Friday, December 31, 2010

Chapter Seven

 “It's kind of like your cave on top of the world with a view,” says Toews of his high-rise condo. “It's all very modern, it's new, it's young. I just really felt it fit my personality.”

Callie caught Jon’s lips with her fingertips, just inches from her face.

“Whose shoes are in the closet?” she asked quietly. On her little self-guided tour of the master bedroom, she’d noted two pairs of high heels neatly arranged in the corner of the walk-in closet.

Jon closed his eyes, mouth still pressed to her hand. Tara. Fuck.

“I’m… seeing someone. We’re not exclusive, and she isn’t….” At heart Jon was a nice guy and he did like Tara. She just wasn’t special, not to him at least. But that sounded colder than he meant it. It wasn’t something that Callie would appreciate hearing, even about the competition. “It’s not serious. And it’s not going anywhere.”

She let her fingertip brush over the soft curve of his lip, over the beauty mark he’d always hated and down the strong line of his jaw. Looking at him made time stop, made her feel 17 and indestructible and terrified.

“What about this?” She meant them, a blink away from where they had been five years ago before they broke each others’ delicate hearts without even trying.

Jon planted a kiss in the center of her open palm. “Oh I am Captain Serious about you, Callie. I always have been.”

She smiled up at him, still delicately exploring the smoothness just underneath his chin. “Last time Jon, I… I didn’t mean to hurt you.” She’d been waiting so long to say that. When she blinked, her eyes came back teary.

“Shhhh,” he put his forehead against her temple desperate to kiss her but more determined to do this right. If she would give him another chance he would never, ever lose her again. “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.”

A silent nod was the best she could do. More than anything she wanted to feel his lips again, after forever. But every time she’d kissed him she’d really been kissing him goodbye. “What if we don’t know each other anymore? What if I’m not the same person?”

I love you, he wanted to say. I’ve loved you every day, even when I didn’t think of it, like breathing or blinking, it’s just the way I’m programmed. But at 22 those three little words carried a lot more weight than at 17. Especially when you’d said them before and gotten burned.

I know you. I love you, Callie wished she could tell him. His hand was on her thigh, fingers firmly pressed just below the back pocket of her jeans. They nearly burned through the denim. In the five years they’d been apart, she’d learned a lot. She’d lived her own life. There were things in that time that had shaped her. The last thing she wanted was to start something with Jon on false pretenses.

“Let me take you on a date. Get to know me again, Cal, and I’ll get to know you. It hasn’t really been that long, you know. We should be able to cover it over dinner.” He meant it, but smiled to cover it up. She wouldn’t be pushed.

“And the other girl?”

Jon craned his neck to see the alarm clock. “What time is it? I’ll call her right now.”

Callie’s tension broke visibly. She slugged him on the arm, rolling him away. If only he’d known that one more second looking into those eyes and she’d have done anything he wanted.

Jon gave Callie a t-shirt and shorts to sleep in, the rummaged around in his bathroom and came up smiling.

“You can tell my mom you used this, she’s the one who stocked this place up.” He handed her a new toothbrush. Instead of going to the guest bath, Callie took it right into Jon’s bathroom. It was pretty clean – a little gob of toothpaste on the sink, the mirror needed a wipe down – but he wasn’t too embarrassed.

Callie nosed around while she brushed. He had some prescription-strength ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet and she guessed he probably needed it after every game. Shampoo, boy-smelling soap, shaving cream. A basket full of Maxim magazines made her laugh.

“Night Jon,” she said when she was finished. In sweats and a tee, barefoot on the smooth floor, he looked even more like his high school self. He opened his arms and she walked straight in. They both sighed at the comfort of each others’ bodies. Jon rested his chin on top of her head and promised himself he would find the right way to do this. Callie pressed her cheek to his chest and said a prayer that they could make it work.

His lips were soft against her forehead. “Night Callie.”

Jon lay awake in bed. In the last year it he’d had his entire life changed by a few, individual days. But at least there was build up, there was work behind the gold medal and the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup. Callie had just turned up, like a gift and he was terrified that she could slip away as easily. At least he knew what he wanted. Getting there would be a delicate process, and he had to be careful not to get too serious about it.

Last time we slept in the same house… he texted her.

Two minutes later, she replied: That was my last night in the house I grew up in.

Jon: I miss home too.

Callie: Your mom totally knew, btw. She offered to have “girl talk” with me after you left.

Jon: Oh my God.

Callie: She’d be pretty proud of me tonight.

Jon: Katie McKenna would not.

Callie: HA! Goodnight, stud.

Jon: Night Cal.

In the morning, Callie could almost swear it had been a dream. Except she woke up in a very comfortable bed in an apartment that was not hers, wearing clothes fit for a rather large boy. It was before 8 and light poured in the uncovered windows. Oh, what the hell, she thought. Her feet were almost silent on the floor as she padded toward Jon’s room.

He didn’t wake up as she opened the door – she reasoned he’d had so many roommates over so many years that he probably slept through anything. Well anything other than a girl climbing into bed and wrapping herself around him from behind. Before her arm was around his middle he was rolling onto his back.

“Good, all that really happened,” he mumbled as he slid a bicep under her head and snuggled into her. The warmth from his body could have powered the condo and Callie felt herself relax to a whole new level as she burrowed inside the cocoon he’d made. She tucked her head against his chest, into his shadow.

“How do you sleep with all this light?” she whispered.

Jon didn’t answer, just pulled the comforter right up over both of their heads.

Jon woke in the dark confines of their little fort. Callie was fast asleep, barely making a sound as her chest rose and fell with shallow breaths, lifting the arm he had curled around her. There was no light to see by but it didn’t matter. Jon had long ago memorized her face, even in sleep. He knew exactly what she looked and felt like now. He closed his eyes and drifted off again.

Callie rolled onto her side, Jon stuck to her back. His top knee was between hers and her ass fit perfectly into the hollow of his lap. Well hollow except for the fact that he was hard. She gasped when she realized that Jon’s typical boy morning wood was pressed firmly into one side of her ass. Her brain could not be controlled – Wow, it said. Everything about Jon is bigger now.

Shut up, shut up! she willed, trying not to giggle. Or move. She didn’t want to be wiggling around right now. But she was couldn’t help it.

“If you don’t stop moving, I’m going to lose my shit,” Jon said, voice muffled by the pillow and her hair.

That did it – she busted out laughing.  "Does this count as that date you promised me?"

I’m going to die, Jon thought. He knew his face was beet red, so he turned it down and hid against her back. Of course I’m hard, like a perverted high-schooler. Thanks a lot. But he didn’t want her to leave. Everything about her felt right and he figured she must know that he wanted her in every way.

“Jon,” she sputtered, but there was nothing to say. She just laughed. Soon he was laughing too, embarrassed and unable to help himself.

“I’m getting up,” she said.

Jon locked his arms tight. “Wanna bet?”

Callie felt like splatter paint – she was everywhere with no cohesion or form. She wanted him and he wanted her, she wanted this so much that it overwhelmed her.

“You’re the one who crawled into my bed,” he whispered. His voice was husky, the sound of sleep replaced by lust. If anything, he was harder than before since waking up to find his excellent dream was in fact real.

“I missed you again,” she said quietly.

Rolling her over took no effort. Looking into her eyes took some, knowing that it would only make him want this more. And there was no amount of trying in the world that could stop him from kissing her. He put his mouth on hers. The hesitation in her body only lasted a second – he felt her tense, then melt. It was like cold water on a burn: instant relief so deep it was almost painful in itself.

It had been eight years since their first kiss and five years since their last. Pitifully few kisses had been exchanged during a romance that had run their entire adolescent lives. Jon intended to run up that tab now. Her soft lips gave way and he let everything go.

There was nothing to think but Jon and nothing to do kiss. Years of trying and failing, of wanting and waiting were erased by the velvety feel of his tongue. Callie had remembered their last kiss so many times she’d worn it smooth, like a rock from a river. This new kiss had all kinds of cliffs and drops.

Callie pulled at the same time Jon moved, rolling him on top of her. His shirt came off to expose a square mile of smooth, sculpted body, hot to the touch. She moved a leg between his and ground her hips into his erection, letting him know he didn’t need to be shy. He kissed her so deeply she almost fainted.

The t-shirt he’d lent her hit the far wall with a thump. He tracked kisses down her neck and insider her shoulder until finally his lips met the rounded outside of her breast. The milky skin was just as he’d remembered, topped by a rosy pink nipple. His hand lifted the soft rise to his mouth and he closed his mouth over the achingly taut peak.

“Jon,” she whispered. Callie was going to come before she even had her pants off. She knew there had been some reason not to do this last night. Or yesterday at lunch, in the computer store, in a bathroom at the club. But she couldn’t remember it. All she could feel was Jon leaving a slight trail of moisture from her breast to her navel.

Jon ran passing drills in his head to keep from fainting. The flat plain of her stomach was broken only by a sexy line at either side that defined her abs. Kissed traced down that line and Jon held her firm as he hit a ticklish spot and she twisted. His fingers bunched the fabric of her borrowed shorts and pulled them off with ease.

Last night while dancing, while feeling the round of her ass and the curve of her thigh grinding against him, he’d wondered what kind of underwear she was wearing. Seeing the lacy black waistband above a tiny piece of striped fabric that disappeared into the cleft in her legs nearly made him come in his pants. Their eyes met and she smiled. He kissed the spot where the band crossed her hip, then tugged it down and kissed the bare skin beneath. The other side got the same. Then he slid them off altogether.

There would be time to explore, time to tease and torture. There would be nothing but time. But right now, Callie couldn’t wait. Her fingers pressed into Jon’s shoulders as she urged him upward until their faces were level again.

“Are you scared?” he asked. It was the same question five years ago when they’d done this for the first time.

“A little,” she gave the same answer because it was true.

“Me too.” And just like he had back then, on a squeaky double bed with printed flannel sheets, Jon told Callie the truth. “I love you.”

There was no doubt in his eyes and none in her heart. “I love you, Jon.”

His shaft throbbed in her hand as she guided him to the spot. With terrible slowness he pushed inside, making every fraction of an inch feel like free fall. Callie was at terminal velocity when he finally filled her up and ran out of length.

Jon felt like a virgin all over again. He felt he would come immediately, desperately and ruin everything. His heart hammered. Callie’s slick, succulent body welcomed him with a fireworks display. When he finally felt his base meet her lips, the sigh was as much pleasure as it was relief.

“Oh God,” she said. It had never, ever been like this, not even back then when they’d bumbled and fumbled away at each other. Callie didn’t want to know how much practice he’d had, but she was sure he had it down perfectly now. They’d barely moved together and she was already clawing at the edge of the world.

“I should have come for you, I should have been there,” he whispered, face close and eyes clouded with worry. “There were times when I could have…”

She kissed him quiet. “Shhhh. I could have too, Jon. I could We didn’t do anything wrong.” Her voice had the ring of truth.

“I’m sorry I wasted so much time,” he told her. “I almost let you get away.”

Callie had tears in her eyes as she shook her head. “It was always you, Jon.”

Her hands on his hips signaled for him to move. Every long, slow stroke seemed to take a day off the calendar. Jon calculated he’d need just under 2000 strokes to rewind five years. He figured he could work straight through.

Her fingers got to know every inch of his upper body, searching for purchase against the motion of their bodies. She hooked her feet together behind his back and gave him all the angle she could to plumb her depths. His thick, hard cock took everything she had and begged for more. She dug her heels into his lower back to hold him close when the blackness came.

“Jon,” she moaned as her body melted. Callie could have drown in the sensation. Pure white light flooded through her body, taking with it every last ounce of worry and confusion she’d felt since hearing she was moving to Chicago. Jon was right there with her, whispering that he loved her, needed her.

Jon held himself stock still, buried as deep as he could go, and closed his eyes as Callie’s body went liquid all around him. Hearing his name forced from her lips was as good as any cheer from any crowd. His own voice made promises that he looked forward to keeping. When finally she drew in a huge breath and the shuddering stopped, she put a finger to his lips.

He moved again slowly, impressed with his own restraint. A tiny smile crossed her face to feel him shifting inside her. Someday, he told himself, I’ll work all day to make her do that a hundred times. But not now. Trusting that she was satisfied, Jon let himself go. His hips met hers on every stroke as she arched her back to give him more. Heavy desire pooled between his hips. It had never, ever been like this. Not in their brief time together, even the first time when he’d never experienced anything like being inside the girl he loved. She was a woman now, and she was finally his.

It struck like lightning, tearing a groan from his body. He came so hot he worried he could burn her. Five years of frustration and longing pumped out, draining his hopes and fears into her secret places.

“I love you,” he said again, exhausted but thrilled, winding his arms around her back to be sure she could never, ever disappear.

“I love you,” she answered, kissing the bulging round of his bicep.

“Stay with me. Don’t get an apartment.” He hadn’t planned how to ask her, so it didn’t come out like a request.

She leaned her neck back to look into his eyes. It was dangerous – she knew she couldn’t resist them – but necessary. “I think we’re a little ways from that yet. Remember the shoes?”

Damn. He remembered. “I’ll take care of it today.” He spoke quickly to reassure her there was nothing to worry about.

Callie didn’t know how true that was, but the bliss and being reunited with Jon and the post-sex glow they were nursing were things she knew she would never feel again. They weren’t about to be spoiled by anything.

“And curtains,” she added. “You need curtains.”

He pulled the blanket back up over their sticky, sleepy forms and closed out the world.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chapter Six

I finally re-found the picture that inspired this whole story.  Jon and Co having lunch outside.  Can you imagine walking past this on the street?  I'd freaking pee my pants.  Obviously I altered things a little and it was last chapter, but you get the idea.

 (via ilovesharpie)

All Callie could do was laugh. Standing in the bathroom of her comfortable-but-bland corporate apartment, she felt like she was getting ready for the prom all over again. Legs shaved and eyebrows tidied, she dried her hair as she examined her pedicure fresh from the nearest nail salon. A little eyeliner and mascara on curled lashes – not too much, but enough. Hell, she hadn’t seen him in 5 years.

In front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom, Callie wondered if she’d made the right decision. She had no idea where they were going, so she chose something manageable – a blue jewel-toned silk blouse that draped from short sleeves into a flattering, svelte shape. Dark skinny jeans were cuffed above a pair of killer black heels with a peep toe that flashed her bright pink nails. The shoes were dressy, the roll of the jeans casual; she thought it worked. Her long hair stayed was brushed to a shine and left hanging loose.

Pat knocked on the door at 7 sharp – the doormen had stopped announcing his arrival ages ago. He had an open beer in one hand and the other held five bottles left in a pack. “So that’s her,” he said, taking a stool at the kitchen island.

“That’s her.” People assumed that guys never talk about their feelings but they were wrong. Jon and Pat had been roommates since rookie year and they knew each other like twins. They’d been through a lot, including the past summer with the Cup. Jon had argued with himself over calling Callie, inviting her to the celebration at home. Pat had urged him to do it but in the end Jon chickened out. He thought it looked like he was showing off.

Honestly, there were times he could have visited her since they broke up. He could have made time, and he certainly made enough money. But the more time passed the more awkward it felt. So to call her in for his own parade and lake-naming seemed horribly self-serving and conceited. Kaner had called him a coward.

“She’s something, Jon,” Pat acknowledged. He didn’t want to say too much, in case Jon wasn’t ready to hear the obvious. Everyone at the table could tell from first blush that Jon was still very, very much in love with Callie.

“She’s the one that got away,” Jon admitted.

Pat cracked a beer and replaced his empty. “She’s here now.”

At 8 PM she was really there. The doorman didn’t even check his list, just sent her upstairs. Her heels clicked loudly on the marble lobby floor. In the elevator, she closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. She had to do it again outside Jon’s door.

“Hi!” he said, too loudly. He stepped in, then instantly stepped back totally unsure of himself. Callie looked like a dream – she floated into his apartment with wide eyes.

“Woah, Jon. This place is amazing!” She moved right to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city and the lake. Her shirt matched the evening sky, silhouetting her perfectly against the glass. Flat-footed and dry-mouthed, Jon stood watching. A lot of girls at 22 wished to look like they had in high school. Callie looked better. Her long legs were lean and strong inside her jeans, the delicate fabric of her shirt begged to be touched and it was impossible not to think about sex when looking at her shoes. She was healthy and happy and more beautiful than ever.

“Hey Callie,” Kaner came in from the kitchen to save the day. He handed Callie an open beer and dropped onto the couch. She showed herself around, commenting on how nice everything was. Jon felt a pinch on his arm and heard a bottle cap hit the hardwood floor.

“Dude,” Pat whispered sharply as Callie turned into the kitchen. “Roll up your tongue!”

Jon shook himself out of it and followed her. She was at the fridge, examining a photo stuck behind a magnet. It was Jon with his brother and parents and the Cup. Her fingers touched the very edge of the paper.

“I’m still not over this,” she said quietly. “You really did it.”

As she turned, Jon had to physically grip a stool to keep from throwing himself at her. Her eyes glistened with tears – proud tears, happy tears. His heart beat like a bass drum, trying to escape his rib cage.

“Yeah,” he croaked. “It still doesn’t feel real to me either.” He was only mostly talking about the Cup.

Callie sensed that something was off with Jon as she showed herself around the apartment. It was big and luxurious but not ostentatious. The last door was closed, she knew it was the master bedroom. Old Callie would have gone right in. New Callie wasn’t sure what she’d find; half a closet full of some other girls’ clothes, photos of Jon and another smiling face on vacation, or with the Cup. It was inevitable, but Callie chose to believe her fairy tale a little longer. Her fingers slipped from the doorknob, leaving it unturned.

He was on the couch, wearing jeans and a black button-down rolled up over his massive forearms. It made his tan seem darker, made him impossibly more fit looking than normal. Callie couldn’t get over his size – wider, thicker and more solid than he’d looked even on TV. There was a time when she could put her hand around his wrist, now she’d be hard-pressed to do it with both hands. She sat next to him, not too close. Thirty seconds later half the Blackhawks rolled in.

They walked a few blocks to a steakhouse. Callie knew she would like these guys and she was right. Duncan Keith put an arm around her shoulders and strolled with her, digging for juicy Jon stories and not-subtly trying to get some details about her life as well.

“So you just up and left LA? Nothing to keep you there?”

She put an arm around his waist – he was very comfortable. “Nope. I was ready for a change after 4 years, and the job made it worth my while. There’s only so much perpetual sunshine and warmth you can take before Canada stops looking like home.”

“Well you’ll get it here,” he laughed, gesturing into the unseasonably warm October night. “Take advantage of this because when it’s over, winter lasts forever.”

Jon hung toward the back of the group, not wanting to cling but eavesdropping on their conversation. If Callie gave up anything about herself he had to know.

They’d reserved the back room at the restaurant and soon were eating more food than Callie had ever seen put away. Some of the guys brought girlfriends, so Callie sat between Dave Bolland’s girlfriend Brooke and Jon. The women promised to help her get settled quickly and some even suggested more reasonably-priced places to live. A few knew of buildings with apartments open.

Jon searched his mind for a way to invite Callie to stay with him. It was too forward and probably inconvenient – she must have a whole apartment worth of stuff stashed somewhere, waiting. Her work was even paying for her place now. But he couldn’t help himself, a little fantasy rolling out that she’d start in the guest room and then end up in his room, forever.

Seabs had chosen the next destination carefully – a swanky downtown lounge with low couches and lower lighting. Rat Pack-era tunes played to a well-heeled crowd and the bartenders wore fedoras with vests and ties. It could have been cheesy, but there was too much money invested. Callie examined the overhead chalkboard menu. Jon was thankful for the crowd and noise, excuses to stand close. “I’ll have… what are you having?”

“A bourbon and Coke.”

She made a face, wrinkling her nose and shaking her head. Jon laughed. “I’ll have a cucumber gimlet. Sounds fancy.”

Jon got their drinks and followed her through the crowd to where the guys had batted their missing teeth at the hostess and magically unreserved a reserved table. He saw how heads turned toward Callie but had become oblivious to the heads that turned toward him. Kaner slid into the booth, making room for Callie and half of Jon. She bumped against Pat, earning Jon another six inches.

“Can you fit?” she asked. His wide shoulders and huge were nearly pinning her to Patrick, but she didn’t care.

Jon pressed into the space as far as he could. “Yeah, but I have to…” and he put his arm around Callie’s shoulders. Now he was in. Kane patted his arm to say good job, but Duncan was not so coy.

“Smooth, Tazer,” he said out loud. Callie just sipped her delicate martini glass.

It felt perfectly normal to sit with Callie pulled into his side, all warm and soft. Jon was grateful for his friends – they took a lot of the work away from him. Callie talked like she’d known them forever. Drinks kept coming and Jon fought to concentrate on the conversation and not just the silk of her shirt sliding erotically along the sensitive skin inside his wrist.

When Callie laughed, she rolled her head into Jon’s shoulder. It was impossible not to enjoy being held by someone so big, so solid and comforting. He would have been that if he were a stranger, but for Callie he also held 20 years of shared life. The more they drank the closer they got, until Callie had to warn herself to slow down. She didn’t know Jon now, didn’t know if this life had changed him. Every woman in the place was undressing him with their eyes and a few obviously hoped to make it a reality by night’s end. His arm felt reassuring, but it could be something else. It could be that Jon’s fame had taught him he could have whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Callie took smaller sips and declined a round, knowing that her defenses were already thin. She didn’t want to ruin anything the first day she had him back.

“Callie, do you like to dance?” Brent asked.

“The chance to see the Kaner Shuffle in person?!” She turned toward Pat, huge excited expression on her face. “Fucking right!”

Seabs was batting a thousand for the night, having chosen a fun, low-key club that was full of people dancing away the warm night. Callie smiled over her shoulder at Jon as she followed Pat right to the floor.

Jon watched her as he waited for drinks. Kaner was putting on his little show, but Jon trusted his friend. In fact it was great not to bear the full weight of Callie’s presence – he needed tiny breaks to collect himself. She bobbed around, letting Pat have the floor. Unable to resist the spectacle, a few of the other guys joined them: Seabs, Duncan, Skille. The people around them backed up, except for any women in the area who moved right in. By the time Jon had two beers in hand he had to fight his way through a tangle of bodies to reach them. At least three different sets of hands groped him on the way through.

There was nowhere to dance except very close. Callie took the drink and pulled him right in. Jon wondered if one of the guys was in the DJ booth, bribing him. Lady Gaga’s “Love Game” came on and the whole crowd moved in tighter.

Callie knew the sharks were circling. Each of the guys had been peeled off by at least one girl until she’d been almost dancing by herself. Jon felt it too – he latched right onto her. His free hand rested on her hip and she slid one leg between his knees. He loomed over her, wide enough to block out the world, and her arm went around the back of his neck.

They were close enough to kiss. If there weren’t drunk enough on alcohol then the desire was plenty put them over the edge. Callie kept her eyes down to avoid his – if she looked into those depths right now she’d fall forever. Jon couldn’t keep any distance. His hips met hers, rolling and swaying with the beat until there was no space between them. His hand slid across silk at her lower back, holding her close.

“It’s nice to have you back,” he said, lips pressed to her ear in almost a kiss.

“I missed you,” she said out loud.

The song ended and many more played. Each time Jon and Callie separated they breathed deeply, regaining their balance. But the right songs kept bringing them together and every time they were imperceptibly closer. By 1 AM Callie was holding a handful of hair off her neck and fanning herself.

“Think you can stop humping her leg long enough to eat?” Duncan asked, appearing at Jon’s side. Jon shot him a sharp look though it was way too loud for Callie to overhear.

“Cal, food?” She nodded enthusiastically.

Drunk people in a diner are always fun. Two confused, horny people who really want to ravish each other are way more fun. Kaner orchestrated the entrance so Callie would be all the way to the inside of the booth, Jon next to her. Then he pushed Seabs in and climbed in himself, smooshing everyone together like sardines.

Callie almost laughed – Kane was not subtle. But she wasn’t feeling subtle either. She lifted her knees and put them over Jon’s thigh, her feet hanging between his legs. It made a little more room for them and was just as good as copping a feel of those massive legs she’d been grinding against all night.

Oh God, Jon thought, willing his body not to get hot and bothered and give away his brain.

The guys ate a huge second dinner. Jon nibbled at his sandwich and tried to ignore Callie tongue-kissing the straw of a chocolate milkshake six inches away. If anyone else at the table was thinking what he was thinking, he’d kill them.

Callie saw Jon looking at her from the corner of his eye. He thought he was so stealthy. She drowned a giggle in her straw and went on giving it the time of its life. Even without the confusing, messy feelings and raging hormones, Callie was having a great time with Jon’s teammates. They knew each other in a way that normal people rarely experienced with friends. Callie couldn’t believe she had been reluctant to call Jon – she’d have been alone in her apartment right now, sleeping away a perfectly good night.

When they finished, Callie never saw who paid. She hadn’t seen who paid for anything. Instead she was concerned about untangling herself from Jon and missing the thick, warm feel of his leg beneath hers. Groups broke up and started hailing cabs outside. The guys hugged Callie goodbye and she traded numbers and promises to get together soon with the girls. Kane gave Jon a giant slap on the shoulder and left the two of them standing on the curb.

“I think my place is that way,” she pointed left. “And yours is that way,” she pointed right.

It was out before Jon could think and he didn’t want to take it back. “Come over. I’ve got a guest room,” he added quickly.

“You have two,” she corrected.

He looked down into her eyes and did his best sad puppy face. She’d never been able to resist it before. “Not fair! That face! You’re like a baby panda.” But she waved for only one cab.

Callie had the hiccups and Jon was laughing at her. They were in his living room – on opposite sides of the L-shaped couch – having a night cap. She’d been in the middle of a story about running into a celebrity in the supermarket in LA when her giggle caught in her throat.

“Stop – hic! Jon!”

He fetched a glass of water and they both waited while she sipped and held her breath. Finally, they were gone. With her first real sentence she asked, “Can I see your room?”

All the blood in Jon’s body went to his lap. He was definitely drunk. And there’s no other reason a girl would want to see your room, right? She followed him down the hallway.

“Woooo,” she said softly. The dark hardwood floor continued throughout the master suite. One wall was all windows, floor-to-ceiling with the lights of the city sparkling outside. The king size bed had a brown comforter and a chaise lounge chair sat across from it.

“This is a bachelor pad!” she pronounced it approvingly. “My place in LA was 3-bed, 3-bath, but I had to share it with two other people.”

Jon visually calculated the distance between where she stood and the wide, low mattress. One throw, he knew. He could have her on her back in a single movement.

Callie tried not to look at the bed. She could take a long week doing what she wanted to him on every inch of that huge expanse. Better not to think about it. But she was loopy and tired. At the window she looked straight down into the river. “Sure beats a view of my backyard at home.”

Jon joined her, resisting the urge to press her against the glass. It was an amazing view, the number one reason he’d chosen this place. He had to do something before he lost it completely. “I can’t believe you’re here,” he said.

Callie didn’t turn her head. “Five years. I have missed you for 22 percent of my 22 years.”

“You’re 23 now, Cal.”

She laughed, having forgotten that her birthday was just two weeks ago. “Wow, that sounds like forever.”

“Cougar,” he gave her a little hip check.

She pushed back. “Jailbait.”

Jon took a seat on the edge of the bed, hoping Callie would follow suit. She did – sitting about two feet away from him and flopping back onto the mattress. “Tell me every single thing that I’ve missed about you, Jon.”

He rolled onto his side, looking at her splayed out across the bed. His bed. Callie was really, finally, actually here. The last time he’d seen her had been in the last place he called home. He told her about last season, about the playoffs and the Cup and the parade. When he got to the part about his celebration in Winnipeg, he couldn’t help but ask. “Why didn’t you come?”

Callie turned to face him now. Her hair pooled on the mattress beneath her elbow. “I didn’t think you’d remember me.”

He covered the space between them in one slide. Without touching her – that would be too much – he got close and whispered, “I could never forget you.”

“I know. But after so long, on your biggest day ever, I felt like I didn’t have a place there. Like that was for your life now and I wasn’t part of it,” she paused. “I’m sorry I missed it, Jon. I wish I’d been brave enough to just show up, even if I didn’t talk to you. I would have loved to have seen you give that place what’s for.”

He wanted to cry. Worried he was about to lose that last scrap of composure, he cracked a joke. “Katie McKenna was there.”

Callie made a choking noise and fell onto her back. “That stupid skank! Tell me she was all over you, talking about eighth grade and trying to get in your pants.”

“Yup. She was.”

“Did it work?” Callie’s voice was a little quieter than she intended.

“Oh my God.” Jon pulled down a pillow and smacked her with it. She shrieked and curled into a defensive ball while he wailed away, pummeling her. Her laughs were muted by the thumping.

“I surrender! Surrender!” she called. Jon threw the pillow onto the floor and when she unfurled, she was right up against him. Without pausing, Jon leaned down to kiss her.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chapter Five

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Jon's out two weeks with an upper body injury - bummer!  I'll try to get you through it with this story.

“I talked to Jon’s mom today.”

“MOM!” Callie said sharply. “I told you not to! Let me get there, get settled and then I’ll text him… ugh!”

Her mother was having none of it. Even internationally via long-distance she could still give Callie a piece of her mind. “Absolutely not. Jon is your best friend. You were in love with him for years, Cal! For crying out loud. I don’t know what happened to you guys but you are not moving to a city where he is the only person you know and not calling him.”

Callie looked at the movers putting the last of her things in the truck to the storage unit. It would all follow on the company’s dime once she found a place to live. “I will call him when I get there,” she protested.

“The hell you will. I asked his mom to give you the day, but after that she’s telling him. Andree agrees you two have been apart too long.”

“It’s not that Mom, it’s… different. He’s different, he won’t want me hanging around like some loser with no friends. In case you don’t get the news in Singapore he is a superstar now!”

She heard her mom sigh, exasperated. “The only person treating him like a superstar is you, Callie.”

For the last time, Callie drove herself to Santa Monica, tied her sneakers tight and ran down the Venice Beach boardwalk along the Pacific Ocean. It was crowded with tourists and transients but it always helped to clear her mind.

The decision to move had been easy – a simple yes, right away. She wanted the promotion, and her job in LA would be downgrading anyway. Some of her college friends had left and the rest were caught up starting their own real lives. The guy she’d been dating, Brandon, had taken a job in New York two months before and Callie hadn’t really even missed him. LA had been fun for four years but she was ready to go.

And plus, it was Chicago. It wasn’t like Jon was waiting for her – he was the toast of the town now and she was just some old girlfriend. None of her college friends ever talked about their high school sweethearts, and every single one of those long-distance freshman year relationships had ended long ago. Still, you never know, she couldn’t stop thinking.

Callie stared at Jon’s name on her phone screen for a few minutes before calling. It was the first time ever she heard herself think: please don’t pick up. Her wish was granted.

“Hey. Leave a message and I’ll call you back.” Since becoming THE Jonathan Toews, he’d taken his name off the voicemail. As if people couldn’t recognize his voice.

“Jon, hi. It’s Callie. I’m uh… I’m moving to Chicago. Surprise! My work is transferring me and I’ll be there in a few days. When I get in, maybe I could buy you dinner? It’s, um… well I don’t actually know anyone there so even though it’s been a long time I thought maybe I can at least take you for a drink to celebrate all the amazing things you’ve done. So, give me a call. Or I’ll call you when I get there. Okay? Bye Jon.”

“Holy shit,” Jon said out loud. He’d been at practice, skating hard and working on drills. Repeating for the Stanley Cup was nearly impossible in the NHL but Jon and the Hawks were trying to reach that goal. The season was two weeks old and things had not started out well.

“What?” Patrick Sharp said, dropping in next to him on the locker room bench.

“My, uh… wow. Callie is moving here. To Chicago.”

His teammate leaned back a little. “Callie, Callie? The ex-girlfriend?”

Jon shook his head. He’d never, ever called her that. “No, well… we were together for a long time. But we grew up together, next door neighbors since we were tiny. Before she was my girlfriend she was my best friend. Ever. First kiss, first… everything.”

Jon blushed as Sharpie slapped him on the back. He’d gotten married over the summer and the guys teased him for becoming a romantic softie. “Why’d you break up?”

“Never got to see each other. Too far apart.”

Sharpie raised an eyebrow. “Not anymore, eh?”

A million thoughts flooded Jon’s mind – like his life flashing before his eyes. Touching her lips for the first time during that basement party, Callie holding his hand at the movies when Katie McKenna dumped him, kissing her to stop her crying when he left, watching her sleep that New Year’s weekend. The last time he’d seen her, waving as he drove away.

“What about Tara?” Sharpie broke through his daydream.

Crap, Jon thought. Tara was the girl he’d been dating, more for company than anything else. She was nice enough and the sex was distracting if not memorable. It kept the guys from dragging him around the clubs and throwing a steady stream of puck bunnies in his path. Tara was… well, he hadn’t thought of her first, so she really wasn’t.

“I don’t know that Callie and I are still anything. It’s been a long time,” Jon admitted, as much as it hurt to say that to the love of his life, he might be just another guy. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Jon finally called Callie later that night. He didn’t want to wait but he didn’t know what to say. If she was moving, she couldn’t have a boyfriend, right? That was getting ahead of himself – he hadn’t seen her in five years. Maybe she had changed. Hell, his life had certainly changed enough. There was a good chance that she was over him, way past what they had and wouldn’t want to be part of his circus anyway.

But still, it’s Callie.  If it was possible to be nervous pushing a single button, he was. She didn’t answer.

“Callie, hey, it’s Jon. I can’t believe this! You definitely owe me some dinners. In exchange, I’ll let you wear my gold medal. Call me when you get here. Do you need any help moving stuff in? I know some pretty big guys… okay. See you soon, eh? Can’t believe I’m actually saying that again. Bye.”

I know some pretty big guys…

Callie laughed at Jon’s message, but it also twisted her stomach. He would be nice. He’d be unfailingly polite and friendly because he was a good solid Canadian kid whose mom had raised him right. And that mom would be asking about Callie. So Jon would fulfill the obligation borne of growing up next door. But his world was so much bigger now, his life something Callie couldn’t possibly comprehend. Surely there would be no place for her there.

But still, it’s Jon…. She saved the message anyway. Two days later, she got on a plane to Chicago.

Callie had her map out and her head down somewhere in the warren of downtown Chicago streets, looking for a computer store her office recommended. The wireless router in her short-term corporate housing wouldn't pick up the card in her laptop. She didn't know an N router from a G and was one service call away from throwing it out the window. She lifted her eyes to the street signs; surely they were on this map somewhere.

Patrick Kane had been watching her for half a block. He never missed the approach of a pretty girl. She wore black jeans on shapely legs, high brown riding boots and a lightweight, oversized white cable knit sweater with a bright green scarf wrapped once around her neck. Long dark hair was caught beneath the strap of her messenger bag and held off her face by sunglasses. She stopped on the corner, four feet outside the fence that contained the outdoor table where half the Chicago Blackhawks were having lunch.

Pat leaned over the low railing, still in his chair. "Can I help you find something?" A few of his teammates turned to see who he was talking to.

Callie looked up to say yes, please, thank you. The words were already on her tongue when she saw his face. Sound caught in her throat. Patrick instantly smiled, proud to be recognized and prepared to be adored.

Jon barely flicked his eyes from the menu. He'd seen a million Kaner conquests and couldn't care less about one more: another long-legged, long-haired girl. His brain barely registered anything before his eyes went right back to her, wide.


She recognized Patrick, of course. It nearly stopped her heart to see him, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Instantly she realized he was with a group, sensed the size of his tablemates. They could only be... her gaze shot a bull's-eye without even trying.

"Jon!" she gasped. It wasn't a scream or a question. It was like someone opened the airlock in a sci-fi movie and the entire world went completely silent and still. She was weightless, jettisoned into space.

Jon didn’t hesitate – he was a man of action now, a tried-and-true winner, up and moving before his name was off her lips. He wore a gray collared t-shirt and black cargo shorts, every part of his body twice the size she remembered. His hair was short, his skin tanned but the smile, that aw-shucks baby-faced smile was like a time machine back to home.

They both thought it. They were both embarrassed and tried to push it from their minds. They both failed.

Please don't be in love with someone else.

Jon wove behind Seabs’ and Duncan’s chairs and stepped over the railing like it was a curb. Callie's mouth still hung open, just an inch. She looked like a memory, a face he'd seen only in dreams for five years. That beautiful face.

Callie's brain did nothing. Or something. It shot 1s and 0s; binary code for some equation that would not compute. An error message kept popping up: Jon. Jon.

He was on the street in no time, Chicago's most recognizable face on a busy sidewalk in the middle of the day. His arms went around her like she was poured into a mold. Before he could slow down, Jon buried his face in her soft hair. "Callie."

"Wow," she whispered. "Hi."

They hugged for an hour. A day. Maybe a month. Callie inhaled the scent of pure, clean boy: soap and deodorant and fresh laundry. Jon was massive in her embrace, like a wall or a sculpture; solid, heavy and warm.

"Ahem," Kane had to say three times before anyone heard.

"Oh," Jon said, remembering his lunch companions. He blushed, putting his chin on top of Callie's head as she too opened her eyes. He unfolded and opened toward the table. "Guys, this is Callie. Callie, this is...." Eight sets of eyes sized her up, the woman on their captain's mind.

She rolled her eyes. "I know who they are, Jon."

The guys laughed while Jon's heart squeezed hard. If she knew who they were, then she'd been watching. Not just Goggling him once in a while.  She'd been watching.

"Join us, we haven't even ordered yet." Jon stepped over the fence and reached out for her. Sharpie slid his chair away from Jon's, making room for another. Jack Skille asked the next table if they could spare an extra.

Callie took Jon's hand, cleared the railing and moved around to the newly arrived seat. "You guys don't mind?"

"Tell us embarrassing high school stories about Tazer and we'll even pay," Duncan said.

Jon could not believe that just like that, one moment from nothing, Callie was sitting next to him. After waiting so long that he almost forgot he was, she was right next to him. Not over the phone, not on Skype. She wasn't a once-in-a-blue-moon text message or a heartbreaking surprise photo on his iPad. She was here.

Callie took a sip of water, smiling at Seabrook telling a joke. She half-listened, half-reeled. Jon sat beside her like a radio tower, emitting a constant buzz of energy that made every hair on her body stand up. He was right here, right now. She reached out and squeezed his forearm. Bad idea, she thought. It was like squeezing carved marble.

"Just making sure you're real," she whispered.

"Where are you staying, Callie?" Kane was asking.

"Oakwood corporate apartments on Silver, while I look for a place. My job moved pretty quickly so there was no time to find a one first." The guys tossed out suggestions about neighborhoods, making Callie smile. As if she could afford what they liked! But she listened, noting places that were young, had nightlife, were near the El. And where not to live.

"How do you like it so far?" Duncan took his turn at 20 questions.

"It's great. I've only been here two days."

"So you haven't been to...." A hundred suggestions came at once. The general consensus was they had a lot to show her.

"Starting tonight," Seabrook said. "Jon’s place at eight, don't eat first."

Callie looked at Jon, who nodded enthusiastically. "And here I thought I wouldn't have any friends!" she laughed.

"Isn't Jon your oldest friend?" Kane asked. "Or has he been going on about some fantasy he made up."

She giggled. "Oldest, definitely. The boy next door."

Jon was blushing uncontrollably. It didn't match the glare he tried to give Pat, shaking his head almost imperceptibly. Having spent so much time together, Jon knew when Kane was about to misbehave. And when he was about to ignore a warning.

"We heard you were Jon's first kiss," Pat went on.

"My first too," Callie put a hand to her face. "Spin the bottle strikes again."

The guys erupted - Jon had left out the part about the game. "You had to win it, Tazer? You didn't tell us that!" Skille howled. Jon sent him a look like if you want to survive your rookie season, shut the fuck up.

"Ooooh, no. I was so awkward - Jon was bailing me out. Showing me how it was done." She squeezed his arm again.

Kane snorted. "Right - you're awkward, he's cool. We also heard...."

"Pat, I'm going to murder you," Jon finally broke his mortified silence.

Callie rescued him. “I knew you two stayed up late telling secrets. Bromance!”

And just like that, Callie and Jon were having lunch together. His heart pounded and her brain sizzled. Every time one caught the other looking, they would both blush and turn away.

Callie had the unmistakable urge to kiss him: those lips formed the same smile by which she’d judged her own happiness for nearly 20 years. She wondered if they were still soft, who bought him Chapstick now, who got to feel the warmth of his body while he slept.

Jon snuck a thousand glances at her. Some she caught, most she didn’t. Judging by the looks on Kane and Bolland’s faces, they saw every one. He was drunk on the smell of her hair, the fall of it down her back and over her shoulders. Her sweater had been soft in his hands. He wondered what she’d left behind, who was missing her now. Surely a girl like Callie did not go unloved.

Lunch ended too soon. There were 6 hours before Seabrook had suggested that Callie meet them for the evening. “What are you doing now?” Jon asked.

“Finding the computer store to sort out my internet connection.” She patted her bag. “I have lost patience I didn’t even know I had.”

He stood up and pulled out her chair. “I’ll go with you.”

She’d only been off by one street. Happiest accident ever, she thought. The idea of seeing Jon had made her so nervous and she’d built it up into something impossible. He was so famous, so successful – he was a real life idol. But the moment she saw him she also knew he was just Jon, the same guy she’d been in love with all her life. He walked with hands in his pockets – she was grateful, or she might have tried to hold one.

Thank God, Jon said to himself. He thanked his mom and Callie’s for making sure they were in touch and he thanked his lucky stars that Callie seemed to still be the girl he’d always known. He was desperate to put an arm around her waist or pick her up or something, anything, so he tucked his hands into his shorts.

“You look great, Cal,” he said, reaching for some way to break the ice.

“Thanks, Jon. You too, but I cheated by watching you on TV all the time.”

“I saw your pictures on Facebook when I was home – Dex showed me.” He wanted to ask why she hadn’t come, but he didn’t want to put her on the spot. She’s here now, he reminded himself. That’s all that matters.

“I saw your lake.” They both laughed at that, sharing some memories about times they’d visited that spot when all this winning was just a dream. Callie noticed people noticing Jon, but no one approached or said anything. Until they were in the store. Callie put her bag on the counter and began pulling out her laptop. The clerk stood with his mouth open, staring at Jon.

“Hey man,” Jon said nicely.

A woman from another part of the store came over. “Oh my God, Jonathan Toews!” She introduced herself. That sparked the clerk to life and he did the same. Then another employee. Pretty soon six or eight people were around them and none were interested in Callie’s computer. Jon looked at her apologetically.

“I think I’ll go,” he offered.

“Or I’ll never get this done! Text me the place.”

“See you at 8.”

Jon left, and all the onlookers turned toward Callie. As if they were memorizing her face for when they saw it in the newspaper.

Callie got her electronics sorted out, and the clerk gave her a big discount for no reason other than she obviously knew Jon. When she finally left the store, she went right past her apartment to the neatest street of stores.

I was fine until I saw him, she thought. Now she knew there was still something, at least on her part. And that called for an outfit. She couldn’t go out with the Blackhawks in some wrinkled work clothes. Callie searched through the stores, relishing the raise that had come with her transfer and thinking of it as a gift, which she would spend for this special occasion.

Jon is my friend, she reminded herself. Surely over five years she’d lost of the privilege of anything else, especially with someone like him. The world was at his feet and she was just old news.  She’d stay there, just to be near him. But already she knew this was going to hurt.

Jon wanted to run home - anything to make 8 PM come as soon as possible. Adrenaline and hormones flooded through his system.

Please please please, his brain chanted. Jon’s heart did not share the optimism. The more he thought about it, the more he knew that Callie was out of his reach now. He had the chance but it had passed – maybe if he’d gone to her sooner, made an effort to prove what she had meant to him. What she still meant. But he’d let it go far too long and that would cost him. A girl like that… you don’t get a second chance, he thought. Still he would take whatever he could get, a tiny little slice of her life would be better than what he’d lived without for five years. But it wouldn’t be easy.

He wasn’t inside ten minutes before his phone rang.

“I’m coming over at 7,” Kane said. “I think you need a drink or you’re not gonna make it through tonight.”

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chapter Four

 Jon left tonight's game in the first with an "undisclosed upper body injury" and did not return.  Everyone cross your fingers that it's not serious!  
PS: Hello guns.  And thighs.  Mamma mia.

“I got it,” Callie said in a quiet, hesitating voice. “A full scholarship to UCLA.”

Jon let out a huge sigh. He knew it was Callie’s first choice school and that she, like he, was depending on scholarship money to pave the way. He was happy for her, but sad for himself.
“That’s great! I’m really proud of you.”

Callie smiled at him trying to be nice. “It’s so far from you.”

“I know,” he whispered. “But you have to do it for you, Cal. I wouldn’t go to Dakota if it weren’t for hockey. And who knows, I might not even be here the whole 4 years.”

“That’s why I love you,” she said softly.

Jon put his head back against the wall. He was in his dorm, sitting on the bed. His roommate was at dinner, giving Jon a moment of privacy. Something in Edie’s voicemail had made hmM suspect this news was coming. “I love you too. And I’ll be home in six weeks. We can worry about college when it comes, we have all summer first.”

Her heart did a little flip. “I can’t wait.”

Jon was packing up the last of his dorm room. His dad was due in the next day to pick him up for the summer. He was itching to get home, get time off and most of all to be with Callie. It was just after dinner when his phone rang.

“Hi Mom,” he said.

“Jon.” Instantly he knew something was wrong. “Callie’s mother had a heart attack.” She was fighting back tears. “She’s stable, but she can’t leave Singapore. We just found out – Callie has to leave in the morning.”

Jon immediately started crying. He was scared – scared for Callie, for her mom. And he’d been really wound up about finally seeing her. Months of doing all they could by phone had worn him thin; he needed to touch her, feel her in his arms. He’d been waiting so long.

“Is she okay? Callie?” he managed.

“Call her, she’s upstairs.”

“Baby,” Jon said when Callie picked up.

“I’m so sorry Jon, I want to see you.” She was crying.

“Shhhh, please don’t worry. I’ll be there all summer. Are you okay going all the way there by yourself?” Jon twisted the arm of a Dakota sweatshirt in his hand, it was a gift for Callie.

She drew in a breath. “Yeah. She’ll be fine, I’m just freaking out a little that this even happened. I…,” she started crying again. “I miss them, I miss you – I’m missing everything important, Jon.”

“Oh Callie.” Tears brimmed in his eyes, listening to her in pain. He wanted so much to hold her and now he wouldn’t have the chance. Not anytime soon.

Home was not the same without Callie. Jon was relieved to be finished with a whole year of college. He’d had a great time and played really good hockey, but it had taken a lot out of him. Under his pillow, in the same spot as Christmas, he’d found another note:

I miss you, college boy. Be home soon. Love, Callie

They talked as often as they could with the time difference and cost of international phone calls. Callie’s mom was recovering well – she’d had a bypass and was out of the hospital inside of a week. She couldn’t do much more than convalesce, so Callie ran the house while her father worked. Weeks went by and Callie’s mom was recovering slowly.

“I can’t come, Jon. I am so, so sorry.”

It felt worse than he’d imagined, though he’d known full well it might happen. The NHL Entry Draft was in June and Callie wouldn’t make it back. Jon was projected to go in the top 5 picks. It was a huge, monumental occasion. And Callie would miss it.

“I hate this,” she said through tears.

“Me too. But it’s just the draft! It’s not like I’m playing yet.”

She was not pacified. “You’re going to be on TV! A million people are going to get very excited about the prospect of Jonathan Toews in the NHL. Can you believe it? And I’m going to miss it. I didn’t wear that shitty gear and stand in net all those hours to miss you getting drafted!”

“Cal,” he said. “I will tape it for you. And send you a thousand pictures.”

“Where do you want to go?”

Only Callie would ask that question. Jon had deliberately not thought about it. He didn’t want to get excited about one team to get picked by another, didn’t want to get ahead of himself. It was the NHL! Who cared where he went?

“You want Pittsburgh because Crosby went there,” she guessed. “Or Boston or Chicago because they’re original six teams. But you’ll take St. Louis, of course, if it meant being number one.” Jon smiled without answering. She knew him well.

“I can’t believe I won’t be there,” she repeated.

“Baby, this is just the beginning. When you get home, I’ll tell you all about it.”

Callie had her phone in her pocket all day, stopping every few steps because she thought it vibrated. She sat in front of the computer in her father’s study, constantly hitting refresh on and cursing the delay between real-time and whenever someone bothered to update the webpage. It seemed to take forever.

The first pick went – Eric Johnson, St. Louis Blues

The second pick went – Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins

The third pick took ages to post and when it did, Callie screamed so loud the downstairs neighbors banged on their ceiling. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Her mother clapped and cried, calling her father on their landline. Callie was already texting. Jon wouldn’t have his phone on him, and she’d be just one a million messages, but she couldn’t wait.

Aaaggghhh! So proud. All crying. Love you, love you so much. My hero.

Jon almost fainted when they called his name. His mother wrapped him up in a hug he could barely feel and he managed not to trip up the steps. He smiled, shook hands, pulled on a red and black sweater with 80 years of history behind it. Flashbulbs popped endlessly as Jon fought to control his breathing.

An hour of introductions and interviews later, he finally got a moment to sneak to the bathroom. His phone memory was full, but he scrolled through the messages that had been received. Callie’s was number 17. He texted her back immediately.

This sweater is going to look great on you. Love.

But it wasn’t to be. Complications with Callie’s mom kept her there more than two months. Jon had been okay at first – they’d both expected to be together soon. As time wore on, they started getting snippy. School was coming again and Jon hadn’t had the summer he’d been hoping for. Callie was far away with no friends and an ailing parent. Jon tried to be patient and helpful, but he was also horny and frustrated.

Finally it came time for Jon to go back to Dakota. It was earlier than most students, since training started in August before classes even began. Callie cried on the phone.

“I’m so, so sorry Jon. I didn’t want to miss all this.”

It broke his heart – the only thing he’d gone without all summer was Callie. Callie had gone without almost everything. “It’s okay. You’ll be at school soon, you’ll have the time of your life. College, Cal! You’ll be so excited you’ll forget about all this.”

Jon left before Callie made it back to Winnipeg. When she finally got off the plane, exhausted and delirious, she went right to their room and lifted the pillow.

I missed you. This bed (town, province, country) is very lonely without you. Call me now. Then go to college.

Love, Jon

“Hey,” she said moments later when he picked up the phone.

“Five thirty, you just found my note, eh?”

She sat against the pillows, tears in her eyes. It felt better to be on the same land as him, even if he was a thousand miles away. It was the closest they’d been in months. They talked more easily than they had in weeks.

“Sleep for two whole days, then pack up and go to college. You’re going to love it,” he said. “And while you’re sleeping, dream about me.”

“I’ve been dreaming about you all year, Jon.”

Callie did love college. She worked hard, made friends and fit right into the lifestyle. Some of her friends had boyfriends or girlfriends at home or other schools, and they often came to Callie for advice. She was a pro at missing Jon.

Jon’s whole life was hockey again. Day in and day out. He worked hard at school, but it really didn’t matter. The Blackhawks were talking about bringing him up for the start of the next season. Next season, he thought. It would mean leaving school early, something he’d have to commit to before summer really started.

They talked all the time in the beginning, mostly about Callie adjusting to school and Jon giving her pointers on freshman year. As the semester wore on and hockey took more time from Jon’s schedule, the phone calls became fewer. First it was every few days, then once a week. Voicemails were left and phone tag was played. Christmas was coming so quickly – but then it was taken away.


Jon shook his head, thinking the same thing. The World Junior Championship was a huge deal and he still couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he thought about having won the year before. But that was just in British Columbia, practically next door to his house. This year, the tournament was in Sweden and would take up his entire Christmas break.

“Jeez, where are you going to put all these gold medals, Jon? You’ll have one for every day of the week!” Callie laughed. She couldn’t be upset. The opportunity could no longer be called ‘once in a lifetime,’ but she was thrilled for Jon.

“We’re all going, so…,” he wasn’t sure she realized what this meant. Either she got herself to Sweden or…

“Guess I’m going to Singapore. No place for me to stay in Winnipeg,” she sighed, wishing her parents hadn’t finally sold their house next door to Jon’s.

“Sorry, Cal. I wish you could come! I even tried asked for a ticket for you for Christmas… but flights are like $1600.”

She put her forehead against the wall, resisting the urge to bang it repeatedly. “I’ll see if Santa won’t give me a ride.” But she couldn’t keep joking the whole time. “I miss all the good stuff.”

“Right now I’d settle for the boring stuff,” he agreed. They were quiet for a while, just sharing time since they couldn’t share space. When it came time to go, they were both wondering how many more times they could say goodbye without every saying hello.

“Miss you, Callie.”

“Love you, Jon.”

Jon and Team Canada won Gold again at the World Junior Championships. He’d spoke to Callie only twice – once on Christmas Day when he decided to forget calculating time differences and just called her. It was the middle of the night there, but she seemed really happy to hear from him. Her mother had recovered fully and she was enjoying being spoiled by her parents and exploring the country she’d missed most of the last time. It was like their old conversations – trading stories about where they were, Callie cheering Jon on for his upcoming games. When he won, he called her again in the middle of the night.

“I’m at a nightclub, celebrating your win! There are so many expats – it’s all Canadians here!” she yelled over the background noise. “If they knew I was talking to you they would freak out!”

He could picture her, bouncing around to the thumping music, cheering wildly. Maybe she was even…

“I’m wearing your Sioux sweater! It’s like 100 degrees and I’m dancing in a hockey jersey!”

Jon slumped against the wall – she was thinking of him still. He didn’t know how much more thinking they could do.

At the beginning of February, Jon was worried about Valentine’s Day. He wanted to send Callie a present, but couldn’t think of what to get – he hadn’t seen her in a year and a half. She had so much Dakota gear you’d think she went there, and it was looking more and more like Jon would be leaving at the end of the semester anyway. It was getting harder and harder to talk to her; they were running out of things to talk about. Jon felt that every story he told was the same – hockey, hockey, hockey. And her stories made him jealous – new friends, new places, adventures he couldn’t share. It made him tired just thinking about it.

Callie was scared. She loved Jon but she felt them pulling apart. They’d been “together” two years and apart for 75% of that time. That was no way to live. He sounded sad on the phone, sharing less with her, making her work for conversations. She filled the spaces with her own talking and soon felt like she was babbling endlessly about the most mundane things. When a cute guy in her macroeconomics class asked her out, she wondered what they were doing.

“So,” Callie said.

“So,” Jon leaned against the phone, lying on his bed.

“We should talk about this.”

Jon closed his eyes; he wanted to and he didn’t – he just wanted to feel better. But he didn’t want to lose her. Callie was the constant in his ever-changing life, and the changes were about to get much bigger. Jon worried that he would lose himself without her. “Yeah, we should,” he admitted.

“What do we do?” she asked.

“Break up? I don’t want to, Cal. But I don’t know what we’re doing anymore.”

Callie closed her eyes. She could always count on Jon to be honest about how he felt. He may not offer it, but he would never lie. “I don’t want to either, but I’m lonely.”

“Me too.”

“I’ll miss you everyday anyway, Jon.”

He smiled a little. “I will too. Will… will you go out with someone else?”

Callie thought of the guy in her class, just some guy in jeans and a sweater. She didn’t know his parents, the backyard of his house, or the way he breathed in his sleep. He seemed invisible now. “Probably not. There are no yous in Los Angeles.”

“There’s only one you, Cal.”

“So it’s over.” It wasn’t a question, but she needed reassurance.

“I’m still going to call you tomorrow,” he said sadly. As much as it tore at his heart to give up his claim on Callie, he felt that he needed some of that energy to hold himself together with all his life was about to become.

“I’ll still answer, Jon.”

After they hung up, Callie lay still looking at the ceiling in her dorm room. She and Jon had always been together, even before they really were. But for the last 18 months, it had been an uphill climb. It felt terrible to lose him but she could almost feel the ground evening out beneath her.

Jon stayed in place, holding the phone like a weight. Broken up. Single. They all sounded like things that needed to be fixed, but Jon felt like it might be more right than it had been in a long time.

Jon went to Chicago in August and played his first NHL game on October 10. It was not lost on either of them that it was Callie’s birthday. Jon scored his first goal on his first shot ever, and silently gave it to her as a gift. When the most incredible experience of his life was over and he sat, sweaty and elated, amidst the commotion of the locker room, he checked his phone. Almost as many messages as draft day. Again, Callie’s was among the top 20.

Best birthday present ever. Rookie of the Year.

Callie watched as many Hawks games as she could, though she didn’t talk to Jon too often. His life was moving at warp speed. She was getting through her sophomore year. For Christmas she went to Singapore, and for spring break to Mexico with friends. Emails and texts grew further between – Callie felt lucky for the few phone calls she received from Jon. She took an internship and stayed in LA for the summer after Jon’s season ended. He lost Rookie of the Year to his teammate Patrick Kane.

At the start of the next year, Jon was named Captain of the Chicago Blackhawks. Callie took her Toews sweater to the sports store to have a C added. When the new name & number t-shirts came out, she bought two. Jon worked and worked, honored by the captaincy and driven to a new height of devotion. His time was squeezed ever tighter. He got a Christmas email from Callie, and when he realized at the end of January that he’d never returned it, he was too embarrassed to send one back so late. But he did it anyway.

Hope you had a great Christmas, nice and warm in Singapore.

Callie hadn’t gone to see her parents, but she appreciated the thought.

Summer before senior year, Callie stayed in LA again for work. She interned at a management consulting firm, helping established companies integrate current technology and structure their workforce. They asked her to stay on part time during the year, and she hoped for a job upon graduation.

On December 30, 2009 Jon was selected for the 2010 Canadian Olympic Team. Callie felt unsure texting him, but she did it anyway. He would have a zillion – he’d probably never read hers.

Make room for one more gold medal.

This time Jon replied the moment he saw it: If we win, I’ll buy a new shelf. A new room.

When Canada won, Callie was one of a few Canadians in a Los Angeles bar screaming her head off. Wrapped in her Toews Sioux sweater, she drank free for the rest of the day. She texted:

JON! I’m drinking on your tab, Champ. Congratulations!

It was a day before she heard back, but it still counted.

Drink double and send me the bill. Go Canada! Love.

In April, the Blackhawks made the playoffs. Callie added two more Toews items – a Winter Classic throwback jersey and a vintage t-shirt – to her wardrobe. She wore one almost every day the Hawks played. They rolled past Nashville in the first round and Vancouver in the second.

Callie graduated summa cum laude from UCLA, wearing a Toews shirt under her graduation robe. That same week she was offered a full-time job at the company where she’d been interning. Her real life had started but she was more interested in Jon’s.

In the Western Conference Finals, she sat inches from the TV while the Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks and moved to the Stanley Cup Final. She didn’t hesitate to text Jon:

Dream come true time! I’m watching every minute.

Jon was flying high. He was terrified, but like a tight rope walker he believed the adrenaline itself could hold him up. Of all the things, all the amazing things he had done in 21 years, this was the one.

Callie watched game 4 of the Final at home, alone. She couldn’t take any interruptions and she was afraid of her own reaction. When they won she nearly bit through a throw pillow on the couch. As Jon lifted the Cup, tears streamed down her face and she felt her heart might burst. It was hours before she stopped shaking, before she could think clearly.

Part of her brain said: I missed this. I gave up too soon.

The rest said: I will always love him.

She composed her text message a hundred times, nearly draining her phone battery before she even hit send. Finally, it was away.

I told you you’d be the youngest captain to win the Cup. You’re amazing. My life is complete.

There were no words to describe that game for Jon. Or that night, which lasted until the next afternoon. When he finally collapsed, spent of energy and adrenaline but basking in the glow of a win that would last for months, Jon had hundreds of text messages. There were only a few he cared about; Callie’s was around number 250. Jon had been on the verge of tears since he cried unabashedly as he raised the Cup over his head. Her message hit home and he blinked his eyes clear so he could reply.

Kissing the Cup was the second best first kiss I ever had.

Summer passed in a blur. Jon was as busy as he’d been during the season – it seemed the Cup was due in a thousand places and him with it. Between the parties and events and travel, it was the ultimate 3-month party.

Callie followed the adventures of Lord Stanley online. She knew Jon would get a day with the Cup, but she didn’t return to Winnipeg. She had nowhere to go and felt this would be the wrong time to reappear in Jon’s life. He’d earned the spotlight.  Instead she settled into her job and performed very well, enjoying the transition to finally having money, stability and direction.  When the government announced they were naming a lake after Jon, she nearly died – it was the lake they’d swum in as kids.

The red light on Callie’s phone was blinking when she got to work on a mid-September Monday morning. It was the first non-school September of her life and the difference took some getting used to. The message was her boss, asking her to stop by.

“Callie,” he said as she took a seat in front of his desk. “We are making some changes within the company and we feel there is a lot of potential for you here.”

Nerves instantly faded – she thought, maybe I'm getting promoted!

“We are restructuring, and some positions here will change. Yours will change. But we’d like to offer you an alternative. A position has opened that would be a step up for you – it’s a little soon to be promoting you but we feel you’re ready.”

“That sounds great, I…,” she started.

“There’s a catch,” he cut her off with a hand wave. “You’d have to transfer offices. To Chicago.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

Chapter Three


“So, how is it?”

Jon looked around himself and sighed. “Big. Weird. My roommate is cool though.” He’d been at Dakota two days. He’d gotten a tour, unpacked his stuff, been to the hockey facility and called Callie. “Classes start Monday.”

“Me too. Ugh. How am I supposed to face Critchell’s physics class without you?”

They hadn’t talked about their goodbye. Jon had been rubbing his fingers together, remembering the soft feel of her hair. When he woke up hot and bothered like any teenage boy, the taste of her lips was still on his.

“I miss you,” he said.

“I miss you too. Now tell me about the rink.”

They talked a few times a week. Jon called her cell when he wanted to complain or talk about nothing. But when he called home and got his mom in the kitchen, he always asked to talk to Callie too, just to hear her voice. He was a little homesick and a little lonely, but it didn’t take him long to settle in. Hockey picked up, road games piled on and soon he was calling her late at night, whispering under his roommate’s snores.

“Dex asked me out. I think he was serious,” she said one night.

“WHAT? What did you....”

She laughed. “I told him no, of course, I don’t want to go out with Dex! Gross, Jon.”

“Ohhhkay,” he said nervously. “I’ll talk to him.”

“And say what? They we made out once and now you have dibs on me?”

Suddenly it was a very serious question. He started to say, “Obviously” but caught himself. He had no right to claim her, not from so far away. Not when she was beautiful and blossoming and he’d waited till the last possible second to do anything about it. For the last month at school, he’d been wondering if she might bet tired of waiting for him.

“Uhhh, do I?” His voice was smaller, quieter than he’d intended. Please say yes, please say yes.

“Of course you do, Jon. Don’t be dumb.”

He almost whooped in victory.

“In fact,” she went on, “I am in your bed right now. In my underwear.”

“Callie, don’t....” he said, but his brain whispered Oh God yes, please do.

“And you left some old t-shirts, so I’m wearing one of those too. You don’t mind, do you?”

Jon groaned, making Callie giggle. He was glad she couldn’t see his hand moving down his stomach, under his blanket...

“‘Cause if you want it back, I could take it off.” She rubbed the phone over what was in fact one of Jon’s shirts, miming the soft sound of worn cotton on her skin. He let out a tiny breath as his fingers reached their destination. He didn’t want her to stop for anything, but he was mortified for her to know in case she could tell how often he’d imagined her whispering to him.

“It is kinda warm in here, I don’t really need these blankets either,” she said.
He knew her as well as he knew the bed she lay in. So many times he’d seen her in a swimsuit; he easily conjured the image of her long bare legs, bikini bottom replaced by cotton panties, the exact shade of the skin at the small of her back.

“And if I turn off the light, no one can see if I...,” she paused.

“Callie,” he said softly. It was admonishment for torturing him and encouragement to keep doing it.

“Jon, have you ever....”

He was quiet a moment too. When, or how or with whom would he have done something that Callie wouldn’t know about? Then he realized he’d spent a year at Shattuck and been at college month already - anything could have happened. She’d been wondering if he might get distracted by someone much more available than she was.

“No.” He was a virgin and it didn’t embarrass him to admit it. Between his imagination, the internet and a firm grip, he’d been okay so far. Currently he was doing just fine.

“Oh. Me neither,” she said. But of course he knew that.

“I...,” his voice was sticking in his throat. “I should go if you don’t want to....” If you don’t want to listen to me cum? Suddenly he was ashamed, mortified even but he was too far gone to give up now.

“Don’t stop,” she whispered, her own breath hitching.

Oh God. Jon knew she was touching herself, neither of them with any experience but thinking only of each other. He bit his lip, trying to focus amid the blood pounding in his ears.

“Jon, I want it to be you. When we....”

She wanted him to come home immediately and replace her hand with his, move over her in his own way and be the only thing she’d ever known. Another ragged breath slipped out.

“I’m waiting for you,” he said, working himself strongly now. The only sound left was their breathing, and the occasional soft whimper of Callie’s voice. She closed her eyes tight and felt his hands, saw his face. He groaned quietly, the sound of pleasure and she went right over the edge. Callie gasped, and then a long, low breath sobbed from her lungs. It would have been a cry had they been alone. Her body pulsed deeply, throbbing against her hand, Jon’s voice in her ear milking more and more sensation from her feverish body.

“Callie,” he whispered. “Callie.” With a tiny grunt stifled by the pillow, Jon came hot and hard. He felt her body with his, allowing himself for the first real time ever to imagine what it would be like to meet her soft wetness rather than the stroke of his hand.

They lay silently, hundreds of miles apart, equally spent, messy and shocked by what they’d just done. If the kiss before leaving had been something groundbreaking, this was a cataclysm.

“I wish you were here,” Callie finally said.

“Me too, Cal.”

The world was a little different after that night. Jon hadn’t wanted anyone else, but he felt better knowing that he and Callie had some kind of definition. They were involved. And long-distance was about all he had time for - Dakota was hockey like he’d never known it. School dogged him and he worked hard to keep up, but hockey was like a career.

Callie was busy with her own life - senior year, her parents halfway across the world and the same college applications. Unlike Jon, she needed all the bonus points she could get: student government, sports, plays, volunteer work. Her dad’s salary went a long was in Singapore but it wouldn’t put her through college without scholarships.

“Tell me the list again,” Jon said.

Callie ticked off on her fingers. “University of Chicago, Stanford, UCLA, Ohio State, Minnesota.”

“And North Dakota,” he added.

“They don’t have much of a business program, Jon.”

“Just apply.”

Callie’s father didn’t get a Christmas vacation in Singapore, and they wanted Callie to visit their new life for ten days over her break. She had two weeks off, but that meant she would have almost no time at home. Almost no time with Jon.

“I have games like all the time. I can’t come home until Christmas Eve, and I have to be back on January 2nd,” he said.

“I can’t leave until the 21st, so I won’t be back until New Year’s Eve.”

“So we’d only have two days.”

Callie sighed. “Two days.”

Jon dropped his stuff on the floor of his room and immediately lay down on his bed. Her bed. Their bed. He pressed his nose to the pillow and breathed her scent deep into his lungs. It made him groan with frustration and ache with desire. He slid an arm under the pillow to bring the smell closer and hit something with his hand.

The folded paper said JON and a photo fell out. It was Callie, taking a picture of herself. She was smiling widely - Jon could imagine her trying to be sexy and then bursting out laughing. He’s never seen her so beautiful.

I’m somewhere on the other side of the world right now, trying to eat rice with chopsticks and thinking of you. See you in six days.


PS: Now get out of my bed, you perv.

He laughed at the note, looked at the photo and lay there doing exactly was she’d known he would do.

Callie practically ran down the jetway. She jogged on the moving walkways, dodged carts and hurried down the stairs to baggage claim.

“JON!” she squealed. He was right at the bottom, flanked by his parents. His hair was a little longer but the smile that lit up his face was the same as ever. Callie threw her arms around his neck. She was overwhelmed by the urge to cover his lips with her own, but pulled back at the last moment. “Jeez, you’re getting big.”

He was. The regimen at Dakota was filling out the potential of his size. Jon felt wide and more solid against her chest, his strong arms wrapped around her back. This wasn’t the boy next door anymore, Jon held her like a man.

“You wouldn’t believe the workouts,” he said. Callie swooned a little, her 17-year old hormones surging.

They shared the backseat on the drive home. As Callie told the Toews’ all about her trip, Jon artfully draped a coat over his leg, pulled her hand under and held it.

“Help Callie take her stuff in. Dinner is in ten minutes,” Andree said. Jon carried the suitcase up to Callie’s parents’ door. It was empty but they’d been running heat and water to keep the pipes from freeing. Now it was toasty warm and Callie would sleep there when her nights overlapped with Jon’s stay. She unlocked the door, flipped on the light and BAM.

They were all over each other before her bag touched the floor. Lips parted, tongues met, hands slid over every surface. They tripped into the living room, dropping coats and hats.

Callie went down right under him, onto the couch. Jon let his increasing weight pour all over her. She tasted like mint gum and felt like heaven. She twisted her fingers into his longer hair and held his face close, kissing him like she’d been saving it for months. Jon moved to her ear, her neck, the soft skin at the hollow of her throat. Ten minutes later, the phone in the kitchen rang.

“Grrrrrr,” Jon said, peeling himself from the soft form of Callie’s body. They straightened clothes and put on layers. He smoothed her hair then cupped her cheek while she offered another kiss.

“I missed you,” he said.

She smiled. “You have no idea.”

Jon’s dad dropped them at the bottom of Dex’s driveway. As soon as his headlights were gone they reached for each others’ hands.

“Jonny!” Dex hurried in from the kitchen, pushing party guests out of the way. He wore a ‘Happy New Year’ headband and his parents were in Mexico. Dex gave Jon a bear hug, turned to Callie and clapped her on the shoulder. “Only took him 200 years, eh?” Jon blushed but Callie simply took his hand again. When he’d called Dex from Dakota, he made sure Dex knew to tell everyone: Callie was spoken for.

Jon caught up with lots of old friends. Callie noticed how girls looked at him differently, sizing him up now that he was college guy. His success seemed inevitable which she knew was a big lure for girls like this. She knew almost all of them and most smiled at her like she’d won a prize.

“She fucking waits around here all year all year to see him for two days.”

Callie waited in line outside the bathroom while two drunk girls carried on a loud conversation inside. The first voice was unmistakable.

“Hell, I’d wait longer than that for him,” her friend said.

The door opened and Katie McKenna stormed out.

Jon pulled Callie into his lap for the countdown and kissed her at midnight. The fireworks on TV were nothing compared to what they felt. Twenty minutes later, they said goodbye and called a cab.

Jon gave the cab an address well short of their block. After the car drove away, they took a shortcut and went around to Callie’s back porch. Stealthy steps, a quiet click of the lock and they were in. They weren’t expected home until morning.

Callie led him through the house by memory, not that he needed the help. In her room, she pulled the curtains tight and turned on the bedside lamp so she could see him. For a moment they were both still. Jon wiped damp palms on his pants, Callie touched her hair. She smiled nervously, Jon matched it and then they were kissing.

He hardly knew where to start. Her shirt was thin beneath his fingers as he pulled it off. The lace of her bra raised goosebumps on his skin. It had been so, so long since he touched her, and never like this.

Jon kissed his way down the inside curve of a breast that filled his hand. He fumbled with the clasp at her back until Callie reached behind the open it. She tugged at his shirt, exposing his newly forming physique.

“God you’re gorgeous,” she said.

His hand shook as it opened her zipper, but not as much as when it slid down the front of her panties. They both gasped when his long, thick fingers brushed her clit. Just below that he found a slick heat.

“Jon,” she whispered as he stroked over the cotton. His touch was a world better than her own, which she’d ground against a hundred times thinking of exactly this.

Callie popped the button on his jeans. His erection twitched, painfully constrained. She slid the pants right off his hips so he stood in just his boxers. Matching sounds escaped them as Callie stroked over the soft material for the first time. Jon stood stock still, blood thundering throughout his body beyond his control.

“Oh God, Callie,” he said. She drew courage from that and kissed him as she pressed her hand inside the waistband and onto his bare skin. Jon moaned as her soft fingers caressed his raging flesh. She didn’t want to be scared, but the heft and size of what she held in her hand was intimidating.

Jon needed to keep moving. He pushed her jeans down, helping himself to the curve of her ass. She let him guide her toward the bed. The last time they’d been in this room, he’d begged her to go away with him. He’d wanted to keep her close. But instead what Callie did was the one thing he never asked for, something she’d given freely: she waited.

He lay atop her like he had earlier on the couch, only now barely separated by scraps of fabric. His cock stood between them, throbbing where it forced against her pale skin. He knew he had to go now or they’d be starting all over again.

“Are you scared?”

“A little,” Callie said. She knew a lifetime of sports had probably taken care of her hymen and she was definitely wet enough for the science of sex. But she was nervous.

“Me too,” Jon whispered a smile. He rose to his knees, Callie dragging off his shorts, looking at him fully naked for the first time.

He moved down her body, taking her blue cotton panties. She splayed her knees and let him see her. Jon ran a single fingertip over the place he most desired to be. At the end of the bed, he fished a condom from the pocket of his coat. He kneeled over her and Callie rolled it down his shaft as he pinched the tip. Her hand very nearly made him need a new one.

“Tell me if it hurts and I’ll stop,” he said softy, face close to hers. “I love you.”

“I love you, Jon.”

Callie’s body melted. Jon went slowly until he was all the way in, whispering “God, oh God.” She breathed deeply, uncomfortable but not really in pain. As he nestled inside, she gasped at the discovery of some new places inside her body. She helped him move in and out a few times, testing for something that might hurt. When he stroked a little harder, she gasped.

“Sorry, I’m so sorry!” Jon froze.

“Shhh,” she said. “Do that again.” It hurt, but it also felt good. The more he did it, the more pleasure took the place of pain.

Jon’s mind was a whiteout. Every synapse in his body fired the full color spectrum, leaving him blind to anything but intense sensation and the noises she made.

Like a hot pot suddenly boiling over, Halley came without really know what was happening. She was so overwhelmed that she didn’t recognize the sensation at first - according to the few Cosmo magazine’s she’d bought, it seemed that it shouldn’t be this easy. But the orgasm tore right through her whether she was ready or not.

“Jon!” she cried out, her body clenching around him and filling with slow, deep warmth. Her fingers pressed white against the edges of his shoulder blades as she rode out the storm.

Jon groaned in a low, rumbling voice. The sudden explosion of heat and tension in her body ripped the same response from him. Jon had a total a-ha moment as he came in a whole new way; this is what people made such a big deal about. He kept pumping, draining himself inside her tender core. When he finally flowed dry, he put his face into her hair.

“I love you, Callie. I love you,” he panted. He wasn’t even thinking, just floating like gravity had been suspended.

A tear rolled from Callie’s lashes. She didn’t know where it came from, she wasn’t sad. Jon felt it pool against his cheek. “Are you okay?” he was suddenly concerned. He’d been so lost in feeling that he could have missed something. “Did I hurt you?”

She shook her head, biting her lip against more tears. “No, no I’m fine. I just missed you.”

Jon tried so hard to stay awake so he could watch her sleeping. In the end he lost the fight and Callie saw his eyelids flutter closed. She smiled at her victory, the small lines and angles fading from his face as he slipped into slumber. Lips parted slightly and he pressed his face in close to her neck, breathing her scent, craving her skin even in sleep. Callie lay still and felt the heavy comfort of his body enveloping her. They were naked in twisted sheets, her childhood comforter pulled over them but mostly keeping each other warm.

“I love you,” she said again, quietly as she drifted off.

Some internal clock woke them long before they were due home. They made love again, a little more surely this time, even laughing at few times and trying slight variations. But in the end they were whispering each other’s names and giving themselves up. It was over far too soon.

Callie felt sure that Jon’s parents would know. They had left by her back porch and gone around to the road before walking to Jon’s house. Happy New Year greetings were exchanged, breakfast was served and everything seemed so normal. Except that all she could taste was Jon and an intense, almost liquid desire to be that close to him again.

Jon felt it too. They went to the movies in the afternoon, sat in the back and made out hot and heavy the entire time. The drive home took a very long detour to a well known parking lot where Jon and Callie made good use of the backseat of his parents’ SUV.

“This isn’t...,” he thumbed open the buttons on her shirt, “very romantic...,” her bra opened in his hands.

She pulled off his sweater. “I don’t...,” she made short work of his t-shirt, “give a shit....”

It was a little acrobatic, a little less than perfect but it was enough that when they fell panting to the leather bench seat, stars were still bursting in Jon’s head.

“I don’t think it’s supposed to be this good,” Callie said. “Not at the beginning.”

“All that phone sex paid off,” he licked a salty patch of skin.

Jon invented a lame excuse about a movie marathon and got permission to stay the night with Callie in her parents’ house. He swore his mom saw right through the ruse and said yes anyway - they loved Callie as much as he did, who better to be with their son?

Of course they couldn’t really be together. He was always leaving. They spent their last night together buried in a fort of blankets, making up for 17 years of not being together. They talked and laughed but mostly they were quiet, breathing the same air and sharing the same sensations.

Callie fell asleep first, granting Jon’s wish to watch her. Dark eyelashes twitched against her fair cheeks as she dreamed. He memorized her long, lithe body so he could always remember the solid weight of her leg over his, the arch of her back, the round of her breast. Even the parts he’d seen a million times - her soft lips, adorable ears - seemed like perfect new discoveries.

In the morning, Callie couldn’t help the tears that fell as an orgasm took her breath away. Jon was right there with her, whispering quiet promises and shedding a few tears of his own.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“Shhh,” she said. “I’ll be here, Jon.”

They were less sure as Jon piled his bags into the car. It felt like they’d just been in this spot: just found each other, just left, just had a moment and just had it taken away.
Unlike last time, Jon didn’t hesitate in saying goodbye. With his parents nearby doing one thing or another, he unceremoniously gathered Callie in and kissed her for all he was worth. Her mouth covered his, took him in and she kissed him back.

“Love you, Callie.”

“Love you too,” she whispered.

When Jon’s father pulled from the driveway, Callie waved like she had in September. Instead of doing the same from her spot on the steps, Jon’s mom came down and put an arm around Callie’s shoulders.

It was the last time Callie would see Jon for five years.