Sookie was my wife?
My body had been running on nothing more than adrenaline and anger for the past few hours, so this new piece of information only doubled the swirling vortex in my mind and I slumped back in the chair, thankful I’d already been sitting down.
Sookie was my wife.
“Are we…were we…separated?”
It was my only concern. Seeing the tan line where my ring should’ve sat – had sat on her finger for however long – made me wonder if she’d saved me from one nightmare, only so I could be plunged into a much worse one.
One where Sookie was no longer mine in any world.
I didn’t know whether or not to be grateful or bitter I couldn’t even remember whatever it was we had together or where it all went wrong. But I was quickly falling down into the rabbit hole until she sat down on my lap and grabbed my face in each of her hands so I’d look her in the eyes.
“For a whole year,” she smiled softly through the tears in her eyes. “But not by choice.”
It was as real and as tangible as the feel of her body on top of mine and it flooded through me so quickly and so forcefully, I definitely would’ve toppled over had I not been sitting down.
My arms automatically wrapped around her body as I crushed her to my chest, while joy and rage waged war in my chest, clawing and fighting their way to the top. I was so happy to hear her answer – to know she was truly mine – and at the same time completely outraged she hadn’t said anything sooner.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I choked out into her chest, sounding neither joyous nor outraged because pathetic and needy had snuck in and captured the flag.
“I…How could I?”
I heard her reply more through her chest than from her voice, so I pulled back enough so that I could look at her. And seeing the broken expression on the face of someone I’d been so sure was unbreakable nearly killed me.
“You kept calling her your wife and I…I didn’t know how you felt…if you thought you loved her. I didn’t want to make things harder on you and I…I guess I was just hoping you’d remember on your own. I’ve been dying for the last year not knowing where you were or what happened to you and when I finally found you…and you didn’t remember…and you were with her while I was…all alone…I…I…”
Her soft cries turned into full-fledged sobs, violently wracking through her body to the point I was starting to worry she’d hyperventilate. So I stood up with her in my arms and carried her over to the bed where I laid her on the mattress and caged her body with my own.
She’d refused to let go of the death grip she had around my neck and I was completely okay with that.
Because I was hers just as much as she was mine.
She wrapped her legs around my waist and pulled me down on top of her, so I pressed as much of my weight on her as I dared.
But I knew it wasn’t sexual.
It was need.
She needed to know I was really there, almost as much as I had needed to know this wasn’t any dream.
And when her sobs began to quiet, I nuzzled my lips against her neck and left a small kiss on her collarbone before raising up enough to look into her tearful blue eyes and admitted, “It’s always been you. Even when I couldn’t remember anything else, in my dreams I always remembered you because I never stopped loving you.”
As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew without question it was true and I was relieved to have yet another piece of the puzzle solved.
Her reactions to Sophie.
My reactions to Herveaux.
The confusion I felt over Dream Sookie and Real Sookie finally all made sense to me and now I had a hundred more questions I wanted answers to.
But when she suddenly pulled me down and pressed her lips against mine, they no longer seemed as important when she whispered, “I never stopped loving you too.”
And when she suddenly had another need her lips were demanding I fulfill, I was completely okay with that too.
Her hands snaked up my back underneath my shirt, only so her nails could rake their way back down my skin, hard enough that I was sure there’d be bloody trails left behind.
But I didn’t care because it only made me feel more alive.
She was marking me like an animal, but my growl of approval got cutoff when those same hands slid inside of my shorts and she grabbed onto my ass, while grinding her hips against my own.
So. Much. Better. Than. Any. Dream.
“Fuck…” I mumbled against her skin, unable to form anything more coherent than that.
All of me felt alive – my dick included – and my hips thrust against hers of their own volition, with me unable to stop them even if I’d wanted to.
Which I didn’t.
The movement alone was both foreign and familiar, but I couldn’t process anything more than just how it all felt.
It felt right.
“Yes,” she panted underneath me, feeling me grind myself on top of her, while her hands quickly pulled my shorts down, with her feet taking over the job when her reach ended.
My hands automatically returned the favor by quickly pulling her pants off.
But before I could rip off her shirt or enjoy the view, she flipped me over so that I was underneath her and laughed at the shocked look on my face as she said, “I lied earlier. We have fucked before and it’s been too long for anything else. We’ll make love later.”
Given everything she’d told me, it was a falsehood I could live with. But even if her lie angered me, I wouldn’t have had the brain power to argue with her.
I would’ve given her my last breath if she asked for it, but instead she breathed new life into me. If kissing her before had been like coming home, then sliding into her was like finally being able to breathe again after being submerged underwater for way too long. I literally felt reborn in that moment, with my chest and lungs expanding, pulling in ragged breath after ragged breath, while a small part of me wondered if it was my turn to now hyperventilate.
I couldn’t think of a better way to die.
As if sensing the imminent danger of me passing out, Sookie leaned down and effectively revived me by kissing me, all while her hips continued to move on top of my own. Feeling every pulse of her heart, beating in rhythm with my own, made it seem as though in that moment we shared one heart.
The slick wet heat of her surrounding me, knowing this glorious woman of my dreams was real and she was mine without a shadow of a doubt was all that I knew. It was the only answer I needed and nothing had ever felt as real or as right as being inside of her.
Feeling her muscles contract around me, gripping me from all sides, made me know without any doubt I’d never had sex with Sophie. Even with the relief that knowledge brought me, I hated the fact I’d even thought about her in that moment – ruining what had to be the best moment of my life – and I forced her out of my head and concentrated on the present.
On what was real.
On Sookie – my real wife.
I didn’t have to know it had been at least a year since I’d last had sex. My body was telling me that truth in its own way, so I knew I wouldn’t last long. Thanks to not being able to get it up, even with the dreams I’d had of Sookie, I hadn’t even had the inclination to take care of things myself.
But all of those needs were bearing down on me now and I was having a hard time fighting them off because I still wanted to get Sookie there first. I had no doubts it had been just as long for her and thankfully, I didn’t have to think about how to do it.
It was like riding a bike.
Or in this case, Sookie riding me.
You never truly forgot how and my hand let go of her hip, with my thumb sliding over her clit, while my other hand dug into her hip to keep her from bucking off of me.
I moved my thumb in furious circles, while pulling her hips down with every thrust I made up into her. Her lips left mine as she sat up to cry out in pleasure, but seeing her like that brought out primal urges in me I didn’t know I had.
Before my mind could even form the thought, I’d flipped us over, without ever leaving her body, and pulled her leg up higher on my body, so that I hit her clit with every thrust of my hips. I no longer had to fight off my body’s demands to come because her pleasure was my pleasure and all of my focus dwindled down to that one objective.
The building could have been on fire and rained down on top of us and I never would’ve known because she was all I could see.
All I could feel.
She consumed every sense I had and when she finally let out one last desperate cry, just as I felt her inner walls clamp down on me, I had no choice but to cry out and let go with her.
Reality was SO much better than fantasy.
I sank down at her side, so I wouldn’t crush her, and smiled through my panting lips at the feel of her wrapping herself around me. Our arms and legs entwined with one another’s, like we’d done it a thousand times before, all while she placed soft kisses on my chest. I repeated the action across the top of her head and even though my heart was still racing in my chest, the long night was catching up with me and I had to fight to keep my eyes open.
I didn’t want to go to sleep now that I finally had some answers and there were still a hell of a lot more that I intended to get. But my earlier run now coupled with our fucktastic reunion were really doing a number on me.
Sookie must have noticed my struggles because she laughed softly and pulled the covers up over the both of us, saying, “Sleep. We’ll talk later.”
Again, I couldn’t find it in me to argue with her. Not even when her hand skimmed down my front and came to rest on top of the one part of me, that apparently wasn’t as tired as the rest of me, and gave me one slow stroke, I fought a losing battle with my eyelids.
The last thing I remembered was hearing her whisper, “Maybe, if I can keep myself from attacking you first.”
It was the only answer I needed to hear.
Unfortunately, my sleep wasn’t as restful, despite my body being exhausted. After everything that happened, I would’ve thought my dreams would’ve been filled with all things Sookie, but instead they were made up of some of my worst nightmares.
The sleep deprivation.
The pain and the fear.
Overriding it all was the overwhelming feeling of determination to not give in to their demands, even though I couldn’t quite suss out in my dream what those demands were.
My mind had thankfully blacked out when my body couldn’t take anymore and I recalled how much I’d welcomed the darkness after what felt like spending neverending days underneath the harsh spotlight.
They were the same nightmares I’d had for as long as I could remember. They were the same ones I’d used to fill journal after journal, describing every detail my conscious mind could recall after waking up. They were the same ones Sophie and my therapist pestered me over, wanting even more details than I could provide – more than I’d even wanted to recall – and I never understood their importance until I woke up with a start, still wrapped in Sookie’s embrace.
I’d thought it was the dreams that had woken me up, but hearing the footsteps getting closer to us had me grabbing the handgun next to the bed.
Blocking her body with my own as I rolled over, I aimed it at the approaching sound, only for my hand to drop seeing Rasul freeze on the spot he stood upon, with his hands held up.
My movements had woken Sookie as well – or maybe it was Rasul’s barking laughter – because she lifted her head and kissed my arm, just as he said, “Herveaux owes me a hundred dollars! I told him the newlyweds couldn’t hold out.”
That single thought canceled out every other one in my head, as I turned to face Sookie with a questioning expression.
But seeing her like that, wearing a soft smile and messy hair, with red blotches on her otherwise pristine skin – and remembering vividly how they got that way – made me forget just what I’d been questioning, until she replied, “We got married on a whim when we snuck away together one night in Vegas a couple of weeks before you went missing. No one knew we were even together, but we were waiting until after your assignment was over to tell everyone, so the bureau wouldn’t reassign me right away. That all went to shit quick.”
Then she shrugged and smiled without shame, adding, “When the bureau started searching for you they found out about our marriage. Since they didn’t know for sure if you’d been kidnapped, they put me on administrative leave while they investigated me, thinking maybe we were in on it together. But they kept it on a need to know basis, so I doubt Felipe knows. If he had, they might’ve tried to use me to get you to talk.”
I focused all of my concentration on her and her words, but nothing came back to me. No images or feelings – from that night or any other – I hadn’t already recalled. And my frustration only grew because I could remember my imaginary wedding to Sophie.
It must have shown on my face because she leaned forward and gave me another peck on the lips, saying with conviction, “You’ll remember.”
Seeing her like that, the only thing I remembered was that we were both naked underneath the sheet that was close to sliding down enough to show Rasul more of Sookie than I wanted him to see.
So I pulled it up and tucked it around her body before turning to face him and asked, “Can you give us a minute to get dressed?”
What I really wanted was more alone time with Sookie. I wanted to touch her and talk to her, asking every question I could think of wanting to get to know her better, while hoping against hope my memories would come rushing back to me. Even without them she was the only thing that felt familiar to me and I hoped something she did or said would be the key to unlocking my mind.
And I already had a list of things I wanted to do to her that all ended with my KEY fitting into her LOCK.
As if Rasul could read my mind, he smiled and said, “No. You might not remember, but I recall all too well how long your minutes are when left alone together.”
He turned around so that his back was facing us, but didn’t make any move to leave and while we started pulling our clothes on, Sookie laughed hearing him say, “Thanks to the two of you I missed Celine Dion’s performance at Caesar’s Palace and the duet with Andrea Bocelli!”
We were both dressed by the time he was done whining, so Sookie walked over and patted him on the back on her way by, laughing out, “I would’ve thought your heart would’ve gone on by now.”
“Bocelli Sookie!” he cried, only making her laugh louder, but his next words made us both take notice.
“Seeing this new development,” he began, turning around and gesturing between Sookie and me.
And then making a crude gesture involving the pointer finger of his right hand, sliding in and out of a circle made up of the thumb and pointer finger on his left hand.
Sookie just laughed again completely unruffled, while I shook my head at him, but he just smiled and said, “I assume it is okay to inform you the redheaded she-devil has been spotted in Las Vegas? Well…she is now a blond, but you know who I mean, yes?”
“What?” Sookie spat out, stopping in her tracks, after having said my only thought out loud.
But just to be sure, I asked, “Sophie?”
I would’ve thought she would’ve been taken in by the FBI on the night they’d showed up at the house. And even though I now knew she was never really my wife to begin with, I still felt a little shocked that, other than when I’d said I should call her after initially going with Sookie, I hadn’t even thought to ask about her.
I guessed she meant less to me than I had even known.
Sookie glared at me for a split second – I assumed for daring to mention her name out loud – and while I knew I would’ve felt the exact same way had our situations been reversed, I still felt pissed off for feeling guilty.
Even though I’d done nothing wrong.
So I found myself harshly reminding her, “I NEVER FUCKED HER!”
Her lips quirked to one side, as though she was mentally chewing on the plausibility of my denial, but Rasul walked over and threw his arm around my shoulders, laughing out a conspiratorial, “No?”
“No!” I repeated in frustration, but it wasn’t Sookie or even Rasul I was frustrated with.
I just wanted my memories to return, so I would know for sure I wasn’t inadvertently telling a lie.
He only laughed again and then slapped me on the back, saying, “This is why I will never get married. There is no fucking after the ‘I do’s.”
And then he added, “Well…other than the two of you, but that will wear off in time.”
“Vegas?” Sookie asked, breaking the sudden train of dirty thoughts replaying in my mind of the night before. “She actually went running back to Felipe?”
Even feeling the way I did – knowing some of what my real life was like versus the one I could still remember – it still felt surreal trying to imagine the people in that life and putting them into new roles in this one.
Sookie must have misread my confused expression because she explained, “Sophie disappeared after we left and as far as we know, she hasn’t been seen until I guess now. Most of what we have on her came from other sources, so the bureau doesn’t know she’s a key player. But they do know she works for Felipe. From the case notes, it seems the only traces of her they found in the house she kept you at were her clothes. No pictures, no fingerprints other than yours, not even a strand of hair in a drain, so they don’t know it was her living there. And now that we know your neighbors were a part of it, it’s no surprise they didn’t have much to say about her when they were interviewed.”
I shook my head, once again seeing things in a whole new light, and offered, “She was a clean freak – obsessively so – and claimed she never liked the way she looked in photos, so there weren’t many to begin with. But all of that went hand in hand with her preference for a minimalist décor.”
My eyes rolled a little when I added, “Or apparently a quick getaway.”
Everything was always pretty bare and sterile in the house and now that I thought about it, I hadn’t thought about it at all when our wedding photo never made its way to the mantle or bedside table. If I had thought about it, I was sure I would’ve just assumed it hadn’t been unpacked from the move yet.
It made me wonder if there were pictures from my real wedding to Sookie.
There wasn’t time to ask because without looking back at Rasul, she went over to the computer station and started tapping away on the keyboard as she asked, “Who spotted her? FBI or LVPD?”
“Neither,” he smiled, only instead of appearing friendly, he looked downright evil.
And I would hazard a guess that I was now seeing the side of him that worked to the left of the law.
“My sources,” he began with a cocked eyebrow, “spotted her entering the penthouse suite Felipe keeps at the Palms.”
The Palms Casino?
Being an accountant – at least I thought she was an accountant at the time – Sophie didn’t really care for gambling.
At least the Sophie I knew.
But, that only made it all the more odd when she’d all but physically dragged me to one of the riverboat casinos not long after we’d moved to Shreveport. She hadn’t so much as put a coin into a slot machine and yet she dragged me around from table to table, machine to machine, just to watch. It seemed weird to me at the time, but now I had to wonder if she’d been trying to jog my memories.
But if that was the case, why didn’t they just keep me in Vegas?
All of it made even less sense now, especially when Sookie turned to face us and said, “Well then, at least we’ll know where she’ll be tonight. I’m sure she’s dying to get back to her lucky blackjack table.”
“But she doesn’t gamble,” I muttered, still trying to piece it all together.
“Uh huh,” Sookie replied, while she stood up and walked over to a trunk where she started rifling through the contents. “Just like she doesn’t brainwash FBI agents into believing they’re her husband.”
Hearing the bitterness in her voice made my survival instincts kick in, telling me to shut the fuck up about my fake wife when talking to my real wife. I couldn’t help but flinch when she held up a pair of scissors and gave my crotch a long hard look before giving me a look that told me it was likely already too late for that.
And Rasul’s laughter confirmed that fact.
“Sweetheart?” I asked sweetly, belying the slight terror I felt watching her stalk towards me, and wishing I could remember what in the fuck I used to call her whenever I’d fucked up in the past.
I might not be able to remember those occasions, but I had no doubts they’d happened.
“Darling?” she purred out, with her steps never faltering and her expression looking even more deadly.
I forced my feet to stay still instead of giving into my inner pussy and running away.
Besides, my legs were still sore from all of the running I’d done the night before and I knew she’d catch me.
Instead, I told myself she’d looked for me for a year. That she was my wife. And I was her husband, so I was sure she wasn’t going to hurt me.
Ninety-nine percent sure…
I was too afraid to ask what the scissors were for. She obviously already had plans for them and I didn’t want to give her any ideas that would end in a MacGyver worthy vasectomy for me, so I didn’t resist when she all but shoved my ass into a chair.
But my mouth hadn’t gotten the ‘Give Sookie Whatever She Wants’ memo when it opened up and nervously chuckled, “What are you going to do?”
The answer was apparent when I felt her start to cut my hair and I relaxed, just enjoying the feel of her hands on me in a non-lethal way.
But she still replied in an overly sweet voice, “Well darling, first we’re going to make ourselves a little less recognizable. And then we’re going to Vegas and grab that bitch to get some answers.”
Her fingers tugged on my hair a little more forcefully and the sweetness disappeared from her tone, as she gritted out, “Even if I have to snatch her up by her snatch.”
I might not have been able to remember marrying Sookie, but I was learning quickly. Saying anything at all about Sophie or her snatch would be a surefire death sentence – or require stitches at the very least – so I offered the only answer I knew would be acceptable.
After all, I COULD remember my mom and while some of those memories were skewed, I was certain one thing still held true.
She didn’t raise any fool.