If kissing were ice time, Nicky set a career record that night. He leaned down over Devin and kissed her for way more than twenty minutes, right through multiple overtimes. He drew his legs up under her knees and carefully fit himself onto the couch next to her. His arms around her back were the only thing keeping her from falling.
There wasn’t a lot of room to move on the couch, but that was a good thing. Nicky could not have handled having the run of the place, not with her stomach flat beneath his arm or her butt nestled into his lap. He concentrated on her lips and made his shifts count.
Nicky smiled to himself. If asked, he’d have said a hundred times there was zero chance the night would end like this. Their first date, the first time they ever even met. A big game, and big dinner… a lot had happened in the last ten hours that Nicky never would have believed.
He was pretty drunk. After tough games he always felt heavier, his body weighed down with muscle fatigue. After half an hour or so of kissing Devin, he was shifting his weight and stretching his legs even as he never left her lips.
She broke away. Thought she lay in his arms and partly beneath his chest, the end of the kiss signaled a small panic in Nicky’s heart – she wanted to stop. She wanted him to go. She’s never start again, he’d taken it too far… she didn’t really like him, now that she’d finally met him in person.
Devin pushed herself up to sitting and touched his hair. “Let’s go upstairs.”
Nicky was on his feet so quickly he stumbled a bit. Devin took his hand and he followed her toward the back of the apartment thinking that he’d follow her off a cliff if she felt like going for a jump.
So messy, Devin thought was the entered her bedroom. It wasn’t really – no dirty clothes on the floor or empty dishes by the bed – but it wasn’t exactly company-ready. She hadn’t been planning on this.
Nicklas Backstrom is in my room, she had to say once to herself to believe it was true. He looked around slowly. I need to stop thinking about him in the third person, he’s right here.
She was pretty drunk. As such, there were a lot of ways that tonight could go. But she was also exhausted from the events of the day and propped up only by the adrenaline of the win and being around Nicky. His kiss had a narcotic effect that clouded her brain and made her feel woozier than ever.
Nicky stood next to her, waiting for instructions. Waiting for her to make the first move. Going to be doing a lot of this, I suppose.
Devin did not want to sleep with him on the first date. She did really, really want to sleep with him though so it was important to handle this correctly. She sat on the bed and peeled off one boot, then the other. Nicky joined her and kicked off his shoes. Still in her dressy top and jeans, Devin pulled him up the bed until their heads were sharing a pillow. His arm slipped beneath her neck and she cuddled into his side – both of them still fully clothed.
His eyelids were heavy, half-closed even as he brought his mouth to hers. The languid, slow taste of his tongue pushed her deeper beneath the surface of sleep. Nicky’s body was heavy against hers as he fought the same battle.
“Be here when I wake up,” he said softly.
Devin nodded slightly just before she drifted off.
The first thing Nicky registered was the breathing he felt: arms lifting and his chest pressed to the calm rhythm . Someone else’s breathing.
In the night, Devin had rolled onto her other side. She fitted into Nicky’s embrace perfectly with knees bent and arms wrapped like a mold of his body. Inhale, exhale – each one passed through him too. Every part of him hurt, especially the broken finger that lay carefully arranged over her stomach. Nicky closed his eyes against the dull ache throughout his muscles and tried to sleep again.
He failed. There was far too much going on in the stillness of her bedroom for him to sleep. Luckily she stirred a few minutes later.
“Morning,” he said, pressing a kiss to her forehead the moment she woke. He didn’t want her to spend the same second wondering what was happening – he wanted Devin to know exactly where and with whom she was waking.
“Hi Nicky,” she burrowed into his chest, taking her whole body with her. Every part of him responded with the desire to be closer. In that flash he was fully awake, like being shot from a starting gate. The instinct to close his grip and hold served him well – it gave him a moment to keep from rolling right on top of her.
Easy, he told himself. Another the he hadn’t worried about in a while – what to do with a girl in the morning.
Devin shifted onto her back and looked up at him with a smile. Her silky top was twisted around her, that dark hair caught beneath them, but otherwise she could have gone right back outside. Except that they were alone, in her room, on her bed and very much awake.
Don’t freak out, Devin repeated to herself. She might as well have told herself not to think about thinking, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nicky was everywhere and there was simply nothing else. His heavy arm across her stomach anchored her to the bed and the night spent sleeping on his side had made his hair a mess. Desperate for something to do, she reached up and tucked it behind his ear.
They shared a guarded, wary look that belied their tangled position. From where they were it was much easier to keep going than to stop, but the little crease between his light blue eyes gave away the hesitation he was fighting. So she kissed him lightly.
He cracked a smile and flopped onto his back, the tension broken. Suddenly they were nothing more than thirsty people who’d fallen asleep in last night’s clothes. Fallen asleep together, of course.
“Yes,” Nicky answered. “Can I take you for breakfast?”
Devin nearly sighed with relief. She needed an excuse to get out of bed or she would never leave, to peel herself off his body before that current between them grew too strong again. She hauled herself up, dug around in her drawer for the biggest t-shirt she could find and tossed it to him before choosing a clean top for herself.
Nothing fancy for breakfast. She pulled a simple bright blue light sweater and a cami to go underneath it. Between that and a pair of jeans she tucked clean underwear, then turned to head for the bathroom.
Nicky was pulling his shirt from one shoulder, the other arm already bare and his wide chest straining against the white tank top he’d been wearing underneath. Tendons stood out in flex along his bicep as he twisted slightly to free his other hand. Devin heard herself gulp loudly. Nicky’s eyes shot up and locked with hers.
Oh God, she almost said out loud. Again it was the size of him that surprised her. In sleep she had failed to appreciate the bulk of the strong body that curled around her. And she definitely hadn’t accurately considered what was beneath that dress shirt or she never would have woken up clothed.
He moved again to finish. The simple motion overwhelmed her, knowing it would lead to him standing there, at the foot of her bed, in only one layer of clothing. She squeaked out a tiny “eeep!”, clutched the clothing to her chest and ran out of the room.
I could catch her before she reaches the bathroom, Nicky knew. And he knew it would be worth it. She hadn’t meant for him to see the lust in her eyes, the way they traced up the curve of his arm and down the slope of his chest. He wasn’t cut like a model, but he was thick and heavy and very strong. There was no hint of awkwardness in the way she looked at him. She’d all but licked her lips and his confidence soared. So much so that he laughed when she fled like a startled animal.
The t-shirt was a little tight, advertising a 5K race from the year before. It smelled like laundry detergent in the way only girls seemed to ever capture. Nicky was considering the scent when the door opened a crack.
“Are you dressed?”
He laughed. “Yes.”
Devin peeked into the room. He gave her an exaggerated muscle-man flex and she snorted a laugh. With a light sapphire-colored sweater clinging gently to the curve of her waist and round of her hip, Nicky had to wipe a similarly hungry look from his face. Then there was that smile. She offered him a new toothbrush and he left her to pull on sneakers.
In the bathroom, a handful of water was the best he could do for his hair. At least he wouldn’t have morning breath. Nicky was too nice to snoop into the medicine cabinet, but he did take note of the shampoo in the shower. He’d spent all night with that smell and committed it to memory.
She was folding his dress shirt over the back of the couch. With careful fingers she arranged the collar so it wasn’t bent, even though he’d slept in it. Nicky had resisted every urge all morning and so gave in to this one and slipped his arms around her waist from behind. It would take some getting used to this, if in fact he got to do it whenever he wanted.
Careful, he told himself. He hadn’t even known her a whole day. He hadn’t considered anything beyond the season, which would last another two months at most, nor had he ever stayed in Washington for the summer. There were a lot of obstacles between here and getting to hug her on a regular basis. But as Devin sank into his chest, Nicky’s brain thought whatever the hell it wanted to.
They drove to a nearby café where no one seemed to know Nicky at all and ate at a rickety table outside. The day was shaping up to be very humid. Bites of food covered any silences, but the meal was surprisingly easy to share. Anyway she had a million questions about him and hockey and could probably have talked all day.
He must think I’m an idiot, she chided herself. But when their plates were empty he asked if she would do him a favor.
“Sure,” she said.
He steered them outside the city and pulled into Home Depot. Devin raised an eyebrow. Nicky pursed his lips and shook his head when she asked for an explanation, simply leading her inside. They passed soaring aisles of doors and siding and tools. She slowed in the gardening aisle, admiring a tall peace lily plant full of dangling white blooms. Nicky backtracked a few steps, took her hand and led her on.
Finally, he stopped. Devin walked right into his side and bounced off, making them both laugh. Before them stretched a solid acre of patio furniture and grills.
“I have a balcony, but is empty. Can you help me pick something nice?” He turned those baby blue eyes down to where she stood against his arm. Their fingers were still entwined. Having seen him so often on television, there was still a lot for Devin to consider where looking at him in real life.
He was just so cute. For all the nervous or shy moments, the confidence he’d shown kissing her in the club or the flicker of fire that morning when she’d been caught undressing him with her eyes, Nicky was completely, disarmingly adorable.
Devin lifted up onto her toes and kissed him on the lips. She’d watch paint dry if he wanted.
She was like a kid in a candy store. Nicky laughed and followed along, testing every seat in the store as Devin did. He hadn’t bought any outdoor furniture because shopping for it alone seemed like a chore. As Devin nearly flipped herself to the floor climbing out of a hammock, he was glad he’d waited.
His deck had been a low priority because he rarely spent time there. Winter was long and devastating in DC. During the pre-season or random nice nights, he just went to Mike’s house. If he was going to be home when it was warm out, there would have to be a reason. Nicky watched Devin recline in a chaise lounge and refused to consider what that reason might be.
“What does your porch look like?”
“The floor is gray and railing is black. Building color is kind of brown. ”
The both frowned at his non-descriptive description. He also couldn’t picture how big the space was in relation to the furniture, or remember if there were hooks for hanging plants. Devin rolled her eyes and scribbled some numbers down on a brochure the salesperson had given her. Then she headed away.
Nicky found her in the hardware aisle. She held up a tape measure.
“Invite me over?”
On the drive home, Nicky wondered if he’d washed the dishes or left a pile of dirty clothes on the floor of his room. Would she want to see his room? Would she still want to see him after she saw his room? If he let her in there, would he ever let her out? He had been relieved to get out of her room without doing something crazy, but two bedrooms in one day would be pushing it. Two bedrooms in their first day, no less. At least the garbage was out and he was pretty sure there was something more than protein shakes in the fridge. He didn’t want her to think he couldn’t take care of himself. Girls hated that. But the photo of his parents in the living room should earn some points.
Devin just hummed along with the radio like going to his Nicky’s house was no big deal.
Well this is one way to get into his room, she thought as she looked out the window. She wasn’t too familiar with Arlington but they passed the club from the night before, and the diner. It was a little tour of their night, reminding her how confident Nicky had been for that moment when he kissed her first. He’d retreated a little after, only to go home with her anyway. And then be a gentleman. This morning had been a similarly confusing combination – all good manners and stripping off shirts and holding hands and buying patio furniture. Devin officially had no idea what was going to happen next.
She juggled the tape measure in one hand, comparing it’s heft against the swell of his bicep. Nice excuse.
Nicky opened the garage on a condo. The development was new and high-end, with small manicured lawns and carefully maintained spaces. It looked like Nicky had three floors to himself and at the top, Devin could see the railing of this famous balcony.
He held the door for her and they entered through the kitchen. As he’d promised, there were lots of shiny appliances, with pots and pans hanging over a large island in the middle. It looked rarely used, save for a bowl of fruit on the counter and a few dishes in the sink. Nicky dropped his keys on the nearby table and gave her a tour.
The living room was large and comfortable. Two TV remotes were tossed on the couch next to an ESPN Magazine. A half-empty water glass sat on a coaster. The TV was huge and flat screen with full shelves underneath – DVR, DVD player, Playstation. A framed Swedish hockey jersey hung on the wall.
“Your mom did this,” Devin said, nodding toward the arrangement of photo frames on the bookshelf. She leaned in an examined them – mostly family, she guessed. Nicky pointed out his parents and brother. Devin pointed out Mike mugging alongside Nicky in their Winter Classic gear.
Finally there was no where left to go but upstairs. She poked her head into two guest rooms, a shared bath and then Nicky showed her into his room.
It smelled like a boy – warm and cozy, the first few moments still in bed after you wake up on a weekend. It smelled like sleeping in. Devin felt slightly dizzy. A dark wood desk was pushed against a white wall and the dresser had a fairly large pile of laundry on top, folded in that half-assed way only boys could do. Another large TV was mounted on the wall opposite a king-sized bed covered in unmade gray bedclothes.
They stood side by side and started at the bed. Devin got a shiver down her spine. It was quiet for a moment too long, then another moment.
“Balcony?” Nicky asked, his voice cracking slightly.
“Yeah.” She spun out of the room, no idea where she was going.
The third floor was just that – a floor. And a railing. Nicky’s use of the word balcony was slightly incorrect; he had a full-on roof deck.
“Wow,” she said. “This is amazing!”
There space was half the size of the floor plan below. In the middle, vent pipes for heating and cooling stuck up out of the ground, effectively cutting the space in half and creating a nice little screen for setting a barbeque against. That half of the deck had a wall on one side – the side of the condo next door – and a roof stretched over it. It was one half in the sun, one half out.
“You never use this?!” Devin walked the perimeter to get a feel for the size. A square table would be best for the covered side, and maybe sun chairs for the open side. Everything would have to be stored in winter, but Nicky said there was room in the garage.
He’ll have no trouble carrying things down. Devin snuck her hundredth look at his arms filling out the sleeves of the borrowed t-shirt. Should have given him something even smaller.
Devin leaned over the railing to look down the front of the building. Feeling slightly shameful, Nicky still admired the long stretch of her legs and the rise of her backside as she bent at the waist. That minute in the bedroom had stretched almost to eternity and when he tried to speak, his throat was dry. The unmade bed had been hard to resist.
Now she was moving and measuring like she owned the place. Her efficiency impressed him – he was the one who’d gone shopping with no practical information. But really he’d been grasping for a way to keep her around for the day, with the hope of eventually bringing her here. In no way had he expected it to happen so soon.
She compared her measurements to her notes from the store. Nicky agreed to everything she suggested, and not just to make her happy. She seemed to actually know what she was talking about. And she looked so serious wiping a slight humid sweat from her forehead.
This was the hardest part for Nicky. They were just hanging out, doing some random thing. Yet he ached to kiss her the way she’d kissed him in the store – surprisingly, innocently, with some sense that she was entitled to do so just because she felt like it. Devin had the paper against the wall and was sketching a diagram of the space when she caught him watching her.
She smiled. “What? Am I taking over your project?”
He shook his head, wishing it would take away the blush rising in his cheeks.
“You don’t have to get what I say! I’m sorry, I watch too many home shows on reality TV.” Devin dropped her hands. She rolled her eyes, laughing at her own enthusiasm as she shuffled toward him.
That was all the opening Nicky needed. He met her halfway, trapping her arms against her sides in a hug. She tilted her head up automatically, like she expected a kiss. Nicky didn’t have to be asked twice. As he stood there on the roof he never visited, kissing someone he’d known for one day, his standard idea of summer started to change.
Devin studied her diagram.
“I like this one,” Nicky said. He was kicked back in a chair with his feet resting on a glass-topped table. The cushions were striped in green, white and the same blue as Devin’s sweater. There were six chairs plus the table, and they’d already chosen a pair of chaise lounge chairs for the other half of the roof, plus a low table to go between them.
Devin looked at him – hands knitted behind his head, like he was practicing how he’d sit on his roof. It felt like she was picking out her own furniture, as if she were going to see it every day. And if she didn’t, wouldn’t it be weird for him to bring the next girl over? Want to come up and sit on my chairs that matched the last girl’s sweater?
But he was relaxed. And that little boy smile was irresistible. So she nodded agreement and the salesperson took down the info. Nicky also picked two outdoor floor lamps and a really nice grill. Devin loaded a basket with spatulas, wire brushes and whatever else looked shiny. They weren’t spending more money than your average suburban family did on outdoor stuff, but it made her feel a little heady.
“Can we take two chairs now?” Nicky asked the salesperson. They’d come back to the store in his SUV. Everything went into the computer, he paid and the two lounge chairs met them outside by the loading dock. They were light enough that Nicky carried both boxes at the same time.
“Showoff,” she said, but she watched him all the same. He loaded them in and reached up for the door, revealing a sliver of bare skin at his lower back. Devin bit her knuckles to keep from growling. When it was closed, Nicky turned toward her.
Just like that, his body language changed. Those broad shoulders rounded a touch and his hands went into his jeans pockets like he was nervous about something. Devin felt that pull to be closer.
“I have already used up your whole day.”
She smiled, knowing it was nearly four o’clock. Because I had other gorgeous guys to play HGTV with. There was a line of them waiting to kiss me in the lumber aisle. Instead she said, “This was fun.”
“Are you… do you have something to do for tonight?”
Devin just shook her head no. He was working up to something and she didn’t want to rush him.
“I will like to try these chairs, see if you are good decorator.” The corners of his mouth curled into a grin, and he stood up a little straighter. “Will you come over for dinner?”
“I’ll do better. We’ll cook.”
For the second time in a day, Nicky said yes to everything Devin wanted. She piled things in his arms and they were out of the supermarket in fifteen minutes.
“I will put these together upstairs,” he said, carrying the two chairs into the house.
“Oh no. I’ll help with chairs, you help with dinner” Devin put the food on the counter and followed him through the house. Nicky had the feeling she was looking at his ass as they climbed to the third floor, and hoped he was right. She opened one chair and set to work reading the diagram instructions. Nicky hurried to match her but she was two steps ahead. The tip of her pink tongue pressed into the corner of her mouth. She caught him watching and hurried even more. He laughed at himself losing the race.
Ten minutes later, she yelled, “Ta da!”
A minute after that, they had two matching chaise lounges with cushions. “Ta da!” Nicky imitated her. And then, because this was going to have to get easier if he was ever going to stop stuttering when he asked her out, Nicky threw his arms around her waist and spun her around. She squealed. Before her feet were back on the ground they were kissing.
Nicky’s stomach swooped. Every time they kissed he felt something different, something new. For the few easy, small kisses they’d shared during the day, this was way up the ladder. The motion from their hug transferred right into the kiss – Devin was pressed to Nicky like a pancake, her mouth open and his hands twisted into her hair. He forgot to be shy and slipped his tongue past her lips.
I wonder if that chair can hold both of us.
We’re going to break one of these chairs, Devin thought. She was seconds away from climbing Nicky like a tree. An entire day of being near him, watching him move and react and go from shy to silly had unraveled her nerves. Each kiss had been a reminder that last night had really happened.
Kissing Nicky was luxurious. He held her like she was something special that he couldn’t get close enough to. Like something expensive of the highest quality. He was a little bit appreciative to find her there every time.
It’s only five o’clock, she told herself. And broad daylight. But that wouldn’t have stopped her. Instead she knew that Nicky would feel bad if he let something run away with him, especially on the first day. But it wasn’t easy.
She parted from his kiss but kept her eyes closed. Nicky pressed his forehead to hers then pressed his lips to the same spot. Without a word he took her hand and led her to the kitchen. They unloaded the bags side by side and Nicky hunted around for kitchen equipment he never used.
He looked so ridiculously cute shaking a bag of bread crumbs. His hands were huge and he was trying to be delicate. With those arms, it would be the best-coated chicken in the history of dinner. Devin made a pasta salad side dish, tossed bread crumbs over some broccoli and put the dish in the over to crisp. Nicky turned his back and Devin pretended not to see him polishing two wine glasses with a dish towel. He took his time setting the table, lining up the silverware nicely. By the time he was done, dinner was ready. Devin put the chicken on the table and Nicky pulled her back into his arms.
“Smells so good,” he said, but his face was nestled into her neck. She reached up behind her. Nicky had a hand on each side of her waist and his thumbs met in the center of her back. Very gently he kissed just below her earlobe.
This is never going to get easier. Nicky’s heart pounded so hard he was sure Devin could feel it right through her back. There was no chance that kissing her would ever produce less than this rush.
Ever the athlete – Nicky demolished his dinner. Devin didn’t seem to mind. They talked and laughed, each had a single glass of wine and there was no food left when they were finished. Nicky loaded the dishwasher, then held up the half bottle of wine.
“Upstairs?” he asked. Devin carried the glasses – hers would be the one with the lip gloss on it.
The weather had changed while they were eating. An overcast sky had rolled in and combined with the falling darkness to make it seem later than it was. The air was thick, his hair would start to curl. Nicky put the chairs together under the awning so the sides touched and held up the wine bottle. They both looked at it. Then it went right back on the ground.
Devin wasn’t sure how they ended up on those matching cushions, but there wasn’t anything shy about the way Nicky kissed her. It was the same confidence from the club, the kind that knew she wanted to be kissed. He lay halfway over her, one leg between hers and she wrapped herself around him. It started as tap, tap, tap.
The sky opened and it started to pour. Seconds later, lightning cracked somewhere. A typical DC spring storm came out of nowhere and threw itself down on the area.
“Good thing… under roof,” Nicky mumbled against her ear. His breath was hot, his tongue soft where it traced the curve of her ear. She kissed the smooth line of his jaw. Every muscle in her body throbbed. She was thankful they’d given up the wine because she felt drunk and delirious.
They kissed for ages, stopping only after each thunder clap to watch lightning split the sky. Huddled on their combined chair, protected by the awning, it turned fully dark while they lay twisted together. The humidity grew stifling as the warm rain fell and Devin had to push Nicky up so she could pull off her sweater. He ran his hands down her bare arms. No one could see them, either for the roof or the weather, so he cheated one hand under the hem of her tank top and laid it on her stomach as he kissed her again. She wondered if he could feel the butterflies.
The wind began to blow and raindrops reached their little haven. Nicky hauled her up and they dashed downstairs. He kept going right past the second floor because he knew they couldn’t be in the bedroom.
But then it didn’t matter. He caught Devin in mid-stride and sat her on the back of the couch, stood between her legs and kissed her hard. It wasn’t coming from drinking or dancing, but the urge was just as uncontrollable. The fabric of her camisole was quick beneath his hands before he tugged one strap free from her shoulder. He kissed the spot, then the other side. The top of her strapless bra peeked out of her lowered shirt.
He looked quickly into her green eyes. She pulled the top off herself. Nicky tipped her over the side and lowered them down onto the couch.
Finally, Devin thought. Not that she’d been waiting so long, or they were going all the way, but Nicky kissed her like he owned the place. His mouth was as sure as his hands where they roamed her bare skin. The slight calluses of his fingertips spread goosebumps across her ribs and she reveled in the sensation. Judging by the way he pressed himself over her, he was enjoying it too.
He moved to her neck, exploring the hollow inside her collarbone with the gentlest brush of his lips. Devin gripped his hair and egged him on. Those strong arms slid under her shoulders and lifted, tipping her head back. She mewed weakly as he helped himself to her neck.
The noise started as a tiny beep in her mind. Before long it was a four-alarm fire. They were confined to the space of the couch, all the closer for it, and while they’d been lost in kissing the rest of their bodies had responded to the call. Nicky’s thick thigh was pressed hard between Devin’s legs and his excitement was quickly becoming very obvious. For her part, Devin had been grinding against him like she was sharpening a knife. She heard herself moan.
“I don't want...” he said, mouth against the curve of her breast where it rose from her bra. There's no way he could say stop from there, he didn't even get the rest of his words out.
“You’re right,” Devin answered. Her hands were under his t-shirt on the smooth skin of his back.
“I like if you stay here tonight,” he said. Her heart rate spiked - of course she wanted to stay, but how could they possibly not...
“Maybe we stay on couch,” Nicky finished. He picked his chest up and looked down into her eyes. “I promise, no funny business.”
Devin burst out laughing. He must have learned that line from a movie, or from Mike being a tool. It worked perfectly - easing the tension just enough to keep their pants on. Nothing like being old enough to know better.