Universal: Chapter 18
I’d never in my life felt like such a heel. I ran straight to Sookie to try and explain myself, and I seemed to just make it worse. I just needed so badly to apologize, but I hadn’t thought about how much it would insult her.
She was livid, of course, and with good reason. And she was right. How could I have ever really thought she was a prostitute? I knew her. I kept thinking it didn’t fit, but I should have been certain it wasn’t true. I never should have doubted who she really was.
I called her and left messages for days, but she wouldn’t take my calls or return them. I sent flowers every day with notes: I’m sorry, forgive me, I miss you. Finally, after nearly a week, I got a text: Stop sending flowers. You’re wasting your money.
I called her immediately, but got her voice mail. I just said, “I won’t send flowers anymore. Please call me.”
I decided daily flowers actually were kind of a waste of money, so I started donating what I would have spent on the flowers to various charities and asking that they send cards to Sookie telling her I’d donated in her name.
After over week of that, I got a final text: Please leave me alone.
So, I did.
I went back to the life I’d had before Sookie, but couldn’t ignore the hole she’d left. After awhile, I stopped berating myself and just accepted that I’d made a mistake. I am human, after all. I did as much as I could to try and fix my mistake, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t blame her. And I finally stopped blaming myself.
I assumed Sookie would be working at Knott’s again and hoped my presence there wouldn’t make her uncomfortable. I’d decided as October approached, I’d call her and tell her that and hopefully clear the air
But, as I pulled into my driveway one afternoon, I realized I wouldn’t have to. Maybe she’d had the same idea, because she was sitting on the front steps of my building.
After I parked, I opened the garage door again and walked up the driveway to the front of the building. She didn’t stand up, but smiled at me and I felt that old familiar pain. She looked as beautiful as ever in a pink cotton dress and tan sandals.
I smiled and said, “Hi, Sookie.”
“Nice t-shirt,” was all she said.
I looked down, remembering I was wearing my Venetian t-shirt. “Thanks. You look great.” Better than great, actually. She looked stunning.
“Thank you.” She started to say something else, but stopped and seemed a little uncomfortable.
“Would you like to come in?” I asked and started towards her. But she glanced up at the door and bit her lip. “Or go for a walk?” I offered. Maybe that would be safer than being in my condo together.
She stood up and said, “Yes, let’s go for a walk.”
We started heading towards the beach and made small talk about the weather-told each other we’d been “fine” with no real details. I didn’t want to get into anything that might make her bolt. She had asked me to leave her alone, I kept reminding myself.
We crossed Ocean Avenue to Palisades Park on the bluff over the beach and found a bench that faced the water. It was a perfectly clear and sunny day and we both looked out and relaxed in silence for a few minutes.
“I came to apologize to you, Eric,” she started.
“There’s no need. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Well, I did actually. I didn’t accept your apology.”
I waited, wondering where she was going with this.
“I was so angry at the time, and actually, for a long time afterwards,” she said.
I nodded. I could imagine that she was.
“And I didn’t really think about how you felt. You came to me and asked for forgiveness, and I didn’t want to hear it. I should have at least acknowledged your apology, so I’m sorry.”
“That’s very sweet of you. Thank you.”
We went back to watching the ocean. I wondered if she were through, but didn’t want her to leave.
“I’ve also been thinking,” she went on.
“A person would really have to like another person to think what you did and still want to try and have a relationship with her.”
She looked at me and said, “Really like her, I mean.”
“Love her, actually,” I added.
She just looked at me and sadness passed over her face before she nodded in acknowledgement.
“I made a mistake, Sookie. A really, really bad mistake. And I’m sorry.”
“You’re only human, Eric.”
“Yeah.” I smiled. That’s what I’d told myself many times when I was wrestling with all of this.
“It was a bad mistake, but I forgive you,” she said gently. “If you really care about a person, then you should accept them for who they are—flaws and all.”
I remembered that that was what she’d told me when we broke up. Only then, she was talking about her own flaws, which were of course, not even real. Only what she’d imagined. “I heard that once. From a very wise woman,” I said.
She laughed a little. “I’m not so sure how wise she is. She chased away a guy that apparently loved her.”
“I’m right here,” I said and her smile faded.
She looked back out to the ocean, apparently not sure what to say, so I changed the subject.
“I spoke to Andre Paul.”
She didn’t say anything, but kept staring straight ahead.
“I threatened him with a slander suit that hopefully shut him up. And of course, I also threatened him with … um … bodily harm.” She probably didn’t need to know the details. “And Knott’s knows that I won’t work for them again unless he’s no longer on their payroll.”
“Well, that’s good.”
“I hope you’ll be back there for the show.”
“I was planning on it,” she said.
“And I apologized to Pam. Of course, she told me I was apologizing to the wrong person.”
She smiled and nodded.
I wondered if we were all through. If she’d said what she came to say and was done.
“So, will you have dinner with me tonight?” she asked.
I wasn’t expecting that and my heart gave a little jump in my chest. “Yes.”
“Maybe we could just start from scratch.” She looked at me and I wanted so badly to kiss her. “You know, just with dinner.” She was looking at my lips.
I leaned down closer, but stopped to let her know it was her decision. I didn’t want to push her. She bridged the gap between us and kissed me softly on the lips.
When she pulled back, she took my hand in hers and looked back out at the ocean again, a sweet smile on her face.
I squeezed her hand and watched the ocean as well, so completely content to be with her. I was giddy inside at the thought that we’d have another chance. That I’d have another chance.
“So … ” she started, after a bit of silence. “When I said that I liked it and would probably want to do it again, you thought I was talking about selling my body.”
I took a deep breath. We did need to talk about this. I never wanted any more misunderstandings. “Yeah.”
“But, you do realize now that I was actually talking about … you know … a blowjob.”
Of course the way she said it, it suddenly seemed funny. Ludicrous, really. I tried not to smile. “Yeah, I got that now.”
“And when you said you didn’t like it, you meant you didn’t like that I was going to go back to my life of prostitution.”
“Right.” I bit my lip so I wouldn’t laugh.
I glanced over and she was suppressing a smile as well.
I added, “Just to set the record straight, I do actually like … you know … blowjobs.”
She dropped my hand and put both of her hands over her face, but I could see she was smiling.
I continued, “I don’t mean in general—well, I guess I do, actually. But I do want to make it clear that I liked that particular one—the one in question.”
Her shoulders started to shake with laughter.
I pulled her hands from her face and started laughing with her. She just said, “Oh my god,” and I took her in my arms and hugged her to me.
We laughed together for a minute and then she squeezed me and the laughter died down. She said, “Oh my god,” again and I pulled back and looked at her.
“We’re going to have to be a lot better at communicating with each other,” I said. “I’ll have to be better.”
“Well, I can’t imagine we could ever be any worse. We have nowhere to go but up.”
I touched her face, her beautiful lips. “Thank you for coming here—for giving me another chance.”
Her eyes searched my face before she said, “You’re welcome.”
“I don’t ever want to lose you again,” I said.
She just smiled and said, “I don’t think you will.”
Then I kissed her. I held her in my arms and kissed her to show her that I still loved her. I wanted her and only her. I wanted to show her that this was the beginning for us. We had another chance, all thanks to her.
I had made a mess of the best thing in my life and had paid the price, but because Sookie was such a kind hearted person and so giving, she had given me another chance. This time I vowed to myself that I’d do everything in my power to make it right—to make her happy. And for the first time in a very long time, the future for the two of us looked very bright. In fact, it looked perfect. I loved her with all my heart, and now I finally had the chance to show her.