Friday came around and I’d told Eric Ben and I were going on a late lunch date and I might meet him at the bar later. No, I was sitting in a massage chair while a sweet little woman with freakishly strong hands ran a buffer over my toenails. What better time to get a pedi, right?
I had all the opportunity in the world to tell Eric I wasn’t seeing Ben anymore, but I decided to keep it to myself. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Most of the time he just assumed I was going out with Ben if I didn’t call him. We didn’t discuss ‘date night’ and I sure as hell wasn’t offering up any other info. It was easier for me and it put Eric in a place where he could live in his fantasy world of having a woman to fuck regularly with no strings. Except that was wrong. I was so tied to Eric is was disgusting. I wasn’t sure I was in love with him, but it was bound to happen. Soon.
It still hurt deeply that he didn’t want anything more. So at lunch the other day I resolved to finally let it go. After six weeks – over a month – if Eric didn’t want more than a good roll in the hay, I wasn’t holding my breath. The fact that he so casually mentioned me seeing a third man was proof he didn’t want anything more.
My eyes were closed with my head tilted back. I was enjoying the massage chair when a very familiar scent hit my nose.
I cracked an eye open, hoping like hell it was just someone that wore the same cologne as him. No such luck.
“What are you doing here?” I asked casually. I was supposed to be with Ben.
“I was going to the dry cleaners across the street,” he answered. “I guess the plans with Ben fell through.”
“You could say that,” I nodded. I didn’t want to incriminate myself so I tried to keep it as vague as possible.
“I did say that.”
“I was going to call you after my pedi,” I told him. I wasn’t sure if that was true or not. If I was trying to get over him calling him wouldn’t really help.
“So you’re coming to the bar?”
“Yeah,” I smiled.
He looked at me like he knew something wasn’t right.
“I’ll see you there, then,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it. Want to meet there or should we ride together?”
“We can meet there in case you don’t want to stay,” he said.
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“In case Ben calls or something,” he shrugged.
“I don’t think that will happen,” I said without thinking. Shit.
“Well maybe I’ll meet someone then,” he replied.
“Maybe.” My face fell and I could instantly feel the tears stinging my eyes. It hurt that after so much time I still wasn’t good enough to actually date. I was a fuck buddy, that was it.
“I’ll be there at eight,” Eric told me before he walked out of the shop. The manicurist gave me a paper towel.
“Thanks,” I sniffled.
Eric was so fucking frustrating. I hated it, sometimes he seemed like he was completely into me and that it was on the tip of his tongue to tell me to leave Ben. He had to know he was still my number one choice no matter what. I usually kept my feelings to myself, except for the couple times I told him what I wanted from him.
Maybe the bar later should be the last time I saw Eric for a while? Maybe we needed a little break so I could clear my head?
When I showed up at the bar later that night it wasn’t packed yet, and the battles weren’t set to start for another hour. I knew by his truck in the lot that Eric was already there. I walked in and immediately saw him sitting at a table. He didn’t look like he’d been talking to any other girls, but there weren’t a lot to talk to yet.
“Hey, you,” I smiled when I walked up to him, kissing his cheek.
“Hi,” he said. He seemed tenser than usual.
“Are you okay?” I asked, settling my hand on his back, massaging gently.
“Fine. Surprised you’re here already.” He took a drink from his glass.
“Why’s that?” I slipped into the chair next to him.
“You didn’t seem that excited about coming,” he answered.
I sighed as I leaned back in my chair. He knew how I felt about him so I didn’t feel the need to bring it up. Instead I asked, “Are we out as friends, or is this a date?”
“Friends,” he said like I should have known it.
“That’s what I thought. I’m going to get a drink. Do you want another one while I’m there?”
“No, I’m good.”
I got up and walked through the bar easily. I was able to order my drink in record time and for the first time in a long time went with a full fat Guinness. I was going to need it. I knew it wasn’t the time to talk about what we were doing but I was starting to get the feeling I needed to tell him things were over with Ben. Maybe if he knew he’d pull his head out of his ass. Or maybe it would push him away; it was anyone’s guess with Eric.
I made it back to the table with my Guinness. I couldn’t quite figure out the look Eric was giving me. For once we were out and he wasn’t staring at Betty and Wilma.
“What?” I asked, taking a sip. Mmm, beer.
“Nothing,” he replied.
“Okay,” I nodded. Apparently I was a glutton for punishment because I asked, “What if I said I wished this was a date instead of friends hanging out?”
“I’d say that’s a terrible way to get over someone,” Eric answered.
Except I didn’t want to be over him. I wanted him to tell me he came to his senses and he really did like me for more than sex and friendship.
I took another sip of my beer before I pushed it back on the table. If he was going to talk to other girls I didn’t want to be around for it. Was that my fault for not telling him about Ben?
“Ben and I aren’t seeing each other anymore,” I admitted without looking at Eric. For all I knew he didn’t give a flying fuck, but it was time for him to know.
“You what? Since when?” I definitely got his attention.
“Since he kissed me and I didn’t feel the spark I should’ve felt.” I didn’t want to give a time frame. Six weeks was a long time to keep that secret.
“So… since Wednesday when you went hiking? It took him this long to kiss you?” Eric didn’t buy it.
“I never said I was hiking with him,” I pointed out. I would tell Eric if I was doing something, but rarely mentioned with who. I’d told him I was going hiking, and I did.
“So how long has it been?”
“A few weeks,” I answered quietly. I wasn’t sure he was able to hear me.
“What was that?”
I looked up at him and said a little louder, “A few weeks, Eric.”
“A few weeks? Wow. Okay.” He finished his drink and his glass hit the table a little harder than usual.
“What’s that supposed to mean? It’s not like you want anything more with me than friendship and a good fuck, you’ve made that perfectly clear,” I blurted. The middle of a bar wasn’t the place for this conversation.
“Yeah, you’re right. I’m not interested in anything but that.” Eric stood up. “I think I’m just going to go home.”
I gathered my things. I wasn’t going to hang out at the bar without him.
“When have you ever said anything otherwise, Eric? I flat out told you I wanted more and you told me you don’t. Why does it matter at all if I’m seeing Ben or not?” I hoisted my purse over my shoulder after digging my keys out.
“You know exactly why it matters. If I was seeing another woman would you have stuck around?” His long legs weren’t moving slowly.
“No, but you didn’t seem to have an issue with me seeing someone else,” I said as I followed him toward the door. “And I’m not seeing anyone else. It’s been you and only you for fucking weeks. I’m a fucking glutton for staying around with someone that only wants to fuck me.”
Eric stopped suddenly and I almost ran into him.
“You said you wanted me but you kept seeing Ben. Or at least you let me think you were still seeing Ben. I haven’t been with anyone but you in any way since Vegas, Sookie. No one,” he said. “So maybe I didn’t have the words but I showed up.”
“The words you did have hurt,” I told him.
“I was honest. At least one of us was,” he argued. “But if you want the words, I’ll give them to you. I love you. How’s that?”
I gasped, covering my mouth. That was the last thing I’d expected to hear from Eric. Ever. I’d been holding my feelings back because he didn’t want me like that.
“That’s…” I had no idea how to respond.
“You can be a total pain in my ass and sometimes you drive me up the fucking wall with your insecurity and the omissions you make, but I know my life would be absolute shit without you,” he said.
Those words didn’t hurt.
“Can we finish this at home?” I asked.
He shook his head and continued, “I know I fucked up a lot, but I wasn’t a total failure. I brought you fucking fruit flowers, Sookie.”
“That’s still the best bouquet I’ve ever gotten,” I admitted. “You weren’t a failure at all. You’ve been extremely supportive and sweet… I… I was scared you would never feel for me what I’ve felt for you since Vegas, or maybe even before. When you told me you said you didn’t know if you would I pulled back emotionally to try to save myself from the heartbreak. Except… it didn’t work like I planned.”
“I love you,” he repeated. “I’m in love with you. That’s all I’ve got.”
I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around his neck. “That’s all I need,” I told him. “I’ve been yours since the first time you startled the shit out of me in the office.”
“Brace yourself for another aerial attack,” he said before his lips crashed into mine.
My arms tightened around his neck. As he straightened up I lifted my legs to wrap around his waist. There was so much passion and fire in the kiss it made my heart beat faster and I was sure he could feel the heat coming from my center.
“Take me home, baby,” whispered against his lips.
“Your place or mine?”
“Yours. It’s closer.” I wasn’t letting him go until I had to.
Eric carried me to the truck like I was weightless and pressed me against the side of it for another searing kiss while he got the door open for me. His hips rubbed against my center and it was obvious how turned on he was.
“Should I help you out with this on the way home?” I nipped his bottom lip as I slipped my hand between us to rub his erection. If I was wearing a skirt I had no doubt we would’ve been fucking right there in the parking lot.
“You’ll help me plenty when we get there,” he promised, thrusting himself against me. “Get in the truck, angel.”
“Yes, sir,” I breathed, earning a little growl from Eric. I dropped my feet and turned to get into the truck. Eric gave me a hard smack on the ass before I sat down, making me jump. It felt good. Everything he did to me felt good, though. That was when it hit me.
I was in love with him too.