I carried my cup of coffee out onto the deck and leaned against the railing as I watched the sun rising over the horizon. I listened to the birds chirping in the trees above. No matter which direction I turned, all I could see was the darkening sky becoming lighter and lighter for miles. I couldn’t believe how differently my life had turned out than what I had always imagined it would be just five years earlier.
Five years earlier…
It broke my heart to have to leave Sookie on the USS Bainbridge the day after her rescue. After she had received her phone calls of well wishes from the President, she called and spoke to her boss to say that she was okay. We stayed up all night long catching up on each other’s lives as much as we could. We were as comfortable with each other as if twenty years hadn’t passed by at all. My team had to leave the next day to return to our training drills in Kenya. We exchanged contact information and promised to keep in touch with each other, but as I watched her standing on the deck as our helicopter rose up into the sky, the sight of her tears was almost more than I could bear. I had seriously contemplated jumping out of the door and into the ocean just so I could wipe the tears from her eyes and give her one last hug.
Now that I knew where she lived and that she still wanted to be with me, it made my decision on where to live when I retired from the Navy that much simpler. I only had six more weeks until I could start my terminal leave and I already had a job offer lined up with the Department of Homeland Security in New York City. If I believed in such things I would’ve thought fate and destiny were pushing us together.
Sookie emailed me every day, and I called or wrote back whenever I could. It was hard to believe, but I missed her more now than I did when I left for basic training. From the time I first saw her face on that god-awful lifeboat she instantly became the single most important thing in my life. My every thought was of her. I didn’t even care when the guys in my platoon gave me shit about it either, calling me lover boy and pussy-whipped, because I knew it was true. I was still in love with her, of that I had no doubt. And I knew that I would do anything she asked of me, not because of the phenomenal sex, but because I wanted to spend the rest of my life making her happy.
So, with that in mind, I put to work the strategizing skills the Navy had taught me, and came up with a plan of action to make her mine once more.
I walked around in a daze for weeks after I saw Eric. I’d gone on to Mozambique for the two weeks I had been scheduled to be there before going back home to New York at the beginning of May. I emailed Eric every day and was ridiculously happy whenever he was able to call or email me back. I knew I was still in love with him. I had been for the majority of my life. I didn’t say the words to him though and neither did he. I didn’t want the first time (again) I told him I loved him to be in an email or over the phone. I was also afraid to tell him because I didn’t know how he felt. I didn’t want scare him away with declarations of love so soon after having him in my life again. He told me he had a job offer in the city and had decided to take it. I had high hopes we would be able to resume our previous relationship and decided I would wait and see where it went from there.
I received an email from Eric the week I got home saying that he was going somewhere where he wouldn’t have access to a phone or computer for a few weeks, but he would be in New York during the last week of May and would email me with the details as soon as he was able to. I was so excited I actually jumped up and down in my apartment clapping my hands and squealing like a teenage girl at the ‘Twilight’ premier.
I called and made an appointment with my OB/GYN to get a depo provera shot knowing it would take about three weeks to be effective. I had used it before when I was with Bill and didn’t have any side effects from it like I had with birth control pills. At the doctor’s office they took routine blood and urine samples and I was waiting in the exam room wearing the horrible paper gown when the doctor came in. I almost passed out when she told me that she wouldn’t be able to give me the shot. I was pregnant.
I went home with my list of pregnancy Do’s and Don’ts and a bottle of prenatal vitamins and sat on my couch wondering what was going to happen now. How would Eric react to this news? Would he be happy? Would he feel trapped? Would he stay with me, not because he loved me, but because he thought it was the right thing to do? Placing my hand on my still flat stomach I knew that I would be having this baby with or without him. I already loved it.
I received an email from Eric on the last Tuesday of the month asking me to meet him at Pier 88 on 48th Street and the West Side Highway at noon the next day. That was all it said. I took a personal day from work and jumped in a cab heading to the pier wearing a white summer dress that was covered in small red flowers. I figured I would wear it now while I still could. My stomach was in knots because I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to say to him. I was afraid that as soon as I told him the news he would take off and I would never see him again. I knew, logically, he wouldn’t do that, but I was afraid nonetheless.
I had been so caught up in my own personal drama I had been oblivious to what had been going on around the city, so I was surprised when I got out of the cab down by the pier to see all of the commotion. It was Fleet Week. There were decorations and flags and people everywhere. The parade of ships had just ended and the sailors were starting to come down the ramp. I made my way to the front and spotted him the minute he stepped onto the ramp.
Not only was he taller than everyone else, while the rest of the sailors were wearing white uniforms with either the short sleeves or the ones that reminded me of Popeye, he was wearing his white summer dress uniform.
He had on a white jacket with five gold buttons down the center over white slacks that showcased his tan clean-shaven face perfectly. The high collar had identical pins on each side of a golden anchor and rope with USN across the middle. There were various pins and medals over his left chest pocket and a blue nametag above his right. His hair was pulled back at the nape of his neck under his white hat with a black bill that had another golden anchor pin in the front center matching those on his lapel.
I was frozen in the spot I was standing in and the closer he got to me the more I seemed to sway. I took a huge breath realizing I had been unknowingly holding it in. His entire face was lit up with a giant grin with his eyes never leaving mine until his arms were finally around me and he pulled me into a kiss. His lips were soft but demanding and I found myself wrapping around him deepening it even further, not caring who was around us. I needed this kiss now, not sure if it would be our last.
He pulled away first, still smiling saying “I’ve really missed you.”
“I missed you too.” I knew I was putting off the inevitable, but I selfishly wanted to spend time with him before my news would change everything.
He grabbed onto my hand and starting pulling me away from the crowds and towards the street. I went along with him and was confused when we stopped next to a red corvette parked along the sidewalk. Another sailor was waiting there and held out the keys to Eric. He smiled at the two of us and walked away without saying a single word.
Eric opened the passenger door and motioned for me to get in. After shutting my door he got in on the driver’s side. He started the car and hit a few buttons on the GPS before pulling away from the curb and taking my hand in his.
I looked at him confused asking, “Whose car is this? Where are we going?”
He looked over at me and was still wearing his big grin answering, “This is my car. I had it in storage down in Virginia and got my buddy to get it out and drive it up here for me.” He then pulled my hand up to his mouth and kissed the back of it. “And, where we’re going is a surprise.” I noticed he seemed to be nervous, but my own nerves kept me from calling him out on it.
I tried to relax and just sat there staring at him as he drove. The radio was on and neither one of us said anything. I just wanted to commit his face to memory now before everything turned upside down. I vaguely registered us crossing over the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey, but I couldn’t take my eyes away from him. My hormones were all over the place and I was skittish as hell on the verge of tears. The dam finally broke and they streamed down my face as I choked out a sob.
Eric looked over at me alarmed. “Sookie, what’s wrong?”
I couldn’t answer him because whenever I tried the sobs came out harder. He pulled up to a curbed sidewalk and turned off the car. He cupped my face in his hands and leaned forward kissing the tears away. After the sobbing slowed to just a few sporadic hiccups he tried again. “Lover, what’s wrong?”
Hearing him calling me lover set off a new round of sobs. He pulled me into a hug and rubbed soothing circles on my back waiting for them to subside. Once they did he tried a different question. “What has you so upset?” His eyebrows were furrowed with concern.
I sucked in some air and just let it all spill out. “Oh Eric. I’ve missed you so much and not just during the last six weeks, but for the last twenty years. I’m in love with you. I’ve never stopped loving you. And everything’s going to change and I’m afraid you’re going to leave me once I tell you what’s wrong.”
His features became frozen. He looked at me without any emotion and asked, “Is there someone else? Have you been with someone else since I last saw you?”
More sobs racked through my body as I choked out, “NO! How could you even THINK that? I just TOLD you I’m STILL in LOVE with YOU!” I couldn’t stop my body from shaking and his face softened once more as he pulled me back into a hug.
“Sshhh….Sookie, whatever it is, we can work through it.” He pulled back to look me in the eyes. “I love you too. I always have.”
I looked at him wanting desperately to believe him. It was now or never. “I’m pregnant.”
He sat there looking at me too stunned to say anything. When he let go of me and got out of the car I couldn’t help curling into a ball in the seat, burying my face into my knees as I cried even harder. I didn’t hear it when he opened the passenger door. I didn’t feel it when he released the seat belt that was holding me in.
I did feel it when he took my hands and pulled me out of the car. I stood on the sidewalk barely able to see through the tears still streaming down my face. He gently cupped my face wiping them from my eyes and when I was able to focus on him once more I watched as he got down on bended knee in front of me.
I couldn’t help holding my breath when he said, “Sookie Stackhouse. From the moment I first saw you, crying on the side of the road when you were seven years old, I knew you held my heart. I’ve loved you from that moment on. And now, twenty-eight years later, looking at you crying on the side of the road, I’m still in love with you. Even after twenty years without you near, it never diminished. And now that I’ve found my way back to you I never want to let you go. I want to spend the rest of my life showing you each and every day how much I love you. This gift you’re giving me, our child, is one I never imagined I would receive and it only makes me love you more.” Pulling out a ring box from his pocket he opened it up and asked, “Will you marry me?”
Now I was stunned. I kept looking back and forth from the ring to him and back again. He couldn’t be doing this just because I was pregnant if he already had the ring in his pocket. He really does love me. He wants to marry me because he loves me. I couldn’t help crying again when I answered, “Yes Eric. Yes I’ll marry you.”
He slipped the ring onto my left hand and kissed it before standing and pulling me into his arms giving me a toe curling kiss. I molded my body around his wishing desperately that we were somewhere private so I could rip his uniform off. I finally managed to pull away and said, “Let’s go somewhere private so we can celebrate.”
The lopsided grin I love so much came across his face and he said, “How about right here?” I looked around and saw that we were on some residential street in a suburb somewhere.
“Eric! I’m not going to have sex with you on a sidewalk.” I turned to open the car door when he pulled me back to him. He turned me to face the house we were parked in front of. It was a two story colonial with white siding and black shutters framing every window with beautiful flowerbeds surrounding the house and flowerboxes under each window. A long asphalt driveway led to a two-car detached garage and I could make out an in-ground swimming pool in the backyard. The front yard had a white picket fence and a realtor sign that said ‘Sold’.
I looked up at him in disbelief. “Whose house is this?”
He grinned wider. “Ours.” He led me to the front door where he unlocked it with a key from his key ring. Before I could step inside he scooped me up in his arms and carried me in bridal style. He continued to walk without putting me down, carrying me up the stairs and into what I assumed to be the master bedroom where he put me down on a huge bed.
When I looked at him questioningly he smiled saying, “I saw it online and thought it was perfect for us. I arranged everything over the internet and when my buddy brought up my car he also brought up my furniture that was in storage too. We can buy new stuff if you want, I just wanted the bed to be here today.” I just stared at him unable to say anything. He looked worried and asked, “You’re not mad are you? Was I acting too high-handed? We don’t have to live here if you don’t like it.”
I was never more grateful for his high-handedness than at that very moment. I sat up on my knees on the bed and proceeded to devour his mouth with mine. My hands wandered over his chest before opening each button of his jacket and sliding it off of his arms. I quickly pulled the hem of his undershirt out of pants and lifted it up and over his head. I stopped for a moment to take in his bare chest in front of me. My fingers traced each and every line of every muscle before me while he stood still letting me have my way. His nipples pebbled at my touch and I leaned forward taking one in my mouth, swirling my tongue around it before sucking it between my teeth and lightly biting down.
His hips bucked forward as he gasped and grabbed onto the back of my head holding it in place. When I reached down and stroked his erection through the tented fabric of his pants he growled and pulled my lips back to his crushing them with his own. I felt his hands reach around and unzip my dress as I pushed the straps down my arms letting it fall around my waist. He licked his way down to my breasts swirling his tongue over each of them until I thought I would die if he wasn’t in me soon. I pulled away and pulled my dress up and over my head tossing it on the floor before lying back in the middle of the bed wearing nothing more than a sheer red thong holding on to his hand trying to pull him down on top of me. He quickly rid himself of the rest of his clothing and climbed on the bed, pausing to kiss my stomach on his way up my body whispering, “Hi baby. I love you little one.” I blinked back the tears from his fatherly display as he continued up my body being careful to keep his weight on his arms and legs. He kissed me again, slowly, tracing my lips with his tongue before exploring inside of my mouth. He placed his cock at my entrance and slowly rubbed me through the fabric. I wrapped my legs around his waist pushing my hips against his and I literally felt like I would explode if he wasn’t in me right now.
I begged him, “PLEASE Eric. I NEED you inside of me. PLEASE…” I felt him smile against my lips as his hands trailed down slipping into the side of my thong testing my readiness with his fingers. I knew I was already dripping wet and as he removed his hand he ripped my thong off at the same time and plunged into me. My back arched and I screamed out as I came immediately, my whole body convulsing around him. He thrust in and out of me slowly while looking into my eyes drawing out my orgasm. He leaned down and kissed me again. His voice dropped an octave and he said, “I think you’ve got another one of those in there. Let’s see if I can find it.” As his speed increased I could feel another orgasm building and watched as Eric’s eyes narrowed even more as he was getting close too. He reached down in between our bodies and found my clit rubbing it in circles while he said, “Come for me lover. Come for me NOW!” He thrust into me harder than ever as every muscle in his body tensed and we came at the same time screaming each other’s names.
I heard the patio door slide open and felt his arms wrap around me from behind. I leaned into his chest as he lovingly caressed my swollen belly. He kissed the back of my head before saying, “I hope that’s decaf you’re drinking.” I nodded my reply and he kissed the side of my neck asking, “How are my two favorite girls this morning?” I turned around in his arms mockingly glared at him saying, “YOUR daughter decided to kick me awake early this morning.” He smiled before lowering his lips to my belly chastising, “That wasn’t very nice young lady. You need to let mommy sleep.” He raised back up and kissed me still able to make my toes curl after all of this time, until we were interrupted by the sound of “Eewww….mommy and daddy are kissing again.” We broke apart to see our two sons that had been standing in the open doorway scamper back to the cartoons playing on the television. Smiling at each other Eric took me by the hand and looked down at me, his eyes sparkling with the love he had for all of us saying, “I never would’ve imagined…” As he led me back into the house I agreed, I never would’ve imagined.