It was late. Almost midnight, actually, so it was kind of early by my standards. If I got to bed before dawn most days it was a miracle. I had a long drive up to Fox Lake ahead of me, but it was well worth it knowing who was waiting for me there. Before I left town for the last five months I had left my Stingray Corvette C3 at my parents’ house since they were still living in Schiller Park, my hometown.
The only good thing about the cab ride to the house was that the driver had no clue who I was. It was a nice, quiet ride which was what I needed.
My car was in the garage at the house to keep it safe. Dad was the only one I trusted to take it out regularly to keep Goldie running smooth. She was beautiful. The TV was on in the living room when I got out of the cab. I paid the driver and headed around to the kitchen door that was never locked to let myself in the house. Dad was snoozing on the couch and I had no doubt my stepmother Salome was passed out in the bedroom.
Being that Dad was damn near deaf I was pretty sure he had no idea I was in the house. I went back to the kitchen and wrote a note on the dry erase board so no one would panic when they found my car missing from the garage. The keys were hanging on the hook and I grabbed them on my way out. I had thank you gifts for them but they could wait.
I needed to get home.
I loved my work. When Blue Line formed almost fifteen years ago I had no idea it would go anywhere. Back then it was about finding a more productive way to spend our free time– and to get girls. There wasn’t much to do in Schiller Park, Illinois no matter how old you were but there was definitely less if you were a minor. Not that it ever stopped us from scoring the occasional dime bag or sneaking beer or other booze out of our parents’ houses. My older stepbrother Godric tried to prevent me from going down a nasty spiral of self-destruction by teaching me how to play guitar.
Dad told me my ear for music came from my birth mom since he had no musical talent to speak of. She died in childbirth when I was three. I had just one memory of her but it had faded over the years. I could remember feeling my baby sister kicking in her belly and wondering how a baby got in there. Dad said I’d asked at one point when I could have a baby in my belly.
I was pissed when I found out I couldn’t have one.
In the blink of an eye Dad had had lost his wife and daughter. The baby had gotten into distress – her umbilical cord had wrapped around her neck – and an emergency c-section had been done. Back then they still knocked moms out for the procedure and it might have been for the best. The baby was strangled to death and was stillborn. Mom wouldn’t stop bleeding, no matter what the doctors did. She died less than an hour after my sister.
For me, Salome was the only Mom I ever really knew.
I got in the Corvette and felt a certain sense of satisfaction when the engine turned over effortlessly. Goldie went into gear no problem and began to roll out of the garage. I had to stop the car to get out and manually close the garage, but that was my last obstacle to getting on the road.
The bonus to coming home so late was the absence of traffic. It was a good thing because I was a man on a mission. I had to remind myself not to go too fast. The last thing I needed was a delay because I got pulled over for speeding.
The chances weren’t high that the trooper who pulled me over would be a fan.
It had taken years of playing together and finding the right combination of guys to get to where the Blue Line ended up. The band name came from the Chicago Transit Authority’s name for the train line that took us suburbanites into the city where the best live shows were. I’d been to tons of concerts at The Metro, The Riv, the House of Blues and with Godric’s help on a fake ID, I’d been able to sneak into a few bars as well.
We paid our dues as a band, playing shitty gigs and battling it out with other local bands. Our first big break was being featured on a local radio show. It got us the exposure we needed, as well as several key bookings that got the attention of an A&R rep from Touch & Go Records, the same label Rollins Band was signed to. That was a good enough reason for us to sign with them when we were offered a deal.
I was just twenty-two back then, a young buck full of venom and pure energy. I could stay up for days, working and partying. It was fair to say I burned the candle at both ends but I never bailed on my responsibilities. Those were some wild days.
Blue Line was on the cusp of making it big. Our label was promoting the shit out of us and we were all over MTV.
Back then they still played music videos.
Life was a blur of concerts, photo shoots, TV appearances and media blitzes. We got involved early with social media and interacting with the fans attracted more of them. By the time I was thirty I had eight Grammy awards to my name, five albums under my belt and I’d been around the world three times.
Blue Line had gone way farther than I had ever dreamed it would.
And I was thinking of giving it up.
The reason why was waiting for me in Fox Lake.
In my early twenties I wasn’t ready to settle down. I took full advantage of my rising star and had way more than my share of pussy as a result. Back when I was twenty-three/twenty-four I didn’t mind all the stray, meaningless fucking. I wasn’t in a good place to be someone’s boyfriend. There was too much going on to try balancing the band and a girlfriend. New relationships needed time and attention, two things I couldn’t spare at that point.
As I got older my priorities started to shift. I sold the fancy apartment I’d bought in Las Vegas. I’d had enough of partying and hooking up with random women. Al, our drummer, was having a kid at that point and it got me thinking about where I wanted my future to go. Truth was, I missed home.
Even though I had been around the world and I’d seen plenty of beautiful places, I wanted to be close to my dad. I wanted to get married and have kids.
I also wasn’t getting any younger.
So on my thirtieth birthday I closed on the house out in Fox Lake. It was a modest house on the lake that had a summer cottage look to it. I had a nice size yard and a private deck off the back of the property. There was nice entertaining space with the pergola on the back deck and a fire pit closer to the water. The house needed a little TLC when I bought it but I reached out to an old high school friend for help with that.
Jason Stackhouse and I had grown up together playing football and baseball on the same teams until I gave up sports for music. After high school he started working for his dad’s construction company and since then he had become a licensed contractor. I wanted to do a lot of the work myself on the house and Jason was willing to help me out with it. We were in the middle of putting up the pergola when his sister showed up to bring us lunch.
I vaguely remembered Sookie from school. She was three years younger than us and we didn’t really hang out with the same crowd back in the day so I didn’t really recognize her at first. The funny thing was that when I first saw the adult version of her I didn’t really think much of it. I mean it was nice of her to bring us lunch and she was cute in a little sister kind of way but she wasn’t drop dead gorgeous.
Not at first, anyway.
For years I had been thinking with my dick.
If I didn’t get wood immediately I wasn’t interested. With Sookie it was different. My attraction to her was more about her personality in the beginning. It started out slowly, just hanging out and getting to know each other. Of course she listened to my stories about being a rockstar but she was more interested in me.
So what flipped the switch?
She reached over to wipe barbecue sauce off my chin and then licked it off her finger. For whatever reason it was the sexiest thing I had seen in a long time. Maybe it was because a gesture like that was unassuming but showed her level of trust in me. I don’t know.
After that, my feelings were different.
She was teaching fourth grade and had such a sweet, sunny disposition. I honestly wasn’t sure she had any interest in being anything more than friends with a party boy manslut. I really didn’t know if I deserved her.
It took weeks before I finally got up the nerve to kiss her.
As soon as I did I knew she was it.
Sookie got me. She encouraged me to stick it out with the band because she knew I loved it. She was proud of the work I’d done and she never judged me for my extensive sexual résumé.
We fit together in every way possible.
It’s not to say we never argued – because we certainly did – but it was more like bickering than full blown, knock down, drag out fights like Al had with Debbie.
By the way, he was expecting baby number two with that psycho.
With Sookie I was able to compromise, although if I was being honest, she was the one who had done more bending. We both had to make sacrifices to stay together and make things work. It wasn’t easy being apart so much. We both had jobs we loved and if we were going to stay together in the long run, someone was going to have to give it up.
The last tour had given me a lot of time to think.
I knew I was in love with Sookie. I had been for about three years. We had been living together – sharing a home address at least – for the last two of those years. I missed her constantly when we were apart. For her birthday I had flown her to France to spend some time with me since she was on her summer break. Those two weeks weren’t long enough for me but when she got home Sookie told me that the life on the road wasn’t for her.
She was a homebody and loved having roots.
I had wanderlust and wings I didn’t think could be clipped.
While I was standing in the middle of some Greek ruins it occurred to me that I didn’t want to lose Sookie. Ever. Whatever I had to do to keep her, I would.
The second leg of the tour had been hell.
I just wanted to go home to my girl.
Somewhere along the way I lost the enthusiasm. I just wanted to go home, carve pumpkins, dress up in stupid couples costumes and watch scary ass movies with the only girl who ever got under my skin. Sookie was worth walking away from everything.
When I got into the driveway I parked there instead of putting the garage door up. The lights were all out but that was to be expected. Sookie was still teaching and had to be up early for school. I grabbed my carry-on bag and brought it inside with me. Sookie’s fat cat Tina appeared. She rubbed against my legs as I locked the door. I kicked off my shoes and left my bag at the door.
The house was spotless and smelled of fire and Sookie’s perfume. She was a big fan of using the fireplace in the colder months. I didn’t mind it, or any of the snuggles that came along with it.
Since I was home last Sookie had hung a picture of us that I had taken in France. I had seriously considered proposing to her there but I didn’t. I didn’t have a ring then and I wasn’t ready to say I was done. At least for a while I wanted to take a step back and let my full-time job be all about Sookie for a change.
I crept through the house to the master bedroom. The door was open and Sookie was curled up on her side, hugging a pillow. She was wearing a Blue Line T-shirt from our most recent tour and her silky hair was piled up on her head. I was exhausted emotionally and mentally, but in seeing her lying there my physical fatigue suddenly vanished.
My clothes came off effortlessly and I got into bed behind her. She was so soft and warm. I could have kicked my own ass for ever even considering letting her go. At the time I told myself it wasn’t selfish but I knew better. Sookie wasn’t wrong to ask me to make her a bigger priority. I just hadn’t been ready to take that leap.
Now I was.
I even had a ring.
My lips skimmed her neck and Sookie shifted in front of me. She made a little noise when I kissed her shoulder.
“Sookie,” I whispered and rubbed her hip. I didn’t want to scare her.
“Mmm…” she hummed.
“Baby, wake up.” I kissed her neck slowly and continued to rub her hip.
“You’re home,” she murmured.
“Yes I am.” I wanted her to turn over to face me. I needed to see her face. “I missed you so goddamn much, Sookie.”
She stretched out against me before she rolled over to face me. “I missed you too,” she told me. Her eyes weren’t all the way open.
It didn’t stop me from tilting her face up to kiss her. I needed her to know how I felt. Right then she was the only thing that mattered to me. The fame, the money and all of that shit didn’t matter. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful or appreciative of everything I had, but Sookie was the only thing that was irreplaceable. I needed her to know that my priorities were different.
She was it.
I hoped that kiss conveyed it.
Sookie’s hand slipped up the back of my neck to toy with my hair as she kissed me back. She scooted her body closer, lifting her leg over my hip. Sookie pulled back to look up at me.
“Hi,” she smiled.
“Hi,” I smiled back. “I’m walking away from it, babe. I want us, but I need you.”
“You are?” she asked with a sad smile.
“I want you, the house, a ring on my finger, babies crawling all over us and a dog that is superior to Tina in every way…”
“The only thing superior to my Tina is you,” she told me seriously. “You’re sure this is what you want?”
“I had a lot of time to think it over but when I was standing at some ancient temple in Greece I realized I had nothing to think about. You’re all I need, Sookie. I felt like I was home when I was in France and it was because of you,” I told her. Damn, I should have brought the ring with me.
“I’m not dreaming am I?” Her nimble fingers were lightly tugging on my hair.
“Nope. I can prove it.” I untangled myself from her to go to my bag. I bought the ring while I was in the South Pacific. It had a blue pearl in the middle and was surrounded by braids of diamonds like rings surrounding a planet. It was unique, like my girl, and just as beautiful. The pearl was the same color as her pretty eyes. I brought the ring back to bed and picked up her left hand to slide it on her finger. “Just in case you wake up wondering if this really happened…”
“I didn’t say yes,” she said with a half-smile.
“I didn’t ask a question,” I pointed out. “To me there is no question. I love you, Sookie. You’re under my skin. You’re the one I want to laugh with and call on a bad day. I want your face to be the first thing I see every day and it’s your hand I want to hold when my babies are born. Everything about you is perfect for me, Sookie. I’ve had the chance to find better than you and I’m positive it can’t be done. You’re all I want. Forever.”
It was no surprise to me that Sookie’s eyes were glassy with tears by the time I was done spilling my heart out for her. My feelings for her were a bit of a paradox. There was a certain stillness that came from loving her and yet at the same time I felt like those very same feelings could start an inferno.
“You’re all I want, too,” Sookie answered. Her lips quickly found mine in a heated, possessive kiss that both reassured me and sparked a fire in my gut.
In record time the shirt she had on was history. It flew across the room somewhere, but fuck if I knew where exactly it landed. Sookie pushed me onto my back so she could straddle me. I had planned on taking my time with her but it was obvious that she wasn’t interested in drawing things out.
I was okay with that, too.
Her curvy yet slender body rubbed against mine in all the right ways as we kissed. She let her hair down for me while my fingers got to work tugging and plucking her nipples. When the kiss broke, she moved to my chest to do a little tugging of her own…with her teeth. I hissed a response and moved my fingers to her lower lips. She gasped when I found her clit and rubbed circles around it.
Never wanting to be outdone, my fiancé moved her hand to my cock. She was damn good at getting me hard and even better at getting me off. It came with years of experience being together.
“I need you,” she breathed in my ear.
We rolled over and her knees hooked over my elbows. My hips rocked, allowing my thick shaft to rub up and down her slick folds. Our lips met and Sookie reached down between us to put my tip at her entrance. Our tongues danced as I slid deeper into her. She fit me so perfectly. I kept the thrusts shallow at first, but I knew she wanted it all.
She was as greedy as I was when it came to sex.
I filled her completely and swiveled my hips the way she liked. Sookie’s moans quickly became a symphony – my favorite song of all time – that never seemed to end. It was so easy to get lost in her. I could lose days, weeks even if she let me.
We moved all over the bed, taking our time getting reacquainted with each other and finding new ways to make each others toes curl or our eyes cross. Sookie under me, on top of me, on her side as my little spoon, up against the wall, on the dresser, bent over the foot of the bed… I lost track of how many times I heard her scream my name.
All I knew was that by dawn I was sated, happy and my conscience was clear. The most important thing in the whole world was asleep in my arms.
I was never letting go.