Sidney walked back to his car and took a sip of coffee before he got in. He wasn’t sure what had just come over him. Since when did he invite girls he just met to dinner? He shook his head and started the car. He sped out of the parking lot, hardly checking to see if there was any traffic coming.
He had already been running late before Misty ran into him. Now he was big time behind. He’d promised his friend Walker that he’d take him out on the boat all day to get him out of the house. Apparently Walker’s girlfriend Zara was throwing some baby shower at the house for a relative and he needed out. Walker threatened to kill him if he wasn’t there by 10. It was 10:15 and he still had a 10 minute drive ahead of him.
He knew he probably shouldn’t stop for coffee, but he couldn’t help himself. He probably did about 30 over the speed limit getting there. He figured he’d be in and out in less than five minutes and he’d still make it on time. That didn’t work out so well for him.
He’d been pretty pissed when he had coffee dumped on him. He was pissed up until the point when he’d finally looked at the girl who had dumped it on him. He didn’t recognize her, and was sure he’d never seen her before, and yet something about her tugged at him. He forgot about being angry and just concentrated on her.
She had obviously felt terrible about running into him and dumping the coffee on him. The way she scrambled around to help clean him up was kind of cute. It was also cute that she’d offered to buy him his coffee or pay for his dry cleaning. Like he couldn’t afford the five dollars either of those things cost.
By the time that incident had ended he would have been literally right on time or maybe just a couple minutes late at the most. Then he’d walked outside and heard the girl call her dog Bauer. He’d practically stopped in his tracks. It had piqued his curiosity and he had to ask her where she’d gotten the name from. The conversation just kind of took off from there.
Through the whole conversation he couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d felt in the coffee shop. He didn’t know what exactly it was, or why she was making him feel it, but he was sufficiently intrigued. That must have been what made him ask her to dinner. It was also what made him late.
“Shit!” he yelled as he slammed on the brakes. He’d just passed the road to Walker’s house. First Misty made him late, now she was making him miss turns he could follow in his sleep. He pulled a three point turn and pulled into Walker’s driveway a minute later.
“You’re late!” Walked yelled as he threw a bag and cooler into the trunk.
“I know, I’m sorry,” Sidney apologized. Walker got into the passenger seat and looked over at him.
“What happened to you?” he asked looking down at the coffee stain.
“Someone spilled coffee on me this morning at the shop. It’s why I’m late,” Sidney explained.
“I’ll let you live this time then. I swear, if I had to look at anything else that was pastel in color I was going to go on a killing spree.” Sidney cracked a smile and pulled out of the driveway. When they reached his house their other friends Caden and Wesley were already there and standing outside their car.
“I thought you said 10:15?” Caden commented. Sidney groaned.
“I did. I’m obviously late.”
“Well hurry up. I’m hung over from last night and need to crack open a beer,” Wesley chimed in. They all laughed and Sidney ran inside to change and grab his stuff.
They hit the water not long after. Sidney turned off the engine in the middle of the lake and they just drifted and hung out. Sidney nursed the beers while his friends got trashed. He didn’t want to be a drunken mess when he went to dinner with Misty later. At five he started up the boat and drove back to the dock.
“Who wants to piss off Zara and order pizza and wings at my place?” Walker asked. Caden and Wes both agreed.
“Sorry guys, but I’m out. I have dinner plans,” Sidney declined.
“What, mommy and daddy are cooking for you again? Blow ‘em off. You see them all the time,” Caden told him.
“It’s not my parents,” Sidney said.
“What?! Who the hell else would you be grabbing dinner with? Is Pat in?” Wes asked, referring to his agent.
“It’s not Pat. It’s a girl I met today. She’s new to the area and I said I’d show her around a bit. And don’t start,” he warned. They didn’t listen. He was subjected to catcalls and whooping as he tied the boat to the dock and carried his stuff up to his house.
“Have fun on your date!” Walker yelled as he got into Caden’s car.
“It’s not a date!” Sidney yelled back. He shook his head as he watched them pull out and drive away. Then he made his way inside and began to get ready.
I was a little nervous as I got ready for dinner that night. What did one wear to their first dinner with Sidney Crosby? It was ridiculous for me to be worried about it, considering I’d dated a guy who’d spent time in the NHL and I knew better than most that hockey players were just normal guys with a strange career. Even so, it was Sidney Crosby.
I had never been one of those girls that really thought he was attractive. Despite being a hockey fan, I hadn’t paid much attention to him at all. Sure I knew all about the hockey stuff, and the guy had some sick moves, but that was about all I knew. In fact, I’d been one of those people slightly annoyed with all the Sidney Crosby advertising the NHL had done, but I understood the business part of it.
Now I was going to dinner with the guy. Honestly I didn’t know he was from Cole Harbour. I knew he was from Nova Scotia, but it was an enormous surprise to me to see him standing there looking down at the coffee stain on his shirt that I had put there. Never in a thousand years did I think I’d meet him like that. What were the odds?
I went light on the makeup and pulled my hair half up, clipping it in the back. I chose a purple summery dress and a white shawl to wear over it. Even though it had been pretty warm during the day I knew it would be cooling down in a hurry. I slipped on a pair of black flats and made sure Bauer had food and water before leaving.
Because it was a nice night, I decided to walk again. When I walked I could see more of the area and what was around than I could if I drove. I left with plenty of time to get there. I smiled at a group of kids playing street hockey as I passed and waved to the same older couple sitting on their porch that I had seen earlier. It was just before 7 when I walked up to our meeting spot. Just as I was about to check my watch I spotted Sidney walking up from the other direction.
“I like that you’re on time,” I said to him while smiling. He looked up and smiled back.
“I do my best.” We walked to the restaurant that was just down the road. He held the door open for me, which was sweet. I thanked him and walked in. He was greeted by name and we were seated immediately.
“Thanks again for inviting me out even though I ruined your shirt, which I’m still terribly sorry about,” I told him. He laughed.
“It’s really no big deal. Stop apologizing.”
“No more apologizing. Got it. So what do you recommend here?” I asked perusing the menu.
“You can’t go wrong with anything. There’s nothing fancy on the menu, but everything’s really good.”
“I don’t like fancy. I always feel out of place, like I’m going to use the wrong fork and get yelled at. I much prefer this kind of atmosphere where people aren’t too haughty to have a good laugh.” Sidney laughed and I smiled across the table at him.
“Can I get you two something to drink?” the waitress asked coming over to the table.
“Can I get a water, no lemon please?” I asked.
“I’ll have the same,” Sidney told her. She nodded and walked away.
“No lemon for you?” I asked, cocking an eyebrow. Most people always wanted lemon in their water.
“I don’t care either way. Why didn’t you want one?” he returned.
“Citrus fruits are like the devil to me. Except for kiwis. Kiwis are unreal,” I explained. He gave me a strange look but laughed.
“So you don’t like lemonade?”
“Oh, I love lemonade. It just better have a load of sugar in it.” He laughed again. The waitress came back with the waters and asked if we were ready to order.
“Are you ready?” he asked. I nodded.
“Can I get the honey barbecue chicken with a baked potato, nothing on it, and a Caesar salad to start? Thank you.” She wrote down the order and turned to Sidney.
“I’ll have the sirloin with mashed potatoes and a garden salad.” She took the menus and walked away to put in the order. “So where are you from?”
“New York. And if you ask me where in the city I’m from, I’ll hit you,” I joked.
“Okay, no city talk. Why not?” he asked.
“I grew up closer to Canada than New York City. Montreal was only two and a half hours away. New York City was four. People just always hear that I’m from New York and they automatically assume the city. It’s annoying. New York is a big state. Okay, now that I have that off my chest, are you from here or just living here now?” I asked returning the question.
“Born and raised here. I’ve gotta ask, what brought you here?” I sighed wondering how much of the story I wanted to get into.
“I’ve basically had a crappy past few months and needed to get away from everything. I randomly picked a spot on a map and it happened to be here,” I explained. Our salads were dropped off, but we continued talking.
“Kind of a random way to pick a place to move to, don’t you think?”
“I know, but I didn’t exactly have any place in mind. It’s not like I’ve moved here permanently. I’m just here for the summer. I head back home at the beginning of September.”
“Okay, one more question and then I’ll stop quizzing you, I promise. I really want to know the story on your dog’s name.” Oh man, I’d known Sidney for about 20 minutes and he was bringing up the tough subjects.
“I told you. After the equipment company. My ex named him,” I responded.
“Well, yeah, but how did he know about the company?”
“It’s not exactly an underground company. Just because it’s not Reebok doesn’t mean people don’t know it exists,” I snapped at him. I felt bad immediately because he didn’t know, and I took a deep breath to calm myself.
“Sorry,” he said and fell quiet. Thankfully the food came.
“Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you. Trust me, the last thing I want to do is alienate the only person I’ve met here within half an hour of hanging out with them. It’s just kind of a sore subject,” I apologized.
“I didn’t know. I’m sorry. We’ll change the subject,” he suggested. I felt like I owed him a little bit more.
“Ex talk isn’t usually the most fun topic to discuss when you first meet someone anyway, right?” He smiled over at me.
“I guess not. I just couldn’t stop thinking about his name. I’ve heard of a couple people naming their dogs Bauer, but they all played hockey.” I took another deep breath.
“Well, chalk this up as another one. Mason, my ex, plays.” Sidney looked surprised.
“He still plays?” I nodded. “Where?”
“Vancouver,” I told him while avoiding his eyes. I did not want him to think I was some rink rat.
“Mason Raymond?” he questioned. I nodded. He was quiet for a minute.
“Look you’re probably getting the wrong idea right now. I had no idea you lived here or even close to here. I certainly didn’t think you would invite me to dinner, but I wasn’t going to say no. I don’t know anyone here and I would have accepted a dinner request from some hoser who stopped me on the side of the road and asked, okay?” He burst into laughter. “What?”
“Did you seriously just say hoser?” he asked through his laughter.
“Oh, because I’m not Canadian I can’t say hoser?” He just kept laughing and shook his head. I began to laugh too, and I started to feel better.
“Why did you two break up?” he asked when he finished laughing. I took a bite of my chicken before answering.
“We were together for over two years and that’s when he decided to tell me he didn’t want to marry me. Ever.”
“I’m sorry.” I shrugged, trying to blow it off.
“So, what do you do for entertainment around here? Grilling a girl about her ex can’t be it?” I joked trying to lighten the mood. He smiled and laughed again.
The rest of the dinner went well. We stayed off all dating topics and Sidney told me a bit about Cole Harbour after I told him a bit about Saratoga, where I was from. We spent most of the night laughing and talking like we were old friends and not like we’d just met that day. It was nice to have a dinner with a new guy and not have the pressure of it being a date hanging over me.
“Did you walk here?” he asked when we got outside.
“Want a ride home?” he asked. I thought about turning him down, but felt the chill in the air and changed my mind.
“That would be great, thanks,” I accepted. He led me to his car and I froze when I saw it. “This is your car?”
“Yeah. Is something wrong?” I turned to look at him and shook my head.
“You should have your license revoked. You almost ran me over in the crosswalk this morning when I was heading into the coffee shop. Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about dumping coffee all over you,” I said sarcastically.
“I’m sorry. I was running late to meet some friends. I don’t normally drive like that,” he assured me. I gave him a skeptical look.
“Yeah, sure, you say that now that I’m getting in the car with you.” He laughed and I joined in.
He dropped me off and I thanked him before getting out. We exchanged numbers and he said he’d call and show me around Cole Harbour. I walked in the house and saw Bauer peeking his head around the corner from the hallway checking who was walking in the door. When he saw it was me he ran out and jumped up on me. Some guard dog.