I rolled over to put my arm around Ryan, but there was an empty spot where she should have been. Then I remembered she was at Isabelle's after the catastrophe that was last night. A pang of loneliness ran through me.
I used to love having the bed to myself. I used to say that I slept better alone. But now I just wished Ryan here was beside me, sprawled diagonally, hogging three-quarters of the space like she always did. She denied that she did, but we both knew it was true. And these days, that's how I slept best.
Part of me wondered whether I should have tried harder to stop her from leaving last night, but I didn't want to back her into a corner emotionally and make the situation worse. Giving her the time and space to cool off seemed like a better bet at the time.
I hoped- prayed- that I had been right.
The door opened and slammed shut downstairs. Ryan. I leapt out of bed, running down the staircase in nothing but my boxers. She stood in the entry, circles under her eyes, and gave me a tired smile. I wanted to run over and kiss her, but I wasn't sure whether she wanted me to.
"Hey," I said, nervously.
The microwave clock read 7:32am. I wasn't sure why she had come back so early. Had she decided she was willing to forgive me, or was she here to drop the hammer? Please, don't let it be the second one.
Adrenaline flooded my body and words just started pouring out. "I'm sorry. I missed you last night. And this morning. I just woke up and I was going to go over to Isabelle's after I showered. I should have-"
She cut me off. "It's okay, Ethan. I thought about it last night and I understand why you didn't tell me before. I know it's hard for you to talk about things sometimes."
"But I thought about it too, and I see your point."
I did. I hated talking about the past, but I couldn't pretend that it had never happened, either. And my failure to disclose things meant that Ryan had gotten hurt. I should have known by now that stuffing things inside never helped.
"We can agree to agree, then," Ryan said with a little shrug. "We're both sorry and we both forgive each other."
"Deal. But I really do feel bad that you were blindsided like that," I said as I walked over to her, wrapping my arms around her and sniffing the rosemary-mint scent of her hair. She sighed, nestling into my chest.
All was right in my world again.
"It's okay... I just need to know we'll be honest and open with each other from here on out."
"We will. I will. One hundred percent. I'll even tell you things you don't want to know."
"I don't know. Um, detailed explanations as to why Die Hard is the best movie ever? Hockey stats you don't even remotely care about? Play-by-plays of burping contests at the hockey house, including who won and the rationale as to why?"
She giggled, her shoulders shaking slightly. "Gross."
"I'll just take a cue from Axel," I said, "And pretend that I don't have a filter at all."
"Oh, god," she said with a laugh. "I guess I opened that Pandora's box on myself."
"But if we are being honest and open, I have to admit that I've been freaking out a bit lately," she mumbled, almost inaudible.
Crap. I had gotten carried away and pushed things too far. I knew it. "Why?" I asked, hedging on some slim chance that wasn't the case.
"I don't know. Just, everything..." Ryan said, trailing off as she avoided making eye contact. "Now I'm the one who can't talk about things," she added with a laugh.
"I'm sorry about those marriage comments. I didn't mean to freak you out. I can cool it with that," I said, embarrassed.
"No, it's not like that. It's kind of the opposite. I like when you talk about those things. But then I get scared that it won't happen. That I'll get my hopes up, and you'll change your mind," she said, looking up at me and biting her lip nervously.
Change my mind? I did stupid things from time to time, but I wasn't a total idiot. I knew what I had and how lucky I was.
I rubbed her back, trying not to let my mind wander to other, naughtier, places as it tended to whenever I touched her. "I'm not going anywhere. Believe me. All I did last night was toss and turn in bed, thinking about you. I was a wreck and that was after 9 hours apart."
It was true. Being on the road was one thing; I still missed Ryan, but we were apart for a good reason when I was away for hockey. Trying to sleep without her in our bed, however, was all kinds of wrong. I may have used her pillow instead because it smelled like her. But no one else needed to know that. It felt a little creepy.
"Same here. Well, Isabelle's pull out couch didn't help, either. I had a horrible sleep," she sighed.
"That's because you were supposed to be home with me."
Her mouth found mine and for a moment, nothing else existed. I grabbed her around the waist with one hand, pulling her closer. We melted into each other in a blur of lips and tongue and hands. Now my mind was definitely traveling to all kinds of naughty places.
"You know, I can imagine my life without hockey. I mean, I don't want to— but I can. But I can't imagine my life without you," I murmured.
"I can't either. So let's just say that won't happen," she whispered. "Ever."
"It won't," I said, squeezing her.
"Oh god, I'm tired," she yawned. "I think I got maybe five hours of sleep. Maybe some food would help. Are you hungry?"
"A little," I said. But not in the way she was thinking.
She thought for a minute. "What do you want? Waffles?"
"Bacon and eggs?"
"I was thinking something else," I said as I picked her up and threw her over my shoulder.
She shrieked with laughter. "Ethan, Put me down! I haven't even brushed my teeth yet."
"We already kissed," I pointed out, climbing up the stairs. "It's too late now. The morning breath seal has been broken."
"What about breakfast?"
"You are breakfast."
Author's Note: Aww, a happy resolution! I love them together, anyone agree?
I thought this might be the final chapter but there's one more coming. Feels bittersweet to know it's coming from an end. This is my first baby.
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When nursing student Ryan Winters moves into hockey captain Ethan Russell's place, they both agree that they can keep things from getting weird. The only problem? Smoldering sexual tension that they both try to ignore. Ryan tells herself that all s...