A/N: Thank yous to NKubie, LizziePaige, and Honeymoon Edward, for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for betaing. A special shoutout to fanfictionalcolic for giving my French an extra look. They’re all amazing, and I’m so grateful for their help. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “I’d Love To Be Your Last,” Clay Walker
(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) /\ \
I open my eyes slightly at the sound of a contented hum. My arms tighten around the distinctly feminine body nestled with her back against my chest. I move one of my hands lower, stilling her shifting hips, as I feel myself hardening with every breathy sigh. I slip my fingers past the hem of her shirt, sliding higher, until I’m cupping her bare breast. My gentle squeeze prompts another soft moan. I bury my nose in her hair and breathe deeply. It takes a moment to realize I’m not dreaming but actually wrapped around Bella.
She stayed the night.
And she loves hearing me speak French.
There’s no containing my smile at that revelation, and I recall my favorite moments from our night together as she sleeps in my arms. Between slow blinks, I wake gradually, reveling in her soft warmth, until curiosity forces my hand from under her shirt. I reach for my phone, checking the time.
With six minutes left before my first alarm is scheduled to chime, I tap a few buttons, turning it off and setting my phone back on my nightstand. With the flip of a switch near the bed, I open the blackout window coverings just a crack, allowing the first muted grays of early morning light into my darkened bedroom. As my eyes adjust, I return my attention to the beautiful woman sleeping next to me. She’s still on her side, and I wrap my body back around hers, spooning her from behind.
While this isn’t a moment to fill with whispered words, lazy Sunday morning caresses seem like the perfect answer. At this early hour, there’s no rush as my fingertips trace a leisurely path. They travel lower along the tantalizing, smooth curves of her body, waking her slowly. Bella’s quiet moans mingle with an occasional sleepy giggle when I locate a ticklish spot, bringing a smile to my face. Unable to resist the draw for more, my lips soon replace my fingers.
My lingering licks and tender kisses grow with intensity, until they’re no longer enough for either of us. In a chorus of our labored breathing, she shifts her hips, rubbing her ass against my hardening cock, igniting a fevered pace of desperation. After hurriedly adding my boxers to her underwear and shirt discarded on the floor next to the bed, I kneel on one leg, hitching her top leg over my hip and guiding myself inside her.
Bella gasps and moans my name once our hips are flush, turning her head toward mine. Her fingers reach out, rubbing along my stubbled jaw, then weave through my sleep-tousled hair, urging me closer. Without hesitation, I capture her lips in time with every slow swivel of my hips. Her hand moves lower, trailing along my arm until she’s guiding my hand to where we’re joined. Without any further prompting, my fingers take over, causing Bella to pull away from my lips. The room echoes with her cries for more as she teeters on the edge of her orgasm. And I can’t resist.
“Ouais c’est ça, jouis pour moi,” I whisper in her ear. “Je veux te sentir jouir sur ma bite.”
Bella may not understand the words, but her body does. My arm across her chest clutches her tightly as she helplessly surrenders to my relentless fingers between her legs. With a whimper of relief falling from her lips, her orgasm triggers my own. After a final thrust, I still my hips, gasping through my release. As I catch my breath, I leave a kiss on her shoulder, and she melts into my arms.
Basking in the euphoria of our shared pleasure, I bury my nose in her hair, inhaling her intoxicating scent. My eyes close for what feels like only a moment, until the sound of my phone’s alarm jars me awake. I move quickly at the sound, turning it off before it rouses a dozing Bella. With a heavy sigh at what the second alarm means, I reluctantly slide my arm from under her, then tuck the bedding around her still naked body.
Pushing my legs over the side of the bed, I tilt my head from side to side and stand, pausing to assess the pain and tightness in the muscles of my arms and legs. Despite my post-game routine, I’m sore this morning and anxious to get to the practice arena for loosening up some of my tighter areas with our rehab staff.
Once I’m finished in the bathroom and dressed, I walk around the bed to Bella’s side, sitting on the edge next to where she’s sleeping. I reach out and brush her wild morning hair from her face, bending close to kiss her lips. Her eyes crack open briefly, and her smile grows when she sees it’s me.
“Hey,” she whispers, covering her hand over mine and twining our fingers together.
“I had the best damn dream earlier.”
“That was no dream, Doc.” There’s no containing my proud grin, pecking her lips with another quick kiss.
She’s such a captivating sight, waking up nude in my bed with her tangled hair and sleep-rumpled appearance. It’s a sharp contrast to how I normally see her in her polished and professional attire. I have to admit, I love seeing this side of her too. I’m looking forward to starting more of my mornings like this again. Soon.
“Did I oversleep?” She waves toward my clothes. “You’re dressed?”
“I need to leave.” Regret dims my happy mood slightly, but if we’re going to do this, I need to be honest about the demands of my schedule, plus my own rigidity at meeting those commitments. “We have a morning skate. It’s optional, but, well, I’ve never missed one. So . . .”
“Never?” she asks innocently, stretching her arms overhead.
I’m distracted instantly from her question when a hardened peak briefly appears, making my mouth water. When Bella sits upright, the bedding barely covers the enticing sight of her chest. Licking my lips, I can’t focus on her question over the images of how I enjoyed her body last night. And this morning.
“Edward?” She smirks, undoubtedly certain where my thoughts have detoured.
It’s then I realize this little peep show isn’t so innocent at all.
This is why I need to stay on track, or I’ll be under those sheets within the next fifteen seconds with my head buried between her legs until she’s screaming my name in ecstasy.
“Uh, no. Never. What time is your flight later today?”
“Early evening, I think.”
“You’re welcome to stay and go back to sleep. I’ll return this afternoon. Are you packed and ready to go?”
“No. I was planning to run errands and do laundry before I need to leave for the airport.”
“I can take you,” I suggest, hoping for more time together.
There’s no way this next week and a half apart is going to be easy for me after the past twelve hours, because if I could put it on repeat, I would.
“How would I get home when I return? Won’t you be gone?”
“Yeah, but you could call Rose. Maybe a rideshare or I could arrange a car service for you.” I shrug.
“No, I don’t want to bother her. She’s always busy with Em and the kids. I’ll just drive.” Bella’s voice lowers, and her gaze shifts to me. “I guess I should get dressed, so you can drop me off at home.”
I don’t like the sound of either of those ideas, and the soft tone to her voice tells me she may feel the same way about our time together drawing to a close. So I make another offer, buying more time with her I probably don’t have. “How about breakfast?”
Her lips twitch with a smile as she considers the idea. “Would a travel mug of coffee be too much to ask for?”
“Not at all.”
“Give me ten minutes and I’ll be ready.”
“Okay. I’ll have your coffee ready when you are.” I force myself to leave my bedroom, but place one more kiss on her lips before making my way to the kitchen.
As I brew Bella’s coffee, an uneasy feeling returns, settling in my stomach. I’ve tried to ignore it, but it seems to be growing from my insecurities. As we move closer to not only her departure from my home, but also her trip to see her father, there’s a feeling of desperation building inside me. Or maybe it’s a desire. No. It’s a need to be near her constantly. I chuckle to myself sadly while adding the finishing touches to her coffee, because that’s not a good mental place for me with all the travel I do. Saying goodbye to someone has never been so difficult—even if it’s for only a couple of weeks. I’m a little concerned I’m on the road to becoming the clingy one in this relationship. Something I’ve never been in the past. I’m lost in thought when she wraps her hands around my waist from behind.
“Hey, Mr. Deep Thoughts.”
The relief at having her close relaxes me immediately.
“Everything okay?” she asks, concern marring her beautiful features.
I wrap an arm around her and kiss her puckered, waiting lips. “It is now.”
“You’re such a smooth talker.” She points toward the two waiting travel mugs. “Which one is mine? Are we having the same thing?”
I grin, already knowing Bella’s reaction if she were to select my pre-workout green drink on the left. “No. Yours is on the right.”
“Thanks.” She puts the mug to her lips, taking a quick sip. “Ahhhhh.”
“Are you ready?” I wave toward her things sitting on the kitchen island.
“Yes, I believe I have everything.”
“All right. Let’s go.”
After helping her into my truck, we’re on our way, and a quick check of the clock tells me I’m still on time. With her hand in mine, I drive under the speed limit the entire trip to Bella’s home, making complete stops at every stop sign or slowing down if any traffic light switches to yellow. When we’re close, my phone rings with another incoming call from Jake. After turning off the “Do Not Disturb” feature of my phone earlier, I found he’s left numerous urgent texts and messages to call him.
“Is it okay if I take this?”
Bella shrugs with a slight smile. “Sure.”
“Hey, Jake,” I say, pressing the button on the steering wheel, waiting for his voice to fill the cab.
“Edward! Finally! What the fuck, man?” He yells over a blaring intercom in the background that sounds like the airport. “Since when do you take so long to get back to me? She must be a fine piece of—”
“Jake,” I warn, but I don’t answer his questions. Bella is none of his business, and she isn’t just some random woman. I hope she recognizes my lack of conversation as my understanding of the importance of protecting her privacy until she’s ready to share more of our relationship.
“So, it’s like that now? It’s not like you to keep quiet. Okay. Okay. Well, I saw your girl, T, at a party the other night. She said to tell you—”
“Jake,” I interrupt, because the last thing I need is him discussing one of my exes in front of Bella, and want him to get the point. “What’s up?”
“What’s up? What’s up? I’ll tell you what’s up.” The sound of a door closing eliminates the background noise on his end, and I can hear his next words clearly. “I got a call last night, and you better brace yourself for this one. I’ve got one word for you, Edward.”
“Okay? What is it?”
“Yeah, after last night’s game, they want you. They’ve been looking for a new backup goalie for a while, but they’re ready to deal.”
My eyes flash to Bella who’s sitting quietly, sipping her coffee, and looking out the window. Before I can tell Jake I’ll call him back later, he continues.
“It’s a three team deal. Let me explain it real quick, because I’m getting ready to jump on a plane for New York. Dallas would trade you to Toronto for a forward prospect. I can’t remember his name, but I know his rep. Toronto would trade you to Vegas for a fifth round pick in this year’s draft and retain a portion of your salary. Dallas would then trade the prospect for Vegas’ current backup goalie, a defenseman, and a second-round pick in this year’s draft. I know it’s a little confusing, but it all shakes out with you going to Vegas as their backup goalie. It would be one of the strongest one-two punches at goalie in the league if you went.”
There’s no denying the possibilities are great with the Vegas team. While they made it to the finals two years ago, they didn’t get past the first round of the playoffs last year. I can’t discount how strong we’ve been either, since I joined my team here in Dallas. Even though we didn’t make the playoffs two years ago, we made it to the second round of the playoffs last year. Call it a hunch, but something in my gut tells me our chances to go all the way to the finals this year are better than ever.
“Edward, I know what you’re going to say, and I’m begging you, don’t shut this down. This isn’t like when Calgary, Nashville, or even Buffalo expressed interest in working out a trade for you. This is Vegas, man. It could be your last chance at jumping in with a team with all the pieces in place to get to the finals. You’re in a great position, but if you turn this down, my sources say they’re going to approach Chicago with this deal and for Liam. You know, the losing goaltender from last night.”
“I know Liam.” I release a deep sigh, but I can’t deny it’s a good feeling to be their first choice. I pull into Bella’s driveway, letting my truck idle, and glance her way. She doesn’t look happy, and suddenly, I regret her overhearing this conversation. “Jake, I’ll call you back later.”
“Think it over. Are you on the way to morning skate?”
“I’m here for you, man. Call me back tonight. We’ll talk again. You have a little time, but the clock is ticking. We can’t drag our feet when they’re ready to ink the deal. All the pieces are in place except you.”
The leather seat creaks as Bella shifts in her seat, getting my attention.
“How soon do they need to know?”
“The sooner the better, but I need to tell them your decision by Friday.”
“All right, Jake. I need to go.”
“You got it. Later, man.”
I end the call with the press of a button, and my mind races through the possibilities. I’ve never been more happy for the No Trade Clause in my contract that requires my approval before sending me anywhere for a trade. It isn’t common for players to have one. After finally landing in Dallas near my family again, I requested my lawyer include it before I signed. Royce had no problem adding it out of respect to me and my age. During our negotiations, I expressed my desire to finish my career here, but is that really possible? Or am I kidding myself? With a deep sigh, I consider this would be a good deal for Dallas—three young players for one aging backup goaltender. Royce could always trade them in future deals, but is this deal what’s right for me?
“Edward?” Bella’s voice breaks through my racing thoughts.
“Sorry. See what I mean? Jake’s relentless.”
“That’s probably a good thing to have in an agent,” she reassures, setting her travel mug in the cup holder and turning to face me. Sincerity brims in her eyes as they search mine. “You can’t control if other teams see your value and offer you the opportunity to be part of their team. But I think it’s important that you do what’s right for you. Not Jake or anyone else. After that call, I understand how distracting these conversations can be whether you’re on or off the ice. This constant pull is unsettling and can’t be easy on you.”
I’m already leaning toward turning down the Vegas trade and staying in Dallas, but I would be a fool not to give myself a little time to process it. My moving to Vegas would probably be the end of us and that doesn’t sit well with me. I lace our fingers together, bringing them to my lips and leaving a kiss on the back of her hand.
“I can’t wait until you’re back.”
The hint of a smile tugs at the corners of her lips. “I haven’t left yet.”
“I like it when we’re both in the same place.”
Her smile widens with my admission. “Me too. Have fun with Rose and your family this week. I know they enjoy spending time with you.”
“I’ll try not to get my teeth knocked out, since my dentist is unavailable.” I caress my finger along her delicate jaw, pausing under her chin and tilting her lips toward mine.
“I’m sure there’s someone on-call who could help,” she whispers.
My eyes search hers, then move lower, drawn to her lips. “But it wouldn’t be you.”
A beautiful blush spreads across her face, before I press my mouth against hers repeatedly, until she pulls away.
“I should go inside and pack,” she says, brushing her fingertips over her well-kissed lips. “There’s fresh ice somewhere waiting for you. I heard from a reliable source that it’s the best kind.”
Bella’s teasing of my own words from our ice skating date brings a smile to my face.
“Merci pour la nuit dernière.” I brush my nose against hers and steal another quick kiss. “Thanks for last night.”
“Thank you. You made my first game special and especially afterwards.”
“Et ce matin,” I add with a smirk. “And this morning.”
“You’re the best alarm I’ve ever had, even if it is a little early for me on a Sunday no less. I’ll let it slide.”
I don’t share that I wish it were an every Sunday morning sort of thing with us. With a heavy sigh at her inevitable departure, I consider when I’ll hear from her next. Normally, it’s me texting or calling her when I have a free moment, but maybe she’ll be okay with a small request.
“I don’t want to impose on your time with your family, but will you let me know when you’ve made it to your father’s home?”
Her eyes fill with surprise, as if this is an unusual request, but I realize it’s probably because it’s been too long since she’s had someone care about her in all the ways they should.
“Okay. I will.”
“À bientôt.” I leave a last kiss on her lips. “See you soon.”
“Soon,” she promises, sliding from my truck and disappearing inside her home.
But soon won’t arrive fast enough for me.
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” My sister’s voice booms over my truck’s speakers as I exit the parking garage at our practice arena.
“Who is this?” I taunt playfully.
It hasn’t been an easy couple of days for me, and it seems there will be no reprieve from my sister either. Bella let me know when she arrived in Seattle and also after she drove to her father’s home safely. Our conversations have only been a few simple worded texts, which are never enough. For me at least. I spent most of Sunday night wishing I were with her, then giving some real consideration to the Vegas deal. Our general manager reached out to me, which I think I needed to hear. Royce wants me to stay with Dallas, but he will understand if I choose to leave.
After our win against Vegas on Monday night with Ben as the starter, we flew from Dallas to Chicago for our next game on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, we lost with me in net, ending our seven-game winning streak. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but my teammates and goaltending coach rallied around me, lifting my mood at today’s practice.
It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and as much as my sister likes to be on top of everything, she sounds a little unhinged.
“Don’t start that shit with me, Edward.”
Okay, more than a little.
“You know exactly who this is.”
“What have I done now?” I wonder.
“I thought you were seeing Bella exclusively. I can’t believe I ever thought this was a good idea. You’re going to break her heart, and I’m going to lose my friendship with her. And my job. And Katie is going to be crushed.”
“Rose, we are exclusive.”
“Then why are you posting in French? It better not be that cheese girl again.”
“Yeah, Brie,” she says with contempt.
“It isn’t spelled like that and shouldn’t you be focused on cooking?”
My defense of Bree will probably send my sister over the edge, since Bree was who most recently broke my heart. While I was living in Montréal, we dated—more on than off. We fought over my work schedule constantly, but when she pushed for a commitment, I hesitated. I think that’s when I knew the end was near.
Through her tears, Bree gave me an ultimatum—to leave hockey—retire early or lose her, because she couldn’t do it anymore. She wasn’t interested in being second place in anyone’s life. Obviously, there was no chance I was leaving hockey, and not long after that, she ended our relationship. I wasn’t in a good mental headspace after the break up, and my game play suffered. Without any other options, I requested a trade to anywhere, because I knew I had to leave Montréal.
My general manager understood my situation and found me a spot in New York, giving me a fresh outlook with a new team. I’ll always have a soft spot for Bree and wish her the best, even if it didn’t work out between us. Her leaving and my moving was probably the best thing for my career, because it led to me working with one of the best goaltending coaches in the league while I was in New York.
Bree is the reason I can speak French fluidly. I wanted to please her and fit in with her family. Their acceptance was important, but no matter what I did, she always wanted more. Rose never liked her. So, I’m not surprised she’s made the wrong assumption that Bree is somehow back in my life. While my sister claims she’s staying out of my relationship with Bella, it seems she’s putting herself right in the middle.
“I am cooking. Em’s parents will be here later, and the kids won’t listen. They’ve been sassing me all morning, but stop trying to change the subject. Why are you posting in French if it isn’t Bree?”
I think back on the photo I shared the other night while sitting in my hot tub after Monday’s game with the caption: “Tu me manques.”
“Because Bella likes it.”
“So you’re sending secret messages to her?”
“There’s nothing secret about it, and I thought you were staying out of our relationship.”
“When was the last time you were in contact with Bree?”
She’s turning her inner mama bear on me.
A small part of me is thrilled that she’s this type of friend with Bella, even if it’s complicated because Bella’s boyfriend happens to be her brother. But she needs to have a little more faith in me.
“When I was in New York, I spoke with Bree twice, but I was dating Heidi then.”
“Not since you moved to Dallas?”
“No. And before you ask about Heidi, Tanya, or Chelsea, I haven’t been in contact with any of them.”
“But they all comment on your posts, even that recent one. They probably think you posted it with each of them in mind.”
“Are you stalking me?”
“Al texted me, and I may have clued him in on who’s who. I’m also looking out for my friend. And tell me I’m wrong, but all of your exes would jump back into a relationship with you if you reached out to them.”
She’s probably not wrong. I’m on good terms with all of them, including Bree. But none of them is my focus now.
“Rose, if Bella would allow it, I would put every picture I have of us out there.”
“I don’t mind playing by her rules.”
“So, you miss her, huh?”
“Like you wouldn’t believe.”
One of Bella’s ideas for combatting my loneliness comes to mind, and I decide to forgo my routine afternoon nap in favor of some time with the help of one of my favorite people.
“Hey, what’s my niece doing?”
“She’s in her room. They’re all in their rooms. They didn’t have school today, and I need some peace, before I lose it.”
“How about I come by and pick her up? I think I need her expertise.”
“Good heavens. What are you up to now? I’m elbow deep in pie crusts. I have flour all over my phone. The kitchen is a disaster, and the kids need to eat. Fuck. Why do I do this to myself? Who makes eight different pies?”
“We both know the answer to that question, and without a doubt, Em’s mother will be impressed while she’s here. Like always.”
Rose’s mother-in-law, Lucy, is a bit of a celebrity with her own cooking show on one of the food channels. Lucy is the kind of woman whose laughter overflows a room, but everyone’s drawn to her undeniable Southern charm. She has that grandmotherly vibe, putting everyone at ease, except for my sister. Rose overthinks their visits and puts a huge amount of pressure on herself to go above and beyond.
“Why isn’t Mom helping you?”
“She’s been in Houston with Aunt Cin, helping her prepare for the Whitlock Family Feast. She said she would be back tomorrow to help.”
“Well, how about I pick up my niece and nephews? Give you a break. I promise, I’ll feed and return them to you in one piece.”
“Yeah. I can handle them.”
“I’ll be there in about twenty minutes.” I check the time, then realize my truck won’t hold all of them. “But can I borrow your . . .?”
“Suburban?” She chuckles, finishing my question as she always does. “Sure. And Edward?”
“Thanks.” I can hear the relief in her voice. “Did you see that Bella commented on your post not long ago?”
“No. I’ve been on the ice. What did it say?”
“It says that she misses you too.”
There’s no containing the beaming smile on my face, because that would be the first comment she’s made on any post of mine. I can’t wait to check it when I get a chance, but this conversation gives me another idea, and I need to make a quick call before I arrive at Rose’s home.
“Tell my niece and nephews, I’m on my way.”
“Trust me. We all need a break from each other. They’ll be ready. Maybe sitting on the front porch when you arrive. See you soon.”
“Okay, bye.” After ending the call with my sister, I disconnect and move on to the next one.
“Call Maggie.” I drum my fingers against the steering wheel while I wait for her to answer.
“Good afternoon, Edward. This is a surprise. What can I do for you? Or did you already devour everything I packed into your refrigerator and freezer?”
“You know that isn’t possible when you just restocked. Give me a few days.”
We both laugh, because she understands the way I burn through food, needing twice as many calories as the average person due to the physical demands of my job.
“I wanted to ask for a favor.”
“Oh? This sounds interesting.”
“I want to take something to my sister’s for Thanksgiving.”
“Well, this is a first. What did you have in mind?”
“You know those fancy baked brie cheese wheels, and how they’re wrapped with pastry?”
“I want to bring her one of those. Can you help me out?”
“I have a couple of wonderful recipes that would work. I think some are filled with nuts but others have fruit or honey. Any preference?”
“No, and don’t worry, I won’t be eating it.”
“I would be surprised if you did.” She chuckles, knowing my meals are based on consistent repetition and seldom vary. “I’ll leave it in your refrigerator tonight with instructions on baking it tomorrow.”
“Perfect. I can’t wait to see Rose’s face when she sees that I’ve brought Brie to her Thanksgiving.”
“Oh, Edward. You two. I’m sure this is some inside joke with Rose, but I don’t need any details.”
Maggie understands me and my relationship with my sister so well.
“If I miss seeing you tonight when you stop by, Happy Thanksgiving, Maggie, to you and yours.”
“Thank you, Edward. And to you too. Enjoy the day with your family.”
“I will. Talk with you later.”
After disconnecting my call with Maggie, I turn onto Rose’s street and pull next to the curb in front of her home with no sign of the kids outside. I take a moment and check my phone, eager to see Bella’s comment for myself. Sure enough, there it is in my notifications, “drbswan liked your post.” While I don’t normally respond to the comment threads, I tap the heart next to her “I miss you too” comment. I sit and stare at her words for a moment, letting them wash over me. There’s little doubt she used a translator for the caption, and it’s the first time she’s ever commented publicly on any post of mine.
Well, sort of.
A picture of us together would seal the deal, but it would be even better if she were the one to post us on her account first. Then I realize she may not have any of us, since I’m the one who is always snapping photos when we’re together. So, I open my photo app and pick four of my favorites, sending them to her via text, including a short message.
Mes favorites. X
And now, I wait, wondering if she’ll post any or not.
Let’s hope I can wait her out.
Ouais c’est ça. = Yeah, that’s it.
Jouis pour moi. = Give it to me.
Je veux te sentir jouir sur ma bite. = I want to feel you come on my cock.
Tu me manques. = I miss you.
Mes favorites. = My favorites.