Stephanie got home after a long day of meetings for the charity. She was surprised to see candles lit and the lights dim. Her heart instantly began to beat fast as she walked into the dining room. The room was beautiful with flowers, candles and champagne on ice.
“Eric…” Stephanie called out.
“In here” Eric called out from the kitchen.
Stephanie walked in and saw him cutting up a salad.
“What is all of this” She asked taken aback?
“Dinner, just us” He smiled as he cut the vegetables.
“And you cooked” She asked surprised?
“Don’t worry our main course is from Café Russe” He reassured her.
She found herself smiling. It truly was sweet of him.
“Go take a bath and freshen up. I know you had a long day” He encouraged her.
“I think I will. Thank you” She said thanking him for all of it.
“You welcome. Go on now. Dinner should be ready in an hour” He smiled.
“Alright. See you in an hour” She agreed as she walked back out.
Eric sighed relieved. She seemed calm. That was a good sign.
Stephanie went upstairs and ran her bath. She poured some oil and lavender into the bath water. She began to undress as her mind went to all the trouble Eric was going through downstairs. Once undressed she climbed into the tub and sunk down slowly enjoying the hot water as it soothed her aching muscles. She leaned back resting her head against the head rest Eric had installed for her. She closed her eyes and allowed all the tension from the day to disappear.
An hour later, Stephanie came downstairs dressed in a comfortable top and slacks. She found Eric setting the table.
“Need any help” She asked as she walked over to him?
“No. I have it. You can have a seat Milady” He teased as he pulled out her chair.
“Why thank you kind sir” She played along as she sat.
Eric smiled at her playfulness. He felt more relaxed.
Once the table was set. He opened the champagne and poured her a bit and himself a full glass.
“To our beautiful family” He toasted.
She smiled loving his toast.
They clinked glasses and sipped.
Eric began dinner by serving them both, salad.
An hour later, they sat out in the balcony looking out at the stars. Eric had a glass of wine and Stephanie had iced tea.
“Beautiful night” She sighed content.
“Yes, it is” He admitted as he looked over at her.
Eric got up and went inside making Stephanie wonder where he was off to.
Moments later, she heard music.
Eric walked back out and approached her with his hand out.
A memory of Eric giving her a present, a nightgown after dinner, wanting to dance with her…she willed that memory away. She had hurt him deeply that night. She did not want to do that again.
“May I have this dance milady” He teased with a twinkle in his eyes?
“Yes, you may, kind sir” She played along as she stood up and took his hand.
They began to sway to the soft music.
“Thank you for this evening Eric. It is very lovely” She complimented.
“I am glad you are enjoying it” He whispered.
She felt his hand grab her hand as their fingers interlocked.
She suddenly felt shy, being like this with him as if they were a young couple in love. She normally would have pulled away. The intimacy of it being too much for her to handle when she felt…like this. It was what happened that night he gave her the night- gown but she forced herself to stay in the moment. She did not want to hurt him again.
After helping Eric clean up much to his displeasure they were finally done in the kitchen and the dining room. It got cool out, so they closed the balcony doors and then went into the living room. They were sitting across from one another now.
“The dessert, you made it, didn’t you” Stephanie asked?
“Yes, I did. How did you know” He asked?
“You made it for me once. When I was pregnant with Felicia” She surprised him.
He smiled, “you remembered.”
“I did” She smiled back.
Eric eyes looking into her eyes deeply made her remember the rest of that night. She had been 8 months pregnant. After a romantic night he had brought up some dessert to bed. That was the beginning of their tradition.
“Was it still good” He asked?
“Delicious” She reassured him.
“One more dance” He asked? He did not want to tire her out.
“Alright” She smiled.
Eric put the music on, and they began to sway. He leaned in closer taking in her scent of lavender. His arms wrapped around her waist as they moved.
Stephanie found herself enjoying it.
Once the song was over, they blew out the remaining candles. Eric locked up. Stephanie went upstairs first. Eric stayed downstairs for a few moments. They had a wonderful night, but he had to remind himself that it did not mean anything else would happen. He needed to be okay with that. Feeling ready he made his way upstairs. Stephanie was in the bathroom preparing for bed. Eric began to undress and then it happened, his thoughts went to Stephanie in the shower.
Stephanie came out of the bathroom in her robe.
Eric went into the bathroom and put the shower on quickly wanting to avoid Stephanie.
Stephanie paced around the bedroom wondering what if anything Eric expected to happen now. He had not given her any indication that he expected more but, she found that it worried her a bit.
Her thoughts went to Pammy words.
She could not deny that she felt happy and content, the dancing was wonderful and the way he held her hand and waist, yes, she had felt something. She closed her eyes nervously.
Eric took his shower and then waited a few moments as he stared at himself in the mirror. The shower did not help to quench what he was feeling. He wanted the real Stephanie not just the Stephanie in his memories. He sighed knowing that kind of thinking was what got him into trouble before. Giving up, he opened the door and shut off the light. He walked over the bed, the only light on was on Stephanie side. He climbed into bed and turned to look over at her to say good night. His pupils dilated when she leaned in and kissed him on the lips, deepening the kiss after a few moments.
“Steph…” He began to question but she placed her finger on his lips.
“I remember all of that night” She whispered.
He nodded his head. He did not want to play dumb. Yes, he had planned tonight and centered the dessert to remind her of that night. She had been 8 months pregnant, was tired running after three other kids and taking care of a house. She had felt unattractive, compared herself to the models and other women he worked with at Forrester. The company she helped him build. And she was sick a lot with this pregnancy and he knew it reminded her of the past. She was still mourning Angela the memories of their baby girl and the difficult pregnancy was on both of their minds. He had wanted to reassure her, so he surprised her with a dinner, leaving the kids with his parents so they could be alone, they danced and watched the stars before they went up to bed and he brought up dessert. He had laid out a nightgown for her that he made, and she wore it proudly. And, he had been proud and felt like the luckiest man in the world having her with him, he had fallen in love all over again that night.
“It was suggested that I should wear something when I feel in…she blushed…the mood” She whispered as she looked into his eyes.
Eric swallowed nervously but looked at her in a confused manner. She was not wearing anything other than his shirt. That of course had always been one of his favorites but…did this mean she was not in the mood. At least not with him. Thoughts of her conversation about Massimo creeped into his mind making him feel insecure.
“I want you to know that I love you and I want to be close to you” She forced herself to say even as she saw the sadness creep into his facial expression. “I am not rejecting you. I’m just not sure if I can…” She tried to explain.
Remembering what she told Pammy about her health made him stop worrying. “You can…you guide me” He suggested.
“Like that night” She smiled.
“Yes…” He smiled.
She reached out and touched his face lovingly.
“I love you Stephanie” He whispered as he kissed her hand that touched his face.
“I love you” She whispered.
Eric reached out and cupped her face lovingly as he leaned in for a kiss.
She responded to the kiss which made his heart- beat faster.
“You are beautiful” He whispered.
She blushed at the compliment.
He pulled her in close embracing her as they kissed softly once again. She did not pull away which made his heart soar.
The next day…
Eric woke up and was disappointed to find Stephanie was not there. His heart sank as he thought she regrets last night. They had not made love, but she had shared that she had been in the mood and wanted to be close to him. He hoped she did not regret sharing that with him, cuddling with him in bed, the kissing. He had felt closer to her in that moment then he had in a long time.
“Good morning, I thought you would never wake up” Stephanie teased him as she walked in with a tray of breakfast and coffee.
“Good morning” He replied surprised. A smile crossed his face.
“Here you go, my Prince” She teased as she placed the tray over his lap.
“Join me” He stated with hopeful eyes.
“Alright” She gave in as she got in beside him.
“Did you eat” He asked?
“Yes, I did. The tea is mine. The rest is yours” She smiled.
“Thank you” He whispered as he leaned in and kissed her lips.
She smiled shyly at him.
He found it endearing.
He began to eat while she sipped her tea.
“It’s delicious” He complimented.
“A thank you for last night” She replied.
“No, thank you. I…I am so happy Steph that you wanted to try and be close” He stated wanting her to know how he felt. He reached out and took her hand in his, holding it.
“I want to keep trying if that is…what you still want” She whispered unsure.
“It is” He reassured her.
She smiled softly at him.
Before he could say anything, she said, “eat up before it gets cold.”
“Whatever you want” He smiled teasingly.
Stephanie shook her head with a smile as she watched him finish eating.
An hour later…
“That was the best breakfast” He stated as he looked at her content.
“What” He asked amused?
“You’re easy” She smiled.
“Am I” He flirted?
“Mhmm. I see the way to your heart is your stomach” She teased.
“Sure is” He teased back.
“You have my heart. You know that don’t you” He asked seriously?
She smiled at him lovingly.
“Tell me you know that” He reiterated with hopeful eyes.
“I now” She teased as she gave him a flirtatious look.
He laughed making her laugh.
Stephanie removed the tray.
“Don’t go just put it anywhere” He suggested.
She placed it down and then joined him as he wanted.
“Last night…I…I wasn’t sure if…” He said hoping she understood what he was asking?
She blushed feeling embarrassed.
“If you ever do…I want you to tell me” He forced himself to continue. He did not want to upset her, but he needed her to know that she had to guide him. He did not want to do something she did not want or was ready for.
A knock on the door prevented them from speaking further.
“Good morning love birds, any chance you are coming down for breakfast” Felicia teased?
“Your father and I already ate but yes, we will be down soon” Stephanie reassured her.
“Oh really, maybe a breakfast in bed after a romantic night scenario took place” Felicia continued to tease?
“Go” Stephanie said seriously but her smile betrayed her.
Felicia winked at her and left.
Stephanie closed the door shaking her head.
“Our rebel” He teased.
“Yes…” She smiled.
“We should go down before Dino comes” He laughed as he got up.
Stephanie laughed as she watched him go into the bathroom. His previous words in her mind. A slight blush crept up. She shook her head. Prior to talking to Pammy, she had felt that maybe the time for romance with Eric had passed and that it was time for them to put that part of their lives behind them. She knew of course that Eric did not agree. Now, she felt differently thanks to Eric, Taylor and her sister. She now realized she needed to talk to Taylor about other things.
Stephanie went down first and sat with Felicia and Dino as they ate breakfast.
“Grandma, you are not hungry” Dino asked as he ate cereal?
“I already ate with grandpa” She reassured him with a smile.
“Where is grandpa” He asked curiously as he looked around?
“On cloud nine” Felicia teased mischievously.
“Where is that” He asked confused?
Stephanie laughed making Felicia smile.
Eric walked in before Dino could ask anything else.
“Grandpa” He yelled happily.
“Hello” Eric replied as he kissed the top of his grandson head and then his daughter cheek.
Stephanie watched them with a smile.
“Hello, you” Eric teased Stephanie as he stood beside her leaning in and kissing her on the lips.
“Ewww” Dino yelled out making them all laugh.
“Oh brother…” Stephanie laughed.
“That’s my boy” Felicia laughed.
Eric smiled widely at his grandson.