We wrap up the session and send the camp kids for lunch before they have weight training this afternoon. I slowly skate over to the bag of hockey gear, picking up a stray puck on my way. Cohen and Simms have disappeared with the kids, and the only person left on the ice with me is Beck. He’s removing the goal from the posts since we’re done in here for the rest of today, so I skate over and remove the other one.
“Think I need your help?” Beck calls. He skates over and waits for me by the panels of the rink that open up to the equipment area.
“You clearly struggle to follow through on things. Chicken out. I figured helping was the safer option.” I eye him and if I’m not mistaken, interest flares on his face.
“Kissing me is a pure gift. I just decided you didn’t deserve it.”
I grunt. “Nothing to do with me being a guy, of course.”
“I’m not a close-minded prick. But if I did swing that way, you wouldn’t even be in my top ten.”
“Didn’t seem like that when you were kissing me.” I don’t know why I’m taunting him, but it’s not every day I have one up on Beck.
Except the look he suddenly wears leaves me feeling like he’s back in charge. “Funny, there I was playing gay chicken when someone groaned right into my mouth.”
“I didn’t groan.”
“No one blames you. There are few who can resist when my mouth is on them.”
“Maybe you were hoping to hear it and imagined it.”
“Should we go ask the team?”
I skate a tiny bit closer, so we’re toe to toe. “You seem pretty desperate to prove I was into it. Doubting your skills?”
His easy smile graces his face. “Oh you know I’ve got skills, Topher.” He tilts his head. “It almost sounds like you’re taunting me into doing it again.”
“You’re right. I liked it. Wanna know why?” My response clearly takes him by surprise because when I dip my mouth down next to his ear, he doesn’t pull away. “You were finally fucking quiet.”
I’m not sure what I’m expecting, but his laughter isn’t it. And when he pinches my chin and turns my face back to his, bright blue eyes shining so close I swear I can see specks of silver in them, I’m the one who’s speechless. “Guess you know what to do next time I’m pissing you off.”
I jerk away from him, defaulting back to a scowl in order to hide the way his low voice stirred in my gut. “If I kissed you every time you annoyed me, my tongue would be permanently in your mouth.”
He rubs a large hand over his jaw, and I try not to track the movement as I put more distance between us. “Lucky there’s only one more challenge for this captain thing.”
“Then we’re done with this shit.”
We dump the equipment and make our way toward the exit.
I can’t help thinking of what’s to come. “You know … we’re tied two apiece. We could both decide to be done. Forfeit the last one. The challenges are bullshit and have no hold over who they vote for as captain. They’re screwing with us.”
“Fucking duh. It’s called fun. You heard of it?”
“You caught me,” I answer dryly. “I’m allergic to fun. Completely anaphylactic.”
“Everything makes so much sense now. If I make you laugh, will you break out in hives?”
“No, because to make me laugh, you’d have to be funny.”
“Ooh, snap.” He spins to face me when we get to the chute, and his grin looks like it could split his face in half. “Did you jerk off after we kissed? Because you seem a whole lot more relaxed now.”
Of course that’s where his brain has gone, and of course I’m not feeling ridiculously awkward, because of fucking course that’s not exactly what I did. My jaw tightens. “Look at that, not relaxed anymore.”
“Glad to hear it. I thought I was going to need an EpiPen.”
“Get out of my way, Beck.”
He steps to the side, but before I get around him, his arm flies out and catches my chest. This time, it’s his voice in my ear. “In case you didn’t catch on, I’m not forfeiting shit. Better pucker up, buttercup. I’m all in this time.”