Author's Note: Okay, this is it! The final chapter of The Miami Sofitel. I hope y'all have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Special thanks to all who have left reviews over the course of this story -- reviews make the world go round, folks!
"Okay," Calleigh sighed, frustrated, and Eric couldn't help but grin at her. She had this particular pout that seemed to be reserved for when she'd been foiled by the universe, and after nearly a decade of watching her and six months of dating her, he'd come to consider it one of his favorites. "I can't find my suit."
"What do you mean you can't find your suit?" he asked, still reclining buck-naked on the bed where they'd spent the early morning tangling the sheets in the best way possible. "You had it last week."
"I did. I did have it last week, Eric, but that was before I got that cockamamie idea to ask you to move in with me-" Eric grinned at just the mention of their new living arrangements. "And now my bedroom – as you can see – is full of boxes of your crap. And I can't find my swimsuit."
"Well then I guess you'll just have to go without," he reasoned, grinning and sitting up, snatching her wrist before she could evade and tugging her down to the bed with him. "I promise to rub sunscreen on all your pale parts."
"Yeah, I bet you do," she smirked, rolling her eyes and pressing a kiss to his lips before pointing out, "If I go nude, I can't dive."
Eric just shrugged. "You can go commando in the wetsuit. It's yours."
"And when I want to take it off?" Calleigh questioned with a quirk of her brow.
"Then we're back to that nudity I enjoy so much."
Calleigh smirked and shook her head, searing her mouth to his for a deep, enthusiastic kiss before pushing herself off the bed and resuming her search. "No go, scuba boy. Either we find my swimsuit, or we're not going. And I did not rent this boat for the day so that we could not use it."
"Oh, alright. Can I at least have my way with you on the boat?"
Calleigh popped her head up from where she'd been searching under the bed – again – and offered him a mischievous grin. "If you don't, you're paying for the boat rental."
"I thought it was my anniversary gift," he pointed out, rolling onto his stomach cross-wise on the bed and scanning the room for any sign of the electric blue material of her swimsuit.
"It was. But I also asked you to move in with me, and one could argue that making such an offer is enough of a gift."
"True, but you asked me to move in with you two weeks ago. Our anniversary is today." Eric slid his hand around the back of her neck and used it to pull her close for a slow, lingering kiss.
She moaned softly when they parted and murmured a quiet, "Very true." Another sweet kiss, and she sighed an "I love you."
He answered in kind, and savored the flush of warmth her confessions of love always gave him. She was freer with the words now, freer with everything. They'd had a little bit of rocky start, but after a few weeks, they found their footing. Taking it slow after their week in the hotel had been exactly what they needed. It had helped them navigate the rocky terrain of those first few months – her hospital stay, his family issues, the slow leak of their romance throughout the MDPD lab (Eric still couldn't believe they'd managed to stay under Stetler's radar). More than any of that, though, the time had allowed them to figure out how they fit. They'd both needed time to adjust, to relearn the steps to this particular dance. Now, though, they were like Rogers and Astaire, gliding effortlessly through a romance that left him breathless.
When she'd finally asked him to move into her place, it had been with none of the desperation of the first time. Instead, she'd asked him over a pint of rocky road with Big Momma's House 2 on cable. The movie had gone to commercial, and she'd given him this look, as if she'd had some kind of grand revelation. He'd been a little concerned about what kind of epiphany could be brought on by Martin Lawrence in a fat suit, but as it turned out, she'd just looked at him and said. "I don't want you to go home tonight. Or tomorrow. Or ever. Stay here, with me. Move in."
He'd stolen the spoon back, and told her "okay," and that had been that. She'd shown up at his condo the next day with cardboard boxes, and two weeks later, here they were – surrounded by said boxes as she grew ever more frustrated trying to find her swimsuit.
"You know, we live in Miami. You'd think you have more than one."
"I do have more than one," she informed primly, shoving one of his boxes out of her way with his foot. "But I want the black one."
"Wait – which black one?"
"The halter, with the boy-short bottoms."
"Oh. I, uh… That one is in the car," he told her sheepishly, scratching the back of his head and trying to look sufficiently guilty. "I thought you were looking for the blue one."
Calleigh turned and frowned at him, shaking her head. "No, I brought it in after the beach, to wash it. How would it end up in the car again?"
"I might have, uh, packed it." Damnit. This was going to ruin his gift for her. He'd meant to keep it a surprise for the rest of the day, but he knew better than to think she'd let this go without a straight answer.
"You packed my suit?" she questioned slowly.
"But you didn't pack it in the beach bag?"
She stared at him for a moment, as if he'd grown a third head or something. "…Is there any logical reason why?"
"Yes." He left it at that.
Calleigh was not amused. "Do you care to share?"
"It's in your rolling suitcase," he explained, knowing that was a "where" and not a "why," but she was making the frustrated face again and he wanted to enjoy it for a while. "The smaller one."
"Why did you pack my rolling suitcase?"
"Because I couldn't fit five days worth of clothes in your overnight bag," he told her simply, watching her face shift from confusion, to suspicion, to anxious curiosity.
"We only have the boat for one day…" A slow smile was curving her lips now.
"Not for the boat."
He was grinning now. "Mmhmm."
"Where are you taking me – do I have to take off work?" The fun-loving girlfriend was suddenly pinned under the wall of professionalism. "You should have told me; I have a ton of open cases I need to finish. I'd have put in overtim-"
"Calleigh," he laughed, shaking his head. "You're fine. No vacation days, I promise. I'd have told you if it was something like that."
"Well… what then?"
"It was supposed to be a surprise," he explained, pushing off the bed and walking to her dresser – their dresser, now. He'd had a drawer there for weeks even before he moved in, and he tugged it open, reaching into the back and pulling out an envelope. When he turned to give it to her, she was right behind him, and he laughed, shaking his head as he handed it to her. "Impatient, are we?"
He'd have expected a teasing retort if her face hadn't suddenly gone so soft and sweet. She traced a finger over the lettering on the envelope, then shook her head and laughed, lifting her face to offer him one of those bright-as-the-sun grins. "The Sofitel?"
"Five nights," he confirmed, drawing her into his arms and pressing a kiss to her brow. "Just us."
She wiggled her eyebrows and wound her arms around his waist, squeezing him to her. "I think…" She pushed onto her tiptoes to press a quick kiss to his lips. "That is the perfect gift."
"I thought you might," he murmured, coasting his palms down to cup her denim-covered rear. "I was thinking we could get some cheesecake…"
"Ooooh," she agreed, unable to fight a grin. "And this time, we're having sex in the tub, with the jets."
"Mm." He stole another hot kiss, walking her back toward the bed. "Definitely. I have two rules for the week, though."
"What's that?" she asked, just as her legs bumped the end of the bed.
"No arguing." One little push sent her back onto the mattress, chuckling as she scooted back so he could settle on top of her. "And no tears."
Hooking her hands around his neck, she tugged his mouth close to hers and murmured, "Deal," before sealing it with a kiss.
They made love again, quick and hot and playful, then spent the afternoon on the water, soaking up sun and summer and salt water. When the sun began to sink low, he guided them back to shore and slipped a key card into her hand, just like she'd done to him a half a year before. This time, though, there was no hesitation, no nerves. Just the quiet knowledge that for the next five nights, he was hers, and she was his, and nothing else mattered.
Stay tuned this spring for the final chapters of Tuck, the continued collaboration of creepy-creepy Hunting Azrael with Bella7, and a brand-new multi-chap story that will take us all on a little trip to lovely Louisiana.