A/N: Thank yous to Team Spiderward for all you do, and a special shoutout to fanfictionalcolic this week. Thanks S! xx
Song inspiration for this chapter: “Music,” Kelsea Ballerini
(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) /\ \
With Edward wrapped around me, I wake to the warmth of his gentle caresses roaming my naked body under the sheet covering us. When his hand pauses over my abdomen, he presses soft kisses everywhere his lips can reach—on my bare shoulder, against the back of my head, or in the crook of my neck. I giggle when he finds a ticklish spot, breaking the peaceful quiet of our first morning together in a week.
He loved the nipple stars I was wearing last night and proceeded to torture me using his tongue until he removed them with only his mouth. I don’t know how he did it when I thought I had them secured, but he was determined in all the right ways. The stars apply just the right amount of delicious pressure, which heightens the pleasure in all areas of my body, but right now, it’s all him, and I need more of everything.
When I deliberately wiggle my ass against him, his arm across my chest tightens before his roaming fingers drift lower, easing between my legs. The sound of my breathing increases with every teasing pass, gliding effortlessly through my arousal. His hand shifts, cupping my breast and giving it a delicate squeeze. When his thumb brushes across my sensitive nipple, he eases a finger inside me, then another, causing my breath to hitch.
“Doc,” he whispers next to my ear while his fingers continue their torturous movements. “You’re so fucking wet.”
“Mmm. It’s because of you.” Tilting my head, I seek his mouth, pushing my tongue past his lips. Our tongues linger and tease until I pull away, making a request. “Say something in French.”
Edward presses a kiss against my temple then smirks. “Je t’ai laissé dormir aussi longtemps que j’ai pu. I let you sleep for as long as I could.” When his fingers slip from between my legs, he holds them coated with my essence against my lips. “Suce les.”
Twisting in his arms, I deduce the last word, and my eyes lock with his as I suck them into my mouth. With every swirl of my tongue, his gaze undoubtedly mirrors mine, heavy with lust. Before I can finish licking his fingers clean, Edward abruptly pulls his fingers from my mouth.
“Putain. J’ai besoin de te goûter.” His voice is low and rough. “Fuck. I need to taste you.”
Edward brushes his hand through my hair, guides my mouth toward his, and devours me with an unsatiated fervor. When his passionate kisses slow, I crawl on top and straddle his waist while his hands move lower, skimming my curves.
“I want you,” I pant breathlessly.
With his hardened length nestled between my legs, I tilt my hips back and forth at an unhurried pace, but his mouth captures mine once again with another round of frenzied kisses. The room fills with a steamy duet of our soft moans, and every shift of my body against his pushes me rapidly toward my inevitable orgasm. On the next pass, I pause when he’s perched at my opening and reluctantly pull away from his demanding lips.
While holding his darkened gaze filled with desire, my voice is laced with an overwhelming desperation. “I need you inside me.”
I don’t—can’t wait any longer, sinking down onto him until our hips are flush. He tightens his hold on me, sliding one hand to the back of my neck, while the other moves lower, holding my hips in place.
“Don’t move,” Edward pleads between quickened breaths while his chest heaves. “I need a minute. You feel so fucking good.”
I nod, swiping the wayward strands away from my face before focusing on my favorite stubble along his jaw. Brushing my lips over the rough surface, I move lower and trail kisses from one side of his neck to the other before returning to his mouth.
“Okay?” I check, eager to move.
“No, and those kisses aren’t helping to calm anything down.” He chuckles softly, loosens the hold of his arm across my hips, and gives me the green light with a small nod. “You have me unbelievably worked up.”
“I would hope so.” I grin, pushing and pulling my body tentatively from his.
When I sit upright, Edward nudges the sheet barely covering us farther away. I brace my hands against the artful swirls of colorful ink covering his chest, while spelling his favorite flavor with my hips—coconut.
“Oh, Doc.” With his hands resting on my hips, his eyes close at the familiar motions, and he surrenders a low moan as addictive as his delicious kisses. “You’re doing that coconut shit, aren’t you?”
“I thought you liked it. I can always stop,” I offer with a slight giggle, knowing there’s no chance of that happening.
When his eyes open slightly, a smile tugs at the corners of his perfect lips. “I do, and don’t you dare,” he warns playfully.
“Say something else,” I encourage. When he’s focused speaking French, he has greater control of his body while his words work their magic on mine.
“J’aime me réveiller avec toi.” His hands slide around to my ass, giving each cheek a solid squeeze before he translates. “I love waking up with you.”
My eyes follow his movements as Edward tucks his arms behind his head, and my view of tattooed and chiseled perfection gets impossibly better. Licking my lips, I abandon our one-word spelling bee in favor of a determined steady pace.
“Tu es si sexy. Je ne peux pas croire que tu es à moi.”
The husky tone of his voice is irresistible, and I get lost in the way every sensual word wraps around me like a lover’s kiss.
My eyes close at the familiar feelings building deep inside me. Over and over my body meets his as the sound of my ragged breathing fills the room.
“You’re so sexy. I can’t believe you’re mine.”
I throw my head back as I’m overwhelmed with wave after wave of toe-curling euphoria. His hands glide over my flushed skin, while I ride out my orgasm. Once I crack open my eyes, I’m met with his gentle smile that sends a new round of warm tingles through my body. Sliding his hands around to my back, Edward pulls me against his chest, and I bury my face into his neck, holding onto his shoulders while he rolls me onto my back.
“I love watching you come.” His nose brushes against mine lightly, and he leaves another kiss on my lips before lowering his voice. “You’re so beautiful.”
Pushing onto his forearms at each side of my head, Edward holds his body off mine and watches the space where we’re connected. He pulls his hips away before slowly sinking back inside me. His focus returns to me as I struggle to keep my eyes open at the building of his determined thrusts. Wrapping my legs around the back of his muscular thighs, I pull him closer, wanting to feel his weight everywhere while my body surrenders to the heavenly feel of him driving into me.
“Harder,” I whisper, because my words work on him too. “Fuck me harder.”
Increasing his pace, Edward smirks, slides his hands under me, and cups my shoulders, holding me in place. “Watch me as I come inside you.”
“There’s no taking my eyes off you,” I promise. Blinking slowly, I watch him with an addictive mix of intense lust and undeniable love, while the hint of a lazy smile toys with my lips.
My body jostles with every intoxicating smash of his hips against mine. His handsome face morphs from my cocky hockey player to my passionate lover until he slams into me for a final time. While a low growl from deep in his chest surfaces, he pulses, spilling inside of me, and every part of my body clutches naturally onto him tighter. As my body arches into his, he rides out the last of his orgasm.
“Oh, Doc,” he gasps.
I swivel my hips with limited movements from underneath him. “Fuck. Yes.”
“So greedy.” Edward chuckles and kisses the tip of my nose. “I fucking love you.”
“You make me greedy. It’s been a long week, and you feel incredible.”
“I agree.” While taking a moment to catch his breath, he rests his forehead on mine, then kisses my lips. “Is it too soon for a test, because after last night and this morning, I’m feeling pretty confident . . .?”
I snort. “Your dick is still inside of me.”
His crooked grin is back in full-force. “Where else should it be?”
I raise a challenging eyebrow. “Feeling confident about your swimmers?”
He gives me a single resolute nod. “Absolutely. My team is solid.”
“Yes, it’s too soon.” I chuckle.
“We need to buy some tests. Maybe you should check daily,” Edward suggests.
“Is that how it’s going to be?”
He pecks my lips lightly. “I told you I’m excited.”
I shake my head. “We’re not testing daily.”
“You’re no fun,” Edward teases.
I wiggle my hips, reminding him of the fun we’re having currently. “I disagree. I think I’m a lot of fun.”
“Okay. I take that back.” He kisses me before sliding from my body and settling beside me. “You are my kind of fun.”
After wrapping his arms around me, I snuggle into his side, tuck my head into the crook of his neck, and bask in our shared bliss. It’s difficult to keep my eyes open, and I realize I could fall back asleep when a thought suddenly occurs to me.
“Do you have to leave soon?” I whisper.
“No. We’re off today.”
I tilt my face toward his. “You’re mine all-day?”
“I’m yours every day.” Edward winks. “We can do anything you want, but it wouldn’t hurt for me to at least stretch. Maybe we could do my yoga routine together. You may like it and it could become something we do together regularly. My routine is primarily for injury prevention, but doing it together could be fun.”
“You just want to get me all hot and bothered again.”
He smirks. “Think that will do it?”
“Are you touching me during it?”
“Well, I don’t see a problem in that case. It’s all about unlocking the hips.”
“We’ve been locking and unlocking hips for a while.” I wiggle my eyebrows. “And that has nothing to do with yoga.”
“And you feel better, don’t you?”
“Okay, I always do,” I concede. “Your hips are exceptionally talented.”
“That’s what I’m talking about.” He grins and pulls me closer to kiss my forehead. “We’re back on the ice tomorrow morning since it’s gameday.”
“You’re playing Buffalo, right?”
“Yeah. Ben is getting the start. We’re flying to Minnesota after Friday’s practice for the game on Saturday night. Then on Sunday, we’re off to Mexico. Time to pack your bag.”
I grin. “I can’t wait.”
“Are you hungry? If you’re ready to get up, I can make breakfast,” I offer. “But I’m currently having a coffee crisis. My machine stopped working Monday morning, and I don’t have a new one yet. Even though you don’t drink it, I’m going to need at least a cup. So, I need to do something about that.”
“Maybe it’s a sign?”
For a moment, I wonder if he’s thinking I should discontinue drinking coffee while we’re trying to conceive or even my precious wine.
Edward explains further. “That you don’t need to buy another one when you should be drinking coffee from my home where your new machine is waiting to fill your every coffee desire.”
Nope. He’s more concerned about where I’m drinking than what I’m drinking.
“You want to spend the day at your home?” I ask.
“If you do, we could. I’m just saying we both know where there is a working coffee maker.”
“And a full wine fridge?” I smile.
“Always, but you’re probably on a limited window for both, knowing my swimmers.” He grins.
There it is.
“My sister drank some sort of tea. I can text her and find out which one,” Edward suggests, reaching for his phone on the nightstand.
“No! We’re not telling anyone that we’re trying.”
“Why not? Are you going to try to convince me that your friend, Al, doesn’t already know?”
He smirks knowingly. “That’s what I thought.”
“Okay. Yes. Al and Garrett know, but only them, and I made them promise not to tell anyone, including your sister. I—” I blow out a heavy breath. “I don’t want to put any pressure on us and . . .”
When I hesitate, he prompts, “Doc, what is it?”
“I worry how Carlisle will react to that news.”
Edward’s light mood evaporates quickly. “Has he said something to you?”
“Not exactly. Lately, he hasn’t been . . . welcoming, but that isn’t anything I can’t handle.” I shrug. “I don’t want you to worry, because I know Carlisle is important to you, which makes him important to me. He’s the type of man who isn’t easy to win over, but I’m definitely up for the challenge.”
I suspect Edward’s previous relationships have made Carlisle cynical of anyone entering Edward’s life for the wrong reasons, which is hilarious he doesn’t see Jacob as one of those people. It will be an uphill battle, but I’m determined to convince Carlisle I’m here for the right ones. I know building a deeper bond with Edward also means I need to work on my relationship with his dad, regardless of how long that takes.
“I know you are, but he should be winning you over, not the other way around.” Edward nods. “Unfortunately, we’re not speaking at the moment. He hung up on me during our last conversation.”
“Why? When was that?”
“During our road trip.”
For a moment, I wonder if it was prior to his loss in San Jose. While Edward is great at mentally compartmentalizing things, I can see where a disagreement with his dad could carry over for a few days with hurt or unresolved comments. I’m also curious what that conversation was about. Maybe it was hockey-related? Or about me? Possibly both? Before I can ask, he continues.
“He likes to point fingers, but not when they point back at him.” Edward shakes his head, trying to minimize the situation. “It will blow over.”
“Will it? Or should you even wait for that to happen? Does anything ever get resolved that way or does the cycle just repeat?” I wonder.
“I don’t know how to make him see anything differently—even I have my limits, and I’m rapidly approaching them.”
“It sounds like this is his problem, not yours.”
“But it affects me. I hate when we’re not talking. So, I’m always—always the one to concede, smoothing things over. He never meets me halfway. It wouldn’t hurt him to admit he’s possibly wrong.”
“I think . . .”
“I think he’s worried about losing his connection with you, as you approach life outside of being a player, and we both know that’s the last thing he wants to happen. He loves you. You’re his son. Hockey is your common bond—where you have always bonded, but not your only one. Maybe he just needs to be reminded of that. Edward, you’re so much more than a hockey player. I’m positive he’s proud of who you are, and the man you’ve become, even if maybe he doesn’t say it as often as he should.”
“Thanks for saying that. It means more than you know.” He hugs me tighter, then leaves another kiss on the top of my head. “Any news on the job front?”
“Not yet. I’m waiting to hear back from one of my options—hopefully, soon.”
I shrug. “Nothing from him either.”
/ /\ (oo) /\ \
Thursday night, I finish putting fresh sheets on my bed, then return downstairs, folding the rest of my laundry while sitting next to Shadow on the couch. She’s watching Scout who is on the floor destroying one of his toys. I’ll need to clean up the pile of fluff he’s creating, but I don’t mind because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their constant companionship while they’ve been staying with me.
The time I’ve spent catching up with Edward since his arrival has been wonderful. I think we’re both eager for next week, and I have seven bikinis selected for our trip. I’m hoping to blow Edward’s mind as they get smaller with each day. I wonder if he’ll notice.
The television is on with Edward’s game, but his team is losing to Buffalo with two minutes left. Since it’s late, I’m surprised when my phone vibrates where it’s sitting on the coffee table with a call I’ve been anticipating since Tuesday.
I recognize her voice, smiling instantly. “Victoria, it’s great to hear from you.”
“My apologies for calling so late.”
“It’s not a problem. I’m doing a little laundry, so I’m ready for vacation next week. We’re leaving on Sunday, but I’m ready now.” I chuckle.
“I’m jealous. A vacation sounds wonderful. You’re going to Mexico, right?” Victoria asks.
“That’s right. How are you?”
“I’ve been good. Better after our talk on Tuesday. I wanted to let you know . . .”
“Yes?” I prompt when she hesitates slightly.
“I made a decision, and I didn’t think I could wait until tomorrow to call you.” There’s a pause as I anticipate her answer. “I think we should do it.”
“Yes. I read through your proposals for the final time tonight, and I believe we should meet tomorrow, making them official. I don’t want to wait another day longer than necessary.”
“Oh, Victoria. I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that. I’ll call my lawyer—he’s probably still awake, and find out if we can meet at his office to sign the paperwork. Do you want your lawyer present?” I ask.
“No. It isn’t necessary. I sent her copies of the documents you emailed, and she looked everything over. After some discussion, I don’t want to make any changes. I’m ready to sign as they are now.”
She’s giving me seventy percent of the practice. It was the number where Jason advised we start negotiations based on the number of patients we’ve been seeing separately. But she doesn’t want to negotiate that. I’m stunned, but I’m not going to persuade her otherwise.
“Bella? Are you still there?”
I can feel the smile on my face widen as a wave of giddiness overwhelms me and I struggle to keep my excitement under control. “Yes. Victoria, I promise, you’re not going to regret this. Thank you for trusting me.”
“I believe it’s the right step for both of us,” she shares. “You know I don’t have the money for the upgrades you want to make, but you’re right, those are in our best interest. If you’re willing to shoulder those expenses, then I can’t think of one thing holding us back from proceeding.”
I release a steady, cleansing breath, hoping to maintain my focus while my mind races through everything we need to accomplish. “Okay. This is exciting. Have you thought about any names for our rebranding? I know Jason will want our final choice for our paperwork.”
“My lawyer. I’ll introduce you when we meet.”
“Okay. As for a new name I was thinking of something Texas-related, such as Lone Star Dental or some variation?”
“Oh, I love it! I’m sure Jason will have tweaks or suggestions, if we need them. Also, how about I arrange for my staff to meet yours tomorrow afternoon at your office?”
“Don’t you mean our office?” she corrects, but I can hear the teasing smile coming through her voice.
I chuckle. “Yes, our office.”
“That will be great. Since we’re normally closed on Fridays, we can share the good news with everyone together.”
“Afterward, we can all go out to dinner together or have drinks somewhere to celebrate—my treat,” I suggest, hoping our first experience uniting everyone will be a positive one. “What do you think?”
“That sounds like a wonderful plan. I’m excited, Bella.”
“Me, too. I’ll text you with my lawyer’s address and a time to meet once I speak with him,” I promise.
“Sounds great. See you tomorrow.”
“I’ll see you then, Victoria.”
After ending our call, I tap on Jason’s number in my contacts and eagerly wait for him to answer.
“Bella?” The gravelly tone of his voice prompts instant concern.
“Jason. Oh, no, I didn’t wake you, did I?”
He clears his throat. “Sorry. No. Not at all. I was preparing for my meetings tomorrow and talking with you will be a welcome break. To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?”
I’m practically vibrating in place. “I have good news, and I couldn’t wait to tell you. You’re not going to believe it, but I did it. I did it, Jason. Victoria just called me. She wants to sign the papers tomorrow morning and not change a single thing. We’re going to be partners.”
“See, I never had a single doubt and knew she would be unable to resist your charms. Have you ever considered a career in law?” he teases.
“Of course not.” I chuckle at the thought. “I just—I can’t believe it. She doesn’t even want to negotiate the percentages. Seventy percent! I’m getting seventy percent. I can’t believe I’m the majority partner, and I have you to thank. So, thank you.”
“You better start getting used to it, because now, the real work begins,” Jason warns.
I can hear him shuffling papers in the background. “I’ll leave Deidre a message, and she can let you know our availability tomorrow. I’m sure she will be able to rearrange my meetings to make some space in the morning. Do you have a name yet?”
“I do. It was Victoria’s suggestion. We’re going with Lone Star Dental or some variation, if you find there are any issues with using that name.”
“Great. I like it, and I’ll look into your options, making sure we’re in the clear.”
My own to-do lists are forming and filling mentally at a rapid pace, and I know I should be jotting down my ideas before I forget anything. Even though Edward and I are leaving on vacation next week, I’m positive I can delegate tasks to make progress while I’m gone.
“In the morning, I’ll contact Alice too and see if Whitlock Construction can handle our upgrades. I’ll probably need to talk with her husband, but I know they have a division for renovations, even though their primary business is new construction. Maybe she can get us pushed to the front of the line. We may need to close for a couple of weeks for upgrades to be completed, but we also could take over the other building units, starting with those first.”
“Good. That’s smart thinking . . . as always.” He pauses for a moment, but his voice is softer when he speaks again. “Congratulations, Bella. I’m so proud of you.”
“Thank you, Jason.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow, and you’ll hear from Deidre first thing in the morning.”
“Okay, great. Good night.”
After I end our call, there’s no quelling my excitement. I know I’ll never be able to keep this news to myself when Edward returns after his game tonight or get any sleep, knowing that tomorrow I’m on the cusp of a new adventure. But it’s not just me, and I tap on another of my recent contacts waiting for our call to connect.
“Hey, still awake?”
“Yes, I’m helping Austin with homework. What’s up?”
“I have some great news—probably the best news. What are you doing tomorrow afternoon?”
“Uh . . . I don’t know.” Rose chuckles. “What am I doing tomorrow afternoon? It sounds like I could have plans.”
“I hope you’ll be joining me at our new dental office where you’ll be meeting my new partner and her staff.”
She squeals. “No shit! Bella!”
“I did it, Rose. And I’ll be the majority partner. Can you believe it? We’re going to sign the paperwork tomorrow, everyone will meet in the afternoon, then we’ll all go out for drinks and dinner.”
“Is it Victoria Sutherland?”
“I knew it. I had a hunch. Oh my goodness. This is going to be fantastic.”
“A word of caution, her office needs some upgrades, and we may have some growing pains for a while, but I’m hoping to lean on you for your input in making a smooth transition. We also will need to launch a complete rebranding of our new practice.”
Her voice catches.
“I can do it,” she states confidently. “Bella—I got my bachelor’s degree in marketing. I never used it since I was staying at home and taking care of the kids when they were younger. Once I started working for Sam, he always discounted my suggestions. So, I stayed in my lane, answering phones and scheduling appointments.”
Of course he did. No one knows better than he does, which will be his demise, but I can’t keep the smile on my face from widening at another piece of our puzzle sliding into place.
“Rose, you have no idea how valuable you’re going to be for our team, and I promise you, every suggestion will be considered. You’re going to need a new title. Maybe we can consult with Al too. He has such a creative and sophisticated eye for design that perhaps he will have some ideas for things, like colors, materials, and artwork. While I could get a business loan for the improvements on Victoria’s office, I’m planning to use my savings. It will set me back temporarily, but I think it’s the right move since we’ll be able to make changes sooner rather than later.”
“Oh, Bella . . . How am I going to sleep tonight?”
“You? Try me.” I chuckle. “Your brother will be home soon, and I can’t wait to tell him.”
“You said home. Anything else to share?”
My heart skips a beat at my slip of the word home and him coming home to me. Edward and I haven’t discussed our current living arrangements, but I know that conversation is inevitable. We can’t keep bouncing between our two homes. He believes the perfect solution is for me to move into his home, but I’ve been reluctant. To me, it feels like more than we ever would need, including the price tag to maintain it when his income is no longer at the level of a professional hockey player.
While my income should increase dramatically with the new practice, it will still take some time to get there—years. Even though Edward hasn’t complained, he barely fits in my bed, and I can see us outgrowing my home sooner rather than later, if we were to live here. I hope we can find a solution somewhere in the middle, which could be selling both of our homes and selecting something together. But I just can’t think about that now with everything else happening.
“Um . . . no. I just mean my place. Don’t read anything into it.” But I know she will and I hope to distract her from going down this path by adding, “He’s leaving for Minnesota tomorrow.”
“Right. Minnesota,” she says, but I can hear the skepticism in her voice. “Even though they lost tonight, it sounds like you two will be celebrating.”
“Uh . . .”
“And there’s my answer.” Rose giggles before letting me off the hook. “So, we’re sharing the news?”
“Let’s keep it to a minimum until after tomorrow afternoon, then we’re putting everything on blast, and there’s no turning back.”
“I can’t wait to stick it to Sam,” she vows.
I grin. “You’re not the only one.”