Cheyenne and Eric were the only ones home. Marc went back to New York to sign his contract extension and would be home later that night. Summer was halfway over and that meant that Cheyenne had to go back to her far from perfect life when in New York when it was over.
Eric still wasn't acting like himself towards her and his attitude was even cold with Marc. Cheyenne blew it off at first thinking it would blow over but after two weeks, she couldn't take it anymore and she made it her mission to get to the bottom of it.
"Good morning," she greeted a half awake and groggy Eric.
"Hi," he replied impatiently and sat down at the table.
Rolling her eyes at his behavior, Cheyenne took a deep breath before she asked the question that she had been bugging her for two weeks.
"Eric," she began, "Did I do something to you?"
Eric's head snapped up and his brown eyes met hers, "Do you always kiss your best friends or just Marc," he snapped.
"Oh, don't play dumb Cheyenne," Eric said rolling his eyes, "I saw you two kissing in New York. How long did you two think you could lie to this entire family about not being together?"
"I'm not in any way, shape, or form interested in Marc," Cheyenne replied defending herself, "He's my best friend and like the brother that I never had."
"The last time I checked, it was illegal to kiss family like that," Eric said sarcastically.
"You're impossible," she snapped, this time she was ready to kill Eric if she needed to, "He was caught up in the moment and kissed me, just ask him. That was the first time it ever happened, he apologized and I accepted because I don't want to lose him and so help me God Eric, I've only known you a month and I don't want to lose you either."
"I'm sorry," Eric began as guilt set in, "I'm so sorry, you're not going to lose me."
"I've had one serious boyfriend and he broke up with me before I moved to New York because I wouldn't have sex with him. I've never laid eyes on another man since then, because I thought all men would hit me and treat me like he does."
"I hope we changed your mind about men," Eric asked, "My mom and dad would kill me and my brothers if we ever laid our hands on a woman. Why do you think Marc and I are so protective of you?"
Cheyenne smiled and Eric put his arms out for her to give him a hug. She walked over to him from her chair and wrapped her arms around him.
Eric held her close to his chest and for the first time, Cheyenne noticed his lack of clothing. Eric was shirtless and just wearing Hurricanes basketball shorts.
"I hate to even ask you this but you said your ex-boyfriend dumped you because you wouldn't have sex with him, so I have to ask, does that mean you are...well, you know?" Eric whispered.
"A virgin," she asked, "Yeah I'm a 23 year old virgin, pretty pathetic, right?"
"Not pathetic at all, I wish I was still a virgin, the girl I lost it to was the biggest whore at my high school and I ended up being another notch on her bedpost."
"She lost out on one of the greatest men she would ever know."
Eric smiled at Cheyenne and before she could even register a thought, Eric's lips were on hers. She kissed him back and he pulled away pressing his forehead to hers.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, "I shouldn't have done that."
"We're both guilty," she replied, "I'm sorry for giving you the wrong idea."
"Wrong idea," Eric asked questioningly, "I've wanted to kiss you since we were in Minnesota. Cheyenne, I like you...I like you a lot more than I should."
"I like you a lot too, Eric, but I didn't come here this summer for a relationship. I need time to heal."
"I'm not rushing into anything, let's be friends and maybe someday down the line we'll try the dating thing."
"I'd like that," Cheyenne said smiling, "So, what's on the agenda today?"
"My parents, Jared, and Jordan went to buy groceries. Marc's on his way back now, which means you and I are picking him up at the airport and then we are coming back here for your first Staal family barbeque."
"Sounds great," Cheyenne replied, "I'm going to take a shower and I'll help you get stuff ready."
"Okay, take your time, we literally have all day," Eric laughed.
Cheyenne gave him a kiss on the cheek and headed back upstairs to her bedroom. Cheyenne felt butterflies in her stomach whenever she thought about Eric kissing her and sighed.
"Damn you dad for making me give up on love," she whispered as she stepped under the hot shower.
Eric had just finished showering and was standing in the mirror lathering his face up with shaving cream when the bathroom door swung open.
"Oh shit, I'm so sorry," Cheyenne said turning around covering her eyes. I forgot my toothbrush down here yesterday, "I'll leave you to finish."
Eric chuckled when he saw her blush, "Here," he said reaching out to her with the pink toothbrush in his hand. Cheyenne noticed the indentations in his hips as the white towel fell low on his waist and she gulped down the lump in her throat.
"Th-thank you," she stuttered.
"No problem," Eric smiled as she shut the door behind her. Laughing to himself he went back to shaving.
Cheyenne stood frozen outside the door when Jordan and Jared came running down the hall towards her.
"CHEYENNE," Jordan shouted, "I missed you!"
"Not as much as me," Jared said shoving past his brother to give her a hug.
"Jared Nicholas Staal and Jordan Lee Staal, leave the poor girl alone and come help your father with the bags," Linda said scolding her two youngest sons.
"Yes mom," they replied in unison before walking back down the hall in defeat.
"Mario and Luigi giving Peach a hard time again, eh?"
"You're one to talk Donkeykong," Cheyenne replied to Eric as he wrapped his arm around her waist.
Eric laughed and placed a kiss on her temple before heading down the hall to help his parents. After Eric and Cheyenne had left to pick Marc up from the airport, Jordan and Jared started talking amongst themselves about how Cheyenne behaved.
“She looked scared of us,” Jared said, “I wonder why.”
“I have no idea, why don’t you ask her?”
“What if it’s something bad?”
“I don’t know, what if she’s like a Russian spy or something?”
“Russian spy, really Jared, really,” Jordan asked laughing, “Are you that stupid?”
“Fuck off,” Jared spat.
“Jared, watch your mouth,” Linda called out from the kitchen.
“Yes mom,” Jared replied.
“You’re such a fucking pansy,” Jordan said laughing, “A twenty year old pussy.”
“Kiss my ass.”
“JARED,” Linda shouted, “LANGUAGE!”
Jordan laughed as Cheyenne came through the door followed by Eric and Marc, “Mom, we’re back,” Eric called out and Cheyenne sat down on the couch next to Jared.
“Are you okay,” he asked.
“I’m fine,” Cheyenne said smiling.
“Are you sure because earlier you flinched when Jordan and I ran towards you, are you sure you’re okay?”
Cheyenne looked at Eric and Marc who both looked at her and nodded their heads, sighing, she turned to Jordan and Jared, “Maybe now is the time to tell you guys why I spend so much time with Marc and Eric.”
Jared and Jordan looked at each other before they sat down on the couch on each side of her, “What’s wrong,” Jordan asked looking at his two older brothers.
“Let her tell you,” Eric said with pleading eyes.
“I’ve been beaten from the time I was thirteen years old by my dad. I’m here this summer to get away from him and when Eric and I went to New York two weeks ago, it wasn’t because I missed Marc. My dad beat my mom near death and I had to go answer questions for the detectives and while I was there, I visited my mom in the hospital. I act weird around you two because I’m scared of every single person and thing I come across until I can learn to trust them.”
“Cheyenne,” Jordan said wrapping his arm around her shoulder, “We would never hurt you!”
“I told you it was something bad,” Jared mouthed to Jordan before he gave Cheyenne a hug.
“You can trust us,” Jordan said kissing her forehead, “I mean we’re rough with each other but we will never be rough with you, we’re sorry if we scare you.”
“It’s fine,” Cheyenne said smiling letting go of Jared and hugging Jordan.
“Let’s just have fun tonight, okay,” Jordan said.
Cheyenne helped Linda get the food ready while Hank and the boys were outside setting up the tables and getting the grill ready. Cheyenne and Linda made small talk about Eric and Jordan winning the Stanley Cup and what it was like here in Thunder Bay.
After changing her clothes, Cheyenne joined everyone outside and the other members of the Staal family welcomed her with open arms. Marc and Eric stood next to each other drinking a beer on the deck looking at Cheyenne talking to their Aunt Brenda.
“She looks happy,” Marc said taking a sip of his beer.
“At least this will get her mind off of things for a while,” Eric replied, “When should we tell her she’s coming to Raleigh with me?”
“We still have two weeks before we have to even start thinking about leaving so we can hold off on it a little bit longer if we need to.”
“Eric,” a voice said and Eric closed his eyes praying to God he was hearing things. Taking a deep breath, he turned around and shuddered when he saw his ex-girlfriend Stephanie standing behind him.
“What the hell are you doing here,” he asked.
“I heard you were home so I decided to stop by and see you, is this a bad time,” she asked.
“We’re kind of in the middle of a family gathering, you know something you aren’t,” Marc snapped.
“Then who’s that,” Stephanie asked pointing to Cheyenne.
“She’s Marc’s girlfriend,” Eric replied and Marc was about to protest when Eric kicked his foot without Stephanie seeing.
“She’s not family,” Stephanie said.
“Yeah she is, as long as she’s with one of us, she’s family,” Eric said defending Cheyenne, “Stephanie, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave.”
“But I need to talk to you,” she whined.
“I don’t have anything to say to you, please leave.”
Stephanie pulled Eric by the shirt collar and pressed a kiss on his lips. Eric stood there shocked and Cheyenne looked up from the yard and frowned at the scene in front of her. Marc noticed the frown on her face and he smiled to himself, he knew this would happen with one of his brothers, he just didn’t expect it to be Eric she developed the crush on, he thought for sure it would be Jordan even though he was a couple of years younger than she was.
Cheyenne excused herself from her conversation and just stared at Eric in disbelief, satisfied with herself, Stephanie wiped her lips, smirked at Eric and walked out of the yard.
“You need to fix this,” Marc said to his brother as he pointed to Cheyenne who was heading off into the woods heading towards the lake.
“Fuck,” Eric mumbled, “Why do I always fuck things up?”
“How long have you liked her?”
“I know you like her, it’s written all over your face and she looked like her heart was shattered when she saw that bitch kissing you, so spill, what’s going on here?”
“Nothing is going on here, I kissed her earlier because we had a heart to heart conversation, she said something to me and I kissed her. She kissed me back but she told me she needs time to heal before she jumps into a serious relationship. I like her a lot and I’m willing to respect her wishes and I’ll help her heal if she’ll let me.”
Marc smiled and patted Eric on the back, “I’ve never seen her smile as much as she has been.”
“I guess I better go check on her,” Eric said setting his beer on the deck and taking off down the path that lead to the lake. He could see her figure in the fading daylight as he followed her down the path, “Cheyenne,” he yelled, “Wait up!”
Cheyenne stopped in her tracks and stripped out of her sundress and jumped in the lake. She quickly resurfaced and leaned her back against the dock.
“Cheyenne,” Eric said removing his shirt and hopping in the lake beside her.
“Who’s that girl,” Cheyenne asked.
“It didn’t look like nobody when she was kissing you.”
“She’s my ex-girlfriend. Marc kicked her out and she kissed me trying to prove a point but when I didn’t kiss her back, she gave up and left. I like you Cheyenne, I would never do anything to intentionally hurt you, and I told you that.”
“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” Cheyenne said, “I’m not staying here, I’m going back to New York.”
“You’re not going back there,” Eric sighed, “Cheyenne, you can’t go back there by yourself. You heard the Detective, it’s too dangerous.”
“It’s better than being here,” she replied, “You’re hot and cold with me.”
“Hot and cold with you, God damn it, Cheyenne,” Eric said wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her towards him. Placing his forehead to hers, he leaned down and captured her lips with his again. This time her back was to the dock and Eric ran his hands up and down her sides. Cheyenne took a deep breath when he pulled away and climbed out of the lake.
“Cheyenne,” Eric called after her, “Where are you going?”
“To think things through, please let me be by myself for a little while.”
“Promise me, you won’t leave for New York by yourself,” Eric asked.
“I won’t, I promise but Eric, please just let me breath.”
Eric sighed and ran his hand through his wet blond hair and leaned his back against the dock whispering to himself, “How can I let you breath when I’m falling in love with you?”