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.