Suicide Squeeze

(c) KES

Chapter Twenty Two

Liz was halfway to Minneapolis before she realized she had no plan. Besides showing up at the hotel and asking for his name, which they wouldn't be likely to give, she was mostly out of options. She had no idea where Chace would be if he wasn't there. They had a game later that night, but it was still early enough that batting practice wouldn't have started yet.

She thought about calling him, but she didn't want to give herself away and she wasn't sure she wouldn't back out at the last minute anyway.

"What am I doing?" she asked herself as she passed the sign for Saint Paul's city limits. It didn't take long for her to reach downtown Minneapolis.

She stood in front of the hotel for a while before sitting down at a nearby bench. It was a windy day and Liz's hair was blowing all over the place, which was the only reason she didn't see him until he sat down.

"Don't look at me like that."

"I'm not looking at you like anything. You look like Cousin It," Alexei teased, sweeping her hair out of her face.

"What are you even doing here?" she asked him, throwing her hair up into a ponytail.

"Something similar to what you are, I think. Wanted to surprise a beautiful friend of yours. Robby and I were going to hang out until he has to leave for practice, but he got called in for some emergency meeting, so I got bored, wandered down here, and found you. What a coincidence." The smile on his face was huge.

"Will he be back before practice?"

"I don't know. He didn't say."

"Great," Liz sighed. "I don't even know what I'm doing."

"What one of you should have done ages ago," Alexei said. "You're both completely ridiculous."

"How do you know?" she asked suddenly. "Kendy told me about the classes, but how do you know he…"

"You are an extremely thick individual, Liz Hughes," he rolled his eyes. "He told me. How would I know about him cooking for you all time if he hadn't told me? The enchiladas he was going to make you were my lita's recipe, and he made me try them threetimes before he was sure they were good enough." Liz snickered despite herself and Alexei poked her in the shoulder before handing her a room key. "Go up there and wait for him. I'll text you if he let's me know he won't get back in time."

Liz took the key and stood up. "Thanks," she said in a small voice and entered the hotel before she could chicken out. She took the elevator up about a dozen floors and let herself into the room, a standard sized suite. It reminded her a lot of Chace's apartment, tidy but not too clean, and he had brought his pictures with him, nearly all of which were stuffed onto a desk. She smiled seeing the kitchenette and wondered if he was going out of his mind without a full kitchen.

She turned on the outrageously large flat screen TV and flipped through channels for a while before getting sucked into a Law and Order marathon. The theme song had just finished in the second episode when the door to the room opened.

Chace took a couple steps in before he noticed her. When he did, he exhaled loudly, dropping his duffel bag at his feet. "Holy hell, Liz. You scared the shit out of me."

"Sorry," Liz said quietly. She grabbed the remote and turned the TV off, standing to greet him. He hadn't moved from where he was standing and was staring at her like he wasn't sure she was actually there. "Would you believe me if I said I was in the neighborhood?"

Her words shook him out of his daze. He crossed the room in a few quick strides and pulled her towards him, crushing her against his chest. She returned the hug, breathing him in, before he pulled back. "I missed you," he said easily, as if their conversation the day before hadn't happened. "What are you doing here?" He moved away to pick his bag up, so it took him a minute to realize she had no response. "Is everything okay, Liz? Did something happen with Tim?" he asked as he reached down for his bag.

"No. Well, yes, but that's not why I'm here," she said softly. He straightened up, looking at her, and Liz couldn't meet his gaze. "You going a little crazy having half a kitchen?" she asked abruptly.

"You know I am," he said, taking a few steps closer to her. "But I doubt you drove all the way here to take stock of my kitchen. What's going on?"

"I missed you, too," she said, still avoiding his eyes.

"Liz," he said, stepping in front of her and tipping her chin up. His gaze was intense. "Why are you here?"

"I—well…" she could feel her skin flushing as his eyes dropped to her lips. "I think I have been very, very blind," she whispered and before she could talk herself out of it, she rose onto the tips of her toes and kissed him.

He pulled her to him and returned her kiss as if he'd expected it to happen. It was nothing like their other kisses, which were hard and unexpected. This time, he was soft, slow and teasing, and it made her yearn for him in a way she hadn't expected. Her hands slid up his chest and tugged at the zipper of his track jacket. He pulled away for a split second to rid himself not only of the jacket, but of his tee shirt underneath it, before resuming his slow kisses. His hands slid under her shirt and she pulled back to help him take it off. He groaned at the sight of her in a black lace bra and before she could register what was happening, he scooped her up and carried her into the bedroom. Chace set her down gently, kissing her so softly it was giving her goosebumps. His lips trailed down her neck to her chest, pressing light kisses to the skin above her bra. Feeling bold, she reached for his hand and pressed it to her breast. It was like she flipped a switch. His mouth became much more insistent and his hands were everywhere. In seconds, her bra was unhooked and tossed to the floor and his insistent mouth found another target.

She moaned in appreciation, her hands getting lost in his hair. When his teeth grazed her nipple, she whimpered with pleasure, her hands sliding down him to his zipper. He stood and quickly rid himself of his jeans, standing in front of her in just a pair of black boxer briefs that left nothing to the imagination. His eyes never left hers as he unbuttoned and unzipped her jeans, sliding them off. She didn't flush as his eyes wandered down her, feeling nothing but beautiful in front of him in only a pair of black lacy underwear.

She pushed herself up onto her elbows and watched as he swallowed hard. She caught his leg between her feet and pulled him to her. He crawled on top of her, pressing kisses to the insides of her thighs and trailed kisses slowly upward until his lips met hers. When she pulled away momentarily to catch her breath, he rolled off her and lied next to her, breathing heavy.

Disappointment fluttered in her stomach. Not only had she wanted him, but she would have let it happen, wanted it to happen. She felt surprisingly cold without him. Before rejection could register, he pulled her against him, wrapping his arms around her.

"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked breathlessly.

She could feel him smile against her hair. "You had Tim. I didn't want to make your life difficult. How'd you find out? Alexei?"

"Yeah. Well, technically, Alexei through Kendy, but pretty much everyone had their input in the matter."

"Tim, too?"

"Of course. I guess Alexei said something to him, too. He didn't give me details." She paused, "How long have you been keeping this to yourself?"

"Awhile," he said dryly. Liz lifted her head from his shoulder to look at him. "I thought there was something about you when we first met, and when you showed up at Wilshire, I could hardly believe the coincidence."

Liz snorted. "You had me fooled. You seemed supremely unconcerned."

"I was going for that. You already had a vibe with Tim. I wasn't going to say anything based on a feeling I'd had after having too many beers."

"But then the story…"

"Yes. That. I didn't have a chance after that," he admitted.

They were quiet for a while, Liz tracing cartoonish figures on Chace's stomach with her finger. Finally, she asked, "But what about everything you said about relationships?"

"I meant it," he said. "I don't want a relationship like that, and I especially don't with you."

The words hit Liz like a slap. She pulled back from him, confused and hurt. If he had all these feelings for her for so long and didn't want a relationship, what did he want from her?

"Tell me what happened with Tim," he said, tugging lightly on a lock of her hair.

"Aren't you tired of hearing about him?" she asked, but continued without waiting for an answer. "The same thing that's happening right now. He didn't know what he wanted from me, so I made the decision for him. Nothing." She sat up and retrieved her bra from the floor next to the bed.

"Liz," he sat up and slid behind her. "I want everything from you. This isn't about not wanting you. It's about making sure you want me. So I want to know for sure you're here for us, not in response to something Tim did. I don't think that's unfair of me."

She sighed, but she knew he was right. She would have felt similar if she was in his shoes, so she told him everything, including that she wasn't sure if things were officially over with Tim and her, and that her feelings for him weren't gone. She wasn't going to hide anything from him—she didn't want to. She also told him what had finally woken her up to him, how he made her feel, and the grin on his face lit up the room.

Chace had to leave for practice earlier than either of them wanted, but she let him go, knowing she had to finalize everything with Tim to move forward with Chace.

She made the trip back to Rochester quickly, knowing it would be better to talk to him soon. She drove straight there, surprised to find a vehicle she didn't recognize in his driveway. She shrugged it off and walked towards his front door, it startling her when it opened as she approached it.

"…get the sign in your yard by tomorrow afternoon," a brunette in a skirt and blazer combo assured Tim. She offered her his hand and he shook it, his eyes already on Liz. The brunette took the hint and left and Liz stared at him, everything she'd rehearsed on the way over erased from her memory.

"I'm leaving," he blurted out, not giving Liz the chance to speak.

"Right now?" she asked, bewildered.

"No. I mean, I'm moving."

"Where?"

"St. Louis. I got a job offer." He said. Liz dropped down to the stairs she was standing on and he joined her. This conversation was in no way going the way she'd planned. "Before I met you, I applied for a sports writer position at Sports Illustrated. Didn't think I'd ever even get a call back. But I did. Last week. I did an interview over the phone and they offered it to me, and all I could think about was you, and how much I didn't want to leave you." He paused, "Do you remember what you said to me on the way to Target Field on Monday? About your parents and how your dad wouldn't want you to stay here because of a guy? I heard how you said it, how you wouldn't even consider it, and it made me mad. Because I was considering it. I'm happy here with you. Some version of me is, anyway. But that version of me isn't who I want to be. I never meant to hide things from you, but I found myself doing it anyway."

"So you're going," Liz said, feeling dazed.

"I'm going," he said. "I should have told you sooner. I know that. I don't know why I am such a complete fuck up when it comes to you."

"You're not a fuck up, Tim," she squeezed his knee. "When do you leave?"

"Two weeks."

"I don't want you to go," Liz admitted. It was true. No matter what had happened, she couldn't imagine her life without him now.

"Don't say that, love," he replied, almost desperately. "I'd stay for you if you wanted me to, but I know you'd never ask me. Don't tempt me by saying you would."

She didn't have anything to say to that. "We didn't have much of a chance, did we?"

He leaned against her, squeezing his hand over hers. "No, I don't think we did." He was quiet for a moment. "At least I know I'm not leaving you alone," he said, almost keeping his tone upbeat, but not quite succeeding. "Not that I'm enjoying it. It sucks, actually."

"I'm sorry," she said quietly, feeling awful. She hadn't planned to bring up Chace because she didn't see what point there was in that, but it was clear he knew where she'd end up.

"No, don't be. I'm not stupid. I knew if I wasn't in the picture, it would have happened a long time ago. I'll just remember that you chose me first." Tim squeezed her hand one more time before standing. She rose with him. "It's going to be a bit crazy at work. Think you can handle some long days?"

"He's trying to kill me," Liz whined into the phone a week later. She was lying on the floor in Matt's living room, a half empty beer next to her.

"Oh, Liz, I'm glad to hear you've gotten past your days of over-dramatizing everything," Ashley teased. She had left for her final semester of college a few days earlier and Liz missed her a lot. Matt was sitting on the couch behind her, his eyes on the baseball game on the television, but she could tell he was listening to them.

"Do you know how many hours I've worked this week? Seventy-four! Matt's worked less than me!" she exclaimed. Her brother rolled his eyes, but it was true. Tim and Millie had spent the week interviewing candidates to replace him with little luck, so the sports section was almost entirely Liz's responsibility. She was certain she hadn't worked harder in her entire life to get the section ready each day. She'd been getting to work before Tim and leaving after him almost every day during the week. She knew he had a lot to do to get ready to move, but Liz didn't expect to see so little of him during that time.

"Have you heard anything from Chace?" Ashley asked.

"A few short phone calls," Liz replied. Chace had been playing on the west coast for the past week and Liz was usually dead to the world by the time the games were over, hardly able to stay awake for their conversations, much less hold one. She was a little grateful she'd been so busy because having him so far away during all of this was difficult when she had the time to think about it, which wasn't often. Matt was gesturing for the phone and Liz grinned. "Your boyfriend wants to talk to you."

"Shut up, Liz," Matt and Ashley said together. Before Ashley had left for school, Matt broke down and told her how hard he was going to try to make it work between them and asked her to be his girlfriend. Ashley had gushed over the story and Liz was happy for them, but she couldn't resist teasing them about it at every opportunity.

"It's alright," Matt said into the phone. "Her boyfriend's on TV now."

"He's not my boyfriend," Liz said automatically, but she sat up quickly, her eyes on the TV. Matt wasn't lying. Chace was jogging out to the pitcher's mound and Liz took him in, sighing softly. This was the only face time she'd gotten with Chace all week, and it was a one way thing. She watched him, forgetting about the game altogether, tuning out Matt as he talked to Ashley. These were her favorite moments, watching his small smile when he struck out a batter and the huge grin when he saved the game. She watched the game recap blankly, but shook out of her daze at the sound of her phone ringing.

"Hey," she said, "Good game."

"Thanks," she could hear the smile in his voice. "You're still awake?"

"Millie gave me tomorrow off. Tim wants to do one last Sunday section and I'm so grateful I could cry. I wanted to actually talk to you instead of mumbling at you incoherently."

"And snoring. Don't forget the snoring," Chace said and Liz chuckled. "How are you doing with the Tim thing?"

She didn't reply right away. She knew he would ask, not because he was concerned about her feelings for him, but because he knew she cared about him. "I'm okay," she said truthfully. She was okay. It surprised her that it hadn't been awkward at work. They hadn't seen nearly as much of each other as they were used to, but when they did, it wasn't anything but friendly. "When do you come home?" she asked, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear it anyway.

"Tomorrow night," he placated her. They had a day game before coming home to a day off and Liz could hardly wait to see him. She'd worked it out with Millie to use some of her rapidly increasing vacation time to spend the day with him, but that was contingent on Tim finding a replacement for himself, something he was so far unsuccessful doing.

"I wish he'd just pick someone," she grumbled.

"Still nothing?" Chace asked. He knew that she wouldn't be able to come up to see him unless she had a new sports writer partner.

"No. I miss you."

"I miss you too," he said. They talked for only a few minutes longer. Liz could tell he was distracted, but when she asked about it, he claimed he wasn't. She wasn't going to push him on it and she wasn't worried about it. It had been a long week for both of them and she refused to analyze it to death, instead focusing on how she planned to make it better.

Author's Note: I expect this will make most of you squeal with joy, so I hope you're happy. One chapter left after this one, so tell me what you're thinking, pretty please. :)

I posted character photos on my Livejournal account, and this is actually the first time I've ever done that. Feel free to check them out, and let me know if you like them. They're at starrymidnights.livejournal.com/198696.html#cutid1 (you know the deal, replace the.s with actual dots; I really figured after so many years that FP would actually allow you to link. Guess not.)

Also, I am aware of some of the plagiarism that has occurred on this site in the last year or so. I will come after you if you try to take credit for this or anything else I've written, and I won't be nice about it. Just a warning.