Wednesday, July 14, 2010

109.) Dessert

Soundtrack Song - Weezer, I’m Your Daddy

Jo and I had lain in bed for a while, holding each other and breathing in the moment. I took in her scent and her presence, and I felt the way her chest rose and fell as her lungs inhaled and exhaled. At some point, I dozed off, but not for too long. When I came to, I thought that she must have fallen asleep, too, but when I put my chin on her chest and looked up at her face, I saw that she was smiling at me.

She ran a hand through my hair, slipping it behind my ear; then she caressed my cheek lightly with her thumb. Her voice was quiet but happy. “Hey, Kris.”

I kind of laughed at her for greeting me so nonchalantly, but I did the same thing right back. I kissed the underside of her jaw and moved up beside her on the bed. “Hey, Jo.” She sidled up next to me and rolled into my body, like it was my turn to hold her. We hadn’t stopped touching each other since she surprised me in the lobby; I never wanted to let her go. It’s like I thought she might go away if we lost physical contact. Grabbing the blankets from underneath us, I covered our bare bodies and curled up with her, completely content to spend my entire night like this. Hell, I would have been content to spend the rest of my life doing nothing but lounge around in bed with Jo. “You hungry?”

“Yeah,” she replied with a yawn, but her eyes were wide and gleaming like she wasn’t at all tired. “I know the team was about to go out for dinner....”

“Well, we can stay in.” I grabbed the binder from the bedside table, which would have the room service menu in it. “We can order up whatever we want.”

Holding the binder open so the both of us could read it, I watched Jo as she thumbed through the pages absentmindedly. “You already know what you’re going to get, huh?”

I chuckled; I didn’t have to look at the options to make a decision. “Yeah—”

“Carbs and protein, of course,” she giggled with a soft eye roll, closing the binder cover onto my fingers and looking up at me.

“Well, I was going to say that I was ordering the chicken cacciatore and pasta....”

“Noodles and meat. Always the same,” she teased. “Don’t ever change, Kristopher Letang.”

“Hmm, is that sarcasm I’m detecting?” I playfully grabbed at her sides, which made her twist and squirm, squealing all the while for me to stop as she wriggled to get away until I relented my tickle attack. “I’m surprised you’re not gonna lecturing me about trying something new or expanding my horizons.”

“Nah,” she sighed, nestling against me and walking her fingers across my abs. “It’s kinda nice to know you’re always you, and that even when I see you again after a while, you’re never any different. You’re still my Kris, my rock. I like knowing that some things in life are constant.”

I hugged her to me tightly. If I were the Earth, then she was the moon; I held her in place and gave her something to gravitate toward, but she circled me and affected me just as greatly, like spring and neap tides. She lit up my dark sky and gave me something to look up at as she flitted through space, sometimes visible, sometimes not, but always there somehow.

“Well, I’m gonna call down,” I told her, reaching for the phone to call the desk. “What do you want?”

“I’ll have whatever you’re having,” she replied. “Meanwhile, I’m going to run a bath.” I watched and chuckled to myself as she threw back the covers, scooted to the edge of the king-sized bed, and stood—all while keeping her knees together. We were both a sticky, sweaty mess, but Jo was desperate to get cleaned up.

“So, noodles and meat, right?” I laughed as I called after her.

She hadn’t closed the door to the bathroom, and I heard the water in the tub begin to run. “Yeah!”

I placed the order for our dinners, as well as something sweet for Jo. Just because I couldn’t—or wouldn’t—eat dessert didn’t mean that she had to go without. After all, she came all the way out here to Colorado just to see me and to spend my birthday with me. It was a heartwarming gesture, and I wanted to make sure that it was worth her while to have sacrificed her studying time for me. I knew that she was here with me to ensure that my day was particularly special—and if we both were so intent to make the most of her visit, then it couldn’t possibly disappoint.

When I hung up the phone, I heard Jo call me from the bathroom. The water had stopped. “Kris.”

“What?” I asked, hanging back and letting her have her privacy. I didn’t want to intrude during whatever cleaning thing she had to do. I mean, I loved her, but there were some things that I was okay with not knowing about.

“Come here,” she whined. I hesitated for a second, and she pressed, knowing that I’d never deny her anything that was within my power to give her. “Pleeeeeease.”

“All right, I’m coming.” Peeking around the corner, I peered into the bathroom with a bit of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find in there, but Jo was reclining in the tub. Her hair was piled on top of her head in a sloppy bun, a few tendrils spilling onto her shoulders and down her back, wet and stuck to her skin. The level of the water was even with her breasts, and every time she moved, the water rippled and bobbed around her body. It wasn’t a bubble bath; there were no bubbles. “What’s up?”

“Join me.” It wasn’t quite a demand, nor was it a question. It was a suggestion—and that I wasn’t about to turn down.

With a few quick strides and without a word, I was in the bathroom and stepping into the tub with her. I got in so I was facing her, sitting down and placing my feet at either of her sides. She ran one of her feet against my thigh, and I picked it up and began to rub the ball of her foot. Jo’s lips parted with a moan as her head fell back; she loved when I did this for her. If I kept it up, I could easily put her sleep, but I didn’t want that so I stopped. Not thinking, I leaned back, the faucet dug into my back. I grimaced and sprung forward.

Jo wrung out a wash cloth and smirked at me. “Silly, turn around. Lemme wash your back.”

I wasn’t sure that I liked that option better than facing her as we lingered in the tub, but I was too enticed by her offer. Awkwardly spinning, I presented her with my back and let her run the rough, wet wash cloth over my skin. It felt so good and soothing, like a wonderful massage. That moment was absolutely perfect: Jo, here, washing my back and touching me. It was simple, not sexual, but amazing nonetheless. I was so glad that Jo made the trip and surprised me, and I had to think of some way to repay the guys for helping her—and me—out with that mission. I couldn’t remember ever feeling so happy and at ease with the world.

This was what I had needed, and I didn’t even know that I had needed it. I was used to the stress and tension and pressure of the playoffs, because this was was the third consecutive year of NHL playoffs for me, and the previous two had both gone all the way to the Finals. I thought that all that was a necessary part of the game and realm of hockey, but right now, all that was the farthest thing from my mind.

Right now, I wasn’t thinking about tomorrow’s big, important game. I wasn’t thinking about wanting to score or needing to defend or having to be perfect on the ice so I wouldn’t let my team down. I wasn’t thinking about how we couldn’t let this go to a seven-game series, and that we needed to win and give ourselves the benefit of having a few extra days off while the rest of the conference battled it out. The other series were just as close, and we were collectively hoping that one of them would stretch it out to seven.

All that I was thinking about now was how good this felt in the present. Tomorrow’s stress didn’t matter, and neither did yesterday’s. Everything was fantastic. I’d had the release that can only come from sex, and the comfort of my girl here to pamper me like she was currently doing. I could get used to this, and it only made me want the end of her semester to come more quickly. If I were really lucky, she’d be out in San José before the end of the second series, and we could make this a ritual every night before a game.

“That feels great,” I said, letting her repeat that action for a few minutes until I had had enough and leaned back against her. She gave up washing me, and I rested my head on her left shoulder so I could look up at her.

She smiled down at me, dipping the cloth in the bath water and then wringing it over my chest just to get me wet. “Good.”

“Have I said how happy I am that you’re here?”

“Only about a billion times,” she chuckled.

“I mean it, Jo. I want you to know that.” I really wanted her to understand because it meant so much to me that she would go to such measures to make me happy—even when things between us hadn’t been perfect. Any other person might have decided to stay away since the tension was running high, but not Jo; she took it upon herself to make an elaborate plan to come out and see me, if only for a two-day, one-night visit. She went through all this trouble without knowing for sure how this would go but with the hopes that we’d fall back into blissful companionship, and it had been just what I needed and what I wanted without knowing it. This truly was the best birthday I’d ever had—even beating my seventh birthday, when my mom had saved and saved for a new pair of Bauer skates for me. “Thank you for my present.”

“Your present?” she asked, sounding perplexed. “How do you know what your present is?”

I sat up and turned to look at her. “Your visit... isn’t that my present?”

Jo tilted her head to the side and smiled. “No.”

“Okay.... How about what we just did? Was that my present?”

She laughed. “No. That was just a perk. I got you a real present, a gift.” Jo dipped her hands in the water and cupped them, and then she poured it over my shoulders. “It’s nothing too special, but you’ll get it tomorrow, on your birthday.”

“So you mean to tell me that you came all the way out here to Denver so you could give me a present?”

“Well, it sounds a little crazy when you put it that way, but yes.” She sat up straight so we were closer. “It’s your birthday, Kris, and I wanted to share it with you. And you even said it, that you wished I was there, and of course I wanted that, too. Maybe it’s not the greatest time, with your big game tomorrow and my classes are almost over and I’ve got a lot of shit due, but that’s the thing about relationships, you know? You make time to make them work.

“I love you, Kris, but it was getting too hard to be away from you. It hurts enough to be separated, and then add the bickering and fighting in, and I felt like I was going crazy. This week totally sucked, and the remaining two weeks would have been just as bad if we had to deal with them apart. So I did a little wheelin’ and dealin’ to get out here, but it was worth it all. I was just worried that you might not like disruption of your routine or concentration.”

“No, I don’t mind it all,” I assured her.

“Really?”

“There’s not a whole heck of a lot that I’m superstitious about, you know that. And yeah, I do like to do certain things in a certain order, but this is a very welcome diversion, and I’ll always make the exception for you if it means you’re coming out to spend some time with me. Remember before, when you said about making me get rid of any no-sex-during-the-playoffs rules?” She nodded to answer my question. “Well, I would break a hundred rules if it meant I’d be with you.”

Jo smiled and kissed my bottom lip quickly and softly. “That may be the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“And I mean it with all my heart,” I said, reiterating that sentiment. I placed my palm against her cheek and kissed her back.

“I’m a sucker for a bad boy. Breaking rules for me? Risking getting in trouble? God, that’s hot, babe,” she replied against my lips, not wanting to break the kiss even to speak.

A punctuated knock echoed through the open bathroom door, coming from out in the hallway. I pulled back and said, “And that would be our room service.”

Standing, I toweled off quickly and wrapped the towel around my waist as I stepped out of the tub. “Just a sec,” I called out, hoping the person in the hall would hear me. Then I grabbed my wallet from my dress pants, which were strewn careless on the floor, and pulled out a suitable tip. As I headed for the door, I poked my head into the bathroom again, keeping my voice low. “I don’t want it getting back to McLellan that I have a girl in my room, so stay in here and don’t make a sound, ’kay?”

Jo perched an elbow on the ceramic edge of the tub and then propped her chin on her hand, and her eyebrow arched into an impish yet concerned expression. “Kristopher Letang, are you honestly going to get in trouble for me being here? Am I going to get you in trouble?”

“Uh, see, if it were during the regular season then probably not, because there’s always a few guys who bring up girls after a night out. Plus, you’re my girlfriend, not some random girl who might take our stuff or say we took advantage of her or whatever. But since it’s the playoffs and tomorrow’s a big deal, I don’t know how he’ll feel about that, and I’d kind of rather not find out.”

The knock resounded again, and I closed the bathroom door—just in case—and peered through the peephole to make sure it was the hotel staff. It was, so I let him in with the cart and passed him the bill in my hand as he turned around to leave. I shut the door behind him and then gave Jo the all clear to join me so we could eat. I stepped back into my boxers, and Jo came out wrapped in a towel. She picked my dress shirt and slipped into it, buttoning up the middle three buttons and then digging through her tote back and pulling out a pair of boy-cut panties. I didn’t really want her putting clothes back on, but watching her eat naked would have been very distracting.

We never turned on the television; we talked throughout dinner, and I asked her all about her classes and work and even about my ex-teammates and got the low down on how they were doing. It was damn near impossible to watch the eastern conference games because they were on while we were stretching, warming up, and having team meetings. Even on our off days, we were busy watching the other games in our own conference to worry about eight teams from the east when only one would matter in the long run anyway. Jo and I didn’t bring up my games or team, though, and it was a nice and pleasant break from the nonstop hockey I’d been living with.

When Jo was about halfway through her plate, I pulled it away from her. “Hey! I’m still eating!”

“You’ll wanna save room for dessert,” I told her, gesturing toward the cart.

She laughed. “Dessert? Did you get cake? Real cake? We need candles!”

“No, not cake. Well, not real cake, anyway.” Jo lifted the last lid on the tray and spied the cheesecake I’d gotten for her. It was laden with strawberries and chocolate drizzle, and it looked really good—but I wasn’t tempted to partake in any. Nothing was sweeter than a taste of victory, and it was worth it to cut out all sweets until the end of the post season.

“I’m gonna feel guilty eating all this, Kris, in front of you when you can’t have any,” she said, practically salivating at the sight of it.

“Not being able to have any and not wanting any are two different things.”

“But how can you not want it? It looks so good.” Jo licked her fork clean of sauce and cut off the corner of the sweet slice. She lifted the fork to her mouth and sighed, chewing the bite. “It is so good.”

“It’s a little thing called willpower. I have it. You, apparently, don’t,” I laughed, watching as she took another bite and got chocolate on her face. I was a little tempted to kiss it off, but I refrained. The chocolate wasn’t the issue; I knew a taste of that wouldn’t lure me into wanting more. It was the kiss that held that appeal—and I needed to reserve the remainder of my energy for tomorrow’s morning skate and game.

“Willpower is boring and no fun,” she teased. “Strawberries are healthy, though, right? If I wipe off the chocolate?” She dragged a piece of the fruit across the plate, and once she was satisfied with it, she held it out for me. I leaned toward her and drew the red slice between my teeth as well as the tips of her fingers. And then, all my resolve melted away and I kissed her mouth; in the process, I tasted the cheesecake. It was good.

Jo relinquished the hold of her fork as we fell back on the bed. Her voice was hopeful but skeptical as she asked, “Again?”

“No,” I sighed, nuzzling her neck as we curled up in the middle of the bed again. “I can’t. Well, I mean, I can, but I shouldn’t.” I pulled back and looked up at her. I loved my job, and I loved that I got to play my favorite game for a living—but at times like this, I almost wished that I had a normal, nine-to-five desk job. “You understand, Jo, don’t you?”

“Of course, babe,” she replied, squeezing my bicep. “Big, big game tomorrow.” It was the first time she’d really brought up hockey. Even so, I didn’t feel overly stressed about it. It was only a day away, but it felt like a longer time than that. I had Jo to myself all night, and that was the only thing I was concentrating on.

We stayed in that position for the rest of the night as we held each other, talked in whispers, and tried to make the most of every second. When we decided to turn in for the night, we stripped out of our clothes. It was another instance of how this wasn’t a sexual move between us, but a way of being as close as possible. Slipping under the sheet, Jo buried her face in my chest and inhaled deeply as I threw my leg over her body, hooked it around her, and pulled her fully against me.

At midnight, she nudged me awake. I had been in a deep sleep, so it took me a second to get my bearings and come to. “Happy birthday, Kris,” she bade me, pressing her lips against mine softly. This easily could have escalated, but Jo was careful to keep it chaste enough while still manifesting her love for me in that simple, physical gesture. “I wanted to be the first one to say it to you.”

A few seconds later, my phone beeped with a text with the same happy birthday wish, and I grunted and shut my phone off, content to fall back asleep like this. The next time I woke up, it was because something hit my foot. I grumbled and tried to pretend like it was something I had imagined. The front desk hadn’t phoned up with the wake-up call I had requested, so there was no need to be awake yet.

“Dude. Dude! Happy birthday!” I heard from a male voice as something came in contact with my foot again.

“What the fuck?” I groaned, blinking as my eyes adjusted to the light. There was a whole slew of my teammates in the room. I hissed quietly at them as I looked to make sure that Jo was sufficiently covered by the blanket. She was, especially since she was on her stomach and lying across my chest, but I pulled the cover up even further. “What are you doing in here? Get out!”

“So cranky in the morning,” Couture sighed. “How does Husky put up with him?”

“Gee, yeah, you’d think he’d say ‘thanks’ or something like that,” Pickles added, smiling at me.

“Especially since someone got kicked out of their bed,” Pavelski whined, rubbing his neck like he had a poor night’s sleep.

“Thank you. Now please get out before we wake Jo up.” I glanced at the clock. “We don’t have to leave for the morning skate for another hour!”

“Come down for breakfast,” Mitch told me. Or me and Jo, I wasn’t sure. “Coach already ate and left, so you guys are fine.”

Jo stirred beside me, whimpering as consciousness pulled at her. I shot a nasty look at the guys as she turned and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. Instead of saying good morning, she said, “Why are there people in our room?”

“They’re inviting us to breakfast,” I told her. “You up for that?”

“Hmm, yeah. Sounds good.” No one moved for a second. Jo shook her head and began to tug at the linen sheet, pulling it up from around the mattress. “This is so weird. I’m going to the bathroom, and when I come out, I want you guys to be gone,” she said to them. She said to me as she kissed my cheek, “Mornin’, babe. I’ll be right back.”

As she edged off the bed, she smoothly wrapped the sheet around her body and held it up so she was completely covered when she stood and padded across the room. To me, Jo looked like a Greek or Roman goddess in a big, oversized, billowing toga. The guys parted as she passed, but they didn’t watch her—they were looking at my face.

When she closed the door, Couture asked, “Bet you’re outta that funk now, huh, Letang?”

“Get out!” I hollered and pointed toward the door, but there was a smile on my face all the while.

8 comments:

  1. While I love this story I think you could speed things up a bit. I know you said there's a lot more left to this story.. but what else can you do with these characters? There love is so apparently strong that nothing really stands between them. I'm not sure where you can take their relationship aside from marriage... and well that's something as a reader we can easily assume.
    The lightheartedness in this post is what we need from you always Jay regarding these two. Hopefully it can stay that way for however long you plan on taking this story..

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  2. I disagree with the above comment.
    Personally, I think the speed of this story is perfect. The faster the story gets the sooner it's going to end and I'm dreading when that day comes.

    I really don't want these two to leave each other again. I love how honest they are with each other and how much they are willing to do anything to make their relationship work.

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  3. I love this story. Ignore the negative comment above. That person has no clue.

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  4. I also disagree with the first poster. The pace of the story is fine and you are doing a fabulous job of reflecting the stresses that occur even in the most committed relationships without falling back onto the common devices of cheating, unplanned pregnancies, etc, that I see in so many other stories (although some of those stories do do a good job with them). Instead, you've chosen to write a story in which the challenges that Kris and Jo face don't seem contrived and are entirely relatable. I absolutely love how Kris and Jo know the strength of their love for each other and yet also know that doesn't mean they're necessarily ready for marriage or that they are guaranteed to have nothing but roses, rainbows and unicorns in their future together. Keep up the good work!

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  5. I agree with the comment above mine. This story is completely relatable. I'm glad you haven't gone the dating 6 months straight to pregancy route. If you took out the fact that Kris is a hockey player in this story it could be about anyone's life. It makes it so much more interesting and entertaining. Keep it up! I think your fans FAR outweight your critics!

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  6. I too disagree with the first comment. Pacing seems spot on to me. I love chapters like this because we get to see the little intimacies between Kris and Jo and that just makes them that much more real to the reader. I love the lightness and happiness about them in this udpate. It's sweet to see that Jo is just what Kris needs to relax him and ease his mind. Wonderful as always, my dear.

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  7. Have I mentioned I love them together!

    ** “Well, I would break a hundred rules if it meant I’d be with you.”

    Jo smiled and kissed my bottom lip quickly and softly. “That may be the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me.”

    “And I mean it with all my heart,” I said, reiterating that sentiment. I placed my palm against her cheek and kissed her back.

    “I’m a sucker for a bad boy. Breaking rules for me? Risking getting in trouble? God, that’s hot, babe,” she replied against my lips, not wanting to break the kiss even to speak.

    They are so friggin' sweet to each other!

    But he's wrong about her having no willpower.
    They curl up together to sleep and they are both nude. She didn't seduce him during the night... THAT'S WILLPOWER

    Exquisite as always! Thank you!

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  8. I am having connectivity problems, on the computer and possibly in life. Therefore I have to post this comment, again.

    Jo is so cool, she exits the bed with a sheet wrapped around her in a room full of hockey players who are apparently so afraid of her or Kris that they don't even peek for leakage. And is Kris still wearing the blanket or nothing? I'll just imagine what I want.

    Like one dessert is going to hurt him! Although maybe that's why he's in the NHL and I can only do girl push-ups. I guess he can only break so many rules at once.

    It is kind of sad that Jo can destress him in person but not long distance. I feel like we're circling around something big here, not sure why just a feeling I get what what will happen next. Could be intuition or just exhaustion.

    Very nice Jay!

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