“Come on. Don’t wuss out on me now. There’s not that much left.”
“I’m going to die.”
“You’re not. You’re being dramatic.”
“My nutritionist is going to kill you.”
“John? I’m not scared of him.”
“You should be. He might be quiet but when he’s angry he’s—did you just unbutton your pants?”
“Yes, and I do not appreciate your judgmental tone right now.” Harper holds a forkful of chocolate cake out to me. “Eat.”
With a heavy sigh, I give in, leaning forward to eat the last of the slice of cake that cost $15. It’s a stupid price to pay for a single slice but I must admit it was worth it just to see the smile on her face when they brought it out.
I knew the moment they set it down that I’d be one finishing it off. It’s something I’ve come to expect from her over the last year. Her eyes are bigger than her stomach and she rarely finishes her meal, always leaving a few bites before pushing the dish my way.
She sits back in her chair, shoving away the now empty plate. Her hand rests on her stomach as she blows out a heavy breath. “Please remind me of this moment the next time I want to order dessert after such a huge meal.”
She grins because even she knows it’ll be a pointless promise. “Thank you for dinner. Today has been…” She shakes her head, smiling dreamily. “Just amazing.”
“It’s not over yet.”
“What? No. No more. You’ve already spoiled me today.”
It’s true. I have. We started the day donuts in bed, then sex, then lunch, then more sex. And somewhere in between all that I snuck in tickets to some horror convention she’s been wanting to attend and a trip to Scotland just because. I made her promise not to leave me for a hot Scottish dude with an accent. She agreed.
She traps her bottom lip between her teeth. “I can’t handle anymore. I already feel bad that I forgot.”
“Are you really that shocked? I mean, a year ago today you spent hours in the car trying to convince me it never happened.”
“Almost run you over one time and you never let me forget it.” She rolls her eyes playfully. “I can’t believe you remembered.”
“You tried to unalive me. Of course I remembered.”
A year ago today, I met her.
And she changed everything.
In some ways, it’s hard to imagine that a year has already flown by, and in others, it’s hard to think that it’s only been a year. I feel like I’ve known her forever in all the best ways.
“Can you believe it’s been a year already?” she asks like she’s reading my mind.
“It’s crazy. So much has changed. You and me. That fact that you’re a Stanley Cup Champion. Your contract. Ryan…”
“Rhodes.” I shake my head at that and what he’s gotten himself into. “It’s crazy.”
“It is.” She nods. “Are you sure there’s more? Can’t we just go home and snuggle?”
I try not to grin like an idiot when she says home.
With my crazy hockey schedule, I was begging her to move in with me right away. It made the most sense because we were already spending all of our free time together. She held out though. Even told me no at Christmas when I made a big deal out of it.
But this summer when I asked her during our celebration trip to Vegas, she said yes.
I think in a way she was holding out until after the Carolina Comets Cup run just to make sure I wasn’t too distracted, but I know part of her was scared too.
We’ve been living together for nearly two months now, and I keep waiting for those moments everyone talks about to happen. Me getting annoyed with all her girly shit in the shower or her yelling at me to put my socks in the actual hamper. But it hasn’t happened yet. Hell, I spend most of my showers grinning like a fool whenever I see those damn bottles that are certainly taking up too much room.
I’m so in love with her it’s sick.
But I love it.
I love her.
“Depends,” I say. “Is snuggling code for fucking or is it just snuggles?”
She sits up straight, eyes wide as she peeks around, making sure nobody heard me. “Collin!”
“What?” I shrug. “Not like everyone in this restaurant isn’t going home to do the same thing. You don’t spend $15 on a slice of cake to not fuck the person you bought the cake for.”
“I am not entirely sure how that sentence makes me feel.”
“Would it help if I told you that even if I would have gone through a drive-thru that my plan was always to fuck you tonight? Because I do plan to fuck you tonight, Harper.” I lean across the table, capturing her blue with mine. “I plan to take you home and bend you over the back of the couch and fuck you so long in front of those windows you love that the stars turn to morning light and you’re dripping and sore and begging for reprieve.”
Her eyes darken with every word as she slips her hands under the table, fastening those skintight jeans back up. “I’m ready to go home now, Collin.”
I sit back in my chair, pretending like my cock isn’t straining against my slacks right now, and drain the rest of my whiskey.
“Not yet.” I swear she whimpers. I push from the table and hold my hand out to her. “Come.”
She lets me pull her to her feet. I drag her body against mine, sliding my hand into her hair and tilting her head back. She peers up at me with pure desire in her eyes. Her lips are slightly parted and she’s waiting. Waiting for me to press my mouth against hers. To kiss her.
And I want to kiss her badly.
But I don’t, and that’s for the sake of us both.
Her eyes flash with disappointment as I let her go but I also know she understands.
I toss a few hundred dollars on the table—way more than I ever spend on a meal but tonight was a special occasion—and place my hand on the small of her back as we make our way from the restaurant.
“What’s the more?” she asks as we pass the parking garage.
“I hope it’s not more food. But if so, I’m sorry, but those epic sex plans are going to have to wait.”
Like hell they will. “It’s not more food.”
“Good. But also…what is it?”
That’s another thing I’ve learned in the last year.
Harper does not do well with surprises, and that’s exactly why I love to spoil her with them.
“I know, I know, you’re not telling. But just know that I am perfectly satisfied with going home.”
“So you keep saying. I’m beginning to think you’re only saying that because you want to get me naked.”
“Do you not want to get naked with me?”
I stop in the middle of the sidewalk.
It takes Harper a few strides to realize this.
She turns back at me, lifting a brow expectantly.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t want to get naked with you. Ever.”
“I WANT TO GET NAKED WITH HARPER KELLY!”
I scream it. I scream it because I want to get my point across. I scream it because I need her to know that I want to get naked with her more than anything in the world.
“Collin!” She rushes me, shoving a hand over my mouth. “You cannot do that. You’re…well, you!”
I peel her hand off my mouth. “Do you believe me now?”
“Yes!” She laughs. “I believed you before, psycho.”
“I thought you had a thing for psychos.”
“Fictional ones. Not boyfriend ones.”
She grabs my hand. “Come on. Let’s get this surprise over with so I can give you my surprise later.”
“I thought you forgot what today is?”
“I did. But now that I know, I might have a few tricks”—she bounces her brows suggestively—“up my sleeve.”
I laugh. “I’m kidding. Kind of.” I tug her along. “Come on. We’re almost there.”
We walk another block before coming to a stop in front of a place we’re no strangers to.
“No. No way.” Harper shakes her head back and forth. “I told you I couldn’t come back here anymore. It’s too hard.”
“I really want to make a joke right now but I’m going to refrain.” I tuck my lips together and she narrows her eyes at me. “Do you trust me?”
There’s no hesitation.
I love that there’s no hesitation.
“Then come on.”
I pull open the door
She gives me a wary look but passes by me and into Pawever in Love, the animal shelter we volunteer at often.
“Oh, Collin! Harper!” Rachelle says from behind the desk, standing to greet us with a bright smile. I swear, the woman is never in a bad mood. “You’re just in time. They’ve just had their baths.”
Harper’s looking at me, but I ignore her curious stare.
“Can we see them?”
“Of course. Follow me on back.”
We do and I continue to ignore Harper’s obvious attempts to gain my attention. Even when she straight up kicks me.
She’ll pay for that one later.
Rachelle leads us to a small room that’s not filled with much besides a doggie bed, a table and two chairs, and a few chew toys in the corner.
She disappears out of the room and Harper’s right there the moment she’s gone.
“Collin,” she hisses. “Please don’t make me hold sweet babies that I can’t take home. It’s going to break my heart and it will definitely not make me want to have sex with you later.”
It’s a warning.
But it doesn’t scare me.
Just then, Rachelle comes back into the room, and this time she’s not alone. She has a six-week-old puppy in each hand.
“Oh, god,” Harper mutters, her hand going to her heart. I don’t have to look at her to know that tears are welling up in her eyes.
“They were dropped off here two weeks ago,” Rachelle explains to Harper as she hands her one of the brown pups. “Someone left a note saying they couldn’t take care of them and split. They’re Dachshunds but they’re mixed with something else for sure. They aren’t quite ready to go to their forever homes yet, possibly in another week or two, so until then they’ll be here. I’ll let you two get to know them for a bit. Just ring me when you’re ready.”
Rachelle hands me the other puppy and gives me a wink before leaving us alone.
Harper already has her pup snug against her chest, placing kisses on its head.
She’s already in love.
“I hate you, Collin Wright. Absolutely hate you for this.”
“No you don’t.”
“I do. I hate you because I love them and it’s going to break my heart to walk out of here without them.”
“No it’s not.”
“Is not because I already signed all the paperwork and they’re ours.”
She finally looks away from the puppy in her hands and over at me, her mouth hanging open. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me. They’re ours.”
“No.” It’s soft and shocked and full of delight.
“Yes. I brought Mario here last week to get to know them and he loved them. I practically had to carry him out of the room when it came time to go.”
Last week, I told Harper I was going out for a run with our English bulldog that we adopted the minute we got home from Vegas. But the truth was I was introducing him to our new puppies. I knew the second Rachelle let me hold them that they belonged with us. Mario’s love for them just confirmed it.
“Is that why he’s been all mopey this week? Because he’s missing them?”
“Collin…I swear. If you’re messing with me right now, I’ll… I’ll…”
“Kick me in the shins?”
“Yes! Hard this time too! And I’ll withhold the sex! None for you!”
I set the sleeping pup that’s cradled in my arms in the doggie bed, then grab the one in Harper’s hands and place it next to its sibling. They snuggle up together and it’s so cute even I have to take a second to admire them.
I turn to my girlfriend who is staring down at them with those damn tears brimming her eyes again. I slide my hand into hers, bringing her attention to me.
“I’m not messing with you, Harper.”
She blinks. “You’re not?”
I can’t help but laugh. She sounds so…scared. But in a cute way.
It’s always funny to me that this horror-loving, psycho-knife-wielding obsessed girl has such a soft spot for adorable little animals.
“I’m not. They’re ours. We even get to name them.”
“Freddy and Jason.”
I chuckle because of course she says that. “Freddy and Jason it is then.”
“I love them. Can we go home and have hot sex now?”
“Happy Almost Running Me Over Day. I love you.”
“Say it again.”
“Happy Almost Running Me Over Day.”
She pinches my sides. “Not that. The other part.”
She growls in frustration. “Collin…”
I laugh, then haul her against me, letting my lips hover hers. Not kissing her not yet. Just teasing her.
“I love you, Harper. So much.”
She lets out a happy sigh. “I love you too, Hockey Guy. So much more.”
This time, I do kiss her.
Want more Carolina Comets? BLIND PASS (Ryan & Rhodes) is coming January 27, 2022!