Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chapter 44

Sidney escaped the locker room in record time. Usually it took him forever to get out because of all the interviews he had to do, but this time he’d snuck out. He’d probably hear about it when he came in to practice tomorrow, but he didn’t care. Ever since he’d gotten back to Pittsburgh with Misty, he hadn’t wanted to waste any time with her.

He walked through the door of the family room and saw her standing towards the back, a bottle of water in her hand, talking to a group of people. He paused just inside the door to simply look at her before she noticed him. He’d been doing that a lot lately, every chance he had. He couldn’t help himself. She was beautiful.

“Stop being a creep,” Max chastised him, giving him a hard slap on the back, and drawing everyone’s attention over to him.

“Is it possible for Crosby to be a creep?” Kelsey asked. Sid rolled his eyes at the group before walking over and giving Misty a quick kiss.

“You’re out early,” she commented, what seemed like a perma-smile etched onto her face.

“Yeah, I skipped out on the interviews,” he told her.

“Naughty captain,” Gronk joked.

“So what are we doing? Anything?” Heather asked.

“Something low key please,” Vero begged.

“There’s that bar down the street…..” Flower began.

After everyone agreed, they were on their way. He held Misty’s hand as they drove. It was a short drive, and they were parking after just a few minutes. He’d never been here before, but he knew some of the guys frequented the place when they weren’t looking for an all night blowout. Sidney also knew people were starting to comment on him being out more often, but he didn’t care. Misty had taught him that life was too short not to do the things you wanted.

“So what are you guys doing tomorrow?” TK asked as they sat around a large table in the back, away from the majority of the patrons.

“I actually have a tour at Pitt tomorrow,” Misty replied. Sidney smiled at just the thought of Misty going there. As long as they accepted her, she was going to be here in Pittsburgh with him all next year.

“Ooh, I want to go!” Vero exclaimed. Misty laughed and shrugged.

“Sure, the more the merrier,” she said.

Before he knew it, Flower and Vero, Gronk and Heather, and Max were all saying they wanted to go. Then they turned their attention on him. He hadn’t said anything about going, and now he was squirming slightly in his seat. He hadn’t planned on touring the college with Misty.

“I’m not sure it’s a good idea if I go…..” he started. He could see the hurt in Misty’s eyes, but he couldn’t help it. “It’s just that…..if I go then everyone will know about us and since we really just got together, I’m not sure I want to subject you to that.”

“I understand,” she told him with a reassuring smile, placing her hand over his. Even though he knew she meant it, he still felt like shit about it.

“That’s okay. I can be your date!” Max volunteered. Misty laughed as she turned her attention on him.

“I’m not sure this is the kind of thing you need a date for, Mujo,” she told him, using the nickname she’d given him, shortening the word mujeriego to mujo. Misty had later found out that mujo meant impermanence in Buddhism, which also seemed to fit Max’s lifestyle.

“So you’re saying I can’t go?” Max pouted. She rolled her eyes at him before giving him a light slap on the shoulder.

“Of course you can come.” The rest of the night went by with the whole party having fun, except for him. He felt guilty, and like he was letting Misty down somehow.

“I want to go, I just don’t want you to be harassed by the media and everyone else when they find out about us. Not yet,” he said to her when she got into the car. She leaned over and placed a kiss on his forehead.

“It’s okay, I promise. I don’t like having to be a secret, but I’m not exactly clamoring for the attention either. Whatever you decide is okay with me.” God, how had he gotten so lucky?

I pulled on my jacket and then my boots, preparing for the trek around Pitt’s campus. I grabbed my mittens, and then placed my toque on my head before grabbing my purse, and keys to Sid’s house. Just as I opened the door to hop into Marc’s car when they pulled into the driveway, I felt a hand on mine.

“Hold up. I’m coming,” Sidney said, grabbing his jacket and a toque from the closet in the foyer.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked nervously. Did I want to do this?

“I’m sure as long as you are,” he told me. I took a deep breath before nodding.

“Let’s go.”

Marc and Vero gave us both knowing smiles before doing their best to help us relax. In just a short time, there wasn’t going to be any way to deny that we were a couple. We pulled into the parking lot outside the admissions office and found that Jordan, Heather, and Max were already there and waiting for us. I had been confused about why they’d wanted to come at first, but I realized why they were all so eager. None of them had gone to college and they wanted to know what it was really like.

“Hi, my name is Misty Harris, and I had a tour scheduled this afternoon,” I told the woman at the front desk. She stared past me at the group I was with for a few seconds before nodding and making a phone call, announcing that I was there.

“Misty, hi, my name is Lawrence, and I’m going to be your tour guide today,” a guy said walking out and greeting me. He glanced up at the group I was with and his smile faltered. He obviously knew who they were and hadn’t been expecting to come face to face with a few of the Penguins today.

I introduced him to everyone, and explained that they’d just wanted to come along on the tour and see what the campus looked like. It took a few minutes, but eventually Lawrence settled in to his routine. He led us around campus, taking us through tours of a few of the buildings, showing us the library, and the dining hall. Then it was time for the dorm. I doubted I would ever live in a dorm again, but I followed along. It didn’t hit me until we were inside that maybe walking into the dorm wasn’t such a good idea.

“Everybody’s staring at us,” Heather whispered over to me, giving me nudge. I’d noticed and while I was feeling uncomfortable, she was smiling and sliding her hand into Jordan’s.

I could hear the whispers of everyone that walked by, and while I couldn’t make out all the words, I could hear the gossip about what the hell some of the Pens were doing in a Pitt dorm. When we stopped at the room that they were showing us I caught sight of a group of students who had obviously been following us as we walked. I never should have let Sidney come with me to this. I should have come alone.

I noticed Sidney’s body language had changed, and I knew he was questioning his decision to come along as well. He was doing his best to hide between Marc and Jordan as we stood in the room and Lawrence explained life in the dorms. I could see him pulling his hat further over his face when I noticed a flash that could only have come from a camera. I felt sick about it all.

Lawrence finished talking and led us back the way we came and back out the door. Unfortunately word was starting to spread around campus that we were there. It wasn’t a large group, but there were about a dozen students standing around the doorway in the cold January wind waiting for us to exit. As soon as we did cameras began to flash, and the guys were approached.

“Shit,” I mumbled more to myself than anyone else. I should have seen this coming.

“It’s just best to wait it out on the side,” Vero told me, taking hold of my arm and leading me away from the guys and the group that was beginning to surround them.

“I should never have let him come. I shouldn’t have let any of you come,” I said as I watched the guys sign various items and take pictures.

“He wanted to come and see where you hope to go to school to support you. He knew what he might be getting himself into,” Heather assured me. I nodded, but didn’t feel any better about it.

“What are you guys doing here?” I heard a girl ask. I saw Sidney’s eyes dart over to me quickly as he tried to figure out what to say.

“Just an impromptu appearance in the community,” Max spoke up with a grin. For a second I let myself relax, until I realized that more than one person had noticed Sidney’s glance to me. They were now looking over at Heather, Vero, and I.

“Who’s the brunette with Fleury and Staal’s girlfriends?” I heard a girl, who obviously knew way too much about the guys’ significant others, ask a friend.

“Sid keeps looking over there. Is she his girlfriend?” the friend replied.

“God, I hope not.”

Was this what it was going to feel like to be Sidney’s girlfriend? He’d tried to warn me, but I didn’t want to let myself believe it. I didn’t want to think that people would put others under a microscope simply because of who they were dating. I did my best to act like chaos wasn’t raging through me at the moment, and continued to talk with Vero and Heather until they guys were finally done.

The tour ended after that and Lawrence led us back to the admissions office where I thanked him for the tour and for putting up with what happened. As we walked out to the cars I glanced over at Sidney and gave him an apologetic look. He responded with a smile and took my hand into his, placing a kiss on the back of it.

“I’m so sorry,” I apologized.

“It’s not your fault,” he assured me. While I was happy that he wasn’t upset with me, I still didn’t feel great about the situation. Was this trip to campus going to affect anything with him? I hoped not.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chapter 43

I glanced over at Sidney’s sleeping form in the car and smiled. We’d left New York just after my parents had gotten home from work. They’d been surprised to find Sidney sitting in their living room holding their daughter’s hand, but were more than happy to hear the news that we were now together. I’d packed up a bag, packed some stuff for Bauer, refusing to leave him behind this time, and we’d left. We'd spent the first part of the car ride talking over everything, ending any hurt feelings we had left. I pulled off at a rest stop just outside Buffalo to fill up the tank with gas and Sidney woke up as the car slowed.

“Where are we?” he asked groggily.

“Buffalo. We need gas,” I told him. He nodded and got out of the car when I had parked.

We both went inside to use the bathrooms and I took the opportunity to get an energy drink and a snack to keep me occupied while I finished off the drive. Sidney then tried unsuccessfully to convince me to let him finish the drive, but I refused. He hadn’t slept the night before so I wasn’t going to let him get behind the wheel.

“Suck up the fact that I’m driving your car, Crosby, and get some sleep,” I told him as we got back in.

“Have I told you how much I love you yet today?” he asked. I giggled, still relishing those three words like they were my oxygen.

“Only a million times,” I replied.

“Oh. Maybe I should stop then,” he joked.

“Don’t ever stop,” I begged. He leaned over the center console and kissed me, sending lightning bolts shooting through my body.

“That’s not in the plans.” He settled back into his seat and we were back on our way.

It took about half a mile before Sidney was fast asleep again and I focused on the road ahead of me. When I spotted the sign signaling my exit as we pulled into the Pittsburgh area, I let out a sigh of relief. It was about 3 am and I was exhausted. Driving always made me tired, and driving through the middle of the night certainly wasn’t helping.

Finally I pulled into Sidney’s driveway and then into the garage. We got out of the car, letting Bauer out while we grabbed my stuff out of the back. After lugging it all inside, we went straight upstairs and collapsed onto the bed in Sidney’s room. Bauer didn’t join us, obviously sniffing around this new location.

“I’m so tired,” I whined as I lay there, unmoving.

“Thank you for driving,” Sidney said, placing a kiss on my forehead. I turned my head to face him and kissed him.

“You’re welcome.”

Sidney then turned on his side to face me and pulled my body into his before latching his lips onto mine. It still took my breath away, and probably even more so now. It didn’t take long for the kiss to become a little more heated. We may have slept together before, but not since we’d admitted our feelings to each other.

“How tired are you?” Sidney asked breathlessly when we pulled apart.

“I’m wide awake now,” I returned.

His mouth crashed back down onto mine as soon as those words were out of my mouth. He rolled me as we kissed so that he was on top, and I shivered at the feeling of his body covering mine. Every touch of his set my body on fire and it occurred to me that this was what making love felt like. I realized at that moment that I’d never loved Mason. I couldn’t have if I’d never felt like this with him.

“I hope you don’t get sick of hearing this, because I have a lot of making up to do, but I love you,” Sidney whispered to me as we cuddled up together.

“Never. I love you too.” It was late, or early depending on how you looked at it, but Sidney and I fell asleep just short of the sunrise.

Sidney pulled into the parking lot at the same time as both Gronk and Flower. He finished the last of his coffee before getting out of the car. He stood there and waited for the other two to catch up so they could all walk in together.

“What the hell are you doing here so late?” Gronk asked. He was right. Usually Sid was earlier for practice than most guys, but he couldn’t bring himself to let go of Misty until the last minute this morning.

“I decided to stay in bed a little longer today,” he replied, matching his pace with theirs.

“What’s with the goofy smile?” Flower asked, giving him a strange look. Sidney hadn’t realized he was grinning like an idiot, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t sure he’d ever stop smiling like this.

“I’m just in a good mood.”

“You get laid last night or something?” Gronk asked. Sidney rolled his eyes, but didn’t respond.

“It is nice to see you in a good mood again,” Flower told him. They walked the rest of the way to the locker room in silence, but the silence didn’t last long. Max was on him the second the door opened.

“How’d it go?” Talbot asked. It only took a second for him to see the look on Sidney’s face to make up his mind. “You fucking got her!”

“What’s he talking about?” Flower questioned as Max slapped Sidney on the back.

“The guy manned up and went and got his girl!” Talbot announced.

“You did get laid!” Gronk exclaimed.

“Yeah, I told Misty,” Sidney confirmed.

“What’d she say?” Flower wondered. He couldn't help but beam at his teammates.

“She came back here with me.”

The three of them, along with the other guys who had overheard the exchange all congratulated him. It felt good. Things finally felt right again. The girl he was in love with loved him back and she was here in the same city as him. At the moment, things could not be any better.

I sat in my seat at the rink staring out at the empty ice. I’d come to the rink for the game with Sidney, so I was super early. Even so, I didn’t mind. I’d brought a book to read to kill time before gates opened and people began to show up, but I hadn’t so much as reached for it. Instead I took the opportunity to just look out over the empty arena.

I’d always loved the smell of an empty rink when the ice was fresh. People who had never experienced that would think I was crazy, but there was something magical about that smell. Now though I realized that the smell of the ice in this place was something even more special. I’d be sad when the smells of the food cooking at the concession stands wafted their way down to me.

The gates opened not much later and I watched as people began to filter in to both their seats and to concessions. Once they had arrived and the music started playing, the moment was over and I pulled out my book to read until the girls arrived. I hadn’t talked to any of them yet even though I’d received about a million messages from them. Obviously they knew what was going on. That was confirmed to me when I heard a squeal come from behind me.

“You’re back!” Vero’s voice called out as she practically ran down the stairs to get to me. Heather and Kelsey were hot on her heels. I stood up to accept the hugs they all gave me.

“I’m back,” I repeated.

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell us you were back!” Heather exclaimed. I shrugged.

“Sorry guys. I was a little busy.”

“Sure you were,” Kelsey cracked and we all laughed.

“So, what happened? Tell us everything!” Vero demanded once they’d all sat down around me. And I did.

When the game that night was over I made my way down to the family room with the girls. It seemed that everyone was dying to hear about Sidney and I, and I spent the whole night laughing along with them. I was in a great mood, and happy that I had all of these people to share that with.

“Come here, you big softie,” Vero said to Sidney when he walked into the room to get me. She gave him a hug as he laughed and thanked her. Then he walked over to me and gave me a kiss, which caused the room to yell over at us.

“You should come out with us tonight to celebrate,” Heather suggested. Sidney turned to look at me to see what I thought.

“That’s sweet, thanks, but I think I just want to stay in tonight,” I told them. Sidney smiled down at me and kissed me again.

“Would you two get a room?” Tyler Kennedy joked as he walked into the room to get Kelsey. I didn’t care. I was happy and in love. Nothing was going to bring me down tonight.