I wanted to let you know that I received your last letter, and that it made my heart so happy to read it. I know that we've been apart now for six months, but my rehabilitation has been slower than I would have liked. I know that you want to be here with me, but I don't want you to see me like this. I want you to think of me as I was before that night in NYC. But, oh, do I miss you ever so much. There are still some leaves clinging to the trees here in New Hampshire, but I've been told that we're going to have snow sometime soon. I've missed a real snow, but I fear that I'm not properly prepared for the season, since I only have a few sweaters, and no heavy coat. I guess I just assumed that I would be better and home before this.
Alex wrote me the other day, too, telling me that she and James are growing stronger. It surprised me to find out that there had been tension there, since they were always such a strong couple, but I suppose that distance can create cracks in even the strongest foundations. When you get this letter, please give her an extra smile from me, but don't tell her that I asked you to do that. And give Penelope a hug and a kiss for me. Not on the lips! I think Sam would take affront to that. But she's faithfully sent me flowers once a week since I've arrived here, and it's been a tremendous bright spot. I'm going to have to find something for her for Christmas, to repay a small fraction of that kindness.
I should probably let you go, even though there's so much that I want to say to you, my love. Please, have lunch with my babies this Saturday. And if Alan will let you, spend Thanksgiving with them, since I can't. I love you. I love you. I love you.
David felt himself tear up as he read Erin's letter for the second time since it arrived at the BAU, and he looked up from the paper to swipe at his eyes and clear his throat. There was a yearning in her words that told him how much she missed him, and that was only matched by how much he missed her. Glancing at his calendar, he saw that Thanksgiving was coming up too quickly, but he knew exactly what he wanted to happen.
Throwing caution to the wind, he pushed away from the desk, carrying the letter with him as he strode down to Penelope's office, knowing that she, of all people, would be able to help him make this minor miracle come true for him and Erin. She was on the phone with someone when he entered, and she gave him a small smile as she wrapped up her conversation with Prophet. "What can I do for you, my sweet Italian Stallion?"
He grinned as he motioned to his side. "First, I have some orders from Erin, as per her latest letter to me." She gave him a strange look, but still rose to her feet and went over to him, letting out a soft sigh as he hugged her and kissed her cheek. "She loves the flowers, and if you need any money to help cover keeping that up, my bank account is open to you."
"I am so glad that they've helped! I keep wanting to get away to see her, but it never seems like the right time. But I should be all right, money wise. And if things get hairy, I can just moonlight at the genius bar again. While I might not be able to have a computer of my own, that doesn't mean I can't help others out. Now, what else do you need from me?"
"I can be good at that, it all depends on what sort of miracle you need."
Dave took a deep breath as he guided them over to her couch, taking a seat and drawing her down beside him. "Erin is lonely, and I want to lift her spirits up for Thanksgiving, though I'm hoping that she'll be home for Christmas. So, I want you to help me arrange a trip to see her. You and Sam are more than welcome to tag along, but I want to get her children to come with me, and that is where part of your miracle will come in. Because I know that Alan might have a problem if the request comes solely from me. I'm going to be honest with you…"
"He thinks you were sleeping with Erin before they got a divorce?" He nodded, giving her a shocked look. "Dave, it was the rumor flying around when it became obvious that there was something between you two at the bank heist debacle. Don't worry, I'll smooth the way. And you should ask Alex to come with us, too. I know that she and Erin are writing letters, so I think that she'd love to see her, too."
"All right, I'll work on Alex while you work on Alan and her children." Penelope gave him a wide smile as she nodded and then she hugged him tightly once more, a low squeal slipping from her lips as she rose to her feet. "Wish me luck?"
"I doubt you'll need it, but good luck." He nodded as he got up, making his way out of the office and taking a look over the bullpen. Alex was at her desk, bent over a piece of paper, and he wondered if she was writing to Erin in her downtime. Taking a deep breath, he made his way down to her, taking a seat on her desk as he tried not to read the letter she had been writing.
"What can I do for you, Dave?"
"I have a very large favor to ask of you." Her brow furrowed as she looked at him, and he took another deep breath before going on. "Erin is lonely, and I want to cheer her up for Thanksgiving. I think that she's getting a bit defeated that her recovery is taking a little longer than she had planned, and though she keeps telling me that she doesn't want me to see her the way she is right now, I want to ignore her wishes and bring her family to her for the holiday. And since she always mentions how much joy your letters bring her, I want to invite you and James along."
Alex's face relaxed into a soft smile, her eyes suddenly bright with tears as she let out a long breath. "Do you really think that she'd want me there with her children and you?"
Reaching out, he curved his hand around her shoulder, giving it a soft squeeze as he nodded. "At this point, I'm just going to consider you part of the family." Alex smiled as she nodded. "All right, I'm renting a private jet to take us up there, and we'll leave on Wednesday. I expect you and James on that plane."
"As long as he can get his shifts covered, he'll be there. Now, let me finish this letter and we'll go over more of the details once you've settled everything. If you can pull off this visit in less than a week's notice, you really will be a miracle worker."
"Well, Kitten is helping, so that means we stand a greater chance of pulling that miracle off. Thanks, Alex. I know that this will mean the world to her." She nodded, that soft, open, smile never leaving her face as he left her alone, making his way back up to Penelope's office. She was wearing a similar smile on her lips, and he knew that he was about to hear good news. "Well?"
"Alan said yes. Seems that Tabitha has been insistent on seeing her mother sooner rather than later, and when he heard that you were footing the bill? It was an instant yes. I've already been looking into houses to rent for the weekend, and I think that I've found the perfect one, so if you want to rent the private jet, I'll take care of the house and the food. I assume that you'll want to cook the meal?"
"I can do that for her, yes." Penelope grinned before turning back to her computer, tapping away at the keyboard. "I don't know if we should plan on James or not, he might not be able to get the holiday off."
"Oh, that will suck for Alex, but I get it. It is rather late notice. Don't worry, I'll send a message round to Matt and let him know where we're going. I'm planning on us being back Tuesday, so that you have a little time with your lady love. And besides, you haven't had a vacation in years, plus Erin was hurt in the line of duty, so if he knows what's good for him, we'll get the time off."
He chuckled as he patted her shoulder gently. "I do not want to know what you do to convince him to give us that, Kitten. Just promise me that you'll keep it aboveboard?"
"Ah, the Black Queen has to have a little fun sometimes," she teased, giving him a broad wink. Shaking his head a little, Dave made his way from the office and went back to his, trying to think of what he could write back to Erin, knowing that he wanted to keep the visit as secret as possible, hoping that she wouldn't be too angry with him for this surprise.
There were so many details to finalise in the days between when they had gotten the ball rolling and when they were leaving on Wednesday, that Dave realized it was time to go only when Aaron was wishing him a safe trip before they left on Tuesday. And now, he was at the airfield, waiting for Penelope and Alex to arrive. Alan had dropped the kids off earlier, and they were all aboard the jet already, chattering excitedly about getting to visit their mother, and the opportunity to fly on a real private jet. Letting out a little impatient sigh, he pulled his phone out of his pocket to see if he had any new messages, even though he hadn't felt it vibrate against his leg.
"Hey! Sorry we're late, but James was just walking in the door, telling us that he got his shifts covered!" He turned to see Penelope jogging over to him, her bags thwapping against her legs. Dave had to brace himself as she threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly. "Are the kids on board already?"
"Good! We're all ready to go, then." She kissed his cheek softly before clambering up the steps of the jet, handing her bags to the captain before disappearing inside. The two men exchanged a look before Dave shook his head, smiling wryly as the man went to stow her luggage beneath the plane. Turning back, he saw Alex and James approaching at a more sedate pace, their hands entwined. Raising his hand, he waved at them, smiling widely at them.
Alex let go of James's hand and hurried over to him, allowing him to hug her gently. "I would have called, but that would have taken more time, and I just wanted to get here and then take off. So, what's the plan?"
"Getting to New Hampshire, and…well, I'm not too certain after that. I know that we've been given permission to bring Erin back to the house Penelope rented, but I haven't ironed out all the details. And as far as I know, Erin still doesn't know that we're coming." As he spoke, they made their way to the plane, and he took Alex's bag from her hands and loaded it with the other luggage before climbing onto the plane and taking a seat next to Penelope, leaving the other double seat open for James and Alex.
"So, once we've landed, we're going to split up. James and I will ride with the kids to the house I've selected for our weekend while you and Alex head to the rehabilitation facility. I think that it would overwhelm Erin if we all showed up unannounced, so it makes sense that it would be just you and Alex there, even if I desperately want to be with you in that moment." Penelope took hold of his hand, squeezing it tightly, letting him know that she truly was sad about allowing Alex to join him. "I rented two vehicles for us, a larger van, and the car that you'll use to get to the facility. And according to the rental company, the fridge and pantry are stocked with the list that you made for me. We are going to enjoy a perfect long holiday weekend. I'm just sorry that we won't be hitting up any shops for Black Friday, though if your mum feels up to it, we could do a little small business Saturday. I may have made a list of cute little shops that she might like to see."
Tabitha got up from her seat and came over to them, plopping down onto Dave's lap as she curled an arm around his neck. "I would love the opportunity to go shopping with you. Mama talks about her work friends in her letters to me, and I'm assuming that you're just as amazing in person as you are on paper. Though I might have to ask you for a small loan, David, since Daddy only gave us enough money to pay for a meal or two."
"You three don't need to worry about a thing while you're here with me. I will be picking up the tab on anything that we want to do or see. All that I care about is making certain your mother is happy and refreshed after seeing us for the holiday, and I hope that this visit will perk her spirits up enough so that she is able to come home before Christmas."
Tabitha nodded as she hugged him tightly, snuggling in close as they continued their journey to New Hampshire. It was a short flight, only ninety five minutes, but Dave felt his stomach tighten up into knots as he considered the idea that Erin might reject them outright, that this surprise would go surprisingly pear shaped, and they would be spending a holiday without her. "Everything will be all right, Dave," Penelope whispered as she reached out to caress his upper arm. "I'm worried, too, but I think that that's just because we haven't seen Erin in close to six months."
He nodded as the plane began to land at the private airfield that Penelope had found close to Erin's rehabilitation facility. As soon as they landed, he made certain to tip their pilot well, confirming when they would be returning, and then helped James and Bruce load all the luggage into the back of the van that was waiting for them. "All right, we'll see you in a few hours, I'm assuming," James said as he closed the doors to the van and turned to face Dave. "Thank you for including me. You didn't have to."
"And it wouldn't be fair to take Alex away from you for the holiday. So, you're unofficially part of the family. Don't let Penelope talk everyone's ear off on the drive. She has the tendency to do that when she's nervous."
"Lexie's told me as much." They shared a knowing smile before James shook his hand and got into the van. Dave watched it drive off before he went over to Alex's side and guided her over to the car. The driver was already behind the wheel, and Dave let out a small sound of relief as he took the passenger seat, letting Alex climb into the back before they were underway.
The drive was longer than he thought it would be, but then the gorgeous Dutch colonial style house came into view, and he could feel his blood start to thrum in his veins, excitement filling every cell of his body. "We've arrived," the driver said as she put the vehicle in park. "I'll see you in a few minutes?"
He nodded as he climbed out of the car, tears starting to prickle the corner of his eyes as he walked up to the door. Alex was by his side in a moment, her hand cupping his elbow, as if she wanted to assure herself that this was really happening. Stopping in front of the door, he raised his hand and knocked, waiting for the director to answer the door.
"Hello, you must be David and Alex. Penelope told me that you would be here about this time. Erin is in our morning room, at the back of the house, but I want to go over a few things with both of you before I allow her to leave with you." He frowned a little as they were led into a cosy looking office, and he sank down into a seat across the desk, noticing that Alex copied his movement in the chair next to him. "Now, I know that Erin has written you numerous times, and that you and Alex have written back faithfully, and that has been a tremendous help in her recovery. Erin is becoming quite frustrated over the fact that she is not getting better as quickly as she thinks that she should."
"I'm assuming that that is a direct result of the homebrew MDMA that Curtis fed to her?" he asked, his hands tightening around the arms of the chair at the memory of what the man had done to Erin.
"That would be our best guess as well. And since no one was able to recover any notes that he made in regards to how he concocted the drug, it's been difficult to gauge what our way forward should be at times. Which leads to more frustration on Erin's part. So, while she's with you, I want the two of you to try and keep her frustration levels as low as possible. Redirect her, engage her focus on something else, just make her forget that she needs her crutches to walk. And if this visit goes well, I'll be telling her that she can go home in two weeks' time. I want her to be home for Christmas, she wants to be perfectly well for Christmas. And while miracles can happen, I've been trying to get her to think small in victories, so that when the big ones come, she's prouder of her progress."
"All right. Let me guess, she's been a bit cranky with you and the rest of the staff?"
"Yes. But given her background and what she's been through, she deserves to be a little salty." The director smiled at them as she took a deep breath. "I've given all my contact details to Penelope already, if you need to get in contact with us during the visit for any reason. Now, would you like to see her?"
"You don't have to ask twice," Dave said as he got to his feet, Alex popping up just as quickly. The woman smiled at them as she beckoned for them to follow after her, and he instinctively grabbed Alex's hand, feeling nervous butterflies start to dance in his stomach once more. This was it, he was going to see his beloved for the first time in six months, and he couldn't wait to see her. He just hoped that it wasn't too much for her. All thoughts seemed to flee his mind as he clocked her head, looking out the window at something. The light of the room haloed her hair, and he gasped a little to see that her hair had grown so much, reminding him of when they were younger, even if there were threads of silver running through it now.
"Erin, you have a few visitors today, and they have something to tell you. I'll be back soon."
Dave nodded absently as Erin turned her head to look at them, the blood draining from her cheeks as a delicate smile trembled on her lips. "Lexie? David?" she asked, a quiver in her voice that told him she was very close to tears. He nodded as he closed the small distance between them, reaching out to cup her face with his hand, his thumb rubbing back and forth along her cheekbone. "How? Why? I told you both not to come."
"You know I never listen, dolce. I missed you too much to stay away any longer. And we do have something to tell you. Do you remember how you asked me to take care of your children on Thanksgiving?" She nodded as she held a hand out to Alex, and Dave wasn't surprised to see her step forward and clasp it lightly. "Well, Kitten has helped me to arrange a sweet surprise for you this weekend. And somehow, I've been roped into cooking for eight people during the holiday."
"Quit speaking in circles, David. What's going on?"
He chuckled a little before leaning in and kissing her gently, loving the feel of her lips against his. "We've managed to get permission for you to accompany us to the house that Penelope rented for the weekend. You're going to spend Thanksgiving with your children and us. Because we needed to see you again. Do you have any idea how much I've missed seeing your face?"
"Almost as much as I've missed seeing yours, I'm assuming. But I'm not well enough to go."
"Erin Diane Strauss! You need to knock off that kind of thinking!" Alex snapped out, and Dave watched Erin's face close off to them as a few tears escaped her eyes, rolling down her face and onto his thumbs. "You are the most stubborn woman I have ever met, and this time, it is a very bad thing. We've spoken with the director of this facility and she says that you're making incredible progress, despite all the hurdles you've had to climb over. So please, come with us and spend a glorious six days with us. Because God knows I've missed you so much, and those letters only tell me so much."
Alex looked at him, and he nodded, stepping away from Erin so that Alex could crouch down a little before she leaned in and hugged Erin, kissing her cheek before burying her face in the crook of her shoulder and bursting into tears. Erin closed her arms around Alex, rocking them back and forth a little as drew in shaky breaths. "This is why I didn't want you here, my loves. It will be so hard to say goodbye now, and not know when I'll be back with you forever. Because I want to be home. I want to wake up in your arms every morning, David. I want to have lunch dates with you, Lexie. But I can't. I'm not strong enough yet."
"I think that you might be, and you just don't see it," Alex whispered. "But the only way you'll know that is if you come with us. Okay?"
"Now who's being the stubborn one?" Erin shot back before nodding against Alex's shoulder, pushing her away gently. "David, be a love and grab my forearm crutches?"
He nodded and looked around for them, knowing that they had to be nearby. Finally, he noticed them resting against the window sill, and he handed them to Erin, watching as she fitted her arms into them, staggering to her feet without their help. "Are you ready to head out with us, then?"
"No. I'll need to make a bag up. You should have let me know that you were coming, so I could have been prepared."
"If we had done that, you probably would not have agreed. The only way to get you to agree was to ambush you," Alex said as they made their way out into the foyer. The director was just starting down the stairs, a bag in her hands, and Dave let out a little chuckle. "And see? We have you taken care of. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride."
"I suppose. Are my babies really here?" Dave nodded. "Oh, David," she murmured as she turned to him and pulled him into a tight hug. "I love you so much, my darling one."
"And I love you, my dolce bella." He caressed her face before kissing her once more. "Now let Alex walk by your side out to the car, and I'll carry your bag."
"Okay." Erin rested her head against his chest for a moment, breathing in deeply. "I've missed the scent of your aftershave. I was so tempted to ask you to send me a bottle, so that I could spritz it on my pillow and smell you as I slept."
"You should have asked. I would have done that for you," he replied as she stepped away from him, walking slowly towards the door. Alex hovered by her side, anxiety rolling off her body, and Dave thought that she was feeling the same way he was – uncertain when and how to help Erin, and if she would be upset if they did try to help her. As soon as they were outside, he turned to the director, and she gave him a tender smile.
"She's not made of glass, you all need to keep that in mind. And Erin will be testy if you hover over her for the next six days. Treat her like she's normal, which she is, just slow because she doesn't trust herself without the crutches. If you can, try and get her to support herself on your arm and leave the crutches behind for a little bit while she's with you. Have one of her kids carry them, if she insists on having them close. I just need to get her to see that she's healthier than she thinks."
"I will definitely be working towards that, then. Because I want her home with us." The director nodded as Dave took hold of the bag and then made his way outside. He was surprised to see that Alex had taken the passenger seat, since he had thought she might like talking to Erin on the drive to the house. Giving the woman a wide smile, he slid into the back seat, placing Erin's bag on his feet as he buckled his belt and settled back, allowing the driver to take off. Once they were underway, he reached out for Erin's hand, threading their fingers together. "So, you decided to grow your hair out?"
"Yes. Do you like it?" she asked as she reached up with her free hand to run her fingers through it. As he nodded, his eyes focused in on the infinity symbol scar on her wrist. Glancing up, he saw her smile turn sad as she lowered her arm into her lap. Squeezing the hand he was holding, Dave leaned over and kissed her. Erin returned the kiss, leaning into him, pressing him further into the car seat as she moved further into his space, the hunger between them so quickly deepening. "I haven't felt you near me in so long," she gasped out as they finally ended their impromptu make out session, and he nodded as he dragged his fingers through her hair, reveling in the softness of the strands.
"And I cannot wait to sleep with you once more. I know, we probably won't have sex, not with your kids, Penelope, Alex, and James in the house, but it will be nice to cuddle with you."
"Hey, if we're cuddling, I think that Penelope is going to want to have a girl's night, with just the three of us, and maybe Erin's girls. Would you mind sharing your love with us for that?"
Dave nodded before kissing Erin again. "I suppose that I can share her for one night before we head home. Though I wish that we could take her with us. Maybe we can talk to that director and see what that would entail?"
"Maybe. But she'll tell you the same thing I'm saying – I'm simply not ready."
It took everything in Dave to keep from refuting her words, knowing that this stubborn mindset would not be helped by sharp words and arguments. He had to cajole her home, with sweet words and tender reminders of what was waiting for her there. "All right, Erin," he replied soothingly before stroking her hair lightly, watching the scenery change around them as they drove. By the time they arrived at the house, Erin was almost asleep on his chest, and he found his heart clenching almost painfully in his chest as they came to a stop. "We're here," he whispered in her ear as he shook her shoulder gently, not wanting to startle her awake.
She sat up and stretched a little as Alex opened her door, holding out her crutches. Erin awkwardly got out of the car and fitted them onto her arms as Dave got out of the other side of the car. He carefully watched as she approached the three stairs that led up to the porch. Erin took a deep breath and shook her head a little as she steadily climbed the stairs, the crutches acting as more of an afterthought until she was on the flat part of the porch. Then, she went back to the slow shuffle that she had used in the rehabilitation facility. Exchanging a quick look with Alex, he saw that she was nodding at him, letting him know that she had seen the exact same thing.
"Well, are you two coming?" Erin asked, and Dave nodded as he quickly jogged up the stairs and went to the front door, opening it for her and letting her head inside while Alex brought up the rear. Reaching out, she tugged him away from the door a little to look into his eyes.
"We're going to make certain that she's not using those by the end of our visit. Because she doesn't need them, if she can climb stairs so easily. This has to be what the director was talking about," she whispered fiercely in his ear.
"Those are my thoughts exactly. I know that, between the two of us, we can make that happen." Alex nodded sharply as they made their way inside the house. From the happy squeals, Dave knew that Erin had made it to wherever the rest of the group was, and he smiled as they hurried towards the sounds. Stepping into the living room, he found happy tears quickly flooding his eyes when he saw that Erin was surrounded by her children, a happy huddle of people. Tabitha looked up at him, openly crying, and she beckoned him over to join, which he did, slipping his arms around her children.
"Well, while you all get reacquainted, I'm going to start on supper. Alex, James, want to give me a hand?"
"I suppose we can do that, Penelope," James answered, and it only took a few minutes for them to leave the room.
Taking a deep breath, Dave stepped away from the group, watching as her children slowly disentangled themselves from around Erin's form. She wobbled a little at the loss of them, and he watched as she righted herself before planting the tips of her crutches onto the floor. A little smile spread across his lips as he held out his arm to her, unsurprised when she came over to him, the distraction of her children causing her to not rely on the mobility aids as she went. "So, we have you here until Tuesday, Mama," Tabitha said excitedly. "And Penelope even said that she'd take us shopping on Saturday, if you feel up to it. I really hope that you do, because I have missed spending time doing things with you."
Erin drew in a sharp breath as she glanced up at Dave, panic quickly clouding her eyes. "We'll have to see how I'm feeling, Tabby. It's hard for me to get around with these crutches, and I tire out so easily. But I would love to spend more time with all of you. Now, tell me all about what you've been up to these last six months. I want to hear everything that you haven't written about."
Dave led her over to the sofa, setting her crutches behind the sofa as she lowered herself down onto it. Then he was sitting next to her, allowing her to curl up against him as they began to talk about where their lives had taken them since she had been working on making herself better. The discussion carried on into supper, and it was wonderful to hear Erin get so animated, making it feel like one of their normal family suppers, just with more voices. By the time they were finished with their meal, though, Erin was yawning every few seconds, and he gave Penelope a quick look. "So, Kitten, I think that we need to be shown to our room," he said as he helped Erin to her feet.
"Of course! I put you two closest to the bathroom upstairs, so that it wouldn't be quite a trek," she replied, smiling as she rose to her feet and guided them over to the staircase. With his arm wrapped around her waist, Dave helped her climb the stairs. It was slow going, but he made certain not to call attention to the fact that he had deliberately left her crutches in the kitchen. "Here we are! I put myself between you two and Alex and James, just in case things happen. It's better to protect little ears from hearing what they shouldn't!"
Erin giggled as she nodded, and then Penelope stepped forward, hugging her tightly before kissing her cheek. "I didn't think I'd be happy that you all surprised me like this, but I am overjoyed to be here, with you all. I will see you in the morning?"
"Yes. I'll probably start breakfast for us, though I'm assuming Dave is going to start cooking our feast early on. Who knows, he might strong arm you into helping as well." She gave him a broad wink before scurrying down the stairs, allowing Dave to lead Erin into the bedroom. Her bag was on the bed, and he nudged her over to the bed, watching her take slightly unsteady steps. It was only when she sat down on the bed that she seemed to realise that she didn't have her crutches, and she lifted her head to stare at him.
"What's going on here? I need my crutches, David."
He shrugged a little as he crossed to her side, kneeling on the floor so that he could gaze up into her face. "I heard a little rumor that you are much stronger than you let on, so I thought that we could test that in a safe space. You climbed those stairs on your own, though I was at your side. And you just walked all by yourself over to the bed. While you might not be the strongest on your own two feet yet, I think that between all of us here, we can catch you if you fall in the house. And if you go out shopping Saturday with the girls, of course you'll take your crutches. But while we're here, together, let us take care of you and see what happens from here. Please?"
Erin started to cry a little as he reached up and cupped her face, never taking his eyes off her. "I suppose that I can try, for you. But what if I'm not strong enough?"
"Then one of us will be your strength until you can find it once more. Because that is what friends and family do for each other. Now, let's get you dressed for bed." She shook her head before turning her face into his palm and pressing her lips there. "What?"
"I want to sleep feeling your skin against mine. It has been six months since I had that luxury, and I am not about to pass it up now that you're so close to me." He nodded as he allowed his shoulders to drop, leaning in to kiss her forehead sweetly before bringing his hands down to rest on her shoulders. "Please, before I fall asleep sitting up."
"All right," he replied softly as their lips met in a gentle kiss. As the kiss lingered, Dave started to unfasten the buttons on Erin's blouse, allowing the fabric to gape as he tugged the tails out of her trousers before pushing it off her shoulders. Sitting back on his heels, he stared at her pale skin, his fingers itching to caress and feel and take things to a more physical level, but he wasn't certain that this was the right time for that. Instead, he fumbled with the fastenings on her trousers and pulled them down her legs, his hands lingering on her thighs as he drew in a deep breath. "I've missed seeing you like this, you know."
"And yet you're still dressed, so I can't appreciate you." He chuckled as he tugged off his suit coat before making quick work of his shirt and pants, then stripping off his socks and loafers. While he was close to Erin's feet, he pulled off her ballet flats before running his hands back up her legs and slipping his thumbs beneath the waistband of her panties. She nodded, giving him an open smile as he tugged them down her legs before fitting himself between her legs and reaching up to unclasp her bra, letting it join their other garments on the floor. "Now, there's just your boxers left," she purred, and he raised an eyebrow as he got to his feet, shucking that last garment before going around to the other side of the bed and pulling back the covers.
"Are you going to join me, Erin?" he asked, and she turned on the bed to look at him, smiling a little as she nodded. It took a little longer for her to get beneath the covers, but then she was stretching out along his body, and they both released a breath of relief as his arms closed around her waist. "I love you, and I hope that you know that I did this because I missed you so much. Being here, in your arms, makes me realized just how much I need you in my life. When we leave, please, listen to you director, and I really think that you could be home in time for Christmas. We need you, Erin. All of us."
He drew in a shaky breath as he closed his eyes, not willing to see the look on her face. And then, she was lifting his chin and capturing his lips in a possessive kiss. "Do you really think I can do that?"
"I truly do. Because you're better than you think you are, and we are all willing to help you improve even more in the next five days. I just, I can't live without you any longer." Erin's voice caught in her throat as she gave him a watery smile. "Do you love me?"
"I love you to the moon and back, David." They shared another kiss as Erin brought one of his hands up to her breasts. "Tomorrow night, I want to make love with you. I don't know how it will go, since I truly do have moments of weakness, but I know I can trust you to be gentle and loving. That you won't push me past what I can handle." She snuggled close to him, and he relished the feel of her skin against him. "Oh, my dear David, just hold me tonight and help me remember all the nights we spent like this."
"Yes, my darling Erin," he murmured as he closed his hand around her breasts, relishing the feel of the heaviness filling his palm as he pressed his lips against her forehead. "And now, let's drift off to sleep, and you can think about helping me cook tomorrow. I love Kitten, but you're the only one I trust to really help me with making a proper Thanksgiving feast." She chuckled as she nodded, and they yawned in tandem. Dave wanted to stay awake, to feel her fall asleep in his arms, but the busyness of the day quickly stole over him, and he closed his eyes heavily as he fell asleep, his heart full of love for his Erin.