Part Forty Seven
Chapter Forty Seven
She watched Bo's shoulders tensed as the three men stepped out of the lift and stopped in front of them. The man who spoke was almost as tall as Bo, and a lot broader, his dark blonde hair and blue eyes a stark contrast to Bo's darker colouring. He looked at Bo earnestly, desperately, and she could feel the tension emanating off her boyfriend in waves...she gasped at the thought of that, having someone she could call a boyfriend. But she couldn't dwell on that, Bo needed her in this very moment.
Squeezing the hand that held hers, she stepped forward, "who's this Bo? You didn't tell me you knew anyone else here."
She heard him let out the breath he was holding and he smiled down at her, "this is Nathan Price, he is another hockey player." She rolled her eyes at that, and his twinkled, "we played together before my injury."
"Ah, more old teammates" she gave a nod, then held out her hand, knowing that he was so much more than that, but never giving him the satisfaction of that. "Hi, I'm Natasha...Bo's girlfriend."
His fingers tightened and he tugged her hand, making her look at him, "I thought we settled on lover?"
She shook her head, "too transient, anyway..."
Her eyes darted back to the other man, who was watching the exchange closely.
"Bo, it's good to see you," he held out a hand, and Bo stared at it for a long moment.
"Wish I could say the same Nathan, but I can't."
Nathan had the good grace to look gutted, but he nodded his head in understanding, "I can get that. Just wish I could turn back time."
Bo patted his thigh and nodded, "so did I, for the longest time. But you know, life often changes and sometimes it's for the better."
He glanced down at Natasha and she knew she was melting, he was so strong, so dominant, so over all that shit, and he'd never been more attractive to her, he was suddenly the complete man, all his insecurities were gone.
"Can we meet, for a beer? Maybe after the game? I really would like to catch up."
He shrugged, "I'm not saying no, but our plans might change, we'll see. OK?"
He nodded, "sounds reasonable."
Then without a further thought, he stepped past the three men in to the lift, dragging Natasha along behind her. The three sets of eyes watching them as the doors closed.
Then he collapsed against the wall with a sigh.
Natasha stepped up to him pushing her legs between his thighs and ran her hands over his chest, "you were fucking amazing back there."
He held out his hands, showing her they were shaking, "I don't know why that made me so nervous."
She thrust her lips on his, and he absorbed the intensity of her kiss, when he pulled back he looked at her, "what was that for?"
She shrugged, "you were a bit hot then, standing up for yourself and blowing him out."
He shook his head not sure he'd ever get used to the turn of phrase in Britain that was so different to his own native American.
Spotting his quizzical look, she stroked her hands over him again, "you blew him out of the water...when you said you wouldn't turn back time to before your injury."
He gave a little shrug, "that's the truth, I'm a better person now, and I'm re-evaluating everything." Tucking a stray curl behind her ear, he smiled at her, "wouldn't be here now, would I?"
"You could be the other side of the plexiglass?"
He shook his head, "quite like being this side, with you."
It was the sweetest thing he'd ever said to her, and she swooned. "Really?"
Grinning at her for a moment, he studied her before swooping down to claim her lips. It was a kiss full of promise, desire...so much, that they lost track of place and time...until the door opened with a melodious ding.
Then they had to separate, and leave the box, smiling awkwardly at the people waiting to embark. Outside they climbed into a taxi and headed back to their hotel.
The door had barely closed behind them, and that fury was back, clothes were torn, skin grazed and bitten, until they both tumbled onto the bed. It was fast, it was furious, but it was exactly what they both needed, and as they lay stunned in the aftermath, Natasha hated the sense of panic that was washing over her. He was beginning to mean so much to her, and she could barely remember a time when he wasn't this huge presence in her life, and it was just four months since she'd first met him. He was embedding himself in her life and she was powerless to stop him.
They ate a late breakfast in the hotel, before heading out. Bo had hired a car for the morning and had something planned. A surprise. Then they were travelling to the ice arena for the late afternoon game.
As they were savouring a coffee refill, they were planning for a day out in the cold after all, a man approached the table, and Bo looked stunned for a moment, before leaping to his feet, to hug the man, who Natasha imagined was in his fifties, he was a lot smaller than Bo, but then most were, with grey hair, and he was wearing an impeccable suit.
After pleasantries, and almost excitement between the two, Bo seemed to remember she was sat beside him,
"Laurence, this is Natasha," he waited for her to stand, "my girlfriend."
Natasha blushed as she shook his hand, "nice to meet you."
He grinned, "I am Bo's old coach. I've retired now..."
"...to become an NHL high flyer."
Laurence shrugged, "I work in an office not at a rink, that's retirement for me."
Bo rolled his eyes, "this man is a legend of the game, as a player, as a coach, and now as an NHL official. Don't let him tell you different."
He puffed out a breath, but didn't argue, "it's so good to see you though Bo, after the fall...you disappeared."
He nodded, "I know, not my greatest moment, but I was at rock bottom. Doing good now though, playing again, in Britain." When Laurence nodded, he added, "though I've taken time to get my head around it all."
Laurence clapped him on his back, "I am amazed that you are playing again after what happened, that's a sign of your determination. You may not be enthralled, but you're back there. Playing."
"I was very unhappy, but I am getting there. Don't think I've ever enjoyed playing like I do now."
He grinned, "that's great to hear. The pressure on high school and college players is huge, and then there's the NHL – if you make it. Don't think anyone has the time to look at what they're doing and appreciate it. I like hearing this. We need more of that in the sport.
"I should leave you to your breakfast, but may see you after the game?" When Bo nodded, shaking his hand once more, Laurence fished in his pocket. "There's always a place in the NHL family for an injured player, cut off in his prime. Call me, if you ever need me?"
Bo blushed, it wasn't something she saw a lot, and smiled, at the two men, who turned from a hand shake to a man hug.
Sitting back down, he thumbed the business card that Laurence had handed him.
"That was great, you wanted an 'in', he's just handed you it."
He nodded, looking at the card, then flicked his eyes back to hers, "past tense."
She looked at him quizzically, so he added, "I wanted that, I focussed on that, because that would mean I wasn't a failure, but now...I'm enjoying where I am, I am not lying about that."
She smiled, because the thought of him heading back to the States scared her.
The drive lasted about forty minutes, and was blighted by sleety showers, but Bo seemed unperturbed, he told her that driving in Boston or Chicago in the winter was worse, before they pulled into a car park.
"A reindeer park?" She turned in her seat to stare at him.
He nodded with a grin, "the furthest south place in the country to see Santa's little helpers."
Leaning across the car, she gave him a huge smacker of a kiss, "this is amazing!"
They wrapped up warm before getting out of the car, and took his gloved hand as he led her to the entrance.
He was a handsome man in jeans, or sports kit, and then there was his hockey uniform...but the sight of him wrapped up in a brightly coloured scarf, a dark knit beanie pulled down over his eyes, was sexy, and she kept leaning in to him, and it wasn't just for the warmth his huge body offered.
"Can't believe you've brought me to see reindeer."
He wrapped his arm around her, "see them in the wild, and also feed some that are less independent...they care for injured and orphaned animals here too."
She beamed up at him, "I can feed a real, bonafide reindeer?"It was almost too much to manage.
Chuckling he led her in to the park.
And so had followed the greatest three hours she'd had in a long time. Observing the deer in the distance, families, groups, huge make stags, in contrast to feeling lichen to the more tame animals in enclosures at the heart of the park. Then they'd joined other visitors in one of the wood huts for hot tea and lingonberry juice. It was all very quaint and felt far more Scandinavian than the rest of the trip.
By the time they got back to the car they were both cold, so the heaters were on full as they defrosted on their way back to the city.
The arena was full when they arrived, and the atmosphere was electric, considering that there was no competitive benefit to winning, other than the gloating factor. It seemed that lots of Europeans wanted to watch NHL stars play, and for the players, the chance to play against their own teammates was a motivation to make the game absolutely brutal.
Despite being American, Bo supported the European team along with Natasha, and she knew that was largely because he wanted to support Andreas over Nathan. From their seats high in the stadium that they couldn't tell who was playing at any time, other than referencing their programs, but they were so involved, and the game was end to end.
At the end of the second period, it was poised, dramatically at three all. Andreas, a powerful forward, had scored two of the goals. Nathan was currently three minutes into a four minute penalty for fighting, and both facts gave Bo a demonic smile on his face.
During the interval he loaded up with beer and chicken wings, and it was almost like being back in the States...it cost the same amount anyway.
The whole evening was as brilliant as the day. He loved spending time with Natasha, and the trip had been a huge success. Suddenly he didn't fear his parents visiting, didn't fear seeing Nathan again, and didn't feel a failure. If anything, he felt like a winner, this was what life was about, deep, meaningful relationships, something he didn't have outside of his family, and he was content, in a way he hadn't been before.
Natasha leaned into his embrace. And it was the most well timed move of the night. Confirming that he wanted to keep her in his life. He had no idea what would happen come the end of the season, but that was four months away, by then they'd know what to do, where there life was taking them. He wanted to play, of course he did, but suddenly his needs, his desires weren't the only thing left in his life.
Over time, then penalties made for a hugely climatic final, and it was almost cathartic that Nathan missed a penalty, and Andreas capitalised on his, sending the whole arena into chaos. Natasha threw her arms around his neck, screeching, then kissing him.
"I am so glad for you, this weekend has been like a fairy tale, and that was the icing on the cake."
He nodded, "I've loved it, every minute." He cupped her face in his hands, then smiled nervously, "I love you."