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.