Eric caressed Stephanie’s face as he sat and watched her sleep. She’d had a nightmare again, one that had wrenched his heart…one that, sadly, she’d remembered. He could still see the tears in her eyes, the blue pale with her hurt. He’d held her, rocking her as he sang to her the lullaby he’d sung to their children, letting her cry out all the pain she’d caused herself. She’d cried herself to sleep in his arms, and he’d laid her back against her pillows, spooning their bodies so that she was held as close to him as he could get her. And then he’d cried himself to sleep.
Now, hours later, she slept peacefully and he was getting ready to leave her. He’d decided that he was going to marry her while they were here in Big Bear and had been making phone calls the last two hours, setting things up. Now he just had to go home and get a few things and run a few errands. He pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead and stood up, leaving the note he’d written and a flower on his pillow for her to find.
Moving about the cabin, he picked up the dishes they’d left behind after their late night dinner, taking them to the kitchen and quietly placing them in the sink. He knew Stephanie would wash them when she got up, no matter that he’d told her not to in his note, she couldn’t stand dirty dishes lying around…in the sink or not. He smiled and chuckled. She’d always been that way, and had always gotten very frustrated with him when he’d leave dishes about the house as he worked in a frenzy to get his designs done in time for a showing.
He’d never forget the all out row they’d gotten into after she’d followed him all over the house picking up after him, irritating him to the point of snapping at her. Of course, she’d snapped back, and he’d growled and huffed. Then she’d given him that smirky little grin and he’d grabbed her and taken her right there on the floor of the den. She’d laughed after they were through and told him that now that she knew how he’d react, she’d follow him around the house more often.
“God what a woman,” he murmured, checking on her one more time before quietly slipping from the cabin.
By tonight she would be his wife…again.
Stephanie yawned and stretched, her arm finding only air as she searched for Eric. Opening her eyes, she felt her heart thud against her chest until she saw the flower and note on his pillow. Taking a deep breath, she lifted the flower to her nose, inhaling the light fragrance. Eric must have been up and busy for quite a while if he’d had time to go walking out in the woods long enough to find this wild flower. Reading his note, she shook her head and sighed as she sat up.
“What in the world are you up to?” she wondered aloud as she got out of bed and stretched, yawning then laughing at the way her top fell off her shoulder. That had been a source of much fun for her last night as she teased Eric. She grinned as she remembered how he’d chased her around the sofa, sending her shouting and laughing into their bedroom, catching her and tackling her onto the bed.
“I’ve got you now,” he murmured as he nibbled at her neck.
Stephanie’s breath hitched at the feel of his hand sliding up her bare leg beneath the hem of her top. “Eric,” she whimpered, her body yielding to his as she trembled beneath him.
“We’ve eaten our dinner,” he whispered as he looked down at her. “Now I want you.”
Stephanie tangled her fingers in his hair, smiling up at him. “I can feel that,” she chuckled when he growled.
“Oh what you do to me, woman.”
“Don’t just let me lie here and feel, show me,” she encouraged as she tugged his head down, her lips pressing against his, showing him her own passion.
“I love you, Stephanie Forrester,” he whispered as he pulled from the kiss, resting his forehead against hers.
“I love you,” she returned, her eyes shining with the truth of it. “Make love to me, Eric.”
Stephanie sighed and felt herself tremble as she remembered how he’d made love to her, fiery and passionate, showing her how much he loved and wanted her with more than just his words. With the smile still on her face, she went into the bathroom and turned on the shower, adjusting the water to just the right temperature. Pulling her top up over her head, she stepped into the warm spray and let it flow over her.
A frown replaced her smile as her thoughts turned to the nightmare that had disturbed their sleep. Leaning back, she let the water flow over her head, mingling with the tears that suddenly appeared on her cheeks. The dream had been so vivid. She’d been in Eric’s arms then he’d been ripped from her, leaving her to die alone as an angry mob blocked Eric’s way back to her and laughed. She’d screamed and sobbed and that’s when Eric had pulled her from the dream, rocking her and soothing her as he sang her the same lullaby he’d sang so often to their children when they’d had a nightmare.
Even as she continued to cry, she felt her heart swelling with love as she remembered the way Eric’s body trembled against hers as he spooned her against him. She’d felt his tears against her skin, and knew that he was crying with her. Wiping the water from her face, she reached for her shampoo, laughing and shaking her head when she noticed which one it was.
“Sly fox,” she mumbled as she squirted some into her hand. He’d picked the one he favored, the one he had told her the scent of it in her hair always turned him on. “I suppose I should have expected it when I let him pack my shower things,” she laughed and closed her eyes, her fingers massaging the silky liquid into her scalp.
“Now…I wonder what my surprise is?” she mumbled as she rinsed the suds out of her hair.
“Eric? What are you doing here?” Jackie asked, surprised to see him after hearing that he and Stephanie had disappeared.
Eric smiled at the woman, glad that he’d run into her. “I had a few things I needed to do.”
“How’s Stephanie? Is she okay?” she asked, her hand on his arm in concern for her friend.
Eric patted her hand. “She’s still upset by everything, but she’ll be okay. I’ve got her tucked away in a safe place.” He winked when Jackie laughed.
“I’m glad you’re staying by her side.”
“I made her a promise, Jackie. And, I love her.” He shrugged. “I’m actually glad I ran in to you. I could use a favor.”
“Anything,” she told him with a smile. “Planning something for Stephanie?”
“I am.” He looked around to make sure no one was paying attention to them then leaned over to whisper in her ear. “I’ve arranged for us to get remarried.”
“Oh Eric,” she whispered and hugged him. “That’s wonderful. What can I do?”
“Have you ever noticed the little chapel in the woods up at Big Bear?”
Jackie paused to think, then nodded. “Yes. Quaint little place.”
“And just perfect for what I have in mind. Stephanie needs a friend to stand up for her, and you seem to be the only one she has left. Will you?”
“I’d be honored. Just tell me when and what color to wear.”
“Be there at a few minutes before seven and wear something blue.”
“Anything else I can do?”
“No, just be there. I have a friend that’s going to stand up for me.” He chuckled, “I almost didn’t have. Owen would have had to.”
Jackie laughed. “I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded. Is it alright if I bring him?”
“That’s fine. I wouldn’t want you driving up there after dark anyway.” Eric hugged her. “Thank you, Jackie.” He pulled back. “Stephanie will really appreciate this.”
She shrugged. “I think I can understand why Stephanie did it. Besides, I’m not a huge fan of Brooke’s, so why should I be angry at Stephanie?”
“Maybe you can take Stephanie to a spa in a few days? Just the two of you. Tell her you understand. She needs someone else besides me. She knows that I’m upset that she did this, but I’m doing everything I can to assure her that I’m not going to leave her. I told her that I understand why she did it. Maybe if someone else talks with her, it will help her. The family is all so angry with her that she can’t apologize enough. And they’re angry at me for not kicking her to the curb, so I can’t try to explain to them why she did what she did.”
“I’ll be glad to spend some time with her.” Jackie kissed his cheek. “You’d better go on with the rest of what you’re supposed to be doing. I don’t want you to be late.”
Eric laughed. “Thanks again, Jackie. I’ll see you later.”
Jackie watched Eric walk off and sighed. The man was trying his hardest to make the most of the mess their family was in. She’d never seen him like this and knew that Stephanie being sick had changed him. Feeling two arms go around her, she smiled. “Hello, Darling.”
Owen kissed her cheek. “What was that all about?”
“He’s planning a wedding.”
“He’s going to remarry Stephanie?”
“Yes, but in secret. There’s a small chapel in the woods up at Big Bear. He asked me if I’d stand up for Stephanie since she has no one else.”
“Yeah. I’d guess they’re all pretty angry with her. I’m surprised he isn’t.”
“Oh, he’s upset with her for doing what she did, but whatever anger he had disappeared. There’s something that happened that has him trying to reassure her that he’s not going anywhere. I told him that I understand why she did it. I think he understands more about it that he said he did.”
“And you aren’t really a Brooke fan.” Owen chuckled.
“No, I’m not.”
“So what time are you supposed to be there?”
“We, Darling. He said I could bring you. He doesn’t want me up there after dark by myself.”
“I’m glad.” Owen hugged her. “Now, what time?”
“A few minutes before seven.”
“Then that gives us plenty of time to finish our shopping and errands.” He took her hand and started walking toward the exit of the jewelry store.
She sighed and nodded as she followed him. “Yes, it does. Do you think Nicky will ever adjust to us living with him?”
“About as well as Stephanie has adjusted to Brooke.”
Stephanie heard the door close and smiled. Listening to his movements about the cabin, she sighed when she felt his presence behind her. “Hello,” she whispered when his arms slipped around her waist.
“Hello,” he echoed, his voice soft as he nuzzled her neck. “What are you doing?”
“Well, I thought I would get started on dinner since you missed lunch. What were you doing?”
“Oh, just a few things.” He frowned. “I got caught by Ridge, Thomas, and Taylor. They’re all arguing over your shares. Ridge wants them, Taylor is objecting, and Thomas is caught in the middle.”
“And they’re all very angry with you,” she guessed.
“Yes, they’re angry with me, not that I care how angry they are. Taylor is the only one that really has a right to be angry since she was the one caught in the middle of this mess without having anything to do with it.”
Stephanie nodded sadly. “I don’t think she’ll ever forgive me. Not that I blame her.”
“When she calms down, she’ll let you apologize, and she’ll listen when you tell her why you did it. She’ll come around, Sweetheart. We just have to give her time.”
“Yeah,” she sighed and leaned back against him. “So where were you that you ran into all of them?”
“Oh, I had something I needed to pick up at work.”
Turning her head to look up at him, she studied his face. “What?”
Eric grinned and kissed her nose. “Oh, just something.”
“Eric,” she growled.
“Ah, ah,” he laughed. “In due time, Steph. Now, tell me what you’re fixing.”
She huffed then looked back to the sauce she was stirring. “I thought I’d make your favorite chicken dish.”
“Ooh,” he hummed. “Sounds wonderful.”
“So are you going to give me a hint about what my surprise is?”
“You’ll find out at five thirty.”
She snarled her nose. “I have to wait that long?”
He chuckled and squeezed her. “That’s only two hours. You can do it.”
“Do I need to put a hold on dinner?”
“Well, go ahead and get everything ready to put together. Then we can put it in the fridge while we’re busy.”
“It would help if you’d just tell me.”
“You’ll find out soon enough. Now behave.”
“Fine,” she huffed and turned off the burner, covering the pan and setting it on the back of the stove. “Let me go so I can get to the rest of the preparations.”
Sniffing her hair, Eric moaned, “You washed your hair.” Burying his face in the soft strands, he let his hands begin to roam over her curves.
“Eric,” she sighed and shivered against him.
Turning her to face him, he covered her lips with his own, his tongue tracing the supple flesh before pushing inside her mouth and tangling with her tongue. His fingers tangled in her hair as he moved the kiss to her neck, then up to nibble at her ears. Slipping a hand under her top, he caressed up her back then moved to gently cup a breast.
“Oh god, Eric,” she moaned and gripped his arms. “We’re too old to be doing this in the kitchen.”
Eric pulled back, resting his forehead against hers, his hands on her hips. “You’re right. I’ll go cool off and let you get back to what you were doing.”
Tilting her face up, she smiled at him. “You don’t have to cool off. We could always just move this to the bedroom.”
“No, no.” He shook his head. “We’ll have plenty of time for that tonight after your surprise. I’m going to go before I give in to that look.” He kissed her then hurried from the kitchen.
“Oh!” she huffed and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath to calm herself. “You’re terrible!” she yelled, chuckling when he yelled back at her that she’d thank him later. “Later. Always later,” she mumbled as she went back to getting things prepped for their dinner. Whatever the man was planning it had better be good, was all she could think as she banged around trying to work off the arousal he’d built up with his kisses.
“Here you go.” Eric smiled as he held out a garment bag for Stephanie.
“What the…? Eric? What have you done?”
“This is why I was at Forrester earlier.”
Stephanie took a deep breath as she unzipped the bag, gasping it out as she saw the outfit inside. “Oh Eric. It’s beautiful,” she whispered as she fingered the soft cream satin of the top and pants. “Lace?” she asked when she touched the jacket.
“Handmade with Thai silk.” He helped her pull the outfit out, and watched her face as she looked at the lace shimmering in the light.
“It’s beautiful, Eric, but where did you get this lace? We don’t use anything like this.”
He shook his head and kissed her forehead. “No, we don’t. Thorne has been searching for it for weeks. He went to Thailand to personally pick it out for me after we saw a sample of the artist’s work.”
“Eric,” she breathed as she looked up at him, her eyes watering. “You did this for me?”
He nodded, reaching out to wipe a tear. “Yes, Sweetheart. I’ve had everything but the jacket finished for at least two weeks, but I wanted the outfit to be special, so I knew I had to have just the right kind of jacket. I didn’t want to go with the standard jacket like I always design for you. Not for this outfit.”
“Why not for this outfit?”
“Because,” he whispered as he turned to lay the outfit and garment bag on the bed. Turning back to her, he knelt down in front of her and looked up at her as he held out a box with a ring. “Because I want to marry you again. Because I wanted you to have something beautiful to wear when you walk down the aisle to me.”
Stephanie covered her mouth with her hand, tears rolling down her cheeks as she stared into Eric’s dark eyes. “It’s a new ring,” she whispered.
Eric nodded as he turned the box around to stare at its contents. The sapphire was the same blue as her eyes when she was lying in his arms after making love, the diamonds the most brilliant ones the jeweler could find. Turning the box back to her, he looked back up at her. “It’s a new beginning for us. A new chance for me to be the man, the husband, that I always should have been.”
“It’s beautiful,” she told him softly and held out her hand. “Stand up, Honey.”
Taking her hand, he stood up and pulled her into his arms. “Will you marry me again?”
Cupping his cheek, she smiled up at him. “Yes,” she answered in a voice that shook with the emotion she felt.
Taking the ring out of the box, he tossed the box on the bed, then slipped the ring on her finger, his eyes never leaving hers. “Get dressed, Sweet girl. We have a wedding to go to.”
Stephanie’s eyes widened. “Tonight?”
He smiled and nodded. “Yes, tonight.”
Narrowing her eyes, she studied him. “That’s what you’ve been up to all day.”
“Uh hum. Now, go on. We don’t want to be late.” He patted her hip, then watched her walk away. She was going to be so surprised with their wedding. He couldn’t wait to see her eyes when she saw what he’d done.
“Can I open my eyes yet?” Stephanie asked.
“Not yet. I have something for you.” Eric told her as he pulled something from his pocket.
“More gifts?” she questioned, her eyebrow arching in her surprise. “You’ve already given me this wonderful outfit and my ring.”
“Yes, but,” he started then slipped the necklace around her neck, fastening it before moving to stand in front of her. “I’ve had this one for a long time,” he finished then kissed her forehead. “You can open your eyes now.”
Stephanie opened her eyes, immediately looking down at the necklace lying in the vee of her blouse. “It’s,” she started then closed her eyes. “It’s the necklace you bought for our anniversary, the one I ruined by telling you I was moving in with Mass.” She opened her eyes and looked up at him as she lifted the entwined hearts, gently fingering them. “I didn’t know you kept it.”
“I’ve kept it hidden. I couldn’t seem to part with it, but yet I never could bring myself to give it to you after that night.”
“Why now?” she asked, letting the necklace fall back against her skin.
Eric trailed his finger down the delicate chain to where the hearts rested just at the beginning of the valley between her breasts. “Because I’ve given myself to you completely this time. I’m not holding anything of myself back.” He leaned forward, kissing her ear gently before whispering, “Tonight, when I make love to you, I want this to be all that you’re wearing.”
Stephanie’s breath quickened as she shivered. “Eric,” she said his name in a sigh.
Kissing her lips quickly, Eric caressed her cheek then turned to open the chapel doors. “Welcome to your wedding, Sweet girl.”
Stephanie’s brilliant blue eyes took in the softly glowing candles lighting the small chapel, the rose bouquets on the pews, the petals lining the aisle up to the alter. “Oh Eric, it’s beautiful.”
“Not as beautiful as my bride to be.” Gently tapping the end of her nose, smiling when it crinkled, he nodded to the person standing behind her. “Are you ready?”
Stephanie nodded. “Yes.”
“Then let’s get this wedding started.” Jackie spoke up as she came up to her friend.
Stephanie looked at Jackie then at Eric. “You asked Jackie to stand up for me?”
“He did.” Jackie smiled. “I was honored.”
Stephanie hugged the woman then turned back to Eric. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Now, I’m going to go take my place. I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
“I can’t wait.”
Jackie handed Stephanie her small bouquet of flowers, laughing when Stephanie looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “The minister said Eric insisted.” She smiled. “By the way, you look stunning. Eric’s?” she asked fingering the slightly glowing lace of Stephanie’s jacket.
“Yes.” Stephanie answered with a nod of her head. “And thank you. For the compliment and for doing this for us.”
“I’m happy to, Stephanie. It shows just how far we’ve come.” She winked and chuckled when Stephanie did. “Come on now. Let’s not keep your groom waiting.”
Jackie took her place in front of Stephanie then slowly walked up the aisle to the music filtering softly through the quiet room. Winking at Owen as she passed by where he was seated, she stopped when she reached the front, smiling at Eric before turning to look at Stephanie.
Stephanie’s eyes met Eric’s and held, her gaze never leaving his as she made her way toward him. The music he’d chosen fit well into the mood he’d set, soft and slow, quiet and romantic. Reaching the front, she took Eric’s outstretched hand, then passed her bouquet over to Jackie before turning her eyes forward to the minister.
Hearing the oft spoken words, Eric and Stephanie turned to look at each other, the minister’s words growing dim in the background as they got lost in each other. At the gentle clearing of the minister’s throat and Jackie’s low chuckle, Eric winked and turned to look at the minister. Stephanie shook her head, laughed, and did the same.
“I believe you wanted to say your own words for the vows.”
“Yes.” Eric nodded then turned to Stephanie once more, taking both of her hands in his. “My sweet girl. My best friend. The woman who gave me my dream. The woman who has stood by my side through ups and downs. The mother of my children. All of these things describe who you are, but none of them come close to giving full meaning to what you are to me. Although I’ve been too blind to see it, to acknowledge it, I’m doing it now. My eyes are open and I’m willing to admit it. You, Stephanie Elizabeth Forrester, are the other half of me. You are my soul mate. You are my heart.”
Stephanie sniffed, tears pooling in her eyes but not falling as she looked up at Eric. “You are my best friend. The man who gave me my dream…a family. You gave me the freedom to use my talents in business without insisting that I be just the pretty woman at home, the trophy wife to show off. You’ve given me five wonderful children, one of which is our little angel. I believe she’s been watching over us. I believe she’s guided us to this moment. I’ve always known you were the other half of me. You are the mate to my soul. You are my heart.”
Eric reached up to wipe a tear from her cheek, smiling when Stephanie did the same for him. Squeezing her hands, he turned to his friend, giving the man a smile as he handed him the rings. “Here you go, Sweet girl,” he whispered as he held out his ring for her to take.
Stephanie took the ring and smiled. “I love you, Eric Forrester,” she spoke softly as she slipped the band of gold onto his finger.
“And I love you, Stephanie Forrester,” he told her, his voice gravely with emotion as he slipped the delicate band into place.
“By the powers vested in me by the church, and by the state of California, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” The minister smiled and squeezed Eric’s shoulder. “You may kiss her now, Eric.”
Eric smiled at the man, a long time friend that had been only too happy to oblige his request to marry them. “Thanks, Joel.”
Stephanie smiled up at Eric when he looked back down at her. Feeling his hand tenderly caress her cheek, she shivered at the touch then closed her eyes as his mouth drew near. “Eric,” his name tripped off her lips in a murmur just before he kissed her.
Jackie sniffed as she watched the gentle kiss then turned to look at her husband with a smile. Turning her attention back to the couple, she clapped when they broke apart, then moved to give Stephanie a hug. “So romantic, and beautiful, and,” she shook her head, tears finally rolling down her cheeks. “It was wonderful. I’m so happy for you,” she whispered in Stephanie’s ear before pulling back.
“Thank you, Jackie.” Stephanie squeezed her hand then accepted Owen’s hug and congratulations.
“Thank you for standing up for me, Nobel.” Eric shook the older man’s hand.
“I’ve watched the two of you go back and forth down through the years. I always knew you’d finally get it right.”
Stephanie laughed and hugged him. “It’s good to see you, old friend.”
“Wonderful to see you happy, Lady.” Nobel kissed her cheek. “Now, I’m going to go before it gets too late. Martha will be worrying.”
“I wish she could have come. It would have been nice to see her.” Stephanie told him. “Tell her we said hello and that we promise to come visit.”
Eric nodded as he put his arm around Stephanie, pulling her against him. “Be careful going home, Nobel.”
“I will, Eric. Goodbye you two.”
“We’re going to go now too.” Jackie told them after Nobel had left.
“Thanks again, Jackie.”
“It was my pleasure, Stephanie. When you’re no longer lost in your groom, give me a call. We’ll go to the spa for a bit of pampering.” She winked then laughed when Stephanie sputtered.
Eric chuckled. “I won’t keep her lost for too long.” He winked then growled when Stephanie elbowed him. “Behave, Mrs. Forrester.”
“You behave,” she growled, her eyes twinkling at him as she smiled.
Jackie shook her head. “Goodbye.”
Owen chuckled. “Bye.”
“Bye.” Eric and Stephanie told them together then turned to the minister.
“I really appreciate this, Joel.” Stephanie told him as she squeezed his hand. “You must be tired of either marrying us or being a guest at one of our weddings.”
“I told Eric this was the last time, so he’d better make it stick,” he joked.
Eric laughed. “He did. So that means you’re stuck with me from now on.”
She smiled. “I think I can live with that.”
“Change into the other loose pant set you brought with you.” Eric whispered as he leaned against the front door of the cabin, pulling Stephanie into his arms.
Her eyes twinkling up at him, she sighed before snuggling her head against his chest under his chin. “You just want the top to fall off my shoulder like the other one did,” she murmured.
Eric smiled against her hair as he pressed a kiss to her head. “You know me so well,” he murmured as his hands slid under her top, resting on her waist, his thumbs gently caressing the soft skin.
Stephanie shivered as she squeezed his arms, her ring catching the low light of the room. “My ring is beautiful, Eric. Why did you pick a sapphire this time?”
He titled her face up, looking down into her eyes, thankful to see happiness there. “Because it reminded me of the color of your eyes when you’re lying in my arms after we’ve made love.”
Stephanie blushed and snuggled back against him. “Oh, Honey,” she whispered. “I’ve never understood your fascination with my eyes. They’re just eyes.”
Eric held her tighter. “No, they’re not just eyes. You have the most stunning blue eyes I’ve ever seen, and when you let me, I can read your thoughts and soul through those gorgeous orbs.”
“Seems lately I’ve been letting you read a little too much in these orbs of mine.”
“No. Never. I want to know, Sweet girl. How else would I have been able to be what you needed these last few days?”
Looking up at him, she caressed his face. “I love you, Eric. You’ve been everything to me, always.”
“I know. And now that I’ve grown up, you’re always going to be everything to me.”
She smiled then stepped back. “I need to get dinner started if we’re going to eat.”
“Not in this jacket.” He shook his head then turned her and helped her out of it. “There.”
“It won’t take long. Why don’t you change?”
“You don’t need help?”
“No. All I have to do is put it all in the dish then put it in the oven. Go on.” She patted his hand then turned and headed for the kitchen.
Eric watched her and sighed. She hadn’t taken off the low heels he’d convinced her to wear with her outfit and her hips swayed just a little more because of the way the shoes made her walk. Resting his hand over his heart, he smiled. The woman knew how to drive him crazy.
Stephanie turned just before she disappeared around the corner to the kitchen. Winking at him, she blew him a kiss then toed off the shoes before going the rest of the way. She knew all of his buttons and was having fun pushing them. The goofy look on his face, his hand over his heart, made her smile as she pulled the ingredients for their dinner out of the refrigerator along with a bottle of white wine Eric had put in earlier that day.
“Honey!” Eric called a few minutes later.
“I’m almost done. Do you want a glass of wine now or do you want to wait for dinner?”
“I’ll just wait,” he told her as he came into the kitchen, her shoes dangling from his fingers. “Thank you for wearing these.”
Stephanie put the dish in the oven then turned and smiled at her husband. “I couldn’t have worn anything else with this outfit.” She walked to him and took the shoes. “Now, let me take these and change clothes. You set the timer for twenty minutes.”
Giving her a quick kiss, he nodded. “Will do.” His hand caressed over the curve of her buttocks and she shook her head at him.
“Keep your hands to yourself for a few minutes, Mr. Forrester.”
Eric laughed and patted her then watched her walk away before turning to the task she’d given him. He chuckled to himself at the thoughts that were going through his mind. Thankfully their bodies weren’t as young as their actions or things would wind up being more rushed than he wanted them to be for them tonight. He had plans for this to be special since the last wedding night they’d had hadn’t been spent together because it hadn’t been a real wedding for them.
Eric smiled as Stephanie took the bite he offered her, licking her lips provocatively, her eyes telling him her thoughts. “Stephanie,” he whispered.
Holding out a bite to Eric, Stephanie smiled at him as he took it, mimicking her actions to tease her as she’d been doing to him. “I think that’s it,” she managed to whisper as she tore her gaze from him and looked down at their empty plate.
Taking the plate from her, Eric set it down on the coffee table and grabbed the remote. Turning on the music he’d selected earlier, he stood up and held out his hand. “Dance with me?”
Smiling, she stood up and took his proffered hand, sighing when she recognized the song. “You old sap,” she murmured as she moved into his arms, her hands resting on his chest as he swayed them to the song.
He shrugged and kissed her nose. “I always think of you when I hear this song. It seemed perfect for tonight.”
“You sang it to Felicia after our marriage for her.”
“I did,” he agreed. “It was playing that night because of you.”
“Sing to me,” she asked him softly as she rested her head on his chest.
Smiling, he used his nose to nuzzle her top off her shoulder then pressed a kiss to the bare skin. “You’re lovely, never ever change. Keep that breathless charm. Won’t you please arrange it, cause I love you, just the way you look tonight.”
Stephanie wrapped her arms around him, holding him close as he sang to her. His voice always did things to her. Its deep timbre, the soft way he would sing some of the words when he was singing a love song to her. This song had always been one of her favorites for him to sing when they were alone and she was happy that he’d picked it.
“Come to bed with me, Sweet girl,” he whispered as music continued to fill the air around them. “I want to make love to my wife.”
Stepping back, she took his hand and pulled him toward the bedroom, her eyes never leaving his as she walked backward along the well remembered path, knowing that he wouldn’t allow her to fall or bump into anything. Stopping by their bed, she looked to the fire. “Build us a fire? I have my own surprise for you,” she whispered then winked when he raised an eyebrow.
“A surprise?” he asked, the tone of his voice showing his excitement at the thought of what it might be.
She nodded. “Uh hum. Of course, when I planned it, I didn’t know we’d be getting married again.” She smiled then chuckled when he growled.
“Hurry up with this surprise. You’ve got me curious.”
“Patience, my love. Patience,” she whispered then pulled him in for a kiss, one hand sliding around his waist, the other to his head, her fingers tangling in his hair. Pressing her body to his, she felt the evidence of how much he wanted her and shivered, knowing that he could feel the evidence of her own arousal against his chest.
“Hurry,” he urged again when they broke from the kiss.
“Build the fire,” she whispered, her finger tracing his mouth. “I’ll be right back.”
Eric nodded and turned to build them a fire, his mind wandering to the surprise Stephanie had in store for him. “Ouch,” he snarled when he caught his finger between two of the logs. Shaking it a bit, he shook his head to clear it and turned back to what he was doing.
Stephanie returned and paused to watch him from the doorway. Biting her lip to keep from laughing when his stray thoughts caused him to nearly burn his finger, she shook her head at how typical that was of him. When he’d finally got the fire lit, she walked further into the room and stopped behind him. “You should pay attention to what you’re doing, Honey,” she whispered.
Eric stood and turned, his breath catching at the sight of his wife in one of his creations. A beautiful negligee he’d created for her to wear on their Australian honeymoon. Letting his eyes roam over her, he took in the swell of her breasts peaking out at him over the top of the scooped neckline of the lace bodice, the charm of her necklace resting at the top of the valley between them…the warm valley that he loved to nuzzle his face into. He swallowed. “Dear god, Steph,” he breathed.
Stephanie smoothed her hand from the empire waist down over the billowy gauze over satin that moved about her as she walked closer to him. “Remember?” she asked.
Reaching out, Eric traced a finger along the edge of the neckline. “How could I forget? You’re as stunning in this now as you were back then.”
She smiled and shivered at his soft touch. “I found it the other day and was surprised I could wear it again. It’s been a while since it fit. I packed it to surprise you for loving me and standing by me through all of this mess I created. Turns out it’s a good thing I did.”
“A very good thing.” He moved his finger from the neckline to the chain of her necklace, moving his finger up and down the warm gold as he reached out to pull her to him with his free hand. “Thank you.”
Cocking her head to the side, she studied him with a raised eyebrow. “What for?”
“For marrying me. For giving me another chance.” He leaned down, nuzzling her ear before whispering, “For my surprise.”
Stephanie felt the tie at her waist loosen and titled her head to the side to give Eric easier access to her neck. Grasping his hair in her fingers, she gasped when he gently nipped at the lobe of her ear. “Eric.”
Tracing the rim of her ear with his tongue, Eric let his hand slip beneath the neckline of her gown, caressing the soft flesh confined by the lace. “So soft,” he murmured before resuming his nibbling and kissing.
Shivering against him, Stephanie held on as he assaulted her senses, her knees growing weak as he trailed his tongue over the pulse point of her neck. Pulling away to clear her thoughts, she smiled up at him when he growled. “Ah,” she placed her finger over his lips. “You’re entirely overdressed.”
“Then help me remedy that,” he whispered, his dark eyes holding hers.
“I plan to,” she answered quietly, her fingers deftly working the buttons of his shirt through their holes. Stepping closer to him, she kissed his neck, her hands caressing the shirt from his shoulders, pushing it off his arms to the floor. Caressing back up to his chest, she let her hands trace over the broad planes, her fingernails gently tracing over flat nipples causing his breath to hitch. Tracing the contours of his ribs then stomach, she traced a finger around the waistband of his pants. Their bodies had changed over the years, but she still found him as sexy as he’d always been.
Eric swallowed as he watched Stephanie easily undo his pants and push them off, leaving him standing in nothing but his underwear. Kicking off his pants, he stopped her hands. “Now who’s overdressed?” he asked her, his tone husky with desire.
Looking up at him, she smirked. “Oh? But who says I’m overdressed?”
Between that smirk, the same one that always made him hot and bothered, and the mental images of what her words meant, Eric couldn’t contain himself and pulled her against him. Mouth crushing against hers, he plunged his tongue inside, tracing the depths and tasting the sweet wine they’d had after dinner.
Pulling back, Stephanie gasped for air, her hands hastily pushing at his briefs while his hands pushed at the straps of her negligee. Looking up at Eric, she held his gaze as the lace, gauze and satin pooled at her feet. Stepping out of the gown, leaving her in nothing but her necklace, she held out her hand, tugging when he took it and leading him to the bed. “Make love to me,” she whispered.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Eric looked up at her, his hands caressing her hair from her face. Tracing down her neck, over her shoulders, he brushed lightly over her nipples before leaning forward, burying his face against her, moaning when her arms wrapped around him, her fingers in his hair as she held him to her. The taste of her warm skin sent his blood racing and he ran his hands up her back, holding her as he made a trail to a taut nipple, taking the sensitive flesh in his mouth.
“Oh god, Eric.” Stephanie whimpered, her body trembling as she moved a hand to his shoulder to steady herself.
Standing up, Eric turned toward the bed, turning the covers back then laying down, his hand out to Stephanie. “Come here before you get cold,” he beckoned.
Stephanie smiled as she took his hand and joined him, fitting herself comfortably in his waiting arms. “I’m far from getting cold,” she breathed, her voice sultry and low. “Your hands and mouth have kept me warm.”
“They’re going to do more than that,” he told her as he let his hand drift to cup a breast, his thumb gently moving over the taut nipple. Watching her eyes, he continued lower, feeling her shiver even as she gave him complete access to her body, crying out when he touched her. “That’s it,” he murmured.
Stephanie squeezed his shoulders. “No more teasing,” she pleaded as she pulled him closer.
Kissing her, Eric moved closer to her, slowly joining their bodies, closing his eyes as he paused to gather more control. “I love you, my sweet girl,” he whispered, opening his eyes to stare down at her.
Staring back up at him, Stephanie caressed his face. “I love you,” she echoed even as she moved her hips to encourage him.
Joining his hands with hers, he held them on either side of her head as he held her gaze, his body moving in the rhythm both their bodies knew so well. He loved the feel of her body beneath him, moving in counterpoint to his, giving as much as he was taking. Breaking their gaze, he buried his face in her neck, kissing and nipping, nuzzling the spot just behind her ear that always made her just a little crazy.
“Eric,” she moaned, her fingers tightening on his. Slowly dragging her foot up and down his calf, she felt his reaction, smiling when he pulled back to look down at her. “I know your turnons just as you know mine,” she told him, a saucy smirk on her flushed face.
“God that smirk,” he groaned, his rhythm increasing in response. “I’m not going to last much longer, Sweet girl.”
“Who says I want you to?” she asked, her back arching in encouragement. “Take us home, Lover,” she whispered hotly against his ear.
Eric closed his eyes, completely lost at the sound of her sultry voice calling him lover. She knew what that did to him when they were making love, and he knew she had purposefully used the term. Resting his forehead against hers, he let go completely, giving her everything he had, and more, at the sound of her crying out his name as she reached her climax.
Caressing his back, Stephanie held Eric as he concentrated on getting his breath back and his heartbeat to slow. Gently massaging his head with one hand, she sighed when he moved off her onto his back. Tugging her to him, she settled on his shoulder, arm draped lightly over his waist.
Eric combed his fingers through her damp hair, his hand caressing up and down her arm. “You were wonderful.”
Pressing a kiss to his chest, she nuzzled his neck. “You made me feel that way. Everything you’ve done for me. All the love you’ve given me these last few days.” She shrugged and looked up at him. “I wanted to show you how much I appreciate you.”
Drawing his finger down her nose, he traced her lips. “You showed me,” he breathed, his eyes gleaming with the passion they’d shared. “You’re my wife again, Sweet girl.”
She sighed and snuggled back against him, nodding her head. “Mmm hmm. In every way that counts.”
He couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Someone sounds very satisfied.”
“Someone sounds very smug,” she countered.
“How can I not when you sound like that? It was me that made you feel that way, after all,” he reminded her with a grin.
“I can’t argue with that,” she agreed. “You gave me everything and made me feel beautiful, alive…” she paused and grabbed his hand, lacing her fingers with his. “wanted,” she finished.
“You are beautiful and alive. And very much wanted. I want you, always.”
Lifting his hand, she pressed a kiss to it. “The wedding was beautiful. What made you think of the candles?”
He smiled. “Don’t you remember how I’ve always loved you in candle light?”
She sighed and nodded. “I remember.”
“Well, what better place to marry the love of my life for the final time, than in a candle lit chapel?”
“Nowhere. Nowhere at all.”