We win our last pre-season game. Nothing to get too excited about, but it puts us in a good mood for a long day of TV stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I like to talk about myself. But it’s a whole lot of boring and waiting.
In the locker room after, Olivia sends a couple of reporters my way. I scored the Stanley Cup winning goal last season and they want to know how I’m going to follow it up. I rattle off something innocuous because it’s expected, and because I have no idea how to follow up last season.
She talks with Dave, the Media Director, and gets him to clear the press out as early as possible. It’s going to be a long season and there will be plenty of time to talk without really saying anything.
“Want to get a drink with us, Liv?” Crosby asks, making a mess of his tie. For someone who’s been in the spotlight since he was 5, you’d think he could figure this out. She bats his hands away and quickly makes a perfect Windsor knot. I don’t like that anymore than I liked Geno huddling into her.
Sid’s eyes get wide when she turns to fetch her coat and bag. It was just going to be me, Sid and Kris, but it’ll be a party now. We hadn’t really had the chance to invite her out before. Maybe I guessed she’d decline. I desperately want her to be full of surprises.
She follows us in her car to a low-key Irish bar a few miles away. As we pull in, Sid’s phone rings.
“No, we’re okay. It’s Tuesday,” he says. “I’m sure. Yeah, you can wear it.”
I realize it’s her, asking if he needs to go in the back way. She’s calling his cell phone, which is obviously in her contacts since she dialed while driving. She’s called him before.
It’s Crosby. He’s a player personnel nightmare. A full-time job. That’s it, I tell myself.
Sidney just smiles as he puts the car in park. TK and Geno pull in, followed by Marc and his girlfriend. Jordan brings up the rear.
We push some tables together in the back. Olivia and Jordan carry pitchers from the bar, and she also balances a Jack and Coke that Sidney didn’t have to order. She takes the chair next to Kris and I see his brow crease. It relaxes slightly when she pours him a pint.
“Sláinte,” she says, raising her glass. “Thanks for inviting me.”
Vero clinks her glass in cheers. “I hate being the only girl around here.”
I’m three seats away, but the chair on her other side is empty. Seating fail. She was the last to sit and though we all want to claim that spot it would be too awkward. Marc grins at us each in turn, calling us out for staring at the empty chair.
She talks naturally to Kris, who seems to be holding his own. She’s casual and engages Vero and Marc in the conversation, keeping the pressure low. I think it’s sweet that she’s going out of her way to make Kris comfortable. I’m sure Kris is also appreciating it, for many reasons.
Another group of patrons puts a song on a jukebox and a few people start to dance. Before I can form the thought, Jordan is up.
“Liv, dance with me.” He has her up before she can answer. The song is Keith Urban, something Sidney would like. Country boys. Jordan puts one palm on her hip and the other takes her hand as they two step slowly. This looks like some kind of calendar shoot with her in that Pens t-shirt. As tall as Geno, Jordan also leans down to speak to her. She’s laughing and he doesn’t stop.
“May I cut in?” I ask as the song ends. Jordan pushes her into my arms a little too hard, causing her to almost fall into me. He straightens her up and flexes again.
The next song is country too – I don’t know it but Olivia does. She lets me lead her around the floor. After seeing her joke with Jordan, I feel awkwardly silent. I’m too close to her body. She seems happy to be quiet, so I go with it. One of her hands is on my shoulder blade, her forearm resting against my bicep. The other hand is in mine. I wonder if my skin is rough, if she’s thinking about me touching her.
She’s thinking about you. They always are. This is perfectly normal, like always. I repeat this to myself. Except there’s no way in hell she’s going home with you. Why does that make this so tough?
“You smell good,” she says. “Are you wearing Eternity?”
“I haven’t smelled that in years,” she’s shaking her head. “I would have pegged you for something trendy, Max. Instead you are a classic.”
Then she sends us home early.
“Get your beauty sleep, boys. We’ll sell more tickets if you look hot tomorrow.” She gives Vero a hug, leaving us all jealous as she gets in her car.
Only Max could make cologne from 1992 smell so good, Olivia giggles to herself in the car. I’m upgrading Jordan to a 35. He’s a good dancer and holy crap, his hands are huge.
I wake up in the middle of night, sweating, with a huge hard on. I was dreaming about Olivia – we were in her office. I was scratched from the game and we were hiding, we could hear the crowd screaming outside. I knelt behind her and slowly slid her pencil skirt up her thighs and over her ass. She leaned over her desk, black g-string nestled into the crack as I stroked myself to fully hard. Then I took the plunge, pressing myself into the tightest, wettest pussy I’d ever had. She looked back at me, over her shoulder with her sexy glasses on.
“Max, we’re not allowed to do this,” she said, before raising her hips and driving back into me, swallowing me whole. She twisted and rocked, meeting my thrusts with sharp, short cries of pleasure. Her breasts were out of her open shirt and she pinched her own nipple while she met my eye.
“Harder, Max. I want you all the way inside me,” she purred.
I gave it to her as hard as I could, apparently so hard that I woke myself up. From the deep, hot core of her sweet pussy to the empty, cold sheets… talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. I conjure an image of her, boobs falling out of a too-small demi-cup bra, walking around my house with jeans unbuttoned at the waist. About the time she’s having her way with a cherry popsicle, I finish myself off.
I walk to her office at 10:15 with two shirts on hangers. Talking on the phone, she waves me in. She’s wearing a bright blue silk blouse with some ruffling down the front, like a tuxedo. Her hair is up in a high ponytail.
As she speaks, she scribbles on a sticky note and holds it up.
I hold the green shirt up in front of my chest. She tilts her head and waves for the black one. Black always looks good on TV, nice and easy with no wrinkles. But she motions for the green one back, admires it and gives me a thumbs-up.
“Really?” I mouth.
She covers the receiver and whispers. “Put it on.”
I almost take a step out the door. Almost. Catching myself, I turn away from her and smile hugely. Thank God no one can see my face. The black shirt goes on the nearby couch and I pull my t-shirt over my head. I hear her exhale a silent laugh.
I have the shirt over one arm when a balled up piece of paper hits me. I look over my shoulder. She is waving for me to turn around. As I do, her eyes follow my bicep onto my tattoos. It is difficult to resist the urge to flex as she looks openly at my body.
There it is. That flicker, that spark. She wants me.
Without shifting her gaze, she says, “Yes, absolutely” and hangs up the phone. “I have no idea who I was talking to.” Then she giggles.
For Christ’s sake, are there cameras in these offices? If I had my way with her right here, would anyone find out?
“Put your shirt on quick, before someone comes by,” she makes a face that says ‘yikes.’ I pull on the green shirt and button it.
“I usually wear black.”
She shakes her head, taking me in while clothed. “I like that one. Makes your 5 o’clock shadow look roguish.”
I will wear this shirt everyday for the rest of my life. I’ll buy 30 of them.
“What are your tattoos?” I tell her the story behind each.
She comes around the desk and swings her leg up to rest a foot on the top of the chair. It’s a really flexible move and pulls her black slacks tightly over her ass and thigh. I take what I hope is a casual step backward. Olivia lifts the cuff from her ankle.
“My brother and I have matching ones too.” There it is, up close. A small, intricate snowflake is just above and behind her right ankle. I squat down like I need to really examine it. Today she smells like clean laundry. The urge to run my finger over the tattoo makes me tremble.
“Why a snowflake?” I cough, standing up.
“My parents had a bed and breakfast growing up, the Snow Shed. We lived there forever.” A wistful look crosses her face as she remembers something happy. If ever I’ve been on the verge of kissing her, it’s now.
“Olivia?” a voice calls.
Fucking fucker, fuck off! Woah. Rein it in. My heart jumps.
One of the NBC producers stands in the door. Good thing I am dressed. Olivia tells him that we’re ready and we follow him up stairs to a conference room turned media suite. I sit for 15 minutes while they figure out the lighting and adjust their camera angles. Olivia sits in the interviewer chair so they can calibrate that as well. She asks me silly questions.
“What is your favorite color?” Blue.
“What is your favorite movie?” Braveheart.
“Boxers or briefs?” Whichever she prefers. Boxer briefs, she says getting it right.
“Most embarrassing thing you don’t remember?” I woke up one morning on vacation in a rowboat being poked with an oar by a very angry Spanish woman.
I stop her. “Wait wait, this interview is awfully one sided.”
“No one cares what I think,” she protests.
“Favorite movie?” I demand. She says The Empire Strikes Back.
“Bikinis or g-strings?” Depends on the outfit.
“Most embarrassing moment you don’t remember?” A vacation story of her own - she once woke up on a beach in Greece, a mile from her hotel wearing a crown and painted completely blue.
“What was the fourth question?” I ask. She’s asked me four. The producer announces they’re ready and Olivia gets up to leave.
She stands, facing me. “My favorite color is green.”
Olivia had a few thoughts before lunch. They were all wiped out when Max took his shirt off. It was like pulling the tablecloth away without disrupting the dishes. Everything looks good, but the foundation is very unstable.
I finally finish my media stuff an hour later. I’ve talked the life out of that Cup-winning goal. Back downstairs, I hear voices from the locker room.
“I can’t watch,” Olivia says as I walk into the room. Crosby sits in front of his locker, camera crew setting up.
“You have to, that’s your job.” His tone is teasing.
She shakes her head. “I signed that ‘no consorting with players’ form. I’m pretty sure there’s a clause in there that I cannot watch you do pushups. Or eat ice cream. Or a million other things. And if there isn’t, there should be.”
Sidney looks at me and smiles. “Max will come with us. Witnesses.”
Olivia gives me a ‘kill me now’ look and follows Sid from the room. I don’t know what’s going on, but they are having too much fun to be left alone. We go to the gym where another camera crew has lit the place up like Las Vegas.
They’re filming him working out. For fuck’s sake.
The producer explains the shot. Sid’s in professional mode now, the jokes are over. But he looks at her a few times to make sure she’s still there. It’s not showing off if it’s work. I can hear him thinking. They do a few takes of him lifting free weights, then a barbell. He smiles at her as he climbs into prone position on the leg press. The trainer choreographs some move on the Cross-Fit and they shoot that.
“Porn,” she says quietly to me, as Sid is running hard in place.
“Too bad he’s such a nerd in real life,” I counter to keep her talking, keep her close.
“That’s part of his appeal. The boy next door.” She’s still watching him.
“Is that your type?” My mouth is dry even as I ask it.
She raises her eyes to mine. “I don’t have a type. Too predictable.”
Touché. My reputation with women precedes me in the hockey world. I like to have fun, to be casual. It’s exaggerated, probably because I purposely exaggerate it. Every team needs a Casanova, a ‘personality player.’ And hell, I love women. Especially when they love me first.
The producers move Sid to the next station. A small worried look crosses his face, but he puts on his game face, takes his shirt off and tosses it at Olivia.
I watch her, not him. She catches the shirt and gives him a death stare in return. He can’t see her face closely, can’t see her eyes flick quickly over his abs and chest, his bare arms. When he turns around, her eyes go a little bit wider. She snaps back quickly remembering that I am next to her.
“You guys have to stop taking your shirts off in front of me.”
40+ for Crosby. Holy fucking shit. Good thing Max was there or I would have been underneath him for those pushups. Fucking fire me! Who cares?! Olivia fans herself.
I finally run out of excuses to hang around. All that’s left is to ask if I can go in her office to get my black shirt. In the media suite, she’s looking into the monitor at Kris in the hot seat. She walks onto the set, squats down in front him and adjusts his collar. He’s tense, I can tell. Then she runs a hand through his hair, brushing it back from his face.
“Your hair is gorgeous,” she says. “Just make sure we can see your face.”
She confirms the monitor looks good, and the sees me. I might imagine that her eyes light up. I might hallucinate that she smiles. But she does really come over.
“Had enough? Me too.” She turns back to Kris, who’s getting a mic attached to his lapel.
“Can I get my shirt from your office?”
She nods. “Door’s open.”
Someday Kris will stop looking at me like I’m going to bite him. And then I will, Olivia smiles.
I take a moment to look around her office. She went to Dartmouth. A battered copy of the fourth Harry Potter book is marked halfway through. There are some photos – her in front of the Coliseum in Rome with another girl, skiing with a group, one of her and a guy in front of a fall foliage mountain backdrop. They look a little alike, probably her brother. No obvious boyfriend photos, though she’s too savvy for that.
Unless he put a ring on it, she wouldn’t have it around here.