Long Time Running - By Hannah Foster


Seven years earlier

Rays of light slivered through the curtains and softly warmed the room. As his fingertips brushed against her breasts, Nathalie sighed sleepily and smiled. "Haven't you had enough?" she asked, her eyes still closed as she snuggled close to the warmth of his body.

Nuzzling her neck, he breathed in her heady scent. "Don't you know by now there is no such thing as enough where you're concerned?"

The young doctor rolled on to her back, her long, dark blonde hair fanning out against the pillow; her green eyes dancing. "You are incorrigible."

"I know." His hand traced a small pattern across her torso. "It's our first day off together in over a month and I think we should spend it in bed." Eric softly sucked on her ear lobe, "Do you agree?"

Nathalie's stomach pitched and rolled. Whether it was from nerves or the reaction she always had to his touch she was unclear. She wanted nothing more than to get lost in him - lost in his deep blue eyes, his soft full lips and his lean muscular body but there wasn't time for that. There was a conversation she had been avoiding for weeks but it could not wait any longer.

Swallowing the lump in her throat at the uncertainty of things to come, Nathalie recognized that she was potentially about to blow their world apart. As Eric pressed kisses down her throat, she focused on how this felt, this moment when they were perfect. There had been so many moments like this between them and if this was going to be their last perfect moment she wanted to savor it.

"I've missed you," he whispered gruffly as his lips met hers.

Their lives, as fourth year residents, were hectic and time alone together was rare. They had an unspoken rule that when they were alone they kept the real world at bay as much as they could.

"I know." Her response boarded on breathless.

Guilt was swirling under the surface with the knowledge the extra shifts she had volunteered for over the past month had taken away whatever chance they had for time together. But lately being at the hospital had been easier than being with Eric.

Nathalie had loved Eric for so long and so completely that she rarely remembered what her life was like before him. They had met on the first day of their residency as a sleep-deprived and over caffeinated Nathalie spilled her drink on his fresh white lab coat. Inseparable almost immediately, they had become the golden couple of their program. Both smart and sexy, they competed hard inside the OR to be the top neurosurgeon but left it all at the hospital.

They had talked about marriage but agreed to table it until they had established themselves as doctors. They also shared a dream of working overseas, giving back with their time and their talent. There were so many adventures waiting for them, all they had to do was get started.

Sensing her distraction, Eric broke their kiss to look in her eyes. "Hey, you ok?" he asked softly as he smoothed her hair gently from her forehead.

She nodded as her eyes filled with emotion. Words danced tantalizingly on the tip of her tongue - words that needed to be said but she couldn't quite bring herself yet to break the moment.

"I just love you so much."

"I know you do. And I am going to show you how much I love you."

A cocky grin tilted the corners of his mouth before his lips crashed back to hers. Nathalie allowed herself the momentary reprieve of sinking into his kiss before forcing herself to push gently away. The fire between them had always been all consuming but right now she was simply delaying the inevitable.

"Can we have breakfast first?" she asked. "I'm famished."

Eric smirked and shook his head as he kicked back the covers. "You've been starving a lot lately. Got hollow legs?" he teased.

"Nah," she replied with a sultry smile. "You just know how to make me work up an appetite."

Chuckling, he lightly bussed her lips as rose from the bed and reached for his shorts. "I forgot to tell you," he began, "I was so excited to see you last night that I forgot to share the little piece of gossip that reached my ears."

"Oh?" she asked, propping herself up on her arm and drinking him in. At almost 6 foot 4 and perfectly proportioned he was a striking figure and one she could stare at for days.

"Rachel is pregnant."

"Pardon?" she