Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Story!

You voted.....I listened.....Here it is.....

I hope you enjoy!

And just to be mean, I'm going to leave you hanging on who the lead male is.....sorry.....sort of :p

Monday, July 5, 2010


Okay everyone, time for the poll so you can pick which story you want to read next! I just realized that I had my blog closed to anonymous posters, but I didn't want to alienate anyone out there, so I enabled it now so that people can comment anonymously. Also, please forgive the lack of an actual poll to vote on. I'm too tired right now to bother looking up how to do it. Instead, just leave a comment telling me which story you're voting for. If you know anyone who liked this story, or any of my stories, please make sure they know about this poll so they can have input on my next one! I'm going to leave the poll open until Sunday, so you have all week and the weekend! I decided to leave who the leading man in each would be out so you're simply voting on the story and not the guy. Thanks for all the support and input! Oh, and please please please, don't steal my ideas, as I might end up using them for a story later on. Here we go.....

1. She's an up and coming tennis star, who also learned how to be emotionless long ago. He gets on her nerves, just like she gets on his. Every meeting between them is volatile and ugly. Neither wants to be around the other, yet they keep ending up in the same places. Then something in her life causes her to snap, and somehow he's the only person she can rely on. When it comes to the most important decision of her life, she doesn't know whether to choose him or what she's always known.

2. When her mother dies just a year after her father she gets the biggest jolt of her life. They weren't her parents. She was kidnapped as a child. As she struggles with the emotions toiling inside her at her reunion with her real family, she meets the neighbor. It's been nearly 20 years, but the moment she looks into his eyes she feels like she's known him forever. He turns into the only person that doesn't confuse her and becomes her only confidant as she learns to readjust her life.

3. When her parents died in a car accident, it left her in charge of a little brother with a serious heart condition. She vowed to herself that everything she ever did would be to keep him healthy and give him the best life she could even if it meant sacrificing her own dreams and wishes. When he wins a competition to meet his favorite hockey team, one of the players immediately feels a connection with them, and goes out of his way to help them out. He also can't help that he's falling for her in the process.

4. She's a conservative and traditional girl who unwittingly gets caught up in a team bet. His only desire is to win the bet. As he does everything he can to win they both discover things about themselves they never knew were there. The only problem is he now has to convince her she's more than just someone who was a means to money.

5. She grew up nearly invisible, in love with him from afar. She was the awkward school nerd that he never gave the time of day. Not until the most important event in her life that he promised to be with her for. Only it was just a joke, and he broke her heart. Years later, she's no longer an awkward school nerd and she ends up in the same city with him. He can't believe who she's become and he wants a second chance. She only wants revenge.

Okay, have at it! The more votes from people, the better! Thank you so much again!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chapter 65

Okay, everyone, this is it, the last chapter! It's been a hell of a ride for me to write this. I never expected it to be this long, and I never expected to have so many followers keeping up with Sid and Tanner's journey. I don't know how to even thank all of you for reading, commenting, and hanging with me. You're all amazing and my inspiration to continue writing. Keep tuned to this blog though. In the next week I'll be posting a poll. I'm going to start a new story, but I have a few ideas running through my head and I don't know which I like best, so I'm going to let you decide! I'm still debating whether to put who the leading male in the story will be, because I don't really want that to affect the poll. I want it to be about the story line. What do you think? Should I put who he is, or should I leave that out and surprise you? Thanks again to everyone! Here we go.....

Sidney felt the nerves even before he walked out of the house. Something was just telling him that tonight was the night. He walked over to Tanner, who had been on bed rest for the better part of the last month now, and gave her a kiss before saying goodbye. He smiled and waved over at Grace, who was now Jordan’s fiancée. At least having someone with Tanner made him feel a little better. She was scheduled to be induced in two days when he didn't have a game, but when had anything with him and Tanner gone according to plan?

He drove in to the rink and went through his typical pre-game ritual. Another season had just recently started and there were new faces this year. Even so, Sidney felt like this could be the team that would bring the cup back to Pittsburgh. He skated out onto the ice for warm ups and tried to focus on the upcoming game. He couldn’t help but be distracted. He just felt it.

The first period passed without a problem. The team was up by 1 and they were playing well against last year’s Cup winners. The second period, however, changed everything. That’s when it happened. The period was hardly going when he felt the tap on his shoulder, and he was already standing up when Dana gave him the news.

“Get to the hospital, Daddy,” he joked with a smile.

Sidney rushed off the bench and ran as fast as he could down the runway and to the locker room. He could hear the congrats and well wishes being yelled at him by his teammates as he went, but he didn’t have time to stop and respond. Well, he probably did have time, but he wasn’t going to risk it.

He ripped off his uniform and equipment before hopping into a 30 second shower just to get the stench of sweat off of him. He threw on the jeans and shirt he’d kept in the locker room, just in case this happened, so he wouldn’t have to deal with a suit and tie. Car keys in hand, and a wildly beating heart, he jogged out to his car, smiling and waving to the security guards who called out their congratulations too.

Sidney immediately called Grace to tell her he was on his way and find out what room Tanner was in. He made it to the hospital in record time, and ran all the way to the room number Grace had given him. Tanner grinned up at him as soon as he was through the door and he grabbed her hand as he placed a kiss on her forehead.

“How are you feeling?” he asked.

“Nervous. Giddy. Painful,” Tanner joked. Sidney heard a commotion from behind him and turned to see that the Penguins game was on TV. He smiled when he saw that the team had scored another one while he was gone.

“I can’t believe you’re watching this right now,” he commented.

“Hey, my fiancé is playing,” Grace chastised him.

Sidney took the seat next to the bed and greeted the doctor who came in to say hello. They talked a bit about what to expect, procedure, and such before they were left to watch the remainder of the game. Sidney and Tanner laughed when they heard the announcement during the game about why he was no longer on the bench and playing. Tanner gave his hand a squeeze and he gave her another kiss.

Lisa, Kelly, and Hailey, who had flown in just for this occasion a few days ago, joined them a little later on to say hi. Tanner’s brother and his family weren’t too far behind. Tanner’s parents would be there in the morning, and his the next afternoon since they were coming in from much farther away. He’d had to make his teammates promise to hold off the visits until after the baby was born because he didn’t need the chaos they would bring.

Sidney sat there through the wee hours of the morning as Tanner went in and out of pain and waited for the time they could meet their son. He was trying to be patient and supportive for Tanner, but he just couldn’t wait to hold him. Finally it was time, and Sidney stood by Tanner, giving her words of encouragement and telling her how much he loved her.

Despite all the waiting they'd done the last 9 months, and the last 18 hours here in the hospital, it seemed the birth itself went by in a whirlwind. He watched the doctors take his son to check him out and make sure everything was okay as he kissed Tanner and told her he loved her. He half held his breath as he waited, and let it out in a big relieved sigh when they were told that they had a healthy 7 lb 4 oz baby boy.

Their son was handed to Tanner who immediately teared up at the sight of him. Sidney watched her tell him how much they loved him while marveling at how tiny he was. He couldn’t keep the smile off of his face as he saw as much love in Tanner’s eyes that he felt.

“Welcome to the world…..”

“Jackson,” Tanner interrupted him. Sidney looked at her in surprise. That was not the name they had decided on. She glanced up at him.

“Jackson? Where did that come from?” he questioned.

“I decided I like it and it’s going to be our son’s name. You really want to question me after I went through 18 hours of labor and pushed a son who has the same broad shoulders as you out of my vagina?” Tanner was giving him a look that dared him to argue. He rolled the name around his head for a second before smiling.

“I like Jackson,” he decided. She smiled up at him before glancing back down at the little boy squirming in her arms.

“It’s a boy! Jackson Patrick Crosby,” Sidney announced walking into the waiting room where both of their parents now were. He smiled and accepted all the hugs and handshakes from everyone before making his way back in to see his wife.

Sometimes in life, things don’t always go the way you’ve hoped or planned. There are always tangles and forks in the road with no machete or map to guide you. You take one path, beat back the overgrowth, and hope it was the right decision. There are always times that you look back at a fork or two and wonder what life would have been like if you’d taken the other route, but then again, what’s the point? You can’t go back and take it, so you should just move on and make the best of the road you did take.

When I look back at those forks in the road I look back in much different ways than a lot of people. I look back in fear. What if I’d taken the other road? Would it have gone as well as the one I did take went? There’s just no way. There’s no way I made any wrong decisions.

If I’d chosen a different road I may no longer be alive. Just imagine. If I’d chosen to forgive Sidney for lying to me on the spot, through a long list of intertwined events, I may have found the cancer too late. That would have meant that I wouldn’t be standing here, looking through the window in the hospital at my beautiful baby girl. That’s terrifying.

“Jesus, can you two make an ugly child?” Hailey asked from her position next to me. I laughed.

“Because you and Ryan have done so poorly,” I pointed out when mentioning her two children.

“Yeah, but this is child number four for you guys. You’d think one in there would get a negative gene or two.”

“Gee, thanks a lot!” I shot at her. She wrapped her arm around me and laughed.

“How’s she doing?” Sidney asked, making his way towards us.

He placed a kiss on my forehead before joining us. I watched the look in his eyes change at the sight of her. Of course he was thrilled at having three sons, but this was his only daughter, his little girl. I could already tell he was going to spoil her and she was going to be a daddy’s girl.

“She’s perfect,” I replied.

We stood there in silence for a while after Hailey had moved off, just watching her sleep. Despite having three children before her, it was never any less moving or exciting just to watch them. I’d do anything to be able to just be around all of my kids. A short time later, our three sons rushed over and Sidney lifted our youngest so he could see through the glass as he pointed out their little sister. I glanced down at my family and tears filled my eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Sidney asked when he saw.

“I’m just so…..”

“If you say lucky one more time, I’m going to be forced to leave you,” he joked.

I rolled my eyes at him, but laughed anyway. I guess I had overused that word in our relationship. I couldn’t help it though, because it was true. I’d somehow managed to not take a single wrong turn in my life. I couldn’t have if my life had ended up like this. I had everything I’d ever wanted and more than I could have ever expected. There just wasn’t another word to describe it all. I was lucky.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chapter 64

I sat up straight with Sidney’s help when the doctor walked into the room. They had to have results now. I just didn’t think I could take much more of the testing and uncertainty. I just wanted to know the seriousness of the cancer, and I prayed that we’d caught it early again. I held onto Sidney’s hand limply, because I just didn’t have the strength to do more than just place it in his.

“Do you know anything?” I asked.

“Yes, we have the results,” the doctor replied. I watched as he glanced down at his chart as if he had to double check what it said before he told me. The suspense was literally killing me and I wanted to scream at him to just say it. “I’m afraid to say that we put you through more testing than necessary.”

“What does that mean?” I questioned. I had no idea how to interpret that statement. Was I so far along that there was just nothing they could do to save me?

“It means that we were too hasty in our assumptions. None of the tests we gave you were necessary.” I watched the doctor start to smile at me. “The cancer is not back. You’re still in remission.”

It took a minute for the news to sink in. When I’d played what he’d said over in my head a few times it finally hit me. The cancer hadn’t come back. I wasn’t sick. I wasn’t going to die. Tears sprung into my eyes at the pure joy and relief I was experiencing. Then all of those emotions faded. Something was still wrong. Could it be worse?

“I don’t have cancer?” I double checked.

“No, you don’t,” he confirmed.

“But what’s wrong with me then? Something’s wrong,” I pushed. He smiled at me again.

“I wouldn’t exactly say that anything was wrong, but there is a reason for you to be feeling the way you do.” I held my breath as I waited for the diagnosis. “Tanner, you’re pregnant.”

My eyes widened in surprise and I somehow found the strength to nearly break Sidney’s hand in half. My jaw dropped in absolute shock. Had I heard him right? Did he say I was pregnant? Oh, shit. I wasn’t sure I liked the news. I wasn’t even sure I could process it. My emotions had been all over the place since yesterday when I’d thought it was the cancer. It was just too much right now.

“You’re sure?” I asked. He nodded.

“Yeah, I am. We think you’re about six weeks along now,” he replied.

Six weeks. Six weeks ago my birth control had failed me. Six weeks ago Sidney and I did something that was about to change our lives completely. Six fucking weeks ago. I was just not prepared for this. I wasn’t sure I wanted this. Sidney and I had never even had a conversation about having kids. I just figured we would wait a few years. Now we didn’t have a choice.

The doctor left after suggesting we make an appointment with an OB right away. Sidney still hadn’t said a word since we found out the news and neither of us had even looked at each other. Now I was just sitting on the bed staring at the floor while Sidney stood motionless next to me.

How was he going to feel about all of this? Was he going to be upset? Happy? Was I upset? Happy? I’m terrible with the unexpected. I’m such a planner that this was just throwing me off so much. I hadn’t planned or prepared for this, so it was hard for me to comprehend. And not hearing any sort of reaction from Sidney yet wasn’t helping.

I finally sucked it up and turned my head to look up at him. His eyes were focused on a spot on the wall across the room, but when he noticed me looking he turned his eyes to me. We just stared at each other with shock written all over our faces. I wasn’t sure what to say, and I was almost breaking down into tears. I just wanted him to tell me how he felt.

Sidney remained quiet and my mind continued to spin. Then I watched as Sidney’s eyes left mine and traveled down to my abdomen. He stared for a minute and then I watched his hand lift from his side. He moved slowly, but a few seconds later his hand was resting on my stomach and I suddenly knew how I felt. It hit me with his touch.

His eyes lifted back up to mine and at the same time smiles broke out across our faces. We both started to laugh and the tears finally spilled down my cheeks as he wrapped his arms tightly around me. We just held onto each other laughing and crying out all of our emotions. It was relief mixed with ecstasy.

“So you’re going to be a dad,” I said when we finally pulled apart.

“And you’re going to be a mom,” he returned. We both continued to grin like fools at each other.

“Are you okay with that?” I asked.

“I’m more than okay with that,” he answered.

After a little more tears and laughter I got up and got dressed before we checked out of the hospital. As we walked out to Sidney’s car I had just a mix of thoughts running through my head. So many thoughts were swirling around that I couldn’t even make sense of them. Until one felt like it hit me straight between the eyes.

“We can’t tell anyone,” I announced as we got into the car. Sidney looked over at me in surprise.

“What? Why? They’ll be excited for us,” he questioned.

“I know but…..I don’t want to jinx anything. I don’t want to tell everyone in case something happens. Can we wait? Just until three months when we know that everything is probably going to be okay?” Sidney smiled over at me and placed his hand over mine.

“We can wait.” I smiled back at him and settled back into my seat. Sidney started up the car and we began the drive home when another thought struck me.

“We have to go to Mario’s,” I told him. He glanced over at me in confusion.

“Why?” he wondered.

“Mario thinks the cancer is back. We have to tell him and Nathalie the truth. I don’t want them spending the next two months worrying about me. We have to tell them.”

Sidney agreed and we headed in the direction of their house. We pulled into the driveway and Sidney and I both took deep breaths and laughed a bit before we got out of the car and walked up to the door. We waited after ringing the doorbell until Nathalie pulled it open. She looked at the two of us with sadness in her eyes and if felt so good to know that we were going to be changing that soon.

“Come in,” she told us and led us into the family room before calling for Mario.

Sidney and I sat down on one of the couches and waited for Mario to come in. When he saw that it was the two of us he gave us each a sad smile before sitting down next to Nathalie across from us. Sidney squeezed my hand out of sight before we began the announcement.

“How are you feeling?” Mario asked.

“Emotional,” I told him truthfully. They took it completely different from how it was intended and I felt bad for leading them on a bit. “We got the test results back today.” I looked over at Sidney who looked back at me. “You tell them.” Sidney nodded and turned back to them.

“We don’t want to tell anyone about this for a while. We’re just telling you both because you already knew we were in the hospital. I hope you’ll understand,” Sidney said.

“Of course we won’t say anything. It’s not our place,” Nathalie confirmed. Sidney glanced over at me again before telling them.

“The cancer didn’t come back. Tanner’s still healthy.” The relief that washed over their faces was quickly followed by the same confusion I had felt when I’d heard the news. Just before Sidney finished the announcement I saw something in Nathalie’s eyes that told me she’d just figured it out. “We found out this morning that we are going to be parents.”

Nathalie leapt out of her seat with a yell and rushed right over to me. I stood up and accepted her hug as we both laughed like a couple of giddy teenagers. I watched as Mario also stood up and gave Sidney a hug with a huge smile on his face.

“How dare you two scare us like that!” Nathalie chastised as her and Mario switched places and hugged the other.

“I’m sorry. I had no idea it was even a possibility. It just never occurred to either of us. We’ve both had so much going on that I don’t think either of us thought about it with a clear head. We just assumed the worst,” I apologized.

“We are so happy for the both of you. I’ve been worried ever since you came to the rink yesterday,” Mario told us.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done since then, too,” Sidney said.

“We’re just going to wait until the third month before we tell anyone about it. I’m just afraid of jinxing it. There was no way I could let you two continue on thinking I was sick so that’s why we’re telling you now,” I explained.

“We won’t tell a soul,” Nathalie assured us.

Sidney and I stayed for a little while longer just sitting and talking with Mario and Nathalie before we headed home. When we walked through the door it was like Lulu and Gilly could sense that something was different. They didn’t jump up on me like they usually would have. Sidney and I marveled at the intelligence of our dogs before wrapping each other up into another laughter filled hug. We were going to have a baby.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chapter 63

Sidney sat in the chair in the hospital room in silence. He wasn’t sure he’d said a word since he and Tanner had gotten into the car at the rink to drive here. There were just no words to express what he was feeling and going through right now. Pain. Excruciating pain. Anger. Confusion. They summed his feelings up, but didn’t do them justice.

He also couldn’t get the look on Tanner’s face when she’d whispered the two scariest words in the world to him out of his mind. It's back. She was terrified and yet resigned to her fate at the same time. She looked like she was giving up. Even when she’d told him the first time she found out about the cancer that she was done fighting, she hadn’t looked the way she had in the underbelly of the rink today. Today she looked defeated.

He glanced over at Tanner who was sitting up in the hospital bed staring out the window. With the exception of answering the doctor’s questions, she hadn’t said a word either. She also hadn’t turned away from the window except to face the doctors and nurses who were making their way in and out of the room. Her face was a blank canvass displaying no emotion whatsoever.

The doctors had given them no hope of it being anything else but the cancer returning. Their faces had been sad and sympathetic. Even though they all knew that there was a chance for it to come back, no one had really expected it. They’d lived their lives like nothing could ever go wrong again, and he was starting to question if that had been the right thing to do. Maybe they should have been more cautious, should have gotten her checked out more.

Another doctor with the same grim look on his face, like all the others, had came into the room. Sidney moved positions to hold Tanner’s hand. She squeezed it just as hard as she was squeezing her eyes closed as the doctor performed a spinal tap. He watched as tears fell silently down her face until it was over. God, he hated watching her go through this all over again.

A little while later Sidney left the hospital to drive home. The doctors had told them they wanted to keep Tanner overnight and he was getting some stuff for her. He called Mario and asked him to take care of Lulu and Gilligan for the night. When they bounded up to him when he walked through the front door he broke down.

Sidney literally collapsed to the floor in the foyer and began to cry. He couldn’t blame Tanner for feeling defeated. He felt defeated too. The entire time at the hospital he’d been trying to stay strong for Tanner, to be there for her, but now that he was home he couldn’t hold it in anymore. He let himself go, let his emotions take over. Lulu and Gilly seemed to sense that something was terribly wrong, and they took up post next to him and nudged their heads into his chest.

He finally got control of himself and got up off the floor to pack some stuff up for Tanner. Every picture he saw of her, every item that belonged to her threatened to bring the tears back again. He splashed some cold water on his face and then carried the bag out to his car and drove back to the hospital. When he arrived he could see that there was still no news. Tanner was still sitting in the same position and staring out the window, that same blank expression on her face.

She didn’t even turn to look at him when he walked in. He put the bag down on the small couch in the room and walked over to her. Sidney placed a kiss on her forehead, letting it linger. When he moved away he saw that her expression was the same, but her jaw was clenching, like she was trying to hold herself together. It killed him.

Sidney sat back down in the seat he’d occupied all afternoon. He sat quietly and watched Tanner. It almost felt like he was afraid to look away, like if he did she’d suddenly be gone. That thought threatened to bring the tears back once again, but he fought them and won. He wasn’t going to cry in front of Tanner. She didn’t need that.

“I’m lucky.” Sidney blinked in surprise at the sound of Tanner’s voice. It had been whispered and he almost didn’t think he’d heard her, but when he saw her expression had shifted, he knew he had.

“What?” he asked.

“I’m lucky,” she repeated. He couldn’t comprehend why she was saying that. How could she possibly be saying she was lucky?

“How are you lucky?” He tried to keep his voice under control, tried not to let her hear the anger in his tone.

“Most people don’t get to truly live their dreams. They go an entire lifetime dreaming of things and never experiencing them. I’ve gotten to live mine,” she explained.

“Tanner…..” he started, but he wasn’t sure what to say. She must have heard the tone in his voice, the tone that signaled he didn’t agree, and she turned to look at him for the first time since they’d gotten here.

“No, Sidney, I have. My whole life I dreamed of working with animals. I've gotten to do that for the last two years. It exceeded any of my expectations. And I’ve had you. I didn’t dream of falling in love and getting married when I was younger, but that’s what happened. Achieving my dream would have meant nothing if I didn’t have you with me.” He didn’t like what he was hearing, what she was saying.

“You sound like you’re saying goodbye,” he managed to choke out while he struggled to keep his emotions in check. Tanner turned and looked back out the window for a moment. Silence hung in the air between them for a while before she spoke up again.

“I’m not. If there’s any chance I can get through this, I’m going to fight. I’m not ready to stop my work, and I’m not ready to stop being with you. I’m not giving up, I’m going to fight. I just need one promise from you,” she told him.

“What is it?” he asked.

“If they tell me it’s too advanced or inoperable, I don’t want treatments. If that’s the case I want to live the rest of my life doing what I want and being with the people I love. I don’t want to be in and out of the hospital. I’m asking you not to beg me to. I’m asking you to respect my wishes. I’m asking you not to be mad at me.”

Her voice broke on the last sentence and tears welled up in her eyes. His reaction mirrored hers and he immediately stood up and closed the distance between them. He wrapped his arms around her as he sat down on the bed next to her. For what felt like forever they just sat there holding each other, tears falling freely.

“I promise, Baby. I promise,” he finally whispered. He then turned her face up to his and kissed her, long and hard.

They sat like that, wrapped up in each other, as they both watched night fall over the city through the hospital room’s window. He didn’t want to think about the second option she’d brought up. It hurt too much to think about, so he silently prayed into the darkness that she’d be able to fight and win once again.

Doctors and nurses continued their trips in and out of the room to check on Tanner, bring her dinner she didn’t eat. Eventually as the night wore on Sidney realized that Tanner had fallen asleep. He continued to hold her even as he lay awake all night. He was going to hold her and be by her side as much as he could from now on.

She stirred in the morning and groaned, putting a hand to her head. It didn’t take long for her to completely bury her head in the darkness of the pillows with both hands gripping the back of her head at the headache. Sidney went out to find a doctor or nurse to see if there was anything they could give her for the pain. When he got back into the room a nurse was holding a bucket, and Tanner was throwing up.

Sidney felt so helpless standing there watching Tanner get sick and seeing her in pain. There was nothing he could do to help and it was driving him crazy. He didn’t want to see her like this, didn’t want her to be like this. It wasn’t fair. So much of her life since he’d met her hadn’t been fair.

When the nausea passed, Tanner lay back in the bed and squeezed her eyes closed against the headache that was still present. He climbed back into bed next to her after turning out the light and just held her as she buried her head in his chest. He wanted answers, wanted to know what her prognosis was, and he wanted to know now.

Less than an hour later a doctor came into the room. Sidney got out of bed and helped Tanner sit up so they could hear what he had to say. He stood next to her, holding her hand, waiting for the news. He was hopeful for the best news possible, but bracing himself for the worst.
If the news wasn’t good, he had to be strong for her. He knew she wasn’t going to fall apart, because that wasn’t Tanner, but he had to be there for her. He had to be ready to do whatever she wanted and needed from him.

The doctor spoke and Sidney remained silent as he listened. When they were told the news he felt Tanner’s hand squeeze his harder than she’d ever done before. He felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. Was this really happening?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chapter 62

I watched as the truck backed up into position, feeling more than fatigued. It had been a long and tiring two weeks. I rubbed my eyes trying to keep myself from falling asleep on my feet until I heard the sound of the door opening. I watched along with the other zookeepers as the young male polar bear timidly made his way out of the truck and into his new home. There were some cheers and claps around me, but I was too exhausted to take part in it.

Two weeks ago I had flown up to Toronto to pick up our new member of the zoo. Tuck was old enough to leave the zoo there and come into Pittsburgh’s to hopefully eventually breed with the females we currently had. We’d had to quarantine him for a while to make sure he wasn’t sick before we could introduce him to our bears. That meant two weeks of round the clock observation and care.

I hadn’t gotten much sleep, and it didn’t look like I was going to be getting much in the next couple of days either. There had to now be round the clock observation to make sure that Tuck was accepted by our females and make sure that there were no fights. As exhausted as I was, I couldn’t hold back the smile as I observed the newest member of our family. Sleep would come.

“Tanner, can you come back here a minute?” Zach called over to me. I nodded and followed him back into the offices wondering what he wanted to talk to me about. A grin grew on my face when I saw why I was being called back.

“I thought you might want some lunch,” Sidney said, holding up a bag, a smile on his face as well. I ran into his arms, causing the bag to fall to the floor in a thud.

“What are you doing here?!” I exclaimed when I finally pulled away.

“I haven’t seen you in two weeks and I know you’ll be busy the next couple of days, so I wanted to stop by now when you would actually be awake.” I planted a big kiss on his lips and picked up the bag of food.

“That’s so sweet. I’m starved,” I told him, leading him to where my desk was.

I knew I had some time. We were going to let Tuck get adjusted to his new home before introducing him to the females. Sid and I ate and caught up on the last two weeks. We’d hardly had time to talk with our busy schedules while I was away. I didn’t even know the outcome of his last three games.

Another year had gone by since the wedding, and everything had gone perfectly in that time. We no longer had any fights about busy schedules and lack of support. We each saw that the others job made them happy and therefore we were supportive of each other, even if we didn’t always get to see each other.

The next few days passed by quickly despite the exhaustion I was feeling. When I finally had time off I literally collapsed into bed and slept for an entire day. When I woke up I had a terrible headache and still felt tired. I figured that was to be expected after getting next to no sleep for almost three weeks and then sleeping close to 18 hours.

“You don’t look well,” Sidney commented when I finally made my way out of the bedroom and into the living room where he had NHL Network on.

“Gee, thanks, Babe,” I replied sarcastically. He leaned over and placed a kiss on my forehead before pulling me into him.

My headache faded as the day continued on, but the fatigue stayed. Even so, I tried to force myself to stay awake until my normal bed time to try to get myself back on track. When the alarm went off the next morning I felt like I was going to die. The headache was back and it felt like it brought some friends. I guess that’s the price you pay for doing what I do.

Sid and I ate breakfast together as I fought through the throbbing in my head. Worried about me driving after he realized he couldn’t convince me to stay home, he dropped me off at work before heading in to practice. I noticed that red balloons had been put up at the entrance to announce the arrival of our new polar bear to the public.

“What are there, 99 of them?” Sidney asked. I rolled my eyes at the fact that he was laughing at his own joke.

“Thank you, very much. Now I’m going to have that stupid song stuck in my head all day,” I shot at him. He laughed again before giving me a kiss and driving off. I walked into the zoo singing the song in my head.

I went about my typical morning, checked in on Tuck, and got some paperwork done. Soon it was feeding time and along with a couple of coworkers, I began to get the food ready. As I slapped a raw piece of meat into a bowl I suddenly felt nauseous by the sight and smell of it. I got into the bathroom just in time.

“Are you okay?” I heard one of my coworkers ask.

“Yeah, I’m alright. I’ve just had a killer migraine all morning. I think it’s making me sick,” I told her.

“Call Sid and have him pick you up when he leaves the rink. You probably should have had another day or two off. All that lack of sleep the last few weeks has definitely caught up to you.” I agreed and hid in a dark office until Sidney arrived to take me home.

I went straight to bed when I got home. I woke up after a couple of hours and found that the migraine was all but gone, and I no longer felt nauseous. I made my way downstairs and Sidney asked if I wanted dinner. I declined, not wanting to push my luck. The smell of the take-out he got started to bring the nausea back, and I retreated back into the bedroom for the night.

The next morning went exactly the same way. My head was killing me and I just was not feeling well because of it and called off of work. I had to skip Sidney’s game that night because I still wasn’t feeling up to getting out of bed despite the migraine fading again. I was just tired, and not being able to stomach anything for two days left me feeling weak.

When I felt exactly the same the following morning, I decided that I’d been sleeping far too much and just needed to get myself back into a normal routine. I lied to Sid and told him I felt a lot better before driving myself in to work. Again, just being around the raw meat that day caused me to rush off to the bathroom. Thankfully no one was around to witness it that time.

As the morning wore on, my headache began to fade and I congratulated myself on the good diagnosis I had given myself. I had been sleeping far too much after being so exhausted and getting back into the swing of things was starting to help.

I made a phone call and reached for a pencil to take down a contact number. That’s when I knocked over the entire canister of writing utensils I had on my desk. I shook my head at my clumsiness, and took the number down before cleaning up the mess. As I pushed a cart of greens for another animal a little later I began to sing that damned song I’d had stuck in my head for days since Sidney had made that comment about there being 99 red balloons.

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
'Til one by one, they were gone
Back at base, bugs in the software
Flash the message, Something's out there
Floating in the summer sky
99 red balloons go by

As I sang along, I tripped over my own feet. I threw my hands out to catch my fall and watched in horror as the entire cart I was pushing tipped over, spilling its contents all over the floor. I chastised myself for my uncharacteristic clumsiness for the second time that day as I began to clean it up.

99 red balloons
floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's red alert
There's something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
Where 99 red balloons go by

I froze in place, a piece of green in my hand after singing the second verse of the song. My diagnosis had been wrong. It couldn’t have been more wrong. I vaguely heard someone ask if I was okay, but I couldn’t respond. Instead I turned and bolted out of there, to my desk to grab my car keys, and then out to my car.

99 Decision Street
99 ministers meet
To worry, worry, super-scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry
This is what we've waited for
This is it boys, this is war
The president is on the line
As 99 red balloons go by

I pulled into the parking lot of the rink a little while later. I didn’t hesitate to get out of the car and walk straight to the back door. The security guard greeted me, but I blindly walked by him and into the underbelly of the rink. I checked my watch, saw that there was still quite a bit of time before Sidney would be off the ice and sat down on the cold cement floor in the hallway.

99 Knights of the air
Ride super-high-tech jet fighters
Everyone's a superhero
Everyone's a Captain Kirk
With orders to identify
To clarify and classify
Scramble in the summer sky
As 99 red balloons go by

I couldn’t get that damn song out of my head. Tears began to fill my eyes at the frustration of it just replaying in my mind over and over again. I didn’t want to sing it. I didn’t want those lyrics in my head. I didn’t like what they meant to me right now. I didn’t want to hear it ever again.

99 dreams I have had
In every one a red balloon
It's all over and I'm standing pretty
In this dust that was a city
If I could find a souvenier
Just to prove the world was here
And here is a red balloon
I think of you and let it go

“Tanner, what are you doing here?” I heard someone ask. I picked my head up off of my knees where I’d been resting it to see Mario standing there.

“I came to see Sid,” I told him. He looked at me with concern in his eyes.

“Is everything okay?”

I felt the tears continue to build, and felt one slide down my cheek as I shook my head no. He opened his mouth to say something else when I threw my hand over my mouth and fought back the wave of nausea that hit me out of nowhere. Once it passed I glanced back up at Mario, who looked alarmed, and like he understood.

“I’ll get Sid off the ice right now.” With that he rushed off towards the ice and I rested my head back on my knees. A short time later I felt hands on my shoulders.

“Baby, what’s wrong?” I heard Sidney question. I looked up into his worried eyes and saw that he was out of the equipment, but unshowered and still in his underarmour.

“I don’t feel well,” I told him. I could see him struggling to figure out why I was sitting in the hallway of the rink disrupting his practice just because I didn’t feel well.

“I don’t understand,” he said, his hands moving up to my face to wipe away the tears.

“Sidney, it’s back.”

Thursday, May 6, 2010


So sorry I haven't posted anything in forever. I am not done with this story, I'm just ridiculously busy. It's been very difficult in the last month to find time to write any chapters for any of my stories. Hopefully in the next two weeks I'll get a couple done at least. At the end of the month I'm heading to Mexico on a much needed vacation and there will absolutely be no time to write while I'm there, so I'm hoping to get some done before then. Thanks for everyone who's sticking around and waiting patiently!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chapter 60

Sorry that it's been so long, but life has gotten in the way. I'm going to be really busy for the next little while, but I'll try to update all of my stories when I can. Thanks for the patience! And no, this isn't the end of this story. There are a few more chapters left, but it is coming to an end soon. Thanks for following this and all the support!

I stared at the checklist in front of me and felt my stomach knotting up. Seriously? There were this many things that had to be done just so someone could get married? This was ridiculous. No wonder I’d never fantasized about what my wedding would be like. What a joke.

“Everything okay?” Grace asked from her seat on the armchair. She continued to flip through the bridal magazine even as she looked up at me.

“Can you explain to me why for my own wedding I have to do so much? Why can’t people just show up someplace, have someone announce Sidney and I husband and wife, and we can all be done with it?” I asked.

“Are you kidding, Tanner? Planning your wedding should be fun!” she argued.

I looked back down at the checklist. Well, it was more like five checklists all on one page. I mean, how could a category like flowers have 12 different things that needed to be checked off before complete? Didn’t you just order a bunch of them and have them show up to the right location on time?

“I don’t even know where to begin,” I groaned, letting my head fall onto my knees.

“Most people start with a date,” Grace suggested. Oh yeah. That might be a good idea.

“Well, it has to be the summer sometime because of hockey. And if we want a honeymoon, it has to be fairly early in the summer. End of June or beginning of July? A weekend obviously,” I thought out loud.

“See, you’re already getting the hang of this.” I rolled my eyes at Grace’s sarcasm. Could someone please explain to me why I thought she’d be a good maid of honor?

“Obviously I have to confer with my fiancé on the date,” I shot back. She just shrugged and looked back down at her magazine.

“What kind of dress are you thinking of?” she asked.

“Dress?” She nearly dropped the magazine as her jaw fell almost to the floor at my response. I let out a loud whine and fell back on the sofa.

“How do you not have a clue what you want your dress to look like?!” she exclaimed.

“I don’t know. I just never thought about it.”

Now that she’d brought it up though, I began to think about it. Unfortunately my brain had little to reference and all I could think of was poufy prom dresses in white. What had I gotten myself into? Two weeks later the girls, my mom, and Delia all gathered in my hotel room in Manhattan and we headed out to go wedding dress shopping.

They chatted away excitedly while I fought a migraine. I didn’t have the slightest clue what I wanted my dress to look like. Everyone kept telling me not to worry, because when I tried the right dress on I would just know. What exactly did that mean? Was I going to hear wedding bells and birds chirping when I saw my reflection in the mirror or would I just realize that no other dress had looked as good and I was too tired to try anything else on?

“And your fiancé’s name?” the woman at the store asked. I hesitated slightly, but at the reassuring nods from everyone, I responded.

“Sidney Crosby,” I answered. The woman’s head jerked up in surprise. Obviously she knew who he was.

“Okay, follow me,” she told me with an enormous smile.

We all followed her back to a private room where we were given flutes of champagne. I’d noticed other groups of girls on the way back and not one of them had a flute of any kind of drink with them. While slightly uncomfortable with the obvious special treatment, I downed my glass happily.

I talked with a consultant for a while and once she realized I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for and everyone else had an opinion, she went off on her own to search for some dresses. I tried on the first few and there were no bells or whistles or birds chirping. They were beautiful dresses, but nothing really made me feel like it was the one.

On my sixth dress I was frustrated and wondered how anyone could possibly have any fun doing this. Every dress had been amazing in its own way, but nothing stood out. My group argued amongst themselves on what had looked best on me so far. I was on the verge of losing it and just calling it quits.

“That’s it, I’m eloping!” I exclaimed as I listened to the critiques of the seventh dress.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” my mother responded.

“Oh, I’m not. I’m serious. I’m getting married in jeans and a t-shirt in a drive-thru chapel in Vegas,” I announced.

The six of them looked at me blankly for a moment before jumping right back into their debate on what dress they’d liked best so far. I let out a growl before turning to head back into the dressing room. I didn’t even want to try on the ninth dress that was brought out to me, but I did, just to humor my friends and family. Even so, I was drawing the line at 10 dresses. After the tenth one, we were out of here.

The consultant zipped the dress up in the back and I turned to look at my reflection in the mirror expecting to see more of the same. Instead I nearly lost my breath. I froze in place as my eyes gazed up and down at my reflection, taking in every detail of the dress I had on. I caught sight of the consultant’s smile in the mirror.

I walked out of the dressing room, biting my lip nervously, and into the area where everyone was waiting. All conversation stopped the second I turned the corner. I heard someone gasp and watched as my mother put a hand to her mouth. That reaction was enough for me. They hadn’t shut up all day until now. I glanced at myself in the mirror again, unnecessarily. This was the one.

As I looked at myself, tears filled my eyes. Suddenly all these feelings rushed into my brain. I now understood what people meant when they said you just knew when you had on the right dress. I also now understood what it was like to be so excited to plan a wedding.

Seeing myself in that dress jump started the wedding planning. I pulled out the checklist for the first time since that day I’d talked to Grace about how overwhelming it all seemed. Every free moment I had was spent planning the wedding, and I loved every moment of it. Of course it was stressful, but it was fun at the same time. I became that girl.

Sidney was involved to an extent in the planning, but he just wanted me to be happy. Only once did he veto an idea I had, and I realized he was right when he told me that the ice sculptures were a little over the top. Every time I checked something off my list I felt a sense of accomplishment.

The media went crazy with the news that Sidney Crosby was getting married. Most were congratulatory, but some questioned it. He was too young, he had too much on his shoulders to be worrying about a marriage, I wasn’t the right person. It didn’t matter to us. We knew that it was the right thing.

Before I knew it, it was the night before the wedding and the rehearsal dinner was just ending. I’d never known I was a traditionalist until it came to this wedding. There was absolutely no way I could be convinced to spend the night with Sidney, or even see him after the dinner was over until I was walking down the aisle.

“Are you nervous?” he asked me as we walked out of dinner holding hands.

“A little bit,” I replied. He lifted his eyebrows.

“Really?” I nodded.

“A lot of people are going to be staring at me tomorrow. What if I trip? What if I forget my vows? What if I’m just a sobbing mess?” He laughed and pulled me into a hug.

“I know exactly what you mean,” he whispered.

“Tanner, the car’s here!” Grace called out. I pulled back from Sidney a little and looked up into his face.

“I guess it’s time to go,” I said.

“I guess so.” He placed a kiss on my forehead, and then on the tip of my nose, and then on my lips.

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” I asked, backing away from him, our hands slowly sliding apart.

“Count on it. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

We both walked in different directions, but kept looking back at each other with goofy grins on our faces until we were in the cars. Sidney was off to his parents’ house while I headed to our house. I lay awake in bed that night, unable to fall right to sleep. Images of the next day kept flashing through my brain as I rehearsed my vows over and over again in my head. I eventually fell asleep for a couple of hours until the alarm woke me up the next morning.

The girls made sure I had everything I needed, including the traditional something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Butterflies took over my stomach as Hailey did my hair, Kelly did my make-up, Lisa helped me into my dress, and Grace made sure everything was ready to go.

When it was time my father came and got me. He walked me down the aisle and gave me a kiss on the cheek before handing me off to Sidney. I’m sure the lake in the background with the sun shining brightly on it was a beautiful sight, but I couldn’t honestly tell you. I was too busy looking at Sidney to notice anything else.

My heart thundered in my chest throughout the entire ceremony. I managed to keep the tears at bay up until the moment Sidney said his vows. His words brought them forward no matter how much I tried to hold them back. Nothing would ever sound so amazing to my ears for the rest of my life.

My smile somehow managed to grow even bigger when we were pronounced husband and wife. His lips met mine and when we pulled apart he rested his forehead against mine, my hands still in his. Our eyes locked and more tears fell when I saw that his eyes were filling with them as well.

“I’m lucky to have you as my wife,” he whispered.

“I’m lucky to have you as my husband,” I returned.

We turned and beamed out at the guests who were clapping for us. The rest of the night felt like a blur as we waited to thank everyone who stopped to congratulate us. We were then whisked off for the wedding photos. The reception was next and we had the time of our lives. It was a night I'd never forget.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chapter 59

Because I'm fast forwarding this, obviously I can't base the rest of this on real life. There's only going to be another 5 chapters or so depending on how I write them. Thanks so much for following this story for this long and all the support! It means so much to me!

I waited impatiently in a pre-designated room at the airport for Sidney’s plane to land. I hadn’t been there all that long, but it felt like eternity. Long enough, at least, for me to reflect back on the last few months. Ever since Sidney had won the gold medal at the Olympics, things had seemed to move at warp speed.

We’d returned home to Pittsburgh and both became very busy. I officially started work at the zoo and it took up a lot of time. It wasn’t just a 9 to 5 job. Sometimes I had to be in very early, sometimes I had to stay very late. Once in a while I had overnights. Not once did I ever complain. I loved what I was doing and wouldn’t have given it up for anything. Thankfully Sidney never once complained, seriously anyway.

As far as he was concerned once the Olympics ended the playoff race was on. Not that he ever wasn’t, but it was time for him to get really serious. They’d played well in the last month and had held on to second in the division and fourth in the conference. Unfortunately things hadn’t gone the way they had the year before and Pittsburgh lost in the second round.

Knowing that it was the off-season was tough. Sidney and I had talked about it and we knew that we were going to be spending a lot of the summer apart. I couldn’t just take the summer off from the zoo to go to Cole Harbour and Sidney never even considered asking me to. Just like I never considered asking him to stay in Pittsburgh instead of going home to see his friends and family. Instead we’d agreed that he would come down for a week each month of the summer and I’d go up for a week in June and again for his birthday.

Despite being apart, the summer had gone by fairly quickly. I had my friends and job to keep me busy just like Sidney had everyone back home. Lulu and Gilligan were angels and I fell in love with them more and more each day. I could tell that they missed Sidney when he was gone, but seeing their reactions each time they saw him again was priceless.

I glanced down at my watch for probably the thousandth time since I’d gotten to the airport and saw that Sidney’s plane should have touched down by now. I got up from my seat and started pacing back and forth across the room, looking towards the door every time I heard any sound come from outside of it. Eventually the door opened and I burst into Sidney’s arms.

“I missed you so much!” I exclaimed after planting a long kiss on his lips. He chuckled.

“I missed you too.”

After the greeting we were led by security out to the car and drove home. It was nice to have him back for the season, knowing he wasn’t going anywhere for a while. He talked about his trip and I talked about work on the drive back from the airport. When we pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, I immediately felt nauseous.

“Sidney, hi!” a sickeningly sweet voice called from next door.

I glared across the car hood at Tamara, who was jogging over across the lawn. After everything that had happened last year we’d basically avoided the neighbors. I hated them and Sidney didn’t exactly have a fondness for them either. Tamara had left Sidney alone since the night I’d ordered her out of our house and I didn’t know why she was coming over here now.

“Hi, Tamara,” Sidney greeted, annoyance in his tone.

“I didn’t realize you were coming back so soon!”

Like she’d done before, she completely ignored the fact that I was standing there in an attempt to exclude me in the conversation. I guess the year of separation had only emboldened her. Instead of standing there while they talked I walked to the front door and opened it. Within seconds Lulu and Gilly had bolted out the front door and over to Sidney. I watched with a grin when Gilly nearly knocked Tamara on her ass when he jumped up on Sidney in greeting.

“Hi, guys, I missed you too!” Sidney exclaimed, giving each of them equal attention.

After a few licks, barks, and jumps, Tamara backed away saying goodbye and heading back to her house. Sidney never responded as he rolled around on the ground with our dogs. Lulu and Gilly were the best guard dogs ever. He eventually got up and we both went inside, the dogs leading the way.

We spent the rest of the night in the house wrapped up completely in each other. After spending so much time apart this summer we had a lot of time to make up for. The only time we left bed was when the food we’d ordered arrived or to let the dogs out. God, it was nice to have him back. I easily fell asleep in his arms that night, simply exhausted.

Before I woke up the following morning I found myself in that place just before fully waking when you weren’t completely conscious, but you weren’t quite asleep either. My eyes were still closed and I had a slight uneasy feeling. Something just didn’t feel right. I finally opened my eyes and let out a scream when a pair was looking right back into them.

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” I exclaimed to a laughing Sidney.

“I was just watching you sleep,” he told me.

“You had to be inches from my face to do that?” I asked.

“Sorry,” he apologized after chuckling a bit longer.

“I take back everything I said yesterday. I didn’t miss you at all.” He narrowed his eyes at me.

“You don’t mean that.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Take it back,” he warned.

“Or what?” I challenged. He began to tickle me and I started to scream and squirm uncontrollably in his grasp.

“Take it back!” he called out.

“Okay, okay, I take it back! I missed you like crazy!” I yelled. The torture stopped and we both looked at each other and started to laugh.

“I love you,” he told me seriously.

“I love you too.”

I was on my right side so he reached for my left hand under the comforter and began to play with my fingers. We laid there in silence for a while, just enjoying being cuddled up with each other in bed. There was no greater thing in this world than lying next to the person you loved in a content silence. Words didn’t need to be spoken, because they just weren’t necessary.

Sidney shifted a little, but I didn’t pay any attention, keeping my eyes closed. I was too focused on how nice the feeling of being back in his arms again was. He turned back to me and looked straight into my eyes. There was no laughter in them this time, only something I couldn’t quite pick up on. As I stared back at him I felt something cool and smooth slide over the fourth finger on my left hand. My eyes went wide and I tried to pull my hand out from under the covers. Sidney grabbed on and didn’t let me.

“Hold on. Just listen to me for a moment,” he said. My heart started to pound in my chest.

“Sidney, what?” I managed to gasp out.

“We’ve been through a lot in the last two years. More than most people experience in a lifetime. There have been ups and downs, but no matter what came we made it through together. I wouldn’t trade in anything that happened for the world because it showed me your true character. You’re strong, smart, dedicated, compassionate, funny, and beautiful inside and out. I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather spend the rest of my life with. Tanner, will you marry me?”

“Yes,” I choked out through the tears that had started to fall. “Yes.”

He threw his arms around me and I held on tight as he pressed his lips to mine. When we finally broke apart he let me look at the ring on my finger. It was perfect. That was the only way to describe it. I hadn’t been the girl who dreamed of her wedding day and imagined what her ring would look like. I hadn’t even known what cut of diamond I preferred. I found that I preferred whatever the cut on my ring currently was.

I’m not sure I stopped crying the entire day. Every time I glanced down at the ring on my finger, which was a lot, the tears would come again as I remembered everything Sidney had said. The proposal had been simple and private, which is just the way I would have wanted it had I imagined it. I didn’t think I’d ever forget those words or that moment.

I made the obligatory phone calls to my family and then my friends, which only brought on more tears. My father told me that Sidney had flown to New York before Pittsburgh to ask for his permission to marry me. He never ceased to surprise me. Sidney’s parents insisted on talking to me as well. They’d known he was going to propose too and were more than happy for us.

The girls all filed over that night to check out the ring, including Hailey who was in town visiting while Ryan headed out for training camp. It was a whirlwind kind of day and soon our house was full of people. Guys on the team who were back in Pittsburgh early came over. The Lemieux’s came over. We hadn’t expected or planned on the gathering, but neither of us were complaining. There was no better way to celebrate an event like this than spending it with some of the people you were closest to.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chapter 58

I walked off of the plane and out into the airport in Vancouver. I glanced around at the crowds around me. There were people everywhere walking around with their country’s colors somewhere on them. I made my way towards a gate in a different terminal. I heard the loud squeal even before I saw her. A smile broke out on my face as Hailey rushed into my arms.

“How are you?!” she exclaimed.

“Amazing. How about you?” I returned.


Hailey’s flight into Vancouver had landed only half an hour before mine so we’d decided to meet up before the hectic two weeks began. We walked through the airport talking, laughing, and catching up on each others lives. We picked up our bags at baggage claim and then began to search out our ride.

We found the driver who was waiting for us and got into the car. The car ride was spent admiring the city and the sights of the Olympic craze. The car dropped Hailey off at where she was staying with Ryan first and we parted with plans to meet up the next day. I pulled out my camera and took pictures of everything I could for the rest of the car ride. I was here, really here, to witness the Olympics in person.

The car stopped at my destination and I got out, grabbed my luggage and walked inside. I knew that Sidney wouldn’t be there right now and he’d told me he left my name at the desk so I could get a key. Once I’d done that, with a whole lot of hassle, I made my way to our suite. I walked through the door and immediately stopped in the doorway.

A smile broke out over my face when I saw the enormous bouquet of flowers situated on the table in front of me, a note placed in front of it. I shook my head and closed the door behind me before dropping my stuff off in the bedroom. I walked back out and picked up the note.

Hey babe,

Sorry I couldn’t be here when you got in. I left these in hopes that you’d forgive me. There’s an order in for a Belgian Waffle they’ll fire up as soon as you call down. Have a good rest of the morning and I’ll see you soon!

Love you.

My boyfriend was too sweet. I made the call to the desk and began to unpack my stuff while I waited. Just a short time later room service had brought up the waffle and I found a mimosa accompanying it. My boyfriend wasn’t just sweet, he was perfect. I enjoyed my late breakfast and finished unpacking. Then I sat on the couch, flipped on the Olympics, and waited for him to get back.

I thought about heading out to explore a bit, but Sidney didn’t know when he’d be getting back. I decided to stay in so that I wouldn’t risk being out when he got to the suite. It was a good thing too, because he was there within the hour. His family arrived later that day and we spent the day just relaxing. Tomorrow it all started.

The next morning Sidney left early for a pre-game skate. I met up with Hailey so that I’d be out of Sidney’s way the rest of the afternoon as he prepared for game 1. We walked around Olympic Village a bit until it was time for the US game. I sat with her and Ryan’s family watching the game and cheering on my country.

I waited for Ryan with them after. It had been so long since I’d seen him and it was good to catch up. Team USA had a meeting later that night so instead of just sitting around and waiting for him, Hailey came with me and Sidney’s family to the Canada game that night. She waited around long enough to congratulate Sid before heading back to Ryan.

The rest of the tournament would go much the same way. I went to all of the US games with her and she went to all the Canadian games with me. It was nice to have one of my closest friends there with me to share in the experience. We were given tickets to some of the other events on the days that our guys didn’t play and thoroughly enjoyed watching those as well.

Things went well until the day of the US vs. Canada game. Suddenly everyone wanted to know who I was rooting for. All I wanted was for the day to be over and done with. I mean really, how do you root against either your country or your boyfriend? I decided that it had to go to a shootout and Canada had to win. That way they’d end up tied for first in the pool, but Canada would get the by due to goal differential. Hey, I had to go home with the boyfriend, not the country that night.

Unfortunately that’s not how things went. I don’t think anyone thought the US would put up much of a fight, let alone win. Internally I couldn’t fight the pride I had in my fellow countryman beating the odds that night, but at the same time I couldn’t quite be happy. It meant that despite his goal and a strong game, Sidney had lost.

I knew that this game would get to Sidney more than any in the preliminary round. His family and I waited quietly for him after. I left the hockey talk to him and his father. If he wanted to talk about it, his father would know best what to say about the game. Instead I waited until we were back in the suite for the night.

He flopped down on the bed and I just curled up next to him. I sensed that he wasn’t in the mood to talk and I didn’t feel nearly qualified enough to try to give him any sort of pep talk or motivational speech. What did I know about losing to a rival country in the Olympics in your home country? We laid there in silence for a long time before he finally turned to me.

“Thank you,” he said. I lifted my head enough to be able to look into his eyes.

“For what?” I asked.

“Knowing exactly what I needed.” I smiled and kissed him lightly before curling back up.

When I realized they’d be playing Russia after they beat Germany I was nervous. This wasn’t supposed to happen this early. They were supposed to be playing for the gold medal. They weren’t supposed to be playing just to make it to the next round. Whoever lost didn’t have a shot at a medal. I felt sick for the entire day before and the day of leading up to puck drop.

It didn’t take long for that feeling to disappear. They jumped on Russia and had basically demolished them after the first period. Canada had sent a message to the rest of the teams still in the tournament. They weren’t going to be easy to beat. Slovakia gave them a scare, but they pulled it out and made it to the gold medal game. It would be a rematch against the US with the gold on the line.

Before I knew it, I was sitting in the rink late Sunday morning, my legs shaking, and my hands fidgeting like crazy. The guys weren’t even on the ice yet and I felt sick. The last team I’d wanted Canada to play in the gold medal game was the US. It just wasn’t fair to pit my country against my boyfriend for a second time this tournament. I was a traitor either way I went.

I sat with Sidney’s family who were eerily silent themselves. Usually Trina or Taylor would be talking away before the game started, and even far into the game, but not today. Today they’d taken up Troy’s quiet demeanor and were sitting and just staring out at the ice. When the teams skated out the rink erupted in cheers from fans of both teams, but it was mostly Canadians.

When Canada scored their first goal I didn’t jump up like the rest of the crowd. I felt a small smile forming when it happened, but I wasn’t going to openly root against my own country. Thankfully Sidney’s family seemed to understand and when they sat down Trina gave my leg a pat and smiled over at me.

Canada scored the second goal and I thought the game was over. It just had that feel to it that Canada was unstoppable at this point. I was proven wrong when the US scored its first goal. While I didn’t cheer I was internally very happy that they were surging back. If my country had to lose, I didn’t want them to be embarrassed. They deserved so much more than that.

As the seconds ticked down in the third I felt a little like I did during game seven of the Cup finals. My heart was racing and I began to feel sick all over again, only it was for both teams. When Parise scored that goal with 24 seconds left, tears filled my eyes. It was an incredibly emotional moment for an American to see that goal go in for a team that everyone had counted out and watch the guys on the ice celebrate the way they were.

That emotion disappeared when I realized I had to sit through another intermission before overtime. I just wanted this game over so this sick feeling could go away. Sidney’s family remained quiet during the intermission obviously nervous for their son and their country. I wasn’t stupid. I knew how much was riding on Canada winning gold in their own country.

Then almost unexpectedly the puck was in the net for Canada and Sidney was racing to the corner, throwing his gear in the air. The crowd at the rink exploded in cheers and I remained cemented in my seat. While everyone around me jumped up, I sat in my seat, tears building and falling, with my hands over my mouth.

Had that just happened? Did Sid really just score the gold winning goal in overtime? I was too stunned to get up until Trina looked down at me. She held out a hand and I took it and rose to watch the celebration like everyone else. It wasn’t until I spotted Sidney being mobbed in the crowd that my shock dissipated being replaced with surging pride. If my country had to lose, there was only one person I would be okay with ending that run.

After watching them hand out the gold medals and listening to the crowd cheer on Sidney when they gave him his we made our way downstairs. We knew Sid was going to be bombarded with reporters for a while so we took our time. I didn’t even realize until he finally came walking out that I was still crying. I stood back and let him go to his parents and sister first. Then he turned to me and smiled before wiping tears off of my cheeks.

“I guess it’s time for you to retire, because what the hell else can you do?” I asked him. He beamed at me and laughed.

“I still don’t have that Conn Smythe,” he joked and I laughed along with him. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed me, his gold medal that was still around his neck pressing into my chest.

“I hope you know that you’re the only person that can turn me against my country. I’m not sure how I feel about that,” I told him when the kiss broke off.

“You’re more Canadian than you realize.” I smiled up at him and shook my head. It had been a whirlwind two weeks here in Vancouver, but it was a two weeks I’d never forget.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chapter 57

So this is kind of a short chapter. Like I said last post, it's more filler than anything. It's also going to be the last for this story until after the Olympics. I have to see how they go before I can write the next one.

“You look great. Very professional,” Sidney told me, walking up behind me and catching my gaze in the mirror.

“Are you sure? I’m not too casual?” I asked. He grinned at me and chuckled as he looked at the crisp white shirt, black pants, and flats.

“If you get the job, you’re going to be wearing khakis the rest of your career. You think this is too casual?” he joked. I returned his smile and nodded.

“I can always count on you to put things into perspective. Thank you.” He placed a kiss on the top of my head and turned me around to face him.

“Don’t worry. They’re going to love you. Zack’s already basically told you that they were going to hire you. This is just a formality,” he said, referring to the head zookeeper we’d already met before. I let out a breath and nodded knowing, or hoping, that he was right.

“Okay, I’ll see you before you leave for the game,” I told him. He nodded as I grabbed my purse and resume and made my way downstairs, snatching my car keys on the way.

“Tell the polar bears I say hi!” Sidney called after the closing door. I couldn’t help but smile.

I arrived at the zoo an hour before my scheduled interview time. I figured if I was going to be here already I might as well stop and see the bears for a bit before I went in. I glanced at the other exhibits as I walked by, but didn’t stop until I reached the bears. I leaned on the railing and watched the sleeping forms, not even bothered by the cold January weather.

I went over a few things in my head that I wanted to make a point of saying in my interview. As I did I thought about the possible amazing start that 2010 was going to have. Good riddance 2009, I won’t miss you, I thought. This was a new year, a new start. Things with Sidney and I were perfect, Lulu and Gilly had adapted to our lives well and had made us fall head over heels in love with them, Sidney was officially although not surprisingly going to the Olympics, and I was interviewing for a job I knew I’d love. The year was starting off fantastically.

“How long have you been out here?” I heard someone ask. I looked up to see Zack approaching me with a smile on his face. I glanced at my watch.

“About half an hour,” I told him. He leaned next to me along the railing and nodded as he too looked out at the sleeping bears.

“I always come out here before an interview. The ones worth hiring always stop by and observe for a while before they head into the office. It shows that they really care,” he told me. My smile grew as I took that in. So far so good.

“I would have been here sooner if open hours started earlier.”

“Somehow I know that. Why don’t you follow me back to my office?”

I followed Zack through some doors and to his office. He chatted about things going on with some of the animals along the way and I took it all in. I handed over my resume once I was seated across from his desk and he only glanced at it for a second. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.

“I usually start off my interviews by telling people that while working with animals can be fun and rewarding, it is hard work and can be dangerous. I’m not going to give you that speech. You’ve had more than your share of adversity this past year and being dedicated and hard-working is not something I can question you on. In fact, I only have two questions for you. What made you fall in love with bears, and what are you looking for out of this job?”

I was a little taken aback by what he said. I’d been fully prepared to answer questions, list qualifications, and the like. None of that seemed to matter to him. So instead of doing all of that I launched into the story I’d given Sidney about my first trip to the Bronx zoo and seeing the bears. I gave him every detail like I’d just experienced it and I watched him smile as I recounted it.

“As far as what I want out of the job, I just want to help. I want to help conserve not just bears, but any animal I can's existence and habitat. I want to help people be aware of the risks and benefits associated with these animals and help them to see that they can live with them. I want my children to be able to see every animal I’ve had the ability to see in the wild and not just in zoos.”

“The Olympics start in mid-February and last until the end of the month, am I correct?” I knew exactly why he was asking that, and I felt a knot in my stomach. I wanted nothing more than to go with Sidney to Vancouver, but if it meant losing my opportunity at this job I wouldn’t go.

“Yes, that’s correct.” He nodded and thought for a moment.

“Okay, well I’ll take you around the office, introduce you to some people, and get you to HR to fill out some paperwork. I’ll then see you next Monday at 8 am. You can spend until the Olympics shadowing and learning the job. You’ll officially start when you get back from Vancouver.” I couldn’t stop the grin from forming on my face.

“Thank you so much, Mr. Bairstow,” I said, shaking his hand.

“You’re first assignment is to stop being formal and start calling me Zack like everyone else here,” he told me with a laugh as we stood up and made our way out of his office.

He did as he said and introduced me to the people that were currently in the offices. Then he led me over to HR where I filled out all of the information necessary. Despite knowing that I was only interning to start and wouldn’t be getting paid, I walked out of the zoo the happiest person alive. It was starting. My dream was beginning to come true.

I made another stop at the polar bear exhibit to look out over the animals I was soon going to get to know very well. Then I got into my car and drove home to give Sidney the good news. He was asleep when I got there, and I didn’t want to wake him up before the game, so I just watched some TV until I heard him get up and start moving around.

“You’re looking at the new intern at the Pittsburgh Zoo,” I announced when I stepped into our bedroom. He rushed over and lifted me into his arms, kissing me long and hard.

“Congratulations, even though I knew you would be.”

“Well, thank you. I’m glad you were so sure. They even told me without me bringing it up that going to Vancouver with you would not interfere at all, which was my biggest fear.” He kissed me again, obviously just as happy about that news as I was.

“We’re going to celebrate tomorrow night. I’ll take you someplace nice for dinner. How does that sound?” he asked.

“Perfect,” I told him. This year really was starting out with a bang.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chapter 56

So I just want to apologize for this and probably the upcoming chapter. I'm kind of stuck on this story right now. I know exactly where I want it to go, but it's the getting to that point part that's giving me fits. This and the next one will probably be filler chapters just to get to that point. Once again, I apologize!

I walked out of class with an enormous smile on my face. I was free. No more classes, no more papers, no more tests. Well, at least as an undergrad anyway. I stepped outside and paused for a moment to look around at the campus. I’d only be back one more time in a few days to graduate.

I saw other students on campus, some done for the semester, others still with a final to go. Most of them weren’t experiencing the kind of elation I was. Only a small number of seniors were graduating with me in a few days. Most graduated in the spring in May, not in December. I didn’t even know anyone that was. I turned my back on campus and made my way to my car. As I got closer I saw a figure leaning against my car.

My smile only grew at the sight. I knew that figure well. I couldn’t help but giggle to myself at all the people passing him by without a clue, thanks to the low slung cap and nondescript jeans and jacket. I broke out into a run and launched myself into his arms when he saw me coming.

“How does it feel to officially be done with school?” Sidney asked when I pulled away.

“Amazing. Are these for me?” I turned my attention to the bouquet of red and yellow roses.

“No, they’re for my other girlfriend.” I gave him a dirty look. “They said that red and yellow roses together symbolized congratulations. Since I can’t be here for your graduation, I wanted to give them to you now.” I took the roses from him and inhaled the scent. Then I tipped my head up and pressed my mouth to his.

A few months ago I would have been upset, even angry, about him missing my graduation, but not now. Of course it was disappointing that he’d be in Philadelphia instead of in the crowd, but it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t make the schedule, so there was no reason to be angry with him. Just knowing that I felt that way showed how much I’d matured in this relationship recently.

We parted ways, just for a little while, to drive home. Upon reaching it, we fell into a routine we were sure to do a few hundred more times. Sidney sat down next to me on the couch with his laptop on his lap as I flicked through channels. A little bit later he shut the laptop and headed upstairs for his pre-game nap. Two hours later he emerged dressed in a suit and gave me a kiss goodbye before leaving for the rink.

Once he left I made my way upstairs to get into the shower. I spent the next hour after I was out getting dressed, doing my makeup, and then my hair. I put on my jacket and grabbed my purse just as a car horn sounded from the driveway. I hopped into Vero’s car and we headed in to the rink together.

All the girls cheered at the end of the game when the Penguins destroyed the Flyers 6-1 in the first of their home and home. I grinned and clapped at Sidney’s first star selection and then we headed downstairs to wait for the guys. When I walked into the room I saw all the banners and balloons littering the walls.

“Congratulations!” everyone called out when I walked through the door. I couldn’t help but laugh and thank them for their thoughtfulness. I had no idea where I’d be without these girls.

Two days later I walked across the stage to accept my diploma. When the ceremony ended I was met with my friends, including Hailey who had flown in, and my parents and brother. Hugs were given out liberally before what must have been a million pictures were taken.

We all made our way back to my house where my mom cooked a large dinner for everyone and we spent the night watching the Penguins beat Philly in a shootout, with Sidney getting a goal. He was the only thing missing from my day, and I missed him and wished he was there. Unfortunately I knew it wouldn’t be the last time he wouldn’t be around for me on a big day.

A couple of days later he was home from his short road trip. We spent all of his off day decorating the house for Christmas. We’d decided that because they didn’t have a long break to just have our families come to Pittsburgh to celebrate. It was the first time for both of us to decorate a house for the holidays and I pretty much dragged him all around the city to buy decorations.

It took two days and a little help from some of the guys to get all the decorations up. When we had finally finished I collapsed back onto the couch and looked around me. The whole house looked so festive, and I loved it. Even so, I was tired, and fully planned on spending the rest of the day lounging lazily on the couch. Unfortunately, that wasn’t Sidney’s plan.

“Get up, we have somewhere to be,” he told me. I gave him a strange look, not having a clue what he was talking about.

“Where do we have to be?” I asked. He just shrugged and pulled me up off the couch by the hand.

“You’ll see,” was all he said. I narrowed my eyes at him. He knew I hated surprises and yet he was always surprising me.

“Wait, should I change?” I checked when I watched him grab his car keys. I glanced down at the lululemon pants and zip-up I was currently wearing. It wasn’t exactly my ideal outfit to be traipsing around Pittsburgh in.

“No, that’s fine. You probably don’t want to dress up more than that,” he told me. Now I was really confused.

“Are you taking me to the gym?” I questioned, less than enthused as I followed him to the garage and got into the car. He simply laughed at me and shook his head.

Despite my millions of questions, pressing for any information on where we were going, he remained tight-lipped and wouldn’t tell me. I tried to figure it out based on the route we were taking, but I was simply lost. The streets we were turning down made absolutely no sense to me. That was until he pulled into the parking lot and came to a stop.

“Are we getting a dog?!” I exclaimed excitedly when I saw the shelter looming in front of us. He laughed and nodded.

“You’ve been saying you wanted one, and with you just graduating and it being Christmas I thought we could pick one out,” he explained. I clapped my hands together excitedly before leaning over to hug him.

“Have I told you how much I love you lately?” He simply laughed at me again and led me inside. Thankfully Sidney had had the sense to bring me to the shelter to pick up a homeless dog rather than suggest going to a breeder. Pure bred dogs were so much more likely to find a home than a mutt at the shelter.

We were led back to the kennels where the dogs were being held. I hadn’t expected it, but the second we walked through the door I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness. As I looked down the row of kennels I wondered how I could possibly pick a dog and leave the others. They all deserved good homes.

We made our way down the rows stopping to look at each dog and find out a little about them. Through some long conversations and heart-wrenching decision making I narrowed the dogs down to two. The first was a female black and tan Rottie/Retriever mix named Lulu and the second was a male black and white Border Collie/Shepherd mix named Gilligan.

“How am I supposed to pick between them? Just look at how cute they are!” I whined to Sidney in complete despair. He smiled at me sadly and shrugged.

I continued to make the trek back and forth between the two kennels, looking at both of them, waiting for something to tell me which one I should get. Both of them continued to look out at me with hopeful eyes, wagging their tails each time I approached them, mouths open in a smile. It was breaking my heart.

“Get them both,” I heard Sidney say from behind me. I spun around in surprise.

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked.

“If you can’t decide, get them both,” he repeated. My eyes went wide and I tried to keep the smile off of my face.

“Are you sure?” I checked.

“Consider Lulu a graduation present and Gilligan a Christmas present.” I let out a squeal of delight and threw my arms around him.

“They’re both under a year old. Are you really sure?”

“Do it now before I change my mind.”

A little while later Sidney and I walked out of the humane society with two dogs on leashes. He dropped me off at the house before running out and getting all the items I wrote down on a list for them. By the end of the night he was complaining about the lack of attention I was giving him because I was only paying attention to the dogs, who were both complete sweethearts.

“What do you think our families are going to say when they get here tomorrow?” I asked as we got into bed that night. Lulu and Gilly, as I’d decided to call him, were in their crates since they weren’t housebroken yet.

“They’re going to think we’re insane for taking on two dogs under the age of 1,” he replied.

That’s exactly what happened with both sets of parents as they showed up at our house the next day. Even so, they seemed to love Lulu and Gilly as much as I already did. The whole family had them outside playing and running around the backyard as Sidney napped before the last game before break.

Christmas went by without a hitch, everyone enjoying themselves over the couple of days Sidney had off. By the time our parents both headed back home I’d already taught both dogs a few tricks and I was starting to work on a few more. It shocked everyone how quickly I seemed to take to being a dog owner.

I’d never been able to have pets before with my family in Manhattan and I was surprised at how complete I suddenly felt having them in the house. Obviously I’d always known I had a love for animals, but until I took in two of them I hadn’t realized just how much they could fulfill my life. I was in love with my new “kids” as I called them and thankfully Sidney was too.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chapter 55

Sidney walked out of the rink and headed to his car. They’d lost yesterday afternoon to the Islanders and were playing the Rangers tonight. He hadn’t played his best game yesterday, and that was probably due to the emotional rollercoaster he and Tanner had been on the day before. Well, maybe all the alcohol contributed. It had been a back and forth fight and make up session. Thankfully everything had been resolved.

Tanner had moved back in yesterday while he was in Long Island. He’d come home to boxes and bags everywhere. To be honest, they hadn’t exactly gotten a lot of unpacking done after he’d gotten home, either. He’d left the house this morning with her still asleep, but he was hoping she’d gotten up and had continued the process.

He drove home with a smile on his face. Even if she still hadn’t finished, he didn’t care. He was just happy that she was home again. November had been a miserable month for him, but things were starting to look up for December. He pulled into the garage when he got home and made his way into the house.

He heard Tanner’s laughter floating into the kitchen from the living room. His smile grew at the sound of it. There was no better sound in the world right now. When he walked in, he saw that she was sitting alone on the couch, with a laptop on her lap, laughing at whatever she was watching. He could hear a faint voice coming out of the speakers, but couldn’t tell what was being said.

“What are you watching?” he asked, making his way further into the room. She looked up at him, and his smile grew even bigger, if that was possible. The sparkle was back in her eyes.

“I just discovered some website called,” she replied. His smile faltered and he narrowed his eyes at her.

“And what’s so funny?” He had a feeling he knew the answer.

“I’ve been watching your fights all morning. I realized that I hadn’t seen a single one of the four.” She giggled again when she looked back at the screen.

“How did you find that site?” She shrugged and closed the laptop, placing it on the table in front of her.

“I was bored and just searching around on the internet.” He glanced around at the boxes still sitting in the hallway.

“If you were bored, you could have unpacked some more.” She rolled her eyes at him before standing up.

“Yeah, because that would have been super fun!” she joked sarcastically. He made a face.

“So you chose to laugh at my fights instead?” She made her way over to him with a sympathetic look on her face, and wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Aw, I wasn’t laughing at you. I thought it was kind of sexy to watch you bloody those two guys.” He looked down at her skeptically.

“Really?” She kissed him in response. He didn’t hesitate in lifting her up off the floor and beginning to carry her towards the stairs.

“Isn’t it a game day?” she asked, pulling away from him.

“I don’t care.” She giggled before kissing him again.

He was done caring about game day rituals and superstitions. If he could keep a routine, then fine, but he wasn’t going to let something small throw off his entire day and night. There were more important things in life. It may have taken him a long time to figure that out, but he knew that now. Better late than never, right?

As I watched Sidney get dressed for the game that night I sent a text to Vero asking her if she could pick me up for the game that night. None of the Penguins girls, except for Grace, knew that Sidney and I were back together, so I started preparing myself way ahead of time. They were going to want details. Sidney kissed me goodbye just as I received a text back from her.

You want to come? Is Grace working late so she can’t bring you?

“Score a goal for me babe!” I called at Sidney’s retreating back.

“I’ll do my best!” he returned with a wave and a wink. I turned my attention back to my phone.

No, she’s not. I’m just home. I didn’t specify which home that was. I knew that she’d know. When I got a message back from her, I saw that she definitely did.

YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!! I’ll see you at 6. We have a lot to talk about!!!!!

I laughed and closed out of the message before getting up and hopping into the shower. Once I was ready for the game I made my way downstairs to wait for Vero. She was on time and I got into the car to see her beaming at me.

“I missed you!” she exclaimed, reaching over to give me a hug.

“I missed you too!”

She backed out of the driveway and headed for the rink before starting up on the questions. I convinced her to let me wait until we got there and saw the rest of the girls so I wouldn’t have to tell the whole story numerous times. We went to our seats, sat down, and I went through the whole thing with all of the other girls.

Without going into too much detail, because as far as I was concerned the reasons for our fight were between Sidney and I, I explained what had happened to all of them. Then I explained how we ended up having it out and resolving everything. Once I’d told them all, they let it go, saying they were just happy we were back together.

I settled back to watch the game with everyone, a genuine smile on my face. I stood up and cheered probably louder than the entire arena combined when Sidney scored in the first. There was my goal. I’d asked for one and he gave it to me.

I would have been happy with just the one goal, but Sidney had to outdo himself. My smile grew as the third period went on as I watched him score his second goal of the game. Then I stood cheering and clapping as hats rained down on the ice. More than normal flew down in an amazing visual, thanks to the free hats given out before the game.

I remained standing for a while as the ice crew got to work cleaning up the mess of hats. I kept my eye on Sidney, watching him smile and laugh with his teammates. Then he turned in my direction and I watched as he placed his right hand over his heart, a smile still on his face. It was a simple enough gesture that most wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but I knew.

You couldn’t have kept me quiet when he skated out to accept being the first star of the game. Anyone who heard me would have thought they’d won the Cup a second year in a row, but I didn’t care. My life was back to normal again, and the love of my life had just played an unbelievable game. There was a lot for me to happy for.

I paced around the family room once I got down there. I just wanted to see him, to congratulate him, to be in his arms. I just wanted it to be the two of us tonight, celebrating, because come Monday my life was over for a couple of weeks.

December was starting, which meant the end of the semester. That meant papers, tests, presentations, anything to finalize the entire semester worth of classes. That was always followed by finals. Until finals were over, my life was going to revolve around school and nothing else. But not tonight. Tonight my life revolved around Sidney.

I watched the door open time after time, only to see other guys come through the door. They all greeted me and told me Sidney would be a while, but I knew that. Finally, the door opened and it was him. He barely had time to see me before I was in his arms. He laughed as he hugged me.

“Well, hello,” he joked. I pulled back and gave him a long, hard kiss, not caring who was left to see it.

“Nice game,” I told him.

“You asked for a goal. I thought three was fair.” I grinned and nodded before kissing him again.

We walked out of the arena hand in hand with matching grins on our faces. I waited impatiently in the car as he signed autographs for fans and good-naturedly talked with them about the hat trick. Finally he was in the driver’s seat and we were headed home. So this was what normal life was like.