“I love this line I’m playing with,” he replies. “We connect well.”
“It shows.” I run a finger down the side of my pint glass, catching the condensation of an icy draft. “You look happy out there.”
“I’m always happy on the ice. It’s all I’ve had to get me through this separation.”
I wince, and he immediately grabs my chin and forces me to hold eye contact. “I’m not saying that to make you feel bad.”
“But you always were happiest when you were on the ice, around your hockey buddies, or doing something to further your career,” I murmur, hating the swell of bitterness in my voice.
“That’s not true, Ella.” He still has my chin in his grip, and he leans in so our faces are close. “But I know that’s how you must have felt. I was just too stupid to see it. I was too deaf to hear it, too. Looking back on things, I know you tried to tell me you were unhappy.”
My heart flutters with the knowledge he’s done some self-appraisal. His promises to change are nothing but promises with no plan of action, but he’s clearly been trying to figure things out.
“I’m not going to let you feel invisible again,” he assures me, then his mouth is on mine. He kisses me softly with a gentle press of lips. Another promise, so to speak, before he pulls away.
“I almost believe you when you say it like that.” A nervous laugh comes out as I realize his words and kiss have made my skin feel flushed.
Jim settles back in his chair, the distance feeling like a void following that intimate moment. “You don’t have to take my word for it. I’ll show you, Ella. I’ll take any chance you’ll give me, which means I’d like to officially put in a request for all available nights I have off from games to spend with you."
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