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“We need to talk,” I said as I loaded the dishwasher with our plates.
I’d watched Alfie as I was making eggs, and he looked so quiet and chilled, no sign of the temper that simmered below the surface. I’d seen this before, in a past life, but the peace in his face was something beautiful. Last night had been something I wanted to experience again; less for helping Alfie and more for how much I wanted to be with him.
“That doesn’t sound good,” Alfie murmured, and I could see the visible stress in his tightening jaw. “Did I do something wrong?”
I knew that this was the first place his head would go. I assumed he was a beginner at this whole thing; he probably hadn’t ever realized what he wanted, and I needed to show him what it could be like to let someone else take charge. He carried the entire team on his back, his skills were the backstop of every game. Yes, he was part of a team, but he was also the final barrier, and he took his role seriously. To the point that he saw every loss as a personal insult. That had to be so hard, and he needed something.
He needed me. And I wanted him.
“You didn’t do anything wrong.” I leaned over and kissed him. “You did everything absolutely right, you were beautiful.”
He smiled at me then, a hopeful smile, not a single sign of the tension that had begun to form.
“It was…” his voice trailed away, and he shrugged.
I tapped the end of his nose. “Use your words, Alfie,” I encouraged playfully. One day he’d understand that communication was everything in this kind of situation, and when he did, when he could open up and be honest about how he felt, it would be wonderful to see.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said in French, and I kissed him again. I couldn’t help it, he was perfect.
“It’s just the start of what we could do. But for now, we need to talk. Last night was perfect, and we can go much deeper, more intense, and I need you to know that every single time we’re together you are the one with the ability to stop things. Okay? All you have to say is stop.”
“What if I say carrot instead?” He looked so earnest.
“I hate carrots, and it’s a word I wouldn’t ever use in normal conversation, so maybe, just so you can be sure, I will use the word carrot.”
I loved the way the word sounded with his accent and I couldn’t help the small kiss I stole, but I had to make him understand one very important thing.
“Stop is the only word you need.” I gave him no space to think that anything else was possible, and finally he nodded. “Good. You’re doing so good.”
He smiled again, and I wondered at his family that the small praise was enough to have such a beautiful smile spread over his face.
“I have practice now.” He moved from where he’d been standing against the counter, and then stopped, turning his back to face me. “What happens at the rink? What…” He frowned and gestured between us. “What are we?”
“What do you want us to be?”
“Exclusive,” he said, immediately. “I know that this is what I need right now, I don’t want to think that…”
“I’m with a load of other guys?” I ended for him.
I reassured him immediately. “Exclusive is a good thing. I want that. Does it worry you that I want more from you that just the sex?”
I had to know, and he had to be honest with me.
The smile he gave me was worth everything. “That doesn’t worry me at all.”
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