Pucked Page 99

He turns, facing me, and takes my hands. “I know, and I’m sorry. As soon as I said it, I wanted to take it back, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to fix it once it was done. You wouldn’t talk to me.”

“Can you blame me?”

“No. What I did was awful.” His knee bounces nervously. “I know an apology is just words if it isn’t followed by action. I just want a chance to show you that I love you. There’s a huge void in my life, and you’re the only person who can fill it.”

“How do I know you mean any of this? How do I know this isn’t part of some publicity stunt to help boost your reputation?” It’s a reasonable, if not slightly neurotic, question.

“Come on, Violet. You know me better than that.”

“Do I? I’m not sure if that’s true. One minute you were asking me to move in with you, and the next you tell the media we’re just friends. How does that even work, Alex?”

There’s no denying how I felt about him before he did what he did, and those feelings are definitely still there. However there are so many sticky webs to weave through, and I don’t want to end up tangled in them.

“I should’ve been upfront with you about Dick and the endorsements. None of it felt right, but I was under so much pressure. It’s a terrible excuse. I know that. I’m not justifying why I said what I said. I’m just trying to explain so you’ll understand and maybe find a way to forgive me.” He sighs. “You’re here right now, so I hope you want to work this out, too. Unless you’re just here for . . .”

“Here for what?”

“This.” He motions below his waist.

It’s the first time I’ve ever seen Alex look truly insecure. As a famous hockey player, women must want to use him for sex all the time. Meaningless sex could make a person feel lonely and resentful after a while.

I give him a small, sad smile, gesturing to the front of his pants. “That may have been how we ended up together in the first place. But it’s not why I came home with you.”

He looks relieved. “Do you think you can forgive me?”

Avoidance was so much easier in some ways. “I think so.”

“Then talk to me, please. Tell me what you need.”

What he did was hurtful, but at the same time, I’ve made this harder on myself by postponing a conversation. Instead of confronting him, I shut him out. If I want to be with Alex, I have to let him in, at least a little.

“There’s a big difference between being evasive with the media and flat out denying anything was going on between us. I need to know you’re never going to do something like this to me again.” I can’t stop the tears from leaking out of the corners of my eyes. Sometimes being an emotional girl sucks.

“I made some bad decisions, Violet. I compromised your integrity with the locker room sex, and I created a lot of issues for my team because I kept my relationship with you from Butterson. I did a piss-poor job of managing the situation.” Alex cups my face in his palms and brushes away my tears. I’m shocked to find his hands are shaking. “I’ll do whatever I have to do to make it up to you. Please don’t cut me out of your life again.”

He’s so earnest in his plea. I have two options here. I can take a leap of faith and put my heart back on the line for this man, or I can walk. As terrifying as it is, I’d rather take a chance on him than wonder if we could’ve made it work if I’d been a little braver.

I take a deep, steadying breath. “Just don’t do something like that ever again and I won’t have to.”

“I won’t. I promise.” The car comes to a stop as he moves to kiss me, and the intercom in the ceiling crackles.

“We’ve arrived, Mr. Waters.”

Alex closes his eyes and exhales on an annoyed sigh. Releasing his hold on me, he reaches over and opens the door and Jeeves offers me his hand. I accept it, feeling a little unsteady after such an intense conversation. Alex thanks him, and guides me up the steps to his house.

Once we’re inside, things become awkward again. He shoves his hands in his pockets and offers me a drink.

“I’m not thirsty right now.”

“Neither am I.”

He scratches his beard. “Do you want to talk some more?”

I shake my head. “I don’t think so.”

“We could play Scrabble.”

Right. Because that’s what I want to do right now.

“Maybe another time.” I step closer, and my chest almost grazes his stomach through the inconvenient layers of his suit. His eyes drop to my cleavage. I wore a V-neck tonight for a reason. “Are you going to kiss me?”

He swallows. “Do you want me to?”

“I think it would be a good idea.”

“Me, too.”

He’s tentative until I press into him, bringing us together. Then he cups the back of my head with his palm and lays one on me. It’s all tongue and teeth and aggression.

We stand in his foyer for a good ten minutes, mouth fucking with abandon. It’s the same, but it’s different. So much has changed between us since the last time we were together.

But he’s still Alex, and I’m still Violet. He’s already got his hand inside my shirt. At the same time, he’s trying to shed his suit jacket and carry me to the stairs. In a rare moment of ungracefulness, he trips on the first step and we land in a heap. The intensity of the moment broken, I laugh against his lips.

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