but I finally figured I wouldn’t be having feelings for you if I wasn’t ready. It was a lot easier after that.”
She looks up again, her small smile still there, then takes a deep breath and lets it out. Dropping the strings she wraps her hands around my forearms, squeezing them before loosening her grip to rub the smooth skin inside my elbows with her thumbs.
She’s nervous and it’s making me nervous.
“You said something about not knowing if it was same. It’s not. It’s different with you. For lots of reasons.”
Fuck. Keep it together Eric. You gotta keep it together for her.
“None of those reasons are bad though. You’re not him and I don’t want you to be.” She reaches up with one hand and lays it over my heart, “I love you because you’re you.”
See, she loves you, that’s all that matters.
I give her the best smile I can manage at the moment. It’s small, but she takes it and gives me one in return then lays against my chest. My arms instinctively go around her and I gently rub her back, resting my cheek on top of her head.
Maybe she won’t noticed how hard my heart is pounding.
“I’m not who I was when I married him either. Not by a long shot. I was just a young kid, scared and alone, and desperate for someone to love me. He did. He loved me the best way he knew how and for the kid I was it was enough. I did the same for him too. I loved him, I loved him very much. He was my first everything and he was half of our little boy. My baby’s father.”
Her tears are back, her voice full of pain. It’s killing me, but I stay quiet just holding her to me.
“He’ll always mean something to me–have a special place in my heart. But….but he’s not……”
Her small broken cries break my heart.
She sits back up and it cracks a little more. There’s so much in her eyes now. Not just love, but pain and desperation too. It’s my fault. I brought him up when I should’ve kept my fucking mouth shut. I pull her to me resting my forehead against hers. “Shhh, you don’t have to do this right now. It’s okay.”
“Yes I do. I need to, for me, and for you,” she whispers.
I take her face in my hands and kiss her forehead for a long moment then let her go. She wipes her tears away and sits up taller then takes my hands in hers, her eyes locking on mine.
Her strength will never fail to amaze me.
I pray God will give me some. Because something’s coming, I can feel it and I’m not sure I’m gonna be able to handle it.
“I loved him, part of me always will, but….” She grips my hands tighter, taking in a breath and letting it out.
Here it comes.
“I love you more.”
Her words hit me and I’m shocked at the guilt flooding through me. My chest tightens and my throat does too. I feel sick. I thought they’d be exactly what I wanted to hear. Somehow they’re not.
I have to stop this, for both our sakes.
“Sookie, please. Don’t. I don’t have to know.” I pull my hands out of her grasp and rub my face. I can’t look at her.
She couldn’t have meant them. He was her first everything and the father of her child, she just said it. She can’t possibly love someone she’s only known a few months more than that. She shouldn’t. He should always be first for her.
“No.” She grabs my wrists and pulls. I let her. She’s staring me down and I have to look away. “Eric, you got to tell me how you feel about me, now it’s my turn.”
I hang my head, still not able to face her.
She pulls me close, letting my forehead rest on her shoulder while she strokes my hair. “You don’t need to feel guilty, Eric. Please don’t, okay? You didn’t steal me from them or take them away from me. All you’ve done is love me when I needed it most. I don’t think he would be anything but grateful towards you. I thought for a long time being alone was what I should be, but I know he never would’ve seen it that way. He wouldn’t want me to be alone. He’d want me to be happy.”
She takes my face in her hands and makes me look at her. “And you make me happy, Eric. I was happy with Trey, but not like this. I didn’t even know it could be like it is with us. You’ve shown me what love between a man and a woman can really be. That’s part of the reason I’ve been so afraid I’ll lose you–that you’ll leave. Because I love you beyond reason. The way I loved Trey, still love him, it’s paler in comparison. Maybe it shouldn’t be, I don’t know. I just know it is.”
I take in a painful breath, my eyes closing. I shouldn’t be happy to know any of this.
“Eric, look at me. Please.” I take another breath and open my eyes. She doesn’t waste anytime continuing. “Everything with you is just more. It is. I know you feel it. I see it in your eyes all the time. They look at me the way I feel looking at you. Like when you walk into the room I get excited even if you’ve only been gone a few minutes. And that hasn’t happened just a few times, it happens every time. When I wake up and you’re there beside me either already smiling at me or sound asleep? I feel like I could take on the world. When you touch me it’s ten thousand times that. The things you make me feel…..what you can do to my body with yours….I don’t think there’s words to describe it. There’s something between us I never had with him.”
I sigh, dejected at how torn I am. I know what she’s talking about, because I feel it too, but it doesn’t dampen the guilt. I grab her hips and lift her off of my lap and stand up before she can stop me. I need space to think. I go to the sink and look out the window for a minute.
She sighs and I hear her plop down in one of the chairs. “Eric, I don’t get it. Do you not want me to love you more than him?”
I turn around and lean against the counter, crossing my arms and pinching the bridge of my nose. “A big part of me does. I want you to love me every bit as much as I love you. But I love you more than life itself and that’s why I feel like a complete asshole.”
“Why in the hell would you feel like an asshole for loving me?” she asks, more than a little irritated.
“No, no, no. Not for loving you. God, I suck at this,” I groan, throwing my head back and scrubbing my face with my hands. I run my fingers roughly through my hair and let out a harsh sigh, before facing her again.
She looks thoroughly confused and definitely irritated.
I walk over to her and pull her up out of her chair, and rub her arms trying to ease the sting of my fucked-up-ness. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what it is. I just feel like…like I’m ruining your memories of him or something. Like I’m trying to wipe him out and take his place even though I don’t want to do any of that. I feel like a complete dickhead.”
Her face softens as she reaches for me again. “Eric, you can’t take his place and I know you’d never try to. He’ll always be there, always be a part of me. Just like Lucas, Gran, and everyone else I’ve lost. Just like your parents are still a part of you. I can’t erase them from your heart or your mind, they’ll always be with you, right?”
“Yeah, I know all of that, I do. I just can’t shake the guilt.” I kiss her head and walk back over to the lean on the counter again. “And I’m not being adopted. We’re talking about you having another husband.”
She stays where I left her, staring at me a minute, then crosses her arms. “You know, guilt’s a reaction we have when we’ve done something wrong. Does that mean you think loving me is wrong?”
I let out another sigh and drop my head. “No, of course I don’t, I already told you it wasn’t about loving you. Loving you is the best thing I’ve ever done. And I don’t mean I’m a good person for loving you, I mean loving you has made me a better person.”
She smiles at my frustration, walking over and straddling my out stretched legs so she can lean on me. We loop our arms around each other’s waists and she looks up. “You were a good person before I ever got here. If loving me is all you’re guilty of, then you aren’t guilty at all. You haven’t done anything wrong, baby. You’ve done everything right. You brought me back to the land of the living and taught me I could love again and be loved in return. Please don’t ever feel bad for doing any of that.”
“I don’t, I really don’t. I’m sorry, I guess I’m not making any sense.”
“Do I deserve to be happy?”
“What? Of course you do. Why would you ask that? If anyone does it’s you.”
“Well you make me happy. Other than Lucas no one has ever made me as happy as you do. So just let go of whatever this is and be happy with me.”
“But Sookie, what about this past week. I haven’t seen you have such a hard time in…”
“It wasn’t guilt I was wrestling with, Eric.”
“Then what was it?”
She pulls away and takes my hands, pulling me towards to table. “Let’s sit so your leg doesn’t bother you.”
I follow her over. She waits for me sit down then settles herself on my lap again and wraps me in a hug. I can’t help but enjoy having her in my arms despite how off-balance I feel. Everything just feels better when she holds me.
Her hands rub over my bare shoulders, then she kisses my cheek and sits up. “I’m really sorry about this week. I should have talked with you about it. But I promise it wasn’t guilt, it was me seeing that my future is right in front of me and realizing it’s finally time to let go of the past.”
She smiles at me, it’s half sad, half happy. I lace my fingers with hers and gently squeeze them.
“They’re gone, they’ve been gone, but I have fought like mad for two years to hang on to them. I don’t understand why they had to die, but I don’t guess we’re meant to understand everything. It was supposed to me that went to the store that day, but I got a bad headache. I never got headaches that bad.”
Her brow wrinkles as her eyes turn away, staring at nothing, but when she looks back they’re once again in focus. “He offered to go for me and took Lucas so I could rest. It should’ve been me and not them, but that’s not what happened. I have to trust that God knows what’s best and stop hanging onto what’s already gone. I can’t do that anymore. It’s not fair to them or me. They deserve to be left in peace and I deserve to be happy. No amount of self loathing, begging or pleading is going bring them back. God left me here for a reason. I have to stop questioning it and make the most of what I do have.”
I could see her strength building with each word she said, now she looks stronger than I’ve ever seen her, her eyes bright and determined. It settles something in me and lifts a weight from me too.
A soft smile lightens her beautiful face and she pulls my hands up to her mouth and kisses over my knuckles. “You’re what I have. He’s given me a second chance with you. We were meant to meet and fall in love. I know it and you should too. I mean think about all the things that brought the two of us here.”
She gets up off my lap and starts pacing around the kitchen. I let her go since I can tell she isn’t upset. She seems more excited than anything.
“There were things set in motion before either of us were even born. Like this house. It was handed down through Trey’s family for generations. Now it’s mine. I could’ve sold it and never set foot in it again,” she stops and looks at me, eyebrows raised, “but I didn’t.” She starts another lap, her hands flying. “And what about the fact that your parents chose to live in Savannah instead of where they grew up. Or that you chose to stay and not move off. It’s crazy enough that both of us came to be in this town, but it’s nothing but divine intervention that put us in that Starbucks at the same time that morning. I’d been here a week locked in this house, but for some reason I decided I needed to get out that morning. Then I decided I needed coffee. Then I choose to go inside instead of through the drive thru.”
She comes to a stop in front of me, one hand on a cocked hip the other pointing a finger right at me.
I bite my lip so I don’t laugh.
“Not a minute later you walked in. You could’ve went through the drive thru and we never would’ve met. But you didn’t!” she nearly yells.
“You’re right,” I say, smiling at her enthusiasm.
“Damn right I’m right. So you can’t tell me I’m not supposed to be in this kitchen with you right now. And you don’t get tell me I shouldn’t love you as much as I do either. I can love you as much as I damn well please and you’re gonna like it mister.”
I lose it then, not able to hold my laughter back. Thankfully she finds herself just as funny as I do. I pull her back into my lap and we laugh together until all the tension has washed away.
Once we calm a bit she gives me a stern look. “I meant it, Eric. You don’t get to decide that I love you too much and you aren’t gonna feel guilty for it either, you got me?”
I pull her into a tight hug. “I got you, Bird.”
“Good. I’m glad we got all that settled. I feel much better, don’t you?” she asks sitting up and running her hands over my shoulders and down my chest.
I’m so glad she’s as touchy-feely as I am.
“I do feel better. But I swore when we started this conversation it was me comforting you.”
She smirks and shrugs her shoulders. “We comforted each other that’s what we’re supposed to do. I think we’re pretty good at this relationship thing.”
I chuckle. “I guess we are.”
“Yep we are. And that means once we’re married we’ll be ahead of the game.”
My heart skips a beat and my eyebrows hit the ceiling.
She smiles softly and leans over and kisses me for a long moment before looking at me again. “I’m ready. Just make it a surprise okay? I like surprises.”
I grab her face with both hands and kiss her until we’re both breathless and have to pull away for air.
“What are we talking about?”
“Exactly,” she laughs.
I smile back. “I love you, Bird. So damn much.”
“And I love you,” she says, giving me another kiss before hugging me. “There is something I need to do before you pop the question though.”
That sounds serious so I ease her back so I can see her. “What that?”
“I need to go back to Bon Temps and pack up the house. It’s time to sell it.”
Yeah, it was serious.
“Are you sure? You know you don’t have to do that for me. I don’t care if you want to keep it.”
She shakes her head. “No, I’m sure. And it’d be more for me than you. I know you’d be fine with it, but I’m ready to put the ghosts to rest and let my boys and I have some peace. And I want us to have a fresh start with no shadows hanging over us.”
I pull her close, kissing her forehead.
“Will you come with me?” she whispers when I let her go. “You don’t have to or anything, I’d understand if you didn’t want….”
“Of course I’ll come. I’m not going to let you go alone.”
“The trip might be too much for you though, not to mention being there,” she says, nibbling at her lip.
Even after all we’ve said today..
I reach over and pull her lip free of her teeth with my thumb, then rub over it. “I’ll be fine with both. We can make a trip out of it. I wanted to take you to the beach next week anyway.”
That puts a smile on her face again. “You did?”
“Yep, I was already planning it. We can drive out there instead, take our time. Drive over to the panhandle and spend a night or two at the beach, then stop in Mississippi for a bit, then head to Bon Temps. What do you think? We can hire a truck to bring back anything you want to keep here.”
“That sounds great. Thank you, baby,” she says pulling my face to hers and kissing me.
We finished up our lunch and then she dropped me off at therapy. When she got home she started packing for our trip instead of packing me up to move out. That night after supper we sat down with my laptop and booked our hotels. We’ll leave Friday morning and head over to Destin for three nights then hit Natchez for another two. We should make it to Bon Temps by next Wednesday.
While she got a shower I did some more cruising on the internet and found just what I was looking for right here in Savannah. We’re going shopping after my doctor’s appointment tomorrow.