Pre Edit Count – 3,680 Words
Song I listened to for this chapter: Austin by Blake Shelton
She sits in her chair, looking out over the river to the city that lays there. She bites her lower lip as she tries to think.
She had a love that so many people had told her was a fairy tale. It was something that grabbed you and was completely wonderful, encompassing, and left no doubt on her or his mind that they were the other half for each other.
But that selfsame love was one that suffocated her; she couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t understand what was going on. She never could capture her breath between the times they saw each other. They finished high school together, then went to college. They didn’t bother getting separate places, her inheritance enough to allow them to live off campus together.
After school, they were still joined at the hip as they found jobs. Well, he took his place at his father’s side; she did what she always wanted to do, write.
The pain of him leaving each morning, as she kissed him, and then went to work on her stories, was often more than she anticipated. But she slowly wondered how she came to be this woman; a woman who kissed her boyfriend off to work, and then kept house as she wrote her little stories.
That wasn’t how he thought of her at all. He made sure he didn’t make the same mistake as his father, and carved out time for just them. He was there at night to eat dinner with her, and took her out on dates where they had so much fun.
He had been the same man she had known who used to grab her in the summer, laughing while she screamed at him, and jumped in the pond behind her Gran’s house. The same man who would walk with her down the street holding hands; then when he noticed no one looking, backed her into an alley to kiss her senseless.
Their first time was as romantic as any woman ever wished. No cliché prom night, no not for a Northman. He had waited for high school to be over, Memorial Day weekend to be exact, and he took her out of town to Austin.
She loved the town and loved their time there. It had been a great time for the two of them; the nights as magical as the days. He had taken so much care of her, and while they fumbled around, they soon found what pleased the other one.
Back in the present, she drinks from the glass of wine in her hand, blindly looking at Austin. She looks down at the phone like she has so many nights prior, and tears fill her eyes.
She takes herself in hand, and picks up the phone like she has done many times before. She presses his name, and this time, unlike others, she listens to the phone ring…
“If you’re calling ‘bout the car, I sold it. If this is Tuesday night, I’m bowling. If you’ve got somethin’ to sell, you’re wastin’ your time; I’m’ not buying. If it’s anybody else, wait for the tone, you know what to do. And P.S., if this is Austin, I still love you.”
In shock, she drops the phone. She grabs it before the beep, not knowing if the tone sounded, and hits the end button. The tears are pouring out of her eyes, shocked that he has waited for her. She would not have blamed him if he had moved on.
She had left with a note, telling him, “I need to clear my mind. Love, Sookie.” And nothing else. She had left in the middle of the week, early in the morning. It had been a cowardly move, but she couldn’t take it if he looked at her with those eyes of his while asking her why.
So she left the house with just her purse, glad her car started quietly. She left and went to Austin, living in the house she had purchased as a surprise for him. She expected him behind her, but he never did.
Since then, she had thought hard, even going to a psychologist. She didn’t want him to think she was doing nothing, but she needed the time to clear her head; to learn to listen to her heart over her head.
She also took the time to work on her first story, and it was all but finished. It needed an ending, and nothing she typed was right.
No, like Dr. Whitlock told her, she needed to settle herself; her mind will take its cue from her heart, and right now, her heart wants to settle this. She had poured her heart out to the doctor, and he had let her know that with a love like that, it just grabs you and brings you along.
She has a couple choices now. She can man up and call him, completing the call she has tried to make so many times before. Or she can sit here wondering for the rest of her life about the ‘what if’s’. But the doctor had told her she needed to decide; and not be shocked if he has given up on her.
That was the part that had made completing the call take even longer. What if he had given up? That her idiocy was the end of their fairy tale. But that night, she decided that it was it. She will call.
Shaken with the shock that he still wants her, she gathers up her empty glass and makes her way inside the house. She needs to think on what the message means.
Three days later, she is standing at the kitchen counter, her phone at her ear, butterflies loose in her stomach.
“If it’s Friday night, I’m at the ballgame. And first thing Saturday, if it don’t rain, I’m headed out to the lake and I’ll be gone, all weekend long. But I’ll call you back when I get home on Sunday afternoon. And P.S., if this is Austin, I still love you.”
This time, she waits for the beep and leaves her number. She clicks the end button, staring out the window. The ball is in his court. A tear rolls out of her blue eye and down her cheek as she hopes with her entire being that he calls back.
He comes in Sunday afternoon, waving at his friends over his shoulder as he walks in the empty house. His heart gives a painful thump as he recalls memories of the two of them here in this house.
He remembers the first time he saw her. He had been a sophomore, and while all the guys thought he was the man’s man, he actually had never gotten far. He had his father as a role model, and how he worked so much that when his mom left him, he didn’t notice until days afterwards.
In fact, if it had not been for the nanny bringing it up, Godric would have never known for a longer period of time.
It had torn his father up. Northmans, when they fall in love, there was never another for them. And seeing his father fall so far, made Eric never want that sort of love for himself. He had hardened his heart on it, but Godric warned him, when it happens, there is nothing he can do.
He had scoffed. Until his sophomore year when a blonde suntanned beauty came in his classroom, and that was all it took. He had worked his ass off first to ignore her, and when that failed, he had worked that same ass off to get the girl.
His Sookie’s life had not been easy. Her parents had been killed in an accident on their way home to get her and her brother. They had been sent to private schools during that time, but their grandmother didn’t hold with all that.
At first, he used the fact that she had as much money to buy the parish to ignore her, being the hypocrite he was. Then he used the fact that she had gone to private school to be a reason to pick on her. But when he changed his mind, giving into the Northman curse as he called it.
Then he found that she was as down home as any country girl can be. She had always enjoyed being in the county with her gran. She loved to sunbath, and often ran around town in a bikini top, shorts, and maybe a linen shirt over her top. She rode around in a jeep that was older than he would have expected from her family. Then he heard how she was one of the first to take it four wheeling in the mud with the rest of the gang. That day was an eye opener, and the day he gave into wanting and loving her.
He had pulled out all the stops, and had her ignoring him. Her brother Jason felt bad, and finally told him that he needs to talk to her. He had competition in a local good ole boy, William T. Compton.
Seems William has been after her since day one, seeing her name and not her. Eric had made an impression on her, being out and about. He should have known with their name, that his would be known.
William, or Bill as he finally acquiesced in being called, fit in as well as a fish outta water. But he never wanted to be a ole country boy. No; he wanted to run for office, to be a lawyer and such.
Eric just wanted to be himself. He knew his role and what he would have to do when he grew up, and that is why he didn’t want love. He didn’t think he would have time. But Godric stepped up, and told his son what mistakes he had made, and how Eric needed to decide which to put first.
He trusted Eric. He knew that his son would be responsible for the company he was leaving in his hands when it was time. But he told him that money is nothing if you have nothing to come home to. Godric taught his son to avoid the mistakes he had made.
When his sister Pamela announced sneeringly that Eric had fallen for the curse, Godric couldn’t have been happier. He had shaken his head when Eric had fought it, but when he gave in, Godric had been there waiting.
After much work, he got the girl. His wanting to be himself won her over. He may have been born in Sweden, and his family from there, but he was as country as the rest of them. He loved going four wheeling in the mud, laughed at the ball games, was the star quarterback. Jason and he were the best pairing, and nothing stopped them going to state, all three years.
And he had the girl; the girl he loved beyond any doubt. When she shyly admitted to wanting to be a writer, he had encouraged her to do it. He stood behind anything she wanted to do, and when they graduated, he had been extremely proud when they were co-valedictorians. Both had turned down scholarships, having the money to go to college.
And they went, him for the classes to help him take over the company, and her to learn to write. She had also went for a business degree, wanting to be able to manage the money she had inherited since Jason was the one to manage the company business.
Sookie had paid for the house, no matter what he or Godric tried to do. He finally gave up, and kissed her silly.
But when they graduated, top of their classes, he told her that he would buy her their home. They both agreed to rent out their house to others from their town who needed it. And as far as he knew, they were happy.
He loved her, and made sure she knew it, bringing her flowers from a field, taking her out at nights, and making sure their weekends were full of the things she loved to do.
But near the end, she mentioned Austin to him a few times, but he thought it was a longing to go there, but after she left, he wondered if it had been a hint for something else.
By this time, Eric is in the shower cleaning up. He had stuck to his guns, and while he was teased from the guys, he left messages on his answering machine in case she called. He finally told them all he loves her, and he won’t let the chance slip by like some lame country song if she called. But even he had to live his life. He waited for her, and will for the rest of his life, but he cannot keep himself from living. It won’t do any good.
So he went to work, he played with his friends, and did the normal things in their community. But every night he came home to the empty house.
Turning off the water, he grabs the towel hanging outside the door, glancing at the window to notice it is getting late. He wraps the towel around his waist, after roughly drying his body. He grabs a pair of jeans and slides them on, not bothering to button them as he makes his way to the kitchen.
He grabs a beer, and looks towards the answering machine out of habit. He is shocked to see it blinking. His mind goes to the other night that he had seen the light blinking, and had heard what had sounded like the phone falling before hanging up.
He walks over and hits play. He had a hang up, that he deleted. He takes a swallow of his beer as he listens to the message afterwards, one that has his beer dropping out of his hand and spitting the beer out of his mouth. It’s her voice, giving him a number.
He just stares at the answering machine, not daring to hope, but he reaches out to play the message again, to make sure it is not a prank, or even a daydream of his. But his machine plays the message faithfully again, and he hears the time and date of the call. Friday!
He swallows staring out the window. If he had listened to the message Friday he would have heard it, but he had been drunk by the time he had gotten in, celebrating their win. Then he was gone before the sun rose the following morning.
He rubs his hands over his face, pacing to figure out what to do. You don’t get second chances. But hell, maybe this is the answer to his nightly prayer. And with that mind, he walks over and grabs the phone from its cradle. He sits on the couch staring down at the phone. The number was seared in his brain, and he dials it.
And he holds his breath as the call connects….
“If you are callin’ ‘bout my heart, it’s still yours. I should’ve listened to it a little more, then it wouldn’t have taken me so long to know where I belong. And by the way, boy, this is no machine you’re talkin’ to. Can’t you tell, this is Austin, and I still love you.”
He swallows, and opens his mouth to answer her, and nothing comes out. This just doesn’t happen in real life.
He clears his throat, and answers her back. “I still love you.”
Five years later, and Eric is coming home. He walks in the house, and listens to the sound of little footsteps running down the stairs yelling, “Far!!!!”
He drops his stuff where he stands and crouches to catch the little boys running to him. He gathers them up in his arms, grinning as they squeal. He kisses them both and mock growls at them. A laugh makes him look up to see the woman he loves to death standing there leaning against the door jamb, resting her head against the wood.
He walks over with their squirming boys in his arms and kisses her soundly. He looks in her eyes when he is done, and smirks at the glazed look. “Hello min älskare.”
She gives a little shake of her head, telling him, “When you are done with the rugrats, I will have dinner on the table.”
The aforementioned rugrats squeal and tell her they are not rats of any kind. He laughs, taking them with him as he goes up the stairs. Dropping them off in their room, with a reminder to wash up for dinner, he is in the bedroom and undresses.
That day five years ago when he called her back, is one that he will remember forever. They talked all night, about everything. He had been surprised that she felt smothered and was confused. It had not been his intention; he had wanted her happy.
They talked more, and the following morning, she had asked if she could come home. He told her it was her home and always had been. He would be willing to leave to give her the space for her to get used to them again. She had asked him to be there.
It had taken hours; he paced around the house as he cleaned up the mess from his beer, then walked through the house to make sure it was clean. It had been, but he had to do something while he waited. So he washed clothing, remembering the first time he had to do this, and realizing how much she had done for him all the time.
He swore to himself that it will be different. He had never thought that he had made her into the housewife of the 50’s. But it had happened. He had encouraged her to write, and did what he could. But after she left, he was so very aware of the things she did that he never knew about.
He swore to himself he would never do that again. There was so much he could do, and he never realized the time it all took. But she needs to talk to him; tell him things instead of letting it build up to the point she had to leave to feel like her life was her own. He never tried to take it, but he can see how she would see that.
As he told Godric one evening, it wasn’t being there physically, it was being there heart, mind, and soul also.
But as the hours wore on, he couldn’t find anything to do. He went outside and chopped what wood was left from the stack he had worked on off and on. After a while, it seemed he had found something to work off his extra energy.
He had taken off his shirt, and was still chopping wood when he heard the slam of a car door. He paused, his heart flying. He shuddered, and swung the ax to embed it in the chopping block. Grabbing his shirt, he was shrugging into it when he walked around the corner then stopped.
Before him was Sookie. And she was more beautiful than he remembered. And she just stared right back at him.
He gathered himself and strode right up to her. When close, he cupped her face in his hands, and lowered his mouth to hers slowly, making sure she could back away if she didn’t want it, and soon covered her mouth with his.
The two of them stood there and kissed. She opened her mouth to him, and he moaned as he swept his tongue in her mouth, rubbing on hers. He teased her tongue, getting it to follow his to his mouth, and continued the assault when she retreated. His lips worked over hers, as his tongue did the same to hers. This is right…this is best.
Eric then hears her voice behind him, as her arms come around his waist. “Is there something wrong?”
He turns and gathers her to him. He remembers a half a year after her return, his proposal to her and her accepting, then the backyard wedding they had. Then there was the day seven months later when she walked in his home office, and sat on his lap kissing him. Then she handed him a plastic bag. He had looked at the stick in it, and the pieces fell in place his head. He almost jumped up, “We’re pregnant?”
She had laughed and told him, she was sure she was, but it might take a miracle for him to be. He had taken her to bed, “to make sure.”
He had paced the hallways when she had went in labor, and was taken for a Caesarean. When the doctor had come out, and told him he had two boys and she was fine, he fell to his knees, thanking God for keeping his family safe.
His life was a fairy tale, and he can tell you it is work to keep it that way. Work that he is more than willing to put in. And he isn’t the only one; Sookie works just as hard as he does.
He looks down at the woman he loves and tells her, “Fond memories is all.”
She grins and takes his hand to lead him downstairs. They sit down to dinner with the munchkins, and after dinner, she brings out desert. Then lays down something before his plate.
He looks down. When he realizes what it is, he jumps up, swinging her around before bringing her to rest delicately before him. He kisses her. When the boys start making noise, he releases her, asking, “Again?”
She nods. He kisses her again, and when done, he tells her, “I still love you.”