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Good Canadian Boy

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The bedroom was cool, the hot July sun closed out by heavy shades. The sheets were still a sweaty mess, though.

"Am I too heavy?" Jamie asked into the side of Tyler's neck. Her hair was stuck to his panting mouth, and he blew ineffectively at it.

"You're okay for another minute," Tyler said. She sounded just as disinclined to separate as he felt. It'd been a long month apart while they went about their summers.

She was petting his back in slow sweeps; she did that after really good sex. It read like satisfied approval, which made Jamie feel like a superhero, deep down.

He turned his head and nuzzled at her neck. There was a faint trace of perfume lingering in the space behind her ear, something herby that he couldn't identify. She didn't usually bother with that sort of thing; the fact that she had when coming to see him made his heart clench a little. It wasn't for him, not exactly. There were few mysteries here; he'd seen her unwashed and sticky with beer, and in her stinky Under Armor, and in sweats and a sports bra. She didn't have to lady it up, but she liked doing it.

"'Kay," she said, and pushed at his shoulders. "My ribs are starting to creak."

He propped himself up on one hand and reached down to pull out. It took several confused seconds to figure out why that felt so weird.

"Uh–" Jamie said.

"What?" She was pushing her hair back, face hidden behind both hands.

"The condom broke," Jamie said blankly.

The last time he'd seen her move that fast, P.K. Subban was on her tail. She bolted upright, staring as he ineffectively attempted to get the condom off without making a mess. There wasn't quite jizz everywhere, but it was close. And her legs were still splayed open around his hips; she was far wetter than she should be.

"Shit fuck shit," she said with a note of rising panic.

That kicked Jamie's brain back into gear. It was habit now, to try to be calm when everyone else was freaking out. "Whoa," he said. "We're okay." He got the condom off and yeah, it was a fucking mess. "We both got tested right before playoffs, remember?" And back at the beginning of the season, and at the end of last.

Tyler's breath was coming too fast. "I don't care about that," she said. "Fuck fuck – do you have spermicide?"

Jamie blinked. Was he supposed to? "Uh . . . no," he said.

"Right." Tyler jerked into motion and rolled to her feet. "I'm going to take a quick shower, but then we need to run out and pick up Plan B."

"What's – oh, the pill thing," Jamie said, feeling like he was several steps behind in this conversation. "Sure, if you want to. But don't you have your thing? The implant?" He'd always assumed the point of her 'two forms of birth control' rule was that an equipment failure would be no big deal.

She was rummaging in her bag, and didn't look back. "It's not a hundred percent," she said. "That's not good enough." And she closed the bathroom door behind her with a decisive click.


She came out of the shower outwardly calm. But Jamie liked to think he knew a little something about her by now, what she looked like happy or angry or horny. And this was subtly not right in a way that set his teeth on edge.

She paused halfway out the truck door in the pharmacy parking lot. "You don't have to come in," she said over her shoulder. "No reason to mess with the whole good hometown Canadian boy thing you've got going."

Jamie couldn't tell if he should take that at face value, or if she just didn't want him to come. Crap, okay. Guess. "I'm not worried about that," he said, and got out of the truck. And by the time they were crossing the parking lot together, it was too late to say that yeah, it would be mildly embarrassing, but so was buying condoms and lube, and he was pretty sure a real good Canadian boy should have no problem buying his girlfriend's birth control.

She had a brief discussion with the pharmacist, who didn't seem to recognize either of them. Then she stood at the counter for a few minutes filling out forms. Jamie glanced over her shoulder and was somewhat intimidated by the array of information wanted, up to and including the timing of "the most recent occurrence of sexual intercourse."

Then he loitered awkwardly while Tyler stepped into a small side room for some sort of consult with the pharmacist. Jamie occupied himself by reading the back of the Plan B box the pharmacist had already set out.

"Good?" he asked when Tyler came back.

"Yep," she said, and scooped the box out of his hand.

She ripped the box open right there in the parking lot, and washed the pill down with a swig of warm Gatorade from the cup holder in the truck. Instantly her tension bled away, like she was an action hero who had just defused a bomb.

"Right," Tyler said. She shook herself out from the shoulders down. "That's done. What did you have planned for today?"

"Uh—" Jamie's plan, such as it was, had consisted entirely of picking her up at the airport, going straight to bed, and staying there until tomorrow. They'd managed the first two parts just fine, but now he was caught flat-footed. "Late lunch?" he offered. They could always eat, no matter what else was going on.

There were things he wanted to do. He loved B.C. in the summer, always had, and there were plenty of things he wanted to show her. He wanted to make her love this place like he'd wanted to make her love Dallas. And he liked to think he'd done okay at that over the past two years. But that sort of thing required a bit more preparation.

"You feel like kayaking?" he suggested as they were finishing their burgers. "I've got all the stuff in my garage."

She hesitated. "I should maybe take a rain check on that one," she said, then reluctantly added, "I might start to feel sick here in a little bit."

"Oh, geez," Jamie said, reminded. He'd read the list of side effects and everything. "You okay right now? Want to go home?"

"I'm fine," she said, and snatched away his last two fries to prove it. "But yeah, maybe we should take it easy for the rest of the day."

They ended up with a pile of snacks and a Breaking Bad marathon. Tyler got quieter and quieter as afternoon turned to evening, and she made a point of moving the garlic hummus to the other side of the coffee table. So she wouldn't have to smell it, Jamie eventually realized. He cleared everything away, and brought her back a water bottle.

"Okay?" he asked, not liking the clammy look to her skin.

"I'll live," she said, and stretched out with her head in his lap.

Jordie called around eight. "Wow, you're answering the phone," he said when Jamie picked up. "I thought you'd basically have everything turned off and a sock on the door."

"Shut up," Jamie said, even though he'd intended to do just that.

"Aw, bored already?" Jordie said.

"What did you need?"

Jordie must have picked something up from his tone, because he dropped the chirping. "Mom wanted to know if you have cake preferences for Thursday," he said. "I volunteered to call since I'm already traumatized by your sex life on the regular."

"My cake preference is to have cake," Jamie said, ignoring the rest. "And tell mom not to go crazy."

"Yeah, that ship sailed," Jordie said cheerfully, and Jamie groaned.

"A small party, I said. You heard me say it, right?"

"I heard," Jordie said. "Too bad no one else did. Anyway. I have you on record as in favor of cake. Check. Are we on for hiking tomorrow?"

"Let's see in the morning," Jamie said. At the moment, Tyler looked like she would prefer not to hike all the way to the bathroom and back.

"Right." Jordie was audibly rolling his eyes. "You do actually have to put pants on before Thursday, just remember that."

"Uh-huh," Jamie said. "Are we done?"

"Say hi to Segs for me," Jordie said. "And yes. Later."

"Hi from Jordie," Jamie said, tossing his phone onto the coffee table. He curved his hand around the crown of Tyler's head. She was faintly sweaty, even though they had a fan blowing straight at them. "Can I get you anything?"

"A hysterectomy?" she suggested.

"Afraid I'm all out of those. Maybe ice cream?"

"Nah, I'm okay." She turned her cheek into his thigh. "This is nice," she said after a while.

Jamie blinked down at her. It looked singularly miserable to him. "It is?"

"No, this fucking sucks," she said, and reached up to hook her fingers through his. "But this is nice. Way more comfy than my bathroom floor."

"Good." He'd paused the TV when the phone rang; Walt's face filled the screen. Jamie didn't really want to unpause it. The quiet was soothing. He sat still for a while, stroking Tyler's hair.

"Hey," Tyler said eventually. "You remember that ESPN piece from a couple months ago, where they asked us what we're best at, aside from hockey?"

"Sure." Jamie squinted, thinking back. "You said dog training." And then, for his ears only when the microphone was turned off, 'sucking dick.'

"Yeah," Tyler said. "I lied. The actual thing I'm really good at other than hockey is getting knocked up."

Jamie blinked, taking a minute to realize yeah, that did actually mean what he initially thought it meant. "Is that . . . a thing people are particularly good at?" he asked.

She rolled her head against his thigh. "See, that's what I thought, too. A condom broke, and I was a little worried, but I figured hey, you know, what are the odds, I'm fine." Her mouth quirked. "Turned out, not so much."

"Wow," Jamie said stupidly.

"Oh, just wait for it," Tyler said. "So I figured, you know, that was my lightning strike, and at least I'd gotten it over with at the beginning of my career. Except then it happened again. And this time the condom didn't even break."

"Wow," Jamie said again. "I mean, you hear about that happening, but—"

"I know, right?" She puffed out a breath like she did when she was offended by a bad call. "And that time I didn't have any reason to worry, so I didn't catch it until I was eight weeks along, and by then it was too late to just get a shot, and it was this total fucking nightmare of waiting for appointments and being paranoid about the press and all this time knowing it was in me and – anyway." She made a scrubbing gesture like she hadn't meant to say any of that. "Right through the fucking condom. I mean, once, shame on the universe. Twice, go fuck yourself, fertility. So I got the IUD and I'm way more careful now."

It took Jamie a minute to figure out what her expression reminded him of. He eventually realized that she looked like some of the long-term injured players he'd known, the guys who just couldn't believe their bodies would let them down like that. "I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't know."

She shrugged. "Not like I put it in my NHL bio or something," she said. "Number 91 can score a mean one from the far circle. She loves dogs and Gray Goose, and she's guaranteed to get knocked up if you just wave sperm in her direction. Anyway. Whatever. That's why I freaked out earlier. Figured I should tell you."

Jamie had the same healthy fear of getting a girl pregnant that most guys his age did, but it didn't keep him up at night or anything. Tyler, though, looked . . . hunted. Maybe it was like a bad concussion. They were all careful, sure, but lots of people said that you didn't really know fear until it'd happened to you once, and you had to go back out there again.

"That's never happened to me before," he said. "The condom breaking."

Tyler shrugged again. "Guess I'm just lucky."

"No, I meant." Jamie licked his lips. "Maybe that was my lightning strike. So if we're together, we'll be okay."

"Huh," Tyler said, and blinked. "I can't tell if that's hilarious or romantic."

"Both?" Jamie suggested hopefully.

Her smile steadied, strengthened. "Yeah, okay," she said. "We'll go with that."


Tyler didn't look a hundred percent the next day, to Jamie's eye, but she wanted to go hiking anyway. Jamie knew exactly what she was thinking: they'd both played sick, feverish, injured. When you did that enough, it became routine to just go about your life even if you didn't feel great.

Speaking for himself, Jamie felt like going for more of an amble than a hike, but Tyler and Jordie dragged him along, broing it up all over the place and generally driving each other nuts.

"Dude," Tyler said, elbowing Jordie hard after they'd passed another group of hikers. "The blonde. Did you see those tits?"

Jordie had, in fact, been checking out the blonde, and not nearly as subtly as he'd thought. "You're disgusting," he said, elbowing her back. "Thanks for ruining it." Jamie bit back his smile. Jordie thought she was just fucking with him, and she totally was. But she also had a thing for tiny blondes with big racks. That had been genuine appreciation right there.

Jordie dumped the remains of his canteen over her when they'd finished the trail and gotten back to the parking lot. It was a well-insulated one that actually kept the water cold, so Tyler yowled, trying to hold her sopping t-shirt away from her body.

"You motherfucker, I won't forget this," she said to Jordie. "I'll get you. And Jamie will help me. Won't you?"

"Um," Jamie said vaguely. "Sure." He was mostly thinking about wet t-shirts, and the lacy bits at the top of Tyler's bra, and whoa, hello, nipples. She caught him at it, and the corner of her mouth tipped up.

Awareness hummed between them for the rest of the afternoon, as they grilled out on Jamie's deck and split a six-pack between the three of them. It didn't help that Tyler changed into a tank top as soon as they got home. She wandered outside after with a tube of sunscreen and asked Jamie to put it on for her, even though she could totally reach all the relevant bits herself. Jamie didn't know which part he enjoyed more, massaging the lotion into her ridiculously cut arms, or down into the deep V of her shirt.

"Right there," she murmured, leaning in as his fingers dipped in between her breasts. "Rub it in, it sucks to burn there."

"You're cruel," Jamie said, glancing over his shoulder to where Jordie was clattering around in the kitchen.

She shrugged unconcernedly. "Just making sure you'll be ready to go later. We kind of got interrupted yesterday. Should pick up where we left off."

"Cruel," Jamie repeated more firmly.

Jamie had this theory that you could gauge the length and seriousness of a relationship by the way you thought about the sex. Because at a certain point, just calling it hot didn't seem to cover all the nuances, and he wanted to use words like passionate instead. Not that he'd ever tell Tyler that, if he wanted to retain even a small part of his dignity.

Jordie hung out with them until the early evening. This was, in theory, Jamie's idea of a perfect summer day, the three of them together, pleasantly tired from exercise and full of good food. In reality, he was tempted to grab Jordie by the collar and throw him out.

Apparently he wasn't the only one who felt that way.

"Finally," Tyler said when the front door closed behind Jordie. The two of them met at the bottom of the stairs. Tyler hooked both arms around his neck and bit him under the jaw, with her usual shotgun approach to foreplay. "I wasn't kidding earlier," she said after a few minutes of sloppy making out. "I'm ready to go, you don't need to—" she flicked a fingernail at the back of his hand where he was carefully circling fingers around her nipple over her shirt.

"Maybe I like to," Jamie said, but he took her point and lifted the shirt off over her head. He reached for the clasp of her bra, too, then rethought that and left it alone. Tyler always kept her bra on when she was on top. Too much bouncing otherwise, she'd blithely informed him. So he was kind of hoping she'd take the hint this time.

"Hey," she said, easing away. "You gonna tell me what you want for your birthday?"

"Oh," Jamie said. He'd forgotten, amazingly. 'You know me,' she'd said two weeks ago, just about when they were both getting frustrated with separation. 'I'm up for anything. So pick something you've always wanted to do, birthday boy'.

"Ooh, must be good," Tyler said, misreading his flush. "Am I supposed to get it out of you?"

"No, um." Jamie winced. It'd taken him a while to come up with something that could work. It couldn't be too embarrassingly weird or, just as bad, too embarrassingly unweird. And obviously it had to be something he really wanted. Something he'd never done before; she thought that was hot, he thought it was . . . special. He had one good idea, which was a problem now that he knew it wouldn't fly. "You're not going to go for it," he said.

Tyler scoffed. "Oh, come on. You are not kinkier than me, I don't believe it." A light of competition had sparked in her eyes. Oh God.

"No, it's not that," Jamie said. No hope for it now. "You just won't want to."

She cocked her head to one side, finally catching onto his mood. "Okay," she said slowly. "How about you let me decide that."

He nodded. "Yeah. Um. I was going to ask if we could lose the condom. Two forms of birth control," he added hastily. "I remembered the rule. I just wondered if, um, the exact form for the second mattered."

"Huh," she said. She had both arms around his shoulders, and she leaned back, hanging her weight off him. "Interesting. Not kinky at all. Unless–" her eyes narrowed. "Hang on, is this a jizz thing? Like, you want to get it all up in me?"

"Um." Jamie felt himself go very, very red.

"It is!" she crowed. "Oh my God, what is it about the Y chromosome that does this?"

"It's not," Jamie started to say. "I'm not, like – it isn't a babies thing."

She waved that away. "No, dude, it's cool, I get you. Hell, if I had a dick, I'd totally be trying to jizz all over girls' tits and things."

Jamie couldn't decide if that was more horrifying or reassuring. "So . . . you're cool with it?" he asked cautiously.

Tyler stopped laughing at him. "Huh," she said, apparently thinking about it for the first time. Too busy needling him before. "Actually . . . not so much. I think it'd stress me out, even if I had a diaphragm or something." She made a face. "And I fucking hate those things anyway."

"Yeah, that's what I figured," Jamie said. Disappointing, but well. It was what it was.

"There's an obvious solution, though," Tyler said.

"There is?"

"Sure," she said brightly. "Oldest birth control in the book, probably. Dude," she added, at his blank look. "You can't knock me up when you're doing me in the ass."

"That's . . . true," Jamie said. "Wow, um. Yeah."

"Wait, have you never before?" Tyler asked. He shook his head, and she grinned. "Aw, that's my good Canadian boy."

"I just hadn't gotten around to it yet," Jamie said with dignity.

Tyler slapped his chest. "No, but this is awesome. It's a twofer! Man, happy birthday to you."

Jamie felt himself slowly beginning to smile. Smugness didn't come naturally to him, as a general matter. But God damn his girlfriend was hot. And filthy. And hot.

"Though," Tyler said speculatively. "Huh. Do you know what you're doing?"

"How hard can it be?" Jamie said. Which was sort of dumb, because if he'd learned one thing about sex, it was that it could be way more high-skill than anyone had told him when he was sixteen. "And you'll talk me through it," he added. Just try and stop her.

"Oh, totally," Tyler said. "But I was also thinking I could demonstrate first."

Jamie frowned. "What do you mean?"

She slid her arms down his back and grabbed his ass with both hands. "I mean I have a dildo with your name on it," she said.

And just when he'd gotten the blushing under control. Motherfucker.

"It's only fair," she said in a reasonable tone. She was watching his face, really fucking pleased with how well she'd thrown him. "I mean, if I'm letting you do it to me . . . hey," she added, when he still didn't say anything. "I'm kidding. I mean, I'll totally do you if you're down, but it doesn't actually have to be even-steven or whatever."

"No," Jamie said quickly. "It's not – I was just thinking." It didn't sound sexy, was the thing. At least not by itself. Asses weren't – he liked looking at them as much as the next guy, but with your clothes off they were actually a little funny, and distantly gross. He totally wanted to do her, sure, and, damn it, it did tweak his sense of fair play to realize he wasn't sure about returning the favor. But the more he thought about it . . . it wasn't that it sounded hot. But it did sound dirty. Like something he wasn't supposed to do. And that sounded hot. "I'm game," he said, straightening his shoulders.

"Sweet." She leaned up and pecked him on the lips, groping his ass at the same time. "Don't you worry about a thing, babydoll. I'll be real gentle with you."

"Oh no," Jamie said. "You're going to be horrible about this, aren't you?" He was giving it, like, five minutes before the virgin jokes started.

"Well, I'll be gentle when I'm popping your cherry," Tyler said, and boom, there it was. "But right now, I'm not going to be gentle at all." And she went for his belt buckle.


"Hey," Tyler said, sticking her head into the kitchen the next morning while Jamie was making eggs.

"You're supposed to be in bed," Jamie said wearily. Tyler's ability to unknowingly ruin a romantic gesture in the making, like breakfast in bed, was truly a marvel.

"I am?" Tyler clocked the tray of fruit and coffee waiting on the counter. "Oh, dude." She leaned over the island and snagged a strawberry. "I can go back upstairs and look surprised?" she said around it.

"That's okay," Jamie said dryly, and shoved her towards the table. "Sit down."

"No, wait." She braced herself with a hand hooked in his waistband. "Have you seen my phone?"

"It was in your pocket," Jamie said slowly, thinking back. "You were texting last night."

"Right. Then what did I do with it?" She watched him hopefully; between the two of them, he was far more likely to be able to work it out.

"Back in your pocket," Jamie said. "Pretty sure. So check the bedroom floor?"

"Awesome." She started to turn away. "Thanks. I'm gonna call Brownie and have him overnight my dildos."

Jamie dropped the spatula right into the eggs and grabbed her around the waist. Because she absolutely would do that, and Brownie absolutely would too, and the next time he saw both of them, Jamie would absolutely die.

"Or you could not," he said, because there was no way he could come up with arguments good enough to snow her on the fly.

"Aw," she said, with that aren't you cute? smile. It always made Jamie want to do something crazy, like – like go down on her outside in the backyard or something, so there.

". . . Please?" he said.

She made a production out of a big sigh. "Well, I guess I could just order new stuff." She brightened. "My mom is always telling me to stop wasting money on shipping my entire life back and forth twice a year and just buy duplicates."

"I'm sure she'll be very happy," Jamie said.

"The eggs are burning," Tyler said helpfully, and slipped out of his hands.

She brought her laptop down and turned it on over breakfast. "So, dildos," she said, typing with one hand. "Preferences?"

"Um. What . . . what are my options?" Jamie asked. He'd seen his share of sex toys in assorted nightstand drawers, but he'd never bought any himself.

"Well!" Tyler said, and proceeded to read out a dozen product descriptions in between bites of eggs. ". . . good for the novice at anal sports," she finished, and glanced up. "Anything sound interesting?"

"How about you pick?" Jamie said, about as overwhelmed as he'd been the first time he had his choice of every possible curve of stick blade.

Tyler's forehead creased. "No way. It's going in you, you've gotta choose. That's, like, sex toy personal responsibility."

Jamie snorted. "Yeah, but you know what you're doing," he said.

"Eh, sort of," she said casually. "I mean, I've screwed a lot of ladies into the mattress, but I've never pegged a dude."

"Huh," Jamie said. Then, because he couldn't help himself, "So really, you're a virgin at this too."

Tyler winked at him. "Hey, want me to act all demure and nervous about it? That could be fun."

The mind boggled. "No," Jamie said firmly.

She shrugged it off. "Okay. But at least come over here and look with me."

He scooted his chair around the table, bringing his plate along. "Okay," he said. "Dildos. Hit me."

It was a pleasantly surreal interlude, eating grapefruit while they discussed the merits of the plastic dick she was going to use to fuck him. Jamie was of the firm opinion that whatever color and whatever shape it was, it ought to be small. He fully expected Tyler to argue with him on that – she believed bigger was better in every aspect of her life, from cars to scoring streaks – but she just nodded along.

"No, I totally get it," she said when he finally asked. "You know what the chief attraction of the first boy I slept with was? Tiny dick." She gestured demonstrably with two spread fingers.

"Huh," Jamie said, honestly impressed by this display of youthful restraint and good sense.

"But that was pretty boring, so I've basically stuck with guys hung like horses ever since, when I did guys," Tyler said, and patted his thigh affectionately.

Right, there it was. "So not that one," Jamie said, pointing at the screen. He kind of wished there was a scale for these things; something measured in inches always sounded too big, even when it wasn't very many inches.

"Hm," Tyler said, and kept clicking.

Jamie had finished his breakfast. He pushed his plate away and leaned in, slinging an arm over Tyler's shoulders. The sun was pouring in through the bay window over the sink. The kitchen was full of warm, gold light. Tyler had an elbow planted on the table, the old maple one that used to sit in the breakfast nook at his parents' house. Her chin was in her hand, her eyes narrowed thoughtfully. Someone could paint her and call it Still Life with Grapefruit and Girl and Tattoos and Pictures of Dildos.

Tyler took the project of selecting the right toy in deadly earnest. She had multiple websites open, comparing product descriptions and user comments and professional reviews.

"Gotta treat you right," she said, brushing off his efforts to move her along. Jamie was reminded of the way she was with Val, how all the teasing hid a fierce, earnest protectiveness.

"Okay," he said, and kissed the wispy flyaways at her temple.

They settled in the end on a "starter kit," a set of graduated but modestly-sized toys "specially designed to maximize prostate stimulation." Jamie never thought about his prostate, except to be mildly uncomfortable when it was checked during the pre-season physicals, so he was pretty dubious about those claims.

"And a harness," Tyler said, beginning to click more rapidly. She apparently had pre-formed opinions on that, and knew exactly what she was going for.

"Wait," Jamie said, seeing an illustrative picture. "You're going to – oh."

Heat crept up the back of his neck. He'd really just gotten his head around the idea of her putting fingers in him, and then a toy. He'd done it to her with a vibrator, and watched her do it to herself, so the general physical aspects were familiar. He hadn't pictured her strapping on a harness and . . . well. Doing him. He quivered, low down in his belly. There was something to that, the idea of her between his legs, sweating, working hard.

"What's good for the goose," Tyler said, and clicked for overnight shipping.


It had seemed only obvious, when he was distracted at the end of the season, to schedule Tyler's B.C. visit over his birthday. It never occurred to Jamie to second-guess that decision until five minutes after they showed up at his parents' for a birthday party in the back yard.

"Help," Jamie said, grabbing Jordie. "Tyler is talking to my ex-girlfriend."

Jordie followed his subtly pointing finger. "Oh, dude, no," he said. "That's not what's happening at all. Segs is flirting with your ex-girlfriend."

Not seriously – that was Tyler set on auto-flirt. Or possibly just entertaining herself. But yep. Definitely flirting.

"Fuck your life," Jordie said cheerfully, and clapped Jamie on the back.

"Mom!" Jamie pounced on her as she passed. "You invited Molly?" He caught another familiar face out of the corner of his eye. "And Ashley? . . . And Brooke?"

His mom frowned at him. "You're still friends with them, aren't you?"

Jamie was friends with everyone he'd ever dated. "Well, sure, but . . ."

"Too late now anyway," his mom added cheerfully. "Gosh. Maybe next time you'll actually respond to one of the ten emails I send you about the guest list."

"I responded," Jamie protested.

His mom dug out her phone in silence, scrolled for a minute, and cleared her throat. "And I quote, 'You know all my local friends, just invite everyone.'" She glanced over to where Tyler and Molly were chatting, one dark head and one blonde bent together. "Ooh," she said with relish. "Awkward."

"I'm getting a drink," Jamie said.

On paper, Jamie wasn't a fan of big parties where everyone was ostensibly there to see him. But it was different with people he'd known all his life. And many of his friends' parents were also his parents' friends, so really the whole thing was an excuse for everyone to get together. And honestly, he'd never manage to see everyone individually during the summer, so it was efficient to throw them all in his face at once.

He circulated for a while, catching up on what weddings he'd missed during the season, who was getting a new boat, who was going back to school. And he started to relax, like a sucker, thinking he was safe.

At least until Tyler sidled up to him in the middle of the afternoon. She had a beer in one hand and a paper plate in the other. She was wearing skintight jeans and a fluttery green top that bared a lot of ink and even more skin. A couple of guys Jamie used to hang with had been following her around all afternoon. He didn't know whether it was simple lust or a more complicated attraction to a real live NHL star dropped into their midst. Everyone around here knew Jamie far too well to be impressed by him. Proud of him, sure, but not starstruck. Tyler was another matter.

"So," she said, stepping up onto the picnic bench and sitting next to him on the table. "Your exes are nice. I'm serious!" she added as he huffed. "They're all . . . nice."

"They are," Jamie agreed. He caught Hannah's eye by accident across the lawn, and nodded a greeting. She waved back, the other hand cradled around her belly. Was it her second or third kid? He couldn't remember.

Tyler sipped at her beer for a while. "I'm really not your type, am I?" she said eventually. She sounded thoughtful. "I mean, I knew that, but geez."

Jamie considered that. Until her, he'd only ever dated B.C. girls and, probably more significantly, only girls he'd known for years. "Not any more than I'm your type," he said. Which he definitely wasn't. Aside from everything else, he was a guy, which put him in the minority right there.

Her mouth quirked. "Point," she said, and bumped shoulders with him. "So, which one of them punched your v-card, huh?"

"Oh God," Jamie said, and stole her beer.


They stuck around late into the evening, long after everyone but family was gone. Jamie moved around the yard, picking up trash and surreptitiously watching Tyler and his mom doing the same on the deck. His mom treated Tyler exactly like she did anyone Jamie or Jordie brought home: she called her "honey" and complimented her "beautiful skin" and expected her to pitch in with chores just as much as any of her actual kids. But the fun part was Tyler, who got flustered and a little awkward, like she didn't know what to do with any of that. Basically, it was the best entertainment Jamie had seen all day.

Jamie's gold medal was in a glass case in the living room with Jennie's diploma on one side and a leadership award Jordie got back in junior on the other. The case was new; his mom had decided that the medal required some effort at classing up the collection.

Jamie found Tyler standing there when he came back in from taking the trash out. She was tilting her head, reading school certificates and plaques and everything with sober attention. Jamie paused in the doorway, a little uncomfortable. It was kind of like seeing her talk to his exes, his friends, everyone who had known him for decades. Which was stupid, since she spent nearly as much time with Jordie as she did with him; if she wanted to know his secrets, such as they were, she already had easy access.

He wasn't worried about someone telling her something embarrassing or unattractive, not really. If he'd ever managed to snow her into believing he was cool or suave or whatever, it'd probably lasted about ninety seconds. So he wasn't worried about her hearing something bad. More worried that there just wasn't all that much to tell.

"Hey," she said, catching a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye. "I didn't know you were so serious about baseball." She tapped the glass over a championship ribbon.

Jamie shrugged and went to join her. "Yeah, I guess I was." Frustrated, too; driven by a compulsion to be good at something, and not sure what that could be.

She hooked her arm through his. "Want to go out to some batting cages sometime? Teach me how?"

"Sure," Jamie said, surprised and flattered. "Whenever you want."

They left after a couple hours, once the house was reasonably clean again and they'd both sobered up enough to drive. Jamie had told everyone who would listen not to get him presents. Unfortunately, not many people would listen, so they had a trunkful of DVDs and books and random gear. His parents also sent along a giant cooler of leftover food.

"Ooh, cake," Tyler said, leaning into the back seat and poking through it.

"Let's go," Jamie said, hauling her out by a belt loop.

The days were long and bright this time of year, and Jamie turned the music down low as they drove home through the twilight. Tyler was quiet beside him. Quiet and thoughtful, which was usually cause for alarm, but Jamie was feeling too good to worry about much.

"They're all nice," Tyler said after a while.


"Nothing." She shrugged one shoulder. "Your parents, your friends. I dunno. They're just exactly what I pictured."

"Is that a good thing?" Jamie asked, puzzled.

She looked at him steadily for a minute. "Yes," she said at last, and turned to look out the window.

There was a package on the front porch when they got home. Jamie spotted it as they maneuvered the cooler up the steps, one of them at each end. But he didn't realize what it must be until Tyler set down her end in the kitchen, trotted out to fetch it, and came back smirking.

"So," she said, dropping the box on the island and giving him an eyebrow across it. "The first part of your present is here."

"Oh," Jamie said, as the penny dropped. He was in the process of loading things into the fridge, and he felt suddenly awkward with a package of cold cuts in one hand and a container of potato salad in the other.

Tyler's smirk softened to a genuine smile. "What do you say?" she said. "We can open a bottle of wine, light some candles . . ."

She wasn't even teasing him, was the thing. Jamie didn't need that stuff to feel like he was being treated right. But he liked that she wanted to do it that way. "Yeah," Jamie said quietly. "Let's do that."

"'Kay." She leaned up and pecked him on the mouth. "Can you finish up here? I've gotta take care of some things first."

"Sure. Uh. Should I do anything?"

She shrugged. "Nothing special. Just come up when you're ready."

It took him a while to put everything away, and even longer to remember where he'd left the single bottle of wine he owned. He could hear the shower running while he searched. His hands were a little sweaty as he brought everything upstairs.

Tyler was standing at the bathroom sink, wearing her bra and a black harness around her waist and thighs and nothing else, drying a dildo with one of the hand towels Jamie's mom had picked out for him. He looked at the harness, his mouth going dry. His v-card had, in fact, been punched by Hannah, in a hotel room after a fancy dress party for someone's seventeenth birthday. Hannah had worn a garter belt and stockings under her dress, which had made an apparently indelible impression on Jamie's sexuality. The harness didn't look anything like that, but it reminded him anyway.

"Hey." He set the wine and glasses and corkscrew on the nightstand and went to lean in the bathroom doorway. She smelled clean, like his soap, which only made him feel grubby. "Mind if I take a quick shower?"

"Go for it." She waved him through. "I'm not quite done here anyway."

Jamie was actually curious about the cleansing requirements for sex toys, the same way he liked knowing what the equipment guys did to his gear and why. But that could wait.

He showered quickly, not thinking about much. He kept sliding from sexy anticipation to unsexy nerves and back again. That was a lot like losing his virginity too, come to think of it.

He came back into the bedroom with a towel around his waist and his hair wet on his neck. Tyler was sprawled out on the bed, ankles crossed, drinking wine and looking like the cover of some seriously top-shelf porn. She had a bunch of stuff laid out on the nightstand, a box of condoms and a bottle of lube and the whole line of dildos fanned out around it. And she was still wearing her bra – a lacey purple one that plunged low in the front. Because, Jamie realized with a lurch, she was going to be on top. Right.

"Okay," she said, lifting her glass. "I don't know shit about wine, but this is really good."

"I didn't buy it," Jamie said. "My agent sends everyone a bottle of wine with the vintage of their draft year." He shrugged. "Now seemed like a good time to drink it."

"That's cute," she said, and he wasn't sure if she was talking about his agent or him. "C'mere."

Jamie dropped his towel and went to perch on the edge of the bed. Tyler tipped her glass in invitation, and he leaned over for a sip. He didn't know anything about wine either, but she was right, it was nice.

"So," he said, still leaning over her. "How does this work?"

She set the glass on the nightstand. "Relax, it's easy," she said. "First, you're going to get me really wet."

Jamie blinked. He suspected that he was being given the sex equivalent of busy work, but he was not going to complain. He leaned in, touched her cheek, and kissed her mouth.

He took his time with it, more conscious of what he was doing than usual. It was nice to have the reminder that, at least in this, he knew exactly what to do. She liked to be kissed in the hollow of her throat, and she liked a bit of teeth on the side of her neck even more. She really liked getting her nipples sucked, and doing it through a bra was actually a bonus. Jamie lingered there a long time, running his tongue back and forth over the lacy texture. It must chafe, and she clearly liked it. That was really doing it for him too, and she made a satisfied noise when she reached down and worked his erection a little between her two palms.

By the time he got his fingers on her pussy, she was already pretty wet. Jamie eased the tips of two fingers just barely into her and stroked gently over her clit with his thumb. Later, when she was way more worked up, she'd want him to pinch her hard there, or even bite. But not yet.

"Yeah, you know what I like," she murmured, and touched his wrist. "Okay, that's good, I'm good."

She twisted away from him and rummaged on the nightstand. Jamie thought okay, this was it, they were getting down to business, but all she came back with was a condom.

"Um," Jamie said as she rolled it onto him. "I thought you were gonna . . .?"

"I am, don't worry," she said. "We're just doing this too, okay?"

"Not arguing," Jamie said. He glanced down, doing a more thorough visual check of the condom than usual, and didn't realize she was doing the same until they looked back up and caught each other at it.

"Okay," she said, exhaling, clearly talking to herself. She pulled up one knee, planting her foot flat, and guided him into her with one hand on his back and the other on his dick. Jamie sank into her, propped on his elbows. They were moving slowly, exactly like they hadn't been last night, and he was suddenly, acutely aware of just how thin, how permeable the barrier of latex between them was. He'd often thought of it as too thick before, a layer between him and some more visceral, profound experience.

At the moment, though, he was only thinking how much trust it must take for her to let him inside like this. And not just trusting him, that he wasn't fucking around on her. Jamie was a safe spot to be placing her bets. He knew it, and she knew it. And as much fun as she made, he thought that was one reason she liked what they had. But she didn't just have to trust him, she also had to trust something far more arbitrary and out of either of their control.

And when he thought about it that way, it was suddenly easy to believe that he wasn't running any sort of risk by letting her inside him. Nothing real. Nothing worth being scared about.

They moved together for a while, unhurried, with her head tipped back on the pillow and her arms hooked loosely around his shoulders. Eventually she lifted her head, untangling one arm.

"Keep going," she said, and reached for the nightstand.

Jamie kept his head down. He could hear the pop of a bottle cap, and a slicking sound. They used lube sometimes; Jamie had always assumed that how wet you got a girl directly correlated to how into it she was, but according to Tyler that wasn't at all true. They needed lube to do pretty much anything in the week before her period was due, and on random other days too, once in a while. Jamie liked knowing these things. He'd never had a reliable sense of a girl's menstrual schedule before, and he liked that, too, unexpectedly.

Tyler was reaching behind him, steadying him with her clean hand at his waist. "Breathe out," she said.

Jamie did, and okay, there it was, her fingertip sliding between his cheeks, pressing confidently in. He breathed out as instructed, involuntarily shutting his eyes. It wasn't bad, or good. Or really anything, except weird.

"Keep moving," Tyler said, nudging him with her knee.

He did, realizing just as it happened that he was going to be pegging himself deeper onto her finger as he pulled out. That was okay. It felt slick, sort of bulkily intrusive.

"Okay?" she asked after a minute of that. Jamie nodded. "But not doing much for you?" He shook his head. "Yeah, this part always bores me, too," she said, and put a second finger into him.

Jamie hissed. That didn't hurt, exactly. It was just intensely, confusingly physical, like a new exercise he wasn't good at yet.

"Breathe," she said, and "Keep moving, come on, I got you." He wasn't even really thinking about being inside her anymore; he wrenched his brain back on track with an effort. He rocked into her and, even more carefully, out again. Okay, he had this, it was okay.

After a while, that was actually true. Jamie was sort of getting into it, and maybe 'it' was more about how slick she was and how deep he could push in rather than her fingers up his ass, but hey, he'd take it. She started pulling her fingers all the way out and putting them back in. That was more distracting. There was always this flash of precarious intensity as she pushed in. Jamie's brain didn't really know what to do with the sensation, where to put it, how to react to it.

"Okay," Tyler said eventually. She reached over to the nightstand and grabbed the smallest dildo, a thin, sharply curved flesh tone one. She took her fingers out of him and spent a minute fiddling with both hands and the bottle of lube behind his back. Jamie was kind of impressed with her dexterity, even as she dripped lube into the dip of his spine. And it was good to know there was a lot of the stuff going around.

"This'll be easy," she said. And it actually was – the toy slid in smoothly, feeling a bit smaller, less awkward than her fingers. She was at a better angle, Jamie realized quickly. She hadn't been able to do much with her fingers but a bit of push and pull. With the dildo, though, she could tilt it and turn it, clearly playing around with him.

And it started to feel good, in a low-grade way. Jamie slowed down even more, distracted by a gentle curl of pleasure in his gut. It didn't quite feel like anything he was used to, and he wanted to concentrate on it, pick it apart.

"Hey," he said hesitantly, and flicked a finger at the harness strap around the top of her thigh. "Can we, um, put this to use?"

She blinked, clearly surprised. "Sure. Here, scoot over." They rearranged themselves in a mildly awkward scramble. Jamie had been envisioning them switching spots, but Tyler kept pushing at him as he rolled onto his back, and he ended up on his knees again. It was vaguely embarrassing as she knelt up behind him, but, well, he'd done her doggie style a lot of times so, okay.

She fiddled around back there for a while; Jamie heard a series of clicks, and eventually realized she was attaching the dildo and doing . . . rigging things.

"Okay," she said at last, and put a hand low on his back. "Here we go."

Jamie let his head hang down, trying to relax. She slid into him smoothly again – even easier than before, he thought. He liked the feel of her strong thighs pressed to the backs of his as she rested against him for a minute. And then she started rolling her hips.

Jamie was distantly glad that they were doing this with a dildo; a dildo couldn't get impatient and go off too soon. Because this was taking him a while. But yeah, little by little, he could feel himself getting there. The gentle pleasure from before was heating ever so slowly to something deeper, something sharper.

And then Tyler really started moving, thrusting into him instead of all that careful rocking, and okay, that felt good. He grunted, pushing back a little with his hands.

"Yeah," she said, pleased. "Move if you want to, that's good."

He did, awkwardly at first, until he got the hang of it from this end. But once he did, everything took an abrupt left turn from comfortable to dirty as fuck. It was the sound of her hips slapping against him, he thought dizzily, and yeah, also the way the dildo jabbed into him now, some real force behind it. Tyler reached down and rubbed her knuckles up behind his balls. She'd done that before sometimes when she was blowing him, but it hadn't felt like that, like she could milk it right out of him if she just kept pressing there, kept screwing into him.

"Do that again," he blurted. "With your fingers – yeah, fuck, yeah, that."

"Yeah?" she said, sounding breathless. "Is that what you needed?"

He nodded, his head tossing involuntarily, and she laughed. Not at him though, just happy.

"Yeah," she said again, and "That's it," and then, "Just think, if the Olympic Selection Committee could see you now, the way you're taking it for me."

"Oh shit," Jamie said.

"If Sidney Crosby knew you let me do this to you, all those nice things he said . . ."

Jamie dropped his head, flushing hotly, and reached for his dick. It wasn't about what she was saying. Or it was, but not literally. He didn't want anyone to know they were doing this, not actually. But he fucking loved that she knew, that she was never going to let him forget it. He didn't want to forget it. He wanted to walk around for the rest of his life knowing he'd done this, and that he'd liked it.

"Just think," Tyler said, leaning down close over his back. "Think what Pierre McGuire would say." There was a beat of silence, then they both cracked up.

"Fuck," Tyler said, wheezing helplessly. "I think I just killed my boner."

That made Jamie laugh harder. They were all but rattling against each other, shaking on their knees.

"Oh," Jamie said, gulping down his laughter as the dildo practically vibrated inside him. Wow, he could really get what she saw in vibrators now. "Tyler . . ."

"Yeah," Tyler said, catching on immediately. "Yeah." She straightened up and grabbed him by the hips. She jerked him back onto it, pushing and pushing. And she just let go, giving it to him hard and fast.

Jamie collapsed forward onto his elbows, one hand shoved underneath to jerk himself off. She fucked it out of him like that, riding him down flat to the mattress as he came, long and messy, and his knees gave way. She stopped pounding it into him just a few seconds before he would have begged her to.

He lay under her, gasping and still quivering deep down in his gut.

"Am I too heavy?" she asked softly.

"No," he said. "No, you're perfect." Unless, oh wait. "Did you get off?"

"Not yet," she said, and nipped playfully at the back of his neck. "But it's cool, keep doing the thing where I screwed you so good you can't move."

Jamie heaved her off his back with a monumental effort. She went over laughing – Jamie was slow to follow because the dildo had come very abruptly free, and he had to spend a few seconds blinking and shivering about that.

And when he finally got himself together and up onto his knees, there was a little plastic dick sticking out from between her legs, right about where he'd been thinking of putting his mouth.

"Um," he said, poking uncertainly at the harness.

"Here." Tyler was still laughing at him, smiling wide with her hair stuck to her face and a flush running all the way down to her chest. She sat up and leaned back against a stack of pillows while she yanked at two buckles, one at each hip. The whole contraption came away in a mess of straps and Tyler tossed it carelessly aside. "Here you go," she said, pulling one leg up out of his way. He leaned in, settling back down onto his stomach, and she guided him the rest of the way with a hand to the back of his head.

"Are you–?" Jamie asked, flickering his tongue at her clit. She was still kind of open from where he'd been inside her earlier, and she looked like she was dripping. But he wasn't sure quite where she was, how much she'd gotten out of doing him like that.

"Harder," she said, hand tightening in his hair. "Really give it to me – yeah, like that." Then, on a softer croon, "Good boy." Jamie quivered under his skin. Maybe she was mocking, maybe she wasn't. Jamie didn't really care.

He sucked at her clit. He knew how she liked it, intellectually speaking, but the physicality of it was a surprise every time, just how rough she wanted him to be. He shifted down, wanting to get his tongue in her, but she made an impatient noise and tugged at his hair. Okay, too far along for that.

"Sorry," she said, like she was reading his mind. "I know you like doing that. Really getting your face in there." He did, though he'd never said so. She'd sat on his face exactly once, but he still thought about it months later. The way her thighs had closed around his head, how she'd come all over his face in a completely different way.

But there were plenty of other things to do. Jamie hitched himself up, getting a hand free so he could put his fingers in her. She grunted when he started fingering her, then moaned, long and loud, when he went back to sucking her clit.

"I like it too," she said, voice unsteady. "When a girl squeezes around your tongue – fuck. Or when – when I could make her come twice and she'd be so wet—"

Jamie bit her, without even meaning to. A noise bubbled out of his throat, coming from somewhere way deep down. He was drowned out by her escalating yelp, though.

"Fuck," she said, pulling his hair. "Do that again—"

He sucked hard, rolling her clit roughly with his tongue. His fingers were making incredibly filthy wet sounds in her.

"Jamie," she said, complaining, threatening. So he bit her again, worrying carefully at the delicate skin. And she came, her legs clamping on his shoulders and one heel kicking into his back.

He caught his breath with his head resting on her stomach. She petted his hair, scratching at the back of his neck as they cooled down. After a while she tapped her knuckles against his cheek.

"Hey," she said. "Want cake?"

"Yeah," Jamie said. His voice was rough, even though he hadn't actually done any shouting. They could go down to the kitchen, still sticky and naked, and eat leftover birthday cake. "That sounds perfect."