Home > Charming as Puck(17)

Charming as Puck(17)
Author: Pippa Grant

I’m not starting tonight.

Might as well.

Lavoie and Ares follow me to the executive gym in the hotel.

“Have you talked to her?” Lavoie asks.

I ignore him and head for the treadmill, because the puny weight machine isn’t going to cut it, especially if I want to be in peak shape by the time we face the Indies.

Not that I’ll be starting at this rate. Fuck, I hope Klein’s up for it. Their front line is killer.

Ares gets to the treadmill first and sits on it.

Lavoie hops on the other machine.

I grunt and head for the bike.

Ares grabs it and holds it in his lap on the treadmill.

Dude’s a fucking beast. And he’s pissing me off.

“You like her,” he says.

“What’d you do to fuck it up?” Lavoie asks.

I’m almost certain Ares knows as much as Felicity does, which isn’t the whole story, because I don’t even know the whole story.

All I know is, she hasn’t texted, she hasn’t called, and she’s been to my parents’ house every fucking day this week to visit the cow.

Always when I would obviously not be there.

She hasn’t acknowledged any of my apology gifts either.

This isn’t like Kami. She’s always overly polite. Sweeter than sweet tea. Nice to the point of pain.

Which means I’ve fucked up bad.

“She wants forever,” I tell them both, because I don’t know how else to explain this weird neverland I’m in with her. I want her. She wants me. But she doesn’t want me. And she won’t talk to me.

“So?” Lavoie says.

“I don’t do forever.”

They both stare at me, Ares still holding the bike while he sits on the treadmill.

“Would you get up and let me use that thing?”

“You like her,” he replies. Again.

“Do you know anyone who doesn’t like Kami?”

“You like her more,” he corrects.

Lavoie drops his hands between his knees. “You ever had a slump before?”

“Slump? This isn’t a fucking slump. It’s just…” Fuck.

I’m in a damn slump.

“Happened to me after my divorce,” Lavoie tells me. “Can’t fight it if you don’t face it.”

I look at Ares. He’s never had a slump in his life. Sat out half of last season with a sprained ankle, but he worked his ass off in PT to get back on the ice, and he was always there cheering the team on.

As much as Ares ever makes any noise.

“Love got Z too,” he says.

I blink.

Right.

Zeus got traded from Nashville to New York a little over a year ago. In the middle of a slump.

Right about the time he met his wife.

He almost quit the league for her, but she wouldn’t let him.

The idea of quitting the game makes me break out in a cold sweat. I’ve lived and breathed hockey since I strapped on my first pair of skates. I stepped in front of the net as goalie in a peewee league game at five, felt an immense safety that had been missing from my life, felt a power I was too young to understand but desperately needed, and I’ve never looked back.

Being on the ice, pads on, stick at the ready—this is what I do.

It’s what I am.

The ice has always been my first love.

It fucking saved me.

I’m not ready to give it up.

I shove Lavoie. “Maybe I’m getting old.”

“Growing ear hair and getting bunions already?” he deadpans.

“I’ll still be blocking your shots when I’ve got ear hair and bunions. I just need to adapt a little.”

“You need to admit what’s really wrong and accept the fact that you’re not in control when you’re on the love boat.”

“The love boat? What are we, an eighties hockey show?”

I’m not in love with Kami.

I just like hanging out with her.

Maybe she’s right. Maybe I do owe her some space. Probably too late to cancel the singing telegram I ordered for her office today.

Shit.

“What’s the last thing you think about every night before you fall asleep?” Lavoie asks me.

Fuck.

I think about Kami. About her smile. About the taste of her pussy. About the way she wrinkles her nose when she’s picking mushrooms off her pizza.

“Popcorn,” I lie.

I have a serious fucking problem.

“Call her,” Lavoie says.

Ares growls.

Lavoie ignores him. “Bet if you talk to her, you’ll play a hell of a lot better.”

“That’s bullshit.” Fuck, if Kami’s my good luck charm…if she’s what’s missing in my life…

My stomach dips, and I feel the hollow pain where it lands in my nuts.

I’m not ready for kids. I’m still basically a kid myself. I can’t even handle a pet.

But I miss Kami. The Kami who smiled at me and didn’t judge me for losing my temper with reporters or get mad when I was a dumbass pranking my teammates with animals.

Not the first seven times anyway.

She wants a farm.

For all the animals she’s pulled out of all of our places the last few months, how didn’t I know she wanted a farm?

Lavoie shakes his head and hops off the treadmill. “Call her, dumbass.”

Not so sure that’s a good idea.

I turn and head for the door. “Going to see Coach Ferrera,” I tell him. If anyone will know a better way to get me out of this slump, it’s the goaltender coach.

He’s been around and seen it all.

He’ll know this isn’t about a woman, and he’ll know how to fix it.

I hope.

Nineteen

Kami

For all the animals I’ve had to rescue thanks to the Thrusters, my second favorite is one I check on now and again. And Sunday afternoon, I’m hanging with him at Felicity and Ares’s place.

“Have you been a good monkey lately?” I ask Loki, the capuchin monkey who adopted Ares shortly after he arrived in Copper Valley last year.

Loki screeches, leaps off the couch, and grabs a stuffed llama to rock it like a baby.

“Aww,” Maren, Alina, and I all say together.

Felicity has her feet propped up in Ares’s lap. She smiles at the monkey. “Loki, show them your new trick.”

Loki flashes a toothy grin at all of us, then gives us all the middle finger.

“My uncle Zeus teaches me the best things!” Loki says.

Okay, Felicity says it, but she uses her monkey voice and doesn’t move her lips.

“Where is Zeus?” Maren asks. “I thought he’d be hanging out with you guys.

“Joey flew up for the day.”

All three of us collectively reply with a knowing Oh.

If Zeus’s wife is in town, they’re busy.

And I do mean busy in the getting busy sense.

I stifle a sigh.

I miss sex.

It hasn’t even been two weeks since I cut Nick off, and I’ve never really missed sex after a break-up like this before, but he was good. I’d never had a double orgasm before. Or that thing he did against the wall the one night—

I shake my head and realize everyone’s watching me.

Including Loki, who’s also sneakily backing toward the cozy galley kitchen off the spacious living room. I glance down and rub at the soft leather on the couch, because I don’t want to answer the questions.

“Tough road trip,” I say into the silence.

Nobody answers.

Probably because it involves saying, yeah, Nick’s game is total shit this year.

“Did Kami tell you about the thirty dog treat bags from that gourmet pet bakery downtown?” Alina asks Felicity.

“I’m more interested in hearing about this singing telegram she got at work on Friday,” Maren interjects.

“How do you know about that?” I ask.

“Saw the pictures on your clinic’s Facebook page.” She grins. “And the note that the message was too risqué for a family vet to share publicly.”

I wince, because there was definitely some mention of pussy in that song the dozen costumed singers delivered.

“Was that one guy really dressed up like a wiener dog wrapped in a bun?” she adds.

“Yes.”

“And the kitty—”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“What else has he sent?” Felicity asks. She’s going for casual interest, but there’s something more than curiosity in her voice.

Ares hears it too, I’m certain, because he slides her one of those looks that I can’t read, but that makes her squirm.

“Pizza for the entire office,” I tell her, and I don’t add without mushrooms, because she’d know what that meant, and I refuse to get my hopes up that Nick’s finally paying attention.

I want to move on. I don’t want to be on this up-and-down tilt-a-whirl that comes with wondering if he cares about me as much as I’ve always been obsessed with him.

And that’s what it was.

An obsession.

I didn’t really know him. Well, not until we started hooking up in February.

“Did he send thirty?” Maren asks.

“Naturally.”

“I never knew he could use his powers for good,” Alina muses. “This is fascinating.”

“No, it’s not. It’s annoying. He’s only doing it because he feels guilty.”

Felicity opens her mouth, then closes it again.

“Murphy doesn’t do guilt,” Ares says.

I get chills, because that’s one of the longer sentences he’s ever said in our presence.

And he doesn’t mean Nick doesn’t feel guilty.

He means Nick’s never felt guilty before.

“Maybe Kami has a magic pussy and he wants it back,” Alina suggests.

Loki screeches and throws a dish rag at her.

“He doesn’t like the p-word,” Felicity stage-whispers. “Is anyone else starving? I could eat an entire bag of those chickpea puffs.”

   
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