A/N: So this is it, huh? Enjoy!
Eric sat just outside the dressing room of the fourth store, holding Sookie's purse like a nice, obedient boyfriend. Men truly did have it easier. He just opted to wear his black suit again, pairing it with a new white button down and black and white patterned tie and pocket square. He had it sent out to the cleaners once they arrived in Los Angeles since it did not survive the six and a half hour flight from New York wrinkle free.
Now it was just a waiting game. Pam and Sookie were having some serious girl on girl bonding over what style of dress would look best on the premiere's red carpet. Eric looked at Sookie's purse with a critical eye. He wondered why women always insisted on carrying their entire life with them everywhere they went. Even while on vacation, she felt she needed a bag that barely qualified as carry-on luggage. They had left him alone for quite some time at this store. They had found a ton of dresses to try on, so boredom was starting to creep into the corners of Eric's mind.
He weighed the ethics of going through her bag. They were in a committed relationship, free from secrets. It would give him something to do while he sat around. He peaked around the corner of the dressing room door and could overhear they were still in the trying on process, not even at the narrowing down process. He wouldn't get caught, but was it something he should really be doing?
He was letting the clasp roll in his fingers subconsciously when it opened. It took it as a sign from a higher power that it would be alright. He saw a few ordinary objects; her phone, her iPod, a romance novel she was reading. He picked up her digital camera, going through the pictures of their trip. That would occupy him; she had been snapping away the entire week they were in California. Just as he came across the set of shots from their trip to the Getty Museum the battery died.
Putting it back, he pulled out a roll of magazines she had been reading. He unfurled them, immediately tossing aside the gossip rags, coming across one that stopped his heart. It was a catalog for Tiffany's. It was very much out of place for Sookie, she hated when he spent a lot of money on gifts for her. As he opened it, he realized it was a special edition. Every page was filled with different styles of engagement rings or gifts for a newly married couple.
He rolled the stack back up and couldn't shove them all back in the cursed bag fast enough. He even set it down on the chair next to him so he wouldn't have to touch it. Had Sookie been trying to figure out ways to get him to propose? She was probably working with Pam on creating a plan to get him to pop the question. Would she really be so cruel as to ask Pam the best way to manipulate him into getting her way? That was completely out of character for Sookie, but there was no other possible explanation for her possession of the magazine. She would never spend the money to buy something from Tiffany's for herself or a friend, nor would she ask from anything from the popular store.
Pam cleared her throat from the doorway, causing Eric to whip his head around to her direction. He hadn't had a chance to calm his expression and was trying to come up with a good reason why he was having a heart attack in the lobby. Luckily, Pam just thought she scared him or caught him sleeping.
"Come back here, we're down to two dresses and she wants your opinion. Not that you can even dress yourself, let alone have a valid opinion on women's clothing."
He got up, hesitantly grabbing Sookie's purse as to not leave it unattended. Sookie was standing on a platform surrounded by mirrors. He could see her from every angle and she was breathtaking. The dress was strapless, his preferred style of dress as it showed off her ample, perfect cleavage. It barely came down to her knees, the soft fabric floating around Sookie as she turned side to side. It was a deep, rich purple, highlighted by a jeweled band that started on her left shoulder, crossing at her heart and coming down under her right breast, stopping at the seam of the dress.
"Wow." It was all he could say. It was all that needed to be said.
"Do you really like it? Because I can put the other one on. It's gold, floor length..."
"No, I think you should wear a short dress. It will be a warm night. Sookie, Jesus, Wow."
She was blushing as he took her in from head to toe. His daydreaming was soon called to an end as Pam was ushering her back to the stall so she could change into her street clothes. Eric was happy that dress shopping was over now, but depressed when Pam announced that it was now time to find proper shoes. He pulled Pam out back to the lobby, out of earshot of Sookie.
"Pam, how about you take Sookie shoe shopping and I steal away to buy her something shiny to match?"
"Good idea, Casanova. Might I suggest a bracelet? She won't need a necklace with that shoulder strap, and we already decided that it would look perfect with my diamond studs, which I'm more than happy to loan her. Cartier is just a few blocks that way and Tiffany's is two blocks in the other direction. Send me a photo before you buy anything so I can give you my opinion."
"You mean permission?"
"Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to. Now go. I guess we'll all just meet up at the hotel."
"Sounds good to me."
He was out the door, walking the distance to Cartier. He wouldn't even consider going to Tiffany's after seeing the magazine in Sookie's bag. It was not something he wanted to think about at the moment; he wouldn't let it ruin his amazing trip with Sookie. It was their first vacation together and everything was going perfectly.
As he walked the streets of Beverly Hills, his mind was working overtime. He thought he and Sookie were in a perfect place for a couple that had been dating for six months. To even consider getting married at this point was completely out of the question. He wasn't even sure if he ever wanted to get remarried. He knew that he loved Sookie, and could imagine a life together, but did it necessarily mean that they needed to get married?
He stepped into the store, orienting himself to the layout to find the perfect bracelet. He wanted it to look great on the red carpet, but also be something she could wear back home for a fancy night out. He walked around the countless cases, trying to figure out the difference between the many styles and more importantly, which would look best on her wrist.
His wanderings found him directly in front of the engagement ring display. Rows of diamond rings shone before him, tempting him into making a purchase. Could this really be what Sookie wants? He closed his eyes, trying to calm down but all he could see is Sookie walking towards him in a white dress. He shook his head to clear it when a quiet voice brought him back to the here and now.
"Hi, I'm Jennifer; can I help you find something?"
He stared at her for a moment as if she had asked the question in a foreign language. "Um, yes, actually. I'm trying to find a bracelet for my girlfriend."
"Well, these are rings; the bracelets are back over here. Let me show you." She gave him a sympathetic look; she had to deal with clueless boyfriends and husbands often enough.
She led him to a case with a variety of designs and he felt lost, wondering if he should have brought Pam along for this challenge. It seemed that Jennifer could read his mind, at least his confusion.
"Bangles and cuff style bracelets are very popular right now." She opened the case, pulling out a few different styles for him to examine. She put a few on her own wrist so he could see how it would look on a person as opposed to just sitting on the table. When she slid the third choice over her wrist, his eyes lit up.
It was a thick cuff, between one and two inches thick, covered in pave-set diamonds. Paired with the jeweled strap of her dress, it would look perfect. He took it from Jennifer's wrist, and caught a glimpse of the price tag. He made the wise decision not to show Sookie that part.
Jennifer went to get a gift box while he was paying. While he waited for his credit card to process, he kept looking back at the engagement rings. He was dreading the conversation with Sookie when he had to reveal he was simply not ready to get married again yet. He feared he would lose her if she knew he was not ready to take that step, but it was something they needed to sort out now.
The next evening, they were both dressing for the big event. He never attended the first premiere and was excited to be experiencing this with Sookie. He tried his best to hide his anxiety at the pending conversation when he had to break her heart. A wedding was something every little girl looked forward to. He remembered the planning process with Felicia and how she glowed with joy at everything from choosing bridesmaid dresses to flower arrangements. Who was he to take that from Sookie? He planned to tell her that he wasn't taking marriage off the table, that it was just something he wasn't ready for yet. Maybe in the future they would be ready to walk down the aisle as man and wife. She just needed to exercise patience, which was not exactly her forte.
Once again while dressing formally; she had to take it upon herself to fix his tie. Her nimble fingers made quick work of the slip of silk. She took the chance to tease him, letting her fingers graze the column of his neck. He looked down at her face, a naughty smile gracing her lips. He caught her chin in his fingers, kissing her, tasting the sweet flavor of her lip gloss.
"Now I have to fix my face, not that I'm complaining. Kissing you is always worth it." She pressed another kiss to his lips before returning to the mirror to put on the final touches.
Pam knocked at the door to their hotel room before letting herself in. As she cracked the door open, she shouted into the suite, "I'm coming in, please don't be naked again." She learned from her mistake earlier in the week when she just strolled into find them in a very compromising position on the couch.
"Well if it isn't James Blond himself. Don't you look dapper?" Pam looked glamorous as well, in a jewel toned pant suit showing just enough cleavage to still look professional. "And Sookie, you're a vision in plum. Now, let's head out. Don't want to be late for your own premiere."
"One more thing." Eric pulled the gift box from its hiding spot and Sookie's eyes lit up. She tore the bow from the box, lifting the top slowly to reveal the shining band.
"Oh, Eric, it's beautiful!" She slipped the bangle around her wrist, noticing it was a perfect fit. She held her arm out in front of her, examining her new gift. "I love it. I would kiss you, but that would mean redoing my makeup again."
She wrapped her arms around him, and he placed a kiss at the junction of her shoulder and neck. "Now we're ready to go."
The limo had them at the theater in ten minutes. As they exited, they were met with the blinding light of flash bulbs from the waiting photographers. Eric and Sookie posed for pictures before Pam ushered them down farther to the waiting reporters so Eric could answer a few questions. He did so, holding Sookie's hand tight the entire time.
They met up with the cast at the end of the carpet for a few group shots. When the photo call was over, they made their way to their seats in the theater, right next to Stan and Isabel. They caught up with the pair while Stan shared the whirlwind of interviews he had been doing.
Luckily, the studio had not asked Eric to go on all the late night shows as well. His advertising was limited to several book signings and readings around Southern California. They viewed him just as source material; he didn't have much say in the production of the movies. He trusted the team to put out a good product, his sole input being his stamp of approval on the script. That was, of course, to his benefit now. He got to enjoy a week's vacation with Sookie with the most stressful aspect being finding Sookie a dress, and of course the heart attack-inducing discovery of the magazine.
After the movie was the after party. They didn't stay long, just enough to make the rounds. It marked their last night in California and they both wanted to make the best of it. They made their way back to the hotel room, Sookie leading Eric to the bedroom immediately. She shoved him down to the bed, straddling his waist. They were kissing as she unwound his tie and fought with the buttons of his shirt. She was grinding against him when she realized there was nothing to grind against. She sat up, giving him a sour expression.
"Are you okay? You've been acting weird for the past two days and now you can't get it up. I figured you were just stressed out because of the opening tonight, but that's all over now. What's going on in that big head of yours?"
He sighed, bringing his hands to run along her back as she lay down, cuddling his chest. He decided just to let it all spill, he'd deal with the consequences later. "I'm not ready to get married."
She shot up, completely puzzled. "Well then don't ask me to marry you, duh. Trust me, I'm old fashioned, I'm not going to ask you. But seriously, Eric, where did that come from?"
"I found the catalog with all the engagement rings in your bag. I figured you were picking one out which meant you wanted to get married. You even had a few circled!"
"I was picking one out."
"For Jason to give Crystal. He knocked her up, so he's doing the right thing and marrying her. He has no clue when it comes to rings and asked me to help choose the right one."
"Oh is right, mister. You can't jump to conclusions like that. We've only been going out a few months, and I'm perfectly happy with the way things are. I don't want to get married right now either."
"Well, good. That means we're on the same page."
"I'm not going to like that 'but' am I?"
She looked up at him, her question on the tip of her tongue, begging to spill forth. "Sookie, you can ask me anything. I'll answer honestly, but I can't promise you'll like what I say."
"Do you ever want to get married again?"
"I don't know. I do know that I love you, and I love living with you, spending everyday with you. I just don't know if I need a piece of paper to tell me that I love you. I've done all the rituals before."
"But I haven't. I want the white dress, the walk down the aisle, the first dance, the honeymoon."
"How does this sound, we'll wait until it feels right to make a decision. It's obvious now is not that time."
"And we'll talk to each other instead of hiding the things that freak us out."
"Is that your oh-so subtle way of telling me I should apologize?"
The look in her eyes was all the answer he needed. "Angelic Sookie, vision of love and beauty, I offer my most humble of apologies at offending your trusting nature."
She broke down in hysterical laughter, exacerbated by Eric flipping her over on her back and tickling her. Their wrestling soon turned to writhing against the other as soon as his mouth found the sweet, tender places she loved to be kissed on her neck. She moaned, clutching his head to her.
"You're way too good at making me forget why I was mad at you."
"You were never mad at me, I have no idea what you're talking about."
"You went through my things and when you found something you didn't like you, oh God, Eric, don't stop." Eric learned early on that nibbling on Sookie's nipples was a quick way to get her to stop talking.
He slid her dress the rest of the way down her body, leaving her in her lace panties. Those too found their way to the floor. He leaned back from her prone body, sitting on the opposite side of the bed. He slowly finished unbuttoning his shirt, bringing his hand up in a pausing gesture as she tried to come to him.
"Why, Mr. Northman, are you giving me a strip tease?"
"That depends on how many singles you have in that big bag of crazy."
He worked the shirt off his shoulders, humming out the stereotypical strip tease melody. She was having a fit of giggles, as she settled against the pillows and headboard. Stretching out his long legs, he pulled off each sock, tossing each of them over his shoulder. He rose to his knees, unbuckling his belt, pulling it from the loops of his pants with a snap. They locked eyes as he undid the button and lowered the zipper of his pants.
Eric worked his pants and boxer briefs over his hips, still holding her gaze until he was in the same state of undress as she was. He crawled up the bed, pressing his body into hers, feeling their flesh mold together, fitting perfectly like pieces of a puzzle.
He kissed up her neck, nibbling the shell of her ear. He whispered, purposely letting his warm breath pass over her sensitive skin. "I'll love you forever, Sookie. No ring, dress, or ceremony will ever say that as loud or as often as I can. I intend to show you everyday just how much you mean to me."
In between gasps of air, she found the words to respond. "I love you, too. You're stuck with me, with or without it being legal. I want you so bad right now. Please, I need you."
He entered her, savoring every sensation that was shooting through his body, her fingernails digging into his biceps letting him know she was feeling them too. They moved together slowly, simply enjoying the other's body. She wrapped her legs around his waist, holding him to her, burying him deeper on every thrust. They found that perfect angle and she cried out; eyes closed, head tilted back in pure ecstasy.
He buried his face in her neck, inhaling her sweet scent, willing his body to hold out longer so this feeling never had to stop. He felt her muscles clenching around him, heard her breathing quicken, moans growing louder. Their bodies and minds were connected, no true words being said, just grunts and sounds of pleasure. Words weren't needed, both knew what the other wanted and needed.
Her released washed over her, bringing her to a higher plane of existence. It started in the tips of her toes, exiting her body from each strand of hair. She felt as if she was out of her body, as if she was in a place where there was nothing else except for her and Eric. He came moments later, joining her in a state of bliss that could never be compared.
They separated begrudgingly, keeping their legs and hands intertwined. The smiles on their faces spoke to their moods and states of mind. She looked deep into his eyes, kissing the tip of his nose.
"Now that was perfect. This, what we have, is perfect and it always will be."
A/N2: Wow, this crazy journey is actually over. I want to say that I absolutely loved writing this story. It was my first writing in a long time, my first venture into SVM. I want to say thank you to everyone who read, especially those who reviewed or added alerts. Your encouragement really pushed me to write more, to push myself harder to put out a perfect product. You are all amazing!
I couldn't have done this without my beta, chisaii-kitty. She was there with me at every step, offering encouragement, advice and a hint of snark.
If you like my writing, please go check out my new story, What It Means To Forget. You can find the link in my profile. As I've said, I do intend to write a sequel to this story, but not for a while. I would like to focus on one story at a time so you, the reader, get the best product available. Feel free to add me as an author alert so you can find out ASAP when my newest stories come out.
Ciao for now, kiddies! I'll see you around.