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.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Chapter 16

“Pay up!” Wesley called out. I turned my head to look over at the four guys playing poker.

“Keep it down over there!” Zara yelled over to them.

“Oh, sorry. We didn’t mean to interrupt your tanning, Princess,” Caden joked. The group was out on Sidney’s boat. We were just floating around the lake on a beautiful day. Zara and I were stretched out on the back taking in the sun while the guys played poker.

“What is it with boys and poker?” Zara groaned as I flipped over onto my stomach.

“I have no idea, but it’s obnoxious,” I replied. We both laughed at their expense.

“We should do this again next weekend if the weather’s nice,” Zara suggested.

“Oh, I’d love to but I think I’m heading home for the week.”

“What for?” Walker asked, interrupting our conversation.

“It’s my best friend’s birthday,” I explained.

“Isn’t that a bit of a hike?” Sidney threw in.

“Like a 16 hour drive or so.”

“What is wrong with you?! Just fly!” Wesley exclaimed.

“I don’t want to do that to Bauer. He’s never flown and he’s scared of everything. He’d be traumatized. It’s no big deal, really. Hardly my first road trip.”

The conversation changed after that. The guys went back to their poker game and Zara and I got back to tanning. When the sun started to fall we headed back to Sidney’s. Zara and I grabbed drinks while the guys started up the grill and argued over who could cook a steak better. Getting annoyed, Zara and I grabbed the steaks and tossed them on the grill while the guys were still arguing.

“What the hell?!” Caden called out, looking at the steaks on the grill in horror.

“You’re going to ruin them!” Walker agreed.

“Then someone just cook the damn steaks! I’m hungry and you were all acting like 5 year olds,” Zara demanded.

Sidney claimed the grill pulling out the home field advantage card. Happy that someone had finally taken control, Zara and I went inside to make up a bowl of salad. I found a mixture of vegetables in Sidney’s refrigerator and sliced them up before covering them in oil and a garlic herb seasoning. Then I brought them out in a grill basket and ordered Sidney to grill those too.

“She’s ordering you around like you’re married,” I heard Wesley joke as I walked back into the house.

“Fuck off,” was Sidney’s reply. I laughed to myself before heading back into the house.

When the food was done we sat around the table talking, laughing, and eating. Once it was done Zara and I cleaned up while the guys sat on their asses like they’d had a rough day. Just as we were finishing, a few more people showed up. Apparently we were hanging out at Sidney’s for the night.

It turned into a small party not long after. Drinks were flowing, card games were being played, and drunken conversations were being had. I’d spent most of the night talking with Zara and Valerie, who had come over not long after dinner. As we sat around a fire that had been started we looked up to see Callie walk around the house.

“Who invited her?” Valerie asked.

“Looks like your competition’s here,” Zara said looking at me. I gave her an annoyed look.

“I’m sorry, why are we competing?” I questioned.

“She’s still hung up on Sidney,” Valerie replied.

“Still not understanding,” I told them. They looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Was my crush that obvious?

“Come on, Misty. We know you like Sid,” Zara prodded. I groaned and stood up.

“Is he cute? Yes, and there are plenty of cute guys out there I can appreciate. Do I want to date him? No. I need a drink.”

I walked away from them and into the house to grab something strong. I hated having that conversation with them. No matter what I said, they were still dead set on the fact that Sidney and I belonged together. We were just friends and that’s where it was going to stay.

As I poured myself a drink I saw Callie walk into the house. She was looking just as slutty as she always did. While I’d heard plenty about her, I’d never talked to her before and I wasn’t really looking forward to being alone in the house with her right now. When she saw me pouring a drink she smiled over at me.

“Hi, we haven’t met. I’m Callie,” she said a little too sweetly. I had a feeling the smile on her face was as fake as could be.

“Misty,” I returned as I put the cap back on the bottle of Captain. I grabbed a diet pepsi and didn’t offer up any more to the conversation. I watched Callie grab a beer out of the corner of my eye and pop the top off before taking a sip.

“You and Sid have been spending a lot of time together this summer,” she started. I smiled over at her and shrugged.

“I guess. I don’t really know a lot of people here,” I offered, starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the direction this conversation looked to be headed.

“I heard about your ex being a hockey player. Decided to trade up to a superstar?” she asked.

“Excuse me? Sidney and I are just friends, that’s it. I’m not looking to trade up or down right now, thank you.” I was annoyed and went to walk out of the house suddenly dying to talk to Zara and Valerie about my possible feelings for Sidney. Unfortunately Callie blocked my way.

“He’s mine. We belong together.” I rolled my eyes at her.

“Good luck convincing him of that.” I started to try to push past Callie but she stepped in front of me again.

“I don’t like you and I don’t like that you’re around. If you try to take him from me, I’ll end you.”

Her eyes were narrowed on me in an attempt to look menacing, but I felt myself start to laugh. I was pretty small in stature, but it was obvious that I was stronger than Callie. I practically lived at the gym and it showed in my body. It looked like Callie was skin and bones. I’d kick her ass if she ever tried to “end me.”

“If you don’t get out of my way right now, you won’t have to wait to try.”

I’d never fought anyone and I certainly wasn’t looking to get in my first one right now, but I was a little drunk and didn’t like being threatened. Callie didn’t move but I saw a flicker of fear in her face. I smiled at her. She knew she was in over her head with me. I continued to glare at her, giving her time to back down and let me by.

“Hey, Misty, can you make me that drink you concocted for me at your place with the pomegranate?” Sidney’s voice called out interrupting our staring contest. Callie looked over at him and then back at me before storming out of the house.

When Sidney heard Misty say that she was going home for the week, he was surprised. She hadn’t mentioned it before. Then when she said she was driving, he wasn’t happy. He was worried. She’d be by herself on the road for 16 hours and a lot could happen. There wasn’t anything he could do about it right now, but he was going to come up with a solution.

“She’s ordering you around like you’re married,” Caden joked when Misty had handed him a grill basket of mixed vegetables and told him to grill them.

“Fuck off,” he replied, not wanting to hear it.

“So when are you going to man up and make a move?” Walker asked. Sidney groaned and flipped the steaks.

“Not going to happen,” he told them.

“Why not? She hot, she’s funny, she could care less that you’re Sidney Crosby, we like her, and you like her. What’s stopping you?” Wesley questioned.

“The fact that we’re just friends is what’s stopping me. It’s just not like that with us,” he argued. He was sick of having this conversation with the guys.

“Come on. You’re telling me that you two haven’t hooked up since Canada Day?” Caden asked.

“No, we haven’t.” Sidney started to get annoyed and suddenly wished he hadn’t pulled the home field card to make sure he was the one grilling so he could get away from them right now.

“But you two could-" Walker started.

“Steaks are done!” Sidney interrupted, extremely grateful. He pulled them off the grill and brought the steaks inside, ending the conversation.

When dinner was over the guys made a few calls and people started coming over. Sidney didn’t mind at all. They were all his friends and he much preferred to stay in than go out. They built a fire in the backyard and made their way out there for the night. In the middle of a conversation with the guys, Zara ran over to him.

“Sidney, you need to get inside now!” she yelled out. He immediately turned toward the house.

“Why?” he asked.

Then he spotted them. Callie and Misty were the only two in the house and neither looked very happy. Callie had her arms over her chest and was glaring at Misty. Misty had a drink in her hand and looked ready to dump it over Callie’s head. Nothing good could be coming from this. Who the hell had invited Callie anyway?

“Hey, Misty, can you make me that drink you concocted for me at your place with the pomegranate?” he asked walking into the house. Callie looked between him and Misty before storming out of the house.

“Thank you,” Misty thanked him.

“What was that about?” he asked. Misty sighed and took a sip of her drink.

“Apparently you belong with Callie and she doesn’t like that I’m around. She thinks I’m a threat which is ridiculous of course,” Misty explained. Sidney felt disappointment at the last statement. She thought the two of them together would be ridiculous. He tried to hide the disappointment and laughed at the first part.

“I belong with Callie? That’s good for a few laughs.” Misty laughed with him about it and headed for the door.

“You picked a crazy one, Sid,” she joked.

“I’ll come home with you.” What? Where had that come from? Misty spun around to look at him in surprise.

“What are you talking about?” she asked.

“When you go home I’ll go with you. That way you don’t have to travel so far by yourself,” he offered.

He had no idea where that idea had come from or why it had popped into his mind at that time, but it had, and now he liked the idea. He could make sure nothing happened to her on the drive if he was with her. Now she just had to agree.

“You don’t have to do that. I’ve driven that far alone before.” He shrugged.

“It’s fine, really. You’ve seen where I grew up. I think it would be kind of fun to see where you grew up.” Misty thought about it for a minute and nodded with a smile.

“I guess if you want, it’s fine. I want to leave Monday. I hope that’s okay with you.”

“Sounds good.” He followed her back outside with a smile on his face.