tagRomanceOn Thin Ice Ch. 03

On Thin Ice Ch. 03

byMugsyB©

Zane hated himself for making love to Meg like he had on the couch. He'd just been so upset by her suggestion that they be nothing more than friends with benefits that he hadn't known what else to do. He'd used her idea to take her like he wanted to, some primitive part of his mind telling him that he was staking his claim.

Now, in the dim pre-dawn light of her bedroom, he watched her sleeping and asked himself why he hadn't just refused. He'd wanted to tell her that he wanted all of her or nothing but he'd stopped himself, knowing that that for sure would kill any relationship between them, friends or otherwise.

In the end, he'd decided that this way, he was getting all of her. It was perhaps a little more convoluted than that and his tangled emotions told him it wasn't the way he wanted things to be. For now, he would take it. He would be with her how she wanted it, as a friend and part-time lover and in the meantime, he would figure out a way to convince her that he loved her.

Stifling a sigh, he moved from the bed and gathered his clothes. He didn't want to leave her but he knew that when she woke in the morning, she'd be disconcerted with his presence, to say the least. It was also a Monday and she needed to get ready for school without him hovering and making things difficult.

So he took his stuff back to his room and flopped onto his bed. After a few minutes, he picked up his cell and checked his schedule for the next week or so. He was home for another week and then off to Boston, Toronto and St. Louis. Not exactly a smooth road trip but short, nonetheless.

He had no way of knowing how Meg would be this week. She might ignore him or pretend nothing had happened. He allowed himself a grim smile and his groin stirred as he thought about using his 'privileges' to stay close to her at night, even if she wanted to ignore what was happening between them during the day.

Zane closed his eyes and ordered his mind to more mundane topics so he could get his body under control. He was just starting to doze when he heard the faint tinkle of Meg's alarm clock. A second later, it was off and then in another minute, the water in her bathroom started. Zane rolled over with a groan and buried his face in the pillow.

I will not think of her naked in the shower, he told himself. I will not think of the water running over her perfect breasts and the soap bubbles tickling her skin.

Of course, he grew hard and didn't know how he'd make it through another day without seducing her every chance her got.

****

Lucky for him, the week was busy. There were practices in between the games on Wednesday and Friday and a few team functions that he was obligated to attend. With all that going on, he didn't have much of an opportunity to spend time alone with Meg. Either he was out later than she was, or vice versa.

They didn't avoid each other on purpose and when they did see one another, they laughed and talked like nothing had changed. In the back of Zane's mind, he knew it was how Meg wanted things for now but it grated on his nerves to smile and act like he didn't get hard at the mere sight of her. At the same time, he didn't want her to think he only wanted her sexually. He loved everything about her, he always had, long before he'd ever seen her as a woman.

In the locker room, things were still tense between him and Mike. Neither of them said anything but they both knew things weren't right. Adam never brought it up either and Zane knew Adam was avoiding the topic of Meg altogether. Zane was grateful to his friend for not probing but he was feeling the urge to talk to someone about it. He pushed it off for a couple days, telling himself that guys weren't like chicks. They didn't need to analyze every little nuance of a relationship.

Then at practice on Friday before the game, Zane couldn't hold it in any longer. He asked Adam if he wanted to get something to eat for lunch after practice. Adam looked surprised but nodded in agreement.

"So what's up, Z?"

Zane gave Adam an innocent stare that made the other man snort with laughter. They were seated at a local pizza parlor and they'd just ordered their shared pizza.

"What makes you think something's up?"

Adam rolled his eyes and leaned his elbows on the table. "Please. You've hardly spoken to me since the weekend."

"I can't just want to have a slice with my buddy?" Zane hoped he sounded casual but knew he'd failed when he saw the knowing look on Adam's face. He heaved a sigh and rubbed his face with one hand. "All right, fine. I needed to talk to someone."

"If this is about Mike hitting on Meg, you need to deal with it and move on, Z."

Zane's eyes snapped back to Adam's face and narrowed. "What do you mean?"

"Look, I like Meg, I think she's great. And maybe you two are meant to be together or whatever. But if not, you need to let it go and be a proper teammate to Mike."

Zane had to tamp down the urge to spit in rage even though he knew what Adam said was perfectly logical.

"We can't have this tension between you guys. We have a real shot at making it this year and no one wants to give it up because you're acting jealous." Adam paused and raised an eyebrow at Zane. "Even if you do have some reason to be jealous."

Zane pressed his lips together and nodded.

"Well?" Adam prompted.

"Well, what?"

"Do you have a reason to be jealous? All this time I assumed you and Meg were just friends and she could date whoever she wanted, Mike included. But if there's something going on-"

"There is," Zane blurted and flushed at Adam's answering chuckle. "I mean, there wasn't before this weekend."

"But there is now?"

Zane nodded and avoided Adam's pointed look by guzzling his iced tea.

"Why don't you look happy about it? I've seen the two of you together." Adam grimaced. "At the risk of sounding like a chick, you do seem to be made for each other."

Zane's lips twitched and he almost smiled. "It's not that simple."

"It never is." Adam waited until Zane caved.

He glossed over the details but managed to tell Adam about what had happened after their Saturday practice.

"Really? It was her idea?"

Zane nodded.

"Why didn't you tell her that you wanted more?"

"Because it would have just freaked her out and she'd have said no. That would have ruined everything between us."

"How do you know? Maybe she just wanted to hear you say it first."

"Say what first?" Zane was being childish but he didn't want to face the fact that he might have been wrong in agreeing so quickly to Meg's terms.

"I'm not going to be the one to tell you, man." Adam chuckled and sat back, waving his hands in front of him. "No way, no how. We're definitely not chicks."

Zane met his gaze and started to laugh. It felt good and he didn't feel as torn up inside. Adam was right, even though he hadn't come right out and said it. Zane let it go for now. He dug into the pizza and forgot for the moment about his troubles with Meg. He even vowed to himself to make things right with Mike when they all arrived at the Prudential Center for the game later.

Nothing would be easy but Zane had never been one to back down from a challenge. And he was still willing to be patient for Meg.

****

Meg felt sick to her stomach as she watched the poor showing from the Devils on TV Friday night. She'd turned down dinner with Nikki and some other women from the school that night, deciding to go home and watch the game instead. She felt guilty for missing his game on Wednesday and even though he hadn't said anything when she'd confessed that she'd missed it, she knew it had bothered him.

Tonight the Devils were facing a Western Conference team - the Edmonton Oilers - and they'd started out well. The team captain had scored off an assist from Mike and they'd had plenty of power play opportunities. Then something had happened in between the first and second periods and now, as they started the third period, they trailed the Oilers by two.

"Come on, guys," Meg muttered as she clutched her blanket close to her chest.

No one could hear her, least of all Zane, who didn't seem to have shown up for the game at all. He was playing with a distracted air, missing passes and making almost no shots. Meg ached for him and wished with all her heart that she had nothing to do with it.

At last the game ended. No points for Zane and a loss for the entire team. They'd managed to score once in the third but in the end, it hadn't been enough. Meg shut off the TV and went to bed. She was tired from the whole week and watching the game had drained her more than she'd expected.

She was asleep a minute after her head hit the pillow and she didn't wake up until she felt the bed dip beside her. She jerked awake with a start and almost screamed until she heard Zane's familiar chuckle in her ear.

"Goddamnit, Z. You scared the life out of me!"

Again, his warm chuckle brushed across her ear and she shivered. Zane's body moved closer and she felt his hands pushing away the long shirt she had on. She opened her mouth to protest when his cold hands brushed her skin but his mouth found hers in the dark and she was helpless to do anything.

Zane must have sensed her acquiescence and whisked the shirt off over her head. She spread her legs when he pressed his knee between them and he kissed her senseless as he rose above her.

"God, I need you, Meg."

Meg shivered at his unexpected words and jumped at the first contact of his body against her core. She was afraid for a moment that he would take her then, before she was really ready but he shifted and she felt his fingers plying her. She moaned and lifted her hips to meet the play of his hand.

His mouth clamped onto her neck and he sucked as he drew out her arousal almost to completion, then he backed off. Meg made a frustrated noise and thrust her hips up, desperate for him to finish. Then he surged into her, silencing her cry of surprise with a deep kiss. She drank him in as she felt him moving inside her, thrusting with deliberate care.

It wasn't until she arched under him that his pace increased. She moaned into his mouth as he began to lose control and cried out when his fingers clamped hard on her hips. He pumped his body a few more times before giving a deep groan and shuddering over her. As he rolled off her, Meg felt her body still humming from what he'd done and bit her lip when he absently stroked her bare stomach.

"I'm sorry, Meg."

His apology was soft and Meg blinked back sudden tears. "For what?"

He let out a breath and rolled onto his side to look at her. She turned her head and could just see the outline of his face. "For that. I had such a terrible game and I just wanted to feel something besides the loss."

Meg closed her eyes and swallowed around the lump in her throat. So that was it, that was why she felt so used: because she had been.

"I'll make it up to you."

A light laugh escaped her and she shook her head. "Don't worry about it, Zane. This is what we agreed to."

Silence greeted her words and she bit her bottom lip to keep from taking it back. It wasn't all right but she didn't know what else to say.

Zane shifted beside her and she looked over to see him sitting up on the edge of the bed. "I didn't agree to use you this way."

"Where are you going?"

"To bed. I didn't think you'd want me to stay."

There was hurt in his tone, something Meg couldn't figure out. Wasn't she the one who should be hurt right now?

"Good night, Meg."

She opened her mouth to stop him but no words came out. His shadow moved across her room and he left her with a snap of the door.

Meg lay back on her bed and let out a shuddering breath. When had everything gone so wrong? They'd been fine all week, when they'd seen each other, laughing and talking like they always had. They hadn't repeated the events of the previous weekend since they'd both been so busy but Meg hadn't thought their next time would have been like this.

Tears blurred her vision again and she wiped them away with an angry motion. Blowing out another frustrated breath, she rolled over and tried to sleep.

****

Their road trip through Boston, Toronto and St. Louis did not go well. They lost two of the games and barely squeaked into a shootout for the third, which they also lost. Gaining one point out of a possible six was about as much fun as a massage from a cheese grater. They could do better. Zane knew he could do better and he wanted to do better.

He told himself that individual points didn't matter but he also knew that he was expected to produce results for the team. He'd been held scoreless for the entire first game against the Bruins and then again in the third against St. Louis. Since getting back to practice in their home arena, Zane still couldn't find the back of the net. Sure, it was just practice but if he couldn't even handle it in a scrimmage game, what would he do when they faced off against another team?

He told himself that it had nothing to do with Meg and the distance that had sprung up between them before he'd left on this last road trip. They hadn't had a chance to talk since he'd come home and he was only home for a couple more nights anyway. He wanted to talk to her and reassure her that he didn't feel any different about her but he didn't know how. Every time he thought about what he wanted to say, all that wanted to come out was 'I love you.' She might accept it, she might even say it back - they had been saying those words to each other for years, after all - but Zane was most afraid that she'd deny him.

In the few months since she'd moved to New Jersey, Zane had felt his heart get so wrapped up in her, that he didn't know how he'd function if she ever left. He had no idea if she felt the same sort of attachment, platonic or not, and the worst part was being unable to talk about it. They'd always been able to talk about everything.

Zane faced his teammates in the arena and tried to push it out of his mind. The coach instructed their next drill and Zane shot off with his linemates when the whistle blew. For the next hour, he devoted himself to practice.

After, in the locker room as he dressed, he caught Mike's eye and gave his teammate a tentative smile. Mike's dark eyebrows rose but he smiled as well. Zane nodded his head to one side and Mike met him near the door.

"I've been meaning to talk to you, man," Zane started, feeling awkward.

"Have you?"

"Yeah. I'm sorry about what happened with Meg at practice that day."

Mike stared at him and laughed. "Oh, come on, you're not still stewing about that, are you?" He cuffed Zane on the shoulder and led the way out of the locker room. "It's in the past, Z."

"You're not mad?"

"Of course not. I knew you'd pull your head out of your ass and put the moves on Meg eventually and then you'd talk to me again."

Zane gaped. "Does everyone know?"

"Know what? That you've wanted her ever since she moved here?" Mike shrugged as they started to walk down the hall. "Sure. It was pretty obvious."

Zane shook his head. Considering that he hadn't even known what he felt until a few weeks ago, it was amazing to him that his friends seemed to have guessed before him.

"Well, in any case, I'm sorry for acting like such a jackass, Mike."

"Come on, Z. Let's just get you scoring some goals and you'll forget all about it."

Zane nodded. He did need to score some goals. If one thing in his life started to go right, maybe the rest would follow.

Well, he could hope.

****

Zane got home after the game on Monday night and crawled into bed completely exhausted. The Capitals were an intense team led by one of the hardest hitting players in the league. Zane didn't like to admit that another player intimidated him but tonight, Oborotenski had intimidated. He groaned and covered his face with a pillow, determined not to think about it. He'd managed to get two points and even though neither were outright goals, he still felt good about it. The Devils had won the game in the end and that's what mattered.

He was just dozing off when he heard his bedroom door open. Rolling over, he saw the silhouette of Meg as she approached his bed.

"Meg? What's wrong?"

"Nothing." She slipped between the covers with him and snuggled up close to his side.

Zane got over his surprise in a hurry and put his arms around her. After that grueling game, he could use a little downtime with Meg wrapped around him. He stroked his hands down her naked back and smiled into her hair when she shivered.

"What are you doing here?"

She leaned back to look into his eyes. "I wanted to congratulate you on the win." She put a hand behind his head and drew him down for a kiss. He let her pull him close and enjoyed the way she swept her tongue into his mouth. Then she fell back against the pillows with a sigh and smiled at him. "Congratulations."

Zane laughed and rolled over her. He lowered his head and brushed her lips with his in a light kiss. "You didn't have to get out of your warm bed to do that."

She shrugged as she ran her palms from his shoulders down his chest. "I wanted to. The game got me all fired up."

"Fired up?"

"Oh yeah. All that hitting and the crowd was insane tonight. It was a great game, Z."

"I'm glad you enjoyed it."

If that's what had brought her to his bed for the very first time, he wasn't going to argue. Zane dropped his head to kiss her chin and down the side of her throat. She let out a contented sigh and arched so he could have more space. He obliged, his tongue sliding along her skin.

God, she tasted just like she smelled, all fresh and clean and feminine. He could do nothing but inhale her for hours. He nuzzled his nose into the crook of her neck and she shivered.

"Cold?" He looked into her face and grinned when he saw her biting her lower lip.

She shook her head and gave him a weak smile.

"Are you sure? Because I could probably warm you up." Zane stroked his hands down her sides, biting back a groan when he didn't even feel the presence of underwear on her body.

"I'm not cold," she whispered.

"Too bad. I can be very creative when it comes to warming up."

He shifted and pressed her hip to the bed with one hand. He traced light circles over her stomach, fascinated with the jumping pulse he saw there and the way goosebumps rose all over her skin.

"Zane..."

He glanced back to her face and could have let out a primitive growl at the way she was already twisting beneath his touch.

"You're sure you're not cold?" He slid his hand over the top of her thigh and grinned at the way she tried to follow his touch. "That's really too bad."

"Zane, please!"

"I mean, I can't really help you if you're already warm enough." He continued to tease her, stroking the insides of her thighs and stopping just short of the very center of her. He wanted to touch her, wanted to find out just how 'fired up' she was but he was having too much fun playing with her.

After another minute of taunting strokes and near misses, Zane felt her hands clench on his arms. Her body was trembling all over and her breath was coming in quick pants.

"I'm c-cold, Zane."

He stopped touching her and stared at her face. She met his look and he was gratified to see her desire even with the shadows lining her features. Her bottom lip was trembling and her fingers on his arms were shaking.

"You want me to warm you up?" It didn't surprise Zane when his voice came out raspy.

She nodded, her eyes never leaving his face.

So he slipped a hand between her legs and cupped her, letting his groan of appreciation out when he felt how slick she was. He stroked her a few times before the erection he was sporting gave a painful throb. With another groan, Zane rolled away and shoved his boxers off. When he rolled back over Meg, she held her arms open and lifted her mouth to his.

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