A/N Ok, so I guess the ending of this chapter is going to annoy a lot of you, but stick with me, and stick with it? A vital part of the story, next chapter is also ready to go and I will post it later today, once this gets a few views. Double chapter Wednesday. Enjoy, MZxxx
Chapter Fifty Seven
Bo had wanted to come to hers, but it was Wednesday, she had her zumba class, and it was ages since she'd seen Steph. So much had happened in the last ten days that it seemed like a lifetime. Natasha encouraged Bo to take his parents on a guided tour around town as they were only there for a few days.
It left her free to both zumba, and help her friend catch up with everything.
The class was unremarkable, they stood at the back and giggled like children whenever they got things wrong, then showered and headed for the bar downstairs. It was, after all, tradition.
"So," they were sitting with alcoholic smoothies in the corner of the room. Natasha looked at Steph, "how was your week away with lover-boy?"
After her earlier blip, when she almost got involved with a man nicknamed Porno, her and Ethan were a hundred percent back of track. Their trip to New York had been planned for a long time.
"It was amazing."
She spent a long time telling her all about the things she'd done, and seen. Sights, sounds...but then New York was a very vibrant place, not that she'd been there since her mid teens.
Steph blushed, and that piqued her interest, "what is that blush all about?" Natasha pressed her.
She fumbled in her bag, there brought out a box. Ring box.
"Is that...?" The unfinished question hung in the air, and she nodded.
"Cliche, maybe, but top of the Empire State Building, he dropped to one knee."
Natasha jumped up, "that is amazing."
The two women hugged, then Steph confessed, "if you'd told me he was going to propose, I'd have sworn I'd say no. But the last few months, the trip...things are so perfect."
"I am thrilled for you."
They sat down once more, and Natasha admired the ring. There were no plans for a wedding date, that would come in time.
"What about you? How was Helsinki?"
What to say?
Her friend had just had the most brilliant time, was engaged to the man she loved. How could she throw all her shit at her feet. But Coop's words came back to her, Mia deserved to be shared. This was no longer about her. This was so much bigger than just her.
Signalling to the barman, she waved at their drinks, silently asking for a repeat, he nodded. And Steph's eyes were focussed on her, when she turned back.
"It needs another drink? You haven't broken up with Bo?"
Natasha smiled, "the opposite, he told me he loves me."
Steph's eyes lit up, "that's amazing. Why the second drink?"
Natasha took a deep breath, "in Helsinki...I ran into my past."
It had killed Bo not to spend the night with Natasha, but she had to have her own space, and he had spent a quality evening with his parents, and he wasn't sure he could name the last time that had happened.
They'd caught the train to Liverpool after his training, and his mother, a self professed huge Beatles fan, loved visiting the Cavern as well as the Beatles museum. They had dinner in a nice restaurant at the Albert Dock and it had been after ten when their train for back into town.
As he was heading to bed, he received a message from Natasha, and it made him fall asleep with a smile.
Sorry that you're alone tonight. Catching up with Steph was so nice, we're on our third drink, but we have put the world to rights.
Hope you haven't gone stir crazy with your folks, I'll meet you tomorrow evening? Whatever you want to do. I'm yours.
The words made his heart soar. Life was that simple, be with her. There was the team breakfast at ten, but she was usually busy when they were happening, and it clearly wasn't the same as them being there alone.
But breakfast meet days were on their early training day – eight am start, and the last training session before their weekend games. So it was poignant. It was also hectic, usually a hard day. So he had left his parents in bed, then grabbed a granola bar to eat en route to this week's group gym sessions. It was usually some form of HIIT or circuits, followed by yoga or Pilates. A double whammy of pain. But nothing more than he was used to.
When he stepped into Heaven and Hell flanked by Nails the youngster and Porno Perez, his two closest teammates outside of Blake, the captain, he couldn't fight the smile on his lips at seeing Natasha at the counter. She was so beautiful, especially when she laughed, and she was chuckling along with an elderly man, a regular customer. Sliding into a chair, he could barely take his eyes off her, or the smile off his face.
"You've got it bad!" Blake announced dropping onto the seat opposite him and reaching for one of the muffins sat on a platter. "Grinning like some cartoon character."
Bo's response was to shrug, then wink at her, when her eyes finally met hers. She blushed, and he loved that she was still so open, so innocent with everything. Grinning he reached for a mug and filled it from a carafe on the table.
When the chair to his left was pulled out, he expected to see Jax Perez, the aptly named Porno sit beside him, instead he lost his appetite to see Vaughn, his arch nemesis at the club sat beside him. He was sure the man was racist, and as he was mixed race there were a lot of sly comments, whilst he avoided him as much as possible, the man was toxic, a poison leeching into every thing he touched.
"What do you want Bobby?" He asked glaring at him, he was the only player without a nickname, if you didn't count referring him to his surname Vaughn, and Bo knew that was a sign that no one had any real affection for him.
"Can't I sit by our team legend?"
That made him even angrier...and warier. He wasn't that, and Vaughn was trying to butter him up, the build up before an immense put down.
"Just say what you have to say, then move on."
Vaughn placed an arm around his shoulder and cackled, "don't be like that, Pen."
Blake was watching them both carefully, it had been his role as captain to manage these frictions, "keep it calm, both of you."
Vaughn leaned back in his seat, "just making chit chat and having breakfast. Good breakfast," he added. Then stared over his shoulder at the counter, and Natasha.
Bo felt his blood start to boil, "don't even look at her."
Vaughn laughed again, "really?" He took a mouthful of food before he spoke again, "thought you were into sharing her."
Bo half kicked back his chair when Blake reached for his arm, "cool it."
Instead he turned to Vaughn, "shut that ugly fucking mouth of yours. You hear?"
Shrugging he chewed some fruit, then offered, "only telling you what I hear. I mean, I thought Coop was happily married too..." As Bo slid his chair back further, Vaughn laughed, "hugging in this very room, they were spotted, why would I make that shit up?"
Blake leaned across, trying to get between them, "Vaughn, you have been warned, shut that mouth, because it is about to get you into a lot of trouble, with me....and the coach."
Vaughn gave a shrug, then sat back with a smirk, all the time his eyes flicking from Bo, who was glaring back at him, to Natasha, serving customers at the counter.
Bo was vibrating. He trusted Natasha, there was no doubt about that, this was the usual destructive version of Bobby fucking Vaughn. And he was annoyed that he was letting the prick rile him, but he was only human.
Blake was staring at him, trying to calm him with his eyes, some sort of telepathy that wasn't really working. Vaughn was like a red rag to his bullish side, and he was out for blood. Not because he believed him, just because he dared to speak about her. Natasha was out of bounds and once they got on the ice then he'd know about it.
Dropping his head, he tried to breathe through his anger, instead choosing to eat slowly.
By the time breakfast was finished he was calmer, and as his teammates made their way to the rink for some ice drills, he hung back and kind of slunk up to the counter, only for Natasha to emerge from the kitchen smiling at him.
"Hey, handsome, you all set for later?"
He nodded, as she reached up to kiss his lips gently, "thought I'm not sure dinner with my parents is what I really have in mind."
She grinned, that warm, face-lighting smile, that made him heated his blood down to this toes, "well, we all have our crosses to bear, and we'll be alone later."
That was said with promise and almost made him swoon.
It was whispered against her ear, and made her giggle, before she turned back to her customers.
Relief, despite what he had told himself, washed over Bo as he stepped outside the cafe. He loved Natasha, and was pretty sure she felt the same way, and he was happy to wait...however long it took.
As he was about to climb into his car, his phone rang.
"Oh Bo, darling..." his mother. "We've travelled to London...we haven't been for years, and, well, your father has run into some friends so we're going to spend the night here. Is that OK?"
As much as he'd appreciated seeing his parents, he was more than happy to change plans, especially with Natasha promising so much albeit cryptically.
"Aw, damn. I'll have to cancel the limousine and five star restaurant reservations...not sure they're refundable."
"Bo!" His mother groaned, "if I thought that was happening I'd stay away, I'd much rather chill on the sofa with you and hear all about life."
He laughed, "Mom, of course it's OK. Enjoy London. I'll catch up with you tomorrow afternoon, before my game. I'll be home at about two. I've got some appointments in the morning."
"Perfect, thank you darling, we love you."
There was not an ounce of regret in his body as he turned back to the cafe, he was going to lay down a promise without a hint of subtlety, because he was going to give Natasha a great night.
Beaming he turned the corner, and that was when he froze in his tracks. In the furthest corner of the cafe, away from the counter stood Natasha, she had her back to him, but he knew it was her. But it was Coop that stood in front of her, his arms wrapped around her, her face buried into his neck.
He stepped back, pain lancing through him, he didn't know what to think. All he could see was the intimacy of a moment he wasn't meant to witness.
Vaughn stood across the ice wiping blood from his nose, his eyes trained on Bo. Before he dropped out of the NHL he had never been a fighter, in fact he'd had several enforcers beat opposition on his behalf. But since he'd come to the UK, he had thrown himself in to far too many fights. Mainly because he had hated being in the team. That was an emotion long since gone, and he'd been able to ignore Vaughn's incessant snaps since, because his life was good.
He glanced at the two people helping Vaughn off the ice, his eye and lip split. Far too much aggression for a training session.
"What the fuck happened here?" Coop wasn't in skates, he'd been meeting with the team owners, but he'd obviously heard about the incident on the ice.
How he'd waited, even warned Vaughn that he'd take him out. But the final straw had been another mention of Natasha and Coop being an item, and he saw red. The first punch had taken him by surprise, and the second had happened before Vaughn could react and connect with him.
He managed a couple of body shots, but with Bo's padding they barely registered. But he had rained a series of hits to his head and body.
Before he was pulled off and thrown across the ice to 'cool it.'
Now Coop stood, in a suit and shoes, on the ice, hands on hips glaring at him.
"I asked a question, Holding."
It was always Holding when he was in the shit, but frankly, he had no cares.
"I fucking hit, that fucking dick." He skated up to Coop, towering over his coach as he was without his skates.
"What the fuck is wrong with you? You are on the verge of making your comeback after almost a month out, and you fight...in training...with a teammate. I thought we were so over this." He turned to the rest of the team, "warm down...properly. Blake?" The captain nodded, taking the rest of the team away from the debacle that was Bo.
"You..." Coop ran a hand through his hair. "I put a hundred percent faith in you all the time, and you repeatedly let me down, you have no idea the wars I have about you."
That made Bo gulp, he presumed that everyone at the club appreciated him, but that still didn't assuage his anger, that void inside him that made him want to lash out.
"Use the opposition locker room, shower and change, and be in my office in ten minutes or I will fucking lose my head. You get that Holding?"
He nodded, dropping his head and skating petulantly off the ice.
When he emerged from the shower, which was cold, typically, his kit bag had been brought in by someone and tossed on a bench. Whilst everyone in the team, other than a couple of cronies, disliked Vaughn, him ripping the man apart in training wasn't going to be well received. Coop was well within his rights to bench him, just what he didn't want...or need. His parents were there, then there was Natasha...his chest hurt just thinking about her.
He dragged on his club training top, some jeans and a Hornets baseball cap to cover his wet hair, then headed out to face up to all he'd done.