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Faking It with the Forward: Chapter 29


All my life I’ve been surrounded by men. After my mom left it was just me and my dad. Outside of that, it was just my teammates, first in high school, then later in college when I moved into the dorm.

Sitting at a table with the three Perkins’ women is culture shock.

First of all, the food is fantastic.

“Go ahead,” Twyler’s mom says, “finish it off.”

“Are you sure?” I’ve already had three helpings of the casserole Alyssa, Twyler’s mom, made for dinner.

“Yes,” Ruby says from her seat next to mine. “We’re awful at leftovers. They’ll sit in the back of the refrigerator until they spoil.”

“If that’s the case,” I reach for the spoon, “I’ll take it off your hands.” I wink at Alyssa. “I’d hate for any of this delicious meal to go to waste.”

“Oh my god,” Twyler mutters. “You can’t turn it off, can you?”

“Thank you, Reese. I’ll send the recipe back with you two,” Twyler’s mom says, rising from the table. “It’s easy.”

I grin and shovel the food in my mouth. Jesus, it’s good, and I didn’t realize until now how much I want to spend time with Twyler doing mundane tasks like cooking.

When the pan is scraped clean, Twy and I offer to do the dishes. Ruby and Alyssa vanish, making little effort to pretend they’re not giving us space to be alone.

“I like them,” I say, taking a plate from her and loading it into the dishwasher. “I wish I’d had a chance to meet your dad.”

“He wouldn’t have known what to do with you. He wasn’t into sports at all. He loved music and art.” She smiles at me. “But he would have liked you.”

“You think so?”

She shrugs. “He just wanted us to be happy—and you make me happy.”

I snake my arm around her waist, pulling her close. These past few days of being apart sucked. “You sure about that?”


Coming here was a risk. To my position on the team and as captain. I told Bryant that I had some family business to take care of and I’d be back as soon as possible. He wasn’t happy about it, but it’s the first practice I’ve missed in three years, including the time I had the flu. But Twyler is more important than anything—that’s what was missing in my relationship with Shanna. We could have gone on and been a hot professional athlete couple that looked good in the tabloids and elevated my profile, but that’s not what I want. I want a partner. Someone I love to be by my side. A best friend.

With Twyler, I get all of that and more.

After feeding me, Alyssa graciously invites me to stay the night, putting me up on the sleeper sofa in her office. I hadn’t planned anything past showing up at Twyler’s house and begging her to take me back. I should be exhausted after the long drive from Wittmore, but as I stare up at the ceiling, I’m too amped up to even think about sleep, knowing my girl is two doors down.

Once the house settles, I get up and cautiously enter the hallway. The dim light casts a shadow and when a figure steps out of the dark, I nearly jump out of my skin.

“Need something, number fifteen?”

“Jesus Christ.” I swallow my heart and try to regain my composure. “Ruby. Fucking hell. You trying to kill me?”

Her eyes flick down to my team hoodie. “Just checking to see who was creeping around out here.”

“I was just…” my heartbeat pounds in my ears so hard that I can’t think of a good lie, so I let my sentence fade off. Her smug grin is enough to tell me she knows exactly what I needed. I narrow my eyes and ask, “Do you even live here?”

“Sometimes.” Her nonchalance is followed by a shrug. “My baby sister is really special, you know that, right?”

“I do.” Fuck yeah, I really do. Not only is she unique and special. She’s mine.

“And she’s been hurt a lot.”

“I know.” Twyler’s past is a part of her that I’ve come to understand, a history that makes me all the more determined to shield her from harm. “My intentions are solid.”

“If I find out that you do anything to cause her pain,” she steps closer. “I will hunt you down and destroy you.” Ruby’s warning hits like a punch. Her intensity is both intimidating and strangely comforting, a fierce protector of her sister.

“I don’t want to hurt her.” I say it clearly, wanting her to hear the conviction in my voice. “I love her.”

She smiles. “Good. She deserves love. So much of it.”

“I agree.” My eyes shift back to the room I came out of, a silent indication that I plan on returning. “I’ll just head back to bed.”

“Eh, go,” she says, body shifting from obstacle to understanding. “I may be a hard ass, but I’m not a cockblocker.”

I laugh nervously. “You Perkins girls are crazy, you know that?”

“It’s the only way we know how to survive.” She squeezes my bicep and shakes her head. “Damn, your body is ridiculous. You hiding an older brother somewhere? A cousin?”

I shake my head and with a muttered curse, she enters her room and closes the door behind her. Feeling awkward about getting caught out here, I consider going back to bed, but then say fuck it. It’s been too long since I’ve been in a bed with my girl.

Quietly, I turn the knob to Twyler’s room, and step inside. She’s curled on her side, her cat curled up next to her.

“Is that cat going to attack me?” I ask, placing my phone on the bedside table.

“With purrs and love,” she says, nudging Bertha away. I crawl in next to her and wrap my body around hers.

She sighs, wiggling her ass into my crotch. “That took you longer to get in here than I expected.”

“I got ambushed in the hallway.” I Iift her hair and kiss the back of her neck.

She turns, eyes wide. “My mom?”

“Your sister.” I take advantage of her facing me and lick her lips, pushing my tongue into her mouth. My dick tightens, pushing at the cotton of my shorts. I grind it against her thigh. “She’s fucking terrifying.”

“She’s definitely protective.” She kisses me back, hips turning to meet mine. The movement makes me harder, and damn, I’m so fucking gone for this girl. “Did you have to sweet talk your way in here?”

“I just agreed to her terms.” Pushing my hands under her shirt, I squeeze her tits. “God, I missed you so fucking much.” Her nipples tighten into sharp points. “I think your tits missed me as much as I missed them.” Impatiently, I yank the shirt over her head and suck a nipple into my mouth. Twyler moans, back arching, and I flatten a palm over her inner thigh, spreading her wide. I rub circles into her flesh, moving higher with each pass, until I brush across her clit.

“Wet for me already, Sunshine?” Tugging her panties aside, I feel the slick, wet heat of her pussy. “Fuck yes, you are.”

I push a finger inside.

“I want you in me,” she says, hips rising and falling. “Please, Reese.”

Her hands grapple with my shorts, and I grab the neck of my hoodie, pulling it over my head and tossing it on the floor. My cock springs between us, already leaking. I want in her so bad that I’m afraid I may come the second I’m in her—but who cares? I’ve got a lifetime to make love to this woman.

“Condom?” I ask between kisses. “Because I don’t have one.”

Her hands still on my chest and her nose wrinkles. “Sorry.”

“That’s okay.” I start to kiss down her belly. “More time for me to lick your pussy.”

She laughs when I nip her side, squirming from being ticklish. She grabs my face and forces me to look at her. “I’m on the pill.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Yeah?” Her hand drops and circles around my cock, giving it a long stroke. My jaw tenses, trying not to rock into her grip. “You’re sure?”

“I’m sure.” She guides me between her legs, nudging me at her entrance. I push inside at the same time I smother her mouth, capturing our groans with a kiss. The tight heat of her pussy grips me, and the sensation is amplified by being skin to skin. The friction increases when her legs wrap around my body and her hips tilt upward.

“Jesus, Sunshine.” I flex back into her, driving in deep. Palming her breast, I bring my mouth to her nipple and suck. Her nails dig into my back, the pain better than anything I’ve ever felt before. That is, until the orgasm runs through her, and her whole body clenches around me. It’s enough to tip me over, her pussy milking my cock until I come with a final hard thrust.

I hover over her, forearms flat by her head, and look at her. “You’re so fucking beautiful.”

She twists her head and playfully bites my bicep. “You’re pretty fucking hot too.”

I kiss her again, just because I can, and take my time rolling off. She makes a motion with her hands. “Give me back my hoodie, Cain.”

“You’re the one that left it back at Wittmore.” I pick the sweatshirt up off the floor. As much as I hate covering her body, I lower it over her head. When her head emerges from the neck hole, I kiss her mouth and say, “You look good in my name and number.”

I fall back and drag her into my side. Her hand splays on my stomach, fingers toying with the fine hair on my lower belly.

Looking up at me, she asks, “What were you going to do if I turned you away when you showed up at the front door?”

“I had a plan B.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Hand me my phone.” I nod to the bedside table.

“You brought a phone, but not a condom?”

“I was trying not to be presumptuous.”

She rolls her eyes and I kiss her again. I can’t get enough of her.

She presses a hand on my chest, stopping me before I get started again. “Plan B?”

“Oh right.” I slide my thumb over the screen and pull up the app. “Plan B was for me to give you these.”

She sits up with a screech, then slams her hand over her mouth. We both sit silently, waiting for her mom or sister to appear. When neither do, she whispers, “How? When?” she sputters. “How? Where did you get these?”

“Funny thing…” I scratch the back of my neck. “Logan helped me.”

“Oh my god. You didn’t beat him up and steal his tickets, did you?” She tilts the screen in my direction, showing me the tickets I’d bought two days ago.

“No, but he did help me find them.” I run a finger down her neck. “He’s a good guy.”

“How?” she asks gazing at the screen, then adds, “Doesn’t matter. Are you coming with me?”

“I sure as fuck hope so.”

Her grin is as bright as the stars, and I know one thing, there is nothing I want more than for her to look at me like this forever.

Twenty-four hours later I’m back in the Wittmore locker room amidst the pre-game fervor along with my teammates. Axel is in charge of the music, playing curated playlists just for games. Reid is rummaging through his belongings, convinced he’s forgotten something and then finding it two seconds later. Pete’s here–still unable to play, but planning to sit on the bench for support.

Jeff suits up at the locker next to mine, yanking his hockey pants over his pads. “How pissed was Coach at you when you got back?”

“Mad enough to sentence me to bag skates before practice every day next week.” I adjust my jersey. “But not enough to strip me of my captaincy or bench me today.”

“That sucks about the suicides, but I’m fucking glad you’ll be on the ice with us today.” He bumps his fist against my shoulder. “We need you out there.”

Just thinking about the hell Coach Bryant’s going to put me though makes my stomach churn, but I remind myself of the bigger picture. Getting Twyler back was worth whatever punishment is coming my way. Zero fucking regrets.

Down the row, curiosity gets the best of Reid, who can’t stay out of everyone’s business. Or at least my business, that’s for sure. “So, what’s the verdict? You two finally going public?”

“She asked her advisor to go with her to talk to Coach Green. She wants to make sure she talks to him before he finds out from someone else.”

“That’s fair,” he says, pulling up his socks. “Getting ahead of it makes sense.”

“But,” I add, feeling that warmth spread across my chest that’s specific to Twyler, “one way or the other, we’ve agreed that we’re not hiding our relationship anymore.”

We finish getting dressed and Axel cuts the music when Coach comes in with a few last-minute words of wisdom about kicking ass and not embarrassing him in front of a home crowd. I’m overly aware that Cameron’s here filling in for Twyler. Coach Green gives zero indication of what went down when he spoke with Twyler.

“Reese,” Coach Bryant says, nodding at me. Guess I’m up.

“Circle up, men.” I gesture for them to join me and the team huddles in a circle. As per tradition, our fists meet in the middle. “This is going to be our season,” I tell them. “I can feel it. We’re ready and I know that when we hit the ice, we’re going to go out there like we’re already champions.”

There’s a chorus of “Hell, yeah’s!” “Wittmore!” And one “Fuck’n crush ‘em!” from a pumped up Axel. Starting at three, I count us down, and as a team we shout, “Badgers!”

I push everything out of my mind as I go down the tunnel, reminding myself of my goals: winning this game, then the conference, then the whole fucking thing. From there, I’ll tackle the NHL. That’s my focus as the cold air hits my face and I glide onto the ice, twirling my stick in my hand. Tuning out the crowd, I ignore them and the other team across the ice, and take a hard hitting warmup shot at the goal.

“Dude,” Axel groans when the puck gets past him, sliding into the back of the net. “I want to tell you to fuck off, but keep that up during the game. Change nothing.”

I skate past him, bumping my gloved fist to his, and retrieve the puck. I pass it to Kirby and hear, “Let’s do it, one-five!”

Eyes darting upward, I see her. Twyler’s up in the stands, bundled up in a dark coat with a knit Wittmore hat on her head, sitting next to Nadia. Everything else becomes secondary as I skate over.

“Nice shot,” she grins, meeting me down at the wall that separates the ice from the stands.

“How did your meeting go?” I ask, resting my stick and hands on the top of the barricade. “Coach Green hasn’t let on.”

“It went pretty well. I was nervous, but Professor Purvi was amazing, so that helped.” She tucks a piece of hair under that adorable hat. “After discussing it, I’ve decided to switch internships. Basketball is about to start, and Cameron is ready to take over the reins full time.”

“What? You’re leaving the team?” This wasn’t the plan. She was going to go in and explain there are no rules prohibiting an intern and player dating. The goal was to get everything cleared up, not leave the team.

“I’m not willing to go half-in on this,” she says, and her fingers tug at the zipper of her jacket as she turns her back to me. Underneath, she reveals a Wittmore jersey, my name and number embroidered on it. “I want everyone to know I’m your biggest supporter.”

I swallow. “Sunshine, seeing you in that jersey makes me want to do one thing: slowly peel it off.”

A playful smile curves her lips. “Maybe later?”

“Definitely later.” I raise an eyebrow. “Are you sure about this? Because I don’t want you giving up your dream job for me. If there’s any chance of resentment—”

Leaning over the barricade, she silences me with her mouth, effectively shutting me up with a very public, very territorial kiss. Cheers erupt from around us, led by a whoop from Nadia back up in the stands.

“I never wanted to work with the hockey team,” she admits once we’ve broken apart. “Basketball has always been my favorite sport.”

“Basketball?” I mutter, incredulous. “Are you serious right now?”

She rolls her eyes. “It’s freaking freezing in here, Cain. I’m tired of thawing my hands and feet every time I leave work.”

“You’re sure about this?” I ask, taking her hand. “Like, absolutely sure.”

She nods with determination. The thought of her cheering for me from the stands is pretty damn appealing.

“Cain!” Jeff’s shout snaps my attention back. The referees are out on the ice and we’ve only got a few minutes before the game starts.

“Love you,” I tell her, giving her one last kiss.

“Love you too,” she says. “Good luck.”

We part and I glide back onto the ice, heart racing and a newfound fire in my chest. As the arena roars around me, I know that the fact we worked through this means we can get through just about anything, both on and off the ice.


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