I'm just at the other end of your night

I'm always in and out of your light

Right down the middle of all your dreams

In your dream

(lyrics from 'In Your Dreams' Stevie Nicks)

Chapter 1

There ain't a reason you and me should be alone
Tonight, yeah baby
Tonight, yeah baby
But I got a reason that you're who should take me home tonight
I need a man that thinks it right when it's so wrong,
Tonight yeah baby
Tonight, yeah baby
Right on the limit's where we know we both belong tonight

(lyrics from Edge of Glory LadyGaga)

"Dinner was fabulous, thank you for inviting us." The first lady's hand was warm and soft when she put both of her hands around Chelsea's. "The caterers did you proud."

"Caterers? Not to toot my own horn," Chelsea leaned in and got a lungful of Michelle Obama's expensive perfume, "but that was all me and Aunt Myra." She wondered if some oil rich sheik had made a present of the rich amber and cinnamon fragranced oil and maybe the gold bangles jingling on the first lady's wrist. Her own hand looked bare in comparison but Chelsea was grateful that she'd taken time out this afternoon to get a French manicure.

"Well then you'll have to send me that recipe for that Sachertorte. I can't remember the last time Barack asked for seconds." Chelsea glanced over to where her great Aunt was currently beaming like she'd just been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"That's an old family recipe. I think you'd have to pry it out of her with a crowbar." Michelle grinned, patted Chelsea's hand and then moved down the line to kiss her father's cheek and likely repeat the glowing praise she had just heaped upon the diplomat's daughter. Chelsea fidgeted with Makali gown and started to fantasize about getting out of her Prada platforms and putting on a pair of ballet flats.

"You did me proud pumpkin," her father whispered, reaching for her hand and giving it a squeeze. "A few more minutes and the rest of your last night in DC is all yours." Chelsea smiled to herself. All she needed was to find some nice young soldier boy or congressional aide to buy her a couple of drinks and then an expensive hotel room, some champagne in one of those silver ice buckets and in the morning she could roll onto a plane home from there. Or….

Chelsea reached up and pretended to check the backing on one of her earrings and sent a sideways look towards one of the President's guards. He was tall with the kind of broad shoulders that looked like they belonged to a member of the Oxford rowing team and the kind of blue eyes and blonde hair that just screamed as American as apple pie. She gave him a wink. He tugged at his collar.

"CeeCee put the poor boy down," her Aunt whispered in her ear.

"Don't be a party pooper Auntie M," Chelsea hissed back. She thought about letting her hair down from the French twist that had been giving her a headache all afternoon but one of her great Aunt's patented clucking noises made her drop her hand.

"Go find someone off duty," her great Aunt advised sternly. "I'd hate that your being a tease ends up being the reason the President gets killed." Chelsea twisted one red ringlet around her finger and pursed her lips at the guard in a suggestive kiss.

"Don't be such a drama queen," she sighed and then stifled a giggle as her Aunt poked her in the ribs from behind.

"Fucking shit boys!"

It was a sentiment that Mike couldn't agree with more as they stepped off the plane into the windy cool early spring evening. He glanced up at the clouds retreating to the east and rolled his eyes.

"I wanna get faced," he muttered as he strode down the steps behind the mighty number eight who was still cursing, but now in Russian. Mike knew some of the words but he wasn't in the mood to try and force his tired brain to decipher them.

"Yeah, get fucked up and get laid," Laich agreed from behind him, laying one of his big hands on Mike's shoulder. "Whaddya say boys, let's go make some lovely young ladies night and put this bitch of a season to bed properly." That was putting it mildly, Mike thought as his feet hit the ground. It had been a shit season. He'd either been injured or hadn't played well and Tampa spanking them and sending them packing in the playoffs was just icing on the cake. He was almost looking forward to cleaning out his locker and getting home to nurse his wounds, both physical and emotional. It was going to be a long summer.

"I think I'll just go home, have a beer, go to bed," Nicky muttered as the group loitered at the foot of the stairs leading from the private jet. Mike opened his mouth to agree, knowing that when he was in a mood like this he wasn't good company. He had a certain reputation for being the fun guy that he knew he could never live up to tonight. Before he could, Ovie had his arms draped around both of them.

"We drink. Is an order. Lux, one hour." It was an order and from their captain no less. Mike felt like telling him to stuff his order. After all, had their fearless leader done a little more leading on the ice and a little less off the ice they might be heading to Boston instead of sending Tampa off to play the Big Bad Bruins. As usual though, Mike merely nodded, despite a sharp glance from Nicky who no doubt would have preferred that Mike back him up and he would have, except he'd been drinking alone a little too often lately.

"We'll just go for a couple drinks," he promised his Swedish teammate whose shoulders drooped as he fell into step beside him as they made their way to the parking lot. Not only was the quiet Swede not much of a drinker but he lived in fear of hot drunk co-eds. "I won't abandon you tonight, I promise," Mike added, sending Nicky off balance with a hip check.

"You always say that," Nicky shot back with a shake of his head that sent his blonde hair into his eyes.

"Yeah, but I promise this time," Mike replied tossing his keys over the roof of the low slung white Lambo, "and I'm letting you drive. What more do you want?"

Normally hitting a club on her own would have sent Chelsea into paroxysms but knowing she wasn't going to be back to DC for a while had given her a sense of fearlessness that normally was something she ever felt when dressed in clinging gold lame and strappy sandals. The appreciative looks she was getting from the male patrons of the dark dance club were further buoying her spirits as she sipped at a cocktail that glowed in the dark and was topped with paper umbrellas and pineapple cubes on a plastic sword.

Back home she'd be more dressed. Back home club gear meant wranglers and Stetsons. Back home they'd think she'd sleepwalked in her nightgown. Here, even with a dress whose curve skimming properties left next to nothing to the imagination she was overdressed. As she swayed to the techno beats from her perch on a barstool, she could see Paris France and damn near every girl in the club's underpants as they swung their hips and were constantly on the verge of a nipple slip in eensy weensie spaghetti strapped barely there tops and hootchie skirts that were more like bandanas. She knew most of the women, by day, wore the DC uniform of starched white blouses and charcoal gray business suits with skirts to the knee and boring black pumps so she didn't blame them for letting it all hang out by the light of the moon. However, it left her feeling a bit like the old maid, the wall flower, the girl who was destined to be the last one picked for the softball game.

"I buy you drink, we dance, I take you home, rock your world, da?"

Chelsea blinked, her lips still pursed around the bright yellow crazy straw. She prayed, just for a moment, that when she turned around the face she'd see would be one of her father's aides, or at the very least someone she knew from the Consulate. When she slowly spun on the barstool it was all she could do not to scream out loud. He looked like something out of a cheesy black and white horror movie from the fifties. She almost expected the next thing out of his mouth to be…oh what was it Igor said…?

"No…definitely not," she decided aloud. God, she sounded rude and snotty and she hated those kinds of girls but no one that looked like that should be walking up to perfectly solid sevens and saying things like that. Maybe Johnny Depp or Ryan Gosling could do that…no could definitely do that, but not this guy. "Sorry," she added apologetically, because he did have nice blue eyes.

"Okay, your loss," the Russian with the low forehead merely shrugged and grinned and walked away from her as if he didn't care that she'd just shot him down without actually accepting a free drink first. She watched him go out of the corner of her eye, watched him rejoin his entourage of young men who, predictably, jeered him boisterously. That, she decided, going back to her drink, was worse than what she'd done.

She was about to turn away, about to go back to watching the writhing mass of sweating humanity on the dance floor when one of the caribou left the herd. She wanted to turn away, to discourage yet another out of town sailor or whatever they were from trying his luck but something about the way his t-shirt rode his wide shoulders and the 'please, please don't kick me in the nuts' look in his eyes made her pause.

'No, no, no', she sighed to herself as she turned and put her drink on the bar, 'not fair. I'm a sucker for puppy dogs.'

"I'm sorry about Sasha," he slid onto the barstool beside her. "He thinks he's all that but he forgets sometimes that he looks like he just escaped from the Homo Habilis exhibit at the museum." Chelsea couldn't help it. She tried not to grin but his friend had put his finger on it.

"I was a bit worried he'd pull out a club and drag me away by my hair," she agreed. She glanced sidelong at the young man who was now tearing the corner of one of the coaster in front of him and he smiled and nodded his head but kept his gaze riveted to the tiny shreds of cardboard he was creating.

"You have nice hair. That would kind of be a shame for him to pull any out."

Jesus H Christ had he actually just said that? Mike curled his hands into fists in front of himself and clenched his teeth. He was out of practice. Normally he didn't have to chat up girls. They just kind of showed up and threw themselves at him. This one wasn't going to do that, he'd seen that the minute that Ovie had said he was going to take her home. He'd also been able to see, just like everyone else had, that the Great Eight wouldn't stand a chance with a smokin' hot red head like the one sitting there with her legs that went on for miles wearing that flimsy excuse for a dress that just begged for him to run his hands all over it.

Now that he was here, however, Mike didn't think he stood that much of a chance with her either but he'd taken the opportunity to sneak out while Brooksy, Carly and Schultzy were making mince meat out of their captain.

"I'm sorry that was totally lame," he apologized and glanced over to find her giggling behind her hand.

"No, I'm totally flattered," she replied sincerely, though he could see her amusement at his complete lack of game in her eyes. He nodded and got up off of the bar stool. He'd leave this class piece of tail to a guy that could handle her, like Nicky or Brooksy, Mike decided, and wait until some slightly more inebriated and less challenging skirt draped herself all over him and purred in his ear that she wanted to be taken home. That was just easier.

"Anyways, uh…sorry about him," Mike stuttered and turned to go.

"Seriously, you're giving up, just like that?" He stopped, mid stride and actually wondered if what he was hearing was in his imagination. With his luck, he thought as he debated whether or not to turn around, he'd look and she'd be gone or worse, she'd laugh at him again. 'Jesus' he cursed himself again. The loss tonight had seriously deflated his mojo. 'You can do better than that Greener' he told himself, squaring his shoulders. 'You're a god damn hockey fucking superstar.'

"Who me, give up? I was just testing you," he put on the big shit eating grin that his alter ego, Darkstar, Green wore when he talked to women and turned around. "Can I get you another one of those?" He motioned for the bartender and then turned back to see her watching him as if she was trying to figure out what had just happened. He was on the verge of apologizing yet again when the expression on her face altered and a slow, sexy grin spread across her face. Part of him was disappointed. Girls liked Darkstar, they didn't like Mike Green. He was always sort of hoping that one would see through his shit, call him on it and actually make him step up and be himself.

That day, it seemed, was not today.

He didn't really dance. In fact she was pretty sure that he was one of those white boys with absolutely no rhythm. He did, however, hold onto her hips like he knew what to do with them as she used him like a stripper pole. He also looked at her like he knew exactly what he wanted to do with her, which was making her wish the alcohol she'd drunk would absorb into her system faster so she could get silly and brave at the same time and stick her tongue down his throat and ask him to take her home. She wasn't that drunk, yet, and he wasn't good enough looking for her to do it before the beer goggles got a little thicker.

Not that he was ugly. He wasn't. He just wasn't exactly one of those sculpted Greek statues that she usually drooled over. He was a little soft around the middle, she thought as she ran her fingers lightly down his ribs, making him squirm as if he'd like to giggle but wouldn't, not in public. It was just a little extra to hold onto, kind of like his chubby cheeks. It was just baby fat that, given a little hard work, would melt quickly away.

It was his eyes that were doing her in, she decided as she rocked and swayed her way up his body. She wanted to call them bedroom eyes but one minute, as he looked down at her, they were full of sultry, desire filled thoughts and then the next minute one of his friends would jostle him and his eyes would light up and he'd laugh and these cute dimples would show and the whole sex thing was gone. Then she did want to tickle him into submission.

The contradiction was so immediate and unexpected that it caught her off guard and nearly sent her off balance. He caught her, easily and seemingly without trying and Chelsea found herself staring at a pair of impressive guns that strained every thread and fiber in his dress shirt.

'Hmmm, maybe not so soft then', she thought to herself as she let her fingers do the walking until she had her arms locked around his neck. He dipped her, immediately, bringing her back up against him with enough force that she every part of her was pressed against every part of him. 'No, definitely not so soft,' she thought as she found herself staring into the depths of his dark eyes.

"Do you wanna get out of here?" she heard herself asking before the thought had really had time to germinate in her brain.

"Uh…yeah," he answered before she could add any kind of rider to it, like to take a walk out by the reflecting pool or visit the Lincoln memorial, first date kind of things to do. She didn't want to date the guy, she reminded herself as he turned and tugged her along behind him like a trailer to his full size pick-up truck, and she was leaving in the morning. She just didn't want to be daddy's little goody two shoes for just one night.

Mike was glad he'd brought the Bentley. The Lambo was a chick magnet, no doubt about it, but this girl wasn't the usual puck fuck he took home in the low slung sports car. This chick looked amazing in the deep black leather seats. 'Bentley should use her to sell cars' Mike thought as he glanced across the consul at her, at the way her glittering gold dress looked like some kind of bling against all the black. Even her hair, which had to be out of a bottle because there was no way anyone was actually born with hair the colour of rich merlot, looked like some kind of gemstone against the headrest, like something you'd order from the accessories catalogue. 'That would be some catalogue' he thought to himself as he glanced down at her mile long legs and licked his lips nervously. She looked like the kind of expensive escort that Ovie would sometimes call up on the road, the ones that showed up in the nicest clothes and pretended to be your girlfriend when you met them at the bar in the hotel but you knew that the concierge and all the hotel staff knew that you were paying ten grand to get your knob waxed. He could hardly believe this one was coming home with him for free.

She hadn't raised an eyebrow when he'd led her to his car, but she didn't seem to know who he or any of the other guys were either, which was also odd, Mike thought as he reminded himself to keep his eyes on the road. He knew damn well that most of the girls he took home whose names he rarely remembered by the time he was shooing them out so he could go to practice were only boning him because he was a professional athlete. Normally that didn't bother him, everyone got what they wanted, the puck bunnies got to say they'd fucked an NHL star and he got his rocks off; it was a win, win situation. Sitting next to this beautiful red haired siren, Mike couldn't help but wonder why she was here with him and what her angle was and that made him nervous enough that the wheel began to feel slippery in his hands.

"This is it," he muttered as he pulled up to the square nondescript six story industrial looking building. She tilted her head to the side and looked up at the building just as he pulled into the underground parking lot. The light was harsh and bright and Mike had to fight the urge to rub at his eyes as if he'd just woken up.

He pulled into one of his parking spaces, between the Lambo and Escalade and shut off the car. He intended to get out and walk around and help her out of the car but before he was even out of his seat she was already climbing out. Mike watched her long, pale legs slide across the leather and his mouth got dry. He really didn't know what she was doing here with him.

Sliding his keys into the pocket of his suit pants, he led the way to the elevator, wondering if he should reach for her hand or put his arm around her. Usually when he brought a girl home from the club he almost had to hold them up, or they both had to hold each other up and invariably the girl was carrying her heels having long ago lost the ability to walk in them. Not this one, Mike noticed as he glanced down at the gold ribbons that wound around her shapely calves. She walked confidently and the sound of her heels on the pavement echoed around them.

As they waited for the elevator she wrapped her arms around herself and he saw her shiver. He hadn't noticed if it was cold, but he was glad that he finally had the opportunity not to look like a total tool. Sliding his jacket off, he laid it carefully over her shoulders.

"Thanks," she smiled and pulled the lapels closed, huddling inside. He was a little sorry to lose sight of the shimmering fabric caressing her skin, but his knees got weak when she smiled at him.

The doors opened with a whooshing sound and she stepped inside. Mike looked down at her legs again and an image of them wrapped around him. He got so lost in thought for a moment that he didn't even realize that she was holding the doors open for him until she cleared her throat and he was forced to meet her gaze knowing that he was blushing like a grade school kid with a crush.

They didn't talk all the way up. They stood side by side like he did sometimes with other people that lived in the building. It wasn't that he was antisocial, it was just that he wasn't good at small talk and he was kind of tired of being asked what it was like to play with Ovie or when were the Caps going to get past the second round of the playoffs.

He almost felt relieved when the elevator doors opened in front of the front door to his loft. He put his key in the lock and started thinking about what drink to offer her. He had a lot of beer and Gatorade in the fridge and not much else. He thought there might be a half a bottle of something Brooksy had left there and maybe there was still some of that berry juice that Nicky liked to mix with vodka, but he wasn't sure. He was still thinking about that when he toed off his dress shoes as they got in the door and was about to ask her which she'd prefer when he found himself watching her drop his suit jacket to the ground and head up the stairs to the terrace.



'So much for the grand tour' he thought as he padded, in stocking feet, up the stairs after her. He was pretty proud of the place and it had cost a pretty penny. Girls always gushed over the art on the walls, the lighting and the old school casino colour palette. She'd ignored all of it and went straight for the terrace. 'She must think the bedroom's up here' he thought to himself as he found the door propped open and the cool night air coming in. He'd probably forgotten to lock that again, he chided himself as he picked up the remote he always left near the door to turn on the hot tub. People always dug hearing about how they'd had to use a crane to get that up to the terrace.

"Coming?" The next sound he heard was the remote clattering on the floor as it and his jaw dropped to see her shimmying out of a black lace g-string and stepping into the tub. Mike felt like he'd become rooted to the floor. He felt like he was suddenly eleven years old again and seeing a woman naked for the first time and felt just as inept now as he had then.

He watched her milky white curves disappear into the now bubbling liquid and realized that he was going to have to get undressed in front of her. Normally he didn't have a problem getting naked in front of just about anybody, after all, he showered with twenty other guys just about every day of his life but right now he wasn't quite drunk enough to do strip in front of her.

If he'd been ripped like Brooksy he'd have already been in the hot tub with her. If he didn't care about what people thought of him, like Ovie, he wouldn't have even let her get up the stairs. The problem was, he wasn't either of those things and inside of him was a fat kid who had got changed in the bathroom rather than in the dressing room to avoid anyone seeing him naked. Hockey had helped him to get over that, but not this, not getting naked in front of a beautiful woman.

He didn't have as many notches on his bedposts as Ovie or Brooks, not that he had bedposts, but he did okay…with mostly drunk co-eds and puck fucks. If he was drunk enough, he didn't care that he wasn't exactly the Adonis he pretended to be on the internet. If they were drunk, they didn't seem to care that he had love handles and of course there were the tats that some of the guys on the team made fun of him for. All of those reasons explained why he was standing there, staring blankly back at a total hot girl who was naked and waiting for him in his hot tub and he was still frozen to the spot.