Nothing Gets Through Ch. 01byPennLady©
© 2009 All rights reserved.
For MugsyB. :)
Thonk. Pahk. Clack.
Dom moved smoothly from shot to shot, deflecting pucks with his blocker pad, his glove, his leg pads, his stick -- whatever was in the right place. He ignored the ones that got through. He just gritted his teeth and tried harder to stop them all. The bars of his facemask disappeared, and his teammates were blurs out by the blue line.
The pucks were sharp black circles that came ripping towards him at all angles and heights. His body dipped and turned, his legs shot out to the sides... he was a wall.
At last the whistle cut through his thoughts and he realized no more pucks were flying at him. He stripped off his catching glove, flipped up his mask, and guzzled the water from one of the bottles on top of the net. When that was empty, he picked up the next one and squirted the water on his face, savoring the coolness. Some of it dripped into his brown hair, turning it black.
Karl came over and tapped his stick against Dom's leg pads. "Nice job," Karl said. "You were really in the zone." His English was nearly perfect, and his faint Swedish accent was the only hint that he wasn't from the U.S. or Canada.
"Thanks," said Dom, still panting some. "Let's hope I stay that way through tomorrow night." He grabbed his glove and began skating to the bench.
"Just relax," said Karl. Dom rolled his eyes. "Just relax" was Karl's advice for pretty much any situation. Then Karl got a teasing glint in his eye. "Of course, Coach could always pull you and put Steward in."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Dom said dryly. Then he squirted the rest of his water over Karl's head. He succeeded only in making Karl laugh harder.
Lani sipped at her chai and pulled up yet another spreadsheet. The little chair wasn't very comfortable, but then neither was her apartment at the moment. When her roommate, Cherie, had a guy over, it could be very crowded. Cherie was... affectionate, Lani mused, and sometimes didn't think to, say, go to her own room before things got interesting. So Lani had slipped out to the nearest coffee shop with wireless capability.
It was quiet for a Saturday morning, just as she'd hoped. A couple sat on one of the couches reading the newspaper. A couple of guys -- cute guys, she noted -- were deep in discussion about something. They were both animated, gesturing and illustrating points with their hands; one had straight brown hair, the other wavy blond. They made an interesting contrast. There were one or two more people like her, hunched over laptops. Unconsciously she straightened her posture.
She eyed the scone she'd bought. It held its place defiantly, daring her to take a bite. Is it really food? she wondered. Or is it merely Styrofoam with flavor? Very little flavor, if she remembered correctly from the last time she'd eaten here. The drinks were decent, but the food was erratic.
Deciding to postpone the battle with the breakfast food, she turned back to her screen. She was busy with schedules and costs when the door banged open and an argument rolled in. She tried to ignore it, but the participants were having none of that.
"I don't care!" shrieked the woman. She waved her hands in the air, inches from the man's face. "I've had it! I told you to leave me alone. I don't want to be with you anymore. I found someone else!"
"Someone with more money!" the man yelled back. "You're nothing but a gold-digger."
"Someone with a bigger dick!" the woman retorted, hands on her hips. "The money's just a plus!"
"Excuse me," said the manager, an older man, as he approached the warring couple. "Perhaps I could ask you to keep your voices down. Surely there's no need for..."
"Back off, gramps," the man said with a glare.
"Please, let's have a seat," the manager suggested, trying once more for calm. Lani felt badly for him; she could see both the man and woman were high or drunk on something. Neither would be amenable to the soft sell approach.
"I said, 'back off!'" the man yelled, and pushed the older man back. He stumbled a few steps and caught himself on the counter, but then slipped and hit his head. Lani watched as one of the staff behind the counter grabbed a cell phone. Someone had some common sense, she was relieved to see. Lani was tempted to go see if the man was all right, but wasn't sure it was a wise move to get past the attacker.
"See? See!" the woman shrieked again. Lani winced. "Someone call the police!" The woman waved her hands frantically. "He assaulted that man! He's a menace! Call the police!"
"Go ahead!" the man shouted, turning on the woman. Despite his having at least eight inches on her, she stood her ground. Lani would have been impressed if they weren't both acting like assholes. "Call the police!" the man continued, his arms now flailing as well. "Do you think I care? Do you think they scare me?"
"You're too stupid to be scared!" the woman yelled.
"At least I'm not a money-hungry whore!" the man shouted back. His face was bright red now, as was the woman's.
sLord, Lani thought, can't I just work in peace? Suddenly the apartment didn't seem like such a bad idea. She could always lock herself in her room. And play loud music. And wear headphones. A quick scan of the other customers convinced her they felt much the same.
"You don't have any money and you never will!" The woman, caught up in the drama, was rapidly working her way up to hysteria. "My mother was right, you're never going to be anything. You're a stupid, idiotic..." words failed her and Lani was relieved. Then the woman found more words and Lani groaned. "You're an idiot," the woman said with a gleam in her eyes, "and your dick doesn't make up for it."
She couldn't stand it any more and walked over to them. "Excuse me," Lani said, "but can you take this somewhere else?" The two looked at her in surprise. "I'm sorry you're having problems, but this isn't the place to fix them, okay? We're just not interested in who wants money or the size of anyone's... anything."
"Stay out of this," the man ordered in a gruff voice.
"I'd love to," said Lani, "but that can really only happen if you leave."
"Don't tell me what to do," the man said with a glare. His tone was threatening, and he outweighed Lani by at least a hundred pounds, but she didn't back down.
"Look," she said, trying one last time for patience, "they've already called the police. Why don't you just go?"
This time, it was the woman who turned on Lani. "Who called the police?" she screamed. "You? Who did that!? No one asked for the police! Why can't anyone mind their own damn business in this freakin' town?" She continued in her shrill voice, and Lani tuned her out.
Lani rolled her eyes and shook her head, then turned to go back to her table. She had taken barely one step before someone jerked her arm and she stumbled back.
"She was talking to you," the man growled at her.
Lani yanked her arm back. "Don't touch me," she said in an icy voice.
Dom and Karl let their debate about the two-line pass lapse as they watched the screaming match in front of them.
"Wow, she's a lively one," Karl commented. Dom snorted.
"If you like harpies," he said. Conversation was impossible while the argument was in session. "Come on, let's go," he told Karl.
"I'll wait it out," Karl said. "I'm not wearing my visor and I'd rather not have that woman accidentally scratch my eyes out."
Dom sighed and took a swig of his coffee. When the man pushed the manager, he made to jump up but Karl restrained him. "Don't," said his teammate. He nodded in the direction of the counter. "Someone's already called the police, and they're helping him now."
Dom glared but sat down. Karl was right; it wouldn't help anyone, especially the team, if he got into a fight and hurt his hands. It was hard, though; he itched to belt the guy. Listening to the yelling, he decided the woman deserved a slap, too. Her voice was going through his brain like shards of ice.
After the woman made her comment on the man's anatomy, Dom sighed and lowered his head on the table, using his arms as pillows. Never insult a guy's size, he thought uselessly. It never helps. Maybe I can sleep until this is over. He was about to close his eyes when Karl nudged him. He raised his head and blinked when the petite woman with the dark brown hair walked over to the combatants.
"She's brave," Karl said.
"She's nuts," Dom replied. The man was huge, and even the harpy must have had forty pounds on her. He gave her points, though, for trying. She kept her cool and was reasonable; Dom figured she must have known it was useless, but liked her style. When the man grabbed her arm, Dom felt his control slip and stood up, striding over before Karl could stop him.
"Dom -- wait -- you -- oh, hell." Karl sighed and stood, ready to follow and keep his friend out of trouble.
"Don't touch me," Dom heard the woman say. Her voice was cold and matched the dark ice of her eyes.
"I think you'd better do as she says," Dom suggested. His voice was calm and belied his anger.
"Who the hell are you?" the man snarled, his eyes still on Lani. Karl tapped him on the shoulder from the other side and he spun around.
"We're friends of hers," Karl said lightly. He smiled at Lani. "Hi, sweetie, how are you?"
She blinked, but then smiled back. "Fine, thanks. Didn't see you there."
Dom watched with satisfaction as the man's eyes grew wide. Karl was lean, but over six feet tall and well-muscled; Dom was shorter and had broad shoulders. Together, he knew they presented a fairly tough image. So said the PR department, who had forced them into a photo shoot along with Karl's defense partner Bobby. Too bad Bobby isn't here, Dom thought idly. This guy would probably piss himself.
Lani didn't know who these guys were, but the tall one had a devilish grin and a glint in his blue eyes that she couldn't resist. The shorter -- but by no means short -- one didn't smile, but he had an intensity about him that appealed to her. When the tall one had pretended to be her friend, she had grabbed at the ploy.
The man looked from Karl to Dom, gaping until he heard the police sirens. Finally, Lani thought. She had begun to think they'd never show up.
The man turned to the woman he'd been arguing with and grabbed her hand. "Come on," he growled. Karl's smile never wavered as he stepped aside to let them pass. They were barely out the door before a cop stepped out of his vehicle and in front of them. Whatever he said was enough to send the woman off on another shrill rant.
Lani, Dom and Karl stood and watched while the first cop's partner came around, and then a second police cruiser pulled up. The man who'd been arguing looked panicked, and began shouting over the woman. Two more cops, a man and a woman, got out of the second car and exchanged glances with their colleagues. Lani almost laughed at the efficiency with which the man and woman were quieted, cuffed, and put into the first car. The first two cops drove off, and the second pair came in and began speaking with the manager.
She turned to Karl. "Thanks so much. I guess I didn't think that through very clearly." She held out her hand. "I'm Lani."
"Delighted to meet you," Karl said, kissing her hand with a flourish. She laughed. "I'm Karl. The strong, silent one over here is my friend, Dominic."
"Dom," he corrected, shaking Lani's hand. "Nice to meet you." Her hand felt small and smooth in his; suddenly he was self-conscious of his own large, rough ones.
"Hello, Karl. Hello, Dom," she said with a smile. "Thanks again, really." She shook her head. "I don't know quite what got into me. I guess I was just frustrated. Can't work at home, can't work here. You'd think people could scream at each other in the privacy of their own homes."
Karl waved his hand dismissively. "Then where would we get our excitement?" he asked. Lani giggled.
"I can live without that kind of excitement," Dom said dryly. He wondered why it bothered him to see Karl flirting with Lani. Karl flirted with pretty much any woman, and had done it plenty of times in Dom's presence. Dom had never minded before.
"So can I," Lani agreed, and Dom felt a small flash of smug satisfaction.
"What's a pretty girl like you doing working on a Saturday?" Karl asked with a wink. Lani laughed out loud. She liked a little flirting, and this guy seemed harmless.
"Have you ever tried getting work done in an office?" she asked. "Impossible. I came here to get some peace and quiet. I'll think twice about that next time."
"Excuse me." The three looked over to see one of the cops approaching. "I was wondering if I could get statements about what happened here." They agreed and took turns answering questions. After they were finished, Lani glanced over at her computer and sighed.
"Well, pardon me, but I should get back to work," she said. "I don't mean to be a broken record, but thanks so much for your help."
"Lani, do you like hockey games?" Karl asked suddenly. Dom eyed him suspiciously. If he was working on asking Lani out, his best friend and defenseman might need a talking to.
"Love them," she said, a bit surprised. "I watch on TV whenever I can, but it's been years since I've been to one."
"Tell you what," he said, "there's a game tonight and I have two extra tickets. I'll leave them at the will call window. What's your last name?"
"Montgomery," she said automatically. Then, feeling a little abashed, she said, "Look, you don't have to do that. It's really sweet, but..."
"Not a problem," Karl said. "I can't use them and so I'd like to know someone can. If you can't make it, don't worry about it." He ignored the look Dom was giving him.
"All right," Lani said, giving up. "Thanks again." She was about to say something else when someone yelled her name.
"Lani! Lani!" A tall, busty woman with copper-colored hair came charging through the doors and nearly bowled Lani over with a bear hug. Dom couldn't stop his grin when he saw Karl's face. If ever a man had been smitten, it was Karl. He wouldn't have to worry about Karl and Lani after all.
"What happened?" the woman asked. "I saw the cops outside. Was there a robbery or something? Are you okay?" She patted Lani's shoulders as though checking for injury.
"Relax, Deanne," Lani said, laughing. "I'm fine. It was nothing so exciting. Just Romeo and Juliet having a spat. Deanne, this is Karl and Dom. They kept me from getting in over my head."
"Oh, thank you so much!" Before either could react, Deanne gave Dom and Karl each the sane bear hug she'd given Lani, plus a loud buss on the cheek. They stood there, stunned, as she thanked them again. "I'm so glad you were here! Lani just got into town and she's never really lived in the city --"
"Dee," Lani interrupted gently, "they don't need my life story." She was hard put not to laugh at the expressions on the men's faces. Deanne had that effect on people.
"Oh, right, sorry," Deanne said. Then she took a closer look at the men. "You two look familiar. Have we met?"
"Oh, no," said Karl, his flirting grin back in place. "I'm sure I'd remember someone as unique as yourself." Deanne blushed and started to say something but Karl continued. "I was just telling Lani that I would leave her tickets for the hockey game tonight. Perhaps you could go with her? Do you like hockey?"
"I -- sure -- I don't --" Deanne couldn't talk, so Lani stepped in.
"That would be great, we'd love to," she told Karl.
"Wonderful," Karl said with a satisfied nod. "Why don't you meet us afterwards? There's a restaurant just a couple of blocks from the stadium called Boorman's."
"Won't we see you during the game?" Deanne asked, puzzled.
Karl gave her a conspiratorial wink. "I'm afraid we'll be entertaining some clients during the game, but we'll be free when it's over."
"Thanks again," Lani said, pulling on Deanne's arm. "I really do need to get my computer and work a bit. Come on, Dee. Can I work at your place?"
"Sure," Deanne said absently, still staring at Karl.
"Until tonight, then," Karl said. He kissed Deanne's hand as he had Lani's before they stepped away.
"Bye," Deanne said, a bit uncertainly as she followed Lani.
Dom watched the women go and then turned to Karl.
"What?" his friend asked, the picture of innocence.
Dom shook his head. "Clients?" he said, arching an eyebrow. Karl just grinned. "Come on," said Dom with a sigh, "let's go grab some sleep before the game." He headed to the door, Karl on his heels.
Lani began packing her bag while she waited for the computer to shut down. Deanne watched the men leave, then turned to her friend. "I'm sure I recognize them," she said, "at least the tall one, Karl. I just can't remember where."
"Probably at one of the events we've managed," Lani said. "I can never remember all the names and faces." Deanne worked for the same children's charity that Lani did, coordinating events like fund-raisers and the occasional celebrity meeting with a group of kids.
"I don't know," Deanne said, her brow furrowed. "It feels more like I've seen a picture or something."
"Well, keep thinking," said Lani as she slid the laptop in. "Maybe it'll come to you before the game." She looked at her friend. "You have anything to wear to a hockey game, Dee?"
"Entertaining clients?" Dom repeated again as he and Karl sat in the locker room. Karl watched with a sort of awe as Dom started strapping on his various pads. He would never have the nerve to play Dom's position, he thought. More than one puck had come out of nowhere at high speed and left bruises on various portions of his anatomy. He had certainly thrown himself in front of more than a few shots; it was part of the job. Dom's job was to get in the way, all the time, and that was just crazy.
The tall, lanky Swede shrugged. "Well, it's true. Sort of." He grinned. He let his mind wander back to Deanne. Lani was very attractive, but Karl had nearly forgotten to breathe when Deanne had come in. That lithe body with the amazing curves... the caramel-colored skin... golden eyes and all topped with that lovely burnished-copper hair... He bit back a wistful sigh.
"Who's got clients?" asked Greg Olshefsky. The team captain took a swig from a water bottle. "One of you guys moonlighting as a gigolo?" Karl blinked and came back to the locker room.
Dom snorted. "Yeah. Make sure there's no OT tonight. Karl has a date." Olshefsky laughed as he sat down to put on his skates.
"What's she look like?" Greg asked. "Or is it a blind date?"
"Must be," said Jim Lorton, Greg's linemate. "Otherwise she'd never agree." Karl glared and Lorton just laughed.
"She's a nicely built red head," Dom said. Greg gave a low whistle.
"You have a date, too," Karl reminded him. He winked at the others. "A petite brunette with guts to spare." He gave everyone a quick summary of the events at the coffee shop.
"Wow, sounds like you found a hot one, Bad Boy," Greg said with a wink. He reached up for his pads. Dom rolled his eyes.
The media had decided that Dominic Baddano required a suitable nickname after he'd been in a fight. Dom rarely fought on the ice, but tensions had been running high in that particular game as each team needed the points to secure playoff positioning. When one of the goons from the other team had taken a cheap shot at his captain, Dom had seen red. He'd flown across the ice, taken the guy down with a flying tackle, and popped him good. From then on, he was "Bad Boy" Baddano and the fight had played on the ESPN highlight reels for days.
"Oh, a double date, how cute," said Bobby, Karl's defense partner. "Who's buying the ice cream sundaes?" He guffawed as he slid on his socks.