Status: Hiatus--Last Update was 7.23.12 (Chapter Twenty-Two PREVIEW)

Love in Ice



Things around me changed drastically. Whether it was for the better or for the worse, I described myself anything but certain of that. Nothing seemed clear anymore, in terms of what happened as a result of the past few days...

After the game, the three of us headed to the guys' locker room. We waited until the chaos that was the reporters interviewing some of the guys and the guys preparing to leave leveled off. The door to the locker room opened suddenly, Steeger appearing on the other side. He nodded his head, signaling us that everyone was decent enough for us to join them.

"Nice job Steeger! That was a great one," I told him, preparing for a fist bump. He obliged, thanking me. Sam complimented him as I went over to where the Finn sat, who wore a small frown on his face.

I quickly made my way to him, saying, "Hey Nemo! That was an awesome game! You played really well."

He didn't answer me initially, but a quick, upward twitch of his lips told me he heard me. "Thanks Alley Cat, but I should have been able to get the puck that went past me."

The frown returned, dulling the bright look his eyes normally held. I walked over to his side, bending my knees so our faces were level. I scanned his eyes once before my instincts kicked in, startling the both of us.

I had placed my hands on his cheeks, leaning so my forehead and nose touched his lightly. My face immediately reacted, heat spreading throughout all the nerves in my body. My heart seemed to jump-start itself, and it only raced faster as I subconsciously tracked my breathing.

The man I startled seemed to act on his own instincts as well, putting his hands on top of mine. He attempted to keep his breath steady, and lightheadedness floored my mind. I whispered, "Antti, don't say that. You were amazing."

His eyelids slid shut, and I felt my own close. I tried to get my thoughts gathered together, but all I could think about was the close proximity existing between the two of us.

It was, physically and quite possibly emotionally, the closest we had ever been.

Only after a few moments did we realize what we were doing in front of the other guys. We abruptly pulled away from each other, our faces most likely a matching scarlet. I knew for sure that I felt flustered. With him I wasn't so sure.

I also didn't understand why I felt so terrified when I pulled away. Was it because of the fact that Nemo and I were in close contact? The rush of coldness contrasted with the heat in my face when the next thought crossed my mind.

It was because I almost lived my hopes of being with him...

I sighed, looking out the airplane window. We were heading on our way back to Chicago, and although the guys won in Pittsburgh, my mind was a complete mess. Having Vance interested in me took me completely off guard, and now I just wanted some time to think about things. I didn't even want a relationship with anyone, and I hoped I found some kind of willpower in me to keep things the way they were now.

When I felt the empty seat next to me, a numbing sensation filled my hand, reaching all the way to my heart. My hand felt cold, and my spirits became disheartened. I closed my eyes, hoping to clear my head by calming myself down. Tears slipped passed the shut eyelids, and I hastily wiped them away. At the very least, I could say this about myself.

I don't regret not calling Vance after the game.


Days had passed since the return trip to Chicago, and I was back at work. Wednesdays weren't typically loaded with work, so I would take a few of the dogs on a walk with me. Since my work was in downtown Chicago, I didn't take them too far, just to keep them safe. When it was a busier day at PAWS Chicago, I stayed inside and took care of most of the animals. I kept them feed and groomed them, preparing them for the adoption process.

I returned from walking a few dogs about half an hour ago. Two of them remained outside of their cages. The female dog, only a year old, hopped onto the low bench in the main lobby. Sitting down with her tail wagging, she barked excitedly. I took my place next to her and began combing her fur.

As I brushed through the cocker spaniel's fur, I sighed to myself. The brown-and-white pooch picked up her head with a light whine. Standing on her hind paws, she nudged my face and gave it a lick. It was almost as if she knew what exactly rushed through my mind.

I scratched behind her ears, whispering to her, "You know what I'm thinking, don't you? Lily, you are too adorable, little puppy." She placed a forepaw on my hand, scratching it playfully. The high-pitched bark escaping her small jaws told me she heard me. Just like before, she seemed rather all-knowing for her young age.

"Hey Alex. What's up?" Carla, one of my co-workers, came from the back of the shelter with Oreo, a small border collie-chow chow mix. He followed her obediently like the proud six-year-old he was. Carla recently had her long blonde hair cut, framing her hazel eyes. Her glasses were perched on her head, and she was slightly shorter than me.

"Oh, nothing much Carla. Just thinking about a few things. Thanks for watching Riles for me while I was gone."

"Sure thing. I'd watch that little guy anytime. How was your trip to Pittsburgh?" It took me a few seconds to come up with a response, but I answered, "It was great! I loved watching the game, even if it was away from home ice." Something about that answer must have struck her as strange because she didn't seem convinced. "You know if you want to rant about something, you're welcome to do that. I'm here for that."

I laughed with her, saying, "It's okay. Believe me." The bell that hung over the door rang, and I turned to it, not expecting the person standing in the doorway. Lily began whimpering and bolted to the back of the shelter while Oreo padded after her, but not without a low, threatening growl. I faintly wondered why they ran away, but it went away as soon as I remembered who entered the shelter.

I recognized the person right away, but not because of the hair, which was styled back to the point where the bangs were pointing above his head. It was the same color, light brown with blonde highlights. The feature that caught my attention first were the shimmering gray pools, accompanied by the equally radiant smile and set of dimples.

I must have looked no less than dumbstruck because the man said in his deep voice, "I thought I saw you around here. It doesn't take too much to remember a pretty face."

Realizing he was openly flirting with me in front of Carla, I flushed bright red and thought to myself, 'Vance, if you don't get the hell out right now, I will kick your ass.' It did not help the matter that said coworker looked from me to him and back to me. She was probably debating the ways that would get me talking in a much needed, in her point-of-view, interrogation.

I stammered, "Uhh, w-wow. What c-can I say? Looks l-like you've found me."

"When a guy gets to know a woman like you, then he'll try to find you."

Carla stood up and spoke, relieving me of the responsibility that was talking. "You must be Vance Raston, the one I talked with on the phone. I understand that you were going to adopt a dog, is that correct?"

Leaping with the added surprise, my heart beat unbelievably quick. He was an animal lover? I ignored their discussion and kept thinking to myself, until Carla went in the back. Vance took a seat on the bench next to me. He said to me in a hushed tone, "I thought I wasn't going to see you again. That worried me most when I left the game that night." He hesitated, biting his lip. I waited for him to continue with a near calm face, but inside I felt my insides churning with nervousness.

"When I found you today, I might have broken part of my face with a smile of relief. I guess I'll cut to the chase here, since your friend might be coming back soon...Would you allow me to take you out? On a date, I mean?"

I felt a biting reluctance at the back of my mind, which made me think about Nemo. It hurt even more when I reminded myself that we would be nothing else besides best friends, especially when I quickly formed such a tight bond with him. With a large effort, I pushed the thought of him away along with all the pain that came for the ride and answered the waiting man next to me.

"Sure, that sounds great, Vance." His eyes glowed with a newfound excitement, and it easily spread to me.

"I'm glad you think so. Well, if it isn't too much to ask, could I get your number? And maybe your name, too?" He took out his phone from his jacket pocket and handed it to me with a light chuckle. I typed in my cell number and gave him my name. When I returned it to him, he said, "Alexandra Lainasen...That's a beautiful name."

I looked away as soon as his gaze shifted to meet my eyes. I muttered quietly, "Thank you." Carla appeared in the doorway and directed to Vance, "If you would come this way Vance, I'll show you to the dogs and maybe we can start signing some papers." Without checking if he followed her, she walked away, leaving the two of us alone.

I turned towards him at the same moment he turned to me. He smiled and said, "I'll see you later then, Alexandra." The same hesitation from earlier was displayed on his face, and I blinked, puzzled. What exactly was he thinking?

Vance held our joined gaze for a few moments and then stood up, heading to where Carla was. He obviously thought against doing something there...but what?

I shook my head and stood up, walking to the back. I remembered that Lily had dashed away at the sight of Vance with Oreo going after her. She seemed genuinely scared, but she was generally brave for a dog just over a year old. Oreo protected her in a way that littermates would protect each other.

Why did she get so scared? Why did Oreo get so defensive over her?

I looked around, trying to find the both of them. After a while of searching, I found them underneath my desk. I approached them softly, whispering while kneeling, "Lily, Oreo, it's okay. You can come out from there." Lily must have found that soothing because she nearly knocked me down in a cuddle. Oreo padded over to my side, nudging my hand.

"What's wrong, you two? Why are you afraid?" Lily was shaking, so she was obviously terrified. Oreo whined a little, sensing her fear. This was odd for both of them. They never acted like this before.

Could these two have sensed something from Vance's personality that I couldn't have picked up?

I shrugged to myself, petting both of them. For some reason, my thoughts flew back to Nemo, and I shivered. Just thinking about him affected me, and I immediately concluded without a moment's hesitation something that frightened me. Why? It had the danger of being hurt from heartbreak.

I had no valid reasoning to let go of my hopes with Nemo....Especially when my feelings go haywire at the mere thought of him....
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I am shocked at the number of readers and subscribers this story has. There are 107 readers and 17 subscribers! I never thought this would ever reach that milestone, but the fact that it has is amazing, and I'd love to thank you all for even a glance at this.

I'm so sorry for the lack of updates on everything. Life's been so much lately, and to get this out is such a major accomplishment for me, you guys don't even know. I'm still working on the oneshots (almost finished with one, in fact!), so don't give up hope on those! I'll try as hard as I can to get some more updates, but please bear with me! I don't think this is nearly enough payback for over a month of waiting for action. Thank you all again! :D