As You Please


“Hey sleeping beauty,” I cooed as I walked back into my room with a plate of pancakes and some bacon, “you going to wake up or what?” I stifled a laugh as I lowered the plate to the man’s nose and watched as his big bright eyes snapped open within seconds. Sucking in a deep breath, the brunette looked from the plate of food, then up at me. A huge smile spread across his lips as he reached out from under the comforter and set his hand down on my leg. Pulling me toward him, a small laugh left my lips as I took a few steps closer to the bed and sat down on the edge.

Auston pressed his face into me as he let out a yawn. “You didn’t have to do this, Tess.”

I shrugged a shoulder, my eyes scanning over everything in the room. When I had taken my time noticing the duffle bag in the corner of my room and the foreign socks discarded on the floor, a soft smile settled on my lips as I looked down and set the plate of food down on the nightstand. “I like cooking, and I woke up early.” I admitted as I glanced at the clock and then back to the brunette who still had his face pressed into me. “You don’t like pancakes?”

“I love pancakes.” Auston said dramatically as he looked up at me and smiled. When my eyes met his, all of the emotions and thoughts from the previous night hit me like a bullet. I couldn’t stop myself from catching glances at his lips. I couldn’t stop thinking about just how soft a kiss from him would be.

I yearned to have him erase all of the thoughts from my mind.

“They’re terrible for my diet though,” Auston huffed as he ripped off a piece of pancake and shoved it in his mouth. After a few chews, he let out a long groan and put his head back against the bed. “These are so good Tess,” Auston admitted as he put a hand to his mouth so I didn’t see him chewing. “You’re going to ruin my weight.”

“I made them, you don’t have to eat them,” I laughed as Auston reached over and ripped another piece off from the pancake. As he shoved it into his mouth, he looked down at his fingers and blushed. Following his eyes, I noticed the butter and syrup glistening in the sunlight.

I couldn’t help but laugh as Auston pushed off the covers and slowly got himself into a seated position, his fingers never touching the sheets, his clothes, or me. “I need to wash my hands,” Auston looked up at me and then over at the plate of food. Grabbing the last third of the pancake, he stood up from the bed and took a huge bite. “Is there anyway you can make these, but like…” his voice trailed off as he entered the bathroom attached to my room, “like healthy?” He finished his sentence as he turned on the sink.

I rolled my eyes as I glanced over at the plate and picked it up with my right hand. Standing up, I glanced over at the bathroom and watched as Auston walked out from the doorway, his torso still free of any clothing. Pulling my bottom lip between my teeth, I sucked in a small breath as I let my eyes soak him in for a minute or two.

“You’re blushing, my little tomato.” Auston cooed as he walked over to me and pinched the tip of my nose. Grabbing the plate from my hands, he walked over to the door and sent me a wink. “How do you like your coffee?”

I was in a daze as I smiled at the brunette and nodded my head, my lips parting as I mumbled that I didn’t want any milk or sugar. With a nod, Auston disappeared into the apartment, leaving me with a fast heart rate and a fire in the pit of my stomach.

This morning when I woke up to Auston holding me like a teddy bear, I felt like everything in the world was as it should be. I wasn’t worried about things moving too fast. I didn’t think about how little time I knew the brunette. I didn’t think about any negative thing having to do with our relationship. I looked up at him, in my half awake delerium, and kissed the tip of his nose and his forehead. I felt like I had been waking up to his face for the last ten years.

It all felt so normal.

The terror i had when I realized just how easy it was for us to fall into this relationship like we’d been dating for the last ten years wore off. I wasn’t afraid of anything anymore. I wasn’t afraid of losing him or moving too fast. I was happy I could wake up to him. I was happy I had a chance to spend time with someone who looked at me that way, who treated me this way.

I needed a reminder of what relationships were supposed to be.

Even if things between the two of us didn’t pan out, I would always be grateful for Auston for showing me how I was supposed to be treated.

“Tess, I’m going to eat all of this food if you don’t hurry up.” Auston called through the apartment. “If you went back to sleep and left me to get fat I’m going to be soooo salty.”

With a loud laugh, I pulled myself from the bed and headed back into the kitchen. Taking the seat next to Auston, I grabbed my mug and took a large sip as I glanced down at the plate of food he had made for me. Picking up my fork, I cut a piece of pancake and looked over at him as I put it in my mouth and started to chew.

“You ready to get stomped?” I wiggled my eyebrows as Auston swallowed his food and let out a loud laugh.

“You think you’re going to beat me, I am a superstar, you know.” Auston moved his face closer to mine, his eyes challenging me when he noticed my cheeks turn a light pink.

“That ego is going to be your downfall, Matthews.”

“This ego is going to get me a kiss,” Auston whispered in a deep voice as he sent me a wink and then dropped his big eyes from mine to my lips. After a few seconds, he pulled himself away and started to finish the last bit of food on his plate. As I sat there staring at him, my heart exploded in my chest.

I don’t think I had ever been that excited to lose a match of one-on-one in my life.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Auston and I spent about three hours apart after we took a few minutes to sit on the couch and watch television and finish our coffee. Once the warm liquid was gone from our mugs, I collected them, walked over to the sink and set them down. When I turned around, Auston was standing up, a big smile on his face when he caught my eyes scanning his bare chest again.

We parted after that. I showed Auston where the bathroom was where he could shower and get ready, and I headed to my room. After a long shower, spending too much time to pick an outfit, fixing my hair and makeup, I walked out of my bedroom nearly three hours later to Auston in a pair of jeans and a sweater, laying on the couch with his phone held above his face.

“Sorry,” I whispered as I watched the brunette jerk his head toward me. When his eyes met mine, a light pink surfaced on his cheeks as he stood up and quickly shoved his phone in his pocket. Swallowing hard, the brunette walked up to me and sucked in a sharp breath.

Nodding, Auston ran his eyes over me and then locked his big brown eyes on my own. “You look this stunning to go play pond hockey?”

“Is that a compliment… or?”

“Oh,” Auston looked at me and smiled, “It’s a compliment.” He hummed and leaned forward, pressing a kiss to my forehead before taking a step back and nodding his head toward the door. “You ready to go?”

Nodding, I quickly went back to my room and grabbed my two sticks, gloves, and skates from my closet. When I walked back out, I slipped my feet into a pair of boots i had by the front door and watched as Auston gave me a long, shimmering eye stare.

Without a word, we headed out of the apartment and down to Auston’s car. Shoving my things in the backseat along with his, I walked over to the passengers side door and slid in. As the brunette turned the car on, he rested his hand down on my thigh and with one long look and a smile, he put the car in reverse and started to head toward the exit of the parking lot.

Through the drive, we didn’t talk much. I asked him a few things about where we were going, but his rebuttal would always be something about him winning the bet, and me having to deal with him picking the place. I wasn’t one for surprises. I didn’t like being driven around without knowing where the destination was, but when I set my hand down on his, and his fingers intertwined with my own, I lost all of my thoughts on the subject.

We entered the rich suburban area just outside of Toronto almost twenty minutes later. As my eyes scanned over the expensive homes, most of them guarded by gates, I felt a knot start to form in the pit of my stomach. I knew who Auston was, I knew who Auston lived with, but for some reason, seeing him in his multi-million dollar home was something I wasn’t ready for. To me, Auston was just Auston. He had a nice car and played hockey.

I was afraid seeing any other aspect of his life and what he could afford would skew the vision of him I had in my head.

I was intimidated.

“I brought you to meet my Toronto family.” Auston admitted as he turned into a modest looking driveway and pulled up and around the garage. As he parked his car next to a similar black luxury sedan, he killed the engine and turned to me. “You’re not mad?”

“I’m… Intimidated?”

“No need.” He gave me a small smile as he pulled our hands from my leg and flipped them so he could place a gentle kiss against my knuckles. “Pat and his family are pretty normal and very welcoming. The boys might be naked or in their underwear when we walk in but-”

“Hm, definitely not ready for that.” A blush crept on my cheeks as I watched Auston look up at me, his lips still pressed against my knuckles.

“They’ll love you. Jay might ask you to b his girlfriend. He’s very into girls.” Auston rolled his eyes as he shot me one more smile before opening his door and getting out of the car. Opening my door, I climbed out and turned toward the backyard, a smile on my face as I noticed the small rectangular ice patch in the backyard with two goals on it and a bench on the far side.

I couldn’t help but to get lost in the view as I stood there next to Auston’s car. Memories of my childhood friends and I playing pond hockey on snow days or weekends flashed through my mind. I thought back to how simple everything was. I thought back to the sparkle in my eyes when people would tell me how good I was. I thought back to when my friends would talk about seeing me at the olympics.

My heart sank as I looked down and thought about Marissa, Jess, Calvin, and Derick. I thought about how we all stayed so close over the years. How even now that we were spread across Canada and the northern U.S., we still spoke once a week. We still had yearly reunions, we still spoke about how I missed out on my gold medals.

I wished they would show up. I wished the sound of footsteps behind me belonged to the four of them. I wanted to turn and see the faces from my childhood wrapped up in their hand-me-down gear. I wanted Derick to waddle onto the ice in his older brother’s goalie pads. I wanted to rewind.

“You okay, Tess?” Auston whispered as he wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me into him. As I broke the gaze with the ice, I looked up at the brunette and let a soft smile fill my lips.

Nodding, I sucked in a small breath and looked down at my equipment in my hands. I felt the urge to cry run through me as the thoughts continued to hammer away at my brain. I thought about Derick back in Vancouver, Jess in Nova Scotia, Marissa in Michigan and Calvin in Chicago. I wanted to call one. I wanted to invite them over.

“I’m having a moment,” I admitted as I sucked in another deep breath and blinked a few times to try to cancel out the burning sensation from the emotions boiling in my stomach. “Do I get to meet the family?” I questioned, begging the brunette to shove me into a situation where I didn’t have to think back and bury myself in nostalgia. After a few seconds, Auston started dragging me in the direction of the front door, his lips moving quickly as words poured out.

A smile was on my lips as I looked up at him through his rambling. Not a word he said made sense in my head, but the sparkle in his eyes and smile on his lips was enough to have me floating along next to him like a love-sick puppy. I just wanted to be in his warmth. I wanted to smell the light scent of his cologne and shampoo. I wanted to hear the hum of his voice in my head.

His presence calmed every worry in my head, every stressor pressing down on me.

The large door in front of us swung open and within seconds I was taken into a huge hug. As the blonde woman wrapped her arms around me, she rambled on about how happy she was to meet me and how many amazing things she has heard about me. After a kiss on both cheeks, she held me out in front of her, the big blue pools wide as she gave me a quick once over.

“I’m Christina,” the blonde smiled wide as she glanced over to Auston’s face and then blushed. “I was excited to meet you.”

“It was a nice welcome,” I laughed as I pulled her in for a quick hug and then ran a nervous hand through my hair.

Christina looked like she was about to explode with another round of excited words when four small boys tore through the living room and launched themselves onto Auston. As three of them tackled him, the smallest walked up to me and gave me a huge smile. When I noticed the missing teeth in his mouth, I chuckled and kneeled down to him.

“Quite a hockey smile you got there,” I joked as the small boy beamed over at me. “I’m Tessa.”

“You’re really pretty,” he admitted with bright red cheeks, “I’m Caleb.”

“It’s very nice to meet you,” I gave him a big smile and opened my arms for a hug. Without a second thought, the little blonde leaned into me and wrapped his arms around my neck, giving me a tight hug for a minute before letting go. Once he took a step back, he looked over at Auston and huffed.

“You’re too pretty for him.”

Christina gasped but wiped the worry from her features when she heard me and another man, which I assumed was Patrick Marleau burst into a fit of laughter at the small boys words. Standing up, I nodded my head and then looked up to the brunette standing behind Christina. Smiling wide, I stretched my hand out to him and gave his a firm shake.

“Very nice to meet you,” I nodded my head as he smiled at me.

“We’re still busting on Mouse for the puck,” Patrick chuckled as he peered past me at the mountain of children on Auston. “He’s used to that, don’t worry about it.”

“My friend hasn’t gotten over it,” We all shared a laugh as I turned my body so I could speak to them but also see the boys beating Auston up. “Auston said they might be naked.”

Christina let out a long groan as Patrick chuckled. They informed me it was hit or miss with clothes around here. Christina thanked God that today was a day where it was a his instead of a miss. After a few more light conversations, Auston pulled himself from the floor and announced that him and I had a pond hockey score to settle.

The boys asked to spectate, which I agreed to before anyone could chime in.

When the parents beamed at me, I blushed and turned to Auston who had a similar bright smile on his lips. Once the boys ran upstairs to change, Auston and I excused ourselves and headed outside. Once we got to the bench on the other side of the ice, the brunette turned to me as we sat down and gave me a warm smile.

“You’re good with kids.” He stated with a small smile.

“I like kids.” I shrugged a shoulder as I kicked my boots off and shoved my feet into my skates. Pulling the left one up I started to tighten my laces. “Plus, they’re hysterical.”

Auston paused for a minute, his eyes bright as he ran them over me a few times. It looked like he wanted to say something. It looked like he wanted to scream words in my face, but as the small creek of the back doors sliding open filled the air, he tore his eyes from mine and quickly went back to lacing his skates.

The whole family walked outside, now bundled in coats and carrying blankets and lawn chairs. The boys ran across the backyard and sat center ice, laying the blanket down and piling on top of it. On one side Cristina set up a chair, while on the other Patrick set up his. As the two adults sipped their coffee mugs, the boys started making bets with themselves.

“She’s got him, he’s too tall and goofy.”

“Nah, he’s an NHL player, he’s going to break her ankles.”

“She’s got pretty ankles, I don’t think he would break them.”

“Tess has got him beat, he’s too in looooove with her to try to beat her.”

I couldn’t help but laugh as I put on my gloves and grabbed one of my sticks from the bench. Skating out onto the ice, I did a quick lap and felt all of the uncertainty that was in my body dissipate. It felt amazing to skate again. It felt amazing to hear the slice of my skates on the ice. My heart was soaring as I caught one of the pucks on the ice with the blade of my stick and started to work with it. Doing a few drills I remembered from playing when I was a teen, I shot the puck into the net and listened as the boys howled form the grass.

“Oh, he’s toast!”

“You’re trying to show me up in front of my fanbase?” Auston skated up to me, leaving nearly five inches between us. Smirking at me, he tilted his head a little and dropped his eyes from mine to my lips. “You’re a lot better than you let on.”

“Scared, Matthews?” I challenged and watched as the brunette ran his tongue over his bottom lip before he rolled it between his teeth and inhaled sharply.

I wanted to kiss him so bad.

“Rules?” He questioned as he skated away from me and pushed all of the pucks away from the ice but one. As he stick handled a little, I rolled my eyes and watched as Pat stood up and walked onto the ice. Grabbing the puck from Auston, he waved us over to the small circle they had painted in the middle of the ice and held the puck up.

Patrick informed us of the rules. He gave us the basis for the offsides, told us the first to five won. Auston informed me it was the best two out of three, and then Patrick gave us both a wink and nodded his head asking if we were ready. Moving my hand up on the stick, I nodded my head and watched as Auston did the same and then looked up at me.

“Ready to lose two bets in two weeks, Tess?”

“Ready to lose, Superstar?” I watched Auston’s cheeks tint red as his eyes traced over the smirk on my face a few times.

“Oh man,” Pat laughed as he snapped his fingers and then moved his hand. After a short countdown, he dropped the puck and jumped back to the sideline.

I won the face off, spun away from Auston and skated right past him. My first goal was bar-down a second later.

The look on the brunette’s face was something I would hold onto until the day I died.

The rest of the first round went smoothly. We followed the normal rules of one-on-one pond hockey. I left the puck behind the net for Auston after pulling it from the net. He grabbed it and skated toward me. A few times he made it by, a few times I poked the puck right off of his stick.

I won the first round 5-1.

The second round was when the chirping started. The boys were having a field day as Auston and I relentlessly started to pick on each other. Auston would make short jokes, I would call him sasquatch, and then the laughter from us and the boys on the sideline would fill the silence for a little. I could tell Auston had put almost all of his effort into this round. His moves were a little harder to predict. His edge and stick work was a lot better.

But I still had him up 4-2.

It was my turn to take the puck in. I saw him staring at me, the fun in his eyes replaced by competitive determination. I was worried for a moment as I slowly started to make my way to the offensive zone. I pictured him making me look like an absolute fool on the ice. I thought about what the kids were saying. I thought about the ankles comment.

A smile surfaced on my lips.

She’s got pretty ankles

Looking up, I watched as Auston moved his eyes from the puck to me. As he dropped his eyes to my lips, he smiled and shook his head at me. Instead of trying to skate around him, I skated right for him and felt my shoulder collide with his body. Instead of giving way, he held his ground and leaned into me, his arm against my waist. Faintly in the background, I could hear the boys yelling about the holding penalty.

“I’m impressed,” Auston breathed into my ear as I looked up at him and smirked. “You know I let you win the first game, right?”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night, Matthews.” I cooed as I sent him a wink and then swiftly spun from him and passed the puck to myself off of his skates. As the sidelines went nuts, I went to shoot the puck when I felt the blade of a stick hook onto my wrist and pull my hand down. As a small pain ran through my body, I turned to the man and looked at him, my eyes wide with shock.

“Hooking! Hooking!” The boys screamed from the sidelines. “Drop the mitts! Show him who’s boss, Tessy!”

Smiling, I skated up to Auston and knocked the stick from his hands. Looking up at him, I tilted my head to the side and smiled as I gave him a small shove. “You serious?”

“Relax, Tess. I was playing,” Auston smiled at me as he went to take a few strides closer to me. The second he was within arms reach, I gave him another shove backwards and listened as his laugh started to fill my head. After a few more attempts, I looked up at him and started to shake my gloves off.

“You wanna go?” I challenged.

“Tessa!” Auston exclaimed as I tossed my gloves to the ice and listened as the boys started to cheer. “I’m not fighting you.” Auston skated up to me and pressed his body into mine, his eyes bright as he shook off his gloves and grabbed onto my shoulders. “You won anyway,” Auston leaned into me. I could feel him smile against my ear, “Flat out, one-hundred percent, not-shit, beat me.”

Rolling my eyes, I looked up at him and started to feel my whole body grow warm. He was so close, his eyes were so bright and his hands were burning holes through my layers of clothing. I started to think about it again. I thought about how close he was the other night. I thought about how soft his lips would be if we kissed.

“So does that mean I won the bet?”

Auston looked at me, his cheeks turning a light pink as he skated me toward the bench. The family on the sideline was chatting back and forth about the game. They didn’t notice us skate away. They didn’t notice the centimeters separating Auston and I.

Rolling his bottom lip between his teeth, he nodded his head and then rolled his eyes. “What, do I have to wear a tutu or some shit? Is this going to be embarrassing? Can’t we just-”

Before the brunette could finish, I leaned into him, and pressed my lips to his. As the fire started to burn through my body, Auston wrapped his arms around me, lacing his fingers with my hair and pressed his lips back into mine. I felt like I was being shocked as he ran his tongue over my bottom lip and groaned when my tongue rubbed against his own.

Once we were out of breath, Auston pressed his forehead to mine and looked down at me, his eyes bright as they reflected the light from the ice beneath us. The boys howled from the sidelines, causing the two of us to laugh as we tried to catch our breath.

Yeah, get some, Auston!