Lips of an Angel

Honey why are you calling me so late

It's kinda hard to talk right now

Honey why you crying, is everything okay

I gotta whisper cause I can't be too loud

Well, my girl's in the next room

Sometimes I wish she was you

I guess we never really moved on

It's really good to hear your voice saying my name

It sounds so sweet

Coming from the lips of an angel

Hearing those words, it makes me weak

And I, never wanna say goodbye

But girl you make it hard to faithful

With the lips of an angel

And it's funny that you're calling me tonight

And yes I dreamt of you too

And does he know that you're talking to me

Will it start a fight

No, I don't think she has a clue

Well my girl's in the next room

Sometimes I wish she was you

I guess we never really moved on

It's really good to hear your voice saying my name

It sounds so sweet

Coming from the lips of an angel

Hearing those words it makes me weak

And I, never wanna say goodbye

But girl you make it hard to be faithful

With the lips of an angel

Chapter 1

Leaning back against the expanse of his wide solid chest I close my eyes and enjoy the warmth of the shower, the steam and the feel of his hands in my hair. I don't know if there's anything sexier than a man washing my hair but if I find something better I'll let you know. In the mean time I'm almost purring as his big hands work the shampoo into my scalp.

"It's kinda hard to get at the back of your head with you leaning back against me like that," he says, giving me a little nudge forward. With a moan I take a tiny step forward and arch my neck back so I can look up into those neon blue eyes of his.

"But I like leaning against you," I smile up at him and he laughs.

"I've noticed," he returns my grin and leans down to press his lips against my forehead. "In the bank line up, in the lineup to the movies, in the lineup to the club…."

"Oh yeah, like you've had to line up at a club in the last two months," I roll my eyes and get laughter in reply as he maneuvers me back under the spray and works his hands through my hair, carefully rinsing out all the suds.

"You're not still mad about that are you?" he asks as he slides around me to rinse his hair out, not that there's much of it, but more than there was.

"You mean about you not telling me who you were or making me stand in line with you even though we could have cut through the line and joined Burrows and Green and the boys when they went past us?"

"Both," he ventures, waiting for my reaction. I just shrug in response and take the bottle of conditioner he offers and squirt about half a cup of it into the palm of his hand. I turn my back and close my eyes again and lean back into him while he works the conditioner through.

"I'm not mad anymore," I finally reply as he massages the base of my neck and works his big hands over my shoulders. "I know you were just…testing me."

"It wasn't a test so much as just making sure that you were…you know, interested in me." He wraps his arms around me and kisses my cheek, pulling me back against him. I reach back and up, wrapping my arm around his neck and holding his lips to my cheek, enjoying the warm pressure of them. "I thought you wanted to go out for dinner," he laughs as I push my ass back against him, feeling him growing hard again.

"My hair has to dry anyway," I laugh, "and besides, it doesn't have to take that long."

"Liar," he laughs, turning me around and dropping his lips over mine, tilting my head back and flicking the tip of his tongue against mine. "You always take forever, not that I'm complaining," he growls, moving me backwards against the tile wall and running his hands down over my hips and then lifting me, and impaling me with his now very hard cock. I let out a moan and wrap my arms and legs around him, pulling him deeper, and holding on for dear life at the same time.

"Your shoulder," I pant as he carries me under the spray, holding me with one hand and quickly running his fingers through my hair with the other, rinsing out the conditioner.

"Doc says it's fine, then it's fine," he grunts, then pushes the door to the shower open and carries me over to the vanity and plants me on the counter and pushes himself into me, tearing a howl from my throat. "If he only knew all the things you make me do that could injure it so easily," he laughs; a deep rumble against my neck that makes me tremble.

"Make you?" I sigh as his hands cup my breasts, bringing my nipples to his lips. "I don't make you do anything."

"Oh yes you do," he laughs, turning his robin's egg blue eyes up to me, grinning. "You've got me under some kind of spell woman." His blue gaze holds mine as he runs his tongue over one nipple, rolling the tip of his tongue around it until I moan out loud.

"Py," I moan his nickname, and he grins, picking me up again and carrying me out to the bed and tossing me down on it, falling over me with a grin, slowly screwing himself into me until I can't hold back any longer and press myself up against him and dig my nails into his back. This is why I like big buys, big shoulders, big chests, big legs. I'm surrounded by muscle and flesh and when you happen to be tall for girl, it's hard to find a guy big enough to make you feel this small and this fragile, and that is one major turn on. He pumps into me, leisurely, gently, knowing he's driving me crazy, knowing that I'm likely to give before he does, and he's right. I dig my nails deeper into his shoulders and push against him harder, begging him with my body to go deeper, faster, harder.

"God Tasha, I'm so close," he moans, and I can see in the way he's holding himself above me, the tension in his jaw that he's waiting for me to pull him over the edge. I lock my ankles behind the small of his back and pull him into me, letting him stretch and fill me and what starts as a shudder becomes a wave as the orgasm takes hold, yanking us both over the precipice. He pulls me into the circle of his arms, kissing my cheek gently and running his fingers over the goose-bumps on my arms while I wait for the spasms to subside. Then I look up into those electric blue eyes and smile.

"Are you ready to go yet? I'm starving." He laughs and pushes me to the edge of the bed. I giggle and pull the blankets up around me while he gets up and hunts around for his clothes. I watch him get dressed, enjoying the sight of his thickly muscled thighs, the spread of his shoulders, his rippling biceps. He catches me watching and flexes his pec muscles and I bite my bottom lip and fight the urge to pounce on him again. Instead I head for the closet and dive into my lingerie drawer and try to cool my jets and leave some for later.

"Did I tell you I signed you up for that fundraiser thing next week?"

"What fundraiser thing?"

"The wives and girlfriends are supposed to help with this, Canuck place fundraiser at the game. The fans buy balloons from you guys and they get signed photos and stuff in return." I bang my head quietly against the wall beside the mirror and try to stifle the groan that wants to escape.

"Who's all doing this…fundraiser?"

"I don't know, all the wives, some of the girlfriends. I thought it might be a good time for you to meet some of them. You might like Nancy, that Burrows' girlfriend, you guys are the same age. I think Kev's wife is your age too. So what do you think?" I cringe, closing my eyes and biting back the first response that comes to mind, which is 'hell no'.

"Sure, I guess. I mean…it would look bad if I said no wouldn't it?"

"No, of course not babe," he grins, stepping up behind me and letting his eyes roam appreciatively over my still naked body. I push him out of the way and pull on the red undies and bra I've picked out and then reach around him for a dress which he takes out of my hand and unzips for me, handing it back and kissing my cheek. "You work hard all week, I could explain that you're just busy."

"No, no, of course, it'll be fine." I turn my best 'please believe me' smile on and he grins back at me, that beautiful uncomplicated grin of his making me feel horrible inside.

"That's great. It'll be great, we're all getting together afterwards for some little drinks and pre Christmas sort of thing. You'll get to spend some time with the guys finally. I can't believe you've managed to miss all the other things, the pumpkin carving and the fright night…"

"Yeah, well you know me, busy, busy girl." I force myself to grin up at him and he wraps me up in his long arms.

"I know, lucky me, got myself a smart chick."

"You just like the glasses," I tease. "What did you call it? Sexy secretary?"

"More like sexy school mistress," he teases, giving me a smack on the ass as I lean over to grab my shoes.

"Hey," I turn and give him a shove out of the way, "I keep telling you, if you're going to do that, do that when I've got nothing on."

"You haven't told him yet? Tasha, how long has it been? Four months?" My best friend Minda looks over her muffin at me, her eyes wide and unbelieving.

"I know, I know. But I just…wanted to avoid this whole thing. I mean…the minute Kev sees me with him and I have to look at him with her and…shit, this is exactly why I didn't want to date a hockey player." I stir my coffee and let out a long sigh. "Why did he have to be so big and sexy?"

"Yeah, there's that. Kind of hard to ignore that. I'm completely jealous of that, by the way."

"Hey, that Chouinard guy keeps saying anyone with single friends…"

"No, no way. That guys is a major loooooser, I can tell. Seriously though, who else knows? I mean, who's going to say anything?"

"Oh, Lotta, Erin, Michelle…," I count the wives off who would know me instantly and wonder what I'm doing there.

"Okay, I forget there's still that many old faces around. So what are you going to do?"

"Besides throw up ten times on my way there? I have no idea."

"Well, I mean, we could be blowing this out of proportion, I mean, maybe she won't think anything of it, maybe nothing will get said. Maybe Katie won't say anything."

"No, she won't say anything, she'll hit me over the head with something, but she probably won't warn me first."

"So you think she's still mad?"

"Wouldn't you be?" I ask swallowing the last of my coffee. "I mean, even if Py's ex kept showing up in his life I would be a little pissed, and after all…I mean she caught us red handed, of course she's probably still pissed."

"Yeah but…you were like…you know, his first love. I think it's kind of sweet that you guys still have the hots for each other."

"Yeah but you're my friend, you're biased. If you think of it from her side, it's not very nice, and I don't still have the hots for Kev…it was just a…welcome to the city kind of thing."

"Like a housewarming present," Minda laughs as we gather our things to head back to work.

"Yeah like that."

"Well how can she be mad about that?"

"Some people, they just don't know when to be grateful." We both laugh and head back out into the cold.

"Tasha? Are you ready? Remember not to dress that nice, I don't want those guys hitting on you." I grin down at her clad in a pant suit and blazer and know she's already over dressed. I pull the blazer away from her body and grin down that she's only wearing a bra underneath.

"Py, I was wearing that you know." She laughs at me and I just shake my head.

"How is it that your boss hasn't boned your brains out in outfits like that? If I have it my way, which I will, you're going in sweats and that over-sized Cambridge sweater of yours." She swats at me as she slips into a pair of jeans and a turtle neck.

"Better picky little princess?" I swat at her ass as she tries to push me against the wardrobe. I love it when she gets feisty and her hair gets tousled with those glasses, again, I think her boss is either gay or blind.

"Not before a game sweetie, sorry. But come on; time to meet the lovely wives and girlfriends. You'll really like them. The lot of them are really sweet. And anyways, I want to show off my sexy teacher. The guys will be SO jealous."

"You have no idea." I hear this muttered but don't know if I heard right so I just choose to ignore it

"You know I thought when I saw the name that it just couldn't be; but here you are big as god damn life." I round the corner to find Katie staring daggers at me with her hands on her hips. I see Lotta reach over and give Erin a push towards Katie and she Marinette take a hold of Katie and lead her quickly through the crowds.

"Sorry about that," Lotta gives me a half smile and makes room for me behind the table and hands me a name tag. "I made sure you two were working different tables."

"Thanks," I shrug. "I guess that's best for everyone."

"Well, in all honesty I was a bit surprised to see your name down on the list, after what happened…well Katie's not the only one who doesn't trust you around her husband," Lotta adds glancing around and as I follow her gaze I can see the nasty looks I'm getting from some of the other wives.

"I'm dating Py now, have been for a while, and I don't have any plans on dating anyone else so, everyone can just chill," I grumble and take the t-shirt that's handed to me and pull it over my own.

"Does Py know? About you and Kevin?" Michelle Cooke asks, raising her eyebrows in a way that lets me know she knows the answer to that already.

"No, and I would appreciate it being kept that way," I reply, trying to keep the nasty tone out of my voice that I can feel bubbling up in my throat. "I don't think anyone needs to create any more problems in the locker room, don't you agree?" Michelle nods, once, and then the crowds start to pour out of the exits and there's no more time for talk.

Though it's against my better judgment; I join the wives and girlfriends down in the hallway near the locker room after the game, waiting for the media scrum to wane so we can get our hands on our sweaty men. I avoid making eye contact with Katie, though she continuously makes remarks well within my hearing and it takes a huge amount of will power not to lean over and smack her silly. That and that big knot of guilt that has sat in the pit of my stomach since the day she caught me in bed with her husband.

Even looking at her reminds me of his piercing blue eyes, my undoing. Seeing Taylor's eyes across the room at a restaurant had me weak at the knees, just the way having seen Kevin's eyes across the room during a lecture on the economics of sports had me drooling. I give my head a little shake, I walk away from the group and head further into the hall, almost to the other teams' locker room and lean against the cool concrete wall and close my eyes trying to keep the visions in my head from overheating my body.

"Sorry about Katie," I hear his voice and automatically feel my lips curl up in a smile.

"I can handle her," I open my eyes and look up into his ice blue gaze. "You played well."

"Thanks." We stare at each other, an awkward silence that would never have happened a few years ago, but seems to be the way of things these days. "You're boy played really well."

"Well he looks good in the uniform anyway, and if the twins can bounce a few off of him, that's good too."

"Were you ever that hard on me Tasha?" he asks, reaching out to run the fingers of his glove against my cheek. Even that makes me shudder.

"Probably," I smile up at him, but press my hands against the wall behind me to stop myself from reaching out to pull him to me. I can see in his eyes, the way his pupils dilate, the blue of his irises darken, that he can feel the pull as well. "You'd better get over there before Katie runs out of people to spill her poison into," I blink away a tear as he nods.

"See you later? At this…thing?"

"So I'm told," I shrug, trying hard to keep smiling even though all the emotion hanging in the air is choking me. He nods again and wanders down the hall, and I watch with tears streaming down my cheeks as he bends to press an affectionate kiss on his wife's upturned lips.

I feel Py's arm settle around my shoulders, pulling me gently against his side as he chats with the twins, a drink in his other hand, his smile broad and proud as they talk about the goal. I smile when I'm supposed to, laugh where appropriate, making all the right noises and looking every bit the proud girlfriend, just like Johanna who is gazing up at Hank with admiration clear in her face.

But I can't help glancing over at another clutch of players, Ohlund, Salo and Kevin, laughing and patting each other's backs. That crooked smile of his faltering as his gaze turns to meet mine. This is why I didn't want to date a hockey player, having to look at him across a room like this and know I can't…well shouldn't bridge that gap is almost unbearable. But seeing the same thought in those blue eyes makes it so much more difficult. Reluctantly I turn my gaze back to the group around me and try to listen and involve myself, but I can't help feeling that tug behind me.

"Something wrong babe?" Py leans down to whisper in my ear.

"Hmmm? No, why?"

"Just…you're so quiet, and we both know that's not like you." He lets his hand slide down my back to give me a pat on the ass and it almost makes me jump, especially considering visions of Kevin passing me in the hallways between classes doing exactly that had just been wandering through my thoughts.

"Tired I guess," I smile up at him, thankful it's not a lie. Not telling him is one thing, but actual lying is another.

"We can go, if you want. I wouldn't mind cuddling up to you right about now," he grins boyishly, giving my ass a definite squeeze.

"Actually, I think I need to catch up on some marking and I have some running around to do tomorrow…it's alright if you just drop me at home tonight?" He looks surprised, at first and then I see him try to hide his disappointment behind his impish grin.

"Sure, whatever. We've got almost a whole week of no games coming up, we'll have plenty of shopping time and other time," he gives my cheek a quick kiss and then wraps his arms protectively around me. "So you wanna go now?"

"Yeah," I sigh, closing my eyes as I feel the lie squirting out of my mouth, "just want to say good bye to a couple of the girls before I go, be right back okay?" I add the last to stop him following me like a well trained puppy dog.

"Okay," he says, letting me unravel myself from his arms but looking down at me with confusion.

"Well I assume you want to say good bye to some of the guys. I'll be right back, I promise." I touch my lips briefly to his and then walk across the room, glancing over at Kevin as I pass him and then making my way out into the hallway outside of the meeting room and towards the darkened offices at the end of the hall.

I shouldn't go. I shouldn't take the bait I see in her eyes. I should stay exactly where I am, not put my drink down and follow her, but my feet move before I can engage my brain, and the next thing I know I'm following her long legs down the hall and into a darkened office, closing the door behind me.

"Wasn't sure if you'd come," she whispers, her voice soft and husky with desire, the same desire that been coursing through my veins since I saw her downstairs outside of the dressing rooms after that interview with Murph.

"I shouldn't have come," I reply, stepping towards her and backing her against a desk, which she quickly hops up on, and as my eye sight grows accustomed to the dark, I see the long line of her thigh in those close fitting jeans of hers' and the outline of her generous chest in that tight turtleneck and feel my body react accordingly.

"You look so…confident out there," she sighs as her hands slowly slide up my chest, stealing the breath from my lungs, "so big and so tough. You look amazing in that blue too."

"What are we doing here?" I ask, my lips brushing over hers', barely touching, tasting wine on her breath as she slowly undoes the buttons on my shirt, sliding her hands underneath and over my skin. "God Tasha, I can't believe you're with Py now."

"I'm sorry," she apologizes with her lips pressed against my collarbone, "I didn't know who he was, that he was one of you."

"We can't…do this Tasha," I grab her wrists and hold her back but she looks up at me with those dark eyes, shiny with tears, and all I can think of is all those nights in my little dorm room, her long legs wrapped around me, all that dark hair flowing over my pillow and I press my lips hungrily over hers, hearing my own moan mingling with hers. "No, no we can't start this again, especially not if you're dating one of the guys," I growl, peeling my fingers off her wrists and turning away, rubbing her lipstick from my mouth with the back of my hand.

"I know," she sobs, her voice small and hurt behind me. "I'm sorry Kev…I just see you and I…I can't help it. I keep thinking about…"

"You don't have to tell me," I sigh, rubbing at my temples, trying to erase the pain. "I think about us all the time. I think about how you left too." I give myself a shake and reach for the door handle, knowing I can turn back and have her on that desk, feel her body moving under mine and know, in some way, I'll feel better for a while, but instead, I pull the door open and walk away, quickly doing up my shirt as I walk.

"Hey Kev, I'm just about to go, if I can find my girlfriend anywhere. Did you get to meet her yet?" I ask as I run into Bieksa in the hall. He glances around him and then shakes his head.

"No, I guess…well I saw her with you but I hadn't got over to you guys yet."

"She's amazing man. She's a teacher and she's crazy hot. Maybe next time. I just met your wife though, Katie, she was looking for you." He looks surprised and then laughs and bats me playfully on the shoulder.

"Women, always checking up on ya. Well, I'm sure you'll find the little lady. See ya at practice tomorrow afternoon." He gives me a playful nudge and then heads back into the meeting room just as Tasha comes down the hall.

"I thought there was a bathroom down there. This place is like a rabbit warren. How can anyone find anything around here?" she asks, looking puzzled and a little flushed.

"C'mere you, you went the wrong way," I laugh and lead her back down the other end of the hallway, showing her the bathrooms, but instead of leaving me in the hallway she pulls me in behind her and pushes me up against the door. "Hey, I thought you were tired," I grin as she slides her hand down between us and begins to wake the beast.

"I am, but I missed you," she teases, nipping at my bottom lip and using her other hand to move my hand around to her ass, "and there's no one here. It's kind of exciting right?"

"You're just trying to get me to buy you a bigger Christmas present," I sigh as she unzips my fly and slides her hand into my pants to get a better grip.

"Is there something bigger than this?" she grins, sliding my cock out and dropping to her knees, flicking her tongue around the head before sliding it between her red lips.

"God woman, you're getting such a good Christmas present."

I lie awake in the dark, listening to his faint even breaths, staring at the wall, guilt keeping me wide awake. I've just used my own boyfriend, a man who adores me, maybe even loves me, to quench the desire roused by my ex, not once, but twice. When having him in the bathroom at GM place wasn't enough, I brought him home and did it again, and still I lay here, my body still alive with the caresses of another man.

I wonder if Kevin is doing the same, lying beside his wife, thinking of me, of the way he can make my body sing, of the way he can make my entire body shudder with longing just by looking at me. I wonder if he's thinking about all those times he would come back from a game to find me waiting in his dorm room, all those nights I can't forget, nights I don't want to forget.

Maybe he's thinking about that day he showed up at my door, the day he got called up the first time from the Moose, wondering what he'd find, what kind of reception he'd get. How it only took a few minutes of trying to pretend that the desire wasn't still there before he had me in his arms, his lips crushing mine.

Or is he thinking about how I had to come home, had to come to Vancouver to take care of my sister who'd gotten herself in trouble, how I had to leave him instead of following him to Manitoba. Isn't that what he'd said, how he thinks of how I left? Heaving a huge sigh I roll over and press my forehead into the middle of Py's back, wrapping my arms around him and losing myself in his warmth. I can't think of that day. I won't.

"Is she there?" I close my eyes and take a deep breath, trying to make the world stop spinning for a moment.

"She is." I reply, keeping my voice low and quiet.

"I just…I wanted to apologize for…"

"I know," I cut her off, sighing.

"I had a dream last night, it was so real," she whispers, and I can hear the seductive smile in her voice.

"I was there?" I ask, wondering if she had the same dream that kept me tossing and turning half the night.

"You were. Do you remember, that night we went to the battle of I-75 football game?"

"I do," I smile, remembering that bus trip, remembering sneaking back onto that bus during half time. "Tash…I have to go," I put the phone down as Katie comes around the corner, handing me a cup of coffee and kissing me on the cheek. I watch her settle in front of the TV before I pick up my bag and head towards the door.

"Who was that on the phone hun?"

"Just uh…Pyatt," I wince as I lie, glad the door is hiding my face.

"You guys meeting up after practice or something?"

"Yeah, maybe do some Christmas shopping or something. I'll be home later."

"Love you." She calls as I close the door. I reach up to massage away the tension that has sat at my temples since seeing Tasha yesterday. Every time I think she's out of my system, every time I start to think I've moved on, she's there, making it hard to forget, making me not want to move on. Then the images come back, the dreams, the regrets. Then I miss her, and I want her, and then I do things like I'm doing right now. I have hours to get to practice but with her voice in my head and the dreams from last night, I can't think clearly enough so I either need to see her, need to get it out of my system or I need to work out. Right now I choose to work out, punish my body into submission and hope that the flashes, the visions in my head will work themselves out through my pores.

"You still haven't told him?" Minda shakes her head and downs her coffee as we head into work. "Even after you tried to drag Kevin into a dark office to have your evil way with him?"

"I wasn't trying to have my evil way with him, I just wanted to talk to him, see him." I shrug, not sure if that's exactly right but that's the way it started anyway.

"And then you used Py like a big blow up doll, and I bet he never complained once."

"You make me sound like a horrible person," I grumble, weaving through the kids in the hallway as we head towards our classrooms.

"I never said you were a horrible person. In fact I aspire to be as wicked as you one day; I just need to find someone to do something wicked with." She grins at me and I have to laugh, I suppose looking at it from her point of view it would be funny. Too bad it doesn't feel funny to me now. "So tell me again, if you two are so damn hot for each other, why aren't you Mrs. Bieksa?"

"I never told you in the first place," I point out and she laughs.

"I was kinda hoping you'd overlook that. So?"

"Long story, we have class," I grin, slipping into my classroom.

"You'll just have to tell me later," she calls from across the hall.

"You'll have to stick pins in my eyes first," I call back as I put my coffee mug down on my desk and almost knock it over when I see the flowers on my desk. "What in the hell?" I hear myself mumble as I look through the flowers for a card.

"Miss Li, those are pretty!" One of the girls gushes as she takes her seat. "Are they from a boy?"

"I don't know Candice, I don't know who they're from." I smile over at her as I pull the envelope from its' tiny stake inside the bushel of roses.

"Is it your birthday Miss Li?" another girl asks.

"No, it isn't," I sigh, rubbing at the tension that suddenly builds in the back of my neck.

"Then they must be from a boy," Candice giggles and starts half the class off giggling. I glance at them over the card and the giggling quiets but doesn't entirely stop. I glance back at the card. They're from Py, of course, flowers were never Kev's style anyway, and he has no reason to send me anything.

Just a reminder of our dinner date. Can't wait to see you. Py

I fiddle nervously with one of my earrings and stuff the note in my purse before I drop that in my bottom drawer.

"Who can remember the words from our spelling test last week?" I turn on my teacher smile and put all thoughts of men to the back of my mind.

"Need a spotter?" I ask, standing over Bieksa who looks like he's about to bust a blood vessel on the bench press.

"No," he grunts, and shoves the barbell back into it's cradle before moving over to the leg curl unit.

"So you're getting quite the accolades in the paper," I mention as I pick up a pair of free weights.

"I wouldn't know. I don't read that shit."

"But you were on 1040 this morning, they must have…"

"Those assholes blow smoke up your ass, and the people that call in to those things either hate you or just love to hear the sound of their own voices."

"Now, now boys," Trev drops his bag and sheds his warm up jacket and stations himself on one of the bikes. "Hey Kev, near miss the other night hey?"

"Don't know what you're talking about," he grumbles and gets up and moves to another station but I see a look shoot between the two and then Trev just shrugs.

"So, Py, you and that old lady of yours' been dating long?" Trev asks and this time I can clearly see Bieksa shoot him a look.

"I guess, since a couple of weeks before the season." I reply, looking from one to the other trying to figure out what I'm missing.

"Is it serious?" he asks and as soon as he does I see Kev's eyes narrow as he looks at me for an answer.

"Uh…yeah, I'm thinking of popping the question, you know, New Years Eve."

"That fast?" Trev raises his eyebrows. "Must be serious."

"She'll say no," Bieksa mumbles and Trev lets out a hoot of laughter.

"What's going on? What am I missing here?" I look at them both and Trev just grins and says nothing but looks over at Bieksa who just shrugs.

"Nothing. Don't listen to anything that guy says, he's got nothing to say on the subject of marriage do ya Trev?"

"Nope, I don't know shit. Seems like a bright girl, best of luck my man," Trev laughs and bears down on the bike. Bieksa grabs his towel and heads for the showers. I watch him go, curious enough to want to got after him and ask him what the deal is but Trev grabs my arm and just shakes his head at me. "Trouble in paradise, best not to ask." He pats my arm and gives me that sage look of his, the one that's supposed to keep us younger guys in line and so I go back to the weights as some of the other guys start to show up and the room starts to fill. I see my bag start to vibrate and go over to grab my cell out of the side pocket, grinning when I see the number.

"Must be recess. How's my girl?"

"The flowers…Py, I don't know what to say."

"You seemed so…I don't know, like you needed a lift so I thought they might cheer you up. Did it work?"

"They're beautiful Py but you don't need to do this you know."

"Hey, beautiful flowers for my beautiful girl. I'll pick you up at your place about six okay? We've got reservations for seven. Wear that sexy little red dress, that one you wore on our second date, okay?"

"You're too much. Seriously. Men aren't supposed to remember stuff like that."

"Just wear it okay? See you later."

"Okay, see you later." As I hang up the phone I hear smooching sounds and look over to find Cookie and Bulis with their towels over their heads like women's hair making kissy faces at me. I snap my towel in their direction and they just laugh and head over to the bikes.

When I open the door I'm expecting it to be Py, being an early eager beaver intentionally trying to catch me heading into the shower, so I almost don't even look when I yank the door open, but the blue eyes aren't exactly as high up as I expect them to be, and I almost drop my towel.

"I'm expecting…"

"Py, I know. Six didn't he say?" Kev asks, brushing by me, leaving me standing with the cold wind and the door handle in my hand.

"He did…you were there?"

"Sort of…look we need to talk," he sighs, running his hand through his dark hair before he turns to look at me and then he glances away again. "Couldn't you…you know, put something on?"

"I could," I snap, feeling exasperated and turned on all at once, and feeling a little exasperated about that as well. "But I'm getting ready to go out."

"Yeah I know, everyone knows. He won't stop talking about you. Tasha this, Tasha that." I feel a satisfied grin forming and bite down on my lower lip to stop it growing. "Look, about the other night…"

"I said I was sorry," I grumble, pulling the towel tighter around my chest.

"I know what you said," he snaps, glancing over at me, his eyes sweeping up my bare legs before he snaps his gaze back to the wall, "but what did you actually…what were you trying to do by…leading me in there?"

"I just wanted to talk, that's all," I reply, knowing it's a lie and being fairly certain he'll know it too.

"You weren't…I mean you didn't just assume that…we would…you know…," he glances back at me to be sure I've understood and I nod to let him know I do.

"I didn't assume anything," I reply, feeling the heat of his gaze begin to warm my skin.

"You know…damn it Tasha, you know what happened last time can't happen again. We can't…this is why…," he rakes his fingers through his hair and then turns and in two strides he has my towel in one hand and the back of my head in the other, his lips pressed firmly over mine. He drops the towel to the floor and picks me up and carries me to the couch, throwing his jacket onto the floor and laying over me, his blue gaze fierce as he looks down at me. "Damn it Tasha, you know we can't…we can't," his voice soften as the back of his hand brushes against my cheek. "You know damn well I still love you."

I look down into the deep velvet of her eyes and touch her cheek and know I'm losing this fight, again. I watch a tear trickle down her cheek and brush it away before I lean down and touch my lips to hers' again, feeling how soft they are, how her mouth yields to mine, how her hand reaches up to slide around the back of my neck. Her tongue wraps around mine as her body pushes up against me and I groan into her mouth.

"No…Tasha I can't…," I moan but I don't pull back, instead I let my hand slide down from her cheek over the soft mound of her breast, feeling her nipple harden under my palm.

"But I want you to," she sighs, arching her neck as I kiss my way down to where my fingers are gently rolling her nipple, taking it between my lips and rolling my tongue over and around it until she moans out loud and arches her back, pushing all of her body against mine. All I can think through the haze of my desire is how easy it would be to have her now, how good it could feel to be inside of her, to push myself into her, make her cry out my name, and that I can't, that Katie is waiting at home, that I promised her this would never happen again.

I push myself up and away from her, breaking free of her arms and grabbing my jacket. I hear her cry of protest, but I don't look back, because if I do, I'll go back and make love to her, and make a mess of everything again. So instead I go out to my car, rev the engine until I work out at least some of my anger, and then speed away from her, leaving a trail of rubber, and my heart, behind.

I could lay here and feel sorry for myself, or I could at least be warm and feel sorry for myself in bed, or I could suck it up and get ready and go out with Py and at least know that he wants me and will take me and maybe, maybe erase this hunger, this need that has me shivering here on the sofa. So I pick up my towel and walk back towards the bathroom, gazing longingly at the closed door on my way past.

He said he still loves me, I heard him say it, I saw it in his eyes. He must have seen it in mine, he must know how I feel or he wouldn't have come. I feel the ache of the need he's left me with send a shiver down my spine, and I have to choke back the tears that want to fall, tears of anger yes but tears of frustration too. I reach into the shower and turn on the water, hot as I can stand it, and then slide under the spray, turning my face up to the jets and letting the heat wash away the touch of his lips, the feel of his hands. Too bad I can't wash his words out of my ears, of his memory out of my mind too.

I almost jump out of my skin when I feel a pair of hands on my hips, lips touching the back of my shoulder, but when I turn it's Py's laser blue eyes I'm looking up into, his easy grin looking down at me.

"You scared the shit out of me," I mumble, pushing him backwards, definitely not wanting to feel his touch right now, not wanting to use him to erase Kev's touch again.

"I thought I'd surprise you, come early, maybe we could…"

"No," I mutter, turning the water off and climbing out, not giving him the chance to either talk me into it or have the feel of his body make me want to.

"Babe…is there something wrong?" he asks, turning me to face him as I wrap a towel around me again.

"No," I lie, and turn on my best 'believe me' smile. "I just don't want to be late for our reservations."

"That's my sexy schoolmistress, always on time," he laughs, and nuzzles my neck with his soft cheek, planting a kiss on the thin skin behind my ear. I close my eyes and try to relax into his arms, but it's not him I see behind my eyelids.

"You know I hate to be late," I mutter, pulling away from him and heading to the bedroom, leaving him to pick his clothes up off the bathroom floor.

"Babe, tell me if it's none of my business but you seem more distracted than usual. Is everything ok?" She looks up at me and smiles, but it doesn't reach her eyes and just the way she gives my hand that extra squeeze lets me know she's trying and she appreciates my being there for her which makes my heart swell.

"I've just been really stressed, I'm having some problems with a couple of the kids in class and I don't know how to help. Everything is fine Taylor. No need to worry." She pats my hands and then goes back to pushing her food around, her eyes glazing over again.

"My sexy school mistress, so brilliant and beautiful. That's what I love about you. You're so sexy and so modest at the same time." She glances up at me, worry or shock, or both on her pretty face and I know that using the "L" word has done that so I switch subjects right away, not wanting to open up that whole discussion again about when and where that word is appropriate. "I know I sort of popped this on you last time, but next week there's a charity event I thought you might want to go to. It's the annual Christmas party at Canuck place. Some of the guys are going and I thought it might be fun if they got to know you better." She looks up at me and I can see that she actually wants to say no but she shakes her head and smiles instead. "I'm sorry but you know it's part of the deal when dating a hockey player, but it might be fun?"

"How about we see honey? I'll see what my schedule looks like and than I'll answer you. I mean, it's Christmas and there's the Christmas concert at school and Minda and I haven't had a girl's night out in ages and I barely get to see her outside of school now, you understand don't you?" I smile and nod and shrug my shoulders.

"Oh don't worry if you can't make it, not all of the wives can, like you said, with it being this time of year." I watch her square her shoulders and nod, trying to be understanding and supportive and now I feel guilty for asking her.

"How about I say yes for now unless something comes up ok? Come on sweetie, smile for the school teacher." She waves off the desert menu and then pushes the bill towards me. "I'm sorry Py, I'm tired, I don't mean to be grouchy with you."

"Tell you what," I offer, sliding my credit card into the bill fold and pushing it to the edge of the table, "would it make you feel any better if you let me be the bad pupil tonight and you can punish me?" I lean over and growl into her ear and she laughs and turns her head to press her lips lightly over mine.

"Maybe. We'll see." I see something pass behind her dark eyes, not desire, something that looks more like pain, or worry, but it's there and then it's gone and she's my sexy school mistress again, running the heel of her shoe up my leg and raising her eyebrow at me suggestively.

"I'll go pay this at the front, no need to wait around."

"Hey buddy, I was wondering when you'd show up. Come on in."

"My being here is your fucking fault, if you hadn't teased me in front of him or bring her up at all I wouldn't be here confused as hell." I grumble as I walk past Trev who just chuckles lightly and closes the door behind me.

"You know he's going to find out sooner or later," Trev pats my shoulder, "I don't know why you don't just tell him yourself, not that you have to make a big deal out of it, you know just mention that you used to date her, that's all."

"If she hasn't told him, she's got her reasons, so when…if he finds out it should be her that tells him, not me. If I tell him…well then it looks like I've got a reason…a purpose for telling him and I don't." I sigh, sitting on his couch with my head in my hands.

"If you don't, then what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at home with the little misses, remember, Katie? The one you married and gave up all hold over Tasha for?" I pick up a pillow and toss it at him as he laughs at me. This is the problem with telling guys your problems, they always think that there's two ways to solve things, humour or alcohol.

"Because I went to see her."

"Ooh, so, was she as good as last time?"

"Dude, I swear, this is something I really need out of my life. I don't…I don't know what to do with her just…popping back into my life like this."

"So you didn't do her?"

"No I didn't," I sigh, "I wanted to, I could have, but no I didn't"

"So is that the problem? Not doing her?"

"No, the problem is her being around…her…being in my life."

"Wait, I thought you were in love with her? I thought you only married little Katie because you thought she didn't want you?" I glance up at him and I guess the pain is pretty clear on my face so he drops the sarcasm and sits next to me, his hand on my shoulder. "So what would you do if she wasn't in your life?"

"I…," I begin, but as soon as I ask myself honestly what I would do if Tasha really was out of my life I can't answer. I love her, and it seems like I always have. Yes she broke my heart when she just up and moved away when she knew I couldn't follow and yes I was so torn when I got called into Vancouver and saw her again and everything went back to being just the way it had always been when I thought I had moved on; and yes I love Katie too, but with Tasha it's so different. There's passion, there's emotion, and there's history. Tasha builds a fire in me like no other woman ever has. "What am I going to do old man? I just, I can't keep doing this to Katie, she loves me and I love her. But I just, I don't know what this is that I feel for Tasha. She makes me burn, she makes me angry and she makes me feel conflicted and just sets all my nerves on fire. I just think about her and it's hard to breathe. How the fuck do I compare those two women? Tasha is my first love, Katie is my god damn wife, til death do us part and all that."

"Shit man, I thought this was just about sex…I didn't know you…you know had feelings like that," he gives my back a pat then gets up to pace the room. "Okay, here's something you can do, ask yourself how happy you would be in each situation. You picture yourself in your shoes right now with Katie, but never being able to see Tasha ever again. She'll marry Pyatt, and you will stay with Katie. How does that make you feel?" I feel a cold sweat rush over me at the thought of never being able to see Tasha again. The thought of that blue-eyed ape marrying her makes me shudder and want to vomit at the same time.

"I feel sick to my stomach."

"Ok, that's a start. Now picture yourself with Tasha and never seeing Katie ever again. You'll have Tasha, but I'm pretty sure a lot of people would dislike her and you would be at odds with Py and who knows who else on the team." A different feeling rushes through me. This time it's an unsettling one, like it'll hurt but I'll live. It's not the same cold panic like it was at the thought of losing Tasha forever. This time it feels like I've blown a knee or I've taken a slapper from Salo off the ankle, pain, but pain that will pass if you suck it up enough. Not a complete reassurance for a stable marriage.

"Pain, like a bad pain, sort of like a headache that you can tolerate, but just wish you didn't have to."

"Well you've got your answer there than."

"Shit man, that doesn't help. I don't want to break my marriage up. I couldn't do that to Katie, not after she took me back the last time the same stuff went down. You don't know was all bad, I can't put her through that again."

"Have you ever thought that maybe it keeps happening because you let it happen? That maybe you want it to happen and you let Tasha back into your life every chance you get to just… I don't know, torture yourself? I mean good sex is kinda like a sickness Kev, maybe you like torturing yourself." I hear the grin in his voice and just chuck another pillow at him. The old guy is great for advice, but when he's taunting you, he just is relentless.

"I should have gone to Sami, or Ollie. They would have been nicer and given better advice. That and I could have talked to Johanna or Linda. Thanks old man."

"You guys really gotta stop calling me that. I'm on a hot streak thank you very much. Anyways, let's go out for a beer or something. We'll grab some of the other guys and see if they can come out too, take your mind off this shit for a little bit."

"Thanks Trev. You're a good friend, you suck at marriage counseling, but you're a good friend." I pat him on the back as he turns on his cell and I grab mine to call some guys out for a few drinks. Who knows, maybe it will take my mind off things.

"I thought you wanted to take me home and do unspeakable things to me," I grumble as he pulls me off the Christmas train and wraps the blanket around me.

"Well I'm trying to be romantic, besides, you've been like…a hundred miles away all night," he brushes my temple with his lips and wraps his arms around me. "I thought some fresh air might help get the endorphins going."

"That's kind of a big word for you isn't it?" I laugh and turn my lips up to his, letting him see that he's finally getting my attention. The Christmas train might have been sort of lame but seeing all those kids bundled up and giggling and having a good time has managed to pull me out of my funk.

"Well I like getting good marks from my teacher," he grins and presses his lips over mine, pushing my lips open and flicking his tongue over mine before drawing back and gazing down at me with those electric blue eyes of his. "Should we go get a coffee somewhere to warm up or do you just want to go home?"

"Oh a Spanish coffee or a polar bear would go down so nice right about now," I sigh, sticking my hands in his pockets. "Then you can finish warming me up after that."

"The Sequoia Grill it is…unless you think I can warm you up a little in the car first?"

"I thought you were trying to be romantic," I laugh as slides his hand inside the blanket and over my breasts, grinning.

"Okay, okay, never hurts to ask." He wraps his arms around my shoulder as we walk through the park to the car and then he pushes me up against the side of the car, kissing me hungrily as he wraps the blanket around us both. "I just…you look so hot in that dress tonight. I can't help it."

"You should have told me wear something warm if you were going to make me come on this stupid train. I'm freezing Py."

"I can make you warm," he whispers, nuzzling my neck and running his hand up under the dress, sliding his fingers into my panties.

"We can't do this here," I moan as he slides his long fingers inside me, his lips trailing hot kisses down my neck.

"I've got the blanket around us, no one can see, just wrap your legs around me and I'll just…"

"Hey, Py, hey guys is that Py's Land Rover?" A voice out of the darkness makes my heart leap into my throat and I hide myself behind his wide solid chest as I hear a car engine slow to an idle right behind us. "It is, hey man, whatcha doin'?"

"Hey guys," Py laughs, and slides his hands out from between my legs and lets me down gently as he steps back. "Where are you guys off to?"

"Sequoia, for drinks," I hear Ohlund call and then a few whistles as I emerge from behind him. "Bring your girl, it'll be fun."

"Sure…we were just on our way there," he laughs and opens the passenger door for me. As soon as I start to slide into the car the whistles grow louder and I realize I'm giving them an excellent view of my legs in this short dress, and quickly slam the door shut. Py gets in the driver's seat and looks over apologetically.

"Don't…it's fine. Honestly."

"You sure you don't mind because…"

"It's fine," I smile, wriggling uncomfortably in my seat, my heart beat still racing, and the feeling of his fingers sliding inside me having made me just wet enough to be…unbearable.

"We could finish…"

"No, if we're not right behind them they'll know. Just go…please."

I watch the two of them walk in the restaurant, and I know by the way her eyes open wide that she hadn't seen me in the passenger seat. She carefully schools her features, erasing the surprise from her face as she slides carefully onto a stool at the bar in and amongst the group of us

"Thought you'd be home with Katie," she says quietly, her eyes on Py as he greets the other guys.

"Thought you'd be home fucking the big dumb idiot," I counter and watch the tension grow in her jaw line.

"He's not the brightest, but at least he's honest and he loves me," she smiles up at him as he smiles over Cookie's shoulder at her.

"So you'll finally get to marry your big dumb jock?"

"You were never dumb, and you're not that big," she counters. "B-52," she grins up at the bartender as he slides a napkin in front of her. "And who said anything about marriage?"

"He did," I reply, glancing down at her long legs, the black boots that go up to her knees, the flash of lily white thigh as she crosses her legs demurely.

"Well not to me and what do you care anyway? You say you love me," she whispers, tearing the edge from her napkin nervously, "but you don't."

"Don't tell me what I feel sweetheart," I growl.

"You married Katie after I'd been gone for what…two months?"

"You left."

"Oh yes, that's right, blame me," she glances over at me, hurt clear in her eyes. "You always do. You didn't have to leave today," she sighs, glancing down at her lap.

"What would the point be Tasha? I'm a married man, or maybe you've forgotten that?"

"How could I forget, you won't let me," she mutters as Py comes over and throws his arms over both of our shoulders.

"Kev, have you met my wonderful woman?" Py asks, kissing her forehead and gazing down at her like she's the most wonderful thing he's ever seen, which makes me want to bash him in the head with something heavy and hard.

"I have," I reply, "you must have done something right, don't ask me what, because I sure as hell can't think of anything good that you've done lately."

"Ouch, hey I've been injured. Give me a break," he laughs as he wraps his arms protectively around her.

"So what were you two doing down here? Aside from canoodling I mean?" Cookie asks, giving Py a jab in the ribs with his elbow.

"We went on that Christmas train," Py answers, "have you been on that with your kids?" The guys go into their Christmas plans with their kids and I turn back to Tasha who is staring into her drink.

"You can't seriously love that big dumb monkey."

"He loves me," she replies, stirring her drink slowly.

"I asked if you loved him," I growl, grabbing her knee. She looks up at me, her eyes glassy with tears and bites her lower lip.

"Doesn't matter, because you're a married man right? Isn't that what you love to keep reminding me?" I watch her get up and turn to Py, running her arm around his waist and whispering in his ear. He nods once, and kisses her softly on the cheek, his eyes following her as she moves towards the bathrooms.

"She's got you so p-whipped," I grumble and he just smiles back at me.

"If that's what it is, bring it on man, bring it on." He goes to pat me on the back but I just shirk him off and wander through the guys, only turning back once to make sure he's not watching me before I follow her into the bathroom.

"What the hell?" I stammer, dropping my lipstick into the basin in front of me as he slides through the door of the women's bathroom.

"It's not like you Tasha, all this…hostility." He moves towards me but I back away, shaking my head.

"No Kevin, you were right before. We're not going to keep doing this, playing this game. You're not going to leave Katie and…Py loves me and I think it's just best if we stop this, now, please."

"You think this is a game Tasha? Do you think that I'm just playing with you when I tell that I love you? Do you?" His blue eyes narrow and he moves towards me again and I think about backing up more but then I realize, he's not going to hurt me, he may beat up guys on the ice, but he'd never hurt me, not physically anyway.

"Kevin…you made your choice, so now I'm making mine. That doesn't mean I don't…that I don't love you," I whisper, because the words hurt to say out loud, "but I just…I want you so much that it hurts when you leave, it hurts too much. So please Kev…just…stay away from me."

"Do you love me Tasha?" he asks, stepping close to me, close enough that I can feel the warmth coming from him, that I can smell the leather of his jacket. I look up into his eyes and hope that he can see the plea there, see that I don't want to say it out loud. "I need to know Tasha…I need to know if you love me more than that…big stubble jumper." He reaches out and runs the back of his hand down my cheek and smiles, that warm crooked smile of his, as he lifts my chin, forcing me to look at him. "Do you love me Tasha?"

"You know I do. You know I always have," I sob, fighting to look away but his fingers close around my arm and he presses me against the counter, and if it's one thing Kevin is, he's strong. "Please Kevin, I want to go."

"Do you want me Tasha?" he asks; his voice hoarse with need as he runs his other hand through my hair. "Do you want me inside you now?" I feel his erection growing through the thin fabric of my dress and it sends a shiver down my spine.

"I've never stopped wanting you," I admit, my voice trembling, partly with fear, partly with desire.

"We can have that," he whispers, his hand running gently down over my shoulder, along my waist, over my hip, and down to the hem of my dress, which he lifts slowly, the knuckles of his hand grazing the skin of my thigh. "We can have this between us, if you want Tasha, we can have this and no one needs to know." His fingers slide up over the satin of my panties, ripping a sigh from my throat as his blue gaze searches mine. "Do you want me Tasha?" His lips press against the pulse in my throat, his teeth close on my earlobe, making it hard to think.

"You've said no twice," I moan as his hand slides inside the waistband of my panties and down into the warm wetness between my legs. "Kevin, please," and now I don't know what that please is for. I don't know if I want him to stop or not.

"God knows I shouldn't do this," he groans into my neck, his voice a deep vibration sending chills across my skin, "but every time I see you it gets harder to stop."

"Please Kevin I…," my words turn into a moan as his fingers slide over my clit sending a spasm through me that makes me need to hold onto him just to stop from sliding to the floor because my legs won't hold me up.

"Please what Tasha?" he asks, using my hair to pull my head back so he can look into my eyes. "Please stop or please fuck me? Which is it Tasha?" His blue eyes search mine and I know that he sees the same conflict of pain and desire that I can see in his eyes. I open my mouth to say something, though I don't know what that something is, when his fingers slide up into me, and all that comes out is a long shuddering gasp. "Which is Tasha? Choose or I'll choose for both of us," he demands, his voice hoarse, his jaw clenched, his anger barely held in check. I have a moment to think it's just easier to let him choose, let his push me up onto this counter and fuck me like I want him to, like my body is begging him to, but then I shake my head, tears falling down my cheeks.

"No…no don't."

"Fuck," he curses loudly, ripping his hands away from me and turning his back on me all at once. "What do you want from Tasha? What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"I don't know," I admit, wrapping my arms around myself to try and still the shaking of unquenched desire mixed with fear.

"When will you know?" he asks, his voice starting to gain back some semblance of control.

"I don't know that either," I admit, taking a deep breath to try to and stem the tears. I watch him nod his head, take his own deep breath and square his broad shoulders. Then he turns slowly to me, dropping his lips softly to mine, gently brushing away my tears.

"Will you please let me know when you do?" he asks; his voice quiet and calm, his eyes now full of concern. I shrug, because I don't know what else to do, and he gives me a crooked little smile and kisses the tip of my nose, then turns and walks out the door.

"Hey man, where'd you run off to?" I smack Bieksa on the back as he rejoins the group and he gives me quizzical stare.

"Had to take a leak, god, why do you care?"

"Touchy, touchy," I grin at him and he just shakes his head and retakes his place at one of the barstools, next to the empty one that Tasha had vacated. "Have you seen my girl in your travels? I'm beginning to think she dropped in?"

"Who knows what girls do in there? They take forever getting ready I know that," Trev laughs and puts his arm around Kev as he orders another round of beers.

"I hear that," Ohlund laughs, "and I've got a daughter who takes even longer."

"Oh the wife and the daughters, and the hair and the shoes," Nazzy leans on Trev's shoulder and shakes his head.

"Aw c'mon guys, you wouldn't be without them though right?" I ask looking around and they all just laugh.

"Just wait to have kids," Mo laughs, "that's all I'm saying."

"Who says he gets a choice about that?" Tasha laughs, slipping through the crowd and wrapping her arms around me, looking up at me with that infectious grin of hers. "In fact, take me home stud, let's see if we can get some more practice in." The guys all break into wolf whistles and laughter but I just look down at her in shock and she laughs and slides her hand into mine and pulls me gently towards the door. I look over my shoulder and the guys are just laughing so I shrug and follow her outside.

"What's going on babe?" I ask, stopping her just outside the doors.

"I'm kinda tired and it's all guys in there and…I just want to go home okay?"

"Sure babe, whatever you want. I just…I mean, what was that in there?"

"That's a…guy thing right? And who says you're not gonna get lucky?" she sighs and leans her head into my chest and closes her eyes. "If you get me home before I fall asleep that is."

"Home it is." I laugh and slip my arm around her waist and lead her towards the car.

"I can't believe you almost did him twice!" Minda rolls her eyes and curls her feet under her and settles in on the sofa. "God, what a weekend you had. It's so…Letters to Penthouse or Harlequin or something like that."

"Days of my freaking life more like," I sigh as I chew thoughtfully on a cookie and stare at a painting on the wall of the staffroom.

"God, I'm so jealous, I've got chicks hitting on me, and you've got two major hot men jumping your bones, ugh, life is so unfair."

"I keep telling you," I grin at her, glad she can make me laugh about this after I've lost sleep over it, "you know you're god damn hot when women hit on you. And please, I only jumped Py's bones; I haven't jumped Kev's bones."

"Yet," she sighs, looking at me with that look that says she's not sure if I deserve sympathy or not, and considering I'm not sure either, I don't know what to say.

"You're right. I've been thinking about it ever since it happened and I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I mean…do I or don't I?"

"Oh god, don't ask me, I wish I had your problems, two guys fighting over me…so Bridgette Jones."

"They're not fighting, thank god, I mean, Py doesn't know about Kev at all and I want it to stay that way, if I can."

"Ok, this part I don't get. Why don't you tell Py about you and Kev, I mean, at least about the part in your past because I can totally see why you don't say anything about, y'know, the part going on now."

"Because, now it would just make him suspicious. I mean, if I just told you that I've known…well you know, it would just look bad, like I'm trying to hide something, which…I guess I am."

"Okay but what about the part where Kev said that Py's going to ask you to marry him?"

"Well he could have just been saying that."

"Or he could know something, and that could be part of all this…you know, stuff between you two."

"I'm sure that just started because we hadn't seen one another in months and…well you're right though, that could be. I don't know, I'm trying not to think about that part of it because the rest of this is hard enough to think about."

"But what happens if he does ask? I mean, you'll say yes, won't you?"

"I don't know…I think so, but…then…"

"Then you really need to stop this…whatever it is with Kev."

"Yeah," I feel suddenly wistful about that, and find myself touching my lips, the memory of that last, soft sweet kiss between us.

"Except that's not really what you want is it?" Minda reaches over and taps her fingers on my knee and I look up into her eyes and know she can see right through me. I shake my head and feel a little smile tug at my lips. "Then get it out of your system girl, before Py asks you. Set your trap, lure him in, and have your wicked way with him, and find out if that's really what you want."

"That sounds horrible," I sigh, but feel laughter bubbling up in my throat, "and totally hot at the same time."

"Well what the hell, if you're going to live out every girl's fantasy of being the rope in a tug of war between two guys, you may as well get to actually do it, right?"

"You make it sound easy," I laugh.

"Well I know it's not easy, but don't pretend it's not going to be…amazing."

"Yeah, that's exactly the problem."

I look down at the text on my phone and smile but shake my head at the same time. This was definitely not expected.

"Good news?" Trev asks, looking over my shoulder. Considering he's one of the four guys on the team that knows about me and Tasha, I don't bother closing my phone or trying to hide it from him.

"Yeah, she's invited me over to her place tonight for dinner."

"What are you going to tell Katie?"

"That you're having a poker game at your place old buddy," I smile up at him and he just laughs.

"Oh yeah thanks, draw me into your web of lies. Shit man, the least you could do while you're getting laid is have her set me up with one of her friends so I can get laid too."

"Hmmm, I wonder if she's still friends with that firecracker Minda…you never know, I might be able to help you out there bud."

"Who's helping who with what?" Cookie asks, coming out of the shower and snapping a sodden towel at the big guy's butt. "And did I hear something about a poker game because both of you still owe me money from the last game."

"Poker?" Kess's mess of hair appears around the corner. "Did someone say poker?"

"Well I guess it's at my place, gee thanks Kev."

"My pleasure," I laugh and sit down to return the text message.

"I didn't think you were into poker?" Mo asks as he slides out of the shower and onto the bench near me, and I just shake my head in reply. "So you're going…?" I look over at him and can see the disapproval written all over his face. The happily married man, and the main reason that I went back to Katie last time, the king of guilt is looking at me in a way that makes me squirm.

"Mo, honestly, I value your friendship man but this is none of your business."

"I thought you might have learned something last time, I'm surprised you'd put your hand back in the fire so soon," he says with a shrug, and goes back to pulling on his socks, but I can tell just by the way he sets his jaw that he's not done with me yet.

"It's just dinner," I reply, feeling like I have to explain myself, and knowing damn well that if I have my way it won't just be dinner.

"Then you won't mind Katie knowing," he turns those elfin blue eyes up at me and I can't take the heat.

"Mo, this is my business, and I'd appreciate you leaving your nose the hell out of it." I get up and grab my bag and start to head out.

"Forgot your phone," Mo calls after me, "don't think you'd want just anyone finding that," he says holding it up and glancing over at Py who's just coming out of the shower. I curse quietly and go over and grab the phone out of his hand.

"Py, bud, poker tonight, you're coming right?" Cookie nails him with a towel and gives me a wink as I head out to the parking lot to finish my text.

I find myself pacing around my apartment, unable to sit for more than a moment or two, unable to stop my pulse from racing or my thoughts from going over and over the thought that I shouldn't be doing this. I have a good man, a sweet man, a man who adores me, who loves me, who, if I believe what I've been told, wants to marry me. So why am I inviting the past in to dinner, and why am I wearing my best black bustier and matching thong? Why am I setting out candles and have Delerium playing in the background?

I pull out the picture again, the one of me and Kev taken at that fateful football game, that game we missed most of after sneaking back onto the bus to make love. This is why, those happy carefree smiles, the way he's holding my hand, the way he only had eyes for me. I've never felt like that before, never since. Py, of the few men I've dated since, has come the closest to making me feel that way, but not quite.

I nearly jump out of my skin when the door bell rings, my heart leaping into my throat. I start to put the picture back into the drawer it's been in since I realized who and what Py is, but instead I put it in the middle of the table, and go to the door. I'm a little relieved when I see he's almost as jumpy as me when I open the door and he glances down the hall.

"You really came," I smile as he steps towards me, feeling his eyes roam over me like a warm caress.

"Something smells amazing," he whispers as his lips graze over my cheek. I close the door, sliding the bolt into place and watch the shiver run down his spine as the chain rattles against the door.

"It's not to lock you in," I explain, "it's just in case." He turns and smiles, a smile that goes all the way to his eyes. He slides out of his jacket, hangs it on the back of a chair and walks back over to me, sliding his fingers over my cheeks and into my hair.

"You're the one who looks like you're trapped in a cage sweetheart." His lips brush mine, softly at first, and then more insistently, hungrily, tipping my head back and forcing my lips to open beneath his. I feel my body melt against his as his tongue twines around mine, as his hands move down to wrap gently around my neck. When he withdraws, only an inch or two, I feel my lips turn up in a smile. "That's more like it," he whispers, kissing me gently. "I've missed you Tasha."

"I didn't…I didn't want the other night to be how…how we left it," I explain and he nods, smiling, his thumbs massaging the thin skin behind my ears.

"I'm glad and I'm glad you asked me over. Sort of like old times."

"Except my place isn't such a pig sty," I laugh and suddenly the ice is broken. "Are you hungry?" I ask, sliding out of his arms and moving into the kitchen, pulling the oven door open and letting out the aroma of roast and potatoes and caramelized onions. He licks his lips and takes a deep breath.

"Smells amazing. I almost forgot that was the other thing you were good at," he grins and moves around me to turn off the oven. I look up at him, confused, but he just gently moves me out of the way, taking the oven gloves off the top of the stove and pulling the roasting pan out and putting it on the top of the stove. "I think I'd rather work up an appetite first." Now it's my turn to feel a shiver run down my spine when he turns those blue eyes on me, his gaze sweeping over me, full of hunger of another kind.

Seeing that bustier has made me forget that I've hardly eaten all day and the only thing I can think of now is getting her into bed, feeling her soft body under mine. I try to kiss away the look of confusion in her eyes, find that warmth we had a moment ago, and when her hands slide up my chest and her lips open beneath mine again, I feel my heart beat begin to quicken.

When I twine my fingers with hers and she leads me to her bedroom, I can see that all signs of him have been carefully erased for me, but there are bare spots on the dresser, on the night table, but I only give it a quick thought as she opens her black satin kimono to reveal a black velvet bustier, her long legs bare as she lays back on the bed like a half opened present. She looks up at me, her eyes dreamy, her soft lips parted, and her wicked little smile makes me immediately hard.

She watches, patiently, as I strip, stopping me before I get to my belt, sitting up and beckoning me to join her. I lay down beside her, touching my lips to hers' as she runs her fingers lightly over my chest.

"You're even hotter than I remember," she smiles, pressing me down onto the bed and running her tongue over my nipples, making me squirm. "What? That's not where you want to be touched?" she asks, laughing, softly kissing her way down to the waistband of my jeans.

"You kill me Tash, you really do," I sigh as she runs her fingers lightly over me, making me twitch.

"Really? And are you in a position to complain?" she asks, straddling me, with her hands on the top of the zipper to her bustier.

"God no," I moan, pushing up to my elbows to get a better view. "No complaints here." I watch her slowly, achingly slowly, undo the zipper, and then drop the bustier to the floor. I lick my lips, my mouth having gone dry at the sight of her, above me, her dark eyes gazing into mine, trying to look braver than she feels. "Come here," I take her hand, pulling her down beside me, cradling her in my arms. "There's no rush," I whisper, "we've got hours." I feel her relax into me, feel her muscles release some of the tension as she slides her arms up and around my neck, pulling my lips over hers'.

I could kiss him forever. We used to, it used to be just like this, kissing, touching, for hours. Maybe because he was my first, and it took a long time to convince me it was okay to do more than this, or maybe because it feels so good with him. Not that it doesn't with anyone else, but there's something about the way his lips match mine, something that just makes this feel so right, makes me forget about everything and everyone else.

This time when he leads my hand down between us, I don't need to hide behind jokes or sarcasm, I just gently release him, letting my fingers wrap around him, enjoying his soft moans as I kiss my way back down his chest and slide him between my lips, wrapping my tongue around the soft velvet of the head of his cock.

I feel his fingers in my hair but he doesn't try to control the speed or the depth of the penetration, he just runs his fingers through my hair, watching, wonder in his eyes until I slide away from him, sliding out of my panties and over him, feeling him fill me. Neither of us moves, his blue eyes watch me, waiting, his hands on my hips.

"I love you," I whisper, and he nods, taking my hand and lacing his fingers through mine, bringing it to his lips and gently touching each finger in turn.

"I've always loved you Natasha," he whispers, his gaze holding mine as we begin to move. Each movement is endless and too quick all at once, liquid and dreamlike and over too soon. His gaze never wavers, even as I feel him tense when the orgasm begins to build, the spasms in my body giving me away. His hands hold mine, supporting, touching, warm and sure. I fight the urge to close my eyes, to look away as the orgasm takes hold all too soon, gazing into his eyes as I pull him over the edge with me, his body pressing up into mine, his lips falling open, his cries of release mixing with mine.

He rolls me gently into his side, his arms around me, his lips pressed to my shoulder as the spasms ebb and fade.

"It's never like this," I whisper, letting my fingers wander over his biceps, up to his cheek, "not with anyone. It's never this strong."

"Because I know you, because we fit," he whispers, lifting his gaze to look into mine.

"Why didn't you wait?" I ask, and he sighs pressing his forehead to mine.

"I was…stupid, angry. I thought you were running, I didn't…I just didn't process that you felt you had to leave for Janie."

"I thought it would never stop hurting," I sigh, "and then you came back and…even now…this…even now I'm thinking that you have to go home to her."

"I don't know Tasha, I've been thinking about all this, and…maybe it's time to admit it was a mistake, Katie I mean." I look up at him and he smiles, brushing my hair back from my face. "Is that…I mean would you have me?"

"Don't say it if you don't mean it Kevin…please," I feel tears pricking at the corners of my eyes.

"I think I do yeah, I mean…this feels right doesn't it?" he asks, his hand running down over my hip, rolling me over pressing his lips over mine.

"God yes," I moan as he slides his hand between my legs, finding that spot that makes my spine bow and rips a happy cry from my lips.

"Py, you suck at this man, seriously. You have no bluffing skills whatsoever," Kess laughs, raking the pot towards himself for what seems like the fifth time. Trev just shakes his head and gets up to get more beer while Cookie opens up the box of Cubans in the middle of the table and starts handing them around.

"Think I'll sit this one out," Mo sighs, "come outside with me Taylor?" I look over at him and then back down at my dwindling number of chips and nod. Maybe I do need to clear my head. I follow him out into Trev's back yard and stretch, waving the blue smoke away that follows us outside. "So I hear you and your girlfriend are pretty serious," Mo says, slipping his shoes off and rolling his jeans up and sitting at the side of the pool with his feet in the water.

"Yeah, think I'm gonna pop the question at the New Years' party."

"Have you got the ring already?" he asks and I nod, taking a seat beside him and sliding my feet into the cool water.

"Yeah, I got it on that trip to Boston, I've been carrying it around with me."

"So you're sure she's the one? I mean it's only been a few months."

"I know, it sounds crazy, my parents think I'm crazy, my little brother thinks I'm crazy, but she's amazing Mo, she really is."

"So you think she'll say yes?" he asks, turning his eyes to me and looking at me in a way that gives me the feeling that that isn't all he's asking.

"What's with the twenty questions man? I mean, not that I mind, I just get the feeling this is going somewhere and, I guess I'd rather you just tell me what's on your mind." Mo nods and goes back to making patterns in the water with his feet, like he's thinking. Then he leans back and looks up at the sky and lets out a sigh.

"When I tell you this, I just want you to know that I'm telling you because you seem like a good guy and I don't like when…relationships fuck with the team, you know what I'm saying?" he looks over at me and I nod, feeling like some weight is about to descend on me, and I'm not going to like it. "Am I right in thinking that Tasha hasn't told you about her and Kevin?"


"Bieksa," he levels his gaze at me and waits for my reaction. At first I can't get my head around it, Kevin and Tasha…I shake my head and look over at him and he must be able to see the confusion in my eyes. "I'll take that as a no. I don't know all the ins and outs of it but I know that last season when he got called up, they were…an item. The thing is, if they haven't told you about it, then maybe there's something you need to talk to them about, and if I were you, I'd probably do that now."

"But Kev's married," I say, shaking my head, as if somehow that's going to make it all come clear to me.

"Yes he is," Mo sighs and goes back to making circles in the water with his feet. I stare at him and then look at the guys at the table in the house and I can see Trev watching me pretty closely, and suddenly that odd discussion I walked in on the other day in the weight room is making a lot more sense.

"You're saying he's with her…right now?" I ask and Mo shrugs.

"I don't know that, but he's not here is he?" I nod, suddenly feeling very queasy. I get up, grab my shoes and head out through the side gate, not wanting to actually know if the guys inside know and if they'll try and stop me from leaving.

"Hey, don't make that face, I have to go, now, but I'll be back. I love you," I whisper, kissing her softly, tenderly. She leans against my hand and lets out a long sigh, and then turns her dark eyes up at me with the ghost of a smile.

"Okay, this time. But we'll talk about this some more before you do anything?"

"That's what we decided right? Neither of us says anything until I see my lawyer and talk to the team lawyer and see where I stand and get everything in order. But I'll see you before then right?"

"Right," she sighs and then reaches up to touch her lips to mine in a long soft kiss. "I loved this, by the way, having you here."

"I loved having you," I laugh, running my fingers through her damp hair and giving her one more kiss. "But I should go."

"Yeah, yeah, the little lady is waiting," she takes a deep breath and steps back, pushing the door open as I step outside. I walk down the hallway, and turn before I hit the door, turning back to see her leaning in the doorway, and when she sees me turn she blows me a kiss and closes the door. I feel the grin spread on my face and run my hand through my wet hair. Yeah, this was good.

I step out into the cold night air and head to my car, sliding behind the wheel and giving my head a shake. Time to get back into married man mode, or maybe I should drop in on the poker game and see if they're still playing, smoke a cigar or two. Yeah, that's a plan. I pull out of the parking lot and see a silver Land Rover speeding towards the drive way. Shit, shit. I pull out and make a quick left, disappearing around the corner before I pull over, my heart hammering hard in my chest. I flip open my phone and make a quick call.

"You miss me already?" she purrs seductively over the phone.

"He's on his way in," I hiss, not sure why I'm whispering.


"I just passed him. He's on his way in."

"Did he see you?"

"No, but he was speeding like crazy."

"Shit, okay thanks I guess," she hangs up and I stare at my phone. Shit is right.

The door is locked, and there aren't any sounds in the apartment when I open the door. There's just one dirty plate in the drying rack and an unopened bottle of wine on the counter. I can smell candles though, but when I track their scent they're all around the tub, and her kimono is hanging on the back of the door. I shake my head, she's been doing what she told me she'd be doing, having the dinner she was going to make for me and having a soak, reading a book. Mo must have misunderstood.

I push open the door to the bedroom to find her snuggled under the covers, alone. I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding. Yeah, Mo must have got it all wrong.

I strip and slide into the bed behind her, sliding my arm over her waist and pull her close. She sighs in her sleep and snuggles back towards me, her body warm and still a little slippery from the bath oil. I kiss her neck and inhale the spicy scent of the expensive bath oil I'd bought her and smile.

"Hey," she mumbles, turning over to wrap her arms around me and nuzzle my neck. "You stink like…what is that, cigars?"

"Yeah, Cookie brought some Cubans."

"Mmmm, it kind of smells good," she sighs and lays her head on my shoulder.

"You smell amazing," I sigh, burying my head in her hair, and running my hand down along her hip.

"Mmmm, I'm sorry hun, I'm really sleepy," she sighs and buries herself deeper in the sheets.

"That's okay babe," I sigh and gather her closer to me. "I'm okay just holding you. I just missed you that's all."

"But did you have a good time?" she asks, her voice soft and heavy with sleep.

"Not as good as I would have with you."

"Mmm, you're sweet," she whispers, her voice trailing off to almost nothing.

"I love you Tasha," I whisper, wrapping her up in my arms, but her body's already limp with sleep. I press my lips to her forehead and silently curse myself for ever thinking that she could cheat on me. Not her, not my Tasha.

"He passed you in the parking lot?"

"Well outside the parking lot but it's the same thing," I mumble, careful to keep my voice low as I reach for one of the water bottles along the boards. "Question is, who tipped him off?"

"Well it wasn't me," Trev laughs, knocking my shins with the blade of his stick, "but nice miss man. So what are you going to do now?"

"You mean when I find out who tipped him off?"

"Well I actually meant when are you going to see her again, but, you know, sure that too."

"I think it was Mo," Cookie leans on the pommel of his stick and eyes Mo at the other end of the ice. "He was talking to him right before he left."

"Man, I told him to stay the hell out of it," I mutter, suddenly feeling a whole lot like dropping the gloves and ripping him to shreds.

"Well before you rip him a new one," Cookie smiles, as if he'd really enjoy that, "doesn't look like Py's out for your blood man, so maybe it's not what you think otherwise I'm pretty sure you guys would have duked it out before now." All of our eyes are drawn to Py who's still taking shots on Danny.

"He might be right about that," Trev says, shifting from one blade to the next before rifling a shot towards Ollie across the ice "Doesn't look like Py's too concerned. Do you think Tash smoothed it over?"

"See that's the thing, she hasn't returned any of my messages so I thought the shit had really hit the fan."

"Maybe he's waiting to jump you in the parking lot," Cookie laughs and then ducks as I swing for him, but I'm glad he's mad me laugh because it's helping ease the dead weight that's been sitting in my stomach all morning.

"So do you think he doesn't know then?" I ask and Trev shrugs.

"Well if it was you, would you still be standing here or would you be bleeding somewhere?"

"Point taken," I sigh as we move back to join the others for the next drill. I take care to keep out of Py's way though, as much as I can, through the entire practice. But even when it does come to checking, he's no harder on me than usual, and the only hint I have that he's being any different with me than he has ever been is during warm down when he makes his way up beside me and skates beside me in silence, none of his usual aimless idiotic chatter, but I can tell he's watching m, and I take care not to let him know that I know he's watching. Even in the locker room I catch him watching me, his eyes following me around the room.

"He thinks, he doesn't know but he thinks he knows something;" I grumble to Ollie as we head to the parking lot.

"You better hope he doesn't put it together B, he's bigger than you, and he fights hard when he's mad, or hadn't you noticed?"

"I'm more worried about Tasha than I am me," I glance over at him as he slides into the driver's seat of his Land Rover. I slide behind the wheel and flick my phone open and dial her number quickly. It rings and rings, and as soon as the voice mail picks up I hit 'end' again. Damn. It's Christmas Eve, it's been days. I flick my phone open again and send her another text.


Worried bout u. Let me know r u ok? Luv u.


"Another message?" Minda asks as I flick my phone open again and scowl at it, before burying it deep in my purse. "You could just text him back you know. You did bonk his brains out after all."

"And say what? I found the damn ring in Py's jacket pocket, what am I going to say when he asks me Mind? Gee sorry, can you wait until your buddy Kevin talks with his lawyer to see how long it's going to take to get a divorce before I answer you? Or do I just got with my gut instinct on this one and chalk it up to a one night stand and try and forget about it?"

"Yeah, like that's going to happen. I think you've forgotten that you've been in love with Kevin for how long now?"

"Don't remind me," I sigh, trying to work out the permanent crease between my brows as we wander through yet another store so that I can not make a decision about what to buy Py for Christmas.

"You could break up with Py, I mean, that is an option."

"Yeah, and it would be the right thing to do, the honest thing to do, but…"

"But you kinda love him too right?" I nod, and feel a growl of frustration growing in my chest.

"It's not fair, I was perfectly happy before I saw Kevin. As long as I avoided seeing him, everything was fine between Py and me, everything. We were happy. This…just screws everything up and as if this wasn't messed up enough, I have to see him in two days."

"Boxing day?"

"Well Calgary is having this sort of…cocktail party for the adults and Santa skate for the kids after the game and I tried to talk Py out of it but with his parents and kid brother not able to come for Christmas because of the juniors he really wants to go and what could I say?"

"So…what are you going to do? Ignore him?"

"I wish I knew Mind, but I don't."

"Merry Christmas baby," I grin around the pile of gift bags and brightly wrapped parcels in my arms. Tasha looks back at me with a mixture of amusement and surprise, clutching her kimono around her before she slides aside and lets me into the apartment.

"I thought we agreed not to go crazy?" she sighs, trying to look upset but there's a glint in her eye that lets me know she's not really upset at all.

"These aren't all for you," I laugh, dropping them under and around her little silver tinsel tree, "I just found out that my parents are going to be able to meet us in Calgary after all, so I thought, considering we were leaving from here…" I look up at her to find her eyes round with what looks a whole lot like fear. "They won't bite babe, I promise," I smile and reach out to wrap her in my arms but she backs away, shaking her head.

"You don't just…you can't just tell me that now. I have to repack, I…I don't…parents Py…I mean…." I don't mean to laugh but I can't help it, she looks so cute when she's flustered. I wrap my arms around her and tilt her lips up to mine and try to smooth away the worry lines between her eyes.

"Babe, seriously, they'll love you as much as I do, I promise," I feel her tense, and her eyes start to well up. "What is it babe? This isn't just about meeting my parents is it?"

"No…no I'm tired Py…I'm sorry. There's just been so much to do with my parents coming over and getting ready to go at the same time."

"Good thing I've already met your parents then hmm? Couldn't have both of us all stressed out now could we?" I search her eyes and she looks away, hiding from me again. "Babe," I lift her chin so I can see her eyes, see how worried she looks, "you've been as nervous as a kitten lately, and I haven't asked, because I know you've had stuff with school and shopping and your parents but it's Christmas and I want you to be happy, so tell me what I can do to turn that frown upside down?" For a long moment she just stares back at me, a hundred things going on behind those dark eyes of hers' but then she just reaches up and touches her fingertips to my cheek and pulls my lips down to hers' for a long soft kiss.

"Just…take me to bed Py, please." She molds her body to mine and rests her head against my shoulder and lets out a long sigh.

"I've been worried you'd gone off me, I thought…," I don't get to finish my thought, her fingertips reach up and touch my lips, closing them gently.

"Don't talk Py, please, just…just take me to bed."

I feel almost like I'm standing outside myself as he slides my kimono over my shoulders, following the silk with soft kisses to each inch of skin as it's bared. I feel it, but not really, almost like I'm watching it happen to someone else and I think 'that's nice, that's sweet' but I don't feel warm inside, instead I feel empty and cold and heartless. It's Christmas day and I love this man but he's not the man I'm in love with and he never can be, not really. Even though I want to feel more, want to need him, want to burn at his touch, I don't.

I watch my body respond, slowly, twining my body around his, my spine arching as his lips blaze a trail from the curve of my neck to the curve of my hip. I run my fingers over his broad muscled back, digging my fingernails in when his tongue flicks at the pearl of sensation between my legs, sighing, drawing my bottom lip in with a sound that, for all the world sounds like I'm enjoying this, very much but also sounds like a barely contained sob.

Because I should be enjoying this, he's beautiful and attentive, slow and methodical in his love making, taking more care that my needs are met than he does of his own. But he doesn't build a fire in the pit of my stomach, doesn't make me scream. He's good, very good, but he isn't Kevin. He can't bring me shuddering over the edge with a look, just by showing me the fever in his eyes. In fact he doesn't have fever in his eyes, it's not even lust that looks up at me over my abdomen, it's boyish joy, it's love, it's innocent abandon.

I am one evil selfish bitch.

"Hey Py, want me to deal you in?" Kes asks, waving a handful of cards over at us. Py glances over at me and I smile and nod.

"I'm just reading. Go ahead, have fun," he grins and leans over to press his lips against my cheek, giving my hand a quick squeeze before he unbuckles his seatbelt and climbs over me and walks down the aisle. I watch him go, waiting for him to settle into a seat next to Green and one of the twins before turning my attention back to the same page I have now tried to read about a hundred times since we got on the plane, except every time I get past the first sentence my attention wanders to the front of the plane where he's sitting, with Katie's head laying against his shoulder. This time I force myself to get to the bottom of the page before I look up again and this time when I look up I see him making his way towards me, Cookie and Trev in tow, essentially blocking anyone's view of him from behind.

I watch him walk up to me, feeling my stomach churning with trepidation, the hair on the back of my neck standing up. His gaze wanders over me casually, and I feel it slide from my lap, up to my eyes, like warm fingertips sliding over my skin.

"You're avoiding me," he says casually, leaning against the empty seat in front of me, Trev and Cookie taking up guard positions on either side of him. I can only shrug in response, my mouth feeling like it's full of cotton. "So what's up T? Do you want to pretend the other night didn't happen?"

"I didn't say that," I reply, my voice cracking with the emotions I can barely hold in check.

"No, but then you haven't said much have you T?" he whispers, leaning close enough that the scent of his spicy cologne fills my head, and memories explode in my mind, sending a shiver of desire through me. "What if I ask you to meet me in the bathrooms T, will you come?" The back of his fingers trail down my cheek and stop at my lip, his thumb pressing gently, suggestively, against my lips, his blue eyes searching my gaze, waiting impatiently for my answer. I manage to tear my gaze away long enough to glance at the back of Katie's head before I look back at him.

"But she's…," he shakes his head, just once, his lips tightening in the way they do just before he gets angry, or just before he punches someone out on the ice.

"So's Py, and you look very lovey dovey all curled up with his hand on your knee," he growls, his voice husky with a mixture of desire and irritation. "Are you coming or not?" I can feel my heart flutter in panic, my breaths coming in short sharp gasps, my heart beat double, but I nod, and he nods once, and heads to the back of the plane. I glance back down at my book, wanting desperately to hide the blush that rises in my cheeks, and not wanting to face the bemused looks from either Matt or Trevor.

I wait, trying to slow my breathing, trying to calm my nerves but my hands are shaking and I'm sure if someone looks hard enough they'll be able to see my heart beating through my chest. With a quick glance down the aisle, I see Katie's attention still glued to the in flight movie, so I push myself to my feet and head back the way Kevin had gone, laying my hand gently on Py's shoulder as I walk past. He looks up at me grinning, shows me his hand, a straight flush, and then goes back to his game. My knees almost give out on me as I move past him but I manage to stay on my feet and keep aiming forward. I knock once on the bathroom door that says occupied and he reaches out and pulls me in, pressing me against the wall, his lips covering mine, his hands rough on my shoulders.

"I want to be inside you," he growls, his lips leaving a trail that burns across my skin as he pushes my sweater up until his hands slide over the satin of my bra, making my nipples tighten and reach for him. His blue eyes meet mine, and I can only nod, not trusting my ability to actually say yes. My hands shake as I try for the buckle on his belt and after a couple of tugs he bats my hand away and slides the belt open, dropping his pants before pulling me up off my feet and placing me precariously on the cold edge of the metal sink. "God you're so wet, tell me you've been thinking about me and not him?" he whispers, yanking my skirt up around my hips, pulling the edge of my panties aside and jamming himself inside me hard enough to make me gasp out loud.

"Ever since you walked on the plane," I moan, biting at his bottom lip, as I wrap my legs around him, pulling him deeper inside.

"I was worried," he sighs, pressing his forehead against mine, "I thought you might not want me again."

"I'm scared Kevin, I'm scared you'll choose her again," I reply, reaching up to touch my fingers to his cheek.

"I know," he whispers, his gaze searching mine. "I can't promise…," I touch my fingertips to his lips and shake my head, feeling tears spring to my eyes.

"That's what I thought," I brush angrily at the tears on my cheeks and then press my lips to his before pushing him away. "Don't choose Kev, just…make sure you treat her better than me okay?" He starts to say something again, but I just shake my head, and give him one last soft kiss, then I slide my skirt down and slide out of the bathroom, leaving him behind.

"Come on, you can do this," I laugh, holding my hands out to her but she just grips the boards harder and shake her head at me.

"No, I'll fall and you'll laugh, no way."

"C'mon babe, you promised you'd skate if we won, so be brave I know you can do this."

"Because I thought you'd lose. Please don't make me," she sticks her bottom lip out at me and tries to look helpless which doesn't work, but it's cute enough to make me skate back over and slide my arms around her and push her a little ways from the boards. "Is this better?"

"Yeah, some," she laughs, and leans back into me.

"I can't believe you've never skated," I laugh as makes me do all the work pushing her around as she glides flat footed in front of me.

"I have an aversion to broken limbs, so sue me, that's why I don't ski either."

"I bet you'd look super hot in those little skater outfits though," I grin, swinging her around and trying not to laugh as she lets out a long frightened squeal. "Don't worry I won't let you fall."

"I'm supposed to trust you?" she laughs as I pull her, skating backwards. "I think that's asking a lot."

"Do you? Because I have something else to ask," I grin, pulling her to the center of the ice and steadying her, making sure she can stand on her own before I drop to one knee.

"Oh Py, don't do this here," she mumbles, her eyes suddenly filling with tears as I press my lips to her hand.

"But I want to, I want to do this so everyone can see how much I love you Tasha," I smile up at her, digging the ring out of it's box and sliding it onto her finger, a perfect fit just like I knew it would be. "Will you marry me Tasha?"

"No!" the sound reverberates through the arena, stopping everyone in their tracks. Py looks up at me, crestfallen for a long moment before he realizes it wasn't my lips that had moved. I'm frozen in place, the only thing I can think is, not here, not like this.But I watch Py's head swivel and his eyes comb the ice for the source of the voice. Reaching down I cup his chin, turning his eyes back to me.

"Look at me Py, just at me. This is only between you and me," I whisper, my voice tightened by anxiety and emotion. He fights for a moment to turn his head back towards the boards, but I hold his chin tight, using my other hand to steady myself as I slide down to my knees in front of him.

"What's going on Tasha?" he asks, his electric blue gaze searching mine.

"It doesn't matter, please, just let this be between us," I sob, tears springing to my eyes as I hear the quick 'snick snick' of skates behind me, feel another pair of blue eyes bearing down on my back like a target. Py looks over my shoulder and I see his eyes narrow, that dangerous look flooding his gaze, the fighter's haze taking over.

"Get out of the way Tasha," he hisses, his jaw clenched tight, his hands trying to curl into fists as I try to hold onto them, try to hold him with me.

"No Py, I won't. If you're going to fight, you're doing it through me. If you want to hurt me, go ahead, if not, take me off this ice right now."

"I won't tell you again, get out of the way," he growls, pulling me awkwardly to my feet, and I stumble, falling backward but a pair of strong hands hold me up, gathering me into an equally strong chest.

"I've got you," Kev whispers, his hand sliding protectively up to cup the back of my head, his lips brushing gently against my temple. I can't help thinking I should want this,, my arms automatically and easily sliding around his waist, expecting him to protect me and not wanting him there at the same time

"What the hell is going on?" Py snarls behind me, his voice thick with anger barely held in check.

"She can't marry you because she doesn't love you," Kev replies, sounding matter of fact, and running his other hand protectively down my back, letting it come to rest on my hip.

"Tasha?" Py's voice comes out sounding more like a sob than a question, and I dig my fingers into Kevin's back, silently asking him to release me. I lift my eyes to meet his and he slides his hand around to touch my cheek, gently, lovingly.

"Tell him Tasha. Tell him why you can't marry him," he smiles down at me, but the question sits in his eyes, waiting.

"No," I nod, and he begins to smile but I shake my head before I turn, looking up at Py, tears streaming down my cheek. "No, I can't marry you, but he's wrong. I do love you. I love you Py, but not enough, not yet. I'm sorry." I turn back to Kevin, seeing confusion in his eyes. "Can you help me off the ice?" Even as I say it, I feel Py grab my arm, tugging me towards him.

"Will someone tell me what the hell is going on here?" Py demands, his voice full of a perilous mixture of venom and pain.

"I tried to tell you…," Mo says, but Py bats him away, sending him sprawling across the ice.

"I want to hear it from her! Tasha, are you in love with…him?"

"We need to talk Py, but not here okay? Let's just…go to the hotel and we can…," he shakes his head, and then holds his hands to his temples like he's holding his brain in, squeezing his eyes shut and howling in pain.

"Just tell me Tasha, are you in love with me or him?"

I can feel everyone's eyes on me, including Kevin's, but Py keeps his eyes closed tight, his hands digging into his temples, as if he can't bear to hear it, which I understand because I can't bear to say it. I look back at Kevin and then look towards the boards and wonder if I can make it under my own power. I reach away from Kevin, trying to balance with my arms, feeling like some kind of crane, and begin to slip but Trev reaches out and grabs me, steadying me and leading me towards the boards. I give him a grateful glance but his eyes are on his teammates. I follow his gaze to where the two of them are standing at center ice, Kev's hands balled into fists at his sides, Py with his hands over his ears, shaking his head as if it were an etch-a-sketch and he could get rid of the words, the images from his mind.

"You gonna be okay?" Trev asks quickly, keeping a wary eye on the two of them, knowing as well as I do that both have wicked tempers and that a fight is likely to erupt at any moment.

"Fine, go," I nod and he skates back towards them, and as if this is some kind of sign, a collective sigh erupts from the rest of the group, and then the chatter begins and it's my turn to put my hands over my ears as I click my way down the hall to a bench where I can pull of these ridiculous skates, slide my heels back on and disappear into the night.

I stand, watching Py writhe in torment in front of me, and I know somewhere behind me Katie is probably either staring daggers at my back or crying quietly, and yet I wouldn't take any of it back, not one single word. I stay, waiting for Py to get control over his emotions, or at least which emotion is going to win, because it's the code, because if he wants to fight me he has every right to. But as soon as that's done, I'm going after Tasha, because she can't marry him, she can't want to. Even if I wasn't quite ready to let Katie down yet, there's no way she'll want me back, not now.

Which makes me turn to look for her, finding her in the arms of Erin and Lotta, two women who should know what it's like to find out their man isn't faithful. There's nothing I can say to her, she knows how I feel about Tasha, she knows I came back once, well…really twice but she doesn't count the first time, she just thinks Tasha and I broke up the first time…

I feel the blow to my cheek as I'm falling to the ice. Shit, I should have known better, I should never have turned my back on him. But a sucker punch? Shit.

"What the hell man?" I rub at my cheek and look up at him from the ice. Mo and Trev have him but he's struggling like hell to get free. "We can put up the dukes man, just fucking give me a chance to defend myself first."

"Defend yourself? Fuck you Bieksa, how about you just keep your hands off other people's women?"

"Except I had my hands on her first," I grumble, getting back up on my feet, still rubbing at my cheek.

"What are you fucking talking about?" he looks at me, obviously drawing a blank.

"I thought Mo told you man," I look over at Mo but he's got his hands full and doesn't return my gaze.

"I thought that was something past tense…are you saying this is like…on going?"

"Look man…I wanted to marry her a long time ago, long before either you or me was here you know what I'm saying? Shit happened…she came here, I was with the Moose…but then I came here and she and I started again, but when I had to go back at the end of the season she wouldn't come and I was angry and…," I glance back towards Katie, careful this time to keep an eye on Py. "Look man, I've wanted Tasha for a really long time okay? I let her down, but I won't let her down again. So this is me telling you hands off my woman, she's my woman not yours." I glance back at Katie again, hoping she'll see something in my eyes that lets her know I'm sorry, and then I skate off the ice and head out to look for Tasha.

"I tried to tell you," Mo says again, still trying to hold me back from beating the living shit out of Kevin. I give one more effort at breaking free of his and Trev's grip but then Kevin disappears into the tunnel and I give up, and finally feel their grip loosen.

"I didn't think she'd do that…I can't believe she'd do that to me."

"They have a long history," Trev uses his soothing voice, his 'look at the silver lining' voice he uses on the rookies after losses. "Maybe she didn't want to hurt you until she decided one way or another. But she didn't say no to you Py, she seemed to want to talk it out. Maybe that's a good sign."

"What the hell? Does everyone know about this except me? What have you guys been doing? Laughing your asses off at me this whole time?"

"It's not like that," Mo starts, "and not everyone is on his side."

"Side? There are fucking sides?" I spin around and look at everyone, and it's clear, just the way the guys are on the ice, Cookie, Trev, Kes, Ollie, Willie, Billy Lou, they're all on one side, looking at me like I've lost my mind, and then there's Mo and Nazzy and Sammi, Burr, they're all standing over with the wives and girlfriends, looking back at me with sympathy on their faces. "There are…and all of you know," I feel even worse suddenly and the pounding in my head gets worse. "Fuck you…fuck all of you." I have to get out of this place; I have to get some air. I head for the hallways, for my shoes, and for the parking lot.

"Damn girl, where'd you come from?" Minda looks up from her breakfast, obviously shocked to see me. "You look like shit…have you been crying?" she jumps up and grabs me as I fall to my knees on the carpet, gathering me in her arms and brushing the hair out of my eyes. "What happened?"

"Py…Py asked me…," I can barely speak, hiccupping between sobs as I gasp for breath.

"He proposed…and then the shit hit the fan…hells bells Tasha…what did you say?"

"Nothing, haven't said…," I glance behind me at the open door and try to reach back to shut it but I can't quite reach. "Close…close the…," my fingertips graze the edge of the door but a big black shoe pushes against the door and I cringe, pulling my hand away.

"Minda, can you give us some space?" Kev asks, sliding his body behind mine, pulling me towards him. Minda looks at him and then at me, the question clear in her eyes.

"No," I shake my head, the tears falling harder, faster.

"Don't no me," Kev growls, gripping my upper arms harder. "You've been outrunning me half the night Natasha. You're going to have to talk to me, so let's stop this bullshit and deal with this right now."

"What do you want me to do Tash?" Minda asks, looking into my panicked eyes.

"I want…I want…," I crumble against him, the tears coming faster now but somehow being in his arms makes it worthwhile, but then I remember that being with him makes me a complete bitch and I begin to sob and pound my fists against his shoulders.

"Beat me up all you want sweetheart, I deserve it," he whispers, wrapping his arms around me and holding me against him, whispering soothing words in my ear while he strokes my hair gently. "I love you T, so no matter how far you run, or how many guys you pay to fly you home in a fucking Cessna, I'm going to keep running after you. I'm sorry I hurt you T, but let's just stop this shit right now and deal with it, fix it okay?"

"Too fucked to fix," I sob into his shoulder and I hear him laugh, not a real laugh, a sort of half laugh, half snort.

"Some of it, probably yeah, but not us T. We can fix us, I promise you. Just tell me you love me and we'll figure out the rest."

I watch him sleep, thinking how good it is to wake up next to him again, how nice it was to let myself fall asleep in his arms and not have to have it in the back of my mind that when I wake up he'll be gone. This, being here with him in my bed, feels comfortable, feels right. Not that having Py here didn't, but there was always something in the back of my mind, some kind of reminder that I should feel guilty, that I couldn't give him my whole heart. But then again, who does get over their first true love? Who isn't damaged by the time they get to our age? Who has their entire heart to give?

Then there are the inevitable comparisons between the two, so different they're like chalk and cheese making it difficult for one to live up to the strengths of the other. Py, so sweet, so naïve, so innocent, so uncomplicated and straightforward while Kev is so intelligent, so passionate, so complex. Yet despite the danger and the anger that always simmers just under the surface, the wife, all of the complexions, this is the man I love, above and beyond everything and everyone else.

I run my fingers over the muscles of his back, up to his cheek and he reaches up with his hand and grabs mine, bringing my fingertips to his lips.

"Good morning sleepy head," I slide back under the covers and let him pull me into the circle of his arms.

"So glad this wasn't a dream," he mumbles, pressing his lips to my shoulder.

"Sure about that?"

"Mmmm so sure. Why? Aren't you?"

"Well I haven't got as much to lose as you do," I whisper, hoping I don't sound as needy and shrill to his ears as I do to mine.

"What are you talking about? You look like the bad, evil, nasty other woman even though that's not really true, and you have to put up with me in your house making a big mess again, cleaning up after me, feeding me, I'd say that's a whole bunch of independence to give up T."

"So does that mean that…you really meant what you said earlier?"

"Which part?" he asks, rolling me onto my back and dipping his lips down over mine. "That you're beautiful even when you've been crying for hours?" I shake my head and try not to laugh. "Or that I want to marry you, as soon as I can get a divorce?" he asks, and when the smile spreads slowly across my face he grins, shaking his head. "You're not actually worried that I'd back out on you now are you?"

"Well you could have just said that in the…"

"Heat of passion?" he laughs and slides his hand down to my stomach before pressing his lips to my collarbone. "I distinctly remember being told that you were definitely not up to any passion earlier, have you changed your mind?"

"Don't change the subject Kevin. I'm serious. I want to know if you meant it." The mischief bleeds out of his eyes, leaving behind the warm blue lagoons that I love to get lost in.

"Even I wouldn't play with something like that sweetheart, you should know that," he says, his voice softening as he slides his fingers through my hair. "I've talked to some of the guys and they figure, for a price, we can make this all go away pretty quickly, as long as she agrees, which might be, well no, will be the hard part." His gaze searches mine and I see the twinkle of mischief leak back into them. "So it might be a bit hard for a while, living on your salary, but we didn't do so badly before, we can manage again can't we?"

"Oh I suppose," I can't help but smile when he gets that look in his eyes. "I mean, after all, another year of you being Jovo Junior and we'll be raking in the coin and then I can become a lady of leisure like the rest of the desperate housewife club."

"But then who'd finger paint with all the little terrors?"

"What about having a little terror of our own to finger paint with?"

"Women," he sighs, pinning me beneath him and kissing his way down my stomach to the top of my pj bottoms. "Why can't you just think of one thing at a time?"

"Hey, I thought we were talking?" I giggle as he gives a hard tug on the waist of my pj bottoms.

"Done talking," he laughs, pulling himself up to his knees and yanking my pj bottoms off by my ankles. "Coach says don't think, react, use my instincts," he growls, sliding his arms around me to unhook my sports bra.

"And what do your instincts tell you to do?" I can't help but giggle as he struggles to slide it off without help.

"Take what's mine," he laughs, looking very triumphant with a garment in each hand. I can't help laughing, but my laughter turns to squeals as he tosses my pj's to the floor and falls on me with a growl, biting at my shoulders and neck until I submit with a sigh, feeling him hard and insistent between my legs. I open up to him, sliding my arms around him and reaching for his lips with mine as he slides inside me, filling me, making me cry out as he slides over that spot inside he alone knows will bring me. I feel his hands under my hips, lifting me from the mattress so he can push deeper, and his eyes take on that half wild, half laughing look that sends a shiver of desire over my skin. Yes, this man I love.

"No way," I scream, dragging my heels in the gravel, "do you have any clue how long it took to do my hair this morning?"

"About five minutes?" Trev asks, grinning as he ducks my swing before putting Minda in front of him like a shield.

"Oh no you don't Linden," she gives him a sharp elbow in the ribs, "don't you use me as your human shield. The only person she cares about not hurting today is Kev and even then I wouldn't bet on it, morning sickness is making her really moody."

"Moody my ass," I swing for her to but she's easily able to duck and dodge out of my reach.

"C'mon sweetheart, I would never endanger you or the baby," Kev grins, putting a hand protectively over my little bump. "But you have to come and watch me and Trev go over, you promised."

"I promised we'd bungee jump after our wedding," I remind him, poking him away from me, "but that was before we found out about junior. It's not fair that you go without me."

"Ah c'mon sweetheart, you don't really mind do you?" he asks, that mischievous glint in his eye.

"Fine," I sigh and let him take my hand and lead me onto the bridge. I glance down at the cold rushing water below and give a little shiver. "You're not going to get your suit wet are you? We still have the reception to get through…"

"Don't worry, they won't eat all the wedding cake before you get back," Trev laughs and then dodges out of range of my swing again.

"He's not being the godfather of our son, there's no way," I grumble and Kev just grins and looks proud, just like he has since the last ultrasound.

"Honey, it's a boy, can you think of any other boy aside from me you'd rather teach him how to play hockey?"

"I'm not talking about hockey, and I hope our son wants to be a figure skater just to spite you," I snap, which makes both Minda and Trev roar with laughter.

"Mrs. Bieksa, you know you don't mean that," Kev laughs and gathers me into his arms.

"She just thinks you're happier about the baby than about marrying her," Minda laughs, trying to be helpful.

"I don't," I hiss, but there's more than an ounce of truth to that.

"You do," Kev smiles down at me and presses his lips briefly over mine, "but it's not true. I love that you're the one having my baby, Mrs. Bieksa. Now get over here woman while I jump off a bridge," he kisses my forehead, hands me the camera from out of his pocket and heads over to get tied up to the bungee cord. I shake my head and move over to the observation platform with Minda.

"Happy now?" she asks, touching my wedding ring.

"Yeah," I sigh, watching them checking and double checking all the attachments.

"He really loves you, you know. He was grinning like crazy all through the ceremony."

"I know," I shrug. "I just wish my hormones weren't all over the map and that I didn't have to pee so bad right now." She throws her head back and laughs, and then Kev jumps, his jacket flopping over, revealing a just married sign on his back, and it's my turn to laugh.