Cheyenne sighed in defeat as she threw the covers off of her body, it was hot and sticky in her room since her air conditioning vent seemed to be blowing hot instead cold air. The heat wasn't the only reason why she tossed and turned from the minute she laid down.
Sighing to herself, she stood up from the bed in the guest room and made her way down the hall. She opened the door to Marc's room and saw him sound asleep. Not wanting to wake him like she normally did since he had been travelling back and forth to New York, she fought with herself about whether or not she should go to Eric giving the situation the two of them were now in.
Swallowing her pride, she looked through the crack and saw the glare of the television and Eric propped up on the pillows watching re-runs of a Canadian TV show.
She knocked and pushed the door open, "Hey, you awake," she asked stepping further into the room.
"Yeah," Eric replied turning his head towards her, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, just hot. My vent in my room is blowing hot air and the heat is unbearable. Besides, I couldn't sleep anyways knowing you were probably mad at me."
"Come here," Eric said sliding over and patting the spot next to him, "I'm not mad at you, I could never be mad at you."
"I just thought that you were mad at me for bailing on you by the lake, it' just like I said, I didn't come here this summer for a relationship and you've been such a great friend that I don't want to push my luck!"
"I understand," Eric replied brushing the sweatsoaked hair out of her face, "I'm okay with how we are for now."
Cheyenne smiled and laid her head back on the pillow, "You're really watching re-runs of MVP?"
"I like it, what can I say?"
"I liked it too, it sucks there was only one season and they cancelled it."
"Damon reminds me of Max Talbot."
"The Russian goalie with the Russian mafia connection reminds me of Sergei Kostitsyn."
Eric laughed, "So funny yet so true."
"This room is freezing, I'm staying here from now on, you sleep in the sweatbox."
"I'll have my dad look at it in the morning, it may just need a new thermostat."
Cheyenne felt her eyes getting heavy and let out a yawn. Eric was about to say something when he heard her breathing go steady. He placed a kiss on her cheek and shut the TV off before he pulled the blanket over them and fell asleep with Cheyenne in his arms.
Cheyenne was the first one awake the following morning and she carefully removed herself from Eric's arms. She walked downstairs to the kitchen and saw Jared and Jordan goofing off at the table with Marc yelling at them while Linda was cooking. Hank was outside mowing the lawn.
"Good morning Cinderella," Jared said.
"Prince Charming still sleeping," Jordan asked.
"Assholes," Marc muttered.
Cheyenne laughed and sat down at the table next to Marc, "So Cheyenne, when are you marrying my brother," Jordan asked.
"Shut up," Cheyenne blushed, "Eric and I are just friends."
"Cheyenne and Eric sitting in a tree," Jared began.
"K-I-S-S-I-N-G," both he and Jordan said in unison making kissy faces at her.
"Knock it off children," Marc said.
"What are you boys talking about," Linda asked.
"Cheyenne was sucking face with Eric last night," Jared said.
"So, everyone makes-out with someone they like or love," Linda replied, "Your father and I still do it."
"Come on mom, really?"
Cheyenne laughed at the reactions of the three Staal boys before she stood up from the table to go get something to drink. She grabbed the carton of orange juice and sat it on the counter, she reached into the cabinet for a glass and realized she couldn't reach it.
Before she could turn around to ask one of the boys or Linda, she felt an arm around her waist and lips on here temple, "Good morning," Eric said handing her the glass.
"Same to you," Cheyenne replied smiling.
Linda and Marc sat staring at them with smiles on their faces, "Boys, go help your father," Linda said to her three sons.
"How come Eric doesn't have to help," Jared whined.
"Him and Cheyenne haven't eaten yet and you three have, now do as you're told," she scolded and they groaned in defeat. "You two eat up," Linda began again, "I'm going to do some gardening while your brothers help your father."
Eric and Cheyenne ate in a comfortable silence watching out the window in amusement as Jordan chased Jared around the yard with a garter snake.
"They're idiots," Eric said finally breaking the silence.
"They're funny though," she replied laughing as Hank chased his sons like they were two years old while Marc stood there looking like he was questioning his family's sanity.
"So, I've been thinking," Eric began.
"About?" Cheyenne asked.
"The detectives don't want you going back to New York and neither Marc nor myself want you here by yourself, so I was thinking that maybe you should come to Raleigh with me."
"I don't know, Eric! I've lived in New York since I was ten."
"Cheyenne, New York isn't safe for you anymore."
"I know," she whispered.
"So, it's settled then," Eric asked, "You'll come to Raleigh with me and live with me while everything gets straightened out?"
"Yeah," Cheyenne replied, "I'll come with you."
"Good because this week I have to head back for a training session that Cam and Tuomo planned and I was wondering if you wanted to come? I could show you around and you could look for a job."
"Yeah sure, why not? Can we go to the beach?"
"It's a little bit of a drive but yeah sure, we can go to the beach."
"Great," Cheyenne replied smiling, "Eric, I can't tell you how grateful I am for your family this summer, especially you and Marc."
"We're here for you," Eric replied smiling reaching over the table and rubbing his thumb over her knuckles, "I'm grateful I got to know you and have you as a friend."
They cleaned the kitchen for Linda and got ready for the day.
"Eric," Cheyenne called out down the hall.
"Yeah," he said poking his head out of his bedroom door.
"Can we go shopping?"
"Yeah sure, why?"
"My bathing suit's ripped, I must've ripped it last night when I jumped in the lake."
"Okay, give me ten minutes," Eric smiled.
"Alright, I'll meet you downstairs."
"Where are you going," Marc asked as Cheyenne stepped into the hall.
"Shopping with Eric, why? Do you want to come?"
"I would if I wasn't so tired from flying back and forth to New York, so, maybe next time. I need sleep!"
"I'm proud of you, Marc," Cheyenne said kissing his cheek.
"Are you ready to go," Eric asked grabbing his keys out of his pocket.
"Yeah, let's go!"
"Have fun on your date," Marc said smirking and Eric flipped him off.
"What did he say," Cheyenne asked.
"He told us to enjoy our day," Eric lied smiling, "Are you hungry? Want to go get some lunch?"
"No, we just ate breakfast, so maybe dinner?"
"Sounds good," Eric agreed getting in the car.
"What's the best store around here to get a bathing suit?"
"Not sure! I know there are a couple of tanning salons that have them if you want to look there."
"I can tan too."
"You go tanning?"
"I used to," Cheyenne replied, "I stopped going a couple of summers ago. I believed it would help fade bruises!"
Eric took a deep breath and reached over for Cheyenne's hand, "Try not to think about that anymore, you're starting over! Raleigh is a fresh start for you."
"I could use a fresh start!"
"Alright, we're here!"
Cheyenne noticed they had pulled into a shopping center, "I'm guessing Ozone is where we're going."
"Pretty ridiculous name if you ask me?"
She let out a laugh and followed Eric into the shop.
"Holy shit, it's Eric Staal," the girl behind the counter said nudging the other girl.
"Hi," he laughed.
"What can we do for you two today,"
one of the girls asked.
"She's going to tan and buy a swimsuit!"
"Bed four is clean," the girl who recognized Eric said, "You can pay for your session when you pay for your swimsuit. Do you need any lotions or anything?"
"I'm good, thank you," Cheyenne said grabbing a towel, "Eric, I'll be right out."
"Take your time," he replied, "I'm going to grab a coffee next door, do you want anything?"
"Just a water!"
"I'll be back," he said standing up, "See you in ten minutes!"
He walked out of the shop and the two girls behind the counter giggled, "You're so lucky," one gushed.
"Lucky," Cheyenne asked.
"You're dating one of the Staals!"
"Eric and I are just friends!"
"Friend, boyfriend, whatever he is, you are lucky!"
"Thank you, I guess," Cheyenne said walking into the tanning room.
Cheyenne laid in the tanning bed and closed her eyes. When she closed them, all she saw Eric's face. Smiling to herself, she was suddenly happy with going to Raleigh.
Getting dressed, she walked out and saw Eric waiting for her.
"All of our swimwear is right behind you," the girl behind the counter said.
"Eric, you can go wait in the car if you want."
"I'm okay here, it doesn't bother me."
Cheyenne browsed the racks and didn't see any she liked, "Why are they all so slutty?"
"Slutty is the new sophisticated, I guess," Eric joked.
"This one's cute," Cheyenne said holding up the New York Yankees bikini.
Eric gulped and nodded his head in agreement, "It has shorts."
"I like it," Cheyenne said grabbing her size, "I'm going to try it on."
Eric sat down in the chair outside of the dressing room and ran his hands through his hair. He didn't feel lonely anymore and for the first time in a long time, he felt as though he could finally be himself.
The door to the dressing room opened and Cheyenne came out fully dressed, "Eric, are you okay," she asked.
"I'm fine," Eric lied giving her a small smile!
"Where are we going now?"
"Let me ask you something," Eric said, suddenly stopping in his tracks opening the door to the car and placing his hands on the roof, "When was the last time you went out?"
"Like on a date?"
"Yeah, like on a date!"
"Almost two years," Cheyenne whispered ashamed.
"I know we said we'd wait until we were friends for a while before we'd try dating but Cheyenne," Eric began before he sighed and looked at her facial expression.
"...but what, Eric?"
"How about we go back home, you get dressed up and I take you out? No kissing, no touching, just us getting to know each other!"
Cheyenne looked at him like he was crazy, "Er-Eric," she stuttered, "I don't know."
"I promise, no funny business. Just trust me, please," he pleaded.
"Okay," she agreed, finally giving in.
Eric smiled and they got in the car and drove back to the house!
Cheyenne put her bag in the guestroom and started going through her suitcase looking for something to wear on her date with Eric. Thinking about the word date scares her but gave her butterflies at the same time.
"Come in," Cheyenne said when there was a knock at the door.
"Hey," Eric said smiling slightly as he stepped into the room.
"What's wrong," she asked.
"My asshole brothers invited themselves to dinner then my mom abd dad did too, so I guess we'll have to go out some other time," Eric replied, "I'm so sorry! I was really looking forward to it."
"It's okay," Cheyenne said smiling, slightly relieved.
"We're leaving at 5 so you have time to take a nap or go swimming in the lake if you want."
"I'm going to call the hospital and see how my mom is."
"Okay," Eric smiled kissing her forehead, "Once again, I'm sorry!"
"Don't worry about it, everything happens for a reason."
Eric shut the door behind him and Cheyenne grabbed her cell phone and called the hospital in New York.
Out in the barn, Eric was taking his frustrations out on the unwanted lawn decorations by practicing slapshots.
"What the hell has gotten into you," Marc asked coming through the door.
"Jordan and Jared, they're my problem!"
"Bozo and Frankenstein decided to invite themselves out to dinner with me and Cheyenne tonight!"
"You grew balls and asked her out," Marc joked.
"Not like, 'Hey be my girlfriend,' but like a test run to see how things would go between us."
"Aren't mom and dad going tonight to," Marc asked.
"Yeah, but they didn't know anything about the did and the two dickheads did."
Marc laughed, "If it makes you feel any better, I'm going too, so you won't have to worry about killing them."
"I'll try not to," Eric chuckled slightly.
Dinner was over quickly and by the time everyone got settled at home, it was late. Cheyenne laid in bed and as usual couldn't fall asleep.
She looked at the clock and saw that it was close to midnight. She climbed out of bed and put her flip flops on and headed downstairs. Grabbing Eric's keys off the table, she headed out the door and locked it behind her.
She took a flashlight from the porch and headed down the dark path that lead to the lake. She slid out of her flip flops and put her feet in the water.
Lying back on the dock, Cheyenne stared at the stars in the sky. She closed her eyes and tried to image a time when she was happy before she came to Thunder Bay.
She felt someone beside her and she panicked and went to get up to run when an arm stopped her, "Don't be scared, it just me," Eric whispered.
"I-I'm sorry! You scared me!"
"I'm sorry," Eric said laying on the dock beside her, "Nice night, eh?"
"I love how you can see thousands of stars, it's so beautiful."
"Not as beautiful as you!"
"Everything is so open and so free and doesn't have to hide," Cheyenne said ignoring Eric's comment, "I wish I could live here permanently instead of temporarily."
Eric sighed reaching out to put his arms around her waist, "You can live here, you don't have to go back to New York, ever. Marc and I will even find a place for your mom to stay if she wants to move out of the city too. Marc and I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe. I-we love you Cheyenne."
Cheyenne pulled her head back and slowly leaned her head up towards Eric. She took a deep breath before she put her lips to his.
Eric suddenly froze, unsure of what to do. He kissed her before but now she was kissing him. Quickly snapping out of his thoughts, he brought her closer and tighter to his body, kissing her back.
He slowly leaned her backwards until her back was on the dock and he was hovering over her. Eric was surprised when Cheyenne never broke this kiss. Slowly inching his hand under her shirt, he carressed her sides and she gasped into his mouth.
Without thinking, his hands inched slowly towards her breasts, "Eric," she said pulling away, "I'm sorry!"
"It's okay, I got carried away, I'm the one who should be sorry. Maybe we should head back in, you're shivering and I don't want you getting sick."
"Can we stay out here a little bit longer, please?"
Eric nodded his head and removed the sweatshirt he was wearing and handed it to Cheyenne, "Thank you," she said smiling, "But what about you? I don't want you getting sick either."
"I'm fine, I have a longsleeved shirt on," Eric said smiling while wrapping his arm around her waist and they stared at the lake in silence.
With everything that had happened to them, neither one of them noticed Hank and Linda sitting on the back porch of the house that over looked the dock.
"We raised a fine young man," Hank said.
"I've never seen him like that with anyone before," Linda replied, "He cares about her a lot, he owes Marc big time."
"Which one of my immature little brothers are romancing a girl on the dock," Marc asked stepping out of the patio door.
"Neither of them," Hank replied, "We're watching Eric and Cheyenne."
"What," Marc asked wide eyed with a huge smile, "No way?"
"She came out first then Eric came out about five minutes ago," Linda replied and Marc sat down on the steps.
"He owes me big time!"
"Oh my goodness! She just kissed him," Linda gushed and Marc and Hank both turned their heads to see them kissing.
"Oh God, now it's porn," Marc groaned covering his eyes when he saw Eric slip his hand under Cheyenne's shirt.
"I think it's time to go in the house," Hank said reaching for the door.
"She just pulled away now they're talking."
Marc and Hank laughed as they saw Eric wrap his arm around Cheyenne's waist.
"I guess next summer we're having a Staal family wedding," Marc said.
"Don't get too far ahead of yourself, Marc," Linda replied, "They're just friends!"
"I was her friend too but I never touched her like that, he loves her."
"I know he does, alright let's go get some sleep."
The three Staals headed into the house while Eric and Cheyenne remained outside. Cheyenne fell asleep in Eric's arms and he picked her up and carried her back to the house.
He placed her in her bed and kissed here forehead, "Goodnight Cheyenne," He whispered turning the lamp off next to the bed.
He stood up to leave but was stopped when be felt a hand on his shirt, "Stay," she asked, "Please?"