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well worth the wait

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Los Angeles, California, USA - March 2018

The sun is shining, the sky is bright blue, the air is salty against his skin, and he can hear the soft and rhythmic swish swish of the ocean when he gets to the hotel Tessa has chosen for their stay in Los Angeles. Everything from the settings to the decor and the general vibe is gorgeous. He feels like he's on vacation even though that's clearly not the main goal of this short trip. 

His cousin Cara, who simply could not pass up an opportunity to go to LA for a couple of days is already getting settled in her room while he waits for Tessa to get back from her day of sightseeing with Kelly. The pool deck, where he's currently laying on a chaise lounge, is drenched in sunlight; the white sand beach stretches as far as his eyes can see, the sun reflecting off the Pacific, as the gentle ocean breeze caresses his skin. He closes his eyes, lulled by all the soothing sounds around him. 

"You're here!" Tessa cries out, waking him up, as she lies next to him on the chaise lounge. "And you're already a bit red," she points out, laying a hand on his forehead and poking his nose with a finger.

"I am?" he asks, blinking slowly and rubbing a hand over his face. His face feels hot, but not tender so he should be okay for tomorrow's filming.

"That'll teach you to wear your cap backwards," she tuts. 

"What time is it?" he asks, straightening up a bit. 

"Almost six," she replies. "Kelly went to her room to change and we're planning on a light dinner and some champagne on the deck later on. That's okay with you and Cara?"

"Sure," he says, "but I need to change too. I didn't have the key to your room so my luggage is still with Cara. I didn't want to ask the front desk. We're supposed to be inconspicuous, you know." 

She rummages through her bag and hands him an extra keycard. "Does Cara know?" she asks. 

"I haven't told her directly, but I mean… I think it was pretty clear when I didn't get my own room," he shrugs.

She shakes her head. "So that means our entire families must know by now."

"Yeah, probably," he says. "But at least, it saves us the trouble from actually telling them. So that's that." 

"True," she grants. 

"And you know they're not going to go blabbering about it." 

"Yeah, I know," she sighs. 

"Did you have a good day?" he asks, covering his eyes from the glaring sun with one hand. 

"Yeah," she replies excitedly. "We had some much fun. We walked around Venice for a bit, did some sightseeing, had some amazing shrimp tacos and smoothies on the beach, and I bought a lot of cute stuff. There were so many little boutiques."

He groans. "Don't you have enough clothes already?" he teases. "You do remember we have to share a closet in Montréal now, right?"

"I bought some stuff for you too," she singsongs, a huge grin on her face.

"Share the closet, share it, not fill it," he smiles.

"I know you're curious," she states. "Come on, get up, we'll go to our room and I'll show it to you," she says, holding out her hand.

He likes the way she says 'our' and he takes her hand to get up before following her to their room. It's gorgeous: there's a huge window that leads straight to a little balcony right on the beach. He bets he can see the ocean when he's lying on the bed. That will be a treat at sunrise. 

"Wow!" he exclaims as he closes the door. "That's a view!"

"I know, right?" she says distractedly, trying to find her way through the massive pile of shopping bags. 

He eyes her. "Um, Tess," he says. "Don't you think you went a little overboard here?" he asks gesturing to the pile. 

"You can never have too many clothes," she retorts. 

"Actually, I think you can," he smiles. "And I think you've reached that point. Clearly. How are you even going to fit all of it in the one suitcase you have?" 

"Well," she draws out. "I was kind of hoping that you would be nice enough to let me put some of it in your suitcase. I know it's always half empty," she finishes with a huge pleading smile she knows he can't resist. 

"Tess," he whines, throwing himself on the bed.

"Come on," she says. "Please. You're not going to use it anyway. And don't you want to see what I got you?" 

He sighs. "Okay, you can have the rest of my suitcase," he relents. "Now, show me what you got," he asks, straightening up on the bed. 

Tessa squeals happily as she goes to grab his face and press a kiss to his lips. "I love you," she says. "So, I've got you two nice dress shirts," she rummages through the bags and shows them to him. "Light blue and slightly off white." 

"It's white," he says, looking pointedly at her. 

She cocks a brow in defiance. "It's off white," she replies, looking right back at him. "I also got you a new blazer. Your old one was getting a bit tired."

He doesn't even ask how she knows his sizes. She knows everything. "Thank you," he says. "That's very sweet of you, T. What else you got?" 

"Some tee-shirts with funny prints on them," she replies, showing them to him one by one. "You can never have too many tee-shirts," she points out. 

"Again, I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one," he laughs. "But thank you for thinking about me. You're the nicest."

He puts his arms around her waist, pulls her down on the bed with him and kisses her softly, pressing his body against hers. 

"I was just trying to butter you up," she smiles against his lips, leaning into his embrace. "I knew I needed the extra room in your suitcase." 

"Well, it worked," he says in between kisses. "I missed you." 

"You literally saw me yesterday," she laughs. 

"I missed going to sleep and waking up with you."

"You are such a sap," she shakes her head. 

"You like it, don't even try to deny it." 

"I like almost everything about you," she jokes. 

He pinches her side jokingly. "You know what, I'm going to let that slide because I know how badly you slept last night too. And I know it's because you missed me too." 

She knows he can read her like an open book, but this is straight up witchcraft. "How the hell do you know that?" she asks, eyes wide and mouth hanging open. 

His lips curl into a smirk. "Well, this, for one," he says, grazing a knuckle under her eye. "You look a bit more tired than usual. Two, I know you and I know how restless you get before flying anywhere and third, Cara told me you were up liking Instagram pics in the middle of the night," he finishes, trailing his hand down her cheek to cup her jaw.

She covers his hand with her own. "I'm very impressed," she smiles. "Your sleuthing skills are unparalleled." 

"So…" he drawls. 

"So what?" she teases. 

"Tell me you missed me," he says, his voice almost carrying a daring tone to it. 

She smiles at him tenderly and sees the same emotion reflected in his eyes. "I missed you last night," she says softly, pressing her lips against his. "I like having you in my bed. My sheets and my pillows smell like you; it's the most comforting scent." 

"See," he replies, kissing her a little deeper. Her hands delve into the hair on the nape of his neck, tugging on it lightly. "That wasn't so hard." 

"How about tomorrow after Ellen, we do a little exploring of our own?" she suggests. "Walk around, go to the beach, eat at a nice restaurant?"

"It's a plan," he says. 

"When's your return flight tomorrow?" she asks. "I don't think we're on the same one. I'm stopping in Toronto to spend the night at Jordan's and I'm back in London on Wednesday afternoon."

"Tuesday morning," he replies. "I'm on the 11:45 am."

"Yeah, we're not on the same one. I'm on the 1:15 pm. Are you going back to Ilderton directly?" she asks. 

"I have a layover, but yeah. So I'll see on Wednesday?" he checks. 

"Yeah and we have a massive amount of stuff to do before we leave for Japan," she says, sighing softly. "We need to keep training as much as we can to perfect the program and we have those radio interviews."

"I have a charity hockey game with my brother on Saturday night too," Scott informs her. 

"Oh, that's nice," she replies. "It's going to be busy, busy, busy before Osaka," she points outs. 

"You wouldn't have it any other way, Tess," he laughs. "You don't like empty." 

"That's true," she smiles. "Should we stay at your place while we're in London? Since we stay at my place in Montréal?" 

His smile is smug and pleased. "Well, well, well, look at you T," he teases. "And to think that you were the one who needed convincing about us living together."

"Technically, we're not living together," she reminds him with a mischievous smile. "We're just staying in the same place."

"All the time," he points out. "We also share a fridge, a closet, and a Netflix account."

"Because it's practical," she winks. "I'm just being pragmatic here."

He laughs. "You tell yourself whatever you want, Tess. We're living together. And you want us to live together in Ilderton too." 

"I like your house," she shrugs. 

He cocks a brow. "You hate my house," he states. "And you love yours. You spent a fortune renovating your house. You want us to live together," he repeats the last sentence in a singsong voice. 

"I don't hate your house, Scott," she defends herself. "It has you in it and it's so quintessentially you, I could never hate it. You could tidy it up a little bit though," she gently mocks.

"It's clean and I can find my stuff without looking for it too much," he laughs. "I know it's not Tessa clean, but that's good enough for me."

"Tessa clean?" she asks, puzzled. 

"Neatly, freakishly, OCD, coaster under your beer, whiter than white, seeing your reflection in the kitchen cabinet clean," he explains. 

"Isn't that what clean means?"

He roars with laughter. "Oh baby," he says, stroking her shoulder. "No it's not. Should we just split it? So you can get your things in order before we leave?" he suggests, wanting to ease her in. 

"We can split it," she agrees, deciding not to pursue the clean thing any further. "I'm doing an Instagram takeover for The Kit on the 22nd so I need to be at my house. I also need someone to help me take pictures…" she not so subtlety implies. 

"Tessssss," he whines, hiding his face in the crook of her neck. 

"Come on!" she pleads. "Please, please, please. I don't want to have to ask my mom. You're the perfect Instagram husband!" 

He straightens up immediately, heart racing and palms sweaty. "Instagram what?" he asks, his voice getting caught in his throat. 

"Oh no, no, no," she backtracks frantically. "Not like that. At all," she affirms until she sees his face fall a little. "Not that I wouldn't want you to be my…" she rambles and she can feel his pulse hammering against her skin. "I mean, it's just what people jokingly call men who take pictures of their girlfriends or their wives for Instagram." 

Scott lets out a long exhale. "That makes more sense," he admits. Hearing the words 'you' and 'husband' in the same sentence coming from Tessa is more than what his heart can take. 

"I know we're not there yet," she says. "Don't freak out."

He swallows with difficulty. "Yet?"

"I said don't freak out," she points out. 

"I'm not freaking out. I'm just curious," he says. And it's true. He's not. He's just completely astonished. She's usually the one who needs convincing and gentle nudging in the right direction. She's the one who spooks easily. And now she's talking about marriage? 

"I mean, I'm in this for the long haul. Aren't you?" she asks, a bit nervous now. 

"You know I am," he says softly, tucking a stand of hair behind her ear. 

"Then we agree: not yet," she says simply, like it's the most natural thing in the world. 

And in a way, it is. This whole thing with Scott, this couple thing, this being together, this let's-really-give-it-a-try thing has been the most organic and effortless endeavor of her life to date. Maybe it's because they have already put twenty years of work and therapy into it. And now, it's just…so innate and familiar. Perfect. 

"Not yet," he agrees, gently stroking her cheek and bringing her face closer to his to kiss her. 

"Plus," she says in between kisses, "you owe me."

He pulls away from her and looks into her eyes. "Excuse me?" he laughs. 

"Have you already forgotten the Patch incident?" she laughs. "Because I haven't." 

"How is this my fault?" he defends himself. "He's the one who came knocking on your door."

"You were half-naked," she points out. "In my apartment," she pauses for extra dramatic flair. "On a Saturday morning."

"How should I have known it was him?" he asks. 

"Not turning off your phone for one? Looking through the peephole for two?" she laughs. "I mean, I don't know, I'm just throwing out ideas here."

He chuckles. "You know what, those are not actually bad ideas, T."

"I know. You owe me," she states. "Marie has been texting me since yesterday thinking she's being sly and subtle about it."

"I owe you babe," he says in a soft voice. "Do with me what you want."

She rolls them over, pinning him to the mattress as she settles on his hips. "That's a very interesting offer."

His hands immediately go to her waist, stroking the warm skin there. She's wearing a flowing pink skirt that makes waves all around her when she's sitting on top of him like that. 

"I'll take all the pictures you want if you keep on moving like that," he groans. 

"That can definitely be arranged," she says sultrily, moving her hands to his hair and throwing his hat to the other side of the room. 

He bunches her skirt up to her waist. "Do we have time?" he asks, breath already ragged. 

She checks the time on the alarm clock next to his head. "We'll have to be quick," she says tantalizingly. 

"I don't think it's going to a be problem," he laughs, pressing her hips into his roughly so she can feel his growing hardness.

Her eyes are sparkling. "I wanna try something," she says in a seductive voice.

"All the best things in my life have started with this sentence," he laughs. "So please, go right ahead," he says, letting his hands roam her collarbone, her breasts, her spine, and to her waist. 

She takes off her t-shirt and her bra in one swift move and lifts herself up just enough to get rid of her panties as well, leaving her only in her skirt. "Don't move," she orders. 

His hands digs deeper into her sides as he watches her. "Trust me baby, I'm not going anywhere."

She leans forward and cups his jawline, kissing him deeply, letting their tongues get reacquainted with each other. She licks the roof of his mouth softly, grazing his teeth. 

"Fuck, Tess," he groans, his hands grasping her ass and slipping a hand over to her center to rub her wet. 

"Keep going," she whispers against his lips, letting her mouth trail his cheek, his jaw, and bury itself in the crook of his neck. She deeply inhales his slightly citrusy and sweaty scent before sucking at the skin of his throat. 

He parts her with two fingers and strokes her slowly until he feels her getting all slick and sloppy underneath his touch. Her uneven breathing melts into his mouth with their kisses. 

She pulls away and stares at him. "I want to sit on your face," she whispers lowly, her eyes dark with desire.

His heart stops in his chest and he's pretty sure all the blood that was being pumped there is now redirected to his groin. Could she be any sexier? Could he want her more? All his body is burning and aching for her and he can feel himself getting even harder against her wiggling hips. He reads a lot of provocation in her gaze and a little of nervousness too.

"Come here," he murmurs, his voice raw, his hands going to her ass to guide her up his body.

She slithers over his body, bracing herself against the headboard as she bunches her skirt in her hands and her open thighs hover above his face.

He can feel the heat emanating from her on his face. "You smell so sweet, baby," he groans, his voice rough. "I know you taste just the same."

She lowers herself gently, being careful to hold as much of her weight off him as she can, until she feels his nose against her and his tongue parting her. She clutches the headboard tighter as he grabs her ass firmly and presses her right against his open mouth.

Her thighs are quivering. "Fuck, Scott," she moans. 

Tessa has never known such a heady rush — this feeling of complete power and pure bright white pleasure. She can't even see his face anymore. He has completely disappeared under the pink ruffles of the flimsy fabric of her skirt. But she can feel him. Boy, can she feel him. Scott is all over her, his tongue, mouth, and lips are everywhere at once. Sucking, nipping, grazing and licking his way up and down and paying special attention to that sweet spot she loves so much. 

His nose is pressing against her in the most interesting manner, rubbing her just right there in just the right way. Her hips sway over his mouth intently, grinding herself on him, chasing her pleasure. His working mouth makes the filthiest and most delicious sounds, wet and sticky. She feels like water flowing over him, like the ocean's waves crashing on the sand; swish goes the rustle of her skirt, ripple go her hips. She's pretty sure she's soaking his whole face, but she's way past the point of caring. 

"You are so wet, T," he hisses against her, his voice muffled. 

She can feel his lips moving against her and it makes her rub herself even rougher against his mouth. Her hands are clutched onto the wood of the headboard while his roam all over her thighs and ass, alternating between squeezing her tightly, fingers digging into her flesh, and lightly brushing her skin with his knuckles.

"Wait, wait, wait," she whimpers and he stops sucking her into his mouth immediately. 

His hands leave her thighs and raise her skirt up to her waist so it's not in his face anymore. "What?" he asks, out of breath and a little worried something has happened while he was blinded.

"I have an idea," she says and he can hear the naughtiness in her voice. 

"Of course you do," he laughs as he waits for her to make her move. 

As carefully as she can, she swings her legs over his head so that she's facing the other way. Her breasts graze his stomach as she settles over him this way, her delicious ass now literally in his face. She's still glisteningly wet, pinked up, swollen and parted from his previous ministrations. His mouth finds her again in this position as he pulls her hips toward him to make her sit on his face again. 

"I like this angle too," he groans in between deep kisses. And he does; he can feel her breasts and their hardened nipples rub against his stomach with each undulation of her hips under his tongue. 

"Just you wait," she says, her voice low and husky. 

Scott stops in his tracks and his grip on her waist loosens when he feels her unbuckling his belt, unzipping his jeans, and tugging them down at the same time as his boxers. He groans when she closes her hand tightly around him and starts pumping him. 

He buries his face in the warm flesh of the back of her thigh from the rush of pleasure that courses through his body as soon as her hands touch him. He feels himself twitch in her hand and get harder, if that's possible. 

"Tess," he grunts. 

He has completely lost his rhythm between her thighs. How can he even concentrate on licking her right when he can feel the warm wetness of her breath blowing on him and her mouth engulfing him whole?

"Don't stop, Scott," she moans around his length. "I was so close before," she whines. "Lick me."

His blood runs hot and his spine tingles from hearing her talk like this. It's an out of body experience. He can't believe this is happening and yet he feels everything: from the way her hand grasps and tugs him, to the slick warmth of her mouth and the roughness of her tongue. His head is spinning from the rush of sensations. He feels the deafening beat of his heart pumping in his ears.

She takes him out of her mouth with an audible pop. "Scott?" she laughs. 

"Are we really doing this?" he laughs backs, biting one ass cheek playfully before licking and kissing the very same spot. 

She gives him a long and lazy lick, teasing him. "Are you afraid you won't be able to do two things at the same time?" she chuckles, wiggling her ass in his face.

"Watch me," he says, his voice taking that competitive driven edge she loves so much. 

"I'll be too busy making you come to watch you, but please, get back to work."

He locks his arms around her thighs and pulls her down on his face, tongue plunging inside her. 

"Fuck," she cries out, her thighs quivering around his head and her body flattening on top of his. 

He can feel every single inch of her pressed and rubbing against him. Her heat and her scent surround him, making him drunk on her. He can't barely keep it together and keep pleasuring her when he feels her sucking and humming around him, perfectly hollowing her cheeks for maximum effect. She drives him crazy. She always has. But this…this is next level. And she knows it. She keeps rubbing the very tip of him on the inside of her cheek, where the tissue is oh-so-soft and oh-so-wet.

He focuses on licking and sucking her the way he knows she likes, paying special attention to her clit and it's not too long before her hips ride his mouth in a relentless rhythm. He knows she's close when he pops out of her mouth and her whole body stiffens. 

"Oh fuck, fuck, fuck," she chants. "Yes, right…fucking…there. Don't stop," she moans. "I'm gonna come."

She's dripping all over his face and he nuzzles his nose against her just the right way before lapping and flicking her faster. His hands roam her thighs and her spine and everything about his touch drives her that much closer to the edge. And…in the space of an instant, she's right there, shattering in a million pieces all over his tongue, her body convulsing under the burning pleasure that makes its way from the tip of her toes to the top of her head.

She collapses against him, seeing bright yellow stars underneath her closed lids. Her heart is racing and she can still feel her inner walls fluttering and her body shivering. After a few seconds, her grip tightens around him again and she puts him back in her mouth, stroking and sucking him faster and harder. He's almost at the back of her throat when she takes him like this. He grips and strokes her ass so tight he's sure to leave handprints; he can't get enough of her or the feeling of her skin underneath his hands. 

"Fuck, Tess," he grunts. "I'm going to come." 

He always warns her and she never cares. She wants all of him, always. Her merciless tongue is the end of him with a few well placed licks and she feels him twitch, contract, and come inside her mouth before quickly swallowing his salty tang. 

"Come up here," he says, slapping her ass playfully. 

She swings her legs over his face and drags her sleepy body into his waiting arms. They're both sweaty and out of breath. She snuggles against his side, nuzzling her nose close to his armpit. He smells like sex, sweat, and her. It's a heady combination. She loves that scent. It triggers so many memories and yet it feels new and comforting at the same time. 

He feels floppy all over. She has literally sucked off all his energy. "That was something," he laughs, stroking her arm. 

"That was so good," she hums contentedly, rubbing herself against him like a purring kitten. "We should do that more often," she says, tangling her legs with his, stroking the sole of his foot with one toe.

"No protest from me," he smiles, tightening his hold on her. "You do that whenever you feel like it." 

She raises her head and looks straight at him. His face is red and swollen and his hair is a complete mess of sweat and…her, she guesses. But his eyes are happy and they crinkle softly on the outer edges. "I love you," she says, moving to press her lips against his. 

"I love you too, T," he replies, kissing her deeper. They can taste one another on their tongues as they dance together. They let themselves fall into a half-sleep before they're woken up by loud knocks on the door. 

"Tess?" Kelly's voice calls her through the door. "Are you in there? Do you know where Scott is? We've been waiting for you two for the last fifteen minutes and Cara has no idea where he is!" 

She needs to buy Cara at least two flutes of champagne for this. "Fuck," she curses as she jumps out of bed to slip a bathrobe on. "Quick," she whispers, motioning to Scott. "Hide!"

He laughs. "Are you fucking serious?" he whispers back, holding his laughter in as best he can. 

"Get your ass in the bathroom!" she whisper yells as she goes to open the door. "Coming!" she says to Kelly. 

"Yeah," he chuckles, getting up and going into the bathroom. "You already did that." 

"Shhh," she tuts him, hand on the door handle. When she's sure he's out of sight, she opens the door partially. She can't let her in or she'll see their clothes scattered all over. "Hey, I'm so sorry, I fell asleep." 

"Are you okay?" Kelly asks, looking at her intently. "You look flushed." 

She runs a hand over her face and brushes some sweaty strands off her forehead. "Yeah, I just woke up from a power nap and I'm not used to the LA heat yet. I'll be down in a moment." 

It's barely 60 °F at this time of day and her skirt is sticking out from under her bathrobe, but Kelly is nice enough not to mention it. "Okay," she replies, slightly bemused. "Do you know where Scott is? Cara can't find him and he doesn't answer his phone either." 

She swallows slowly and clears her throat. "Oh, he must have gone for a walk. He always puts his phone on silent on the plane and forgets to turn it back on once he lands. I'll get dressed and go find him and we'll join you," she says quickly. "Why don't you order us some champagne in the meantime?" she suggests. 

Kelly raises a perfectly manicured brow in her direction. "Sure," she says with a shrug. "See you on the deck in a little while," she says, turning around and walking in direction of the front desk. 

Tessa leans her head on the door as soon as she doesn't hear Kelly's footsteps in the hallway anymore. 

"The coast is clear?" Scott laughs, peeking his head from the bathroom door. 

"That was so close," she says, relief coursing through her body. 

Scott laughs loudly. "You're not fooling anybody Tess," he points outs. "You look so well fucked right now. She knows."

"Shut up," she says, hiding her face into her hands. "We're so bad at this. We didn't use to be it. What happened?" 

Scott gathers her into his arms, holding her close and swaying their bodies softly. "We stopped giving a fuck," he says simply. 

She shakes her head. "Probably true," she says. "Come on, we have to take the quickest shower in existence. They've already been waiting fifteen minutes for us."

He takes her hand and pulls her towards the bathroom. "Well, you have to look for me," he grins. "You can look for ten minutes. Or fifteen."

"Scott…" she protests with a moan as he starts kissing her and pressing her against the shower wall. 

"In and out, Tess," he jokes as he turns on the water. "I promise."

"I know you're lying," she says, hands going to his hair as she pushes him under the cascading water. 

"And yet, you're not stopping me," he notes, pressing her against him, lining up their bodies as close as he can, losing himself into her mouth. 

*

Toronto, Ontario, Canada - September 2014

Toronto is hot and muggy this time of year and the giant ballroom Jeffrey booked for his wedding feels stuffy. Scott is already melting, nudging and fidgeting with his collar, loosening his tie. The party is going strong all around him. Everyone is pleasantly liquored up and while he should be joyously buzzed right now, he's not. He's actually feeling quite sad. And he should be happy. Taking a break from competitive skating was the best decision either of them made in a long time. He is just done with it. Thank God Tessa is there with him on the few occasions they do skate, because he can't find the joy in it anymore. He used to feel such a rush standing in that opening position with Tessa, but ever since Sochi and their last tour, it's no longer the case. It's such a weird inexplicable feeling: being both happy and sad about having stopped skating. 

At first, he thought that stopping skating would give him the opportunity to do all the things he never did before: go out every night, watch a movie, party like crazy and drink his weight in alcohol, finally have a stable relationship with a nice girl, be close to his family and buddies, settle in one place, put down roots. But it has not been what he envisioned. At all. All the things he thought would make him happy are actually making him pretty miserable. He doesn't even recognize himself. He used to be so driven. He used to have such a regimented life; he used to know what his life would be like every hour of every day for the next year. Now… he follows his girlfriend around and just stays on his couch, doing nothing. Well, almost nothing. He's always up for skating with Tessa in any shape or form it takes: teaching classes, meeting and talking to kids, attending events, or skating in tours. 

But it's such a contrast to what Tessa is doing. She seems to be having the time of her life, saying yes to everything; she always has some kind of new project or new endorsement on top of actually going to university part time. She seems to be handling this much better than he is. He's been completely off the grid and she's been as put together, as stable and consistent as she's always been. She seems to have kept some sort of structure in her life while he just has none. She has a boyfriend too, a pretty serious one. She seems happy with this new stage of her life. He shouldn't be surprised though. He always knew Tessa had so much more than skating to offer the world, that she was always going to be hugely successful in whatever endeavor she chose to put herself into. She possesses a relentless drive and such an impeccable work ethic; it could not have gone any other way. He knows she is meant to be happy and successful. 

What is he doing wrong? He should be ecstatic. He's doing all the things he said he was going to do. Why is he so unhappy? Why isn't this working? What's wrong with him? It seems he's only happy about 10% of the day; the rest is just spent in his head. And his head is not a good place to be right now. It's pretty dark. 

He watches Tessa dance her way to where he's sitting — on the outside, looking in. It seems to be a habit nowadays. "Where's Kaitlyn?" she asks a little too loudly. She's barefooted, sweaty and disheveled from all the dancing she's been doing. "Why are you here sulking in a corner?" 

He shrugs. He doesn't want to talk about it. He doesn't want to bring her down with him. "She's off having fun, dancing somewhere," he says, gesturing to the crowd with his hand as Tessa sits down next to him to catch her breath. 

She knows something is wrong with him and she's been able to feel it for a while now. That's the burden of spending seventeen years holding his hand: she knows him better than she knows herself; she can feel his emotions inside her soul like they are her own. 

She lays a hand on his thigh. "Why aren't you dancing with her?" she asks, genuinely concerned. "You're usually the life of the party. 'Can't-stop-won't-stop' Scott." 

"I'm not really in the mood for dancing," he shrugs again. He's not in a mood for much of anything these days. 

"Are you okay?" she asks, crossing one leg over the other to rub the sole of her foot. 

"I'm just tired," he says softly, looking down. "Go back to the dance floor," he smiles. 

"I'd rather stay here with you if you don't mind the company," she smiles back, still massaging her foot and calf. 

"I never mind your company, Tess, you know that," he says sincerely. He looks at her legs. She's wearing a gorgeous gauzy green dress that makes her eyes pop and her legs look like they're a mile long. "Are your legs okay?" he asks concerned, his eyes never leaving her hands and the way they move. He misses seeing her move, even in the slightest way — she moves like no one else he knows. 

She waves her free hand in the air in a dismissive manner. "They're fine," she replies. "I've just danced way too much in high heels for way too for long. My feet hurt." 

It's so Tessa it brings a fond smile on his face. "Give it here," he says, bringing her legs into his lap and kneading her calves and her feet.

"That feels so good," she moans. 

"Always happy to help," he jokes as he keeps massaging her, paying close attention and pressing deeper where he knows she needs it.

She takes a deep breath. "So, are you going to tell me what's the matter?" she asks in a very gentle tone. 

He won't even try to lie. "I don't really want to talk about it," he simply says, focused on the task at hand. 

She covers his hand with hers. "You know I'm always here if you want to talk, right?" 

It feels like she's drifting farther and farther away, but he can't tell her that. He can't hold her back. "I know," he replies plainly. 

"I know I've been busy," she admits. "But you can always come see me, come stay with me anytime you want. You can call, text, email. I'm there." 

His heart feels full. He'll never stop thinking how lucky he is she's part of his life. "I know." 

"I mean it," she reaffirms. 

"I know you do," he says, hands still working on the sole of her feet. "Why didn't you bring Ryan to this thing?" he asks after a moment. 

"With literally all my skating colleagues? Where he'll get grilled?" she asks, raising a brow. "No, I'm not crazy. I'm not subjecting him to that and I'd rather keep things private. You know me." 

"I do," he says. "But you have no one to dance with." 

"I can have fun by myself," she laughs. "Don't worry about me. And if I feel the need to dance with someone, I have you." 

He smiles. "You do have me, Tess. Always." 

She moves her legs from his lap and back on the ground. "How about a dance then?" she asks, getting up and holding out her hand. 

"I told you," he shrugs. "I'm not really in a dancing mood." 

"Come on, Scott," she insists. "You just said I had you if wanted to dance with someone. I want to dance with you. Please. For me? I love this song," she pleads. 

Sam Smith's Stay With Me is playing and everyone is slow dancing to it, Jeffrey and his new husband included. Tessa is looking at him with puppy dog eyes; they're so green he could get lost in them. He doesn't even look around for Kaitlyn before taking her extended hand and following her to the middle of the dance floor as she tugs him along. He can never resist her. He can never say no to her, especially in the moments he needs to the most.

She locks her arms around his neck and he encircles her waist, pressing her close. He sways their bodies lazily to the crooning voice of Sam Smith. They were made to dance together. No one can tell where he ends and she begins. They flow and ebb to the gentle rhythm of the song. People around them start to give them some room and even stop dancing just to look at them. It feels intimate. Tessa's head rests on his shoulder as he tightens his grip on her. He leads and she lets her body follow his. 

It's natural; they don't even think about it. Their bodies instinctively know what to do when they're in such close proximity. Muscle memory is an amazing thing. Heart memory is even more amazing. If anyone else attempted to dance this close together, they would walk all over each other; toes would be hurt. Not Tessa and Scott. They're dancing like water flows, like fire crackles. They're not aware of anything except each other. When the song comes to an end, Tessa raises her head a little as Scott looks down into her eyes. They stay there, standing still and looking at each for a few seconds before coming back to their senses. Some guests are openly staring at them now and they finally put some distance between them, their hands still intertwined. 

"Wanna go for a walk?" Scott asks, not even bothering to wait for her answer before pulling her away from the crowd and leading her outside. 

He stops at the bottom of the giant staircase and sits on a step. He loosens his tie even more, unbuttoning the first three buttons of his crisp white shirt. They can still hear the music booming from upstairs.

"You don't want to go for a walk anymore?" Tessa asks, sitting down next to him, gathering the hem of her dress so it doesn't touch the ground and get dirty. 

"I remembered you had no shoes on," he says, gesturing to her bare feet. 

"Oh," she says, wiggling her toes. They're painted bright red. "True. Probably not a good idea." 

"I've missed dancing with you," he says. "That was nice. Thank you for dragging me to the dance floor." 

"I didn't have to drag you that much," she smiles. "You came pretty willingly," she says, playfully nudging his thigh with hers.

"You always did know how to convince me," he smiles and it's the first real one he's had all day. 

"I'm glad to see you smile," she says. "You put on a good front, but I know you, Scott. I can feel you in me. I know something is off."

"I know you can," he says, locking gazes with her. "I can feel you in me, too. I could find you in the dark in a room full of people." His eyes burn bright into her own.

"Still don't wanna talk about it?" she asks, patient and careful. 

He shakes his head. "Not really."

"Is this…about Kaitlyn?" she presses. "I know we don't usually talk about these kind of things. Especially after how we've left things… But you can if you want to."

"No, it's not about her," he says and his tone of voice convinces her. Tessa actually likes this one which is kind of surprising. She's never liked any of his girlfriends before.

"Okay," she says after a moment of silence and getting up. "I'm not pushing you any further, but I'm here." 

"I know you are." 

The first bars of Rita Ora's I Will Never Let You Down start to play and Tessa's face lights up as her body starts to move to the beat of the music. He's entranced by her every time she dances; he loves her body and the way she moves. She feels the music deep down in her soul and everything that comes out of her body is pure magic — half instinct and passion, half training and dedication. She's a dancer through and through. She closes her eyes and raises her arms above her head, hips swaying to the tempo. 

"I will never let you down," she sings, opening her eyes suddenly and looking straight at him. "When you're feeling low on love, I'll be what you're dreaming of. I will never let you down."

She takes his hands in hers and waves them and his arms around rhythmically, trying to transfer her bubbling energy to him. 

He shakes his head and smiles slightly. "Tess," he chides, a tender edge in his voice. 

"Come on!" she says, pulling on his arms a little stronger to make him get up. "Dance with me!" 

He lets himself be pulled up and watches as Tess starts jumping around and turns herself using his arm. His smiles gets bigger watching her childlike joy. She laces her fingers with his and raises his arms, making them move as much as she can. 

"Come on," she entices him. "I know you want to," she smiles. 

He rolls his eyes and shakes his head again, but finally lets himself drown in her happiness and her sunshiny presence. Her smile is contagious and he soon finds himself grinning at her and jumping up and down to the up beat of the song. He twirls her around a lot, making her dizzy as she keeps on singing every word to him, off key of course. They keep dancing around, making crazy moves like the electric slide and the MC Hammer and just enjoying being silly while no one is watching. The songs quickly comes to an end and they let their bodies calm down, catching their breaths. 

He pulls her close and engulfs her in a tight hug. "I needed that, I think," he smiles, breath uneven against her clammy skin. 

"There's nothing a little dance party can't solve," she smiles back. 

"I think the key factor was you in this dancing equation."

"I missed dancing with you too," she admits, burying her face in the crook of his neck, rubbing her nose against the skin there, making him shiver even though the temperatures are sweltering. 

"Tess," he says tenderly and she raises her head to look at him. 

They feel the electricity crackle between them as they look deeply into each other's eyes. The raw magnetism they share is ever-present even when they don't spend every minute of every day together like they used to. Their heads lean into each other at the same time, their lips meeting in a feverish kiss. It feels familiar and comforting as well as electrifying and shiver inducing. He engulfs her in his arms, stroking the nape of her neck, playing with the little hairs there before digging his fingers softly into each dip of her spine, all the way down to her lower back. Her hands tangle in his hair as she presses her body into his. 

Boisterous laughter coming down the stairs makes them jump away from each other with just enough time to spare to wipe their swollen mouths. As if nothing had happened, they sit back down on the stairs, eyes looking down and staying silent until the guests have passed them. 

"I'm sorry," Tessa says first. "I shouldn't have done that."

"I feel like we're always repeating the same thing to each other," Scott points out matter-of-factly. 

"Yeah…" she agrees. 

"We always slip up, we always end up in the same place, and we're always apologizing for it. It's tiring." 

"I know. We have boundaries issues."

"We do." 

"I'm sorry," she repeats. 

"Don't apologize," he says. "We both know this isn't one-sided. I want it as much as you do. It's just too messy. It's always been too messy."

"I know."

"You're happy," he says simply. "You have a boyfriend and I have a girlfriend. We should try to be normal for once, don't you think? Pretend like we're not completely dysfunctional. Maybe it'll stick." 

She knows their relationship is a mess. She knows it's not normal by any standard and that no one except them will ever get it. But it is what it is. And she agrees, they have to try to be at least somewhat fully functioning adults. It's time.

"Yeah, maybe it'll stick this time," she says softly, trying to convince herself of that fact. "Come on, let's go back inside. I'm sure Kaitlyn is looking for you and the cake is probably going to be served soon." 

Without even thinking about it, she takes his hand as they climb back the stairs to rejoin the effervescent party upstairs. His fingers twine with hers and he squeezes her hand.

This is going to be a very hard habit to break. 

How do you even begin stopping something that's so deeply rooted within you?

How do you even try? 

*

Los Angeles, California, USA - March 2018

Coldness wakes Scott up from his agitated sleep. The chilly salty air brushes against his skin and blows in his hair as he blindly feels for Tessa next to him. His eyes open when he realizes she's not there; he only feels the tepid sheets under his hand. He straightens up and rubs his eyes as he looks for her. 

His eyes immediately find her even in the semi-darkness of the room. The patio door is open and he sees Tessa on the balcony, her long wavy hair cascading down her back as she stares out at the rolling ocean. She's only wearing one his shirts and he can see the paleness of her legs gleaming in the moonlight. He slips out of bed and into a pair of boxer briefs before padding across the room and onto the balcony. If she hears him, she doesn't let it show; she doesn't turn around when he gets closer and she doesn't flinch or startle when he wraps his arms around her from behind. She simply leans back into his chest, melting into his embrace. 

"It's 4 am, what are you doing up?" he asks, kissing the side of her neck and hugging her tight, lining his body with hers. 

"I can't sleep," she shrugs, head tipping back against his mouth. "You know how restless I get."

"I do know," he smiles against her skin. "Nervous?"

"Yeah," she nods. "I don't even know why. I have this knot of anxiety in my stomach." 

"Me too," he admits. "It feels like we're about to compete, isn't it?" 

"It's exactly like that," she agrees. "Except, it's crazy to feel that way because it's just an interview."

"On arguably the most watched show in America," he points out. 

"Thanks," she says dryly. "That doesn't make me feel any better."

He strokes the skin of her abdomen. "I meant that I think it's normal to be nervous. It does feel like it did before the Olympics." 

"This is big." 

"I know it is, but everything is going to be fine. We are so ready for this," he reassures her. 

"Are we?"

He laughs. "Well, you made us practice for thirty minutes last night so I think we're as prepared as we can be."

She sighs against him when he licks the skin where her neck meets her shoulder. "It's so pretty here," she says after a moment of silence. 

"Come back to bed babe," he says, tightening his grip on her and pulling her toward him and back into the room. "We have to be up in four hours."

She follows him back to their room where he tucks her into bed and gets in behind her, spooning her tightly, wrapping himself around her like a vine. He knows she needs to feel swaddled and surrounded to soothe her nerves.

He strokes her hair softly. "Sleep, Tess," he says, kissing the top of her head. 

*

Ackergill Castle, Scotland, United Kingdom - June 2015

"I know they said a castle," Scott comments, looking out the window as their bus arrives in front of the huge structure. "But this is truly a real medieval castle."

"What did you expect? A fake one?" Tessa laughs as she stares at it as well. "This is Scotland, they do have real ancient castles here." 

"And we're going to sleep in one for the week apparently. Do you think it's haunted?" he asks, creeping a hand up Tessa's back to spook her. A shiver makes its way up her spine, and it has nothing to do with fear.

"Don't joke about that!" Kaitlyn interjects. 

Tessa gently slaps his hand away. "I hope not," she replies. "Can you even imagine the history in those walls? It's crazy. How many people must have lived there, what their lives were like, their hopes, their dreams." 

"You're getting nerdy on me, T," he laughs. 

"This is going to be the best week!" Kaitlyn cries out excitedly as she gets up to get out.

Tessa and Scott exchange a long pointed look before getting up as well, gathering their stuff and joining the line of people waiting to get off the bus. Tessa doesn't know what came over Scott when he had this idea of inviting his girlfriend along on their trip — their semi-business related trip. Scott is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, insightful and caring person Tessa has ever known. But he's also one of the most oblivious. She knows it comes from a good place. He is all heart and kindness. 

But this… This is just dumb. 

It's a catastrophe waiting to happen. Putting the three of them for one week in such close proximity, with no exit possible, reminds Tessa of The Hunger Games. She knows it's not going to end well. But Scott seems somewhat happy and excited about this trip, and that's the most positive she thinks he's been in a long time so she's not going to rain on his parade. And she likes Kaitlyn, genuinely likes her. She's an Olympic athlete so she already has more in common with her than any of his other girlfriends. She seems nice and intelligent. She's also very talkative and peppy which is apparently what Scott needs right now. He's been so gloomy at times that's it's a nice balance.

But Kaitlyn doesn't understand anything about ice dance or figure skating. She's come to watch them perform in shows a few months ago. They did Good Kisser, Say It Right, and Man-eater and she was right there. Tessa was sure Scott was going to get himself into a domestic dispute after their performances, but that was not the case. So, clearly, she doesn't understand the first thing about ice dance. She must think everything they do on the ice is normal. Sweet summer child… She's in for a rude awakening. 

When they're on the ice, they can pretend that their relationship isn't messy and fucked up all they want, they can pretend they're playing characters, that they're amping it for the audience — and they are to a certain extent — but now that she's going to be with them for two weeks, almost non stop, off the ice. She's going to notice that some things are not right. She's going to see and feel this…thing between them — the electricity, the tension, the chemistry, whatever they're calling it these days. Tessa knows Kaitlyn is going to notice it at some point and it'll be game over. Because that's what happens every time one of his girlfriends starts to open their eyes to the reality of Tessa and Scott and what it means to always play third wheel.

Scott carries Tessa's bags as well as his own, like he always does, as they're led toward the castle. Tessa doesn't even know where to look. Everything is breathtaking. She has never seen something like this. It looks like something out of one of her fantasy novels. Like Harry Potter or His Dark Materials — it looks magical and phantasmagorical. The castle is surrounded by fields of green, a wild part of the world, rampant nature untouched by men, all green, stone, and deep blue. The castle faces the raging sea and they can hear it loudly crashing over the dark rocks. It's both frightening and soothing. The wind is strong and salty, and yet, pure and refreshing; Tessa can't help inhaling deeply and it burns her lungs almost pleasantly. She's going to love it here. It's rough and cozy, untamed and dreamy, unyielding and timeless. It's perfect. May the odds be ever in her favor. 

The inside of the castle's atrium is everything she hoped it would be: grand, decadent and plushly decorated. It's all woods, stones and warm colors. It's the pure definition of Scottish cozy. She can already see herself curled up in that green velvet armchair by the roaring fire, reading a good book, wind howling and sea rolling outside.

She's still in the middle of admiring the giant gold chandelier hanging over her head when Scott's hand slips around her waist and squeezes her hip gently. "I checked us in," he says, handing her a key. 

She can feel Kaitlyn's stare prickling the spot where Scott just touched her and she puts some distance between them. "You're sweet," she says, head down to hide her blushing cheeks. "Thanks. I think I'll go unpack now," she finishes, taking the key and her suitcases and going to get settled in her room. 

Her heart is racing and she slides to the ground against the door as soon as she closes it. She takes a deep breath in and lets it out slowly, her hands stroking the carpet beneath her fingers, grounding herself. When she picks herself up from the floor, she can fully appreciate the wonderfulness of the room that's going to be hers for the next two weeks. It's perfectly garish and overdone in that retro on-purpose way, a jolly mismatch of bright pink floral wallpaper, tartan pillows and throws, and dark woods. There's even a working fireplace in front of her bed and a little makeup table right in front of a small bow window. Despite the room's flashy display of pink that she's going to need to get used to — how is she going to sleep in a room this colorful? — she can already tell that she's going to feel right at home here. 

After putting all her clothes away (and she's brought a lot to fit every occasion that could possibly arise) in the little wardrobe and dresser tucked away in the corners of the room, she goes to the bathroom to freshen up a little. After nine hours on a plane and a seven-hour time difference, that's the least she deserves. The bathroom is more modern looking and has both a shower and a bathtub and she wastes no time in drawing herself a hot bath and soaking in it to her heart's content. 

When she opens her eyes again, the water has turned cold and she can hear Scott calling her name and his feet padding across the room to the bathroom. The unlocked bathroom.

"Tess?" she hears him call her again through the door. 

"Don't come in!" she cries out frantically as she straightens up quickly, spilling water everywhere. "Fuck!"

The door handle rattles. "Tess? Are you okay in there?" he asks. 

"I said don't come in," she repeats. "I'm naked in there." 

He chuckles. "Nothing I haven't seen before, but you know I won't come in if you don't want me to."

"You're hilarious," she says dryly as she rinses herself and carefully gets out of the bathtub to avoid slipping and breaking her tailbone. Or worse, a leg. 

She slips into a bathrobe and puts two towels on the floor to mop up the mess she's made. When she gets out, she sees him waiting for her, lying on her bed, his shoes still on. She tightens her bathrobe around her more firmly as she comes closer. 

"Do you mind?" she scolds, gesturing in his direction and her eyes lingering on his shoes.

"Wow," he scoffs. "You're in a mood, eh? I forgot how you get after traveling all day and getting hit by jet lag."

She rolls her eyes. "I'm not in a mood," she denies. "Please remove your shoes before getting on my bed if you're just going to squat in here." 

He immediately toes his sneakers off and looks at her with a provocative twinkle in his eyes and a smirk on his lips. "You are so grumpy, T."

Her patience is wearing thin. She's not in the mood for his games. "Are you just going to stay there? Why are you even here?" 

His face falls a little bit and she feels immediately guilty for being this short with him. He straightens up and goes to sit on the edge of the bed. "Are you okay?" he asks. "You've disappeared for three hours and you didn't answer any of my calls. I got worried and came to check up on you. Dinner is in one hour."

She sighs and sits down next to him. "I'm sorry," she says, her tone a little softer. "I'm tired and I fell asleep in the tub. Thank you for checking up on me."

"They've put me and Kait three doors down from you," he informs her. "Who did you piss off on the Golden Plate Committee to get a room this pink though?" he laughs. "Don't they know you at all?" 

She narrows her eyes. "What do you mean?" she asks. "Aren't they all like that?"

He can barely keep his laughter in right now. "I mean, I got the kitschy floral wallpaper too, but mine's white."

"Well," she smiles. "I'm just going to have to get used to it."

He stands up and fidgets with his wrinkly shirt. "I'm gonna go, let you get dressed, and get ready for dinner too. I'll come get you at… say five to eight?" he checks. 

"Sure," she replies, letting herself fall on the bed. 

"Hey now," he warns, hovering over her so that his face is the only thing in her field of vision. "Don't lay down. You're going to fall asleep and you should try to get on this timezone as quickly as you can. Get dressed!" he finishes, swatting her on the leg. 

It's five to eight on the dot when she hears him lightly drumming against her door. She's glad to see him dressed as casually chic as she is when she opens the door. They're wearing the exact same outfit: jeans, a white shirt, and a blazer. 

"Hey," he cries out happily. "We match! We've known each other for too long, eh?" 

She laughs. "We do and we have. Let me get my bag and we'll go," she says, taking her purse and locking the door behind her. "Where's Kaitlyn?" she asks looking around in the hallway. 

"She's already downstairs. I told her I'd get you and we'd meet her there directly," he says, taking her in. She looks beautiful and not at all like she's spent half the day traveling. 

"You what?" she asks, eyes rolling to the sky. "Scott, you can't just…" 

"I can't just what?" he asks, a bit confused and apparently not seeing the issue.

Leave your girlfriend alone, waiting for you in a room full of strangers while you make an entrance with your (not so) platonic business partner. "Never mind," she sighs, choosing to keep her thoughts to herself. "Let's go," she says simply. 

He makes her take his arm and while she sighs wearily at his clueless behavior, she chooses to let it go and just enjoy his warm presence next to her as she feels their bodies grazing each other with each step they take. 

Is he really this oblivious to the dating norms?

Well, at least he seems to be in a good mood. 

It's going to be two very long weeks. 

*

Scott's good mood doesn't last. He's still a joy to be around for the guests and all the group activities, but Tessa knows him like she knows her own heart. He's pissed. She's seen the way his jaw is clenched after every conversation he has with Kaitlyn. The tightness of his jaw is the measuring stick for his anger level. The more clenched it is, the more furious he is. She's tried to give them as much leeway as she can, but even from afar, she can tell. They all went shooting this morning and he was fine as he showed her how to load and shoot, even though Kaitlyn kept glaring at them every time his hands lingered on hers a little too long when he helped her hold the riffle. They had disappeared after lunch and when Scott came back, alone, for the afternoon's activities, he was not happy. 

Tessa is in deep conversation with Miku near the roaring fire when she feels him enter the room, head raising immediately, eyes looking for him. 

"That's weird how you do that," Miku points out as Tessa waves Scott over. 

"Do what?" Tessa asks, eyes never leaving Scott's body as he comes toward them, stopping to have a word with every person he meets on the way. 

"Know exactly when the other is near," Miku explains. "You both do it. It's like you can feel it."

Tessa laughs. "I can actually. There's always a sort of tingle that goes up my spine and makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when Scott is near."

"Yeah, that's weird," Miku laughs. 

"Is it?" Tessa wonders aloud. 

"That's not a very common reaction to someone else's presence."

"When you spend almost every day holding hands and skating closely with someone for the last eighteen years, it's not that weird I think."

"You're so attuned to each other. Your bodies are so attuned to each other." Miku continues. "When he moves, you move. Always toward each other. Even in the slightest way. I'm sure you don't even notice it. It's like magnets." 

"We need to be attuned to each other. When we skate, I need to know — my body needs to know — where he is at any given time. It's the way ice dance works. I need to be able to find him in the dark. I need to not even have to think about, just instinctively know where he is."

"It's kind of romantic when you think about it."

Tessa rolls her eyes. "It's really not. It's years of training, skating, and therapy. It's second nature by now." 

"That's what's romantic about it," Miku laughs. 

Tessa sighs and laughs at the same time, shaking her head. It's not like she hasn't heard the exact same thing from literally everyone — including her friends and family — all her life.

"What's romantic?" Scott asks, dropping down on the couch next to Tessa and laying a hand on her knee. His hands are cold and she knows he's trying to warm them up by direct contact. 

"The fact that we're so in sync," Tessa shrugs. 

He laughs. "That's not romantic, that's work. Or rather a by-product of work." 

"That's what I told her," Tessa says. 

Miku's head tips back with laughter as she stares at Scott's hand rubbing Tessa's thigh and knee. "I sing about love for work with my husband. Trust me, I know the difference," she says, getting up. "If you'll excuse me, I'll go look for him now; we have a set to prepare for."

As soon as she leaves, Scott drops the facade he was putting on and gets comfortable on the couch, his eyes staring vacantly into the crackling fire. 

"Are you okay?" Tessa asks after a while. 

He looks at her and he knows she knows. She can always read him like an open book. "Yeah, don't worry about it," he shrugs it off. 

Tessa's hand cups his jaw tenderly. "I worry about you all the time. You're so tense. What's bothering you?" she asks.

Scott sighs deeply and grabs the hand that was cradling his jaw, squeezing it gently. "Kait and I have been fighting a little more than usual lately," he finally gets out.

Tessa nods. "I see," she says carefully, knowing the conversation is a slippery slope. "Has she asked yet?"

He turns his face towards her. "Asked what?" 

"Come on. You know what I'm talking about." Tessa says, shaking her head. "What they always ask. Whether we ever had sex or not." 

He smiles a little bit as he looks down. "Yeah, she asked." 

"What did you tell her?"

"The same thing you probably told Ryan," he answers coyly. 

"Believe it or not, men don't actually care whether or not we've fucked. Ryan never asked. And we're no longer together."

"I should have known that," he says. "I'm sorry."

"Don't worry about it," she shrugs. 

"I lied," he finally says. "I always lie when they ask. But I don't think she was convinced."

Yeah, no shit, Tessa thinks. No one ever believes them and Scott has the worst poker face. "Is that the reason you guys were fighting?" she asks after a beat.

"No," Scott says. He really didn't want to talk to Tessa about it, but he can feel the weight on his heart becoming lighter as he starts to speak. She's his best friend first and foremost. "She's been asking, I guess, for more commitment. She wants us to live together." 

Tessa's breath hitches in her throat and her heart starts racing as she has trouble swallowing. "That's big." 

"Yeah," he nods. 

"She's a curler. That means you'll either have to move to Winnipeg or she'll have to quit her team, move to Ilderton with you, and find another team."

"I know." 

"Is she really willing to do that?" Tessa asks. "Are you?" She knows he loves Ilderton. He loves living close to his friends and family. She can't imagine him uprooting his whole life to go and live in Winnipeg. 

"I think she'd do it…" he says. "But, I… I don't know if I want her to do it. I don't know if that's something I want." 

"You've been together for more than a year," Tessa points out. "That's the natural progression for these kind of things." 

"I know."

"Scott," Tessa says seriously. "If that's not something you want, you should tell her."

He laughs dryly. "Why do you think we've been fighting? Because I told her."

"I see," Tessa says. 

"She told me I had commitment issues, that we couldn't sustain this long distance thing forever, that love was an 'everyday thing, not an every once-in-a-while thing'," he says, doing actual air quotes on the last words. "I told her I had no problem with commitment, that I've been committed to skating with you for the last eighteen years. And she just… went off." 

Tessa has to restrain herself not to audibly gasp at that. "Oh Scott, please tell me you didn't actually say that." 

"What?" he asks, a little defensively. "It's true." 

"I know it is, but you can't compare a romantic commitment between two people who are dating and a business commitment between two friends," Tessa explains gently. "That's not how it works. You can't expect her not to get mad when she wants reassurance about your feelings for her and you mention me. Mention us." 

"We're not just friends, Tess. We're not just business." he says gravely. "And you know it. You're my most serious relationship and my number one priority. Always." 

Her mouth goes dry and if she didn't have a good grip on her emotions, she would cry right now. "I know that, Scott," she says, her voice a little shaky. "But she doesn't. And you can't say stuff like that to her. You can't expect it to work that way." You can't have your cake and eat it too, she wants to say. God knows it's what she's always done as well. 

"I tried to be honest here and she just bit my head off," he says, jaw and fists clenched tight. 

"Sometimes honesty is not the best policy," Tessa says as gently as she can. 

"So that's my life now? Lie about how I feel?" he asks, his voice getting angry. 

"You have to figure out what you want," she says. "Do you want to live with her? Do you want to make this relationship work? And then proceed accordingly." 

"That's the thing, T," he sighs. "I don't know what I want." 

"Do you love her?" she asks, not believing she's actually asking him that question. It's like she's trying to split her own heart open with a blunt rusty axe. 

He looks straight at her. Not like I love you, he almost says. "Sure," he finally chooses to say, sounding somewhat unconvinced. He does love her though. Kaitlyn is an amazing woman. He's just not sure he loves her enough. He knows true love… and Kaitlyn is not the one he feels it with. 

"You don't sound very sure about that," she points out. 

"I…" He stops to gather himself. "I'm not sure I'm happy, Tess." 

She lays a hand on his and squeezes tightly. "Scott…"

"I thought I'd be happy," he finally confesses, his voice overrun with emotions. "I thought it'd be everything I dreamed about. I was so done with skating; it stopped being fun for me. I thought if I did what normal people did, I'd be happy. But I'm not. I don't think I am."

She wants to climb into his lap, wrap herself around him, lock her arms around his neck, nuzzle her face in the crook of his neck, and never let go. But she can't. So she stays quiet and keeps on squeezing his hand. 

"This was not a good year," he continues. "I miss skating. I miss you. And I know you've been so happy with your new life, and I'm not trying to make you feel guilty or bad…" 

She takes a deep breath. "I'm not happy either, Scott," she confesses, emotions bubbling over. "I haven't been truly happy in a long time." 

"What?" he asks, surprised. "But… You never said anything. You have so much going on. You're always so busy. I thought you loved your life in Toronto. Why didn't you say anything?" he asks, moving a hand to the nape of her neck and stroking her softly. He knows people can see them, but he hopes they'll think it's just the way they always are. 

"For the same reasons you didn't say anything. I didn't want to make you feel bad. Or guilty. I knew something was up with you and I didn't want to bother you about my issues."

"Tess…" he whispers. 

"I know," she says. They've both been so stupid. They've both been miserable and not talking to each other about it hasn't helped one bit. 

"I thought you were happy about this. About our break."

"I only wanted a break from competitive skating. I never wanted a break from you. Not the way you thought I meant it anyway," she explains. "I miss you and I miss skating with you too." 

The warm touch of her hand is the only thing he needs right now. "We should be better at communicating with each other by now," he smiles. 

She smiles back. "We should, yeah, but we're not. I'm sorry, I should have been more honest." 

"If anyone should apologize, it's me, Tess, and you know it."

"No anger, no blame, no grudge, remember?"

"I remember," he smiles and he gets lost in her eyes. They look so green and so soft. "What do we do now?" 

"Well you need to figure out what you want and I need to find something that will make me as happy as competitive skating used to make me." 

"Tess, I think we should…" he starts to say, but cuts himself off when he notices Kaitlyn entering the room. He immediately lets go of her neck and puts some distance between them 

Tessa instantly sees the change of mood in his eyes and turns her head, seeing Kaitlyn coming toward them. She lets go of his hand and tries to piece herself back together. 

"We'll talk more later," she says, smiling. "Hi Kaitlyn," she says, greeting the blond woman as she gets up from the couch. "I'm going to go get a glass of wine. Do you guys want anything?" 

"Beer for me kiddo," he says, locking gazes with her. 

Kaitlyn looks at Scott staring at Tessa. "A beer for me too, please," she says as Tessa tears herself away from his intense gaze. 

"I'll be right back," she says, making her way quickly to the bar. 

She looks back at Kaitlyn and Scott while waiting for their orders. Scott's jaw is level 10 on the clenched scale and he's gesturing a lot with his hands. She can't hear anything, but from the way his eyebrows and his lips are moving, she knows it's not a good conversation. 

She juggles the three drinks and her purse as best as she can and she takes a deep breath as she makes her way toward them. She stops near when she can hear their conversation.

"Why are you like this?" Kaitlyn asks softly yet firmly. "Why won't you talk to me?"

"I talk to you all the time," Scott defends himself. 

"Not about the things that matters," Kaitlyn retorts. 

"Kait…" Scott says. 

"Don't Kait me," she says a little angrily. "Why are you like this? Why are you so different when you're with her?" 

"Don't make this about Tess," he warns, his voice taking a dangerous tone. 

"I'm not the one making it about her, you are!" Kait responds instantly. 

"You're the one who keeps asking me all these questions about her," he points out.

"Because I know you're lying! Why can you talk with her and not with me? You've been moody ever since we got here. Tell me what's wrong." 

He grinds his teeth and Tessa knows Kaitlyn won't get anything else out of him this way. "What's wrong is that you keep badgering me about Tess and about this moving together thing when I've told you a dozen time that I'm not ready!" 

Kait stands up abruptly. "I'm sorry for wanting to make this relationship work, for wanting to see you more than once every two weeks, for wanting you to start opening up to me. For expecting my boyfriend to communicate with me!" she finishes angrily as she storms off. 

"Kait!" Scott calls after her, getting up to go after her before seeing Tessa standing there. "Let me help you with that," he says, taking the two beers. 

He sits back down and she takes a seat next to him. "Dare I ask?" Tessa says, taking a large gulp of her wine. 

"I know you heard that," he sighs, drinking his whole beer in one go.

"Not all of it," she shrugs, watching his Adam's apple bob up and down as he swallows. It's impressive and weirdly arousing.

"Same shit, different day," he says, taking the beer that was supposed to be Kaitlyn's and taking a large gulp. 

"Maybe you'll want to slow down there?" she advises gently. "You don't want to get drunk before dinner." 

Scott sighs and puts the beer back down. "You're right." 

"Aren't you going to go after her?"

"I'm waiting for her to cool down a bit." 

"If she stormed off, she wants you to go after her. If you don't, she'll think you don't care."

"I hate playing these games," Scott says as he gets up, obviously taking her advice. 

"It's not a game, Scott," Tessa says simply. "She really loves you."

"Why don't you take my side for once, eh?" he asks, moving his stormy eyes onto her. 

"I'm always on your side. You know that. I just want you to be happy." 

"She's not the one who's going to make me happy," he says, looking straight at Tessa, but going to look for Kaitlyn. 

*

Tessa didn't think Scotland in June could actually be colder than Canada, but it is, even with the bonfire going strong. She's bundled up in at least four layers of clothes and she still feels the wet cold seeping into her bones. The humidity from the sea is piercing. She holds out her hands toward the fire to warm them up. Music from bagpipes surrounds her and all the guests as they merrily assemble on the beach. It's freezing, but the atmosphere is warm. Everybody seems joyful about this very Scottish themed evening.

"I'm going to need three weeks on some tropical island after this to forget the cold," Miku says as she sits next to Tessa, rubbing her gloved hands together. 

"You just need to get used to it," Tessa says, laughing and trying to convince herself at the same time. 

"I forgot who I was talking to," Miku laughs. "You must be used to the cold." 

"Not like this though," she says. "It's really humid here; an ice rink is pretty dry actually."

"Thank God for the bonfire." 

"Yeah, you can say that again." 

"Where's your man?" Miku asks with a sly smile. 

Tessa shakes her head and rolls her eyes. "He's not my man." 

"Whatever helps you sleep at night, baby girl," she keeps on laughing. 

"Last I saw him, he was bundled up with his girlfriend near the bagpipe players," Tessa replies as her eyes go to look for him, but can't find him. Kaitlyn is in deep conversation with a group of people, but Scott is nowhere to be found.

"So," Miku starts, a smile on her face. "We've been here a week already and we get on pretty well, so I don't feel too weird for asking this, but did you ever hit that?" she asks. 

Tessa sputters and chokes on her saliva and she almost gives herself whiplash by turning her head so quickly in Miku's direction. "Excuse me?" 

"You heard me," Miku says, her eyebrows wiggling. 

She calms her racing heart and gets in the zone. "It's not like that. Scott and I. It's never been like that," she replies in her best interview voice also known as lying her ass off.

Miku just stares at Tessa until her cheeks burn bright pink and her eyes lower. "You need a better poker face," she says. 

"It's the cold," Tessa protests meekly, patting her cheeks with her gloved hands.

"It's not just the cold," Miku points out. "I'm going to take that as a yes by the way," she continues. "Was it during Carmen?"

Tessa doesn't even know what to say anymore. No one except her sister has ever been that forward in their line of questioning. "What?" is the only thing she manages to get out. Does everyone suspect about Carmen? Surely they can't. 

"I mean, after seeing you two interact here, I watched some videos on YouTube to understand what the fuss was all about and, man, you weren't underselling it. Carmen was hot!" 

"I…" Tessa stutters. "Listen, Scott and I… We tell stories when we skate. Yeah, Carmen was hot because it needed to be hot and sexy. It was what the story we wanted to tell required, but that's just what it was: a story. We're just friends. Best friends," she finishes, hoping to be convincing enough. 

Miku shrugs. "All I'm saying is that if you haven't hit that in however many years you've known each other, then you need to get your head checked," she finishes with a laugh.

Tessa laughs too. "My head is fine."

"Then it's your heart you need to get checked," Miku says a little more seriously as she stares at her. 

Tessa shakes her head. "You don't understand," she says. "No one does. We've been told all our lives not to date, not to be together. There is a history of ice dancing pairs disintegrating after they tried dating and broke up. The partnership had to come first. Always. We could never jeopardize that. We knew that. Everybody around us knew that. They literally hammered it home for years." 

Miku rolls her eyes. "You're talking about dating, I'm talking about sex." 

"It's the same thing," Tessa shrugs, trying to sound convincing. 

"You know it's not," Miku simply says. 

"I'm sorry to disappoint you," Tessa says, forcing a smile on her lips, "but nothing ever happened. It's just not like that." 

"It wouldn't be the end of the world if it was like that, you know," Miku says softly. "Not that that's any of my business."

"He has a girlfriend," Tessa shrugs, hoping to stop the conversation from going down a very slippery slope. She's not going to pour her heart out to someone she barely knows, no matter how well they get along.

"Like that's ever stopped anyone." 

"It's not like that," Tessa repeats a little more forcefully. 

An arm grazes her hair and her shoulder, making her spine tingle, and a fuming cup appears in front her. "Not like what?" Scott asks, offering Miku a cup too. "Hot chocolate for the ladies."

Tessa takes the cup eagerly, smelling the delicious aroma of chocolate emanating from the hot beverage and warming her hands at the same time. "The cold in an ice rink," Tessa says. "It's not like the cold here." 

"Yeah, no kidding," Scott agrees, taking a seat next to her. "Having fun?" he asks, slapping her thigh playfully.

"Sure," Miku replies, looking at them intently. "It's a nice way to end the day." 

"What did you do?" he inquires. 

"We went cave exploring," Tessa says excitedly. "It was so neat. Everything is rough and wild here." 

"We froze our butts off, but it was beautiful," Miku agrees. "What did you do?" 

Scott shrugs. "We went fishing, it was nice." He turns to Tessa. "You're shivering, babe," he points out, rubbing a hand down her arm. 

She takes the time to examine his eyes. His pupils are blown wide, darkening his hazel stare; Scott only calls her lovey dovey pet names when he's liquored up. "The hot chocolate is helping. Thank you," she says, gripping the cup a little tighter. 

He removes his own wooly scarf, fastening it around her neck. "Here." 

The scarf smells just like him and it's even more intoxicating than the hot chocolate. "You don't have to do that, you'll get cold." 

"I could see you shivering from all the way over there," he says. "Keep the scarf. You need it more than me." 

She rubs her nose in the soft material. "Thanks." 

"I can still be a good partner sometimes," he says. 

"The best," she reassures him, but he looks at her pointedly, thinking she's widely overstating this. She takes a sip of her hot chocolate and her mouth is coated in bitterness. "Did you put alcohol in this?" she grimaces. 

"Just a tiny bit," he smiles. 

"Scott…" she scolds gently. 

"Come on T," he huffs. "You're not my mother." 

She looks purposefully at Miku, not wanting to say something untoward in front of her. "I should go," Miku says after a time, glancing between the two of them. She raises an eyebrow at Tessa before getting up and disappearing to talk to some other people. 

"Scott," Tessa starts, putting the cup down on some rock — she can't afford to get tipsy right now. "You need to stop drinking." 

"I'm not drinking," he says defensively. It's too bad she can read him like a book — and smell the whiskey on his breath. 

"Don't," she starts. "Don't lie to me. We've done too much of that already." 

"Tess," he whispers, looking down and avoiding her eyes.

"I'm serious, Scott," she whispers back. "You're going to kill yourself. Stop drinking. This is a work event. And stop trying to get me drunk too," she smiles a little at that. 

"Everything is fucked up," he confesses. "I fuck up everything I touch." 

"You don't," she says immediately, laying a hand on his knee. "But you need to get your shit together." 

"How do you do it?" he asks, locking gazes with her. She's surprised by the distress she sees in his eyes. 

"I don't," she shrugs. "I'm just better at hiding it than you are."

"Sure fooled me," he says, a little hurt shining through his voice.

"We don't see enough of each other for you to have guessed otherwise. I hate university. I hate the classes I'm taking. I hate the homework. I hate the mundane boring stuff. Every day, when we trained or when we competed, I used to get this rush of adrenaline and euphoria, even on the bad days. Now, I'm just bored." 

"What did you expect?" he chuckles. "It's university." 

"I don't know," she sighs. "I expected this amazing experience of learning and making friends and socializing. And it's just… not the case. It's been a letdown from the beginning." 

"Tess," he says carefully. "You know you have a tendency to…" he pauses to find the right word, "glorify stuff, right?" 

"I do not," she protests weakly.

"You do and you know you do. You always have this little perfect movie of how things should happen and when they don't go according to plan, you end up disappointed."

She cocks a brow. "Maybe you're right," she grants. 

"Like that crush you used to have on me when we were teenagers?" he smiles, shaking his head at the memories. "It was so big. Bigger than you. You used to think I hung the moon and the stars. The way you looked at me, Tess," he says wistfully. "It was like I was the coolest, most awesome guy you ever met." 

She roars with laughter. "You were the coolest most awesome guy I ever met," she says with a grin. "You were so popular, so well-liked, made friends so easily, and everyone was sucking up to you, saying you were a once-in-a-generation talent. I worshipped the ice you skated on. It was so embarrassing. And you knew about it too. Everybody knew about it. My mom, my brothers, Jordan, and even your brothers talked to me about it," she says, rolling her eyes at her younger self. 

"Don't be embarrassed, it was the sweetest thing. I loved the way it made me feel. It made me feel invincible, like I, like we, could do anything. It made me want to be better. For you. To be worthy of everything you thought I was, when I knew I wasn't." 

"If it makes you feel any better, I still think you hang the moon and the stars," she smiles softly. 

"I don't see how you could," he says, lowering his head. 

"Just because you're having a hard time right now doesn't mean I still don't think the world of you. You are the most amazing man I have ever met, the best partner ever, and my best friend. No matter what. You're more than a few months of rough patches," she comforts him, squeezing his hand. 

"I don't want to let you down," he admits. 

"You could never," she reassures him forcefully, putting her other hand on top of their intertwined ones. 

"When did we get this unhappy?" he asks, eyes sad and cast down. 

"A while ago," she shrugs. "I think we got used to it."

"I don't want to feel this way," he confesses, his voice rough around the edges. "I want to feel the way we used to when we were about to take the ice."

"I miss that feeling more than anything else," Tessa says, her voice unbelievably tender. 

"We should try to get it back," he suggests, eyes burning bright with childlike excitement.

"Do you mean…" she starts, not wanting to let the words leave her mouth for fear of jinxing the whole thing. Hope is the worst of evils. "Is that what you want?" she asks. 

"I want you," he replies with intent. 

"Scott…" she chides him. 

He shakes his head. "I'm sorry, that was a little intense."

She's almost afraid to ask. Her voice is small. "Did you mean it?"

"Yeah." The 'I always want you' that would be sure to follow, hangs in the air between them like a sledgehammer. It tastes metallic. 

"We should talk about this when you're a little less buzzed," she recommends. 

He suddenly squeezes her hand tightly. "Do you remember the last time we slept together?" he asks, his feverish voice warming her from the inside out. 

She wants to reprimand him. She knows it's a slippery slope. But she doesn't have it in her anymore tonight. "No, I don't," she sighs, laid bare in front of him. Honesty has a way of doing that to you. 

"Me neither," he exhales. 

"Somewhere in 2013, during Carmen, I think?" She tries to remember, but the details are fuzzy and this era of their lives gets hazier and hazier with each passing year. "God, has it already been more than two years?"

"If I had known," he starts, swallowing with difficulty. "If I had known the last time would be the last…" 

"Don't go there," she cuts him off. 

"There are so many things…" he stammers, "so many things that I would have done differently. So many things that I would have told you." 

"Please," she begs. "Please, don't do this to me. Not here. Not now. Not like this. Please," she pleads. 

His hand moves closer to her face and she closes her eyes instinctively. "I should have been nicer to you, T," he whispers, stroking a strand of hair. 

"Scott," she murmurs, stopping his hand. There are so many things she wants to tell him. So many things she won't. "Please stop. Not here." She takes his hand, returns it to his lap, and gets up. She's shivering like a leaf, a deep weight settling in her stomach. "I need to go."

"Tess!" he calls out softly, getting up as well, but she's quick on her feet and he watches her intensely as she walks swiftly in the direction of the castle. He knows better than to follow her.

Scott turns his head to the left, feeling a prickling glare on him and notices Kaitlyn out of the corner of his eyes. He can tell she's seen the whole scene unfold, but makes no move to look towards her. He sits back down on the rock Tessa vacated, puts his lips where hers were on the cup of hot chocolate and stares at the black rocky sand underneath his feet. 

*

Tessa is not proud of the fact that she managed to avoid him for the rest of the night. She should be more mature than this. She knows this, but, she can't help herself; she hates conflict and confrontation. She's safely tucked underneath the covers and halfway through her book when she hears a knock and the door handle rattling. She knows it's him before his head full of hair appears in the doorway. 

"Hi," he says sheepishly, closing the door behind him. 

"Is that how it is now?" she teases. "You just let yourself in?" 

He chooses to ignore the jab. "Can I hang out with you tonight?" he asks softly. 

Tessa looks at the clock; it's past eleven already. She wants to be alone and recharge her batteries after talking to so many people today, but she knows that she can have that with Scott. They can be alone together. 

"Sure," she agrees. 

She does not voice the thousand questions she has, the most important one being 'what will Kaitlyn think when she learns he's been in her room this late?' She's not sure it's a good idea to even be in close proximity right now. 

She moves to make room for him on his favorite side and hands him the remote as he lays beside her. "We had a fight," he says by way of an explanation. 

She saves him the lecture on running away from his problems; she has no legs to stand on on that one. "Okay," she nods. 

He chances upon some British romantic comedy about a time-traveling man starring Rachel McAdams and she goes back to her book. The low sounds, the flashing lights of the tv, and the rustle of pages being turned lulls him to sleep as he sinks deeper and deeper into the soft sheets and the comforting warmth of her presence. His expression is relaxed, his breathing even, and she takes a moment to admire his face and rake a gentle hand through his hair. It's one of the best nights she's had in a long time; she cherishes the fact that Scott is one of the few people she can be completely quiet with without it turning awkward. The silence is comfortable with him. His presence is enough.

She dog-ears her page — an heresy, she's aware — and reaches over Scott to turn off his light and then hers. She turns on her side, instinctively nestling her body against his, and hopes that sleep will claim her as quickly as it did him. 

It's 4 am when Scott wakes up to find himself fully clothed in Tessa's bed, but she's nowhere to be found. His eyes are bleary, but he can feel that the sheets on her side of the bed are cold. He sits up, rubbing the sleep from his eyelids, and, glancing around the room, he notices that her sneakers and her coat are missing. He knows exactly where she is; he doesn't even have to think about it for more than a minute. 

He quietly makes his way down the stairs and past the receptionist's desk, hoping she won't engage with him. The cold air hits him right in the face and he almost regrets not going back to his room to grab his coat — Kaitlyn would have woken up and he's a coward. He'd rather avoid her at the moment. The gravel crunches underneath his feet as he walks toward the beach and the little bench where he's sure to find Tessa seated. 

The stone bench looks like it belongs in another time, a more primitive time; ivy has twisted around its legs despite it being halfway buried in the sand. The night is pitch black, the stars and the moon hidden beneath a heavy layer of clouds. He hears the lapping of the water breaking against the razor-sharp cliffs. He can make out Tessa's back in the darkness and he silently comes up behind her, laying a freezing hand on her shoulder.

"I knew I'd find you there," he says, squeezing the spot where her neck meets her clavicle and sitting next to her. 

She shivers. "You always do." She can't look at him; she simply stares at the crashing waves in the distance. She came here to take her mind off of this clusterfuck they find themselves in, turn off her brain, and not think about anything.

"Can't sleep?" 

She shakes her head. 

"Are you still jet lagged?" he presses. 

"It's not the jet lag, it's you," she remarks, her tone cutting. 

"Tess…"

"You can't say all those things to me then come into my room, fall asleep next to me, and expect me not to feel things. It's not fair, Scott. You know it's not." 

"I'm sorry," he whispers, abashed. 

"Stop apologizing," she says and he recognizes the warning tone in her voice. "You have a girlfriend," she says. "You have no right to say those things to me. You have no right to make me feel like this." 

"Me having a girlfriend, or you having a boyfriend for that matter, has never stopped us before, Tess. Stop being a hypocrite."

"This is different and you know it. You're moving in with her."

"You know I'm not. Why are you like this?"

"Do you love her?" she asks again, point blank, finally turning her head toward him and looking at him. He looks miserable and she feels a bit guilty for being this harsh. 

It takes him a second for his tongue to start moving again in his mouth. "I love you." 

"That's not what I asked."

"I know it's not. That's all I got right now. Loving you is the only thing I've been sure of in my entire life."

"Why is this so hard?" 

He takes her hand in his, fingers intertwining instinctively. "Because you love me too." 

She presses herself against him, nestling against his side, and he puts an arm around her. "Some days, I wish I didn't love you this much."

"No you don't."

"It's always felt bigger than me. Like my body can't contain all of it."

"That's why my body is yours."

"Scott…" she whispers, her heart in her throat. 

"Just like your body is mine and always will be." 

She doesn't know what to reply to that. The truth of these two simply constructed sentences cuts deep within her. She burrows her head in the crook of his neck, smelling him. She has to refrain herself from sticking her tongue out and licking at his skin. 

"You have to listen to me and believe me when I say that I miss you, T," he says after a while. "I know I've been a shitty friend and a shitty partner to you, but it's the truth. I miss you. I want us to be close again. I want us to be like we used to be."

"Fucked up is what we used to be."

"Then I want a fresh start. I want to be close to you. I want to skate with you every day. I want the adrenaline, the competition, the regimented life. I want to spend every minute of every day by your side."

"Do you know what you're asking? Of me? Of yourself?"

"The Olympics are less than three years away. It's now or never."

She shakes her head. "Is that what it's about?"

"Don't play coy, you knew that's what it was about before I even opened my mouth." 

"So it's only about the Olympics then?" 

"It's about you and me too."

"There can be a you and me without the Olympics." 

"We haven't been really successful at it in the last few years though," he points out. "Think about it, wouldn't it be better if it were you, me, and the Olympics?"

"Is that really what you want? We can't make those kind of decisions lightly." 

"I want you, Tess," he says. "I want you and two gold medals around our necks. That's what I've been trying to tell you this whole time, but you don't seem to believe me so I'll keep saying it until you listen."

She shakes her head. "We need to think about this rationally. We're too emotional right now." 

"Are you really?" he asks, taken aback by her confession. She always seems so even-keeled to him. It's hard to imagine her being overrun by anything.

She disentangles herself from his embrace a little bit and looks up at him. Can't he see it? The way she burns for him? She knows she shouldn't but she can't help herself. She grabs his face — damn it all to hell — and presses her lips against his, slipping her tongue in his mouth when he gasps in surprise. 

Their kiss is feverish and sloppy, teeth clicking and tongues dancing. He grabs her waist tightly, brings her onto his lap, and lets himself be completely surrounded by her when she wraps her legs around his back, bringing their pelvises together. 

They break for air and the salt burns their lungs as she presses her forehead against his to catch her breath. "I want you so much," she whispers sultrily. "I've thought of nothing else since we got here," she confesses. "I want to feel you everywhere. I want you so fucking much, Scott, you have no idea." 

"I think I have a pretty good idea," he whispers back. "Because I feel exactly the same way. I want you so fucking much, Tess. I want to melt into you and never let go."

Her hips grind down on him as she rubs herself against him. She can feel him getting hard underneath her. She's only wearing her thin cotton pajamas underneath her coat. It would be so easy. So easy to just take him out of his pants, guide him inside of her and ride him to orgasm. She can feel herself getting wet and her inner walls fluttering just thinking about it. She locks her arms around his neck and plunges her tongue mercilessly into his mouth, devouring him with her lips. 

She wants to possess him. She wants his world to begin and end with her. It feels like a fire has started in the middle of her chest and is fighting to break free and explode out of her. She's never felt anything close to this with anyone other than him. Some days, she feels that it will completely destroy her, leaving her shattered on the ground in a million pieces. 

One hand grips her hip and the other slithers underneath her coat to land on her breast. He cups and kneads her so gently while his pelvis thrusts up roughly against her center. It's a study in contrast. 

"Tell me what you want, Tess," he utters huskily in between kisses. Her tongue feels like a caress and a stab at the same time. 

"I want you to fuck me so hard I forget the outside world exists," she whispers back, licking the roof his mouth teasingly. "Right now." 

He'll give her anything she asks for at this point, no matter the consequences. He grabs her ass with both hands and lifts her up. "People could see us, come on," he says, carrying her to a more secluded part of the beach, right against the side of one of the cliffs. 

"I don't give a fuck right now," Tessa pants in his mouth, tightening her legs around his waist. 

He swallows with difficulty. "Let's not give the receptionist a show," he groans as he feels her fingers tugging at the hair on the nape of his neck. 

He pins her against the rock to help support her weight as he unzips her coat. She's only wearing light cotton pajamas underneath. He wants to see her completely naked — it's been so long since the last time he's seen her bare for him — but he knows that's not what's on the menu this time. He sticks a hand down her pants and he almost freezes when he notices she's not wearing any underwear. He cups her with one hand, parting her, and rubbing her slit with two fingers. She's already so warm and wet. 

"Tell me what you want," he repeats, slanting his mouth in the crook of her neck, licking the exact spot he knows drives her wild. 

She shivers from his mouth — what he's doing with it and what's coming out of it. "Put your fingers in me," she orders. 

He rubs her clit a few times for good measure before plunging two fingers inside of her, getting more and more turned on at the way she gasps his name when she feels them thrust in and out. "Keep going," she moans, lifting her hips to match his rhythm. 

She wants to touch him so badly, she wants to feel him, hard, hot and slick around her fingers, but she can only hold onto his neck for dear life as he keeps on fingering her with purpose. "Press your palm harder against me," she requests.

His eyes are burning. He wants her so much he feels like there's fire spreading in his blood. He presses the heel of his wrist against her clit, rubbing hard on each downward stroke and he delights in her high-pitched moans. "Like that?" he smirks. 

"Don't stop," she cries out. Her legs are quivering and she fears she's not going to be able to keep them wrapped around his waist for much longer. 

If there's one thing that Scott is, it's hard-working. And he earns every single letter of that word tonight. He grabs her ass tighter with one hand as he pleasures her in a merciless rhythm with the other. He hears her breath catch in her throat, feels her inner walls fluttering around his fingers, and knows it's his cue for her first finale. "I love you Tess," he whispers, hot in her ear, before letting his lips trail to her mouth, kissing her deeply. "And you need to come now so that I can fuck you hard and fast." He swallows her moans and knows he just pushed her over the edge when all of her tightens like a vise around him and he feels her entire body vibrate. 

Tessa feels herself go floppy in his arms after her orgasm has finished making its way through her body. His fingers are still inside of her, rubbing gently, and it's like static electricity — little shocks making her clench endlessly. 

He kisses her so softly, his tongue licking hers lazily. "You need to put me down," she manages to say against his mouth. "I can't feel my legs anymore."

He smirks into her lips and loosens his hold on her, letting her feet touch the ground. "Good," he says, evidently proud of himself. "Turn around," he orders. 

She looks at him under her lashes seductively, removes her coat to put against the cliff and turns around, pressing herself against the stone, arching her ass. He lets one hand travel from the nape of her neck to her butt, following her spine, tracing each vertebra, and kneels behind her to slide her pajama pants down her legs. He lets her step out of them, kissing his way up her body, settling on her ass as he unbuckles his jeans and lowers them to his knees with his underwear.

His eyes feast on her moonlit body, trying to take everything in all at once. "Fuck," he says under his breath. "I don't have a condom," he groans.

She reaches behind her and finds him rock hard and already slick. "I don't care," she says, fisting him tightly and pumping him slowly. "Get inside me," she orders. 

He doesn't need to be told twice. He trails one hand back up her side, brushes her hair away from her neck, and grasps each of her breasts firmly, tweaking her nipples red, snaking his whole arm across her chest. She feels him brush against the back of her thigh and she arches back against it intuitively. He reaches a hand down her center and gently parts her, before lining himself up against her, coating his length in her wetness, and slowly pushes inside. 

"Fuck," she moans, backing up into him. 

"You feel so good Tess," he grunts in her ear, kissing and licking as much of her neck as he can. 

He thrusts so slow and so deep inside of her. It's not hard and fast like he promised her it would be. He wants to savor her. It's been so long since he's had her this way. He wants to revel in her. He knows she wants more, wants it faster — he reads her impatience in the way she wiggles her ass against him and the way her hands try to reach his butt to make him go deeper.

"Scott," she moans. She can feel every single inch of him sliding deliciously in and out of her. She's so wet that it makes the most obscene sounds. She loves every second of it — of him, bare, pushing, pushing, pushing into her. He's so deep this way, all the way in; she feels the slick skin of his stomach stick to her lower back every time he thrusts up. "Go faster," she orders. "I want to come."

She's about to unravel him in six words. "I won't last long if I go any faster, babe," he grunts, gripping her breasts and kneading them. 

"I'm so close," she moans. "Hurry it up," she backs up roughly against him. "Rub my clit," she tells him.

He almost can't take dirty-talking, assertive Tessa. He will blow his load in five seconds flat if he doesn't get a hold of himself. He slides a hand down her center and starts to rub frenziedly. It has the desired effect almost immediately; she gets so much louder as she moans and calls out his name. His thrusts are rough and fast, the sound of their wet skins slapping against each other echoing off the stone. His hips drives into her relentlessly, losing their rhythm as he gets closer and closer to the edge. 

Her voice catches in her throat with a sharp cry. "Scott," falls from her lips as she contracts all around him and goes off the deep end. White bursts behind her closed lids as her body follows his demanding rhythm instinctively.

"Fuck," he groans. She is so tight; he feels her warmth and wetness gush all around him. He grips her hips roughly. "You're pushing me out," he moans. "Stop wiggling so much," he smiles. 

He presses himself all the way against her body, skimming his hands up to cup her breasts, and drives into her hard for a few minutes before losing it completely.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck," he cries out, his whole body twitching as he keeps spilling inside of her. 

Her legs can't keep her up any longer and she collapses against him. He catches her quickly and lowers them both to the sand, pulling out of her, and letting her head rest on his chest.

"Are you okay?" he checks, stroking her hair as she nuzzles against him.

She nods and looks up at him, a sated smile of her lips. "I've never had sex on a beach before," she giggles. 

He chuckles. "Well, you can cross that off your list." He strokes her arm and her side, never getting enough of the feel of her skin underneath his fingertips. "I'm sorry, I didn't pull out," he apologizes. He knows it's bad manners especially when you're not wearing a condom. 

"Don't worry about it," she shrugs. "I'm on the pill and I'm clean."

"I meant for the cleanup," he said, grimacing a little, looking at all the dark sand surrounding them.

She cringes a little. "Yeah, it's not exactly ideal," she says, wiggling uncomfortably. 

"We should get back," he suggests, drawing circles on her arm. "I don't want you to get cold."

She nods quickly and he helps her get to her feet and put her coat back on. Her pajamas pants and his jeans are coated with sticky wet sand. It's the least inconspicuous thing in the history of beach sex. He takes her hand as they walk back to the castle, the receptionist side-eyeing them hard when she sees them trailing sand through the atrium and up the stairs. 

They get back to her door and he seems hesitant. "Come on," she whispers low. "Stay the rest of the night. We both need a good hot bath and some sleep."

Scott nods and she leads him inside. The room is dark and only the moon shines through the heavy velvet curtains. They can both feel the tension building up again between them. 

"Take off your clothes," she breathes quietly.

His breath gets stuck in his chest. "Tess…" 

She smiles. "I don't mean…" she stumbles. "I mean to get them laundered tomorrow."

He nods again and he watches her hang her coat and then take off her pajamas. In less than a minute, she's completely naked in front of him. Her breasts are bigger than the last time he saw her this way — he had felt the difference when he had held them earlier, but seeing them is even nicer. She's so pale in the moonlight, she almost glows silver; in its gleam, he can see himself dripping down her legs. 

Tessa can felt the heat of his gaze all over and starts to feel a bit self-conscious. "You're staring," she points out, covering her breasts with one arm. 

"You're really beautiful," he says, drinking in every inch of her and then taking his own clothes off. 

Tessa gasps at the sight of him. His body has changed a bit since Carmen, he's softer now, but she can see the underlying tonicity every time he moves his arms. He's still the most attractive man she's ever seen. Her body always reacts to his in a deeper way. It's physiological; she can't explain it.

"I'll go take a bath," she announces, grazing him on the way to the bathroom. 

He wonders if it's an invitation as he hears the water filling the bathtub. He knows he shouldn't, he knows it's bad, but he has no willpower whenever she's concerned. She's like a drug. As much as he tries to rationalize it in his mind, thinking that they've already gone this far, a little more wouldn't hurt, he knows that come sunrise, it will be a whole different ballgame. 

He shakes his head as he pushes the bathroom door open. Some candles are lit — he knows she always travels with some — the smell of vanilla and sandalwood is strong in the air. The steam from the hot water billows around her immersed body. Her eyes are closed and her head is leaning back against the edge. She looks like one of those selkie creature he's heard so much about ever since they've come to Scotland. 

"Move over," he tells her softly as he gets closer to the tub. She looks at him intensely — he swears the green of her eyes will drown him in their heat — and makes room for him. He slides in behind her, making the water slosh over onto the tiles, and wraps his whole body around her, entangling their legs and enlacing his arms around her waist, his hands resting on her stomach.

"I like this," she whispers softly, closing her eyes. Her filter is gone, her emotions are raw, bubbling under the surface. 

He tightens his arms around her. "I like this too," he whispers back. He lets himself enjoy the hot water and the feel of her body incased in his. "We need to talk about this," he says after a while. 

"I know," she says. And she does. She knows exactly the words that will come out of his mouth next. She's heard them a thousand time before. She knows this song, knows its chorus by heart. It seems like an eternity passes before she finds the courage to disentangle herself from his embrace and get out of the tub. "I'm getting sleepy," she explains with a shrug.

His eyes are glued on her ass as she exits the bathroom, snagging a towel on the way. He exhales and rubs a hand all over his face. He needs a few minutes to collect himself before he follows her out to the bedroom. She's already in bed, underneath the covers, when he joins her, and he notices that she has laid out one his old t-shirt for him to wear. He tries not to linger too long on this piece of information, for his own sanity, as he pulls it on.

He slips next to her under the heavy blanket, facing her. "Are you asleep?" he asks, stroking a finger along the ridge of her nose. 

"No," she sighs, opening her eyes. 

He snuggles closer to her, presses his forehead again her and kisses her. "I love you Tess," he breathes against her mouth and she knows he means it in every single way. 

"Me too," she murmurs, licking his bottom lip.

"Can I be the little spoon?" he smiles in between kisses. 

She chuckles, turns on her side, wraps her arms and legs around him, kisses the place between his shoulder blades, and lets sleep overtake her. 

A few hours later, she wakes up, startled by sharp continuous knocks on her door. Half-naked, sleep-deprived, and bleary-eyed, she makes her way to the door and almost chokes on her saliva when she opens it and sees Kaitlyn on the other side. 

"Hi!" the other woman says cheerily and Tessa silently thanks every higher power there is that the bed can't be seen from the doorway. 

She prays Scott won't wake up or make noise. "Hi," she replies, rubbing her eyes. Is she looking for Scott? Is she going to barge in and demand an explanation?

"I'm sorry, am I waking you up?" Kaitlyn asks gently.

"Yeah," Tessa admits. "I'm not a morning person, sorry," she tries to smile, her hands fidgeting with the frayed rim of her sleeping t-shirt.

"I'll get straight to the point then," Kaitlyn tells her. "I think we should be friends." 

Tessa's eyes widens and her mouth drops a little from shock. "Pardon me?" she asks. 

"You're Scott's best friend and his skating partner, we've been dating for over a year, and  yet you and I have barely spent any time together. I think we should be friends. I need to hear all the kid Scott stories you have." 

This is not what she would have expected and it completely takes her by surprise. "Um," she stammers. "Sure." Anything to get her out of here as quickly as possible. 

"Do you want to do the morning's activities together?" Kaitlyn offers. "There's some fishing, some archery, and a bike ride on the program." 

She forces herself to stick a smile on her face. "Yeah," she agrees with as much fake enthusiasm as she manages. "That sounds fun!" 

"Good!" Kaitlyn exclaims cheerily. "I'll let you wake up, eat some breakfast, and we'll meet in the hall at 10?" 

"That's a plan," Tessa acquiesces. "I'll need at least two liters of coffee to survive the day," she jokes. 

She closes the door after their chat is over and slides down on the floor, exhaling deeply. She walks back to the bed on shaky legs and notices that Scott is awake, sitting with his back against the bed-frame, eyes looking down on the tartan quilt. 

"I'm sorry," he says. "I should never have put you in this mess."

"We made our bed," she shrugs. "Now we have to lie in it." 

"You don't have to do it if it makes you uncomfortable. I'm so sorry," he keeps apologizing.

"Kaitlyn is a very nice girl," Tessa says after a while. "That's what makes it worse. She doesn't deserve any of this," she continues, gesturing between them. "You need to figure out what you want."

"I know," he says, eyes downcast. 

She's not overjoyed at the idea, but she puts on her best game face on and throws herself into it. It makes her very uneasy every time Kaitlyn stares at her a little too long, but she stopped comparing herself to Scott's girlfriends a long time ago — she knows they always gauge her anyways. It goes better than she would have imagined though; they end up spending all day together, enjoying various outdoorsy activities with Jen, Miku, and some of the guests. It's a girls' day; Scott is nowhere to be seen. It culminates with them going for a dip into the North Sea, coming out half frozen but giggly like schoolgirls, and trying to warm themselves up with huge white bathrobes and hot chocolates. 

Bundled in her fluffy robe, Kaitlyn stares at Tessa's face for a minute, trying to find some similarities between them. Tessa's gorgeous, but she doesn't look a thing like her, and she's almost ashamed to acknowledge the relief that floods her whole body. "I didn't think I would like you," she says with an honesty that's not usually her style.

Tessa snorts. "Scott's girlfriends never like me," she says. And frankly, she can't blame them; Scott has cheated on every single one of them with her. 

"I didn't expect you to be so…" Kaitlyn pauses. "Nice and fun, I guess?"

"Thank you," she replies hesitantly. "I guess?" she giggles. 

"It's hard to compete with you," she admits, looking down. 

"Then don't," Tessa says simply. "There's no competition." This feels both untrue and shadier than she intended. 

"It's just hard with all the history that you two share. It's hard to believe that you've never… crossed that line." 

Tessa shrugs, sipping her hot chocolate slowly. 

"Did you?" Kaitlyn persists. 

She contemplates telling her the truth, the whole truth, and watch the world burn. It would be cathartic. "Never," she lies with assurance, almost second nature. 

They make small talk on the way back to the castle where a hot shower and warm wooly clothes await them. Kaitlyn makes her promise to meet back downstairs at seven for dinner and music; Miku is singing and they don't want to miss it. 

She's putting on her third layer when she hears a sharp knock on her door and, immediately after, Scott slipping in her room, the soft padding of his steps an unmistakable rhythm her ears have grown used to. 

"So it's really like this, eh?" she shakes her head. "I could have been peeing with the door open." 

"I've held your hair back while you were throwing up, I can handle seeing you pee." He has the nerve to wink at her. 

"What do you want?" she mumbles. 

"Did they send back my clothes from the laundry with yours?" he asks, plopping himself on the bed. "It's not in my room and I kinda need them." 

"Don't tell me you only brought one pair of jeans," she cocks an eyebrow. 

"Okay, I won't," he smiles. 

"It's on the table," she points. "Go look for yourself." 

He rummages through the laundry bag, trying hard not to linger too long on the pajamas there and the images from last night it evokes in his mind when he was peeling them off her body. 

"Got it!" he says, grabbing his clothes. "You look very pretty," he remarks, letting his eyes roam over her body. "See you in ten?" he asks, though it's not really a question, pressing his lips against her cheekbone. 

She takes a deep breath to steady herself. Everything will be fine, she keeps repeating to herself over and over in her head like a mantra. Maybe if she repeats it enough, it'll actually be fine in the end. The power of positive thinking and visualization.

It all goes to hell thirty minutes into what she can only think of as Scottish happy hours. The pub is small, cramped, and smells like wood fire and whiskey; everyone seems to be happily buzzed and their loud chatting echoes off the walls in a low hum — like white noise on the radio. Miku and Michael are doing their sound check while Kaitlyn talks her ear off about the finer points of curling, which Tessa couldn't care less about if she's being honest about it, but after fucking her boyfriend raw last night, she feels like the least she could do is listen. Scott has gone to get them drinks and she studies his back intently, watching the muscles ripple under the taut skin of his shoulder blades as she hears him shout out their order. 

There's an ear-splitting high pitched sound coming from the speakers indicating a final check and the whole pub descends into complete silence for the briefest moment. Miku's voice lifts up from the small makeshift stage and the first notes on the piano accompanying her resonate all across the room.

You must understand though the touch of your hand

Makes my pulse react  

That it's only the thrill of boy meeting girl

Opposites attract

It's physical

Only logical

You must try to ignore that it means more than that

Miku's voice makes her shiver. The song is stripped down to its bones letting the lyrics and the story shine through. It tugs at something within; she doesn't quite know what's happening with her — her heart is beating wildly in her chest, her palms are clammy, her head feels like it's wrapped in cotton, and she has trouble swallowing. As if he can feel that something is not right with her, Scott's eyes meet hers from across the room. 

What's love got to do, got to do with it

What's love but a second hand emotion

What's love got to do, got to do with it

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

Her vision goes hazy purple as she gets lost in his eyes, her breath gets caught in her throat, and her stomach tightens into knots. Some kind of weird magic is weaving itself from deep inside her and threatens to burst forward. 

Scott's head tilts to the left. Do you feel this, his eyes are asking. Yes I do, hers reply, blinking owlishly. 

It may seem to you that I'm acting confused

When you're close to me

If I tend to look dazed I've read it someplace

I've got cause to be

There's a name for it

There's a phrase that fits

But whatever the reason you do it for me

The spell is broken when Kaitlyn's hand lands on her arm. "Are you okay, Tessa?" she asks, her voice sharp, cutting through the gossamer mist of their gazes. 

She shakes her head. "Yeah, I'm sorry," she apologizes. "I mean, no. I don't feel very good. Dinner must not agree with me," she makes excuses, getting up suddenly as if electrified. 

She gathers her coat and scarf and hurries to the exit, forcing herself not to look back. She doesn't want to catch Kaitlyn's fox-like eyes. 

"Hey, wait," Scott cries out, grabbing her arm, before she can open the door. "Where are you going?" he asks, his hand skimming around her elbow to hold her hand. 

She has to fight her instincts to both lean into it and tear herself away. "I can't do this," she whispers, the music taking over all her senses. "I'm sorry." 

"Tess," he pleads. "What's happening?"

What's love got to do, got to do with it

What's love but a second hand emotion

What's love got to do, got to do with it

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

"I feel like I'm going to be sick," she replies honestly. "I'm going to back to the hotel."

"Let me get my coat. I'll walk with you," he offers. 

"No!" she cuts him off, hands flying to his chest. "You should stay, enjoy the rest of the evening." And your girlfriend. 

"Come on," he says. "Tell me what happened. You went from 0 to 100 in a split second." 

She tightens her hands against his pectorals, nails almost digging in. "I'm feeling very overwhelmed and I need some time alone," she explains. 

He knows better than to push. "Okay," he nods. "Are you sure you don't want to me to walk you home? I don't like the idea of you alone in the dark." 

"I'll be fine," she reassures him, letting her hands fall and putting them away in her coat's pockets. 

His open lips leave an invisible mark as he kisses her temple. It feels blistering against the cold of the Scottish night as her pace quickens through the moors. 

I've been taking on a new direction

But I have to say

I've been thinking about my own protection

It scares me to feel this way

She's already underneath the covers when she hears the knock on her door. She doesn't immediately put her book down, expecting him to just let himself in as he's done ever since they arrived. The knocking continues and, wondering if her spidey senses are wrong for once, she gets up to go open it. 

"Can I come in?" he asks, leaning his head against the doorway. 

"Since when do you ask?" she smiles. 

"You know you've been yelling at me to wait for you to open the door, right?" he sighs. 

"I didn't know you would actually listen," she snorts, making room for him to go come in. 

He makes his way to her bed, toeing off his sneakers. "Your book sounds boring," he tells her, putting it on her nightstand. 

"Good thing you're not the one reading it then," she looks at him pointedly. 

"She mouths off," he smirks. 

"You love my mouth," she smirks back. 

"Come here," he pats the empty space on the bed next to him. 

She knows this game, they've played it before — for all their lives really. They both try to fight it; that's what they've been told to do, over and over again, ever since they reached puberty. It's never worked. No matter the guilt and the excuses, they always find their way back to each other. She can only find true comfort in his arms and she doesn't have the strength to fight this at the moment.

She sashays to the bed and climbs into his lap. "Is that what you came in here for?" she asks, pressing her face closer to his. 

He always chews strawberry gum and she can feel his candy sweet breath on her lips. "Not originally, no," he confesses, hands grasping around her waist to steady her undulating hips. 

"Where's Kaitlyn?" she asks, licking his cupid's bow lewdly. 

His jaw clenches. "Asleep," he exhales. 

"What do you want?" she asks, her tongue licking its way to the tip of his nose. 

"You," he replies, trying to slant his mouth on hers, but failing to do so as she pulls away. 

She removes her pajama top and presses his head to her naked breasts, his mouth closing on a pert pink nipple. 

"Try again," she dares him. "What do you want?" she asks, hips grinding down on him as he suckles at her chest. 

He growls, flips them over so she's pinned to the mattress, and yanks down her pajama bottoms and her panties all in one go. 

He slips his tongue into her mouth and kisses her deeply for a few minutes. "I want to lose myself in you," he whispers against her skin, sliding his mouth down her body until it finds its way between her open thighs. 

Her hands tangle in his hair and press his head harder against her, his tongue rubbing, circling, licking, and sucking. She bites her lips to stop herself from making too much noise, but loses that fight when his hands grab her ass to tug her whole body down the mattress. 

She's soaking his whole face, dripping down his chin, the back of her thighs, and onto the sheets. "You taste like the ocean," he groans, pulling himself away from her long enough to slide three fingers in before sucking her clit into his mouth, tongue stuck firmly to the roof of his mouth. 

Her whole body tenses as it welcomes the intrusion and starts to move to the rhythm of his dancing fingers. She feels herself climbing to the top of the cliff, slowly but surely, as he works his tongue and his hand against her. 

"Scott," she moans, one hand fisting his hair and one hand pinching her nipples.

"Come in my mouth," he mumbles against her flesh. 

He dips his tongue lower, intently pressing his nose against the length of her, and suddenly her spine arches off the bed, her body seizes up, squeezing his fingers tight inside of her, and gushing all over the mattress. 

He licks her clean, slowly and lazily, like lapping chocolate cake batter off a whisk, delighting in her salty tangy taste. She drags his head to her face and sticks her tongue in his mouth, kissing him in a frenzy as she reaches her hands between them to try and unbuckle his belt and unzip his jeans. 

He pulls away from her lips, smirking. "I'm not done with you yet," he tells her, head dipping down once again and burrowing his tongue inside of her.

What's love got to do, got to do with it

What's love but a second hand emotion

*

Los Angeles, California, USA - March 2018

Scott wipes his sweaty brow as they get out of the studio. If he had known he would be this nervous in front of a comedian, he would have put on more deodorant. His white shirt is completely soaked through around the collar and under his armpits. He sneaks a glance at Tessa who's slipping on her favorite pair of sunglasses, cool as a cucumber — it figures. He goes to wipe his hand on his pants and notices a beige streak from his hand. 

"I hate makeup," he complains as he gets into the car taking them back to their hotel. 

"I have some wipes in my purse if you want to take it off your face," she says, rummaging through her bag to find her Nivea pack and handing it to him. 

"Of course you do," he laughs as he removes every trace of foundation from his face. 

"I know you," she shrugs, stretching her legs and changing out of her heels.

"I still need a shower. I'm dripping with sweat," he scrunches his nose with discomfort. "So this was a disaster, right?" he checks with her. 

She snorts. "Come on, it wasn't that bad," she tries to reassure him. 

"I was a complete mess," he shakes his head. "And we didn't even get to cheat for that game." 

"We did fine," she laughs. "Although I didn't actually know you had such a crush on JLo," she points out. 

"Who didn't have a crush on her?" he jokes. "The early 2000s were a blessing." 

"You know that tour we keep saying we'd love to do in the fall?" she asks innocently. "We could incorporate a little JLo and a little Reese in it." 

"Don't jinx it," he warns her. "We're still waiting to hear from sponsors." 

"I'm not jinxing it!" she protests. "I'm just saying, we could have fun with some of the costumes." 

"You'll handle the costumes and I'll handle the music, deal?" he offers her his hand to shake on it. 

She narrows her eyes. "I don't trust you to not make me skate to The Hip and ACDC for two hours." 

"You do know me," he laughs and he leans in to kiss her softly on the lips. 

Her hand goes to cup his cheek, grazing her fingertips along the top of his cheekbone. "Your skin feels so tight," she comments, pulling away from the kiss. 

"It is," he sighs deeply. 

She brings her hand to touch the corner of his bottom lip. "You're starting to break out too," she notes. 

"I know," he grumbles. "Stress and shaving are not good for me. I can't believe I still have to deal with this shit at thirty and you're out there looking like a porcelain doll." 

The corners of her mouth lift in a gentle laugh. "I have some things in my suitcase for that once we get back to the hotel." 

"Wait," he says, suddenly excited. "I have an idea." He taps on the window separating them from their driver to get his attention. "Hey, would you mind making a quick detour to In & Out on the way to the hotel? We're starving," he tells him.

"We are?" she chuckles. 

"We barely ate anything this morning because we were so nervous and how long until we get another shot at In & Out? We're never in the States. I'm craving a Double Double and a pink lemonade." 

"Fast food it is," she laughs. "But don't complain again about getting breakouts, you know how your skin reacts to too much greasy food." 

Fifteen minutes later, Scott is licking the melted cheese stuck to the paper while Tessa is finishing her burger. 

"This is so good," he moans, stealing a handful of her fries. 

She slaps his hand away. "Hey!" she protests. "You've already eaten all of yours, leave mine alone!"

"You're too slow T," he teases, taking a huge gulp of his pink drink. 

"I was savoring," she sticks her tongue out at him, eating the last bite of her burger and finishing the three fries Scott has managed to leave her. "Hand me that lemonade," she asks. 

"I knew you would regret getting a water," he shakes his head, handing her the cup. 

"I need something sweet after all that savory," she says in between thirst-quenching swallows. 

His eyes darkens as he takes her hand and brings it to his mouth, licking the salt off her fingers. "You're both at the moment," he says, voice low, as he sucks on her fingertips. 

She shakes her head to try and dissipate the haze of lust that seems to have suddenly engulfed the back of the car. 

"Behave yourself," she chides gently. 

And surprisingly, he does. When they get back to their room, Scott makes a beeline for the bathroom, leaving a trail of clothes behind him. 

"You just couldn't wait for that shower," she smiles as she looks at his delicious naked form behind the glass. 

"Thank God that interview is over," he says. She watches the muscles move underneath his skin as he lathers his body with soap. It's mesmerizing.

She removes her makeup and washes her face carefully. "You better get used to it, we have three more before flying to Japan." 

He peaks his head. "Yeah, but those guys we know. It's gonna be a relaxed and casual, like having a beer with friends."

She picks up a luxurious looking glass jar and slathers a layer of pink clay all over her face. "You know you're too hard on yourself; you're not that bad."

"You have to say that cause you're my best friend and you love me," he points out, getting out and knotting a towel at his waist. "I'm kinda hopeless and you know it."

"You're just… an open book, your face is so expressive. It's a good thing," she reassures him. "It's one of the things I love about you, how open hearted you are."

He turns to look at her. "Oh no, I wanted the pink one!" he whines, playfully booping the tip of her nose. 

"The pink one is to soothe and moisturize," she explains. "You get the green one," she shows him the second glass jar. "It's purifying and healing."

"Lay it on me," he jokes with a grin that makes her automatically beam at him. 

"Sit," she says, guiding him to the edge of the bathtub. 

He opens his legs to make room for her and lets his hands rest on her hips as she spreads a thick layer of green goo on his face, rubbing it in deeper on his cheeks and chin. "All done," she says, recapping the jar. She can't help running her hands through his wet hair a few times, it's glorious, almost curling on his forehead.

He looks at his green face in the mirror. "You're so much more beautiful than me. I look like the Hulk."

"Here," she says, handing him a small bottle of floral water. "Spritz that every five minutes on your face; you can't let the clay dry or it'll dry out your skin." 

He takes it and tries in. "Ooooooooh," he cries out excitedly. "Smells like roses, I love it!" he carries on, spritzing some more. 

She shakes her head. "You're such a dork."

"You know what they say, business partners that mask together, stay together," he winks. 

She snorts. "You can say couple, you know. I'm not going to bolt through the door or anything." 

The corners of his eyes and his mouth go soft. "Sightseeing in Venice and walk on the beach before dinner with Cara and Kelly tonight?" he asks. 

"It's a date," she says, kissing his nose and lips carefully. 

*

Beijing, China - July 2015

Fourteen hours of flight to China, thirty minutes on a bus, and the only thing he can think about is how much he misses the smell of an ice rink in the morning. He's been teaching classes with Tessa over the summer, but it's not the same. The first whiff of ice at 6 am when the ice has just been polished and is waiting for the blades to cut through it smoothly like butter — it's incomparable. And he craves it. He craves everything about his old life: the familiar patterns, the rigorous training, the careful and strict schedules, the delicious bone deep exhaustion after a whole day of skating and going to the gym, the unyielding pressure of competition like an iron bar across his chest, and, most of all, he misses skating with Tessa and seeing her every day. Before their little break, they used to spend almost every hour of every day together and if his body longs for one thing more than anything else, it's her. He misses the scent of her hair, the way her ribs and her hips feel cupped in his hands, the warmth of her winded breath on his lips, and her unwavering green eyes looking deeply into his. 

All of this is more painful to admit to himself than anything else: the inevitability of it all. He would slap himself for thinking — this is Tessa's thing after all — but at this point, frankly, he would have to agree with her: it feels like fate, or, rather, a cruel trick of hers. She's been weaving her cunning fingers through their lives, having her way with them. The fact that he can't quit her — that they can't quit each other really — proves that. He's thought long and hard about all of this, night after night, staring at the ceiling, Kaitlyn asleep next to him, guilt eating him up from the inside out.

Tessa and him… They're like crooked trees. They grew up together, literally, together, one with the other, intertwined — their bodies adapting, developing so they would fill each other's curves and dips. When he says he craves her, he's not being hyberbolic; his body is literally in withdrawal. It's not used to being so far away from her all the time. And there's nothing he yearns for more than the feel of her hand in his.

They've talked about it. Of course they have. Ever since Scotland, they've been texting and kind of talking about it, in careful thinly veiled words, not wanting to get their hopes up or put pressure on the other. Tick tock tick tock tick tock, he keeps hearing in his mind, time is running out. 

"Whatcha thinking about?" Tessa asks, laying a hand on his and he feels electricity prickling his touch-starved skin. 

He turns his eyes away from the moving landscape and looks at her. "I miss the smell of the ice rink in the morning," he says honestly. 

"That's an odd thing to think about on the way to the Great Wall of China," she smiles, her voice tinted lilac with melancholy. 

"I've had a lot of time to think about it," he jokes. "You fell asleep as soon as the plane took off, I had to find something to occupy my mind." 

"And a movie was out of the question?" she chuckles. 

"I could only watch Inside Out so many times," he shrugs. 

She winces. "Oh, you should have woken me up, I would have held your hand while you cried and given you some tissues." 

"Sadness has a purpose, T," he cries out, his voice getting higher. 

"I know," she says, half reassuring, half teasing.

"Do you ever think," he starts carefully — they're only one hour into this three-hour bus ride and he doesn't want to ruin the mood. "About what if? he asks. 

"What if what?" she asks, curious. What if they had won gold in Sochi? What if they had confronted their feelings back in February? What if Kaitlyn stopped being in the picture?

"What if we came back?" he finally asks, letting out a deep breath. "I'm serious. What if we did? Korea is a little more than two years away."

"I think about that every day," she admits, heart pounding behind her ribcage. "Where would we go?" she asks, already knowing the answer, but wanting to hear it from his mouth. 

"Montréal?" he suggests. 

"Would you really be willing to move your whole life there for two years?" she asks, secretly pleased they're on the same wavelength.

"Yes, of course," he replies instantly. "I can't imagine anyone but Marie and Patch coaching us. Would you? You'd need to be on board with this too." 

"I'd be on board. 100% on board. What kind of music would we choose?" she asks, delighting in this little game. 

"Metallica?" he laughs. 

She scrunches her face in disapproval. "What about Pride and Prejudice?" she asks, hopeful. She made him budge on Audrey, maybe she would on Jane too. 

"Tess! Come on!" he whines. "I will always veto Pride and Prejudice. And Hall & Oates too, so don't get any crazy ideas." 

"How about Tina Turner?" she offers. "You remember?"

He gulps with difficulty. "Yeah," he says softly. "I remember." And he does. Every single detail of what happened that night. 

"It's a beautiful song," she explains herself. 

"It is," he agrees. "What kinds of things would you want to do?" He likes this little game of theirs too. 

"The field has changed so much," she tells him. "We could really create some beautiful art, bring some versatility, change styles, move away from the lyrical, and do something edgier?" 

"We could improve the mechanics of our skating, go back to the basics like we did in 2012, but better."

"The pattern next year is going to be Midnight Blues and then Swing or Hip Hop," she adds, having looked up the information a while back.

"Sam would have a field day with this," he nods eagerly.

"Imagine the fun we could have on the ice with that?" she grins, already making a list of possible songs in her head.

"We could get that gold in 2018," Scott carries on. "We could… not miss our last shot at the Olympics." 

"We could," Tessa says coyly. "But it can't be all about revenge or redemption," she warns him. "You know what happens when we don't do it for us."

"It would be for us," he agrees. "We'd have to be sure to have that passion back. To make sure those grueling long hours of training and all those sacrifices would be worth it in the end." 

"We could make it work," she finally admits, a tinge of hope making her voice quiver. 

It's kind of funny that even after eighteen years of almost daily conversations, they can make that little game of 'we could, we would' last for the remaining of the bus ride. Time flies. They get so excited talking about what their lives could be like in the next few months that, after a few more hours trekking the Great Wall of China, the conditional melts into the future. And the mental picture they're both painting starts to feel more and more real with every step they take under the drizzling rain. 

"We'll have to polish up on our French," Scott says, out of breath, but looking at her hiking by his side. "If we're gonna live in Montréal," he says in his best accent, which makes her dissolve into laughter, "we can't expect to speak English all the time."

"We'll have to get back into shape," she responds. "That will be a lot harder than the French, you can bet on that." 

"Please," he snorts. "You're in amazing shape. Me, on the other hand… It's going to be difficult." 

"It's going to be difficult for the both of us, but we'll have each other. We need to test the waters as soon as possible with Marie and Patch. We need a new exhibition program for the spring, this could be it." 

"After what Patch said to me, you can bet your cute ass I'll be showing them I'll have it in me to do this." 

She stops in her tracks and turns fully to face him. "We're really doing this?" she asks, her palms getting clammy, sweat dripping down her back, and her pulse racing. Suddenly this feels too real. Like they're not ready for that massive leap into the unknown. The enormity of this decision feels like a kaleidoscope of butterflies taking flight in her stomach.

Scott looks at her and has the nerve to shrug. "Well… yeah," he grins. "What do you say, Virtch? Wanna make a comeback with me?" he asks, beaming at her and holding out his hand. 

He can almost smell the ice rink and the strawberry of her shampoo.

He only wants to feel her hand in his again.

Her eyes glisten aqua and she tells herself the warm tears she feels are just droplets of rain. "Let's do this," she nods fervently, taking his hand, lacing their fingers together, remembering the first time she ever did it — when she was seven and he was nine. 

It feels exactly the same.

*

Montréal, Québec, Canada - October 2015

Scott loves the feel of the leaves crunching under his feet this time of year in Montréal. The sound brings him back to when he was a kid and his mom allowed his brothers and him to dive headfirst into the huge piles they had gathered in their backyard. He looks at Tessa breathing in the crisp air and marveling at the gradation of colors in the trees.

He grazes his hand with hers. "Remind me why I'm putting myself through this?" he sighs. 

"You love Sam and it's gonna be fun," she tells him, squeezing his fingers. 

"You know I'm doing this for you and not Sam, right?" he smiles, opening the door to the dance studio and letting her go first. 

"You need to get some flexibility in those hips, Moir," she teases, pinching him in the very spot. 

"My hips are plenty flexible and you know it," he smirks. 

She laughs. "Not when you dance hip hop they're not and you know it." 

They're warming up and stretching on the floor when Sam enters the room with his laptop and cellphone in hand. 

"Ready to get jiggy with it?" he grins, cocking a brow in their direction. 

"Not even close," Scott replies, engulfing him in a quick hug. 

The first bars of Will Smith's song starts playing over the speakers and they catch each other's eyes; 1998 was a good year for them. 

"Let's go, let's go, my young grasshoppers," Sam orders them excitedly, encouraging them to get up as he goes to set his cellphone against the mirror in front of them. 

"You're gonna ruin my street cred if you post that on social media," Scott jokes. 

"You have no street cred, get to work and stop whining," she tells him, smacking his ass playfully with a towel. 

"If you smack my ass, I'm going to smack yours, babe, you've been warned," he teases her. 

Sam looks between the two of them and shakes his head. "If you two are done arguing like an old married couple, should we get to it?"

Sam's never-ending energy is contagious and even though Scott has resigned himself to the fact that his pelvis will never move like Tessa's, he's had a ton of fun today, just like she promised, and that's all that really matters. Even if, he can admit this, it does look like his hips are weighted by lead when he watches the replay of their dance on Tessa's instagram once he's back in his hotel room.

Tessa doesn't even knock as she lets herself into his room carrying two paper bags. She toes off her sneakers and plops down on the bed. 

"I got you a BLT," she tells him, handing him one of the bags. 

"No dessert?" he takes out his humongous sandwich and mimics emptying the bag on the sheet. 

"I got us two brownies," she says, taking out a plastic container with her grilled chicken and vegetables.

"You know the way to my heart," he chuckles, putting a hand on his chest. 

"We deserve a treat after all those gym sessions," she shrugs. "My legs are killing me."

"I'm sorry," he says, grabbing a bite of his sandwich with one hand and one of her legs with the other. 

"It'll be okay once we get settled into a good rhythm and I have access to regular physio appointments," she shrugs again. 

"Don't do that," he says softly. "Don't shield or diminish your pain to make me feel better. It didn't work before. We're doing this right this time. You tell me when you're in pain and I tell you when I struggle, deal?"

The corners of her mouth lift gently. "Deal," she says. "We have that Skype interview with B2Ten next week too. My legs would benefit from their help like they did during the Olympics."

He starts rubbing and kneading the muscles of her calf. "I'll take care of your legs until B2Ten takes over," he offers. 

"Never stop doing that," she moans as her calf sighs with gratitude under his firm yet gentle hand. 

He feels his whole body tighten hearing that sound coming out of her mouth. "How about you let me finish my sandwich first?" he jokes, tapping her leg gently. 

"I'm going to hold you to that," she wags a finger in his face before going back to her dinner. 

"So," he says, changing the subject. "I've confirmed ice time in two weeks at home and then with Marie and David in December here in Montréal. I think I could book some for us in January or February too so we can start working on the Midnight Blues, but we'll have to be very discreet about that. All the other Gadbois teams will be there before Worlds."

"We need to think about some kind of announcement. I'm sure Marie and Patch will tell the teams at their school, but we need to tell Kaitlyn and Andrew before we say anything to any kind of media," she says. "Did you tell your family?" she asks. 

"Yeah and half of Ilderton probably knows by now," he smiles, looking sheepish. "They won't spill the beans though, don't worry. Did you?" 

"Yeah, I called my mom and Jordan and I'm sure they passed on the info down the family tree. Did you," she hesitates. "Did you…tell Kaitlyn?" she finally asks, the question burning her lips for the last three months.

He rubs the back of his neck and looks down at his food. "Um… yeah," he confesses, tips of his ears pinking up. "We broke up actually."

A piece of kale falls on her lap. "What, when?" she cries out. "How, why? Why didn't you tell me?" she asks, her voice quickening. 

"A while back," he admits, seeming very interested in a loose thread on his jeans. "In September."

"Are you okay?" she asks, laying a hand on his. "Do you want to talk about it? I'm sorry, I have a million questions. Was she the one to break it off? Because of the comeback?" 

"No," he answers after a few seconds. "I broke it off." 

"Why would you do that?" she asks, eyes wide and mouth half open. 

He pulls his hand away from hers. "Why?! Are you seriously asking me that question? You have some nerve, I'll give that to you." 

She narrows her eyes at him. "Excuse me?" she says, her voice getting high-pitched.

"We spent that whole Scotland trip sneaking around and fucking every chance we got and you have the audacity to ask me why I broke up with her? I think the answer would be obvious enough!"

"That never seemed to bother you with Cassandra," she seethes. 

"That was a low blow, Tess, and you know it," he grits his teeth, trying to keep his temper in check as best he can. 

"I'm not a mind reader," she snaps back. "You were all ready to move in with her at the beginning of the summer." 

He pinches the bridge of his nose. "I was never going to move in with her," he growls. "Fuck, how many times do I have to say that?" 

"Tell me then, why did you break up with her?" she pesters him. "Because nothing you do is ever obvious to me."

"What do you want to hear?" he asks her, eyes ablaze. "That I broke up with her because I couldn't see this going anywhere? Because I was an asshole who cheated on her and she deserved better? Because we're coming back and any relationship would be a distraction? Because I love you?" he fires away. "Is that what you wanted to hear, Tess? That I broke up with her because I love you? That I'm doing this comeback so that I can be close to you again? You know all of that already, but you never believe me when I tell you." 

She closes her eyes tight. "I want to hear the truth," she manages to get out before her throat closes up. 

He leans in, brings a hand to the nape of her neck, and pulls her face closer. "That was the truth, Tess. All of it. I broke up with her cause I don't see this going anywhere when I'm going to pack my life away to Montréal where we'll be training 24/7 for the next Olympics."

"And?" she pushes. 

"And because I love you and I can't keep lying to her or myself about my feelings. I'm coming back to win another gold, to feel the adrenaline and the rush of competition, but most of all, I'm coming back for us, for you," he bares his soul. 

"You know we can't, right?" she says, leaning into his embrace, pressing her forehead against his. "We can't risk this. Any of this: the comeback, the Olympics, our partnership, our relationship. We can't. No distractions, remember?"

"No distractions," he agrees. "It's gonna be a long three years…" he laughs. 

"We've lived through worse," she chuckles.

"We can do this," he says assuredly. 

They're doing it. 

They're coming back.

 *

London, Ontario, Canada - March 2018

It's well after 11pm when Scott lets himself into Tessa's house as quietly as he can. He doesn't want to wake her up just in case she's already asleep. He drops his hockey gear in the living room and he knows she's not going to be happy about it tomorrow. She doesn't like it when he leaves his things laying around everywhere.

He can see the light from her bedroom as he climbs the stairs quickly to join her. 

"Hey Tess," he greets, closing the door behind him. 

She's lying on her bed, on top of the covers, dressed only in one of his hockey jerseys. She's scrolling through her phone attentively. 

"Hey Scott," she says softy, raising her head to catch his gaze. "Have a nice game?" she asks.

"Yeah, it was fun," he replies. "We won. And the kids I met were cool."

"That's great, congratulations," she says, but he can hear there's something amiss in her tone. "Come here," she beckons tapping his side of the bed.

"I need to take a shower first. I'm all sweaty," he points out. 

"I like you all sweaty," she says languorously as she crawls on the bed to grip him by his jersey. "Come here," she says as she pulls him onto the bed. 

She climbs on top of him quickly, grinding against his growing erection. He can tell she's not wearing panties. He can feel her warmth seeping into him. 

"So, anything you wanna say to me?" she asks, letting her hands roam on his chest. 

"Yeah," he gulps, "keep going." 

"No, I mean, don't you have something you wanna say to me?" she insists. "Maybe about something you said to a group of girls you took a picture with?" 

With her grinding on top of him like that, it's hard to think about anything else. "I honestly don't know what you're talking about," he replies, grasping her hips firmly.

"Oh really?" she asks, a predatory smile on her lips. "How about this?" she says, taking her phone and shoving it under his nose. He can see her Instagram feed and the picture he took with three girls at the game. "I've been getting tagged in quite a few interesting things tonight, wouldn't you say?" she asks, eyes twinkling with mirth.

"Listen, Tess, nothing happened with those girls. They just wanted a picture," Scott stutters, feeling the need to explain himself. It's weird she would actually notice something like this; she's not usually the jealous type so he knows it's not about that. 

"Oh I don't care about the picture," she says, her voice saccharine sweet. "I'm way more interested in the caption: 'when you ask Scott Moir to join you for a Brewski, but he has to get back to Tessa,'" she reads slowly. "I've been tagged and everything," she carries on. 

"Oh shit, Tess…" he exclaims. 

"'Oh shit Tess' is right!" she says, pushing herself harder on top of him. 

"It just slipped out, I'm sorry," he apologizes, his hands tightening on her waist.

"Why did we even bother saying we weren't together for last two weeks if the minute, the second, you're on your own, you go ahead and fuck it up by saying you need to get home to me?" 

"Listen, it's not a big deal," he answers. "Everyone probably thinks I was meeting you to practice for Stars on Ice," he says, stroking the skin of her thighs to calm her down.

"Right," she says sarcastically. "Because it's totally normal for two platonic business partners to meet up at 11 pm to train after you've exerted yourself at a hockey game. Sure. It's not shady at all."

"I mean, it's not impossible," he shrugs, looking impish. 

"You know what?" she asks. "Whatever," she sighs. "Do whatever the fuck you want, say whatever the fuck you want, I don't even care anymore," she finishes. 

"Come on, Tess," he pleads with his best puppy eyes as he keeps on running his hands over her stomach and breasts. "I said I was sorry."

"No, really," she insists. "I don't care even anymore. You just can't keep your mouth shut. King of slip-ups." 

"Tess," he starts saying, but she cuts him off immediately, putting her hand over his lips.

"And since you have such a big mouth, Moir," she says, her voice low and her green eyes darkening with desire, "I'm going to put it to good use." 

Scott can only watch as she removes the hockey jersey she's wearing. Naked Tessa is a glorious sight to behold. Slowly, she pulls herself up on top of him until his face is right between her opened thighs. She braces herself on the headboard behind him.

"Fuck, Tess," he groans, grasping her ass so tightly he's sure it's going to bruise tomorrow. He can feel her burning heat on his face. She's already slippery wet, just the way he likes her. 

"Shut up and get to work, Scott," she says as she lowers herself on him, sitting on his face. 

He doesn't even reply. His tongue is too busy. 

That's one way to make sure he shuts up.

TO BE CONTINUED