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If You Hate Me: Chapter 30


Iwake up in the morning wrapped around Bea. It’s only six, and her alarm doesn’t go off for another ten minutes. She’s still asleep. I can tell by her slow, even breathing.

She loves me.

She loves me.

It’s hard to get my head around that. That she’s not leaving. That she’ll stay in Toronto and be with me instead of moving to Vancouver where Essie is. That I’m worth the headache. I’m not easy to be with. I’m not good at feelings.

But I want to get better at them. I have to. There’s no way she’ll stick around for more of me shutting down on her.

As I lie here, her body tucked against mine, I think about the way I treated her at the beginning. All those negative feelings I thought I had about her weren’t hate at all. I didn’t want another person to take care of. To worry about. But I was just afraid. I’ll gladly take care of Bea for the rest of my life. She’s worth every effort. Loving her isn’t a chore, it’s an honor.

She was a reminder of the family I didn’t have but wanted. She was the kindness I never believed I deserved. Why would I, when one of the most important people in my world walked away without a backwards glance? I didn’t want another person to be responsible for. And I sure as hell hadn’t wanted to like her, to find her endearing, or sexy, or sweet, or smart, or intriguing. I’d wanted to put her in a neat box labeled “Flip’s Little Sister.” She’d been untouchable, forbidden fruit. But I’d taken a bite anyway, sure she’d be bitter and I wouldn’t want her again.

But I had. I do want her. She hums and rubs her ass against my erection. I nose her hair out of the way and kiss her warm neck. It’s a distraction from all the things in my head that I don’t know what to do with. Besides, morning orgasms are a good start to the day. And a way for me to keep her happy. I let my fingers trail down her stomach and between her thighs. She sighs and wriggles against me.

Her alarm goes off.

She makes a discontented noise and grumbles, “I forgot it’s Monday.”

I silence her alarm. “I can make it a good one.” I roll her onto her back and reach across the nightstand to hand her the pocket pack of breath strips before I start kissing my way down her body.

“You don’t have to eat my pussy to make my Monday better,” she mumbles.

“I want to, though.” I settle in, getting comfortable, and bring her to orgasm with my mouth before I get inside her. Last night was a lot of pretzeling, so this morning I take it nice and easy, focused on making it good for her. She comes again while I’m inside her.

Afterward, we hop in the shower, then make breakfast together. “Do you have to go to work today? Can you call in sick?” If she goes to work, she could change her mind about how she feels.

“I was off for four days, and you have practice this afternoon.” She tips her head, expression pensive.

“You could come to practice.” I run my hand through my hair and knead the back of my neck. I don’t know how to deal with this new version of us. Or what to do about the tightness in my chest and the rising panic. Maybe giving her another orgasm will make it go away. I grip her by the hips and lift her onto the counter. She’s wearing one of my team shirts. She might have panties on under it. Or not. I’m about to find out.

I try to kiss her, but she covers my mouth with her palm. “What’s going on?”

She drops her palm so I can answer. “I want to make you feel good again.”


“Why?” I echo.

“I’ve already come twice this morning, and like four million times last night. As much as I appreciate your dedication to providing me with an exceptional number of orgasms, my vagina could use a break.” She drags her finger along my temple and settles a warm palm against my cheek. “What’s going on up there?”

“I don’t want you to go to work today.” It’s the truth, which I think she’s looking for.

“Why not?”


She smiles softly. “What are you afraid will happen if I go to work?”

I bite the inside of my cheek while she stares at me expectantly. “What if you change your mind?”


“How you feel about me.”

“Why do you think after all of this I would just not love you anymore?”

When she says it like that, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. “What if you change your mind? What if you have time to think and you realize I’m not worth the hassle?”

She’s silent for a few long seconds before her palm curves around the back of my neck. She pulls me down for a kiss. But she doesn’t let me deepen it. Instead, she gives me one of her patient smiles. “Your ability to keep me in a perpetual state of bliss isn’t the reason I fell in love with you, Tristan.” She squeezes my hand. “Why do you love me?”


“Yeah. Aside from my ability to deep throat your ridiculously large penis and my excitement over being turned into a fuck pretzel, why else do you love me?”

“You’re strong and independent, and kind and thoughtful. You’re patient and driven and you have a great sense of humor, and you’re fun to be around, both in and out of bed. And you take care of the people you love, and you’re loyal.”

“So in the same vein, just because I’m not next to you, I won’t stop loving how you’re a caretaker for your brothers, and you’re always there when they need you. You always make time for them. You’re thoughtful and observant. You’re generous and giving, both in and out of bed. You’re also driven, a team player, and when you’re not feeling emotionally vulnerable, you can be incredibly sweet and affectionate.” She runs her fingers through my hair. “I appreciate how much you want to please me, and that we’re on the same page in the bedroom, but that isn’t the reason I want to stay, or try to make this work.”

I nod once. “I think sex is my default when I don’t know what to do with my feelings. Like I can erase my fear with orgasms.”

“You can put it on hold that way, but it’ll still be waiting for you when they’re over. Just remember, you don’t need to be perfect, and we’ll both make mistakes along the way. Sometimes you’ll want to shut down because all the feelings that come with love can be overwhelming. Everyone has coping strategies. You can go for what’s safe and hide yourself or hide behind sex. Or you can do what’s hard and know that I’m going to be here to accept you on the good days and the bad days. You have to show up for yourself if we’re going to make this work. I won’t accept your shitty behavior, Tristan, but I will accept you. All of you.”

After a moment I nod, so she continues, “The most important thing to remember is that I love you. Not an idea of you. I didn’t just fall for the sweet side that comes out when you let your guard down. I fell for all of you. Everything that makes you uniquely you. The sweet and spicy parts. The hard and the soft edges. I love every part of you, Tristan.”

“I’m going to do everything I can to deserve that love.” I push her hair over her shoulders. “You were right here, all this time. If I’d gotten out of my own damn way, we could have been together sooner.”

Bea shakes her head. “We found each other at exactly the right time, Tristan. And we’re here now. That’s what matters.” She opens her arms. “Give me one of those melty hugs where you bury your face in my hair and huff me, hoping for some kind of contact high.”

I curve myself around her, and she does the same. I burrow through her hair and shove my nose against her neck. “I really love the way you smell.”

“I really love that you love the way I smell.”

When I pull back, I circle her throat with my hand and brush my nose against hers.

She sighs and hooks her leg over my hip. “Now you’re playing dirty.”

“How’s that?”

She bites her lip. “Doing what you’re doing.”

“You mean this?” I sweep my thumb across the edge of her jaw and give it a gentle squeeze, then rub my nose against hers again.

“Mmmm…” Her hands slide down my chest. “Two of my favorite sides of you at the same time. It’s hardly fair.” She frees me from my boxers and drags the head over her clit, lining us up.

“I promise I’ll make it worth it.”

I drive Bea to work—she makes it with minutes to spare and a promise from me that I won’t pull that move before she goes to work again or she’ll one hundred percent find an unpleasant way to get me back for it—and head to team practice. On the way, I get a callback and my first appointment with Roman’s therapist—another step toward being the best version of me that I can.

Flip takes one look at me when I reach the locker room and nods slowly. “You fixed things?”

“I fixed things.”

“It’s a real mindfuck, knowing what your afterglow face looks like. I can’t decide if I want to punch you or slap you on the back, or both.”

“I can understand that.” Living together for the past year has shown us sides of each other that we can’t erase. “But I love her. I’ll do anything to keep her happy.”

“Yeah. I know that, too. It’s the reason I haven’t knocked out your front teeth yet.” He puts on his shoulder pads, which hide a bunch of nail marks. “You finally tell her how you feel about her?”

“Yeah. I did.” I pull my shirt over my head, revealing a few crescent-shaped marks and a set of teeth marks about an inch away from my nipple, so I turn and give him my back, which isn’t in much better shape with all the scratches down it.

“Good, good.”

Ashish gives me props as he passes on the way to the shower. “Happy you got your head out of your ass, Stiles.”

“Same, man. Same.”

Roman slaps me on the back. “Good work finding your balls, Tristan.”

“I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or a dig,” I reply as I pull my pads on.

“A bit of both,” Hollis says with a smirk. “But we’ll all appreciate having your head back in the game now that you’re no longer wallowing in a pit of self-loathing and despair.”

Turns out he’s on to something there. Getting Bea back and finally coming clean about my feelings is a weight lifted, and I play better than I have since I stupidly broke it off with her. Practice is smooth, my mind is clear, and even though I didn’t get a whole hell of a lot of sleep last night, I’m still on my game.

I pick Bea up from work and we head to Ajax so we can watch my brother’s hockey game together. It’s a stupidly long drive in Toronto rush-hour traffic, but I don’t want to miss it. This is the team they’ve had the most trouble with this season, and I want to be there to support him.

“Your dad will be at the game?” Bea asks.

“Yeah, he goes to pretty much all of Brody’s games.”

She squeezes my hand. “I love that you show up for Brody, too.”

“I try to as often as I can since my mom can’t be bothered with any of us. I want him to know he’s supported.”

“I think you do a good job of that as his brother,” she says.

“I know I don’t do the feelings stuff well, but I try to be as present as I can with my schedule.” Although I’ve been pretty caught up in my own shit recently. “I checked in with Nate today. He seems better than he was last week.” Between rounds of I’m-sorry-for-being-an-emotionally-repressed-idiot-thanks-for-taking-me-back-and-I-love-the-fuck-out-of-you sex, I told Bea about what happened with Nate and his long-term girlfriend and how it seemed to be the thing that pushed me over the I-can’t-deal-with-my-feelings-so-I’ll-just-implode-my-relationship ledge.

Bea nods. “That’s good. I imagine it’ll take a while for him to get over it. They were together a long time,” she says softly.

“Yeah, he didn’t expect it, so he’s pretty crushed. But right now he’s focused on exams and putting all his energy into that. When he’s finished, he’ll probably visit for a couple of days.”

“That’ll be good. Just be careful with Flip around. He’s not the best influence,” Bea warns.

“Yeah. I know. But Nate is different from me. He’s never really been the kind of guy to engage in meaningless hookups, and he doesn’t try to fit other people’s expectations of him. I did that a lot.” It’s not Flip’s fault that I didn’t say no to the endless women he brought home. I always had a choice. I just never exercised my options the way I should have.

Bea adjusts her position, so she’s facing me. “We all do things to make other people happy, even if they don’t make us happy.”

“Yeah. I did that a lot. I wasn’t the best role model for Brody.”

“In one area of your life, for like what? A year? Don’t beat yourself up about being a hot, famous hockey player everyone wanted a piece of.”

I pull into the arena lot and find a parking spot. “You’re a kickass girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend?” Bea gives me a small, hopeful smile.

I hit the release on my seat belt and do the same with hers. “Is that okay? Maybe you don’t want to put a label on it.”

“Do you want to put a label on it?” she asks, putting the ball back in my court.

I’ve purposefully avoided labels for a long-ass time. In part because they scare the shit out of me. But it doesn’t matter if I call her my girlfriend or not; I’m still hopelessly in love with her. Not giving it a title doesn’t make those feelings any less present or real. “Yeah. I do, but it’s okay if you’re not ready for that.”

“I’m ready for that,” she whispers.



I drag my fingertips along the edge of her jaw, and she pushes her hair over her shoulders, exposing her throat for me. I take the not-so-subtle hint and circle her throat. “You want to be my girlfriend?”

“I want to be your girlfriend,” she replies.

“I’m your boyfriend?” I ask, leaning in close.

“You’re my boyfriend,” she agrees.

I rub my nose against hers, and she whimpers.

“You better make up for keeping me hanging like this for hours by fucking the living hell out of me tonight.”

“Consider it extended foreplay.” I tip my head and claim her lips.

When her hands start to wander, I end the kiss and promise I’ll take good care of her later.

We join my dad in the arena and watch Brody play his ass off. And afterward, when we’re waiting for Brody in the arena restaurant, a few of the girls who watched his game come over and ask for autographs, and a couple of his teammates stop to say hi. I’ve just finished introducing Bea when Brody appears. Bea excuses herself to the bathroom, and as soon as she’s out of earshot, both my dad and Brody give me knowing looks.

“Girlfriend, eh?”

“Yeah. We made it official and stuff.”

“You always had a soft spot for her,” Dad says.

“How’s Flip feel about that?” Brody asks.

“He’s good with it now.”

“So he wasn’t good with it at first?” he presses.

“He knows how I feel about her.”

“You mean he knows you’re in love with her?” Brody says with a smirk.

I give him a look.

“Dude, you were looking at her like she was the freaking sunrise at Thanksgiving. I’m surprised it took this long.”

I roll my eyes. He has a point. “Yeah, Flip knows I’m in love with her.”

“She’s good for you,” Dad says.

“She is.” And I plan to do everything I can to be good for her, because that’s what she deserves.


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