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Long, Long Journey

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Stephanie laughed as she leaned her head against Eric’s shoulder.  “I just realized something.”

Eric kissed her sun warmed head.  “What is that, Sweet girl?”

“We never took a moonlight stroll on our wedding night.”

Eric frowned until he remembered what he’d said.  “No, I suppose we didn’t.”  He smiled and held her closer.  “My mind wasn’t exactly on a walk on the beach.  I had more important things to do.”  He stopped and turned her to face him.  Caressing her face, he stared down into her blue eyes that seemed to reflect the ocean beside them.  “I was thinking about making love to my wife and showing her just how very happy I am that she’s my wife again.”

Stephanie shivered at the tone of his voice and the look in his eyes.  “Oh Honey,” she breathed.  “You’ve shown me that over and over again this week.”  She smiled as she reached up to trace his lips.  “And not just when we’re making love.  I’ve seen it in the way you look at me.  I’ve felt it in the way you hold me when we’re just sitting and listening to the ocean.  I’ve heard it in your voice as you’ve sang to me.”

Kissing her finger, he took her hand in his.  “You look beautiful in this dress.”

Stephanie looked down at the dress she was wearing, the shimmering material changing colors as it rustled in the wind.  “I can’t believe I’m wearing a dress.  It’s been years.”

“Yes, it has.  Far too long, really.”

“Eric,” she sighed.  “I don’t have the figure for dresses anymore, you know that.”

Eric looked at her with a raised eyebrow.  “I know that you look beautiful and every bit the sexy woman you are in this dress.”

She shook her head and patted his face.  “I have one question.”

“And what would that be?”

“Didn’t you have any other color fabric than blue?”

Eric laughed and shrugged.  “I did, but blue was the color I saw as I designed your clothes.  Must be because of those eyes of yours.”

“Must be,” she murmured as she snuggled her head against his shoulder.  “I noticed something the other night.”


“The stitching on one of my negligees.”

“Oh?” he asked, wondering where she was going with this line of thought.

Looking up at him, she stared into his eyes.  “I know that stitching, Eric.  You made them yourself.”

Caressing her face, he smiled.  “You never forget anything,” he whispered.

“How could I?  You made all of your designs those first years when we started out.  I helped you trim the threads.  Besides that, your old machine made a distinct stitch that these new machines don’t.”  She smiled.  “I didn’t know you still had it.”

He returned her smile.  “I kept it to remind me.  And yes, Sweet girl, I made them all myself.  I didn’t want anyone else seeing them.  I always made all of your lingerie myself for the same reasons.”

“Even the cutting?”

“Even the cutting.  It may be years since I’ve done the actual cutting and sewing myself, but I haven’t forgotten how.”

Tears rolled down her cheeks and she looked away.  “Oh Eric,” she whispered.

Puzzled, Eric lifted her face up to his.  “Sweetheart?  Why the tears?”

Wrapping her arms around him, she closed her eyes.  “I’m just overwhelmed, Honey.”

“Overwhelmed?” he questioned as he held her.

She nodded against his chest.  “Yes.”

“Steph, I don’t understand.  It’s not like I’ve never designed clothes specifically for you before.”

Looking up at him again, she gave him a tearful smile.  “But don’t you see?  You haven’t, not really.  At least not in a long time.”

“I designed your outfit for the night you came home,” he reminded her.

“But it was the same type of outfit I’ve been wearing for years.  A suit.”

“I’m confused, Stephanie.”

Resting her head back against his chest, Stephanie stared out at the ocean.  “When you were designing the outfits, negligees, and lingerie for this week, what did you see?”

“I saw you.”

“Which me?”

Her question startled him, and then it hit him.  “Oh Stephanie,” he breathed as he held her close.

“For the first time you were designing things to flatter me the way I am now.  Everything I’ve worn since our honeymoon started has made me feel like a woman.  You’ve made me feel sexy, and it’s been years since I’ve felt that way.”  She held him a bit tighter.  “You’re seeing me as I am now, instead of seeing the me of the past.  The me that was young, blonde, and thin.  The me that turned you on with just a glimpse of my hips swaying as I walked by, with just a flick of my hair.”

“But you still turn me on, Sweet girl,” he whispered as he cupped her face and lifted it.  “Your smirky little smile when you know you’re right.  The blue eyes that watch me when you don’t think I’m paying attention.  The curves that fill out my shirts when you wear one to sleep in.  The way you whisper my name.  And yes, even your hair and your walk still turn me on.”  He laughed when she raised her eyebrows.  “Your hips still sway, Sweet girl.  And your hair is still just as soft to run my fingers through as it was when it was long and blonde.”  Caressing her hair behind her ears, he leaned closer.  “But the thing that turns me on the most,”

“Yes?” she asked when he paused.

“The thing that turns me on the most is…” he leaned closer still, his warm breath against her ear.  “your love.”

“Eric,” she breathed, a shiver going down her spine.

“Come back to the bungalow with me, Stephanie,” he whispered, his tongue lightly tracing her ear.

Stephanie gripped his waist.  “Let me get my legs back under me first,” she breathed causing him to chuckle.

Nuzzling her neck, Eric smiled against her skin.  “I’m that good, huh?”

“Mmm,” she hummed, her eyes twinkling.  “Maybe.”

“Hey!” he scowled at her then laughed.  “God, I love you.”

Smiling at him, Stephanie pulled back and took his hand.  “Don’t just tell me, show me.”

Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, Eric pressed a kiss to her head as they made their way up the beach to their bungalow.  “You bet I’ll show you,” he whispered.  “It’s my favorite past time.”




She’d forgotten just how wicked his mouth could be, but he was slowly and skillfully making her remember and driving her crazy with lust and want and desire and every other adjective her slowly dissolving brain cells could think of.  “Dear god, Eric!” she cried out as her back arched, her fingers pulling at his hair.

Eric kissed his way up her body, leaning over her and smiling in satisfaction when her eyes fluttered open.  “Hello,” he whispered.

“You’re going to short circuit my brain,” she breathed even as her mouth turned up in a smile that told him just how much she still wanted him.  “I’d forgotten how very good you are with your mouth.”

He nodded sadly as he caressed her face.  “I know.  I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed making love to you this way.  The sounds you make are different and your body’s responses are different.  I’m going to have to do this more often.”  He lowered his voice.  “I love that little growl you do in the back of your throat just before you cry out.”

Stephanie felt her face flush.  “I do not,” she mumbled.

He smiled and nodded.  “Oh, believe me, you do.”

Trailing her hand down his back, she let it rest on his waist.  “I want more,” she whispered.

Moving his hips, he smiled in satisfaction at her hiss of breath.  “This what you want?”

Tangling her fingers in his hair, she held his gaze.  “Yes,” she answered him on a breathy moan when he began to move against her.

Feeling her body contract around him, Eric groaned and rested his forehead against hers.  “If you keep that up, I won’t last,” he warned.

“Kiss me,” she whispered as she did it again.

“Stephanie,” he warned even as his lips took hers in a kiss that took the breath from their lungs as their tongues mimicked the movements of their bodies.

She could feel her body begin to tingle, her muscles begin to tighten as her climax burned fast and hot over her.  Her whimpers vibrated in her chest as she gripped his shoulders.  “Eric!”

Eric lost his control and gave in at the cry of his name and the feel of her climax.  It was as though she was coming apart in his arms and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop himself from following.

Holding him when he tried to move away, Stephanie caressed his head.  “Stay,” she whispered.  “Just stay a few more minutes.”

“I’ll hurt you,” he told her as he looked up, caressing a damp tendril of hair from her cheek.

Joining their hands, she brought them to her lips, pressing a kiss to the back of his.  “No you won’t.  Please?”

Never being able to tell her no when she was looking at him as she was now, Eric nodded and rested his forehead against hers, pressing soft kisses to her lips.  “Just a few minutes.”

“Thank you,” she sighed in contentment, her lips smiling against his.  “I just need the extra time to hold you.  Can you understand that?”

Pushing up a bit, Eric traced her features.  “I understand, Stephanie.  No need to explain your reasons.”  Kissing her, he smiled.  “I like being held in your arms.”

Feeling tears threaten when he settled his head against her shoulder, she held him a bit tighter, the sudden reality of their world crashing in on her.

Eric felt a hot tear against his forehead and lifted their hands to his lips.  “It’s alright, Sweetheart.  Go ahead and cry.  I’m here.”

Turning her face further into his hair, she let her tears fall as she held his hand tighter.  “I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to do this,” she whispered.

“We’ll make love as long as we can, and then, when it’s no longer possible, I’ll hold you and tell you of the times we’ve been together.  I’ll use my words and my sketches to remind you of how wonderful you were in my arms.”  He moved to his side, pulling her into the curve of his body.

Stephanie closed her eyes as she spooned her body tightly against his and held the hand that wrapped around her.  “Just promise me that you’ll never let me forget, no matter how sick I am.”

“I promise, Sweetheart.  I promise.”




“Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger…you may see a stranger across a crowded room, and somehow you know, you know even then, that somewhere you’ll see her again and again,” his voice was soft as he sang in her ear, their bodies swaying gently as the ocean provided the perfect backdrop to their moonlit dance.

“It was enchanting,” she whispered as she snuggled closer, their entwined hands resting over his heart.

Eric smiled and pressed a kiss to her head then continued with the song.  “Some enchanted evening, someone may be laughing, you may hear her laughing across a crowded room, and night after night as strange as it seems the sound of her laughter will sing in your dreams.”

Stephanie sighed in pure contentment as he sang softly to her.  There was something almost magical in the way he sang to her.  His voice had always comforted her in moments of fear or sadness, but when he sang to her, there was something about the way his voice softened that had always given her a sense of rightness, she supposed.  She remembered the first time he’d sang this song to her.

Stephanie bit her lip to keep from crying.  His dark eyes were shining with such love and joy that it nearly overwhelmed her.  “So you’re truly happy?”

“How could you think I wouldn’t be?” he asked as he rested a hand against her stomach.

“Well, the first time was such a shock and forced us into marriage.  I,” she shrugged.

“Yes, it was a shock, and admittedly I reacted badly at first.  You were only seventeen and I was getting ready to graduate.  I’d been careless and was going to pay for it.  But,” he lifted her face.  “I don’t regret it.  After the shock wore off, I was happy, Stephanie.  I love you and I love our son.”  He smiled as he pulled her close, gently swaying her.  “Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger…you may see a stranger across a crowded room, and somehow you know, you know even then, that somewhere you’ll see her again and again,” he sang to her.

Stephanie felt the tears she’d been fighting break free of her control and slowly fall.  “Oh Eric,” she whispered as she settled against him, listening to the tenderness in his voice as he finished the song.

“This is us, Sweet girl,” he smiled down at her as he pulled back.  “And now this new baby will add to the happiness we’ve found.  Neither of us have to worry about upset parents or society looking down on you if we don’t marry.  We’re married this time, we’re settled,” he laughed when she raised an eyebrow at him.  “Well, as settled as we can be with a new business.”  Moving his hand to her stomach once more.  “I’m extremely happy, Stephanie.  You’ve been wonderful as a mother, as a wife, as a partner.  Now we just have to make sure we don’t overwork you for a few months.”  His eyes twinkled.  “I guess I’d better get started on some new designs for my wife’s wardrobe.  Those tight dresses aren’t going to work anymore.”

She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him.  “Oh god, I love you.”

“And I love you, my sweet girl.”

“Sweetheart?  Where are you?”  Eric asked, noticing that she was staring off in the distance.

Stephanie smiled.  “Oh, just remembering the first time you sang this song to me.”

Eric smiled, he too remembered that.  “The day you told me about our second baby.”

“I remember how scared I was that you wouldn’t be happy.  Things were crazy with the business still being so new and I could still remember how you’d reacted when I’d told you about Ridge.  I just wasn’t sure about what to expect.”

“I remember how joy just seemed to spread through me and I wanted nothing more than to lift you up and spin you around,” he laughed.  “I managed to contain myself, remembering how certain motions made you sick when you were pregnant with Ridge.”

Stephanie nodded.  “I’m very glad you did.”  She grimaced.  “It wouldn’t have been a pretty sight if you’d spun me around.”

Eric laughed again, holding her tight.  “You were beautiful and the envy of every woman we met.  I remember hearing women’s comments about how they wished they had a husband who made them clothes that made them look that beautiful while they were pregnant.”

“And you would smile and tell those husbands that you were sorry, but the designs were exclusive to your wife.”

“I had no intentions of creating a maternity line.” 

Stephanie laughed.  “Why?  I don’t think I ever really understood, myself, why you wouldn’t.”

“Because the designs were inspired by you as I watched the changes happening in your body with each passing month.  I couldn’t very well spend all my time with all those pregnant women to get the right inspiration.”

A smile bloomed on her face as she caressed his cheek.  “Oh Honey.  I loved wearing your designs, but I always felt different wearing the maternity clothes.  I felt cherished, I guess is the word.”

“Because you were,” he whispered as he cupped her face.  “You were never more beautiful than when you were carrying our children and I wanted you to feel that way.  I wanted you to know that I knew you doubted yourself and your looks after you started showing.  I wasn’t completely blind.  A bit stupid at times back then by not loving you enough, but not blind.  And I wanted you to know how very much it meant to me that you were the mother of my children.”

Settling back against his chest, Stephanie closed her eyes.  “Finish the song,” she whispered.

Pressing a kiss to her head, Eric did as she asked.  “Some enchanted evening, when you find your true love, when you hear her call you across a crowded room, then run to her side and make her your own or all through your life you may dream all alone.  Once you have found her, never let her go,” he paused, cupping her face and lifting it so that he could stare down into her blue eyes.  “Once you have found her, never let her go,” he finished the song.  “Never, Stephanie.  Never again will I let you go.”