Chapter 11: My Love For You Is Real

He loves me.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to me. It’s been four years.

I know the stock response but I can’t say it-not yet. I know that I will, and probably faster than I ever have before, but I’m not there yet. I’m not sure what I should say back. Anything other than those three words will sound like I’m just trying to appease him, and that’s exactly what I would be doing.

“You’ll say it when you’re ready,” Eric says confidently and it makes me smile.

He pulls me down to kiss me and my hips start moving again. I go slowly because I don’t want to overwhelm him. Eric’s hands move down my sides to my hips and then around to my backside. He breaks the kiss and moves down my neck to my boobs. For someone who’s never been with a woman before, Eric more attentive to me than some of the other guys I’ve been with who have had much more experience.

Eric lasts a little longer the second time, but I don’t finish before he does. I don’t take it personally. He’s new at this and I don’t just mean sex.

“I’m sorry,” he apologizes.

“It’s okay. It won’t always be so quick,” I tell him.

I don’t want Eric to beat himself up about it. Things will get better and as we learn more about each other that will help, too. At the moment I’m not worried about me, but Eric is.

“You didn’t finish,” he says.

“No, I didn’t, but it’s okay. Next time.”

“Not good enough.” There’s a determined look in his eyes. “Show me what to do.”

I could argue with him but why in the world would I? If he wants to make sure I’m getting as good as I give, who am I to stop him?

So I show him how to touch me and what to do to get me off. Eric is a good student that pays close attention to what I’m teaching him. I’m sure that in no time he won’t need me to literally hold his hand. He does everything I tell him or show him to do and the result is fireworks going off behind my eyes.

Eric looks very pleased with himself, as he should, and lays down next to me. I roll onto my side and kiss him a few times before resting my head on the same pillow as him.

“I’m happy,” he says, as if he didn’t think such a thing was possible.

“So am I.” I reach for his hand and lace our fingers together.

Eric dozes off a little while later. I lay there next to him and just watch him sleep. That peaceful look is back on his face but now he’s smiling too. Eric doesn’t smile enough for my liking but I hope that will change. I can’t imagine living a life as lonely as his has been.

The charms on Sunday’s collar make noise as he walks around the apartment. I look at the clock on the nightstand and it’s already almost three. My stomach rumbles and I know I need to eat something before going to work but talking myself out of bed is a problem. I’m comfortable here next to Eric and I’m afraid if I get up he’ll wake up, and I don’t want to disturb him.

Twenty more minutes, I tell myself. I have to be up at 3:30. As much as I don’t want to leave, I have to go home and get ready for work. I close my eyes and just relax for a few minutes. Eric shifts onto his side and his head ends up on my chest. It’s not a sexual thing, just him snuggling.

The fact that he’s so okay with being close to me is something I find curious. I’m not complaining at all, I just wouldn’t expect it. I run my fingers through his tangled hair and let myself doze for a bit too. Before I know it my twenty minutes are up and I have no choice but to slide out from under him.

I need a shower, but walking home with wet hair is a no go. I gather up my clothes and go to the bathroom to get dressed. After a quick clean up and rinsing my mouth with the mouthwash on the sink’s lip, I dress quickly. When I come out if the bathroom Eric is still asleep. I really don’t want to wake him up but I don’t want to leave without saying goodbye.

I climb up on the bed and sit on my knees next to him. Eric is a sound sleeper, I’ll give him that. I brush his hair back from his face and gently touch his cheek.

“Eric,” I say softly. He shifts a little but that’s all the reaction I get. “Eric, sweetie, wake up.”

It takes a minute but his eyes open.

“You have clothes on,” he pouts and it’s adorable.

“Yeah, I have to get home so I can get ready for work. I really wish I could stay. I’d definitely rather be here. Do you work tonight?”

He flops on his back and rubs his eyes for a few seconds.

“Yeah, I’m there six to two.”

“Me too. If you want me to stay over again I can. I’ll bring clothes and stuff for tomorrow so I don’t have to leave early to go home and change,” I offer.

“I’d like that. I slept good last night with you here.”

“So did I.”

He sits up slowly and Sunday makes himself know by pushing up on his hind legs and peeking over the foot of the bed.

“You need to go out, don’t you, buddy?” Eric asks his dog, and remarkably, Sunday answers him.

“How old is Sunday?” I ask him.

“I got him from a rescue when he was six months old and I’ve had him for about three years now.”

“He’s a smart dog.”

“Very. He was pretty easy to train, too. He’s good company.”

“It seems like it.”

“Don’t worry, I like you more,” Eric pats my leg.

“Oh, well thanks,” I laugh.

As much as I don’t want to, I get off of the bed and go put my boots on. I look up in time to see Eric getting dressed as well. His back is to me and I stare at the intricate details of the tattoo on his back. It’s a Celtic cross with two sets of initials underneath it. I’m assuming those are his parents’ initials.

“Your tattoo is beautiful,” I tell him as he stands up after putting his socks on.

“It’s a Skibbereen cross. My mother was from that town in County Cork, Ireland. She and my father met when she came here for college. He was already in graduate school when they met. They only dated for three weeks before he proposed to her.”

“Wow. Well, I guess when you know, you know.”

Given that I have yet to go on a real date with Eric but still I’m sure he’s the right guy for me, I can’t really knock his parents.

“My father’s parents didn’t approve. They were upright blue bloods from Connecticut who assumed mom just wanted a green card and half of dad’s inheritance someday.”

“That’s awful.” I want to hear more about Eric’s parents but I have to get going. Hopefully he’ll still be feeling chatty after work. I put on my coat and pick up my purse.

“I can walk you home if you want.”

“No, that’s okay. If you do that I’ll want to invite you in, and if I invite you in I’ll want to shower with you and-”

“That doesn’t sound so bad.”

I laugh and say, “No, it doesn’t but I don’t have time for that. But when we get off work later we can give it a try then if you’re still interested.”

“I think I can guarantee that.”

I wait for Eric at the door while he puts on his coat and leashes Sunday. We go downstairs together and when we reach the sidewalk I immediately curse the weather gods. It’s fucking freezing out here and it’s only the first half of December. I can’t wait to get my new car.

“So I’ll see you at work?” I smile up at him.

“I’ll be there.”

Sunday pulls on the leash, clearly ready to go.

“Okay, then I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”

“Yes, you will.” Eric leans down and kisses me goodbye. “I love you.”

I smile and kiss him one more time before turning and heading for home.

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