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: “Road to Happiness,” Cam
“It’s the wild unknown
It’s a ball-and-chain
It’s a no-end destination
We keep drivin’ anyway
Is the future that we’re chasin’
Worth the right-nows that we miss
On this road to happiness?”
(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 think . . . I think I may be tipsy, but I’m not too tipsy that I can’t understand the magnitude of Edward Cullen, Inc. He’s big business, and I didn’t get it until this first visit to his house. He isn’t just a professional athlete who’s simply doing okay for himself. He’s working every angle and generating a small economy with him at the center of it all.
While Edward disappears to change his clothes, I agree to take our plates and glasses outside to the table by the pool. Since he hasn’t returned once my tasks are complete, I’m doing a little snooping around his kitchen. I suspect he’s had help with our dinner this evening. After looking through his refrigerator and freezer, I add a private chef to my growing list of people Edward possibly employs.
The freezer is packed with stacks of labeled meals and handwritten directions for heating. The refrigerator is organized with rows and rows of beverages. There are specialty waters and fresh-pressed juices. I’m mesmerized by the two shelves devoted to protein drinks. Containers of ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables sit in the bins next to protein-centered snacks—all labeled and dated.
Someone is keeping it stocked, because Edward doesn’t have time to do this sort of dedication himself. So, maybe he has an assistant or someone he hasn’t mentioned. At the very least, a grocery delivery service, but some of the items could be linked to sponsorship deals with him or his team, since I notice a few brand names keep popping up consistently. Or maybe those are personal preferences.
I glance around at the picture-perfect adjoining rooms, and I can’t imagine the number of people it takes to maintain something this grand. My townhouse is a fraction of his house with virtually zero maintenance. After my tour of only the main level, I assume Edward has a team of gardeners, a pool company, and at least one, maybe two housekeepers, because everything is immaculate inside and out.
My kudos to the realtor who sold him this house—no, it’s not a house, it’s a fucking mansion. In. A. Gated. Community. There’s no denying his need for security. I’m sure he gets the occasional curious or maybe even obsessed fan who struggles with respecting his personal limits. This house, though, it’s gorgeous and could be something out of a magazine. With seven bedrooms and seven plus baths, there’s enough space for his own hockey team. I haven’t been upstairs to see the rest, but the house is mind-blowing.
After decades of playing hockey—probably almost half of those professionally—it’s easy to see how Edward’s created a financially successful life for himself. You don’t do that without help or support. Most importantly, he’s being paid to do something he loves, even if he is moving toward the end of his playing career.
I have zero doubts that “Jake,” who he’s mentioned briefly as his agent, makes a small fortune off every contract Edward signs or moves he makes. So, while it may be in Jake’s best interest to keep putting Edward out there in front of the next sponsor or highest bidding team, that may not be what’s in Edward’s best interest. I’m a little concerned with who is in Edward’s corner at this time, if he’s surrounded with people who are only in it for the money.
While I love this closer look into his life, it feels like something is missing here. His house is impressive, yet impersonal. The previous owners probably selected most of the furnishings and artwork. I’m surprised there are no family pictures anywhere, since Rose’s home is filled with them. I hope I wasn’t too obvious when I jumped at the opportunity to help him unpack his boxes full of hockey memories, but it’s a start. If there’s any chance of Edward staying in Dallas, which is what he says he wants, I think he needs to put down some roots, starting with making his house into a home.
“Do we need another bottle?”
I jump as his voice near my ear startles me from my thoughts.
“Not yet, but I was curious about your collection.” I point toward the window of his wine fridge as a distraction.
“Is it impressive?” he asks, brushing my hair to the side and placing a kiss behind my ear.
Edward wraps his arms around my waist from behind. I tilt my head and lean back against his chest, giving him greater access.
“I’m-I’m not a . . . ” It’s difficult to concentrate with the way he’s trailing kisses along my neck. My eyes close as he turns my brain to mush, and my body warms against his. “Um, con-connoisseur, but so . . . so far, what I’ve had is delicious.”
He releases me from his hold, and I turn to face him, looping my arms around his waist. Edward cups my face and presses a kiss against my forehead then one onto my lips.
“I’ll take that. Let’s eat. I’m starving.” He grins and laces our fingers together, leading me outside.
Dinner is nothing short of romantic. The enticing dance of sparkling light blue water from the pool mixes with the low lights and shadows of the entire area. I’m excited knowing we’ll be in the hot tub soon as my gaze spots its sexy tendrils wafting toward the sky.
On this star-filled night, Edward’s pool area is as seductive as the man himself. He’s changed into a T-shirt and swim shorts. I was already having trouble earlier when he rolled up his shirt sleeves, exposing his tattoos, but it seems he’s fully aware of his effect on me, and holding nothing back at this point.
Using his phone, Edward turns on some soft music over the outdoor speakers. I smile when I recognize the song playing. He confirms it’s from the bluesy rock group we listened to at The Majestic on our first date. Edward leans closer and takes a few selfies of us before setting his phone back on the table and giving me his undivided attention. With his hand resting on my bare leg, his fingertips rub back and forth along my inner knee and thigh during our meal, driving me crazy.
Between bites, he shares his schedule for next week while I’m away visiting my father, including what Thanksgiving at Rose’s house will look like between his practices and games. I’ll never remember his schedule when I can only focus on the warm, gentle cadence of his voice as he speaks about the teams he’ll be playing here or the cities he’s traveling to each night.
My wine disappears at the same rate as the food on his plate—quickly. He peppers me with kisses throughout our conversation. I can’t resist his lips, lingering a little longer with each one until I drop my fork, abandoning what’s left of my food in favor of his talented mouth.
“Mmmm.” Edward hums between gentle pecks and pulls away licking his lips. “Finished?”
I smile, ready to keep his mouth attached to mine, but wouldn’t object to having other parts of him pressed against me. “It feels like we’re just getting started.”
His grin widens with my answer. “I’ll put our dishes inside, and we can move this party over to the hot tub.”
When he returns, Edward offers me his hand. “Would you like to dance?”
As if I could resist him. “Yes.”
He helps me from my seat and wraps me in his arms, swaying us to the music. I’m not the best dancer sober, but I lock my fingers behind his neck and let him lead. He sings along softly, moving us around the patio area until we slow near the hot tub. Edward delights when his lips find the ticklish spots along my neck.
Between his kisses and my giggles, he twirls me away from him, but unfortunately, the second time, I spin too far, losing my footing near the edge of the pool. With a surprised yelp, I fall over the edge, flailing with an awkward splash. When I surface, Edward is the picture of concern where he’s perched on the edge ready to jump in and save me.
“Bella, are you okay?” he asks, reaching out to take my hand and guiding me toward the edge.
“I’m fine.” I chuckle and catch my breath, holding onto the wall. After pushing my hair from my face, I wipe the water from my eyes.
“I’m so sorry. You slipped from my fingers, before I could grab you. You can climb out over here.” He waves me toward the pool steps.
I bob along the side and happily accept the open towel he wraps around me as I exit the pool. “It’s okay. I lost my balance. I’ll be fine. Promise.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive.” I shiver, pulling the towel a little tighter. “We were planning on getting wet anyway, right?”
“Right.” He smirks. “Let’s get in the hot tub and I’ll warm you up.”
The butterflies I always feel around him are back in full force when my favorite crooked grin never wavers. I squeak out a soft, “Okay,” as my heart races over guessing his methods for warming me. I’m ready and willing for any and all of those.
I towel dry my hair then drape the towel across the end of a nearby lounger. After grabbing the hem of Edward’s wet T-shirt clinging to me, I peel it from my body and drop it with a plop on the ground. Double-checking that my bikini is covering everything it should, I wonder why Edward hasn’t removed his own T-shirt. But after glancing in his direction, I realize his delay when I notice his eyes trailing over every inch of my body.
“What do you think?” My voice jars him from his perusal. “Are you happy with your selection?”
Edward blows out a breath and whispers, “Fuck me,” but I don’t think his intention is for me to hear it.
“Extremely.” He clears his throat. “You look perfect.”
His words bolster my confidence; I’m not the stick-thin or surgically enhanced type of woman, but one with all-natural curves. It’s reassuring to know he’s happy with what he sees. I wave toward his still clothed chest, eager to see him shirtless.
“Are you ready?”
He grins and pulls his shirt from his body in one smooth motion, tossing it next to my towel. “More than you know.”
My mouth waters at the sight before me. He’s a marble sculpture come to life with perfectly chiseled muscles from his inked arms to his chest with only a light dusting of hair. My eyes trail lower to his abs, appreciating every hour he’s spent working out. I lick my lips at the reveal of more of his ink, and wonder how he would feel about my tongue tracing a tempting path over them. And lower.
“Come on.” Edward chuckles as if he can read my mind. He holds my hand, helping me into the hot tub until I’m safely sitting on the bench seat. “Hang on. I need to grab my phone.”
When Edward returns, he joins me in the warm bubbling water, pulling me close and draping my legs across his lap. He takes pictures of us, then sets his phone on the ledge behind the tub, wrapping his arms around my waist. I loop one arm around his neck and settle on his lap.
“Will you tell me about your tattoos?”
“Sure. Any particular ones?”
I shrug. “Whatever you’re comfortable sharing. No pressure. I would guess some are probably personal.”
He nods, holding out one of his arms. “I have tattoos representing all the teams I’ve played for throughout my career.”
My fingers glide along the swirls of ink, pausing on one and bringing a smile to his face. In the dim light surrounding us, it looks like a logo with an “N” and an angry mountain lion. Before I can ask, Edward explains.
“It’s a wildcat. After I was drafted, I played for Northern Michigan University in Marquette for a year. It’s the only time I spent in college. I was excited to play there as it was a bit of a homecoming for me.”
“Marquette is where Rose and I were born and raised.” He smiles slightly. “We’re native Yoopers.”
“It’s the name for residents from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Marquette is part of my hockey roots and where I began playing. We moved not long after we turned ten. I think the years we lived there are the longest ones that I’ve ever lived anywhere.”
And Rose stopped playing hockey, which means Edward started playing for a travel team then. I remember the story.
“What was your major in college?” I wonder.
He grins, as if I should already know the answer. “Hockey.”
“Edward. You can’t be serious. Hockey isn’t a real major.”
“What? It’s true. I never declared one. I took the minimum and easiest general education classes to qualify as a full-time student. I had a tutor to make sure I passed everything. It didn’t matter, though, because I didn’t go back.”
I consider his brief college career while my fingers follow along his arm to a tattoo on his chest where I can see writing, but I can’t make out the words. “What about this one?”
“Do you speak French?”
“Enough.” A slight smile tugs at the corner of his lips, before he leaves a kiss on my cheek. “I lived and played in Montréal for three years.”
“What does it say?”
“Petit à petit, l’araignée file sa toile.”
“Dear Lord. I have no idea what you said but that’s sexy.”
A French speaking Edward may be the end of me. He only grins in response as my fingertip traces each of the words. I wonder if he’s ever given any interviews in French and make a mental note to do an internet search for those when I get the next opportunity.
“What does it mean?”
“Little by little the spider spins its web. It means only through patience and perseverance will one triumph and achieve.”
I nod, realizing that describes him and his career perfectly. “Say something else.”
“Seriez-vous intéressé à dormir ici ce soir?” His voice softens. “Avec moi? Dans mon lit.”
“What did you say?”
“Would you be interested in sleeping here tonight?” He rubs his nose against mine, then places a kiss on the tip. “With me? In my bed.”
“You want me to stay?”
“You think there will be any sleeping?” I tease.
His eyes find mine, but they fill with uncertainty when he hesitates answering my question, causing my smile to fade slightly.
“That’s up to you,” he says sincerely. “We’re moving at your pace.”
My heart stutters with a brief worry that maybe it’s too slow for him, and he’s having second thoughts about us.
“But what about your pace? I don’t want this relationship to be only about me. I believe it’s just as important that your needs are met too.”
“Let’s not overthink it.” He avoids confirming my suspicions that my pace isn’t the same as his. “Have you heard one complaint from me?”
I try to recall any issues or frustrations he’s voiced over the past month and come up empty-handed. “No.”
Guilt fills me instantly that it was me complaining earlier about him posting my picture on his Instagram account. I know it’s the universe reminding me that I need to accept what I can’t control. I should keep my concerns to myself and go with the flow. I doubt any of his previous relationships worried over him sharing any photos. They probably couldn’t wait to share pictures of him on their own accounts. As if he can read my mind to where my thoughts are spiraling, Edward tilts my chin toward him, waiting for my eyes to meet his.
“Bella, it’s okay if you need more time,” he reassures. “I need to learn your limits, and I understand you may be uncomfortable when I push those.”
I nod, considering his words and recalling Rose’s advice about taking my time with Edward. She knows me. While hers was probably sound advice, what if I’m at a point where that’s not what I want? Every part of me is screaming to take Edward up on his offer to spend the night. I’m his girlfriend—my breath catches when that realization dawns on me, making my heart race.
We’re not just dating.
I’m his girlfriend.
He’s given me a nickname.
That’s truly what his social media post means.
Al confirmed it earlier today.
Edward is off the market.
There’s no denying the level of attraction I feel with Edward compared to my previous relationships, like the one I shared with Jason. We are business colleagues at best now, who never got past passionate goodnight kisses—for a reason. With Edward, dear God. I can’t stop kissing him, nor would I want to. And I know I want more. So much more.
I clear my throat, getting his attention, and attempt to control the building excitement bubbling inside of me. “I think I would like to spend the night.”
“Yes, under one condition.”
“You don’t stop speaking to me in French.”
His smile widens. “Je suis fou de toi.”
“I’ll need translations too.”
His eyes travel over my face as he tucks a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “I said that I’m crazy about you.”
My breath catches at his words, because the feeling is mutual. “Edward.”
“Embrasse-moi,” he whispers huskily.
“Um . . . “
“Kiss me,” he urges.
And I do, holding nothing back. I adjust my position, straddling his lap and pressing myself tightly against him. Under the water’s surface, Edward’s hands roam my body, while mine remain exposed to the cool night air. I run my fingers through his wet hair, prompting the low rumble from deep in his chest with every stroke. Edward focuses on devouring my mouth, kissing me until I’m breathless.
I wonder if he can hear the sound of my racing heart when I pull my mouth from his for a moment. My ragged breathing mixes with a chorus of moans from both of us as he moves lower along my jaw until he’s nibbling on the lobe of my ear, forcing a giggle from my lips. The happiness written on his face when he pulls away is exhilarating. Or maybe it’s the feeling when he briefly pecks my lips before his mouth returns to my chest, leaving a trail of kisses.
“Edward.” My voice is barely above a whisper.
He holds me higher out of the water as he moves lower. I watch his tongue reach out, licking a path along the swell of my breast until his mouth encloses over the fabric of my bikini top.
“Oh, God.” My eyes close at the feel of his warm mouth surrounding me—his tongue toys with my hardened nipple, reminding me that I want more of that feeling everywhere.
“Edward,” I say a little louder, getting his attention before he shifts sides.
He glances up at me through his half-lidded eyes, and I tilt his head backward, kissing his lips.
“I’m ready for bed if you are.”
The hint of a smile tugs at his perfect lips when he realizes what I’ve said. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” I confirm, unable to tame the giddy excitement building inside of me.
“Okay. Let me help you climb out.”
Edward offers his hand for support as I not so gracefully exit the hot tub. While I dry off, Edward shuts down everything in the pool area. With our towels wrapped around us and his phone in hand, we hurry inside and toward his bedroom, turning off lights as we go. He pauses at a keypad near the front door, pressing a few buttons to set his security system. We continue down the hallway where his bedroom door is wide open with a single lamp illuminated near the bed.
He follows me inside, walking toward the nightstand and plugs his phone into a charger, then turns back to me, closing the distance between us.
“Do you want to shower?” he asks, pushing my wet hair from my face.
“Not right now.”
He rests his forehead against mine, releasing two deep breaths before asking, “What do you want?”
Without hesitation, I say resolutely the only answer possible. “You.”
“Oh, Bella.” Edward cups my jaw before placing a delicate kiss on my lips. “You’ve got me.”
I internally squee at his declaration. “You promised me French, remember? And I’m not talking only about the kisses.”
Because good heavens, I’m addicted to the way his tongue savors every kiss.
He grins, tugging open my towel where it’s tucked at my chest, letting it fall to my feet. His excited eyes roam my barely covered body then find mine.
“J’ai tellement envie de toi.” Edward bends, wrapping his arms around me tightly while mine loop naturally around his shoulders. He lifts me from the floor with my feet dangling and guides them around his hips. “I want you so much.”
With my body clinging to his, Edward leaves kisses everywhere he can reach while he pulls back the bedding, setting me gently in the middle of his bed. He moves to turn off the light on the nightstand, but I tighten my grip, stopping his departure.
“Are you sure?”
“I want to see you. Maybe that way my brain will accept that this isn’t a dream.” I grin.
“Tu es meilleur que n’importe quel rêve,” he says, hovering above me. “You’re better than any dream.”
In English or French, the result is the same.
I’m going to combust right here, and there will be nothing left of me.
What a way to go.
I tug him closer until he’s pressing against every part of me, but I can tell that he’s holding his weight off me. “I want to feel you everywhere.”
“I’m heavy. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“You won’t,” I reassure. “Don’t hold back.”
And he doesn’t.
Edward sinks against me, covering every inch. His body warms mine in all the right places while the feel of his exploring lips and rolling hips are heavenly. My eyes close while my hands glide across the soft skin of his shoulders and along his back. We’re a mix of tangled limbs and approving moans as Edward removes my bikini top. After dropping it onto the floor, his mouth toys with me in ways that causes my hips to tilt in appreciation, desperately seeking more. He moves lower, leaving a path of teasing nibbles and lingering kisses, which lead to my bottoms being the next to go.
Through lust-filled eyes, I watch him pull the towel from his hips then settle at the end of the bed with his head between my legs. I think I’m ready for that first delicate touch of his tongue, but I’m not. Not even close. My hips jerk from the bed with every wiggle of his talented tongue, licking and taunting me relentlessly. In mere moments, it’s obvious he knows exactly what he’s doing, as my back arches and hands clutch the bedding for dear life. I’m chanting his name over and over, as if he’s the answer to every prayer I’ve ever had, until there’s no turning back. When the rush of my orgasm hits unexpectedly, I feel the warmth spread from head to toe, sending me beyond the edge of reason.
I’m dazed as I register the loud pounding of my heartbeat in my ears, while I attempt to catch my breath. I’m vaguely aware when Edward stands, removing his swim trunks. I force open my eyes, because that’s a sight I vowed not to miss. He climbs back on the bed, moves into the cradle of my legs, and hovers above me. I can’t resist, reaching lower into the narrow space between us and wrapping my hand around him. I watch as Edward’s eyes close, and he groans when my fingers glide back and forth slowly along his hardened length.
I use my legs to urge him closer and rub the head of his cock through my arousal easily until he’s perched at my opening. His hips flex involuntarily, pushing the tip inside of me. I want him to keep going, but unfortunately, he pulls away.
“Fuck. I-I need a condom.” Edward shifts his weight to one side and reaches for the drawer of the nightstand.
“I’m on the pill,” I blurt out, stopping his pursuit instantly.
It’s probably not the first time he’s heard those words in this moment, and I hope he believes them, because I need him to know that he can trust me.
“And I’m clean,” I add while his eyes search mine.
“I am too.” Edward releases a deep sigh, obviously torn with whether or not to proceed without one. He returns to his previous position, holding his upper body inches away from mine. His lips find mine, kissing them softly, and whispers, “Are you sure?”
I’ve never been more sure in my life that I want him like this right here, right now. “Yeah. I’m sure. You can trust me, Edward.”
A slight smile tugs at his lips when he finally nods, starting the slow, hypnotic push and pull of his hips against me. His cock moves with ease between my legs until he’s right there again. This time there’s no hesitation when he pushes inside of me until our hips are flush. He pauses, pinning me in place, as I wrap the rest of my body tightly around him.
“Are you okay?” he whispers.
At my nod, Edward hitches my leg higher and starts at a steady pace.
“Je te sens trop bien. C’est incroyable. Ce sera trop rapide. Mes excuses.” He grins, leaving a tender kiss on my lips. “You feel amazing.”
“And?” I prompt, because it seems like his translation is lacking this time.
“You’re too smart.” His pace falters, and his smile fades with every swivel of his hips as a needy desire takes over. “This will be too quick. My apologies.”
My fingers glide easily through his tousled hair, then trail along his stubbled jaw before I kiss his lips. “Trust me. There’s nothing to apologize for here.”
Edward’s body tenses, and I hang on, securing my grip. My whole body moves in time with his determined movements. Without delay, he’s teetering on edge, then barreling through his own orgasm with a raspy growl. He pushes his hips against mine one final time before collapsing against me. His hot breath at my neck brings a smile to my face, but I can’t contain the giggles that are soon spilling from my lips.
“What is it?”
“Sorry. Give me a minute, then I’ll clean you up and we can sleep.”
True to his word, Edward leaves his bed only to return from the bathroom with a warm, wet washcloth. His gentle care feels amazing, but once he’s finished, I get up to use the bathroom while he tosses our wet towels and swimsuits in a laundry hamper. As I’m washing my hands, I’m wondering what I should sleep in when he peeks his head around the corner. With a wide grin on his face, he fills the doorway, wearing a pair of boxer briefs and eyeing my still naked body.
“If you don’t want to use your new toothbrush”—Edward wiggles his eyebrows, pointing toward the vanity—”I have extras in the drawer you’re welcome to use.”
“And if you want something to sleep in, you can use this.” He holds out a green T-shirt with his number and team logo.
I wipe my hands and take the shirt from him, easing it over my head.
“What do you think?” I check the mirror to find the hemline just past my ass cheeks, but the material is thin, putting the peaks of my nipples on full display.
I shake my head when he winks.
“I’ll wait for you in bed.”
Walking over to where I left my stack of clothes earlier, I pull my underwear from the pile, slipping them on. After a quick rush through my before-bedtime routine, I exit the bathroom and an excited flush ripples through me when I find Edward waiting—a sight I could get used to seeing.
“You look comfy.”
“Get in and I’ll turn off the light.”
Once I’ve made it to the other side of the bed, he only waits until my knee is on the mattress before the room is filled with darkness. Edward reaches out, guiding me into his arms, and I curl against his chest. He pulls one of my legs across his body and reaches for the bedding. Once he settles it around me, he kisses the top of my head then my lips. His hand returns to cover mine resting on his chest while he draws his fingertips gently along my back following my spine. My eyes are heavy with my blinks slowing at his touch.
“Thank you, Bella.”
“For what?” I wonder.
Edward takes longer than I expect to answer, leaving me to wonder if he’s one of those types who falls asleep quickly or can sleep anywhere. He has to be exhausted after playing for their entire game that went longer than normal, plus our date the previous night. Or maybe it’s because he’s used to going to bed earlier.
I look around for the illuminated numbers of a clock but don’t find any. He likes to keep it dark in here, the window coverings closed. I’m sure it’s past midnight, probably one or two in the morning. I lose all track of time when I’m around him. He hums contentedly when I snuggle closer, getting my attention.
“Tout,” he whispers sleepily with a sigh. “Je suis en train de tomber amoureux de toi.”
I wait for his translation, but it never comes, as his gentle snores lull me to sleep.
Tout = Everything
Je suis en train de tomber amoureux de toi. = I’m falling in love with you.
Anyone interested in the sexy whispers of a French speaking Hockeyward? I’m here for it. Lol A special shoutout to fanfictionalcolic for the extra help with my French. In other news, I want you to be aware that while I originally labeled the one shot as pure “Romance,” this story has developed to where I decided to label it as “Drama” also. 😉 Thanks for reading. xx