Our second day at Disneyland is just as tiring as the first. We have dinner with Eric’s parents before going our separate ways for the night, and just like the night before we manage to find the energy to shower before Eric and I both pass out from exhaustion. Between all the activity and the time in the sun, we’re just wiped. The next morning we take his parents to the airport so they can fly back up to Sacramento. We decide to spend an extra day in L.A. I want to see Venice Beach and just relax by the ocean for a day.
While we’re on the boardwalk at Venice Beach I get a henna tattoo on my stomach. It’ll last for a couple weeks but that’s good enough for me. I also think Eric finds it extremely sexy if the way he keeps staring at my stomach is any indication.
We backtracked a little bit to stop in Malibu because I wanted to see the beach there and now we’re on the Pacific Coast Highway, headed for San Diego. When I told Eric I wanted to stop in Laguna Beach he gave me side eyes. I can admit, I used to watch the stupid reality show of the same name but we all have our guilty pleasures. Considering some of the stuff Eric is into, he’s in no position to judge me.
The only thing missing is a sunroof or a convertible top on the car and it would be absolutely perfect. Then again, I’m thankful as hell for the air conditioning because after being outside for pretty much two days straight I mostly just want to be lazy. I downloaded some surfer music from the ‘60s and it’s now playing via my iPod courtesy of the auxiliary jack in the Jeep. We’re coasting along nicely and even though I’m still a little sore, I’m feeling good.
“So do you still want to go to the zoo?” I ask him. That’s really the big thing we said we wanted to do when we got to San Diego.
“Yep, and if you press a little harder on the right pedal we might make it there today,” he teases.
“What’s your hurry?” I snicker.
“I’m not in a hurry,” he shrugs. “I’m just saying.”
“Well stifle yourself,” I chuckle. “We’ll get there. Just sit back and enjoy the view.”
“Hmm,” he hums and looks out the window. He starts tapping his foot on the floorboards and his fingertips on his leg.
We continue to coast along and when I see the turn off for Laguna Beach, I take it. I’m determined to get back to the beach. We’re on schedule with our traveling so far so it’s not a big deal. Besides, I can smell tacos in the air and I’m hungry.
“Food or beach first?” I ask Eric.
“Food,” he says quickly, without looking away from the road.
“You smell it too?”
“Mmhmmm,” he hums.
I find a little taco joint near the beach and manage to find a parking spot on the street. Eric and I walk over to the little restaurant and get a table outside. As soon as our server comes over to us I order a horchata. I haven’t had it in a while.
“I feel like I could eat a horse,” Eric says and leans back in his chair, stretching his legs.
“Me too. I’m debating between the tacos and the taco salad just because I know it’ll be enormous,” I tell him.
“You can get the salad and I can give you a bite of my tacos,” he says. “I’ll probably order an enchilada too.”
“Yum. Here’s where we earn back all the calories we burned in the last three days,” I grin. There’s nothing I would rather get food drunk on than tacos.
If we have kids, they better like Mexican food.
“I need an over abundance of calories anyway. My metabolism is broken and I have trouble keeping on weight. That’s why I love desserts so much. And dessert is delicious.”
“We’ll get churros to take to the beach.”
“You can never go wrong with churros,” he smiles.
“Definitely not,” I agree.
Our server brings us our drinks and a basket of chips with homemade salsa.
“I think I’m ready to drive again, once we get on the road to San Diego,” he tells me and grabs a couple chips.
“If that’s what you want,” I shrug. If he wants to drive I’m fine with that. I can take pictures out the window.
“Yeah, we’re out of the heaviest part of the LA traffic, I think I’ll be fine. Plus I get bored being a passenger.”
“Okay. Then you’ll drive.”
“Okay. Do you think we should work out a system for you to tell me if I’m getting out of hand?” he asks and reaches out to hold my hand.
“You mean me asking you to slow down wasn’t working?”
“No, Grandpa, it didn’t,” he snickers. “Baby, you drive like a sloth. Of course you think I’m going too fast.”
“I do the speed limit,” I scoff. “It’s not my fault you like doing twenty miles over the speed limit.”
“I’m an extremely attentive driver, Sookie. And I know how to go with the flow of traffic,” he says in an amused tone.
“Yeah sure, if the flow of traffic is slamming on brakes, calling people ‘fuckstains’ or almost giving your passengers whiplash,” I snicker.
“It’s the flow of LA traffic,” he shrugs and takes another chip, dipping it in the salsa.
I roll my eyes and lean back in my chair.
“You’ll notice it only took us an hour and a half to get here. That’s pretty good time,” I huff.
“Coulda been an hour,” he says under his breath and looks around the restaurant, but avoids looking at me.
Oh so it’s like that.
“You know what? I think I’ll keep the keys. I like driving. You clearly need a nap,” I glare at him.
“Napping won’t be a problem, your driving will probably put me to sleep,” he grumbles.
“If it means I don’t have to hear you complain, I hope so.”
“Whatever, Sookie,” he huffs.
He gets up from the table and heads for the back toward the restroom sign.
I munch on chips and salsa while Eric is in the bathroom and get a refill on my drink. We’re not that far away from Mexico, but right now I’m annoyed I have to go to San Diego with him. I don’t realize how many chips I’ve eaten until Eric comes back and gets his sour puss back on.
“Crumbs, Sook? I went pee and you ate every single chip in the basket? Every. Chip?” he emphasizes, arching an eyebrow.
“You snooze, you lose,” I shrug, which makes his eyes narrow. “We’ll get more. Calm down, Speedy.”
“Right, so you can eat chips like the hare, but you drive like the tortoise,” he comments and raises his hand to call the waiter over to let him know we’re ready to order our food.
“I don’t drive too slow!” I huff.
“Yes, you do,” he nods.
“At least you don’t need a chiropractor,” I mutter. “Not that he could fix your ridiculous way of thinking.”
“So there’s something wrong with me because I want to get to our destination in a timely manner?” He has a stupid smirk on his face like he thinks this is funny.
“And we did get here in a timely manner so I don’t know what you’re smirking about.”
The waiter comes with more chips that Eric immediately hoards and we order our meals.
“I’m just sayin’, we could have more time at the beach if we get there sooner,” he says as he shoves chips in his mouth.
“You didn’t even want to go to the beach,” I scoff. “When I mentioned it you rolled your eyes.”
“But we’re going, aren’t we? I understand this isn’t just my trip. I’m not a dick, I want you to have a good time and I’m going have a good time with you… maybe…”
“Right about now I want you to drop me off at the nearest airport so I can go home and wait for my ‘not a dick’ boyfriend to come back.” I fold my arms over my chest and look away from him.
“Calm your tits, Sookie,” he chuckles. “We are going to finish this trip, together, and we’re going to have a good time doing it.”
“I don’t see how any of this is funny, Eric.”
“Honeysuckle, we’re bickering over the way we drive. It’s dumb, and I don’t think it’s worth flying home for.”
Of course he doesn’t. As long as he’s getting his way, he’s happy as a clam.
“Tell you what, I’ll drive the way you do all the way to San Diego. Then you’ll see,” I say.
“Sookie, don’t be silly. We’ll eat, we’ll go to the beach and we’ll calm down. We’ll have a good time,” he promises.
I snicker in disbelief, but we both go silent. Our food comes and since I’m pissed off, it doesn’t taste like anything to me. I only end up eating a quarter of the salad before I give up.
“Baby, here,” Eric says, holding out a bite of his enchilada. “Eat it.”
“No thanks, I’m not hungry. Must be all those chips,” I say smugly.
“Eat it,” he commands with a little smile on his face. “Eaaat it.”
I ignore him. I’m not hungry anymore.
“You know I’m not past force feeding you. Remember the pizza? I’ll do it. I will, and you know it.”
“Then I’ll just have to make sure you can’t.” I get up and head for the bathroom. I need to go anyway, but I take my time in here.
I realize it’s a stupid argument we were having, but I’m still pissed and him being cute is only pissing me off more. So I spend almost fifteen minutes in the bathroom before I go back to our table. Of course Eric’s done eating. He was probably done within five minutes of when I left.
“Are you okay?” he asks softly when I sit down.
“No.” I reach for my drink and gulp more of it down.
“I’m not apologizing. I don’t think either one of us needs to. There’s no way we’ll agree on everything, and now we know we disagree on driving. You can be mad at me all you want, but I’ll still be here when you’re ready.”
I keep quiet until our server comes over to see if we want dessert. When I see fried ice cream on the menu, I order the chili chocolate ice cream and it hits me that all I want is to eat chocolate and cry.
Hell week has begun.
I know Sookie is PMSing, that’s why I didn’t put up a bigger fight. I learned that first time she snapped at me that it’s best to lay low.
I have to hide the smirk on my face when she orders the chocolate fried ice cream. I’m waiting for the weepy part of this to begin so I can just hold her. That part of hell week is much easier to deal with.
“You alright?” I ask her again when I see the weepy look on her face.
“Fine,” she says as she blinks back the wetness in her eyes.
“Are you sure?” I ask and scoot my chair back a little. I don’t care about public displays of affection. If she needs a hug, she’s getting it.
“Yep, I’m fine.”
“Sookie, I don’t believe you,” I tell her. “Do you wanna talk about it?”
“Not in the middle of a restaurant.”
“Will you let me hold your hand?” I ask her as I reach across the table. I don’t want to make her uncomfortable if she’s not okay with PDAs.
She sighs and offers me her hand.
“I’m really fine,” she says in a shaky voice.
“Okay,” I concede and thread my fingers through hers. “And you can drive however you want.”
I lean over the table as I pull her hand over to kiss the back of it.
“I love you,” I remind her.
“I love you too,” she says.
Aaaaand there are the tears.
“Come here,” I says and pull her up. I tug her hand so she comes to my side of the table and I put her on my lap. I wrap my arms around her and she buries her face in my neck.
While she’s crying on my shoulder her fried ice cream is delivered.
“Baby doll, you have dessert ready for you,” I tell her and she lifts her head. I wipe the tears off with my thumb and add, “And your mascara is running, beautiful girl.”
“Being a girl fucking sucks. I better have all boys someday,” she sniffles.
“I can’t promise you boys, but I’ll do my best,” I tell her… Well, that’s out there, now she knows I want kids with her eventually.
She laughs and says, “You’re a little crazy if you’re volunteering to be around me while I’m pregnant. That can’t be pretty.”
“I can take an extended vacation,” I tease. “I’ll torture Alcide and send him over to check on you for me.”
“Baby if you send Al over not all of him will come back.”
“We could make a game of it. What is Sookie going to amputate this time?” I snort.
She laughs and hugs me tightly.
“Thank you,” she whispers.
“You’re welcome,” I whisper back and give her a quick peck. “Eat your ice cream, I think it’ll help you.”
She stays on my lap and pulls her dish over to take a bite. Sookie moans loudly and then offers me a bite.
“You have to try this,” she insists.
“Are you going to yell at me?” I tease.
“Only if you don’t give me my spoon back.”
“Fair enough,” I chuckle and take the spoon from her. I take a bite and let out my own moan. “I might have to order another one of these.”
“Do it. You won’t regret it and I won’t have to share mine.”
“I wasn’t going to make you share, smarty pants,” I say and tickle her side. I also call the waiter over to place my own order.
“You’re learning,” she smiles.
“I’m a lot of things, but I’m not a dummy,” I inform her. “In case you haven’t figured it out I have the patience of a saint unless I’m driving.”
“Yeah, I got that memo.”
Sookie stays on my lap while she eats her ice cream. When mine comes she eats a little of that too. We pay and when we walk to the car I open the driver door to let her in. Her slow driving makes me crazy, but I’d rather deal with the slow, over making her nervous when I drive.
♦ ♦ ♦
When we leave San Diego we’re headed to Vegas. The initial plan was to spend a night camping in the Joshua Tree Nation Park, but Sookie is crampy, so camping is a no go. We decide we’ll drive straight through to Las Vegas, but when we get to the park it’s nearing sunset. I’ve seen pictures, but I don’t know if Sookie has. I’m positive she hasn’t been here either.
“Do you want to pull over to watch the sunset?” I ask her. I’m driving again, and Sookie is snapping pictures.
“Yes, definitely. It’s stunning here.”
I smile and take the next exit. I find a little turn out to park in and I turn off the car. It’s the middle of the desert and hot as hell, but we still get out.
I find our beach blanket and spread it out on the ground near the Jeep.
“Almost reminds me of Coachella,” I say as we sit down. “Minus the eighty thousand people hanging out with us.”
“And the music,” she adds before taking another picture.
“We can fix that. Do you want me to turn on the radio?” I offer.
I go to the car and roll down all the windows. I grab Sookie’s iPod and queue up one of her country playlists. I hit shuffle and turn it up so we can hear it clearly from the blanket.
“I make you listen to too much of my music,” I tell her when I crack open a bottle of water and take a drink.
“I’m just not crazy about the stuff that screams at me. The rest is okay.”
“I don’t hate country, its come a long way from when we were kids. This guy isn’t bad.” I don’t know who he is or what he’s singing about, but the song is smooth.
“Chris Young is his name,” she informs me.
“Well, I won’t pout or huff when we listen to him,” I wink at her. I listen to the words and it makes me think of Sookie. It makes me smile. “What song is this?” I ask her, maybe I can download it and make it her ringtone.
“It’s called ‘You’,” she answers.
“It makes me think of you,” I tell her. She’s up moving around taking pictures and with the desert sun on her skin, she looks beautiful.
“Awwww aren’t you just so sweet you make sugar taste like salt,” she says in her southern accent.
“Not as sweet as you, Pudding pop,” I grin.
Sookie shakes her head and goes back to taking pictures. She sets her camera on the hood of the Jeep and says, “I’m going to put this on a timer so it’ll take our picture. Will you stand up so I can get the angle right?”
I stand up at the back of the blanket and stretch my back while she angles the camera. “Do you want me to bend over so you can get a good ass shot?” I joke and bend to touch my toes.
I hear the shutter click.
“Done. Your mother will love it,” she laughs.
“Of course and then she’ll accuse us of making pornography,” I snort and then have a flashback of my birthday alarm. Mmm…
“Which is only a problem if there’s no baby next spring,” Sookie snickers and comes running over to me. “Okay, suck it in and look pretty.”
Of course I ruin her plans. I grab her face and plant a hard, passionate kiss on her lips. I don’t let her move until I hear the shutter sound.
“Looks like we’ll have to do another,” I whisper against her lips.
“Kiss me like that again and your mother will be getting porn,” she replies.
“Mmm, nope, the porn is for our eyes only,” I say and give her one more lingering peck.
“I’ll be right back,” she whispers before she goes to reset the timer.
When Sookie comes back she wraps her arms around my waist and rests her head on my chest. I hold her around her shoulders and suck in my stomach to make her giggle so when we look at the picture she has a beautiful smile on her face.
After the shutter clicks Sookie starts to sway a little bit in time with the music playing. It’s a slow song.
“What song is this?” I ask her as we dance.
“‘Give It All We Got Tonight’ by George Strait,” she replies.
“It’s good too,” I smile and then add, “Jackson used to listen to a lot of George Strait. It made Al and me crazy, but he told us one day we’ll get it.”
“Do you get it now?” Sookie lifts her head to look up at my face.
“I do,” I say honestly. It seems like every country song we’ve listened was written about me and my feelings for the girl in my arms.
Sookie smiles and kisses my chin before she lays her head on my chest again.
We keep swaying through the next song, which again, makes me think of Sookie. Her cheeks flush when she tells me it’s Luke Bryan, ‘My First Love Song’. Right before the song ends I stop our movement and turn her around to face the sunset, wrapping my arms around her shoulders from behind.
“This whole trip is worth this one moment,” I whisper and kiss the top of her head.
“Yeah, it is,” she agrees.
“Do you want to take a picture of it?”
“Nope. I’ll keep it just for us in my mind,” she answers.
“I love you,” I tell her and hold her tighter.
“I love you too.” Sookie kisses my arm and leans back against me.
When the sun finally sets I turn her around and cup her face in my hands. I lean down, resting my forehead on hers. I give her a small kiss, and then another, and another until we’re making out next to the Jeep in the middle of a desert.
I pull back after a couple minutes and I hold her as we catch our breath.
“Are you ready to get back on the road?” I ask.
“Yep,” she says softly.
We don’t move. Las Vegas is our last stop on the trip and I’m not sure I’m ready for it to end.
“Do you want to drive, or do you want me to?” I question when we finally break apart.
“You can. I don’t want to fall asleep behind the wheel.” Sookie bends to start picking up the blanket.
I help her shake the dust off of the blanket and I take it to fold it up. I put it away and then open her door for her. Sookie grabs a bottle of water from the cooler in the backseat and then climbs into the passenger’s seat.
“Thanks, Schmoopy,” she smiles at me.
“You’re welcome, Buttercup.” I wink and close her door before going around to the driver side.
“Oh sweet Jesus. It feels so much better in here,” I chuckle when I turn the A/C back on.
“You got that right,” she sighs happily and offers me the water after she drinks some.
I take a sip and hand it back. We get back on the road and sigh. Another hundred and eighty-one miles and then we’re in Vegas. I’ve been once and it wasn’t a very good trip. I have a feeling our trip will go a lot better than the last one. We plan on staying six days before heading home.
I smile when I remember the conversation we had the morning after we met.
“I’m finally getting you in Vegas,” I tell her and rest my hand on her thigh.
“Yes you are. Do you know what you want to blow your ring money on?”
“It’s all going to the craps table with me,” I chuckle. I’m not actually a big gambler, so I doubt I’ll do more than an hour at a slot machine.
“Planning on winning big?” she smiles and drinks more of the water.
“Yep. I’ll have my own lady luck standing at my side.”
“In a slutty red dress.”
“Mmm, I can’t wait for that,” I say. She’s going to look delicious.
“The fuck me shoes will make up for those sequins,” she winks.
“I really can’t wait for those,” I grin.
“I think Vegas is going to be a lot of fun.”
“Me too. I’m a little sad that we have to go home and get back to the real world when we’re done,” I tell her.
“Yeah, me too. On the bright side, though, Dawn will be moving soon so the whole going back and forth to see each other thing will be much easier,” she points out.
“Ah, it will be,” I agree. I don’t think I’m ready to ask her to move in just yet, and I know she’s looking forward to living alone for a while.
“No more worrying about Dawn busting in randomly…” she sighs happily. “I’ll miss her, but I’m happy she’s moving on with her life because it means I can move on with mine without feeling guilty about it.”
My heart starts beating faster. Maybe she’s more ready than I thought. I’m still going to wait, at least until the end of the trip.
“Well, that’s good,” I end up saying lamely.
We end up going quiet for a while and I realize Sookie fell asleep. I reach over to rest my hand on the back of her seat and I play with her hair as I drive. I smile when I see the Welcome to Las Vegas sign.
“Baby doll, wake up,” I say and reach down to shake her leg. When her eyes flutter open I smile at her and say, “Welcome to Vegas.”