Time ticked down on the third period with the Barons losing 2-0. The whole team was dragging, showing the effects of three games in as many days. Erin felt sluggish herself, but that could be the dark atmosphere in the building bringing her down. “This sucks,” Darcy said, finishing a bottle of water. “Ryan says they never play three nights in a row in the NHL.”
Erin and Amanda looked at each other instantly and both sang, “Ryan says!” Darcy rolled her eyes and give them the finger, but it was the first laugh they’d shared in two hours.
Losing did suck. Losing shutouts was worse. Jordan banged his stick hard into the rack. He, Ryan and Taylor were supposed to be the firepower, instead they were dragging ass around the ice like the rest of the Barons. Nights like this he didn’t even feel worthy of the AHL, forget the NHL. In the locker room, Taylor was grumbling to himself and Ryan was tossing off gear like it smelled even worse than usual.
“What...,” Ryan paused awkwardly, his mouth still not functioning as well as his brain, “what are you guys doing tonight?”
Jordan didn’t feel like smiling after a shitty game, but Ryan was just so obvious. “Why, got a date?”
Ryan mumbled something that sounded like four letter words strung together.
“Sorry, I didn’t catch that.”
“I said NO, I DON’T HAVE A DATE,” Ryan announced nice and loud even though it made him wince. More than one exhausted face turned in his direction. Cameron Abney threw his jersey into a hamper on wheels.
“Your girl’s here though. Can’t miss her in those sweaters,” Abney laughed.
“Yeah, does she wanna be our mascot? I think we could sell more tickets if she...,” Shultz suggested.
Ryan cut him off, “Okay, okay.” A hot blush had risen to his cheeks, replacing the fading redness of the game’s exertion. The swelling in his mouth was down some, only to be replaced by a dark blue bruise. He still looked a mess, but was not about to disabuse his new friends of the idea that he and Darcy were getting together. If they thought wrong at least it kept them from making a move on her. As much as Ryan would love to see Darcy wear a Nugent-Hopkins jersey like a ‘Property Of’ sign, he equally enjoyed the figure-hugging, soft-looking v-necks that she favored.
With the conversation effectively lightened, Jordan waited until the topic turned before resuming a quieter one with Ryan. They were moving in the morning and the hotel room looked like a tornado had hit a Gap store. Jordan hadn’t spent enough time there in recent weeks to even guess how long the chore would take. “Really dude, what’s up? I gotta pack.”
“Me... me too,” Ryan stuttered, as if convincing himself.
“Is Darcy helping you?” Jordan asked.
“I... I don’t know,” Ryan said, giving up trying to hide. “She just kind of does what she wants. She doesn’t really tell me.”
Jordan’s grin was a mile wide. “And you didn’t ask?”
“Not when she keeps sleeping over!” Ryan hissed, trying to keep the volume down. “I mean, she doesn’t, we don’t.... I don’t know if she’ll want to stay over when I’m at Schultzy’s. This might be my last chance.” He did not look entirely convinced he could take that chance, even if it arrived.
Jordan put his hands up in front of his chest, as if warding off an attacker. “I get it, Ry. I’ll pack fast, get out and go to Erin’s. But you should see if Darcy’s still here first, the girls might not have stuck around.” Ryan nodded. They had not been studs tonight.
Sure enough, when they were dressed to head out, the lounge was empty. Even Amanda was going to stay home tonight so Taylor could be ready to start moving in the morning. Jordan texted Erin and got the same response. They headed back to the hotel.
“Call her, Nuge,” Taylor suggested
“Last time I called her, she said she just wanted to be friends,” Ryan leaned forward from the backseat. “Then she started sleeping over. So calling doesn’t exactly clear things up.”
At the hotel, their room actually wasn’t that messy. Ryan would never have let Darcy see how things looked on road trips. Instead they had filled drawers and closets like people living in the same place for a month. Jordan didn’t bring it up again, but he figured Darcy would be staying home tonight. Even if that meant Ryan would be staying alone every night in the near future. He put on sweats and started folding and piling haphazardly. After all, they weren’t going far. Shoes were stuffed into outside pockets, toiletries into the same bag they’d ridden through airport security. By eleven thirty, he was nearly finished.
Ryan kept glancing at his phone, charging on the bedside table. He even looked hopefully toward the door a few times. As it became more obvious that Darcy wasn’t coming, a frown turned his misshapen mouth down harder. Jordan didn’t mention it as they finished packing the last of their stuff and fell into their respective beds, completely wiped out.
The next day, Erin stood in the middle of Jordan’s new bedroom. The furniture rental company had delivered some boring-but-matched dressers and a side table, which were pushed against the far wall. Jordan and Taylor maneuvered their way in, carrying a queen-size mattress on it’s side. Behind them, Amanda caught things as they were knocked over. They flopped the mattress down with a thump. Jordan grabbed a bag with a flourish and poured newly purchased, newly washed sheets on the bed.
“Later guys,” Erin said as she pretended to push Taylor into Amanda and both of them out of the room. Jordan reached to close the door - he was anxious to break in the new bed too. Something about having a place, about putting down some kind of roots in this place with Erin made Jordan feel confident and excited.
Anchor, he’d once thought of her as being. Now he had a second anchor.
“Fine,” Taylor called back. “We’ll just do it on the couch and ruin Jordan’s deposit!”
They spent the day unpacking the apartment. The boys had few belongings outside of clothes, so they cleaned out a Target buy bath mats and towels and basic kitchen ware. Erin chose a set of cheap plates with a little motif of ants marching around the edges.
“Who wants bugs on their plates?” Amanda said, putting them back. She went for white with blue stripes. Erin gave in on the condition she could buy the Simpsons pint glasses. Food and housewares filled an entire checkout line. They left the cart at the door, each of the boys carrying five or six loaded shopping bags. Erin and Amanda let them walk ahead.
“Not bad, huh?” Erin said. Jordan and Taylor were each in jeans and sweatshirts, but there was a still a lot of flexing visible to the female eye.
“Kinda makes me hope we blow a tire on the way home,” Amanda agreed.
“In a rainstorm,” Erin added.
The girls agreed to cook dinner in the new apartment as a housewarming party. They went to Erin’s for more supplies, filling a plastic laundry basket that it took both of them to carry, while the boys went to the grocery store. It was getting late, nearly seven o’clock by the time Erin and Amanda dragged their basket up and knocked on the door.
Jordan opened the door like a maitre’d, which matched the black suit he was wearing. Inside, the lights were dimmed. Erin narrowed her eyes but followed him, Amanda pushing the basket forward with her feet. She left it in the hall and followed toward the dining area.
“Wow,” Erin said.
Where they had gotten a table she had no idea, but a square four-seat table was set in the middle of the living room, complete with tablecloth and little tealights in glass holders flickering. Four places were set with as much precision as boys could muster, and a big salad bowl was already filled in the middle of the table.
“Surprise,” Taylor said, emerging from his room in a suit of his own.
“What is all this?” Amanda looked around at dishes covered on the stove. The oven was on too.
“Erin threw us a housewarming party before we had a house. Just paying back the favor,” he answered. The guys had picked up from a local Italian place, and the new apartment smelled divine. A bottle of wine was even open on the counter, next to glasses Erin had not seen them purchase. Trying to be formal, Jordan and Taylor pulled the girls chairs out, poured wine and brought as much of the food as possible to the table. There was eggplant parmesan, pasta with vegetables and garlic bread. They made quick work of the salad to get to the real food.
“Did you invite Darcy and Ryan?” Amanda asked.
“He can’t really eat,” Jordan said. “Not neatly at least. He’s with Schultzy at their new place. I think Ryan’s, uh....”
“I think he’s a noob,” Taylor interrupted. “He’s the only person who can sleep with someone that he can’t actually manage to sleep with.”
“Aw, come on! Darcy doesn’t just want to...,” Erin started.
“Give him everything he’s been dreaming about? Literally dreaming for his entire life?” Taylor turned to Jordan, inviting him to chime in. Jordan shook his head as if he’d rather stay out of it.
“He’s just a kid,” Erin added.
“He’s nineteen. I’m twenty,” Taylor countered. “And I don’t see Amanda keeping her pants....”
“STOP.” She held up a hand. Taylor closed his mouth, grateful to be saved from himself. “If Ryan wants to make it happen, let him try. You guys tried. Some of you harder than others.” Taylor leaned over and pulled Amanda into a kiss. With tongue. Amanda tried to draw back but she was no match for those arms. Erin and Jordan both winced, looking away.
“Well now I’m not hungry anymore,” Erin said.
When the plates were gone and the wine was empty, Erin and Jordan sat on his couch watching TV. He was behind her, Erin’s head back against his chest, and thinking about actually living in OKC like a real person who could have a life here. It certainly seemed more real than hockey or Edmonton at the moment. The idea was like a cliff and Jordan holding onto the edge. Or maybe he was already dropping into the void. Either way it made him want to stake a claim, stick a flag in this place and in Erin like he would have them forever. Like he meant everything he said and did, instead of just making promises he couldn’t keep.
Erin rubbed his toes through his socks. “Is Ryan really a virgin?”
“Yup,” Jordan says. “Scares the shit out of Darcy doesn’t it?”
“Yup,” she echoed.
Jordan was the kind of hopelessly romantic guy that knew the first time should mean something, instead of being a means to an end. Sure it was destined to be less fantastic than imagined - for the girl anyway, the guy always ended up with the most intense experience of his life. But thinking too much about it just made things worse. “Is it more awkward to have sex for the first time, or know that all your friends are talking about it over dinner?” he asked.
Erin laughed. “Is it more awkward to sleep in bed with someone you want to have sex with or someone you don’t want to have sex with?”
“Is it more awkward to make a move before or after your face gets busted?”
“He already did it before,” Erin pointed out.
“And Darcy didn’t really want him then,” Jordan said. “Imagine what he thinks now.”
“She did! I mean, she does or she wouldn’t be hanging around him. But I’ve never seen her like this. She’s so....”
“Careful!” Erin smacked his leg, turning to face him. It was a compromising position at best, all her weight twisting in his lap as they sprawled out in the dark. “She’s being careful. It’s more than I can say for some people around here.”
Jordan didn’t want to be careful. He wanted to be hers, here and now, as if the illusion lasting long enough could turn it into something real. “Careful is overrated. And overdressed,” he said.
He slipped a hand right down the front of Erin’s shirt, over her breast, and used a grip on her waist to drag her up the rest of his body. Their chests and laps pressed together at the same moment as their lips. Jordan groaned in pleasure as the slow, velvet twirl of her tongue made every muscle in his body squeeze. Using his feet behind her knees, he drew her up to almost kneeling and moved his hands under her shirt. The soft skin of her stomach led right to the smooth cap of her bra, dotted like an exclamation point with her stiffening nipple.
“Jordan!” she whispered, pushing his hands away. “You have roommates now. I don’t know what kind of girl you think I am.”
He pinched her nipples in each hand. “Time to find out.”
Erin hurried toward the bedroom, while Jordan’s growing hard-on slowed him down. Already unbuttoning his pants, he passed Taylor’s door and heard the sound of his TV. Jordan closed his bedroom and Erin was setting his iPod into the dock.
“Hmmm, what should we hear?”
Jordan stepped in behind her, peeling the shirt right up over her head. His mouth connected with the closest place - along the top of her shoulder - while his big hand pushed right into the front of her pants. Erin squealed softly as he forced one low enough to touch her through smooth panties. As she spun the dial on his iPod, he stroked that hot spot till it grew damp beneath his touch.
‘It Will Rain’ by Bruno Mars came on as he hooked her panties aside and touched bare skin.
“Mmmm,” Erin moaned. Her head rolled back onto his shoulder. Jordan used one finger to part her slit.
“Something louder,” he said, kissing just below her hear. Two clicks and the first notes of ‘Take Care’ by Drake and Rihanna played. Jordan gripped Erin’s waist with his free hand then pushed his two fingers into her body. She rolled with the pressure, her ass grinding into his lap. Instantly his heart rate spiked and the staccato rhythm and choppy vocals of the song were too much.
“Something slower.” Jordan’s voice was thick, just like something else about him. In a minute he wouldn’t care if the neighbors two floors down heard Erin screaming over the music. She clicked again; Florence + The Machine’s “Breath of Life” started.
“Good.” He took her hand from the stereo and placed it on the edge of the desk, bracing her. Then he plumbed again with his hand. His touch lite a fuse and Erin could feel it burning, racing, through her body. As Jordan’s fingers penetrated her, giving her just a tease of what his body could do, she pushed against the table to keep her feet. Jordan only pumped harder. His warm breath rasped against her shoulder as she worked her ass into his lap with the beat.
Jordan’s thumb brushed her clit. “Oh God,” she gasped. Her knees were shaking and her fingers gripped white. This wasn’t the usual Jordan, she hadn’t seen him like this before. Or felt him. Jordan had always been so straightforward, so sweet and gentle. She knew he was very strong, maybe he just needed to be more comfortable with her. She was getting very comfy now, as his thumb hit the target again and her knees buckled. It only drove his fingers deeper. Jordan caught her around the waist, holding her up while he worked harder and faster. His thumb pressed her clit and started making little circles.
“Fuck, Jordan,” she panted. He was so hard against her backside she thought he might rip right through his pants. Grinding her against it couldn’t be helping either, but he was clearly determined that she would get there first. Erin let her head fall forward, stars popping behind her eyes. He must have felt her breathing get short. Jordan sank his mouth into the curve of her neck and kissed hard. She snapped like a rope.
“Godohgohhhd,” she said, bowing forward so had she nearly fell to her knees. Jordan moved with her, holding her up, milking her body for every last drop of pleasure. When she was still, he guided her to the floor and kneeled right down over her, straddling the scene of the crime. His pants were strained by the erection she’d felt battering her soft side. Erin lay there, chest heaving, more like a chalk outline of a dead body than herself, looking up at Jordan’s thick, muscled body and that gap-toothed smile.
Jordan peeled the jeans from her hips then leaned down over her sprawled form. “Erin?”
“Pick another song.”
Jordan was so hard he felt lightheaded. Erin creaming in his hand was like turning the knob on the door to heaven. He jacked himself against her backside as hard as he dared, fighting the urge to spill his own hot load. But there was a better place for that. Erin’s pants came off in a tangle and she tossed the iPod aside as ‘I’m on Fire’ by Bruce Springsteen started. Then she reached for him, right there on the floor of his brand new bedroom.
He buried his face in her hair, hoping the muffle the sound of slowly screwing himself into her soaked, searing body. No such luck. He groaned in almost-pain at the tight, hot squeeze and heard her whisper something.
“I said ‘Mother of God what do they teach you guys in Canada?!’” she panted. Jordan laughed so hard he almost came; it turned into a growl. His thrust made Erin squeak and that was the end of talking. It was nearly the end of Jordan. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and held on tight. She reached overhead and pushed against the wall, steadying them, while Jordan plowed a groove right through her body. Minutes passed, but not many. He ramped up to the brink of release, that same cliff he’d been clinging to before, and dove right off the fucking edge.
He blinked back to life with Erin tracing the shape of his ear. They were twisted up on the floor, no blankets, no clothes, no music. It could have been the middle of the night for all he knew - he’d come hard enough to pass out. Her hair was a beautiful mess of tangles and tendrils, but nothing compared to the night-stained color of her skin, the curve of her breast, the indent along the side of her abs. Jordan rolled so that he could admire her properly.
“Are all the boys in Canada like you?”
“Why?” Jordan asked.
“Well for one, I don’t hear any noise coming from next door,” she smiled. “And I thought maybe I could put in a good word for Ryan.”
Jordan smiled at the idea. “I promise, everything is better in Canada.”
Ryan hated moving only marginally more than he hated living out of a suitcase. At least the latter he was used to. But after three games in three days and a face he still didn’t want to look at, he was completely spent. Schultz’s apartment was nice enough, clean enough now that he’d helped, and he had his own bathroom. That’s where Ryan was standing in the shower, head down and water running over his sore shoulders, when his phone rang.
His first thought was: Ignore it.
His second thought was: Darcy!
Ryan hop-stepped out of the tub and ran stark naked into his new bedroom. He left a wet handprint on the duvet where the phone had been. “Hey,” he said, trying to sound calm, or at least dry and dressed.
“Hey,” Darcy said. “How’s the new place?”
Do it, Ryan told himself. Fucking man up and do it.
“Uhh, would you like to see it yourself?” he asked.
It wasn’t quite as smooth as it could have been. Taylor would have said, ‘Why don’t you come over and find out?’ and Jordan would have said, ‘It would be better if you were here.’ but Ryan had to admit that for a guy forming a puddle on the rug, he’d done pretty well.
There was a moment’s pause. Then Darcy said, “Sure.”