They could manage game seven without him. Harleigh slid the glass door shut behind her.
"What are you doing Stamkos? I am on date. You can't just break into my apartment."
Steven leaned a hip against her counter. He gave her that cocky smile that made panties drop around Tampa. "Not much of a date." he shrugged. Harleigh stared at him. There he was all blonde, scruffy, and ridiculously hot. He had shed the suit coat. But still had on that vest that hugged him in all the right places. He wasn't playing fair. His shirt was open at the neck and his sleeves rolled up. He was all golden skin, hair, and scruff. Golden skin over muscle. Lots of muscle.
"It's a great date. Braxton is a combat marine and a nice guy. He's normal." said Harleigh.
"If it was a great date he would have taken you somewhere nice." said Stammer smirking at her. She was fucking perfect. She had on a black bolts t-shirt. He knew it was one of his because it had the C on the front. It was a little boy’s shirt and was too short. It rode up over the waist band of her cutoffs. Those fucking tiny jean shorts haunted his dreams. She might be 5ft tall, but in those shorts her legs looked like she was supermodel tall. "And you wouldn't have my name across your back."
"You're fucking obnoxious"
Steven laughed "But you love me." He levered away from her counter and started towards her.
Harleigh skirted around him. She headed to the table and grabbed the wine bottle. She was trying to pull the cork free but it was stuck from where Brax had put it in the bottle. Steven casually sauntered over and took the bottle from her. His forearm and bicep flexed as he pulled the cork free. Arm porn, thought Harleigh. He sloshed some wine in her glass. Then turned the bottle up and took a drink. "I've had a bad night. I just want my best friend. Is that too much to ask?"
"Yes. I am on a date!" she cried "You have to leave."
"Is he staying?" growled Steven.
"None of your damn business, Steven Stamkos." she spat back. "I've told you, I won't be another notch on your scarred over bedpost." The wine bottle hit the table with a thud. His eyes turned icy as he stalked towards her. Steven grabbed her and hauled her up against him. Harleigh was looking up at him. He knew she was debating about running. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her again. But she would toss him out again.
"I just want to hang out and watch a movie." said Steven "I really don't want to get drunk alone. I don't want to be drunk, period." He hugged her to him tightly. He felt her arms wrap around him. "Please, I'll go but let me come back after he leaves."
"It was a shitty game" she replied "Bish got a point."
"I'm aware." said Steven into her ear. "So, what's it going to be Harleigh Quinn? Him or me?" Was he offering himself as an actual option? Why did she feel the need to get rid of Braxton?
However before she could answer the patio door slid open and Braxton walked in. She was pretty sure that snuggling with pro athletes in your kitchen while on a date with another guy was a party foul of epic proportions. Braxton stopped in his tracks and looked at them both. Steven had yet to let go of her. In fact, she smacked him in his rock hard abs when he started smirking.
"Oww" she said clutching her hand "I swear you really are a wolverine. That hurt."
"Abs of steel" laughed Stammer "Don't hit pro athletes. Hell, just don't hit people bigger than you."
"That narrows my choices, asshole." groused Harleigh "Braxton this interrupting asshole is Steven Stamkos. He thinks because he lost a game I should drop everything and take care of him."
Steven looked at her and started pouting "You're mean, Harleigh Quinn." Steven managed to shake Braxton's hand as he headed to her freezer. Steven was pulling food out of her freezer. He tossed a frozen pizza on the counter. He then opened the hatch to her broken ice maker and pulled out her stash of Ben and Jerry's. He hoisted himself up on her counter and opened her ice cream. He pulled a spoon from the Mason jar on the counter. Harleigh stomped over and grabbed the spoon before he put it to the ice cream. She handed him a cereal spoon.
"That's a serving spoon Stammer" she said flicking on the oven. Steven ate a bite of ice cream.
He knew he wasn't the one leaving.
Harleigh walked over to Braxton. She smiled at him "Sorry he is very self-important."
"He's Steven Stamkos." said Braxton "I know nothing about hockey but I know that's the prince of Tampa." Braxton walked into the living room and stuffed his feet in his sneakers. Harleigh walked him to the door. Steven could see them from his vantage point on the counter. He was stuffing ice cream in his mouth to prevent word vomit. Braxton leaned in to kiss Harleigh. He squeezed the small ice cream container Cherry Garcia was dripping on his hand. Steven smiled when his girl turned her face and only let old Braxton kiss her cheek. "I had a good time. Can I call you?"
"You better" she replied "Text me you made it home. I'll see you tomorrow. Since Stammer interrupted I'll buy you lunch."
"We'll go to lunch" he said "But I'm not letting you buy. Nite, Har. Good luck in New York, Stamkos."
"Thanks, man." replied Steven giving Braxton a bro nod. As soon as Braxton was gone she wheeled around and started towards him.
"You are incredible, Stamkos." she began. Steven smirked "Don't smirk at me. He is a perfectly nice guy who will never go out with me again."
"He is a six, you're a dime, he'll text without fail." replied Steven finishing the remains of the ice cream.
"Do you even care that I might like him?" she asked "And must you inhale my ice cream when you lose?"
"I don't have ice cream at my place." he said flatly "unless you hid some. And you don't."
"I have a pint in your freezer behind whatever pink Bio steel concoction is in there."
"No, I ate that last game we lost." he said.
"Bastard" she replied "I'm going to quit leaving snacks at your place."
"But I wasn't talking about ice cream." he said tossing the spoon in her sink. He hopped off the counter and grabbed her pizza stone. He put the pizza on the stone. He picked the frozen pepperoni off her half of the pizza and tossed them on his side before sliding it in the oven.
"You don't like the six."
"He is very likable." she replied
"So is Rebel" laughed Stammer "If you liked him you'd have tossed me out and let him kiss you properly."
"You sound like a romance novel "kiss me properly."
"You read a lot of mommy porn?" asked Stammer smiling at her "I can give a website with a few highlight worthy fan fics of me and the boys."
"You are ridiculous, Steven Stamkos." she replied “I need to have a talk with your momma, you need a middle name so I can yell it at you properly."
"Mom loves you" he said "She'll probably let you pick." He headed to the living room and grabbed his bag "I'm gonna change."
"You brought a bag? You are a presumptuous narcissist." she called as he headed to her bedroom. Harleigh laughed and grabbed a clean wine glass for Stammer. She poured them both wine and sat them on the coffee table in the living room. "Movie or binge on TV?" she called.
"Have you started Game of Thrones without me?" he yelled.
"No!" she called "What do you think I am an animal? Besides I need someone to hide my eyes in the gory parts."
Steven came back into the living room barefoot clad in a low slung pair of Reebok TB sweats.
"You forget something, Stamkos?"
"I'm hot" he whined. Yeah, yes you are thought Harleigh "Plus, my shoulders are all knotted up. You aren't going to make me suffer are you? If I can't raise my arms I can't cover your eyes."
"Fine, sit in front of me." she instructed. She started rubbing the knotted muscles. She leaned over him and grabbed a bottle of oil from her bag on the floor. It was a strong smelling oil infused with mint. It should have a cooling effect and help her work. "Has anyone noticed your shot is off and you aren't following all the way through?" He winced as she pressed on a particularly sore spot.
"Only you and Price" ground out "Damn, that hurts."
"Hush" she said working the knot. He immediately felt the shift in his muscles when the knot released. He groaned out loud. Harleigh couldn't help wondering what he would sound like when he came. Wow, not a good thought with a nearly naked Stammer in her house. "All done."
"Do my back" he pled. She had him lay down on her rug. She straddled him. She had done this a million time but for some reason today had her on edge. She massaged his back until the pizza timer went off and she jumped. "Will you get that? I'm killed. I can't move."
"Ditch your date, massage me, and fix my pizza. “she teased” Jesus, you're needy today."
Steven rolled over on to his back and looked up at her. He had managed to achieve a pouty face that would have half the women and part of the men in Tampa jumping to make him happy.
"Seven to three Har. Bish got a point. Our goalie had more points than me."
"Suck it up, Stamkos. Go to New York and kick ass." she said as she pulled the pizza out "And Bish got pulled." She smirked.
Stammer levered up off the floor and came into the kitchen. He sat on the edge of her counter while she searched for the pizza cutter. "Why are we even friends? You are so mean to me. Second drawer down left hand side."
She pulled the pizza cutter out of the drawer like it was Excalibur. "Because I let you whine, eat my ice cream, and make you junk food you shouldn't be eating. And I snuggle with you and watch all your favorite shows without complaining. Plus, you get free massages. And I am fucking awesome, Stamkos."
Steven smiled at Harleigh she was right about all those things. But she left off that she was beautiful, intelligent, and didn't let him get away with any shit. Harleigh stretched to grab paper plates on the shelf above her head. They remained just out of her reach. Stammer laughed as she hoisted herself up on her countertop to get them. He shooed her out of the way and grabbed the plates. "I see how it is" said Steven "Date gets the good plates. I get paper and plastic."
"I gave you a real wine glass." retorted Harleigh "I have a sippy cup in one of these cabinets."
"How you gonna get it down?" he teased.
"I can always call Bish." she replied as she grabbed a slice of pizza "At 6'6 I'm sure he can reach most everything." Harleigh winked at him.
"You really like Bishop?" he asked.
"He's sweet" said Harleigh "Get your pizza, I want to see Jon Snow."
"As you wish" said Steven getting is food.
"Now we have to watch the Princess Bride" she replied as she headed into the living room.
"Let's watch at least one episode of Game of Thrones. Then we can watch your movie."
One pizza, one and a half a bottles of wine, and watching Game of Throne with Steven was already way better than her date with Braxton. But she couldn't tell Steven that. He would make fun of her until hell froze over. She couldn't help but wish there could be more between them. Boyle, Hedman, and Callahan made fun of them all the time because they were together more than people who were actually dating.
"If you keep doing that I am going to fall asleep on you" he said sleepily. Harleigh was currently sitting on the chaise side of her couch with Steven's head in her lap. She had absently playing with his hair as they watched TV. If you scratched his scalp or played with his hair for very long at all he would go to sleep. It was a useful fact when dealing with drunken Stammer. Harleigh stopped moving her hand. "I didn't say quit" he groused. Harleigh laughed. "You're going to make me get up and put in the Princess Bride blu ray aren't you?" Harleigh laughed again.
"It's on demand" she replied "Are we watching it in here or in my bed? I can't drag you to bed so I'll leave you here when you pass out."
"Up to you" he answered "I probably shouldn't drive after we finished the second bottle of wine."
"Okay, you clean up. I'll change for bed." she instructed "You had no intentions of going home either way."
"Figured it out, eh?" he smiled.
"I've got your number, Stamkos" she replied. He watched as she walked away. Those tiny jean shorts and his number. "Hurry, I'll be waiting." Steven mind immediately flashed to an image of Harleigh beneath him. He started filtering through everyone’s TOI. Crawling into bed with Harleigh with a rock hard cock wouldn't his best option. He cleared away the pizza debris, her date dishes, and the wine glasses. He set the dishwasher to start in 30 minutes. He grabbed a water for himself and a cherry orange sprite from the fridge. He laughed at the stock pile of the soda beside the fridge. It was limited edition and she didn't want to run out. He had a feeling he'd be searching all of Tampa and maybe everywhere else he played for the soda.
Steven made his way into the bedroom. He stopped in his tracks. She was sitting on the edge of her bed plaiting her hair into some kind of braid. She braided it every night to keep it out of her face. It made him itch with the desire to free it from the confines of that braid. She had ditched the jean shorts in favor of a pair of Nike pros with lightning bolts. She had scrubbed her face free of make-up. He was pretty sure this version of Harleigh was his favorite.
"Brought you a Sprite" he said breaking the silence. He handed her the drinks. "I'm going to get my bag, my charger is in it." He came back into to Harleigh watching NHL Tonight. Great reliving seven to three. "We fucking sucked."
"Y'all had three goals. It was sloppy but still seven goals is flukey. They won't be able to do it again." she replied "Y'all find the groove in New York. I have faith."
"Come to New York with me" he said quickly "I'll book the flight and a room for you. I want you there."
"I can't just take off." she replied "The hospital."
"Will understand" he said cutting her off "You're boys would kill to see this game. Game seven. Please" he pled "You're my favorite good luck charm."
"I'll see what they say at the hospital. But if I go all the way into Yankee territory, you better win Stamkos."
"Deal" he said crawling into her bed. Steven stretched out on her bed on top of the blankets and three thousand pillows she had.
"You sleeping on top the covers?" she asked.
"Nah, just waiting on you." he answered "I think your pillows are reproducing at an alarming rate."
"Asshole" she said "Toss them all but the bottom two in the floor." While he tossed pillows around she cued up the Princess Bride "we don't have to watch this."
"You love it." he said turning back the bedding.
"So do you, you just won't admit it." she sassed. He didn't answer but she knew she was right. Stammer stretched out on her bed. He was truly beautiful. Harleigh climbed in and pulled the cover up over them. She remembered the kiss from the previous week. She stayed on her side of the bed. Steven hauled her over against him.
"I came to snuggle" he said. Harleigh readjusted her position so that her head was on his shoulder. She had one arm under his pillow and the other across his abs. Bunnies would kill to be in her place. She felt Steven's hand under the back of her shirt. His calloused hands were rubbing circles on her skin. Now he was trying to put her to sleep.
They watched the movie quoting favorite lines as the movie progressed. When Fred Savage asked if there would be kissing she couldn't help sneaking a look at Steven. Their eyes met and she quickly looked away.
"Harleigh" said Steven "look at me. The other night wasn't a drunken mistake." He tilted her face to meet his. He pressed his lips to hers the touch light as a feather. "You're not a notch on my bedpost." He kissed her again but this was an entirely different kiss. This kiss reeked of possession. "I'll burn the fucking bed. Just say the word." One kiss turned into another and another. "Give us a chance, Harleigh"
Harleigh wasn't sure what to say. "I don't want to screw up our friendship."
"It won't." he answered between kisses.
"You know the saying the fall feels like flying until you hit the ground. I don't want to hit the ground. It would be so easy to fall for you. And I know what you are like. I've stood beside you and watched."
"Parachute" he whispered in her ear "That Chris Stapleton song. It says something along the
lines of what you just said. It makes sense. I can be your parachute you won’t hit the ground. Give me one date Harleigh."