A/N: Hi! Sorry for the time lapse in posting - I was tearing it up in Vegas for a week. Now I need a month to recover, so I can write plenty. Hope you haven't forgotten this story...
I woke up before the alarm to an empty bed. It was barely 7 AM, I wasn’t due up for an hour. But even my subconscious had sensed the absence of Sidney’s heavy, warm presence. His side of the bed was almost cold, so he’d been gone a while. I stole a button-down shirt from the closet, found my underwear across the room and padded barefoot down the hall.
Then I heard it: pots and pans.
Sidney was in the kitchen, working two pans on the stove between sips from a glass of orange juice. He wore sweatpants and a t-shirt, his hair a mess and I stood in the doorway thinking that I was absolutely, completely enamored with him. And bacon.
“Am I too early?”
His smile was devastating. Like a kid caught snooping for Christmas presents, he put his arms out to hide the range from view. When he saw what I was wearing, he gave up.
“Oh man.” He shuffled right over and wrapped me up in all those muscles. I could have died and gone to heaven on the smell of food and the warmth of his body. His huge hands went right to my thighs, sliding up under the shirt and over my panties.
“Food later,” he grunted like a caveman.
“No way,” I slapped at him and spun away. “It smells so good! You did all this work, we’re eating.”
A sheepish little look crossed his face. “I was going to bring you breakfast in bed.”
Stooooooop! Too cute. I burrowed back into his chest and rubbed against him. “How about dessert in bed?”
I set the table while Sid finished cooking and we sat down to eat like we made each other eggs every day. He ran a sock up my bare leg while I worked on a second piece of bacon. Not in recent memory could I recall being awake and happy so long before work.
“What time do you leave?”
He swigged back some juice. “Noon. We play tomorrow night Dallas and then Tuesday in Phoenix.” I nodded slowly, not mentioning that I had memorized his schedule for the rest of the season. At least when I knew he’d be away. He explained what they did on the road and how they passed their time. Then he was up and pulling my hand before I finished my last piece of toast.
“I’ll clean up later,” he waved toward the dirty dishes with one hand, the other snaking back under my borrowed shirt.
My side of the bed was still warm and we squeezed together trying to fit in the spot I’d left. He slowly opened the three buttons I’d used on the shirt and very gently, very slowly, ran his thick fingers over my skin. We lay on our sides, facing each other. I watched his eyes as he looked at the path his hands traced on my body. His palm passed over my breast, my nipple stiffening beneath it.
“I will miss you, Evie.”
His eyes met mine, the liquid color of melted caramel. I could tell there was a lot more he wanted to say. Since last night when I’d obviously passed the Mario test, his eyes held a lot more than his words had shared. Give him time, I said. I was scared of getting ahead of myself too.
“At least I get to see you on TV twice.” I slipped my hands onto his stomach, feeling the flat plane beneath the fabric of his t-shirt. He burned like a furnace, excess energy searing off him like an electric grid. This close, the air around him seemed to ripple with heat.
We stayed like that – quiet, gently touching each other – for a long time. Finally I ran my fingers lightly over the top of his ear, pushing back the hair that threatened to curl over the edge. He brought his lips to mine softly. It was just a kiss, a simple and solid kiss. My heart sprung a slow leak.
Sidney moved his hands lower; I look my mouth to the delicate skin of his neck. He slipped inside me as I felt the pulse in his neck beating beneath my lips. Tiny sighs of pleasure escaped us both. We hardly moved, trying to draw the moment out. Still it was over too soon. Barely breathing, I came with a shudder and dug my fingers into the curves of his shoulder blades. He squeezed me tightly as if afraid I might try to run away. I felt his tension break inside me as he quietly said my name. Then we lay perfectly still, feeling each others’ heartbeats even and slow.
“Time machine?” he said out of nowhere.
I giggled. “Fast forward or rewind?”
That wide, guileless grin spread across his beautiful face. “I’d like to do that part again.”
I didn’t want to leave. Of course I wanted to play – I always wanted to play, to win, to move forward. But I didn’t want to leave Evie for a second.
A week. One week. No matter how many times I reminded myself, my nay-saying fell on deaf ears.
I have rarely seen Mario completely relaxed when it comes to me. He may not command or smother, like some of the other authority figures I’ve known, but there’s always a tiny spark of fear in his eye. Afraid I might break. During dinner with Evie, that little glimmer was finally gone. She had done great and I told her so.
I almost said it then. We made it back to my side of the house in a flustered rush, like a balloon zipping wildly as the last of its air escapes. The door closed and the words were on my lips: I love you. I know it’s crazy. I don’t care. But she had thrown herself on me, seeming as desperate as I was to put something solid to what we both felt had just happened. I was ready to go out on a limb; Evie chose the familiar route to the bedroom. Not that I was complaining.
There were plenty of other chances to tell her. I’d woken early, immensely happy while turning it over in my mind. I didn’t want to leave without doing something, and I hadn’t. That morning, after breakfast, we were together in a way that I’d never been with someone before. She drew me in, held me close and we just stopped. Both of us trying to stay together and stay still. Of course it hadn’t lasted long enough. Overwhelmed by the idea and the reality of Evie, I came almost without moving a muscle.
When I dropped her at work, she leaned over the center console to kiss me. That wouldn’t do. I went around to her side of the car, scooped her up and kissed her hard. She was pressed between me and the side of my car, on a busy street and I didn’t care who saw us. As long as she kept kissing me, I didn’t care about anything.
“Miss you,” she said. I could tell she meant it.
Three hours later I was next to Flower on the plane. I had my PSP out but couldn’t concentrate on the game. TK killed me twice from the back row and I finally gave up.
“Monsieur Love has other things on his mind,” Duper announced. Someone barked like a dog. Flower just smacked me on the arm.
“Things are good with Evie?” he asked.
I sighed like a schoolgirl. If Cookie or Kunitz had seen me they’d have bust a gut laughing. Flower just smiled. “I think I’m in love with her,” I said quietly.
“Well duh,” Jordan said from the seat behind me. So much for quiet. “You look like a… what’re those dogs with the long ears? Hound dogs? You look like a hound dog when she’s around, all puppy eyes and drooling.” I stood to give him hell but he wasn’t laughing just idly flipping pages of a magazine. He looked up and just shrugged. “Hey, I’m just saying. If it’s any help, I keep expecting her to sprout wings and fly around the room she seems so happy.”
I sat back into my seat. Flower peered between the seats and gave Staalsy a smile. Big softie, I thought. If only the girls knew. So I asked the question. “What should I do?”
“Tell her,” Kris said from across the aisle.
Jesus, is the whole plane listening?! Then my brain processed what he had said.
“No. That’s crazy, she’ll run off.”
Kris shook his hair the way normal guys shook their heads. “Nope. But she’s probably as freaked out as you are. Tell her, you’ll both feel better.”
“You are gross.”
I was having lunch with Beth. Sidney had been gone for an hour and I practically had the shakes. Too bad I didn’t drink coffee or I could have blamed my jitters on caffeine. Beth had been telling me about getting to know Kris rather well while I’d been sleeping out, but my mind drifted off in the middle of a particularly lurid tangent about Kris’ thighs.
“Evie, are you even listening to me?”
I cleared my head, but had to be honest. “No. I think I’m losing it.”
“Because you love him,” she said plainly.
“I don’t know!” I practically shouted. Thank God someone else said it. Just hearing it made my heart pound a staccato beat against my ribs. “Is this what it feels like? Like you’re going to throw up? I swear I haven’t drawn a single complete breath in a week, it feels like I’m hyperventilating all the time.”
Beth shrugged. She’d never been in love either. But she was more stoic than I was and when she came to a conclusion based on observation and research, she stuck to it.
“He’ll have me arrested. Or committed.” It was out of the question. Something big was going on here, but I wasn’t about to risk it because I felt like a shaken can of soda.
“Evie, he never once took his eyes off you at dinner or the aquarium. It was like he couldn’t believe he was there with you. Like he couldn’t believe you were real.” She sipped her straw. “Kind of like you look now.”
I stared into my salad. I loved him. I knew it. My rational brain sent up a million arguments for why I shouldn’t or didn’t, but they were all faulty. Without even trying, I’d obliterated every single reason not to love him. All I had to do was picture his smile.
“I love him,” I said mostly to myself.
“Well duh,” Beth replied.
“Nice game,” she said. I lay on my bed in Dallas, thinking how glad I was to have my own room on the road. None of the guys eavesdropping, no hiding on another floor to have a private conversation. “This is the first time I’ve seen you on TV since we met, and I have to say you really are more gorgeous in person.”
I laughed. She could probably hear me blushing. “Thanks for watching.”
“Thanks for scoring a goal.”
We talked about nothing for a while, until I could tell she was falling asleep. I wanted so badly to hold her, to hear her voice get quiet and her breathing soften in real life rather than on the phone. My shoulders and arms ached.
“Sweet dreams, Evie.”
She was nearly out. “Come home soon.”
The queen size mattress felt huge as I climbed beneath the covers. There was nothing to do put wrap my arms around a pillow, settle myself against it as much as possible and think that it was going to be a long, lonely time if I had to substitute a pillow for her body all these nights on the road. I fell asleep hoping she was warm enough in her bed at home.
The team traveled and practiced. I kept the calls to a minimum – she was working and I didn’t want to seem crazy. Every time I thought of calling, Kris’ words rang in my head: “Tell her.” I could feel the idea starting to take hold and it only got scarier. Each night, Evie and I talked for a long time before bed. She told stories and laughed while I focused and breathed deeply to keep from blurting out those three little words. When the game in Phoenix ended, I wanted to fly back immediately. Instead I settled for her voice on the line.
“I’m home at five tomorrow, can I take you to dinner?”
“Pick me up at work.”
The flight took a hundred years then I practically ran to my car. On the way I forced myself to stop quickly and pick up some flowers. There would be a lot of road trips and a lot of forced separations; it wouldn’t be a good start to seem like I couldn’t handle a few days away. My fingers drummed on the steering wheel anyway.
I beat the light at the end of her block and all at once my heart did a backflip. Evie stood on the curb, bundled against the cold, looking for all the world like she couldn’t wait another second for whoever was picking her up. Her mittened fingers wrapped across her chest in a hug. She even bounced on the balls of her feet. The moment she saw my car a huge smile broke out across her face. I burned rubber for the last hundred meters.
“Hi!” She jumped into the passenger seat and threw her arms around me. Her nose was cold as it pressed to my cheek, along with her lips. Then she pulled back for a second. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too,” I admitted. She was like a breath of fresh air in a stuffy room. Evie returned the kiss, her tongue slipping hungrily past my lips. I wrapped a hand into her hair and in the blink of an eye we were making out like teenagers.
“Oops,” she giggled.
“What do you want for dinner?” I tried to be calm.
She cocked her head to one side. “Got any of that breakfast in bed left?”
I let him stand there while I stripped off all but my panties and climbed right into his bed at seven o’clock at night. No sooner had I settled than he was on his back, pulling me across his bare chest. I’d forgotten the tiny golden flecks in his irises, the way his smile is deeper on the left. His mouth twitched like he wanted to say something, then it was lost in a kiss.
We moved quickly. His hands were hot against my skin, peeling off the single small layer of clothing I wore as he kissed me down hard. Without a moment’s thought I guided his length inside me. A big sigh escaped my lungs – breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding for five days.
“I’ve been going crazy thinking about this,” he said, his thickness slowly pushing my body into surrender.
I tried to say “me too” but it came out in a moan. Sid nipped at my neck as I dug my fingers into his skin, trying to stop the falling. It was as if I’d never been with him, never known what it was to feel him until I had to go without. My stomach lurched in panic – a sudden blast of fear in response to the overwhelming physical reaction. I pressed my eyes closed but it got away: a single tear rolled across my temple. His lips were right there. They caught the tear, smearing it down toward my ear.
“Evie, I love you,” he said.
I was struck silent for a moment. Then I saw my feelings reflected in those honeyed brown eyes: surprise and fear but mostly hope.
“I love you,” I told him. And I knew that I did.
He kissed me in a rush, almost frantic as he wrapped more tightly around my body. I did the same as a reflex, pulling him deeper inside and earning a huge flutter from my lower back. Sid took the encouragement and began to move, staying with the kiss as his huge thighs easily stroked me into the mattress.
“This is crazy,” I whispered. He smiled at full wattage and I lost another tear from beneath my lashes. My heart rate redlined.
That was not the plan. I wasn’t even going to tell her yet. Surely I could bite my tongue and not risk losing her to my overzealous heart. But that single tear, the tiny glistening streak it left across her skin – I came undone. It was exactly how I felt, an impossible mixture of butterflies and sheer terror. The words said themselves and I didn’t hear them until she did.
Then she said them back. I kissed her so she wouldn’t see me cry too.
It was over in a moment. She came with a short, sharp cry and a thrust of her hips down onto me. I was in control of absolutely nothing and an orgasm ripped through me as quickly as my confession had done. We lay panting in a heap, equally stunned. I lifted my head.
“I didn’t want to tell you like this,” I admitted. I was still deep inside her, flagging tiredly against her warm core. “But I meant it.”
She bit her lip into a tight, disbelieving smile that reached all the way to her eyes. “I thought it was just me.”
“I was scared to say it.”
“I’m still scared,” she said honestly.
But she let me kiss her. We curled up the way I’d done all week, finally holding the real thing in my arms. It seemed like ages before my heartbeat slowed enough to draw a full breath. I pulled the blanket up over both of our heads, burying us in darkness. She shifted gently against me.
No dinner, barely eight o’clock. I didn’t even have to move to kiss her neck. “Night baby.”