Off Sides
me...he won't go the distance with you."
    These words strike at me deep but before I can even think about what to say, I hear a tapping sound and we both turn to see Ryan standing there knocking his stick against the glass. The rest of the players are back on the ice warming up. He's staring at Angeline with murder in his eyes. She merely turns to me and says, "Think about it. You know I'm right."
    I glance back to Ryan and I think he might crawl over the glass he's so mad. Then I hear, "Get out of my seat you, skanky bitch."
    It's Paula and she makes an imposing figure in her shredded jeans, Motley Crue t-shirt and green military jacket. She's wearing heavy black eyeliner and black lipstick and even though she's diminutive, she looks tough as nails. I get a small measure of satisfaction when Angeline pales a bit and then scurries away.
    I let out a breath I apparently had pent up and glance again at Ryan. He mouths the words "Are you okay?" to me and I nod my head with a smile. He looks at me for a few more seconds and then skates off.
    Paula sits down. "What did she say to you? You're as white as a ghost."
    I'm quiet for a minute and then I look at her. "She basically said I wasn't good enough for Ryan. That our worlds are just too different to make it work."
    "What the fuck, Danny? And I'll cough up my cigarette to you after the game. Why are you letting her get to you?"
    "I don't know. She just sounded so...genuine about our differences that it made me think twice about it."
    "Well, you can get that out of your head right now. That boy is crazy about you and the both of you can make this work if you want it to. Now get those doubts out of your head."
    I let out a shaky breath and mentally put my head back on straight. "You're right. Why am I even listening to her?"
    "That's my girl."
    I turn my attention back to the ice and let my thoughts focus on Ryan again. I'm so proud of him out there and at the end of the game, he comes over to the glass with a big grin on his face. They have won 3-2 and he is responsible for a goal and two assists. He pulls his helmet off and his hair is soaking wet. It's amazing he can look utterly gorgeous while being covered in sweat. He taps his stick to the glass and winks at me. I grin at him, my heart getting more deeply entrenched in all things Ryan Burnham. He nods his head to the right and I see he wants to meet me over at the railing to the tunnel that leads onto the ice.
    Paula gives me a quick hug goodbye and says she'll see me at home later on.  I pick up our garbage and throw it away, and then make my way over to the rail. I quickly climb over it and jump to the concrete.
    Ryan is waiting for me and as I get closer to him, I appreciate just how enormously tall he is in his skates. I sure hope he's steady in them because just a few feet from him I launch myself into his arms and wrap my legs around his waist. He's wearing too much gear for my legs to wrap all the way around him but his hands are firmly gripping my ass to hold me in place.  I plaster my mouth to his and he kisses me back with abandon, squeezing me tight.
    I move my mouth to his neck and nibble there.  "I'm so proud of you, Ryan."
    He groans but says, "Danny...I'm all gross and sweaty."
    "I don't care," I say as I work my way back to his mouth. After kissing him lightly there, I murmur against his lips, "I plan on getting sweaty with you a lot in the future."
    Ryan whips around and crushes me to the wall with his body and thoroughly claims my lips with his. Eventually, he pulls back and I'm thankful no one has walked by us yet. "You know it makes me crazy in lust with you when you say things like that."
    I smile coyly at him and stroke his face. "Ryan...what are we waiting for?" I know my eyes are full of yearning and I hope he understands the depth of it.
    He looks at me deeply and then puts his forehead against mine. "Fuck if I know. Can I stay with you tonight?"
    "God yes," I whisper and kiss him again.

CHAPTER

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