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Taking a Shot
"Jackson, get ready. Pay attention. Keep your eye on the puck."
These days instead of being slammed against the boards fighting for control of the puck, I was behind them, on the bench, coaching my son's pee wee hockey team.
It's funny how in the blink of an eye everything could change in your life. Nothing could have prepared me for the turn my life took seven years ago.
It was late December, and I was still on a high from the news Bella told me earlier that week. She had surprised me with the greatest Christmas gift ever. Apparently I had slipped one past the goalie, no pun intended, and we were going to be parents in eight short months. It must have happened around the time Bella was recovering from a cold in November—something about antibiotics and birth control not working.
I couldn't have been happier. Bella and I had created something special together. Who cared if it had happened ass backwards and we still hadn't set a wedding date. I was the happiest I had been in a very long time.
But that high was short lived as I moved up the ice on a breakaway. We were down by one point against the Chicago Blackhawks and the net was in my sights. My skate clipped on a rough piece of ice and I was hit from behind. My leg twisted the wrong way, I heard a loud snap, and went down hard, landing on my left knee.
The pain was excruciating, I felt like my leg had been split in two, and the only thing I could think of was Bella's reaction. She was going to be hysterical. She was constantly telling me to be careful.
After being helped off the ice and examined by the team doctor, I was sent to the emergency room for more tests. Turns out twisting and falling on your knee wasn't highly recommended. Shattering your knee cap was a career ending injury. Oh, there were players who came back from serious injuries, but the way I had twisted my leg and landed, it was highly unlikely.
Bella was more upset then I had ever seen her. My heart broke when I saw the tears streaming down her cheeks and the fear in her eyes. No amount of coaxing that I was okay seemed to help. She was a nurse and knew the extent of the injury, and there was no sugar coating it.
She was more worried about my career then I was—which only made me love her more. I knew when I joined the league that hockey wouldn't be my life, and I wouldn't play forever. Bad things happened all the time and I needed a plan to fall back on if anything were to happen.
That time had come and I needed to re-strategize and prioritize my life. Our life. I had a baby on the way and a soon-to-be wife I had to think about. Thankfully, I had been diligent about taking my college courses online. It was a struggle, but I managed to get my Bachelor's degree in History before the end of my hockey career and while I was recovering from my injuries, I worked on my Master's.
Bella gave birth to our beautiful son, and it was the best gift she'd ever given me. Bella was an amazing mother, and between her and our son, I was completely wrapped around their little fingers. Bella and I were married a couple months later in an intimate ceremony – our infant son, nestled in my arms as we exchanged our vows.
After a short honeymoon, we returned home to relieve my parents of their babysitting duties and after a few days of bonding with our son again, Bella returned to work, albeit reluctantly. I spent my days at home with Jackson. Each day I spent with my son, I thanked the powers that be because there was no job better than being Jackson's dad.
Every night, Bella would come home from work and we'd cook dinner together. Our cooking had gotten so much better since our first attempt – not that it was bad, but we stumbled a lot less.
Bella looked gorgeous as she shuffled into the kitchen. She'd changed out of her scrubs and looked much more comfortable. She took Jackson from my arms and settled down on the couch to nurse him and have a little bonding time with her favorite little man. That was by far my favorite time of the day.
We'd been in our house for a little over a year and in that time, we'd managed to make it a home and adding Jackson to the mix made it perfect. My career may have ended before we wanted it to, but I wouldn't have changed a thing.
When I thought we couldn't be any happier, Bella found out that she was expecting again. Jackson was three when Savannah came along. While Jackson looked like his mama with dark hair and wide, expressive brown eyes, Savannah was all me. Jackson remained a mama's boy – Savannah was daddy's little princess. Savannah was all of eighteen months old when, yet again, I'd slipped one past the goalie. We had no idea that Bella was even pregnant again, life was so hectic. Jackson was starting preschool and I was starting a new job teaching history at Rowan University.
"Mr. and Mrs. Masen … you're going to be parents again."
"What?" Bella and I asked at the same time, looking at each other like we were crazy.
Bella broke into a fit of giggles.
"That explains everything! The dizziness, the forgetfulness and why I want nothing more at the end of the day than to come home and take a nap in our big comfy bed."
The doctor was all too happy to tell us that Bella was already thirteen weeks along. It was by far the roughest pregnancy Bella would have. It seemed like as soon as it was confirmed, the morning sickness began. Bella wasn't sick with Jackson or Savannah, so we weren't sure what we were in for. Twins was the last thing that we were expecting.
"If I have to feel sick like this all the time, I'm glad we're having two at once," Bella whined.
"I'm sorry you feel so rotten, baby. After the twins come, I'll go get snipped if you want. We'll have a houseful of beautiful babies, and if you're happy with the six of us, I'm more than happy to do that for you, baby."
I had my little procedure done over spring break so that when the babies came and we had all four kids at home over the summer, I wouldn't be out of commission. Granted, mine and Bella's parents would be there to help us if we needed them, there was nothing like having your spouse at your side. Bella and I were a team and I didn't want to leave her hanging.
Bella gave notice that when she left on maternity leave, it would be her last day at the clinic. Since I was working again, Bella wanted to be the one to stay home with our kids. I understood her need to stay home and enjoy our children. I had been blessed with staying home with Jackson and Savannah, so it made sense for Bella to stay home with Maddy and Alex.
Emmett and Rosalie had two kids of their own. Their oldest, Jace, was a few months younger than Jackson, and their youngest was the same age as Savannah. Bella remained close with her brother and we spent as many weekends with them as possible. Our house was usually the perfect gathering place, and when we had the pool put in – it was the ultimate hang out in the summer.
Jasper and Alice managed to tie the knot in a small ceremony in Mexico. Bella and I were able to get away for a weekend to attend. We felt guilty leaving Jackson and Savannah, but it was nice to have the time alone with my wife. Alice found out early on that she wasn't able to carry a baby, so they were content to come over and borrow ours. They were the perfect aunt and uncle. Jackson thought it was the coolest thing ever to have an uncle who played in the NHL. Little did he know that his dad used to play too. One day, I'd tell him all about it.
I looked up from my spot on the ice to see my gorgeous wife leaning against the boards. Her arms were full – Maddy was sound asleep on one shoulder and Alex was squirming his way out of her grip. I skated over and pulled my squirrely son into my arms.
"Daaaaaadddddddyyy!" Alex giggled.
"Shhh, don't wake up your sister. Where's Sav?" I asked my wife.
"She's with Em and Rose. They offered to take the twins too, but Maddy didn't want to go, so Alex wouldn't go either."
"Jack will want to hang out with Uncle Em, you know that right?"
"I know. Em's coming by here to pick him up."
I leaned over and sweetly kissed my wife. It had been so long since we'd had even a moment of time alone together where we weren't sleeping. I was looking forward to going home, feeding the twins and putting them to bed and spending the evening with my Bella.
"I'm almost done here. Alex and I can finish up and we'll be ready to head home soon, baby."
"'Kay. I think I'm going to watch. I want to see Jack before he leaves."
I had the kids clean up all the pucks and head toward the boards. Alex was still firmly in my arms.
"Dad … can I go see Uncle Jazz tonight?"
"Sorry, buddy. Uncle Em and Aunt Ro are picking you up."
"Cool! Is Mom still here?"
"Of course she is. You know she wouldn't leave without saying goodbye."
Jackson took off in search of Bella and I watched as he tumbled into her waiting arms. He was mindful of his sister, but he couldn't wait to get to his mom. To watch them together, forehead to forehead, huge grins on their faces … there was nothing better.
After gathering all the equipment I joined Bella as my brother-in-law walked through the doors.
"Hey, buddy. How was practice?"
"Good. I hit a slap shot from the blue line and Dad said if I kept shooting like that, that I could play for the NHL like Uncle Jazz."
"Is that so?" Em looked at me with a questioning brow, "I guess it's a good thing you have hockey in your blood."
I shook my head and pulled Bella close kissing her softly on the cheek. "You know you're going to have to tell him soon, baby. It's only right."
"I know. It's just … I don't play hockey anymore."
"Edward, that's not going to matter to Jackson. That boy already worships the ground you walk on. He's going to be over the moon to know his dad, his hero, used to play hockey for the NHL."
"You're right. Maybe tomorrow when he gets home from Em and Rose's I'll show him some of my old hockey films."
"I think he'll love that. I'm so proud of you, Edward."
"For what, baby?"
"For coming into my life and letting me love you. You are the best husband and father any woman could hope for. I'm lucky you picked me."
"There was no one but you, sweetheart. It was a no brainer. My heart only belongs to you and our kids. I love you so much."
"I love you too, baby."
There was no real reason why I hadn't told the kids about my NHL career. Jackson was the only one interested in the sport and that had only come about recently. I thought I wasn't ashamed but maybe I actually was. When Jackson had been gushing over Jazz I kept thinking that should be me he idolizes. Eventually I got over that feeling especially when I was the one to coach his hockey team.
I turned back to look at Jackson talking animatedly to his uncle. His hands and mouth were going a mile a minute telling Em, God knew what. Bella had a huge grin on her face watching the whole encounter. I knew it was time to have the talk with the kids. But that was for tomorrow. Tonight I wanted a little alone time with my wife.
Em looked over at me and nodded like he knew where my thoughts had gone and just smiled.
"You ready to go Jack? Aunt Ro is home waiting for us. She may even have an apple pie in the oven."
"Let's go! Bye Mom, Dad."
"Be good for Uncle Em and Aunt Ro, okay? And keep an eye on your sister. Your mom and I love you very much."
"Bye buddy. Love you. We'll see you in the morning."
With one last wave they were gone. I pulled my equipment bag over one shoulder with Alex in the other arm. I leaned over to kiss Bella on the head.
"Let's go home. I want some alone time with my wife."
After the twins were tucked in I settled on the couch closing my eyes and just relaxing in the moment. Bella joined me shortly after sipping a glass of wine before handing me a beer. I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head before taking a long pull of my beer.
This was perfect; a beer in one hand and a sexy woman in the other.
These moments were few and far between. With work and school and the kids' hockey and dance, our days were filled. By the time the kids were nestled asleep in bed we were both too exhausted to do anything but fall asleep ourselves.
"This is nice," Bella whispered.
"You know what would be better?"
"You sitting on my lap and kissing me."
"Are you flirting with me, Mr. Masen?"
"I do believe I am, Mrs. Masen."
Bella took another sip of her wine before taking my beer and placing them both on the coffee table. In an instant she was straddling my lap and holding my cheeks in her hands while she kissed my lips sweetly. She pulled back and I could see the lust reflected in her beautiful orbs. I knew she could see the same in my own eyes.
"Is that better?"
"Hmm … I think you could do better. You missed a spot."
She nipped my top lip; then licked the sting away before pulling both my lips against hers. I couldn't help the low growl that left my lips.
Our lips moved in a sensual rhythm as pleasure took over. Nothing had changed over the years. My Bella still turned me on like no other woman in the world. Just the littlest touch of her lips set my body on fire.
I grabbed her hips pulling her closer till she felt the evidence of what she did to me. Another moan escaped my mouth as Bella rocked against my cock. Our lips still fused together as we both grinded against the other looking for relief.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I should stop. We were making out like teenagers on our couch and the twins could walk in at any moment, but my body wanted no part in stopping. My cock wanted to be buried in the warmth of the sexy woman in my arms; to be connected intimately, taking pleasure from each other's bodies. I wanted to feel skin on skin.
My body finally caught up to my brain and I slowly pulled back to rest my forehead against Bella's. The only sounds that filled the room were heavy panting as we tried to catch our breaths.
"Baby, as much as I want to continue and ravage your body, I think we need to go upstairs. You remember what happened last time?"
Bella giggled. "How could I forget? Savannah asked for a week why Mommy was on Daddy's lap kissing him without a shirt on."
"Yeah … been there done that and I don't think we need a repeat." I let out a chuckle.
"If I remember correctly I made it up to you numerous times that night."
"Mmm, yes you did. Didn't you, baby? Now that I could definitely use a repeat of."
"Well then, Big Boy, how about you take your wife to bed."
"You don't have to tell me twice."
Bella squealed as I picked her up, threw her over my shoulder, and carried her to our bedroom. Unceremoniously, I dropped her on the bed which only caused her to giggle louder.
"Shhh, baby. You'll wake the twins."
Bella sobered but in a stern voice said, "Lock the door."
When I turned back around her eyes were filled with so much love and lust I almost came in my pants.
"You know," she started as she removed her shirt, then her bra. "You have too many clothes on, Masen." She continued to undress till she was gloriously naked spread out on our bed.
She was a vision laid out for my perusal. Her body may have filled out over the years giving her a few more curves, but they only made her that more gorgeous in my eyes. She was still as beautiful as the first time I'd laid eyes on her.
"It has been far too long since you've been inside me. I want you, Edward. Now."
I hurriedly discarded my own clothes till I was naked as the day as I was born. I sidled up next to Bella urgent to touch her. Please her. Make her scream my name. My fingers roamed every inch of her body, caressing, leaving no part untouched.
I could no longer deny what we both wanted. Slowly I eased Bella's thighs wider with my knee and positioned my cock at her opening. Bella sighed and closed her eyes.
"Baby, look at me."
Bella's eyes opened and a beautiful smile graced her lips.
"Eyes on me, baby."
My eyes never left Bella's as I pushed forward till I was filling her completely. There was no better feeling in the world than to be intimately connected to your other half. I felt whole and complete. It was coming home.
With a steady rhythm I moved in and out of her body. The sweet moans from her lips fueled me on. Our eyes never faltered as we moved together, loving each other. Bella lifted her hips to wrap her legs around my waist causing me to go deeper.
"Edward … please."
I picked up the pace thrusting harder and deeper till I felt Bella tighten on my cock and my name from fall from her lips. That's all it took for me to fall over with her. Tired and sated, I collapsed, sliding slightly to one side so I didn't crush Bella. I pulled her into my side and kissed the top of her head.
"Are you okay, love?"
"Perfect. Just perfect, Edward."
A quiet evening with my wife was exactly what I needed. After making love several times, we were content to fall asleep in each other's arms.
Waking up with my gorgeous wife in my arms was heaven in itself. Even after eight years of marriage, it was as if we'd only begun dating. Our love for each other hadn't faded or diminished – it had grown exponentially and expanded into our love for our children.
Bella hummed in contentment as she snuggled in closer to me. I could tell by her shallow, steady breathing that she was still deeply asleep and I hoped that she'd remain that way for at least another hour, but glancing over at the alarm clock, I knew it wouldn't happen.
The twins would be awake soon and I wanted to hold on to the quiet moments with my wife for a little while longer. I closed my eyes and began to think of what I wanted to say to Jackson. I knew the time was coming that I needed to talk to him about my career before he came into our lives. I knew it wasn't something I needed to be ashamed of – I was only ashamed of how it ended. In hindsight, I realized that every athlete wanted to end their career on a high note and of their own volition – not just me. Bella helped me realize that there was no shame in how my time playing hockey ended. I'd given hockey my all and that career ending game was no exception.
"What are you in such deep thought about, baby?"
Bella's soft voice broke me from my thoughts and I looked down to see wide, concerned eyes peering up at me.
"I was thinking about what I'm going to say to Jackson."
"Are you going to tell him?"
"Yeah. After last night's near blunder, I think it's time."
Bella pressed her soft lips against the warm skin of my chest.
"You have nothing to be ashamed of, Edward. Jackson is going to be proud of you no matter what."
Our conversation was quickly put to rest as two pairs of pattering feet came shuffling into our bedroom.
Maddy and Alex climbed up onto our bed and the four of us snuggled for a few minutes before the twins decided they wanted breakfast.
"You know …" Bella said softly as she poured our coffee, "You telling Jackson about your hockey career couldn't come at a better time. Jasper's retiring after this year which means that Alice is planning a huge retirement party at the end of the season. We'll have to attend and you'll see several of the guys that you used to play with …."
I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair.
"I know. You're right … you always are."
Later that afternoon, after Bella and I picked up Jackson and Savannah from Emmett and Rose's, I took Jackson over to the hockey rink for a little father-son time. I watched from across the ice as my son glided across the ice and I could see so much of myself in him at his age. I shook my head – to either shirk off the memory or my nervousness – which one I wasn't sure.
I looked up to see Jackson smiling at me – the puck at his feet and his stick firmly in his hand. Grinning back at him, I tapped the puck and sent it flying across the ice.
Fifteen years later …
"Edward … calm down or you'll worry yourself to death."
I'd heard that warning more than once from my wife, but this time it was different. We were in New York City, watching our son fly up and down the ice at Madison Square Garden. It was his first year in the NHL and I couldn't have been prouder.
I'd never forget the day I spent with my son, explaining to him that I'd been a hockey player myself and that my career ended much earlier than his mother or I would have liked. The surprise on his face was something I'd prepared myself for, but the pride wasn't. He shrugged as if it was nothing, but I could see the excitement in his eyes. Later that night, after dinner, we sat down and watched some of my old games.
"I could say the same to you, you know." I grinned, squeezing her gloved hand.
Bella was every bit as beautiful as the night I'd met her, and the years had been nothing but good to her. The lines in her face were more prominent than they were twenty years ago, but I knew the cause of them. Our lives were filled with love and laughter. We had four of the most amazing kids any parents could ask for.
Jackson was twenty-two and happily in his rookie year in the NHL. Savannah was in her freshman year of college at Penn State, and the twins were sophomores in high school. We still lived in the house we'd bought before we got married. We thought about moving to Pennsylvania to be closer to Savannah, but when it came down to it, we couldn't part with the house we'd become a family in.
When the twins had settled into elementary school, Bella went back to her nursing job. She found a position in a small practice not far from the house. She was happy there – knowing that if the kids needed her, she could be there in a matter of minutes. I stayed on at Rowan University and had become a tenured professor. Our lives were busy and fulfilling – and we wouldn't have had it any other way.
"What are you thinking about, Masen?"
Bella's sweet voice rose above the din of the crowd around us. I hated the fact that Jackson was playing for the Rangers, but it was much better than him playing for the Blackhawks since Jacob Black had become their coach.
"Thinking about our life and how it's pretty much come full circle."
Bella looked thoughtfully at me with her wide, expressive eyes.
"Yeah, I suppose it has. Hockey's what brought us together and here we sit, cheering on our son. Did you ever imagine when I was pregnant with him that he'd be a hockey player like you?"
"No, baby. I went through a lot when you were pregnant. I was hurting and devastated that my career ended so abruptly. I thought I'd be prepared for it, but I wasn't. I was content that I had you in my life and that we had a healthy baby inside you. I couldn't think beyond that."
Bella tucked her arm around mine and gently squeezed. Her warmth was comforting considering the temperature inside the arena.
"I know there was a time when you thought you were a failure, Edward. But you weren't … you succeeded in a great many things. You had a remarkable hockey career, and in between games, practices and travelling, you managed to get a college degree so that when your career playing hockey was over, you could move on to other things. That was no easy feat. I recall several nights where you stayed up till the wee hours of the morning working on papers or studying. When Jackson was born, you stayed home with him when I couldn't. You never complained when Savannah came along and it doubled your load. You did an incredible job with them – you gave them everything they needed and then some, by giving only yourself. You, Edward Masen, are the best man I know, and that man out there on the ice … he's there because of you."
Kissing Bella's head and then her forehead gave me a couple seconds to put together my thoughts.
"Fuck, baby. I'm so glad you were working in Emmett's bar that night."
"I think we would have met eventually," Bella giggled. "I worked a few nights that week and the weeks after that."
"No … I'm glad it was that night. Remember what happened with Jacob Black that night?"
"Oh God, I'd forgotten all about that. You were so sweet with me, and the thought that I could have been in pain was killing you."
"That's how I knew. When I saw that look on your face, I knew that you were different from other hockey players. Then you took me out on Valentine's Day, and we learned how to make a meal together, and I knew there wasn't anyone else for me."
"Yeah." She smiled. "I wasn't wrong, you know."
"I know." I grinned. "I love you, Bella."
"I love you, too, handsome. Now sit back and watch your son play."
A/N: And that's all we wrote! Thank you so much for reading and for all the reviews. We greatly appreciate each and every one of them even if we don't always have the time to reply.
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