Turn out these lights; they’re too damn bright. I need the moon tonight, so let me walk outside.
East Love // Walk Outside
Perry asks her if she had a good time, when she returns to the room that night. All Laura can do is nod a bit dreamily, lips still buzzing from Carmilla’s please-just-one-more parting kisses in the lobby. Perry smiles happily at her.
“Lafontaine owes me twenty bucks,” she says.
“Remind me to be angry later that you’re making bets on my love life,” Laura says. She’s shucked out of her coat and button-up already, hanging the former up to dry by the door, and now toes out of her shoes.
“You’re not angry now?” Perry asks. Her voice is sly, and smug, and Laura can’t bring herself to care.
“Nope,” she says, drops her borrowed belt next to Perry on the couch, and saunters into the bathroom to shower.
Carmilla texts her the next morning, a simple I had a great time that leaves Laura feeling light all through breakfast with Perry.
“You going to leave me alone again today?” Perry pokes at her, poking also at her eggs. Laura shakes her head.
“No, the game is today. She won’t have time.”
Perry laughs, but not at Laura’s expense. If anything she sounds delighted, basking in Laura’s distraction.
[Laura] I did too.
“It’s actually going to be the other way around tonight,” Perry hazards after another quiet few minutes.
And that gets Laura to tear her eyes away from her phone.
“Wait, what, why?” she asks. Perry smiles apologetically, leaning back in her seat with her coffee cup in hand.
“Work is calling me back in,” she says. “I was hoping they’d let me have the whole week, but turns out the whole place falls apart when their chief resident is gone for more than a few days.”
She says it flippantly, waving a hand and taking a gulp of her coffee when she’s done. But Laura has known Perry for a long time, and she doesn’t doubt the grain of truth there for a moment.
“Can you stay until the game at least? It’s the highlight of the week.”
Perry shakes her head sadly.
“No, I have to catch a ride home in a couple of hours here if I want to be on-time for the overnight shift.”
Laura frowns, a little pinprick of disappointment puncturing the happy bubble she’s had wrapped around her since last night.
“Well damn,” she says. “If I knew you’d have to go, I would have rescheduled with Carmilla, Perry. You know that.”
“I do,” Perry assents. “But I didn’t even know before this morning. And when I encouraged you to go out with her, I meant it. I’m glad it turned out.”
Back in college, when Laura was more interested in making sure she was being understood as a good person than in actually being one, she would have pushed again. Now, she only swallows her disappointment and smiles at Perry over her own coffee cup.
“I owe you, Per,” she says, widening her smile as she translates into a joke to change the subject. “That belt of yours really completed my look last night.”
Perry laughs, and Laura continues to grin. And she sits with how lucky she is all the way through the rest of breakfast.
Laura sees Perry off to the bus station and tromps back through the snowy streets back to her hotel room alone. It feels newly empty without her friend and her things. Laura’s button up from the night before is still draped over a chair. And the shirt pops the night before back into her head, plastering a smile on her face. She digs in her pocket for her phone.
It’s still early enough in the afternoon that Carmilla probably hasn’t left for the rink yet.
[Laura] When do you have to be there for pregame?
She clicks the message away and puts her phone face down on the counter. And she stares at it for a few seconds before the silence in the room starts to buzz in her ears and she forces herself to turn away.
It buzzes almost immediately after she stops watching it, and Laura lunges back to the counter to grab at it.
[Carm] Soon, unfortunately.
[Carm] Where are you sitting?
[Laura] Upper bowl, section 212 at the west blue line.
[Carm] I’ll look for you.
Laura smiles at that. It’s a little cliché, she knows, the star player looking for her paramour in a crowded stadium after a big win or what have you. It doesn’t tick all the boxes, but it hits enough of Laura’s rom-com trash buttons that she warms at the thought anyway.
[Carm] [Image Attached]
The picture is of Carmilla in her white shirtsleeves, a black tie undone around her neck. Laura follows the column of her throat until it disappears beneath the button of her collar.
[Carm] What do you think? Waistcoat or no?
[Laura] Only if you brought the yellow one.
A few minutes pass, and Laura taps her fingers impatiently on the tile as she leans over her phone. Maybe that was too forward. This thing with Carmilla still feels somewhat fragile, like she’s holding fresh snow in her palms that threatens to melt away if she cups her hands too closely over it.
But Carmilla returns, as ever, to take what Laura’s started and skate away with it almost faster than Laura can follow.
[Carm] This one?
[Carm] [Image Attached]
The first thing Laura notices is that there is indeed, in this picture, that flash of brilliant yellow she remembers from their first game together.
The second thing Laura notices is that both the waistcoat and the white shirt under it, are now unbuttoned wholly.
Instead of disappearing under her collar, the smooth skin of Carmilla’s throat now gives graceful way to the jut of her collarbones. There’s a hint of her breasts below there, peeking out just so from the open button line of her shirt. Below even that is the beginning of her abs, cut off by the bottom of the photo and marred by a large, vertical scar that runs from her belly button to her sternum.
Laura has seen Carmilla in more complete states of undress, of course. They shared a locker room and an apartment for months during training camp, after all. But the barrier of them being teammates is thinner now, near non-existent. And so, Laura feels free to imagine running her hand down from the notch between Carmilla’s collarbones all the way to her waistband, arousal pooling languidly in her belly all the while. Her fingers itch at the thought, and she squeezes her fists together for a moment before replying.
[Laura] You sure you don’t have time for me to drop by?
[Carm] Wish I did, cutie.
[Carm] We have media after the game, but then I’m all yours.
Laura reads over Carmilla’s last message a few times, biting her lip. Something strong and fizzing roils in her middle, crawls up her throat and makes her bold.
[Laura] You are, aren’t you?
[Carm] I’d like to be.
She wants that too, Laura realizes. Of course she wants Carmilla – to be her peer, to be her girlfriend. To kiss her in the snow and in hotel lobbies and in her apartment, early in the morning before the day begins. But underneath that, wrestling to the surface now that the possibility is real, is something else. Something baser.
She wants Carmilla spread out beneath her, flushed and pretty. Wants to see her open and wanting. Wants to run her fingers over her soft skin and find all the places that will make Carmilla pant and squirm.
[Laura] I’d like that too.
They banter until Carmilla tells her that, no, really this time, she needs to get ready to leave for the rink. Laura lets her go and stalks restlessly around her hotel room until it’s not too early to head to the stadium herself. She goes over their text conversation probably more times than is healthy, letting the tingle of arousal at the exchange mellow a bit.
But she leaves far too early anyway, unable to put up with the silence and emptiness of her hotel room for very long after that.
The city is blanketed in snow again, more of it falling by the hour. Laura has to stamp through a fair amount of slush on the sidewalks, the salt turning the new snow an unattractive gray as it melts. But the rest of the city is pleasantly white in the cool winter sun as she trudges to the subway.
A flurry of activity greets Laura at the arena when she arrives. It’s still a bit early for fans to have made their way inside in any meaningful numbers, but stadium personnel are busy putting the finishing touches on the all-star spectacle. Barricades are already set up into switchbacks to herd the crowd inside, and Laura has to follow one of their winding paths to get to the entrance. It feels silly with hardly anyone else there, but soon enough she’s flashing her ticket for a gate agent to scan.
There’s a misconception about attending a hockey game that says the seats down near the rink, at the glass if possible, are the best ones from which to watch a game. And that’s true if you’re looking for an up-close view of some of the play. But the best seats in any rink are in the upper bowl, where the entire rink is visible at once. That way the action can be followed from end to end and seen as it was meant to be. The delicate violence flowing from goal to goal in great waves and short bursts.
Laura finds her seat there quickly, slotting into it to view the pre-game warmups happening on the ice. They’re more subdued this early before a game than they will be closer to puck drop, and even more so now since the all-star game is just an exhibition. Carmilla is near the center line, on her hands and knees to stretch out her legs one at a time. Next to her is Danny, also down to a knee in a lazy stretch. Whatever had been between them the other day seems to truly have blown over, Laura notes with satisfaction. They converse idly while they stretch at least, and Danny even gives Carmilla a playful shove. In the nearly empty stadium, Laura can hear Carmilla’s laughter float up to her seat.
There’s about half an hour before the crowd is expected to start to swell, and about an hour until puck drop. But instead of feeling restless, Laura finds it soothing to watch warmups. The winter break from the grind of the season has been nice, especially since it’s given her time to get square with Carmilla, but she misses playing. And there’s something inspiring about being here, where the best hockey players in the league have gathered to exhibit their skills. Laura lets herself daydream a bit, imagining herself on the ice with them, warming up lazily for a showcase of skill with peers.
Someday, she tells herself. Someday.
When the crowd is finally seated and the spectacle truly begins, there’s more fanfare for player introductions than normal, with each skater getting a fully announced intro regardless of whether they’re on the starting lines. Laura stands and cheers with the rest of the crowd, whistling loud with her fingers in her mouth when Carmilla and Danny are announced. Carmilla is the center on the starting line of forwards, but Danny is in the second defensive pairing, so they’ll have limited time, if any, on the ice together once play starts.
Carmilla takes the first faceoff, flicking the puck back to a waiting defenseman, the other players scattering like marbles over a tile floor to begin play.
The first period is fairly uneventful, and there’s not a lot of defense played in terms of hits. The game is an exhibition and no one wants to risk injury. And defensemen tend to make the all-star roster for their offensive prowess than their heavy checking. But there’s some fun, Laura has to admit after a few minutes, to watching the forwards deke and sprint over the ice to pull off trick shots and set up pretty passing plays.
Carmilla scores her first goal in lacrosse style, standing behind the net and scooping the puck up onto her stick blade with a twirl. She tucks it over the goalie’s shoulder and into the net, careful not to raise the blade over the crossbar to avoid the high sticking penalty. When the lamp lights for the goal, the goalie throws up her hands and Carmilla is already being swamped by her laughing linemates for a celebration.
It’s a flashy goal that in a real game would earn her a hard check into the boards behind her, but Laura leaps to her feet along with the rest of the stadium as the horn sounds. Carmilla skates lazily to the bench after her linemates disentangle from one another, throwing a little salute to the crowd with the last three fingers of her right hand.
She still needs to work on her celly game, clearly, is what Laura thinks as she settles back down into her seat.
But Carmilla does it again when she scores in the second period. She one-times the puck from the high slot and the goalie doesn’t stand a chance. The puck rips into the net before the netminder can lift her glove high enough to catch it, and this time Carmilla is already lofting those three fingers when her teammates get to her for hugs and head pats. She looks around the upper bowl for a moment, finding Laura quickly and pointing at her. And this is when it hits Laura like a punch straight to her chest.
She’d worn number three in training camp.
It’s not apparent to the casual observer who Carmilla is gesturing to, of course, what with the stadium packed with screaming fans as it is. But Laura feels the gesture as though it’s a magnet that’s found its twin in her chest. Affection pulls against the back of her sternum and towards Carmilla on the ice.
Carmilla pulls the same move after her hat trick goal, and Laura rises from her seat to leave a hockey game before the final buzzer for the first time in her life.
[Laura] Come to me. Rm 207.
[Laura] Wear the waistcoat.
Carmilla doesn’t answer her.
Laura paces in her hotel room, still in her jeans and sweatshirt from the game. She shoots daggers at her phone on the kitchenette’s counter on every pass, willing it to vibrate. Her socks are picking up static from the carpet, and every time she goes to pick up her phone to check it, she gets a little tingling electric shock. It does not persuade her to stop taking nervous laps around the room for the next hour.
But Carmilla doesn’t answer her even then, and Laura starts to worry in earnest. And worry exhausts her, so she strips of her sweatshirt and her socks and lays propped up against the headboard in bed, arms folded and phone pointedly facing down on the side table. And she starts to doze, slumping down farther and farther until only her neck is propped up in a position that’s probably compromising her spine.
That’s when her phone vibrates.
[Carm] I’m here, sugar.
When Laura opens the door, it’s barefoot with her hair in disarray from being smushed against the pillows. Carmilla still takes a big breath that spreads into a smile when she does.
“Hey,” Carmilla says, slipping her hands into her trouser pockets. Her jacket is slung over her the crook of her elbow, putting the bright yellow of her waistcoat on full display.
Laura isn’t worried anymore.
She grabs Carmilla’s wrist to pull her into the room, whipping her past the threshold so Laura can close the door securely. When she turns back around, Carmilla is laughing. She tucks her jacket over a chair and saunters back to Laura by the door.
“Hi,” Laura finally says. Carmilla is in her space now, shirt still cuffed and tucked into her slacks. Her waistcoat is buttoned smartly over her flat stomach.
“I feel a bit overdressed, I’ll admit,” she says, pinching a bit of the bottom hem of Laura’s tee shirt between her fingers. “You trying to throw me off my game, Hollis?”
Laura hums. This close, she can see that the waistcoat is subtly patterned. Yellow flowers made of neat stitches that she wants to run her fingers over. So she does, tracing out a flower just below Carmilla’s left breast.
“I think you’ve probably got game to spare, Carm,” she says. It comes out a little breathy, and Carmilla huffs out a throaty laugh that sets Laura’s skin on fire.
She tips Laura’s chin up with two fingers, brushing her knuckles back down her throat once Laura looks up at her. Presses her lips solidly to Laura’s and kisses her softly. Laura leans back into the door and Carmilla follows her, the hand at her hip squeezing to keep them together. Her thumb slips beneath Laura’s tee shirt and skims lightly over the skin there.
“I’ve been thinking about this for months,” Carmilla admits, finally breaking from Laura’s gasping lips to trail kisses across her jaw and down the side of her neck. Every one feels like a hotspot on the sun, stoking the smoldering bank of coals in Laura’s middle back into flame.
“Months, huh?” Laura tries to tease, intent on at least faking being cavalier for as long as possible.
Carmilla stops and brings her face back level with Laura’s then, and the last vestige of frothy swagger dies on Laura’s tongue. Replacing it is a dryness aching to be wetted.
“I know I have a reputation,” Carmilla says, earnest as she ever is. Laura watches her lips move. “But I haven’t even thought about anyone else since that preseason game against Ottawa.”
Laura bites her own lip and sees Carmilla watch it pop free from her teeth again after a moment.
She slides a hand up Carmilla’s chest, settles her fingers on the knot of her tie. And she looks to Carmilla’s left cheek, searching for the little scar there from the stitches she’d received between periods in that game. It’s a small thing, from only three stitches, but Laura runs her thumb over it, cupping the side of Carmilla’s face with the rest of her hand.
“How’d you get cut in that game, anyway?” she asks. Carmilla laughs, a pained, short sound.
“That’s what you took away from that?”
“I suppose not,” Laura says, leaning up to kiss her again. Carmilla seems grateful for the return to form, kissing back and opening with a sigh when Laura swipes her tongue along the seam of her mouth.
And it’s like the night before: there’s no fumbling between them for space, no hazardous negotiation of noses. They just fit. Carmilla holds her by the hips, pressing her fingers into the skin just above her waistband, her hands warm. There’s a callous on the side of her left thumb, where she grips her stick, that strokes over Laura’s side roughly enough to pebble her arms in goosebumps. Carmilla’s tongue is all strong softness in her mouth, and Laura feels every swipe of it right between her legs.
She reaches up to tug at Carmilla’s hair with both hands, holding their lips apart. Carmilla bumps her hips into Laura’s, pinning her against the door, and tries to lean forward again. Laura holds her fast.
“Ah-ah,” she breathes, smiling. She likes this, Carmilla eager and pushy against her. “I’d envisioned you in my bed the first time, but I do insist on a bed at least.”
“Bossy,” Carmilla says. But she’s smiling too. And Laura really should know by now what that means. “You know, though. I never pegged you for a puck bunny.”
“Oh my god,” Laura groans. “Shut up.”
She shoves against Carmilla’s chest and Carmilla staggers backwards, laughing. She keeps retreating even once she regains her footing, and Laura follows her back through the suite’s little living area to the bedroom. The sun is starting to set now, the red-gray late winter sunset spilling through the curtains. Laura leaves the light off as she crosses the threshold, content with the dying light cast over the space like a shroud.
It feels warm. Carmilla looks warmer still, when she bumps into the foot of the bed and takes a seat there. She leans back on her hands, still in her vest and tie. When Laura finally catches up, Carmilla sets her feet wider so Laura can settle between her legs.
“You’re lucky you’re pretty,” Laura says. She runs the fingers of one hand into Carmilla’s hair again. It’s soft and smooth, and scratching at her scalp makes Carmilla close her eyes and hum deep in her throat.
Carmilla leans farther into the touch the longer Laura continues it. She presses her forehead into Laura’s sternum and sides her hands up Laura’s back under her shirt.
“That feels incredible,” she says. A little pang of guilt ricochets between Laura’s ribs. She cards through Carmilla’s hair with both hands, once, and then presses her fingertips into the back of Carmilla’s neck to prop her gaze back up to her face.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” she asks, gentle as she can be. “You played nearly forty minutes today; it’s okay if you’re tired.”
“You’re sweet,” Carmilla says with a little chuckle. Her hands slide lower on Laura’s back, until she’s hovering just north of her ass. She grips the hem of Laura’s shirt, rubbing the fabric between her fingers. “Can I take this off?”
“You can,” Laura assents. It’s a strange bit of déjà vu, Carmilla skimming her hands up Laura’s sides to help her shirt over her head. Different, and not, to that day in the training room. Laura’s ribs aren’t broken, and there’s no audience now. And Laura doesn’t have to stifle the gasp that leaps from her throat when Carmilla’s hands skim up to her chest.
“Sports bra? Sexy,” Carmilla laughs. Laura holds her teasing gaze with an even look of her own.
“I told you,” she says. “You’re not bedding some puck bunny tonight. I’m a goddamn hockey player.”
Carmilla’s answering smile is blindingly beautiful.
She barks out a laugh, too. Grips Laura suddenly under her thighs and stands, lifting her off her feet. Laura yelps and throws her arms around Carmilla’s neck to keep her balance. She keeps them there when Carmilla spins them to press Laura’s back into the duvet.
Carmilla slots a thigh between hers as they kiss, pressing up and grinding down until she finds the right angle to make Laura groan into her mouth. The longer they kiss, the more Carmilla runs her thumbs over Laura’s ribs in time with grinding her thigh in between Laura’s legs, the more frustrating the barrier between them becomes. So Laura, breathless and flushed, tugs at Carmilla’s hair to look her in the eyes and deliver an order.
“Take my pants off, Carm.”
“Say please,” Carmilla says, sing-song.
Carmilla laughs again, delighted, and Laura can’t help her own answering smile as Carmilla kisses down the side of her neck, giggling all the while. She cuts off laughter to suck harshly at the junction of Laura’s neck and shoulder, and the bite of her teeth there opens Laura’s smile into a moan. She’s wet enough to slick up an elephant, and though Carmilla’s thigh is pleasant against her covered crotch, it’s long since stopped producing enough friction.
“Carmilla, please,” she finally says, exasperated and not a little bit desperate.
“There, was that so hard?”
“You’re insufferable,” Laura says. Carmilla hooks her fingers into her waistband and chuckles. “Awful, you’re a menace, you’re – fuck –”
She chokes off. Carmilla, having abandoned getting her pants off in favor of slipping a hand into them, slides her fingers sloppily over her. She props herself up with a hand by Laura’s head for leverage, stares down at her with an infuriating, punchable grin as she maps her slick folds with two confident, probing fingers. She finds Laura’s clit after only a little exploration, grins wider at the breathy gasp that jumps from Laura’s throat when she does.
“There you are,” Carmilla whispers. She swipes her fingers with more purpose and Laura breathes out another moan. “Tell me what you like, sugar.”
“Shit,” Laura says. Carmilla circles her clit slowly, leaves lingering, open mouthed kisses against her jaw. And she waits for an answer rather than teasing further, which is the only reason she gets one. “Harder. And – fuck – get my fucking pants off, Carm. I want –”
“Okay, okay,” Carmilla soothes her, kisses her mouth softly. She’s breathless too, Laura realizes, sucking air between kisses like she’s just run a mile. The knowledge throbs through her pleasantly.
They get Laura’s sweatpants and underwear down her hips together, and while Carmilla tugs them all the way down her legs, Laura peels off her bra too. When she’s done, she grasps at Carmilla’s skinny tie to pull her back down. Carmilla goes willingly, kissing her before they’re settled down again. Carmilla’s suit slides against her bare skin, but her tongue is soft in Laura’s mouth.
Laura doesn’t have to tell her to put her fingers back to use. She just bends one of her legs up around Carmilla’s hip, and Carmilla takes the invitation. Slots her shoulder against Laura’s hamstring and drags her fingers through her from cunt to clit once she’s opened up. Laura can’t kiss her in this position, but how it bares her for Carmilla’s touch more than makes up for it. She’s so wet that Carmilla has trouble finding friction on her clit until Laura grabs her wrist and presses.
“I’m not gonna break,” she huffs, clenching her core to stay upright while she grips Carmilla’s wrist. Carmilla obliges her, scrubbing harder, and Laura’s abs tremble. She bites her lip to keep in a moan, and Carmilla presses harder still.
“C’mon, Hollis,” she goads. Her brown eyes are blown black with arousal, her voice a low husk. Laura sucks in a ragged breath and closes her eyes. “Let me hear.”
She gets her wish, eventually. When Laura finally comes she has to snap back down to the mattress, to suck in enough air to breath around the pleasure. And as soon as her mouth opens, she’s moaning. Carmilla noses into her leg and groans right along with her, as though the sound alone has undone her.
It’s silent excepting their heavy breathing after that, just for a moment.
“My turn,” Laura says once she’s caught enough breath to move again without shaking. She tucks a finger between the knot of Carmilla’s tie and her collar and tugs to loosen the tie. Carmilla leans forward on her palms to kiss her, already groaning, and Laura smiles against her lips.
And by the time they fall asleep tangled in the sheets and in each other, the night has waned into black and waxed again into the faded blue of morning.