Love Still Isn’t Easy: Chapter 11
I had been back at work for a few hours, but I was finding it harder and harder to concentrate on anything. I kept thinking of Eric’s words as he got out of my car earlier. We’d talk after he got the new test results. That would take a week. I didn’t want to wait a week to talk to Eric. I didn’t even want to wait an hour. I finished up what I was doing and grabbed my purse and drove with determination back to Eric’s place.
I was surprised to see Sookie when I opened the door, but I was also happy about that. I’d wondered how I was going to stay away from her until the test results were back, and I no longer had to.
We sat facing each other on opposite ends of the sofa. She took a deep breath and started the conversation. “First of all, you’re wrong about Bill. I believe him when he says that he knew nothing about Arlene’s plan. He wants to be the father of those children. He doesn’t care about your money. He has no motive for trapping you like she does…and before you go accusing him of fucking me, as you so eloquently put it, just to set the record straight, I’m not sleeping with him.”
“Oh.” Talk about eloquent.
“I’m not proud of it, Eric, but I have been spending time with him for completely selfish reasons. I was such a mess after the wedding crap and he just happened to be there to pick up the pieces and I should have been with you, taking care of you and your problems instead of wallowing in self-pity with my head up my own butt.” I tried not to smile. “He does want more, but we never crossed that line between friendship and…well…more than friendship. And I’ve told him that he and I will never be more to each other.” I felt my shoulders relax a little and it got a little easier to breath all of a sudden.
“I’m relieved to hear that.” Relieved wasn’t really a strong enough word for what I felt.
“I’m sorry that I worried you with it. You’ve had enough on your plate.”
“Well thank you for explaining it. But you know I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s a good thing that the wedding was interrupted.” She opened her mouth and then closed it when I held my hand up. “If we were really completely committed to each other, we should have been able to handle this together. For better or worse, Sookie. You clearly had doubts. Maybe I’ve been pressuring you too much. Maybe you weren’t ready to marry me after all.”
“No!” Her eyes began to tear. “Don’t say that! I just fucked up, Eric. I was so wrong and I’m sorry. Please don’t say that.” She started to cry and I scooted close enough to hold her.
She clung to me for a moment and then composed herself and sat back. “No, Eric, it’s not okay. I handled everything so badly. You needed me and I wasn’t there for you. Please give me another chance and let me prove myself to you.”
I took a deep breath. A part of me wanted to grab her and drag her to the bedroom and forget all the mess between us, but a more rational and careful part answered her. “Let’s take it slow and see how it goes, okay? Both of us have some pretty deep open wounds at the moment, and I want us to be certain this time that we’re doing things right, okay?”
“Okay.” I put my arms around her again and we just held each other for a long time. She finally took a deep breath and pushed back and stood to leave. I walked her to the door and thanked her for coming.
“When do you get swabbed again?”
“I’ll pick you up at 8:30.” I just smiled and nodded. She was back on my team.
This time when Eric’s DNA was taken, his nosy fiancé was there taking notes, writing down the names of the people in the room, asking questions about the process. I dropped him off at home before heading to the office and told him that I’d see him later for dinner. I didn’t give him a chance to say no. I loved seeing that confident smile back on his face in the rear view mirror as I drove away.
We walked down the street to Santa Monica Blvd. to eat dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Eric asked if I wasn’t worried about the press seeing us and I just checked my makeup in my compact and smiled sweetly. “Now I’m ready for them.”
After dinner we walked down to the little park that we sometimes spent time in and sat together on a bench holding hands. Eric took a deep breath and said, “This time next week, it should all be over. Then we can get on with our lives.”
I looked into his sweet blue eyes and told him, “There’s no reason to wait. Whatever happens next week won’t change how I feel.” I saw what I thought might be a glimmer of hope flash in his eyes. “I mean, we both know that now the odds are definitely in our favor that the new test will be negative. But, honestly, Eric, even if it’s not, I’m ready to face whatever lies ahead with you. I was so wrong to back away from your problems. Our problems. You were right—for better or worse. I made a mistake—a huge one. Can you ever forgive me?”
Eric leaned in so close that I could feel his breath on my lips as he whispered a heartfelt, “always,” just before his lips touched mine. It was a soft, slow, tender kiss. He smiled sweetly as he pulled away and squeezed my hand tighter.
I felt hypnotized by his beautiful blue eyes. My eyes scanned his perfect features that were seared into my brain. This was the man I wanted with me forever. Before I gave it another thought, I whispered, “Will you marry me?”