In Which Leo Chats With All His Harkness College Friends
(And they give him a hard time.)
The Scene: Leo’s apartment. Soon to be Georgia’s apartment, too.
It’s just before midnight, a few days after the ending of ROOKIE MOVE.
Spoiler alert: You may wish to wait until after you’ve read ROOKIE MOVE to read the bonus scene.
Leo pressed Georgia into the sofa. He slid a hand across her tummy, his fingers itching to undress her. They’d just gotten off the team jet from a road trip, and it was damn good to be home.
“Mmm,” Georgia sighed beneath him.
“Mmm,” he agreed, lowering his hips onto hers. “You’re wearing too many clothes.”
“Leo,” she breathed. “We have to Skype.”
“Why?” he asked between kisses. “Let’s save the phone sex for a road trip.” He reached for the buttons of her blouse.
But she grabbed his hand. “It’s really almost midnight.”
“I’m not tired.” He smiled down at her.
Pretty eyes blinked up at him. “You said you had a video chat to do.”
A beat went by while his synapses struggled to fire in spite of the fact that all his blood had flowed south the minute the apartment door closed. “Fuck!” he said, scrambling to sit up. “Sorry, babe. I need you on this chat.”
“With my clothes on, I hope?” She smiled at him, her pale hair mussed.
She laughed. “Give me a minute, then. And you might want to, um...” Georgia pointed at the tent he was making in his wool trousers.
“It can’t be hidden, honey. Too sizable.”
She rolled her eyes and swung her feet onto the floor, standing up. “Actually...” she stopped. “I need to understand what kind of party I’m crashing. You video chat with your old teammates every Sunday night?”
“No baby,” Leo said, smiling at his girl who was already too damn far away. They’d been engaged for only a few days, and he couldn’t seem to keep his hands off her. “It’s like...every few weeks. When one of us has some news or just needs a pick-me-up, we email the others and let ‘em know to be ready at midnight.” Leo popped his laptop open on the coffee table and checked the time. “I’m going to start logging in, okay? It’s five minutes ’til twelve. Come closer.”
She sat down again on the leather surface and peered at the screen while he added names from his contacts list into the software. There was Adam Hartley, Bridger McCaulley, his brother D.J., John Rikker.
“You skipped somebody,” Georgia said, pointing at the name Mike Graham.
“I know,” he said, adding a couple more names. “Graham is with Rikker tonight. In fact I’m probably interrupting an epic sex fest to tell them my news.”
“Huh,” she said, kicking her slender feet onto his coffee table. “Two of your teammates are a couple?”
“What? Like that’s weird?” he teased. “You know, I hope nobody is naked when they log on.”
“Wait, is this even allowed?” Georgia hopped off the sofa suddenly. “Am I breaking some kind of guy code by crashing the dude chat? Maybe you should just tell them our news by yourself.”
“No, baby,” Leo assured her, tapping on his keyboard to connect the chat. “How about this—I’ll start by myself. First I’ll make sure everyone is decent. I’ll tell them there’s somebody they need to meet. But then they have to see your smile.”
Leo chuckled, shaking his head. His college friends had never approved of his girlfriends before. But they hadn’t met Georgia.
“Wait, seriously?” she said in a hushed voice. “They were all as bad as Amy? D.J. wasn’t kidding about that?”
He winced. Poor Amy. She wasn’t a very nice person, but they were doomed as a couple from the first moment they met. It had only taken Leo two years to realize it. “Let’s just say they’ll find you refreshing.”
“But no pressure.” Georgia combed her fingers through her hair. “Where are you going to put that thing? The camera shouldn’t be pointed up at us. We’ll be all chin.”
Leo spun around to look at her. “Are you nervous, Gigi? Don’t be. These are my good friends. They’ll love you, because I do.”
She laughed. “And yet they never liked any of your other girlfriends.”
“There’s a difference, honey. They weren’t you.” Finally he saw her pretty face relax. “Don’t worry. Grab yourself a beer or something while I say hello.”
Just as she ran off toward the kitchen, the first box in the screen illuminated and two faces appeared—Rikker and Graham, their heads side by side as they peered into Rikker’s phone. “Hey!” Rikker said with a smile. “This better be important...”
“I know,” Leo said, waving a hand to dismiss their concerns. “I’ve interrupted the gold medal round of the sexual olympics. Hey—are you two decent? There’s someone I want you to meet.”
Graham looked down at himself and his boyfriend. “All the important parts are covered. So we’re good, unless we’re meeting the queen.”
Rikker grabbed his chin and hissed his jaw. “I thought I was the queen, here.”
“Rein it in, boys,” Leo laughed. “Here come the rest.” Squares illuminated for Hartley, Bridger, Orsen, DJ and Pepe.
For a moment there was chaos as everyone spoke at once. Leo had to make the “time out” sign with his hands to get everyone’s attention. “Guys, I need to tell you something, okay? It’s important.”
“Are you going to tell them we’re kicking your ass next month when our teams meet up in Boston?” Hartley asked. “Dude, don’t give up until the third period.”
“Ohhh!” someone gasped. “This could get ugly.”
“Look at Trevi in ‘ees tie!” Pepe crowed. “Fancy man.”
There was a chorus of laughter and a few taunts. It continued even as Leo said, “We will not be losing to Boston. But I’ll save my gloating for after the game, Rik. Listen everyone, okay? It’s important. I’m getting married.”
In the history of group video chats there had never been a silence so profound.
For a long moment, every face staring back at Leo’s went slack with worry. Every face except one, and it belonged to Leo’s brother DJ, who began to cackle. “Gawd, I just took a screen grab of that. I’ll show it at your bachelor party. The face of fear, by Harkness Hockey.”
Leo groaned. “Really, guys? Let’s try this again. I’m getting married.”
“Congratulations,” Hartley said quickly. “But we’re dying to know—who’s the lucky girl?”
DJ was still laughing in his corner of the screen. “You can all relax. Leo’s fiancée is the best ever. I promise. She’s nicer than Leo. And smarter. And better looking...”
There was a chorus of relieved noises, but Leo was still a little annoyed. Had his college girlfriends really been that bad? He took a second to tick through the not-so-long list. And, hell. His boys had a point. “Okay, fine. So I’ve wised up a little this year.”
“Thank you!” His brother grinned at him from the corner. “And I just want to say that...”
That’s when all his friends burst out laughing at once.
What the heck? “...That I would love for you all to be there when...”
Once again, they erupted.
“What is so funny?” he snapped. Everyone on the screen pointed at him, so he turned around to find his teddy bear standing on the back of the sofa behind him. And dancing. He grabbed the bear and got Georgia’s hand, too. “Aren’t you hysterical. Come over here.”
She stood up, face flushed. “Sorry. It’s just I’ve always wanted to prank the boss’s video chats at work. This was my big chance.”
“You still have that stuffy?” Orsen howled from the screen.
“The bear is lucky, okay?” Leo huffed, tossing teddy into the corner of the sofa. “Guys, this is Georgia Worthington. Sit down, Gigi?”
She walked around the sofa and sat down. “Hi, guys,” she said with a little wave. “Hey, DJ!”
“Hi, gorgeous. If my brother doesn’t treat you right, you have my number.”
Leo sighed. He’d lost control of this conversation from minute one, and now he realized he didn’t even mind. “So there’s this wedding on the fourth of July. I want you all to come. The end.”
“Will the bear be there?” Bridger asked.
“Yes, in his tux,” Leo conceded. He put an arm around Georgia’s shoulders and kissed her cheek. “You’ve been a bad girl,” he whispered in his ear while all his friends hooted.
The look she gave him said, punish me, then. But out loud she said, “Here is the beer I opened for you.” She handed him a bottle with a wink, and his friends went nuts.
“Keep her!” “We love you already, Georgia!” “Marry me instead!” “Next time do that fake-walk-down-the-stairs thing.”
In the midst of cacophony, Leo just smiled. Georgia waved at the screen and asked to hear everyone’s name. “And then you can quiz me afterward,” she offered. “You two go first.”
Leo drank his beer and listened to Georgia charm the pants off all his friends. Six years was a long time to wait to introduce her to them. Maybe it took him a little too long to figure all the good stuff out, but it had finally happened.
Now he was the luckiest guy in the world.