Sometime during the night, Nell jerked upright. “Ugh.” Everything seemed a bit off. In addition to her head feeling weird, her bed was . . . different. And where was Mr. Bubbles? He always slept with her, purring softly in her ear.

Eric awoke from his place on the floor and sat up. “Nell, what’s wrong?” Concern laced his voice.

She frowned in confusion. “What are you doing on the floor of my bedroom, Eric?”

“This is my apartment. Don’t you remember our date?”

Images began filtering into her sleep-and-sake muddled brain. “Oh . . . yeah. Electronics . . . sushi.” She tried to stand. Eric jumped up to steady her before she fell.

She slapped a hand across her abdomen. “Gonna be . . .”

“Sick,” finished Eric as she threw up on the front of his tee shirt.

“Ugh, Eric. So sorry.”

He made a face, but Nell didn’t notice. “Hey, it’s okay. Guess we got carried away last night.” He eased her down on the couch.

“Oh, no,” he mumbled. His stomach was about to betray him, too. He sprinted toward the bathroom and leaned over the toilet.

Amazing how emptying your stomach makes you feel so much better, thought Nell. She sat on the couch, eyes closed, and sucked in several deep breaths. Slowly, she opened her eyes. Retching sounds came from the bathroom and then a flush.


She got to her feet and staggered down the hall. “You okay in there?”

Eric slumped against the side of the tub. “Now I am.” He pulled a towel off the rod and wiped his mouth.

Nell looked down at him. “I ruined your shirt.”

He gave it a perfunctory glance. “No biggie. It’s just a tee shirt.”

Nell ran her hands distractedly through her hair. “But isn’t that from your favorite cyber café?”

Eric shrugged. “You have nice legs,” he said finally. “Anyone ever tell you that?”

Nell blushed. “No . . . thanks.”

Neither spoke for a minute. Eric roused himself and pulled the shirt over his head and pushed it aside. Like Deeks, Eric was a surfer and his chest and arms were nicely toned. Nell had never given that any thought as she worked with him daily in Ops. But now, well, it was an impressive sight.

She sat down beside him. “That was fun . . . not!” She leaned her head on his shoulder.

Eric chuckled. “Selfie?”

She poked his ribs and laughed, too. “Don’t think so. Maybe I should go home,” she sighed.

“That’s crazy. It’s - he lifted his wrist to check the time – 2:15 in the morning and it’s still raining.” He paused. “Wouldn’t you rather stay here with me?”

Please don’t go.

They had the same thought at the same time. “Got any . . .” began Nell.

“Mouthwash?” he finished. “Under the sink.”

They got up and Nell retrieved the bottle. “Let me get you a glass,” said Eric.

“No need.” She uncapped it and poured an arc of the liquid into her mouth. She swished it around and handed him the bottle. “Don’t tell me that’s how you did shots in college,” said Eric.

She spit into the sink. “I’m not telling you anything,” she said cheekily.

Eric rinsed and placed the mouthwash under the sink. He had an idea, but wondered how Nell would react.

“We look like death warmed over,” said Nell with a yawn.

“You can say that again. Let’s go back to bed.”

“Yeah.” She started to go back to the couch, but he rested his hands on her shoulders. “Nell, wait. My back can’t take that floor.” He turned her toward his bedroom. She gave him a quizzical look.

He swallowed the lump in his throat. “Nothing funny. Just two people sharing space while we sleep. Because we need our rest and tomorrow, well, today is a work day. I’ll be on my side and you’ll be on your side. Scout’s honor.”

Her eyes narrowed as she considered his suggestion. “Were you really a Boy Scout?”

He smiled. “Eagle Scout.”

“Okay. I guess that makes you trustworthy, loyal and all that. But one question.”


“Which side is yours?”

That appeared to stump him. “I don’t really have a side.”

Without further discussion, Nell went into the bedroom, flicked on the light and looked around. Everything was neat and in place. Exactly what she would have expected from Eric. She went to the left side of the bed and crawled under the covers.

Eric stood in the doorway, not quite believing she’d agreed to this. “Is there a problem?” she asked.

He shook his head. “No problem.” He hit the light switch. Still wearing his cargo shorts, he slid in on the right side.

They adjusted their pillows and settled down. “Think you can trust me to stay on my side?” asked Nell. “I was never a Girl Scout.” She was grinning, but she knew Eric couldn’t see that in the dark.

“Think you can resist me?” he returned.

“Hmm. You’ll have to wait and see, Beale.”

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