"Are you going to be okay by yourself when I'm at practice," Eric asked as he packed his gear.
"I'll be fine, I have a couple of phone interviews for jobs at daycares in and around the city."
"Cam and Cody need a nanny, maybe you can work for them for a while if you can't find anything."
"I did it before and got paid well, so why not do it again, right?"
"That's not what you went to school for though, right?"
"No, I went for Mass Communications. I worked at the MSG network in NYC."
"Use me as a reference, you'll get any job," Eric replied smiling.
"Thanks Eric but I kind of wanted to get the job on my own."
"Perfectly understandable, use me though if you can't find one or are having trouble," he said glancing at the clock, "Shit, I have to go, I'm going to be late. I'll call you!"
"Have a good practice," Cheyenne said kissing his cheek.
"Good luck," Eric smiled hugging her, "I'll be back around dinner."
Cheyenne locked the chains on the door when Eric left. They arrived in Carolina yesterday and Cheyenne already felt at home.
Eric's house was bigger than she expected. It was too big for one person, Eric told her that his ex had wanted a big house, so he bought it. It was decorated very well, Linda's doing. Everything matched from the furniture and carpet to the pictures hung around the house.
Cheyenne finished her interviews and was waiting for Eric to come home. Meanwhile at the RBC Center, Eric was training with Tuomo, Cam, and Chad.
"Rosey, Staaly here got himself a girlfriend," Tuomo said, his thick accent making Chad wonder if he heard the young Finn right.
"She's not his girlfriend," Cam cut in defending his best friend and captain.
"Wait, STAALY YOU GOT A CHICK AND DIDN'T TELL US," Chad yelled across the rink.
"She's not my girlfriend, just a friend that needed a fresh start."
"Look at those eyes," Tuomo said smirking, "Staaly's in love!"
"Fuck you," Eric laughed.
"Who is she," Rosey asked.
"She's a good friend of Marc's," he began, "She hasn't had a great life and long story short, her dad beat the shit out of her and tried to kill her mother."
"So, you're the handsome prince that came on a horse to save her but instead of a horse, you saved her on your tractor," Tuomo joked causing Rosey and Cam to laugh.
"Seriously," Eric asked, "You're a douchebag."
Cam knew Eric loved her, Eric told him everything earlier in the summer and when he picked Eric and Cheyenne up at the airport, he saw how well they fit together.
"Have you told her how you feel," Rosey asked as they skated a lap around the rink.
"Yeah I have, countless times actually, but she's not ready for a relationship."
"Take her for a nice dinner, act like there's nothing to eat in the house and show her how you feel," Tuomo said.
"Who the hell are you," Rosey asked, "Dr. Phil?"
"I kind of look like him, don't I," Tuomo joked looking at his reflection in the glass.
"You're a dick," Rosey replied crosschecking him lightly into the boards.
"You know what, Tuu, you're right," Eric spoke up, "Maybe I need to show her."
"I say take her to dinner tonight," Cam began, "Then ask her to the 'Meet the Canes' ball thing"
"We sound like pussies," Rosey said, "We sound like straight up fags!"
"Aw Rosey, don't talk about yourself like that!"
"Suck my dick, you Finnish fucker!"
Cam and Eric laughed as Tuomo challenged Rosey to a shootout to settle the silly argument, "Guys," Eric said stepping between the two men, "Both of you are assholes, you're fighting over advice about MY personal life."
"Sorry," they said in unison stopping to think about how stupid their argument really was.
Cheyenne lay on the couch and watched chick flick after chick flick after she finished her phone interviews before she fell asleep waiting for Eric to arrive home from his training session. Eric fumbled with the keys as he opened the door to his house. He was used to it being empty and it didn’t feel like home to him but now that Cheyenne was there it felt more like home than Thunder Bay did now that Eric was only there in the summer.
“Cheyenne,” Eric called out getting no response, “Cheyenne, are you home?”
Eric chuckled as he heard the soft snores coming from the couch in the living room while the disc menu for Legally Blonde played on the flat screen TV. Grabbing the remote from the coffee table, he shut the TV off and picked Cheyenne up and carried her to the bedroom.
“Eric,” she asked groggily.
“Yeah, it’s me,” he replied kissing her forehead, “Get some sleep.”
“What time is it?”
“Almost three o’clock.”
“Can we go out for dinner tonight? I’m kind of sick of staying in the house.”
“Yeah that’s fine,” Eric replied quickly feeling his heartbeat speed up a little bit, “I’ll wake you up in like an hour or two so you can get ready.”
“Okay,” Cheyenne replied above a whisper before she turned her back to him and fell back asleep.
Eric headed to the bathroom to take a much needed shower. He had showered at the arena but he was finally getting a chance to make Cheyenne his tonight and he felt like a teenager going on his first date all over again.
Tucking the white button up shirt into the black dress slacks, Eric left the top three buttons undone. Going into his closet to grab the black dress shoes that he hadn’t wore since last season, he sat on the bed putting them on before spraying on the cologne his mother had gotten him for Christmas last year.
He shook Cheyenne awake and she groaned but then smiled when took in his appearance, “You look nice,” she said as she sat up rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
“I’m taking you to Second Empire downtown, you’ll love it. It’s in the historic Dodd-Hinsdale House, it’s a piece of history in Raleigh.”
“I take it that I need to dress-up a little.”
“It’s a five star restaurant, jeans won’t fly there,” Eric joked.
“Eric, you really don’t need to be spending all that money on dinner. I’m fine with a dollar double cheeseburger and some fries from McDonald’s,” Cheyenne scolded.
“Hey, I owe you a nice dinner after what happened in Thunder Bay when the Jolly Green Giant and Carrot Top invited themselves and it turned into a family thing, consider this our first date.”
Cheyenne felt the butterflies in her stomach start fluttering faster than they ever did before and she tried to cover the blush but it didn’t go unnoticed by Eric, “Why are you so nervous around me all of the sudden? I told you, I’m not going to hurt you.”
“I know you won’t hurt me,” Cheyenne began, “I’m just nervous about this whole first date thing, I don’t want this to ruin our friendship. I know you like me and I know that you know I like you but what if things change and we realize we are better off as friends.”
“I’m pretty sure friends don’t feel fireworks and sparks when they kiss each other,” Eric replied.
Cheyenne smiled slightly before kicking him out of the room so she could take a shower and get dressed. Wrapping her body in a towel, she rummaged through her closet trying to find a dress or something dressy to wear from her belongings that Marc had sent from New York.
Finally settling on the purple and black dress that she forgot she had, she laid everything out on the bed as she put her make-up on. After finishing her make-up, she curled her hair and pinned it to the side. She was ready in no time and she walked downstairs and noticed Eric was watching a preseason Carolina Panthers game.
“Eric,” she managed to get out as her nerves overtook her.
He quickly turned the television off, standing up from the couch. He hadn’t seen her yet as he searched for his keys on the coffee table.
“Try the kitchen counter,” Cheyenne laughed and Eric finally looked up at her. Eric felt his chest tighten and his jaw drop at the sight of her, he’d never seen her dressed up like this. He thought she was beautiful before but standing in front of him right now the way she was made him speechless.
“You, wow Cheyenne, you look, wow,” he managed to get out swallowing the lump in his throat, “You’re beautiful.”
Cheyenne felt her cheeks blush again as Eric headed off into the kitchen, “FOUND THEM,” he shouted and Cheyenne laughed. Cheyenne heard the refrigerator open and she was confused as to why Eric wanted food when they were going out to dinner.
“These are for you,” he said pulling the bouquet of orchids from behind his back, “I got them while you were in the shower, I remember overhearing you telling Marc they were your favorite flower.”
“Wow,” Cheyenne smiled taking the bouquet from Eric’s hand and smelling them, “They’re beautiful, thank you.”
“Not as beautiful as you,” he said moving closer and Cheyenne felt her breath hitch in her throat.
“Er-Eric,” she stuttered.
“I’m sorry, I promised no kissing or touching,” he replied backing away defeated.
Eric grabbed her hand and lead her out of the house and to his car. He opened the door for her and she smiled at how chivalrous he was being, he wasn’t like any other man she had dated and she couldn’t help but feel safe whenever he was around.
“Have you been to this restaurant before,” Cheyenne asked as they drove down the highway.
Eric looked over at her before turning his eyes back to the road, “Once with the guys,” he said, “It’s pretty good.”
Cheyenne and Eric pulled into the restaurant and Cheyenne gasped at the looks from the restaurant outside, “This is really cool,” she said as she removed her seatbelt, “It’s really Southern looking, I love it already and I haven’t even tasted the food yet.”
Eric took her hand and led her up the steps into the chic restaurant, “Hello and welcome to Second Empire,” the host began, “Do you have a reservation?”
“Staal party of two,” Eric smiled.
“Right this way,” the young man smiled as he lead them to a table towards the back of the restaurant, “You’re server will be right with you.”
“This is really nice!”
“Have you ever been to fancy restaurants before?”
“Marc took me to Sean’s restaurant once but that’s not five star.”
“No shit,” Eric laughed, “Look who the damn owner is. He’s such an asshole.”
“He was always nice to me, so I don’t have anything bad to say about him but from what I’ve heard he’s a dickhead.”
“Yeah, he’s as fake and as gay as they come.”
“He’s not gay.”
“The fuck if he ain’t,” Eric whispered, “The man carries purses and owns women’s clothing and has admitted to possibly being gay.”
“No way,” Cheyenne gasped, “Are you serious?”
“I’ll show you the video on YouTube when we get home, it’s pretty funny.”
“I will never be able to look at him the same way again,” she laughed and Eric smiled.
“He’s in denial, I told Marc to literally watch his ass.”
“Eric,” Cheyenne scolded and he smirked as the waitress made her way over to the table.
After she took their orders, Eric reached over the table and grabbed Cheyenne’s hand, “So now that we’re on a date and all and we’re getting to the point of being more than friends, I need you to be completely honest with me.”
“Your relationship with Marc and how you guys met.”
“Oh God,” Cheyenne hesitated, “I’m not sure you’d be able to handle the story.”
Eric suddenly felt guilty for asking the question and immediately wished he could take it back but his curiosity got the best of him.
“I’m sure I can handle it, I do take hits from men bigger than me,” he reassured Cheyenne with a smile.
“We met at Sean’s restaurant, I was in there drinking away my sorrows after a beating from my dad. Marc came in and he bought me a drink and we drank until we were drunk. He offered me a ride home and since we were both in no condition to drive, he hailed a taxi. Instead of me going home, we went back to his apartment. One thing lead to another and we always tell people nothing has ever happened between us but that night we slept together. We both woke up the next morning and that’s when Marc saw my bruises. We realized we were better off as friends because there was no connection between us at all.”
Eric sat back in his chair not saying anything, he was expecting that maybe they dated and didn’t work out but remained friends but never in a million years did he expect that they had slept together.
“I’m sorry,” Cheyenne said apologizing.
“Why are you apologizing, you don’t have anything to be sorry for. The past is in the past.”
“I feel like I let you down thought because I’m not who you thought I was.”
“You didn’t let me down, I’m not getting up and running leaving you here, am I?”
“No,” Cheyenne replied fiddling with her thumbs.
“Hey, no nerves tonight,” Eric joked.
“You make me nervous.”
Eric reached across the table and laced his fingers with hers, “At least you’re not nervous in a bad way.”
Cheyenne smiled at how true it was as the waiter brought their food. After dinner, Eric drove the short drive to the Oak View County Park, a small pre-Civil War era farmstead.
“Wow Eric, look they have carriage rides,” Cheyenne said pointing to the horses as they walked by them.
“Want to go on one?”
“Did you even have to ask,” Cheyenne smiled as Eric pulled out his wallet and paid the guy at the gate.
The next carriage pulled up and Eric helped Cheyenne get in before he followed close behind sitting next to her. Wrapping his arm around her waist, he pulled her close to him and kissed her temple.
Cheyenne looking at Eric sideways and smiled before she nestled in close to him. Cheyenne immediately let all the worries she had about a relationship with Eric fade away as the carriage drove them around the historical site.
“What are you doing on Thursday night,” Eric asked suddenly breaking the silence.
“Coach M is having a cocktail party at one of the hotels downtown and I kind of hoped that you’d go with me.”
“Eric, isn’t that like testing the waters of going public with something we’re not,” Cheyenne stated, “We’re not even a couple.”
“I know,” Eric stressed trying not to let Cheyenne know that he was slightly disappointed with her answer, “Everyone has a date except some of the rookies and I really wanted you to go with me.”
Cheyenne suddenly felt guilty and wrapped her arms around Eric’s waist, “Okay, I’ll go.”
“Really,” Eric asked.
“Yeah, it gives me an excuse to go shopping.”
“I’ll ask Cody if she’ll go shopping for a dress with you, she likes to shop.”
“Okay,” Cheyenne smiled suddenly realizing the carriage ride was over.
Eric helped her down the small step and to the car. When they got home, Cheyenne changed her clothes and walked out into the living room. Eric was sitting on the couch without his shirt but was still in his dress pants.
“Do you always sit half naked in your dress clothes,” Cheyenne joked sitting down next to him.
Eric looked at her and smiled, “Only when I have pretty girls in their pajamas walking around my house.”
“Do you use that line on all of the girls you bring home?”
“I don’t bring home any girls, I’m not like that at all. I don’t sleep with girls without being in a relationship or close to them. My mom didn’t raise me like that.”
“I know,” Cheyenne replied leaning over to kiss his cheek but Eric turned his face towards her to say something and their lips connected. Neither one of them pulled away and they both continued to get lost in the moment of how the world around them suddenly didn’t exist. Slid picked Cheyenne up never breaking the kiss and he laid down flat on his back on the couch with her on top of him.
She ran her hands over his chest and he let out a low growl against her lips. Eric ran his hands under her shirt and she shuttered at his touch. They were testing each other’s boundaries to see how far they would let each other go.
“I thought you didn’t sleep with girls without being in a relationship,” Cheyenne mocked as Eric’s hands cupped her breasts.
“I don’t,” he whispered against her lips, “You’re mine.”
“I don’t hit homeruns on the first date,” Cheyenne said as Eric’s lips connected with her neck and she moaned as he found her weak spot.
“Too bad,” he said sitting up with her on his lap. He wrapped his arms around her waist hugging her to him, “Give me a chance, please Cheyenne. I know you don’t want a relationship but you’re all I think about when I go to sleep and you’re the first thing I think about when I wake up. You have no idea how bad I want you to be mine officially. I’ll never ever hurt you, I’d rather die than have someone hurt you again.”
Cheyenne wiped away the tears that had fallen from her eyes and she leaned her forehead against Eric’s, “Okay,” she whispered before giving him a kiss, “You have your chance.”
“That’s all I wanted,” he whispered smiling before wrapping his arms tightly around her. He gave her another kiss and they both smiled at each other before Eric leaned back so that he was sitting with her in his arms. They both fell asleep that night in that position on the couch, Cheyenne was the first one to go to sleep but Eric stayed awake thanking the Gods above that he was given his chance. For the first time since he came to Raleigh, it finally felt like home and he found comfort in knowing that Cheyenne was the reason.
The circumstances as to why she was there weren’t exactly the best but Eric accepted them because the woman he loved was laying in his arms.