Unrivaled Bonus Scene (spoilers!)

(Trigger warning for emetophobia)

Max loved his team. Like, he really loved them. He loved them so much he endured two whole minutes of jokes about scoring with Grady after he scored with the team, drinking from Grady’s cup (gross, but also hilarious), not being afraid to get into the dirty areas, etc.

Finally the PR team made them quit because they wanted some footage they could actually use, and no amount of bleeping would cover the innuendos.

The party moved from the locker room to a stretch limo bus thing to Bishop’s place, where there was catering and a DJ and Jell-O shots and champagne. And beer. And—yeah, it was a good party. Max spent five minutes carrying the Cup around like a teddy bear, but it was heavy and didn’t leave a hand free for the kind of cup he could drink out of by himself.

Somehow he ended up sprawled next to Bishop’s girlfriend—where the fuck was Bishop? Max had no idea—listing slowly sideways while she hiccupped through a TED Talk on why cryptocurrency was stupid. Max nodded along until someone came by and said, “Hey, Allie, there’s pizza in the kitchen,” and she said, “Oh my God, yes.”

So Max was saved. But now he wanted pizza. Except getting up off the couch seemed, when he tried to lift his head, like it might end badly. With vomit.

The someone sat down across from him and handed him a paper plate with a slice on it. Max’s eyes teared up. “Oh man. You’re awesome.”

Gabe Martin clapped him on the back. “Eat up.”

Max already had the pizza halfway to his stomach. “Where’s your husband?”

“Puke and rally,” Gabe said. “Haven’t had to say that since Juniors.”

The word puke made Max’s stomach churn. “Oh God.”
“Eat,” Gabe repeated. “Or it’ll be you next.”

Max ate.

“Grady didn’t want to come to the party, eh?”

Max sighed. “I think he didn’t think he’d be welcome.”


Max nodded, then immediately stopped. The room continued bobbing for several more seconds. “Yeah. He’s also awesh—saweosme. Awesome.”

“Uh-huh. You want some more pizza?”

Max looked down at his plate. The pizza had disappeared. The beer in his stomach did not appreciate its new company. “No, thanks, I’m… I’m good. Uh….”

“Hey, hey.” A bottle of Gatorade appeared. Ooh, blue flavor. “Drink this.”

Gabe Martin was some kind of angel. In a different universe, Max would swoon. “’Kay.”

He drank the Gatorade. Time slipped away from him. The Gatorade bottle mysteriously emptied. Another appeared. Max talked to Gabe, and Allie, and Dante, when he finally slouched out of the bathroom, and then Bishop appeared and said, “Hey, Max, your ride’s here.”

“My ride?” Max looked at Dante. He thought it was Dante. There seemed to be two of him. There was a Gabe in the middle. “Did I call a cab?”

“I called your keeper.” Gabe stood and pulled him to his feet. “Since you wouldn’t stop talking about him anyway.”

“Whaaaaat,” Max complained. “Come on, I’m not that bad.”

“I did not need to know about Grady’s tattoo,” Gabe said. “Or how it lines up with yours when you fuck.”

Had Max told them that? Oops.

Before he knew it, Gabe was helping him stumble out the front door and directly into Grady’s arms.
“Whoa, hey. Easy.” A minute later and Max was being gently manhandled into the passenger seat. The door closed with unnecessary volume. Max didn’t remember things being that loud the last time he was drunk.

Grady got in on the other side and produced a plastic salad bowl and another bottle of water. “You want In-N-Out?” he asked, because he was the best boyfriend ever.

Max’s stomach indicated that although In-N-Out sounded fantastic, any attempt to fill it further would put it over capacity and result in Max filling the salad bowl instead. “Pass,” he said weakly.

Then he blinked and looked around. “Hey. How come you’re driving my car?”

“In case you hurl. You have all-weather floormats.”

Max did have rubber floormats, because Gru was the kind of mutt who loved splashing through puddles and shed everywhere and it was nice to be able to take them out and spray them off with the hose. “You’re so smart.” Then he frowned as Grady reached across him and buckled him in. “And also kind of an asshole.”

Grady snorted and finally came into focus, his stupid handsome face and his beautiful eyes and the soft expression he only got when he was alone with Max. “But I’m your asshole.”

“Yeah,” Max said happily, and then Grady put the car in gear and the happiness stayed put. Moving was bad. “Oh God.”

Grady cracked the window. The fresh air helped a little; Max gulped in heaving breaths of it. “You want me to take the fast route or the slow one?”

God, this was the worst. “Pull over.”

“We’re not even out of the driveway!”


Grady pulled over. Max scrambled to unbuckle, then basically fell out of the Range Rover and fertilized one of Bishop’s ornamental plants.

Fuck, he hated puking. His throat burned with bile and his mouth tasted sour and it stank, and it always made him break out in a flop sweat.

On the plus side, after a good ninety seconds of heaving, he felt better.

Something cool touched the back of his neck, and he sagged in relief. That felt heavenly. “Okay?” Grady asked gently.


“No kidding,” Grady said. “But at least you saved the upholstery. For now.”

Max whimpered but let Grady put him back in the car. He didn’t dare nurse the Gatorade while they were moving, but the bottle felt as good against his forehead as the cold pack did on his neck.

Getting to bed was an embarrassing ordeal. Max didn’t throw up again—yay—but his limbs wouldn’t do what he wanted them to, and his head kept spinning. He had the Stanley Cup, and that was awesome, maybe even as awesome as having Grady, but being drunk was not awesome. Being drunk was terrible. Max was never drinking again.

Grady helped him take off his clothes, and it wasn’t even sexy. Max’s dick was drunk too, so even if it had been sexy, he wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it. Then Grady held him up in a cool shower, which again, felt nice but should have been sexy, and wasn’t.

“I suck,” Max said the third time Grady kept him from falling and braining himself. If Grady ever wanted to have sex with him after this he should get a medal. Or like, one billion boyfriend points. That was probably enough to level up. What would that make him? Like, Level 2 Boyfriend? “Just let me die.”

“Stop being so dramatic,” Grady said.

Then he rubbed the back of Max’s neck until Max felt less horrifying.

Finally Grady tucked him into the guest bed with a bucket, a sleeve of saltines, and three bottles of water on the dresser. “Our door’s open, so I’ll hear you if you need me.”

“Don’t leave me,” Max blurted. What if Grady was being super nice to him because he was actually mad?
Grady paused at the door. Max couldn’t focus on his expression. “Okay. I’m going to let Gru out for a pee and I’ll be back.”

Of course, by then Max was mostly asleep, one foot on the floor to keep the room from spinning.

“Good?” Grady asked as he slid into bed next to him.

“Mnaugh,” Max said.

“Good. Go to sleep.”
Max woke up feeling like he’d been chewed up by a garbage compactor, digested by a camel, and shat out into a river of industrial sludge.

Sweat plastered the sheets to his body. His chest and stomach burned with acid. His head throbbed and he could feel his pulse pounding in his eyeballs.

Oh, I have made a mistake, Max thought, and eeled out of bed to limp to the bathroom.

“Max? You up?”

Max shoved his head under the bathroom sink tap and doused it in water. “Yeah.”

“Do you want breakfast?”

Max’s stomach heaved. “No.”


He whimpered.

Mercifully, Grady had sent everyone out of the house, Max’s parents on a tour of Hollywood, Gru to doggy daycare, Jess to surfing lessons. Max managed to get vertical long enough to lie down on the couch instead of the bathroom floor. He laid his head in Grady’s lap while Grady combed fingers through his hair and turned on Pride and Prejudice without complaint.

After half an hour, someone knocked at the door—no doorbell, thank God—and Grady got up and let in a medic who hooked Max up to a banana bag IV.

“I love you so much,” Max said. He wasn’t even sure if he was talking to Grady or the fiftysomething woman sliding the needle into his vein.

The IV took care of the worst of the hangover, but Max’s stomach remained unhappy, even after the medic left, and he still had a mild headache. Every few hours Grady offered an insultingly bland food, along with water and Advil.

“Hey,” Grady said around two in the afternoon, when Max had successfully kept down apple sauce and crackers for an hour. “Your phone’s been buzzing like crazy. You want to look at it?”

Max sighed. He was tired and comfortable, aside from his head and stomach, but…. “I should probably let people know I’m alive.” He closed his eyes. “But no. Head still hurts.” Focusing on a tiny glowing screen a few inches from his face seemed like a bad idea.

“Hmm.” Grady rubbed his thumb in a small circle behind Max’s ear, which immediately stopped the low-level throb Max’s skull had going on. “You want me to read you your texts?”

Max thought about what it might’ve cost Grady to ask if he wanted all his congratulations texts read out loud to him by his hypercompetitive boyfriend, who’d gone out in the first round of the playoffs, and then held up his hand long enough to use his fingerprint to unlock it. “Just tell everybody I’ll talk to them when I’m not dying.” At least the Cup parade wasn’t until tomorrow.

Grady smoothed his hand through Max’s hair again. It must be truly disgusting by now. “I’m gonna send them pictures.”

Max laughed in spite of himself and almost regretted it all over Grady’s pants. “Don’t make me throw up on you.”

In the end, Grady didn’t send any pictures. At dinner Grady made chicken soup that was mostly broth and noodles and served it with slices of fresh white bread. Then, after the sun had gone down, he coaxed Max into a lazy swim. Max sank up to his ears in cool water and realized Grady was a fucking genius, then dunked himself and flipped over to float on his back, supported by a pool noodle. “How come you’re so smart?”

“Used up all my stupid last year,” Grady teased, and flicked a few drops of water over Max’s face.

Max would’ve made a joke about renewable resources, but Grady had played nurse all day without complaint or even any outward sign of irritation or jealousy. What a man. “Hey,” Max said, “you know what I’ve heard is a good cure for hangovers?”

Snorting, Grady pushed down on the pool noodle, and Max flailed for a moment as the water closed over his head.

“Cold showers?” Grady said innocently when Max surfaced. He was eyeing Max with an assessing gaze, though, clearly not about to dismiss the idea.

“Not exactly what I had in mind.” Max stood—the water was not quite chest-deep—and trailed his fingers down Grady’s sternum. He really did feel better—good enough that he could no longer ignore Grady’s hotness. It was a terrible cross to bear.

When he blinked wet eyelashes up at Grady, teasing the growing bulge under Grady’s trunks, Grady bent down and kissed Max slow and thorough, until Max’s nipples pebbled in the night air.

Then he pulled back and made a rueful face. “One condition.”

“Name it,” Max said immediately.

Grady pushed him toward the stairs. “Go brush your teeth.”

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