Last night feels worse this morning. I pound a Gatorade and think: Thank God Staal doesn’t have a contract with them. I wouldn’t be able to drink this anymore. I know he’s with her. It’s like a disturbance in the Force. While I was paying someone to pretend to be Olivia, Jordan was probably enjoying the real thing. I want to wish him well at the same time I want to bury him in the backyard.
By the time I get to the morning skate, my head is a clear but my heart feels heavier. Erica seemed like a good idea at the time. Now it seems like something I should apologize for, even if only to myself. Olivia’s office door is mercifully closed as I walk by.
“Hey Max,” Jordan says as I step onto the ice. To his credit, he’s not smiling or gloating. Instead he looks almost concerned.
“Good time last night?” I only half-succeed in keeping the sneer from my voice.
“It was, yeah.” His face brightens to half-full, then stops. “But you should know that she said your name in her sleep.”
My mouth falls open. My heart misses a beat as I’m ecstatic… but also mortified for Gronk. To be with a woman, then have her dream about another guy. I’d want to die. And I sure as hell wouldn’t tell anyone, let alone the guy in question. My confusion must be obvious.
He shrugs. “I don’t know if it was good or bad. She could have dreamed she was fighting with you. But if it were me, I’d want to know.”
As if someday Olivia might be sleeping next to me and say his name. As if I’d care. Olivia could narrate a wet dream about the entire Red Wings organization and I’d just be thrilled to watch her sleep. Jordan skates away.
Olivia hadn’t meant to dream about Max. She’d shaken his image from her mind and curled against Jordan, satisfied and spent. Yet when she drifted off, it was right into Max’s house. He wore a sweater of greenish gray, the exact, impossible color of his eyes. Scruff lined his cheeks as he stood in his kitchen, explaining something to her that she could not hear. All she knew was she wanted him and she wanted out in equal measure. Her voice kept repeating, “Max, we’re not allowed to do this.” She didn’t know she’d spoken aloud.
She woke – tangled, naked, sticky – wrapped in Jordan’s arms. Relief washed over her before the memory of the night before made her blush. Olivia reveled in the comfort of his body until he woke, just in time for the skate.
“You weren’t kidding about hitting your sexual peak,” she said drowsily as he pulled the covers over her.
“Plenty more where that came from, kitten.”
She looks right at me. She remembers the dream, I can read it in her eyes. If only I knew what the dream entailed. Gronk doesn’t look too concerned as his eyes follow her across the room. My close observation catches the sly smile on Olivia’s face and the proud look on Jordan’s. Whatever happened last night must have been good. Goddamn it.
This is not casual! I want to scream. But you can’t have your cake and eat it too. I’d taken my casual sex road show nationwide. In my prime, there was a girl in every city who got called only if I couldn’t do better in the club that night. And yes, I let the gossip train run itself at full steam, making my reputation larger than my actual conquests. It was fun. It was casual. Too casual, apparently. Because what I see happening with Jordan and Olivia looked a lot better than anything I’d managed to create.
The warm weather has held and Olivia wears tailored Capri pants with heels and a little vest over a short-sleeved dress shirt. She looks like a ridiculously cute newsgirl. I watch Jordan as he watches her ass as she walks from the room.
What the hell was she dreaming about?
I spun at the sound of her voice. She waved me out of the locker room doorway and into her office. When I sat down, she had a big smile on her face.
“Want to do a photo shoot for GQ?”
“I’ve got a friend in their NY office and it’s taken me two years to convince them they should do something with hockey players. They use other athletes all the time. But they’re all guys and they have no idea how hot you all are. Now that I’m here, I finally have leverage!” She’s so proud of herself, I want to hug her. I would do anything she asked.
“They’re doing a photo shoot with John Varvatos. The League is working with him to sponsor some stuff, and they need guys for the shoot. Who better than the Stanley Cup champs? The catch is – no Crosby. He can’t because of his other deals. But I told them we have plenty more man candy to choose from.”
She has called me ‘hot’ and ‘man-candy’ inside of two minutes. I may sweep all those papers off her desk and go to town on those short pants. Instead I say, “Sure, I’ll do it.” She squeals and claps like she just won something.
“This is going to be AWESOME. Who else should we ask? We need three guys. Obviously Jordan.” She rolls her eyes, but she’d have asked him anyway. His bigness and blondness is a great contrast to most of the guys. “I’m thinking Tanger,” she continues. “Think he’s too shy? Would he be comfortable? I mean, he’s so hot that I have to go to church just to confess what I think about doing to him. But he doesn’t seem to know that.”
I laugh. “No wonder you make Kris nervous!”
“PPffffttttt,” she mocks. “That boy is sex on skates and the minute he figures it out, he’s going to give your reputation a run for its money.”
“Why don’t you date Kris? You do go on about how much you like him,” I suggest. I don’t know why – Kris is more serious than Jordan, would pose ore of a threat to me. But I’m fishing for information here. Why Jordan? Why still not me?
“Kris is too serious. Plus, he’s terrified of me!” she laughs. “I mean, what if I really scare him? And, you know, Kris didn’t tell me about the rule either. You’re all still on the hook for that.” Her gaze is level, half-teasing but her words ring true.
“You should definitely ask him. He’ll be okay.” At least I think so.
Her smile is a mile wide. “I’m going to get them to make him take his shirt off. Eeeeeeee!” She falls into a fit of giggles.
“Aren’t you supposed to be dating Jordan? Here you are plotting to get his teammate half-naked and that teammate is not even me. Olivia, I think I’m really jealous.”
She ignores me. “This is the best job EVER!” she shouts.
Calm down, you’re getting all hysterical like the Backstreet Boys are coming to town.
Olivia takes a deep breath, smooths her vest and asks to borrow Kris. He’s wearing an Under Armor top – a very tight, long-sleeved jersey designed to do athletic things. He sits across from her desk and she closes her eyes.
“I cannot think while you’re wearing a shirt that tight,” she laughs. Kris blushes and looks down at himself. Olivia’s giggle melts into a sigh. “GQ Magazine and a menswear designer want to do a photo shoot with three of our players. I made a big poster, took it out on the street and 85% of women said you’re the hottest guy on the team. So will you be in our photo shoot?”
For a second, Kris’ eyes are wide. Then he laughs. “Olivia, you are crazy. You would actually do that.” He’s flattered.
“Ha! Like I need to do a survey to know women love you. Kris! Please be in this photo shoot. I really need you to make Max and Jordan look good.”
“Okay, I’ll do it if they’re doing it.”
Olivia waves her hands around. “Yay! I love this! I was going to make the photographer get you shirtless, but after that thing you’re wearing I think it’s a bad idea. Jordan and Max will never speak to me again if I let you outshine them.”
Two days later, I’m standing on the pedestal of a tailor shop downtown. It’s Sunday, and Olivia is wearing jeans and a Harry Potter t-shirt. She vetoed three suits in favor of the one they’re pinning now. It’s gray, almost greenish. Something about the look on her face when I put it on said she really, really likes it. I think it goes with my eyes. She sends a camera phone photo to someone in NY for approval and we laugh and talk as the tailor works around me.
“I think we’re shooting inside the Mellon, on the ice,” she’s paging through her Blackberry. “There was a hockey card shoot a long time ago – rookies, I think. Or maybe draft picks. The year Lindros came in. They wore tuxes with skates and sticks for the photos. It was cute.”
I laugh. “You really are old if you remember when Lindros came into the League.”
“Hey, I was a kid. He was dreamy. Niedermayer and Forsberg that year too.”
“Pronger too,” I add.
“Ew. NOT dreamy,” she makes a face.
When they’re done tacking the suit, Olivia walks around me in a slow circle. She makes it to the front and gives me a shake of her head. “Max, you are beautiful.”
Her tone is completely honest and I am completely undone. I couldn’t be honest about one stupid thing. I had to play the game. Since then I’ve come to realize that Olivia doesn’t play games. She may be toying with Jordan a little, but their parameters are very clear. Her candid comments are refreshing and make me fall a little more for her. They also remind me what an asshole I can be. She thinks I am beautiful. I wasted that.
Lost in thought, I lose eye contact and my head falls a little. She reaches out and squeezes my hand like she can read my mind.
“And a chocolate shake,” Olivia finishes her order. We are in a sandwich shop nearby while the shop cuts and hems the suit. I think of the photo Crosby took of her drinking a chocolate shake, how it seems like a million years ago. I tuck into my steak sandwich. She’s eating a grilled cheese and tomato soup.
“Between that meal, the milkshake and your shirt, you look about 12 years old,” I tell her. Pigtails would complete the outfit, but then I start thinking dirty things about cheerleaders and my mind goes….
“All these younger men, I feel like a cougar,” she winks.
It’s my chance and I have to take it. “How are things with Jordan?”
She gives me a very even look, like she’s deciding if I’m allowed to ask such a thing. I guess the finding is in my favor because she says, “We have fun together and he makes me laugh. He really is a big kid.”
“I hear you had a dream about me the other night,” I say without thinking. The moment it’s out of my mouth I regret it.
Her eyes flash. She squeezes them closed as her lips part in a small, guilty expression. One finger presses to the space between her eyebrows, like she’s pushing thoughts back into her brain.
“Shit. I always did talk in my sleep.”
It’s incredibly intimate to know that about her. And to my relief, she’s not mad. She just seems embarrassed. I realize Jordan hasn’t said anything, and now it seems we’ve been talking about her, talking about what she’s like in bed.
“He didn’t tell me anything,” I backpedal. “Just that.”
Her lips are pressed between her teeth in a ‘what can you do?’ expression. “I had a dream that we were in your kitchen. We were talking, but we couldn’t hear each other. The only other thing I really remember is you were wearing a sweater the exact same color as your eyes. I’d never seen that color fabric before. It’s the same shade as that suit we found today.”
My heart is jackrabbiting inside my rib cage. She dreamed of me. Dreamed about the color of my eyes. About being in my house. She said my name in her sleep. Now that I know why she liked that suit so much, I will pay whatever they ask to keep it. This is the part where I say that I dream about her too. Surely one of them could be cleaned up enough to tell her about. We’re on a boat and she’s in a bikini and… no. We’re in her office and she closes the door and... no. Well, I could make something up. But I don’t. It’s not my place to dream about her, she is not mine to make stories around. I’m trying to get away from this, not let it keep me under.
“Max,” she says quietly. “I’m sorry about all this. Maybe I should be handling it differently. But I’m doing the best I can.”
I take her hand from the table and in a bold move, press it to my lips. Then I hold her fingers in my fist for a moment. I’m under, big time, and there’s no reaching the surface from here.
“At least it’s out there. I suck at being subtle anyway.”
Her smile is small and kind of sad. “I’m glad too, Max. Things have been really rough for me. It’s selfish but I feel very proud that someone like you could like me.”
I’m still holding her hand. “And what am I like?”
“You’re pretty great,” she answers with a squeeze.
Jordan spins around on the podium. “How do I look?”
“Fucking hot,” Olivia admits.
It’s lunchtime on Monday and Jordan’s hair is wet from his post-skate shower. He’s admiring himself in the tailor’s mirror, a navy blue pin stripe suit poured perfectly over his muscular frame. He wears a white shirt and white tie – Olivia wasn’t sold on the white tie until she saw it on. Something about all that white makes her want to get a little messy. Jordan steps down from the dais, grabs her waist and pulls her into a one armed hug. With the other arm, he lifts the curtain of the dressing room then pushes her inside.
The space is tiny with two people but that’s obviously the point as Jordan’s hands rake through her hair and his lips find hers. The drape swings shut, muting most of the light from the booth. Olivia protests half-heartedly, but her words are useless with Jordan’s tongue in her mouth. She fights for a second before giving in and grabbing and handful of his ass.
“I’m going to get fired if they catch us,” she says into his neck as he unzips her pants.
“I gave him a hundred dollars to disappear for twenty minutes.” Olivia gasps and slaps Jordan’s chest. He peels her trousers down over her hips, gliding his palms across her ass.
“We haven’t had sex in four hours, Olivia. I couldn’t wait another minute,” he’s laughing but his voice is low and heavy with intention. She kicks her feet free then slides one bare leg between his knees, pressing her hip into his lap.
“Careful with this,” she says, helping him remove the suit.
Jordan stayed over again last night. That’s three times in a week. Olivia can’t complain – the company is great, the sex even better and Jordan makes a perfect bowl of cereal. Which he typically eats next-to-naked at her kitchen table. His feet stick off the end of her bed and the shower only reaches his shoulders, but he doesn’t seem to care. Jordan is like a giant puppy who thinks he’s a lap dog.
Seventeen minutes left on the clock when Jordan gently hangs his pants over the top of the dressing area. Now, wearing only socks, he presses Olivia against the wall and uses his whole body to hold her in place. Her hands marvel at the expanse of his skin – he is everywhere. Surrounding her. She hitches a leg up over his hip and he growls in gratitude.
Before taking her, Jordan reaches to the wall and angles the mirror toward them. Olivia giggles at the look he gives and knows this is going to be a good one. Let him put on a little show if he wants – she is happy to have a front row seat. A few twists of her hips, one long, low moan and Jordan takes her breath away in a semi-public place. She holds onto his arms as he pumps, lifting her onto the balls of her feel every time he brings it all the way home. His tree trunk legs flex as he strokes deep into her and picks up her weight. She slides against him, up and down, feeling like nothing Jordan has ever experienced before. The give of her body, the constant surprise of going a little deeper, a little higher, drives him crazy. He wants all of her and soon she is grabbing his shoulders and barely holding herself up.
Their kiss deepens. The pace is frantic. Olivia crushes her mouth to his soft, delicious lips in a desperate effort to stifle the very descriptive sounds rising to her throat. He returns the favor, moaning into her mouth. The wall hanging behind Olivia feels soft against her bare back. The carpet fibers are stiff where her feet barely touch them. Light filters, weak and red, through the hangings to give their skin a warm tone.
Their eyes meet in the mirror. Slowly, they take in the sight of themselves, wrapped inside and outside of each other. Jordan presses down her thigh, just to see what it looks like. Olivia slowly traces along his bare side. She hits a ticklish spot and Jordan flinches, his cock driving straight into the very core of her body. Olivia presses her head back and draws in a breath as far as she can. Like in yoga, she tries to focus the breath on everywhere Jordan is touching her – her neck, breasts, hair, legs. And of course inside, where he stirs her body into a soft, warm dessert. The sensation ratchets up a notch and Olivia nearly loses control.
Her body tweaks once, a contraction shuddering through the stomach. Jordan feels it where their skin touches. Olivia’s kiss becomes more urgent, more demanding. She intentionally squeezes down on his cock, tightening around his girth as much as she can. He is so much stronger, she thought he’d never feel it. He surprises her.
“Ohh, do that again,” he whispers.
Olivia happily obeys. Every time she clenches against him, her own kernel gets closer to popping. Quickly she does it twice in a row, catching him once on the way in and one on the way out. Neither of them know he’s been waiting for exactly that. Jordan flattens her into the wall with short, hard jabs. It’s like pushing the elevator button five times, but it doesn’t come any faster. It’s already on it’s way.
When it arrives, Olivia swallows a cry as best she can while also locking her whole body into rigor. She trembles once, then on the next pump from Jordan she splits into pieces. Parts fly into orbit. All the breath in her body rushes out as she writhes onto Jordan’s dick, begging for every last pulse of orgasm she can pull from him. Her pussy pumps him, hard, muscles contracting on their own.
The hard, fast squeezing of her orgasm nearly makes Jordan drop her. He saves the day by nailing her to the wall like a painting. Olivia does the rag doll bounce while Jordan hammers home his last stroke and bursts like a balloon. His warmth fills her and mixes with her own. His forehead presses to the wall next to her head and he gives an exaggerated sigh.
“We are getting pretty good at this,” he says. Their eyes meet and they smile simultaneously.
Going to be a problem soon, Jordan thinks.
I got this, Olivia tells herself. No problem. Right? Not a problem.
“Afraid to be alone with me, Tanger?” Olivia asks when she sees me get out of the car.
We’re at a café, meeting her and Jordan for lunch. Kris is the last victim for the tailor. I invited myself along to see how she and Jordan act together, outside of work. He touches her back as she slides into the booth and then sits close. He reads from her menu and steals off her plate. She barely reciprocates – a look here, a touch there. Jordan is inches away from marking his territory and Olivia is trying to keep things neutral. We each work on a burger – Olivia’s is veggie, we all eat meat.
“The photo shoot is Wednesday morning, at the Mellon. 8 AM call for hair and makeup, studs. So try not to get roughed up tonight.”
I hang around the tailor while Kris gets fitted. He picks a sleek black suit with a little sheen to it. Olivia loves it, of course.
“Need some help with that?” she asks, eyebrows arched, as the assistant has Kris lift his shirt and slides a measuring tape around his bare waist. Kris catches her eye in the mirror and smiles.
“Now you see why I brought Max with me,” he says. He’s gotten much more comfortable since Olivia busted his rude French comeback on the plane. I guess he feels like I do – the truth is out there, so might as well call it what it is. Olivia certainly does.
“I could take Max in a fight,” she claims. “But, I think I’d rather measure your inseam.”
She sits in a high-backed chair and watches. Her hair is swept back with a thin braid mixed in along one side. An oversize light gray sweater nearly covers her perfect ass, which is wrapped nicely in a pair of black suit pants. I want to touch her sweater – it looks soft, warm, welcoming. I’m too idle. Sitting close to her is making me antsy.
“Anyone want Starbucks?” I wonder if they’ll talk about me when I’m gone.
“Max is going a little nuts,” Kris says when they’re alone in the dressing area. “When he heard you and Jordan were meeting me for lunch, he asked to come. I think he’s checking on the competition.”
Olivia settles back into the chair with a sigh of resignation. “Jordan was like a peacock at lunch, all his feathers out.”
Kris runs a hand through his hair. “Max is pretty serious about this.” He’s trying to help, trying to make a case for his friend. But Jordan is his friend too. And he’d like to think the same of Olivia.
“That’s what I’m worried about,” Olivia says honestly.
The tailor tucks the back panel of Kris’ suit and pins it down. Kris pulls the cuffs till the jacket sits perfectly on his shoulders. His dark hair falls in his face as he looks down at himself. Olivia lets out a low whistle. Kris is already smiling as he pushes his hand back through his thick locks. His crisp white shirt is closed under a blood red tie in a classic, gorgeous look. He gives her a slow, full turn.
“Wow. You look like James Bond,” Olivia says. “I am going to get promoted after this.”
We are fully dressed for the warm-up skate when Olivia comes into the locker room. She stands in the middle of the room and looks around like she’s deciding something. Slowly everyone comes to attention.
“Crosby, your girlfriend’s here tonight,” she says.
He breaks his pre-game zone. “Olivia, just tell everyone we’re sleeping together. This code confuses me.”
Everyone laughs, Jordan loudest of all. Most of the guys know there is something going on, though neither of them have spilled any details. I'm almost positive from the way they move around each other that they’re having sex. But I’m watching more closely than anyone else.
“I mean Carissa from Versus. The way you stand around when she’s finished interviewing, it’s like you’re waiting to give her your phone number,” Olivia teases.
“What? I’m… I’m just trying to be nice. Not leave her there on camera alone,” he sounds genuinely embarrassed. “Does it look like I’m hitting on her?”
Olivia blows a very unprofessional raspberry at him. “If you’re not, you should be. She’s hot. And she wants to talk to you before the puck drops.” She gives her a look. “If you want, I’ll give her someone else…”
“Errrr, no. That’s okay,” Sid says quickly.
In the hallway, we all file past Olivia and Carissa talking quietly against one of the walls. Carissa smiles hello at us, Olivia bites her lip like it’s a come on and just watches. If either of them could read my thoughts I would burn in hell forever. The whole team would. Olivia definitely knows what we’re thinking.
“Want to come over?” Jordan asks Olivia quietly outside the locker room after the game. He’s just close enough so no one else can hear.
“Your gear smells gross. Go shower and ask me that again.”
The post-game media is in full swing when Jordan walks through the room in a towel. Kind of a small towel, compared to what they usually have in the showers. I watch him go out of his way to walk right past Olivia. He doesn’t look at her, but she smiles. She rode to the Mellon with us from the tailor, but I’m guessing she won’t need a ride home.
I hate this. I hate watching them. In her defense, Olivia is being very discreet. If I didn’t care I probably wouldn’t notice. Instead I see all the little things, the secrets that pass between them in broad daylight. A tiny touch, an inside joke. They share things outside of work and then bring them here. I should be happy for Jordan, but I cannot get past my own jealousy.
He doesn’t go to her office. He doesn’t come in early. Maybe he’s better at this than I am.
Olivia’s phone rings. Jordan picks it up and before he hands it over, he looks at the screen. His face goes hard.
“It’s Scott,” he says flatly. “Why is he calling you?”
“Fuck if I know,” she says darkly. “Answer it.”
He gladly flips the phone open. “Hello? No, she’s not. Yes, it is. Perhaps not clear enough. Mmmhmmm. Take a hint Scott, and lose this number. Don’t call here again.” He closes it on the call.
“Dan,” Jordan says, coming into the media offices on the day off. “Are you coming on the west coast trip?”
Dan nods. “I was going to. Why?”
“Can I ask you a favor?”