Passing Through (Love/Hate Part Three)

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Part Thirty Two

A/N Another quick chapter, had a very lazy, writing weekend! Short chapter, you'll hate the ending,but I promise next one asap. Stick with me! MZx

Chapter Thirty Two

"So are you meeting him tonight?"

Steph had a stool pulled up to the counter and was demolishing a bowl of home made granola and a coffee as she watched Natasha prep for the coming day. She often stopped in for breakfast when she was working early, especially as Natasha was so busy that it was so much less often than it had been, and today's came with a dose of what she hoped was good advice.

"You think I should?" Despite everything she was still so unsure, so divided on what she wanted to do and what she felt she should do.

She met Natasha's eyes, then smiled at her, "I think you like him, I think it's already hurting you, so would it hurt more to hear what he has to say?"

It sounded so simple in those terms, but maybe it was that simple. Steph was right, she was already emotionally involved with him, he occupied her thoughts so much. He was an idiot, he was annoying, infuriating, but he'd also been romantic, he'd been so caring, she'd never had a man so happy, so desperate to please her, and in bed...shit, she never knew it could be like that, she'd had more orgasms in his arms, than she'd had in the rest of her life. It was eye opening, and not just reserved for romance books. She'd been starved of that affection, that connection all her life, admittedly by choice, but now that he was under her skin, in her world, charming her...she wanted more, with him.

Then on the complete flip, he had ripped her to shreds, told her she was trying to fix him, that he didn't want her to fix him, pushing her away, not gently, but angrily, verbally violently. And that hurt, it cut her to the core. For every inch she'd given him over he imaginary boundary, he'd strode a mile and that left her open, vulnerable, exposed.

Was she able to walk into a restaurant, listen to him, decipher what he wanted without being sucked in? Freya said he looked terrible, she didn't want that, didn't want to influence him, but it also made er wonder if he was sorry, if he felt he made a mistake.

It would give some satisfaction, knowing that he wanted her back, wanted more. But he still wasn't about to commit to a future, to there being something more once this season ended. If she spent another three of four months with him, spending time together, sharing time, sharing beds...then her heart would probably break irreparably. And she wasn't ready or capable of that.

So did she go?

She didn't know. She really didn't.

Another day in college, another bout of lessons, and more 'homework', when he left the college at the end of the day, he felt like a naughty school boy, slipping away. But his mind was blown, the stress of the coming evening was weighing heavily on him.

He had to keep remembering Coop's words, because the moment he turned up at his home, he had helped him instantly. Ushering them in to his home office, he'd sat him on the sofa next to the desk and handed him a beer.

"What's up?"

Two words, but they were just what Bo needed to hear. And he slumped, head in hands and managed, "I've fucked up."

As he explained all the complete screw ups he'd made, both since his injury and with Natasha, because this wasn't a small thing, this was everything in his life. Coop sat there and listened, his face relaxed, no hint of judgement.

"You love her? Because the rest? That's easy, friends, family...they'll come around, it not they're not worth it. But her. How do you feel?"

That was the million dollar question. Bo wasn't sure he'd ever loved anyone, other than family. And since leaving Coop's that night, all the way through the two day road trip to London, he tried to answer that question. All he knew was that Natasha meant more to him than anyone else in his life. Was that love? He wasn't sure. But, what he did know was that he wanted the chance to spend more time with her, to see what he did feel for her.

He brushed some imaginary fluff off the shoulder of his grey bespoke suit. He hadn't worn it in ages, it was the only one of the dozens of suits that he had back in the States that he'd brought with him. He had a club suit, which he wore a lot, but hadn't really had a reason to dress up outside of games. This was the first time that he cared, that he needed to make that extra effort. This was him, begging, without actually begging.

He wasn't sure she'd show up, and for the first time ever, being stood up, again, being left high and dry didn't embarrass him, he just had to be there. Waiting, cos that's all he could do.

At six fifty he was sat at the bar of the restaurant. The woman behind the bar had given him the best top shelf whisky that they stocked, and it was like ambrosia. He sipped at it and it seemed to settle his nerves. If she didn't arrive, then he had to deal with that. Not that her appearing was any easier. He still wasn't sure what he was going to say to her. He had a clue, but it scared him, terrified him. He wasn't used to being honest with people, not in his usual life, his world, but being honest was all that he could offer her. No matter how hard that was.

Lie, or bottle things up and she walked away, open up be transparent, genuine and she could hurt him, get up, laugh, walk away anyway. But at least you'll know. Those were Coop's words. And he was exactly right. Even if he didn't know Coop's history, the devastation in his past, he'd know that he was right. If he didn't tell her how he felt, then he'd never know if he was good enough, if this could work. But that meant telling her the truth. It terrified him, because he'd closed so many doors, and it was so long since he'd been open, exposed, that he'd shared himself.

He had to tell her, open up, explain how he really liked her, more than he'd liked anyone else, and that he wanted them to try again, that he wanted to be what she wanted.

This was real, serious grown up stuff, and he had to admit that generally he wasn't the most adult. It didn't bode well.

At just after seven, he took what remained in his glass and made for the table that the server had directed him to when he'd arrived. A small table tucked away in the back of the room. It was already busy there, and as he weaved through the tables, he could feel eyes on him. He used to have that a lot, but not recently, but then since he'd come to the UK, all he'd done was spend time alone. This was his first time stepping out into the limelight, a posh restaurant, in a suit...something that he used to do all the time. Was this the start? Was this him coming back to where he should be?

As he sat, a man approached, from his right, smiling apologetically.

"Bo Holding? It is you?"

Swallowing the anger that the tension in him precipitated, he smiled, "that is me." As much as he hated being recognised, the guy's face had lit up, people like him gave him a job doing what he loved. This was a huge part of his life and he knew that if he wasn't so stressed about Natasha, he'd be a little more relaxed, a little happier.

The man was maybe forty, balding, with an infectious smile, "I am a huge Hornets fan. You've made such an impact on the team. It's been amazing."

"Thanks, I am starting to settle in here." Which was true for the first time he could admit that.

"Well there have been a few barren years, we never imagined that we'd sign a player of your calibre. I mean you are an NHL player."

He laughed, "was, I was in the NHL."

The other man scoffed at that, "the things you've done, experienced, the games, the training, the lifestyle. I mean Pete Naylor – what you can bring to a local boy who is a million miles away from where you've been. He was literally bleed off you like a sponge!"

Bo had never thought about that, what he actually brought to the team. Had he shared all that he should? All that he could? He wasn't sure, but he knew he needed to speak to Coop, work out how they could maximise his benefit to his teammates.

"I really didn't think of that side of things. Thanks."

He grinned, "just hope that you don't get crocked, that would kill the team."

Again he had to process that, that he was so important in what the team was achieving, you never got a more honest opinion than from fans.

"Could I possibly get a picture?"

Autographs were a thing of the past, selfies were the in thing now, and so smiling, he leaned in the direct of the man, and smiled as he snapped a photo.

"Why don't I take one of you both?"

It wasn't the wait staff that offered, but the woman he'd waited all week to see. His body reacted to her voice before he could turn and take her in, drink her presence like a parched man.


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