Now I get nothing. Not even a hint of welcome or even curiosity about me.
I have to wonder what he’s feeling, because we did not part on good terms. In fact, we parted on very bad terms. I shut him down and out, and refused to even let him know my thinking.
Of course, I was operating on pain, loss, guilt, and anger myself, so I felt I was justified back then.
I’m not so sure I did things right, but I can’t change the past. I was ruled by emotion, and I acted in the only way I knew my conscience would let me at that exact moment in time.
“Vale’s still reading the procedural manual,” Goose says. “I can get you in a few.”
“Or she can tape me now,” Hawke suggests with what borders on an imperious tone. “I need to get back on the ice.”
“Suit yourself,” Goose says with a shrug of his shoulders. “She fucks it up, not on my shoulders.”
My body jerks and my gaze swings over to Goose. Now why would the asshole say that?
“She fucks it up, it’s on her shoulders,” Hawke clarifies, and my head snaps back to him. He’s got a challenging glint in his eyes, and I realize in this moment that I much preferred the blank, uninterested look he gave me earlier. This look right here says there’s still some bitter feelings toward me, and that’s just an unnecessary complication I don’t need in my life right now.
With a sigh, I tip my head toward the table next to the one that holds the laptop. “Skates, socks, shin pads, and pants off.”
Hawke lumbers toward me, his skate guards clacking dully on the industrial tile floor. “Jock strap too?” he asks without a trace of humor.
“No,” I tell him coolly as I grab a towel and toss it at him before turning to the supply cabinet. “You can put that over your lap though.”
He’s only half a foot away when he catches the towel and murmurs so low I barely hear him, “Why? Seen one dick, you seen ’em all.”
I freeze with my hand on the cabinet handle and a sudden wave of longing and sadness crashes through me. Anguish over what we had, which was still so fresh in my mind from my dream of him and me and that stupid stone wall along the Sydney River. Wondering through the years, and more so now with him standing just a few feet away, what would have happened had things been just a little different.
“Vale?” Hawke says softly, and I jerk into action. I pull the cabinet open and gather adhesive, gauze, and tape, knocking it closed with my shoulder.
I turn to face him, squaring my shoulders and sliding a neutral expression on my face. I tip my head toward the table. “Let’s go, Therrien. Thought you wanted back on the ice?”
His eyes flick back and forth between mine, his jaw muscle ticking. He studies me, appears to want to say something else, but then silently bends down to start unlacing his skates.
I take a deep breath but blow it out silently.
This should be fun.
I quickly shed my gear from the waist down, actually a bit self-conscious of getting seminaked in front of Vale. No clue why, because that woman has seen parts of my body up closer than even I have. But I guess there’s something about this tension and the cool vibe radiating from her body that has me feeling off-kilter around her.
I should have just fucking waited for Goose to finish up with Sutherland. I suspect he’s in here getting his back worked on not because it hurts but because his face is fucking green as hell. His parting words to me last night when he stumbled into a cab were, “Dude…I hope I don’t puke before I get home.”
Still, the guy did an admirable job of keeping pace with me last night, and even though I could have kept on partying, I knew I had to be up early for practice today. Didn’t stop me from collecting the phone number of a really hot waitress from the bar we were at last night, and I think I’ll give her a call this weekend.
Vale keeps her back to me until my ass is on the therapy table and the towel is covering my lap. I take a moment to watch her as she lays out her supplies on the table beside us, her slender fingers using a pair of scissors to open a new package of tape. She then cuts off uniform lengths of tape and attaches them to the table.
Fuck, but she’s still gorgeous. Even in her “uniform” of khaki pants and her tidy, black Cold Fury shirt, she still rocks sexy. Her face is devoid of makeup, but she was never the type that needed it. Oh, she wore it, back in her days of frenzied punk style. Thick, dark eyeliner that made her eyes pop and dark red lipstick that left streaks on my dick. Her hair is conservatively pulled back in a sleek ponytail. Not a single piercing to be seen, not even in her ears. So different, yet so damn hot still.
Her body is different though, I notice that. Her arms seem more toned…defined. Her stomach flatter and her hips flared more. It’s like she filled out and shrunk down in certain places, but not those tits. Nope, they are still spectacularly big and full and were my favorite part of her body before.
I shake my head and chase away those thoughts before I get a boner. Vale still may be one spectacular knockout of a woman, but there’s no extinguishing that tiny flame of anger that continues to burn over the way she ended things with me. While it’s true I haven’t thought much about her over the years, it’s not from antipathy. No, I forced myself to let her go and block what we had, otherwise my anger would be burning deeper and hotter, and I don’t have time in my life to get sucked into that shit. What’s done is done and all that.