Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chapter 11

I woke up the next morning in a mess of tangled body parts. Two people sleeping on a twin bed was not the best idea I’d ever had. I groaned at the pain in my neck when I moved it. I tried to push my way out of Sidney’s hold since my right arm was completely asleep. He was having none of it however, and held on tight.

“Sid, come on, I can’t feel my arm,” I whined as I continued the struggle.

He finally let go and I shifted off of my side, immediately feeling the stabbing pain as blood rushed back into my arm. My shoulder didn’t exactly feel too great from lying on it so long either. Now that I thought about it, my stomach and head didn’t feel so great either. God damn hangovers. I got up and grabbed two water bottles out of the mini fridge in my room and threw one onto the bed.

“Thanks,” he said sitting up and chugging half the bottle in one gulp.

“Can you explain to me why we thought seeing who could do five shots in a row fastest was a good idea last night?” I asked, falling back onto the bed.

“I think we can thank Max for that idea,” Sid groaned as I buried my head into him and pulled the blankets completely over me. “You’d feel better if you got up and moved around.”

“You’re crazy,” I told him from under the blankets, refusing to move.

I guess the fact that I refused didn’t change his mind. He pulled the blanket off of me and picked me up. I whined and complained the entire time he carried me down the stairs to the kitchen. He plopped me down in a chair and sat down next to me.

“So what do you have to eat in this place?” he asked.

“Don’t talk about food right now,” I told him putting a hand to my stomach.

“Eating will help,” he insisted.

“Eating will make me vomit,” I corrected. He sighed and started to look through the refrigerator and cupboards. “We don’t have any hangover food here right now.”

I got up out of the chair and walked upstairs with Sidney following behind. I got dressed in sweats and then laughed when Sidney only had his suit to put on. We must have looked completely ridiculous when we walked into a diner 20 minutes later dressed so differently.

“So why don’t we leave games from the same exit as the other guys?” I asked after our coffees were brought to our table.

“Some guys park in different sections of the parking lot. I thought I told you that,” he said shrugging.

“Well, Grace said Jordan had to sign a bunch of autographs after the game last night and that there were fans everywhere,” I continued.

“Yeah, that happens every game.”

“Why don’t you have to sign autographs?” I questioned. He hesitated just for a second before answering, but it was long enough that I caught it.

“I’m not the autograph that the fans want,” he replied. I felt like there was more to it that he wasn’t telling me, but I couldn’t exactly call him a liar since I really had no idea, so I dropped it.

Sidney walked into his bedroom and changed out of his suit. He’d lied to Tanner and he couldn’t believe it. He’d never been a liar, ever, and he’d just lied to his girlfriend. He picked up his phone and highlighted her number, but then hesitated with his finger over the “talk” button before putting the phone back down.

He repeated the same action about 20 times in the next half an hour telling himself he needed to call and tell her the truth, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. God, what was wrong with him? The longer he put off telling her the truth about him, the better the chances that she’d find out from someone else.

He popped a couple of Tylenol for his headache and got into bed. He fell asleep for a couple of hours and woke up not feeling any better. Tanner was going to the game on Tuesday night and he’d tell her after the game, he decided. Then he’d find out for sure if they were going to work out.

Unfortunately that didn’t exactly happen. They lost to Minnesota in a shootout and it was Sidney’s stopped attempt that ended the game. He was angry with himself and not exactly up to dealing with that talk with Tanner. He wasn’t in the best mood when he walked into the room to see her after the game. The fact that she was so understanding about him wanting to just go home made it even more difficult.

Then they were headed to Atlanta for a game and he wasn’t about to have that conversation with her on the phone. He kept telling himself he’d do it after the next home game since they didn’t really have any time off between games at the moment. Then they lost to Vancouver that game, and again Sidney was too upset to do it.

Then Tanner went home to New York for Thanksgiving. When she came back they had a home game against the Devils and won 4-1. He had a hat trick in the game and was more in the mood for celebrating than having a conversation he’d been dreading since he’d started dating her. He thought he’d do it right before they went on the road again, but she was swamped with school work and it just wasn’t the right time. He figured at that point he should just wait until her finals were over.

I was sitting at my desk forcing myself to study for my Faith and Reason test. I wasn’t exactly thrilled that the professor was giving us a test the week before final exams and I was getting pretty stressed out. I’d just finished a ridiculous amount of papers and labs and all I wanted was to start preparing for finals, but instead I was studying for this stupid test.

“Need some help?” I heard a familiar voice ask. I looked up and smiled when I saw Sidney standing in my doorway.

“You want to help me study?” I asked surprised.

“Well, not really, but I leave tomorrow for a few days and I’ll do whatever it takes to spend time with you before I go,” he replied leaning down to kiss me.

“Well, okay then.” I sat down on the bed with my notes and he sat across from me. I gave him a quick overview of what I was studying and basically told him to just take my notes and start quizzing me.

An hour later I was sitting across from him with my shirt off while all he had on was a pair of boxers. He’d decided we were going to play what he called “strip studying.” If I got a question wrong I had to take something off, and if I got it right he had to take something off. He’d been pretty bundled up when we started and now he was almost naked whereas I’d only had to remove a pair of earrings and my shirt.

“I think it’s safe to say that you know your stuff,” he joked putting down my notes. I laughed along with him.

“I hope so,” I replied. He leaned over and kissed me. “I hate that you’re leaving for the next few days.”

“Trust me, so do I. It’s only a couple of days though, it’ll be fine.”

“I’m really sad,” I pouted making my way over to him and putting my arms around his neck. “How are you going to make me feel better?”

“I’ve got some ideas,” he said grinning.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chapter 10

I got out of the shower and got dressed. I was getting ready to go to Sidney’s game, and my housemates were joining me. Once everything had settled down earlier that morning Sidney asked me to go to the game and I had accepted. The only catch was that everyone had to come because the girls and I had already made plans to hang out together that night.

When the five of us were ready we piled into Hailey’s SUV and headed to the game. The four of them made fun of me along the way about that morning. I’d told them everything when I’d gotten home and they couldn’t believe how idiotic I’d sounded. At the time it happened I was mortified, but when I retold the story I found the humor in it all.

We picked up our tickets and passes at will call and sat down in our seats. The Penguins were playing the Sabres that night. I tried to put my newfound hockey knowledge to the test and explain things to the girls as the game went on. The Penguins put on an exciting game for us as they came back in the third to score four goals to win the game 5-2. Sidney had an assist, but Jordan had a great game, much to Grace’s excitement.

The five of us made our way downstairs to the family room. Grace and I had warned the others about the potential awkwardness in the room during the game so they were prepared for it. The only problem was that it wasn’t awkward at all.

“Hey, Tanner! Hey, Grace!” Erin exclaimed when we walked through the door with a smile on her face. The rest of the girls looked up and greeted us with smiles as well.

“Hey, guys,” I greeted.

“Are these some of your friends?” Brianne asked. Grace and I introduced Hailey, Kelly, and Lisa to them. We chatted idly with them for a bit.

“Do you guys want anything to drink? There’s plenty here,” Jenny offered pointing to a small bar in the room.

We took her up on the offer and grabbed a beer each. It was during that conversation that I finally learned who all the girls were dating. I already knew that Kelsy was dating Tyler Kennedy. Brianne was with Max Talbot, Jenny was with Kris Letang, Erin was with Brooks Orpik, and Vero was with Marc-Andre Fleury. I hadn’t met any of those guys yet so I only recognized names from seeing them on jerseys or hearing Sid talk about them.

“Are you guys planning on going to Diesel tonight?” Kelsy asked us.

“I don’t know. No one said anything to us about it,” Grace responded.

“Well, whether or not Jordan and Sid go, you guys should come out for sure,” Vero said.

“Well, I guess we’ll see what happens,” I said.

We continued talking until the guys started coming in. The girls introduced their boyfriends to all of us and they all seemed very nice. Just like Vero had said, they invited us to Diesel as well. We were discussing going when Jordan and Sidney walked in together along with Ryan.

“Hey, good game!” I said to him when he came over and kissed me.

“Yeah, you played pretty decently too,” Grace told Jordan. He smiled and thanked her.

“Sure, all the guys that played get the love,” Ryan commented.

“Hey, I’m sure you cheered really well,” Hailey told him. We laughed when he made a face at her.

“So what do you guys think about getting some food and then heading to Diesel after?” Sidney asked.

We agreed and headed out. Just like the game before Sidney exited out a different door than the others. I went with him, Grace went with Jordan, and the other three were following in Hailey’s car. Again Sidney and I were first at the restaurant and had to wait at least 20 minutes for everyone else to get there.

We ate dinner pretty quickly laughing most of the way through it. When we got to Diesel we walked right past the line of people waiting to get inside and up to the VIP section. I had never experienced anything like that before and we all just laughed as we walked in.

The guys went to get us drinks after we gave them our orders and we found the other girls and sat down with them. I met more of the guys on the team and found that they were a fun group to be around. I also noticed that Hailey and Ryan were spending a decent amount of time talking just to each other and no one else. Was my whole house going to date my boyfriend’s teammates?

“So how crazy were the fans outside the rink after the game?” Grace asked me at one point in the night. I looked over at her, confused.

“What fans?”

“The ones waiting outside for autographs when we drove out of the parking lot,” she said looking at me like I was crazy.

“There were no fans when Sidney and I left,” I told her.

“Wait, weren’t you guys at the restaurant before us? How did you miss them?” she asked.

I didn’t have an answer for her. Was that why Sidney left out of a different exit, to avoid the fans? Why would he have to do that? I made a mental note to ask him the next day when we weren’t in a loud club.

As the night wore on we all got pretty sloppy without even intending to. At some point both Hailey and Ryan disappeared altogether from the club and neither answered phone calls or texts from any of us. Grace and Jordan were the next to bow out, and were heading over to Jordan’s. Our house was closer than Sidney’s so the rest of us grabbed a cab and headed back to our place deciding to just pick up the cars the next day.

“Boy, am I glad my room is downstairs,” Kelly commented as we walked through the front door.

“No shit. I’m pretty happy mine is too,” Lisa agreed. At first I wasn’t sure what they were talking about until I saw the looks on their faces.

“You two can go fuck yourselves,” I joked as Sidney and I headed up the stairs to my room. I noticed that Hailey’s door was open and she wasn’t in it when I passed it on the way to my room. She must have gone back to Ryan’s.

“Are you sure they don’t care that I stay over?” Sidney asked shutting the door behind him.

“Trust me, you are not the first man to stay over here,” I said.

“But not with you,” he joked. I groaned and fell back onto the bed.

“You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?” He laid down on the bed next to me.

“There’s nothing to live down. You made it a bigger deal than it needed to be.” I knew he was right. I kissed him and smiled.

“I tend to do that with things. Just a fair warning.”

“Should I sleep on the couch?” he asked. I started to laugh, but saw that he was serious. God, he was perfect.

“No, you can stay in here with me. Unfortunately my twin size bed doesn’t leave us a whole lot of room.”

“So we’ll have to be touching the whole time,” he said with a grin on his face.

“Is that a problem?” I asked turning on my side to face him.

“Touching you is never a problem,” he whispered pressing his lips to mine.

I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him on top of me, taking his shirt off in the process. In my opinion the guy should always be shirtless in my presence. He undressed me, kissing and teasing me the entire time. No one had ever spent this much time and effort on me before sex, and I loved it.

I laid there later listening to his steady breaths as he slept. I was falling for him, and I was falling fast. It worried me. Just a month ago I was telling him that I had a lot I wanted to do with my life before I settled down with anyone, and I’d meant it. Now all I wanted was to spend every minute of my free time with him. I’d never had these feelings for anyone else before and it scared me. Was I really prepared for this? I fell asleep without an answer to that question.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chapter 9

So I had way too many ideas in my head about another story so I went right ahead and started it. It's not about Sidney, it's about Corey Perry. Completely random, I know, but I've had some weird crush on him for a couple seasons now. I can't explain it really. Anyway, feel free to check it out if you're not opposed to a story about someone other than Sidney or a Penguin in general.

Sidney woke up at some point in the middle of the night and looked at the form curled up next to him. He smiled and pushed some stray strands of her hair out of her face. She didn’t move at his touch so he risked planting a kiss on her forehead. She still didn’t stir and he decided she must be a pretty deep sleeper.

He hadn’t exactly planned on sleeping with her tonight. His intentions were purely to have her watch some movies and hang out. He’d also meant to tell her about the hockey stuff. He’d started to, and then diverted the conversation last second. He wasn’t sure why he was nervous about it and that threw him off a little bit.

There had been something about Tanner from the moment he’d seen her. He hadn’t told her, but he’d actually spotted her before her nephew ever got onto the bus. He had walked out of the rink and was signing autographs when he saw her. She was just standing back from the crowd and watching what was happening. He’d figured she was in charge of one of the kids asking for autographs. When Andrew had pulled him off of the bus to meet his aunt, Sidney had been very pleasantly surprised when he was pulled over to her.

He had every intention of throwing away the phone number Andrew had given him until the moment Tanner’s cheeks turned bright red when they were introduced. It was her embarrassment that hooked him. It was extremely rare when a female was less than thrilled to be introduced to him. Their short phone conversation had further sealed the deal that Sidney had to get to know her. He was glad he’d looked her up.

He was also nervous about how glad he was. He’d only known her for a month but he was terrified of telling her what his life was really like. He was convinced that if anything would cause her to leave him, it would be his lifestyle. Not because she wouldn’t be able to deal with him having other commitments, but because she may not be able to deal with the fact that he was high profile which in turn would put her in the public eye.

He realized he wasn’t scared of how she would treat him when she found out the truth like he had originally thought. No, he was scared she’d run screaming in the other direction. He was scared that after only a month he was scared of losing her, especially since he hadn’t even called her his girlfriend yet. What was wrong with him?

He looked down at her again and couldn’t resist pressing his lips to her forehead again. This time she stirred, just slightly. He used the opportunity to pull her a little closer to him. She nestled into him a little more, but never woke up. He couldn’t help but smile as he fell back to sleep.

I heard an alarm go off and instinctively I swung my arm out to hit the button to turn it off. Instead I hit something else.

“Ow,” I heard Sidney say. I opened an eye and saw him holding his nose.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I apologized propping myself on an elbow and leaning over him. I pulled his hand away to make sure I hadn’t really injured him. There was no blood and it wasn’t even red.

“Well that wasn’t exactly the best wake-up ever,” he groaned looking over at me. I leaned down and kissed the tip of his nose. “Now it’s getting better.” I smiled at him and nestled back into him.

“I’m really sorry,” I repeated. He rolled over to face me.

“Do you usually hit people to wake them up?” he asked.

“I haven’t exactly woken up next to anyone before,” I said absentmindedly.

My face immediately flushed when I said that and I wanted to take it back. I hadn’t exactly wanted to divulge the fact that I’d always had a no sleepover policy until the words “I love you” were said first thing in the morning. I was hardly a prude, but to me spending the night was something you only did with someone you loved. His eyes widened in surprise.

“You’ve never spent the night with anyone before?” he asked shocked. I squeezed my eyes shut hoping that if I wished hard enough when I opened my eyes I’d realize I’d been dreaming. I had no such luck.

“Nope. This was my first time,” I fessed up because there simply wasn’t anything else I could do.

“Was I –" he started. It was way too early for this conversation and I cut him off before he could continue.

“Man, I bet that alarm clock went off for a reason,” I said trying to change the subject as I sat up in bed. It was then that I realized I had no clothes on, which just seemed to make the whole situation even more embarrassing. I clung to the blanket, holding it to my chest and looked everywhere but at Sidney.

“Tanner, hold on. I’m being serious,” he said. I pulled my knees up to my chest and put my head on them.

“Don’t worry, the only first you can claim is the sleepover,” I told him keeping my head down on my knees. I chanced a look over at him from the corner of my eye and he looked relieved.

“How have you never spent a night with someone before then?”

I felt like I was going to vomit. You just did not talk about love in any capacity with someone you couldn’t even call your boyfriend. I tried to think of something, anything to say to try to end this conversation but nothing was coming to mind.

“Tanner?” he asked when I didn’t respond.

“Look, it’s no big deal,” I said covering my face with my hands. “I’m not feeling great.”

Then I did the only thing I could think of and ran. I grabbed the top blanket making sure it was covering me and walked into the bathroom, locking the door behind me. I sat down on the floor and mentally smacked myself. God, I was an idiot. Why don’t I think things through before I say them? Then I realized my clothes were still in his bedroom and I was going to have to exit the bathroom basically naked at some point. I wished that there was a rock I could crawl under.

“Tanner?” I heard Sidney call through the door. I took a deep breath before answering.

“Yeah?” I managed to squeak out.

“Are you okay?” No, no I’m not okay. I want to die.

“Uh, depends on your definition of okay,” was what I told him.

“Can you come back out here?” he asked.

What I wouldn’t do for some clothes right now. My prayers were answered when I looked up and saw a pair of his sweatpants and a t-shirt sitting on the floor. I put them on and splashed some cold water in my face before I unlocked the door and walked out. He’d put on a pair of shorts, but his chest and abs were still horribly distracting, and the fact that I was having trouble looking away from them made the situation even that much worse.

“Why did you run away?” he asked. I shrugged.

“I’m just a smidge embarrassed,” I told him still avoiding eye contact. My legs felt like jelly and I really just wanted to sit down. He walked over to me and took my hand in his.

“Would you just look at me?” he finally asked. With great pain I forced myself to look into his eyes. “What exactly are you embarrassed about? The fact that you told me I was the first person you spent the night with or because you didn’t tell me you hadn’t done that before?”

“I guess it’s the fact that once I said it I knew I’d have to explain everything to you. It wouldn’t have been at all embarrassing or awkward if it came up in conversation at any other time, but it became embarrassing once I did spend the night with you.”

“Will you explain it to me?” I sighed.

“To me spending the night with someone is the most intimate thing you can do. Sex is one thing, but you have to really care and trust someone to spend the night. When you’re asleep you’re most vulnerable because you’re not aware of what’s going on around you. I just always told myself I was going to wait until I told someone I loved them to do it. Even so, I stayed the night here without a second thought. You’re not even my boyfriend and I broke the only rule I ever made for myself.” He took it all in and thought for a moment.

“Do you want that?” he asked finally.

“Do I want what?” I returned, unsure as to what he was asking me.

“Do you want me to be your boyfriend?” What was with all the tough questions? It was way too early in the morning for this.

“That’s not what I was saying,” I started.

“I thought I made it clear last night how I felt about you,” he said cutting me off.

“You did. I wasn’t trying to trivialize that.” I was beginning to stammer and felt like I was just digging myself in deeper the more that I opened my mouth. “I just – I don’t want to – I think I should just –"

I closed my eyes and my mouth and wondered if an anvil could just drop on me right now. This situation right here showed me why I hadn’t had a serious relationship my whole life. I was no good at this dating thing. I collapsed down on the edge of his bed and put my head in my hands. It was taking every bit of strength in me not to start crying, which probably only would have made the situation even more awkward.

“Tanner, as fucking adorable as you are when you’re embarrassed, you need to stop questioning everything,” Sidney said breaking the silence. Shocked by what he said I looked up at him.

“Excuse me?” He knelt down in front of me and took my hands in his.

“I like you. The fact that you had some rule in your mind about not spending the night with anyone until you loved them wouldn’t have changed that. The fact that you did spend the night with me doesn’t change that. I’m not going to run away because the girl I’m interested in cares enough about me to subconsciously trust me at a time when she normally feels most vulnerable. You heard what I was saying last night, but you didn’t hear what I was saying. I spend all my time thinking about being with you and when I’m with you I spend my time thinking about how to keep you around longer. As far as I’m concerned you’re the only person I want to spend my time with. I want to be your boyfriend, if you’ll have me.”

“God, I’m an idiot sometimes,” I said sighing.

“So, are you going to be offended if I start calling you my girlfriend?” he asked. I shook my head, thinking it was best to keep my mouth shut right now. He smiled up at me and pressed his lips to mine.

“I’m sorry. I guess I’m just scared of screwing this up,” I told him. He sat down on the bed next to me and put his arm around me.

“So am I.” I leaned into his arms and started to feel a little better. "You look cute in my clothes." I laughed and felt a lot better.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Chapter 8

Sidney laid out all the DVDs he planned on throwing in when Tanner got there. Of course he had classics like the original Mighty Ducks and Slap Shot. He’d also gotten the game tape from the night before that they could watch together. She’d already seen the game so he could just point things out about plays she remembered. He also didn’t believe for a second that she would be a slow learner.

She didn’t miss much, that was for sure. He never even expected her to pick up on the fact that they were leaving from a separate exit than everyone else last night. He still hadn’t told her that he was more than just an average hockey player and he wasn’t sure how to do it. He was enjoying being treated like a normal person with her and was afraid that was going to change when she found out.

Still, he knew he had to tell her, and soon. All she needed to do was get bored someday and type his name into any search engine to find out. Even though he wasn’t exactly hiding anything bad from her he knew that it was probably best if she heard it from him.

He’d just have to tell her tonight at some point and hope it didn’t change things with them. He’d only known her for a month but he really enjoyed spending time with her. He’d just have to make sure not to screw anything up. His phone went off and he smiled when he saw the text. He made his way downstairs to let Tanner in.

Sidney insisted we make it a full day of hockey so I agreed to be at his house at 2:00. I knew he lived with Mario Lemieux and I was nervous about meeting him. I may not have been a sports fan, but it’s impossible not to know who Mario Lemieux is when you're family loves hockey. I texted Sidney when I pulled onto his street. He was waiting outside when I pulled into the driveway.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked up at the house. I hadn’t been paying much attention to the neighborhood as I drove through since I was trying to send Sidney a text while not crashing my car. The house was enormous. I’d never seen anything like it in person. Sidney lived here?

“Hey,” he said as I got out of my car.

I smiled and he gave me a quick kiss. He took my hand and led me through the front door. I stared in awe at the inside of the house. This house was what people dreamt of living in, not what they actually lived in. I was gawking at everything as Sidney led me through a few rooms, and I heard people talking. I took my eyes away from the décor and saw a man and woman sitting on a couch. They both stood up smiling when they saw us come in.

“Mario, Nathalie, this is Tanner,” Sidney introduced us.

“Hi, it’s really nice to meet you,” I said shaking each of their hands.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Tanner,” Mario said, a genuine smile on his face.

“Sidney’s told us so much about you. I’ve got to say, I’ve never heard of anyone meeting the way you two did,” Nathalie told me laughing. I blushed and laughed too.

“Yeah, my nephew is really something else.”

“Sidney says you don’t know anything about hockey and he’s putting on a bit of a clinic for you,” Mario said. I blushed again.

“Yeah, I was never much of a sports fan. I guess it’s time to learn though.”

“Can I get you anything to eat or drink before you head into Sidney’s wing?” Nathalie asked. Wing? Sidney had his own wing?

“Oh, no. Thank you though,” I said.

“Okay, I’ve got a full day planned and Tanner said she’s a slow learner so we’re going to head over,” Sidney told them.

“Okay, let us know if you need anything,” Nathalie offered. I smiled and followed Sidney into a completely different section of the house.

“This place is amazing,” I said gazing at everything we passed. He laughed and didn’t respond as he guided me into the living room in his wing. I still couldn’t get over that whole separate wings thing.

“So I thought we’d start off easy. The hockey’s terrible but I can teach you the basics from it,” he explained. I sat down on the couch and waited to see what he’d put in. “Pay attention, you will be quizzed.” I laughed at him and rolled my eyes. When I saw that it was Mighty Ducks, I laughed again.

“I’ve seen this. Of course I was a kid when I saw it,” I told him.

“Yeah, but you haven’t seen it with me.”

I curled up on the couch and sat back to watch the movie. Sidney began to explain some of the fundamentals as we watched and then denounced the stereotype that goaltenders should be the fattest guy on the team saying Fleury was just livid about that.

Somehow as the movie went on Sidney and I got closer to each other on the couch. By the time it ended our shoulders were touching. Sid got up to change movies saying the next one would have some better hockey action. He told me it would provide him the chance to get a little more in depth as far as the game went. Once again, I’d seen the movie he popped in, but I sat back to watch Miracle with him anyway.

“Is this boring you?” he asked not long after the movie started. I looked over at him and shook my head.

“Not at all, why?” I asked. He shrugged but didn’t look away from me.

“I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t slowly torturing you with hockey movies,” he joked.

“You’re not,” I assured him. He leaned over and kissed me. He didn’t pull away right away, and I didn’t try to either. Eventually I ended the kiss, but kept my forehead pressed to his. “I thought I was being quizzed.”

“The hockey part hasn’t started yet,” he responded. I smiled and kissed him again. “Tanner, I should probably tell you something.” I pulled back from him a bit and felt a tiny knot in my stomach. He didn’t exactly make that sound like it was a good thing.

“What is it?” I asked nervously. He looked away from me and bit his lower lip obviously struggling to find the words he wanted to use. This was it. We were over before we even really started.

“Being with me isn’t easy,” he started but then hesitated again. When he didn’t immediately say anything else I cut in.

“What does that mean?” He thought for another minute before continuing.

“I play hockey. I travel a lot and it’s my first priority. I’m not around a lot, even when I probably should be.” I waited to see if he said anything else but he didn’t.

“Sid, I’ve never complained. I understand. That’s how it’ll be as I try to realize my dream. I’ll have to put in long hours and travel a lot. My passion for animals existed long before guys did to me. They’re going to be my first priority. It’d be pretty unfair of me to get upset at you for that if I was going to do it too,” I told him. He attempted a smile.

“I really like you, Tanner. I want us to work out but I need you to know what you’re getting into. You told me once that guys tend to be scared off by your independency, but I’m attracted to you because of that. If you’re not ready, or can’t handle the fact that I can’t put you first all the time, then I understand if you leave now. I just really hope that you won’t leave. I want you to stay and be here with me.” I smiled and put my hand in his.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

He smiled back at me and kissed me again. At this point the movie had gotten to the hockey and Sidney fell back into explaining the game to me. When the movie was over we ordered some Chinese food and he put in Slap Shot. I’d never seen it before and he told me it was simply a comical break from the lessons before we continued.

When he said comical he was right. I spent most of the movie laughing, not at the movie, but at his reenactments of the scenes. He’d obviously seen the movie way too many times. When that one had ended he stuck in the game tape from the night before, telling me it was time to get serious.

Instead of explaining things during the game he really did start quizzing me during certain plays. There was one incident that was really frustrating me. He asked me what his team had done wrong and rewound the play. I watched it half a dozen times and still couldn’t figure it out. I began to get angry and he started to laugh at me. The more he laughed, the angrier I got, which made him continue to laugh. It was a really terrible cycle.

“It’s not funny!” I yelled swinging a pillow at him. He grabbed the pillow before it hit him and pulled it out of my hands.

“Do you give up?” he asked trying to catch his breath from all the laughing. I crossed my arms over my chest and sighed, but nodded. “There was nothing wrong with the play.”

My jaw dropped in shock and anger. I grabbed another pillow and swung it at him. He caught that one as well and made sure all pillows were out of my reach at that point. I just narrowed my eyes at him and shook my head in disbelief.

“You’re an asshole,” I said.

“Aw, Babe, I’m sorry.”

His use of the word “babe” threw me off, and my anger melted immediately. It was the first time he’d called me anything that wasn’t my name. He saw the anger fade and used the opportunity to lean in and kiss me. At first I refused to kiss him back, but he was relentless and I eventually gave in. It was impossible to keep from kissing that boy.

I wrapped my arms around his neck as the kiss continued and his arms encircled my waist. I shifted on the couch so my entire body was facing him, and he pulled me all the way to him. I ran a hand through his hair and I was all too aware of our bodies pressed together.

“I think I’ve had enough hockey for now,” I told him pulling away slightly. Before I knew what was happening he’d picked me up and carried me into his bedroom. He laid me back on his bed and positioned himself over me.

“You should stay here tonight,” he whispered into my ear as he trailed kisses down my neck to my collarbone.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? I don’t want to cause any trouble with Mario and Nathalie in their house. I just met them.”

His response was to simply put his mouth to mine and there was no turning that down. I reached for the bottom of his shirt and pulled it over his head. I had to bite my lip to keep from audibly expressing my surprise at just how cut he was. I’d never seen a body like that in person, let alone touched one. I did just that, feeling the muscles in his chest and abs as he continued to trail kisses along my neck and jawline.

In my experience the first time people have sex tends to be a bit awkward as you struggle to fall into the same rhythm while worrying about pleasing them, but there was nothing awkward about sex with Sidney. It was like we just knew what the other needed, and I never wanted it to end. It was the perfect mix of sweet and raw, and completely mind-blowing. After we were both completely satisfied, he pulled me to him and kissed me on the forehead.

“You’re the first person I’ve met since I was a teenager that made me completely comfortable to just be myself. You have no idea how much that means to me,” he said. I smiled and looked up at him.

“I don’t know why you’d be afraid of being yourself. You’re pretty great.” He smiled, kissed me, and we fell asleep like that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chapter 7

I put on Sidney’s game Tuesday night just like I told him I would. My housemates crowded around me in the living room to watch the game with me as we all worked on school work. Sidney scored the first goal of the game and I yelled out in excitement, much to the amusement of the girls. They’d never seen me cheer for any team that wasn’t the Giants during the Superbowl.

Unfortunately Detroit scored the next three goals and my mood was ruined a bit. I did notice that the broadcasters talked about Sidney a lot but I figured it was just because he was playing well, because honestly I couldn’t tell. The third period ended up being the most entertaining as the Penguins came roaring back to tie the game with less than 30 seconds left. Grace was especially interested since Jordan had scored the last three goals.

When the Penguins won in overtime I smiled and sent Sidney a text telling him good game. I went up to my room to finish up some work for class the next day. That plan backfired when my phone rang and I saw that it was Sidney calling.

“You seriously watched the game?” he asked when I answered. I laughed.

“I told you I would. The whole house watched. Grace was particularly interested at the end when Jordan was scoring all of those goals,” I told him. I heard him say something to someone in the background before he said anything to me.

“Jordan wants to know if she was impressed or just interested,” Sidney said to me.

“She was definitely impressed.” Sidney relayed the message to Jordan and despite not hearing Jordan’s response I could hear a group of guys laughing in the background.

“Okay, we’re about to get on the plane and take off. I’m pretty busy tomorrow with practice and some promo stuff, but you should come to the game on Thursday,” he invited. I thought about anything I might have going on and realized I had nothing.

“That would be fun,” I answered.

“Good. Bring Grace if she wants. I’ll leave two tickets at the will call window. Just have ID and they’ll give you the tickets.” I thanked him and we hung up.

Thursday evening Grace and I were fretting about what to wear. When we finally decided on simple yet cute jeans and a sweater outfits and we made our way to the rink. We decided not to deal with traffic and took a cab there. When I got our tickets at will call they also handed me two laminated cards.

“Excuse me, what are these for?” I asked the woman at the window, completely clueless.

“They’re to get downstairs after the game,” she explained.

Grace and I made our way to our seats and sat down. They were playing the Flyers that night, just like they had been the day I met Sidney. He’d explained that they were pretty heated rivals so it could be an intense game. I was nervous and excited at the same time. This would be the first time I saw him play live when I was actually paying attention to him. Grace seemed to be just as excited to see Jordan.

Pittsburgh jumped out to a good start scoring the first three goals of the game. I jumped up and cheered with the rest of the crowd when Sidney scored the third goal. Then the Flyers came flying back scoring the next four goals. The crowd fell silent and stayed that way into the third period. It looked like the Flyers were going to win until Sidney scored his second goal to tie the game with less than three minutes left. The game went to a shootout and the Penguins won again. I clapped and yelled when Sidney was announced as the first star.

Grace and I found a security guard who showed us where to go with our passes when the crowd began to clear out. When we were downstairs we showed security down there our passes and they pointed to a room down a hallway behind them. I opened the door and walked in with Grace behind me. We were immediately met with stares from a group of girls already in the room.

Grace and I both froze just inside the door feeling very uncomfortable. We saw a few chairs separated a bit from the group of women and sat down. I could see food and drinks out on a table but decided against grabbing anything despite being both hungry and thirsty so I wouldn’t draw any more attention to myself.

We could hear the girls whispering and we both assumed it was about us and chose to just talk quietly among ourselves. I wasn’t exactly used to being in a situation like this. I didn’t exactly enjoy the feeling that I was being sized up by strangers.

“Hi, I’m Erin,” one of the girls said walking over to the two of us.

“I’m Tanner, and this is Grace,” I said introducing us.

“So you’re Sidney’s girlfriend,” another stated walking over. I hesitated before answering. I wasn’t exactly his girlfriend.

“Uh, we’re just dating, that’s all,” I replied. She smiled politely but looked like she didn’t believe me. Suddenly I felt like all of them were surrounding Grace and me.

“Don’t mind Brianne. Feel free to ignore her actually,” another girl joked. “I’m Jenny, by the way. You must be the girl Jordan’s been talking about,” she said turning to Grace.

“He’s been talking about me?” she asked, obviously surprised. They’d really only talked at the Halloween party.

“Oh yeah. He’s been all over Sidney to get your number for him,” another girl jumped in. “I’m Kelsy.” I saw Grace blush, and that never happened. Just then a guy in a suit walked into the room. “Hey, hun, this is Sidney’s girlfriend, Tanner and her friend Grace." He looked over at me and smiled.

“Hi, I’m Tyler,” he introduced himself.

“Hi. I’m not really his girlfriend,” I corrected. This really couldn’t be any more awkward.

“So how did you guys meet?” a fifth girl who introduced herself as Vero asked. I knew my face turned red as I thought about the incident and realized I was about to reveal it to complete strangers.

“I took my nephew to a game in Philly and he insisted on getting autographs after. While I was on the phone he disappeared and I found him walking off the bus pulling Sidney along with him,” I explained.

I chose to leave out the part where Andrew announced that I needed a boyfriend and proceeded to give Sidney my phone number. They all smiled and nodded. They chatted with us a bit longer until guys began coming in and I was relieved when the attention was diverted from us. It took a while, but Sidney finally came in followed by Jordan. I saw Grace’s smile grow when she saw him.

“Hey, sorry it took so long. The media was all over me tonight,” Sidney apologized walking over.

“Not a problem,” I told him glad to be getting out of the room.

“Jordan and I thought we could all grab something to eat,” he suggested.

I knew I was hungry but glanced over to Grace. She nodded and I agreed. We followed them out of the room. It was at that point that Sidney and Jordan parted ways leaving in different directions.

“Where is he going?” I asked Sidney.

“His car is parked out that way,” he replied. I watched other guys heading in the same direction as Jordan, but no one else walked in the direction Sidney did.

“Why are you parked in different places?” I questioned. He hesitated a moment before answering.

“I don’t know. It just happened that way I guess.”

For all I knew, he was telling the truth, as odd as it sounded, so I didn’t question him anymore. Grace and I got in the car and Sidney drove us to dinner. We beat Jordan there and he came in almost 20 minutes later. That also struck me as a little strange since we’d left at the same time.

Dinner went well and the conversation was entertaining. Jordan and Grace seemed to hit it off pretty well and Sidney and I both instinctually let them dominate most of the conversation. When dinner was over Jordan asked us if we’d want to go to Diesel. I declined because I had a class the next morning but Grace jumped at the chance to continue to spend time with Jordan.

“I’ll drive you home,” Sidney told me as we got up from the table.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. I’ll just grab a cab. Go out with your team,” I insisted. He gave me a look that told me he thought I was nuts.

“I’ll drive you home,” he repeated. I smiled and didn’t argue with him. Just like the last time he walked me up to the door. “What are you doing tomorrow night?”

“I have no plans yet,” I told him.

“You should come over and I can teach you about hockey,” he suggested.

“You better start the lesson plans now, because when it comes to sports, I’m a pretty slow learner,” I joked. He laughed.

“I’ll get working on that.” He leaned in and put his lips on mine, causing my heart to race. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” I watched him get into his car and drive away before I went inside.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chapter 6

I woke up Sunday morning nervous and excited at the same time. I’d turned down invitations to go out last night because I didn’t want to be hungover for my date with Sidney. He was picking me up for an early lunch/late breakfast and then we were going to the zoo. I hadn’t expected the invitation to the zoo, but was thrilled when he suggested it.

I showered and threw my hair up into a ponytail. I put on a pair of jeans and a sweater and went light on the makeup. I tried to think of what section I’d want to head to first, knowing that the bears would have to be last since they were my favorite and I’d spend the whole afternoon watching them if I had the choice. The doorbell rang and I opened it.

“Hey, we have hangovers in here!” I heard Grace call out in protest at the noise.

I laughed and shook my head as I walked out the door. We drove to a diner where I ordered a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. I asked Sidney about the game the night before and he told me about their shootout win over the Islanders.

After we finished brunch we left the diner and at least half of the Belgian waffle I hadn’t been able to eat. We pulled up at the zoo, paid admission, and walked in the entrance. We headed in the direction of the Asian Forest first. When I saw the Amur tiger pacing I stopped and watched in silence for a few minutes.

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” I finally said to Sidney as we looked on.

“Yes, they are,” he replied. I smiled, but didn’t take my eyes off of the tiger.

“It’s a shame they may not survive in the wild much longer,” I said shaking my head in disgust.

“What do you mean?” he asked. I whipped my head around to look at him in shock.
“How do you not know?” I asked much more forcefully than I meant to. He shrugged and didn’t seem all that concerned.

“Hockey takes up a lot of my time. I don’t have time for much else,” he explained. I softened my gaze on him and looked back at the tiger.

“They’re being wiped out in Russia and in China. India’s the only country where they’re not being killed off on sight. In fact, the tigers hunt humans in the Sunderban in India. Fucking poachers hunt them for skins and body parts to sell to the traditional Chinese who think tiger parts cure diseases,” I said in anger.

I knew I shouldn’t go there, but I couldn’t help it. Thinking about ancient Chinese medicine or their “delicacies” at expensive secret restaurants really got my blood boiling. Sidney didn’t say anything and we stood in silence for a few minutes watching the tiger pace. I hoped tigers wouldn’t only be alive in zoos when I had children. Finally I moved on to another exhibit.

Things lightened up as we moved throughout the zoo. I threw out some fun facts for Sidney about each animal we observed and he made fun of me for being such a geek. I laughed it off knowing that he could probably rattle off the stats of any player in the NHL I asked about.

I was worried about seeing the bears. Short of the polar bear, I was afraid the others would have gone into hibernation. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a Kodiak and a black bear still out and alert. I laughed at just about everything the bears did and told Sidney he could go on without me, because I’d be here the rest of the day.

“You’re something else,” he said to me laughing as I pointed and giggled like a child when the polar bear dove into the water after a ball he’d just knocked in.

“Hey, it was funny,” I told him, giving him a shove. He rolled his eyes at me and I turned my attention back to the polar bear.

“So what was it about bears that attracted you to them?” he asked. I smiled as I thought back to that day at the zoo. I honestly think it was my first real vivid memory.

“Well, I saw the polar bears first. To my five year old knowledge bears looked just like the ones I hugged in bed at night, but they were huge. One was napping, but the other was doing laps around the exhibit. Every once in a while he’d make his way to a point right in the center where most of the people were gathered. Once there he’d stop, look out at the crowd, and then pick up a paw and hold it in the air like he was posing. Then he’d go on with his laps after the crowd laughed. I wanted to watch him do that all day.”

“A posing polar bear hooked you?” he asked. I glanced over at him and shook my head.

“The Grizzly was next. He was half sitting in the water and watching the fountain that was right in front of him. Periodically he would put his enormous paw over the fountain and block the flow of water. Then he would let go and snap at the water as it sprayed upwards,” I said laughing at the memory. He looked at me like I was crazy. “Trust me, it was hilarious.”

“I never know what to expect with you,” he told me giving me a half smile.

“Is that a bad thing?” He shook his head.

“Not at all.” I shivered and realized the sun was on its way down and the zoo would be closing soon.

“Thank you for taking me here,” I said as we walked back to his car.

“It was fun. You taught me a lot about animals that I didn’t know and never thought I would know. Unfortunately because of your obsession with the bears we only got to see about half of the exhibits,” he joked.

“Well, we’ll just have to go back and see the rest sometime,” I mentioned as I buckled my seat belt. I looked at him from the corner of my eye to gauge his reaction. He smiled and nodded to himself.

“We’ll have to go see the snakes though,” he said eyeing me.

“Wait until you see how big the anaconda is. It’s too bad they don’t have a reticulated python here. Those snakes are just enormous. It also kind of sucks they don’t have a king cobra. They’re giant also, and probably the most impressive looking snake you’d ever see, although not the deadliest.” I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t exactly expecting me to be okay with looking at snakes.

“You’ve surprised me again. I don’t know a single girl who wouldn’t freak out at the sight of a snake.” I just shrugged and looked out the window. Now that our date was over I was pretty bummed that it was ending. “So I know that we already had lunch, but I’m hungry again. Do you want to get something with me?”

“Yeah, sure. What’d you have in mind?” I asked jumping at the chance to keep the date going. He thought for a minute.

“I picked last time. It’s your choice,” he finally said. It was time for me to think.

“How about a Japanese Steakhouse?” I suggested. He agreed and headed to one. We pulled into the parking lot and he turned off the car. “Before we go in you have to promise not to argue with my next statement.” He looked at me oddly.

“I don’t know that I’m going to be able to promise that.”

“Then we’re not going in,” I said crossing my arms over my chest and leaving my seatbelt on. He sighed.

“Fine, I promise not to argue with you.” I smiled and got out of the car.

“Dinner’s on me,” I called back to him as I walked to the door. I could hear him laughing behind me.

We joined another group around the hibachi and looked over the menus. After we put in our order we started talking about his upcoming trip to Detroit. I hadn’t traveled much so I loved to hear what other places were like. That’s when he told me they’d lost to Detroit in the finals the previous year. I could tell he was still bitter about it by the way he talked about it.

The cook finally came and put on quite a show while making our dinner. Sidney and I spent the entire time laughing at the jokes and applauding the tricks. When we started eating we began to eat off of each others plates like we’d known each other forever. The food was cooked magnificently and I ate way more then I should have. When the check came Sidney tried to take it but I held my hand out to him. He sighed dramatically, but kept his mouth shut as he handed it over.

“How about some ice cream?” he asked as we got into his car. I looked over at him like he was crazy.

“You can still eat something after that?” He laughed and started the car. He wasn’t kidding about the ice cream. After he grabbed a cone and I refused one we just walked around downtown as he ate.

“I guess I should get back and pack up for the trip,” Sidney finally said.

“So you leave tomorrow?” I asked. He nodded.

“We’ll be back late Tuesday night though. It’s just one game,” he explained.

“Maybe I’ll tune in and watch this one,” I told him. He laughed. “What? I’m being serious.”

“You’re going to watch a game?” he asked bewildered.

“Hey, I liked the last game I watched. Maybe I’ll end up enjoying hockey. You never know if you like something until you give it a try.” He stopped walking and turned to look at me.

“Then I guess I better try,” he said.

I stopped too and looked at him, confused. I was about to ask him what he was going to try when the feel of his lips on mine silenced me. I was caught off guard for a minute, but I finally kissed him back when my brain registered what was going on. My stomach was in knots when he pulled away and I was struggling to catch my breath. I shivered and he took that as meaning I was cold even though the temperature was the last thing on my mind.

“Let’s get back to the car,” he said as he took my hand in his. We walked back to the car in silence. The ride back to my house was silent as well, and I couldn’t stop replaying that amazing kiss in my head.

“Thank you for everything today. I had a great time,” I told him before I got out of the car.

“I did too,” he replied. I smiled and opened my car door and got out. I heard him doing the same thing and he followed me onto the porch.

“I’ll call you tomorrow when I get to Detroit,” he said when we stopped outside the door.

“Okay. Have a safe trip.” He put a hand on my cheek and kissed me again causing my stomach to tie itself into knots all over again. At least this time I was ready for it.

“Goodnight, Tanner,” he said when he pulled away.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chapter 5

Sidney finally finished up with the media and made his way into the shower. Sometimes he hated who he was. Most of the time he was fine with the interviews and the fact that no matter what happened in a game the reporters always wanted to talk to him. Other times he was envious of the guys who didn’t get as much attention because they got out of the rink after games at a decent hour.

He got dressed and noncommittally told the guys he’d think about going out to Diesel tonight. Usually after a win he was up for going out with the guys after a game, especially on a Saturday. For some reason he just wasn’t in the mood tonight. After signing a few autographs out of his car window he drove away from the arena and then picked up his phone dialing Tanner’s number. It rang a few times before going to her voicemail.

He left a message telling her that they’d won and he’d had two assists. He wasn’t even sure she knew what assists meant. After he hung up he began to wonder what she was doing. It was a Saturday night and she was a college student. She was probably at a bar, house party, or God help him, a frat party. He didn’t want to think about the last option.

He’d only known her for a few weeks, but she was always on his mind. The more he talked to her, the more he liked her. Despite his reservations, he’d had a great time at the Halloween party the night before. She was beautiful, funny, smart, and normal. Oh yeah, and she had no idea who he was.

Sure she knew that he was Sidney Crosby and he played hockey in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but with her lack of interest in sports she didn’t seem to have a clue what most people thought of him. To her he was just a normal person with an odd job. He wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not. He was curious how she’d react when she found out.

He’d thought of telling her a few times, but had decided against it each time. Eventually he would, because she’d find out on her own at some point if he didn’t. He just liked the fact that she didn’t have a clue, which meant that any feelings she may or may not have for him had nothing to do with what he did for a living and everything to do with him as a person. He never knew who was truthful with him and who spent time with him because of who he was.

He sighed as he continued to drive. She was probably at some party with her friends enjoying a Saturday night and if he couldn’t be with her, he’d do what she was doing. He made a u-turn at an intersection and headed back towards Diesel. He walked right through the door and up to where his team always was, grabbing a beer on the way.

I groaned and rubbed my temples as I stared at my Social Justice paper on the laptop screen. I was five pages in and had seven more to go by Monday morning. I hated the class and was having a difficult time pushing myself through all the research I had collected and transferring it into the paper. Damn university wide required courses.

I managed to get through another two pages before saving what I had and closing my laptop. It was three in the morning on Saturday night and while all of my friends were out enjoying an alcohol filled night at a bar I was stuck in the house writing a paper I had put off way too long.
I knew I should have started the paper before the weekend since it was on a topic I could really give two shits about, but I hadn’t. Then Halloween had come and that made Friday fly right out the window. I’d had a pretty decent hangover this morning and only made my way out of bed at 2:00 to force some greasy and cold home fries into my stomach that were left over from Hailey’s brunch about three hours earlier. They didn’t go down well, but I knew in the long run they’d make me feel better.

I thought about the night before and smiled when I thought of Sidney. I picked up my camera for about the 80th time that night and flipped through the pictures. I smiled at the self portrait I’d taken of us, and laughed as I looked through the ridiculous ones I’d taken of Sidney, Jordan, and Ryan.

I remembered then that he’d had a game that night and wondered how they’d done. I checked my phone and saw I had a missed call from Sidney. I groaned when I realized he’d called as I was blasting some Foo Fighters and trying to remain focused on my paper. I listened to the message and smiled when I heard that they’d won, but what exactly did an assist mean? I shrugged and decided it was definitely too late to call him back, and instead chose to go to bed.

I woke up the next morning and got right to work on my paper. I was determined to have it finished by dinner. Somehow I managed to do just that and was glad that I could sit back and relax the rest of the night. I’d texted Sidney earlier telling him I was glad he’d had a good game and was hoping he’d call back at some point. Just after dinner he did.

“Hey, sorry I missed your call last night,” I told him when I picked up the phone.

“Not a problem. You were probably out enjoying your Saturday night,” he said.
“Not so much. I was locked up in my room writing the worst paper ever until I finally cashed out at 3 am,” I corrected him.

“Oh, wow. That sucks.” I laughed.

“You’re telling me. At least it’s done now.”

“So I was actually calling because I was wondering if you’d want to go to dinner sometime this week.” If I wasn’t mistaken, I’d heard a tiny shake in his voice, which would signal that he was nervous. I smiled to myself, happy that he’d finally asked me on a date.

“Yeah, I’d like that. I don’t have anything major due next week so any night would work for me. You pick,” I told him. He was silent for a moment.

“Okay, how about Tuesday night?” he asked. I smiled as I answered.

“Tuesday works.”

“Any particular food you want or don’t like?” he asked.

“Honestly, I eat just about everything. You don’t get to grow up in New York City without being able to eat diverse foods,” I said.

“Okay, I’ll figure something out.” We talked for a little while longer before we hung up for the night. I went to each of the girls’ rooms to tell them the news.

I had butterflies in my stomach all day on Tuesday as I thought about dinner. Getting a text from him that simply said “dress nice” wasn’t helping either. I spent about an hour and a half that afternoon trying on dress after dress and getting opinions from everyone.

I finally settled on a simple black strapless dress that stopped just above my knees. Kelly put some soft curls in my hair and I borrowed a pair of dark purple heels from Lisa that matched a purple clutch I had. I put on a white cardigan when I heard the doorbell ring knowing I was still going to be cold. I opened the door to see Sidney in a suit. It was the first time I’d seen him dressed like that, and boy did he look good.

“You look beautiful,” he told me while handing me a purple rose. I smiled when I took it, shocked that he’d remembered me telling him that I loved purple roses above all else.

“Thank you. You look pretty good yourself. I’ve never seen you in a suit before.”

He smiled and looked down at himself. He held out his arm to me and I took it as he led me to the car, opening the door for me, and winking. I laughed at him and rolled my eyes. Obviously he’d remembered our first conversation. We pulled up in front of one of the nicest restaurants in the city, and one I'd never expected to ever go to.

Once inside I was astonished at the view from the windows. Somehow as I looked around I thought it seemed that we had the best table in the restaurant. I wondered how we’d pulled that off. After ordering dinner and a bottle of wine Sidney and I started talking about likes and dislikes, normal first date talk.

“Favorite movie?” he asked.

“Last of the Mohicans. You?”


“Come on. You’ve got to be kidding me with that!” I exclaimed.

“What’s not to like about Rocky?” he asked.

“Pretty much everything,” I told him laughing. He laughed with me and we continued the interrogation. “Favorite book?”

“Books? What are those?” he joked. I rolled my eyes at him and lifted an eyebrow as I waited for a response. “Honestly, I don’t read much. You?”

“Pride and Prejudice. Anything by Jane Austen really, but Pride and Prejudice is my favorite,” I told him without missing a beat. He made a face.
“Are you serious with that?” he asked.

“Of course I am. It’s probably one of the best love stories ever written and it’s a classic! I’ve read it half a dozen times since senior year of high school when it was required reading,” I defended. He laughed at me and shook his head.

“Favorite band?” he asked. I thought for a minute.

“I don’t have one. I like too wide a variety of music to have a favorite. I’m never in the mood for the same genre two days in a row,” I answered.

Dinner came and the interrogation ended. We talked some more about our families and growing up and I found that Sidney and I had a whole lot in common. When dinner was over I tried to convince him to let me pay for my half of the meal but he refused.

“It’s not that I think you can’t afford it, I would just like to be polite and pay,” he said, mocking me.

“You’re a smart ass,” I said laughing.

We got back into the car and he drove me home. This was always the moment where I felt awkward. I had a great time, but did he? Would he try to kiss me, and would I let him? He walked me up to the door and I looked at him, unsure of what to say or do.

“I have a game Thursday and then I’m out of town until Saturday, but would you want to get together on Sunday? It’s really the only day I have off until next week.” I smiled at him and nodded.

“Sunday sounds great,” I agreed. He smiled back at me and he moved towards me. My breath caught in my throat as his face moved towards mine. I was pleasantly surprised when he gave me a simple kiss on the cheek.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said before walking back to his car.

I walked into the house and closed the door behind me. I leaned back against the door and closed my eyes thinking about the night. I couldn’t help but think that Sidney Crosby was perfect in every way. My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps and questions being shouted at me from my four housemates. I smiled as I recounted the entire night for them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chapter 4

A week had gone by since the day Sidney came to see me and we’d at least texted each other every day if we didn’t talk. I’m not going to lie, I’d developed quite a crush on him, but I’m the last person to act on something like that. Especially when I’d really only hung out with him once.

Halloween was coming up the following weekend and our house was holding our annual Halloween party. We’d decided as a house to be police officers, but sexy ones of course. Just like every year, we’d have beer and punch, and admission for a bottomless cup would be $5. It had been a success the previous two years and I was looking forward to it again.

“Okay, I cannot focus on work right now. Are you up for some ice cream and a House marathon?” Hailey asked me stepping into my doorway. I looked up from my Mammalian Physiology paper and smiled.

“Rocky Road ice cream?” I asked. She smiled back at me and I followed her down the stairs to the living room. She picked up the remote and turned on the DVD player as I walked to the kitchen and grabbed the ice cream and some spoons.

“Hey, I was watching that!” I heard Kelly protest.

“Shut up, we’re watching House,” Hailey responded.

“I can handle that. House is sexy,” Kelly responded. I nearly choked on the bite of ice cream I just took when I heard her say that. “What? He is.” I shook my head at her and settled in to watch the show. Halfway through our third episode my phone rang. I checked the caller ID and saw Sidney’s name.

“You’re going to miss the diagnosis!” Lisa called after me as I left the room. She’d joined during the second episode.

“She’s a boy!” I called back since I’d already seen it.

“Shut up,” Hailey said in shock.

“Hey,” I said answering the phone as I walked up the stairs to my room.

“Hey, what are you doing?” Sidney asked.

“Not much, just watching TV. How about you?” I got to my room and collapsed down onto the bed.

“I just got back from the game tonight. We won, by the way.” I laughed since he knew I definitely hadn’t been watching.

“Good, I’m glad.”

“I’m exhausted and about to hit the sack but I had a question for you,” he started. “We have a team Halloween party on Wednesday and I was wondering if you wanted to come.” I thought for a minute and then scrunched up my nose in disappointment.

“I wish I could, but I have a major test in my Faith and Reason class Thursday morning at 8:30. I’ll be up all night studying. Sorry,” I told him.

“Oh, okay. No harm in asking, I guess,” he said sounding disappointed. I was really bummed because I really wanted to see him again. Then I had an idea.

“Well, the girls and I are having a Halloween party here at the house on Halloween night. If you don’t have a game you should come. Bring some of the guys,” I told him, hopeful. There was a pause for a moment on the other end.

“We have a game the next night, but yeah, I’ll see who wants to go,” he agreed. I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face.

“Great! I’ll see you Friday.” We said our goodbyes and hung up. I walked back downstairs and fell back onto my place on the couch.

“What’s up with you?” Kelly asked when she saw the look on my face.

“Sidney’s coming to our Halloween party,” I answered. The three of them squealed and I couldn’t help but giggle in excitement.

Friday came around and as soon as classes were over Lisa and I made a run to the store to buy the supplies for the punch and get the beers while the other three put up decorations and cleaned. My stomach had been upset all day as I thought about hanging out with Sidney tonight. Lisa didn’t miss a beat in making fun of me for it.

An hour and a half before we opened the doors I hopped into the shower and then began to get ready. I had a two piece, midriff baring costume. I’d completely cut out basically anything fatty or carbo loaded and worked out like crazy when Sidney said he would come so my stomach would look amazing in the costume. I did my hair and makeup and zipped up the knee high stiletto boots I had and walked downstairs.

“Girl, if he doesn’t think you look hot tonight, he’s crazy,” Lisa said to me when she saw me. I blushed and hoped she was right. We opened the doors at 8:00 and I chugged down a drink hoping to calm my nerves.

“I can’t believe we’re going to a college Halloween party,” Jordan said shaking his head as Sidney pulled the car up along the side of the street. They’d had to park almost a block away from the house, so Sidney figured the party must be packed.

“You didn’t have to come,” he said looking over at Jordan.

“Hey, personally I like college girls. Especially on Halloween in those tiny costumes,” Whit said getting out of the car.

Sidney locked the car once they were all out and he led them to Tanner’s house. He couldn’t believe he was doing this. Going to a college party full of people only had the potential for disaster. He was just hoping his costume would disguise who he was a bit.

He looked over at Jordan and Whit and couldn’t help but laugh at the costumes. Whit had been right on his assessment of Halloween. Girls dressed up in the tiniest outfits. On the other hand guys dressed in the most ridiculous costumes they could find. He was headed to the party dressed as a skunk while Jordan was the Easter Bunny, and Whit was dressed simply in his own clothes with a bow on his shirt and a name tag that said “God’s gift.”

“Hey guys, it’s $5 each for bottomless cups,” the girl at the door said to them. Jordan and Whit both looked over at Sidney with expressions that read “are you kidding me?”

“Grace? It’s Sidney,” he said to her. She did a double take and started laughing.

“Oh, wow, I completely didn’t recognize you. Go on in. Tanner’s in there somewhere,” she said to him and waved the three of them through.

“You know her?” Jordan asked glancing back at Tanner’s housemate as they walked through the door.

“She lives here. I met her when I drove down the other week,” Sidney replied scanning the packed crowd for Tanner.

“So where is this Tanner chick? If she’s not as hot as you’ve been saying I’m leaving you here and ridiculing you for a month in the locker room,” Whit told him.

“I don’t see her,” Sidney said continuing to look.

“Well, what’s her costume?” Jordan asked.

Sidney stopped and looked at him, completely dumbfounded. How had he forgotten to ask her what she was going to be for Halloween? Jordan and Whit both started laughing at him and shaking their heads. Suddenly they heard a girl yelling and turned to see her getting up on a table. The girl was wearing a barely there cop costume with boots up to her knees and rocking an amazing body. It wasn’t until she took off the aviator sunglasses that Sidney realized the girl was Tanner. His mouth dropped as he listened to her speech.

“Hey, I need everyone’s attention! While the girls and I hope you have an amazing time tonight there are some rules. Rule number 1: Do not hook up with anyone in the bedrooms unless it’s with the girl that lives there. Rule number 2: Do not fight in my house. I don’t care that someone smudged your fake blood. You better take it outside or you’ll find this nightstick in a pretty awful place. Rule number 3: No puking anywhere that’s not a toilet or the grass outside. If I find someone vomiting anywhere else I will post the ridiculously embarrassing pictures I will be taking throughout the night all over the internet with your name plastered to it. Rule number 4: Have fun and happy Halloween! Cheers!” she called out holding up a drink and then chugging it down before hopping off the table.

“I’d take her down. In fact, I might go try,” Whit commented and began to walk in Tanner’s direction. Sidney reached out and grabbed his arm.

“I don’t think so, Whit,” he told him.

“Come on. Let him have his fun. In fact, I might join,” Jordan said ogling Tanner standing in the middle of the living room talking to some people. Sidney glared at them both.

“No, you won’t. That was Tanner,” Sidney explained. They both turned to look at him and started to laugh.

“I get it now,” Whit said and clapped Sidney on the back. Sidney made his way over to Tanner with Jordan and Whit in tow.

“Hey, Tanner,” I heard a male voice say.

I turned to see a skunk standing in front of me smiling. It took me a minute to realize it was Sidney. When I realized who it was my smile grew. The alcohol I’d already had took effect, and I threw my arms around him in a hug.

“Hey, Sid, I’m glad you came!” I exclaimed pulling away. “Here, let me get you something to drink.” I led him into the kitchen and noticed an Easter Bunny and a guy whose nametag read “God’s gift” follow us in.

“Tanner, this is Jordan and Ryan,” Sidney introduced us. I held out my hand and shook both of theirs.

“Hi guys, it’s nice to meet you. We’ve got beer and punch. Can I get you either?” I asked.

“What’s in the punch?” Jordan asked. I waved a finger at him.

“Uh-uh, it’s a secret recipe. Trust me, the punch I’ll give you is the good stuff instead of the cheap shit we give all the other people,” I told him winking.

“Punch it is,” he replied smiling. I pulled a bowl out of a cupboard and filled a glass and looked to Ryan and Sidney and they told me the same thing.

“For a mystery concoction, this isn’t so bad,” Ryan told me and I laughed as I refilled my own glass and put the punch bowl back in the cupboard.

“Nice speech you gave not too long ago,” Sidney told me with a smile.

“Thanks. It’s something we’ve gotta do every year. It keeps people in line,” I joked. I hung out with the three of them for a bit, chatting and joking around.

“So, the girl at the door,” Jordan started but trailed off. I smiled and laughed.

“That’s Grace. She’s single,” I told him. He smiled and excused himself as we all laughed at him.

“So, do any of your housemates watch hockey?” Ryan asked. I shook my head as I finished off a cup of the punch.

“Nope, none of us do,” I told him.

Not long after, Ryan parted ways with us, presumably to chat up some girls at the party. I didn’t mind, I wanted to spend time with Sidney. Eventually tired of having to yell over the crowd we made our way upstairs to my bedroom.

“We need to get a picture of us in costume,” I told him grabbing my camera off my desk.

“I thought you were using that to take ridiculously embarrassing pictures of people at the party,” he said. I laughed.

“No, I just say that to scare people.”

I sat down next to Sidney on the bed and pointed the camera at us, taking a picture. I looked at the result and found that it wasn’t bad. We talked for a while before making our way back down to the party. This time I brought my camera down with me and did start snapping pictures of everyone.

“Hey, I think I’m going to head home. Morning skate is going to come way too soon,” Sidney told me. I was a little sad, but knew it had to happen.

“You’re okay to drive, right?” I asked him. He nodded and I walked him to the door where he met up with Jordan and Ryan.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” he said before he turned and walked down the stairs. I watched them walk away before turning and walking back into the house.

“Omigod, Tanner, Sidney’s friend Jordan is so cute!” Grace exclaimed when she saw me walk in the door. I couldn’t help but laugh.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chapter 3

“So that girl who had the nephew pull me off the bus lives in Pittsburgh,” Sidney said to a few of his teammates after practice the next afternoon. Whit, Jordan, and Max looked up at him in surprise.

“She lives here?” Whit asked as if he hadn’t heard what Sidney had just said.

“Makes sense why she sent her nephew on the bus then,” Jordan commented, tying one of his shoes.

“I don’t think she sent him,” Sidney defended. Max rolled his eyes at him.

“Naïve isn’t a word I would normally use to describe you, except for right now,” he said, agreeing with Jordan.

“No, really. You guys didn’t see her face,” Sidney argued.

He didn’t believe for one second that Tanner had sent Andrew onto the bus to get him. Not after their conversation on the phone the day before. He wished that Mario hadn’t come in to tell him that he and Nathalie were leaving for the night and Sidney had babysitting duty. He would have liked to have stayed on the phone with her a bit longer. He was intrigued.

“So she’s from here?” Marc asked joining the discussion.

“I don’t know. She goes to Duquesne. It’s her senior year,” Sidney explained wishing he knew if she was from Pittsburgh. Maybe she was from Philly if she was at the game there.

“You’ve got that look on your face,” Kris Letang said jumping in.

“What look?” Sidney asked.

“It’s the look you get when you want something,” Whit replied. He shook his head. Sometimes he just didn’t know about his friends.

“I don’t know anything about her except that her name is Tanner, her nephew wants her to have a boyfriend, and she goes to Duquesne.” As he finished saying that, the wheels started turning in his brain. “You know, Tanner isn’t a very popular name.” Jordan groaned.

“You’re not going to do something crazy, are you?” he asked. Sidney pulled a hat over his head and grabbed his car keys.

“I’m just saying,” he began while shrugging his shoulders. He started to walk out the door to head home.

“He’s going to do something crazy,” he heard Max say as the locker room door closed behind him. There was nothing crazy about what he was going to do.

I closed up my notebook and stuck it in my bag. Animal behavior was not the most exciting class ever today. I grabbed my car keys from my bag and made my way to my car. I checked my phone on the way and saw that I had a missed call from Lisa, one of my housemates and decided it could wait until I got home.

I pulled into our driveway a few minutes later and stared in confusion at the strange car parked there. Who the hell did we know with a Range Rover? I grabbed my bag and got out of the car. Before I even had a chance to make it to the front door Lisa ran out to me.

“You did not tell me hockey boy was so cute!” she exclaimed. I did a double take at her unsure as to what she was talking about.

“Hockey boy?” I asked. She rolled her eyes at me.

“From the Penguins. Sidney, you dumbass,” she said slapping my arm.

My eyes opened wide and I looked back over at the Range Rover. How the hell did he know where I lived? Had Andrew given him my address too? I followed Lisa inside and spotted Sidney sitting on the couch in the living room talking to Grace.

“About time you got home,” Grace commented looking over at me.

“I-I had class,” I stammered still in shock. Sidney looked over and smiled before standing up.

“Hey, sorry to just surprise you like this,” he told me.

“It’s definitely a surprise. What are you doing here?” I asked. I was still clutching my bag like it was a security blanket.

“I thought maybe you’d want to get some coffee.” I glanced over at Grace and Lisa and they were nodding their heads at me, telling me to say yes.

“You drove here to see if I wanted coffee?” I asked stupidly. My brain really was not currently functioning at 100%.

“Well, after our last conversation I didn’t think you’d agree to it if I asked you on the phone. I thought I’d have a better chance if I were here in person. Maybe you’d feel bad about turning me down,” he explained. I opened my mouth to say something but Lisa beat me.

“That was probably a good idea,” she chimed in.

I glared over at her, but she just grinned at me like that mischievous Cheshire cat. I didn’t say anything, unsure if I wanted to get coffee with him. I didn’t even know this guy, and to be honest I was a little creeped out that he was in my house when I hadn’t told him where I lived.

“She’ll go,” Grace told Sidney.

She opened the door and practically pushed me out onto the porch. I started to protest but Sidney was following me outside. Grace quickly closed the door behind us. I felt my face turning bright red again. Every time I talked to him I felt like my face was doing that.

“I’m sorry about them,” I apologized, feeling extremely embarrassed, not to mention awkward.

“You really don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” he said looking down at the car keys in his hand. For the first time I took a minute to check him out. Lisa was right, he was cute. Okay, not just cute, but gorgeous.

“No, it’s okay. I know a place,” I told him. He looked at me and smiled.

“I’ll drive,” he said. I followed him to his car and got in. I gave him the directions to a café I often frequented and then we fell silent for a few minutes.

“Okay, look, I’m a pretty say-what-you-feel kind of person so I’m going to be blunt. How did you know where I live?” I asked him finally turning to look at him. There was a glimmer of panic in his eyes like he was scared to tell me, but it faded quickly and the smile was back on his face.

“Tanner’s a pretty unusual name and I figured there was no way there were a lot of them at the school. I looked it up in the directory online and you were the only one. It had your address listed,” he explained. My eyes widened.

“They have that information on the internet!” I exclaimed. He laughed at me, obviously not thinking it was a big deal, and shrugged.

“You’ll have to take that up with the school. I didn’t do it,” he joked. Despite myself, I smiled at him. He pulled up to the café and we got out. We put in our orders and took the coffee to a table in the back. I paid for mine, of course.

“So what made you want to drive here and ask me to get coffee?” I asked him after I took a sip of some wonderful hazelnut coffee.

“I enjoyed our conversation the other day. I wanted to get to know you a little better,” he responded. I took a sip of coffee and struggled to think of something to say.

“So what’s it like to be a hockey player?” I asked him, honestly curious. He looked at me strangely before answering.

“I don’t know. I don’t really know anything else. It’s just my life. I love hockey, but it’s my job. Sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes I want to give up like I’m sure most people do with their jobs. The only difference is millions of people watch me do my job,” he told me. My eyes widened.

“Millions?” I asked shocked. He laughed and gave me that strange look again.

“You really don’t know much about hockey, do you?” he asked. I shook my head.

“My father and brother are die hard Rangers fans but I was never really into sports, except for football. Even then I’m not hardcore or anything. I don’t know, you’d think I would have picked up something from them, but no.”

“The Rangers? How did that happen?” he asked making a face.

“I’m from New York City. Manhattan actually.” He nodded his head in understanding. “How about you? Where are you from?” Again, he gave me that strange look.

“Nova Scotia,” he replied. I smiled.

“Ah, a Canadian, eh?” I joked. He laughed.

“My accent’s not that bad,” he said defending himself. I laughed with him.

“No, it’s not. So, are you any good?” I asked. Okay, that strange look he kept giving me was starting to annoy me.

“Well, I’m in the NHL so I guess that means someone likes what I’m doing,” he said modestly.

“I bet you’re better than you’re letting on.” He laughed at me. “So how old are you?”

“I’m 21.”

“Wow, you’re 21 and a professional athlete. I’m 21 and I’ve never done anything significant in my entire life. That’s just crazy.” I shook my head unable to comprehend how a 21 year old could handle the pressure of playing hockey in front of millions of people. He just shrugged.

“It’s really not a big deal. I’m only one of 19 guys on the ice each game.” I felt like he was holding something back, but since I hardly knew him, I didn’t push. “So what are you majoring in?” I smiled at the change of subject.

“Biological Science, but my focus is really on supra-organismal biology,” I told him. He looked at me like I was speaking another language. “I like to study animal behavior. Working in a zoo would be my dream, and animal conservation is my passion.”

“That’s an interesting dream. I can’t say I know too many people with the same one.” I shrugged.

“Animals are my life ever since my parents took me to the Bronx Zoo when I was 5 and I saw the Polar Bears. I could watch the bears all day.”

“So does that mean you don’t wear fur and leather, and eat food with no animal products?”

“No, I’m not like that. I save my battles for the animals in danger of becoming extinct, although you’ll never catch me wearing fur.” He smiled at me and I smiled back.

We stayed at the café for almost two hours talking and laughing and getting to know each other. The longer I was with him, the more I enjoyed his company. I was actually disappointed when it started to get dark out and we had to leave. Sidney had dinner plans and I hadn’t even touched any of my work yet. When he dropped me off he said he would call, and I sincerely hoped he would.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chapter 2

The next day I hit the road and drove back to school. Even though it wasn’t a long trip, it was long enough that I had plenty of time to think back on what Andrew had done the day before. I could still feel my face turning red as I thought about it. Did my 6 year old nephew really think I needed a boyfriend so badly he had resorted to trying to hook me up?

“Hey, I’m home!” I called as I walked through the front door of the house I rented off campus with four other friends.

“How was the trip?” Hailey asked walking out from the living room. I carried my bag up the stairs to my room and she followed.

“It was good, up until yesterday afternoon,” I told her.

“What happened yesterday?” Kelly asked walking into the room behind us. I sat down on my bed and sighed.

“I took Andrew to a hockey game because Brendan had to work and Delia was sick. After the game he decided he wanted to get autographs and I said it was okay. Then he just disappeared in the crowd so of course I freak out while looking for him. Oh, but then he walked right off the visiting team’s bus holding some guys hand. He brought the poor guy over, introduced us, and then announced that I needed a boyfriend.” My friends burst into laughter as I put my head in my hands.

“You have got to be kidding me,” Hailey said through peals of laughter. I shook my head at them, not finding the amusement in all of this.

“Was he cute?” Kelly asked. I rolled my eyes at her. That would be what she wanted to know.

“I don’t even know. I was too embarrassed to care.”

After making fun of me for a few more minutes they left my room. I unpacked and then got to work on some homework I’d put off. A solid three hours later I was almost done when my phone rang. I was a little annoyed at the interruption and glanced down at the caller ID. I didn’t recognize the number and decided I should probably answer it.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Hi, is this Tanner?” an unfamiliar male voice asked.

“Yes it is,” I replied confused.

“Hi, this is Sidney, from yesterday,” the voice said. I almost dropped the phone. There was no way. Seriously? The guy from the Penguins Andrew had pulled off of the bus?

“Uh, hi,” I said wondering how he’d gotten my number. It was explained to me right away.

“Sorry to bother you but I just wanted to let you know that you’re nephew gave me your number on the bus and told me to call you. I don’t know if he does this often, but I thought you should know that he’s handing your number out to strangers.” I gritted my teeth and felt my face turning bright red all over again.

“No, he doesn’t do this often. Thank you so much for calling to tell me that. I’ll have a talk with his parents,” I told him.

“Did you enjoy the game yesterday?” he asked.

“Excuse me?” The question had caught me off guard. I’d expected to just hang up after he informed me about Andrew, not continue the conversation.

“The game yesterday. Did you have fun?” he repeated.

“Yeah, I did. It was my first hockey game,” I explained. This was really awkward.

“You’d never been to a game before?” he asked, sounding surprised.

“I’m not big into sports.” He laughed even though I wasn’t sure how that was funny.

“Then what were you doing at a hockey game?” I wasn’t sure why I felt the need to keep talking to Sidney, but I did anyway.

“My brother had tickets for the game but then he got called into work and his wife got sick, which left me as the only person who could take Andrew to the game.”

“And then you were subjected to your nephew’s matchmaking,” he stated. We’d come full circle now and I was sure the conversation was about to come to an end.

“Which was super fun, of course,” I said sarcastically.

“You know, I may have just met you, but I can’t see what’s so wrong with you that you don’t have a boyfriend. You didn’t seem like a psycho or anything,” he joked. Okay, maybe this conversation wasn’t ending.

“I’m not sure you know me well enough to say things like that,” I joked back. Despite the oddness of the conversation, I felt myself smiling. He laughed.

“Okay, the hands are up. I’m sorry.”

“I’m just a very independent person and most guys don’t like that so much. I hate all that being taken care of stuff. I’m completely capable of taking care of myself, thank you.” After I told him that I immediately wondered why. He didn’t need an explanation, he was a stranger.

“So no opening doors and pulling chairs out for you then,” he said laughing again.

“Well, I didn’t say I disliked politeness, just the assumption that I need things done for me.”

“So why is your nephew under the impression that you need a boyfriend so badly?” Well there was the million dollar question. I shook my head in anger just thinking about it.

“He had to have overheard it from my family. Every member of my family has gotten married by the time they were 22. I’m already 21 with no boyfriend and there’s no sign that I’m ready to get married, which I’m not. I think it’s embarrassing for them and they don’t understand that I’m my own person and there are plenty of things I want to do in my life before I reach that point. I refuse to settle,” I explained. He was quiet for a moment and I wasn’t sure why.

“So if you’re only 21 are you in college?” he asked finally.

“Yeah, I’m in my senior year at Duquesne,” I told him.

“You’re in Pittsburgh?” he asked sounding surprised. I nodded and then realized he couldn’t see the motion.

“Yes, I am.” I heard some noise in the background on Sidney’s end and then I heard his muffled voice say something.

“Sorry, I have to get going. It was nice talking to you, Tanner. I hope your nephew is done with the matchmaking.”

“You too, Sidney, and thanks,” I said before hanging up the phone.

I stared down at my phone and wasn’t sure what to think. I was furious that Andrew had given my phone number out to a complete stranger yet I’d almost enjoyed talking to Sidney. Oh well, that was probably the end of that, I figured. I called Brendan and informed him of what Andrew had done and then got back to work, finishing up my homework.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chapter 1

So I'm going to try to keep this story as true to what's happening in the season as possible. Only change is this chapter. I had to invent a game that never happened to make the story work, but from the next chapter on everything will be based around real events and games. Hope you enjoy!

“Aunt Tanner, are you awake?” I heard a voice yell jolting me out of a nice deep sleep. I opened one eye and saw my nephew peering around the door to the bedroom at me. I groaned inwardly.

“Sweetheart, if my eyes are closed and I’m in bed, I’m probably not awake,” I told him. He walked into the room and stood next to me.

“You’re awake now though,” he said, a devilish smile creeping onto his face. I sat up and ruffled his hair.

“You’re evil,” I said laughing. He giggled.

“Come out and play! Mom and Dad aren’t awake yet.” I looked over at the clock. My brother and his wife were early birds and they weren’t awake yet? The clock said 6:30. I hadn’t woken up this early since high school four years ago.

I got out of bed and walked into the playroom with Andrew. I was on a break from my senior year at Duquesne University and I was spending the weekend with my brother’s family in Philadelphia. About an hour after Andrew woke me up my brother walked into the room.

“Daddy!” Andrew called to him running over and giving him a hug. Brendan picked him up and hugged him back.

“Good morning, buddy. Morning, Tanner,” he said looking over at me. I narrowed my eyes at him and he held back a laugh. He knew I was not a morning person.

“It’s late for you, Bren.” He shrugged.

“It happens. Thanks for entertaining Andrew,” he replied. I stood up off the floor and stepped around the toys to the kitchen with Brendan behind me.

“So you’re going to make me breakfast then, right?” I asked sitting down at one of the stools at his island.

“I’m going to owe you more than that after I ask you to do a huge favor for me,” he said. It wasn’t even 8 in the morning yet and I was already wishing I’d never gotten out of bed.

“What?” I asked.

“I’ve been called into work and I’ll probably be there until at least 2. Delia woke up with the flu or something this morning. Problem is we have tickets for the Flyers game against the Penguins at 1 and we promised Andrew we’d bring him. He’s so excited to go.” I groaned and put my head down on the counter. I was already too tired for this.

“You’re right, you owe me. Big time,” I said finally giving in. I went back to bed for a couple of hours after breakfast. I got up and showered and was ready in time to take Andrew to the game and watch warm-ups. He’d begged me to take him early and I agreed.

I stopped in and checked on Delia before we left. Then Andrew and I were on our way. I’d never been to a hockey game before. Football was as far as I forayed into sports. Go Giants! Hey, I’m from New York City, I can’t help it.

At this point you might be wondering why someone from New York City would be interested in going to watch the Flyers play the Penguins. Well, my brother and father are die hard Rangers fans. He moved to Philadelphia for work and despite his best efforts Andrew had developed a fondness for the Flyers since they were the team always on TV.

We watched warm-ups while Andrew talked incessantly about different players for the Flyers. I learned more about hockey from that 6 year old than I could have ever guessed. When warm-ups had ended I took Andrew up to get some food. Armed with hot dogs, soda, and cotton candy we made our way back to our seats for the game.

I was shocked at the game I was watching once it started. I’d never actually sat through a hockey game while my family had watched one and I didn’t know what I was in for. It was so exciting. There weren’t many stoppages, there were lots of hits, and the fans were just as crazy as football fans. I thought I might have to start watching hockey. The game ended with the Penguins winning in a shoot out. Man, a shoot out. Brilliant.

“Aunt Tanner, can we get autographs?” Andrew asked looking up at me with pleading eyes. No way was I going to be able to say no to that face.

“Sure, buddy. We just have to figure out where to go,” I told him. He grabbed my hand.

“Don’t worry, Dad and I have done this before.” I let Andrew lead me outside the rink and around to another side of it where there were other fans waiting. “It might take a while before they come out.”

“That’s alright. We don’t have to be home for a little while.” We stood outside waiting for about half an hour before I saw some guys in suits walking out to a bus. I kept an eye on Andrew as he walked up asking guys for autographs. At that point my phone rang. I dug through my purse to find it.

“Hey, Grace, what’s up?” I said to my best friend.

“Not much, what are you doing?” she asked.

“Waiting for Andrew to get autographs at a hockey game,” I responded. She laughed.

“When are you getting back to school? You missed the best party last night,” she said. She started telling me about the night before when I looked up and couldn’t see Andrew.

“Oh, shit, Grace, I have to go. I don’t know where Andrew is.”

I hung up the phone before she had a chance to respond and started pushing my way through the crowd of people calling Andrew’s name. I started to panic when I didn’t see him. Tears started to form in my eyes when I looked up and saw him walking off of the Penguins’ bus dragging one of the guys off of it by the hand. I ran over to him.

“Aunt Tanner, this is Sidney Crosby,” he said like nothing had happened.

“Andrew Evan Falco, don’t you ever wander off like that!” I scolded him. I looked up at the Penguin he’d dragged off of the bus. “I am so sorry. I only looked away for a moment and he was gone.” The guy laughed.

“It’s okay. He came on the bus looking for me saying that I had to meet his aunt.” My eyes widened in surprise.

“What?” I asked looking over at Andrew.

“See, I told you she was really pretty. She’s single too. She needs a boyfriend,” Andrew announced. I felt my face turning bright red. This was seriously not happening to me. The guy named Sidney laughed.

“She is very pretty,” he responded. I thought I was going to vomit.

“I am so sorry for him. He’s going to be in big trouble when he gets home,” I apologized glaring down at Andrew.

“It’s really not a problem. Have a safe trip home,” Sidney said, still smiling in amusement.

“Bye!” Andrew called, waving as Sidney got back on the bus.

“We’re going home right now,” I said to him.

I took his hand and pulled him along with me to the car. He talked the whole trip home but I didn’t hear a word of what he said. I was too embarrassed about the whole situation. At least I’d never see Sidney again to relive the embarrassment.

When we got home I told Brendan and Delia about Andrew’s stunt. Instead of being angry they just laughed. Why did everyone think this was so funny? I let it go and enjoyed my last night with them. The next day it was back to Pittsburgh and to Duquesne.