Disclaimer - We still don't own Twilight but we now own our third completed fic...almost! See ya at the bottom!
DerbyWife - another skater who has your back. They are the person who sticks up for you on and off track, and will support you throughout your derby career.
What possessed us to all travel together, I'll never know. Actually, what possessed me and Cherry to agree to this fiasco, I'll never know. We had already planned it out. We were going to leave a day before everyone else and have a day to ourselves before the insanity that is The Roller Derby National Championships started, but her coach thought it would be better for everyone to travel together and go down a day early.
Since Cherry was cleared by her doctor last week, she's ready to hit the track. It's important that they get in as much practice time as they can before the tournament starts. Cherry's afraid that she's rusty from sitting on the bench for the last two weeks, but I told her that it's so ingrained in her, she'll never forget how to be a kick-ass derby girl. It's in her blood, part of who she is. Hell, she'll probably still be a kick-ass derby girl when we're old and gray.
When we're old and gray.
I like the sound of that.
I like the sound of everything when it comes to Cherry and being with her. The last few weeks have been the best weeks of my existence. We've fallen into this normalcy that could be construed as boring or monotonous, but I love it. We go to work, we come home, we cook dinner, we might go out and do something, and then we go to bed . . . together. As long as we're together, it doesn't really matter what else we're doing.
I just want to be with her.
Which is so fucking scary.
Even though I think all of these things in my mind, I've yet to say them out loud to Cherry. The first step would probably be telling her that I love her, because I do. I'm planning on telling her soon. Hopefully, the perfect opportunity will present itself while we're in Vegas. I mean, that's sorta a city of love, right? Drive-thru wedding chapels and all.
"Guys! If we don't hurry, we're going to miss our plane! If these bags aren't checked-in within the next twenty minutes, there's a good chance they won't make it to Vegas the same time we do, and Lord knows you girls wouldn't be able to make it without your fishnets! So, move it!" Esme truly is the leader on and off the track. She can get the girls whipped into shape faster than Jillian Michaels.
"I really wanted a smoothie!" Emmett whines from the tail end of the group.
"Don't make me regret letting you tag along, Zebra!" Esme yells back at him.
Barbie flips her ponytail over her shoulder, as she stops in the middle of the pack, looking back at Emmett who's now pouting. "Em, stop being a pansy! I'll make it up to you, you big baby!"
Quickly, Emmett zooms past me, catching up to Barbie. "Rosie, baby, does that mean you've changed your mind about the Mile High Club?" he asks, hopefully.
"No! Gross! Besides, can you imagine your big ass and me in a teeny tiny airplane bathroom doing the nasty?" She breathes out a disgusted sigh.
The entire group is laughing and openly discussing who has and who hasn't joined the Mile High Club. I'm shocked when I see Esme turn around. "It can be done. You just have to know how to work it." She quirks her eyebrow and gives a smirk. "Now, shut your traps and move your asses!"
I've always had respect for her as a coach, but since I've gotten to know her more - not just Boo Boo Radley, but the real Esme - I have even more respect for her. She's like a mom to so many of the girls on the team, especially Cherry. Since her mom died when she was younger, Boo's really stepped in and been there for her when she's needed motherly advice or support.
"I don't want any crazy shit pulled while we're on the plane," Boo instructs, when we finally make it to our gate. "This is not going to be Bridesmaids: The Sequel. Everyone is limited to two drinks, got it? I'm not going to be hopping on a Greyhound in Boise, Idaho."
Fortunately, we have enough time for Emmett to get his smoothie. No one wants to hear his whiny ass for the next three hours.
"Should we pour that into your sippy cup before we get on the plane?" Jasper teases, his arm tossed onto the back of Punky's chair.
"Shut up! You know how I get when my blood sugar gets low!" Emmett retorts.
I look over to see Cherry rolling her eyes. We exchange a smirk and I lean over, sneaking in a kiss on her cheek. I love knowing what she's thinking without her having to say anything.
"Speaking of blood sugar, do you need something to eat before we get on the plane?" Jasper asks Punky. I swear that he doesn't let her out of his sight these days. You'd think she's the first woman to ever be pregnant. Some people would probably feel smothered but, secretly, I think Punky enjoys Jasper's amped-up attention.
Since her breakdown at the hospital, she's actually handled everything really well. I know it's killing her not to be able to skate in the championship, but she's been a great support for the team. Boo moved her into an assistant coach position; together, they've been reworking the playbook, throwing in some surprise tactics for the opponents. The other teams shouldn't even show up. The Sex Packets have this championship in the bag.
Somehow, we manage to arrive in Vegas safely and all accounted for. As soon as we retrieve our luggage, the shuttle is there to take us to the hotel and, thankfully, Cherry and I get a little bit of alone time before the first practice.
The Derby Association allots each team a specific amount of track time before the championship. The Sex Packets can't get on the track until nine o'clock tomorrow morning, meaning we have all evening to kick back and relax.
"How about we all meet up in a few hours and go to dinner together?" Punky suggests.
"Sounds good," Cherry agrees.
We all make plans to meet in the lobby at seven o'clock.
As we make our way to the elevators and up to our room, I notice that Cherry catches the eye of every guy in the lobby. Watching her, I realize for the first time that I no longer think of her as someone out of my league. I think of her as mine. It takes me by surprise. I hadn't realized it until now. All these guys can look all they want to, but she's sleeping with me tonight.
She must feel me watching her, because she turns around and gives me her questioning look. "What?" she asks, smiling at me.
"Nothing," I tell her, because I can't say what I'm feeling. It would sound stupid.
"Alone! Finally!" Cherry gushes, as she falls onto the bed. Her hair is in wild waves around her and the smile on her face lights up the room. I love her. I love her so much and I want to tell her. I'm not sure if this is the moment I've been waiting for or not, but I'm afraid if I open my mouth, it's the only thing that's going to come out. So, I walk over to her, leaning over her on the bed, framing her body with mine, and put my mouth to good use.
I'm trying to hold my weight off her until she hooks her ankle around the back of my leg, forcing my full weight on her. She moans into my mouth, fueling the fire behind our kiss. I feel myself harden as her other leg rubs between mine. Her breath hitches as I run my hand up her side, under her shirt. I love the feel of her skin. It's so soft, such a contradiction to how she appears on the track. I love that this is a side of herself she only shares with me. My internal thoughts from the day are bubbling to the surface as I pull back to look at her, admiring the vision beneath me.
"Why do you keep looking at me like that?"
"I like what I see," I say, shrugging it off.
"I feel like you want to tell me something."
"You're beautiful," I tell her, because it's true and because I'm not sure if now's the right time. I read somewhere that saying the "L" word in the heat of the moment cheapens it.
"And it's been too long since I've been inside you," I tell her.
"What are you waiting for?" she moans, pulling at the back of my shirt.
In less than thirty seconds, we're both naked. As I begin to dig for a condom in my bag lying by the bed, Bella crawls over and stops me.
"You don't have to," she says, pulling me back down on top of her.
"What?" I ask, confused. I don't think Bella's ready for her own nine-month injury. And, normally, just thinking about making a baby would have my dick shriveling up, but it doesn't. It makes me want her more. I want everything with her.
"I'm on the pill. Ready to go bareback," she giggles.
There's that "L" word on the tip of my tongue but, once again, the timing isn't right. Instead, I kiss her hard and proper, leaving her breathless.
"Are you sure?" I ask, pulling back to gauge her expression.
"Hell, yes! I've been waiting to tell you. I thought, no better time than Vegas, right? It just says, let's go bareback!" And now I'm laughing. She's so fucking adorable and weird and perfect.
So, she's waiting to tell me that we don't have to use a condom while I'm waiting to tell her that I love her. There's something wrong with this equation, but I refuse to let my inner-geek out to play. I have other plans for the next three hours, and they don't include playing a guessing game with my feelings.
"It's probably a good thing I jacked off this morning or this would have been a total failure." We're both laughing as our mouths collide. The fun, teasing kisses and bites turn feral. Slipping a hand between us, I run my middle finger down her slit and feel that she's wet and ready for me. I want to plunge into her, but I also want to savor this moment. I've thought about what it would be like to really feel her around me - her warmth engulfing me - and I'm not sure that I'm mentally ready, but it's now or never.
When my tip is barely in, I pause, not for her, but for me. Almost like it was our first time, I slowly keep pushing my way in, until I'm fully sheathed . . . by Bella.
"Oh, my God! You feel . . . uh . . . this is amazing!"
"You took the words right out of my mouth," I whisper, holding onto her like she's my lifeline. Her hips start moving under me, but I force them to be still. "I just need a second." I breathe deeply, focusing on the way she smells and the feel of her heart beating under my chest . . . anything to keep me from going over the edge too quickly.
Gripping her shoulders, I finally begin to thrust. Her hips meeting mine, as we move in sync.
"I changed my mind. You feel fucking glorious!" I chuckle, as my lips find her neck, nipping from her collar-bone back up to her ear.
We spend the next three hours christening as many surfaces in our hotel room as possible. The final spot happens to be the shower. I knew if we didn't make our way in here, we'd never make it to dinner with the team. Of course, I wouldn't be opposed to staying locked in this room with Cherry until she has to be at practice tomorrow morning, but Jasper sent me a text an hour or so ago asking if he could talk to me about something important at dinner. He was going to text it to me, but changed his mind and said he'd rather talk about it in person. I have no idea what it's about as he's been all over the place since finding out he's going to be a dad. I get tons of random texts and late night phone calls. Sometimes, he just needs me to reassure him that he's going to be a good dad - which I do - because he will be; sometimes, he just needs me to listen to the most recent asinine thing he read in one of the fifty baby books he bought.
"I can't let you leave the hotel room looking like that," Cherry says, leaning against the doorframe of the bathroom.
I look down at my clothes, worried that I got something on my shirt. I can't find anything wrong; I'm just wearing my dark-washed blue jeans and a plain gray t-shirt - nothing fancy - but it's my go-to wardrobe choice when I'm not sure whether I should dress up or down.
Holding my arms out to my sides, I look up at her for some sort of clue as to what's wrong with my clothes. She's standing there with a fucking sexy-ass smirk on her face, biting her finger, as she watches me. "You don't even see it, do you?" she asks, shaking her head.
I look back down again, giving myself a second glance, when I see her walking toward me. She steps in to me, so close that our bodies brush together. "You have no clue how sexy you are. It's so subtle and unspoken, which makes it so impossible to resist. How am I ever going to keep my hands off you tonight?" she whispers.
Her breath on my neck sends shivers down my spine. "Who said you have to?" I ask. "I'm yours, Cherry. You can do anything you want with me."
She leans forward, pressing her lips to my chest, right over my rapidly beating heart. Once again, she's telling me everything I need to know without uttering a single word.
Dinner with the team is nothing short of crazy. They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; and thank God for that. Emmett insisted on eating at this all-you-can-eat 24-hour buffet. He convinced the rest of the team to agree by telling them there was a seafood bar and a chocolate fountain, which had Punky hook, line, and sinker . . . which meant the rest of the team wasn't going to argue with it.
As we're sitting around a huge table with Emmett eating his weight in crab legs, Jasper suddenly stands up and asks for everyone's attention. I have no idea what he's getting ready to say, because we still haven't had a chance to talk. So, I'm giving him the look, silently questioning his actions, but he just shakes his head, takes in a deep breath and turns to face Punky.
Everyone's eyes are on Jasper, except for Em, who's still eating crab legs. Slowly, he turns Punky's chair around to the side and he kneels down in front of her on one knee.
Craning his neck around, he makes eye contact with me. "This was what I was going to talk to you about," he says, holding up a little black box that he pulled from his pocket. "But then I knew that you'd tell me to follow my gut, so that's what I'm doing."
"Alice Brandon, I've loved you since before you even knew I existed. I know that two people don't have to get married just because they're going to have a baby, but I can't imagine spending one day on this earth without you. Will you marry me?"
Punky sits there for a few seconds, long enough for me to hope that she's not getting ready to break my friend's heart, before I see her shoulders shaking. Jasper quickly wraps her in his arms, whispering into her ear.
"Yes! Of course I want to marry you!" she sobs, pushing him back and taking the ring from him.
The entire table erupts in shouts and whistles, as Punky and Jasper put on a completely inappropriate display of affection. I just sit back and smile, happy for my friend, but also kicking myself for being such a puss. Here's Jasper, proposing to his baby mama, and I can't even tell the gorgeous girl sitting next to me that I love her. Tonight - I don't know when or where, but I'll tell her tonight. I feel like telling her now, not wanting another second to go by without her knowing that she's the love of my life, but I don't want to take anything away from Jasper and Punky's moment.
"You should get married tonight!" Katie yells from the other end of the table.
"Yeah, I mean we're all here. Who else do you need?" Emmett adds, cracking open another crab leg. That's got to be at least fifty he's eaten. This place is losing money tonight. He's going to get himself added to another buffet blacklist.
"I've always wanted an Elvis wedding," Punky says, still tearing up. "I mean, I don't know why we should wait. We're already having a baby, for Pete's sake!"
An hour later, we're at Graceland Wedding Chapel. Most of the girls are sitting in the seats of the chapel. A few of them are with Punky, helping her put on the dress that Cherry and Barbie went and bought for her when we left the restaurant. I'm standing at the front of the chapel in between Emmett, who's wearing a t-shirt that says "Viva Las Vegas" and a bow tie, and Jasper, who's smiling from ear-to-ear.
"Are you nervous?" I ask.
"No, I'm not, actually. I feel great!" he answers, rocking back on his heels. "Should I be nervous?"
"No, man! It's cool that you're not nervous."
"Right. Yeah, I just know that I want to marry Punky. I've never given much thought to how or where, but I'm glad it's going to be here . . . tonight. I can't wait to call her my wife," he says, his face lit up from excitement and happiness.
"I get it," I tell him, slapping him on the back. "I'm really happy for you. For whatever reason, this feels perfect, like it's exactly how it was supposed to happen."
About that time, the back doors open and Cherry and Barbie begin walking down the small aisle, taking their spots on the other side of the altar. When the doors reopen, there stands Punky, in a short hot pink dress, and . . . Elvis.
"Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can't help falling in love with you . . ."
Elvis is singing as he walks a tearful Alice down the aisle. I look over at Jasper to see that his expression matches hers and I couldn't be happier for them. Glancing at Cherry, I see that she's on the verge of tears, as well. She looks so beautiful standing there and, for a brief moment, I wish it was her and me saying "I do", but then I'm reminded that I still haven't told her that I love her. First things first.
She looks up at me once Alice and Elvis are at the front of the chapel, and the smile that creeps over her face tells me that she's thinking the same thing. I feel it. I want to mouth the words to her right now as we stand here by our best friends, but I'm afraid she won't know what I'm saying or it may come across as something totally different. I've never been good with reading lips. "I love you" may look like "I'll have two" or "elephant shoes" or "island view". She gives me a questioning look with one brow raised and I shake my head in response.
"Jasper, repeat after me. I, Jasper, take you, Alice, as my lawfully wedded wife . . ."
Jasper and Punky exchange their non-traditional vows, complete with promising to never step on each other's blue suede shoes and always loving each other tender. Elvis announces them as Mr. and Mrs. Jasper Whitlock and they make it official with a kiss which, in true Punky and Jasper style, is inappropriate and verging on an R rating.
"Get a fucking room!" Emmett yells, over everyone's whistles and cheers.
I look out to see Mama Boo Boo wiping away a few rogue tears before grabbing Punky and wrapping her up in a big hug as she walks back down the aisle.
Cherry is standing at my side and I can't help but pull her to me and kiss her, wrapping one hand in her soft brown waves and pressing the other to the small of her back. We give Jasper and Punky a run for their money, putting on our own public display of affection.
Cherry leans back, separating her lips from mine. "What was that for?"
"I love you," I blurt out. "I've loved you since the first day I laid eyes on you, but I can honestly say that I'm so in love with you, Bella Swan. I've wanted to tell you for weeks now, but just couldn't find the perfect time. I finally decided that there's no better time than the present and I couldn't let another moment go by without you knowing that I love you. I want to be with you for every second of the rest of my life. I want this with you," I say, motioning toward the chapel. "Well, not an Elvis wedding, unless that's what you want. But, I want to marry you one of these days and I want to have babies . . ."
Cherry's soft chuckle interrupts my verbal vomit and I lean back a little farther so that I can see her eyes.
"You want babies with me?" she asks, smiling shyly.
"Lots of babies."
"Yeah, like a whole derby team."
Her soft chuckle turns into a full-blown giggle, and it's then that I realize she may not feel the same about me.
"I'm sorry," I say, panicking and trying to think of a way to smooth over the bomb I just dropped on her.
"Sorry for what?"
"Sorry for saying all that," I wave my hand into thin air.
"So, you don't want to have babies . . . with me?" she asks, a confused look replacing the smile that was just there a second ago.
"No, I do. It's just that I realize you may not and I don't want to freak you out or anything. I didn't even think about the fact that you may not feel the same about me," I confess. "Which only proves how much I really love you, because a month or so ago, I wouldn't have said all of that unless I was 100 percent sure that you felt the same way. I said it without considering the possibility that you may not love me."
"Well, I guess it's a good thing that I love you, too then, huh?"
"You love me, too?"
"Yeah, I do," she says, crashing her lips back to mine.
"Welcome to the WFTDA Championship finals! It's the Renegade Rollers versus the Seattle Sex Packets!"
The MC is pumping up the crowd, but they don't need much help. The venue feels electric today. My emotions are all over the place. I feel like it's going to be me out there on skates in a few minutes. I've always felt invested in the sport, but now that my heart is out there on that track, I'm even more so.
"You're going to be awesome," I assure Cherry, as she twists the last few strands of hair into a braid.
"I'm ready," she says, blowing out a deep breath. "I might need to go throw up before I head out there, though."
"You've got this. You're going to kick ass and show all those people that you're better than ever!"
"What did I ever do without you?" she asks, hands on her hips, looking fierce in her fishnets.
"I don't know?" I smirk, leaning forward to kiss her on her cheek, not wanting to disturb her bright red lipstick. "Now get out there!" I slap her on her ass, pushing her out toward the rink.
Taking my seat in the stands by Jasper, Punky, and Emmett, I feel the nerves kicking in. I may need to hurl before this is all over with, too. My knee is bouncing up and down and I've about whittled my thumb nail down to the skin.
"I'm gonna be sick," Punky says, taking the words right out of my mouth. We all reach for the nearest popcorn bucket, but she holds her hands up. "Kidding, guys. Geesh, y'all need to relax. My bitches have got this in the bag!"
I look down to the track and see Cherry's looking back up at me. She blows me a kiss just before the whistle blows signaling the beginning of the bout.
As I watch the girls pushing and shoving their way around the track, I sit back in my seat and just enjoy the view. It dawns on me in that moment that regardless of the outcome of this bout, I'll be walking away a winner.
Cherry is mine. I love her and she loves me . . . and that's all I need.
Jenny Kate: I can't believe it's over. *sigh*
Jiff: I know! I'm happy for our little lovebirds but I'm sad to say good-bye.
Jenny Kate: Well, it's time, and at least we still have the epilogue and a futuretake!
Jiff: Very true. I imagine there are some things our readers may feel we left out of this chapter so, maybe we can remedy that. ;-)
Jenny Kate: We'd love to hear what you thought about the final chapter and if there is something you'd like to see in the epilogue and/or futuretake, let us know! We might be able to squeeze it in! ;)
Jiff: When we started Crash Zone, we really wanted a fun, sexy story centered around a shy, geeky musician and a kick-ass derby girl. It was never meant to be too serious or too long and I hope we didn't disappoint. Hopefully, you loved reading this story as much as we loved writing it.
Jenny Kate: We'd like to thank Mauigirl60 for being our awesome beta! And, of course, we appreciate all of you! Thank you for reading our words and leaving us feedback!
Jiff: SMOOCHES to you all!