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Epic – Him
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They’re back! Epic is a novella about your favorite hockey duo!
Previously published in Christmas in the City
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“You can’t just decide to be Canadian,” Blake Riley says, his beer glass clutched in one of his giant paws.
“Sure you can,” Jess argues, lining up the cue ball for a tricky combination shot. “That’s what I like about Canada.”
“Nuh-uh. Canadian is a state of mind. I’ve got the Canada brain. You don’t.”
“Oh, you’ve got something, all right,” she mutters under her breath.
“It’s okay to be jealous, baby.”
“I’m not jealous.”
“Yeah you are.”
“Oh my God, I’m not.”
“Lying isn’t sexy.”
“You’re not sexy.”
“Don’t be crazy now.”
Jess gapes at him over her cue. “I’m the crazy one?”
I watch the entire exchange in amused silence. Blake and Jess love to argue with each other almost as much as they love each other. I glance at Jamie to see if he also finds the two of them ridiculous. But he’s staring into his beer glass, lost in thought.
He’s been awfully distracted tonight. And I have no idea why.
Jess finally shoots, and I can tell that she’s not going to pull it off. Or rather—she wasn’t. But at the last second Blake casually reaches down and nudges the ball toward the corner. And it drops into the pocket.
“Hey!” I argue. “Whose side are you on?” Blake and I are supposed to be partners against the Cannings. And we’re winning.
“Shut up, ya hoser,” Blake yawps. Then he gives me a big grin. “See? It sounds perfectly natural on me. Canadian brain.”
“Did you really just throw the game for me?” Jess squeaks. She sets down the pool cue and leaps into his arms.
“Yeah, babycakes. Anything for you.” Blake’s beer sloshes violently against the side of his glass as he kisses her. “Is it time to go home? I’m planning an invasion of California with my Canadian missile.”
“Jesus. TMI.” I shudder as they continue to make out right in front of me. “We’ve been over this. I’m easily scarred. I thought Canadians were polite. Jamie, make them stop.”
“Hmm?” My husband looks up suddenly. “Problem?”
I take a good look at him. Not that I mind the view. His hair looks golden in the warm lighting of the bar, and his brown eyes blink back at me. But he’s weirdly distracted. “You okay? You’re kind of checked out tonight.”
“Sorry,” he says quickly. “Who won, anyway?”
“They did, apparently.” I jerk a thumb toward Blake and Jess, who are staring into each other’s eyes and exchanging kisses. “Maybe it’s time to hit the road? You have an early practice, right?”
“Totally.” He sets down his unfinished beer. “You brought the Jeep? I don’t mind driving if you need me to.”
“Yeah, I drove. But I got it. Should we pry them apart or just yell goodnight from a safe distance?”
Jamie finally glances at his sister and Blake. He scowls. “Keep it PG, kids. We’re heading out.”
“Don’t wait up, Wesmie!” Blake says with a grin.
“Night!” Jess chirps.
Before we even turn around, they’re back in each other’s arms. “Do you think they’re always like that?” I ask. “Or do they just lay it on thick to annoy us? You’re the one with all the siblings. Tell me how this works.”
“Uh huh,” is all Jamie says. Then he pushes open the door to the bar, and a gust of chilly March air makes us both shiver.
Thirty minutes later I come out of the bathroom to find Jamie already in our bed, arms tucked behind his head, expression thoughtful.
I shut off the light and climb in beside him, ready to finally hear what’s on his mind. Maybe it was something I said?
Or maybe not, because Jamie rolls toward me immediately, hand on my belly, fingertips sweeping across the skin above the waistband of my flannel pants.
I open my mouth to ask what’s on his mind, but it doesn’t quite work. Because his lips land on mine, and then we’re kissing. I’m not an idiot. When the love of your life wants a make-out sesh, you don’t toss that aside.
So I move closer, running a hand up his bare back, threading a flannel-covered knee between his bare ones.
Wait. Jamie isn’t mad at me. Jamie is naked. I do a mental backflip at this realization, and kiss him a little more deeply. I miss him so much when I’m away. There’s another road trip coming up, too. I’ll be on the West Coast for days and days.
Jamie knows this. Jamie is a smart man. Very very smart. I groan, sliding my tongue against his. And then I turn my head in order to explore his jaw, testing the softness of his whiskers with my lips.
It’s been almost three years since our first kiss. My life changed that rainy night in Lake Placid when Jamie pushed me up against the side of a roadside bar and kissed me. It was like falling into a fantasy from which I’ve never had to wake up. I suck on his neck, right under the line of his whiskers. He smells of minty toothpaste and the shower products we both share.