THREE MONTHS LATER…
THE PRE-GAME PLAYER MEETING ENDED. This was it. This was the last player meeting for the season. We were heading into game seven of the Stanley Cup finals. Tonight would decide whether the Vancouver Wolves celebrated its first Cup win in over ten years, or if we’d all be crying in our beer tonight.
Max’s eyes found mine. I stood against the wall and he approached me.
“Are mom and Ronnie here?”
“Yup. They’re in the box with my parents, Lolita, Katrina, Calder, Brian and his wife and Ola and her boyfriend.”
“Did Mom tell you the news?” Those blue eyes I loved so much, dropped to my mouth.
“She said she wants to move here.”
His smile was huge. “I told her we’d take her condo shopping in a couple days.”
I gave a happy smile. Max and his mom’s relationship had grown by leaps and bounds in the last few months. “My mom wants her to join her reading group.”
“Oh, yeah?” His eyes stayed on my mouth.
I tilted my head and he came down for a hot kiss.
“You going to cheer for me?”
“What if we win tonight?”
“Lots of hot sex.”
“And if we lose?”
I pretended to ponder that. “I might be too depressed to have sex.”
“Guess we better win then.”
Our eyes met, and we shared a huge smile.
“Go have fun.”
He stole another kiss. “See you after the game.”
I watched as he moved with lithe grace away from me. He paused and turned back. “Almost forgot. Can you give this to your dad for me?”
He handed me an envelope.
“What is this?”
“See for yourself.”
I watched him walk away before peeking into the envelope. I gasped. Max had signed an 8-year, multimillion-dollar contract with the Wolves.
I MOVED to the box in stunned shock. That was one contract Dad hadn’t shared with me. Nor had Max. Max wanted to stay here. Max wanted to play in Vancouver.
I handed Dad the contract. He peeked inside and gave me a satisfied smile.
“It appears your boyfriend is going to stick around.”
“Looks that way.”
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Your year is almost up.”
“You’ve made me proud, Rory. This year I was more proud of you than I’ve been of anyone.”
“Thanks, dad,” I smiled up at him.
“So,” he pushed his hands into his pockets and rocked back on his heels. “Do you know what you will do next year?”
I squinted up at him. “Well, I had a great internship, but…”
“But?” I could see him trying to hide his disappointment.
“But my boss hasn’t offered me an extension.”
He took a deep breath as emotion crossed his face. “Well, that was short-sighted of him.”
“I’d stick around if he made the right offer.”
“Oh yeah?” He swallowed hard. “Do you accept verbal offers?”
I nodded, pretending to consider that. “I do. But my demands will be high.”
“I like a good negotiation. Let’s hear what these demands are.”
“I want to keep traveling with the team.”
“I want one Friday off a month, so I can volunteer with the skate-for-kids program we run.”
“I think we could manage your absence one day a month.”
“I’d like Mom and you to come over at least twice a month for a family dinner.”
His eyes shone suspiciously. “I think we could fit that into our schedule.”
“And I know my boss goes to the gym every morning from 11 to 12 PM. I’d like to work out with him, if he’s willing.”
He swallowed hard. “He’d like that, but on the condition we don’t talk about work. We only talk about fun stuff.”
I furrowed my brows. “Is there anything else fun besides the NHL?”
He put his arm around me. “Not that I’ve noticed, but maybe we can figure that out.”
“I’m really happy.”
“Me too, kid. Me too.”
I STOOD IN SHOCK, staring down at the ice.
We did it.
We won the freaking Stanley Cup.
Around me, 20,000 fans were going berserk.
Everyone was screaming and hugging and cheering.
I stood watching as Max hugged his teammates. They ecstatically jumped up and down. Hugged each other. Screamed at each other. Mad joy between the team. They fought to get here, and this was their moment to share with no one else.
As if he could sense my gaze, his head lifted and his eyes scanned up. Our eyes met.
I blew him a kiss. His smile was perfect. Another teammate jumped on him and the craziness on the ice continued.
Dad touched my arm. “Let’s go down to the ice.”
Security guards led us to the ice. Dad stopped to shake the hands of his coaches. I stepped onto the ice, and stood off to the side, loving watching our team lose their minds over their win. They had fought long and hard this season for this win, and my eyes watered watching them celebrate with each other.
I watched Max as he hugged teammate after teammate. Then his eyes lifted to the box again, above me. When he didn’t find what he was looking for, his eyes scanned the ice.
His face lit up when he saw me. He powered towards me and stopped short.
“You did it,” I fought the tears in my eyes.
“We did it,” he grabbed my hand and held it to his chest. “You and me. We did it.”
“Nice winning goal.”
His expression was serious. “Your sex talk motivated me.”
He grinned. “I might be too tired to have sex.”
“I’m confident I can keep you awake.”
Max lifted me off my feet into his arms. When his lips found mine. I moaned as he kissed me like he had all the time in the world.
He started to skate, still holding me. “I want lots of dirty talk tonight.”
I clung to him. “That’s your department, you’re the one with the dirty mouth.”
“Yeah, but I want you to talk dirty.”
“Not going to happen, 33. For one, I don’t know how.”
“It’s easy. Just say something dirty.”
“Like whatever you want.”
I thought about it for a second. “I want to go off the pill.”
Max stumbled and his arms tightened around me. We both stared at each other.
“How was that?”
His mouth covered mine. “Yes.”
He groaned and pressed his lips to mine. “I want it all. You. A baby. Marriage. A lifelong commitment.”
“Sounds pretty distracting.”
“I’ve never felt more focused.”
I looked over my shoulder. He was skating me towards the team. “Where are you taking me?”
“The guys want to congratulate you.”
“Rory,” he looked me in the eyes. “Trust me.”
He stopped and set me down where all the players still hugged and crowded around each other.
“Rory,” a big player screamed, putting his face in mine. “We did it.”
I laughed as he lifted me in his arms and spun me around. “We did.”
The entire team crowded around me.
“Rory, you were with us every step of the way.”
“Kid, you saved our team.”
“You better sit in the back of the plane now. You’re one of us.”
“This cup has your name on it, you know that, right?”
I ended up back in Max’s arms. I trembled like a leaf. He wrapped his arms around me and held me tight.
“You’re shaking,” he bent his head over me. “Why are you shaking?”
“They like me,” I whispered in his ear.
“Are you just figuring that out right now?”
“I wasn’t sure.”
“You had them wrapped around your finger when you stood in front of the room in your pink little sweater and schooled us all with your ideas about offensive plays.”
“Max,” I stared up at him. “I’m so happy.”
He lifted me into his arms again and spun us around in a circle. “That plane crash was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“I love you, Rory.”
I put my hands on the sides of Max’s face and we stared at each other for what felt like a million heart beats. “I love you, too.”
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