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Long, Long Journey

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Stephanie woke and yawned then laughed at all the bodies around her.  She’d fallen asleep in an empty bed; a bed that wasn’t so empty now.  “Good grief,” she grumbled when she couldn’t move.

Eric smiled at her from his place across the room, Dino still asleep on his chest.  “They’re all yours,” he said just loud enough for her to hear.

“Oh really?” she asked and shook her head.  “They’re all yours,” she quietly countered.

“They’re half and half.”  Eric winked at her when she smiled. 

“What are you doing in here?” she asked as she managed to move her arm.

Eric pointed at Dino.  “He wanted to sleep with Grandma, but her bed was full.”

“Aww,” she cooed.  “Poor little man.”  She motioned to Eric.  “Bring him here.  At least let him wake up with Grandma.”

“Are you sure?  He’s heavy,” Eric warned.

“I’m sure.  He won’t sleep for much longer after being moved around.  Besides, someone needs to wake these nuts up.”

Eric smiled as he walked over to her, gently laying Dino on her chest and smiling as the boy snuggled up under her chin.  “They’ve all loved that spot,” he commented then leaned over.  “I’m quite fond of it myself,” he whispered before kissing her gently.  “I’ll wake the boys first.”

“No need to wake me, Grandpa.”  Zende popped up and smiled at his grandparents.  “I guess we sort of had a pajama party.”

“I guess you did.”  Eric patted the young man on the head.  “I’m surprised RJ isn’t in here.”

“I am,” came a muffled voice then a head popped out from under the bed.

Eric covered his mouth to keep from startling the others with his laughter.  “RJ!  What in the world are you doing under the bed?  There’s plenty of room on the floor.”

RJ grinned and ducked his head.  “I started off where Thomas is but I guess I rolled,” he shrugged.

Zende shook his head.  “Man, you’re lucky Grandma makes sure to clean out the dust monsters.”

RJ frowned.  “Dust monsters?”

“Don’t you mean, dust bunnies, Zende?”  Eric asked.

Zende laughed and shook his head as he moved to where he could see Stephanie.  “I meant dust monsters, just like I said.”

Stephanie smiled at her grandson.  “Dust monsters,” she agreed and nodded her head.

“Sounds like a story.”  Thorne spoke up from his place on the foot of the bed.

Stephanie shook her head.  “It’s a good thing I’m not as tall as your father.”

Thorne smiled as he sat up and rubbed his eyes.  “That was the whole point of me sleeping down here.  Dad couldn’t sneak in.”

“So you were the first to sneak into my room?”  Stephanie asked.

Thorne nodded.  “Aly and I were the first ones here.”  He shrugged.  “I have no idea when the others showed up.”

“Did someone say something about a story?”  Thomas asked as he sat up and yawned while rubbing a hand over his head.

“I believe Zende was about to tell us a story about a dust monster.”

Thomas yawned again and frowned.  “Dust monster?  Isn’t it dust bunny?”

“Dust bunnies?”  Aly and Steffy asked as they yawned and stretched.

“Noisy, all of you.”  Felicia grumbled and elbowed Kristen as she turned over.

“Hey!”  Kristen growled as she yawned and batted at Felicia.

Eric rolled his eyes.  “Just like when they were kids.”

“Except our bed was much smaller and one or two of them would always wind up in the floor.”  Stephanie chuckled.

“Gramma?”  Dino asked as he blinked his eyes against the light.

“Yes, Baby.”  Stephanie kissed his head as she managed to sit up against the pillows.

Dino sniffed and snuggled closer.  “Smells like Dino’s Gramma.”

Stephanie rubbed the boy’s back.  “It is Grandma, Baby.  Open your eyes.”

Dino slowly opened his eyes and looked up at Stephanie then smiled.  “Yep, is Gramma.  I wanted to sweep with you but bed was full.”

“I know, Baby.  But you got to sleep with Grandpa.”

“Him warm.”

Eric laughed.  “Sounds like his grandma.”

Stephanie laughed when the kids groaned.

“It’s too early in the morning for that.”  Felicia growled.  “Why were you talking about dust bunnies?”

Thorne laughed.  “Zende, I think you’d better tell your story.”

Zende grinned as he climbed on to the foot of the bed by Thorne.  “I’d only been part of the family for about six months and was here with Grandma.  For some reason the cleaning hadn’t been done for a while so she had me helping her.”

“Zende, can you use this and sweep under Grandma and Grandpa’s bed with it?”  Stephanie asked as she handed the boy a dust mop.

Zende nodded as he took the dust mop then got down on his hands and knees so he could see what he was doing.  “Grandma!” he yelled as he backed up and away from the bed.

Stephanie came back into the room.  “What’s wrong, Zende?” she asked when she noted the look on the boy’s face.

“There’s a monster under your bed!”

“A monster?”  Stephanie asked as she got down to see what he was talking about.

“Yes!  A dust monster!”

Stephanie laughed.  “It’s a dust bunny, Zende,” she informed him as she looked under the bed and pulled out what he’d seen.  “Although, as big as this one is, it might just as well be a monster.”

Everyone was laughing when Zende finished his story, his eyes suspiciously moist as he looked at his grandmother.

“From then on, they were dust monsters no matter how big or small they were.”

“What for brea’flast?”  Dino asked.

“It’s breakfast, Dino.”  Felicia corrected him.

“Oh, leave him alone.”  Stephanie nudged her daughter.  “I seem to recall his mother saying it that way until she was about eleven.”

“Mom.”  Felicia rolled her eyes.

“Don’t Mom, me.  It’s the truth.”

“Alright, enough.”  Eric laughed when his wife and daughter glared at each other playfully.  “What do you want for breakfast, Dino?”

Dino looked at his grandpa.  “Gramma’s cakes.”

“Pancakes?  Is that all?”  Stephanie asked.

Dino moved his little mouth back and forth as he thought.  “Bacon?”

“Anything else?”  Eric asked.

Dino grinned as he patted Stephanie’s cheek.  “Pya.”

Stephanie hugged the boy to her and kissed his head.  “That’s my boy.”

“Pya?”  Zende asked.

“Papaya.”  Eric answered him.  “It’s your grandmother’s favorite fruit.”

Felicia smiled as she looked at her baby all snuggled up to her mother.  “It’s Dino’s favorite, too.  And no, I didn’t tell him.”

“Well where did he have it?”

“His nanny gave him some one day.  He loved it.  I have no clue how he knew you like it, though.”

Dino smiled.  “Dino heard Grampa and Gramma talkin’ ‘bout it.”

Stephanie kissed his head.  “And this would be why we always said, “Little pictures have big ears.”

“So, who’s gonna go get breakfast started?”

“Why don’t you kids go to your old rooms and get yourselves presentable enough for the breakfast table and your father and I will go down and start breakfast.  Dino did say he wanted, Grandma’s pancakes.”

“No funny stuff.”  Felicia warned.

“We promise, now go.”  Eric pointed to the door.  “All of you.”

Thomas raised an eyebrow.  “But we don’t have old rooms here, Grandpa.”

“You boys go with Thorne and you girls can go with Felicia and Kristen.”

“You know, it’s just not fair we don’t have our own rooms.”  Steffy pouted, her eyes sparkling with mischief.

“Go!”  Stephanie laughed as she handed Dino to his mother.  “I’ll see you in a few minutes, Baby.”

Dino smiled from his mother’s shoulder.  “Okay, Gramma.”

Eric moved to the bed and sat down beside Stephanie as the kids all filed out of the room.  “Good morning, Sweetheart,” he whispered as he leaned over to kiss her.

Stephanie tangled her fingers in his hair and held him close as she deepened the kiss.  Moaning when his hand cupped a breast, she arched into him.  “I want you, Eric,” she sighed when he broke the kiss for air.

Eric kissed her neck, his hand kneading her breast, his fingers tweaking the taut nipple.  “Not half as much as I want you,” he breathed as his free hand moved to the buttons of her pajama top.

Feeling his warm hand on her bare breast, Stephanie shivered.  “We can’t do this,” she panted.  “The kids.”

Eric groaned as he pulled away from her.  “How many hours until we’re married?” he asked as he leaned his forehead against hers.

“Too many,” she answered as she took his hand in hers.  “We’d better go do what we have to and then get downstairs and get breakfast started.”

Eric leaned back and looked at the clock with a chuckle.  “Well, I think it’s more like brunch.  We all slept later than we thought.”

Stephanie looked at the clock and raised an eyebrow.  “Eleven?  My goodness.  We did sleep late.”

Standing up, he held out his hand.  “Come on, Sweetheart.  Let’s get this started.”

“We still have to pack.”  Stephanie sighed as she took his hand and stood up, walking with her arm around him as they made their way to the bathroom.

“That won’t take long.”

“How do you figure that?  We have to pack for a week.”

Eric turned her to him just inside the bathroom.  “You won’t need to pack anything but toiletries.”

She frowned.  “Honey, I know we plan to do a lot of making love, but I think I still need clothes.”

Eric laughed and kissed her nose.  “You’ll have clothes.”  Caressing the hair behind her ear, he smiled at her puzzled expression.  “I’ve designed you a whole wardrobe for next week as well as what you’ll be wearing for the wedding.”  Lowering his voice, he leaned forward.  “And I’ve designed the lingerie you’ll be wearing at night.”

“Oh, Eric,” she breathed as she caressed his face.  “It’s been a long time since you’ve designed lingerie for me.”

“I know, but you’ve inspired me.”

“I can’t wait to see what you’ve designed for me.”

“You’ll be the beautiful, sexy woman you always were, and still are.”

“Only in your eyes, Honey.  Only in your eyes.”

 

E**S

 

Breakfast had definitely turned into brunch, and the kids had lingered for a couple of hours afterwards to just talk and share memories before finally leaving so that Stephanie and Eric could pack.

“Honey?”  Stephanie called from the bathroom.

“What is it, Sweet girl?”  Eric asked as he came into the room.

“Did you forget these?” she asked as she held up a prescription bottle.

Eric smiled as he reached out to take the bottle from her.  Shaking it, he shook his head as he looked up at her.  “No, I didn’t forget them.”

Stephanie looked at the bottle filled with little blue pills.  “You didn’t?” she questioned, not sure what to think.

“I haven’t used these once since we’ve been back together,” he told her, watching as what he said slowly started to sink in.

Stephanie stared at him, her heart racing at the implications of his words.  “Honey?”

Tossing the bottle in the waste basket, Eric wrapped his arms around Stephanie.  “I wasn’t supposed to use those again after my heart attack, but I did a few times because she just wouldn’t stop.  I knew it was dangerous, but I could only take so much of her whining before I would give in and take one of those pills to do what I had to do.”  Cradling her head in his hand as he held her to him, he inhaled the soft fragrance of her shampoo.  “With you, the pills weren’t needed.  I’ve wanted you from the moment I kissed you the day you came back to FC.  I think it’s because you don’t expect anything of me.  You only want me to love you.  I don’t have to live up to some young man for fear of losing you.”

“Oh, Honey,” she whispered, her eyes filled with tears.  “Do you know what it means for me to know that I can do this for you?  Not that I would have been upset if you did have to have help.  You do know that, don’t you?”

“I do know what it means to you,” he assured her.  “And it wouldn’t bother you if I had to use them?”

Stephanie shook her head.  “No, it wouldn’t have.  It’s like you said; I only want you to love me.  There are more ways to be intimate than just the traditional way.”  She smiled.

“Only with you have I ever had that.  Only you have ever been happy with just cuddling and whispering our love by the fire or under the stars.”  He smiled as a memory crossed his mind.  “Or in the dark, lying in our bed.”

“Because love is so much more to me than the physical act.”

“Because love is why you’re with me, not my name.”

“Exactly.”  She smiled.  “Now, go on and finish what you were doing.  I’m going to finish putting my medicine in my bag and then I think I’m going to take a bath.”

Eric frowned and groaned.  “That isn’t fair.”

“What?” she asked, already knowing exactly what he was talking about.

“Oh, don’t play innocent with me.  You know what you in a bath does to me.”

“You can be strong, Honey.  It’s only a few hours and then we’ll be married and at our bungalow.”

“On the beach out under the stars making love.”

“Mmm hmm,” she hummed.  “Go on now.”

Leaning over, Eric kissed her and caressed her face.  “I love you.”

“I love you.”

 

E**S

 

Eric heard Stephanie start to cough and held his breath, waiting to see if it would stop, then sighed it out in a rush as he headed for the bathroom, stopping to fill the glass on her nightstand with water from the ever present pitcher. 

“Easy, Sweet girl,” he soothed as he pulled the lever to drain the tub and grabbed a towel.  “I’ve got you.”

Stephanie struggled to breathe as she coughed, sipping slowly on the water Eric had brought her.  Letting him help her up, she clung to him as he wrapped the towel around her, the coughing continuing as he helped her out and stood holding her.

Rubbing her back, Eric held Stephanie as she leaned against him for support.  This was the worst coughing spell she’d had in quite a while, and it made his heart ache at how weak this all made her.  Stephanie wasn’t a weak woman, but when she started coughing all she wanted to do lately was cling to him until the episode passed.

Stephanie felt herself calming, the coughing subsiding and sighed as she moved closer to Eric.  She hated feeling so weak and needy, but these spells scared her and Eric’s arms and presence gave her reassurance and strength that her body seemed to lose when she was seized by the coughing.

“Are you okay?” Eric asked when she finally stopped coughing, her breathing slowly going back to normal. 

Stephanie nodded against his chest.  “Yes.  Thank you,” she whispered.

“No need to thank me, Sweet girl.”  Eric lifted her face and smiled down at her.  “Now, why don’t I pat you dry and we’ll put you in one of my pajama shirts and you can rest for a while before we leave.”

Stephanie nodded, smiling at how caring he was.  She was always completely wiped out by the really bad coughing spells and Eric always made sure she rested after one.  “You take such good care of me,” she whispered as he quickly patted her dry, placing the towel over the rack before leading her into the bedroom.

Eric smiled.  “It’s my job.  A job I do willingly and freely because I love you,” he told her as he pulled one of his pajama shirts from the top drawer of their dresser.

Stephanie put her arms through the sleeves of the shirt and sniffed the collar as Eric buttoned it up.  “This one smells like you.  Hasn’t it been washed?”

Eric smiled.  “I put it on the other night then changed my mind and put it back in the drawer, deciding that you might like that it smells like me.”

“I do like it, very much,” she assured him.

Finished buttoning the shirt, Eric helped her slip beneath the covers, pressing a kiss to her forehead, he caressed the hair from her face.  “Rest now, Sweet girl.  I’m going to finish packing and getting ready.  I’ll wake you in plenty of time for you to get dressed.”

“Mmm,” she hummed as she fell asleep, her breathing slow and easy.

Eric placed his hand on her chest over her heart and closed his eyes.  Her heart was beating rhythmically, her breath slow, not as deep as he knew it should be, but calm and even enough so that he could breathe easier himself.  Her attacks scared him, something she knew, something he couldn’t control, but something she seemed to find comfort in the knowledge of.  Maybe Taylor had been right, Stephanie could see his love for her through his letting her see his fear and see him when he would struggle with the thoughts of her leaving him.

Leaning over, he kissed her gently before standing up to finish his packing and getting ready. “Please don’t let her have anymore attacks,” he whispered as he stood watching Stephanie sleep. He wanted her to enjoy their week away together on what was only their second honeymoon. He shook his head as he turned away. All the times they’d been married and they’d only had one honeymoon before now. And that one really didn’t count as it was after their vow renewal.

Taking one last look at his sleeping fiancée, Eric whispered, “I love you,” then walked into the bathroom to take his shower, anxious to get things done and the hour over with so that they could begin their journey.

By nightfall, the woman sleeping peacefully in their bed would be dancing in his arms as his wife once again.

 

E**S

 

Stephanie stared at her reflection in the mirror and shook her head.  “My god,” she breathed.  Eric had created an outfit that made her feel more feminine than she’d felt in years.  Looking down at her feet, she laughed as she wiggled her toes.  He had insisted that she not wear shoes.  She shrugged.  It wasn’t as if anything but her toes were visible since the pants were long and full.

Picking Eric’s ring up off the dresser in front of her, she fingered it a moment before sliding it onto her thumb.  “Well, here I go,” she whispered as she turned and made her way back up on deck to meet the love of her life.

Eric’s breath caught as he watched Stephanie walking toward him.  The long sheer jacket of her outfit billowed around her in the gentle breeze as she made her way to him, the setting sun making the metallic blue material of her top and pants sparkle and her hair glow.  But it was her eyes that caught and held him as she looked up at him.  Those eyes were on fire as she smiled, all the love she had for him there in those magical windows to her soul.

Stephanie’s smile widened when she looked down and saw that Eric’s feet were bare as well.  She had no idea why he’d wanted bare feet, but she wasn’t about to ask him his reason now.  Reaching out, she took his outstretched hand, shivering at his touch and the way he looked at her.

“You’re more beautiful than I imagined you would be when I designed this.”  Eric told her as he pressed a kiss to her hand.  “Ready to become Mrs. Forrester in more than name?”

“Oh yes,” she breathed.  “More than ready.”

Eric turned to the captain, who smiled at the couple.  Turning his attention back to Stephanie, Eric kept his gaze fixed on her as he listened to the words the captain was saying.  “Ladies first,” he whispered when it came time for them to say their vows.

Stephanie smiled.  “We’ve done this so many times before, the words should come easy.  But this time is different.  This time we’ve both done a lot of soul searching.  I’ve always loved you.  Loved you the moment I caught you staring at me from across a crowded room.”

Eric chuckled.  “I wasn’t staring.”

“Oh, Honey, you were most definitely staring.”  She leaned closer and lowered her voice.  “You were practically drooling.”

Laughing, he sighed, “Okay.  Yes, I was staring and,” he winked at her.  “I was drooling before you looked up.”

Stephanie laughed and squeezed his hand.  “Your love rescued me from the nightmare that had been my life growing up.  It scared me because I didn’t know how to love.  I didn’t know what it was.  I let it happen and took it because I liked how it made me feel.  I finally felt safe.  As we got to know each other, my love grew to be more than just being with you because you made me feel safe, but I still didn’t really know how to love, so there were problems.  I couldn’t let go enough to give you all of myself because I needed to keep control of me and the things happening to me.  Even love.”  Reaching up, she caressed his face.  “But that’s all over now.  Now I give myself to you completely.  All of me for as long as I live.”  The last words were whispered as tears rolled down her cheeks.

Eric swallowed and reached up to wipe away her tears.  “I’ve done more soul searching than you because I’ve had more to regret about things I’ve done to hurt you over the years.  I was so scared by the intensity of our love, that I wouldn’t give in to it completely.  I sought what I thought I was missing outside of our life and hurt you, but you kept holding on.  If I’d been half the man you deserve, I would have realized that there was something there, something that held you back, and then helped you.  But I wasn’t.  I loved you in a way, but I loved the money your father had supplied us with, more.  It gave me the opportunity to build the company of my dreams.  Except now, looking back on it, you were what built the company.  The inspiration you gave me made me the designer I am today.  Your grace.  Your beauty.  The sexiness that is there without you trying.  You’re all class and elegance with a whole lot of natural sexy mixed in, and now that I see you and our love the way I always should have, I realize just what kind of fool I’ve been over the years.”  Cupping her cheek, he smiled at her.  “I love you, Stephanie.  I’ll show you that love in all the ways I can for as long as we have together.”

Moving closer, the couple followed the captain’s instructions, slowly sliding the rings on each other’s fingers, anxiously waiting for the moment when they could touch their lips in a kiss to seal their vows.

“You may kiss your bride,” the captain whispered.

Eric held her face in his hands, staring into her eyes for a moment.  “My wife,” he whispered before touching his lips to hers in a tender kiss.

Stephanie gripped his arms with her hands as she closed her eyes and let herself get lost in the feel of his lips caressing hers.  Taking a deep breath when he broke the kiss, she opened her eyes and stared up at him.  “Your wife,” she whispered with a smile. 

Eric noticed that they were alone and heard music start to play.  “Listen,” he whispered as he pulled her into his arms, slowly swaying them to the melody as the words filtered out around them.

“City lights shine on the harbor, night has fallen down, through the darkness and the shadow, I will still go on.  Long, long journey through the darkness, long, long way to go.  But what are miles across the ocean to the heart that’s coming home.”

Stephanie felt tears hot against her cheek.  “Oh Eric,” she breathed. 

“I heard it and all I could think about was us.”  His breath was warm against her ear as he held her closer while the song finished.  “My heart has come home, Sweet girl.  You are my home.”

Pulling back so she could look up at him, she stared into his dark eyes.  “You’re my home.  Always have been.”

Eric kissed her then held her close again.  Humming with the music, he felt the yacht begin to move faster than it had been and smiled.  “We’re moving faster.  We’ll be on Catalina in an hour.”

Stephanie nodded.  “Honey?” she asked after a few moments of quiet.

“What is it, Sweetheart?”

“Why no shoes?”

Eric smiled as he looked down at her.  “Because shoes would have ruined the effect of your outfit.”  He shrugged.  “I don’t know, really.  I just never envisioned you with shoes when I was designing this.”

Shaking her head, she sighed.  “Silly man.”

“Maybe I am.”  He caressed her face as he slid his free hand under her jacket then top.

“Honey, they could be watching.”

“No.  They aren’t.  I made sure to hire people that would leave us alone.  The only time anyone other than the captain was watching, was during the ceremony.  One of the crew is also a photographer and took pictures to send to our media friends once we reach Catalina.”

“I didn’t even notice anyone else being here.”

“I never saw him, myself.  I was too busy watching you,” his voice lowered as he gently caressed her back, loving the feel of her soft skin.

“Touching me like that makes it hard for me to wait until we reach our destination.  I’ve wanted you all day,” she admitted and shivered as his hand slipped beneath the waistband of her pants, resting on the curve of her buttocks.  “Eric,” she breathed.

“I’ve wanted you since we danced last night.  I need to at least touch you.”

“We’re playing with fire,” she warned as she moved closer, feeling his arousal pressing against her through their clothes.

“I know, but I can’t help it,” he admitted, shivering himself when her warm hands moved inside his jacket.

“I can’t, either.  I’m anxious to celebrate,” she whispered, smiling up at him when she moved against him, causing his breath to catch.

“Hey now.  That’s not playing fair,” he growled at her as he slowly moved his hand up over her ribs, brushing against her breast before moving his thumb over her lace covered nipple.

Stephanie caught her breath.  “Is this why you always design lace bras for me?” she asked in a husky whisper.

Eric smiled down at her.  “Of course it is.  If I can’t touch your bare flesh, the lace at least gives me a way to tease you.”

“Touching me, whether it’s my bare skin or through my clothes, is enough.”  She moaned when his thumb moved over her nipple again.  “Eric, this is insane.”

“Yes, it is,” he breathed as he pulled back.  “You’re beautiful, Stephanie.”

Stephanie smiled as she rested her hands on his chest.  “Only because of you.  This outfit makes me feel more feminine than I’ve felt in a very long time.”

“Don’t be mad at me, but,” he paused.  “You’re softer than you’ve been in a long time.  I think that’s what drew me back to you.”

“I’m not mad, Honey.  Why would I get mad at you for telling the truth?” she asked.  “I’ve tried to be more of a woman,” she looked down.  “I thought it might win you back.”

Eric sighed and pulled her to him, holding her close.  “Even after I said those awful things to you?” he asked quietly.

“That’s when I subconsciously started changing.  I didn’t realize it at first, but Clarke commented on it one day and then so did Nick.”

“Sweetheart, can I ask you something?”

“You can ask me anything, you know that.”

“Did something happen between you and Clarke?”

Stephanie sighed.  “Years ago, it nearly did, yes.”

“Stephanie?” he asked as he pulled back and looked down at her with a raised eyebrow.

Stephanie walked to the railing and looked out over the water.  “You were neglecting me.  You had found Beth again and were involved with her.  I had hired Clarke for Kristen, but he was more attracted to me.  He wanted to give me what you weren’t.  To show me that I was still desirable.  The more you neglected me, the more tempted I was to give in to him.  His kisses clouded my mind.”

“And did you let him give you what I wasn’t?”  Eric asked quietly as he moved behind her, his hand resting on her shoulder.

“No,” she answered as she turned to look up at him.  “It’s true that I was attracted to him, but I loved you.  I wanted you, and he was supposed to be involved with Kristen.  I couldn’t do that to her.”

“But he made you feel beautiful?”

“Yes, he did.”

“Then I’ll have to thank him.”

“Honey?” she asked in surprise.  That wasn’t the response she’d expected.

Eric smiled as he drew his fingers down her cheek.  “You heard me right.  He made you feel wanted and beautiful at a time when I was hurting you and taking that away from you.  I wouldn’t have been angry if you’d told me that you had an affair.”

Stephanie cocked her head to the side.  “You wouldn’t?”

“No.  It would make me a hypocrite, don’t you think?  After all, I was having an affair.  No one could have blamed you for turning to someone else.”  Pulling her close, he caressed her hair away from her face.  “But you didn’t because you still loved me.”

“Because I loved you,” she echoed as she settled against his chest, his hands once again caressing her beneath her top.

“Look, Sweet girl,” he whispered as he pointed with his free hand.  “Catalina.”

“I can’t wait.”

“I can’t, either.  I have something special waiting for you in our bungalow.”

She looked up at him.  “A negligee perhaps?”

He grinned and winked at her.  “Royal blue lace.”

“You and your lace,” she chuckled and shook her head.  “Do you think maybe we should go put some shoes on and get our things from below?”

Eric nodded as he turned her into his arms.  “I love you, Mrs. Forrester, and soon I’ll show you just how much.”

“I can’t wait.”

 

E**S

 

Once again, Stephanie found herself staring at her reflection.  Her husband had outdone himself.  The negligee she now wore, was nothing but lace tied together at the shoulders and waist with thin satin ribbons.  The lace was a delicate pattern that hid all the right parts and left the rest visible, not that she was sure why he’d designed it that way since there were no sides.  She felt exposed, but not uncomfortably so.  Slipping her arms in the billowy sleeves of the sheer cover, she laughed as she made her way from the bungalow down to the beach where Eric was waiting.

“You, my dear husband, have see-through on the brain,” she whispered as he came into view.  Her eyes widened as she took in the scene on the beach.

Eric smiled as he watched his wife moving closer, his body instantly reacting to the sight of her in the negligee and cover he’d designed for her.  Far surpassing his vision of her, he held out his hand to her.  “Beautiful,” he whispered.

“Eric, this is amazing.”  Stephanie gasped as she looked around at the table that held champagne and fruits for them to snack on.  “The bed.  How did you do that?” she asked as she let her gaze move over the four poster bed with gauzy material in all the colors of sunset forming a canopy and curtains around the bed to protect them as they slept.

“I’ve been planning for weeks where I was going to take you.  While we were sailing here to the island, this was all being set up.  It’s here for as long as we are,” he answered her as he pulled her close, his arms moving under the sheer material that covered her negligee.

“Oh, Honey.”  She smiled up at him, shivering when his fingers caressed her bare sides.  “This negligee is,” she shook her head.  “You made me feel beautiful with the outfit for our wedding and now, with this, you’ve made me feel desirable.  Thank you.”

“Don’t you see?  This is how I see you.  To me, you are the most beautiful woman in the world.  You’re sexy, desirable…you make me crazy just to touch you.”  His voice lowered.  “I see you didn’t put anything on under this,” he whispered against her ear, his hot breath making her shiver.

Stephanie gripped his arms and swallowed.  “You didn’t leave anything else with it,” she breathed.

Cupping her face, he titled it up to look at him.  “Less for me to fuss with to get to you.”

Smiling, she raised an eyebrow as she nodded.  “Yes, I noticed the way this just ties.  You aren’t going to waste any time.”

He shook his head.  “No.  I intend to take my time making love to you, not getting you out of your clothes.”  He caressed her face.  “Welcome to your honeymoon, Mrs. Forrester.”

“Our honeymoon, Mr. Forrester.  Our honeymoon.”

Eric smiled as he pushed the sheer cover off her shoulders, catching it as it fell from her arms.  Moving away from her for just a moment, he placed the cover and his robe in a wicker chest at the foot of the bed.  “This way they won’t blow away if the wind picks up later.”

“You’ve thought of everything.”

“Everything.”  He nodded.  “Tonight is about showing you how special you are to me.  How much I truly love you.”  He took her back into his arms.  “How very much you mean to me.”

Tangling her fingers in his hair, she pulled his face down to hers, pressing her lips to his in a kiss that showed him her passion.  “Just having you hold me and stand by me through my being sick shows me all of that.  You didn’t need to do all of this.”  She waved her hand around them.

“But I wanted to.  I wanted to give you a honeymoon like you deserved and never really got.”  Taking her hand, he held it over his heart.  “Dance with me.”

Smiling, she nodded and rested her head on his shoulder.  “Sing to me.”

Pulling at the ribbon that held the side of her negligee closed, he untied it and slipped his hand inside, sighing at the feel of her warm flesh against his hand.  “Yes, much better.”

“Sing to me,” she asked again even as she shivered at his touch.

As his hand caressed her curves, Eric began to softly sing one of her favorite songs.  “How would you like to be down by the Seine with me?  Oh what I’d give for a moment or two under the bridges of Paris with you.  Darling, I’d hold you tight far from the eyes of night.  Under the bridges of Paris with you, I’d make your dreams come true.”

Stephanie sighed and kissed his warm chest.  “I love Dean Martin, but his singing doesn’t do to me what yours does,” she whispered.

“I’m glad.”  Eric told her, his voice low and full of the desire he felt.  “Do you know that you’re the only woman I’ve ever sung to?”

Stephanie looked up at him, her eyebrow raised.  “Really?  I always thought you would have used it as a way to woo the ladies.”

He shook his head.  “No.  I would play the piano in front of my friends, but if we were to go back and see all the people from my years at college, only my roommates would be able to say that they’ve heard me sing.”

“But, Honey, why?  You’re voice is wonderful.  Why did you hide it?”

Shrugging, he held her close, dancing them slowly back to the bed.  “I wanted to be a designer.  I’d hated taking piano lessons as a boy, and being in the boys choir until my voice changed, didn’t really make me like singing, either.”

“So what made you sing to me that first time?”

“I’ve never been sure.”  He smiled and caressed her face.  “But I’m very glad that I did.  The way your eyes darkened, the way you shivered,” he sighed.  “For the first time in my life, I enjoyed playing the piano and singing, and I kept on doing it just to see your reaction.”

“I’m glad.  I love when you sing to me.”  She pressed a kiss to his hand.  “And how many times have these hands played songs to calm me?”

“More times than I can count.”  He pulled her close.  Untying another ribbon, this time the one at her shoulder, Eric held her close to keep the lace from falling as he untied the ribbon on her other shoulder.  “Now all I have to do is move,” he whispered, doing just that and watching with hungry eyes as the lace fell away, his hand catching it to keep it from being carried away in the light breeze.

Stephanie closed her eyes and took a breath, shivering when she felt his body move against hers.  Opening her eyes, she stared up into his dark eyes, eyes that were almost black with desire.  “Eric,” she whimpered when his hands skimmed over her ribs, cupping her breasts and kneading before resting on her waist as he pulled her even closer.

“Slow and easy, Sweet girl,” he breathed as he gently laid her back on the bed.

Stephanie settled against the pillows and sighed, “I love when you’re slow and easy.”

Eric let his hand roam her body as he kissed her, a deep kiss that drugged their senses, making her whimper yet again as she tangled the fingers of one hand in his hair while the other hand rested on the small of his back.  His mouth was wicked as he left her lips, nibbling at her ears then kissing down her jaw line.  Tugging at the soft skin of her neck, the kisses touched all the right spots to make her moan and move beneath him. 

Stephanie bent her leg, cradling his body between her thighs as she let her control go and let herself feel the sensations of what Eric’s hands and mouth were doing to her.  She could feel her pulse quicken as his mouth found a taut nipple, his teeth gently nipping at the sensitive flesh as his hand moved lower, and lower still, until her breath caught.  Letting her hands fall to the bed, she gripped the sheets in her fists, biting her lip to keep from crying out as she was led to the height of climax only to be brought down before her body could achieve the release it sought.  Slow and easy was going to drive her completely mad.

Eric could feel her body tensing, her inner muscles contracting around him with each touch of his hands against her sensitive flesh.  She was beautiful in the throws of her passion, her body glistening in the moonlight.  He could watch her all night, if his body would let him, but his control could only go so far.

“Please, Eric!  Please!  No more teasing!  Please!” she begged, her voice echoing out through the night surrounding them.

Giving in to her pleas, Eric gave her what she wanted, smiling in satisfaction as her back arched, his name escaping her lips in a cry that the wind caught and carried out to the ocean behind them.

Stephanie’s heart was pounding in her ears, her head was spinning, and her breathing was quick and shallow as she became aware of the feel of Eric’s lips on her forehead, his fingers caressing her cheek.  Opening her eyes, she blinked a few times then smiled.  “Mmm,” she hummed as she gripped his hand.

“The wind knows my name now,” he told her then chuckled when she blushed.  Caressing the damp hair from her forehead, he kissed her gently.  “No need to blush, Sweet girl.  It’s sexy to hear you cry out my name.  Lets me know I’m loving you just right.”

Lifting her hands, she cupped his face.  “You’ve loved me perfectly,” she breathed as she pulled his face down to hers for a kiss.  “but I want more.”

Smiling, he nodded.  “I want more, too,” he whispered as he moved over her, joining their bodies and sighing as he watched her eyes darken.

Stephanie’s body trembled as he moved against her, her eyes closing as she lost herself once more in his touch.  Feeling his breath, warm against her skin, she shivered when his mouth touched the spot just behind her ear that always made her a bit crazy.  Tangling her fingers in his hair, she was startled when he moved away and began to sit up.  “Eric?” she asked as she opened her eyes.

“It’s alright,” he assured as he pulled her with him.  Keeping their bodies together, he positioned her between his legs, her own wrapping around him as she smiled.

“I know this position,” she whispered as she caressed his face.  “But we’ve never,” she started, his finger against her lips stopping her.

“No,” he shook his head.  “we haven’t.  I’ve never used this with anyone.  It’s too intimate.”

“But you’re using it now,” she whispered, her heart racing at the implications.

“Yes, because I’m giving you all of me this time.”

“Oh, Honey,” she whispered, her voice a bit shaky as she leaned forward, capturing his lips in a kiss full of her love and passion.

Eric tangled one hand in her hair as he cradled her head, his other hand busy caressing the curves of her body that seemed to drive him crazy each time he thought about the way they felt pressed against him.  Moving his hand up, it joined the other in her hair as he broke their kiss.  Looking into her eyes so dark and full of passion, he let his thumbs caress her cheeks.  “I love you, Stephanie Forrester.  I love you more than I’ve ever loved you.”

Stephanie smiled and reached up to caress his face.  “I love you, Eric Forrester,” she whispered as she leaned forward, resting her head on his shoulder as they began to move together in a slow rhythm that enticed and excited their bodies.  She sighed at the feel of their slick bodies pressed together, his solid chest pressed against her full, soft breasts.  This was making love in its purest form, something that she had never realized she was missing until now.

 

E**S

 

Eric caressed Stephanie’s shoulder, sighing in contentment as he thought about their love making.  Frowning when he felt something hot and wet on his chest, he lifted her face so that he could look at her.  “Sweetheart?  Why are you crying?”

Stephanie sniffed and snuggled closer into his embrace.  “Because you’ve made me feel like a woman.  You’ve made me feel beautiful, wanted, sexy,” she paused, more tears rolling down her face as she continued.  “loved.”

“You’re all those things and so much more.  This is what I wanted for you.  I wanted to show you all of these things because I know that down through the years I’ve robbed you of them.”

She caressed his chest.  “You’ve slowly been giving them back to me over the last few weeks, tonight just finished what you’d started.”

Pressing a kiss to her head, Eric sighed as he looked out over the moonlit ocean.  “Not finished, Sweet girl.  I’m going to keep showing you.”

Looking up at him, she raised her hand to cup his face.  “I like the sound of that.”

Smiling, he turned his face and pressed a kiss to her hand.  “Let me up,” he whispered as he moved to get out of bed.

“Where are you going?” she asked, watching as he moved away from their bed.

“I’m going to get the champagne from the table.”

“Oh,” she chuckled.  “I’d forgotten about that.  I was a bit distracted.”

“Just a bit?” he questioned as he returned with a tray bearing their champagne and strawberries, chocolate, and powdered sugar.

“Powdered sugar?  Honey, that’s so messy.”

Eric laughed and shook his head.  “Which is a very good reason for the tray.”

“Smart ass.”

Eric laughed again, shaking his head before kissing her.  “I love that mouth.”

Stephanie laughed and gave him a knowing smile.  “I know you do,” she countered with a husky voice.

“Stephanie,” he breathed.

“Yes, Mr. Forrester?” she asked.

“Behave, Mrs. Forrester.  We need to eat and take a rest.”

“Yes, Mr. Forrester,” she agreed with a smile, opening her mouth for the chocolate covered strawberry he held out for her.

Eric smiled and leaned forward to lick away the bit of chocolate that had landed on her chin.  “Mmm,” he murmured as he watched her.

“That isn’t playing fair, Mr. Forrester,” she scolded, watching as he took a bite of the strawberry.  Seeing a bit of juice on his lip, she leaned forward, kissing the sweet liquid away.

Eric sighed, “Now who isn’t playing fair?”

Smiling sweetly at him, she shrugged.  “Two can play this game.  Besides, you forgot napkins.”

Eric laughed and shook his head.  “You’re some kind of woman, Stephanie Forrester.”

“I’m your kind of woman.”

“Most definitely,” he agreed then raised an eyebrow when her stomach growled.  “I think you need more than just fruit and champagne.  I believe dinner was waiting for us inside.”

“I never noticed.”  She shrugged.

“Just a bit distracted again?” he asked with a laugh, knowing that he’d been just as distracted as she had been.

“I suppose you noticed?” she asked, that smirky little grin on her face that always made him shiver.

“I love that grin,” he told her as he got up and grabbed his robe from the wicker chest.  Slipping it on and tying the belt, he smiled at her.  “I didn’t notice it, either.  I just happened to remember that I’d asked for it to be set out.  I’m going to go get it so you can get something substantial to eat.  This fruit just isn’t enough.”

She shook her head.  “You fuss too much.”

Leaning over her, he rubbed his nose against hers.  “I fuss because I love you.  Now hush.  I’ll be back in a few minutes since I’m sure I’ll have to reheat it.”  He winked at her laugh.  “We need to call the kids, too.  They’ll want to know that their momma is okay.”

She growled and nodded.  “You’re awfully bossy, but I suppose I’ll let you get by with it.”

“Good girl.”

“Oh go on!” she slapped his chest, humming at his quick kiss then sliding down against the pillows with a sigh of contentment.  Tonight had been what he’d promised and so much more, and it had only just begun.

Looking out at the moon, a tear rolled down her cheek as she whispered, “Thank you.”