A/N: Thank yous to NKubie for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for betaing. They’re both amazing, and I’m so grateful for their help. xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “The Naughty List,” Phil Vassar & Kellie Pickler
(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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As we taxi along the runway at Love Field toward the terminal, I remove my phone from my pocket.
James smirks, nudging my elbow. “Tell Doc I said hello.”
“Okay.” I nod, typing out a quick text.
Just landed. Are you awake?
It’s late or early when we return from Nashville after our game. With ten days since my last start, my thirty-seven saves combined with our four to one win have everyone buzzing with excitement as we arrive despite the hour.
“Great job tonight. Enjoy your day off.”
“Thanks, man. I’m spending it with Doc before she leaves. Do you have any plans?”
“I’m golfing with Crow and Volts. Fin’s going to tag along. So, it should be fun.”
“I’ll see you Monday, then.”
“Are you starting against Edmonton?”
I shake my head as we arrive at our gate and pocket my phone, since my text goes unanswered. “No. Ben is getting the start.”
“Then rest up, if that’s even possible while you’re with Doc.” He grins knowingly and stands, removing his carry-on from the upper bin. “You never know when we’ll need you.”
With less than twenty-four hours left to spend with Bella before her two-week departure, I’m eager to see her and resting is the last thing I’m hoping we’ll do.
“Catch you later, Cap,” I call out as he departs with a wave.
Grabbing my bag, I deplane, then hustle toward my truck. After leaving the airport, I drive home with a plan to stop and pick up Scout and Shadow, before going to Bella’s place. While I don’t have an actual key, she did give me the code for her garage keypad recently—which is essentially the same thing. Even though we don’t have plans, I’m hoping with her open invitation last week, she won’t mind my showing up at this hour.
Without any delays, the trip is quick, and my home, glowing with Christmas lights, is a welcome sight. I pull into the driveway and park in front of the garage, leaving my truck in the middle of the carport. This will be a quick stop, but I think I’ll change out of my suit while I’m here. With my bag in hand, I enter through the side door and pause to enter my code into the keypad for the security system. I’m surprised Scout isn’t waiting, because he’s usually the first to greet me when I return and the sound of the door opening always brings him running.
Walking down the hallway, I pause in the kitchen, slightly concerned when I see the Christmas lights in the great room are illuminated and the gas fireplace is burning brightly. As I move toward the couch, the sound of my dress shoes clomping against the floor finally gets Scout’s attention. He raises his head just above the back of the couch, but I’m stunned when I walk closer, finding Shadow snuggled next to Bella while Scout is jammed against her legs.
I reach out and scratch behind his ears while my eyes roam the sight before me. They linger along one of her bare legs that’s escaped from underneath the blanket, draped across a portion of her body. In the flickering firelight, I don’t miss a single inch of exposed skin, noticing whatever she’s wearing is red and one of the thin straps has fallen from her shoulder.
I know she fretted about giving me the perfect gift for Christmas before she left. I had a blast with her, shopping and delivering Christmas gifts this past week. I relished having her trust when she was willing to share memories in our more candid moments about growing up and her relationship with her mother. But I can’t think of a better gift than finding her here, sleeping on my couch. There’s no keeping the grin from my face as I realize she’s been here tonight—waiting for me with Scout and Shadow.
It doesn’t get better than that.
I can’t resist, and snap a couple of quick photos using my phone before walking around the couch. Her tablet computer and phone are sitting on the coffee table next to an empty wine glass and a handful of crumpled candy wrappers. I touch her phone and the lock screen lights up with two unanswered messages. Mine is the most recent, but there’s one from Al, wishing her good luck. I reposition them, setting my phone next to hers, and sit on the edge of the table.
Shadow lifts her head, watching me briefly before turning and burrowing impossibly closer to Bella. When Bella shifts, releasing a soft sigh, I run a finger along her bare arm. She’s so fucking beautiful with her dark wavy hair sprawled wildly around her face, along her neck, and teasing the curves of her chest. I reach out, trail my hand lightly down the smooth skin of her bare leg, and smile when I see her toenails are painted red to match.
“Mmmmm.” Her eyes flutter at the sound of my voice, but hers is barely above a whisper. “Edward?”
“Yeah. It’s me.” I lean forward, leaving a kiss on her forehead.
“You’re home? Or am I dreaming?” she asks sleepily, stretching and revealing more of what little she’s wearing underneath the blanket.
She blinks slowly, a slight smile gracing her perfect lips. “Surprise. I’m here. I drank your wine, but I guess it made me sleepy.”
I nod, reaching for her hand; I can’t resist touching her. “It’s late.”
“I ate your chocolate too.”
“It’s yours.” I chuckle at her confessions, which make me unbelievably happy, and press my lips against the back of her hand leaving a kiss.
“Did you eat?” she asks.
“On the plane. Did you watch the game?”
Her lazy smile widens. “You won.”
Shadow tires quickly of our whispered conversation and my intrusion on their cuddle time. She abandons her spot next to Bella, jumps from the couch, and disappears in the direction of her cat tree.
Bella licks her lips, reaching out and playing with my tie before grasping it and pulling me closer. “You want to celebrate?”
As if there is any other possible answer.
“Absolutely. What did you have in mind? Because from what I can see, Christmas is coming early this year.”
“That better not be the only thing coming.” She smirks, releasing my tie and pushing into a sitting position.
The blanket falls onto the floor and my eyes follow the white fur-lined edges of her sheer red top. It barely contains her chest and parts in the middle, revealing a red G-string.
“You like it?”
“That’s a fucking understatement,” I rasp as my hungry gaze returns to hers. “I think you may have been sent straight from Santa’s naughty list.”
Bella’s beautiful eyes smolder as she squeezes between my bent legs. “Is that so?”
“Not that I’m complaining.”
I can’t keep my hands to myself, lightly caressing the outside of her bare thighs and waiting for her next move with great restraint. A sigh of relief escapes my lips when her hands reach out, gliding along the smooth material of my dress pants and moving higher. She watches me closely as her hands explore, disappearing underneath my suit jacket, then pushes it from my shoulders. Pulling my arms from the sleeves, it barely makes a sound, falling behind me onto the table.
“Why don’t we sit on the couch together?” she suggests, scooting backward to make room.
“You want to stay in here?” I ask when our eyes lock.
“Yeah.” She waves toward the romantic glow of the room, filled with holiday decorations. “I fit the theme in here. I’m all Christmassy too. For you.”
“For me.” My voice is low and rough, full of a never-ending need for her—Christmassy or not.
After sliding onto the couch and landing too close to Scout, he whines, and we both chuckle at his grumpy departure. My eyes return to Bella, not leaving her for a moment. She grasps my shoulders and I guide her legs until she’s straddling my lap.
“You’re so fucking sexy,” I whisper, craving every part of her. There’s little doubt she can feel my undeniable reaction to her in this position, pressing firmly between her legs. “And the best gift. Ever. I must have been a good boy this year.”
“At least since Halloween,” she taunts with a coy grin as her tongue peeks from between her lips. “Merry Christmas.”
Bella watches as her fingertips trace back and forth along the scruff of my jaw before cupping my face with both hands. Her eyes shift between my eyes and lips briefly, before crushing her mouth against mine in a flurry of escalating kisses. Plunging her hands into my hair, she tugs and tilts my head to satisfy her insistent mouth. Her tongue leads me in a slow dance of lingering tastes and delicate touches, feeding my insatiable desire for her.
Between our needy gasps and moans filling the room, my hands roam, clutching her hips tightly, before my thumbs skim the delicate strings sitting there. They’re a tempting distraction with the tiny bows, begging for my release. Our mouths separate abruptly, when she leans away and her hands return to my tie.
“You won’t be needing this.” Bella pants as her chest heaves from our desperate kisses.
She loosens the knot, pulls it from my collar, and tosses it carelessly behind her. My heart pounds erratically at the sight of her like this—confident and assertive. She’s so fucking smart and sexy, knowing exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for whatever she needs—luckily that’s me.
“Merry fucking Christmas, Doc.”
A seductive smirk dances across her lips when mine seek the warm, intoxicating skin in the valley between her breasts. Through half-lidded eyes, she watches as I pepper her enticing curves with languid kisses and teasing licks. Her head falls backward when my mouth closes over the thin material covering her hardened nipple.
“Edward . . .” She moans between ragged breaths, clutching my shoulders tightly.
My arms wrap around her, one holding her securely against my lap, while the other supports the arching of her back when I switch to the other nipple.
“Mmmm,” I hum with every desperate roll of her hips. “We’re in no hurry, Doc.”
She chuckles, combing her fingers through my hair and pulling my face to hers. “Speak for yourself,” she says, kissing my waiting lips. “I’ve been waiting all night to get my hands on you.”
Bella’s eager fingers move lower, fumbling open the first few buttons of my dress shirt. I loosen my hold, allowing her to finish unfastening the remaining buttons after she pulls my tucked shirt from my pants. She pushes it open and yanks it from my arms, exposing my tattoo sleeves and leaving me in my white T-shirt.
Her growing impatience and subsequent little huff of frustration with another clothing layer brings a smile to my face, because I always feel exactly like this when I’m around her. She grabs the hem, struggling with its removal until I raise my arms. Bella jerks it from my body, letting it fall from her grasp onto the floor.
“Finally. You are mouthwatering wearing a suit, but this is so much better.” She smiles as her fingers ghost over the swirls of ink covering my chest and arms in the low light. “God, your watch is even sexy too.”
My gaze follows her movements as she moves to my belt, unbuckling it with a determined ease and pulling it from the loops of my pants. After adding it to the growing pile, her fingers open the hook and button of my pants. Lowering the zipper, she pushes past the waistband of my underwear and wraps her hand around my hardened length.
“Fuck.” My eyes close and my head falls backward heavily against the couch at her touch.
Her other hand tugs and readjusts my pants, opening them wider until I’m completely exposed and at her mercy. Bella strokes me back and forth unhurriedly, and my cock glides through her hand with ease until she pauses, swirling her thumb through the moisture gathering at the tip. Opening my eyes, I find her watching me as she sucks her thumb into her mouth.
“Mmmm,” she hums, releasing it with a satisfied pop.
Change of plans.
There’s no way I’m coming in her hand.
And I’m too fucking close to losing it right now.
“I bet you’re ready,” I whisper with a new sense of urgency. My fingers move to the bows at her hips, pulling the ties open harshly and discarding the tiny piece of damp material from between us.
“I thought you said we weren’t in a hurry.” She grins, shifting until her wet warmth encompasses me, and steadies herself using my shoulders.
My hands find their way to her ass, giving her an appreciative squeeze. “I’ve changed my mind.”
Bella chuckles and tilts her hips against me with a renewed determination. With every pass, another moan slips from her parted lips as the head of my cock hits her just right. I’m covered with her arousal and perched at her opening briefly, when she sinks down onto my length without warning. Our mutual groans echo throughout the room when her hips are flush with mine.
“You feel so fucking good.” I wrap an arm around her.
Holding her tightly against me, I press our chests together. My other hand travels higher, threading my fingers through the hair at the back of her head. I angle her mouth to meet mine and capture her lips repeatedly. When her hips start rocking and swiveling against me, I’m not sure who whimpers at the incredible feeling first—probably me. I was exhausted after our game, and at this rate, what little control I have is evaporating rapidly.
“Doc.” I groan at whatever kind of witchcraft she’s currently casting with her hips. Tugging her head backward, I plead between harsh breaths, “I need you to come.”
Trailing my tongue along the gentle curve of her exposed neck, I suck on the skin—lightly at first, then harder, prompting a gasp as my name escapes from between her parted lips.
My fingertip traces lightly over my latest mark that isn’t fading.
She’s fucking mine.
When her eyes lock with mine, I toss out a blasé apology. “Sorry.”
“No, you’re not.” Bella smirks, seeing through me immediately.
There’s no denying what it is or concealing its location. While I’m typically not the jealous type, a part of me wants every motherfucker between here and Washington to know she’s taken.
“You’re right. I’m not.” I grin proudly. Moving lower, I continue a tortuous path, devouring every inch of her I can reach.
She matches my intensity, never relenting and increasing her pace. “Come on. You know what I need. Give it to me.”
And she’s right, I fucking do.
“Si tu continuez à bouger comme ça, je ne pourrai pas m’arrêter,” I warn, sinking against the couch and tightening my grip on her hips as she rides my dick intently. “If you keep moving like this, I won’t be able to stop.”
“Je vais jouir tellement fort en toi.” I reach higher, tug the straps of her top down her arms, and reveal her gorgeous tits. “I’m going to come so hard inside you.”
Her chest bounces freely as I feel the bite of her fingernails digging into my shoulders. My hands are drawn to her voluptuous curves instantly. With every squeeze, her soft moans increase as she arches into my hands, craving more.
“Edward,” she pleads desperately, teetering close.
“Je te réveillerai le matin avec ma langue enfouie entre tes jambes.” Rolling her hardened peaks between my fingers, I toy with them relentlessly, watching her come undone. My mouth replaces my fingers, enclosing around her nipple and sucking greedily before letting her fall from my lips and switching to the other side. “I’ll wake you in the morning with my tongue buried between your legs.”
“Fuck.” Her body stills, finally tipping over the edge as she pulses around me.
“Et je te mangerai la chatte jusqu’à ce que tu me supplies d’arrêter.” I return my hands to grip her hips firmly and encourage her continued pace with a feral grunt. “And I will eat your pussy until you beg me to stop.”
“Oh God!” She throws her head back, riding out her orgasm.
“Deux semaines, c’est trop long pour être loin de toi.” With only two more thrusts, I smash my eyes closed, growling through the freight train of my release and spilling inside her. I gasp, clutching her against my lap and panting through each desperate word. “Two weeks is too long to be away from you.”
How in the fuck am I going get through the next two weeks?
As my mind attempts to answer that impossible question, our mutual pleasure is overshadowed by the gravity of my feelings for her resurfacing again. An unwelcome ache settles into my chest, but this time it’s stronger than it was before her departure for Thanksgiving.
I’m so fucking screwed.
Wrapping her arms around my shoulders, she rests her forehead against mine and her breath fans gently across my face. I hold her tightly, wanting to prolong every second of this moment. With the slowing of my heartbeat, my voice is soft when I break the growing silence that settles between us at my admission.
“Tu me manqueras plus que tu ne peux l’imaginer.” I kiss her lips tenderly. “I’ll miss you more than you can imagine.”
“I’ll miss you too, but I think you’ll be fine.” She smiles, running her fingers gingerly through my hair. “You’ll be busy and the time will fly.”
I huff, shaking my head minutely. “No it won’t. This will be longer than when you were gone over Thanksgiving. I know you have to go, but I’ll be grumpy and irritable the entire time you’re away.”
“I feel sorry for your teammates and family then,” she teases, pulling the straps of her top back over her shoulders and readjusting the material to cover her chest.
“Don’t be surprised if you get a desperate SOS plea from James or Rose,” I warn half-heartedly.
“Doubtful. I think you’re exaggerating.”
Her mouth returns to mine, effectively distracting me with slow kisses full of assurance that this separation is only temporary.
“You’ll be back,” I say between kisses.
“I’ll be back,” she promises, leaving delicate pecks on my smiling lips at the thought of her return.
“I still can’t believe you’re here. I was going to pick up Scout and Shadow, then go over to your place.”
“It looks like I saved you the trip.”
I reach up, tucking a wayward strand of her hair behind her ear. “Having you here—Bella, this is the best surprise. I should warn you, I’m going to have expectations going forward. You’ve set the bar high for post-game celebrations.”
The sound of snores from Scout’s nearby dog bed interrupts our conversation, sending us into a fit of ridiculous giggles.
“How can he sleep through . . . us?” she asks.
“Doc, I don’t ask those kinds of questions, especially with how loud you get.”
“Me? I think you’re the vocal one, especially with all the dirty French talk. But I can’t resist it.” She kisses my lips and shifts her hips against my lap. “Well, I hate to spoil this moment, but I need to get up.”
Nodding, I help her stand, hand her a couple of tissues from the box on the coffee table, and tuck myself back inside my underwear, refastening my pants.
“When you return, I have something for you—your Christmas gift. I’ll go get it. I didn’t trust Scout and Shadow while I was gone to leave it under the tree.”
“Okay. I’ll use your half-bath.” She snags my dress shirt from the floor. “I hope it’s okay if I borrow this for a while.”
“You’re welcome to anything, but I’m okay if you want to stick with what you’re wearing too.” I wink, reaching out to swat her departing bare ass playfully and causing her shriek, followed by the sound of her fading giggles.
I gather our discarded items on the floor with a smile on my face, then retrieve my carry-on from the kitchen. My smile widens as I walk into my bedroom, noticing a bag next to one of the chairs that has to be Bella’s. I sort through our items, dumping them into the appropriate bins to be cleaned and remove the rest of my suit.
Since we’ll probably be going to bed soon, I stick with only my boxers and locate her gift bag in my closet. I’m the first to return and stop in the kitchen to grab a drink since I need a little time to wind down. I’m tempted when I see the corked bottle Bella opened sitting on the island. I already had a glass on the plane with dinner, but another wouldn’t hurt. I remove a glass from the cabinet, carrying it, the bottle, and her gift bag back to the couch.
I’m filling my glass when she returns. I have trouble pulling my appreciative gaze from her bare legs and nearly spill the wine, but I don’t miss that she fastened only three of the buttons.
“Hey yourself. See something you like?”
“That would be everything. How do you always look incredible in my clothes?” I wink, holding the wine bottle above her glass. “Would you like another glass?”
“I probably shouldn’t. I’ve already had two, but we don’t have anywhere to go. So, fuck it—pour me another.”
I grin, nudging the bag on the table in her direction. “Merry Christmas, Doc.”
“Thank you.” She smiles, leaning close to kiss my lips. After reaching inside the bag, surprise passes over her features at the first item. “Hey, it’s my new calendar for next year. What am I promoting?”
“Coconut?” She laughs heartily, holding her stomach.
“What am I missing? Why is coconut so funny?” I wonder.
“Nothing. You’re missing nothing at all. Trust me.” She flips through the calendar pages, with monthly photos of me working out. “Holy smokes. These are so sexy. Look at your back muscles. Damn. And those perfect abs, I’m going to need to revisit them later.”
I grin. “We’ve got all day. Coach said no morning skate.”
“You’re getting a day off? Like a real day off?”
“Yes. I’m all yours until Monday morning.” I nod toward the bag. “Keep going. There’s more.”
“I’m sorry, but this may be my favorite calendar—ever. Dear heavens. I may sleep with it under my pillow,” she teases, folding it closed and using it to fan herself, before reaching inside the bag for the next item. “A team stocking cap?”
“You’ll be back before New Year’s Eve, right?” I ask.
“Yes, that’s the plan.” Bella slides her new cap onto her head with a grin, tucking her hair away from her face.
She’s more adorable than I imagined. “Damn, it looks good.”
She grins. “I’ll be back on the twenty-ninth. The office is closed the last week of December and through the first few days of the New Year. But since I’ll be back, I’m the dentist on-call for any emergencies that week. It should be slow, but it was how I was able to negotiate my time away with Sam. And silence Paul’s never-ending complaints.”
“Well, I would love for you to attend another hockey game we’re hosting that week. This one is special, because it’s outside at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. It’s kind of a big deal. Everything leading up to the game is handled a little differently from a regular season game—lots of hype. They have a family skate the day before, and I want you to be there with my family. So, you’ll need your ice skates. There’s also an after party that I’m hoping we can attend. Maybe you can meet some of the other wives and girlfriends.”
“My skates, huh?” She wiggles her eyebrows up and down. “Wait, isn’t that a football stadium?”
“It is, but it will be transformed with an outdoor rink on the playing field. At capacity, American Airlines Center can hold around eighteen thousand of our fans. With the Cotton Bowl’s additional stadium seating, we could have somewhere close to ninety thousand in attendance.”
“Wow. Who are you playing?”
Her eyes widen with excitement. “And you beat them tonight. Are you starting?”
I take a long sip of wine and set my glass on the table. “It hasn’t been decided yet, as those decisions are made from game to game each week. Anything can happen between now and then, but the starter will probably be Ben.”
She nods, reaching for the final item in the bag and unfolding the green jersey with my last name and number on the back. “Another jersey?”
“This one is a special retro version. We’ll be wearing them to honor the history of Texas hockey.”
“Well, I’m excited to wear mine and attend another game. It sounds like fun. Maybe I’ll make some new friends at the after party.”
“You will. You already know some of the guys. I’ll introduce you to everyone else. Deedee will be there too. You met her with Rose, right?”
“Yeah. We follow each other online too. She’s sweet. And thank you for my gifts.” Bella kisses my lips, refolds the jersey, and slips it back into the bag. She reaches for the calendar and her glass of wine. “Is it okay if I lie down?”
“Sure. You want the pillows?”
“That would be great. I had to move them when Scout and Shadow decided to curl up and watch the game with me. Otherwise there was no room.”
“Well, not next to you.” I laugh, because the couch is a giant L-shape with Bella taking up only a small portion.
“Right.” She chuckles. “They always want to be in contact in some way. It doesn’t matter where I’m sitting. It’s cool they’ve accepted me so easily.”
I toss the pillows beside her and she shifts in her spot, leaning backward and getting comfortable.
“Doc, their acceptance of you makes me happy too. Are you good?” I motion for her to drape her legs across my lap.
“Amazing.” Her eyes twinkle as she sips from her glass. “Guess what?”
I stretch out my legs, letting them rest on the coffee table. “I have no idea. What?”
“I met your nanny.”
“You did? I hope you were wearing more than when I found you.” I wink.
“Edward. Of course I was.” She huffs. “I don’t know why I expected someone younger, but Vera is a lovely woman. It’s obvious she adores Scout and Shadow.”
“I’m lucky to have her help,” I agree, rubbing Bella’s bare legs lightly.
Her hips shift when my fingertips linger along the silky skin of her inner thigh.
God, I love being here with her like this.
I can’t keep my eyes from her as Bella opens the calendar and slowly flips through the months, scanning each intently.
“These photos are incredible.” She releases a soft sigh and her thighs widen, welcoming my delicate touches back and forth.
With every pass, my fingers drift higher, and my dress shirt she’s wearing parts a little more, granting me the visual reminder that she’s still without underwear.
“Edward.” Her breath catches when I can’t resist trailing a finger through her arousal before pushing inside her easily.
She’s ready, covering me with her wet warmth, and I’m eager to taste her coming on my tongue.
“Doc, I want you again.” I lean closer, leaving a kiss on her knee, then another lower along her inner thigh.
Clutching her wine glass and calendar, she surrenders them into my waiting hands, and I place them safely on the coffee table.
“Again? We just . . . aren’t you tired?” she asks.
With every rise and fall of her chest, her hardened nipples strain against my dress shirt. Licking my lips at the delicious sight, I settle between her open legs, wrapping my hands around her thighs and tilting her toward my waiting mouth. Her eyes never leave mine.
“Ohhh—” Bella grasps tightly onto the cushions and her hips jerk instinctively, seeking more at every teasing swirl of my tongue. “Fuuuck.”
“One more, then I’ll carry you to bed,” I promise between slow licks.
And maybe, I’ll let her sleep . . . for a little while.
A/N: A special shoutout this week to fanfictionalcolic for giving my French an extra look. She’s the best! Thank you, S! xx