A/N: Thank yous to NKubie, LizziePaige, and Honeymoon Edward, for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for betaing. They’re all amazing, and I’m so grateful for their help. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “Just Got Started Lovin’ You,” James Otto
(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.
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“Oh, fuck.” Her arms give out, and she collapses against the countertop. “I won’t be able to move with another.”
“That isn’t a no.” I grin, leaving a gentle kiss between her legs before going back for more. My tongue flattens and swirls with lingering licks as I add a second finger, picking up my pace. “What do you want? Do you want to come for me again, Bella?”
My hum causes her hips to lift from the countertop automatically seeking more. She laces her fingers through my hair, tugging occasionally but holding me in place. Bella chants my name between gasps while I push her without falter toward her second orgasm. There’s nothing sexier than watching her body writhe with pleasure when she finally succumbs to my relentless touch with a deep extended moan.
“Oh, Edward, that was . . . I have no words,” she says between pants.
I kiss my way back to her lips and hover over her. “How’s your Wednesday now?”
“Fucking fantastic. Maybe the best Wednesday ever. I haven’t ever experienced a welcome home from work like this one.”
“That’s more like it.” I smile proudly, helping a dazed and disheveled Bella sit up. I lift her off the counter, grabbing the material of her dress. “You needed a bonus. Raise your hands. I’ll help you out of your dress.”
She puts her arms in the air as I pull the dress from her body, leaving her only in the tiny G-string. There’s no stopping my widening grin at the sight before me.
“I know that look. You’re wishing you had a picture of me like this.”
“Would you let me take one?” I ask, even though I already know her answer.
“Not a chance.” She lowers her arms immediately, crossing them over her chest and eliminating my perfect view.
“Not even a tiny chance?” Reaching for my sweatshirt, I pull my team T-shirt from inside.
I hold my shirt in front of her as she pushes her arms through the holes, sliding it over her head. It’s one of my favorite sights to see her wearing my clothes—the hem lowers until it is just over her ass and brushing her bare thighs.
“There.” I pull her into my arms, but my hands move lower, giving her ass an appreciative squeeze. “Perfect.”
She lifts on her toes, giving me a quick peck. “For who?”
“Well, me of course. Unless you’re willing to go without the G-string or any underwear. Then it gets even better.” I grab one of her remaining peanut butter cups, unwrap it, and hold the candy to her lips. “Open.”
She complies with a sigh, and I place the sweet inside her mouth, then reach for her abandoned wine glass, handing it to her.
Bella smiles dreamily. “You and that cocky grin of yours. Does it always get you everything you want?”
“Does it work on you? Because that’s all I care about.” I wink.
“Oh, it works on me.”
“Good.” I leave a kiss on her forehead, then another on her lips. “I’ll get started on our dinner.”
I grab my sweatshirt from the floor, but Bella stops me from putting it on, taking it from my hands.
“Unh-uh. If I’m only half-dressed tonight, then so are you. This is mine until you need to leave.”
I don’t want to think about leaving any time soon, and I have another suggestion if she’s willing since it took a little planning on my part.
“You want dinner with a view, huh?” I tease, unpacking our dinner from the bag and turning on the oven.
“The best view.” She smiles, licking her lips as her eyes roam my tatts and lower.
“My eyes are up here, Doc.”
“Oh, I know all about those eyes too,” she says, grabbing her bra from the floor and kissing my waiting lips. I watch as she walks around the kitchen, gathering all of her discarded items until her arms are full. “I’ll be back. I’m going to run this stuff upstairs.”
While Bella’s gone, I prep our food for the oven, sliding it inside and setting the timer, then divide our salad between two plates.
She strides happily into the kitchen. “There, much better. Did you miss me?”
Bella slides onto a barstool, and I move her remaining peanut butter cups and wine glass in front of her.
“You know, I was thinking about an idea that I want to run by you. I could . . .” I hesitate with a shrug, because I’m not sure how she would feel about weeknight sleepovers at this point in our relationship.
“You could what?”
“I could stay here tonight.” I let the idea hang in the air between us a little before continuing my explanation. “I didn’t bring any extra clothes, but there’s a very, very good chance pet food along with another set of food and water bowls could be waiting outside in my truck. Just in case there is a chance they could be needed, say, in the morning.”
“That’s a lot of chances.” A hint of a smile tugs at her perfect lips.
“There may also be a litter box with a bag of litter that could possibly be kept here just in case you had a new friend who may need it. I can take your other new friend for a walk later before bedtime.”
“My new friends?” She grins, taking a sip from her wine glass. “You know, I have work tomorrow.”
“I do too. It’s game day, and even though I’m not the starter for tomorrow night, you can’t keep me up all night fucking around.” Even if other parts of me would love that. Who am I kidding? Every part of me would love that, but I would pay for it tomorrow. “I need to be in bed by ten with no funny business.”
“What about in the morning? Is funny business permitted then?”
She’s found the exception I used when she was at my home. Thank goodness I didn’t miss my nap earlier today.
“Doc, I’ll set an extra alarm.”
Her smile brightens. “Will Scout and Shadow want to sleep with us?”
“Yeah. Is that okay? If not, we can call it a night in a few hours. I understand, since you weren’t expecting our visit tonight. I was just hoping that we could take advantage of our time together, while I’m in Dallas.”
“Oh, Edward. I would love it if you were to spend the night. And I’m happy to have Scout and Shadow here too.”
“Then it’s settled.” I grin, relieved I won’t need to cut our evening short. “I’ll bring their stuff inside.”
When I return with Scout’s and Shadow’s things, Scout is waiting at the back door, wagging his tail. Bella is walking toward us with Shadow trailing behind. Under everyone’s supervision, I set up Shadow’s litter box in Bella’s half bathroom. Scout is the first to lose interest and returns to the kitchen, probably circling the area for any dropped crumbs. I carry their food bowls to the kitchen, leaving them on the floor and out of the way, while Bella stashes their food in a nearby cabinet under Shadow’s watchful gaze.
As Bella bends, I get a peek of a pair of underwear in victory green with our team logo that barely contains the fine curves of her ass cheeks. There’s no keeping the smile from my face as I finish filling the water bowls. I have little doubt those are a recent addition. I thought I was the one surprising her this evening, but it seems she keeps me guessing at every turn.
Bella returns to her spot at the kitchen island and opens her last peanut butter cup while I refill her wine glass.
“Ready for salad?” I nod toward the two waiting plates.
“Sure. What’s in it? Not that it matters. I’ll eat almost anything.”
“Obviously, fresh spinach, but also sliced apples, dried cranberries, feta crumbles, and walnuts. There’s an apple cider vinaigrette too.”
“Sounds delicious. Let eat.”
We haven’t had the opportunity to talk since before Thanksgiving and have only shared a few texts. We made plans to see each other while I was traveling between Minnesota and Winnipeg. So, I’m wondering how her time with her father turned out, and if her bad day could be due to finally hearing a decision about her proposal from her boss. I grab two forks from her silverware drawer, sliding them next to our plates, and join her on the other side of the island with my glass of wine.
“Did you ever figure out what was going on with your father while you were in Washington?”
“Yes. Oh God, Edward. It was such an emotional roller coaster for the rest of my visit. I found out who my father is seeing—my mother.”
I frown, confused by this news. “I thought you said she was married.”
Bella shakes her head while finishing a mouthful. “She is, but apparently, her marriage is over and has been for six months. Six! She’s getting a divorce and never told me a thing. I was stunned when she showed up in my dad’s kitchen on Thanksgiving morning half-dressed.”
Like mother, like daughter.
I snicker, but don’t say what I’m thinking out loud, reaching over to squeeze her bare thigh. I wish I had her half-naked in my kitchen on Thanksgiving morning.
“Stop. I know what you’re thinking, and it isn’t the same.” She smacks her forehead and chuckles. “Shit. Or is it? Maybe I’m more like her than I realize.”
“I didn’t say anything. I haven’t met your mother, but I hope I’ll have the opportunity in the future.”
She smiles briefly at that idea. “Regardless, my parents have reconnected. While I’m cautious at this turn of events, I’m happy for them.” She puts down her fork and blows out a breath. “But, unfortunately, that’s not all. It’s . . . there’s just so much more. Ugh. I guess it’s time for some bad news.”
I pause with my fork halfway to my mouth. “What is it?”
“I can’t go to Aspen. My mother’s having major health issues that are going to require surgery sooner rather than later. I’m sorry, but I need to be there with her and my dad. The surgery is scheduled right before Christmas, but I’m flying back to spend the week before with them.”
I try to keep the disappointment I’m feeling that she won’t be with us in Aspen this year from the sound of my voice. I reach out and place my hand over hers, giving it a squeeze. “I’m sorry to hear about your mother. I hope the surgery is successful. While I’m disappointed, I understand.”
“Me too. My father dropped the bomb that he is retiring also, and his last day is the Tuesday before her surgery. They are having a retirement party or dinner of some sort to celebrate his thirty plus years on the police force. So, I should be there for that too.”
“Wow, that’s quite a career.”
“It rivals yours,” she says with a proud smile and a twinkle in her eye. “He wants to spend his time with Mom and not waste another minute apart.”
“I can understand that too.” I wiggle my eyebrows, turning in my seat and weaving my legs between hers.
Bella’s smile fades slightly and focuses back on her plate, stabbing at the spinach. “Also, I got into an argument with Paul at work today, losing my cool, which is so unlike me. He just has a knack for knowing all the right ways to push my hot buttons. As if my time off is any of his business. I was sharing the situation with Sam in confidence, when Paul barged into my office under the pretense of needing a consultation on a patient.
“Quite honestly, a consultation for Paul simply means he wants to dump whatever issue the patient is having into my lap. But, it became obvious he had been eavesdropping and was adamant I shouldn’t be allowed to leave for another vacation. The real issue is, if I’m not in the office, Paul will be forced to do his job and actually see patients, including on-call shifts over the Christmas holiday.”
“Other than Thanksgiving, when was your last vacation?” I wonder.
“It’s rare I ever take one. Fortunately, Sam pays me for those unused days at the end of the year.”
“I’m glad you don’t lose them. That’s not always the policy with some businesses.”
“I know. I’m not a complainer—” She pauses her thought, taking another bite. “I know you’re busy, and I didn’t want to unload all of my drama while you’re traveling.”
“After landing Sunday night, I had a message from Sam. In a nutshell, he turned down my partner and ownership agreements without any interest in negotiating the terms. He believes adding another associate is a better idea for the future of his practice, which he always stresses. It also means Sam’s in the office doing interviews while I’m managing most of the patient load until I’m away again.” She sighs. “Sam claims he wants me to be a part of the interview process, and Jason said . . .”
I’m a bit crestfallen at the mention of his name, as I realize she shared this news with him before me. I get that he’s her lawyer, but I’m her boyfriend who’s here supporting her too.
“So, based on his advice, I agreed having a hand in the selection process could be a positive step forward and leave the door open to the possibility of approaching Sam with a new agreement in the future. Unfortunately, he’s asked Paul to be a part of the interviews too.” She shakes her head, taking a long sip of her wine before continuing. “Today, I didn’t take my normal lunch hour between my patients and interviewed one of Sam’s leading candidates while he was visiting our office. Dear heavens, Edward. This guy, Jared Cameron, is Paul two-point-oh-no. There’s no way I can handle two of them in the office. And all of this was Sam’s brilliant idea to take the workload off my shoulders.
“The only saving grace is that Jared isn’t the only candidate Sam likes. I’m interviewing two others on Friday after we close at noon, then a few more next week. So, I’m not sure what time I will be at your place. I could be at the office longer than I anticipate.”
I smile, reaching out for her hand and lacing our fingers together. “I’ll take you whenever you’re finished. And Bella, I don’t want you ever to think you shouldn’t share with me whatever is happening in your life whether it’s good or bad. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Dallas or not, I want to know. Okay?”
She smiles. “Okay. I also wanted to ask you about something that came up while I was away.”
“You’ve mentioned your agent, Jake, but do you know much about him? Like where he’s from or anything? What’s his last name?” Bella asks, taking another bite.
I finish my mouthful, considering for a moment what I do know. “His last name is Black, and he’s based in Los Angeles. I don’t know where he’s from originally, but he’s always partial to Seattle teams. He has brought up the possibility of me being a part of the new expansion hockey team in some capacity.” I shrug. “Maybe he’s from that area.”
She tilts her head. “Does he know about us?”
“I don’t think so. I haven’t mentioned anything about you.”
“Do you have a photo of him by chance?”
I remove my phone from my pocket, scrolling through my photo app until I land on one from a year ago of the two of us after one of my games and slide my phone over to Bella.
She nods immediately. “I know him. He’s the son of a friend of my father, and Jacob Black was at our Thanksgiving dinner. Small world, huh?”
“Really? Are you sure?” I’m surprised, but the more I think about it, the more irritated I am that Jake spent Thanksgiving with Bella rather than me.
“Yes. I only knew of him what feels like a lifetime ago as a bratty younger brother, but after the short amount of time he was at my father’s home, my opinion of him only worsened. I don’t know how long you’ve been working with him, but just . . . be careful, Edward. I’m not convinced he has your best interest at heart. I have a suspicion that our paths will cross again with us dating, and I don’t trust him. I believe he knows about us based on some of his shady comments. I could be overreacting, but I want you to know I never had any sort of relationship with him. Ever.”
Bella’s always so direct. It’s refreshing. Different. Zero mind games. I love that I always know where I stand with her, putting me at ease.
“Good to know, but Bella, it wouldn’t matter to me if you did. Well, that’s probably not exactly true. I’m not exempt to an occasional bout of jealousy, but I realize we’ve both been in other relationships. For one reason or another, they didn’t work out. It may be selfish of me, but I’m glad that’s the case, because had they worked, we wouldn’t be together now. And I’d be missing out on the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.”
She grins at my compliment as relief passes over her beautiful features. “You’re such a smooth talker.”
I finish my last bite of salad. “I saw you shared on Instagram one of the pictures of us I sent you. So, I’m your favorite goalie, huh?”
“By a landslide. It’s not even close.”
“Who’s your second favorite?” I wonder.
“You. Only younger.” She wiggles her eyebrows.
“Doc.” There’s no keeping my lips from hers with that comment, kissing her with probably more force than she’s expecting.
She’s the first to pull away. “I’m eager for you to show me your older pictures and memorabilia. My curiosity is beyond piqued how you arrived at this point in your career. I bet you have a fascinating story, and I can’t wait to hear it.”
I grin, excited for the first time in a long time to share those things with someone. I can’t recall a girlfriend ever being interested in getting to know me on that level. And what I’m feeling for Bella right now is an overwhelming swirl of emotions—giddiness mixed with a confidence that this relationship growing between us feels right in every way.
“Remember when I said I was going to kiss the hell out of you?”
“Yeah?” She raises an eyebrow in question, probably already knowing there’s little chance I won’t be wrapped around her the rest of the night until morning.
“You better brace yourself because I know what I want to do after we finish dinner.”
“Lucky me.” Her eyes brighten, and she licks her lips. “I can’t wait.”