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.
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.