If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.
Kind woman, I give you my all, kind woman, nothing more.
Little drops of rain whisper of the pain, tears of loves lost in the days gone by.
My love is strong, with you there is no wrong,
together we shall go until we die.
My, my, my.
An inspiration is what you are to me, inspiration, look… see.
And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.
Happiness, no more be sad, happiness….I’m glad.
If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.
Finding the right time to surprise Sookie with my proposal is a lot harder than I thought it would be. Coming up with the proposal is even harder. After going all out on her prom…well, let’s just say I might should’ve toned that down a bit.
I can’t think of a single thing to top it.
The ring’s been in my pocket for over three weeks now and it’s beginning to give me Gollum vibes. I’m always aware of it, heavy and almost warm against my leg. I feel it’s absence when I tuck it away every night. And hoping to get a sudden inspiration, I’m constantly playing with it and looking at it every time I’m alone. It’s precious to me because she is, but it belongs on her finger, not in my fucking pocket.
I have got to figure this out before I go nuts.
I did think to sneak in a conversation with Lafayette before we left Bon Temps to ask how Trey had asked her. I wanted to make sure I didn’t ask her the same way he did.
She worked so hard to put the past behind her, I refuse to be the fuck up that drags it back.
He did the ring in a cupcake thing so I’ll definitely be steering away from any food or drink related proposals.
I’ve thought of just going simple, nothing fancy. Just pulling it out and dropping to one knee at a random moment. She’s worth so much more than that though.
I nearly asked her two weeks ago after we had the most incredible sex I’ve ever known. It was shortly after we got home. We hadn’t made love in what felt like forever, even though it had only been four or five days. I wasn’t going to push her. I let her come to me and she finally did. We started out hot and frenzied, ready to feast after the famine, but we both ended up in tears. There wasn’t a word spoken between us, they weren’t needed. We said it all with our eyes and bodies as we slowly moved together then shattered into a million pieces.
Sookie and I have had some amazing sex, the best I’ve ever had, but this was beyond all that. I’ve heard sex can be a spiritual experience, I absolutely believe that now.
The ring and even the piece of paper that will follow it could never connect us together any tighter than that night did.
Maybe it was because she could finally give all of herself to me, I don’t know. It was just different and more beautiful in all the right ways. It wasn’t about giving each other orgasms, it was so much more, like our souls split and fused together.
I should’ve done it then. I should’ve just asked her. It would’ve been perfect.
Or maybe not. Maybe I dodged a bullet. Seems like I’ve heard girls don’t like getting asked after sex. That it should be all about love and nothing about sex.
But isn’t sex a big part of love and being in a relationship?
God, Eric. What the fuck?
I’m going crazy. This is literally driving me crazy.
“Eric? Everything okay?” Stan asks, laying a hand on my shoulder and scaring the shit out of me. I nearly jump out of my skin.
I’ve been back at work for a few days now, getting ready for the new semester. My kids start Monday. I’ve never been more unprepared.
Stan stares at me, clearly concerned as I calm down. Or try to.
“I’m alright. You just startled me.”
“Sorry about that, but I’m more worried about how you were before I startled you. Since when do you talk to yourself?”
“Fuck. Was I really?”
He nods, eyebrows raised.
I lean back in my chair and scrub my face, groaning. “I’m going crazy.”
“It’s too soon, isn’t it? You need more time. I was afraid…”
I wave my hand at him, cutting him off. “It’s not that. I’m ready for classes, or I would be if…” I dig the ring out of my pocket and hold it up. “If, it wasn’t for this.”
His worried face widens with a big smile. “You’re gonna ask her!? Wow! Man, that’s awesome. I’m really happy for you. For both of you. She’s a great girl,” he gushes until he registers my pained expression. “Wait. What’s… Shit, you haven’t changed your mind have you?”
“No. No, not at all. I want to ask her, I just don’t know how to ask her. And it’s driving me batshit, Stan. Like really batshit.”
“Oh. Oooh. Well… She loves you. I honestly doubt she’s gonna care how you ask her. You know she’s gonna say yes.”
“I know that, but it has to be special. She deserves special. She needs to know how much I love her.”
Stan chuckles. “Eric, if she doesn’t know that already, she never will. She’d have to be dumb and blind not to. You uh, suck at keeping the hearts out of your eyes. You’re so in love it’s a wonder you haven’t turned into a unicorn that shoots rainbows out its ass.”
I nearly shove his boney, shaking body off my desk as he laughs at me. Instead I growl at him. “You’ve been talking to Pam too much.”
He nods, wiping the tears from under his glasses. “She’d be proud of me for that one.”
I just roll my eyes.
“In all seriousness, man, just ask her. She’ll love it no matter how you do it because she loves you. Do it this weekend though, you won’t teach for shit come Monday if you don’t.”
“I know, I know. You’re right. Her and Maria are going shopping tomorrow, maybe I can surprise her when she gets home?”
“Yeah, sounds like a good plan. Go buy some flowers, maybe some chocolate… Eric?”
“See ya Monday, Stan. Thanks!” I yell back at him as I run out the door.
I’ve got a lot of work to do.
Maria and I have been browsing through Pier 1 hunting stuff for the house for almost an hour. We started shopping at nine this morning and it’s after four now. I’m beat and have been ready to go home for ages. She, on the other hand, is still going strong.
“Oh, Sookie, look at these!” she squeals, picking up what has to be hundredth set of candlesticks she’s swooned over today. “They’d be gorgeous in your bedroom.”
If her and Al get married, I know exactly what I’ll be buying for their shower.
Lots and lots of them.
I smile and nod, like I’ve done all day, then send praises up to heaven when my phone starts chirping.
My knight in shining armor saves the day.
“This is Eric, hun. I’ll be right back, okay?” I hurry out the door, not waiting on her response.
“Oh my God, do you have any idea how much I love you right now?” I sigh into the phone as I plop down on the bench outside.
His wonderful laughter fills my ear. “That bad, huh? I thought you liked Maria?”
“No! I do, she’s a sweetheart. Really. It’s just that…well, let’s just say the girl has an unhealthy obsession with candlesticks. If she shows me one more I swear I’ll beat myself to death with it. Please tell me something urgent has come up and I have to come home,” I whine.
“My poor baby. How about a massage tonight?”
“Sweet Lord, yes,” I moan imagining how divine those big paws of his will feel kneading my sore body.
“You better be careful moaning like that, someone will think you’re having phone sex. You’ll get arrested for lewd behavior,” he chuckles.
“It’d be better than shopping,” I huff. “How’s your day been, baby?”
“Pretty good. Finished up everything for Monday so I’m all set there.”
“Yay, that’s great sweetie.”
“Yep, glad to have that done. But then I came by the house to check on things. That’s why I’m calling. I think they forgot the changes you made in our closet. Can you get here before five and look at it to make sure?”
“Absolutely. Let me get Maria back to her car and I’ll be there as fast as I can drive it.”
“Alright, be careful and I’ll see ya soon. Love you.”
“Love you too, baby.”
Maria is bummed our outing has to be cut short, but I promise her we’ll do it again soon as I wave and drive off.
I’m such a glutton for punishment.
Traffic is a bitch, it always is in Savannah though. I finally pull up to the house at six after five. The front yard, usually full of work trucks these days is empty except for the Vette.
Damnit. Those guys sure do stick to their quitting time. Guess I’ll just have to call the contractor if there’s a problem.
We’re only a little over a week into this remodeling and even though they’re working fast, I’m already ready for it to be over.
I grab my purchases and lug them up the front steps, my exhaustion sinking deeper with each one. I’m thinking when we head back to the townhouse we can have a light supper, probably sandwiches, then I want a hot bath and Eric’s amazing hands rubbing all my aches away.
I struggle with the door handle since my hands are full, hollering for help the second I get it cracked open. “Eriii…”
His name dies in my throat when my eyes register the sight before me.
Roses, lilies, tulips, peonies, daisies, and even orchids are covering every available surface in our house, all in shades of white, pink, and peach, filling it with the most amazing aromas.
And straight in front of me, leaning against the railing of the back porch, just like he was on that limo prom night, looking like James Bond in a perfectly tailored suit and tie, his infinite legs stretched out in front of him, with a sweet, but nervous smile, is the most perfect man in the world. Nestled in one of his big hands is a small, black velvet box.
All the bags hit the porch, both my hands now plastered over my mouth. I knew this moment was coming, I’ve been eagerly awaiting it and thought I was ready for it too.
I am, I so, so am, but I didn’t think I’d be a sobbing mess quite this quickly. My heart’s trying to take flight out of my chest and I couldn’t stop these tears even if I tried. I don’t know if I want to do a happy dance or run into his arms and cry uncontrollably.
He lowers his tall body down onto one knee, then crooks a finger at me, that sweet smile still on his beautiful face.
I weave my way through all the flowers as fast as my short legs will carry me and fling my arms around his neck. He manages to keep us upright, laughing as he rubs my back waiting on the first wave of tears to subside.
Eventually they do and he sets me on his knee, then starts wiping them away. “These are happy tears,” he says proudly, his bright smile making me want to cry more.
“Very happy tears,” I blubber in return, wiping and sniffling.
“I’m guessing I did good on the surprise part?”
“Yes! I had no idea, you didn’t give a thing away when you called me. And Eric, the flowers, they’re all so beautiful. They must have cost you a fortune.”
The porch is covered in them too.
“So what, you’re worth every penny and countless more. But I’m glad you like them,” he whispers.
Then he gives me a kiss, just his lips pressed to mine, his hand holding my face just so. He stays there, lingering, and I swear my heart is gonna burst because I can feel how much he loves me in this simplest of kisses, like he’s somehow pouring his heart into mine. I whimper when he finally pulls away, smiling at me.
He’s so beautiful it hurts, his blue eyes sparkling, crinkled at the corners, his golden hair short and sticking up everywhere, but in just the right places. He looks like a little boy, filled with utter joy, on the verge of getting the thing he’s wanted most.
I think I might just die right here on this porch.
“I’m going to get to the asking part now,” he says with a wink.
I can only nod, biting into my lip to try and keep my tears under control.
“You have no idea how crazy I’ve been over this,” he laughs, then his smile fades, his expression turning sincere. “I wanted it to be as special as you are to me. I wanted it to be perfect, because to me you deserve no less than that. But, I remembered I’m far from perfect and somehow you love me anyway so I decided to just be me, to speak my heart, so here goes.”
He takes a deep breath and my own heart swells hearing the shakiness it contains as he lets it out.
God, what did I ever do to deserve this precious man?
He grabs my hands in his free one, kissing my knuckles, then captures my eyes with his. “I love you. I love you so damn much, Sookie, I don’t know what to do with it all sometimes. I wish there was a way I could show you how much, let you feel it. But you’re just gonna have to believe me when I say you’re my everything, my whole world. Loving you, being loved by you, is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You’ve made me a better man. You’ve made me wiser, shown me what love really is and what life should be. You’re my home and my heart. I want to spend the rest of my life making you smile, keeping you happy, and doing everything in my power I can to deserve you.”
He lets my hands go and pulls the box open, it creaks like they all do, and through my tears I see the first ring we picked out at Pearly’s, sparkling up at me from its pillow of black velvet.
“Marry me, Bird? Make me the happiest man to ever live.”
“Yes,” I sob. “Yes, yes, yes.” I throw my arms around him again and cry like a baby.
Wrapping me up tight, he whispers sweet things to me as he kisses my head all over. Then he stands up, keeping me close and works his way to the swing and sets us down.
“You said yes,” he says, proud as a peacock.
I laugh through my tears. “Did you think for one second I wouldn’t, silly?”
“No, I was pretty confident, but did I do okay?”
I pull myself together for him, wiping off my tears and letting him see how happy I am. “You did much more than okay. It was perfect. You’re perfect.”
He holds the ring up. “Do you like it?”
The tremor of fear in his voice hurts my heart.
I take his face in my hands and stroke his cheeks. “I love it, baby. I love you.”
His distress vanishes, his sweet smile back in place as he leans his forehead against mine. “I love you too, so fucking much. And I’m glad you like the ring cause I never even considered any of the others. After putting it on you at the store… I knew then it was the right one. I just felt it, you know?”
I kiss his adorable face, lingering at his soft lips. “I do. You did good, baby. You did so good.”
“How about I put it on you?” he asks, his inner boy shining through again.
“Please,” I whisper.
I hold my hand out for him, it shakes like a leaf making both of us laugh until he starts to slide the ring on my finger. We both go quiet, too choked up to speak.
As he slips it into place, tight against my knuckle, a wave of emotion rushes through me and grips my heart. I’m falling and flying all at once. I never imagined a happiness this dreamy could possibly exist, especially not for me, but it does. Unbelievably, it does.
We look up at each other at the same time, both of us crying, so full it’s just not possible to hold it all in. Then we’re smiling and laughing as we kiss and kiss some more.
Eventually our joy turns to passion and our clothes fall away. He makes love to me on the swing, surrounded by all those gorgeous flowers smelling so sweet, and it’s the most beautiful experience of my life. There are no ghosts or sad thoughts trying to pull me away from him, there’s only peace, us and our love.
I am blessed beyond measure.
It’s a perfect Saturday evening in late November. The air is cooler, you can finally smell fall on the wind. It comes in late way down here. The marsh grasses and live oak leaves are rustling while fluffy clouds slowly drift overhead. Sunset’s a little over two hours away.
Our wedding is only one.
I’m marrying the love of my life tonight. Eight months and twelve days from the first time I laid eyes on her.
That day feels like a lifetime ago, but just like yesterday too. I knew then, after seeing those big beautiful eyes filled with so much sadness staring up at me I would never be the same.
I have no doubt that feeling will hit me again very soon. I can already feel it. It’s been bubbling in my chest since Pam forced me from Sookie’s side last night.
Sister dear doesn’t know it yet, but she’s got one hell of a payback coming her way.
I hardly slept at all away from Sookie.
The bed wasn’t right. It was too cold and big. Too empty.
But regardless of my shitty night that inkling of life altering awareness was even stronger when I woke up this morning.
I’m ready though. I’ve never been more ready for anything than I am for this.
We’re getting married. Married. I’m gonna be her husband and she’ll be…
“Pam still had her way, huh?” Alcide laughs, clapping me on the back.
I huff and roll my eyes. “Doesn’t she always?”
He just nods and laughs.
“Lafayette being here did not help. We managed to keep them on somewhat of a leash though. It’s not too much, right?”
He surveys our backyard. It’s set up with small rows of folding chairs made from dark wood. I insisted, no metal or plastic. Sookie insisted no white. There’s big canvas umbrellas set out just in case the heat rises or a shower decides to fall on us. The dance floor and the tent over it are ready to go and the string quartet Pam booked without our knowledge is already playing.
If I’m not mistaken it sounds like Thank You by Zeppelin. I’m going to have to go over there and ask them to play it again later, it’s a beautiful version. It’d be perfect for me and Bird to dance to.
The huge live oak we’ll say our vows under is all decked out, draped with flowing ivory fabric and it’s branches covered with twinkling lights. All the trees around the yard and the ones lining the driveway have lights now. That’s the one thing I went wild on.
Al and I worked for hours wrapping lights around the “vow” tree. I was so fucking done with it by the time we finished and swore we would never have Christmas lights on anything ever again until I flipped the switch.
Her hands balled up under her chin, bottom lip trapped in her teeth, her blue eyes sparkling as she stared in wonder. Then she smiled at me–it was that smile–with two tears sliding from her crinkled eyes before running and throwing herself in my arms.
All the frustration, sweat, cuts and scrapes vanished from my memory. All that and ten times more would be worth making her that happy.
I hired a crew the next morning and bought what had to be every box of twinkle lights in the Southeast. When the sun sets tonight this place will look like a fairytale. I imagine the ships thirty miles out to sea will be able to spot us we’ll be glowing so bright.
But my bride will be the happiest girl on earth.
“It’s not too much. It is giving Marie ideas though,” Al says breaking me out of my dreaming.
“Oops. Sorry about that.” I wink letting him know I’m not sorry at all.
“It’s alright. I kinda like those ideas.”
I stare at him in fake shock, I’ve seen it coming for weeks now. “You? That poor girl.”
“Fuck you, fucker, and stop looking at me like that,” he growls, jabbing a beefy fist my way. I dodge it, biting my cheek so I don’t laugh.
I pull him into a big hug instead. “I couldn’t be happier for you, man. She’s a great girl and there’s nothing like it when you find the right one. Hang on to her and never let go.”
“I’m gonna do my best,” he says hugging me tight for a few seconds then pushing me away to straighten my jacket and tie back up, dusting off lint that isn’t there. “You looking sharp tonight, bro. Not as sharp as me, but… You ready for this?”
“I couldn’t be more ready if I tried. It can’t happen fast enough. I haven’t seen her since last night, I feel like I’m going crazy. Did you give her my letter?”
He laughs at me. “I gave it to Lafayette. He’ll give it to her when it’s time. Don’t worry.”
“So I guess you didn’t see her?”
“Nah. I knew it’d chap your ass if I saw her first.”
“I knew you were my friend for a reason.”
“I try,” he boasts. “Alright, I think I’m supposed to help folks park, you gonna…”
We both look behind him and see Casey, our photographer. She’s one of the best photography students at SCAD, she did a great job with our engagement photos.
“Hey Casey. Guess you’re ready for me?”
“Yes, Sir. And Mr. Herveaux too, please. Oh! Which one of you has the ring?”
I slip my hand out of my pocket and wiggle my pinkie at her, Sookie’s wedding band sparkles in the fading sunlight where sits snug between my first two knuckles. She has the tiniest fingers.
“Oh good. I wanna get some pictures of you with it. Ya’ll ready?”
“Yep, lead the way.”
“There, you’re perfect,” Pam declares, fluffing my dress one more time.
It’s not really a dress that needs fluffing, but I think she keeps doing it hoping it’ll change. The first time I tried it on in front of her I could literally see her choking on a sarcastic remark, but, bless her, she managed to only say nice things.
We’re getting married in our backyard, with only a handful of people. We wanted sweet and simple and my dress reflects that. There’s no lace, beads or sequins, just light gauzy fabric in a soft ivory. It does have a plunging neckline and shows off my girls nicely. But according to Pam I could probably be on the cover of a bodice ripper set in the early eighteen hundreds. Her words were, if I remember correctly, “romantic peasant”.
She did insist I at least have on sexy lingerie. I relented and found a beautiful lace set. Though the panties are so barely there I’m not sure you could even consider them anything, let alone part of a set. But Eric will love seeing them on me, then tearing them off me too.
Wearing them meant I had to make a visit to the spa though. Pam loved that. She booked most of this morning for the four of us. We’ve all been massaged, buffed, waxed, and polished to perfection. Other than the waxing it was a great way to calm my excited nerves.
She wanted my hair up, but I said no, it was too fancy, so Lala did a loose side braid for me. My makeup is clean and simple too, I only let her do a light smokey eye. And much to her horror, I’ll be bare foot during the ceremony. Walking in heels isn’t my favorite, especially not in grass. I do have shoes, but those I’ll save for the beautiful dance floor Eric rented for us.
“Hooker, dat man gonna fall out right in front of everyone when he sees you.”
“Oh gosh, Lala, I hope he doesn’t.”
“He won’t, girl, but he probably is gonna cry.” Tara says with a wink.
“If he cries I’ll fall to pieces.”
“Why do you think I used waterproof makeup? Both of you will be blubbering messes. I wasn’t risking my work that way.”
I can’t help but grin. “Thank you, Pam. You really have thought of everything.”
“Of course I did.”
Me, Tara and Lala all roll our eyes, then get the giggles much to Pam’s annoyance.
She has been a holy terror all week. Everyone’s been calling her Bridezilla. But she’s helped make this day amazing down to the very last detail and she’s done it for us so I can’t be angry with her.
I take her hands and give them a good squeeze, I’d rather give her a big hug, but she’d go apocalyptic on me for risking our perfection. “I mean it, Pam, and I know I said it this morning, but you’ve done a fabulous job and I know all your hard work will make our day even more special. We love you for it, so much.”
“You’re welcome.” She squeezes my hands then quickly pulls away turning her back to us, feigning a need to sort through the makeup scattered all over the dresser.
Tara, Lala, and I share a knowing smile.
“All of you look gorgeous by the way,” I tell them.
They’re all in a weathered stone color, a shade darker than my dress, but lighter than Eric’s suit. Pam brought all of them from London, and a seamstress too. Lala’s suit is tailored to fit him to a tee. He was thrilled to learn it’s his to keep and not a rental. Pam and Tara are both in dresses, but they’re cut very different from each other. Pam’s of course fits her lithe body like a second skin, Tara’s is flowy and romantic, with an empire waist. Alcide’s suit matches Lala’s, but they have different shirts and ties.
I can’t wait to see pictures of us all together.
“Oh shit!” Lala fusses, digging in his jacket pocket. “I’s almost forgot. Dat hunk of lumberjack gave me dis to give you.” He holds out a small creamy envelope.
My name is written across it in Eric’s elegant handwriting, it’s the artist in him I guess. My heart skitters against my ribs as I open it. I can’t believe how much I’ve missed him.
Are you going as crazy as I am? I miss you so much. I didn’t sleep at all last night. I’ve almost come up there a dozens times to get you. I can’t wait to see you in your dress. I already know you’re gonna take my breath away. Don’t be surprised if I cry. It’s only one more hour before you meet me under our tree. I’ll have loved you for six thousand, one hundred and thirty two hours by then. Yes, I counted, and that sounds like a lot, but it’s not nearly long enough, barely a blink really, but each one of those hours have been the best I’ve ever had. You’re my best friend, my lover, and my other half. I swear I couldn’t love you more than I already do, but I know when I wake up tomorrow morning and see you, my wife, beside me, I will. I can’t wait to start our forever, Bird. I’ll see you soon.
I love you -E
“No you don’t! Dry it up, right now,” Pam hisses at me, way too late. She materializes a handkerchief out of thin air and starts dabbing at my face as I leak everywhere. “I’m gonna kick his ass for making you cry.”
“You will not! He’s the sweetest man alive, I don’t know how he’s related to you.”
“Yeah, yeah, Pam’s the bitch and Eric’s the sweetheart. I’ve heard it all my life. What else you got?”
“Ya’ll will be the best husband and sister anyone could ever want?”
She stops dabbing and stares at me. “Stop that. I don’t have time to redo both of us. Do you hear me?”
I shove his note at her and whine, “I’m trying, but you read that and tell me you wouldn’t cry.”
She takes it from me and quickly reads it, then hands it back before lifting up my dress and looking under it.
I slap her hand away. “What are you doing?”
“Looking for my brother’s balls. You gotta be keeping them somewhere.”
Oh, she’s asking for it this time.
I give her a slow smile. “I assure you they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be, right under his…”
“STOP. No more. I do not need anymore details of my brother’s dirty bits.”
“I do,” Lala says enthusiastically.
“Yeah, come on, Sook. I wanna hear some more dirty details,” Tara chimes in.
“Okay, let me think. Ooooohh, there was this one time he… God it made me weak. He….”
Pam hightails it out the door bitching the whole way as we cackle at her. Bless her. We’ve been picking on her mercilessly all week with stories of mine and Eric’s sex life to get back at her for being such a terror. We’re terrible people.
Casey came and got us soon after and took tons of pictures of us, together and apart. Eric and I will do ours right after the ceremony.
Which started a few minutes ago.
I’m hiding behind one of the big camellia bushes near the back porch. Peaking through the thick leaves I can see Alcide standing by Eric’s side. Tara and Pam are slowly making their way to them while the quartet plays Chasing Cars, and it’s almost Lala’s turn to go.
I could’ve had him walk me down the aisle, but I didn’t need anyone to give me away, I’ve been Eric’s for awhile now, we’re just making it official.
“Alright, it’s my turn. You’s gonna be okay?” Lala whispers.
“Yeah, I’m great, hun. You go on.”
And it’s the truth. I’m calm as a cucumber. Well, I’m excited, but I’m not the least bit nervous, or scared. I don’t feel an ounce of uncertainty either. I’m just happy, just deliriously happy.
He smiles then gives me a quick kiss on the cheek and heads that way.
I wait for the music to change, wiggling my toes in the lush carpet of St. Augustine that covers our yard. It’s cool and cushy under my feet.
Finally the gentle notes of Yellow drift to me so I come out from my hiding place and set my eyes on Eric. Everyone and everything vanishes except for him as soon as I take my first step. I’m still too far away from him to see his eyes, but there’s no way to miss his smile as he watches me. My heart’s so full my chest is tight. He’s heartstopping in his suit, it feels like prom night and his proposal all over again only times a million. I can’t believe in less than thirty minutes that amazing man will be my husband. I want to run to him, but keep my slow pace, barely.
He’s wiping tears away when I make it to him, his smile the most precious I’ve ever seen. I’m doing all I can not to let my tears turn into big ugly sobs even though I’m smiling too.
Going off script he takes my face in his hands and pulls us together peppering my lips with kisses as he whispers to me. “God, I’ve missed you. You’re so beautiful.”
“I missed you too, baby.”There’s soft laughter coming from all around us and then someone clears their throat, breaking through our lovesick bubble.
Eric pulls away, mouthing ‘I love you’. As soon as I mouth it back he reluctantly lets me go, but he’s grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“I believe that was supposed to come last,” the preacher picks at him, holding back laughter.
Eric shrugs, still grinning at me and not the least bit repentant. “Sorry, couldn’t help myself.”
“Don’t blame you a bit,” he chuckles with a wink. “Shall we get to it?”
We both nod and smile enthusiastically.
He looks out over our friends and family with a welcoming smile and asks them to sit. As soon as they’re settled he begins.
“Eric and Sookie and I would like to welcome you all here. They have chosen you, those most special and important to them, to witness and celebrate the beginning of their new life together this evening. These two bring new meaning to the phrase, ‘God works in mysterious ways’. Their story is not for the faint of heart and while they were brought into each other’s lives by tragedy, and both have told me that they wouldn’t be standing here were it not for the other, in this they only see God and his miracles.” His pleasant smile fades a bit and he tilts his head, his eyebrows raised. “I tend to agree with them.”
Lala mumbles an ‘amen’ beside me. I hear a few more behind us.
The preacher nods and continues. “As all of you have already bared witness to, because of their individual strengths, gentle souls and loving hearts they have come through the fire stronger. Tempered, not broken into shattered pieces, but as one, unbreakable. And this evening they will strengthen their bond even more.”
He looks back to us. “Eric and Sookie, do you, with God and your friends and family as your witnesses, present yourselves willingly and of your own accord to be joined in marriage?”
“We do,” we answer together.
“Then let’s begin. Please face and take each other’s hands.”
I hand my flowers to Lala. He winks at me as he takes them, then I turn to face my future husband. His eyes are filled with so much happiness and love it makes me lightheaded in the best way. I slip my hands into his, the ones I love so much, giving them a squeeze. He rubs his thumbs over the backs of mine and that familiar sense of comfort comes over me. Which is why I insisted we start our wedding this way. I’ve never felt safer then when his hands hold me. I know without a doubt he’ll always be there for me in whatever way I might need him.
“Eric and Sookie, these are the hands of your best friend. Young and strong and full of love, these hands will work alongside yours as together you build your future. These hands will passionately love and cherish you through the years. They will hold you when fear and grief torment your mind and with the slightest touch, comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it and support and encouragement to chase down your dreams. They will be the hands that tenderly hold your children and help hold your family together as one. They will continue to wipe tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. These will be the hands that you hold as you pray for guidance and in gratitude. And these will be the hands, even when wrinkled with age, that will still be reaching for yours, still giving you unconditional love with just a simple touch. Hold tight to each other’s hands and always remember your love is only a touch away.”
Eric pulls my hands up to his mouth and kisses my knuckles. I follow suit and do the same to his.
“Sookie, I believe you wrote your own vows?” the preacher asks, keeping us on track.
“Yes, Sir, I did.”
He nods with an encouraging grin so I let go of Eric long enough to take out my vows from the hidden pocket in my dress then reach for him again.
I tried my best to memorize them so I could look at him while I spoke, but I don’t know if I can get through it without falling apart now. Not with him looking at me like he is, with his heart pouring out of his eyes. I’m gonna try though.
I take a deep breath and look into my favorite pools of blue. “My sweet, Eric. My love, my heart, my miracle. You saved my life the day we met and since then you have saved me so many times in so many ways I’ve lost count. Sometimes it’s with your smile, or when you wrap your arms around me, or even something as simple as you brushing my hair behind my ear. Other times it’s your laugh, your gorgeous face so peaceful as you sleep next to me, or your quiet presence always there when I need it. And I can’t forget your never ending patience and gentleness. I love all those things about you, and countless others, so very much, they save me on a daily basis, but none of those…none of those would be possible…without your big, beautiful heart,” I whisper through my tears.
He reaches up and wipes some of them away with his thumb while I try to get ahold of myself. His sweet smile is all the support I need.
“I love that most of all. It’s selfless, kind, and caring, compassionate, generous, and filled with so much love. Because of it you have kissed my flaws until they’re no more, took away my fears and made me brave, and though I was broken, you, your heart, and your love have made me whole again. I’m not sure a lifetime is long enough to give back all you have given me, but I vow to never stop trying, to never stop loving you with all I am for the rest of our days.”
We lose it then, both of us blubbering messes, just like Pam said. But we’re very happy ones. Eric takes out his handkerchief this time and wipes my eyes careful not to mess up my makeup, then I take it from him and clean his face up. There’s lots of sniffles coming from our guests too.
Once we’re composed the preacher moves us along. “Eric, whenever you’re ready.”
Keeping a firm grip on my hands, he clears his throat then takes a deep breath and lets it out. “Bird, I can’t believe I’m standing here marrying you, the most amazing person I know. I feel like I’m in a dream. I’ve yet to figure out what I did to deserve the gift of having you in my life, let alone being blessed with your love. But there’s one thing I do know, I’m yours. I have been from the moment I laid eyes on you and I always will be. Some would probably consider the day we met my worst day, but I don’t. It brought you into my life and you’re by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me. When I saved your life that day I had no idea mine would be saved too. You’ve taught me what it truly means to be strong and brave, and that love is the most important of all. You’re my inspiration, my hero, the joy in my heart, the peace in my soul, and the smile on my face. My every minute is brighter because you’re with me. I’m so ready to spend the rest of my life by your side. I can’t promise everything will always be perfect, but I do promise you that no matter what comes our way, good or bad, I’ll never leave you and you’ll always have my whole heart. Always.”
He didn’t even get half way through before we were both in tears again, but at least they’re happy ones. I want so badly to wrap my arms around him and never let go. I shouldn’t want to rush through all of this, but I can’t wait to have him to myself.
“Some of the loveliest vows I’ve ever heard. Now I need a promise from you both.”
He waits for us to agree, we both nod wanting him to hurry.
He bites back a grin and winks at me before becoming serious again. “Sookie, do you offer your solemn vow to be faithful to Eric in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. Promise to love him unconditionally, to support him in his goals, to honor and respect him, to laugh with him and cry with him, and to cherish him for as long as you both shall live?”
“I do,” I promise, never taking my eyes from Eric’s.
“Eric, do you offer your solemn vow to be faithful to Sookie in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. Promise to love her unconditionally, to support her in her goals, to honor and respect her, to laugh with her and cry with her, and to cherish her for as long as you both shall live?”
Eric smiles at me. “I do.”
“Having this love in your hearts, you have chosen to seal your vows by exchanging rings.”
That’s our cue. We let go of each other, Eric digging in his pocket for my ring and me taking his from Lala while the preacher continues.
“From the earliest times, the circle has been a sign of completeness. The rings that you have chosen to wear have neither beginning nor end, much like your love for one another. They are a symbol of the words that you speak today. May these rings be from this day forward, your most treasured adornment, and may the love they symbolize, be your most precious possession. As you wear these rings, may they be constant reminders of these glad promises you are making today. Sookie, please place the ring on Eric’s finger as you repeat the verse.”
My hand shaking I take Eric’s and slowly slip the silver band onto his ring finger. “Eric, my hand is yours to hold and with this ring I give you my heart, forever yours to keep. From this moment forward you will never again walk alone, by your side I’ll always be, my arms your home.”
I keep thinking his smile can’t get any happier, but I’m wrong. He doesn’t even wait for the preacher to prompt him before taking my hand and slipping my band on.
“Sookie, my hand is yours to hold and with this ring I give you my heart, forever yours to keep. From this moment forward you will never again walk alone, by your side I’ll always be, my arms your home.”
Everything goes quiet, only the breeze moving through the trees and the lapping water out in the marshes fill the silence. We stand and stare at one another, our faces nearly splitting open with our smiles.
Only a few more words…
“Eric and Sookie, having pledged your fidelity and to love, honor, and cherish one another in the presence of this gathering and by the authority vested in me by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it is my honor to now pronounce you husband and wife. Eric, you may kiss your bride. Again.”
Cheers and laughter erupt around us as Eric lifts me up, wrapping me in his arms and kisses me like no one’s watching. I kiss him right back.
“I present Mr. and Mrs. Eric Northman!”