Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chapter 38

I remained in bed long past the time when Sidney had gotten up to go to practice. It was the first time since I’d been here that I couldn’t muster up any sort of motivation to get up and workout. Usually that was what I did when Sidney was at practice or a morning skate, but not today. Today I just wanted to pull the blankets over my head and cry.

I don’t know what it was about today that was making me so emotional. Nothing in particular had happened, but there were just so many things in the past week that had my emotions on a roller coaster. I pulled the comforter up over my head to hide in the darkness and could only smell Sidney. That wasn’t helping.

Ever since I’d woken up the following morning after I’d seen Sidney talking with that girl, Sabrina he’d called her, I’d been determined to keep my feelings in check. I was only going to see Sidney as my best friend, like he saw me. Unfortunately he was making that incredibly difficult for me.

He’d finally come clean to me about Sabrina. He’d told me that they’d gone on a few dates, but it hadn’t worked out. He told me that he’d continued to sleep with her for a while, but he hadn’t seen or talked to her since before playoffs last season. He told me all of that while he apologized for ignoring me that night at the club and said that he didn’t even realize how long he’d been talking to her. I told him it had never been a big deal and there was no reason to apologize, but internally I couldn’t think about anything but how sincerely upset he sounded and how much I did forgive him.

Despite the fact that I knew he was worn down from all the hockey he’d played over the last two and a half seasons and he wanted nothing more than to just lay around the house all day, he brought me places. He showed me around the city, giving me the best tour he could. Everyday we’d had something new planned, and it wasn’t any of the typical touristy shit. He was showing me the Pittsburgh he knew, the Pittsburgh he’d only show people he was close to.

I also couldn’t ignore all that damn hand holding we’d been doing lately. Every chance he got I felt like he was reaching for my hand. It didn’t stop there either. On multiple occasions he’d even started wrapping his arm around my waist and pulling me into him. It was all the PDA shit that couples did, but we weren’t a couple.

Then just as I started to feel some hope, something always came up to dash it right back down. First, it was the beautiful girl at the coffee shop Sidney knew by name and flirted with. Then it was his heated insistence to the small group of fans that stopped him on the sidewalk that I was just a friend in visiting. It was also the way he kept talking about how good it was going to be to get away from everything he needed a break from when he went home for Christmas…..that I wasn’t going to be present for.

“Still in bed?” I heard him ask, snapping me out of my thoughts. I didn’t have time to respond or even pull the blankets down off of my head before I felt the mattress dip and he was in behind me.

“I’m just feeling really tired today,” I lied as he grabbed me and spun me around to face him.

“Well, that works out, because I could really use a nap,” he replied, placing a soft kiss on my forehead.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention those? Those had become fairly common and were wreaking havoc on my heart. I didn’t want to be feeling this way about him when I thought it was hopeless, but he was making it impossible. He was treating me like he was in love with me, or so I thought. Not even Mason had ever been like this with me.

I lay awake as Sidney fell asleep with my head resting on his chest, one arm wrapped protectively around me, his other across his body so that he could hold the hand I had resting on his stomach. Moments like this gave me hope, made me think that there was a chance. I was careful not to move too much, because I was afraid he’d pull away.

When he did eventually shift it was so he was turned towards me. His mouth ended up mere centimeters from mine. One tiny movement would press our lips together and I debated doing just that, because having them that close and not touching mine was torture. I had an internal debate on whether I should go for it or not when Sidney made my choice for me.

It was like he had unconsciously sensed that my mouth was there, because without opening his eyes he shifted his face forward just enough to press his lips to mine. My breath caught in my throat at the unexpected pressure as I returned the kiss. He stirred awake and when his eyes opened he looked right into mine.

Afraid of his reaction I began to pull my head back. Before I got too far I felt his hand move up from under the blankets to rest lightly on my cheek. His gaze moved from my eyes to my mouth before he returned his lips to mine. I felt like my heart was going to burst from the feeling as he deepened the kiss. He pulled my whole body closer to his and wrapped his arms around me, trapping me against him as our tongues intertwined with each other.

My brain was foggy when we finally broke apart and I could hear that both of our breaths were ragged. I bit my lower lip nervously as he reached up and pushed a stray strand of hair out of my face. I watched his lips part like he was about to say something. Was this it? Was he going to tell me that he had feelings for me? Could he possibly love me as much as I loved him?

“When will you hear back from any of the schools?” That was it? He’d just given me the most earth shattering kiss of my life and then immediately asked about my college search?

“I won’t know anything until the end of March probably,” I replied, pulling myself away from him. He watched me pull back like he was confused on why I was, but I couldn’t help it. I was stung.

“That long? It’s probably hell to wait to hear back.” Really? Really?!

“Yeah, it sucks.” What the fuck?

“Do you think you’ll get accepted into Chatham?” He was bringing up that school again? He’d been talking about it nonstop like he was terrified I’d get in and end up here in the same city as him.

“Why do you keep bringing that fucking school up?!” I questioned as I threw back the blankets and got out of bed. Sidney looked at me like I’d just skinned his puppy or something.

“Hey, come on, Misty. What’s wrong?” he asked. I put my hands out in front of me like I was going to strangle him before letting out a frustrated groan and walking out of the bedroom. I could hear him get out of bed and start to follow me. “Whoa, stop. What did I do?”

“I just don’t understand why you keep bringing Chatham up!” I yelled in frustration.

“Because it’s in the same city I live in!” he yelled back.

“And what, I’d cramp your style if I got in and accepted?!” I turned my back on him and started down the stairs all too aware that this was definitely the first argument we’d ever had.

“I never said that!”

“Well, here’s your chance!” I spun around to him, my arms crossed over my chest, and waited.

“I don’t understand what’s going on. You know very well that wouldn’t be the case,” he argued. I turned and began to walk again.

“Then why are you so concerned about that school and just that school?!” I shot at him.

“Because it would bring you to the same city as me and I’d get to see you more than the two week road trip you'd take to say hi!” he shouted back. I stopped in my tracks and glanced back at him. He really wanted me here?

“Why?” I asked, anger fading from my voice.

“Why what?” he questioned.

“Why do you want me to go to school here?” I thought maybe this was it. If he had feelings for me than I’d just give him the perfect way to tell me.

“Because you’re my best friend,” he answered. I clenched my jaw at the disappointment. That statement at that time made it loud and clear. That was all we were ever going to be. Too defeated to keep arguing I let out a deep breath.

“I’m sorry. I just…..I’m sorry,” I apologized, even though I didn’t know what I was apologizing for. Well, I was apologizing for being in love with him and being upset that he didn’t feel the same way, but I couldn’t tell him that.

“It’s fine. I won’t bring it up again.” I nodded in response. He cracked some joke about us having our first real argument and I laughed even though I had no idea what he’d said. I just felt crushed.

I got dressed and ready for the game while Sidney napped the next afternoon. Vero had offered to let me get ready over there before the game again, but I had declined instead choosing to just walk around and grab a coffee before. I needed some time to clear my head.

Sidney held my hand as he drove and gave me another gentle kiss on the forehead before he walked into the rink and I walked out onto the downtown Pittsburgh sidewalk. I’d considered asking him to stop doing those things, but I couldn’t think of a way to do that without revealing my feelings for him. Instead I sucked it up and dealt with the pain it brought me.

I shivered in the chilly December evening wind, but walked aimlessly anyway. There were already hordes of Pens fans filling the sidewalks and seeing all those Crosby jerseys was certainly not helping me clear my head. I cut my walk short and headed into the coffee shop I’d found on my first day in the city.

I sat down at a table as far from the window I could get and sipped my coffee. I sat and reminded myself of how I’d met Sidney in the first place. I was in Cole Harbour to get control of my life back. I’d gone to figure out who I was and figure out what I wanted out of life. I had to get back in that mindset.

I needed to be independent, to do things for myself. I didn’t want to rely on anyone, especially a guy anymore. I needed to prove to myself that I had what it took to survive on just me. As I sat and remembered all of that I felt the resolve to continue in that process. I didn’t need Sidney to love me to be happy. I would need him to be my friend, but I’d survive and make it on my own without him loving me.

I walked out of the coffee shop close to game time feeling much better about myself and the situation. My head felt clear and I was sure that I was no longer going to be confused or hurt by any mixed signals Sidney might inadvertently give me. I was sure he wasn’t trying to do it, so I wasn’t going to be mad at him.

“Hey, girl!” Vero called out with a wave as I made my way to my seat next to her.

“Evening,” I replied with a smile before glancing down at the ice.

Somehow, someway, Vero knew something had happened. Before long I found myself relaying everything that had happened the day before. She remained quiet, only nodding, as I told her about how Sidney’s been with me, about the kiss, and then about the fight. When I was done the guys were just coming out onto the ice.

“Will you promise not to kill me if I tell you what I think?” she asked.

“I promise,” I said.

“Sidney’s a really reserved person, which I’m sure you know. I also think you know that he has to thoroughly think things through before he does or says things.” I nodded, because I did know all of that. “He’s taking his time. He’s trying to show you how he feels before he tells you. He’s not good with talking about his feelings, so he’s hoping you’ll just know.”

I looked at her in surprise. Vero had just nearly echoed everything Zara and Valerie had said to me all summer. I glanced down at the ice in time to see Sidney skate by. He glanced up into the stands as he did so, and I could see the faintest smile turn up the corner of his mouth as his eyes locked with mine. The moment ended as quickly as it started as he turned his attention back to the ice. I glanced back at Vero who had noticed the moment as well. She just lifted her eyebrows in an ‘I told you so’ way. Part of me knew she was right.

“With everything I’ve gone through with Mason, and before him, I just can’t afford to guess. I can’t believe what you’re saying until he says it. I just can’t,” I confessed. I knew that she could see the pain in my eyes when she put her arm around me.

“You could always say it first,” she suggested. I shook my head at that idea.

“No, I can’t. There’s still a chance that he doesn’t feel like that, as miniscule as it may seem. I’m too afraid to scare him away. I’d rather have him as just a friend than not have him in my life at all.” She nodded her head in understanding and gave me a sympathetic smile as we turned back towards the ice in time to see the opening face off.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Chapter 37

“Are you ever going to wake up?” I heard Sidney whisper into my ear. I stirred at the sound of his voice and cuddled a little more into the arms that were wrapped around me.

“Do I have to?” I whined, my eyes still closed.

“Only if you want to make it to breakfast,” he responded, placing a light kiss on my neck, just below my earlobe. I shivered at the touch. He’d never done that before.

“Fine, I’ll wake up,” I muttered. He laughed as I turned myself so I was facing him.

“You will need to get out of bed to go, you know,” he joked as he unwrapped himself from around me and got out of bed.

“I hate your rules,” I shot back as I watched his naked body walk into the bathroom.

As soon as he was out of sight I cringed. Was I insane? Now why would I think sleeping with Sidney after the club last night was a good idea? Like I needed to confuse myself anymore. In my defense I was drunk, but I also don’t feel like using alcohol as an excuse is okay to do. God, I’m an idiot.

Eventually as I was dancing with Max, and sometimes with Tanger, Sidney made his way over to me. He acted like he hadn’t just ignored me for half the night to flirt with a girl he’s been sleeping with for over a year. I was determined to just treat him like he was a friend and nothing more, and yet I found myself sitting on his lap a little while later. Damn shots.

I didn’t bring up the girl to Sidney figuring he’d bring her up himself. If I was his best friend like he said, it shouldn’t be an issue. I was still waiting for him to bring her up. I wondered if he ever would. I chastised myself as I thought about it. I had no right to be questioning him about anyone. We are not a couple.

I wasn’t even sure how we ended up in bed together last night. Honestly I felt a little used. Was I the new girl? Was I the new version of that girl? I didn’t think Sidney was like that, and I thought I knew him pretty well, but now I wasn’t sure. I was confused. I didn’t know what we were doing.

“So what are you doing about the school search?” Sidney asked me over French toast topped with strawberries.

“I think I’ve narrowed it down to my top 10. I was actually going to start applications today when we got home. I’m still not sure exactly what I’m looking for. I don’t know how I made a decision last time,” I grumbled before popping hash brown into my mouth.

“Are any in Pittsburgh?” he asked. It sounded like a nonchalant question, but he was avoiding my gaze when he asked. Did he want to know because he wanted me here or because he didn’t? Would I be in the way with the other girl?

“Yeah, Chatham University,” I told him. He was quiet for a little while after I told him that.

“How high is it on your list?”

“I’m not really sure. I haven’t really sorted through them that way. I figured I’d just narrow my list to what I have, apply to them all, and see what I get back. I’ll do some research while I wait, but I’ll see about financial aid and all that,” I explained. He nodded and I couldn’t tell if my answer was satisfactory enough for him.

“If you decide on Chatham, you can always stay with me when you go to school,” he offered. I looked up at him pleasantly surprised. He wouldn’t offer to have me live with him if he didn’t want me here, right?

“You want me to live with you? You sure you can handle that?” I asked. He looked up at me and grinned.

“You’re right. I rescind my offer. Find another place,” he joked. I rolled my eyes and threw some hash brown at him. I laughed when it fell into his orange juice.

“You’re an asshole, Crosby.” He laughed with me and then his face became a little more serious.

“I mean it though, Misty. It’d be great to have you around more often.” I felt my cheeks starting to turn red, but I tried to act like his statement hadn’t affected me at all.

“I do spice up your life.”

Sidney glanced over at Misty who was sitting on her laptop typing away. She hadn’t looked up once in the last couple of hours and he knew she was hard at work on applications. She’d told him she’d put them off way too long and it was starting to be deadline time. He didn’t want to bother her so he left her to her work.

He’d been thinking about her going back to school since she’d gotten here. She’d talked about going back, but he hadn’t been sure she was serious about it until today. Now that he knew she was, he desperately wanted her to go to school here. Having Misty around all year long would be amazing.

He typed Chatham University into the search on his laptop. He began to do his own research, looking up where exactly it was. When he found it was close to the rink he smiled to himself. There was a chance Misty could move to Pittsburgh. If that happened then there was a chance she’d move in with him. He’d have to find a way to convince her to go to Chatham.

He thought about the last few days and how he was trying to slowly work his way up to telling her how he felt. The dinner the other night had been a good start. He took her someplace nice, took her for a walk in the park, even held her hand. Even though he’d wanted to kiss her, he hadn’t because he was worried about rejection even now.

Of course last night didn’t really help him in the ‘slowly’ part of his plan. Even though he hadn’t intended on doing anything last night, Misty had made it nearly impossible not to. While they were hanging out at the club she just kept sliding closer and closer to him on the couch until he couldn’t stand not touching her anymore. He wasn’t even sure what possessed him to do it, but he’d eventually dragged her up onto his lap and she hadn’t gotten off.

Doing that was the worst thing he could have possibly done. All willpower he had to just take things slowly had disappeared. Her neck was right in front of him, and he hadn’t been able to keep his mouth off of it last night. She didn’t pull away, and in fact she seemed to enjoy it. By the end of the night they were practically having sex right there at the table and he knew it was time to go then.

They’d barely made it through his front door before they were pulling each other’s clothes off. He was surprised they made it all the way up to his bedroom. A couple of times he thought about stopping them, but every time he opened his mouth to say something he found Misty kissing him. It just felt too good to stop.

Now he was annoyed and frustrated at himself. He had to stop doing that if he wanted her to think he wanted more from their relationship than the occasional wild night. He didn’t want to be sending her mixed signals. While he wasn’t exactly relationship savvy, he knew that mixed signals were not a good thing.

A couple of days later Misty had finished all of her applications and their essays. She’d been working on them almost day and night. Every chance he got he brought up Chatham, usually asking her questions about it. He figured it was like TV advertising. The more he mentioned it, the more it would be in her head, and the better chance he’d have that she’d choose it as long as she got in. Sidney had no doubt she’d get in.

Now they were headed to Diesel…..again. He wasn’t sure he’d ever been there as many times in his life as he’d been with Misty. Before it had always been awkward. Either he was stuck being a third, fifth, who knows what odd numbered wheel with the couples or stuck with the single guys hitting on just about every skirt in the place. Neither was his idea of a good time. Now that he had Misty he fit in with at least one of the groups.

When they walked into the club Sidney immediately began scanning the place. He absolutely did not want to see Sabrina. He’d gone on a couple of dates with her at the beginning of last season and found her to be incredibly annoying. Of course, she’d been hot as well, so he’d still slept with her, but he made sure she knew that was all it was.

He and Misty sat down at a table with their drinks and joined the conversation that was already going on around them. Sidney sat back and watched Misty’s interaction with everyone. She just fit. She was not shy to give any of the guys shit right back when they said anything, and that always won them over. There was nothing more a locker room of guys hated than an uptight girl who couldn’t take a joke.

Misty eventually got up and moved over to the bar. He watched her as she took shot after shot with his teammates and the other girls and laughed at the spectacle they were making of themselves. They were joking around, laughing, dancing, and pouring shots down each other’s throats. She was just like them. Usually that might have annoyed him if he thought she was just there to party, but he knew Misty knew when to turn it off. Not to mention every once in a while she’d glance over at him and smile. That always got him. Misty’s smile got him every time.

“You’re acting like a pussy watching her like that,” Max told him, putting a beer down in front of him.

“I’m not watching her,” Sidney denied. Max snorted out his derisiveness.

“Whatever you say, Captain.”

“I’m just trying to take things slow, okay?” Max nodded.

“How did she take the Sabrina thing?” he asked. Sidney looked over at him in confusion.

“What do you mean ‘the Sabrina thing’?” Sidney questioned. Max gave him a look like he was an idiot.

“You ditched her half the other night to talk to Sabrina,” Max told him. Sidney shook his head defensively.

“No way. I wanted nothing more than to get away from Sabrina,” Sidney said.

“You looked like you were getting ready to take her home.” Sidney looked at Max in shock. Before he had a chance to say anything, Max cut him off. “Just think about how it looked to Misty.”

Sidney sighed as Max walked away and headed back over to the bar. He’d been right, which sucked. Here Sidney had thought he’d been doing well the last few days when really he’d practically destroyed it on the first night. He was such an idiot. He figured Misty had just been quiet the last couple of days because of the college applications, but maybe that hadn’t been all. Maybe it had been Sabrina.

When he and Misty had come last time Sabrina had seen him and taken up his entire night. He made excuse after excuse to get away from her but she just kept talking. He felt bad leaving Misty alone for half the night, but she’d looked like she was having fun hanging out with the girls. He’d nodded and laughed whenever Sabrina said anything to him, but he hardly contributed anything to the conversation. It was only when her friend had gotten sick that she’d finally let him go.

He was going to have to tell Misty about Sabrina and how he wanted nothing to do with her tomorrow. He hadn’t seen Sabrina since before he’d even met Misty this summer, and he had no interest in keeping in contact with her. He’d make that clear. Right now though, he decided to head over to the bar and join in on the fun. Misty wasn’t going to be neglected by him tonight. He’d make sure of that.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Chapter 36

Sorry about the long wait.....again! I just got back from Mexico a couple of days ago and I've been writing like crazy since then. I shouldn't have too many delays between chapters for a while now on any of my stories. Thanks for your patience!

I finished hanging all of the clothes I’d bought in the guest room closet. I looked once more at the sheer volume of stuff I’d purchased thanks to Vero, and shook my head. What the hell was I going to do with all of it? I didn’t know if I’d ever wear it all. Vero had told me it was so I had a wardrobe in Pittsburgh and didn’t have to travel with clothes when I went back and forth, but it was still hard to justify.

I heard the front door open and close and smiled at hearing Sidney return home. My smile faded when I glanced back at the closet. He was going to kill me when he saw how much I spent. I was going to pay him back. It may take a quarter of a century to do it, but I’d pay him back. Footsteps made their way upstairs and a moment later he appeared in the doorway.

“How’d shopping go?” he asked, leaning against the door jamb. Something about how relaxed he appeared while doing that caused my heart to start to race.

“It was shopping,” I replied while cringing. He made his way into the room and glanced into the closet and then over at the dresser, whose drawers were still open revealing everything I’d put into it.

“Was Vero that bad?” he asked, half jokingly. A little surprised at his lack of reaction to the amount of clothes he was looking at, I shook my head.

“No, she was great. I can completely see why you like her so much.” He smiled at me and turned to walk out.

“I was thinking we should go to dinner tonight. Someplace nice. Anything in your new wardrobe that would work?” he questioned. I was taken by surprise. He wanted to take me someplace nice?

“Uh, yeah. I’m covered from lounge wear to super formal I think,” I joked. He laughed.

“Good. I’ll make a call and make reservations.”

I watched as Sidney walked out of the room with a confused look on my face. It wasn’t like we’d never gone out for dinner before. There was just something different about this. We’d never done the whole ‘going out someplace nice’ thing before. It had always been the comfortable ‘wear whatever you want and enjoy trying to talk over the background noise’ kind of place. Those were the places I was comfortable at. Why was he trying to take me someplace nice now?

I immediately began perusing every piece of clothing I’d gotten that day to figure out what to wear. How nice was nice? It required reservations, but maybe only because it was Sidney and he had to be discrete when out in public. Or was it a reservations only kind of place? Was this a nice pair of jeans and a dressy top place or a dress and heels place? I groaned at my lack of understanding.

“Is 8:00 okay for dinner?” Sidney asked when I made my way downstairs and found him sitting in the den.

“Yeah, that’s fine. What should I wear?” I asked. He shrugged.

“Something nice. It’s not too fancy or anything.” Like that helped at all. Guys were so clueless sometimes.

I spent the rest of the afternoon fretting over what the hell to wear and what the hell the meaning behind a ‘nice’ dinner for the two of us was. Did he not know me at all? I eventually decided on a simple black dress that could either be considered dressy or casual depending on how I wore it. I literally brought two different wraps and shoved a pair of flats into my oversized purse just in case.

Sidney pulled up to a restaurant where we had no choice but to valet the car. So it was one of those ‘nice’ restaurants. Glad I’d chosen the heels to wear instead of the flats, I pulled a smaller clutch out of my purse and carried it inside. We were seated immediately in the back of the restaurant in a dark corner where we could have our privacy. This was really feeling more like a date than just two friends going to dinner.

Despite my confusion about the dinner, I ended up having a great time. I learned that the background had nothing to do with how Sidney and I were with each other. We were still talking and laughing like we always did, only we were dressed nicer and eating much better food than normal.

I have to admit, I enjoyed feeling like it really was a date. Throughout the dinner I pretended that he’d asked me to dinner here because he had feelings for me and he was going to confess them over wine and dessert. Maybe it was silly, but I couldn’t quite help myself. Things between us since I’d gotten to Pittsburgh had felt a little different and it was nice to think maybe that was because he felt the same way about me that I felt about him.

Dinner ended and we got into the car to leave. Without any sort of explanation Sidney drove to a different part of the city and parked the car. I looked around without any clue as to where exactly we were. I looked at him cautiously and he just got out of the car, walking around to open the door for me.

“Where are we going now?” I asked.

“I know it’s cold out, but bare with me,” he insisted. I agreed and followed him across the street and to what looked like a park. “I just like to walk here sometimes at night when there aren’t a lot of people around to think.”

It was dark, but not so dark that it was scary. It was at that perfect stage where you didn’t feel like you were in the middle of a city, but you didn’t feel like you were about to be murdered by some cannibalistic redneck either. We just walked side by side in silence for a while and I was happy he was showing me this, something that was obviously a sacred kind of place for him.

He draped his suit jacket over my shoulders at my first shiver and I smiled over at him in thanks. We both continued on wordless as we walked for a while. I looked up at the moon and the stars as we went and it caused my steps to be erratic. I felt my hand graze Sidney’s accidentally and I started to pull it away and apologize when I felt him close his grip on it. He intertwined his fingers with mine and I glanced over at him in surprise. He didn’t look at me, just kept looking up at the sky.

I could feel the butterflies acting up and my heart start to race, but I liked the feeling. I wound my fingers with his and we walked hand in hand down the path. Soon we were back to where we had started, all without ever saying a word to each other. Sidney opened the car door for me and helped me in before getting into the driver’s side and driving home.

“Thank you for tonight,” I told him once we were inside.

“You’re welcome.”

We stood there for a moment looking at each other, almost like we each expected the other to say or do something, but neither of us did. Eventually I made some excuse that I had to get my heels off before my feet fell off. Something about tonight felt different, like we were no longer just friends. I’d felt on edge, nervous, since dinner, and that hadn’t gone away upon returning home.

“I’m glad you came to Pittsburgh,” I heard Sidney say as I took off my heels. I stood up once I had them off and faced him. I hadn’t realized he’d moved closer until that moment when we were literally an arm’s length from each other.

“I’m glad I came too. It was strange not being around you anymore,” I replied. He smiled as he looked right into my eyes.

“I know what you mean.” Once again I found that we were just standing there staring into each other’s eyes. What is going on tonight?

The sound of Sidney’s phone ringing a moment later startled us both. He went on to answer it and I went upstairs to change. My mind was racing with thoughts of the night and what they meant. It was a completely different kind of night than any we’d had before, but I didn’t know what that meant. Sidney was at the door just as I started to put the clothes I’d worn that night away.

“I’m beat and I have to play tomorrow so I’m going to head to bed,” he told me.

“I’ll be right in.” He smiled and nodded before heading into his room. I didn’t find it strange that I was getting into bed with him for the night until he curled up and wrapped an arm around me, pulling me into him. Yeah, things were definitely different between us now, and I kind of liked it.

The next afternoon I followed Sidney out to his car and got in. He was dropping me off at Vero’s before he headed in to the rink. I was just going to get ready over there and head over with her for the game. I was surprised when Sid gave me a kiss on the forehead before I got out of the car. I blushed, wished him luck, and shut the door.

I hadn’t exactly planned on confessing anything to Vero or any of the other girls that night, but they’d sensed something was different with me as we sat watching the game. They began asking questions and I found myself telling them about the night before and how out of character for us it was.

“He’s trying to tell you he likes you,” Heather, Jordan Staal’s girlfriend announced.

“I don’t know,” I started. They all just looked at me like I was an idiot, and maybe I was. I just didn’t want to get my hopes up until he made it clear. Like 'shout it off the mountaintops' clear.

As I sat with the girls after the game waiting for Sidney it was decided that everyone was going to go out again. Everyone was shocked that Sidney actually wanted to go, because usually he had to be dragged out. They all took that as a sign that he wanted to show me a good time because he had feelings for me. It was hard to not get your hopes up when everyone seemed so sure.

Sidney finally came into the room where most of the guys and girls who were going out were waiting with me so we could head over to the club together. As we headed out to the car Sidney grabbed onto my hand once again. When did he suddenly get so into hand holding? I caught sight of Vero and she gave me a wink, an eyebrow wiggle, and a smile. I rolled my eyes in response, but smiled right back at her. Maybe they were right. Maybe Sidney did feel like that about me.

Later that night I walked back over to the table from the bar in Diesel to sit with the rest of the girls. I’d been hanging out and dancing with Sidney on and off through the night, but I’d been with the girls for the last little while and didn’t even know where he was. When I sat down, everyone seemed to shift uncomfortably and wouldn’t meet my eyes. Then I caught sight of their eyes continuing to dart over my right shoulder and then back down at the table.

“What’s going on?” I asked as I finally turned to look over my shoulder. That was when I saw Sidney standing there talking to a girl who was standing very close to him, her hand resting on his arm.

As I looked her over I found myself feeling like I’d been a complete idiot these past two days. She wasn’t flashy or one of those girls that would turn every head in a place. She was just naturally beautiful without actually having to try. Her hair was pulled back in a simple ponytail, and her outfit wasn’t the least bit revealing yet she looked stunningly sexy. She was exactly the kind of girl I would have pictured for Sidney. And right now he was laughing with her, and leaning in close to talk to her.

“It’s not a big deal,” I heard Tyler Kennedy’s girlfriend Kelsey say.

I turned back and shrugged, pretending it wasn’t bothering me at all. I saw Vero give me a skeptical look and then glance down at the drink I’d just gotten. I glanced down too and saw that it was more than half gone. Guess I was already doing a horrible job at pretending I didn’t care.

“Anyone want to dance?” I asked as I stood up.

A few of the girls followed me out to the dance floor. As I danced I found myself continuing to glance over in Sidney’s direction. After a couple of songs, he was still standing there with her, in a corner away from everyone. How long was he going to talk to her? And who was she? I walked over to the bar after finishing my drink and ordered a shot. One shot turned into two, which turned into three.

“You’re taking shots by yourself because…..?” Max asked walking over.

“No one else wanted to,” I lied. He ordered another round and then clinked his shot glass to mine.

“Now someone does,” he said just before we downed it. “Are you okay?” He looked concerned. I forced a smile on my face and nodded.

“Want to dance?” I asked.

“What? Crosby turned you down?” My smile faded.

“He’s busy,” I mumbled. Max looked at me strangely before looking around the club and spotting Sidney still in that corner with that girl. “Who is she?” I tried to make the question nonchalant, but it didn’t work.

“An ex. Well, they only went out a couple times. He was too busy.”

“So they're sleeping together,” I translated.

“That stopped last season.” I nodded and tried to ignore that knife-like stabbing feeling in my stomach. I ordered one last shot for the two of us.

“Now will you dance with me?” I asked when we put the shot glasses down. Max laughed and held out his hand to me, leading me to the dance floor.

As we danced I continued to glance over in Sidney’s direction, just unable to keep my eyes off of them. To the casual observer they looked very much like either a couple, or a guy trying to take a girl home from the bar. I pretended to be having a good time the rest of the night, but instead I was fighting back tears. I’d been so stupid to mistake the night before for anything more than dinner.