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

Love in Ice



What do I do?

What can I do?

I paced back and forth, Riles observing me with as much curiosity on his furry face as possible. One ear raised, head tilted, tail stilled (in mid-wag, no less); he definitely thought something of me, whatever it was, sitting on the couch of my living room.

I could not tell my best friend Sam. She knew more about me than most did. Perhaps not as much as him...

Heart racing, I wondered what in the world he thought after that...After that step upward in the...friendship? Relationship?

Maybe I could ask him...What

What we...are.

I could try telling him tonight. My feelings, that is. Last time I was thrown for a loop when...he kissed me... I strode back to my room, looking through the closet for an adequate outfit for tonight...Yes, I will tell him tonight.

Not right away though, if I see him beforehand.

No, not until afterward, it's better for him that way, I concluded with a nod to myself, pulling the bold red shirt over my head with a difficulty from nerves. Perhaps better for me as well.

I would have time to prepare for disappointment...heartbreak.

There's that word, the word I'd hoped to never hear, or think, again.

He wouldn't do that to me. We're too close to do something so hurtful to each other.

Or...that's what I believed that we are.

Everything should turn out okay, I breathed out with a shaky sigh.

Something vibrating in my pocket...I tugged it out and looked at the screen: a message.

See you tonight? Before game?

My fingers tingled as I typed the three letters, followed by the tone of the sent message.


Later that night, Sam drove us both to the UC again. We had to wait a little outside before going in; we were miraculously early. Time ticked by too slow for my liking, and I almost ran inside the arena without my best friend.

"Why are you in such a rush, eh?"

Turning to her, I quickly made up a lie. "I guess I just really need to go to the bathroom. Probably forgot to do that before we left the apartment."

Sam replied, mockingly laughing, "Okay, well if you don't need me then I'll go hold on to our seats."

"Sounds good. See you in a few."

Minutes after I stood a little ways outside the door to the locker room, waiting patiently for my male best friend to appear like he said he would. Looking down at the red Blackhawks shirt I had, I tugged on the bottom of it when I heard the door opening.

My heart immediately was affected. It skipped a few beats as I watched him search for me. I called, waving my hand to catch his attention, "Hey Antti! Over here!"

As soon as he heard his name, he found my eyes without difficulty and walked over to stand in front of me. I found myself looking at his chest because of the height difference, and I stared up into his eyes. They were a gray color due to the gray shirt he wore, and I was nonetheless mesmerized by them.

He said, keeping a little distance between us, "Hi Alex. I wanted you to come give you this." I peered down at what he was holding in his hands. His white jersey.

He continued, "I-I...I wanted wear it tonight during the game. It would...really make me feel happy. I-I-If you wanted, of course...Alex, would you wear my jersey tonight?"

Antti sounded so nervous while talking to me, and I truthfully could feel myself getting as tongue-tied as he was. I was not even talking to him yet, and my skin tingled.

"Yeah, I...I would love to wear it tonight," I rushed out excitedly, failing to not stumble over my words. His eyes lit up as he gave me a crooked smile. I politely took it out of his hands and flipped it over so that I could see his name. I traced the black lettering with my finger, smiling as I skimmed the material. Placing my purse on the ground, I carefully pulled it over my head, taking my time with putting my arms in as well. After it was on me, I spun around once and asked, winking at my best friend, "How do I look?"

His face tinted, making my own do the same, and he replied, scanning my entire body over, "Amazing." He stepped closer, hesitantly placing his hands on my waist. My stomach figuratively flipped from the touch, and I held in a shiver of excitement. I met his eyes again, staring into them and getting lost instantly. I reached up and touched his cheek, rubbing my hand against the stubble growing there. The corner of my lips moved upwards in a half-smile, actually liking the way it felt on my hand.

We both heard something about thirty minutes remaining before the start of the game, and Antti said, slightly put out, "Looks like I have to get back in there. Get ready to play, put all my goalie gear on, you know."

I nodded in understanding, smiling widely at his cuteness. We had not talked about what happened when we last saw each other, but it did not matter to me in that moment. I had to take that chance...A possible last chance. No matter how scared I was.

I leaned up to his face and left a lingering peck on his lips, leaving my skin positively prickling. He was a bit shocked at the gesture, but I definitely did not imagine the smile spreading across his lips. Antti delicately held and kissed me, feeling the heat move throughout my body. My breathing momentarily halted, and I stayed as steady as I could, fighting against the giddy lightheadedness.

He did not regret kissing me that day. My heart leaped at that inkling of hope.

Maybe it was not a last chance...

We pulled away from each other with great reluctance, and I said, pressing a final kiss onto his cheek, "Good luck, my goalie. You'll do great."

He returned the kiss and mused, stealing a long one from my lips, "I know I will. You wearing my jersey in the crowd tonight, I already am more confident now." He winked at me before turning back toward the locker room, and I began heading back, heat spreading across my face from my prickling lips. Turning around, I saw him standing in front of the door, waving to me. I copied the gesture with a growing smile on my face, walking to the seats Sam was surely sitting at.

Confident Antti was. He made save after save against the Coyotes; he had so much more than just a momentary surge of confidence. I directed my gaze up to the Jumbotron and saw Antti on it, who squirted water on his face. The way his lips were parted just so, I shivered. I had actually kissed him earlier....Face burning, I scratched my cheek, slightly embarrassed. Sam asked, nudging me, "Hey, you like that huh?"

"Oh shut up, Sammy. It's just cold in here. I don't think of him like that," I retorted, nudging her back.

"Don't think of who that way," Leslie asked me, turning over to us. I took a sip of the Pepsi Sam bought, blush not going down. I replied, putting down the soft drink, "Uhh...Nemo. Sam's still got it in her head that we've got something between us."

"You mean you don't?" She quizzically looked over to me, and I nearly choked on the Pepsi. I mused, "People think we do?"

"Yeah. Well, at least some of the guys in the locker room do. Kris mentioned to me a few times that Niemi's got a girl on his mind, and the other guys are trying to figure out who she is."

Sam questioned excitedly, "Really?! Did anyone ask if it's someone they know?"

"Sure, but Niemi hasn't talked once. I'm leaning, actually more hoping, towards a 'yes'. That's why I wanted to know Alex; I thought that he liked you."

My face burned scarlet, and I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, even over the sounds of the Madhouse. Sam interjected, "I think he's still waiting for her to come around. He's not going to give up on her. He's got it good for her, I bet you anything. And see? She's blushing! She wants him, I'm sure."

Leslie encouraged, wrapping an arm around my shoulder, "Tell him how you feel, if you do like him that way! You two would make the cutest couple, I swear!"

A whistle sounded, signaling a stoppage of play. I looked down on the ice, seeing the man who admittedly had my heart. He relaxed, drinking some of the water before spitting some on the ice. His head lifted up towards the ceiling, and I smiled, mentally encouraging him on.

The score remained the same for the rest of the game, and the Hawks won 2-0. I cheered extra loudly when they guys saluted the fans, elated at the shutout Antti got. He worked for that win, I could tell. He certainly deserved it.

As more of the crowd filed out of the UC, the three of us gathered our things and began heading to the locker room. Leslie shouted in surprise, directing it to me, "Oh my God, I just noticed that you're wearing Niemi's away jersey!"

Sam directed to me in the same fashion, looking first to see if there were any others nearby to overhear our conversation, "You definitely weren't wearing that when we got here. You little sneak! You saw him! What'd you guys do? Make out? A little more?" She lightly elbowed me, eyebrows raising suggestively.

"No, you idiot. We're just friends, as much as you don't believe it," I nudged, elbowing her back. "He gave it to me before the game started. Nemo wanted me to wear it; he's a little superstitious about it," I half-lied, making up the superstitious part. As much as I could trust both of my friends, I preferred to keep my relationship with Antti as private as possible.

If it could even be called that, anyway. In fact, I wanted to know for sure whether we were together or not before I said anything.

If we were really going to pursue a romantic relationship...

If he really wanted to pursue a romantic relationship...

Shortly after that, we stopped in front of the locker room and waited for the all-clear. Steeger came out first, half-dressed in his slacks, to let us in. I followed my friends inside the noisy area, feeling a few pairs of eyes lie on me.

"Well well, feast your eyes on this, boys. It seems as though this little lady's wearing Nemo's jersey," Laddy harmlessly teased, still making me blush furiously.

"So has Nemo finally asked you out yet," came a call from Hoss, sitting in his stall.

"He better get a move on if he hasn't," Kopy said with a sort of sly grin before I could reply to Hoss, and I sighed lightly in relief, realizing he had just ended what would have been a long conversation.

I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I turned around to meet the aforementioned goaltender. The grin on his lightly colored face caused me to grin, and I gave him a hug. "Congratulations on your shutout, Antti! I'm so proud of you," I half-squealed, placing my chin on his chest. His arms wrapped around me, and I felt his lips press a kiss on the top of my head.

"Thank you, Alex. I'm glad you were here to see it," he said, giving me a quick squeeze before pulling away. I noticed that he was still in the bottom half of his goalie gear as far as his equipment went, and he still needed to take a shower. I looked over my shoulder and saw most of the other teammates gone. He must have had been interviewed by some reporters not too long after the game.

Antti said to me, grabbing my hand softly, "I've got something to ask you. Are you going home right away or can you stay?"

Sam said, appearing out of nowhere, "She can stay! I can drive myself home, Lexa, don't you worry!" She darted out of the locker room, and I chuckled nervously. At least she could get home okay; she was the one who drove us here this time.

"Want me to wait outside?" I began heading towards the door, but his grip on my hand tightened a little.

"It's okay. You can stay in my spot here." He tidied up some of his already neat locker area, and I sat down in his spot. Antti touched his lips to my hand before saying, "I'll be back soon."

"Take your time; you don't have to rush."

He nodded with a light smile, heading to what I presumed to be the showers. Someone sat next to me, and I saw Leslie sitting in Tazer's place. She smiled at me and said, "I guess you guys aren't dating now."

"Nope. I mean...Okay, I'll admit it, I do have feelings for him." Her smile grew, and I whispered, "And now I know that the guys said that he's thinking about a girl, I can't help but worry that he....doesn't like me like that. Think about it; he may want a woman from back in his country...Someone he can talk to easily without that language barrier. Someone who comes from relatively the same background as he does..."

"You want to know what I think?"

I looked over to her, nodding once.

"I think you give him what anyone needs: a friend. You can talk to him easily because the both of you know each other like the back of your hand, like there isn't a language barrier, and for you two to have done that in such a short time period...That's special. Really special. And Niemi's one of those guys who usually keep to themselves until they're around friends and maybe not even then...You got him to talk not only to you, but also with you. As far as I know, anyone from his native country can't give nearly the same amount of things you've given him. And what's more...Whenever I see you guys around each other...He can't take his eyes off you."

Most of what Leslie said was true. We were great friends, and I had gotten him to talk with me rather quickly. We had established some sort of deep bond from the beginning because we understood each other, and that really did cause our relationship to get stronger as time went by.

But was it true? Antti can't take his eyes off me?

My heart raced but then ached a little, after my mind had put in that thought of him not possibly liking me.

After Antti finished getting dressed, most of the other guys had left. Just a few people lingered around the locker room, and I stayed in Antti's stall until he was ready. I fiddled with the gold bracelet on my wrist again until a hand came into my line of vision and warmly grasped my hand. "Ready to go?"

I nodded, not trusting my voice to respond to him just yet. I had yet to find out what he had wanted to talk to me about, and I was truthfully frightened. What if he had thought over our kisses and wanted to say that I should forget them? What if he never liked me in that way?

My mind was ready to crush my heart.

I shook my head as we walked towards the doors leading to the parking lot. I shrugged on my coat and then my purse before following him outside. He unlocked his truck and pushed his things inside the trunk, making his way toward me again. Antti, hastily checking over his shoulder to see if there were anyone nearby, looked back to me and gazed into my eyes with his luminous stare. The blue-gray color was magnificent, and I could barely breathe with him staring at me.

Cautiously I reached out to touch his face, running my hand along his stubble again. I asked, "You're growing out a beard too?"

He nodded with a light-hearted smirk, replying, "Yeah, I am. I have to admit though...I need to shave after a while or else you won't be able to tell apart my face and my beard."

I laughed, opting to continue touching along his jawline and cheeks, the rough texture quite interesting to me. A silent minute sneaked past, him steadily meeting my gaze as my hand discovered the feeling of Antti's beard. "I'm just totally violating your personal space, I'm sorry. Here, I'll move back a little--" Feeling myself stumble into his truck, I made a short "Oof" noise. I forgot that the truck was parked behind me.

Antti stepped closer to me, and I noticed his hands situated on either side of my waist against his truck. He chuckled with me, and I eased just the slightest bit. I could see the blue eyes darken a little from the lack of light hitting them. He rested his forehead softly on mine, and I closed my eyes, consciously controlling my breathing.

Nope, he certainly did not have a problem with me invading his bubble of personal space.

With our skin touching and his warmth hitting me, I barely had any bearings on myself. My lips somehow yearned for more contact with his, despite the fact that our kisses occurred a while ago.

I stuttered, "S-So...What w-was it you w-wanted to talk a-about, Antti?"

Silence answered me as Antti's eyes traced along my face. I blushed, his stare making me a little shifty even under half-closed eyes. He finally whispered with a thick and heavenly accent, nose just bumping mine, "Well, first I see what happen...if I do this again..."

I had not completely comprehended the response, and I had no time to even start interpreting it. His lips, chapped yet soft, pecked my lips with such a delicate touch I lost all previous thoughts. After ending the first kiss, he moved back with a pause. I took advantage of it and breathed before he pressed his lips more firmly against mine, now even closer to me. The shock flowed through me, and amazingly enough I wrapped my right arm loosely around his neck and put my left hand on his chest, eyes completely shut.

My head clouded up quickly as I kissed him back. His warmth caused chills to run down my spine, and I huddled even closer to Antti, if that was possible. Sparks, strangely familiar to the last couple of times we kissed, were present now as well; I did not want to let go of him. However, we released our captive lips, and my face burned as I touched it, which had just received yet another encounter with Antti's stubbly face.

Thankfully, Antti did not move from his position. If he had, I would have fallen to the ground. No exaggeration there. I finally registered Antti's warm hands on my sides, just underneath his jersey but ontop of my shirt. Everything was weak with me, and I tried to read the man in front of me. It appeared that he was as stunned as I was. With a few moments' hesitation, Antti took a step back to give me some breathing room. I involuntarily put a hand just over my heart, counting and losing count over how fast it beat.

Antti's hand slipped its way into mine, entwining our fingers together. My hand warmed up significantly, and a smile appeared on my face. He asked, "A...Are you...okay?"

I nodded, failing to find my voice. I watched him as he nervously shuffled his feet, and I could not help but think he had something else to ask.

Clearing my throat, I beckoned softly, "Antti...?"

Simultaneously he asked, "Alex?"

I stared into his eyes again, gesturing towards him to go ahead.

He slipped into Finnish, voice thick with nervousness, "Menetkö...kanssani ulos? Will you...go out with me?"

A blush moderately tickled my cheeks at his question, and I nearly blurted out my answer. However I stopped myself from doing that. Instead, I stepped closer until I could move up to his level and pressed my lips softly to his, the jolt of energy still surprising me. I whispered against his lips, feeling comfortable heat, "Kyllä, Antti."

He broke away from the kiss, his stunned expression reflecting in his eyes. Antti questioned, "Really?"

I smiled and nodded at the Finn, who leaned in and expressed his happiness, first with a kiss on the bridge of my nose and then a gentle kiss on my lips. He lingered on my lips, allowing me to feel the full smile appearing on his.
♠ ♠ ♠
Hello everyone! It's been a while, but here is the next chapter! I've been super busy with school and everything else in my life. I have just one more day of classes until I graduate! Of course, my whole week this coming week is filled with presentations and other events like prom and graduation practice, so I might have a hard time getting on here to write. I'll try working on the next chapter of this story and A Roller Coaster Life: Road to the Stanley Cup when I have time. We all know that I need to update the latter one badly.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Thank you so much for the comments on my last chapter. I appreciate it so much! :)