Meet me at the rink, after lights out. Zamboni entrance. Don't be late. J
It was a simple request, on paper. Not so simple to actually accomplish, hall monitors and all manner of snitches weren't the worst obstacles to worry about. There was also the cold. But I knew he'd be there, I knew it in my bones. So I folded the note and left it in my desk, the desk he'd be sitting in during the very next class.
"Hello in there? Anyone home?" Lindsey, my work mate, snaps her fingers in front of my face to drag me out of the dream world that I've been inhabiting for the last few minutes. I blink my eyes and come back to reality, against my will, and try and paint a smile on my face.
"Sorry just...day dreaming," I explain, going back to folding t-shirts and hoping she'll go back to helping customers and leave me to my dreams.
"What in the hell is with you today?" she asks, running her fingers through her short blonde hair and readjusting her be-jewelled horn rimmed glasses.
"I know," a voice comes from behind us where the bell above the door is tinkling merrily, reminding us all that it's almost Christmas. "And who loves me the most?" I turn to smile at Carmen, my best friend, who's holding a garment bag in front of her like it's some kind of amazing present, and with her, it just might be.
"I do?" I ask, putting down the t-shirt in front of me and watching her curiously as she swans into the store, flipping her long jet black hair back over her shoulders, her high heeled black leather boots clicking on the hardwood floor, the hem of her black leather duster swirling around her ankles.
"You better," she grins, her blood red lips parting in a toothy grin that makes me shudder. She only smiles that big when she's planning something, and the twinkle in her dark eyes makes me worry it's something to do with me, and it's going to be something that's going to get me in trouble.
"So why do I love you?" I ask, as she lays the garment bag down over the counter by the register and begins peeling off her matching black leather driving gloves and slides out of her duster, draping it over the counter too.
"Guess who found out where they're staying tonight?" she asks, wiggling her perfectly tweezed eyebrows at me from behind her designer lenses.
"Oh...oh my god," I whisper, feeling my heart swell against my ribs, along with the light headed spinning of on oncoming panic attack.
"Not only that," she grins, grabbing me by my shoulders and making me look up at her because she's already five eleven and those heels put her over six feet making her tower over my five seven frame, "but I found out that while most of them are heading out for lunch after practice, they'll be a couple going straight back to the hotel, and would you like to place a small wager on just who those players might be?"
"Does someone want to explain to me what you two are talking about?" Lindsey pouts, looking from me to Carmen and back again while I stand there gasping for breath, trying to keep the impending panic attack at bay.
"Maybe someday, when you're older," Carmen waves her hand at Lindsey, effectively shooing her out of hearing range. I watch my younger employee heading off to help a client and part of me knows I'm not being a very good boss right now, I'm not one to keep secrets, but then Carmen gives me another shake. "You with me J-girl? Cuz if this is going to happen, we've got to move."
"I...oh my god," I don't seem to be able to make full sentences, in fact, I don't seem to be able to think full stop. I just stand there, staring up at my taller, more glamorous friend, trying to wrap my brain around what she's trying to tell me.
"Okay chickadee, here's what we're going to do. You're going to come with me, get your hair cut, get those bangs of yours out of your eyes, put some more make up on, get waxed, and tweezed and plucked and then we're going to the Four Seasons and you are going up there with his afternoon snack and you're going to either get closure on your little summer romance, or your going to get laid. So get your coat, and come with Aunty Carmen." She pushes my mouth closed with her long blood red fingernail and points to the back room where I keep my purse and coat.
I watch the frost covered streets pass by with the people bundled up in their winter coats as our bus trundles along the street towards the rink, and I keep thinking to myself, here...she lives somewhere near here. Or at least she might, if she hasn't gone away somewhere, maybe back east, to go to college. Because that's what girls her age do. They're busy going to college, getting a degree, working towards the rest of their lives. Most kids our age are doing that, or working a job, learning a trade. I suppose that's what I'm doing too, but most people wouldn't see it that way, wouldn't see what I'm doing as learning anything. They'd just see me as a spoiled millionaire kid, maybe a nice respectable kid, maybe not. I guess it really depends if they like hockey or not.
I watch a dark haired girl walking along the streets with a group of other girls talking animatedly, their hands moving, their faces rosy from the cold, and I think to myself one of those girls could be her. After all, I don't know that I would automatically recognize her. It's been five years. I know I've changed, I'm sure she has. Sometimes I still feel like that kid though. Sometimes I don't.
That makes me wonder, if she does still live here, did she get tickets to the game? Will she be there, somewhere in the arena, watching me? Or will she be in some little apartment or maybe in dorms or maybe still at home with her folks, watching on TV?
I could look her up, but there's not really time, not time for a proper visit. Besides, it's been five years, she's probably got a boyfriend and a life of her own that she doesn't need me butting into.
"Hello in there? Is there anyone home?" Army snaps his fingers near my cheek, tearing my attention away from the window and back to him and his story about the female bartender he got a number from last night when we got to the hotel. "So do you think I should have her join me for my afternoon nap?"
"I thought you guys were all going sightseeing or something...to the aquarium or something?" I ask, and despite the fact that I realize that it's just not something I can do, I still feel that little pang of jealousy thinking about them all going out together, without me.
"Yeah, but I mean...there's always later right?" he grins, folding the piece of napkin up again and putting it back in his wallet.
"Yeah, sure," I nod at him, and turn my gaze back to the window, and the passing streets of Vancouver. Is there always later? I wonder if she's thinking about me too? She could be anywhere, doing anything right now. Does she even know that I'm here?
"This is crazy. What if I get caught?" I hiss turning my head in the mirror to check out the French braid the hair dresser has put in my hair. It reminds me of the way my mother used to do my hair for early morning skate, and that makes my eyes fill up.
"Christ woman, get a hold of yourself, you're falling apart," Carmen snaps, her hands on her hips as she oversees the work the nail specialist is doing as she pokes and buffs and generally tortures me. "And don't you dare ruin your make up."
"I know, I know," I sigh, looking down at the French tips and trying to blink away the tears.
"Please tell me that at least when he opens the door you won't just start blubbering and ruin the make up," she sighs, her heels clicking on the tiled floor as she walks over to me, lifting my chin in her hand. "Seriously, it will ruin the whole sex kitten fantasy thing I have planned."
"Yeah," I nod, as much as I can with my chin cupped in her fingers. "I mean, I'll try not to."
"I had no idea it was seriously still this bad," she grumbles as she shakes her head at me. "I mean, after I actually decided to believe you were his first and all," she suddenly grins, rolling her eyes. "I've seen you, you know, wistful, but I've never seen you a total mess like this."
"You didn't know me when he didn't make it here for the Top Prospects game," I sigh, remembering my heart rendering disappointment at not being able to surprise him then.
"Well don't blow this one then babes, cuz this just might be your last chance." I nod, turning my attention back to my fingers while I take a deep, steadying breath. That's a big thought, an overwhelming thought. It's too bad it never occurred to me five years ago in Faribault. Maybe if it had I wouldn't be in this situation.
"Another interview huh?" Army shakes his head and sighs, sitting back down on the bench in the changing room. "I guess that means we're all waiting for you again."
"Yeah, I guess," I shrug, pulling my baseball hat on and glancing over at the media relations staffer who's waiting for me.
"Man you must get bored to tears with this shit," he moans, kicking off his sock and reaching for his trainers. "I know I do."
"Part of the job," I shrug.
"Have you ever noticed, you get all the work and none of the fun parts of being a rock star?" Max laughs, tapping my shins with his stick as he goes by.
"Yeah but he gets paid like a rock star," Army gives me a secretive grin behind Max's back, because I know how much that pisses Max off, I just don't know why.
"Yeah but I'm the one getting laid like a rock star tonight," Ruuts grins over at me as he pulls off his skates and then leans back and closes his eyes. "You babies will be playing video games in your room and I'll be getting my dick wet. Who's your daddy now Siddy?" he laughs, reaching for a towel to rub the perspiration off his face. I slip my feet into my yellow crocs and try and wait out the burning in my cheeks that just appears at the thought of seeing her, if only I had a minute to myself to look her up, maybe I could be having a romantic rendez-vous like Ruuts.
"Don't bail on me now sister," Carmen snarls, pulling the tie on the apron tight and then standing back to look at her handiwork in the mirror. I don't even recognize myself, all done up in this French Maid's costume, plucked, waxed, tweezed and primped within an inch of my life. It doesn't help that we're being stared at by the other maids from the hotel. Their glares making me feel like I want to find a place to run and hide instead of slipping into the heels waiting for me. "You can so do this."
"This is crazy...what if he doesn't want to see me? I mean, what if he's forgotten all about me?" I sigh, fussing with the black ruffle at my cleavage and pulling down on the skirt that barely covers the top of my stockings. "Ugh, this is so ridiculous. How did I let you talk me into this?"
"Of course he'll remember you. Everyone remembers their first time. Besides, the way you tell it, it was love, not just wham bam thank you m'am on the back of a zamboni." I feel my cheeks heat at the mention of that particular part of the story, and I glance back in horror, wondering if those other maids have heard, but gratefully they seem to have made themselves scarce for the moment.
"You don't have to broadcast it," I hiss, turning my attention back to my reflection in the mirror. "I don't recognize my self, he's so not going to recognize me in this. Can't I just wear what I was wearing?" I ask, looking over at her, at her long legs poured into those black leather boots, and her skimpy little red halter dress. "Or something like that even?"
"Because I have an invite up to the rooms," she grins, "but you don't, so this will get you past security. Now...where is that cart?" She glances down at her cell phone and gets a secretive smile on her face. I watch her red nails press the buttons on her phone, obviously texting someone back, and then she grins up at me. "Showtime baby, are you ready?"
"Ready?" I sigh, turning back to stare at my reflection. "God no...I never will be."
"Jeezus, were you always such a chicken shit?" Carmen grumbles, moving over to stand behind me, her hands on my shoulders, looking at me in the mirror. "I thought you used to wear those little skating outfits, wasn't that how you caught the young Sidney's eye in the first place?" I blush again, but nod, which makes her smile broaden. "Well then, this is the sort of...adult version. You'll knock him dead. Now...where is that damn cart? The kid's got to eat some time."
I watch her wander back into the kitchen area through which we've recently come, and I hear her barking orders and am glad she's found someone else to bark at for once. Because at least while she's barking at someone else, I can try and muster up the courage to face him, to face my first love, the boy who used to look at me like I was the best thing in the world, well, maybe aside from hockey. The problem with that is, no other boy or man has ever looked at me that way since, and Carmen's right, I can't move on until I know...
"Have fun," I sigh, grabbing the remote and flopping onto the bed as Army pulls his suit jacket on and heads for the door.
"Why don't you try and come? Seriously? How bad could it be?"
"Another night where my dinner's cold and I get about two bites of it? No thanks," I shake my head and flick through the channels, hoping for a good movie to be on. "Like I said, have fun."
"Okay, but at least I asked," Army laughs, pushing the door open. I hear the other guys talking and laughing in the hallway and grind my teeth. I'd like to go with them, it's so much better than sitting in a hotel room, but the guys deserve to eat their dinner in peace, and that just never seems to happen with me around, in Canada at least. As the door closes, I flick a few more channels by and then toss the remote aside. There's nothing on, and this hotel doesn't seem to have Fox Sports or the NHL channel, but it does have internet. So I grab the wireless keyboard and put it on my lap.
Maybe I can look her up after all, at least give her a call.
And talk about what? Remember how I followed you around like a puppy dog? Remember how you used to having figure skating practice earlier than I had hockey practice and how I used to show up early just to watch you? Remember how I was a stupid kid and you were this graceful gazelle in a tiny little skating costume?
And what would she say to that? Probably something like, yeah...good times, and uh...who are you again? She never did care much for us stinky hockey players. She probably wouldn't like to be reminded of that whole awkward time in her life. I mean, if she'd wanted to we could have stayed in touch...
Who am I kidding? What I should do is order food. Maybe if I eat something I can stop thinking these ridiculous thoughts and dredging up a past that's long dead. I'm what I am now, she's whatever she is now and I'm sure that she wouldn't like me calling her up in the middle of the afternoon for a booty call.
"This is it," Carmen grins as the cart is loaded with chicken and vegetables and bottles of water, and as each item is placed on or in the cart, I feel the knot in my stomach getting bigger. "Good luck." I nod, mutely, because I think right now if I open my mouth, the only sound that will come out is a scream.
I can't believe I'm doing this, even as the staff elevator yawns before me and I push the trolley ahead of me, listening the whoosh of the door closing behind me, I can't believe I'm actually doing this. I'm not a spur of the moment kind of person. I'm a planner. I like to think about things, look at things from every angle. The last time I ever did something this impulsive...yeah, that Zamboni.
Just thinking about that makes my cheeks begin to burn. It was spontaneous and crazy and I still don't know how we didn't get caught, but where else were two fifteen year old kids supposed to go at a Catholic school with separate dorms? Plus, someone had rented that movie "Backdraft", or had we seen it on TV? There wasn't a fire-truck but there was the Zamboni...
What am I doing? He's not going to be that shy awkward kid. He's a man now, and for all I know, he's already got some puck bunny up in that room and I'm just going to embarrass myself showing up at his door expecting he'll have the same tender, romantic memories that I do. I should turn back now, before someone sees me dressed up like something out of a porn film and thinks that I'm either a strip-o-gram or an escort.
The doors whoosh open, revealing an empty hallway, with dozens of numbered doors standing like silent sentinels before me. At least there's no one to see me humiliate myself, and for a moment, a moment long enough to make me push the trolley forward, I'm brave enough or stupid enough to go ahead with this, or at least think it's too late to turn back now. I look down at the room number on top of the menu, and look at the room across from me. Of course, it would be the one closest to the elevator, for security reasons.
I watch my hand shaking as I knock on the door, and then I grip the handle on the trolley just a little too tight, my knuckles blanching as I listen for signs of life behind the white door. For a moment I think my knock was too light, or maybe he's doing something that's more important than waiting for room service, but then I hear the shuffle of stocking feet on a rug and my heart begins to beat so hard against my chest that I suddenly can't breathe.
The door opens, sucking the breath from my lungs as it swings inward, but there's no one there. No one appears at the door. Certainly not the dark haired youth I was expecting. Blinking into the semi darkness, I open my mouth to call out, but then he reappears around the corner, wallet in hand, and my mouth just stays like that, hanging open, with nothing coming out.
He stands there, in the doorway, looking taller than I remembered, maybe by two or three inches. I have to look up at him, but the eyes are the same cafe au lait colour I remember fringed by the same long eyelashes every girl wishes they had. He's thinner. Oh he has the same thick stockiness, but now he's slimmer, leaner. The baby fat has dripped away leaving his cheekbones high and prominent, his face less round and more angular. But those lips...those bubble-gum pink lips are the same, the same soft biteable lips...
"Jennifer?" I blink up him, my cheeks heating immediately when I realize that I've just been staring at him, embarrassed by being caught, but then I realize...he's just said my name.
"Why is that little creep staring at you?" I glance in the direction of Stephanie's glare and shrug.
"I guess he can't believe I can beat him in hockey and then come out here and do a double loop," I glance briefly over at the dark haired boy with the dimples who's been watching me for days now.
"I'm not sure I believe it and I know Mrs. Langley wishes you couldn't. Why do you want to play hockey anyway?"
"I don't," I sigh, turning back to my figures, pushing off and going backwards into a figure eight. "I just wanted to show that I could." Stepping carefully out of the figure, so that I don't ruin the lines, I turn my attention back to the stocky hockey player leaning on his stick, watching me from behind the glass. "I just wanted him to know that I could," I repeat quietly, tearing my gaze away before the heat in my cheeks gets any worse.
She's a bit taller, or that could be the heels she's wearing, but other than that, she's looks just the same. The same Jen that's plagued my day-dreams for the past five years. It must have been the terror in her eyes that tipped me off, reminding me of the way she used to look before she stepped out onto the ice in competition, and I have to bite down on my lip to stop from laughing just thinking about how nervous she used to get. I watch her do the same breathing exercise they used to teach us back at Shattuck-Saint Mary's, and I wait for her to regain her composure, using the time to allow my eyes roam over the frilly little outfit that reminds me of some of those barely there skating costumes she used to wear. On reflection, she's put on a few pounds, but in all the right places. Her curves are more generous, and now I'm the one doing the breathing exercises while she glances nervously up and down the hall.
"You...uh...work here?" I ask, immediately receiving one of her patented icy glares.
"No I don't work here," she snaps, pushing the food trolley into my room and closing the door behind her. "Work as a maid, yeah that's rich," she mutters, giving me wide berth while she stomps into my room, crossing her arms protectively over the cleavage I'd just been staring at. "This was stupid. I can't believe I did this," she continues, using the food trolley as an obstacle between me and her, backing me further into the room.
"I can't believe you're here," I grin over at her feeling like I've day dreamed her into existence.
"Yeah well, that makes two of us," she shrugs, glancing up at me from under her eyelashes, the pink in her cheeks deepening. She always wanted to be the bold one, the one in charge, but underneath...
"You look great," I begin, reaching for her cheek, to brush away a curl lying against her cheek but she turns from me, pacing away but further into the room.
"I bet you think it's pretty weird, me coming here, out of the blue like this," she continues, her voice smooth, like chocolate milk.
"I was going to look you up," I point at the laptop in the corner. "I was just trying to figure out where to start." She glances over at the lap top and then back towards me, and I'm sure the colour in her cheeks darkens. I move towards her again, but she steps away, doing an elegant little pirouette to keep out of my reach. Figure skaters...
"I just...this was just to get past security," she picks at the hem of the dress, tugging at it and then pulling her hands back, wrapping her arms around her chest and glancing up at me. Her brown eyes search mine for a moment and then she rolls them and shakes her head. "I look ridiculous...this is ridiculous."
I could argue the point, I even open my mouth to do just that, but I know what she can be like once you get her started and I only have so long. So instead, I walk over to her, slipping my hand along her cheek and into the few strands of hair that have come loose from that tight braid, and I cover her lips with mine. I can feel her surprise in the tension of her jaw under my hand, in the way her lips hardly move as I kiss her, but then, we've been here before...
"Did you see that? Did you see that?" I ask, standing up and leaning on the boards, watching as the same player easily skates through three, no four, players and puts the puck in the corner of the net, on her backhand.
"Show off," my team mate grumbles, picking at the tape on his stick. I ignore the bitter tone in his voice and enjoy watching her skate towards us, my attention falling on her full lush lips behind her cage as she pushes open the gate and slides onto the bench. I look down the bench at her as she lifts her cage and spits her mouth guard into her glove and feel a shiver run down my spine.
"Why don't you play all the time?" I ask when the period comes to an end and we're walking to the dressing rooms.
"It's not lady like," she replies flippantly, pulling her helmet off, dragging her fingers through her hair and pulling it out of the pony tail, and shaking her long dark hair free. Stupid things go through my head like you look like a lady to me, but in the end, I just lean over and kiss her, hard. For a minute I think she's going to laugh at me, as her eyes go wide, and she makes a little sound of surprise in her throat. But then she grabs a handful of my jersey and pulls me to her, and kisses me back.
Those lips. I've closed my eyes a hundred times and felt the softness of those lips. If I could put a moment in a bottle and hold it for all time, it would be this moment. His lips, his soft lips, pressed against mine; his hand gentle on my cheek, his curls falling onto my forehead as I tip my lips up to meet his. This moment I would keep forever.
If I hadn't known what I had come to this room for, I know now, without a shadow of a doubt. My body tingles all over at his touch, at his proximity and as his hand slides around to the small of my back, pulling me against the solidness of his chest, a shudder runs through me, as if I'd just walked out barefoot onto ice. I feel chicken skin break out over my skin, and I begin to shiver uncontrollably. His warm body envelops mine, holding me close; his lips warming wherever they touch.
Don't think. Just breathe.
Everything's the same, everything's different. With my eyes closed we're fifteen years old, so young, so innocent. Then I open my eyes and his hooded gaze looks down into mine, and I'm not so young, and I can no longer claim to be innocent. I lift my hand to take his from my cheek, and it's like I have to push my hand up through air thickened by the mist of years of what ifs and what should have been.
"You left without even saying goodbye," I breathe, blinking back tears I will not allow to fall.
"I know," he shrugs, an economy of movement as his hand curls around mine, pulling me down onto the bed with him, both of us sitting with our hands wound around one another's between us. "I think about you all the time."
"I bet you say that to all the girls," I reply quietly, thinking about any other lips touching his makes my chest hurt.
"They're not you," he replies equally quietly, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. When I look up into his eyes, I want so badly to believe what I see there, but instead I look away, shaking my head.
"You could have at least said good bye," the hurt little girl inside of me repeats.
"I thought it would be easier," he replies, shifting over along the edge of the bed until his thickly muscled thigh lies along mine. I look down at his leg, thinking that I want to put my hand there, thinking how easy it would be to shut my mouth and just give in to the need I feel deep inside of me, but instead I pull my hand away from his and get up and move away, needing to keep my distance if only to clear my head.
"Daddy thought it would be better you mean," I hiss, glancing over at him accusingly, and he hangs his head, his jaw twitching as he bites on his bottom lip. "I'm right aren't I?" He nods, once, his hair falling into his eyes. "And he's here...somewhere, in this hotel?" Again he nods, his shoulder drooping as he grips the edge of the bed with his long fingers. "He'd hate that I'm here, wouldn't he?"
"Yes," he sighs, glancing up at me through his dark curls, his gaze wary as he watches me pace.
"Because a one night stand is good for a growing boy, but a relationship..."
"We were just kids Jen, it probably was for the best," he says slowly, his gaze now on his toes, his bruised and battered toes. Like a figure skater or a ballerina, feet are tools yes, but tools that get bent and broken so often they end up disfigured and painful.
"If it was for the best," I sigh, closing my eyes against the pain, "then why does it still hurt?"
"Gone? What do you mean gone?"
"His parents showed up for him last night. He's been...traded or drafted or...I don't know what you call it, but he's gone to some place in...Quebec I think." I look at his team mate in disbelief, shaking my head. Last night...he couldn't have left last night.
"Term's not even over yet," I sniff, raising my hands to cover the spot in my chest that feels like it's just imploded.
"I thought he'd gone to tell you good bye, he snuck away from where he was waiting with his mom while his dad did some paperwork with the headmaster." Now they're all looking at me like I'm crazy and all I can do is stand there, with my hand over the hole where my heart used to be, gasping for breath like a fish out of water, telling myself over and over that it can't be true, he can't be gone.
I hadn't known how to say it then, and everything I'm saying now isn't what I really mean. I was homesick, a kid so far from home, and I'd begged to go home a hundred times before...well before she came along. But telling my dad that I wanted to stay now because of some girl had only made him get me out of there faster. Before I knew it, I was in Rimouski, and life was moving on. I could have said good bye that night, but I hadn't known how, but then maybe it was because I really didn't want to.
"It was going to happen anyway," I offer, looking up at her as she paces the room like a caged tiger, graceful and dangerous.
"So you lied then? When you told me...," her voice breaks off as she turns her back to me, muffling her sniffles behind her hands. I turn my attention back to my feet, digging my toes in the plush carpet and pretending I don't hear her tears, thinking that's what she wants me to do. That is, until I hear her pull the bathroom door open and slam shut.
This is the kind of distraction that everyone tells me I don't need. I have a lot on my shoulders and I don't need to add the kind of emotions and drama that women can complicate my life with. She's right though, seeing her again brings it all back again. She understood. I knew she understood the pressure, the drive I had, have, because she had it too. She wasn't allowed to do what she really wanted to do, and I wasn't allowed to have a life. She got it. She got me.
I hadn't lied, not then. I'd loved her as much as a fifteen year old boy could. But it was puppy love. We were supposed to get over it, grow out of it, leave it behind. At least that's what I'd been told.
"I think about you all the time," I call, walking over to lean against the bathroom door. "Sometimes when I can't sleep, you know, in a hotel at night. I wonder what you do now. I wonder...I wonder if you think about me at all." I hear her sniff, blow her nose, then the running of water, then silence. "Can you forgive me, come out and talk to me? Tell me what you're doing these days?" I ask, knocking on my own bathroom door.
I almost fall in when she pulls the door open, just enough to get a quick glimpse of stockings and a black bra strap.
"Do you have...a t-shirt or something I could borrow? I feel ridiculous in this," she sighs, handing me out her little French maid costume. Nodding, I reach into my bag and hand her out one of my only clean t-shirts and a pair of exercise shorts that I'm pretty certain I've only worn once, and the door quickly shuts again.
"Ew! What's that smell? What are you wearing?" Stephanie sneers and holds her nose as I unwrap my robe and lay it across the end of my bed. I run my hand down the Montreal Canadienne's sweater and smile to myself.
"It's Sidney's," I explain, lifting the neck of the jersey over my nose and inhaling the smell of pubescent sweat and hockey gear and smile.
"That's disgusting. It smells like someone died in it."
"Smells like a hockey player," I grin, lifting my sheets and crawling into bed, shutting out the light and snuggling down into the oversized sweater, wrapping myself up in it and closing my eyes, imagining his arms around me.
"Better?" he asks from his spot at the foot of his bed, putting the remote down as I emerge from the bathroom, the majority of the ridiculous over the top make up washed off, with my hair down.
"Much," I sigh, walking over to the other bed and sitting on the edge of it, across from him, pulling my knees up and pulling the t-shirt down over them, stretching the hell out of it. He doesn't look worried about it, and I suppose he can afford more of them, if RBK doesn't give him them for free.
"I am sorry," he says quietly, picking at something in the expensive duvet cover. I have the urge to smack his hand away, but I don't, I just watch him do it for a while, thinking about whether or not I should accept his apology.
"I guess we were just kids," I decide, shrugging, and then leaning my chin on my knees and watching him as he slowly turns his milk chocolate gaze up to meet mine. "I obviously don't completely hate you or I wouldn't be here."
"I'm glad," he smiles, his dimples almost showing. "That you're here I mean, well and that you don't hate me."
"I said I don't completely hate you, which is not the same thing," I sigh dramatically and roll my eyes at him, which makes him laugh, that high thin laugh that doesn't sound as masculine as he looks. The truth is that what I feel is so far from hate I dare not admit it out loud. Letting my gaze roam over him now, I can feel the hunger building again, and the tingling in my lips from that kiss is only an appetizer to how he could make me feel and I realize that I'm licking my lips in anticipation, that my body is already quivering with desire, that my fingers are softly stroking along my thighs where his hands should be…
"So what do you do now? Do you still skate?" I shake my head, unhappily dragging my attention away from the width of his forearms back up to those lips, those soft pink lips.
"I have a store, a sports store. Athletic clothing and collectables and stuff," I reply, my gaze slipping down to his Adam's apple bobbing in his thick neck, his highly muscled biteable neck.
"Hockey stuff?" he asks, shifting his weight and grabbing a pillow, putting it over his thighs, thighs that are nearly bursting out of the denim they're wrapped in.
"Yeah, some," I nod, blinking my attention back up to his face, to his long eyelashes, to the dark curls falling onto his forehead. "No figure skating stuff though," I add, smiling.
"Do you still play at all? Pick up or beer league or something?" he asks, his voice hitching as I slide my legs out from under the t-shirt, realizing that I don't really want to talk anymore, that the only talking I really want to do right now is dirty. Sure I've missed his dimples, and his long eyelashes fanned out around his café-au-lait eyes, but I can see them anytime I want to on any hockey site on the internet. What I want now, what I'm craving right now is his touch, the feel of his grown up body.
"Beer league, mostly," I reply, my own voice taking on a husky tone as I crawl over onto his bed and pull the pillow off of his lap, revealing just exactly what I thought I'd find. "I still like to get sweaty with hockey players," I add, sliding my hand down over his erection as I climb onto his lap. He groans out loud as his lips meet mine, and I hear my own answering sigh as he slides his hand down around to my ass, cupping it, and pulling me against him at the same time. The touch of his fingers sets off fire alarms in my head, a warning I've heard before, and happily do again as his tongue reaches for mine, wrapping around mine as I kiss him into a reclined position across the bed.
Grabbing a handful of his t-shirt I push upwards, revealing his bare chest, his highly chiselled and eminently lick-able chest. My lips surround and fasten onto the rosebud pink of one of his nipples and as he struggles out of his shirt, my hands slide down the ridges of his six-pack to go to work on the top button of his jeans.
"I can't believe I'm about to ask this," he hisses, putting his long fingers over mine as I unsnap his jeans and pulling back so his gaze meets mine, "but are you sure about this?" His gaze clearly says he doesn't want to hear me say no, but as always, he's ever the gentleman.
"After last time, I think you owe me this, don't you?" I whisper, biting his bottom lip and guiding his hand up to my chest.
"Just…making…sure," he sighs as my hand slides back down and into his jeans, my fingers curling around the thickness of his pulsing need.
"Is that it?" I groan, staring up at the concrete ceiling and feeling completely gypped.
"I'm sorry," he moans, rolling off of me and staring up at the same ceiling, and I know if I look over at him now, his cheeks will be bright red, even in the gloom of the empty arena. "It's just…I don't know, it felt so good."
"It did?" I turn to stare at him now, disbelieving. "Because it kinda hurt."
"I think it'll be better next time," he assures me, turning his earnest grin to meet my gaze. "I mean, I'm sure it will. Next time, it will be…longer and you now that you're not a…you know." The pink in his cheeks deepens and he turns his face from mine again.
"A virgin?" I sigh, rolling my eyes and reaching down to grab my tights and pull them back on, pulling my t-shirt down at the same time. "God I hope so, otherwise I don't know what all the fuss is about."
"Well if you give a guy some warning," he grumbles, reaching for his sweat pants and turning his back on me, hanging his legs over the side of the Zamboni.
"If I'd given you some warning, it wouldn't have been a surprise," I counter, crossing my arms defensively over my chest.
"It was…a surprise I mean. But I thought you know…you'd want something more…um romantic?" he asks, sliding down to the ladder on the side of the behemoth and holding his hand out for me. I roll up the blanket I'd spread over the nose of the machine and hand it to him before following him down.
"I thought it was," I grumble, not willing to meet his eyes as my feet hit pavement. "Or at least it was going to be."
"I'm sorry," he repeats, putting his arms around me and holding me to him. "I didn't mean it like that. I just meant, you know, somewhere nice with a bed and stuff and maybe if I wasn't so worried about getting caught…," his voice trails off and I can feel him stiffening with embarrassment.
"I guess you're right," I sigh, looking at him, and pushing aside my disappointment. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," he smiles, that toothy happy grin of his reappearing. "It will be better next time, I promise."
I've dreamed this moment, more than once, lying awake in my single bed. I've wondered what it would be like to be with her again, because she's right. The first time, the only time was, especially for her, an unmitigated disaster. For me it was…well the best thing in the world. At the time I didn't know better, I just knew that being inside of her felt like…like scoring against the Habs.
Of course I know better now, not that it feels like I can hold out any longer than I did last time when she slides her hands into my jeans and curls her fingers around my cock. I have to close my eyes and take long deep breaths to stop my imagination from running away with me. When I open my eyes again she's grinning down at me, a mischievous sort of smile, a smile I remember well.
"I'm sorry, am I keeping you awake?" she asks, giving a tug that pulls the breath from my lungs.
"No just…give me a minute," I wheeze, but just when it seems like she's going to listen, she climbs off of me and slides off the edge of the bed and stands in front of me with her fingers hooked in the waistband of her panties and begins to slowly shimmy out of them. "I thought you were trying to not have that happen again," I groan as I watch her body revealed to me by inches.
"You're not seriously telling me you haven't gained some control in five years," she purrs, kicking the black lace panties aside and climbing back on the bed, back onto me.
"I thought I had?" It comes out a question as she pulls my jeans down over my hips and down to my knees, leaving me to struggle and kick my way out of them as she straddles me, as she lowers herself over me, slowly, so slowly it almost hurts. My breath catches in my throat as I feel the hot wet heat of her surrounding my dick, and I'm back to those breathing exercises, trying my best keep from rushing ahead. I should be able to think of this clinically, should be able to detach myself from it and see the big picture the way I do on the ice, but as I look up to see her close her eyes, and let her head fall back, hear her sigh, I realize I can't do any of those things. This isn't a one night stand, or at least I can't think of it that way, I don't want this to just be rushed and impersonal like those nights can be.
So instead, I let her lead, let her set the pace, let her body move over and around mine, and concentrate on watching her as she stretches her arms above her head to pull off the t-shirt she borrowed, baring her curves to my hungry eyes. I watch her arch her back as she rides me, here eyes closed, a blissful little grin on her face. I watch the play of light and shadow across her skin, watch her long dark hair moving like waves over her shoulders, watch her muscles tense and relax with each languid movement.
God it feels good, not that it didn't before but…well, hell, this is so much better. To not have to hurry, to not worry about being caught…well I suppose Army could come back but it's not likely. That and…well I thought she was beautiful before but now….where she'd been lean and small, now she was soft and curvy. Before where she was solid muscle, now I can dig my fingers into her soft smooth flesh.
Running my hands up her thighs I push her down onto me and at the same time, push up into her, wanting to fill her, wanting to feel all of her and when she gasps and sucks in her bottom lip, I feel suddenly aggressive and begin to thrust up inside of her, wanting her to make more sounds like that. I watch her lips go slack, watch her breathing change and feel that clamping in my gut, but I don't want to let go, not yet. I've waited too long, thought about this too often; I don't want it to be over yet.
He rolls us over effortlessly, hardly missing a stroke, his muscles bunching and flexing in sexy waves as he wrestles control from me, pushing me down into the quilt cover, gathering my thighs in his hands and pushing them back, pressing my knees down with his upper arms as he presses himself into me, thrusting deeply, wrenching long drawn out cries and whimpers from deep in my chest. Now I get to see the competitor, the focussed athlete at work, his gaze holding mine in a way that almost dares me to look away. His now angular jaw is set in a hard line, his lips pursed in concentration, beads of moisture appearing along his brow.
I sigh out loud in a gesture of sheer happiness. So many nights I've lain in my bed, alone, thinking of him. Torn and confused between the sweet teen I knew and loved and the man he's becoming. Now I get to see and hold that young man, that determined, focussed, driven man, and know that somehow I've gotten him right, that I've known all along he would be this powerful, this...amazing.
He's so...beautiful. A Greek statue made flesh, perfectly chiselled, perfection in line and angle. Every flexed muscle perfectly formed, his skin, supple, smooth, and clear. Running my hands up to his biceps, feeling the bulge under my fingertips, I wonder at the coiled power within him, held in check until needed, and then working powerfully, poetically. I marvel at his round shoulders, wide and strong, but then they have to be, he has the world on them, or at least the entire hockey league. I run my fingers over them, watching his flesh ripple beneath my fingertips, watching his eyes glaze over as I dig my fingernails into them, pulling him closer, deeper.
"Harder," I urge, pulling him down onto me, the weight of his arms pushing my legs farther back, giving him deeper access. "I won't break, I promise," I smile up at him, feeling every inch the cat that got the cream. With a grunt of exertion, he obeys, throwing himself into me, his body slapping against mine, filling me completely, sending wave after wave of pure bliss through my bones until I feel the orgasm rip through me, making my back bow, ripping a primal scream from my throat.
I feel him go very still, and force myself to push through the haze of pleasure to look up into his milk chocolate gaze, to see him holding himself in check, to see him fighting for control as my body climaxes beneath his, pulling and sucking at him. His perfect body held in perfect control. Wanting to show my appreciation, as soon as the quaking and trembling subside, I pull back from him, pulling him down next to me and sliding down the bed, kissing and licking my way down from his thick neck, over his pecs, over each and every ridge of his six-pack, down to that triangle of curls that leads to the thick golden rod still standing at attention, saluting me, glazed in my juices.
With an appreciative glance up at him, I lick my way around the smooth purple head of his cock, flicking my tongue in the divot, making his thighs quiver beneath my fingers. I watch him, watching me, as I slide my lips over the head. His pink lips parted, his eyes glazing over as I slowly slide him over my tongue, down my throat, rolling my tongue over the vein pulsing along the side of his cock, over that thick ridge beneath, down until I can't take anymore. Then his eyes roll back in his head as I roll his balls gently in my hands, feeling them pull taught. Close, so close.
He fists his hands in my hair, holding my head still as he pistons his cock in my mouth, pushing the head against my tonsils and moaning as I suck harder, squeezing his sensitive balls in my fingers, until with a loud growl, his entire body shudders as he lets go, his thick cum filling my mouth, sliding down my throat as he pushes my head down, forcing me to take all of him.
When I feel the last shudder in his thighs, feel his grip loosen on the top of my head, I slide my lips up over his shaft, licking him clean, enjoying the aftershocks my tongue creates as I makes sure I haven't left a single salt and honey flavoured drop behind. When I turn my gaze up at last, I see him rubbing his eyes, breathing heavily, his massive chest heaving as he gulps for air.
"You were right," I giggle, crawling back up the bed and snuggling into his side. "The next time was much better."
"Oh my god," he moans, one fore-arm still thrown across his eyes, even as his other arms gathers me against his broad chest. "Okay that was...wow."
"You weren't so bad yourself," I tease, running my fingers across his chest and flicking his little erect pink nipple.
"That was so worth waiting five years for," he mutters, swiping at his eyes again with the back of his hand before finally reaching for me, tipping my lips up to his and kissing me, long and slow and sweet.
"Look at you, all wrapped up like caterpillar in a cocoon." I blink my eyes open, wincing as the light hits them and trying to shade my eyes from the glare of the hallway light with my arm. "And here I thought you'd be watching one of your cowboy movies or whatever," Army laughs, dropping a doggie bag on the table near the window and then shucking off his jacket onto the edge of his bed.
"Where is she?" I ask, panic setting in as I realize that I don't have Jen to protect from prying eyes, realizing that I'm alone in this bed.
"She? She who?" Army asks, looking around the room and then back at me.
"She was just here," I mutter, following his gaze around the room and then looking back down at the spot in the bed she'd been in when I fell asleep with my arms around her, now occupied by a pillow.
"Uh huh, one of your imaginary girlfriends," Colby shakes his head at me as he lies back on his bed, plumping the pillows behind him and aiming the remote at the TV.
"No...not...fuck you Colby, imaginary...shit." I snap, tossing the sheets aside and getting up to look in the bathroom. I throw the door wide, only to find nothing but white subway tiles, and an empty shower. "She was just here," I repeat, looking around the room for some sign of her, but there's no shoes, no trolley, no food, no clothes. Nothing.
"So who is this she then? Cuz I'm not seeing anything, aside from you running around naked and while I've seen it before, put something on, just for me okay?" I stare around the room, wide eyed and disbelieving.
"She's gone," I sigh, shaking my head as I look around the room one more time, as if somehow she'll appear out of thin air if I keep looking long enough.
"She who man?"
"Jen...she was here, with me," I reiterate, shaking my head as I drop to the edge of my bed, running my hand absentmindedly over the spot she'd been sleeping on. At least I thought she had. The sheets are cold.
"Jen," Colby looks over at me with that 'you are out of your mind' look on his face.
"Jen...from Shattuck St. Mary's," I sigh, still staring at the rumpled sheets on my bed.
"The chick you always talk about, that could do that juggle thing with a puck?" he asks, and I nod, still staring at my empty bed, disbelieving. "So you're trying to tell me you were doing the horizontal mambo with some chick you haven't seen since you were...how old?"
"Fifteen," I reply quietly, feeling embarrassed and resentful all of a sudden.
"And she did a dine-and-dash on you?" I want to say no, but all of the evidence points in that direction and I realize I can't deny that that's exactly the way it looks.
"It's not like her," I insist, realizing how stupid that sounds as soon as I say it.
"You haven't seen her since...?" Colby prompts and I can hear the amusement in his voice.
"I was fifteen," I sigh, glaring over at him, hoping he'll catch the hint and shut up.
"I hate to say it buddy, but you don't know what she's like." He waits for me to answer but when I only continue to glare at him he rolls his eyes and looks down his hooked nose at me and shakes his head. "Oh please man, so you got a taste of your own medicine for a change," he shrugs and goes back to surfing the channels. "It's not like you haven't done the same thing like a hundred times, pretend to be asleep and sneak out as soon as you can. Good for her."
"It's not funny," I snarl, feeling my cheeks heat at the idea that she would have just left like that, snuck out as soon as I fell asleep.
"No dude, it's super funny," Army sighs, glancing over at me and then back at the TV. "It's about time some girl treated you like you've treated so many girls. One for the girls. Like I said, good for her."
"But she's...different," I grumble, suddenly wanting to grab the pillow and inhale the scent of her, the only thing of hers' remaining. "She's not just some girl."
"Yeah," Colby sneers, shaking his head at me. "That's why you're running after her. C'mon man, so your pride takes one in the chops. Get over it. It's just sex man, and hey, you didn't have to kick her out. Clean, tidy. Be happy about it."
"No, you don't understand," I sigh, shaking my head at him. "I think I love her."
"Do you ever wonder what you're going to do with the rest of your life?" she asks, her voice low as she leans into my shoulder in the darkness of the rink in the middle of the night. I like sitting in the stands around the rink at night. It's a good place to think.
"I know what I'm going to do," I shrug. "I'm going to play hockey."
"So that's all you think about?" she continues, her gaze focussed somewhere out over the ice, her eyes unfocussed, a dreamy smile on her face. "Don't you ever think what if? What if it doesn't work out? What if you don't play hockey?"
"No," I reply honestly, shaking my head, almost as if I could dismiss the thought. "I'm going to play hockey. I'm going to get paid to play hockey, how great is that?"
"Great, as long as it's what you really want."
"What do you mean?" I ask, not able to get my young mind around the thought of doing anything but.
"I just mean…half of the kids here don't even like what they're here for. I don't. This is what my mom wants, not what I want. I just wondered if this was your dad's dream or yours?"
"Um…," I was ready to say it was all me, but then I knew, or part of me knew, that wasn't quite true.
"Just don't let them make all the decision for you Sidney. Make sure you get to be you sometimes too."
"You broke it, you fix it," I snarl, pacing the hallway in rink with my dad leaning against the concrete wall, watching me, worry clear on his face.
"Slow down son, let's think this through…," he begins, but I turn and point at him, letting him see how angry I am.
"I'm done talking. Just go find her."
"This is a big city Sidney, what you're asking…well it's kind of like asking me to find a needle in a haystack, and what if she doesn't want to be found?"
"I don't care," I grumble, running my hands through my hair and returning to pacing up and down the hall, wishing I could think straight, wishing I could think if she had told me the name of the store, where she lives, something that would make this easier. "Just find her. You fucked it up, you fix it."
"Sidney, you're not thinking this through. You have to get your priorities in order. Maybe in a year or two…," I level my best evil stare at him and shake my head.
"No, you don't get to tell me that again. I've gone along with everything and anything you've ever asked me to do. Now it's time for me to start making some decisions for myself. So do me a favour and stop preaching at me, because I'm done listening. I'm here okay? I'm playing in the NHL, I'm the captain. I've accomplished everything you wanted. So just for once, can I please have what I want?"
"What's this really about son? Do you need some time? Do you want me to talk to the media relations office, get you a break? I know this week's been a bit of a hassle. You're probably just feeling overwhelmed." I shake my head at him, grinding my teeth, feeling like I'm ready to just boil over.
"The only break I need is from you! I need to live my own life and I need you to let me. Can't you just let me grow up and stop living vicariously through me?" I know it's a hurtful thing to say, but at the same time I know I need to say it. It's something that's needed saying for a long time.
"I didn't know you felt that way," he says quietly, eyeing me carefully like I'm some rabid dog instead of his son.
"I didn't mean it...quite like that," I sigh, wanting to take the sting out of what I've said if only to placate him enough to actually do what I'm asking him to. "I just mean…I have things that I want too, and she's one of those things, so can you please just go find her? Can you do that for me?"
I watch the school buildings growing smaller as the car drives away into night. Another team behind me, but more than that, and for the first time, I can feel my chest tightening as we leave. Sure I'd been close to a team mate or two before; you couldn't help becoming buddies with some of the guys. But I'd never felt choked up leaving a team. It happens, that's hockey. That's what my dad would say to me every time I was moved from one team to another when the other parents would get mad, the other kids get jealous. Don't get too attached, even when I reach the NHL, trades happen, guys get moved. You can always see them again, when you play against them, but just remember your priorities, even the coach would remind us that when he thought we were too 'buddy buddy' with some guy out on the ice.
No one ever said anything about girls, except to stay away from them. They'll steal your future, it's better to concentrate on hockey, that's what my dad said. There'll be plenty of time for girls later. I want to play hockey, I want to be the best. I don't want anything or anyone standing in my way.
So why does it feel so bad leaving Jen behind?
"Ah, the happy wonderer returns. I thought we were going to watch the game?" Carmen sighs dramatically, giving me the evil eye over her martini glass as she watches me walk through the bar, past the big screens, willing myself not to look.
"I had...stuff on my mind. I had to walk it off," I explain quietly as I slide into the empty chair beside her, making sure my back is the screen.
"Well you missed one hell of a game. Your boy had a penalty shot and one in the shoot out," she adds, peering at me to gauge my reaction.
"Don't call him that," I mutter, glancing over at the waitress to get her attention. I've been trying to avoid the urge to drink for half the night but now that I'm here, it seems like a good idea.
"Well you certainly spent enough time in his room last night. Jarkko and I were down drinking in the bar by the time you two were done," she grins, twisting the knife until I squirm in my chair.
"I don't recall you calling me last night when I was sitting home, alone," I snarl, trying to get her to stop.
"Well I wasn't done, done, if you know what I mean," she grins, holding her empty glass up for the barmaid to take to refill. "Neither was your boy, by all accounts," she adds, folding her hands prettily and resting her chin on them so she can look me in the eye. "In fact, someone was so upset by your disappearance into thin air, half the team was out looking for you last night."
"They were not," I growl, slumping further into my chair and finding a spot on the wall to stare at so I don't have to see the triumphant gleam in her dark eyes.
"Oh contraire ma petite amie, he was absolutely pissed that you left."
"If that was true," I glare at her, momentarily, assuming that she's just baiting me for the fun of it, "you would have given him my number."
"Not if I thought that you didn't want to be found," she says quietly, seriously, tipping her head to one side so her long dark tresses almost fall onto the table top. "Because it wasn't about being found, it was about getting what you wanted and getting out, isn't that right?"
"Hey look the kid's on after hours," the bar maid grins, stopping by our table and staring over my shoulder with that beatific look of longing on her face. "He's too handsome to be a hockey player."
"He is, isn't he?" Carmen agrees, still staring at me, but now she has that look on her face, daring me to turn and look, that 'you know you want to' look. I stare at that spot on the wall, that softball trophy, trying to read the names from across the room, trying to shut out the sound of his voice in my ears, trying not to see that look on Carmen's face that tells me that she knows I'm going to give in any minute. "If you don't care, you can look," she adds, rubbing salt in the wound.
"Not fair," I mutter, feeling the need to prove that I can, taking the bait and turning in my chair, taking in those yellow crocs, those mussed dark curls dripping with what I hope is water from a shower and not sweat, his pale skin seemingly even more pale with his black track suit and the back drop of the white ice, as he stands to quickly speak to his father behind the camera as they go to a break. I watch his face, watch his teeth grind, watch the dangerous flash in his eyes. "You didn't tell him...but you told someone," I glance over at Carmen who only raises her eyebrows at me but doesn't even attempt to feign innocence.
He isn't here. He isn't coming. All the hype, all the press, and he isn't even coming. I clutch the ticket stub in my sweaty palm and watch the players skating around the arena, trying to force myself to be interested, but to no avail. He was supposed to be here. The prospects game, he's the top prospect, everyone knows that. That's probably why he's not here. Troy wouldn't want to take the risk that some 'might be' tough guy prospect might toss his boy into the boards, injure him, render him penniless before he even gets his big league contract.
I guess I can't blame him. It's probably the right thing to do, protect the investment. So they disappoint a few people, he won't be a disappointment in the long run. They'll all forgive him. Even me…maybe.
I just wanted to see him. Just a glimpse, just so I'd know for sure that it didn't really hurt anymore. It wasn't that I really expected to get to see him personally, to touch him, to get up close to him. I just thought I could see him, one more time before he gets to be that big star that I'll never be able to get close to….
"Do you always stay open so late?" His voice calls from out of the darkness as the bell jingles overhead alerting me to the fact that someone's coming into the store.
"Sometimes, after a game people are in the mood to buy a jersey or two," I reply quietly, folding another t-shirt and adding it to the pile at the register. It takes every ounce of will power I have to keep my eyes on the task in front of me, to keep my fingers moving, to keep breathing.
"But you weren't here before," he adds, standing with his back to the door. I can tell because I've been waiting to hear the scuff of his shoes on the hard wood floor, but it doesn't come. "I know because my dad came by."
"I'm here now," I reply, spreading my hands over the t-shirt in front of me, smoothing it under my hands more thoroughly than I would normally do remembering how my fingers splayed out on his smooth bare chest. "It's really time for me to be closed up," I venture, glancing through my eyelashes at him, more at his spectre in the shadows, listening to him turn the lock, to him pulling the gate.
"That's good, maybe we can talk now," he says, moving to one of the displays near the front of the store, seemingly mesmerized for a long moment by the Roberto Luongo bobble head. I watch him pick up the plastic figurine, watch him turn it over in his hands, feeling my breath catch in my throat as the sense memory of his fingers sliding through my hair sends a shiver down my spine. "So was this...your way of getting back at me or a prank or...?" his voice falls away as he puts the figurine down and glances up at me around the display, his expression serious, cautious.
"Closure?" I venture quietly, grabbing another rolled t-shirt and spreading it out on the counter, grabbing the clip board and pushing it down into the center of the shirt, gluing my eyes to my task, glad of the counter between us so that he can't see my knees shaking.
"So now you can tell all your friends that you've fucked me...twice?" he asks, turning his attention to the next item on the shelf, the blue and silver Christmas orbs, picking one of the packages up carefully and turning it over in his hands, and the way he runs the pad of his thumb over its' curved surface, this time, I can't help but think the caress is intentional.
"No," I reply quietly, doing my best to keep my voice low and calm, "it's not like that. I'm not like that."
"Then what Jen? Why? What was last night about for you?" he asks, putting the package down and moving away from the display, walking slowly, deliberately towards me with his hands behind his back in what should look like a non-threatening gesture but the predatory grace he moves with has me rocking back on my heels, realizing I have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.
"I'm...not really sure," I stutter, whipping my attention back to the t-shirt and folding the edges carefully, running my hand over the shoulders more than once, thinking about beginning all over again as I watch my hands trembling as I fold the hem up the mid span of the clip board. "I wanted to see...," I close my eyes and take a deep breath to steady my voice if not my hands. "I wanted to see if you could still...if you still..." Clenching my jaw, I glance up at him, seeing what looks like patience in his eyes but the way he's chewing on his bottom lip says he's just as nervous as I am, despite what he's trying to portray with his body language. "I wanted you to know that you hurt me." I sputter, ripping my gaze from his and pressing my hands to the cotton blend, digging my nails into the fabric, holding on for dear life.
"Do you think I don't feel anything? Do you think I'm so inhuman…?" I begin, feeling the anger I've been trying so hard to suppress from even before the game beginning to boil over.
"You? The King of all you survey?" she gasps, mocking me as she suddenly regains her composure.
"So this was just you getting your own back?" I ask through clenched teeth, hearing Colby's words echoing in my head.
"No," she repeats, dropping her eyes back to the t-shirt in front of her, her hair falling into her face, hiding her features from view. "I didn't mean for…for that to happen."
"So then why did you go? Why did you leave?"
"Because,…I don't know," she mutters, grabbing yet another t-shirt and spreading it out onto the counter as if she'd like to split my head open or smash my heart to bits with her fists. "God Sidney, do you harass all your one night stands like this?"
"No, of course not," I reply briskly, feeling my cheeks heat at the thought of her knowing how many that might be.
"Well then why are you here Sidney because it's been five years without so much as a post card, you know? I mean, do you know how many hockey players I've dated that break up with me the minute they see I can skate faster than they can or see me pick up a puck with the blade of my stick?" she suddenly snaps, her fingers digging into the t-shirt so hard it rips as she pulls the sleeve over to fold it. She stares down at it, and then slowly her gaze turns up to mine, a bewildered smile on her face. "Do you know how much it sucks that you're the only…guy that ever thought that was cool?"
It feels like whatever wall has built up between us begins to crumble as her bottom lip trembles as she gazes over the counter at me, and I find my feet moving me forward towards her, and then the next thing I know, her face is in my hands and we're looking at each other like we've never done before, or at least in a long, long time.
"I know we were just kids," she whispers as tears run down her cheeks, "but you broke my heart Sidney."
"If it's any consolation," I reply, brushing a tear away with the pad of my thumb, "I think you still have mine."