Let's get the disclaimer out of the way right now. I don't own Twilight, I don't own these characters, I am not Stephanie Meyer and at no point during the writing and posting of this story will I manage to morph into her so please forgive me if I don't post any more disclaimers from here on out, 'kay?
Thanks go out to DADirtybird who put the beta hat back on again. Love her to pieces, even if she is a Red Wings fan. ;-)
And to lisamichelle17, a fellow hockey lover who also stepped in during the Alt-POV and has so nicely agreed to let me bounce this off of her before it's ready to post.
For those of you who read the original one shot and/or the alternative POV, this picks up later in the summer after those ended. For any newbies popping in, this story is an expansion of a one shot I wrote a couple years ago. I had some incredible reviewers who urged me to write more, and though it took me a lot longer than I had expected, here it is. I'm gonna try to write this so that it stands alone, but I have no idea if I'll succeed, so if you have some free time, check out my profile for the original to find out how these two kids got together.
One more note, in the one shot I didn't specify what team Edward played for (please ignore that glaring double entendre). It wasn't necessary and I wanted to leave it open for readers to assign their own teams if they wanted. Couldn't do that in an expansion so after debating real or fictional team I ended up choosing a canon city...Phoenix. Now I have to give myself a crash course in Coyotes since I only ever 'see' them a couple times a year. But it's still fictional, I won't be using actual players and will probably not accurately describe the real team's culture. Sorry Coyotes fans.
As exhausted as I was I almost could've convinced myself I was dreaming. My dreams were never this vivid, though; heat of another body pressed against mine, the tickle of light exhalations against my neck, and the prickly scrape of a couple days' worth of stubble teasing my skin couldn't be anything but real.
"Are you awake?"
I felt the slight grin work its way across my face. "Mmhmm."
"You didn't come over."
I turned in the tight space in his arms. The room was dark, the little bit of ambient light allowing me to see nothing but his profile in shadow.
"Flight was delayed and I knew you had to be up early."
He leaned forward and my breath caught as I waited for that moment when his lips touched mine. My neck arched, seeking pressure, but he preferred to tease me with light grazes. Back and forth. Back and forth. Then finally angling, pressure, and tongue—just a touch.
"I missed you," he whispered before kissing me fully.
I moaned when I felt him shift so that more of his weight pressed into me, pinning me to the mattress. I tightened my grip, not wanting him to move. Once he'd kissed me thoroughly and had my heart pounding in double-time he backed off. The whine that escaped me when he did so was unpreventable.
"I missed you too," I said, picking up where conversation had left off minutes before.
We both awkwardly maneuvered until we were comfortable: him on his back and me curled into his side.
"Five days is too long," he said as his fingertips traced up and down my arm. "I get so bored when you aren't here."
"Just wait til you have to go back on the road again," I said, snuggling closer and pressing my nose into his shirt. I didn't even bother trying to hide how much I loved the smell of him—fabric softener and something that was purely Edward.
I hooked my leg over his thigh, immediately realizing something and running my foot up and down to double-check. "Wait, did you drive over here in pajamas?"
"Yep," he said without an ounce of shame. "And about this being on the road thing . . . I did some thinking."
"Oh did you?"
"Yeah, I did," he answered without pause. "I think you should schedule all of your training sessions around the team schedule so that wherever I have to be, you have to be."
I laughed. "Genius idea. Now if we can only get clients to cooperate."
"I can be pretty persuasive."
Again, I laughed, knowing full well by his tone that a cocky smirk accompanied his words. "Oh I know full well how persuasive you can be."
He lowered his voice to a deep, rumbling whisper making me shiver. "You like it when I'm persuasive."
I nipped at his neck earning a growl. "Maybe a little."
Considering how I'd dug my heels in for six months, it amazed me how easy things were between us. Since that night he'd quite literally swept me off of my feet in the bar after the Stanley Cup win we'd been inseparable. Even when work sent me out of town, we were in constant contact.
I still had my moments. It wasn't so much insecurity as it was self-consciousness. For the most part it was easy to forget that he was connected to this public persona, but every so often the reminder would hit me out of nowhere. He was recognized on occasion, though not often enough to prohibit us from going out. Usually it was grown men who wanted to shake his hand or say hello, or wide-eyed, starstruck kids who desperately wanted his autograph. Fortunately for my jealous streak—oh yeah, I had one—the women were rarer, and to be honest, most of the ones vying for his attention seemed to do so having no idea who he was. Their flirtations were solely based on the fact that he was a gorgeous man and not that he was a professional athlete with a multi-million dollar contract.
More than being recognized in public, it was his obligations to the team and league that always seemed to catch me off guard. With the season over, I didn't have the constant reminder that he was 'Edward the hockey player.' He was just Edward. Charity golf events, youth street hockey clinics, or that invitation to the NHL Awards made sure I didn't forget. I'd begun to disassociate the two versions of him very shortly after we started dating so it was always a little surreal when those two versions converged.
It kind of worked out for the better, easing me into that side of things, giving me time to get comfortable before the spotlight really started to hit when the season started. The next season was right around the corner. Physicals and fitness testing were scheduled for mid-September, just two weeks away. I was a little nervous about what—if anything—would change.
The past two weeks had been tough. In addition to my five day road trip, I'd had two other shorter trips. This meant I was only home four out of the last fourteen days. Edward had been adding extra conditioning workouts to his routine to get back into game shape. As evidenced by the steady breaths signifying that he was already fast asleep, he'd been working himself to exhaustion.
I knew we could work with all of that; we could make sure that in the chaos of our lives we didn't let 'us' slip. My biggest concern was falling back into old mindsets and somehow sabotaging everything by worrying about being judged.
These thoughts weighed on my mind often so it was no surprise that I fell asleep to them. But waking up to Edward's lips trailing soft kisses on my shoulder was enough to make me think I worried for nothing, because in moments like this, none of that other stuff made a damn bit of difference. He was just Edward . . . a guy I was quickly falling for who just happened to have a cooler job than most.
"You have to go?" I mumbled.
"Yeah," he said, stopping to continue his path toward my neck. "Soon."
I looked at him over my shoulder. "Soon soon? Or soon but still have a little time to kill?"
It was early, very early, but the tiny bit of light starting to peek through was enough for me to see the wicked glint in his eye and an evil smirk.
"Technically soon soon, but I think I can make an exception," he said. "They'll survive without me for a little while."
Some players made Phoenix their home year round while others scattered in the off-season. It had surprised me that Edward would want to stick around. It surprised me even more when I found out that wasn't his original intention. He'd admitted it not too long ago, and it might've been the first time I'd ever seen him embarrassed. What he had been afraid would come across as a creepy and extreme decision, based on his interest in a stranger, I saw as an overwhelming show of faith in the possibility of us. To be honest, it made me fall for him a little more.
I was so thankful for our time together over the summer. It was hard enough trying to start a relationship while dealing with my travel schedule; I couldn't imagine trying to maneuver through the getting-to-know-you stage with both of our schedules conspiring against us. I'd been working from home a little more often, but days like today, when I knew he'd be tied up with the guys, I made it a point to show my face.
"Morning, Stanley." That had become Mike's greeting to me once the details had come out of how and when Edward and I finally met after the Stanley Cup win. I'd tried many times to get him to stop, especially since it confused poor Jessica every time, but he thought it was creative and wasn't ready to give it up yet.
"Morning, Mike," I said with a wave and half grin. "Any interesting leads?"
He shuffled through the papers on his desk until he found what he was looking for. "Yeah, there's a few that look promising. They seem very interested in our training."
Taking the spreadsheet from his hand, I couldn't help but be impressed. There were quite a few companies I'd never heard of before, but there were four Fortune 100 companies that he'd managed to snag. It boded well for our bottom line.
"Hey, Bella!" Jessica called, hopping up from her desk and following me to my office.
"So, I was watching the news last night . . . " she paused for a moment and leaned against the wall next to my door. "They were doing this preview of the team for the upcoming season."
"Uh huh," I said, not sure where this was heading.
"There are some really cute guys on the team, aren't there?"
I grinned and stifled a laugh as I motioned her into my office. "I suppose, but I'm really just concerned about the one."
"Yeah, well, we all aren't lucky enough to have the hottest professional athlete in town declare his eternal devotion in public," she said with a wink as she sat down and propped her feet up.
I chuckled before turning serious. "You know that's not why I'm with him, right?"
She rolled her eyes and laughed at me. "Of course I know that. It's just fun to give you a hard time about it because I know it gets to you."
We chatted for a few more minutes as my computer booted up. After she left I got lost in my inbox trying to figure out what needed immediate attention and what could be skipped over for later. I didn't realize how much time had passed until I heard a small commotion outside my door. It was the now familiar sound of Mike scrambling to impress my visitor.
"So, you just coming back from practice?"
I made it to my door just in time to see Mike keeping pace with Edward.
"Unofficial practice, but yeah."
"Working on some new moves? Maybe a little 'one, two, three, triple deke'?"
I pressed my lips together to hold in my laugh.
"Hey, how about some lunch?" Edward passed one of the bags over to Mike and effectively derailing that conversation. "Hey, Jess, there's some here for you, too. Wasn't sure what you guys liked so I got a few different things."
I couldn't stop the grin on my face at how thoughtful he was as I watched him try to explain what all he'd brought with him.
"What?" he asked, looking a little self-conscious when he was finally standing right in front of me.
I shook my head. "You."
"Glad I amuse you," he said just before pressing a soft kiss to my lips. "Now come on. Lunch." He held the remaining bag up for me to see as he passed by.
I pulled a chair around behind my desk so we could sit side by side while he moved paperwork out of the way, making room for the food.
"So, Mike's pretty enthusiastic, huh?"
I laughed, maybe a little too loudly. "Don't pay attention to him. Everything he knows about hockey he learned from watching 'The Mighty Ducks.'"
"Guess I should have an answer prepared for when he asks me about the 'flying V' then, huh?"
After lunch he stuck around. I was stuck between cringing and laughing as he attempted to help and decided it was a very good thing he was able to turn hockey into a career because the man was definitely not suited for an office job. First, he made one hundred copies of a report instead of ten. Then he managed to jam the fax machine. While packaging up a box of supplies we were sending ahead to my next training session he used so many layers of packing tape that the entire box was covered, adding at least a pound to the shipping weight. I made a mental note to pack a knife or heavy duty scissors in my checked luggage because there was no way I'd be able to open it.
When he saw my wide eyed examination he simply shrugged. "What? I didn't want it to bust open in transit."
But it was when he decided to try answering phones that I nearly had a heart attack. I was in the middle of talking to Jessica as we tried to figure out the best way to close a deal with one potential client when Edward's side of the conversation caught my attention.
"No, I'm sorry. I can't let you speak to her."
"I don't believe that's any of your concern."
"Because I said so."
"Only if you're prepared to fork over top dollar. Her expertise is in high demand and I can't allow her time to be wasted."
My heart dropped into my stomach and I scrambled across the room, prepared to wrestle the phone from his hands as a list of all the clients that could possibly be on the line scrolled through my mind.
Edward looked up at me just as I made it to the desk where he was sitting.
"Okay, fine. Here she is." He handed the phone over to me grinned, kissing my cheek before walking away. "It's Alice."
My breath left me in one big gust as my body sagged against the desk. I wanted to say something, yell at him for scaring me like that, but at the moment I had no words. So instead I started lobbing pens, highlighters, and a pad or two of Post-Its in his general direction.
"Don't ever scare me like that again!" I yelled and punctuated each word with a different flying object.
His laugh was almost mocking as he deftly dodged each one.
"Come on! That was funny!" he said. "I didn't even realize you were listening! I was just fucking with Alice. That I got you too is just a bonus."
He didn't see the phone book coming at him until it was too late.
"Are you still mad at me?"
"No you're not."
"Yes I am."
"You're smiling. Sorta. You're fighting it but it's there. I can see it. Riiiight there. You can't be mad at me if you're smiling."
"Sure I can."
"Want me to make it up to you?"
I paused for a moment to think about whether I was willing to give in so easily, but really there was nothing to think about it.
"At least twice."
Before I could blink, I was tossed over his shoulder being carried to the bedroom. So he could make it up to me. Twice.
A/N: No clue how often I'll update though I'll try to turn around quickly. I don't like to leave things hanging, but work's been chaos so I don't want to make promises. As soon as I do, work will cut into write time even more. You know how that goes. Jinx.
Happy Stanley Cup Playoffs! Good luck to your teams! (though not as much luck as I wish my Penguins)