Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chapter 22

Another rum and coke appeared in front of him as he heard a butt settling into the seat at the bar immediately beside him. Shaking his head, Jon sighed and picked up the drink to take a sip.

“How’d you know where to find me?”

“You’re so fucking predictable,” Kaner replied in that way of his that said he’s pretty proud of himself and everyone else should be too.

“Am I?” Jon asked, swirling the ice around in the drink before taking another sip. “Yeah, I guess I am.” I must be, he thought, or Patrick wouldn’t have found him in this random hotel bar. Not the hotel they were staying in. He wasn’t even sure which one it was. He had just walked until he got hot and thirsty and then went into the closest door and looked for a bar, which, luckily, hadn’t been that hard to do in Vegas.

“So, are you crazy about the chick or what?” Jon tursn and look quizzically at Patrick who’s just staring back at hin like he’s actually interested in the answer, which can’t be right. Kaner doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s life but his own.

“You don’t have to keep me company or make small talk and shit,” he muttered, downing the rest of the drink and then signaling the bartender for another.

“No, man…really, because your fiancée is pretty upset that you walked out on her.” Staring at the bottom of his empty glass, Jon considered chewing on the ice.

“She’s not my fiancée. She said no. Or did you miss that part?” he grumbled, deciding that he would chew on the ice after all, tossing a couple of cubes into his mouth. They make a satisfying sound as he crunches them into a hundred pieces which he then proceeds to roll around his mouth so his tongue can feel as numb as the rest of his body does.

 “I don’t think she meant no,” Kane replies, like there’s an actual possibility that he had heard wrong, which couldn’t be right. Jon knew what he’d heard. He also knew that she had tried to put a positive spin on turning him down. Like that’s possible.

“Yeah? Well, you’re the only person I know that would think no meant something else,” he grumbled, reaching for the drink the bartender was putting in front of me before he can even stop filling it. “Shots…tequila…like ten of them,” Jon instructed him, right before downing the entire glass of rum and coke, leaving a satisfyingly smooth burning sensation at the back of his throat.

“You don’t do shots,” Kaner shook his head at the bartender and made one of those faces that says ‘my friend is crazy, don’t listen to him’.

“I don’t propose very well either, apparently,” Jon showed his friend his teeth like he was some kind of rabid dog and Patrick just rolled his eyes in return. “I guess there’s a first and last time for everything.”

“I’m sorry to hear about that,” Patrick shrugged and grabbed the first shot the bartender pours and threw it down his throat.  He didn’t reach for the salt or the lime, hardcore.“You’re no fun when you’re pissed about something. This weekend was supposed to be fun and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you’re kinda bringing down the tone.” If he hadn’t already been in such a foul mood, that might have made Jon laugh, as it was, he afforded his teammate the briefest of smiles as he reached for the next shot but Pat’s reflexes were that much faster and he was already tipping the golden liquid into his mouth. “Ya snooooze ya loooose,” he shrugs and then, surprisingly, waves off the next pour. “That includes your girlfriend. If you want to salvage the weekend and stop moping around then you’d better get a move on. Sharpie was going to take her to the airport.”

Jon wanted to shrug it off, to act like he didn’t care but almost as soon as he thought to do that, he found himself already pushing away from the bar and sliding off of the bar stool. H was pissed and more than just a little humiliated but he still loved her.

“Well don’t just sit there Kaner. Let’s go.”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Kane grinned and spun his chair around before hopping off and marching ahead, like a man on a mission. 

Looking like something from the set of a Star Trek movie, Moon was the bar at the top of the Palms with a roof that slid open to let in the cool night air and the sparkle of the stars overhead. That wasn’t the reason she’d picked it, nor was it because it was in the same hotel in which they were staying. The reason she’d chosen this spot was for the dramatic staircase on which she was currently standing, nervously rolling a thick, silver band in the palm of her hand.

“Here they come!” Sharpe came running into the private club, waving for one of the servers to dim the lights until only Edie was lit. Her skin prickled in anticipation. Her stomach felt like it was home to a hive of bees.

“I thought we were going to the airport,” she heard Jon complain loudly as Kane pushed, pulled and dragged him into the empty club. She didn’t know how they’d done it, or how much it had cost, but she was grateful to the two Patrick’s. She’d have to figure out some way of thanking them, later, if this went well.

“Stop yer bitchin’ and get in here,” Kane cajoled, giving her a thumbs up and a wink as he gave Jon one, last hard push that brought him, stumbling to the bottom of the stairs.

He blinked up at her, clearly surprised. Well, that had been the idea. The element of surprise and the ethereal lighting added to the drama of the moment. Edie knew what the dress she was wearing had looked like under the harsh light of the boutique shop she’d bought it in, or rather Seabrook had handed over his credit card once he’d seen her go a little green around the gills when she’d looked at the price tag. As Jon looked up at her now and any and all trace of annoyance leaked out of his features, she knew that even if she had to pay his teammates back a few dollars a week for ten years, this moment had been utterly worth the exorbitant price tag and double sided tape that was keeping the Grecian style strapless dress in place.

“Jesus…fuck you’re beautiful,” he breathed, still standing at the foot of the steps, staring up at her now with an expression that could entirely summed up in one word, astonishment. Taking a deep, steadying breath Edie slipped the ring on her thumb, held out her hand and watched each and every step he took until he was just one step below her and they were eye to eye.

“Still mad at me?” she asked quietly and watched while he fought with the obviously warring emotions inside him at that moment.

“Disappointed,” he answered finally, taking her hand in both of his and looking down at it as he turned it over and ran the pad of his thumb along her life line. “I thought we were on the same page.”

“I don’t think we’re all that far off,” she told him sincerely. He looked up at her through his long, dark eyelashes. There was a brief glimmer of hope in his eyes that, as quickly as it had risen, was swallowed up by hurt and anger. She hated that she’d wounded his pride. “I do love you.”

“I know,” he shrugged and cast his eyes back down to their joined hands. “I guess I uh…I guess I just rushed things…or whatever.”

“Maybe just a bit,” she smiled at him, trying to be encouraging and squeezed his hand but when he looked up, there was no sign that he was going to find any humor in this situation. Okay, get on with it girl, put the poor boy out of his misery she told herself, taking another deep, centering breath. “Jonathon Brian Toews, will you not marry me?” she asked, and waited for him to decipher what she’d just said. She knew he had when he looked up at her with his dark eyes narrowed and his lips pursed. He thought she was making fun of him. “Will you let me quit my job and move to Chicago and meet all your friends first? Will you invite your parents down so we can have that awkward moment at the door when your mom realizes that I’m actually living with you and she doesn’t even know me? Will you take me shopping and let me use your credit card so I can make some little stock girl jealous?” That did it. That had finally made Captain Seriously upset smile. Cradling his cheek with her other hand, Edie let all of her feelings for him fill her eyes. “Then, when the summer comes around, will you take me to your lake and let me bait your hook and cook the fish that you catch and figure out just exactly who Jonathan Bryan Toews not the hockey player is? And then, after all that’s done and if you still think that you can put up with me,” she worked her hand free from his and slid the solid, silver wring from her thumb and reached for his hand, “will you do me the honor of making me the luckiest girl in the whole world and marry me?” His chocolate brown eyes filled with silvery tears and the relief on his face was palpable as he nodded exuberantly before throwing his arms around her and lifting her off of her feet. 

“Yes, fucking yes!” His voice was muffled with his face pressed into her hair but she could tell by the clapping and earsplitting wolf whistles that were coming from below that his boys didn’t need to hear the words to know that he’d said what she hadn’t been able to. Not that any of that seemed to matter now. 

“So do you forgive me now?” she asked as he watched her trace invisible patterns on his chest as I ran my fingers through her hair. The lights from the strip kept catching the ring on his hand and every time it did, it made him smile.

“Mmmm, if you do that again, I might think about it,” Jon teased, grinning down at her as she wrinkled her cute little nose up at him. He wondered if he’d ever get to the point where he could take for granted how this woman made him feel, if he could ever get bored of watching her eyes roll back in her head as she screamed out his name and dug her fingernails into his back. Maybe he would, maybe not. He hoped he never did.

“Seriously though, do you?” she asked, resting her chin on the back of her hands in the middle of his chest and staring up at him. “Do you understand why I said what I did?” He noticed that she didn’t bring up the whole ‘no’ thing, which was probably wise. There was still a part of him that was stung over it.

“Yeah, I get it,” he sighed, twirling her hair around his finger and wondering just how many shades of brown there was in the world. He could see milk chocolate, espresso, bronze, walnut….

“Then what are you thinking about?” she asked, digging her nails into his pectoral muscle until he flinched.

“Nothing much,” he answered honestly, letting the curl slide off of his finger and watching as it bounced back into place. “Right now, I sort of feel like I don’t have to think about anything and…,” he grinned down at her and smiled, “I really like that feeling.” Her eyes danced and he full lips turned up in a grin that he knew as well as he knew his teammate Kane’s, meant nothing but trouble.

“So you’re all…relaxed?” she asked, raising her eyebrows. Jon shook his head and laughed.

“What? What are you gonna do?” He watched her disappear backwards beneath the sheets and closed his eyes, anticipating her warm, wet mouth sliding down over his…and then he heard her footsteps on the floor and his eyes sprang open. She was still wearing the gold strappy heels that laced all the way up to her knees, but now she was also wearing his away jersey and leaning, suggestively, against the floor to ceiling glass wall, biting down on her bottom lip and giving him that ‘come hither’ stare of hers’ that he had not been able to resist, ever.

“Are you sure you’re not still just a little bit mad?” she asked, her bottom lip jutting out as she batted her eyelashes at him coquettishly. Shaking his head, he tossed the sheets aside and walked over to her, pressing his body against hers and his hands, flush to the window on either side of her head.

“Oh, I’m still a little mad,” he growled into her neck and felt her entire body shudder in response. He felt her hands sweep up his back as he kissed his way up to her lips, capturing her mouth beneath his as her fingers dug into his shoulders. He felt more than heard her moan as he slid his hand down and then up under his jersey, sliding it slowly up over the curve of her hip, into the valley of her waist and then up until he was cupping her breast, feeling the weight of it in his hand. He ran his thumb over her nipple as it hardened into a tight little peak that made her gasp when he pinched it. Her hands slid down his back, making him shiver or was the room cold? There was one spot that was hot, of that he was certain. “Turn around baby,” he whispered against her mouth.

She needed no more encouragement than that. With her hands pressed against the cool pane of glass and her feet spread wide apart to give him the best access, he sheathed himself inside of her, groaning as her warm, wet heat enveloped him. How many other couples were doing the same thing in Vegas tonight he wondered as he slid his arm around her waist and pulled her back against him, steadying her as he buried himself as deeply in her as her body would allow.

“I love you,” she sighed, arching her neck and looking back at him, offering her sweet mouth to him. He kissed her, hard, forcing his tongue into her mouth as his free hand sought out the sweet ripe berry of her nipple. She bucked against him when he pinched it, pressing the soft flesh of her ass against his thighs.

“You feel so good,” he told her, sliding his hand down over her stomach and down, into the slick cleft between her thighs. She cried out when his fingers began to work her clit. Her body tightened around his and he felt his balls tuck up tight. “Cum with me baby,” he asked, working her nipple and her clit at the same time, her little whimpers and moans egging him on, making him harder, thicker until he thought his brain was going to explode from the amazing sensations. “I’m gonna fill you up,” he promised as pushed back against him, meeting each of his thrusts as best she could.

“Do it. Fucking do it. Cum in me baby,” she whimpered, bending at the waist and shoving her ass against him.

“Cum with me Edie,” he hissed, knowing he was close, that buzzing in his ears and the almost painful tightening of his scrotum serving as a ten second warning.

“So close…yeah baby,” she sighed, one of her hands reaching down to press his hand down more firmly over her clit. “Like that, oh god, yeah like that,” she gasped, her head falling back, her eyes closed, a depraved smile on her face.  He felt her pussy clenching around his dick and then her entire body twitched and he was gone.

“Oh fuuuuuuck Edie. Fuck I love you,” he groaned, his knees almost buckling as stars swam in front of his eyes or was it all the lights of the strip and did it matter? All was right in his world. “I love you,” he whispered again as her body went limp in his arms, as they slid apart and with the last of his strength he swept her up into his arms and carried her over to the bed.

“I’m such a lucky girl,” she mumbled, curling her body against his as he pulled the sheets up over them both, tucking them under her chin as he put his arms around her. “I love you Captain Serious,” she whispered against the curve of his neck and Jonathan grinned to himself as he closed his eyes.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chapter 21

“Jon!” His big hands rolled into fists, he was back to staring up at the backlit numbers above the elevator doors. His jaw was clenched, he was bouncing on the balls of his feet and he was ignoring her. Or at least he was making a good show of trying to. “Jonathan Bryan Toews, I’m talking to you.” He blinked, or at least she thought he did. His jaw moved, almost as if he had flinched. She was almost there but the elevator doors were sliding open. If he got in and she didn’t, she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. “Damn it Jon!” She broke into a run, which in a pair of canvas espadrilles was a feat in and of itself.

“Don’t, just don’t,” he hissed, holding his hand out towards her as if, with some invisible force field he could stop her from getting into the elevator with him. Edie ignored his verbal warning and the hurt and livid glare he shot at her, following him in and then sending her own warning glower at his teammates as they looked to trail in behind her. She waited for the doors to slide closed before she turned to face his tensely immobile form.

“I know you’re pissed,” she began, only to have him shake his head, a contemptuous grin on his face. “I’m thinking about you. You hardly know me. You’re an important person. I’m sure there are other people who should be in on decision like this, steps that should be taken. It’s not something that should be a spur of the moment thing, no matter how sweet that was.”

“Pissed? Yeah, I don’t think you know how I feel about anything at all,” he growled back, his gaze still glued to the numbers above their heads.

“Jon,” she began, reaching for his arm only to have him flinch and pull away.

“Don’t. Don’t touch me right now,” he snapped, gnashing his teeth in a way that told her that he was willing the numbers to change faster. He obviously couldn’t wait to get away from her.

“We should talk about this, don’t you think?” she prompted quietly, doing some Vulcan mind tricks of her own, staring at him until she saw his darks eyes shift, just for a moment to look in her direction.

“Not really,” he shrugged and then returned to bouncing nervously and staring at the numbers blinking on and off and then, very suddenly he went still and very slowly turned his enraged gaze on her. Edie felt herself shrink in the face of such blatant fury. It was like standing in front of a blast furnace wearing a parka over a snowsuit.

“Did you even quit your job?” Edie winced. She didn’t think Jon was the type of man to actually raise his hand to a woman but she felt as if he had. Her cheeks burned and suddenly she couldn’t meet his accusing gaze. “Fuck!” he cursed and then she felt the elevator car shake as he turned and smashed his fists against its wall. “You fucking promised!” His voice filled the space and Edie cringed like a kicked puppy trying to hide in plain sight.

“I don’t know…,” she began in a voice that sounded like it belonged to her five year old self, not the confident flirtatious woman that she had become. She couldn’t finish the thought though. Partly because she didn’t really know what to say and partly because he had turned to face her, and his dark eyes were brimming with tears. “I didn’t say no to hurt you,” she told him instead, crossing the small, but seemingly endless distance between them to wrap her arms around his waist and bury her face in his chest. “It’s just all so fast. I don’t want this to be one those things that blazes one minute and burns out the next.”

“It won’t,” he replied firmly. She didn’t doubt that he believed it but the conviction in his voice did nothing to quell the fear that had set her stomach churning the moment the morning sunlight had glinted off the huge diamond that was now pressed against her hip from where it was currently hiding in his pocket.

“You don’t know that,” she told him; her eyes shut tight, her cheek pressed over his beating heart. “You can’t know that.” 

This wasn’t the way the morning was supposed to go. She was supposed to say yes. She was supposed to have at the very least given her notice at work. Ideally she was supposed to come home to Chicago with him as his wife. That was the way it was supposed to go.

How could she not have even given notice at work? Did she even love him at all?

“You fucking promised!” He could hardly bear to look at her. It hurt to breathe when all he wanted was to slam her against the wall and make her say yes, show her how much he had wanted just that one little word to come out of her soft, ripe lips.

“I didn’t say no to hurt you,” she whispered, her bottom lip quavering like a child’s as she practically ran to him, wrapping her body around his and clutching onto him like he was some overstuffed teddy bear. His head was suddenly full of her perfume and it made him dizzy. “It’s just all so fast. I don’t want this to be one those things that blazes one minute and burns out the next.” He shook his head. She didn’t understand. How could she say that when she had ripped his heart out of his chest and stomped all over it? How could she make it sound like she was doing him some kind of fucking favor?

“It won’t.” He knew it the way he knew that the sun was going to come up in the morning and down at night. He knew it the way he knew how to breathe. He knew it the way he knew the dimples at the small of her back, the scar on her right knee and the tiny piece of pencil lead embedded in the palm of her left hand. He knew. He just knew.

“You don’t know that,” she laid her cheek against his chest and hugged him tighter. “You can’t know that.”

“But I do.” He lifted her chin so that she had to look at him. He hated that he was crying like a fucking kid with a skinned knee but he wasn’t going to hide it from her either. She’d done this to him. She should know this is what she had reduced him to. “And the thing is, if you don’t, if you can’t feel it,” he continued, peeling her hand from around his waist and placing it gingerly on her chest, “then I guess you just did me a huge favor.”

“Jon, it isn’t that simple,” she sighed, looking down at their hands and then back up at him.

“It is to me,” he told her and meant it.

With impeccable timing, the doors opened and he turned and walked away from her. She wasn’t going to follow, he knew that. After all, what was there left to say?

“He’ll come back. I mean a guy can only sit and watch the rippers so long and I mean if it was me, you might have to wait all day, but it’s Jon so….” Kane grinned like he’d said something funny. Edie seriously considered dumping her giant strawberry margarita over his head, except that she seriously needed the injection of tequila it was providing.

“Short stuff is right, about one thing. He’ll be back. He’s just…well he’ll be kinda embarrassed,” Sharpe pointed out and Edie nodded. It wasn’t her fault that he’d decided to make the grand gesture in front of his teammates but she knew that she could have handled it better. She hated herself for putting the hurt and pain in his eyes that had been the last thing she’d seen before he’d blended into the crowd and left her standing there, alone, staring after him.

“He’ll just need a little space,” Seabrook reached over and put his hand over top of hers. Edie looked down at his big hand and then up at him and he quickly withdrew it. The last thing she wanted was some man, any other man, touching her.

“I do love him,” she informed the men sitting around the table. Not that it was any of their business but she felt the need to clarify at least that point. “Maybe he is mortified or whatever, but I did the right thing, right?” She looked at all of their faces, and was surprised to find each man nodding, except for Kane. “What? You were dead set against the idea of us even seeing each other. You couldn’t possibly want him to marry me.” Kane shrugged and swigged back the last of his pint and signaled the scantily clad waitress for another.
“I think the guy’s nuts for even considering it,” Jon’s curly haired teammate agreed, “but I also think that he should do whatever makes him happy and…yeah I don’t get it but I know that you make the guy fucking happy so…yeah, whatever.” Edie’s mouth literally hung open as she stared across the table at the nonchalant Kane who had already gone back to watching a group of girls pass by. One of them was wearing a tiara and veil. She was probably on her hen night. They all looked happy and it made Edie wonder what it was she was so afraid of.

“But you get it right? I mean this isn’t just about me,” she turned back to the table to find Kane’s chair empty. She looked up to find him already following the gaggle of girls. Shaking her head she turned back to Jon’s other teammates. “He’s got this whole crazy life with all the marketing for the team and his Canadian Tire kids start thing…he couldn’t have thought this through,” she insisted, expecting all of the men sitting around the table would agree, but to a man, they all shook their heads.

“We rode him pretty hard on this,” Seabrook began.

“He’s a serious kid…no.” Sharpe smiled and shook his head. “He’s a sensible, sincere kid and he wouldn’t ever do anything he hasn’t though through. Believe me. Sometimes it pisses me off when I can see him doing it out on the ice but that’s him. He wouldn’t be Tayzer if he wasn’t over thinking everything.”

“Aww fuck,” Edie sighed and dropped her head into her hands. “I’ve really fucked up, haven’t I?” She didn’t look up to see their reaction. She didn’t want to. The churning in her own gut was bad enough.

“If it helps,” she felt Sharpe’s hand on her shoulder, “it makes us all feel better about his choice that you realize there’s more to him than a multi-million dollar contract.” Edie lifted her gaze to meet the handsome winger’s and felt a hint of relief when he gave her a warm smile. “The kid’s crazy about you. He’ll be back, I guarantee it.” Edie wanted to believe it but there was a part of her that knew, even if he did, she’d have to be ready with her own grand gesture to bridge the divide.

“I’m gonna need your help,” she said solemnly, looking at each man at the table. “Who’s in?”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chapter 20

His eyes were huge as he peered out the windows of the limo at the brightly lit strip with all its weird, wonderful and wacky sights. He looked half his age and that didn’t bother her one bit. What did bother her was standing on the seat between them with his head and shoulders out the sunroof calling out to the girls walking down the sidewalk.

“Why didn’t he get his own car?” she asked for the second time, wondering how hard it would be to either pull Patrick in or push him out altogether and if she could do it on her own.

“It’s supposed to take like five minutes to get to our hotel, you can handle it that long,” Jon answered without taking his eyes or attention off of the passing scenery.

“You’ve been here before, for the awards and stuff…right?” she asked, giving his ankle a kick. It’s not that she was particularly perturbed about his enthusiasm for Sin City, it was that he’d been acting particularly odd since they had debarked the plane.

“Yeah but it’s different every time,” he enthused. Edie raised an eyebrow but didn’t argue the point because she couldn’t. It was true. She’d only been a couple of times herself and there always seemed to be a new hotel, a new shopping destination, a new pool. “So where are we staying?” she asked him but it wasn’t Jon who answered.

“D’uh, the Palms,” Kane replied, popping his head down to aim a look of disgusted disbelief at her. “What other hotel has stripper poles in the room and Ditch Friday?” Edie coughed and shook her head. Of course that would be his reasoning.

“Is everyone staying at the Palms?” she asked, hoping for a different answer from Jon.

“Don’t get jealous but I totally booked the G-Suite,” Kaner called down and Edie stared up at him as if he was speaking in tongues. “Tayzer probably booked the Barbie suite,” Kane added with an evil laugh.

“The…Barbie suite?” she asked, blinking like a marsupial and hoping like hell Jon’s mullet wearing teammate was kidding.

“I just got a sky villa,” Jon replied, finally tearing his eyes off of the passing strip and sliding back towards Edie, reaching for her hand.

“Not even the Playboy one?” Kaner asked, looking down at them both like he was actually disappointed in Jon’s choice.

“No, not even…I feel kinda funny booking the one I got but I thought it was kind of nice…for our first time here together,” Jon added in a quiet tone as he turned his full attention, finally, to Edie. She smiled and offered her lips, which he took gently.

“God, wait for the room please I’m begging you,” Kane grumbled and then the annoyance left his tone entirely as he slammed his hands down on the roof of the limo. “Hellloooo ladies!” he called and Jon shook his head as Edie rolled her eyes at him.

“We don’t have to spend any time with him, I swear. Except maybe just tomorrow morning,” Jon promised her and she just about missed the second part of his statement, but not quite.

“Why? What’s tomorrow morning? Some kind of team breakfast?” she asked and he smiled and pressed his lips to the tip of her nose.

“Yeah, something like that,” he told her and then put his arm around her and pulled her close.

“This is like…it’s like the Hangover but better.” Jon watched Edie walk around the luxurious suite and smiled to himself. It might not have been the Bridal Suite but then he couldn’t see either of them in the round red leather bed in the Erotic Suite. It was a bit too Pamela Anderson for his tastes and he’d felt confident she would feel the same. This suite also had a round bed next to a gas fireplace but it’s understated gold and brown tones suited both of them more he thought. “This must have cost…shit, I’m not sure I want to guess how much,” she added as she stood at the edge of the private spa pool overlooking the strip. “Damn.”

“Well, it is only for a couple days and…I could have gone for just a normal room like a lot of the other guys did but…unlike them, I’m actually planning to spend some time up here,” he added slipping his arms around her waist and nuzzling her cheek. This was going to be the best twenty grand he’d ever spent. She leaned back against him and let out another sigh. “You do like it, right?” he asked, still unsure of whether it was too much, after all, he knew what his plans were. She didn’t.

“Of course I do, but then it’s just like everything else with you,” she arched her neck to look back and up at him, “a little overwhelming, you know?” He smiled and kissed the corner of her eye and then turned his attention back to the view. It was pretty spectacular, just as the pictures on the internet had promised it would be but it was still nothing compared to the woman he held in his arms.

“I didn’t even think of bringing a bathing suit,” she muttered and Jon laughed, hugging her tighter.

“I think if it’s just us that’s not really a problem,” he told her, withdrawing his hand enough to slip them into the slinky halter top so that he could cup her breasts in his hands. “In fact, I think the sooner you get out of this the better.”

“Oh so that’s how it is,” she giggled and he felt her slide her hand back and between them, cupping his growing erection. “You want to get me in that big round bed and not let me out until we have to go to that breakfast.”

“I wasn’t thinking about the bed, yet,” he told her, turning to aim her directly at the stairs into the pool. “I was kinda thinking about you and me in there,” he added, hearing his own voice grow hoarse as he thought about how her curves would look and feel in the dimly lit water.

Edie’s hands guided his in taking off her top and then, it seemed to him, that she simply stepped out of her pants, kicked off her shoes, and walked into the water. He stood there, silently dumbfounded, as he watched her disappear beneath the water, her dark hair streaming behind her as her body moved through the liquid like a seal. When she came up for air, at the end of the pool that looked out over the strip, she beckoned for him to join her.

He didn’t need to be asked twice.

He wasn’t as graceful as she’d been in taking off her clothes, but then she didn’t seem to mind him hopping from one foot to the other or getting his head caught in his shirt. She laughed when he dove into the shallow pool, but the next noise she made was a gasp as he came out of the water with his body pressed to hers’, his cock already sliding home as he lifted her buoyant body and pressed it against the side of the pool.

“You were right about one thing,” he promised as he watched the expression in her eyes take on that dreamy quality that they always did when he made her feel good, which was quickly becoming his aim at all times. “I don’t plan on letting you out of my arms until we have to get up in the morning.”

“No objection here, Captain,” she sighed and offered her soft, succulent lips up for his kiss. He pressed his mouth over hers and, with his hands on her hips, began to move inside of her. She was warm, the water was warm and she was his, at least for the next three days.

Jon reached across the pillow and carefully, gently, pushed her hair back from her cheek. She was sleeping so soundly that she didn’t stir at his touch, but the corner of her full, red mouth lifted, just a little. She was so beautiful it made his heart ache.

“I gotta go, just for a bit, then I’ll be back,” he told her and then leaned in to press his lips to her cheek. She mumbled something under her breath and then buried her face further into the pillow. With a smile, he got up and walked across the suite and out into the private elevator. “I’m on my way down,” he said into his phone and then stuck it in his pocket.

Vegas time, why else was a jeweler open at eight in the morning?

Sharpie and Keith were waiting outside of Leor’s decked out in board shorts, loud Hawaiian shirts and flip flops. Jon felt positively conservative in a t-shirt and jeans.

“You sure you want to do this kiddo?” Sharpie asked as Jon moved to push open the doors to the store. Jon turned to his teammate and studied his face. Of all of the guys, he had not expected Sharpie to be the one to try and talk him out of this.

“Very,” he replied firmly.

“Look, I know you like the girl.” Patrick held up his hands in a defensive manner as Jon gave him a sharp look. “Okay, so you love her but still, you have to admit, it’s all a little sudden. Just tell me you’ve thought about what happens when your parents find out you’ve asked some girl to marry you they’ve never even met.” Jon smiled. He’d already taken care of that.

“I’m flying them into L.A. They’ll meet her in a couple days.” The two older men shared a look and some of the air came out of Jon’s sails. “What?”

“And have you told your intended that she’s about to meet the parents?” Duncs asked and Jon could only shrug. His parents were cool. He couldn’t imagine it being a problem. “It’s just…in our experience women like to be warned about that kind of thing. It’s not something you spring on them and that includes your mom.” Jon felt his enthusiasm for this morning’s shopping adventure flagging as he found himself thinking about how his mother might take his surprise.

“We’re not saying we don’t like the girl, or even that you shouldn’t show her how you feel but just maybe it doesn’t have to be such a big gesture you know?” Sharpie reached out to put his hand on his shoulder but Jon shrugged it off.

“I know what I want and my parents will love her,” he grumbled. This is how it always seemed to be. Everyone was either telling him to live a little or they were telling him he was too young for something.

“Well okay then,” Dunc made that face that said he was done arguing but he didn’t agree, which Jon decided was fine, as long as everyone stopped second guessing him. Nodding, he turned away from them and led the way into the store.    

“Good thing I asked the guy to bring every ring he had over a carat,” Sharpie whispered to him, patting his back firmly. Jon smiled. They’d get used to the idea, just like he had.

“Where are we going?” Edie yawned as she slid into the back seat of a taxi.

“The Stratosphere,” Jon slid in beside her and slipped his arm around her shoulders.

“I told you I hate heights,” she moaned and pressed her forehead to his chest.

“And I told you that I’d hold your hand,” he promised, reaching across his lap for her hand and lacing his fingers in hers’. “Some of the guys are gonna be there. That’s okay, right?” She nodded and turned her face up to meet his.

“Great, more people to laugh at me when I throw up,” she sighed and then stifled another yawn. “Maybe I shouldn’t have had that second bagel.” She put her head back on his chest and closed her eyes. She felt his fingers stroke through her hair. It was the same comforting sensation that had sent her into dreamland the night before. Or was that this morning? Yeah…yeah probably sometime this morning she thought, sliding her hand up under his t-shirt and over the ridges of his abdominal muscles. When she looked back up at him his eyes were closed and he was wearing a peaceful looking smile. “What are we doing after this?”

“That sort of depends,” he grinned without opening his eyes. That made Edie frown but she didn’t have time to ask what he meant by it. The cab was coming to a slow stop in front of the Stratosphere. “Coming?” he asked as he handed a twenty to the driver and then reached for the door. Rolling her eyes, Edie accepted his hand out of the car.

“I’ve got the tickets already,” Kane, Keith, Seabrook and Sharp were all waiting just outside the front doors in various states of ultra casual ware, looking very different from the way they had on the plane last night in their designer suits.

“For all the rides?” she asks to which Kane grins menacingly.

“Not gonna puke are ya?” he asked, leering at her.

“If I do, I’m aiming for you and your mullet,” she replied and then stuck her tongue out at him. Jon squeezed her hand and she swallowed the other, more descriptive adjectives she had intended to aim at him.

“I’m doing the sky jump,” Kane informed everyone as they walked in the front doors. “They’re too pussy, what about you?” Pat asked her, raising an eyebrow and looking very smug.

“Oh I’m way too pussy for that but I’m just fine with not spilling my guts all over the pavement,” Edie replied with a shrug as they stood, waiting, in front of the elevators that would take them all the way to the top of the thousand foot tower. She heard one of the guys snigger behind her and hoped it was at Kane’s expense and not hers’.

She bit her tongue as the guys talked around and over her, goading each other into joining Kane on the controlled free fall. She noticed that Jon hadn’t joined in the good natured ribbing and cajoling amongst his friends. Instead, he was staring at the numbers as they lit up, showing how close they were to the top floor.

She looked up at him, at the intensity in his expression and the way his dark eyes were so focused. It made her heart flutter. It reminded her of the way he looked at her when he was trying to push her over the edge, waiting for her to cum so they could go together or when he was watching the action from the bench.  He was waiting for something, wanting something.

“Look, if this is something you want to do with the guys, I think I saw some shops downstairs. I could grab a coffee and wait for you,” she offered but he just shook his head, once, and continued to stare up at the numbers in the panel above their heads. He did, however, grip her hand just a little tighter, as if he would have said ‘no, I want you here’ if he had been prepared to speak. When the doors opened, a few feet away from the observation platform, all of the guys rushed to the windows. Kane even stood on the few inches of glass that curved under to meet the floor. Edie felt her head swim. “I hate heights,” she hissed, refusing to even go as close as the hip high bar that wound around the deck.

“I’m here,” Jon whispered, letting go of her hand and easing his arm around her waist. She let herself lean into the solid width of his chest as she peered out the Vegas Strip.

“It’s a looong way down,” she gulped. His arm tightened around her and she felt his lips press to the top of her head.

“It’ll be worth it, promise.”

“Did you know five people have jumped from up here?” Kane turned to grin at both of them and mimed a body in free fall, his arms wind milling wildly. “Imagine…splaaatt!” he added, smacking his hands together gleefully. Edie felt her stomach heave and she closed her eyes.

“Maybe I should go back down,” she sighed. She felt Jon’s chest move as he laughed soundlessly. That didn’t bother her. He wasn’t laughing at her.

“C’mon let’s just do the Big Shot and then we’ll all go down and watch Kane doing a Super Dave.” Jon’s other hand rubbed at her arm until she nodded and then he reached for her hand again and they turned to follow the rest of the guys towards the doors that led outside.

Jon’s hands felt clammy as he watched Brooksy and Sharpie sit down and pull the safety harnesses down. It was Edie’s turn next and then it would be his big moment. The little red heart shaped box in the pocket of his jeans felt like it weighed about a hundred pounds and his heart felt like it was trying to claw its way out of his chest. The air was thin this high up and harder to breathe, or was that just his nerves?

“Go on babe,” he whispered into her ear, giving her a small guiding push at the small of her back, She turned to look at him over her shoulder, her eyes wide. “I’ll be right behind you,” he lied with a smile on his face that he didn’t feel. All of the warning words that his teammates had had for him earlier that morning were all playing back in his head as he watched her slowly, gingerly make her way up the few stairs to the ride. He grinned encouragingly at her as she turned to sit down beside Sharpie. She stared back at him with a look of sheer terror. This will help, he told himself as he mounted the stairs, digging his hand into his pocket to retrieve the ring. She won’t be thinking about heights when she realizes why she’s really here.

“Fuckin’ hurry up Tayzer,” Kane called, his feet swaying excitedly in the air beneath him. He looked like an over excited five year old, Jon thought as he shook his head at him. Kane didn’t know. He was the only one who didn’t know that this was the moment.

“Just one thing, before I do,” he nodded at his friend and then coughed. Suddenly his throat was constricted and he was afraid he was going to drop the ring his hands were shaking so badly. Taking a deep breath, he looked up at her and found Edie staring back at him, her fear momentarily replaced by curiosity. With legs that had begun to feel more like wet cardboard, Jon went down on one knee in front of her and held up the ring. Edie’s eyes got very wide and her mouth opened and then she shook her head.

“D…don’t Jon…don’t,” she stammered. She was obviously surprised, maybe even a little bit embarrassed. It was cute, he thought, as he used his other hand to open the box. The bright desert sun caught the emerald cut stone and made it blaze.

“Ever since I met you I haven’t been able to think of anything but you and I don’t care what the guys say, I know exactly what I want and that’s you babe. I want to get married, now, here in Vegas.” She was still shaking her head. She was just in shock. “Well?” he asked, sure of her answer. Any minute now she was going to push that safety restraint up and come running down the steps and throw her arms around him.

So why was she still sitting there, holding onto the restraining bar, staring blankly back at him?

“Man…I told you,” Brooksy hissed. Jon didn’t want to hear it. She was going to say yes. Any minute now, she was going to say yes.

“Sir…the other guests,” a voice behind him sounded apologetic but firm. “I have to start the ride.” He held his hand up in the universal ‘give me a minute’ signal. It was just going to be a minute. Any minute now.

“Just come get on the ride,” she begged. She didn’t want to give her answer in front of everyone. She was modest, he liked that about her.

“Say yes Edie,” he called back to her, because she was going to say yes. She just needed a minute.

“Sir…the ride.” There it was again, that annoying voice behind him. Couldn’t he see that they both just needed a minute? It was just going to be a fucking minute.

“Edie.” Just one more minute, that was all she was going to need.

“Jon….” She looked around at the other guys. That was definitely it. She didn’t want to do this in front of them. He started to get up, to join her on the ride. Maybe she could whisper her answer to him when he sat down beside her.

“Sir!” A hand on his shoulder restrained him and then pulled him back from the platform just as the ridge shot up into the air.

The last thing he heard was Edie shouting ‘no’.