Part Fifty Three
Chapter Fifty Three
They'd been away for three nights, but as the taxi pulled up to the cafe, Natasha couldn't help but feel like it was months since she'd stood there, months since the cafe was all she had to worry about. As she got out of the cab, she spotted Bo getting out the other door, paying the driver.
"I'm not going home," he offered when he looked up at her. "We're not parting like this."
She wasn't sure what 'like this' meant, but she knew that the sense of suffocation, a lack of air, wasn't going away.
"You want me to go?" He asked, as if reading her mind. But then the thought of sitting down alone scared her. She liked Bo, more than liked him, his company, his humour...she just hated that he knew so much about her. Saw her every flaw...knew her so deeply.
But it didn't change how he felt about her, he was quick to tell her that. Her own insecurities meant that she wasn't really believing his sincerity, but the alternative, him leaving her alone was more painful than anything else.
Shaking her head, she led him into her apartment, and the enclave that was her home.
"I made meatballs before we went away, froze them. I can cook them with spaghetti for dinner?"
Bo kicked the door closed behind him and placed their bags in the hallway, "you know a way to a man's heart is via his stomach, right?"
That made her smile, and she could barely remember the last time she smiled, in reality it would have been the previous day, but in her heart, it seemed like weeks ago.
"I guess I do get a tick in some boxes then?"
Chuckling, he shrugged off his jacket, then stalked across the room to her, pushing her back with his body, until the far wall stopped her.
"You tick every one of my boxes, Miss Ingram, don't you know that?"
She licked her lips, suddenly all her fears, all her worries were a long way away, and all it took was that dominant side of Bo for her to forget. He was her sole focus as he lowered his face to hers.
"Is that a fact?" She asked her head tilted coyly, her eyelashes fluttering.
That made him growl, and drop his lips the rest of the way to devour her lips. Her hands flew over his body as his mouth nibbled it's way to her ear.
"Life is hard, but this works, we work. Don't forget that."
He definitely made her feel like no one else had, he made her forget, which was the greatest gift. Tugging at his sweater, she pushed it over his head, then set about tasting him, teasing him, biting him. He tolerated a few minutes, before dragging her clothes off, then returning the favour, dropping to his knees to consume her with his tongue.
She was spent, a mess, and there was nothing better than watching her slide down the wall in to his arms. Knowing that he made her mindless, boneless, that he could make her forget everything was the greatest high. It would all be there tomorrow, but for now, in this moment, they could both pretend that everything was perfect.
It had been a nice evening, sex that literally blew Natasha's mind, followed by dinner, curled up on the sofa together, her meatballs were pretty special. Then sleeping in Bo's arms, almost forgetting the previous twenty four hours.
He was meeting the coaches and medical team at nine, which was hours after her early start. Freya had left her lots of messages, and it seemed that they had all coped admirably well in her absence.
It was just after eight when the door to the cafe opened and Bo walked in, dressed in his club tracksuit, and looking absolutely stunning. The place was quiet, most of the trade that early was take-out coffee for people on their way to work, but there were a group of students in the corner, mostly female, and they seemed to share her admiration, one even gave a low wolf whistle.
Bo didn't blush, instead he turned and waved in their direction, before leaning over the counter to give her a traffic stopping kiss.
She rolled her eyes, but inside she swooned.
"Morning," he offered when he finally pulled back.
She grinned, "sleep well? You looked so peaceful I didn't want to wake you."
"Yup, like a baby, something about this cute and extremely sexy woman rubbed up against me."
She placed the back of her hand on her forehead in mock indignation, "surely the compliment would be if you weren't able to sleep?"
Again he chuckled, "it was well after midnight when you let me go."
She turned to pour him a mug of coffee, hiding the smug smile that was threatening to erupt on her face, "I think it was mutual, Bo Holding."
His smile was so addictive, he was so genial, that she wanted to swoon for the third time since he'd walked in, "it was definitely mutual." Taking the mug, he leaned in to whisper, "I am definitely addicted to you."
Full blush. No half measures, and eh smiled as she dropped her eyes coyly, "don't you go all shy on me, Miss Ingram. I know what a vixen you are really."
"Breakfast?" She managed with a hoarse groan.
His eyes not leaving hers, he nodded, "granola, yoghurt and berries. Can you add it to my tab?"
She rolled her eyes, "the one you pay in kind?"
That made him grin, she knew he liked her sassy streak, "I reckon I'll have to eat you up for this...twice."
How did you answer that?
Mid morning, the quiet time before lunch, the door swung open and Freya appeared, Benji on her hip.
"Hey, girlfriend. How was the dirty weekend?"
Natasha wanted to laugh, and cry. All in one. As Freya studied her, picking up on her nuances, she knew she had to say something.
"Wonderful and character building in equal measures." When Freya lifted an eyebrow in question, she sighed, "it's a bottle of wine story. Soon. But the rest of the time was delightful."
"Lover boy lived up to expectation?"
Natasha couldn't hide the smile, because she was right, other than those couple of hours after the game, Bo had been perfect.
"He definitely did. How was this place?"
Freya's eyes lit up, "amazing! I have loved working here, it's been excellent. For a whole weekend I stopped feeling like a mother and wife first...I was me! Freya the worker."
"That's great news."
She nodded, "that means I'll be glad to hear of you disappearing off into the sunset with that hunk in the future."
She wanted to smile, but Natasha wondered desperately if that would happen again, she knew she was still pushing him away, but she didn't know how to change that, how to open up to him.
Freya was staring at her with concern, "you look terrible, all of a sudden. Are you OK?"
Natasha nodded, "just a busy weekend, late nights, lots of travelling."
Freya reached out and clasped her hand, "you're making me worry. What the hell happened?"
"It wasn't that bad..."
"Do you want to talk? I can come back a bit later?"
Natasha had called Steph, but she was away for another two days with work. She had wanted to talk to her desperately. But she'd only know Freya for a few months, and she wasn't sure that she was ready to open up to someone who was still not far from a stranger.
"Look, you don't have to commit," Freya smiled, "I'll come back at about four thirty...see how you're feeling."
"I don't want to put you out."
She shook her head, "you won't. If you're doing good, then I'll head home, if you want a chat...need a shoulder...then I'll be here."
"Frey...I..." she made to protest, but the other woman just smiled, handed her some paperwork for the last few days, then ducked out.
I'm back on the ice. As of today!
Natasha could feel the jubilation in the brief yet emotional text. Not skating was killing Bo, and playing even more so.
Brilliant, does that mean I won't see you for a while then? Catch up!
She could see that he was immediately replying and it was seconds before his reply popped up.
Coop's taking his kids and Oscar's skating in a bit. Said I'd help teach them. After school – so I won't be knocking on your door for a while. Don't forget me in my absence.
It was meant in jest, but also it wasn't too. She'd pushed him back and he was hanging on for dear life.
I'll not forget you, as I recall you left your hockey boot bag in my hallway...I'll trip over it every time I go in and out.
It wasn't true, though he had left a lot of things at hers. And she wanted him to come back for them.
You mean skates? They are SKATES!!!!!!
She was still sniggering hours later at his indignation. But he had sent her a selfie of him at the practice rink on his 'skates'. Which had made her laugh even more.
At just after half past four, the door opened, and Freya peeped in. Without any kids.
"I hear Coop is teaching your offspring to skate."
She nodded, "and your hunk is helping. I just know that the girls will be crushing on him for weeks."
That made Natasha laugh, "like Coop isn't a beautiful man."
"You look better."
Sharp change in topic, but Natasha knew that Freya was here to support her.
"It's been a long day, but I feel like I'm back where I belong. You want a coffee?"
Freya stepped inside and shut the door, "depends if you want company."
Natasha turned to the gleaming chrome coffee machine, "I'm driving myself insane, not sure if it'll help, but I have to do something to stop myself going insane."
"Better lock the door then," Freya offered, flipping the sign on the door to 'closed'.
She'd made Welsh Cakes this afternoon, and there was nothing nicer than fresh ones. She placed a plate with some on between their mugs and slipped into the seat opposite her.
Natasha sighed, "is beautiful. We had wonderful meals, tours of the city, and Bo took me to a reindeer park...we fed reindeer and had mulled wine..."
"He's such a romantic."
She nodded, "I'm getting to see that, nothing was too much trouble. Even when his ex best friend arrived."
She told her briefly about Nathan and how he'd been so anxious, but had stood up to him so well, and how they could barely keep their hands off each other.
"You're glowing," Freya offered with a chuckle, "you don't need to elaborate."
Natasha smiled, "it couldn't have been better."
Reaching for her mug, she sipped some, then cradled it in her hands. "I told you before that I'd had a rough time in the past."
"I'm sure you mentioned an ex when you and Bo had fallen out."
She nodded, "when I was living in Cambridge, Mass. One of my father's students. Older man, teenage girl. You get the rest."
She sighed, "I hate where my head is taking me. You loved him, he used you?"
Natasha smiled at her astuteness, "and you say you were emotionally inept as a youngster. Nail on head."
"And then you meet Bo and he's another cocky jock..."
"Both hockey players."
Freya placed her hands over her face, "shit. No wonder you were reluctant to trust him when he was being a knob."
"Exactly." She sipped her coffee again, "but I haven't been serious with anyone since."
Freya was pensive, "and this weekend?"
"AS we were leaving, he was there. The man from the past."
It was her friend's turn to be contemplative, "but he can't get between you. Surely?"
Taking a deep breath, she turned to Freya, and told her what she hadn't told anyone until this weekend. Repeating it for a third time didn't make it any easier, but she was a little less emotional. And that was a good thing. For the first time she didn't cry.