Passing Through (Love/Hate Part Three)

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Part Six

Chapter Six

There was no way that the disgusting Vaughn was going to get his hands on that captivating woman whoever she was. Bo didn't know her, but he knew that bastard didn't deserve her, or rather she deserved SO much better. Not that he was thinking that meant him, but it was definitely more than Vaughn and his fucking attitude.

He started to cross the room, easing his way through the crowd, when he stopped. What was he doing? He was no do-gooder and he wasn't a hero, swinging in on his vine like Tarzan to save the day. Plus she wouldn't appreciate it....she might like Vaughn's spiel, might enjoy the technique he was sure was akin to bartering at an abattoir over a slab of meat approach.

He took a deep breath, she'd followed the game, plus he'd seen enough of her to know that she understood the rules. That surprised him, no one else here did, he was sure. And she'd been reading A Clockwork Orange earlier. No one took on a book like that without having some nous, and he couldn't believe that Vaughn had the intellect to keep her entertained. He'd majored in literature at university, and whilst he only lasted two semesters, the NHL taking him from there, he left with a healthy passion for obscure classics like that book. He wasn't an intellect, but he was a million miles from that heathen. He despised him.

But he wasn't offering anything else, this was a stop gap for him, and he wasn't about to get involved with someone. If that was what she was looking for. Was she?

He'd never felt so out of sorts, the perpendicular desires to both cross the room and rip Vaughn's head off, and run away and leave her to it warred in his head. Detouring to the right he shit out, made for the bar and ordered a large whisky. Staring at it for a moment, he took a deep breath, then raised the glass and knocked it back in one.

"Serious drink."

He glanced to his left to see Coop beside him, nodding, hating the seemingly perfect man, with his perfect life for a moment, he slammed the glass back on the bar, "I need it. This is a fucking disaster, Coop."

The older man shrugged, his eyes not leaving Bo, "which bit, being in a room full of women who are all enthusiastic to meet you?"

"It makes me feel like a piece of meat."

He shrugged again, "maybe, but it's just one night. Keep your head down, smile when needed, then walk away, go home. That's it. Job done."

Bo couldn't help the scowl ravaging his face, and he turned around to face the room, eyes immediately drawn to Vaughn, still towering over the same woman.

"Pah. He is different, and he's only going to get what someone wants to give, remember that." Coop leaned close to comment at his ear.

"He's a fucking predator." His eyes burning into the back of the man, yet he was oblivious.

Coop laid an arm around his shoulders, "why do you think I'm here? I am overseeing this event, ensuring that nothing untoward happens. So relax." He glanced at Bo, and saw his eyes were still fixed on the couple talking. "Are you worried about Natasha? She can more than hold her own, and I am DEFINITELY keeping my eye on her. OK?"

He turned to stare at Coop for a moment, bewildered as he digested the strangers name, his coach still grinning at him. When he nodded, Coop patted him on the back, then moved away, leaving him to digest things.

Natasha fought the eye roll that threatened to display her inner turmoil, Bobby, that's how he had introduced himself, was schmoozing at probably his best level. And she was unimpressed, she didn't want to "feel his guns", hear about his "bedroom prowess", or have a shot of "the best vodka". He was trying to get her drunk, and into his bed, the message was there, in neon lights. Typical bloody athlete.

"Vaughn, there's a woman at the bat wanting to see your slap shot."

Natasha watched as the man in front of her lifted his eyes to the voice, torn between the obvious suggestion, and the hard work she was proving to be in front of him. She could only imagine what slapshot was a euphemism for. And she had NO intention of seeing it. As he bit his lip and glanced towards the bar, she looked at the voice that had saved her from "death by crap chat-up-line". Then she froze.

She had tried to avoid the team's number thirty one as soon as she realised that he was the man she'd attempted to flirt with. During the game he'd been wearing a helmet, the face shield hiding his eyes. But at the end of the game, as the players stood on their blue lines, waiting for the game announcements, he took his headwear off. And instantly she realised who he was, the only man she'd felt attracted to on instinct for years.

Now, here he was, less than two feet from her, she couldn't help but meet his gaze, see his dark eyes trained on her, and that smooth skin, rugged jaw. Charisma in bucket loads.

She was holding her breath as Bo broke into a smile for her eyes only, patting Bobby on the back and pushing him in the direction of the bar. A dazzling smile, with his straight white teeth, full kissable lips.

She froze, she never thought of men in those ways, never spent time romanticising or idealising occasions or situations, she was a pragmatist, practical, she'd learned to be that way. She'd didn't describe lips as kissable, that was a romance novel, her life was everything but.

Shaking herself, she smiled in his direction, "he's a little overpowering."

That made Bo beam for a brief second. "That about sums him up."

Nodding awkwardly, she made to turn away, "thanks."

But he reached out and gripped her arm, firmly, not forcibly, stopping her in her tracks, "don't rush off. I don't bite."

He was American, she knew that from the cafe incident, but now she could tell his accent was definitely surfer, West Coast, she hated that she recognised that. That it was so familiar. Yet represented such a distant time.

"You sure about that?" She asked raising an eyebrow, "because it seems that everyone else in this room either bites....or wants to be bitten."

He turned his eyes to caress the room slowly, thoughtfully as though he was digesting and savouring her words. She knew that he couldn't fail to see the heavy flirting happening everywhere, the older, fatter, less fashionable on the outskirts, the perfect, glamorous already entwined with the exotic players. It was no different from in school playgrounds. That perceived hierarchy based on looks alone, you could be a first class bitch, but if you were skinny with shapely boobs, and typically blond hair, you won everything.

She scowled, at that thought, just as he moved. Facing her again.

"All a bit strange, hey?"

That surprised her, "you mean you're not here to find some action for the evening?"

"You think I'm talking to you for ulterior motives?"

Did she? She told herself that it didn't matter either way, because she had no interest anyway. So she shrugged, and he leaned in close, "I am not like Vaughn, I'm not a scumbag."

She'd upset him, with an incline of her head, she offered, "sorry, I didn't mean to offend. Just never felt so much like a piece of meat in my life before." It was a lie, she had once. And that sick feeling had felt like a distant memory until now.

"Funny, just used that exact same term to Coop, about myself."

That made her snap to attention, "really?"

"You sound surprised?" When she shrugged he added, "shit! Men have feelings too. We're not all superficial pricks chasing sex at all costs."

It was his time to turn away, to storm off, and it was her turn to haul him back, "sorry. I didn't mean to offend."

"No? Just judged me, wrote me off as the media depiction of an overconfident sportsman, hey?"

Blushing she frowned, "isn't that the same way we're both judging the beautiful women over there?" Because that was true, he was looking down his nose at the women in the room, just as she was.

When he nodded, he offered a hand, "truce?"

She cocked her eyebrow staring at him for a long moment, "only if we can stand in a corner and bitch about everyone else?"

With a laugh that was a warm, comforting sound, he nodded his head, and they shook hands.

"I'm Bo."

That made her giggle, "so I hear." When he looked at her questioningly, she shrugged non committally, "a few dozen women were chanting that name through the game." He blushed a little, but his face remained vague, he obviously had no idea who she was. "I'm Natasha."

Shaking her hand, he mused slightly, "name to the book. That helps."

"What do you mean?"

He leaned against the wall, his eyes on her, "you were reading, in the rink. Burgess."

Her eyes flashed, "you've read it? A Clockwork Orange?"

Nodding, he sipped at the bottle of beer she'd not spotted in his hand, "yup. Studied literature a bit in college. Love Anthony Burgess."

An educated man....who reads.

She was a goner.

Freya dragged Natasha away long before Bo was ready to let her go, she was funny, far wittier than he expected, and she sparkled, from her laugh, to the twinkle on her eyes, she held his attention, completely.

Now he was ensconced in a 'chat' with two of the younger British players and a few fans who were too young to make the radar of the main team players. But he was distracted, barely paying attention to the others. Every few minutes he glanced across the room, to her. Natasha.

She was talking to Coop, making him laugh, she'd been with him and Freya all night. He wanted to march up, buy her a drink, drag her away from his coach, but he couldn't. Instead he had to pretend that the night wasn't hell.

As he watched, Freya reached into her bag and pulled out her phone, then answered it with an alarmed look on her face. Something was happening, she'd turned green. He liked Coop, wanted to help, so he crossed towards them, seeing Freya hang up then reach for an equally worried looking Coop.

"Everything OK?" he asked as he joined them.

Freya grimaced, "Lizzie, my sister-in-law has gone into early labour, we need to go get their kids."

Coop nodded, "it's OK, Frey, keep calm. Sorry, Tash, we can't drop you home it's the opposite direction, and seems we have to get there asap."

She waved her hands, "It's fine."

"I'll make sure she gets home safe."All eyes turned to him, but it was Coop's that studied him the most.

"You will?"

"I'm not a baby, I can get myself home." She protested, hating that they were acting as though she wasn't there.

Coop, who was helping his wife into her coat, paused to glance at her, "not out here. It's not the best part of town. I wouldn't let you find your way home alone. So thanks, Bo. I owe you one."

The man in question waved that away, instead watching the two leave.

"I'm going home alone, I'm OK." Natasha, all angry and independent was glaring up at him.

He shrugged a response, "promised my coach. No going back. He's the boss."

When she scowled, he laughed, "let me get you a drink." Without waiting for a response, he made for the bar.

Natasha watched him cross the room and felt the scowl lessen, he was a compulsive force. Strong, domineering, and obviously used to getting his own way, and she wasn't going to let him steamroller her. He was dressed like the others, a dark suit, pale shirt and Hornet striped tie. None of it hid, but rather enhanced the perfect specimen that he was. They were all huge, she imagined that maybe just one of the players was under six foot. But Bo stood out, with his broad shoulders, muscled chest and slim waist, and as she watched the back of him as he moved to the bar, she ogled him in a way she'd never ogled a man before. His legs were thick, with muscled thighs, and he had the fullest, most defined arse that she'd ever seen. The suit trousers clung to him, draped over his more than impressive physique, and she swooned, literally.

She would have said until that very moment that she had never found that attractive on a man, not really cared. She was definitely a shoulder, chest and face gal, but WOW. She fanned herself, embarrassed that she felt so hot under the collar from gawping at him, but she did.

Her mind drifted to images of those legs wrapped around her. That made her shudder, she had never reacted like this to anyone, ever.

She had to get out before things got too out of control. Reaching for her phone, she pulled up a taxi app, and smiled when she saw a taxi just a couple of streets away. Within moments, she was in it, and heading home, her heart still pounding, her pelvis throbbing, and her nerves more frazzled than ever before.

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