I hate you when you're gone
I hate you turn me on
I hate the way I need you when
I don't know where you are
I love it even more
When I find you on the floor
I know you think you hate me
But I will always hate you more

(lyrics from 'I Hate You' Sick Puppies)

Chapter 1

"Whatthefuckisthat and she so better not be who you're trying to set me up with," Jordan hisses under his breath as he kicks off his shoes and Flower hands him a beer. I peek around the centreman's large frame to see what he's looking at and silently second his thoughts.

"She's a friend of Vero's and they've been like…," I can see Flower searching for the right word, the way he does when he rolls his eyes back in his head and purses his lips.

"Friends, lovers…wait if they're lezzin it out do we get to watch?" Jordan asks hopefully.

"I thought you just said you wanted no part of that?" Max asks, pushing Jordy out of the way, taking a beer and striding past Marc. I shake my head. It doesn't matter what the girl lookes like, if she has boobs and a vagina, Max is in.

"Better him than me," Jordy shudders and again, I can only agree. Call me old fashioned but I like a woman to be fresh faced with long hair and preferably in a dress, although of course I have to admit to licking my lips when I see a shapely ass shoehorned into a pair of tight jeans. But yeah, if I have to choose between Ginger and Mary Ann it's going to be Mary Ann every time. It's certainly not going to be Ruby Gloom over there. "Do you think that hurt?" Vero's the one admiring the full sleeve that the woman is sporting and again I'm left shuddering. I've had my fair share of needles from the team doc, mostly for freezing painful ankles and shoulders and you will not catch me paying out good money to have someone drag needles through my skin for any other reason. I know there are plenty of guys that I play with sporting ink but again, call me old fashioned but I think tats are something that's okay on men, just not on women. Not even those…what does Max call them? Oh yeah, tramp stamps.

"What about that ring through her eyebrow?" I ask, trying not to look directly at her. You know what they say about junk yard dogs. Just don't look them in the eye and you're fine. Maybe that's bears. I'm not sure. Either way, I'm trying to avoid catching her eye.

"Makes you wonder if she's got any anywhere else," Jordy grins and suddenly it's like he's decided he doesn't mind her short, spiked purple and black dyed hair or the tats and especially not the piercings and I'm just gonna go ahead and assume that he thinks her knee high laced up boots are cute too. Shaking my head I decide to find somewhere else to be and someone else to talk to but I'm not fast enough.

"Sidney! Come meet mon amie, Violet." Vero doesn't say it like I would. She says it like she would the colour in French, vee-o-lette. It makes the woman standing near her grin but in this soft way, like she thinks Vero is as cute as a fluffy little kitten, which is true. V is as fragile as a flower and as sweet as a sugar coated cupcake. I've often found myself envying Marc his girlfriend and one of these days is he doesn't make an honest woman out of her….

"Nice to meet you." I don't offer my hand. I don't really want to get to know this woman. We're not going to have anything in common and I can't see myself hanging out with her so I'm not going to put on my best solicitous smile and I'm not going to ask how she is. Don't care.

"So….this is him," she says, tipping her head to one side and regarding me like I'm some kind of impressionist art exhibit, "he's a lot smaller in person." You can hear the collective intake of breath around me and I wait for her to apologize, to say something like she didn't mean to say that out loud but she neither takes it back nor does she seem fazed by the fact that everyone in the room has stopped what they were doing and are currently staring at her, open mouthed. Finally Vero, red faced, literally reaches out and pinches her friend's arm. "What? He doesn't know that this whole team is made up of Lilliputians? C'mon V, next to say…I don't know, Boston, Philly, San Jose…they look like they should be singing Follow the Yellow Brick Road."

"I can show you something that would change your mind about that," Max grins lasciviously at her and she laughs and then everyone laughs, although nervously, and goes back to what they were doing. I leave her to Max. If that's the last I see of her I'm fine with that.

"God you're right, he has no sense of 'ha ha' about himself at all does he?" I sigh as I follow Vero into the kitchen. She's still scandalized by my earlier comments about the team and their captain.

"Oui, but must you say it out loud?" she hisses and aims a barbed glare my direction. Shrugging, I hold my hands out.

"You know me V. I call it like I see it. I mean, seriously I can't believe that no one has ever pointed that out to him. I can't be the first," I suggest to which she shrugs one shoulder as she reaches for a box of crackers which she begins to shake out onto a big white ceramic platter. "I thought you said that they didn't want their egos stroked. The looks on their faces," I shake my head as I offer to take the plate, "they all looked like I'd just kicked their damn Chihuahua. "

"Non, what I said was they'd be glad if you don't try to sleep with them as soon as you meet them, I didn't say to kick them dans les écrous," she snaps, looking harried as she balances a bowl of dip on the platter I'm holding.

"Ah, well you could have fooled me. Max has already offered to take me home, twice," I point out which makes her roll her eyes.

"I warned you about Max."

"You did and don't worry, that whole I'm the best you've ever had bébé is kind of gross," I shudder and she laughs. "Okay, I'll try and be nicer," I promise and she gives me a grateful smile. I know it's a big thing to be invited into her inner circle and that it required a pretty large leap of trust for Vero to invite me to one of one of her private parties. I'm just wishing that she'd warned me that these hockey stars had such fragile egos

I follow her back out to the table where everyone is picking at the finger foods she's set out and slide the platter I'm holding into an empty spot.

"That looks tasty," I steel my nerves, reminding myself that I've promised to behave as I look up into Max's green eyes, "of course not as tasty as you." He gives my cleavage a look that says he can't wait to play with my tits. Not that he'd like to but like it's already a done deal and that it will happen.

"Seriously?" I hiss, mostly under my breath and with a quick glance in Vero's direction to see if my immediately breaking my promise is going to be overheard. "Does that work for you on a regular basis?" Max stares back at me blankly as if suddenly he's lost the ability to comprehend the Queen's English or maybe he's just never been turned down before. Rolling my eyes I turn away from him and find myself staring right up into the sky blue eyes of Jordan Staal.

"Your eyes are…purple," he says, squinting at me like he can't believe what he's seeing. People do that. I'm used to it.

"They're contacts." I turn to the source of the voice dripping in disparagement. It's Sid, big surprise there.

"Actually they're not contacts. My eyes are blue, but under certain light they look, well, the name should have been a clue. Yep, me and Elizabeth Taylor," I reply caustically, aiming my venom towards Sid who stands there looking back at me with hate absolutely spilling out of his eyes. It's a good thing he's talented because he obviously preferrs women to fawn over him and if he was just some fourth line player that probably wouldn't happen, even with that totally kissable mouth.

"Well if they are real, then it's too bad about all those tats. Maybe people would notice them more if everything else about you wasn't so loud." I try, for about thirty seconds, not to be a total bitch and then I just give up.

"Wow…you really are small town vanilla pudding aren't you?" I watch him bite his own tongue and then lose the fight to keep his composure as the veins in his neck and forehead begin to throb.

"If I am, it's vanilla pudding you couldn't handle," he snarls back. I almost laugh but a dismayed sounding squeak behind me helps me to back off from threat level midnight.

"Oh I'm pretty sure I could," I grin malevolently at him and then turn and walk away.

"You haven't eaten much," Vero observes as she takes my plate and brushes off the remnants of the salad and a few morsels of meat into the garbage before she drops the plate into the sudsy water in front of her.

"I sort of lost my appetite," I explain with a meaningful look towards her friend who is clearly flirting with Jordan. She keeps putting her hand on his arm and giving him full eye contact as he talks and laughing uproariously every time he says something even a little funny. It makes me want to gag.

"She's a lot of fun if you get to know her," Marc's girlfriend suggests even more quietly, like she's expecting me to bite her head off, which I would never do. I don't like her friend but it doesn't make me think less of her.

"Maybe for you," I begin and see her tense, waiting for a tirade most likely; time to keep my opinions to myself. "She's just not my cup of tea," I add in a lighter, quieter tone, making sure to kiss her cheek before I turn to go.

"There's just one thing." I pause, two steps away and cringe. I don't know why but I just know I'm not going to like what she has to say next.


"I told her you'd drive her home. I don't like her on that bike when she's had a few," Vero adds in a high squeaky voice that says she's really afraid of what I'm going to say. I can't remember ever yelling at her but Marc has told me that she hates when I get in one of those moods where I'm so pissed that I can't even talk and I'm getting there, fast.

"Why me?" I ask with my teeth clenched. The thought of being in a confined space with that woman makes my skin crawl.

"You're new place is the closest to where she's staying." I notice she doesn't say her place, her home but I don't put in any effort in wondering what that means. "Anyone else would have to go out of their way," she adds with a hopeful tone, appealing to good Sidney, the chivalrous Sidney. It works. Of course it does. I need to learn to say no.

"Maybe she'll go home with Max and I won't have to worry about it," I mutter as I'm walking away.

"Wouldn't count on it," I hear Vero call after me.

"Merci d'être venu, à bientôt!" Neither of us waves at the happy couple standing on the front step. It's pretty obvious neither of us is happy walking out of their house together. I look longingly at my rice burner sitting near their garage door. If it hadn't been for the fact that Jordan kept topping up my wine I'd argue that I'm fine to ride it home but I know I'm not. I almost asked if I could sleep over, I'd totally curl up on the pool table but after TK made sure I knew that Max had had sex with someone there I decided against it. Besides, I tell myself as I stand beside the passenger door of Sid's Land Rover, it's only a ten minute drive. I can handle charged silence that long.

He doesn't walk around and hold the door open for me, I don't expect that but he also doesn't unlock the passenger door until he's settled, belted in, starts the vehicle and turns on the radio, just to make it crystal fucking clear how much he doesn't want to do this. As if I didn't already know. So I sit in the seat, I put my seat belt on and then I wave at Vero and Marc, because it's not their fault that Sidney Crosby is a dick.

"Don't pretend to be nice," he mutters half under his breath as he back out of their driveway. Oh…and I was gonna try and be nice, or at least silent, which in his case would have been the same thing.

"I am nice, just not to you," I grin at him in that way that hopefully he clues in means he's better off keeping his mouth closed or this kitty will scratch.

"You're the one who started it," he snipes back. I barely stifle a laugh.

"Oh my gawd, you're seriously going to sit there and tell me that I actually offended you?" For a minute he stares straight ahead and then he reaches over and cranks up the radio indicating that our conversation is over. Shaking my head I sit back and stare out the passenger window, until it actually dawns on me that he's listening to country music. Now there's country and then there's country and western and whatever he's listening to has way too much banjo and fiddle in it for my taste. Normally in someone else's car, I'd ask, but considering he's being such a jerk I decide that I actually don't mind pissing him off some more so I reach over and change the radio station. As soon as I find the hard rock station I crank the volume.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" He reaches over to change it back. I smack his hand away. He stare sat me like he's seriously considering how to murder me. I grin back at him. "This is my car," he reminds me in a low, and I'm guessing he thinks is a threatening manner.

"Yeah, clearly. As if I could afford this," I nod and then slide back in the seat so that I can put my boots up on the dash and tap them in time to the music. The way his whole face gets read, I'm wondering if he's going to have an aneurism. "Hey, wonder boy, eyes on the road." For a few, brief but remarkable moments he drives in silence, or as silent as the Theory of a Deadman cranked to ten will allow and then I feel his gaze boring into the side of my head. "What?" I ask in a high lilting voice as I turn to bat my eyelashes at him. He scowls and turns his eyes back to the road.

"Are you like this all the time or are you just doing this to piss me the fuck off?" he snarls as I watch his knuckles grow white as he squeezes the steering wheel hard enough that I wonder if it might actually come off in his hands or at the very least scream for mercy.

"A little of both," I shrug and then start singing along to my new favorite song, Lowlife. The nose of the SUV dives and then the entire vehicle swerves to the right and comes to a tire squealing sudden stop.

"Are you fucking serious?" he yells, and if he had the power of the Gorgon, I'd be a statue right now. Instead I just keep grinning at him because it seems to be working. "You're insane. You're a fucking freak!" He opens his mouth like he's going to say more and then he closes it again and just shakes his head, rolls the vehicle back onto the road and slowly accelerates.

"Sticks and stones," I laugh and start air drumming. "If you think that's the first time someone's called me names you're seriously mistaken and hell yeah, I'm a freak and you, mister Wonder Bread, could so not handle when I put my freak on," I add with a snort. I'm betting Mr. Vanilla Pudding has never done anything other than the missionary position in his life and he probably says please and thank you for a b.j. too. "This is the block. You can drop me off at the stop sign. I'll walk from here." I want out of the car, away from the rage that's coming off of the NHL's crown prince in waves and besides, I'm tired of the game and the red wine is beginning to hit me, making my head pound. The vehicle careens to a stop and I push the door open. I pause as one of my feet hits the pavement and I consider, just for a minute, being polite and thanking him for the ride but then my dark passenger whispers in my ear and I can't resist just one more jab. "Later tater," I call over my shoulder and then jump out of the car and starte skipping down the street. I hear him gun the engine, making it roar angrily behind me and lift my hand in a one finger salute.

Freak. Bitch.

I slam my fists against the steering wheel. I've met some crazy people, some scary stalker bitches and insane fans in my time but that woman takes the fucking cake. I take pride in being pretty calm and collected most of the time, of being able to keep my cool in some fucked up situations, or at least that's something I've been working on, but this woman aggravates the shit out of me.

And I fucking want her in the worst way.

If she was trying to get under my skin she fucking succeeded. It's like those tats of hers, like she's been dragging needles across my skin and now I'm sitting here, heated to the core. I'm sweating and thinking about her lips, about having her sassy, foul bitchy mouth wrapped around my dick and even with my eyes screwed shut I can't make that vision go away. I know she was baiting me with all that stuff about how I couldn't handle her but the more she talked about it, the more I started thinking about it and now I can't stop.

I'm thinking about showing her just unfuckingvanilla I can get as the Rover's wheels start squealing as I back it up and turn it down the street while imagining her calling out my name when I fuck her into a coma and she has to take back all that shit she said about me being boring and white bread.

She's just unlocking the door which is lucky because the street is dark, most of the inhabitants having long since gone to bed and if her curves had not been cast into stark relief against the light over the doorstep, I could have driven around the whole cul-de-sac and not known where she was. I'm pocketing my keys and halfway down the driveway before she can even get through the door. I have her pinned to the door before she even let out a squeak of surprise and my mouth is covering hers' by the time that she does.

I expect a slap or even a knee in the jewels but instead she grabs two fistfuls of my shirt and pulls me even harder against her, wraps one leg around the back of my knee and grinds herself against the evidence of my ardor. I grab her hand, slam the door and then, with our lips locked, walk her backwards into the darkened house.

Somehow we find a couch and I press her down into it or she pulls me down on top of her, it's hard to say which but either way we end up in a tangle of limbs both trying to undress the other one as our tongues fight for the upper hand. She's got a tongue stud. My cock gives a little pulse at the thought of that hardware rubbing against all of my most sensitive spots but that will have to be later. Right now I just want inside of her as soon as possible and thankfully she seems to agree as she scrambles out of her panties and tosses them aside as I push my jeans down over my hips and then neither of us even tries to get any more naked, she just lets me throw her legs over my shoulders and the, as she looks up at me with this look that's pure sex I slowly screw myself inside of her.

I think I'm going to go blind or my brain is going to implode or something. She's fucking tight and hot and wet and it feels so good but there's this buzzing in my ears as all of the blood rushes out of my brain and runs directly south. I feel light headed, dizzy and drunk and I know I've only had one beer.

"Jeeeezussss!" I hiss through clenched teeth as I bottom out inside of her, my full weight pressing her thighs back and giving me a deep, satisfying angle but now I'm scared to move. I'm afraid I'm going to cum like some kind of teenager getting lucky for the first time in his parents' basement. Speaking of which…. "Is this your place?" She laughs and then tightens her muscles around me, making me gasp.

"You're fucking me and you're worried whose house this is?" She laughs again and then reaches around to drag her nails up my back, not enough to hurt. Actually it kind of tickles.

"Suddenly worried about getting caught," I mumble, squeezing my eyes shut and rotating my hips while praying that I won't shoot my load.

"Well don't, I'm house sitting. Now shut up and fuck me."