The small smile that had played on my lips towards the end of our conversation disappeared as soon as Sookie and I ended our call. It all seemed so surreal; everything Pam had told me; everything I’d seen with my own two eyes in the pictures and video, but most of all, the fact Sookie knew about the significance of the whales and their relevance to my childhood. It was a story I’d never shared with anyone, not even my counselor in rehab, but somehow, at some point, within the span of knowing her for a mere three weeks, I’d chosen to share it with her.
Who was she?
Alcide had shown up a short while after Pam left, just long enough to see if I needed anything (no) and then called me a dick for treating Sookie the way I had before he left again. After that, except for the occasional doctor or nurse coming in to check on me, I had nothing but time on my hands, so I did something I’d never done before.
I googled myself.
I read every story I could find that took place during my missing chunk of time, regardless if it were a reputable news source or celebrity gossip site. I clicked on image after image of Sookie and I together; at the premier party; grocery shopping together. I read where she’d been hit from behind by a car driven by the paparazzi and even found a picture of her being taken away on a stretcher. As the night wore on, I continued to search and was shocked when I found an article from a Miramar newspaper showing a picture of me, in a flight suit, posing with a bunch of military men and women. According to the article, ‘my wife’ had surprised me by arranging for my childhood dream of flying in a fighter jet to come true.
What. The. Fuck?
If our initial meeting happened as everyone said it had (and I didn’t doubt it thanks to the online video of the whole fucking thing); if our ‘marriage’ was nothing more than a showmance for our careers, then how did I end up spilling my guts to her at all, never mind the fact that I seemed to tell her the things I’d spent a lifetime guarding from everyone, and it all happened in three weeks? I slammed the laptop shut and shoved it away from me not wanting to believe any of it because there was no way what Pam said could be true.
Me? In love?
Not only was it unlikely, but more like impossible. ‘Love’ was a word I didn’t understand and it would’ve been easy to convince myself that I’d only acted like I was in love with her, more than likely to get in her pants, if it weren’t for the GQ video. Pam was right; I wasn’t that good of an actor. It was odd watching myself on video doing something I couldn’t remember, but it was hard to miss the chemistry between us. Over the years, I’d had chemistry with a lot of women and would’ve written it off to the fact we were fucking each other, but it was more than just chemistry visible on the screen. There was a sense of intimacy, affection, and adoration shared between us and it felt strange seeing the proof of it when I couldn’t remember the sensation of it. There was practically a live wire connecting the two of us together as we danced and it was seeing that with my own two eyes that made the possibility of there being an ‘us’ to sink in just a little.
And then I looked at ‘my’ cell phone. The text messages sent back and forth between Sookie and I were racy, but aside from the ‘I love you’s’ attached to most of them, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t done before, if on a lesser scale, with other women. I didn’t question too much why I’d gotten a new phone since I’d always craved the next new thing to come out onto the market. What I did question was my shortened list of contacts and it took me a minute to realize the phone numbers for every one of the women I’d been willing to fuck more than once were gone and it pissed me off. We’d only been ‘together’ for three fucking weeks!
Did she erase them while I was lying here in a coma?
Not only was five weeks of my life erased, but years’ worth of contacts I’d painstakingly cultivated were gone too. Even if I was fucking Sookie, I didn’t believe for one second I would’ve voluntarily given up the possibility of ever fucking any of the others again and I was in enough of a rage that she would have the audacity to erase them, that I scrolled to her name and hit the ‘send’ button, fully prepared to tell her to get the fuck out of my house, consequences be damned. So what if we had something. I couldn’t remember it, so it wasn’t like I was going to miss it, but the minute I heard her sleepy voice the fury I felt was snuffed out in an instant. It was so familiar and yet not, but that unfamiliar sensation I’d felt watching her walk out the door was back again. It felt more like a dream than a memory, but whatever it was, it made me bite back the words I’d been seconds away from saying. I was glad for it later when she confirmed my suspicion that I’d actually told her one of my darkest memories; the whales’ songs and the flowers.
It was too much. Too much was unknown, too much had been shared and without my memories of it happening, I felt naked and raw. Exposed. So I did what felt comfortable, what was easy; I flirted with her. It was something I’d done thousands of times, with just as many women, and took no thought on my part. It was safe and meaningless and my vulnerability was shielded by my sexually charged repartee. Unlike ‘love’, ‘sex’ was a word I did understand. It took no effort to maintain our easy banter, especially when she seemed embarrassed by it all, and it made me feel better; a little bit more like me. I wanted to remember, if only so I’d know the truth of my feelings for her during that missing time, but I had to keep her at arm’s length until then. I’d spoken to her for all of five minutes total (that I could remember anyway) and she was already making me feel things I didn’t want to. I wanted no part of feeling anything that didn’t involve fucking and I asked her to stop by the next day, hoping when I saw her something she would do or say would trigger my memories for me, but, at the same time, I was afraid of that actually happening as well.
What if I felt something?
I didn’t sleep well that night with weird fucking dreams making me toss and turn, as much as I could with my leg elevated, all night long. One of them had me wondering if it was a memory, given how oddly normal it was, but it only made me angrier when I woke up. It felt so unfair that she held all of the cards; she knew about parts of my life that I didn’t.
A complete stranger.
I was already wary of her thanks to the unlikely scenario of our ‘drunken’ wedding, video or not, and planned to try and get to the bottom of it all. Sure, I appeared drunk off my ass on the video, but I was no lightweight when it came to holding my alcohol and I’d never been so drunk that I didn’t remember anything.
Maybe she drugged me?
She wouldn’t be the first psychotic bitch after me for my money and fame, but I would have to play nice in the meantime. Regardless of how we met, I saw my reaction to her during the photo shoot and I needed to hear the whole story from her before I sent her packing.
Of course I wouldn’t take her at her word that everything she told me was true.
The more I thought about everything, the more I festered inside. The imbalanced scales were tipping towards her in our relationship and it pissed me off. By the time lunchtime had come and gone, and I still hadn’t seen her, it only cemented the fact she didn’t love me. If she had, wouldn’t she have shown up by now?
I was in a rotten mood by the time Sookie deigned me with her presence, so as soon as she walked into my room, I snapped, “It took you fucking long enough.”
Seeing the hurt in her eyes made feel sick which pissed me off even more. It seemed to be my perpetual state of being by then, but I swallowed what anger I could and said, “I’m sorry. I just thought you would’ve been by earlier.”
She discreetly wiped the tears from her eyes while saying, “I’m sorry. I would’ve been here sooner, but my car wouldn’t start and I had to call Alcide to come get me. Since no one’s been home for a couple of weeks, I had to throw away most of the food in the refrigerator and he offered to stop at the grocery store on the way so I wouldn’t have to do it later.”
I felt like the biggest asshole on the planet, especially when her breath hitched in her throat as she tried to contain a sob, and my hand reached out for her, without my permission, as I repeated, “I’m sorry.”
I wouldn’t have blamed her for calling me a dick and storming out of the room, taking my missing three weeks with her, so I was surprised when she took a step forward, and then another one, until her hand was finally in mine. A part of me had held out hope that seeing her, touching her, would bring it all back since my memories seemed to be centered around her, but she was just as much of a stranger to me as she had been a day earlier. A blonde haired, blue eyed, sexy stranger, but a stranger nonetheless. I normally didn’t have a ‘type’, but if I did, she would be it. Her skin was golden and she had curves in all the right places. She practically fucking glowed, but it was probably just my eyes, or a trick of the fluorescent light.
Maybe a hug would help move things along?
I suddenly felt nervous, another foreign sensation when applied towards a woman, but made sure to keep my tone soft as I looked at her and asked, “Would you mind giving me a hug?” I sounded fucking pathetic, even to my own ears, and quickly followed up with, “You don’t have to, if you don’t want to. I was just thinking it might help jog my memory by touching you.”
Her responding sad smile left another tug in my gut as she said, “Of course I’ll hug you Eric,” and she perched herself on the side of my bed, leaning down, and embracing me in her arms.
Pieces of my dream state from when I was in the coma flitted through my mind, but were gone too quickly for me to grasp onto anything, so instead I closed my eyes and concentrated on her. She smelled just like cherries and I inhaled deeply, enjoying it while I had her in my arms, while thinking it was at least one thing we had in common when I remembered Pam saying she’d been ‘feeding’ me cherry popsicles. When I tentatively wrapped my own arms around her I felt at peace for the first time since I’d woken up.
Maybe, just maybe, there was something to it? Maybe I really did have feelings for Sookie?
I pretended to not notice, at first, she was attempting to pull away until I had no choice but to let her go. The sense of calm she’d been able to elicit within me, with nothing more than her embrace, was like nothing I’d ever felt before and I didn’t want to be without it just yet, so I placed my hand on her knee hoping it would be enough to maintain our connection and was grateful when she didn’t move away from my touch.
“Anything?” she asked hopefully.
I wanted to answer her truthfully, hoping it would be returned to me by her, so I said, “Sort of? I mean, I don’t remember anything, but touching you seems familiar, if that makes any sense.”
She tried to smile, but it didn’t reach her eyes as she said, “Well, it’s a start at least.”
I just nodded, not knowing what to say to her. Normally I wasn’t one to make small talk with strangers, but there was something about her that made me want her there, beyond the fact she was the only one who could tell me about what happened during my missing time. I wasn’t ready to explore the reasons why I felt that way though, so I tried to think of something fairly safe to talk about and ended up asking, “So, you said your car wouldn’t start? Is it still drivable after the accident you were in?” She looked flummoxed, I guessed as to how I knew she’d been in an accident, so I followed up with, “Pam told me I was headed here on the day of my accident because you’d been in one and then I read about it online last night.”
“Oh,” she hesitated. “Um, I wasn’t driving my car that day. You didn’t think it was safe, so you’d bullied me into using your Audi.”
I wanted to call her a liar; that I would never just voluntarily offer up my $100K sedan for someone else to use, much less bully them into doing it, but I didn’t know. Maybe I had considering even now, she was causing reactions in me that were foreign as well. Seeing her hesitate and then cringe, as she told me what happened, had me wanting to soothe her, so I gently squeezed her knee and said, “It’s just a car. I’m glad you weren’t hurt too badly.” Seeing the almost healed bruises on her skin made me ask, “You weren’t, were you?”
The more important question was why did I care?
Did I even want to admit to myself that I did?
“No,” she repeated my silent denial and added, “just some bruises.”
The way she said it made me think there was more to it than that, but since she lacked any other physical signs of injury I had no way of bringing it up other than to ask, “Are you sure?”
She hesitated again before finally nodding her reply and I found I couldn’t stop looking at her. She was beautiful, but I’d been with plenty of beautiful women in the past. However, there was something different about her, but I couldn’t tell if I was just imagining it all because of all of the pictures and video I’d seen of her and I together. Maybe I was seeing something there that wasn’t, but that would have to mean I wanted to see something there.
Did I want that?
When she’d spoken earlier, I’d noticed her tongue was stained red and remembered Pam saying she’d been sick, so I asked, “Are you feeling any better? Pam said you got sick staying here and could only eat popsicles.”
Again, she hesitated, and I suddenly wished I could read her mind. She was the key to my missing memories and I would give anything to know the truth, to have them back, if only so I wouldn’t go insane from not knowing.
“I’m feeling a little better. I’m sure it’ll pass soon.” She blushed and I wondered if she felt embarrassed talking about her illness with a complete stranger until I remembered, I wasn’t a stranger to her.
Fucking imbalanced scales.
When I didn’t say anything she got the conversational ball rolling by asking, “So, um… do you have any questions you’d like to ask? About, you know… us?”
Only about a million.
My mind automatically went to the naked things we had done, but I thought I should start out asking something less likely to get me slapped. Remembering a part of my dream from the night before that seemed odd, but wasn’t indecent made me ask, “Did we ever play Battleship together during a thunderstorm?”
The blush that rose up from her chest to her neck and then cheeks had me wondering just how far it went down and my eyes may have locked onto her breasts for a second too long when she cleared her throat, drawing my eyes back up to hers. “Umm… not really. Why do you ask?”
“I dreamt last night that we did.” I was somewhat disappointed it was just a dream and not an actual memory until my brain dissected her response. “What did you mean by ‘not really’?”
We started to play? There wasn’t a storm? We played until a thunderstorm knocked out the power and then we fucked like rabbits instead?
Her blush didn’t make sense considering the nature of my question and only served to make me all the more curious, not only about her response, but just her.
Her blush only deepened and she looked away from me before standing up and putting a bit of distance between us. The comfort I’d felt with her touch was gone and a little bit of the ache in my chest was back. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t like it. I wanted to grab onto her and keep her there next to me, if only so I’d feel better.
That didn’t make sense either.
By the time she was back to standing next to my bed, close enough that I could reach out and touch her again, the ache was practically gone. I pushed those thoughts away and focused on the fact she hadn’t answered my question which drew my attention to the fact she was chewing on her lower lip. The same one that I remembered was petal soft.
It was distracting.
“I don’t want to tell you,” she finally whispered.
“Why?” I asked, a little louder than I’d meant to and left her startled. “Sorry…it’s just frustrating, not being able to remember anything.”
It’s frustrating not knowing why you affect me the way that you do.
Looking straight into her eyes, I reminded her, “You said you’d answer my questions.”
Her eyes traveled all over my face and body, as though she was checking for any injuries or physical changes and I could see it when she caught herself from reaching out for my hand. Wondering if she had the same craving for physical contact with me, as I seemed to have for her, I lifted my hand once more and held it out to her.
Maybe I imagined it last time and this time I wouldn’t feel any better touching her.
I wasn’t sure which way I’d hoped to feel, but it didn’t matter because as soon as her hand was in mine the ache was gone.
Maybe that was what needed to happen. Maybe if we fucked then I would remember and if not, it wouldn’t be like either one of us would be losing out. A win/win if you ask me.
I was trying to come up with a way to suggest it when she finally started answering the question I’d already forgotten I’d asked and said, “I know you’re frustrated and I guess angry too given the way you greeted me when I first walked into your room.” The guilt I felt hit me out of nowhere and made me drop my eyes from hers, but she reached out with her free hand and tilted my chin up until I was looking at her again, before saying, “It’s okay. I’m not in your shoes and, while neither one of us could remember the night of our wedding, I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to lose so many memories, especially considering how much of your life changed during that time. But you have to understand, you’re not the only one here that lost anything. It’s hard for me too because I lost you.”
She was in tears by the time she was done speaking and I reacted on instinct alone, pulling her down towards me until she was halfway lying on top of me with her face buried into my shoulder. My hands rubbed up and down her back while I quietly shushed her, trying to comfort her in any way I could, and it wasn’t until I realized I was doing it that I stopped to wonder, why?
It hadn’t occurred to me how Sookie felt in all of this and I felt like a selfish bastard for not considering it at all. The idea we had actually fallen in love was so farfetched, I hadn’t given any thought to the possibility it had been real, but seeing her cry because she felt like she’d lost me made me sick.
Did she really care about me that much?
Did she really love me?
“I’m sorry Sookie,” I whispered. “I want to remember, I really do, if only so you’ll stop crying.”
She snorted against my shoulder and I wondered what was so funny about my apology or wanting to get my memories back until she pulled away and said, “You hate it when I cry, even happy tears. It freaks you out and you always try to get me to stop.” I couldn’t stop myself from wiping her tears away and she smiled softly and said, “At least that hasn’t changed.”
That smile actually reached her eyes and made me smile in return as I asked, “So you cry a lot, huh?”
Christ, I hope not.
“Afraid so,” she smiled.
When she didn’t say anything more I was left wondering what it was about my initial question that caused such a reaction in her. I didn’t want to push the issue, but I really wanted to know, so I asked, “So what was it about my question with the game and thunderstorm? Why did you get so upset? Was it because it was only a dream or because something happened? Did I make you cry then too?”
The possibilities were endless, but I never would’ve guessed the one she ended up telling me when she took a deep breath and said, “It was the first time we made love.”
Well, well, well… now we’re getting somewhere.
The thought of having her naked and being inside of her had every part of me tingling, some more than others, and my voice dropped an octave as I looked into her eyes and said, “Tell me.”