Monday, December 28, 2009

Chapter 25

I was dreaming. No, my eyes were playing tricks on me. No, someone was really trying to fuck with me, weren’t they? It couldn’t be him. I hadn’t talked to him in months. How did he know I was here?

“Come on, Bauer, it’s Daddy!” Mason called over my shoulder to Bauer, who was still growling with a few aggressive sounding barks mixed in.

I stepped back from the door to turn and look into the living room at Bauer. The hair on his back was standing up and he was baring his teeth, not appearing to remember Mason. Apparently having Sidney right next to him was giving him the balls to act tough. Oh, God. Sidney. I felt my stomach clench as I watched Sidney pull himself out from under Bauer and stand up.

My emotions were in overdrive. I wasn’t sure what made me feel worse. Was it the fact that Mason was here in front of me? Maybe it was Bauer not recognizing his “daddy.” Maybe it was having Sidney in my house without Mason knowing I even knew Sid. Or maybe, just maybe it was because I was worried about what Sidney was thinking seeing Mason.

“What are you doing here?” I managed to choke out as I turned back to Mason. He wasn’t looking at me. Instead he was glaring over at Sidney who looked highly uncomfortable. Bauer continued growling and I snapped. “Bauer, shut up!” I yelled. Bauer was immediately quiet, leaving the three of us to stand in an uncomfortable silence. I almost wished for him to start barking again.

“Am I interrupting something?” Mason asked, bitterly.

“Uh, no. Sidney and I were just watching a movie. Do you two know each other?” I was being awkward, but I was still having trouble processing what exactly was going on right now.

“We haven’t met,” Sidney answered, speaking up for the first time. Neither made a move to greet the other. Instead, they stood there glaring at each other.

“We’re just friends,” I blurted out, trying to ease the tension. I regretted it immediately. Both of them turned their glares on me. I watched as Sidney’s body tensed up and some emotion I’d never seen before flashed through his eyes. Was it hurt? It couldn’t be.

“Friends?” Mason asked skeptically.

“I dumped coffee on him one day. We’ve been friends since,” I explained. Mason’s glare softened. “Mason, what are you doing here?”

“I’ve missed you and I had something I needed to say.” He reached a hand into his coat pocket and I watched him pull a small black box out. My heart stopped and my eyes went wide. That couldn’t be what I thought it was. Apparently Sidney had the same thought.

“I should go and let you two talk.” He didn’t give either of us a chance to respond. Instead he brushed past us with another glance at the box in Mason’s hand before walking out of my house.

“How did you know I was here?” I asked, doing everything in my power to not only avoid looking at the box, but to change the topic away from it.

“Andrea told me.” I cringed inwardly at my stupidity. You should never tell the wife of your ex-boyfriend’s teammate where you’re living if you don’t want him to know. Damn Andrea Kesler. “Misty, I miss you.”

I looked up into his eyes at those words and I could feel everything rushing back. I felt every emotion I’d ever felt with him. Tears welled up in my eyes at those words. Those were words I’d so desperately been hoping to hear him say to me months ago. Now that he was here saying them, did I still want them said?

“I don’t know what you want from me.” I felt myself slipping. I felt the inner strength I’d been working on all summer crumbling away. Despite what I was fighting to keep from doing I looked down at the box and I felt my hope rise.

“I was stupid back in February when I let you go. I’ve been miserable since you left. I should have fought for you. It took me all this time to realize how selfish I was being in our relationship and I’m going to change that.”

The words sounded so good and so full of a promise I’d longed for. I felt the tears begin to fall down my face. I battled internally to not let myself fall back into my old self. I didn’t want to slip back into being dependent on someone else. I’d fought so hard this summer to be a strong person, but now I couldn’t seem to remember why. All I could see in my head was what my left ring finger might look like with the ring that was possibly in that box.

Mason lifted a hand and cupped my face with it. He used his thumb to brush away the tears that had fallen. It was a useless gesture, because more fell in their place. Even so, it felt more intimate than I wanted it to. He lowered his face and pressed his forehead against mine. I felt my heart flutter and my breath caught in my throat.

He hesitated for just a moment before I felt his lips. I nearly collapsed at the touch. Then I kissed him back. I kept waiting for something in my brain to tell me this was not a good idea, but that never came. Instead I was flooded with good memories and every feeling I'd ever had when it came to Mason. Eventually I pulled away, needing to hear what he had to say and find out if what I thought was in that box really was.

“Mason, I just…..I don’t… told me back then that-" He cut me off.

“I know what I said and I regretted it every day that you were gone. I love you, Misty. I need you in my life. I’ve been lost without you. I may not have been ready then, but I’m ready now. I’m ready to be the man you want and need. I know this isn’t exactly romantic, but you know that’s not my style. This is me and it's the best I can do. Misty, will you marry me?”

My breath caught in my throat as images of my wedding day flashed through my head. I’d been dreaming of that day since I was old enough to know what a wedding was. I saw myself in my dream wedding dress. I saw the flowers, the bridesmaid dresses on the girls I’d long ago chosen, and the background scenery. I saw the look on Mason’s face as I’d come around the corner to walk down the aisle.

I watched as he flipped open the little black box that contained the ring. I looked down in anticipation of what it would look like. I watched it sparkle and shine in the lighting as I put a hand to my mouth. It was beautiful. More tears fell down my face as I looked down at it in shock. Any girl would kill for that ring and it was for me.

Sidney felt sick as he watched Mason pull out a small black box from his pocket. He knew what was in that box. He’d have to be an idiot not to know what was in that box. He waited for Misty to tell Mason that he should put it away. He waited for her to tell Mason it was too late and to leave. Misty didn’t say a word.

Surprise, disappointment, and hurt ran through him as she just stood there looking at the box in Mason’s hand. He saw the look in her eyes and recognized it. She wanted what was in that box. He could see it plain as day. And just like that any chance for the two of them was crushed. It wasn’t like he had high hopes for them, but he’d always felt there was a small chance that maybe someday.....but now it was gone.

“I should go and let you two talk,” he barely managed to choke out.

Neither of them argued with him. Neither told him he didn’t have to go. Obviously they wanted their privacy and he’d give it to them. It wasn’t like he wanted to be there to witness the actual proposal to the girl he was in love with. That's right, seeing this happen made him realize it. He was in love with Misty. He walked straight out of the house and to his car. He felt numb the entire car ride back to his house.

How could she let him stay and propose? After everything she’d told him this summer about her relationship past, how could she still want him? Hadn’t she said she was only using Mason to get away from Zeke? Or was she lying to him, and maybe herself in the process? He figured maybe she didn’t know what she wanted. Or maybe she was just so hurt by Mason letting her go that she’d tell herself anything to get over it. And now Mason was standing there in her house with a ring and was about to propose.

Somewhere deep inside of himself he knew she was going to say yes. When she’d first told him that Mason had said he didn’t want to marry her he’d seen the pain in her eyes. This must have been a dream come true for her. He’d chased her down to tell her how much he missed her and that he was ready to commit.

Sidney flopped down on the couch and laid his head on the back of the couch, staring up at the ceiling. He wished he’d stopped being a fucking pussy and had told Misty he liked her at some point. Then again, maybe he was glad he hadn’t. What would have happened if they’d started dating and Mason had shown up. Who would she have chosen?

Sidney let out a yell in frustration and anger. He didn’t want to think about Misty and Mason anymore. He needed a distraction. He needed to forget. He wanted to numb everything out of his brain. He grabbed his phone and made a call.

“What’s up Siddo?” Caden answered after a couple of rings.

“I need you guys to come over now. Bring alcohol. Anything,” Sidney told him.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked, concern in his voice.

“Misty just got engaged to her ex.”

“Fuck. We’ll be right over.” The phone went dead and Sidney dropped it beside him on the couch.

He didn’t move from that spot on the couch as he waited. He didn’t have the strength or energy to move right now. He wouldn’t be able to move until his closest friends were here and he was good and drunk. Something inside of him told him this wasn’t a good idea. He shouldn’t be drinking tonight. He didn’t care.

He heard a car pull into the driveway a little while later. He remained sitting the way he was. He watched the reflection of the headlights on his wall turn off as the sound of the running engine died. He heard footsteps climb the stairs to his front door and listened as the doorknob turned and the door opened.

“I hope whatever alcohol you brought was strong. I need it,” he muttered without glancing over at the door.

“I don’t have any alcohol.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chapter 24

Sidney got off the plane, grabbed his bag from baggage claim and found his car where he’d parked it when he flew out to Calgary. He started to drive home and decided he wasn’t in the mood to be alone. He considered heading straight to his parents’ house knowing his father would be dying to hear about camp, but he wasn’t really in the mood for that either. He’d head to Misty’s.

He decided against calling her and hoped that she’d be home when he got there. He pulled into her driveway and saw that her car was there, but as much as Misty walked and ran places he knew that didn’t mean anything. He got out and heard barking and laughter floating out to him from the backyard.

He walked around the side of the house and spotted Misty standing on the patio with a cup of what was probably coffee in her hands, laughing at Bauer who was chasing birds around the yard. He stopped and watched Bauer for a moment as well and laughed to himself. The birds were scattering and then landing again, and Bauer was just beside himself trying to chase them away.

“Hey!” he finally called. Bauer bounded over to him when he heard him and Misty turned and smiled.

“Hey back! How was the trip?” she asked walking over.

“It was fine,” he replied as he pet Bauer.

“How long have you been back in town?” she questioned. Bauer took off to run back after the birds who had returned.

“Pretty much since now.” Her eyes widened in surprise.

“You came here first?” He smiled and shrugged.

“Even before my own house,” he told her. She shook her head at him.

“Your father is probably dying to talk to you about camp and you didn’t go straight there?” she chastised. He rolled his eyes.

“I am so not in the mood for that right now,” he responded. She smiled at him knowingly and invited him inside. He followed her in through the back door and into the house.

“Coffee?” she asked, holding up the half full pot.

“You’re kidding, right?” She narrowed her eyes at him before a smile broke out onto her face.

“Stick with me, Crosby, and you’ll learn to love it.” He realized music was playing when the start of a new song came on. He laughed at the opening notes and shook his head.

“You’re a Hip fan?” he asked.

“Can you spend time with Canadian hockey players and not be?” she retorted. He laughed and had to agree. “You should probably go see your parents.” He sighed.

“I know.”

“Go see them now and get settled back in. Come back tonight and we’ll have dinner and watch a movie,” she suggested.

“Sounds good. I’ll see you tonight,” he agreed.

He got back into his car and headed over to his parents’ house. His father was out the door as soon as he pulled into the driveway. He’d obviously been waiting for him to get there and Sidney rolled his eyes. He had to get it over with sometime, right?

They went inside and spent the next two hours talking about the camp, who was there, what they’d done, what they’d said, blah blah blah. His mom had tried numerous times to change the subject but his father kept finding a way to go right back to the camp. It was too early for him to be thinking that hard about the Olympics. The season hadn’t even started yet.

They finally got off the topic of the Olympics when Taylor came home from a camp she was attending. Taylor had basically no interest in hearing about the camp and made that quite clear to their dad. Eventually Sidney got up to head home and unpack before heading over to see Misty.

“Hey, Sid, hold on a second,” his dad said at the door. Sidney stopped and wondered what his dad had to say now. “Make sure to bring Misty over for dinner some night before you both leave town.” Sidney looked at his father in shock.

“You want me to bring Misty over for dinner some night?” he asked.

“Yeah. We just all want to make sure to say goodbye before she leaves,” he explained. Sidney narrowed his eyes at his dad, wondering what the catch was. Oddly, he seemed like he genuinely wanted her there.

“Sure, I’ll do that.” He called another goodbye to his family before heading back to his place and spent the entire drive curious as to what had gotten into his father.

I’d spent the last couple of days after hanging out with the group while Sidney was gone locked up in my house. I was almost afraid to see any of them. While only Zara and I had the conversation I felt like all the emotions it had drawn out were clearly written on my face. I just couldn’t face any of them right now.

Do you love him?

No. No no no. Absolutely not. I, Misty Jaden Fontana, was not in love with Sidney. It just wasn’t a possibility. There was no chance. I repeated it in my head. I said it out loud. I sighed at Bauer every time he gave me a look that screamed that he didn’t believe me. It didn’t matter what they thought. I knew how I felt, and I didn’t love him. At least that’s what I thought until I saw him standing in my backyard, fresh off the plane from Calgary.

The butterflies went wild, my heart started to race, and it took every ounce of my strength not to rush over into his arms like a fool. Then he told me he’d come straight to my place and that fluttering feeling took control of my body until I thought I might fly. Despite all that, I still didn’t love him. Right?

I went for a long run after he left, running until I thought my lungs would burst and my legs would give out. I vetoed every song on my iPod that so much as mentioned love as I ran. Then when I was done I went to the gym and attended a boot camp class. I only survived on sheer will to sweat out the feelings in me.

It seemed to work. I left the gym sore, exhausted, and with no more fluttering. I showered, dressed in yoga pants and a t-shirt and threw my wet hair up into a ponytail, clipping my bangs out of my face. Then I fell asleep for a couple of hours. I woke up barely in time to hear Sidney ringing my doorbell.

“So I have some surprising news,” Sidney said as he walked past me into the house.

“Is it good or bad?” I asked.

“I have no idea,” he replied. I furrowed my brow at his response.

“What’s going on?” I questioned.

“My father wants to have you over for dinner before we both leave town,” Sidney reported. My jaw dropped in surprise. It wasn’t a secret that Troy didn’t like me. Everyone saw it. Now I was confused.

“I’m sorry, I must have misheard what you said. Can you please repeat that?”

“That was pretty much my reaction.” I smiled at Sidney.

“I know. He wants to throw me a going away party! He’s glad I’ll no longer be near his son!” I joked. Sidney just rolled his eyes as he plopped down on the couch.

“He’s not a bad guy,” Sidney defended him.

“And I’m not a bad girl,” I returned as I sat next to him on the couch. Sidney sighed and glanced towards the TV.

“You said something about a movie, right? What are you in the mood for?” he asked.

We debated over movies before deciding on one and popping it in. A little bit into the movie my stomach started to grumble and I got up to place an order for Chinese to be delivered. I walked back to the couch and found that Sidney was sprawled out and taking up the whole thing.

“And where am I supposed to sit?” I asked, folding my arms over my chest. He shrugged.

“On the floor?” he suggested. I narrowed my eyes at him and shook my head.

“Move over, Crosby,” I ordered.

“But I’m comfortable,” he whined.

“And here I thought I was hanging out with a 22 year old and not a 5 year old,” I retorted. He stuck his tongue out at me but refused to move. “Fine.” I sat down right on top of his legs.

“Are you serious right now?” he asked, trying to push me off. I fought for every inch of couch I could get.

We ended up pushing and shoving each other for a good 10 minutes, fighting for space. Neither of us wanted to give in, yet we couldn’t stop laughing the entire time. Bauer looked on at us like we were insane. Just as I’d figured out that Sidney was ticklish and where, the doorbell rang.

“Damn, Chinese food,” I muttered.

I untangled myself from Sidney’s arms and legs and made my way over to the door. Bauer had jumped up in my place and was currently standing with his front paws hanging over the back of the couch as he straddled Sidney who was still lying down. Bauer was using the couch as a shield and Sidney as protection as he growled and watched the door.

“You lose, I win!” Sidney called.

I was still laughing at him as I pulled open the front door. The laugh died in my throat when I saw who was standing on my doorstep. It wasn’t the Chinese delivery guy. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. Instead I just stood there grasping the doorknob and staring at the figure in front of me.

“Hi, Misty,” he said.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chapter 23

I finished my run and opened the door to let Bauer outside. He ran around and sniffed everything in sight as I stretched out. Taking even just a week or so off from running always made me sore when I started it back up, and I hadn’t run since before I’d gone home. When I was finished I walked inside with Bauer on my heels.

I made myself a peanut butter and banana sandwich and ate while dancing around to the music I had on. When the sandwich was gone I stripped down and got into the shower. Just as I was toweling off I heard my cell going off. I wrapped the towel around me and ran out to find my phone.

“Hello?” I said hurriedly, hoping to get it before it went to voicemail.

“Bad time?” I grinned at the sound of Sidney’s voice.

“I just got out of the shower. What’s up?” I asked.

“Lunch break. I’m afraid if I try to nap I’ll never wake up again,” he replied. I laughed.

“So how’s the camp been going so far?”

I listened as Sidney talked about the Olympic camp he was currently attending. We went over what they'd done, funny stories that had come out, and their upcoming schedule. I almost felt like a spy for the US. If only there was someone in USA hockey I could contact, I thought with a silent chuckle.

“I saw the picture of you in the Canadian jersey online. Must be pretty cool to be wearing it, huh?” I told him.

“It really is. Sometimes I can’t believe everything that’s happened.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not sure anyone deserves it more than you.”

“I’m glad I called you instead of home. I get compliments from you.” I laughed at him. We talked for a few more minutes before he had to go and get back to the rink. I barely had time to get dressed before my doorbell rang. I opened the door to see Zara and Valerie standing there holding up a couple of bottles of alcohol.

“It’s a little early to start drinking, isn’t it?” I asked as I let them in.

“It’s never too early,” Zara replied.

“The boys are golfing and getting drunk all day so we figured we’d hang out, tan, and get drunk all day. We’re going to meet up with them and go out tonight if you want to come along,” Valerie explained.

“Sounds like a plan,” I agreed.

I changed into a bathing suit while the two of them mixed up some drinks. Then we headed into my backyard to lie out in the sun. I turned on some music and we spent the next few hours drinking and talking. As the sun went down we all took turns showering and then ordered pizza for dinner.

“Do you miss Sidney now that he’s out of town for a while?” Zara asked as we were crowded around my bathroom mirror getting ready. I turned to glare over at her.

“Are you going to bring him up every time I see you?” I shot at her.

“Are you going to avoid answering my questions about him every time I ask?” she returned. I sighed and refused to answer her as I continued to get ready.

“Misty, I love you, but when are you going to figure it out?” Valerie asked. I completely stopped what I was doing to turn to face both of them, with my arms crossed over my chest.

“Figure what out?”

“That Sidney is perfect for you. He’s your guy. You just fit,” she responded.

“How many times do I have to tell you both that we’re just friends?” I asked in exasperation. They both rolled their eyes at me, but dropped the subject.

When we were ready I called a cab to come pick us up. Once in the car Zara gave the driver our destination and we danced in the car the whole trip to the bar. We walked in and found the guys already sitting around a table. Walker gave Zara a big kiss as we all took seats.

It took about 5 seconds before they were asking me about Sidney. I wasn’t sure how I felt about being the one they were looking to for information about how the camp was going. They hadn’t talked to him, but I had once a day since he’d left. I told them everything he had told me and we thankfully moved on from the subject of him afterwards.

As I sat there with them I thought it was a little odd that he hadn’t talked to a single one of them all week, but we’d talked every day. Did any of them think that was as strange as I did? My brain was fuzzy with alcohol and I decided it was best to just leave thinking about that until tomorrow when I was sober. I pushed the thoughts out of my head and refocused on the conversation around the table.

Troy pulled into the parking lot of the bar his friends were meeting at. He didn’t typically frequent bars, but his friend, Eddie, had gotten a promotion and they were taking him out for some beers. He walked in and found some of his friends already sitting at a table with beers in front of them.

He greeted them all with a handshake and sat down, grabbing an empty glass and pouring himself beer from the pitcher. Not long after the entire group was sitting around the table telling stories and laughing. It was nice when they could all get out together and do something like this, especially when celebrating about something. They’d done the same thing when Sidney had been drafted and then again when he’d returned to Cole Harbour after his son had won the Stanley Cup.

“Well, hey, look at that,” one of the guys said, looking over Troy’s shoulder.

He along with the rest of the table turned to look in the same direction. He heard someone else let out a soft whistle as he watched Zara and Valerie walk across the bar to join Sidney’s friends at a table. He then noticed Misty following right behind them. His eyes narrowed at the sight of her.

She was moving in on his son, and he didn’t like it. She’d moved to town by herself two months ago and randomly ran into Sidney? Fat chance of that, he thought. He didn’t trust her. She looked like one of those girls who would use her looks to get ahead in life, and he did not like the thought of her using Sid.

He turned his back to her and tried to pay attention to the new topic that had come up among his friends, but his mind kept wandering back to Sidney and Misty. Sidney had it bad for her, he could tell. Sid had never mentioned anything to him, but he could see it every time he saw them together. He knew his son well enough to see the look he had in his eyes when he saw her.

He’d tried, obviously unsuccessfully at the beginning of the summer to warn Sidney away from Misty. He’d told him that it was just the wrong time to even think about beginning a relationship with anyone. Too much was riding on this upcoming season. The whole league was going to be gunning for the Penguins now that they’d won the Cup, and the Olympics were only months away. He didn’t need a distraction.

Troy thought he’d gotten through to Sidney until Sid had announced that he was going to Misty’s hometown for a week, and right before the Cup came! What had he been thinking?! They’d argued over it, but Sidney had gone and Troy had been pissed off all week. Then he had to walk in on Sidney kissing Misty on the forehead at the Cup party. No, he didn’t trust Misty at all.

The group of his friends started to break up and he grabbed his car keys and walked outside to head home. He called out a goodbye to everyone before heading towards his car. He paused when he heard two familiar female voices talking just around the corner. He didn’t have to see them to know it was Zara and Misty. And he didn’t have to be convinced to stop and listen when he heard Sidney’s name.

“I just don’t understand why it’s so difficult for you to admit that you have feelings for Sidney,” he heard Zara say.

“Why do you keep pushing this?” Misty asked.

“Because I can’t sit around while you two pretend nothing’s there between you anymore.”

“There’s nothing, Zara. What do you want me to say? He had the chance and do you know what he said? He said that we were just friends. He kissed me and then told me we were just friends.”

Troy clenched his jaw at hearing that Sidney had kissed her. It was worse than he’d thought.

“For someone who seems to know Sidney so well, you’re being a real idiot when it comes to his feelings for you,” Zara argued.

“How? How am I being an idiot?”

“You know Sidney’s quiet and he almost never says what he feels. You’ve said that yourself to me when we’ve talked about other things, so why can’t you see that it’s the same thing in this case?”

He heard someone sniff and a small sob. Was Misty crying?

“Say it’s true. Pretend that Sidney really does have feelings for me. What then? What are we supposed to do about it?”

He hated to admit it, but he sensed from the shake in her voice that Misty was really torn up about the whole situation with his son.

“You date like everyone else does,” Zara replied. Misty let out a humorless laugh.

“No, we don’t. In about two weeks he’s headed back to Pittsburgh and I’m headed back to New York. You don’t start off a relationship when you’re 8 hours away from each other.”

“So go to Pittsburgh,” Zara suggested.

Troy tensed up at the statement. That couldn’t happen.

“I can’t go to Pittsburgh with him. People don’t meet, start dating, and move in together in the span of two months. Not to mention I’ve got other things I have to take care of.”

Well, he was at least happy to hear that response.

“So try the long distance thing.”

“I can’t do that either. Long distance relationships are stressful. Sidney has too much going on this season already. He has to go out and try to prove his team winning the Cup wasn’t a fluke. The expectations for him are sky high. Then the Olympics are coming up. I’m not adding any more stress to all of that.”

As Troy heard her talk his opinion of Misty slowly began to change. She sounded completely distressed about the whole thing. Maybe she did truly like his son. He also couldn’t discount the fact that she was refusing to act on anything because of Sidney’s career. She understood how important the year was for him, and she was willing to push her own feelings aside for Sidney. Maybe he’d been wrong about her afterall.

“I guess I just have one more question then and I’ll stop asking you about Sidney,” Zara started.


“Do you love him?”

Troy felt his body tense as he waited for her response. Instead of hearing what she had to say, he heard ringing from a cell phone.

“Sidney?” Zara asked.

“Yeah,” Misty replied quietly.

“That’s twice in one day. I’ll see you inside.” He heard the side door open and close and heard Misty sniff again.

“Hey, Sid,” she greeted as she answered the phone, doing her best to mask any of the tears he'd heard her crying.

Troy sighed and made his way to his car. It didn’t seem like he was going to hear the answer to that question any time soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chapter 22

I stood in front of my closet and perused my options. What did one wear on a dinner cruise? I’d immediately thought about a simple black strapless Ralph Lauren dress I had with a white sash around the waist then shook my head. We were going to be out on a boat on the water and it would probably be windy. That meant I needed some sort of jacket or wrap to wear over it. Maybe I should just wear a nice shirt and pants. No, I can’t wear pants on a dinner cruise. Dammit, this sucked. At this rate my hair was going to air dry before I’d even picked out what to wear.

Sidney and I had returned from my hometown a couple days ago. He’d spent just about the entire car ride back to Cole Harbour trying to talk me into joining his friends and family with him on the dinner cruise to celebrate day one of him having the Stanley Cup. I’d balked at it every time he asked telling him he deserved to enjoy it with the people who’d known him back when he’d won it, and had been supporting him for years. He wouldn’t hear it and said that it just wouldn’t feel right if I wasn’t there. Eventually I gave in.

I looked down at Bauer and asked him what I should wear. He tilted his head to the side like he was telling me he had no idea either. I sighed and went over my options again. Despite the fact that I was much more comfortable in pants and a shirt, I ended up choosing the Ralph Lauren dress and a black wrap in case it got cold and paired it with a pair of black open toed heels.

I spent the next 45 minutes getting ready. I wasn’t sure I’d ever spent that long on hair and makeup before in my life. That just wasn’t my style. Even so, for some reason, I wanted to look perfect tonight. I looked at my smokey eyes, red lips, and softly curled hair and smiled. Maybe I should make myself up like this more often.

I grabbed a clutch and threw some stuff in just as I saw headlights sweep into the driveway. I gave myself one last glance in the mirror before running out and getting into Zara’s SUV. I smiled at Walker, Caden, and Valerie as I got in. I was about to ask where Wesley was when I heard a voice come from the trunk behind me.

“Jesus, Misty, you look hot.” I laughed as I turned and smiled at Wes.

“I’m not sure whether to be flattered or offended by that,” I joked.

“You’re always hot, but this is different. You’re fucking hot now,” he returned. I laughed again.

“Wait until Sidney sees you,” Walker commented. I gave him a strange look.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked. I watched as Zara and Valerie rolled their eyes at me and the guys exchanged looks with each other.

“Don’t worry about it,” Caden told me. I let it go, not exactly in the mood to go where this conversation looked to be heading.

The car pulled into a parking lot a little while later. We all filed out of the car and made our way towards the ship. We were joking and laughing as we gave our names in order to board. Wesley wrapped his arm around my shoulders as we made our way inside to where others were standing and talking. I immediately started searching for Sidney once inside. Wesley laughed next to me.

“He’s in the corner,” he told me knowingly and pointing. I looked in the direction he was pointing and saw Sidney talking to a small group with the Cup sitting next to him. “Go on,” Wesley urged. I gave him a sheepish smile before walking in Sidney’s direction.

I took a deep breath and then slowly made my way through the growing crowd of people. I smoothed my dress probably a good 50 times and fluffed my hair another 50 in the short distance that had been between us. I was nervous and I didn’t like it. Christ, Misty, it’s just Sid. Relax.

I was almost to him when he turned and his eyes locked on mine. He halted mid-laugh and his smile faded when he saw me. What was wrong with him? Did I look that bad? Sidney’s reaction to me was obvious to everyone he was talking to and they all turned in my direction. I felt suddenly self-conscious with all eyes on me. I gave them a small nervous smile as I forced myself to finish the walk to them.

“Hey,” I greeted quietly. Sidney just stood there without saying a word. I had time to shift from one foot to another and still he said nothing.

“It seems that Crosby here has forgotten his manners. I’m Maxime Talbot, but you can call me Max,” the attractive guy next to him said, holding out his hand. I smiled at him and shook his hand.

“Ah, the game 7 hero. I’m Misty Fontana.” The rest of the group introduced themselves and still Sidney said nothing.

“So, Misty, how do you know this jackass?” Max asked me, jerking his thumb in Sidney’s direction. My eyes shifted over to Sidney and I saw his expression hadn’t changed much.

“I dumped coffee on him accidentally a couple of months ago. He was nice enough to forgive me,” I told him.

“When a beautiful girl does something like that, any sane guy would forgive her,” Max replied with a smile.

“Hey, Sidney, your grandmothers are here!” I heard Troy call from behind us. Sidney gave a small smile and a nod to me before walking away to follow his father. I watched him walk away, wondering what the hell was going on.

“Can I get you a drink?” Max offered, wrapping an arm around my waist. I smiled and nodded. I was going to need a drink to deal with Sidney if he was going to be like this all night. Maybe I shouldn’t have come afterall.

Sidney walked away from Misty to follow his father and wanted an anvil to fall out of the sky and land on him. He was a jerk. Why the hell hadn’t he said anything? He hugged both of his grandmothers as he thought about it. He hadn’t said anything because he’d been stunned into silence. Misty looked incredible.

When he saw her walking in his direction he’d lost all capabilities to think. He’d been mid-conversation and suddenly couldn’t even remember what they’d been talking about or even who he’d been talking to. His mind was just a jumbled mess the moment he’d seen her. He wanted to tell her how beautiful she looked, but his brain wasn’t sending the message to his mouth. Even as he heard Max introducing himself to her he still couldn’t form words. He was lucky he’d understood what his father had said. Now he looked like a royal asshole.

He made his rounds and talked to everyone on board as the ship pulled away from the dock. Even as he tried to concentrate on them his eyes kept finding their way to Misty. Every time they found her she took his breath away. It was a struggle to think of anything but her.

Then he slowly realized that every time he saw her he saw Max as well. He recognized all the signs as soon as he focused on it. Max was hitting on her. Goddammit, why did all his friends hit on her? First Jack and now Talbot. Of course it had to be the two guys who had the most success with girls too. Those motherfuckers.

Jealousy raged through him as he watched Max snake his arm around Misty’s waist and saw that she didn’t pull away. He should have said something earlier. Maybe if he’d said something Max would have left her alone. Now he could do nothing but watch since he had to make sure to make time for everyone.

“Dude, you’re an idiot,” Walker managed to tell him at one point. He couldn’t agree more.

When it was time to sit down for dinner Misty sat at a table far from him and right next to Max, who seemed to have attached himself to her hip. Sidney clenched his jaw when he saw that Misty didn’t exactly seem to mind. When dinner was over and the ship was headed back he finally broke away from everyone and made his way over to Misty, who for once was without Max.

“You look beautiful tonight,” he told her. She turned and looked at him in surprise, her eyebrows lifted.

“Thank you,” she said with a small smile. She sounded unsure.

“I’m sorry about earlier, I’m just not used to seeing you like this. It took me by surprise,” he explained. She furrowed her brows together as she thought about that.

“Yeah, I guess this look just doesn’t work for me,” she said glancing down at herself.

“No, it does. It really does,” he assured her. She gave him a real smile for the first time and he returned it. “Let me introduce you to some people.” She nodded and he took her by the hand and led her around the ship. She joked and laughed with everyone and they all seemed to love her.

The ship docked and his group of friends and family began to file off to head home. Tomorrow was another day and another celebration. Sidney had to say goodbye to everyone but he made sure to catch Misty before she left. He made sure to tell her again how amazing she looked and told her he’d see her tomorrow at his house.

The next day he was busy running around and talking to everyone who came to his house for the party. He didn’t even know when Misty had gotten there, only that at some point he had turned around and she was standing there talking with Max with a drink in her hand. He started to make his way over to her, but was called away for something else. By the time he was done, he couldn’t find her.

When he did see her again she was carrying a tray of food outside and replacing an empty one with it. As he talked with some of his family he kept an eye on her and saw her do the same thing with a few more trays. He finally broke away and made his way over to her. She turned to him and smiled after arranging some food around.

“Hey!” she called to him.

“What are you doing?” he asked. She shrugged.

“The food was running out,” she said simply, like it was her job to replace it.

“Did someone put you up to this?” he wondered. She shook her head.

“No, I just saw that it needed to be done and your family deserves to enjoy this day instead of working on it.” Was she serious? She was doing it on her own because she saw that it needed to be? They talked for a few more minutes before he was pulled away once again.

The next time he saw Misty she was sitting at a table with his two grandmothers. As he watched she listened to them talk, laughed along with them, and chatted away. She even looked like she was having a good time doing it. He noticed that she kept getting up and bringing back plates of food and drinks for them so they wouldn’t have to get up and deal with the crowd of people themselves.

As the day wore on they hardly talked, but he was always aware of what she was doing. She had basically overtaken the job as the hostess so that his mother, who had been doing it, would be able to enjoy the day. Misty was running back and forth making sure everyone there had anything they would need.

He couldn’t even begin to describe how amazing that was. She was doing it on her own with a smile on her face. He found himself realizing that he would probably never find another girl who would do this for him and his family without a complaint. God, she was perfect.

He walked inside for a break from the crowd for a moment and found Misty in the kitchen doing something at the counter. He saw Sam and Bauer standing at attention, wagging their tails as they watched her. Sidney realized that she was feeding them dinner. Even with everything going on, she hadn’t forgotten about them.

“Thanks for doing that,” he said, walking over to stand next to her. She glanced over and smiled.

“I figured their food was better for them than the scraps they’ve been getting all day from everyone,” she joked. “Why aren’t you out there mingling?”

“I needed a break.” She gave him an understanding look before she placed the dog bowls on the floor. Sam and Bauer immediately rushed to their dinners.

“Do you need a drink?” she offered, grabbing a bottle of water for herself. He shook his head. Then he put an arm around her waist and placed a kiss on her temple.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done today.” She didn’t have a chance to respond.

“Sidney?” Troy interrupted them. He turned to see his father standing in the kitchen looking at the two of them. He looked like he'd witnessed the kiss and he was not very pleased about it. Sidney dutifully followed his father outside to continue to mingle.

Hours later almost everyone was gone, and the few that were still around were currently inside scoping out a place to crash. He stood at the end of his dock staring out at the water, grateful for some peace and quiet. He was thankful for these past two days, but they had been exhausting. He heard someone walk up behind him and turned to see Misty.

“I’m tired,” she said when she stopped next to him. He just nodded as they stood there in silence for a while. At some point she rested her head on his shoulder and he put his arm around her. They stood like that for a while until he felt like he was going to pass out.

“I have to get to bed,” he told her. She nodded and followed him inside. She grabbed a blanket and started to settle herself onto the couch. He wasn’t having any of that and grabbed her hand, leading her up to his room. They’d slept together before so he wasn’t letting her sleep on a couch now.

“Misty, I know I already said this a little earlier, but thank you. I don’t know why you took over today, but I know that I and my entire family appreciated it. My mom thought she’d be too busy to enjoy today, but you made it possible for her to. Thank you.” She smiled at him and wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Congratulations,” she whispered to him.

She slowly began to pull away, her arms just sliding down from his neck. He caught her gaze and fought the urge to kiss her. Then she did it again. He still wasn’t sure if it was on purpose, but she licked her lips. He lost the battle and pressed his lips to hers. She returned the kiss and he backed her up to the bed where they fell back, with him on top of her. She cuddled up to him when they were spent and he fell asleep with her in his arms.

“Good morning, sleepyhead!” a voice yelled out, causing both he and Misty to bolt upright in bed. He looked over to see Max standing in the doorway. Max’s eyes went wide in surprise before he grinned. “I guess I should say sleepyheads.”

“Max, really?” Sidney grumbled as Misty pulled the sheets tighter around her.

“What? We have to go.” Sidney glanced at the clock and knew he was right. The Cup was leaving this morning and he had to accompany it.

“I’ll be right down.” Max closed the door and Sidney got out of bed and got dressed. “You can stay here and get more sleep if you want,” he said to Misty.

“I have to get Bauer outside anyway. I’ll talk to you later though.” He nodded before walking out of the bedroom and heading downstairs.

“Good for you!” Max called out when he got down there.

“Don't even,” he shot at him as they walked out the door.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chapter 21

Sidney opened his eyes and glanced down at Misty. She was still asleep with her head on his chest, and his arm wrapped around her. He also noticed that they were both still completely naked. He squeezed his eyes closed as he remembered last night. What the hell had he been thinking?

He knew what he’d been thinking. He’d wanted Misty, simple as that. He’d thought about it before yesterday, but he hadn’t really seriously decided to go for it until she kissed him at the fair. It may have been an accident, but he couldn’t get the memory of her lips on his for that brief second out of his head. He’d just wondered what it would be like to really kiss her. They’d managed to pretend it hadn’t happened, but internally he couldn’t forget.

When he’d woken up and realized that he’d pulled Misty into him in his sleep he’d decided that they really needed to talk. He had to tell her that he was starting to develop feelings for her. He wasn’t sure how that was going to pan out with her recent revelations, but he couldn’t go on pretending they were just friends until he knew how she felt about him.

He’d started to bring up the kiss so he could bridge into it, but then he’d made the mistake of looking right into her eyes. He forgot everything he was going to say when he did. He’d struggled to force his brain to function when she’d licked her lips. He didn’t know if she’d done it on purpose or not, but it had been game over. He’d given in to his desires and kissed her.

When she didn’t pull away, and instead had kissed him back he felt relief. Maybe that meant she felt the same way. Then she’d pulled away. When she started talking he realized that he just couldn’t hear what she had to say right now. He wanted to choose the words, make it quick and as painless as possible so he didn’t have to be humiliated.

When he’d said to her that he knew she was going to tell him that they were just friends, he’d been hoping against all hope that she’d disagree with him. He silently begged her to disagree with what he said, but she hadn’t. She’d repeated it. And he’d felt like someone had knocked the wind out of him.

Every hope he had of maybe someday having a relationship with her when she was ready was thrown out the window. She just saw him as a friend and that was that. Even so, he still wanted to know what it would be like to be with her. He figured this was his one and only chance and so he’d gone for it. And it had been better than he could have ever imagined. He just hoped now as he looked at her asleep in his arms that she wouldn’t resent him for it. The last thing he wanted was for things to be awkward between them.

He heard a deep intake of breath come from Misty and then she cuddled into him a little more. He watched as her eyelids fluttered a few times before slowly opening. Even though he tried to tell himself to relax, he felt his body tensing a bit. Now he just had to wait to see what her response would be. She looked up at him with wide eyes like she’d just remembered what happened.

“So how about last night?” she asked, immediately closing her eyes and wincing like she couldn’t believe she’d just said that. He couldn’t help but chuckle a bit to himself. “I’m sorry, was that really inappropriate?” He couldn’t hold it in this time. He let out a laugh.

“Inappropriate, no. Unexpected, yes,” he told her. She gave him a smile before sitting up, pulling the sheets up with her to keep herself convered.

“So do we talk about this or just let it awkwardly stew?” she asked. He shook his head with a smile. If there was anything he knew about Misty, it was that she was always going to surprise him and make him laugh.

“Which are you leaning towards?” he returned. She bit her lip and looked up at the ceiling as she thought about it.

“I’m thinking we should probably talk and I should probably be dressed for it,” she replied.

He agreed and turned his back to her to grab his shorts off of the floor next to him. He took longer than necessary so that she could grab her clothes and get them on before he turned back around. Despite the fact that he’d seen her naked last night, he wasn’t sure how she felt about being naked in front of him right now. It was tough not to turn and take a peek, but he managed to be good about it.

“So,” she started looking around the room as she sat Indian style on the bed.

“So,” he repeated leaning back against the headboard. It was probably a little bit selfish of him to force her to be the one to start talking, but it had been her decision to do it and he didn’t exactly relish the thought of being the first one to speak.

“I guess all I want to know is if you think things will be weird between us now,” she said.

“I don’t want them to be,” he replied. She nodded and was quiet for a moment.

“I mean, we’re two adults who are completely capable of making decisions and dealing with them after right?” she asked.

“Right,” he agreed. She fidgeted with her hands like she was nervous about something.

“I hope this doesn’t sound weird, but I can’t lose you.” Her words surprised him and his eyebrows shot up in shock. “Somehow in the past two months you’ve become my best friend and I really don’t want to lose that because we slept together.”

“It doesn’t sound weird because I feel the same way,” he told her in relief. She smiled over at him.

“Good, then it’s settled. We’re fine. Everything’s fine.” It sounded more like she was trying to convince herself than stating it. She then looked right at him. “Is it going to happen again?” Her question took him aback. He wasn’t expecting her to ask that and he didn’t honestly have an answer. If it was completely up to him then hell yeah it was going to happen again, but it was a little more complicated than that.

“Do you want it to?” he asked curiously. She heaved a large sigh and narrowed her eyes at him. What had he said wrong?

“Why do you always do that?” she shot at him, sounding a bit miffed.

“Do what?” he sincerely wondered.

“Answer questions you’re not completely comfortable with with another question so that the onus is off of you?” Dammit, she’d caught him. No one had ever called him out on that ever in his life. Leave it to Misty to be the one who did.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized. She didn’t say anything and he figured he was waiting for an answer to her first question. “Honestly I have no idea because I don’t know how you feel about it.”

“I don’t know either,” she muttered. They sat there in silence for a while mulling over things. “I guess it’s kind of silly to worry about shit that hasn’t happened, huh?” He smiled and nodded.

“I guess so,” he agreed.

“Okay, well, we should go pick up Bauer. I feel awful ditching him with my parents every night. Especially since tonight was supposed to be the only night I did,” she said standing up from the bed.

“What’s going on tonight?” he asked.

“It’s Evanne’s birthday tonight. The reason I came home, remember?” He did now. He got out of bed and they both got ready to leave. There were still some lingering questions in his head about everything, but he doubted they were going to be figured out today.

Sidney and I spent the afternoon with my family. He and Nick were getting along really well now that Nick had actually met him. My parents also seemed to like Sidney as well. Of course, they weren’t meeting him thinking he was my boyfriend, and that changed things. I felt another shot of pain when I thought about that. Sidney would never be my boyfriend.

I think the reason that we stayed with my family all day was because of last night and this morning. I knew that we were going to be okay with each other, but I think we were grateful to have other people around us for the moment until we could both get our heads back on straight. At least that’s how I knew I felt.

All five of us took Bauer out for a long walk through the woods behind my house. There were numerous trails winding in all different directions back there and it was a beautiful day out. As soon as we were away from the roads I let Bauer off his leash and we chatted as he sniffed around.

He laughed as I relayed stories about getting lost and ending up miles away from home because of a wrong turn. He laughed even harder when I told him about the time we’d gotten caught up in a rain storm and the path we’d taken had been washed out and we had to wait the storm out until a friend’s father drove out on his four wheeler to lead us down another path.

When we got back to the house it was time for us to head back to the hotel and get ready for the night. It seemed like the walk in the woods had cleared the air and we were back to laughing and joking around with each other on the car ride back. We took turns in the shower and then got ready next to each other in the bathroom.

“Misty!” I heard Evanne cry out when we walked into the designated restaurant for dinner.

A smile broke out over my face and I ran over to her, wrapping her in a hug. Evanne was my best friend from home and the only one who hadn’t stopped talking to me while I dated Zeke. She’d never liked him, but she’d loved me more than she hated him. She was more like a sister than a friend.

“Happy birthday, Evie!” I said to her during the hug. We broke apart and she glanced over at Sidney. “This is Sidney. Sid, this is Evanne. No matter how many times you hear me call her Evie, don’t call her that. I’m the only one who can get away with it.”

“And I still hate it,” she joked as she shook his hand. “It’s nice to meet you. Misty’s told me a lot about you.”

“And the same to you. Happy birthday,” he told her. We sat down at the table with the others and I introduced Sidney to everyone.

It was like we hadn’t missed a beat being apart for the past two months. Evanne and I were in rare form that night. She was the funniest person I knew and she always said the same thing about me. When we were together everyone around us took notice. Forget the sweet Lucy and Ethel references we’d heard from people all our lives. We were more like Thelma and Louise. Trouble followed us everywhere. We liked to think of ourselves as "smooth criminals."

Somehow during dinner I’d managed to talk the bartender into give us a couple of free rounds of shots. Okay, not somehow. Evie and I shamelessly flirted with him until he agreed. It was just how we were. No one was safe when the two of us set our minds to something. After dinner was over we piled into the limo that had been rented for the night and headed out.

We spent the night barhopping because most places will give out free shots for a birthday. I’m not sure we paid for drinks most of the night. Sidney fit right in with my friends from home. On more than one occasion Evie made sure to tell me that she loved him. I couldn’t help but smile at how well he fit in with us. Even though he wasn’t nearly as crazy as we were he still managed to come out of that shell of his.

When the bars closed the limo brought us all home one by one. I gave Evie a long hug goodbye when we were dropped off knowing that I wasn’t going to see her again before I went back to Cole Harbour. I promised to call her once I was back and then Sidney and I went inside.

As we got into bed that night I was glad to note that there was no awkwardness at all between us. In fact, he gave me a kiss on the cheek before turning over and falling asleep. While the pain of knowing nothing would ever happen between us was still there, I was also happy that nothing had changed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chapter 20

When Sidney woke up the next morning he was alone in bed. He looked around but didn’t see Misty anywhere. His thoughts went back to last night and everything she’d said to him. He was still in a bit of a state of shock at it all. He just couldn’t believe that anyone would ever have to go through something like that. Who in their right mind would treat a girl that way?

He wished more than anything that Misty had never had to experience that kind of pain. Even so, he knew where she was coming from now. He understood why she’d run away to Cole Harbour to get away from everyone and be on her own. She needed to prove to herself that she was strong enough on her own and didn’t have to depend on anyone else.

He admired that. He admired that she could go through something so horrible and come out like she had. She may not currently believe it, but she was the strongest person he knew. And he was grateful that she’d trusted him enough to tell him all that. It just made their bond even stronger knowing that he was the only person she’d ever trusted enough to divulge that to.

Just like he couldn’t forget what she’d told him last night, he couldn’t forget how she’d felt in his arms. He was stunned when she’d asked him to hold her while she fell asleep, but he didn’t mind. In fact, he found he enjoyed it far more than he should have. He’d held her long after she’d fallen asleep, unwilling to let her go. It was probably the only chance he was going to have to do that, and he hadn’t wanted to let go.

Obviously at some point he had, because she was no longer lying next to him. He wondered where she was and got out of bed. He walked out of the bedroom and felt a breeze. He noticed that she was sitting out on the balcony and had left the door open. He walked towards her and saw her looking out over the lake with a cup of coffee in her hands.

“Morning,” he greeted her. She jumped a little at the sound of his voice. He expected her to look disheveled and exhausted, but when she turned to him she had a large smile on her face and her eyes had never been so alive.

“Morning,” she returned.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, taking the seat next to her.

“Great. That was the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had,” she told him. He looked at her in surprise and disbelief. Was that possible?

“Seriously?” he questioned skeptically.

“You wouldn’t believe how much better I feel after getting all of that out. It no longer weighs on my shoulders, ya know?” He nodded, but remained surprised.

Misty was one of a kind. No one in their right mind could relive those kinds of things for the first time and wake up the next morning feeling ‘great.’ He considered calling her bluff, but he knew just by the look in her eyes that she was telling the truth. He smiled back at her when he realized that without knowing it, he may very well have helped her overcome something no one else could.

“So what’s the plan for today?” he asked. She shrugged.

“We should go to my parents for a bit. I’ve gotta get Bauer anyway. We can figure it out from there,” she suggested. He agreed and they took turns showering and getting ready.

When they were both set to go he started to drive to her parents’ house. Partway there she told him to take a detour. He did as she asked and found himself driving into a school parking lot. She showed him the elementary, middle, and high school she had gone to, which were all located on the same campus. Then she showed him the fields where she’d played softball and the track where she’d ran.

It was nice to see where she’d spent all her younger years and he laughed at some of the stories she told. He’d parked and they’d gotten out to walk around a bit. She jokingly started running the bases on her old softball field. He couldn’t believe his eyes when she slid into home. She got up laughing, and he was laughing at her.

He couldn’t help but think again how amazed he was with her bounce back after last night. This was the same old Misty only he felt something different. He’d never noticed it before, but now that he knew about her past he could blatantly see it. Now she was carefree. This was truly who Misty really was.

They got back into the car and finished the trip to her parents’. When they pulled up her mom opened the door and Bauer came bounding down the front steps. He jumped up on Misty and she knelt down to pet him. Then they made their way inside where they had lunch and hung out for a bit.

Then her mother told them about the county fair. Misty’s eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face at the news. She practically jumped up from her seat on the couch and jumped around the living room in excitement. Then she looked at him and told him he was in for a cultural experience. After getting her parents to agree on babysitting Bauer another night, which wasn’t hard to do, they were back in the car and she was giving him directions.

We pulled into the large field that served as a parking lot for the fair. Sidney parked the car where the attendant motioned for us to and we got out. I watched where I was stepping out, but I didn’t warn Sidney in time. The groan told me I was too late to warn him about the puddles in the field. Even if it hadn’t rained in weeks, there always seemed to be puddles in the tire tracks left in the field.

We walked up to the front gate and paid our admission before walking in. I grinned as I looked around at the people at the fair. We were in the country here. While my hometown was decently populated, you didn’t have to go far to reach farm country. Here we were standing right in the middle of it.

I led Sidney in the direction of the barns where we walked through looking at the prize winning cows farmers were showing off. I’m not sure Sidney had ever seen anything like that before in his life and I simply laughed at the expression on his face. After looking at the cows we moved on the horses, then to the pigs, and finally to the chickens.

“You’re kidding me with this, right?” he asked as we looked at the roosters and geese wandering around the barn.

“You think this is bad?” I led him away from the barns to the arena for the tractor pull. He covered his face with his hands and sighed.

“Where have you brought me?” he asked, a hint of a smile playing on his lips.

“I told you that you were in for a cultural experience. Come on, it’s fun!” I exclaimed, linking my arm with his and pulling him to where all the food was.

We walked through the building housing all the homemade maple syrup and similar products, testing samples and buying maple candy. Usually I didn’t like maple anything very much, but for some reason when you got it at the county fair it tasted like heaven. After we were through with that we grabbed some corn dogs and sat and watched the pig races.

We jokingly bet with each other which pig would win the race and cheer them on. I’m not exactly sure how Sidney picked his favorites, but I simply went with which pig in the heat was the cutest. After we had our fill of the racing we made our way back to where the food was. We had a little time to kill before they opened the amusement rides so I sat down at a table.

“I can’t believe you convinced me to come here,” Sidney joked. I gave him a light slap on the arm.

“You’re having a blast. Admit it,” I pressed.

“Never,” he said defiantly. Then I spotted my favorite part of the fair.

“Pickles on a stick! You have to get us pickles on a stick!” I exclaimed pointing over to the stand.

“Pickles on a stick? Really, Misty?” I gave him an annoyed look and he put his hands up in surrender. “You are a human garbage disposal.” Then he walked over to the stand to get us pickles on a stick. There was a line, so I knew he’d be a few minutes.

“Now what’s a pretty girl like you doing sitting by yourself?” a male voice asked. I looked to my left to see a guy standing there smiling down at me. He was wearing overalls and a white t-shirt and was a little bit overweight.

“I’m just waiting on some food,” I told him. He sat down across from me at the picnic table. Oh boy.

“I can’t believe anyone would want to leave you by yourself. If you were my girl I’d never let you out of my sight.” I smiled at him and decided to entertain him for a bit.

“I’m sure anyone who could claim to be your girl is lucky,” I responded. His grin grew.

“How would you like to be that lucky lady?” he asked.

“Aw, see, now I don’t even know your name,” I told him. He held his hand out to me.

“I’m Cal,” he introduced himself. I took his hand and shook it.

“I’m Misty.”

“What do you say, Misty. Care to escort me around the fair for a bit?” Before I could respond Sidney appeared with two pickles on a stick.

“I’d love to Cal, but I’m not sure how my boyfriend would feel about that,” I said glancing up at Sidney. Cal looked at Sidney who was now sitting down beside me.

“You’re her boyfriend?” Cal asked, sizing him up. Thankfully Sidney had picked up on what was going on.

“Sidney,” Sidney introduced himself holding his hand out. Cal simply looked at his hand and then back to me.

“Sid, this is Cal,” I introduced them. He gave Cal a wary smile and handed me my pickle on a stick. “Thanks for this, puddinpop.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were spoken for. I’ll let you two be. It was nice to meet you, Misty.” Cal got up and walked away.

“Puddinpop? Misty, what the hell?” he asked with a roll of his eyes.

“You think that’s bad? I’ve got more where that came from. Honeybunny.” Sidney groaned and got up from the table.

“Okay, enough,” he commanded.

“Aw, too soft for ya, Sugarbuns?” I asked.

“Would you stop? It’s embarrassing.” I laughed and took a bite out of my pickle. God, they were good.

“Don’t you want to eat your pickle on a stick, muffinface?” I asked, raising my voice.

“Are you going to do this all night?”

“Not all night. Schnookiekins.”

“I’m walking away now.” He turned from me and started to walk away.

“But, sweetiebear!” I called after him.

“You’re unbelievable!” I shrugged and laughed.

“I’m out. I promise.”

I linked my arm with his and we ate our pickles on sticks as we continued to walk around the fair. Not long after, the rides started going as the sun began to fall. I talked Sidney into going on some of the rides with me. After getting off one I noticed Cal standing there staring at us.

I was a little creeped out, but I wanted him to really think Sid and I were a couple so he’d leave us alone. Our arms were linked like they had been most of the day as I dragged Sidney from place to place and I went up on tip toe to place a kiss on his cheek. Just as I did he turned his head and my lips connected with his.

We were both stunned and pulled away immediately. All thoughts of Cal were gone as my lips tingled from touching Sidney’s. He looked down at me in surprise and I realized I had to explain what had just happened. Even so, it took a moment for my brain to move from thinking about the feel of Sidney’s lips on mine to what I had to say.

“I…I’m sorry…I was just trying to kiss you on the cheek. Cal was watching us. You just turned,” I stuttered out. Sidney nodded but didn’t say anything for a moment. I bit my lip nervously and I watched his gaze move from my eyes to my mouth.

“It’s fine,” he finally said. Desperate to avoid the awkwardness now surrounding us, I made a joke.

“I bet Cal doesn’t believe we’re dating anymore after that,” I said with a nervous laugh. It was true. The second our lips had touched we’d basically repelled away from each other. In response to my half-hearted attempt of a joke Sidney slid his arm around my waist and placed a kiss sweetly on my forehead and smiled.

When we’d had our fill of the rides we made our way back out to the car. We’d managed to move past the accidental kiss quickly and continue to enjoy our night. Now as we were driving home in silence I couldn’t help but think about it. I was reliving it over and over as my stomach flipped and flopped at the memory.

We got back to the hotel and watched some TV before getting into bed for the night. Before falling asleep I noted that we were almost as far away from each other in the bed as we could possibly be. I woke up at some point in the middle of the night to see that that was no longer the case. I was facing Sidney and his arm was around my waist. Our faces were only inches from each other. When had that happened?

The memory of his lips on mine flooded my brain again. His mouth was just a few inches from mine and I wanted so badly to feel it on mine once more, only this time for longer than a fraction of a second. Just as I was thinking I needed to move away from him, he pulled me in tighter. My forehead bumped his and it woke him up.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized when he realized that he’d literally pulled me into him.

“It’s okay,” I assured him. I noticed that he hadn’t let me go.

“Misty, about earlier tonight,” he began.

I waited for him to continue, but he didn’t. He just stared into my eyes. After a moment I was practically squirming from being held onto so tightly by him with his mouth just inches from me and his eyes staring so intently into mine. I’m not sure if it happened because one of us initiated it, or because it just did, but his lips were suddenly on mine.

I half expected him to pull away when he realized what was going on, but he didn’t. Instead he deepened the kiss, and I let him. I wrapped an arm around him as the kiss became more intense. Soon he’d shifted so that I was partially underneath him. I couldn’t think of anything but his touch and how good he tasted.

The kiss became more desperate as we continued and Sidney shifted completely on top of me. His hands made their way down to the hem of my shirt and I shuddered when I felt his fingers trail across my stomach. As I felt him start to lift my shirt off I suddenly panicked.

“Sid, wait,” I whispered. He paused and pulled back a little to look at me. “This doesn’t…I just want-“

“I know. We’re just friends, that’s it,” he said cutting me off.

That wasn’t what I was going to say and to be honest, I was a little hurt. He didn’t have any feelings for me at all. He just wanted to be friends. I’d actually wanted to tell him that I didn’t sleep around and with the exception of that one night on Canada day I’d never slept with anyone I hadn’t been dating.

“Yeah, right. Just friends,” I agreed, holding back what I was really feeling about the meaning behind those words. Even if I hadn’t been exactly ready for a relationship at that exact moment, I would have loved to have known that maybe someday when I was ready something could happen between Sidney and I.

“Do you want to stop?” he asked. I was conflicted. I really really didn’t want to at all. I wanted to feel him, but I didn’t want to screw this friendship up.

“I don’t sleep with people I’m not in a relationship with,” I replied. I wasn’t outright denying him, but God did I want him.

“You’ve always said you have exceptions to your rules,” he whispered.

He was right, I did, and I was going to make this exception. I lifted my head and pressed my lips to his, telling him to continue. If he didn’t have feelings for me, I at least wanted to know what it was like to be with him just this once.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chapter 19

Sidney walked out of the bathroom after washing his hands and made his way through the line of people waiting for their cones. He’d never seen so many people in line for ice cream before. The line wound around a stanchion and was almost out the door.

When he finally got outside he found Misty standing near the bench they’d been sitting on in front of a guy. He noticed that Misty’s body language was completely different from anything he’d ever seen before. Her eyes were cast down at the sidewalk, her body was tense, and her hands were fidgeting like crazy. Something wasn’t right there.

“I guess I just never expected to see you back here,” the guy was saying when Sidney reached them. Misty just shrugged in response, avoiding eye contact with the guy.

“Is everything okay?” Sidney asked Misty, looking warily at the other guy. Her head shot up and he saw something in her eyes he’d never seen before. Fear?

“Why wouldn’t it be?” the guy asked, sizing him up. Sidney had an immediate aversion to this guy. Something told him he wasn’t good news.

“I just wanted to make sure,” Sidney said, putting his hands up in a signal that he didn’t want any trouble.

“You must be the hockey player,” the guy said to him, eyeing him. Sidney took offense to the comment.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Sidney questioned, a hint of anger in his voice. Misty spoke up for the first time then.

“That’s not Mason,” she said, her voice just above a whisper. Okay, what exactly was it about this guy that had Misty acting like this?

“Oh, there’s a new one, huh? Getting passed around the NHL are we now? Did you cheat on the last one too?” the guy spat at her. Sidney didn’t know where this was coming from, but he didn’t like it.

“Hey, I think that’s enough,” he defended Misty.

“Oh, I’m sorry. She hasn’t told you? Misty can’t seem to keep her legs closed,” he accused. Sidney felt rage boiling up in him. It was obvious this guy had dated Misty, and something had happened between them, but that was no excuse. You just didn’t treat girls that way.

“Shut up, Zeke!” Misty suddenly shouted, whipping her head up. After the way Misty had been acting, Sidney was surprised at the outburst. So was Zeke, and he didn’t like it.

“What did you say to me?” he asked. Misty’s head dropped back down, and it looked like she was cowering from him.

“Okay, it’s time to go. Come on, Misty,” Sidney interrupted, putting his arm around Misty and guiding her away from this creep. He could feel her shaking.

“But we’re not done,” Zeke growled, stepping back in front of them, his gaze directly on Misty. He could feel Misty pulling back against his arm, trying to move away from Zeke, but he held her in place.

“I think we are. Get out of the way,” Sidney demanded, clenching his teeth. Zeke’s glare turned to him.

“Sidney, please,” Misty begged in a hushed tone. Sidney watched as a shocked expression followed by a smile crossed Zeke’s face.

“I knew you looked familiar. So Misty’s fucking Sidney Crosby now. Moving up in the world, aren’t we?” Enough was enough. Without responding Sidney tightened his grasp on Misty and dragged her out into the road, through traffic, and crossed the street. “See you around!” he heard Zeke call after them.

Misty moved like she was on autopilot as he guided her up the side streets to his car. She was now clinging to him like she’d collapse to the ground if she let go. Her eyes were cast down to the ground and she seemed to be seeing nothing. He was worried, but he figured the best thing to do was to just get her back to the hotel.

She didn’t say a word the entire car ride back. She just sat motionless as she stared at the dashboard. He was worried. Real worried. He’d never seen her like this. Even the one time he’d seen her cry, well he saw the one tear fall, she hadn’t been catatonic. This guy had done something to her, and he didn’t like it at all.

They pulled up to the hotel and Sidney parked the car. He got out and noticed that Misty hadn’t moved. He walked around to open her door and helped her out of the car. She let him lead her into their room. Once inside she just stopped in the middle of the room. He wasn’t sure what to do. He just wished that she’d do something.

A second later she did. She started to shake as tears began to stream down her face. He rushed over to her and put his arms around her. She buried her head in his shoulder and let the sobs come. He felt her start to slip to the ground. Instead of letting her fall he led her to the bed where she collapsed, pulling him down with her, remaining in his arms.

“It’ll be okay,” he whispered, not really sure if it would or not.

“He tried to kill me,” she announced through tears. He felt his body stiffen in shock. Had he just heard her right?

The moment I’d heard Zeke’s voice, I’d frozen. It had been a few years since I’d seen him and almost as long since I’d heard from him. I knew it had only been that long simply because he had no idea how to find me. There were no mutual friends and I’d completely cut him off long ago. Running into him had been my biggest fear every time I was home, but it hadn’t happened. Not until today.

I only vaguely heard the conversation between Zeke and Sidney on the sidewalk. I was too lost in my fear to follow it. I’d had a momentary burst of courage when I knew Sidney was there, but when Zeke’s eyes glared into mine, I’d lost it. I just needed to get out of there, but I couldn’t make my feet move.

I didn’t even realize I had moved until Sidney helped me into his car. I was too busy reliving all the things Zeke had done to me in our relationship. He’d almost destroyed me. I was almost gone when I’d met Mason. I thought Mason had saved me until I’d later realized he was destroying me too. He’d just done it a whole lot less violently.

My thoughts were interrupted again when I felt Sidney unbuckling my seatbelt. I hadn’t realized he’d already driven away from Lake George and back to the hotel. I let him pull me up to our hotel room. I walked into the middle of the room and heard him closing the door behind me. That was when I realized Zeke couldn’t get me here.

Relief, anger, and anguish flooded through my body and I released them through tears. I didn’t cry often, rather choosing to joke my problems away, but this wasn’t funny. And now I couldn’t make the tears stop. I felt Sidney wrap his arms around me and along with every other emotion I was feeling now, I felt safe.

Sobs escaped my body as I clung to Sidney and I felt my knees go weak, unable to hold me up any longer. Sidney practically carried me over to the bed and I fell to the mattress, bringing him with me. I didn’t want to let go of him. I was afraid to let go of him. I wasn’t ready to have that feeling of safety leave me.

“It’ll be okay,” he whispered as he stroked my hair.

For the first time in my life when I thought of Zeke, I knew it would be. As long as Sidney was in my life, no matter what the capacity, I was going to be okay. I was closer to him than I was with anyone else in my life. I don’t know how that happened or why after only a month and a half I felt that way, but it was there.

I had the burning need to get things out. I’d never told anyone everything about Zeke, not even my family or Mason. It had been too difficult to think about, to relive. I’d kept everything locked inside. For some reason telling Sidney, explaining everything to him, didn’t fill me with dread. It gave me the hope that I could move on.

“He tried to kill me.” I felt Sidney’s body tense as he took in what I said. Just saying that felt like a huge relief.

“What did you say?” he asked a moment later. I pulled away from him and looked at him for the first time. I couldn’t read the expression on his face. I decided instead of just repeating myself that I would start from the beginning.

“Zeke and I met at a party the summer before 11th grade. We started dating. Things were fine for the first few months, but then things slowly started to change. I started hearing stories about him dating other girls. We didn’t go to the same school so I didn’t know what to believe. Each time I confronted him he assured me he wasn’t and had a story to go along with each accusation. The stories came so easily to him that I figured there was no way he could be lying.” I paused after that remembering all those lies and feeling like an idiot for believing them. The tears came again.

“We don’t have to talk about this,” Sidney told me. I shook my head, determined to go on.

“My friends hated him, but I couldn’t understand why. They refused to spend time with him. Pretty soon he’d alienated me from everyone. I just had him and my family, who hated him too. A year into the relationship was when it got really bad. I was fighting with girls I didn’t even know over him. I’d hear Zeke was hooking up with them, and he claimed they wanted him and were trying to break us up by starting rumors. I eventually didn’t even recognize myself. I’d never had an argument with anyone before him, and I was fighting with a dozen girls I’d never even met face to face.

One day when I was at Zeke’s house and he ran to the store I found myself snooping through his things, even though I would never have dreamed of doing that before. I had to know if the stories were true. I found notes, pictures, and internet conversations with all of these girls. When he got home I threw them all at him, screaming, and crying. He pinned me against a wall and bruised my arms. That was the first time he got physical. I was too scared to fight with him. I tried to break up with him later, but he told me he’d kill himself.

I didn’t want to be responsible for that so I stayed. We had another argument after that about where I wanted to go to college. That was the night he really hit me. He elbowed me in the ribs, knocking the wind out of me. Things continued on like that for the rest of the relationship. I was too scared of him to do anything until I went away to college and met Mason. I didn’t tell him everything, but I told him I wasn’t happy. He convinced me to leave Zeke and being a few states away I found the courage to do it.

He began to call and send me messages online and through the mail threatening me. He said he knew where I lived and that when I got home we were going to talk whether I liked it or not. He kept saying that I belonged to him. I just ignored him. Despite what he’d done to me in the past I didn’t think he’d really hurt me.

That summer I was driving home from work late one night when a car came out of nowhere. I was alone on a back road and this car kept flying up onto my bumper before backing off enough to do it again. Then suddenly it flew into the oncoming lane so it was right next to me. Then it veered right at me. I had to hit the brakes and veer off the side of the road to avoid hitting it. I missed slamming head first into a tree by two feet. In the second I’d managed to look over before it happened I saw Zeke in the driver’s seat.”

I stopped there as the fear and memories came back. I began to sob again and Sidney wrapped his arms around me once more. Once again I was crying on his shoulder, letting it all out. I suddenly didn’t care anymore. I just wanted those memories gone and if this was how to get rid of them, it was what I was going to do. I pulled myself together and looked back up at Sidney to finish.

“The rest of the summer I didn’t go anywhere alone. I’d just started to get my old friends back and they wouldn’t let me out of their sight. Mason left school the following year to go pro and asked me to go with him. I know now that I jumped at the chance not because I wanted to go with him but to avoid ever living at home again. All along I thought Mason had saved me from Zeke, but really I went from one trap to another. I left Zeke to escape the abuse and I stayed with Mason to escape Zeke.”

“Jesus, Misty,” Sidney whispered when I finished. He pulled me into another hug, but this time I didn’t cry. Not another tear would ever be shed over Zeke for the rest of my life. “I’m so sorry,” he told me after a moment.

“Don’t be. I did it to myself. At least I can see that. Now I can move on and get myself back.” I looked back at Sidney and forced a small smile on my face. “I’m sorry I dumped all of that on you. I’ve just never told anyone all of that before.”

“I’m glad you did. No one should have to go through that let alone keep it a secret.”

I stood up from the bed and found that after my soul purging I was exhausted. I grabbed a change of clothes and walked into the bathroom to get ready for bed. When I came out Sidney was lying back on the bed, his hands behind his head, dressed in the same shorts he wore to bed the night before, staring up at the ceiling. I got into bed next to him.

“Is there anything I can do?” he asked quietly. There was one thing he could do. I just hoped he would.

“Can you just hold me tonight as I fall asleep?” I saw a flash of something in his eyes that I didn’t recognize. A moment later he nodded.

“I can do that.”

He got under the blankets and pulled me into him. I closed my eyes as I felt new tears forming. This time they didn’t come from pain. In my last waking moments that night I was thankful to have Sidney in my life and savored the feel of his arms around me. With him, I was going to be okay.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chapter 18

I woke up to the sound of a groan mixed in with a giggle. I turned my head to see Bauer standing up on the bed, wagging his tail, and sticking his nose right into Sidney’s face. Sid turned his head only to have Bauer hop over him and stick his nose right into his face again. I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Would you get your dog out of my face?” he growled, still trying to get away. Bauer thought it was a game and kept going back in for more.

I pulled the blankets off of me and got out of bed. When Bauer saw I was up, he jumped off the bed and ran over to me. I pet him for a minute before slipping on a pair of flip flops and strapping his leash onto him. Then I took him outside, which is what I knew he wanted. When he was done I brought him back inside and saw that Sidney was up and standing on the balcony overlooking the lake. I paused for a moment, seeing him standing there in just a pair of shorts, and admired the muscles in his back.

“How does it compare to home?” I asked him, finally joining him out there.

“It’s not bad,” he replied with a smirk. I rolled my eyes at him.

“Let’s get dressed. I’ll show you around a bit before my parents are out of work and we head over there,” I suggested. Sidney agreed and we took turns using the bathroom to shower and get ready.

When we were ready we made our way to Sidney’s car and I gave him the directions to the house where I’d grown up. When we rounded the corner onto my street I could see my parents both sitting outside on the porch reading, like they often did in nice weather. Sidney pulled into the driveway and my parents both looked up. I could see the confused looks on their faces when we pulled in, not recognizing the car.

“Hi guys!” I called out when I opened the passenger door. My parents looked at me in surprise as I let Bauer out of the back.

“Hi,” my mom replied, still looking questioningly at the car. Sidney slowly got out and smiled at my parents.

“Sorry I didn’t tell you guys this, but it was kind of last minute. This is Sidney. Sid, these are my parents, Wade and Ada,” I introduced them. Both of them looked at Sidney in surprise. My dad made the first move, holding his hand out to Sid.

“It’s nice to meet you, Sidney.” My mom followed him doing the same.

“It’s nice to meet you both too. Misty’s talked about you both a lot,” Sidney told them politely.

I wouldn’t necessarily call the introductions awkward, but I could tell that my parents weren't exactly sure how to act around Sidney. They both knew who he was and what he was to hockey. I could see they were both in a little shock that he was standing in their driveway shaking their hands. Thankfully Bauer couldn’t hold himself back any longer and jumped up onto my mom.

“Well, hello, Bauer,” she said laughing and petting him. He wagged his tail for a bit before repeating the same thing with my dad.

I laughed as I saw the interaction between him and my parents. He’d been living with them for a couple months before we’d gone up to Cole Harbour. He obviously missed them. As I was watching him I heard the front door of the house open. I looked up to see Nick walk outside. He smiled at me and then froze in his tracks when he saw Sidney standing next to me.

“Nick, this is Sidney. Sid, that’s my brother Nick.” I tried to hold back my smile and laugh as I watched Nick narrow his eyes at Sidney before making his way down the front steps and over to us.

“Hi,” he mumbled as he shook Sidney’s hand.

“I swear I’m not an asshole,” Sidney replied. That was it. I couldn’t hold back the laugh anymore, and it burst out in a loud guffaw. I doubled over in laughter as my family looked at me like I was crazy. Sidney turned and grinned at me, knowing exactly why I was laughing.

“Um, okay,” Nick responded, looking questioningly between the two of us. I finally composed myself as I rested a hand on Sidney’s shoulder to keep myself propped up.

“I told Sidney you hated him,” I explained. Nick’s eyes opened wide in horror and both of my parents started to laugh.

“No I don’t!” he exclaimed shaking his head.

“Wasn’t it you that just said to me about a month ago that Sidney was an asshole even after I told you he was a nice guy?” I loved embarrassing my brother.

“Misty!” he yelled. I doubled over in laughter again and everyone but Nick joined in. “I hate you.” That only caused me to laugh harder. Nick rolled his eyes at me and crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at me until I was done.

“I’m sorry. Sometimes I just can’t help myself,” I apologized.

The five of us made our way inside and I gave Sidney a tour of the house. He looked into my room and glanced back at me in confusion. I had to explain that when I’d moved out to live with Mason, my parents had given me everything and then turned it into a guest room/office. There was absolutely nothing left in that room that would imply I’d grown up in it for 19 years aside from the walls remaining purple.

My father got to work making dinner for us since in the Wilson family my mom didn’t cook. I talked away with my family like I usually did about everything going on back in Cole Harbour. I’d kept them somewhat up to date, but talking on the phone just wasn’t the same as talking in person to me. Nick finally managed to relax in Sidney’s presence and be himself. If I wasn’t mistaken he seemed to like Sidney.

Dinner ended and Sidney and I hung around for a little bit. As the sun started to fall I decided that I should show Sidney what the night life in my hometown was like. My parents agreed to take Bauer for the night so that we could do what we wanted. We drove back and once again parked off the metered streets.

“Dessert?” I asked Sidney as we walked down the street.

He nodded and I led him into an ice cream shop. There was a line, but I walked right up to the register. Sidney tried to stop me, but I shrugged him off. It was about time I got to be the one with the perks, as small as they may be. I’d worked there in the past. The manager saw me and ran over to talk. I introduced them before putting in the order. We received our cones for free and talked for another minute before walking back outside to eat our ice cream. Oatmeal Cookie Chunk for me of course.

“I’m going to go inside and wash my hands,” Sidney told me when he’d finished. I nodded and left alone I finished my cone and did some people watching.

“Misty, is that you?” a male voice I’d hoped to never hear again asked from behind me.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chapter 17

Sidney pulled up to Misty’s house at 6 am Monday morning like they’d agreed upon. As soon as he’d placed the car into park the front door opened and Bauer tore outside. He got out of the car and smiled at Misty who followed Bauer out the door. Before he could say anything, Bauer jumped up on him. He greeted Bauer before making his way over to Misty.

“Morning,” she said to him chipperly with a smile. He made a face.

“How are you this awake right now?” he grumbled as she practically bounced down the sidewalk to put the bag she was carrying into his car.

“It’s called coffee. Want some?” she offered. He actually considered drinking some of her “coffee” as she called it. He must be tired.

“I’ll just stick with energy drinks, thanks,” he declined. She shrugged and walked back into the house. He followed her in, with Bauer on his tail. “Need help?”

“If you can grab those two bags there, that would be great,” she directed him.

He picked them up and looked inside. One held toys for Bauer and the other held food for him. Misty picked up Bauer’s bed and followed Sidney out to the car. He threw the bags in the trunk while Misty situated the bed in the back seat. She told him to hold on and ran back inside. She was back out in a minute with a travel mug and locked the door behind her.

“Ready?” he asked once they’d gotten into the car.

“A few ground rules first,” she started. He groaned.

“What Misty-isms are we going to deal with now?” he asked, only half joking. If he'd learned anything about her, it was that there was always some rule and it had an exception.

“I’m kind of offended by that!” she exclaimed. The pout on her face made her look hurt, but he could see the twinkle in her eyes that told him she wasn’t.

“I don’t take it back. Continue.” She narrowed her eyes at him before a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.

“Asshole,” she muttered before continuing. “Okay, we only stop when it’s time to get gas. We get food and take bathroom breaks at the same time. No stops between, got it?”

“I can deal with that,” he agreed with a nod. No exception to that rule. He was surprised.

“Also, we split time with the music. Since it’s your car you get two hours of your choice to my one hour. Only exception is if one of us is sleeping. Obviously if your two hours are up, but I’m asleep, you don’t have to put my music in.” There was the exception. He knew it was coming.

“Sounds fair.” She smiled over at him.

“Then let’s hit the road.” He started the car and backed out of her driveway. As he started driving he realized something.

“Hey, where are we stopping for the night?” he asked. Misty nearly choked on a sip of coffee she’d just taken.

“Stopping? Good one,” she said with a giggle. He looked over at her in confusion. Her gaze turned to him and her smile faded. “You’re serious?” He nodded. “We’re not stopping.”

“What do you mean we’re not stopping?” he questioned.

“I’m not sure where I lost you,” she commented.

“It’s a 14 hour drive!” he exclaimed.

“Yeah, but there’s two of us to alternate driving,” she responded. He didn’t respond. Instead he just looked at her like she was crazy. When she saw the look on his face she started to laugh. “Oh, I get it. You don’t want me to drive your car!”

“No, that’s not it,” he argued. He couldn’t even believe himself.

“I’ll have you know, Crosby, that I’m a very good driver. Now we’re not stopping for the night. Either you’re going to have to do the whole trip yourself or you’re going to have to suck it up and let me drive.”

“Fine,” he growled. “If you so much as put a scratch on this car, I’ll-“

“You’ll what?” she asked, cutting him off. “Calm down, it’ll be fine.”

He settled into his seat and shut up about it. There was no sense in worrying about it now. They both fell silent as he drove. His mind wandered to the day before. He’d told his parents what he was doing and his father had lost it. The Stanley Cup was coming the week after they got back and there was still a lot to be done.

His dad told him he was being irresponsible running off for a week with a girl he’d just met when they were starting to prepare for the arrival. Maybe it wasn’t great timing, but he wouldn’t call it irresponsible. His phone was on him if anyone needed to talk to him about anything and his dad knew that.

Even so, he knew that the cup coming to town soon wasn’t why his father was so upset. He was upset over Misty. He simply refused to believe that they were just friends. His dad just couldn’t understand how two people spent so much time together without dating. Just like with everyone else, it was hard to explain.

It had taken about a week for Sidney to find that he and Misty had a lot in common. They’d gotten close fast, and as strange as it was for that to happen to him, it just felt right. They’d only known each other for a month and a half, but he felt like Misty had always been in his life. It hit him as he thought about it. It sounded crazy, but she’d become his best friend.

He glanced over at her and saw that her head was resting back on the seat and her eyes were closed. She had no makeup on, her hair was in some sort of messy ponytail, and she was wearing a pair of lululemon capris and a plain t-shirt. Despite her lack of effort she looked beautiful.

Misty had turned into the person he wanted to call first with good and bad news. When he was bored he went to her. He knew that he’d always be able to tell her everything and he could trust her with it all. It was absolutely crazy but they were connected somehow. He didn’t care what his father said. Misty was in his life and he didn’t want that to end.

“Hey, Sid? I forgot to tell you something,” she said interrupting his thoughts.

Sidney looked over at me with his eyebrows raised. Okay, just tell him. Just get it out there and see how he reacts. There was nothing that could be done about it now. I gave him a small smile before I opened my mouth.

“I kind of didn’t tell my family that you were coming with me,” I told him.

“What?! Why not?” he asked in shock.

“Okay, you have to understand something. I love my family. They’re really great and I wouldn’t trade them in for anything. The thing is my parents have big mouths. If I’d told them you were coming, the whole state of NY would be outside of their house when we pulled into the driveway. It’s not because they’re trying to name drop or anything, they’re just not good at being discreet,” I explained. Sidney didn’t say anything for a moment and I waited for his response.

“Dealing with the whole state of NY after a 14 hour road trip is probably my own personal idea of hell,” he joked. I smiled in relief before remembering there was more.

“Well, I’m glad we have that cleared up. There’s just one more thing.” Sidney gave me another look. “My brother’s kind of a superfan. Not in a bad creepy way, he’s just a really big Rangers fan. The thing is he kind of hates you.”

“He doesn’t even know me!” Sidney exclaimed.

“I know, I know. You should be able to understand. There are plenty of people out there that don’t know you that hate you simply because of rivalries and such. If it makes you feel better, he hates Ovechkin too.” Sidney turned his head and glared at me. “Sorry.”

“You’re lucky we’re too far from Cole Harbour to turn around right now.” I laughed and rolled my eyes.

“Can I ask you something?” I asked a few minutes later. Sidney nodded. “Why did you want to come with me?” Sidney didn’t respond for a moment.

“I told you. I wanted to see where you grew up,” he finally responded.

“Yeah, I know what you said. I just never believed it. Why did you really want to come?”

Sidney pulled off the highway at a service area. I looked at him questioningly and he pointed to the gas gauge. It was almost on empty. How convenient. We both got out of the car and I put Bauer on his leash and let him out. I figured Sidney was going to head straight inside to grab food but he followed me over to the patch of grass I was taking Bauer to.

“I was worried about you traveling so far by yourself. I found a way to make sure you were okay and I took it. I just didn’t like the thought of you being alone and doing this,” he explained. I was surprised by his answer.

“I’ve done this plenty of times by myself. I’m completely capable, you know.”

“I know, but I can’t help it. I worry about people I’m close to.”

He turned and walked away to head inside, leaving me standing there in shock. I felt myself start to smile as I watched him walk further away. My heart felt like it was fluttering as I thought about him worrying about me. He cared. Even if it was just as a friend, he cared about me. I’d take whatever I could get from him, because I knew that my life would never be the same with him in it.

When everything was taken care of we got back on the road. We finally reached home and walked into the hotel we’d booked a room at. It was too late to stop over at my parent’s house, so we decided to do that the next day. Sidney walked inside to check us in as I pulled our stuff out of the car. I smiled over at him when I saw him walk back outside.

“So, there’s a little problem,” he told me. My face fell.

“What happened?” I asked.

“They gave us a room with just a king size bed. I tried to get another room but they’re booked full.”

“That’s okay. King size beds have plenty of room,” I told him, not thinking much of it at the time.

“I can sleep on the couch,” he offered.

“Don’t be ridiculous. We’ll both fit.” It didn’t seem like a big deal to me at all. It was sweet however that he offered to sleep on the couch and let me have the bed. Such a gentleman.

We got inside and unpacked our stuff before settling in for the night. We were both tired from traveling those 14 hours and we just collapsed on the bed. We turned on a random movie on HBO and barely made it through the whole thing. When we crawled under the blankets it was obvious we were both trying to avoid overstepping boundaries. There was a huge gap between us which Bauer took over. At least he’d be a barrier and would make things a little less awkward at night. Sleep took me over quickly and didn’t allow me much time to think about the fact that only a dog separated us in bed.