When I leave Sookie’s house I go straight home to shower. I knew about those fucking pictures and I didn’t fucking delete them like I should have. It’s a weekend so I do what I always do for stress relief or when I need to think. I go to the bakery. It’s later in the afternoon by the time I get there. I don’t have any orders to work on for once so I decide to do something that’s going to take me a while and I need to focus on. I start cracking eggs, separating the yolks. I start making French macaroons, beating the egg whites by hand instead of using the mixer.
I don’t know when I actually fell in love with Sookie, but the words tumbled out when I was talking to her through the bathroom door. I figured out immediately that I meant them. She’s pretty much everything I didn’t know I wanted. I already feel things for her that I never felt about Nora.
There really is no comparison. Sookie is what I would call the anti-Nora, but I don’t want to think about her. I get this feeling in my chest when I’m with her, when I even think about her. It aches to be away from her. Right now my fucking heart is aching, purely because I’m a fucking idiot.
I spend the rest of the day in the bakery. I keep my phone with me just in case Sookie calls or text messages me. She doesn’t. I decide to give her three days before I go after her. I just hope she calls me tomorrow. I don’t like this. It’s my own fucking fault, but I don’t fucking like it.
Day three with no word from Sookie I’m in my kitchen making fucking éclairs when there’s a knock on my front door. When I look around I notice I have a lemon meringue pie, the fuckin’ macaroons, cookies, a bundt cake, two pecan pies, and a turtle cheesecake.
I shake my head and go to the front door. I let out a sigh of relief when I see Sookie on the other side of the door.
“Hey,” I greet her.
“Hi,” she replies. She’s wearing way more makeup than usual but she’s not especially dressed up from what I can tell.
“Come in.” I take a step back to let her in.
Sookie steps inside and takes her boots off, leaving them on the runner by the door so she doesn’t track water or slush everywhere she goes.
“I have pastries…” I don’t know what to say other than sorry.
“I’m not hungry,” she tells me.
“Sookie, I really am so sorry,” I tell her again.
She unzips her coat to reveal an old flannel shirt that was probably her brother’s or her dad’s at some point. Instead of tossing her coat aside casually like she would usually do, she hangs it on a hook by the door.
“What would you do if you were me?” Sookie asks me.
I’ve thought about this more than a few times over the last couple days.
“Honestly, I’d be just as mad, if not even more upset. It would crush my heart. I don’t like thinking about you with other boyfriends. It makes me sick to my stomach. What I would’ve done? I’d probably throw the phone and shatter it against a wall before storming out.”
“And then what?”
“I would accept your apology, and I’m not just saying that because I want you to accept mine, but because it’s true.”
Sookie nods but stays quiet. She runs her hands through her hair a few times and when she tilts her head toward the light in the living room I can see she’s exhausted.
“Are you sure you want to be in a relationship?” she asks me.
“Yes,” I reply without hesitation. “I’ve been sick without you.”
“Jason told me you suggested he hook up with her,” Sookie says.
“I did. I realized what I was doing after I did it. I’m not the best at this relationship stuff, in case you haven’t figured that out. I’ve only been in love one other time, Sookie and what I feel for you… It doesn’t even compare to what I felt the last time. I’m a dumb, fuckin’ idiot. I’ve never cheated on you, and I never will, but I can’t promise I won’t say or do dumb things.”
Sookie reaches up to rub her eyes. They’re puffy and a little red.
“And if those pictures cost you this relationship, were they worth it?” she asks.
“No,” I shake my head. My heart feels like it’s about to beat out of my chest. “Nothing is worth losing you.”
“Talk is cheap,” she shrugs. “I’ve thought about it and I realized that I mostly feel like I’m a glorified fuck buddy. The effort between us isn’t equal,” Sookie says. “You were more of a boyfriend when you weren’t my boyfriend, ironically.”
“You’re so much more than that,” I try to assure her. “Please, let me prove it to you,” I plead.
“I wasted a decade of my life on someone who strung me along and lied to me every single day. Now I know you’re not Trey, but right now I don’t trust you and it’s going to take time to earn it back,” she says.
“Please, I swear to to you I’ll do everything I possibly can to show you you can trust me. I promise I won’t break it,” I beg. I feel like I’m going to throw up.
“This is your last chance. Three strikes and you’re out. For good,” Sookie says seriously.
I let out a breath and take a tentative step forward. I reach out to rest my hand on her arm. “Can I?” I ask quietly for a hug.
She nods and lets me wrap my arms around her tightly. I take a deep breath, inhaling her scent.
“Come on, lay down,” I whisper. I know she’s exhausted. “I don’t have to lay with you, but you need some rest.”
Sookie doesn’t fight me on it.
“I haven’t slept in two days,” she admits.
“I’m so sorry, baby,” I whisper. I kiss her forehead and lead her up the stairs. “Do you want me to stay with you?”
“Just until I fall asleep.”
I pull the comforter back and wait for her to lie down before I slide in behind her. I wrap my arm around her and nuzzle into her hair.
It probably takes less than three minutes for Sookie to pass out. I don’t go anywhere. The fuckin’ éclairs can wait. I replay out whole relationship through my head and I realize I have been a prick. I didn’t take it as seriously as I should. It probably would’ve been different if we didn’t start with sex, not that that’s an excuse. All I know is from this point on I’m going to make sure she knows what she means to me. I’m going to do the things I did before I really even knew her. She means a hell of a lot more to me than any other woman ever has and I need Sookie to know that.
I end up back downstairs working on the éclairs. The chocolate is cooling when Sookie comes downstairs several hours later.
“Hey, sleepyhead,” I say over my shoulder. I’m cleaning up my mess.
“How’d you sleep?” I ask, grabbing my dish towel to dry my hands.
“Okay,” she answers with a shrug. If it wasn’t already obvious I’m still in the doghouse with her, Sookie doesn’t come over for a wake-up snuggle like she normally would.
“I made dinner just in case you were hungry… Plus all the desserts…”
“No, I’m fine,” she says. “Thanks.”
“When was the last time you ate?”
“I don’t know, this morning, I guess.”
I look at the clock and see that it’s just past eight. I don’t care that she’s pissed still; I walk over and pull her into my arms.
“Sookie, you need to eat something,” I whisper.
“I’m not hungry,” she says. “I’ll eat when I am.”
“I don’t like it.” Not that it matters what I like. “Are you staying?”
“I don’t know,” she says as she pulls back.
“What do you know?” I ask.
“I could sleep for a week. That’s about it at this point.”
“Then go back up to bed,” I shrug. It’s obvious the only time I’m going to get to hug her now is when she’s asleep anyway. “I’m just cleaning this up and I can come up with you if you like.”
“If you want to. If you have other stuff to do I’ll be fine,” she tells me.
“I want to,” I assure her. “I wasn’t sleepy earlier and I needed to finish the éclairs. I’ve been in here the whole time… I made lasagna for when you’re hungry.”
Her nose crinkles. “I don’t really like lasagna. I ate it the last time you made it to be polite.”
“I can make you anything else,” I say. “The oven was on so it was easy. Plus I didn’t really make this one, it’s a store bought.”
“Eric, don’t worry about it. I’m not hungry, remember?”
“Yeah, but when you are, I’ll make whatever you want me to make.”
She nods and says, “I think I’m just going to go back to sleep.”
I do a quick check to make sure I don’t need to put anything away and I drop the dish towel on the edge of the sink. I walk over and take her hand.
“Then let’s go to bed,” I say and tug her to follow me.
Sookie follows me upstairs to my bedroom and gets back into what’s become her side of the bed. When I crawl in I spoon her again.
“Is this okay?” I ask.
“Yeah,” she whispers.
I rest my hand on her hip and rub up and down in a completely non- sexual way. I don’t want her to think I’m coming on to her.
“I love you, Sookie,” I tell her again. “I’ve been miserable without you.”
She nods her head and a few seconds later I feel her shoulders shaking. I press my chest against her back and wrap my arm around her in a tight hug.
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper again. I don’t want her to cry. It breaks my heart.
Sookie turns over and buries her face in my chest. The crying doesn’t stop right away, and when it does it’s because she’s fallen asleep. I keep my arm just as tight around her. I’m exhausted, but I don’t want to fall asleep and miss this feeling. I’m scared that when I wake up she’ll be gone and that thought is unbearable. Talk about your fuckin’ wake up call.