Jon’s looking at me, his face the kind of expressionless mask he wears after a big loss or a stupid penalty, when asked a question he doesn’t want to answer. I bite my bottom lip till it threatens to split.
“I’ll kill her.” I feel like I just mainlined a case of soda – my heart is pounding arhythmically and my veins tremble.
“Kat,” he says in the voice of the Captain, which he was saving in case I was somehow miraculously okay. Now he needs to talk like it’s game time and he’s keeping everyone’s shit together. “We all know it’s a lie. Just let her talk herself out then this will all go away.” He leans his head back like it hurts to think about this.
“Until the next puckslut stalker comes along who can smell a paycheck!”
Jon raises his eyebrows. “They didn’t pay her for this.”
“No – Marie wasn’t smart enough to shop her story around. And she probably doesn’t have anything but these photos to go on. But someone could do better than this. Someone could put together a lie about you that would sell for a fortune – especially in Canada. Jesus, Jon. You’re playing in Toronto tomorrow. They’re gonna be all over this! You are in every Canadian city this trip.”
His hand runs up my bare back. I just swore I didn’t care what the papers said and now I’m ready to Hulk out. “So what if they talk about it in Canada? There’s nothing else for them to say. I’m careful, Kat. We’re all careful – except Kaner, who will have no choice now. ”
The mention of Pat puts me over the edge. He doesn’t deserve this either. My eyes burn hot and fast and before I can stop myself, I’m crying. Jon wraps his arms around me and pulls me down against him, laying back into the pillows.
“Shhhhh,” he whispers. I know I’m being ridiculous – but I’m furious that she would use these guys, and for no reason! There’s nothing she can gain from this except a little backhanded infamy and a few lines of type.
“It’s okay, babe. We are fine, Pat will be fine, this will all be over soon. I always knew something like this would happen eventually – to me, at least, but I’m sorry that it’s happening to you.”
I lever myself into a sitting position. “Don’t, Jon. Don’t apologize for what she did. Don’t you feel sorry for a second that she’s a gold-digging famewhore piece of shit who didn’t know a good thing when she had it.”
Jon puts his hands up in surrender, a little smile breaking through. “Okay, okay! I’m not sorry she’s crazy.”
I’m up now, pulling trousers out of the closet and stomping around. I assemble a work outfit as Jon watches, saying nothing. When I’m dressed, I throw my duffle bag and start shoving clothes into it.
“What are you doing?” he sits up.
“I’m coming to Toronto.”
I walk right into Paul’s office and drop my bag on a chair next to where Dan is sitting. They both look at me with hard faces. Everyone’s mad with no one to take it out on.
“I’m going to Toronto,” I announce, like I have any say in the matter and any way to get there except the team plane that leaves in three hours.
“Fucking A right you are,” Paul says. “Ashley Sharp is going with you. Wear a jersey and cheer your ass off. Climb onto the ice if you feel like it. I don’t care if you flash the damn TV camera, Kat, but they had better see you smiling like you’re walking down the goddamned aisle as soon as that game is over.”
I forward my work phone to my cell, sign out a laptop for the trip and finish some paperwork. On my way out, I stick my head into Dan’s office. “You gonna be okay?” he asks. His look has softened into genuine concern – not for the team or someone’s reputation, but for me personally. He looks like a dad now and I give him a steely nod. “Atta girl.”
I catch up to Ashley and Patrick in the hallway. Patrick puts his arm around my shoulders and gives me a hug – it’s nice to know that everyone is behind us on this.
“Mess with the boy wonder and you get the big guns,” he smiles.
Ashley chimes in. “She’ll get my foot up her ass is what she’ll get.”
Everyone looks up as we board the bus. Jon stands up but my eyes find Pat in the row behind, looking like he’s taken a beating this morning. I give Jon a grim smile and take the seat next to Pat. Before he can say anything, Duncan leans over the aisle to give me a fist bump. From the back, Brent starts loudly singing “Stand by Your Man.” Everyone laughs shortly, then real laughter slowly takes its place until the tension has eased, if not quite broken.
“Is it true Paul said you could flash the camera?” Duncan asks.
“So everyone can see my #19 tattoo,” I reply to a chorus of howls. Pat smiles and squeezes my hand.
“We got this,” I say.
Ashley and I share a room like we’re teammates. The guys have an afternoon skate, so we walk around Toronto to occupy our time. I check the papers – no stories yet of course, but I feel the need to look anyway. I’m ignoring the internet like it was never invented. For her part, Ashley doesn’t ask. When the guys are done, we get officially invited to the team dinner.
“I wish Joanna could have come,” Dave says over pasta. “But she cannot keep her mouth shut. As it is she’ll be watching on TV, probably calling up Versus and hollering down the phone.” I can see it – Joanna wearing stilettos around her house, all glammed up and flexed to bitch slap someone. If this story takes off in Chicago I’ll be very glad to have her in my corner.
The rest of dinner is routine bawdy jokes and hockey talk then we head back to the hotel to watch some TV before curfew. Jon gets his own room, but we pile in with Pat and Brent for a few episodes of Entourage. Pat’s sneakers smell and there are clothes all over the place, just like the locker room at home. Jon sits behind me, a leg on either side, and I lean back against him. By the time the third show is over, his fingers are cheating below the waist at the back of my pants.
“Tuck me in?” he asks.
His room is the same as Pat’s, only the second bed is covered with his stuff. I lay on his empty bed like a starfish, sapped and spent. It’s been a long day. Jon takes a knee and leans over me.
“Is this way it always in on the road?” I ask. They certainly seem to be having fun.
“Early in the season, yeah. It gets old after a while, when you’re sick of everyone’s jokes and you’ve watched all the TV shows. It’s better when you’re here,” he presses his lips to my collarbone.
“Captain Toews, we are not allowed to fool around. Coach’s orders, and Paul’s and Dave’s. And mine. I need my beauty sleep if I’m going to be gossip girl tomorrow.”
He lays down next to me – I knew that would be easy, Jon has never broken a rule in his life. He sighs.
“Thank you for doing this,” he says.
I put my hand in a non-team approved spot on his body – bam! He was waiting for it. He flips over and pins me to the mattress. I squeal but I’m stuck, having fallen for the oldest trick in the book. Now his fingers work the bottom of my shirt, inching it up between our pressed-together chests.
“So, about that tattoo…” he says, ducking his head inside my top and running his tongue along the curve of my breast. “I don’t see it.” His voice is muffled by my skin. One finger peels away the cup of my bra, like he’s searching a crime scene. “Nope, still don’t see it.” He tries the other side.
“Jonathan… whatever your middle name is… Toews! Stop it!” I sputter and push his head down until he pops out from beneath my shirt.
“My middle name is Bryan,” he informs me like I should obviously know that already from Google stalking. “Some Fan Club President you are.”
“Bryan with a Y?” I get really excited, too excited to rise to the bait.
He looks confused. “Uh, yeah.”
“Like Bryan Adams? I love it! You are SO Canadian!” I start rocking underneath him. “I got my first real six string, bought it at the…”
He stops with a kiss, though he’s laughing at the same time. His hands take the place of his mouth beneath my clothes, making short work of the clasp at the back of my bra. I guess we’re giving in now, though I am surprised. Jon is full of surprises.
“We’re in Canada, you know,” he says. “And since I’m Canadian you have to do what I say here. It’s the law.”
“Ah, the return of Officer Toews. If only you’d been a Mountie for Halloween, we would have really had a situation.” The bedspread is starchy beneath my bare back, my hair tangling against the quilting.
“That’s what all the strippers wear in Canada. Mountie uniforms. With hats.” His fingers trail across my stomach briefly before he unbuttons my pants. “I’m not allowed to ride a horse though, it’s in my contract.”
I lift my hips and he pushes my trousers down between my knees then kneels on them, trapping me. As if I’d want to move. Still kneeling, he pulls off his t-shirt in a giant swoop of bare, taut skin. I make a pitiful, breathy little sound. He catches my eye and flexes: he’s not a huge guy, but 210 pounds of muscle has to go somewhere. His biceps pop and his forearms show a small groove along the tendon that I swear normal people don’t have. My pulse races visibly at the side of my neck. The definition in his chest is strong, but not as much as his hard, tight abs. Mostly it’s his shoulders that do me in – broad and strong, like he could hold up the world. Or all this pressure. To show my appreciation, I slowly run my tongue over my bottom lip and then nip it as I take in his form.
“Kat!” he drops on top of me, laughing. Moment gone! He’s giggling like a junior high kid in sex ed class. “You looked like you were going to bite me.”
“I still might!” Now I’m laughing too. “For God’s sake, Jon. You are…” I don’t know how to express what I was just thinking. Mind-meltingly, time-stoppingly beautiful, like a supernova or the shape of a snowflake. But it’s more than that, it’s visceral too and I think of that guy from the Phoenix team with his crazy Twitter updates: ‘Panty soup. Boom.’ Yeah, that too, I know.
“No,” he says, his lips to my ear. “You are.”
I reach for him and the moment comes flooding back, leaving me breathless as our hands collide at the fly of his jeans. Mine settle for the soft, downy skin around his belly button while he works waistbands and zippers. He stands and they drop from his hips, making me growl. Instead of climbing back on Jon holds out his hand.
“Really thin walls in these hotels.” He flicks his head toward the bathroom. “No one can hear us in the shower.” I grab his ass with both hands and follow, not letting go when he leans in for the faucet. We stand for a moment, letting the water heat up, looking in the mirror. Jon’s six inches taller and 80 pounds heavier than I am. His solid, sculpted presence makes me feel very feminine, like I’m small and dainty. It’s something primal; I feel like he could protect me, physically, from the world. I’ve never wanted that before and even thinking it sounds sexist, but I feel it in the pit of my stomach like an anchor holding me steady. That and I want to climb him like a jungle gym. His arm finds my hip and his eyes snake up my bare skin the way I’m looking at him, like I’ve never seen anything so incredible before.
“Use this bathroom trick on all your girlfriends?” I ask, our eyes meeting in the mirror.
“No, I use the mountie uniform on them. You were easier.”
We start kissing. It’s slow at first, but then someone hits the fast forward button and we’re panting, grappling with each other as our tongues dance and we cannot get close enough. He boosts me up onto the counter as steam from the running shower fills the small tiled space. I use my heels to pull him into me, hard, jostling his erection against my naked body. He has to rip his fingers free of my hair to push off his shorts. I dig my nails into his shoulders – there’s nothing for me to hold onto but Jon’s body. He slides his hard-on against my opening, mixing the steam with my excitement.
“Kat,” he breathes, struggling to last another moment without slipping inside, “you make me….” He can’t do it, can’t wait, and he pushes his cock inside me like he’s putting on a glove. I sob out a breath against his neck, the skin slick with sweat. Hot water pours from the shower, fogging the mirror and clouding the room.
“No, you make me,” I tell him as he starts to move. His enormous legs push upward, driving his thick, long shaft deep into me as I cling to him for leverage. Jon tugs a wet strand of hair that was stuck to my face. His hand stays on my cheek as he opens his mouth against mine. When our tongues touch, he thrusts his hips. I can’t get enough of him – I need more skin or muscle or height for everything I want to touch. The angle of the counter, like being on top only better because his weight is so powerful, runs the head of his penis against the front of my pussy with each stroke. I breathe in hot air and breathe out hotter as my body flinches against his penetration. “Jon,” I say without meaning to. He understands and moves harder. Within minutes, my stomach starts to flutter and my core to tremble – he plays me like a guitar searching for the highest note, plucking the cords deftly with each stroke.
He grabs my hips and tilts them upwards, leaning me back slightly on the counter. His cock drives right into my hot button and I gasp sharply, like I’ve been slapped. He holds me down and does it again. My fingernails dig themselves into his ass so hard he’ll have to wear a towel around the locker room for a week.
“Jon,” my brain repeats the only word it can manage to form. A few more homerun swings and my body locks up, clenched to Jon, then rolls like surf crashing onto the beach. My back arches and my breasts heave as waves of brilliant energy flash through me. My core grabs at him, pleading for more until it’s worn itself out and goes slack, trembling lightly with aftershocks.
Jon hauls another soaking handful of hair from my face. He’s still extremely hard and nestled deep inside my spent body. One long arm grabs a towel from the rack behind us. “Can you stand up?”
He pulls out and I drop shakily to my feet. Before I have a moment to appreciate the glistening staff he’s holding in one hand, Jon turns me around and slides the towel between me and the counter. Then he takes my hip and slides his pulsing cock right back inside. I groan in pleasure. His hand runs down up the curve of my ass, slowly grazing over the bumps in my spine until he presses forward on my shoulder. I lean forward, laying my chest against the counter, as he begins to pump.
I have died and gone to Heaven, I think. My body is shooting exclamation points like a ticker tape parade and in the mirror, if I can manage to keep my eyes open, I can see Jon from the waist up as he thoroughly enjoys a service I’m more than happy to provide. His arms are flexed, his hands locked onto my skin where I’ll probably bruise. My palm wipes a clear spot in the fog to better appreciate the view. A drop of sweat courses down his soaked face from under hair so wet it looks black. He catches me admiring and gives me an almost shy, almost embarrassed little half smile that could melt the silver off the Cup.
“Kat,” he says, like he’s thinking about pausing for a moment, but then he can’t. He’s rocking me into the granite slab. My toes fight for purchase on the tile floor, desperate for leverage to get even more out of this. Jon’s hand slides around and his fingers tweak my clit – footholds fail, it’s all I can do to hold on. My body beats like a drum and he feels it inside, quickly working my clit harder, lighter, faster, slower as my body responds. His other hand digs deeper into my soft flesh, but it’s impossible to hurt me when I’m feeling so much pleasure.
I moan loudly as another orgasm surprises me. This one hits like a house falling on me, all at once and leaves nothing but my feet untouched. I press against the mirror, grinding myself back into him, and don’t realize until too late that I’m sobbing out small cries of ecstasy. More exquisite pain as Jon grabs a handful of my hair and pulls. My body bounces itself empty just he loses it. He grunts as the dam breaks then groans in pleasure, driving home a few thrusts and shoving that hot load as deep into me as it can go. I feel his dick pulse, my body eagerly sopping up his pleasure. When he’s dry, he simply pulls that hank of hair back and draws me up to standing.
“Kat,” he whispers into my ear as he pulls his exhausted shaft from my sticky core.
I turn, in his arms, and kiss his lips lightly. “Is there anything you can’t do?” I ask.
His eyes are sleepy and his lips heavy on my cheek. “Control myself around you.”
I turn him toward the shower and adjust the spray. There won’t be a drop of hot water left for tomorrow morning. We step in and soap up, taking the time to run our sudsy hands over every inch of each others’ bodies, even those parts that are sore and spent. By the time we’re toweling off, it’s just past curfew. Jon climbs into bed naked and I sigh theatrically as I button my pants. What a waste, I think. It’s for good reason and all, but the idea of Jon naked and alone down the hall makes my mouth water.
“Night Jon,” I sit on the mattress next to him and kiss his lips.
“Everything’s going to be okay tomorrow,” he promises. “Everyone will see that we are fine and Marie is a liar, and it will all be over. Just like that.”
I really want to believe him. “Just like that,” I say.