Chapter 35: Beantown Boys [Slapshot!]
Monday came too soon, in Sebby’s most excellent opinion. Saturday night was loss; Sunday was a quiet sort of day at practice, with everyone subdued by the feeling of failure. Brenden tossed him a couple of strange, querying looks, but he said nothing, for which Sebby was grateful.
Coach yelled at him about his passes—they weren’t as clean, as crisp as usual—and his footwork was sloppy. He thought about talking to Q, thought about telling him everything that was on his mind. If he knew, then maybe he’d understand why Sebby’s feet were hesitating, why his mind was wandering from the ice.
But then his voice quailed and he swallowed any words he wanted to say. He wasn’t sure what to say, wasn’t sure why he’d tell Q. Did he want sympathy? Was he looking for pity, did he want advice?
Not really—he didn’t want a lecture or a silent nod of the head. He didn’t want an “I understand,” and he didn’t want a “I think you must do this.” He wanted none of it, none of it at all.
He wasn’t sure what he wanted, if he was honest. He wasn’t even sure what had compelled him to tell Brenden, but he had. Had he thought Brenden would tell him what to do? That having Brenden agree to help would set his decision?
Sy had tapped his stick on the way off the ice, lifted his brows, as if to say, “I see you, I’m here if you need to talk,” but Sebby wasn’t sure his captain was the right person to talk to either. Sy was only a year older than he was, the same age as Brenden. And what was more, Sy was gay. He’d never had to worry about this shit, never would have to worry about this kind of thing.
What opinion would Sy have on the fact that Sebby had a one-night stand with a woman that went wrong, ended with Sebby being a father? He was quite sure Sy would have an opinion—Sy was the kind of guy who had very strong morals, a clear sense of right and wrong—but he wasn’t sure he wanted advice from a gay twenty-three-year-old who had never had to even think about standing in this position.
He’d thought about talking to some of the older guys—Nicky was an obvious choice, because he had kids—but even then, he wasn’t sure.
He knew he couldn’t talk to his father. He hadn’t talked to his mother in months. He could have maybe talked to his brother, but even that seemed daunting and fruitless. They rarely talked about anything more than the weather. To suddenly call him him up and ask for advice on something so life-changing …
It was pretty unthinkable.
They had a charity thing that afternoon, so he spent the day outside with Timmo and Luis and Paulie, helping construct playground equipment for a local park. There were kids everywhere, and Sebby knew his unease must have been evident in every photo, bleeding through the camera lens.
He might have one of these. He might be a dad. In a couple of months, he could be a parent, and his life would be filled with screaming and laughter, crying and babbling, and he shied away from parents—most of them mothers—who brought their children up to meet him, who hefted their two-year-olds and held them on their hips, trying to talk to him while the kid played with their hair, or pointed and interrupted, squirming, then finally was on the ground, running away to play, or getting strapped back into a stroller—
He made arrangements to meet with Denise once he was in Boston. He asked about a late appointment, but she shot him down on that—drinks were clearly off the table, and she told him that she wasn’t much for late nights these days, then sent the emoji with its tongue sticking out.
He supposed a baby would do that to people. Not that he knew much about it.
They practiced Monday morning, and Sy gave him a stern sort of look. Brenden seemed a little more sympathetic, especially when Coach yelled at him again.
Then again, Q was pissed at all of them apparently. He moved on just as quickly; he was yelling at Sebby one minute, then berating Mike the next.
It was a dull, cloudy say in Boston when they arrived, around three. It wasn’t raining, at least. The wind was brisk, blowing in off the water, and the city smelled of ocean, salt and fish. It was kind of gross, actually, and Sebby wondered how he’d ever come to miss that.
He met Lorraine at the kebab place not far from the hotel, just a little after three. Brenden had asked him where he was going, but he hadn’t answered. The d-man had given him yet another concerned look, but said nothing more. He’d headed out, walked about fifteen minutes or so to get to the cozy shop on State Street.
Lorraine was already there, and he spotted her almost immediately. He had to make concerted effort to keep his eyeballs in his head; she hadn’t been lying, that much was for sure. He felt like shit for even thinking that she might have been bluffing about the whole thing, but then, it happened when you were in this line of work. He’d been accused of more than a few unflattering things, for sure.
He slipped into the seat across from her, and she smiled tightly at him. She didn’t look well, that was for sure, and his guilt grew, until he could scarcely swallow down the slew of apologies bubbling up in his throat.
“Uh, hey,” he said, glancing about. Maybe this hadn’t been the right choice; they were pretty much out in the open, visible to anyone and everyone else in the shop. He wondered if anyone recognized him. He had never been a frequent visitor to the shop, and it was slow right now—almost closing time on a Monday. The lunch rush was all but a memory now. There were curious eyes—mostly the staff—but he didn’t know if anyone recognized him.
“Hi,” Lorraine said, gesturing to the menu. “I’ve ordered already, I didn’t know if you’d want anything.”
“Thanks,” he said, picking up the laminated slip. He glanced at her over it. “Uh. So.”
She took a sip of her water, then said, “Sorry about the short notice on all of this. I would’ve talked to you sooner, but …”
And then she hesitated, her brusque, business-like demeanor falling away as she met his gaze. She looked tired, he decided, and he wondered if she’d been sleeping enough.
Before he could ask, she said, “I didn’t get in. In the spring, I got a bunch of rejection notices back—Yale, Harvard, a few other places.”
“Oh,” Sebby said.
“So,” she said, “I was just gonna look for a job, have the baby, then maybe see if I could get into a paralegal position or something like that. But …”
She pressed her lips together. “One of the registrars. They suggested I take the test again, apply for a start in winter semester.”
“Right,” Sebby said, nodding like he understood. He’d never been to school, so everything she said was like a foreign language. He smiled encouragingly when she made eye contact again.
“I … didn’t expect it,” she said. “I had sort … sorta made my peace with it. Y’know? I figured this is what happened, I got pregnant and I didn’t get into law school, so maybe … it’s fate.”
That, Sebby understood. He nodded sagely. She sighed heavily. “But they said apply again, so I figured, oh what the hell. It can’t hurt. So … I did.”
She paused again, then said in a very quiet voice, “I got in. I start in January. But …”
They were both silent, their gazes falling to her hand, resting over the swell of her stomach.
She raised her eyes again. “It’s too late for an abortion,” she said, “without very good reason.”
“Right,” he mumbled, his gaze flicking down again. Very much too late, as he understood it.
Not that he would have agreed with it in the first place, but then, he wasn’t sure how much say he really had in this situation.
“So,” she said, “my options are … to give up law school, even though I got in. To put the baby up for adoption. Or …”
He took a sharp breath. “Or find the dad,” he said, reaching for his own glass. He wasn’t sure if it was sweating or his palm was just that slick.
She nodded, pressed her lips together. She faltered again, her brusque demeanor falling by the wayside as she considered her options.
“I think it’s best,” she said finally. “If … I mean. I would rather.”
“You can always do open adoption,” Sebby offered, “if …”
She shook her head. “That’s—that’s not really the point, Sebastien–”
“Sebby,” he replied. “You can—I mean.” His cheeks were far too warm for the room.
She nodded. “I’m not concerned about visitation or … anything like that. I don’t want joint custody. I simply want what’s best for the kid. And right now, I …”
Her shoulders sank. “I think that might be you.”
He didn’t know what to say, so he filled his mouth with water, swallowed noisily. She looked down again. “That is,” she started.
“I get it,” he said, “I … I’m in a pretty good position. I have a job. I have summers off, whole summers. I travel a lot, sure, but I … I’ve got the money. I can hire a nanny or like … an au pair. And like, when I’m home, I’ve got more leeway to … to be home.”
She nodded, then shook her head. “I mean, I’m going to law school. I want to be a lawyer. It’s a lot of work—not that. Not that your job isn’t.”
He sighed, played with the straw in the glass, listening to the ice cubes clanging off the side of it. “It’s different,” he said, “that’s … all I do. You, you’re gonna be studying. And then you’ll likely need to work too, or maybe volunteer—co-op? Something. And if you have to take care of a kid too …”
They were quiet again. One of the waiters swung by, smiling tersely. “Hey,” he said, “you order now? We close soon.”
“Uh. Oh, yeah,” Sebby said, “uhhh …”
He pulled a face, then handed back the menu. “Never mind, dinner’s soon enough. Sorry.”
The guy frowned at him, so he sighed and said, “Can I grab a coke though? Awesome. Thanks. And it’ll all be on one bill.”
“Hey,” Lorraine snapped, glowering at him.
He waved a hand. The waiter nodded, then took again, back to the counter. Lorraine huffed. “Now I feel awkward,” she muttered, “I’m gonna be the only one eating.”
Sebby glanced at his watch. “I have team dinner in like … an hour. I could eat, but … whatever.”
A coke and a plate of rice with veggies hit the table. Lorraine unwrapped her utensils from their napkin cautiously. “So,” she said, “anyway. It’s just … I think you’re in a better place.”
“Right,” he said. “And … I’m the other parent.”
“Exactly,” she replied, stabbing at a slice of roasted pepper with her fork. “I mean, I have nothing—nothing against adoption. I don’t. But, if you can and you will, I’d … rather.”
“I think we’ve established that I can,” Sebby said.
She looked up at him again, then said softly, “Will you?”
It was like being struck, slapped in the face. His breath left him. His muscles worked; his brain switched into high gear, words tumbling about in his brain, as he tried to figure out what to say.
He still didn’t know what to do, what to say.
“Yeah,” he said finally, “I … I don’t see how I can’t. So long as …”
She fixed him with an angry glare. “It’s yours,” she said sternly. “I’m not that kind of girl. And don’t get any ideas either—I wasn’t going to ask you for child support, it’s not like I poked holes in the condom or something.”
He held up his hands. “I didn’t say anything,” he offered. “I just …”
She wiped her mouth, her hands with the napkin, tossed it aside. “You’ve been thinking it,” she said, “it’s all over your face. Trust me, Sebastien—you’re not just one of a long line of potential baby-daddies that have all rejected the claim. I fully intended to do this myself. But …”
Her shoulders sagged again. “I have dreams,” she said finally.
He thought about that, fleetingly—he already had his dreams. She wasn’t taking anything away from him, not at all. Like … maybe this curtailed his freedom. Maybe he had to grow up a bit sooner than he wanted to. Maybe he needed to stop going out, stop being a party-boy. And sure, he was only twenty-two, but …
He’d fucked up, just like she had. And … he already had everything else in hand. He’d been handed everything he wanted at a young age. He was eighteen when he was drafted. He was just twenty-two. He had plenty of time to play hockey—his dream career. And he was getting paid big bucks to do it. When he hit forty, when he retired, he’d have time to pursue another job, if he wanted to.
So having kids early was maybe just another sign of his accelerated life, that he’d started making millions when he was still just a teenager, that he was going to be retired by forty or sooner.
“Fine,” he said, “fine. I … I trust you on this, Lorraine.”
A small smile crossed her lips. “You can call me Lo,” she said, and Sebby closed his eyes, dug out his wallet, and tossed some bills on the table.
“So,” he asked, “do you know if … is the baby … a …”
“I didn’t ask,” she replied, shaking her head. Her brown curls swung to and fro, the light glinting off them. “It’s a surprise.”
Sebby exhaled. “Okay,” he said, “okay. I’ll uh … get in touch with my lawyer. You with yours?”
She smiled tartly. “Mm, I know a few,” she said.
He nodded. “I’ll … uh, be in touch, I guess.” He paused again. “When … ?”
“November twenty-third,” she replied easily, “although it’s not a sure thing.”
“Okay,” he said. “I’ll … uh. We’ll see what my schedule looks like around then. I’m allowed … to be there, right?”
“Sure,” she said. “I think that makes sense.”
He nodded, then glanced at his watch again. “I, uhhh, better get back.”
She rose from her seat, slowly, and he tried not to stare again; it was rude. But he wasn’t prepared for it, not at all, not for seeing her and thinking, ‘That’s my kid.’
“It’s fine,” she said, and he wasn’t sure what she meant. “I think they want to close up in here anyway.”
He glanced toward the counter. Sure enough, the chef and the waiter were watching them keenly. “Uh,” he said, then got to his feet, “yeah. You’re right. Uh—how … where do you live? Is it far? I’ll … call a cab–”
“It’s fine, I’ve already called an Uber,” she replied.
He held the door for her as they stepped outside into the blustery day. “Um,” he said, watching her fumble with the zipper on her jacket.
“I’ll send you some updates,” she offered, and he took another deep breath, swallowed bile.
“Sure,” he agreed, “I’d … uh, like that.”
Monday night couldn’t come soon enough, as far as Ty was concerned. Gabe suggested a pub in the theater district, away from the Garden and the usual watering holes for sports fans and the teams alike. It was unlikely that they were going to be spotted or recognized, but the further away from the center of sporting they were, the less likely anyone was to know who they were—let alone care.
Ty hated the ride to the airport, the flight, the ride to the hotel, every waking second that brought him closer to Gabe but held them apart still. Watching the clock was like watching an implosion in slow motion—you knew what the end result had to be, but every passing frame brought with it some excruciating new detail that waylaid the progression to the end.
Ty would have much preferred to be on fast-forward, all the way through dinner. “I’m going out,” he told Dima after dinner, when they were back in the hotel room and Dima was flipping idly through channels, frowning at the six o’clock news.
He scarcely glanced at Ty, but shrugged and said, “Okay.”
“I’ll be back later,” Ty said, “I’m just meeting some friends.”
Dima gave him a sidelong look, his dark eyes questioning. “All right,” he said, but even his inflection was skeptical.
He didn’t believe a damn thing Ty was telling him, and Ty wondered how much he knew. How much anyone knew.
He slammed the door on his way out, convinced himself that they didn’t know anything, that Dima was just being smart with him. After all, who knew?
Well. Nicky. Sebby. Brenden. They probably all knew. But no one else—and how would they know? They’d known in May, but how did they know it hadn’t petered out? It could have been a summer fling, for all they knew. It wasn’t like Ty was yammering on about Gabe at every given opportunity, wasn’t like he had even indicated they were a thing.
Their secret was safe for now, and he intended to keep it that way.
Gabe did too, apparently, because he was by himself. Ty had half-expected Ryan to be with him too. After all, the other Bear had been a staple in Gabe’s social media posts and even his messages to Ty over the last couple of days.
But Gabe was alone, smiling at him, his disconcerting blue gaze fixed solely on Ty as he approached the bar. Gabe waited until he was beside him, wedged between two barstools, before he whirled about and said to the barkeep, “Two gin and tonics, please.”
Then he looked back at Ty, gestured to the empty stool beside him. “Take a seat,” he said.
Ty glanced about, slipping his jacket off his shoulders as he sank down onto the stool. “Ah,” Gabe said with a grin, “no sooner are you near me than you take your clothes off.”
Ty spluttered, then glared at him. “Jerk,” he huffed, then put his jacket back on. It was cold in the bar.
Gabe grinned, then hefted the glass that arrived, offered the other to Ty. “It is only natural,” he said. “I think I have a good effect on you.”
Ty swallowed down burning liquid, hoping it would quell the burn of embarrassment. “Is that why you called me out here?” he asked. “To try and get in my pants?”
Gabe blinked. “I thought you knew that,” he said. “I thought you came because you wish to get in mine.”
He offered his glass for a toast, which Ty took, but he held that blue gaze, wondered why he felt like he was tumbling down, crumbling.
It was like the slow-motion implosion all over again, and he couldn’t figure out why.
He swallowed the rest of his drink, let Gabe get him another. It was probably a bad idea the night before a game, but he let the drinks melt together, one after another, and the hours slipped away—time was liquid now, not incremental, and it flowed much like the alcohol flowed freely, collecting in puddles across the bar, on the floor as the dancefloor filled up, the tiny, crowded space now packed to the brim with bodies sweating under blacklights, undulating to the thudding bass and it reverberated down Ty’s spine, just like Gabe’s fingertips ghosted down his back, making him shudder.
They left the bar just after eleven thirty; they’d both had enough of drinks and neither of them were much for dancing—not the dancing that everyone else was performing, at least. They took the bus back to Gabe’s place, preferring the anonymity of public transit to a cab or Uber, where they might be recognized by the driver. Nobody seemed to know them on the nearly empty bus—and better yet, no one seemed to care.
They stumbled up the steps, and Ty sat heavily in one of the seats, while Gabe clutched at the strap for dear life, rocking on the balls of his feet, right in front of Ty, and he grinned, lifted his brows suggestively. His eyes were hooded, a certain darkness filling them, and Ty shuddered because he knew what that meant. He’d seen it all summer long.
They had to walk two blocks from the bus stop to Gabe’s house—still the same old row house, with its long, narrow face, its long, narrow door. They stumbled up the crumbling steps, both of them off balance. They toppled into the house, Gabe clutching at Ty, and Ty looked up at him, reminded of the first night in Boston, back in May, the frost still in the nighttime air. It was back again, the world turning back to ice and cold after a long, hot summer.
Gabe tilted his head up, leaned down and locked their lips. “I missed you,” he breathed when they parted, and his accent had receded from the summer, when he’d spent so much time speaking Swedish to everyone around them.
Ty dropped to his knees, fumbled with the button on the redhead’s jeans, yanking them down when they finally came undone. “Yeah?” he asked, and Gabe’s shoulders hit the wall behind him; his hips jutted forward, pressing his erection against Ty’s cheek.
“Ja,” Gabe replied, and his gaze was fond, something sentimental in his smile, and Ty wondered why he got so jealous, why he was so worried when Gabe didn’t text him back, when Ryan was in all of his photos …
In this moment, it was so clear that Gabe wanted him, nobody but him. He was so bloody into it.
Ty closed his eyes, nuzzled Gabe through his undershorts. He let his fingers slip underneath the waistband, Gabe’s skin hot against his icy hands, and he listened to the redhead hiss with pleasure. He turned his head, used his teeth to help the process along, slowly rolling the red fabric down over Gabe’s erection.
He looked up again, made eye contact with the Swede, who tangled a hand in his hair—not gently, not a suggestion.
Ty yanked his boxer-briefs down, parted his lips over his head and sucked on him, swishing his tongue across the head. He flattened his nose against Gabe’s belly, held his gaze steady, his eyes straining up as he did it.
“Fuck,” Gabe spat, twisted his hair. “Don’t do that—don’t–”
Ty let his eyes slip shut and he hollowed his cheeks, sucking harder. Gabe’s head hit the wall with a hollow thump, the noise almost lost to his harsh breathing.
Ty sucked down further, then raked his teeth up Gabe’s shaft—gently, no malice behind the action.
Gabe groaned loudly, pushing his hips forward. “Yes,” he breathed, and Ty couldn’t resist; he opened his eyes and peered up at the redhead, drank in the sight of him with his head tossed back, the long line of his neck exposed, his shoulders tensing, his back arching into it. Ty could feel him trembling; his legs were shaking.
He wrapped one hand around him, taking advantage of slack in the redhead’s grip to pull back as he jerked him, flicking his wrist as he slid over the head, over and over again, reveling in the way Gabe panted, open-mouthed, and gritted his teeth by turn. He dropped his head forward, caught Ty’s gaze.
Ty let his free hand explore, roaming over Gabe’s backside, squeezing one cheek, then the other. Gabe inhaled sharply, but he didn’t look away.
Ty dragged his fingers down his crack, one cascading after the other, watched Gabe shudder. Finally, his eyes slid closed; his mouth fell open, and he groaned softly—no words, just sound, then more panting as Ty ringed his hole with his index finger.
Gabe’s feet slid a little further apart; he leaned further forward, breathed, “Yes,” as
Ty pressed that inquisitive digit to him, then slowly slipped it into him, working past tight muscle.
“Oh yes,” the redhead groaned, his hands landing on Ty’s shoulders, blunt nails digging in deeply.
Ty turned his head and mouthed at Gabe’s dick, flicking his tongue across his head, drawing another shuddering groan from the redhead.
He slid another finger in, pushed them apart, pulled them together. Gabe’s hips stuttered forward, pushing deeper into Ty’s mouth, so he pulled his hand away, gripped the redhead to hold steady. He sucked harder on him, plunged his fingers in deeper, pulled them back, establishing a steady rhythm.
Gabe shook all over, his hands sliding up Ty’s neck, into his hair again. He pressed forward as he started to slide down the wall. He had no words, just guttural groans, broken, snuffling noises punctuated by gasps and groans, as he rocked into Ty’s ministrations.
Ty sucked harder, deeper, pressed his face against Gabe tightly, tightened his grip on his hips.
Gabe’s grip tightened in his hair, relaxing when he pulled his fingers back, tensing again when he pushed in and spread them wide.
“Tyler,” he gritted out, and Ty glanced up, then pulled back when the redhead pressed a palm to his forehead, nodded just a touch.
Ty picked up his pace, fingering Gabe furiously, trying to match the frenetic pace the redhead was jerking himself with, his hand clamped over his own cock, flying up and down his shaft.
He gritted his teeth, tensed, and Ty leaned in a bit more, closed his eyes as come splattered across his face, Gabe crying out as he climaxed, the sound dragging into a low groan of pleasure, and Ty knew he was watching himself fountain across his face.
“Fuck,” the redhead spat and collapsed against the wall again. Ty slid his fingers out of him, licked at his lips, tasted salt and musk.
“Fuck,” Gabe breathed, his eyes never once leaving Ty, “you are so … naughty–”
Ty grinned raucously, swiped his fingers through the mess on his face, made a show of licking it up, lapping at it, then sucking on his own digits. Gabe clutched at the wall, his legs threatening to give out on him, but he didn’t dare look away.
“You made a mess,” he whispered, his voice already shattered, and Gabe finally broke eye contact, let his head roll back with another shuddering groan. He jerked himself a couple of times.
“What are we gonna do with you?” Ty purred, enjoying the gravelly quality of his voice. His normal voice wasn’t nearly as sexy; he couldn’t make people’s knees buckle, and he reveled in it as Gabe struggled to stay upright.
“Anything,” the redhead replied, then licked his lips, his eyes popping open again, “knulla mig, knulla mig som hård du kanst–”
“I don’t understand a thing you’re saying,” Ty replied, letting his head tilt to the side, “but I bet you’re saying something filthy.”
He rose to his feet, pressed himself against the redhead. “And if you’re just gonna say naughty nonsense, I bet we can find something better to do with your mouth–”
Gabe didn’t hesitate; he wrenched on Ty’s wrist, wrapping his lips around his fingers, sucking on them with intensity, with determination. His eyes bored into Ty’s, and Ty grinned.
Gabe pulled his fingers out of his mouth with a pop, then licked his cheek, kissed him. He growled when he pulled back, his hands on either side of Ty’s head, holding him steady. “You think you’re so smart. Use those fingers and open yourself up wide for me.”
He released him, and Ty stumbled back against the closet. “Yeah?” he asked, shucking off his pants.
Gabe nodded. “On the sofa,” he ordered.
“Or?” Ty said, sliding his underwear down about his ankles, kicking it off. “Right here?” He pressed a finger to himself, inhaling as he did so.
“No.” The reply was almost instantaneous. “On the sofa. I want to watch, I want to see.”
“Perv,” Ty spat back, but dropped his hand and sauntered toward the living room. Gabe smacked him on his way, and it stung. Ty bit his lip to stop the yelp that bubbled up with the knowledge that Gabe wasn’t fooling around—tonight was gonna be a good night.
Sy glanced up from his phone, pocketing it quickly. He could respond to Aleks later. He shifted his gaze to his roommate instead.
Luke was all but focused on him, his gaze sharp and questioning. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” Sy replied, ditching his shoes and making his way to his bed.
“You and Volkov,” Luke said, and Sy stilled. His heart slammed into his ribs.
“What about him?” he asked when Luke failed to go on.
Very slowly, he rotated to face the other player, eying him cautiously.
Luke didn’t even look at him. “You’re mated, right?”
“No,” Sy said quickly. Because they weren’t. That wasn’t true.
Luke quirked a brow at him. He flushed down to his toes. “We’re not … what would give you that idea?” he inquired, sitting up.
Luke studied him for a moment more, then turned away, shrugging. “Nothing,” he said. “Just something I’d heard—a rumor, I guess.”