Part Forty Five
Chapter Forty Five
Bo was buoyant over the next couple of weeks, his plan to keep his distance hadn't worked out, and he spent more of his waking hours thinking about Natasha if he wasn't with her. He stayed at hers most nights, she had the early start, so it made sense. He had breakfast with her in the cafe most mornings, then headed to the gym with one of the trainers. He was just allowed back on ice, as he hadn't had a headache for ten days and was looking forward to finally lacing his skates.
The banter from his old friends and foes back in the States was growing by the day, the old nicknames and teasing like they were never apart. And finally his life was complete. He spoke to his family regularly, dined and trained with his teammates, bantered with his old friends, and came home every night to the warmth of Natasha.
He hadn't felt at home in years, but her apartment, above the cafe was the warmest, happiest place he'd ever been. It was cluttered, but filled with love, life, and energy. Despite the additions that Natasha had made to his apartment, it still felt sterile. He hated being there.
So she'd cleared some space in her bathroom cabinet and wardrobe and he spent almost all his time there.
Helsinki beckoned, but for Natasha, that meant a lot of work and planning, she was in the kitchen baking for the day at six am, and not coming up to her home until often eight at night. So Bo did his best, having dinner ready, massaging her feet, generally trying to help.
On Saturday he went to the rink to watch the game. Again he did some of the web cast commentary, which he enjoyed, and after a brief drink with the guy sin the bar, he headed back to the apartment, but on the way, he picked up Steph and her boyfriend Ethan. She'd called Natasha's several times looking for her, as she wasn't answering her mobile. Bo had told her how busy she was, and then invited them over for dinner.
He'd left Natasha a note, explaining that they were having guests, and could only hope that she was feeling up to company.
As they entered the lounge, she appeared from the direction of her bedroom, towel drying her hair, and her face lit up when she spotted Steph in the middle of the room. Dropping the towel, she flew across the room.
"Shit! Steph, I haven't seen you in ages!"
Steph hugged her tightly, "I know, I haven't been able to get over this way for ages, I missed Zumba and tennis."
Natasha nodded, "me too...been working hard, did Bo tell you we're going to Finland next week?"
Steph grinned, "he did, I didn't believe that my workaholic best friend would actually take time off!"
Natasha laughed, "needs must."
Bo didn't know what to make of Ethan, he was quiet, and he instantly knew they had little in common, but he liked Steph, so he tried to create conversations, and ended up talking about football...soccer to him, though he knew nothing about it, he winged his way through a conversation.
Natasha kept glancing across at him, smiling gratefully, he knew she appreciated both seeing her friend, but also that he was occupying Ethan so that she had Steph to herself.
They ordered in Chinese and ate it at the dining table, drinking wine and talking. It was a great night, and Bo loved doing something so normal with Natasha, since they had been together it had all been hectic, clandestine meetings. Tonight had been an evening with friends. Normal, so normal. And great fun.
As they saw Ethan and Steph to the door and their waiting taxi, Bo wrapped his arms around Natasha, standing behind her, and felt her sag back into him. She'd had a very long day, she must be exhausted.
As she closed the door, he turned her in his arms, and kissed her nose.
She nodded, but there was a smile on her face, "thanks for tonight. I loved it."
Grinning, he scooped her up in his arms, "good, now you are going to lie in bed, relax, let me give you a little pleasure, then go to sleep."
She blushed, "really?"
He nodded, "I can't wait to make you moan."
As if to command the words made her moan softly and he lengthened his stride to the bedroom.
Five days later, after a lot of stressing with Freya, Natasha walked out of the building with her small but full cabin bag and met Bo, stood outside the taxi he'd ordered to take them to the airport.
"So how's your Finnish?" He asked once they were both bundled in the back-seat.
"I know kittos is thank you, as long as I'm polite I'm hoping I can get by."
He grinned, "you are the most polite woman that I know, they'll love you!"
The airport was twenty minutes away, and it took them a further twenty minutes to check in and get through to the departure lounge.
It was a long time since she'd flown and she felt excited just being at the airport.
It was a five hour flight, Helsinki was a lot further east than she anticipated. But the Finnair flight wasn't full, and Bo told her he'd upgraded them to the equivalent of business class on this flight. It meant better food, more legroom, and a little more seclusion as they were the only ones in the section.
But that didn't mean that she was going to let Bo slide his hand up her skirt.
"We're on a plane!"
She protested, as he slid his hand up her thigh. She'd chosen thick purple tights to wear beneath her black and purple dress. But it wasn't chosen for it's ease of access.
"There's no one here." He tried to reassure her, his mouth at her ear. But she turned in her chair.
"Mr Holding, there is a level of propriety here," despite her words she was smiling. Being desired so voraciously was so flattering.
"You make me horny," he protested. "Ever joined the mile high club?"
She rolled her eyes, "all I want is a glass of something fizzy and a shoulder to cuddle up with."
That made him smile too, and he wrapped her up in his arms and they watched the houses disappear as the plane climbed.
Natasha couldn't pretend she wasn't nervous, this seemed like such a big step for them both. She'd woken up in a cold sweat the night she agreed to the trip, a nightmare where she'd arrived at the hotel to see Torrie, the demon in every single on of her bad dreams. It was so vivid that she sat up and googled the squad for the game.
She'd resisted googling him over the years, she had no idea whether he still played hockey, she'd never heard his name or seen him, but then she didn't really follow the NHL. Google showed that he wasn't involved and she finally managed to breath again.
Instead they entered the opulent yet chic hotel in the centre of the city and checked into an amazing room. A balcony over looked the sea, that was just a few hundred yards away, and the room was modern dominated by a huge bed, that Bo dragged her onto in seconds.
"So what's the plan?" she asked as they curled up under the duvet.
Bo pulled her against him harder, kissing her forcefully, before relaxing again, "well, tonight we have dinner. Then maybe some shopping tomorrow." He stroked her arm and she writhed against his touch.
"There's open training tomorrow, at the arena, so I said we'd go along and watch that maybe. The game is am five o'clock on Saturday. So it's reasonably timed on both continents."
"So where are we going for dinner?"
He smiled, "now I have a contact...a team mate Jussi. Played with him in the minors. He's a local to Helsinki, and been back here playing for Jokerit...the team who play in the arena where this All Star game is, so I contacted him, and he told me the best place to go, and luckily we have a reservation. Because apparently some of the best restaurants here are to quote Jussi, 'very Finnish', he doubts that our uneducated palate can't cope with the variety of preserved fish that they eat here."
Her eyes widened, "you didn't tell him I was a chef, that I love trying everything?"
He grinned, "I did. And that's why we chose the place we did. He assured me you'll love it there."
There was nothing more motivating than the thought of good food, to drag herself out of the warm love nest that they had created. And a shower together took far longer than was necessary for cleanliness.
It was dark when they headed out for dinner, a short walk through the bustling city centre, to a really appealing restaurant. Individual booths secluded from the room, and a menu to die for. Natasha thrust it on the table and beamed at Bo.
"It costs a fucking bomb, what with the current Euro rate, but it all looks amazing."
For Bo, the day had been bliss, getting Natasha away from the burden that was her business was already paying dividends. She was more relaxed than he'd ever seen her, and then she was trying her Finnish pronunciations as she ordered lots of very expensive food, and giggled as the waiter poured her another glass of fifty quid wine.
He'd heard Scandinavia was expensive, and it had proved to be, but every penny, every cent was worth it for that carefree look on her face. Had he ever seen her so happy?
He wasn't sure, but it was intoxicating, and he couldn't wait to be somewhere more comfortable, he couldn't complain about the privacy as it was an amazingly private, and no one would know what they were doing...not that they were doing anything.
Just loving the food and drink, for her enthusiasm was both intoxicating and contagious. He'd truly never enjoyed a meal as much as that one, tucked away in their booth, oblivious to everything but each other.
The temperature had dropped significantly when they finally emerged onto the dark street, so Bo wrapped an arm around Natasha, pulling her close to him, hoping to warm her up for the fairly short walk.
As they fell in through the hotel lobby doors, they were both giggling, though their fingers and noses were cold.
"How about a nightcap? Something to warm us up?"
They were both desperate to get back to their room the tension between them had been building all evening.
The bar was as modern as the rest of the hotel, and they found a table near to the central fire pit that warmed the room. A waitress approached as soon as they sat, and Bo ordered two glasses of brandy.
Sitting back he smiled at her, "thanks for coming, I have enjoyed today so much."
"Me too. I never thought I'd relax so easily being away from the cafe."
He paused as the two bowls of warm dark liquid were placed in front of them. "It's your life, the cafe?"
He found her devotion to her business unusual, but it was the way he felt about his sport, so he could see the similarities.
"It's all I have," she offered. "The building was my Nana's home, when I came back from the States I lived there with her, it's the only home I really know."
"You came back here when you were how old?"
Bo watched her cheeks flush, this was him nudging at her past again, he didn't want to scare her off, to ruin their night, but this was a natural progression of the conversation, and it was a subject he wanted to know about more than anything.
There was still so much that didn't add up, her heart break, her tattoo, her fleeing from her home and never returning, that wasn't unrequited love, there was more to the story, he knew.
"I was seventeen, almost eighteen when I came back."
That made him lift his head in surprise, "you didn't graduate high school?"
She nodded, "luckily I did, my birthday's in August. But I didn't do great, so when I came back to Britain I got some extra qualifications in college, that let me go to catering college."
"Have you always liked cooking?"
She was contemplative for a long moment, "no, I was quite academic in school, loved learning, but that changed." He noted that she didn't say why.
"Then when I came back, my Nana had a full time job, so I started cooking to look after her...it went from there."
He watched her as she dropped her head, she had told him too much, she was backing down, though closing those doors again.
"So tell me about your Nana. She was important to you."
She nodded, "she never doubted me, she was a rock, supporting me, helping me through everything. I didn't have that with my parents." Natasha was wistful for a moment, "and she was funny, always cracking jokes, bad jokes. She had a knitting and yarn shop where the cafe now is, and it was like the gossip shop, all her friends, customers, they didn't just buy wool and things, they came and sat together crafting as they put the world to rights. I often came down and sat with them all, hearing about everyone who lived in the area, who was dating who...or more likely who was seen at the doctor's surgery or with ladders in her stockings. It was fun."
Bo smiled at the expression on her face, relaxed, "she sounds it. Would she have liked me?"
Natasha studied her for a long moment, then nodded, "she'd describe you as dapper or dashing, and she'd have flirted with you. She had a thing for tall, dark and handsome."
He waggled his eyebrows, "am I?"
She laughed out loud, "you know you are!"
He had been told he was good looking in the past, but there was nothing as flattering as hearing her admit that.
When did he get so besotted over this girl?
"Fuck me, Holding?"
A voice echoed across the bar, and as he looked up he saw Andreas entering the bar, he was kitted out in a rather lavish red tracksuit emblazoned by various European flags, and accompanied by several faces he recognised, but didn't know as well.
Turning to Natasha he gave an apologetic smile, "seems we've been discovered!"