“Say that again.” Sookie looked at me like I had six heads, two of which were breathing fire.
I couldn’t blame her for being thrown off. I hadn’t planned on proposing to her just then. Hell, I’d made it a point to tell myself any other day besides Valentine’s Day would be just fine. April Fool’s Day would be a better choice, but I somehow ended up letting the words slip before I could get my brain filter to function on a high enough level to stop them from escaping. Not that I didn’t mean it, because I did, it just wasn’t the way I’d planned. Although, I didn’t even really have a plan. I figured it would just be a thing that I would do one day like it was no big deal. I know, I know, a proposal is supposed to be a big deal, but with Sookie and me it seemed like everything had been a big deal. I wanted a moment that was just about us without drama or some big build up to it. It was a rather simple question with an even more simple yes or no answer. Why drag it out?
“Eric.” Sookie prompted, waving in my face slowly.
“Will you marry me?” I repeated a little louder, garnering the attention of those around us. Way to keep it low key, you putz, I berated myself.
“Office. Now.” Sookie spun on her heel and marched toward the office at the back end of the bar.
Pam watched as Sookie stormed past her with me following behind. I may have had a slight case of tail between my legs, but I figured that was more than acceptable considering Sookie’s answer had been a barking order to follow her instead of a resounding yes, followed by a kiss that belonged locked in a time capsule. Pam arched an eyebrow at me, but I only shrugged my shoulders in response. It definitely wasn’t time to stop for a chat.
Sookie had to wait for me at the office door since there was a key code required in order to get in. I leaned down close to her and whispered, “6-2-8-0-5.”
Sookie punched in the code and then threw the door open. “Eric, I thought we agreed we would wait to get married.”
“So then why are you proposing to me?”
I took a deep breath and asked, “Do you want to marry me?”
“You know I do! That’s not what this is about.”
“Sookie, I want to marry you. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have asked. If you want to marry me, then I don’t see what we’re waiting for. We have a child coming, and you are the most important thing in the world to me. It’s what we both want, so it just makes sense to do it.” I reached for her hands, but she pulled them back.
“You were perfectly okay with waiting this morning. What changed?” Sookie knew me well, which was just another reason why I wanted to marry her.
I took a deep breath and said, “This morning while we were watching the news I started thinking about what it would be like if tomorrow was my last day on earth, because I’m sure Bill wasn’t thinking about that when he got to Louisiana. Just being with you makes me happy, so please don’t think I’m not happy right now with you. I just realized that if I had my way about it, I would spend my last day being married to you. We don’t know when our last day is going to come, so if one day is all I ever get, I want it to be with you.”
I knew she was trying not to cry, and she was failing miserably. Not that I could blame her since I felt tears stinging my own eyes. I wasn’t asking her because I thought it was the right thing to do, or because we had a baby coming. It was all about her. It would be devastating for us both if we lost the baby, but as long as I had her, I knew I would survive it. As much as I would love our kids, Sookie was always going to come first. Our childrens’ lives would be miserable if we, as their parents, transferred everything we had into caring for them. There still needed to be an ‘us’ at the nucleus of our family. Sookie and I are were it all begins, and I wanted her to understand that without her, there really wasn’t a me anymore.
“I want it to be with you, too.” Sookie nodded her agreement, her words hard to understand through her tears. “I just didn’t want it to be for the wrong reasons.” She sniffled as I crossed the room to hold her.
“Sookie, I love you. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only reason that matters.” I kissed the top of her head. “And for what it’s worth, I wanted to ask you before I knew anything about the baby. I bought a ring.”
“You did?” Sookie looked up at me with wide, teary eyes.
“Yep, while you were in Louisiana. It’s sized and everything. It’s just chillin’ waiting for a finger to be worn on.” I flashed a smug grin at her that got me a small punch in the gut.
“No way! I’ve cleaned every inch of that house at least five times since then.”
“I’m a ninja, remember?”
“Hmph.” Sookie rolled her eyes at me.
“It’s a beautiful ring.” I teased, her eyes narrowing at me. “You sure you want to wear it?”
In spite of everything I’d just told her, she looked nervous when she asked, “Are you sure you want to give it to me?”
There were probably tons of things I could have said to convince her but instead, I held her face in my hands. I looked deep into those beautiful blue eyes of hers and kissed her with everything I had. I felt her melting against me, and the movement of her mouth against mine told me everything I wanted to know. When I released her, I pressed my forehead to hers. I wiped away her tears with my thumbs.
“Yes, I’ll marry you.” Sookie looked up at me with joy in her eyes.
I exhaled slowly. “Say it again.”
“i love you, Eric. You could ask me every day for the rest of my life, and my answer would always be the same. Yes, I’ll marry you.” Her tone lightened up a little, happiness creeping into her voice.
I wiped her tears with my thumbs and gave her a kiss meant to not only seal a deal, but make a promise. She was the only one I’d ever kiss for the rest of my life, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. I broke off the kiss suddenly and cursed under my breath.
“What? Second thoughts already?” Sookie teased.
“I told myself I wouldn’t ask you on Valentine’s Day because it’s the cheesiest day of the year to propose to someone.”
“It’s just a day, Eric. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a day.”
“It’s a day when I made sure not to have the ring with me to discourage me from asking you.”
“You’ve been walking around with an engagement ring in your pocket for almost two months?” Sookie’s eyes widened.
“No, but I figured when I was sure I was going to do it I’d have the ring with me.”
“So you give it to me when we get home. I’m not going anywhere.” Sookie reached for my hand.
“I should have had a plan.” I grumbled.
Sookie laughed softly and tugged me closer to her. “You really need to stop worrying about life being perfect.” She wrapped her arms around me. “I love that you asked me the way you did. I’m glad you didn’t trot us out to some fancy restaurant or try to hide the ring in a piece of cake. I wouldn’t change any of it, and you shouldn’t want to either.”
She was right, of course. While we stood there, Bean started moving around again. Sookie put my fingertips where the tiny kicks were coming from. It amazed me how strong the baby was already. In just a few more weeks we would know if we were having a boy or a girl. Personally, I didn’t care as long as the baby was healthy.
“We should get back out there.” Sookie pulled back and looked up at me.
“We will.” I held her a little tighter. “What was that song that was playing when we were dancing?”
“It’s by Lifehouse. It’s called ‘Everything.’ Why?” Sookie murmured against my chest.
“I was listening to the words. I realized you’re that person for me. That’s really why I asked you to marry me.” I told her as the exact words that had struck me ran through my mind. You calm the storms and you give me rest. You hold me in your hands. You won’t let me fall. You still my heart and you take my breath away. That was Sookie.
She nodded against me, issuing a small sniffle as she did so that let me know she was crying again. I hadn’t realized we’d started swaying to a beat that wasn’t really playing until she looked up at me with more tears in her eyes. Her small hand traveled over my chest and came to rest over a small wet spot created by her tears.
“Damn.” She muttered, looking down where her hand was. “I think I ruined your shirt.”
“It’s worth it.” I kissed the top of her head and kept on dancing.
We took our time getting out of the office. The quiet was nice. Pam was talking with Amelia and Tray at a table a little further away from the dance floor where the noise was a bit less. Sookie’s fingers were laced with my mine as we walked through the crowd together. Tray was the first to notice us approaching.
“There you guys are! We were about to form a search party.” He pulled out a chair for Sookie to sit.
I sat first and pulled her down on my lap. “We just needed a minute to ourselves.”
“Just a minute, huh?” Amelia snarked, nudging Pam who was giving me a knowing look.
“It’s not what you think.” Sookie stuck her tongue out at Amelia.
“Are you sure? Every time I call you lately you’re-”
“Amelia, zip it.” Tray practically growled.
“Well they are.” She argued in her own defense.
The newlyweds were going at it while Pam was looking back and forth between Sookie and I to see if she was right. Sookie leaned back against me, pulling my arm tighter around her. My palm settled on top of the Bean. I could feel little flutterings of movement under my hand. If it felt that amazing to me, I wondered what it felt like for Sookie.
“Hey, Al and Peggy, if you two could hold off on your very Bundy argument, I think Buttercup and Wesley over here have something to tell us.” Pam stared at me.
“Wow, Pammy, that’s a lot of pop culture references in one sentence.” Sookie teased.
“It got their attention, and don’t call me Pammy.” Pam kicked Sookie under the table and winked at her.
“Pam, would you please not kick my fiance?” I said with a smug grin.
“Fiance?” Amelia’s jaw dropped.
“That’s right. I got a promotion from baby mama.” Sookie giggled.
“Congratulations!” Tray leaned over to slap my shoulder.
“Where’s the ring?” Amelia shifted back and forth like it was going to make Sookie’s ring magically appear.
“It’s at home. Pam’s seen it, though.”
Sookie whipped around to look at me. “Pam got to see my engagement ring before me?”
“She was with me when I bought it.” I shrugged.
“I also took it to be sized. It really is beautiful. I don’t know why Eric let it sit in a box for almost eight weeks.”
“Just waiting for the right time.” I shifted on the chair when Sookie got up to hug Amelia.
“I’m so happy for you guys.” Amelia had tears in her eyes. “I mean, it’s such a sweet story. A nice case of mistaken identity and crazy hormones lead to what could have been the hottest one night stand of your lives. Instead, you two fell in love, got knocked up and now you’re getting married.”
Sookie looked over at Tray. “How much has she had to drink tonight?”
“I think she’s drinking all of her drinks and yours too.” Tray smirked.
“I am not drunk.” Amelia insisted, even as she was swaying back to her seat.
She ended up in Tray’s lap instead. Pam excused herself to go talk to one of the bar backs. Sookie and I sat there with Amelia and Tray until Amelia started to look a little on the green side. It was their cue to go home. Sookie and I went back to the dance floor for a little while, but she didn’t last long. She was exhausted and her feet hurt. It had been a long day, and all of the roller coaster emotions didn’t help. We made plans to have dinner with Pam on Monday night since the bar was closed.
“Hold up a second.” Pam said as we started toward the door. “Look, I um… I want you both to know that I really am happy for you. I’m going to miss you.”
Sookie and I looked at each other, neither of us expecting Pam’s little outburst of emotion. But before either of us could comment back, Pam told us to get the fuck out of her bar. She’s a good friend, that Pam. We both laughed and waved goodnight to Pam.
I slipped out of bed before the sun came up and went downstairs to the basement. I’d stashed the ring on top of the entertainment center down there, knowing the chances of Sookie finding it were slim to none. I felt around until I located the little velvet box, and smiled when I had it in my hand. The lid creaked when I opened the box just to make sure the ring was still inside. Even in the dim light from behind the bar, the ring sparkled. I snapped the box closed and started up the stairs.
With my eyes on my feet, I didn’t see Sookie approaching me. The next thing I knew, we were slamming into each other. She screamed, apparently not expecting to bump into me. I reached out to steady her, but she ended up with her face in the sink. The morning sickness we’d thought was over had apparently come back for a last hoorah. I held her hair back for her while she threw up. I really hated seeing her suffer in any capacity, but this was especially hard to watch since there was nothing I could do but wait for it to be over.
When she was through, I pulled out a chair from the kitchen table and helped her into it. I got her a clean dish towel from one of the drawers and a glass of water to drink while I started the stove to make her some tea. It was strange not to have our house smelling of coffee first thing in the morning. As of late, we didn’t even keep coffee in the house. The smell of it made Sookie nauseous. She also couldn’t stand the taste of carrots. She did, however, seem to be having a rather torrid affair with peanut butter.
“What were you doing downstairs?” She asked.
“Oh, I uh, I went to get something.” Lame, I know.
“Something?” She arched a very suspicious eyebrow at me.
I pulled the other chair around the table so it was in front of hers. I reached into the pocket of my flannel pants and retrieved the ring box. “This.”
Sookie’s eyes lit up when she realized what I was holding. “Is that what I think it is?”
I nodded and handed her the box. “You’re absolutely sure you want it?”
She nodded her response and said, “Will you open it?”
I kept my eyes on hers as I opened the box for her. Her breath caught in her throat. Her eyes sparkled. Her bottom lip quivered. Then there were tears. Lots of them. I took the ring from the box and reached for her left hand. The ring slid onto her finger perfectly, and I kissed it.
“It looks good on you.” I smiled at her.
She nodded vigorously, sniffling and wiping her face with her free hand. “It’s beautiful, Eric. I love it.” She raised her eyes to mine. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” I leaned over to kiss her, but she dodged to the side at the last minute.
“Bean breath.” She reminded me and then attacked every inch of my face with kisses, which was just fine with me.
“You should get back in bed. I’ll finish getting your tea.” I stroked her face gently, clearing away the last of the tears she hadn’t gotten herself.
“Thanks, baby.” She kissed me once more, and then disappeared from the kitchen.
By the time I got back to our bedroom with the tea, she was stretched out on our bed wearing her engagement ring and nothing else. Well, except a smile. I set the tea down on the table on her side of the bed before sitting down on the edge of the mattress.
“You know, if this is how you model jewelry I give you, I may have to do this more often.” I smiled at her.
“Oh, no, see, this isn’t a thank you for the pretty jewelry sex.” Sookie pulled me closer to her.
“No?” My eyebrow arched.
“No.” She stretched forward to kiss me, all traces of Bean breath gone. Minty freshness lingered on her tongue. “This is celebratory marrying the man of my dreams sex.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had that kind before.”
“You better not.” She nibbled my bottom lip before sucking it into her mouth.
“So far I like it.” I said when she released me.
“You ain’t seen nothing yet.” She winked, the pulled me completely on top of her.