A/N: Thank yous to Team Spiderward for all you do. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “Two Step,” Laura Bell Bundy (feat. Colt Ford)
(Playlist for this story can be found on my YouTube channel, if you search for “ghostreader24”)
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. The NHL owns anything that sounds familiar. I’m here having fun.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
Since Edward is holding my Louboutins as ransom for my return to his room, he carries me all the way back to my hotel even though my feet are covered with a pair of his socks. Once we’re in the elevator, Edward sets me down, then shifts me to stand between his legs, facing him. Without any cuddle time, he’s a little clingy, but I love the way he steals kisses while we travel upstairs since we’re both still basking in our shared afterglow.
At the gentle ding announcing our arrival, we part reluctantly. With our hands twined together, we walk down the hallway toward my suite with him moving closely behind me when we arrive at our door. The “Privacy Please” door hanger still hangs its warning from the handle.
“Should I wait out here?” he asks quietly with his lips next to my ear while clutching my hips.
I whisper, “Let me see if anyone is here. I bet Deedee is still with Marcus, but maybe Victoria is asleep.”
While Edward nibbles along my neck, it isn’t easy, but I somehow manage to open the door, finding the suite dark with only the dim bedside lamp on in the bedroom I’m sharing with Deedee. There’s no sign of Victoria in any of the other living areas and the door to her room is shut. So, I wave Edward inside.
“If Victoria is here, she’s in her room. Let’s try to be as quiet as possible.”
At his nod, we step lightly into my room and close the door, but don’t latch it.
Setting my purse next to my suitcase, I point toward my bed, keeping my voice low. “Have a seat, this should be quick.”
“Not if you let me help,” he whispers with a wink.
“We’re already late for our appointment.”
“You’re no fun, and I’ll let Bradley know that we’re on the way, but running behind. He works late. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
“I’m a lot of fun. Haven’t you had fun since I arrived?”
He looks up from his phone and grins. “Okay, I have.”
“That’s what I thought.”
Edward pockets his phone, then watches as I change my clothes, frowning teasingly when I slide on a red thong under my dress.
“No ripping this one,” I caution, then smile as he flops backward dramatically on my bed.
It’s difficult to contain my giggles and reach for my favorite pair of perfectly worn jeans. It takes a little more pushing and squeezing than normal, as I jump up and down a few times, pouring myself into them.
“Those are tighter than I remember.” I chuckle nervously and do a few deep knee bends, which loosens them minutely. “I must have left them in the dryer too long.”
“Unh-huh.” Edward smirks as he sits up, but sounds skeptical at my theory.
Once I remove my dress, I’m topless while searching through my suitcase and wishing I had taken the time to unpack after our arrival, but I was too excited to surprise Edward.
“No bra,” he whispers loudly from behind me.
Once I look at him over my shoulder, his pleading eyes meet mine, and for an extra touch, Edward presses his hands together, as if it’s the answer to his every prayer.
“Yes!” he whisper-yells, throwing his hands up in the air in victory.
Shaking my head, I smile, slipping on a long-sleeved red T-shirt I brought for the holiday that has the word “Love” scrawled across the chest area with a heart for the O. The thin fabric does nothing to conceal my nipples when I glance in the mirror. My white leather jacket should cover those from view. I grab it, then pull off his socks, jamming my feet into a pair of red shoe boots with buckles and a comfortable heel. After sliding on my jacket, I pull my hair from where it’s stuck underneath, then fluff it a little. Edward turned it into quite the wild mess since I arrived, as I predicted he would. With a final tweak, I adjust my necklace to sit outside of my T-shirt.
“Okay, I’m ready,” I declare, prompting his smile.
Edward stands, pulling me closer until his hands slip inside my jacket. They roam a little and he hums his approval while cupping my breasts. “You look good, but especially, feel good.”
His thumbs pass over my nipples teasingly.
“Great. And so fucking sexy.”
It’s difficult not to get lost in his kisses, but I know we need to get going. Attempting to slow us down before this gets out of hand—again, I break away, giving him a few more pecks.
“We should go.”
“Okay. To be continued?”
“To be continued,” I promise with a grin.
As we’re stepping out of my room, I hear something and pause, causing Edward to run into me.
“Did you hear that?” I ask quietly.
“What?” Edward mouths.
“I think someone’s in there.” I point toward Victoria’s closed door.
“No, someone else is with her.”
His gaze follows mine, and I tiptoe across the living area until I’m standing next to her door, leaning closer to listen. It’s only a few moments before we hear muffled conversation, which confirms my belief that she’s not alone.
Stepping toward the couch, I notice two empty wine glasses on the coffee table and the robe I recall Victoria wearing earlier. Edward picks up the open bottle with both hands carefully and attempts to read the words in what little moonlight pours through the windows before we share a questioning look.
The wine bottle is unusual. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I wonder if he recognizes it. I watch as Edward sets the bottle down lightly, then lifts one of the empty glasses. After a deep breath, he tilts it toward me. My mouth waters at the smell of something I’ve been missing.
Edward smiles knowingly, then whispers, “Let’s get out of here.”
At my nod, we slip out the door, letting it close as softly as possible behind us.
“What is it?”
“Dessert wine. Limited edition. Very few bottles like that one in the world. I’ve never seen it in-person, though. Only in photos. Probably forty-thousand dollars.”
“Holy shit. Forty-thousand dollars for a bottle of wine?”
“Maybe more. It’s the kind you cellar, not drink. I bet it was good.” He nods.
I thumb over my shoulder, pointing toward the door of our suite. “We should go back in and take a swig of what’s left in the bottle. No one will know. And surely, one sip won’t hurt me.”
“What am I going to do with you?” He grins. “Are you trying to tell me that you’re more interested in being a wine thief than finding out who is in Victoria’s room?”
“How often do we get a chance to drink from a forty-thousand dollar bottle of wine? And hell, at that price, I think it goes without saying it’s Roy,” I conclude.
Edward shrugs. “I know a few wine collectors on our team. You might be surprised. Their cellars make my wine fridge look amateurish.”
“But only Roy knows she’s here,” I point out.
“Are you sure about that?” Edward raises a questioning eyebrow.
“Oh, shit.” I backpedal immediately, knowing that isn’t likely to remain true since we arrived with Jess, Lauren, Angela, and Deedee. Even if it is only mentioned in passing, someone has undoubtedly spilled the beans that we’re all here.
Edward pulls me close, wraps his arm around my shoulders, and kisses the top of my head. “Let’s go get tatted, shorty. We’ll leave your worries for another day.”
I link my fingers with his hand at my shoulder, which feels a little different since he’s wearing his new engagement band, but I couldn’t be happier that he wants to wear it. My thumb fidgets with his ring for a moment while my other hand slides under the hem of his hoodie. After my arm settles around his waist, I hook a finger in one of his belt loops.
Looking up at him, I smile. “You’re missing my heels already, aren’t you? That pair is my tallest and could be considered death traps since I nearly bit it so many times walking to your hotel in them.”
“I’m not missing a thing,” Edward says, as we walk wrapped around each other along the hallway and toward the elevator. “I think this is my favorite trip to Montréal.”
“Because of me?” I taunt playfully with a wiggle of my eyebrows and a squeeze of his hand.
He bends lower, kissing my lips. “Because of you—everything’s better.”
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
Deedee is out of her bed on the first alarm, disappearing into our bathroom for a “much-needed soak,” but I continue my fierce battle with the snooze button, hoping for any amount of additional sleep.
I bury my head under my pillow until the sound of my phone vibrating begins again. We wouldn’t be awake right now if it wasn’t for Edward setting multiple alarms on my phone. When its relentless buzz continues, I groan, then scramble for my phone next to me, silencing it.
I have no clue what’s going on in the other suite with Jess, Lauren, and Angela, but I know we’re all struggling in this one. There’s no way we’ll be ready on time to go over to the Bell Center or Centre Bell. Fuck. I don’t know which one it is at this point. Either way, warm-ups will start soon, and at my prompting, three alarms ago, Victoria woke up—makeup smudged, hair a riotous mess, and nude. Most notably . . . alone.
I hear the water in her shower still running when my phone vibrates with a notification. My blurry eyes attempt to read the message in our group chat. It’s Jess.
Ready to go?
Fuck. We’re not even close. I’m still wearing last night’s outfit minus my red thong, since for some reason, it magically disappeared in Edward’s hotel room after our shower. Regardless, once I returned to our suite this morning, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. After wiping the sleep from my eyes, it takes several tries before I can focus and type anything resembling words.
I manage. It’s not that much of a lie.
Should we wait for you?
I chuckle at the obvious answer.
I’m one-word-Bella today. And all of this without alcohol. I feel old. Or maybe this is the Pumpkin-effect, already kicking my ass. I don’t remember ever needing this much sleep, but my night with Edward wasn’t exactly restful.
After breakfast with him this morning, we begrudgingly parted ways when he was out of time with the bus waiting to transport them to their morning skate. I’ve had more sex with Edward in the past twenty-four hours than we’ve had since . . . I don’t know. Ever. He was unbelievably insatiable, and I barely remember the photos he wanted in the morning light to go with his middle of the night pictures.
My phone vibrates again.
Are you sure?
Because I don’t think that answer
will be acceptable to
Her message stops abruptly, then continues moments later.
Oh, shit! Oh, shit!
I think Mr. King is on the way up.
He overhead me tell Lo and Ang
that you said to go without you.
I only heard him say, “Absolutely not.”
He looked pissed.
I’m still attempting to process Jess’s message when Deedee exits our bathroom.
“Hey, do you have a strapless bra I can borrow so it won’t rub against my bandage?” I ask.
“Bandage? You’re hurt?”
“Edward and I got inked last night, and I swear, he encouraged its placement knowing that wearing a bra would be challenging. His solution is not to wear one,” I explain.
Deedee gives me a look of disbelief. “What are you doing getting a tattoo when you’re pregnant? You know better than that.”
“I know. Everything used was new or sterilized,” I defend. “So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it wasn’t a mistake. Obviously, we were sober.”
“That doesn’t always guarantee the best decisions.”
“So, a bra? I would ask Victoria, but—”
Deedee snorts. “She’s not going to have anything that will fit you. Here. You’ll be fine in this one.”
“Thanks.” There’s loud knocking on our suite door. “I think that’s Roy. Jess said—”
“I’m almost ready,” Deedee promises. “Five more minutes.”
“Okay. Keep going.” Knowing I’ll need more than that, I nod and step out of our room, closing the door.
Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror near the door, I’m not in much better shape than Victoria with the exception that I’m clothed. Still no bra. My lips are red and swollen since they’ve been thoroughly kissed during my all-nighter with Edward.
My chest and shoulder area under my collarbone are tender with my new fingerprint heart tattoo. When I suggested adding Edward’s number thirty-five near it, I thought he was going to mount me in front of everyone in the shop. Thankfully, he waited until we got back to his room to show his appreciation. Edward could barely keep his fingers and lips off the bandage peeking out from under my shirt, knowing what’s underneath.
Pulling open the heavy door, I’m greeted with Roy’s distressed face. “Good evening, Dr. Swan.”
I hide Deedee’s bra behind my back. “Roy. Come in.”
He steps inside with a bag in hand and his eyes pass over me briefly. “Are you ready to depart?”
I wave toward Victoria’s door. “I think we all still need a few minutes to finish up, then we’ll be ready.”
Roy brushes past me, walking toward Victoria’s room, then knocks.
“Come in.” I hear faintly, but she probably thinks it’s me or Deedee. As he slips inside, I get a brief glimpse of Victoria standing in front of her suitcase in only a towel. Once her eyes land on Roy, he closes the door behind him.
“Okay,” I say to no one, return to our bedroom, and make a beeline for my suitcase.
“Was it him?”
“Yeah. He’s in Victoria’s room.”
Deedee lowers her voice. “Say what?”
“You heard me.”
“They’re a thing?”
“I have no idea. Someone was here with her last night. I heard a man’s voice when I came to change my clothes—not sure if it was Roy or not at this point.”
“Marcus texted and said that James and Ben missed curfew last night, but they were both on the ice this morning. Not sure what that means yet.”
I chuckle. “Boy drama. I’ll pass.”
Not including Roy, who is wearing a custom-tailored suit and tie, we’re all planning to wear team gear this evening. It makes my selections a little easier for getting ready, as I brought the first hockey jersey Edward gave me with Cullen on the back. I offered to purchase a Dallas one without any names or numbers on the back for Victoria before we left. She passed, then on the plane, expressed interest in purchasing a Montréal hockey jersey during our trip. But I think she said that just to get a reaction out of Roy. I’m positive it worked.
Knowing I’ll only get to see Edward briefly after the game before they depart for the airport to fly on to Ottawa, it will still be enough time for him to see I’m wearing his jersey, which he will love. I suspect he could get the start for Sunday night’s game since it’s a back-to-back scenario, but we’re returning to Dallas in the morning. So, I’ll watch that game at home. Typically, I stay awake, waiting for his arrival, but he encouraged me to sleep since the flight home is over four hours. I may need to nap on the plane because Victoria and I will have patients waiting bright and early on Monday morning.
Ten minutes later, we’re out the door of our hotel suite, looking as good as possible. We ride in a limousine to the hockey arena and are met by a building escort who whisks us upstairs to the visiting owner’s box.
When we step into the exclusive area, my eyes pass over its luxurious accommodations similar to the suites we’ve used in American Airlines Center. Most notably, I’m drawn to the food waiting for us. Roy encourages us to begin without him and excuses himself to check in with Royce who is in a suite with a bunch of other business-suited men not far from us.
While I’m hungry, I’m a little disappointed with the food upon closer inspection and consider sneaking out to find a burger or a slice of pizza from one of the places we passed on the way to the suite. Ultimately, I fill a small plate with some of the selections. My choices probably reflect being around Edward and eating whatever he eats, which explains the salmon dishes and salads, filling my plate. Others try the filet mignon sliders, duck leg confit, and an unusual looking sushi pizza—all items I avoid.
Once we settle into the comfy lounge chairs, Jess asks, “How was everyone’s Valentine’s Day?”
Eyes dance from one to another with no one willing to share first, but I know what she’s really asking.
“Warm and tingly.” I grin.
Lauren’s smile widens. “You used the warming oil?”
“Oh, yeah. Good stuff.”
“What about you, Deedee?” Lauren asks.
I chuckle, knowing her regrets. “Yeah, Deedee. What did you choose?”
Her eyes narrow at my playful teasing. “The G-string made from pearls, and let’s just say my pearl is polished.” Deedee giggles.
“Anyone use the . . .” Lauren lowers her voice. “. . . cock ring vibrator?”
Jess snorts. “Yes. We used it with the ice cube nipple balm.”
Jess grins. “Two thumbs up from us.”
I attempt to recall what else was in the bag. I remember seeing a blindfold, massage oil candle—
“I tried the other vibrator and nearly blacked the fuck out. It was so good that it should be labeled with a warning.” Victoria smirks and nods, finishing another bite. “Without trying any of the other items, I think it’s the best thing in the bag. My kudos to all the women in quality assurance who tested it.”
“I told you that you would love it.” Lauren smiles.
Victoria shrugs. “Why does anyone need a man when something like that exists? It’s pure perfection. Thank you, Lauren, for sharing your expertise.”
Everyone laughs, then Lauren asks, “Ang, what about you?”
“I didn’t try anything, but . . . I have some news.” She looks over at Jess for reassurance, and at her encouraging nod, Angela hesitates briefly. “I’m . . . pregnant.”
“That’s why,” Victoria mumbles from beside me, giving Angela a hard stare before I bump my shoulder with hers. When Victoria’s gaze meets mine, she rolls her eyes. “Okay, I’ll take that drink now.” She stands, returning to the bar area of our suite where the attendant pours her a glass of wine.
“How wonderful!” Lauren beams. “You and Ben must be so excited.”
While Lauren offers her congratulations, Deedee and I share a look. She knows I have no interest in sharing my pregnancy news with the other women here. Marcus was one of the first who Edward confided in with our news. He passed it along to Deedee, who called me immediately to congratulate us. Since we’re business partners and becoming close friends, Victoria knows too.
They’re both aware that we are choosing not to make any sort of announcement until I’m through at least my first trimester. We may wait longer, but I’m not sure if that’s possible when it’s taking everything to contain Edward’s excitement.
With Jess’s reaction on the plane when she spotted my engagement ring, I confirmed to everyone we are engaged. She immediately wanted to talk about wedding planning, which isn’t a high priority for me at this point. Edward hasn’t mentioned setting a wedding date, but I suspect he will. I don’t want to overshadow his joy over Pumpkin’s development, and ultimately, arrival. So, I doubt we will wed before Pumpkin is born.
I’m also not interested in being lumped into any communal bridal or, with Angela’s news, baby showers with significant others of Edward’s teammates that Jess mentioned as a possibility. Unfortunately, it may be impossible to avoid. I’ve agreed to Al’s engagement party, and we’re decorating a bedroom for the nursery, but that’s all I can handle outside of the demands of our new practice and Mom’s care. I don’t need the extra stress of wedding planning.
The last time I brought up how Mom is doing with Dad, he said she’s leaning toward beginning treatment in Houston, which gives me new hope. At the same time, I wonder what she isn’t telling me. If Mom is feeling better, then my gut says she would avoid beginning treatment, believing it unnecessary. With the excitement of their wedding behind us, maybe I should invite them to dinner one night for another heart-to-heart and find out what’s going on.
Angela’s forced smile fades. “Ben . . . he isn’t happy about the news.”
I glance at Deedee who shakes her head, and I know she believes Angela will do anything for attention since our experience in Mexico.
“Oh, Angela. I’m sorry. When is your due date?” Lauren asks.
She brushes away a few nonexistent tears. “I haven’t been to the doctor yet, but sometime in the fall.”
Edward was ready to pinpoint my due date with laser precision at the first positive home test. I wonder if Ben doesn’t believe it’s his since Edward shared with me that Ben was planning to break up with her. And after what Edward said about Angela and James in Mexico, I’m not sure it is either.
“Oh, girl. I told you. He’ll come around once he gets used to the idea. It can be a shock,” Jess reassures.
After finishing my plateful, I stand, then step out to the seats overlooking the ice where Victoria is watching the warm ups below with her glass in hand.
“Hey. How do the boys look, Coach?” I tease.
“Hey. You know I don’t have a clue about hockey. I know about as much as Roy.”
I laugh. “Don’t let him fool you. He always knows more than you think and loves when anyone underestimates him. So, what’s up with you and Angela?”
“I don’t like her.”
“Obviously. And that was fast.”
“She makes it easy. She’s lying.”
“About being pregnant?”
“How do you know?”
“Body language, but I know for a fact she’s on her period.”
“Yeah. She used the bathroom during our flight and tried to be discreet about taking a tampon with her.”
“She could be spotting,” I suggest. “I think that’s common.”
“Or an excuse if someone calls her on it,” Victoria continues with a raise of her eyebrows. “I overheard her talking to a guy in the lobby of our hotel last night, breaking her same pregnancy news to someone who I’m positive isn’t her supposed boyfriend.”
“I recognized him from casino night. The bartender.”
“Yeah. Him. He looked as if he was going to be sick when she kept talking.” She takes another long sip from her glass.
“You were in the lobby?”
“Yeah, after I returned from dinner with Roy, he wanted to speak with the concierge and asked me to wait,” Victoria explains.
“Did she know you were there?”
I pause for a moment, picturing that whole scenario, before returning to another interesting tidbit. “So, you and Roy, huh?”
“No,” she says, but the smile on her face says something else.
I tilt my head toward her in disbelief. “Now, who’s lying? I’m surprised you made it to dinner after we left you alone.”
“He’s a persistent fucker. Once I ate, I felt as if I could function again, but I caution you to use that vibrator at your own risk.” Victoria chuckles. “I invited Roy to our suite for a nightcap and he agreed, but asked me to get ready for bed. Once he arrived, he was wearing silk pajamas and slippers with a bottle of some rare wine. Our conversations are always interesting. Last night, he started talking about why his marriages failed. It was such a sad discussion on Valentine’s Day, but I figured he needed to get it out. So, I listened.”
“And what am I going to do? That vibrator had already kicked my ass. When we realized how late it was, he insisted on tucking me in. Teasingly, I reminded him of his promise to tell me a naughty bedtime story—and he did!”
“That sounds . . .”
“It was revealing, is what it was.”
“Definitely not innocent.”
“It was for his part. Me, not so much. He had me worked up just listening to the raspy warmth of his voice. I’m like, Roy, you’re going to have to finish me off or leave.”
“Holy—you said that to him?” I marvel at her growing comfort level around him.
“And he left?”
Victoria nods. “Kiss to my forehead. He wished me goodnight and pleasant dreams.”
“Brutal. But a forehead kiss . . . that’s . . .”
“Intimate. I know.”
She’s understating the gravity of what it truly means because it’s also about protection and an unspoken promise that he’ll do anything to prevent her from getting hurt. And that . . . he’s falling for her or maybe he already has. I know Edward told me to be careful and not get too involved with whatever is going on between them, but it seems as if they are figuring it out on their own.
“Victoria, what was in the bag he brought to the suite this evening?”
She smiles, but hesitates sharing.
“You don’t have to tell—”
“No. It’s fine. It was a bottle of perfume he had made for me.” She holds out her wrist for me to smell.
After a sniff, I state, “Very . . . floral.”
“Roy named it, Temptation, and said if I was looking for something to wear, he had a suggestion.”
I laugh. “And I thought Edward was smooth.”
“Roy could teach a masterclass.” Victoria giggles.
“Still glad you came along?”
“Yeah. I am. Thanks for including me.”
We share smiles as I give her a side hug. “I’m glad you’re here.”
It’s fun watching the game with everyone. Deedee knows the most, following the game closely. When Roy returns to the suite, he keeps his interactions to either me or Victoria, but mostly her. It’s as if they’re in their own little world. Neither pays any attention to the game until I share that it’s over, when our team comes from behind to win in overtime four to three.
Lauren becomes even more excited when Deedee explains it’s Tyler who has scored the winning goal. I’m thrilled to see Edward after the game before they depart, and he steals as many kisses as possible in our limited time window. A part of me wishes I could follow them to Ottawa and watch him play in-person since he’s getting the start in their back-to-back games, but unfortunately, the reality is I can’t, with work right around the corner on Monday.
The next morning, we’re all quiet on our return flight to Dallas. Most everyone naps during the trip, but for whatever reason, I can’t get comfortable enough to sleep. After our arrival, I return home, eager to spend an easy Sunday with Scout and Shadow.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
I must doze off on the couch because I wake to the sound of the house phone ringing for the gate. After I tap my cell phone screen for the time, I realize that it’s too soon for Edward to be home and he wouldn’t buzz the gate. Scout sits up staring at me while I walk over to find out who it is.
“It’s Esme. I’m sorry to bother you, I know it’s late.”
“I didn’t know where else to go.”
Where else to go?
Those words are never good.