"It's not like I planned for this to happen, Connie! She meant nothing to me! She was going to start bringing my dad's problems into the reports she was doing and taking her out seemed like an easy fix. I never expected to sleep with her, let alone for her to get pregnant! You know I love you, Con. Please ... don't let this be it, Connie. I love you with my whole heart."
"Gabe, I can't do this," Connie shook her head. "I put way too much on the line for it to come back and bite me like this. You know I love you, Gabe, but I can't love you anymore, I just can't. My heart is already too broken to deal with this anymore."
Gabe shrugged to himself as the conversation replayed in his head for what seemed like the millionth time. Gabe had been dumped by Connie almost 4 months ago, but it still felt like yesterday. He took a swig of his beer, and he sat back in his bar stool. He was at the Blue Line with a few of his teammates and their wives. It had been an off-day, but the team had taken part in an intense workout. Coach Boucher had made it clear to Gabe that the team should stop partying so much, but rightnow Gabe figured they deserved a night out, having fun. Although, Gabe mused over his beer, fun was one of the farthest things from his mind.
"Gabe!" Megan Chandler, his teammate Owen's wife and one of his closest friends, called out. "Get your hot ass out here and dance with me! You are officially done sulking over Connie!"
"Meg, you know I'm not sulking," he insisted, although he was rather unconvincing.
"Gabe McCall, if I have to tell you again to get out here, you're going to regret it!" she retorted.
Gabe sighed, picking up his beer and following his friend to the other side of the club.
"Gabe, you've been brooding for way too long," Megan cooed into his ear, as she danced up close to him.
"Megan, she broke my heart. You don't understand. I wouldn't be so bummed if Wanda hadn't made up the whole pregnancy thing to begin with. It'd be a lot easier to stomach if I truly did something wrong."
"So what! Connie Lewis is out of your life, and so is Wanda. It's time to move on, Gabe, maybe find yourself a new lady love. Besides, Frances is one of the only sane ladies I have left to talk to, and she's still miserable over the affair. Find me someone else to run WOMCO with us!"
Gabe couldn't help but laugh at her last comment; it was like Megan to insist that he get a new girlfriend so she'd have another friend at the Women of the Mustangs' Charitable Organization meetings. Gabe's ex had never really fit in with the girls, since she was pretty plain compared to the glamorous women he was accustomed to seeing daily at the arena, but she'd had something special. Now as he danced with Megan, he couldn't help but smile as he remembered it.
Just then, he got a strange urge to glance behind him, and when he did, he'd needed to do a double-take. There was a gorgeous redhead standing in the middle of a crowd, who were held rapt by something she was saying. He felt like he'd known her from somewhere, but when Megan noticed where his look was, she not-so-subtly turned him so she could get a glimpse. "Gabe!" she laughed, shaking her head a little. "Aiming a bit high, aren't we?"
"I feel like I know her," he confided. "Clue me in."
"Gabe, that's Kate Delaney. You know, the one who sings 'Taking My Time'?" Megan replied, singing a little bit of one of the biggest hits currently from the radio. "I don't know why she'd want to be HERE," she added, as an afterthought.
"She was on one of those morning shows," he nodded. "I remember seeing her on one of them this morning, actually."
"And she's totally on her way over here," Megan gasped, kissing Gabe's cheek and rushing over to her husband.
True to what Megan predicted, a few moments later, Kate Delaney was standing next to Gabe, with a smile on her face. "Your friend seemed like she was in a rush, eh?"
Gabe smiled back, and shrugged. "I guess she realized it was time to go back to her husband."
"I'm Kate," she replied, holding out a free hand, the other one occupied with a drink.
"Gabe," he answered, taking her hand and juggling his own drink around. "I saw you on TV today; you sounded pretty good."
"You looked pretty good on the ice today, too," she laughed, as she took a swig from her drink.
"You saw the Mustangs' practice?" he asked, a surprised look crossing his face.
"Gabe, I grew up playing hockey with my dad and big brother. Hockey is a part of my life, even if it isn't the major part I once hoped it would be. But don't tell anyone, or my reputation will be shattered!" she winked at him.
He laughed, shaking his head a little. "Your reputation would probably get even better for that. I'm honored you came to watch our team."
"Your team," she corrected him. "You're the captain. They're your team. And you're improving. So, I figured I'd come over and congratulate you."
"Thank you," Gabe replied, shrugging. "It's a big deal to a lot of people, but it seems like the captaincy is just a load of extra crap now. My dad was our coach, and they replaced him with this hard-ass, who doesn't even want us to go out and enjoy our days off. It's tough, you know?"
"Can I let you in on a secret?" Kate asked, slightly stepping closer to him.
"Sure," he replied.
"My brother's friend played for Couch Boucher before, and he said that he is a hard-ass, actually he used those same words. But the thing is to not let it get to you. You just do your thing, and just try to toe the line when he's around. But when he's not..." she trailed off, a wicked look flashing across her eyes.
"What?" Gabe asked, a smile starting to cross his face.
"You have to live a little," Kate replied, setting her drink down and pressing her lips to Gabe's.