Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chapter 36

The following week I was up and ready to go much earlier than Sidney was. Apparently I was more excited about house hunting than he was. My good mood made me feel great and I decided to make some breakfast while Sidney caught up on all the sleep he hadn’t gotten lately.

“Do I smell eggs?” he asked walking into the kitchen. I smiled at him over my shoulder.

“You smell an omelet complete with ham, peppers, mushrooms, and just a touch of cheese. Salsa on the side of course,” I told him. He wrapped his arms around my waist and sniffed in some of the air over the skillet. “You’re going to make me ruin this if you’re not careful,” I warned him.

“It doesn’t have to look good. Think it’s going to look good when it gets in here?” he asked rubbing his stomach. I rolled my eyes at him and put the omelet on a plate.

When breakfast was over we got dressed and drove out to the address the realtor had given us. We pulled up in front of the house a bit later and I couldn’t keep the smile off of my face. We got out and she led us inside. The house was beautiful and one I could definitely see myself living in. I had to convince myself to keep an open mind because there were three more to look at.

After taking the tour and getting all the information we got into our car and followed the realtor to the second house. This one was very similar to the first, but I just didn’t like it as much. I couldn’t really explain it. It was just a vibe I got. As we headed to the third house I could feel my energy draining and wondered if touring four houses had been a bit excessive in one day.

As soon as we pulled up in front of the third house I banished the thought. My jaw dropped when I saw it. This house, at least on the outside, was my dream house. As we were led inside I wasn’t disappointed.

We walked into a large foyer. The stairs for the second floor were off to the right and curved along the wall. There was a large living room to the left that was all windows. We were given a tour of the first floor first and the minute I saw the kitchen I knew this house was it. It was enormous with dark finish on the cabinets, granite countertops, and stainless steel appliances. The island alone was bigger than the kitchen I currently had at my house.

The second floor was just as nice. I saw that in total there were five bedrooms and four bathrooms. I wasn’t sure why we needed that much space, but I figured we’d probably have a lot of visitors. The master bedroom was beautiful complete with the biggest walk in closet I’d ever seen. A girl could definitely get used to that.

“So, what do you think?” Sid asked me after the realtor had excused herself to take a phone call.

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to see the fourth house,” I said as I continued to look around. I heard him laugh.

“You like it that much?” I looked at him like he was crazy.

“You don’t?”

“I definitely do.” I smiled at him. I was glad we agreed. It was then that my head began to spin a bit. I must have wobbled a bit, because I felt Sidney grab onto me. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I think I’m just going to go grab the water I left in the car,” I told him trying to shake the dizziness off.

I made my way to the front door and walked out. I immediately covered my eyes with my hand to block out the glaring sun. I felt more and more light headed with every step I took. I was so distracted with how I felt that I didn’t hear the shouts or see the flashing white lights until I reached the car.

I looked up to see what the commotion was and froze in shock. There were news vans, reporters with microphones and tape recorders, along with cameras. It took my brain a minute to process what was going on.

“Oh, God,” I muttered to myself when I realized that somehow the media had found Sidney and I.

I turned to rush back inside when another dizzy spell hit me. I put a hand out to the car to steady myself and put my other hand over my face. I could hear my name being called and see more flashes through my closed eyelids. I needed to get inside now.

I pushed myself off the car and took a few unsteady steps towards the house. I didn’t make it far before my legs gave out and I fell to my knees on the ground. My head was full on spinning and I couldn’t make myself move. I began to feel nauseous.

“Tanner!” I heard Sidney’s panicked voice call out.

I barely managed to lift my head up to look in the direction of his voice. I could barely make out his shape as he ran over to me from the front door followed closely by the realtor. He knelt down next to me and I knew he was saying something, but I couldn’t make out the words. The nausea overtook me and I began to throw up.

Sidney told the realtor that he and Tanner weren’t going to need to look at the fourth house unless there was something spectacular about it. After being informed that there wasn’t, he smiled. He and Tanner had found their house. His smile began to fade when he began to hear shouting.

Curious, he made his way to the front door that Tanner had left open. He looked in horror at the sight in front of him. People from the media were crowded along the street outside. Then he spotted Tanner kneeling a few steps away from the car, pale, and holding her head.

“Tanner!” he called out. He rushed over to her side feeling both scared and angry at the same time. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?” She didn’t respond. “We should get you inside.”

He’d hardly had the time to get the words out when Tanner started to throw up. He tried his best to block her from view with his body. He heard the realtor on the phone calling the police. He barely made out his own name being called out as he held Tanner’s hair back.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she choked out through tears.

“It’s not your fault, Baby. Don’t apologize,” he whispered. He hated that she blamed herself for anything, especially something like this.

He waited another second to make sure she wasn’t going to be sick again. When he was sure he wrapped his arms around her and picked her up. He carried her inside and kicked the door closed behind him. He put her down on one of the stairs so that she was sitting up, but could lean against the staircase since there was no furniture in the house. Then he turned on the realtor.

“What the hell is going on out there?” he spat at her. Her eyes were wide and she looked like she was in shock.

“I have no idea. I swear I didn’t say anything.” She continued to apologize when Sidney heard Tanner sniff. He turned back to see her crying.

“I couldn’t get back inside. I tried to get back inside but I couldn’t,” she was saying. He knelt down in front of her and took her hands in his.

“Tanner, look at me. Look at me,” he demanded when she didn’t. Hearing the tone of his voice she turned her red-rimmed eyes to him. “You didn’t do anything wrong. None of this is your fault. It’s going to be okay.”

She nodded, but didn’t look like she believed him. The tears kept coming. Sidney’s heart was breaking. He knew that Tanner didn’t want her cancer to be public knowledge and he also knew it was going to be tough not to make it just that after the incident today.

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him. She didn’t pull away until the police arrived. When the media had been cleared out and it was time to go Sidney helped her to her feet. She was still a little unsteady and despite knowing that she’d probably yell at him, he picked her up again. He was surprised when she offered no protest and he carried her out to the car. She went straight to bed when they got home.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chapter 35

I stayed in bed longer than normal staring up at the ceiling. I didn’t feel any better than I had the day before when I’d seen the article. Today was the day Sidney was going to tell the press about me. He was probably doing it right now. He’d had to go back to the rink along with a bunch of the other guys for physicals.

I knew the reporters would be out there waiting to ask him who all the girls were. How stupid they were all going to feel when they found out the truth. Sorry, guys, but it’s not multiple girls, it’s just one with brain cancer. I almost wanted to be there to see the looks on their faces when they heard the truth and realized what assholes they were.

“You are not seriously cooking bacon in the house right now,” I said glaring at Lisa as I walked into the kitchen.

“Oh, come off it, Tanner. It’s good. Want some?” she asked holding up a raw piece. I nearly gagged. I hated everything about bacon, but the smell was by far the worst.

“You’re disgusting,” I said making a face and grabbing a yogurt out of the refrigerator.

“Have you heard anything yet?” Hailey asked walking into the kitchen. She grabbed a piece of bacon out of the skillet and started to eat it. What was wrong with these people?

“No, but I don’t know when Sid’s supposed to be done with the physical and everything,” I explained. I poured some granola into my yogurt and tried to ignore the stink overtaking the kitchen.

“It’ll be fine, Tan,” Lisa tried to assure me.

“It’s just not how I pictured this happening, you know?” They both nodded at me sympathetically. “Okay, I need to get out of here. I’m going to throw up and for the first time it’s not going to be because of the chemo.”

“But it’s so good!” Hailey called after me as I walked into the living room. There was a knock on the door about an hour later and I jumped up to get it.

“How did everything go?” I asked Sid. He smiled and kissed me.

“It went,” he replied as I shut the door behind him.

“That doesn’t sound very encouraging.”

“It was fine, really. I didn’t go into too much detail. I pretended I was in a rush to get out. Of course everyone was asking me about who all the girls were. I just said all of them were my girlfriend Tanner. Someone else asked if it was just one girl, how come you always had different hair. I told them they were wigs. Then I got in my car and left.”

“So you didn’t mention the cancer,” I said more to myself than to him.

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t think it was necessary.” I smiled at him and curled up next to him on the couch.

“Thank you.” He turned his head and kissed me. “Is it possible to talk right now?” He sighed, knowing exactly what was coming.

“Whenever you’re ready,” he said. I took a deep breath and tried to organize my thoughts in my head before saying anything.

“I told you back before we even started dating that I’m a very independent person. Unfortunately for most of our relationship I’ve had to rely on other people. First it was the rehab for my hip and now the cancer. While that hasn’t changed anyone else’s opinions of me, you’ve never really gotten to see the independent me.”

“Tanner, I know that you’re independent. It’s something I’ve always loved about you.”

“Except that you’ve taken the last six months for granted. I’ve needed your help, and needed to rely on you and I think you just assume that’s how it’s always going to be. It’s not. As soon as I get healthy, and I will, I’m going to go back to doing what I want to do when I want to do it.”

“And I want you to.”

“Good, because I’m not going to be at every home game and I won’t always be home after losses. I have one more semester of school left and graduating is going to be my first priority, not comforting you after a bad game. I’m going to go to the zoo and hopefully get that job. It’s going to mean early mornings, late nights, and travel. You’re going to have to accept that I have those responsibilities just like I accept that you have obligations as well.”

“I want you to have all that. I really never intended on making you feel like I wanted you to be some doormat whose entire life depended on me.”

“I hope you mean that. I’m going to say no to you, probably more than you’ll want to hear. Other girls are going to be able to do things that I won’t. If you want to be with me, you’re going to have to accept that. If I have to be understanding of your life, you have to be understanding of mine. If you don’t think you can handle that, then please leave now. It’ll only hurt worse if you drag it out.” I took a deep breath and waited for his response.

“I’m not going anywhere. My life is with you. I love you, Tanner. I can’t even begin to tell you how much.” I smiled up at him.

“Plus, I’m going to come home smelling like bear shit pretty often I’m sure. Think you can handle it?” He laughed.

“I’ll do my best.”

I angled my face up towards his and his lips came down on mine. I was glad that we’d cleared the air. Now that he knew exactly how I felt, he had no excuse to treat me the way he did when he wanted me to fly to Carolina. That was just how I was, and he was going to have to take it or leave it.

I fell asleep in his arms while sitting on the couch with him. I was woken up by the sound of his phone ringing. I shifted off of him while he talked. A few minutes later he hung up and looked over at me.

“Busy next week?” he asked.

“Gee, let me check my schedule,” I joked. He rolled his eyes at me.

“We’re looking at houses. There are four of them we can check out. As long as you still want to.” I smiled up at him.

“I’ve been waiting for this day since you asked me to move in with you.” He smiled back and kissed me. “Now I just wish you weren’t leaving town.”

“It’s just for two days. I’ll be back Sunday night.” I sighed.

“I know, but still. You talk about Colby all the time and I’ve never even met him. I just wish I could go with you. I’ll be here missing you and you’ll forget about me,” I pouted. He placed a kiss on my forehead.

“No, I won’t. You’re with me everywhere I go.” I pulled away from him and made a face.

“Really? Did that seriously just come out of your mouth?” I asked. He laughed.

“I thought it was sweet,” he protested.

“It’s was corny, cliché, and made me want to gag. Don’t ever say anything like that to me again,” I demanded. He laughed again.

“I won’t, I promise.” I smiled and cuddled back up to him.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chapter 34

I wasn’t at all prepared for what I woke up to the morning after the parade and party. Sidney had to go to the rink for a meeting and had dropped me off at my house. After some more sleep I got up and sat down on the couch with a bowl of cereal and flipped on the TV. I nearly dropped my bowl when Kelly ran into the house and shoved a newspaper into my face.

“What the hell?” I asked taking the newspaper from her and putting the bowl on the table next to me.

“Just read it,” she demanded. I looked down at the sports page in front of me and saw a picture of Sidney and I walking out of the rink. My eyes widened as I read through the article.

“Oh, shit,” I grumbled as I did.

“Sidney Crosby performs well in the playoffs, becomes the youngest captain to win the Cup, and gets all the girls,” it said. My face grew red in anger at some of the things I read. It called him a womanizer. I crumpled the newspaper up into a ball and threw it in the corner with a yell.

“What the hell am I going to do? This is all my fault!” I yelled to Kelly.

“The accusations and the article are your fault because you got cancer and lost your hair?” she scoffed. I shrugged, but it didn’t make me feel any better.

I got up and grabbed the newspaper. I straightened it out and read through the article again. Yep, there was no way around it, this article was my fault. It talked about Sidney being spotted with two different brunettes, a blonde, and a redhead. It actually documented how he seemed to be rotating through them while out on the town, at games, and during the Cup celebrations. Apparently we hadn’t been as discreet as we thought. I rolled my eyes and dropped the newspaper to the floor. I should have stuck to one goddamn wig.

“He’s going to be pissed,” I said through tears as Kelly sat down next to me and put an arm around my shoulders.

“It’s fucking ridiculous is what it is!” Sidney yelled to Pat, his agent. “Why wouldn’t they just talk to me first before printing this shit?!” Pat let out a sigh before responding.

“Because it’s a better story this way,” he explained. Sidney picked up a puck and threw it across the locker room. He’d come to the rink for a team meeting and had been handed the newspaper upon entrance.

“It’s still fucking ridiculous! It’s one fucking girl, Pat, not four!” He was seeing red he was so angry. Some of the guys were sitting around the locker room watching the exchange. They’d already tried to calm him down, but he wasn’t having any of that.

“You need to calm down. We’ll refute this to the reporters of course. We’ll figure something out. We just need to calm down and think this through.” Sidney continued to pace around the locker room. Mario walked in.

“Have you talked to Tanner about it?” he asked putting a hand on Sidney’s shoulder. Sidney froze in his tracks. Shit.

“No. I need to. Excuse me.” He grabbed his cell phone and walked into the family room for a little privacy.

“I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have worn all the wigs,” Tanner said when she picked up the phone. Jesus, she thought this was her fault?

“I wasn’t sure you knew. I guess you do,” he said into the receiver.

“I am so sorry, Sid. I really didn’t mean for this to happen.” She sounded like she was crying. He fell down into a chair and sighed.

“It’s not your fault, Babe. We’ll figure this out, okay?” She sniffed in response. “Pat is here. Maybe he, Mario, my parents and I should come over and talk about this. I don’t want to say anything unless I have your okay.” She sniffed again.

“Okay. I’ll be here.” He hung up the phone and walked back into the locker room. He told Pat and Mario what was going on. They piled into their cars and followed Sidney to Tanner’s.
The four of them sat around the living room and Sidney’s parents joined them soon after.

Tanner didn’t say much, instead choosing to let everyone else do the talking. Many suggestions were thrown out but none of them seemed right. Sidney finally shut everyone up by telling them he knew what they were going to do.

The minute the words were out of his mouth everyone protested the idea. Everyone except Tanner. She sat cross-legged on the couch with a look he couldn’t quite read on her face. He listened to everyone tell him why it wasn’t a good idea. When they were done he looked over at Tanner again.

“What do you think?” he asked her. She looked at him and took a breath.

“If that’s what you think is best,” she choked out. He looked at her sympathetically. She was scared and he didn’t blame her.

“Sidney, please think about this,” his father said again.

“It’s decided. We tell them about Tanner and I.”

His eyes met hers. He smiled at her, hoping to reassure her. She jumped up from her spot on the couch and ran into the bathroom. A minute later he heard her getting sick. He sighed and put his head in his hands. This was not how he’d hoped things would be made public.