“Utter insanity. My hands would be all over you,” I say with a smile. I park a palm behind my head, and he knots his tie again.
His gaze snags on mine. “You like watching me get dressed, don’t you?”
“I do,” I say.
“If you were here, would you tie my tie for me?”
“I absolutely would. Though I make no promises about whether I would put it on or take it off.”
“Babe, I would just love if you were here,” he says, soft and tender.
“Me too. But you’re playing great. I’m proud of you,” I say.
“How’s your pact? Aren’t you breaking it by talking to me?”
Fitz shrugs. “Maybe. Don’t care anymore. Don’t care at all.”
“Thank you for the jukebox. That was incredible.” He deserves a million thank-yous.
“Does she like it?”
“She loves it. You made a very happy Maeve,” I say, as he finishes with the tie.
“I’m going to the arena now. Come with me?”
I laugh. “Sure, Fitz. Take me in the car.”
“If you were here, would you come to my game?”
Fitz leaves his place, locks the door, and heads down the hall to a mirrored brass elevator.
As he makes his way to the game, I talk to him the whole time—about New York and hockey and life and missing him and missing me. When he arrives at the arena, he asks, “Can I call you later?”
He gets out of the car, thanks the driver, then says to me, “Dean . . .”
My name is full of heat and need and want. I say his back the same way. “Fitz.”
He smiles at me. “I love you. That is all.”
“I love you,” I tell him, and when the call ends, I think I understand how it feels to be happy again.
The question is what to do about it.
We fall into a rhythm, just like we did when Fitz was here.
We talk at night—we FaceTime, we get off. We talk again in the morning. We text during the day.
He no longer cares about the pact.
He’s playing great, and he says it’s because I give him a good luck charm before every game. That’s what he calls it now when I dirty talk him before he heads to the ice. It’s our thing, and it works.
One night, after I tell him about a book I just finished, he says he has special news for me. He holds up a sheet of paper. “I asked the team doc to test for everything.”
That gets my attention, and I sit up, peering more closely at the report. “That’s excellent news.”
“Clean bill of health, babe.”
I stretch my arm to my bedside table, reach into a drawer, and show him mine, pressing it to the screen. “Same here.”
His blue eyes darken, glimmering with desire and dirty deeds. “Can we go bare when I see you again?”
The prospect of doing that for the first time is insanely arousing. “Yes.”
“I never have before. Not with anyone.”
“Nor have I,” I say.
The conversation quickly turns fantastically filthy as I tell him how good it’s going to feel, and he shows me how much he likes it when I talk like that.
Soon, the season starts in earnest, and his team wins the first game. I call him briefly from the bar to congratulate him.
“Great game,” I say when he answers.
“If you were here, you’d go out with us to celebrate, right?”
“Maybe,” I say.
“You don’t want to hang out with my teammates?”
I laugh. “No offense to your teammates, but it’s you I want to see.”
“That is the perfect answer,” Fitz says, then he kisses the screen.
When he’s home, he calls me again. The time difference works for us, since it’s three in the morning for me and I’m getting into bed.
He asks about my night at the bar, and I tell him about all of the customers and how the jukebox has gone over. We do what we do—we talk.
“I have three days off,” he says, so much hope in his voice. “Starting next Monday. Ten days from now.”
I know what he’s going to say next. I know he is forging full speed ahead. But I want to be the one to offer, rather than to be asked.
“I’ll come see you,” I say.
His grin is wider than it’s ever been, his eyes brighter. “You will?”
“I will. I want to. More than anything.”
“I’m getting you a ticket right now,” Fitz says, walking through his apartment, presumably on the hunt for his laptop. “You cool with that? With me getting it? You better be, because I have a fuck-ton of miles, and I am spending them on you. Just say yes.”
I remember that word. Surrender.
Is this what surrender is? Saying yes even when you worry you’ll succumb to the mistakes of the past?
Maybe it is.
Maybe I don’t know.
Maybe the past no longer matters.
All I know is it feels good to say yes to him. It always has. “I already said yes. It’s kind of all I can say to you.”