Kate leans against the wall in defeat. She's drunk. Humiliated. How has the night gone so horribly wrong? She swipes at her wet cheeks angrily. She hates crying, hates feeling weak and out of control. Everything inside her feels shaky, like the room that's still spinning and spinning.
Taking a deep breath, she begins to peel herself out of the rest of her clothes. Her stockings refuse to cooperate and she has to sit on the floor to get them off. Standing up again seems like too much effort, so she leaves everything in a pile and crawls to the closet for a nightgown. The first thing she finds is the soft, slightly scratchy fabric of Doug's Bobby Hull game sweater. Her sweater. It makes her smile, as always, at the unexpected sweetness of his gift.
Then she remembers she hates him again. Still. Whatever. Focus, Kate.
She tries to pull the sweater from the hanger but it doesn't budge, so she forces herself to stand up just to have the satisfaction of throwing it to the floor. She resists the urge to stomp on it as well.
So her hulking neanderthal of a partner doesn't want her? "It's his loss," she tells the sweater. There's no need to feel so ashamed. People get drunk and make fools of themselves all the time, don't they? Of course they do. Kate nods in agreement with herself as she wriggles into her nightgown. Why does he have to make her feel so childish and naive about it?
The sweater almost trips her on her way to the bathroom, so she picks it up and hurls it at the bed. It doesn't have enough weight to do more than sag across the pillows. When she comes out again it's just lying there, mocking her. It could have been -- should have been -- Doug lying there, not his stupid sweater. She wants to punch it, punch him, but she finds she's too exhausted for anger now, too sad.
She flops onto the bed and looks up at the ceiling. It spins faintly. When she rolls onto her side and closes her eyes, everything whirls even faster. She presses her face into the sweater and pretends it smells like Doug. Doug, who doesn't want her, who left her here alone. It hurts more than anything has in a long, long time.
She's always had the power to choose. Because she's Jack Moseley's daughter, because she can skate. She's always had what she wants and the power to refuse what she doesn't. She's always, always been wanted.
How has everything gone so wrong?
The blanket under her is lumpy and uncomfortable. She pushes it away, but the sheets underneath are stiff and coarse against her back and arms. Whether it's the alcohol or muddled desire, her skin is so sensitive tonight that it's almost painful. She knows she won't be able to sleep in this nightgown.
With a sigh, she sits up and takes it off, puts on the sweater. It swallows her from the tips of her fingers almost to her knees. If she curls up, she can pull her legs inside so that even her toes are covered. The cotton is soothing, like aloe over prickling sunburn.
She lies back again and the room has stopped spinning. The sweater is heavy against her breasts and stomach, and her fingers begin to trace the bands across her thighs out of habit. She's slept in this more nights than she'll ever admit to anyone, but especially to Doug. Not that he'd ever ask.
Doug's hands were the first things about him she'd learned to appreciate. They're calloused and a little rough, but his grip is firm and secure. Warm, too. Her hands always seem to be slightly cold, even when she isn't on the ice. Whenever she imagines what Doug's hands would feel like touching her -- and it's so hard to admit to herself that she imagines it at all -- she thinks they must feel a little like this sweater.
She closes her eyes and sees him again at the New Year's party, that brief suspended moment when she thought he might kiss her, then the surprising softness of his cheek under her lips. Her nipples tighten. She shifts slightly and the sweater drags across them, sending a pang between her thighs. She's thought about this before, but never been brave enough to do it, even in the dark. Tonight she's just drunk enough to be brave and just miserable enough to allow herself the pleasure.
Using her palms, she slides the fabric over and around her breasts, rasping her skin and making her legs shift restlessly. She still feels strange, as if everything is moving in slow motion. Doug's hands are big, much bigger than hers, and strong. It galls her sometimes to admit it, but she always feels safe in his grip. She's never afraid of falling.
She touches herself through the sweater like they're his hands, over her aching breasts, down to her belly and back up again. When she can't stand it anymore, she opens her legs. They'd danced together once at New Year and he'd been so gentle then. He touches her like that now but it's not enough; she needs more.
Then those strong, calloused fingers move against her harder, catching a little and sending tiny flickers of pain through the pleasure. She knows somewhere that it's her own hands, the sweater, that she's alone on a bed in a bland hotel room in Chicago. But somehow it's also him making her feel like this. Stroking her and stroking her until she can't breathe, until she can't hold back the sounds she's making, until everything in her head goes beautifully, totally silent.