I am pretty impressed with my self for managing to get this out in less than three years, so I hope everyone enjoys. A special thanks to anneryn7, and BaDWolF89 for your reviews. Also thank you to the Guest for your review as well and thephoenixsong for following my fic. Your support is greatly appreciated.
As always I have no beta so please forgive any and all mistakes. Now on with the show...
Chapter 7 (Sweetest of Days)
Joan watched Eric walk away until the shadows swallowed him up, only then did she head inside. It was almost surreal coming home after the last few hours, so much had changed.
Closing the door behind her Joan looked up to find her father standing propped against the living room door waiting for her. Busted!
Her mind quickly sorted through all of the lies she had told that day so that she wouldn't trip up during her interrogation. Grace, she was with Grace if asked, she kept repeating to her self.
"Who was that?" Her father asked with out delay, his raised brow a classic dad intimidation technique that Joan was well acquainted with.
Damn! That was not the question she had been expecting. He must have seen them talking on the front stoop, she realized. Glancing at the clock behind him she was relived to see that it was only 7:30. She had spent longer with Eric than she realized but it was still way before her curfew.
Swallowing back the lump in her throat, Joan did her best to seem unaffected and annoyed. One of which was not hard to fake. "No one dad, just a friend from school."
"A friend? Have we ever met this friend from school?"
There was no faking her annoyance this time. Joan wasn't a fool, her father had been watching them and once he realized that she was with a boy he decided to freak out on her.
"No you haven't as this is his first week. Look he was just walking me home from Grace's house, where we were studying for Chem." It was always best to give more information than asked for but not too many specifics with her father. A lesson she had learned long ago.
He nodded his head but didn't seem entirely convinced. He wanted more and Joan almost wanted to give him more. She had promised Eric she would keep his secrets to herself but she knew her father could help. Only she couldn't bare the thought of seeing that haunted look darkening his eyes again. She had promised, and she would keep her promise.
Suddenly feeling unbelievably tiered Joan moved toward the stairs but his next words stopped her mid step.
"And what about the black eye?"
A hundred excuses for how Eric could have gotten the black eye came to mind but they were stuck on her tongue like lead weights.
"Joan, is that you honey?" Saved by mom!
"Yeah, I just got home and now Dad is giving me the firth degree." She offered with as much sweetness as she could muster.
"Why are you giving our daughter the firth degree Will?" Helen looked between her daughter and husband waiting for an explanation.
"I wasn't giving her the firth degree, I was just asking about the young man that dropped her off just now."
"And as I told Dad he is a friend from school. We were studying and he offered to walk me home. End of story, alright." Joan wanted to throw her hands up in frustration. All she wanted to do was sleep.
Helen could see that Joan was getting upset and knowing her husbands protective instincts she could imagine his line of questioning. Time to play peace maker. "Well we would like to meet him sometime Joan." Offering her daughter a smile, Helen called them in for dinner effectively ending the inquisition.
Joan returned her Mothers smile while her father sulked along behind them into the kitchen. At least one thing went her way.
"I expect this place to still be standing tomorrow!" Sam called out as the shop door slammed behind him. His wife had called with some non-emergency to do with his mother and he reluctantly left Joan to hold down the store on her own. Joan was never so grateful to see him go as now.
She had spent the better part of the last two hours of work watching the door like an over eager hawk. Every time a mop of dark hair passed by the windows her heart rate doubled in anticipation, only to plummet again when she realized it wasn't him.
He was late.
Eric had agreed to meet her at 2:00 and it was now 2:40. There were too many possibilities for his absence for Joan's liking and none of them made her feel any better. One more glance at the clock showed another 5 minuets had gone by and she still had stocking to get done. She grabbed the cart only to hear the chime of the door bells.
Spinning around faster then was safe Joan knocked over the cart of new books but thankfully managed to stay up right. Standing at the counter in his standard uniform of a button down over a t-shirt and jeans was a grinning Eric.
"Are you always this uncoordinated Joan or am I just lucky?" It was a cheesy jock and they both knew it, but it made her smile and that was good enough for Eric.
"I'm late." He agreed with a shrug. No explanation was offered as he helped her right the cart and pick up the mess of books scattered around their feet.
Joan wanted to be annoyed with him and she was, but most of all she was just happy he was here and didn't seam to be in any worse shape then last night. Peaking up at him she noticed that he had used makeup to cover the black eye and his lip looked noticeably less swollen, he would heal fast.
Eric caught her watching him several times, he had remembered to sneak some of his mothers make up that morning in hopes of easing Joan's mind a bit. For the second night in a row he had been unable to get her out of his mind only this time it was her fear he was recalled instead of soft sighs as they danced. He was determined that if she was willing to give him another chance he was going to make the most of what ever time he had with the crazy/ amazing girl.
"Are you here alone?" He asked looking around for any sign of coworkers. Joan shook her head and launched into a story about her boss and his overly dramatic family.
They talked about anything and everything over the next few hours. Eric told her about is music, how he learned to play the guitar when he was seven years old and had been able to play just about any instrument he tired since, piano, bass, and drums included. Joan listened as he painted his dream of someday being able to share his music with the world, not as a performer –which surprised her- but as a song writer or producer. Joan intern told him about her father's promotion, and her brother's accident. About befriending Grace, and even about her relationship with Adam. She excluded the parts about meeting God of course.
Eric was amazingly easy to talk to for someone who was so aloof when she first met him, he listened and was even playful she discovered when they somehow ended up chasing each other around the bookshelves.
"You can run but you can't hide…" Eric sang from somewhere behind her but she didn't look back to see where he was, she was laughing too hard to care anyways.
Joan turned the corner but was caught by an arm around her waist, screaming out in surprise, deft fingers found there way under the hem of her shirt and begun to tickle her mercilessly. She laughed/hiccuped between breaths trying to wiggle out of his grasp but he was too fast for her to escape.
"Eric…stop!" Her laughter took away from the demand and in response Eric only increased his assault, laughing right along with her.
"Say please." He whispered so close to her ear that the feel of his hot breath against her skin was enough to shock her back to the present. Somehow during his tickle assault she had managed to turn around in his arms. They were face to face, lips only inches apart, her back was pressed against a hard wall of shelving and her front against an equally hard chest breathing every bit as hard as she was.
The air was suddenly too thin between them. The laughter of moments ago was replaced by a thick tension lurking just below the surface. With out her consent Joan's eyes strayed to Eric's slightly parted lips and then back to see his eyes darken to near black as he watched her.
A heart beat later they bridged the distance between them, lips met and meshed in a slow dance. The hand that had been poised around her ribs shifted around her back, pulling her in until no space remained between their two bodies, while the other sipped into her hair to cradle her head so that he could deepen the kiss.
Joan could only moan at the contact, her own hands clutched at his shoulders in an attempt to bring him closer still. When breathing became a necessity they pulled apart reluctantly, both beyond amazed by the depths of emotions swirling just below the surface.
"I was late getting off work." He breathed raggedly against her forehead. When Joan looked up at him in confusion he elaborated. "I was late getting off work at the grocery store across town, where I work the early shift on the weekends. That is why I was late today, not because I forgot about meeting you."
Eric didn't know why he was telling her this now, but he needed her to know that he wasn't toying with her. Whatever this was, meant something to him and if the smile blossoming across her flushed cheeks was any indication, he knew it meant something to her as well.
"OK, so why don't we plan on 3:00 next weekend?" Joan suggested with a smirk of her own.
"Sounds good to me."
There wasn't much talking after that.