Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Wow, so cool to see that someone actually reads this! I haven't checked this blog in awhile, but just wanted to say that I am definitely still working on this story. I have about 8 more chapters more or less written, but it's simply a matter of connecting one to the next.
On that note, I do plan on updating this very soon. One of my biggest pet peeves is when stories are abandoned half-way through, so I can assure you, that will not be happening in this case :)
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I was grabbing my bag when the buzzer sounded. "Hello?"
"Hey, it's Sid", his garbled voice announced through my busted intercom.
"Hey, I'll be right down". I fidgeted nervously on the elevator ride down to the lobby, repeatedly checking my hair in the mirror. This wasn't fair. I was supposed to be the more experienced one here. I shouldn't be nervous.
It turns out I wasn't alone. As the elevator doors opened, I could see him pacing slowly around the building's lobby. He gave me a little wave as I made my way over to him, and again offered up that irresistible smile.
"You look beautiful", he said as I reached him, giving me a loose hug, the smell of his expensive cologne invading my senses. He smelled incredible and looked even better.
"Thanks, you too. Handsome, I mean!"
"Either or, I guess", he joked as he led me to his black Range Rover parked on the sidewalk right outside my building. He opened the door for me before crossing over the driver's side. He really did look amazing. He'd trimmed his hair and wasn't wearing his baseball cap, so his curls were slightly messy, with little to no product in them at all, something I decided I loved. I hated when a guy's hair was crunchy or stiff. It took all of my restraint not to reach out and run my fingers through it. He was dressed casually in a pair of perfectly fitted dark-wash jeans, a grey t-shirt, and a black jacket. For some reason I was surprised at just how built he was. He had large, strong legs and a perfect, round ass- a part of his body that would prove to be incredibly distracting as the night progressed. I couldn't help but wonder what that body would like sans clothes.
I tried several times during the drive to squeeze some information out of him as to where we were headed, but to no avail. He remained tight-lipped on the subject, but the conversation between us about everything else never knew a second of awkwardness. He told me about his friends from back home, the summer home he'd purchased there last year, and his friends in the city. Friends I can only assume were teammates. The fact that we hadn't discussed his job seemed glaringly obvious to me, maybe given the fact that I knew he'd been avoiding it.
"Okay, here we are", he said as we pulled up to what I knew was Mellon Arena. Maybe he was planning on telling me after all. I decided not to press the issue, as he would clearly have no choice but to explain why we have access to Mellon Arena after hours. As pulled into a restricted side door his question about my shoe size suddenly made sense.
"Mellon Arena, huh? Are you planning on making me skate?" I asked with a smile.
"Guilty as charged", he laughed as he got out of the car, crossing over to open my door and offering his hand to help me out. We passed through a long, brightly lit corridor and into what I gathered to be the Penguins locker room. He directed me to the bench and motioned for me to have a seat as he disappeared into the next room, returning with a pair of women's hockey skates.
"These are for you", he said, handing me the skates. "You've skated before, right?"
"Shouldn't you have asked me that in advance?", I laughed, smiling up at his grinning face. "Let's just say it's been awhile."
"We'll get you comfortable out there", he said as he sat down next to me, putting on and doing up his own skates in what seemed like a heartbeat. Once he was finished he kneeled in front of me, gently taking each ankle in his hands and one by one, finished lacing and tying my skates. I don't know if it's a sad commentary on my past dating experience, but it was all very sweet and left me feeling very warm.
Once we were ready he led me out to the rink and I was immediately in awe of the size of it. He hopped out on the ice so confidently and comfortably that you would think he lived on it. On second thought, he practically did.
"You should really get this on camera, you know. You could release it as a comedy. Or a horror, depending on how bad the damage is after I face-plant", I joked.
He laughed and held his hands out for me to grab on to. "Don't worry. I won't let you fall."
And he didn't, although there were several close calls. We exchanged stories of embarrassing childhood injuries, school dates, our first significant others- everything but the gigantic elephant in the room. He must have anticipated that I'd be curious as to how we able to be here, but he never mentioned it and though I didn't want to be the one to initiate that conversation, this was getting ridiculous. I was shocked when he'd confided that while he had dated casually throughout high school, he had always been too busy for anything serious. Everything flowed so naturally that neither one of us realized that over an hour had passed with him slowly skating backwards and pulling me after him, my bare hands warm in his. "You have small hands", he said thoughtfully after awhile, rubbing the pad of his thumb over the back of my left hand. It was more of a voiced thought on his part than it was a comment.
"Yeah, I do", I said agreeing. "But don't let them fool you. They didn't stop me from playing guitar, and they won't stop me from beating your ass if you let me fall!", I threatened jokingly, giving him my best warning look.
"You play guitar?", he asked with an impressed look on his face. "You didn't tell me that."
"Well you didn't tell me you were a big-shot hockey star, so I guess we're even, then?", I said carefully, giving him a warm smile. Just like ripping off a band-aid. It had to be done.
He looked at me then with an almost disappointed look on his face. He silently studied my face for a long moment before he spoke, as if trying to decipher my thoughts and intentions."Yeah, sorry about that...I was obviously gonna bring it up tonight", he said quietly, looking around the vast arena. "It was just really refreshing to meet someone who had no idea who the hell I was, and to get to know each other on an equal playing field was a nice change. It's kind of cool to meet someone who sees you as a person and not as an image on a magazine cover, a team logo, or a dollar sign", he said bluntly. I could definitely understand where he was coming from, and wondered why it hadn't occurred to me earlier. "So how did you find out? Or did you know right from the start?", he asked, sounding almost defeated.
"No, I didn't know right from the start. I'm not that good an actress, I can assure you", I chuckled incredulously.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that you--"
"Don't apologize. It's okay, I get it. But, no, I wasn't any the wiser until you made the mistake of texting my friends who do know who you are. Bitches gave you up!" I laughed. "Plus, I might be a bit dense every now and then, but the private access to Mellon arena probably would have tipped me off even if they hadn't". He laughed and I paused for a moment before asking, "Does that kind of stuff the other night happen to you all the time? The people gawking and all that?"
"Uh, yeah", he said, looking at our intertwined hands. "All the time, actually. Sometimes it's a bit much. I mean, I'm just a hockey player, you know? People treat you like you're this...shit, I don't even know what I'm trying to say. You've got me all flustered again", he grinned. "Don't get me wrong--I don't mean to sound pompous or whiney, cause that's not what I mean...But that's why it was so great to talk to you the other night. I could tell you weren't trying to be someone you weren't. Well, that and you're hot", he laughed. "Then when you didn't know who I was or what I did, I knew you were talking to me cause you wanted to talk to me, not because of what I do or who I know, or whatever...", he trailed off.
"I talked to you because you're freaking adorable", I blurted out before I could stop myself. I had intended it to be a joke, but I immediately felt a twinge of embarrassment and felt the blush begin to rise to my cheeks. Real smooth, Jen. Real smooth. The poor guy was trying to tell me how stoked he was that I genuinely wanted to get to know him, and then I go and tell him that I really just wanted to jump him. Class act, I am. "Shit. Can we stop? I want to take this skate off before I stick my foot in my mouth", I said wryly.
He was slowing down now. I looked up at him intending to apologize, but the amused smirk on his face and the softness in his eyes stopped me. He gently pulled me towards him and released my hands, replacing one of his own solidly on the small of my back and the other on my left cheek. Hmm. Not what I was expecting, but I sure as hell was not about to argue.
"Can we try this?" he asked quietly as he looked at me, mere inches separating us.
"Absolutely. And hurry up" I said quickly, not wanting to wait two more seconds without his lips on mine. I had been thinking of doing nothing but this for the last 4 days, and wanted to turn those thoughts to reality, STAT.
"Yes, Maam", he laughed, closing the space between us. Those lips of his finally met mine, and it was even better than I'd imagined. First kisses weren't supposed to be this good. They were supposed to be tentative and slightly awkward as you got to know one another. I'd been kissed well before, but this was something entirely different. This literally had me weak in the knees, and there was an undeniable electricity flowing between us. What was happening here only happened in the really awful romantic comedies Amy watches. This did not happen in real life, and certainly not to me. But here I was, experiencing one of the most powerful kisses of my life. What seemed like ages later our kisses had gradually become more heated, more aggressive. Oh, God, what am I doing? This has got to be a new low- devouring his face an hour into our first date. Of course, that brief moment of lucidity vanished as I slipped my tongue along his full lower lip, and he opened his mouth to mine, our tongues colliding as I wrapped my arms around his neck. Without me even realizing, he had backed us up to the edge of the rink, and I moaned when my back hit the ledge. He misinterpreted and broke away. "Did I hurt you?", he asked breathlessly.
"No. Come here", I demanded, pulling him and his perfect mouth back to mine. I have no idea how long we stood there, making out on the ice. It could have been 2 hours for all I knew, or cared for that matter. When I felt him begin to harden against my leg I grudgingly ripped my mouth away from his, knowing that this would end only one way if we continued. And I knew that I didn't want to forever be the girl who fucked Sidney Crosby in the Penguins locker room. On a first date, no less.
"We have to stop", I panted into his neck.
"Fuck", he swore under his breath, his eyes closed. "I'm sorry. Shit, this is really embarrassing", he apologized, referring to his erection that was now quite noticeable through the thick denim of his jeans.
"Stop apologizing", I laughed softly, moving myself away from the edge of the rink. I took a moment to compose myself and looked back to find him looking sheepish and embarrassed. "It's fine", I assured him again. "C'mon Crosby. What kind of hockey star are you just standing there? Get moving!", I ribbed him, taking his hand in mine.
"Jesus, just give me a sec", he laughed. "I don't want to be skating around with a boner on our first date. Not my finest moment."
"Making out with a man I met all of 96 hours ago, an hour into a date? Yeah, mine neither. And yet, you're so sure that there's going to be second", I teased, finally finding my skating legs and pulling him along, albeit on dangerously wobbling feet.
"Oh, most definitely", he responded, a glint in his eye. "If you won't agree to see me again, then I guess I'll just have to strand you out here on the ice. And, given your weak-ass skating skills, you could be stuck out here for weeks. You might die of exposure!", he laughed with that giggle of his.
The man had a point.
We skated along for awhile and he told me more about his friends and family back home, and the homesickness that he felt occasionally while away from them during the season. I could empathize with him, finding myself aching for home more often than I would like to admit.
"I think that's why I feel so comfortable around you", he said. "You kind of remind me of home". And there was that blush again, beginning to tint his cheeks. Well, that does it, I thought to myself. You may as well wave the white flag now, cause you're screwed. It was quite possibly the sweetest thing that anyone had ever said to me.
Thank you", I said softly, not really sure of how to respond. I was again struck by how easy it was for me to talk to him, how comfortable I felt around him, too. I was having a genuinely good time and he seemed to be as well. Maybe it's because you mauled his face at the beginning of the date, and got that awkwardness out of the way early, I mentally scolded myself.
"Wait here", he said suddenly as we stopped at centre ice, leaving me standing alone in the middle of the rink as he skated towards the bench.
"Don't you even think about stranding me out here!!", I yelled after him. "If I find a way to make it off the ice I know where to find you, Crosby!"
"I'll be right back, I promise", he said with a little smirk and a mischievous glint in his eye that could only mean trouble. For me.
I wobbled around for a few moments, slightly embarrassed at my lack of skating ability. After all, I had taken figure skating lessons from ages 6-12. I really had no excuse.
"I come bearing gifts", he said as he returned to the ice, an excited grin on his face.
"Oh, no. Uh-uh. No, way", I said as I surveyed the two hockey sticks and a few pucks he carried in his hands.
"Oh, c'mon", he cajoled . I'll give you a quick lesson, and then we can have a mini game. I'll even let you beat me."
"Let me, eh? This game better be full contact", I said, not immediately registering the double entendre that had him raising his eyebrows and grinning like a cheshire cat. "Down, boy. I meant that I'll play as long as I can slash you with no calls. No refs, no penalties, right?"
"Well, well, well. I've got a chirper on my hands", he laughed. "Alright. Let's see what you've got, Lippy.", he challenged as he placed one of the pucks on the ice.
We knocked the puck back and forth for a bit before Sid decided that it was time for our little shoot-out to commence. He placed a couple of pucks at my feet and came around behind me, adjusting my form.
"Okay, so you--"
"Hit the puck with the stick in the vicinity of the net? Got it!", I winked at him over my shoulder. "I have watched hockey before, what with having three older brothers and being Canadian and all."
"Hmm. They're not bigger than me, are they?", he asked with a concerned look on his face.
"I'm gonna say yes--just to keep you on your toes!", I laughed before redirecting my attention to the task at hand and settling two pucks into the back of the net. Of course it helped that he'd placed the pucks so I was only about 10 feet away, but still. I proceeded to try out a goal celebration as best I could, what with not being able to really skate. "Suck it, Crosby!"
"Pfft", he scoffed. "You know, I would really love to take a couple of shots, but it's our first date and it's bad form to make your date feel bad about themselves", he joked as he made a display of looking at his watch, pretending to be threatened by my less than stellar hockey skills. "Besides, we have dinner reservations, and I am just starving!", he said exaggeratedly as his eyes got wide and his lips began to curl into one of his lop-sided grins.
"Sure, sure. Whatever helps you sleep at night, Bucko", I teased as I pinched his side.
"Bucko?", he laughed, shaking his head. "At least you're switching it up. You've been calling me Crosby all night. You sure you don't work for FSN?", he teased, narrowing his eyes at me.
"Uh-oh, did I strike a nerve? Not used to being beat at your own game, huh?"
His smile broadened as he raised his eyebrows. "Jesus, you're straight up trash talking me!", he laughed as he looked down at me, grabbing my hand and guiding me off the ice. "Two lucky shots and she thinks she's the next Gretzky. I should just start calling you Ovechkin."
"Ove-who-wha?", I asked, confused.
"Never you mind, never you mind", he smiled, shaking his head again and flashing me that lovely grin.
Thankfully I managed (with Sid's help, mind you) to make it out of the rink, to dinner, and back to my apartment in one piece. It continued to stun me how natural everything was between us, with relatively little of the awkwardness that was part and parcel of the 'first date'. I had shocked myself, too. It had been a long while since I'd been able to open up this quickly to anyone, let alone a man I'd met at a bar just days prior. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't going to dump all of my baggage on the poor guy straight out of the gate. No, that little gem would have to wait until later. But, for whatever reason, I trusted him implicitly, something that both surprised and scared me, because while it was an amazing feeling to connect with someone so quickly, it was also terrifying to place such power into a virtual stranger's hands. It was something with which I was not entirely comfortable.
The dinner had been what I can only call interesting. From the moment we had walked into the cozy little bistro, I had felt uncomfortable. Not with Sid, but with the curious attention that had immediately been focussed on us. And it did not seem to dissipate in the entire hour that we were there. I recall thinking to myself, after the third person had approached our table for an autograph, that I had no idea how on earth he dealt with this on a daily basis. People were polite when they approached, but he'd had to decline one young man when he approached while we were eating, kindly telling him that he would make sure to come over to sign his hat before we left. It was never ending, and yet it didn't appear to phase him. At this point in his life it must just be like white noise--something that had surrounded him for so long that he no longer even noticed it. I, on the other hand, was having a harder time adjusting to the equally curious (from men) and downright critical (from women) looks I received when I was with him.
By the time we drove up to my apartment block, I was completely bagged. I insisted that Sid stay in the vehicle as the street outside my building was still relatively busy, despite being later in the evening. He asked to kiss me goodnight and I stretched across the console to kiss him softly. No tongue this time, because apparently I like to do things backwards. He teased me about being a prude, and I bid him goodnight, smiling to myself as he waited until I entered the building before pulling away. By the time I reached my front door I had already received a text reading: Next time we're doing something I'm good at! Sleep tight ;)
"I HEARD what you said, but I need HER to explain why SIDNEY FUCKING CROSBY is asking her to call him. On YOUR phone", Chloe spat out excitedly.
Several women turned around, and a sales clerk gave us a warning look, obviously not impressed with the volume or the language.
I was as confused as Amy as to why Chloe was responding the way she was, and why she seemed to already know him. The night before came back to me; when Sid had taken Amy's phone he must have gotten her number. The fact that he had tried to contact me so soon after meeting me was certainly not helping me in my decision to forget about him.
"What's the big deal?", I asked, lowering my voice in the busy dressing room. "I was using Amy's phone and he unlocked it for me. So he got her number to get a hold of me, I guess. My phone was dead last night. A little indirect, maybe, but I think it's kind of cute".
"THAT was the SID you were talking about? Sidney. Crosby.", Chloe reiterated before taking the phone from Amy and confirming that yes, the person texting had identified himself as one Sidney Crosby.
"WHAT is the big deal, Chlo? You're getting more worked up about this than I am!" I laughed, amused that Chloe was so concerned with the success of my love life. Chloe just stood there looking at me blankly, as if a second head had just sprung from my neck.
"No, you know what? I was about to say that maybe you just haven't been living here long enough to know, but then I remembered that you're CANADIAN and should already be familiar with possibly the best and most FAMOUS hockey player in the world. Captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins?", she deadpanned. "YOU have NO excuse".
I didn't know quite what to say in response. Suddenly, all the strange incidents from the previous evening seemed so obvious. From the stares and whispers from other patrons, to the overzealous frat boy, and his own slight surprise when I asked him what he did for a living. He was famous. And given his cryptic answers, he was clearly alright with the fact that I was not aware of it.
"Seriously?", was all I could muster.
"Uh, yeah. And you're going to call him right now. And you are going to ask him for tickets to the game. Lifetime passes. For Am and I. And then you're going to fall in love, get married, live happily ever in wedded, Canadian hockey bliss in your huge Igloo mansion", she smirked, only half joking.
"No. No, I am not calling him right now. No, I am not asking him for tickets to any game, lifetime or otherwise. No, we are not going to fall in love, get married, or live happily ever after. And yes, if they ever made an inhabitable igloo mansion, I just may consider living in it."
"Oh, c'mon, Jen. You're seriously not going to call him? You have to admit that it's pretty cool", Amy said thoughtfully.
"Uh, pretty cool? This is amazing, Jen. Do you know how many women all but throw themselves at this man on daily basis? And besides, how do you know that none of that will happen? You clearly made an impression", Chloe added in a know-it-all tone.
"First of all, I didn't say I wasn't going to call him. Just not right this second, in this dressing room, surrounded by strangers and hysterical, meddling friends", I said, ignoring Chloe's scoff. "Second of all, if he's a professional athlete and is as famous as you say he is, then I'm sure that all those women do more than just throw themselves at him. You'll have to forgive me, but I don't relish the idea of being his latest fuck and I'm sure as hell not interested in being a conquest. And lastly-Chloe, pay close attention here- lastly, we aren't in the sixth grade--"
"Well, you're not anyway. Not so sure about him though", Chloe laughing interjected, clearly amused with herself.
"Wow. You're fucking hilarious. Like I was saying, we AREN'T in the sixth grade", I continued, "and I don't believe in happily ever after. Especially with men I meet at bars on a Saturday night. Famous men who have their pick of any number of women who are either younger, prettier, easier, or have less expectations and fewer strings than I do", I concluded succinctly, suddenly feeling like a bitter old woman.
"Okay, my turn. Jen, you're obviously beautiful, so that's a non-issue. Any further discussion and I'll assume you're fishing for compliments", Amy said with a smile. "And I think you're forgetting that he approached you. He went through the effort of contacting you. Not the other way around. Besides, I heard you say yourself that he seems like a really good guy, and if he's even half as good-looking as you say he is then you are doing all of womankind a great disservice by not at least throwing the poor guy a bone. Pun intended", Amy said with a coy smile. "Chloe, give me your phone. I want to see a picture of this fine specimen".
I stood in embarrassment as Chloe whipped out her phone and pulled up a picture of Mr. Sidney P. Crosby. Sure, enough, there was my stranger from The Bin, staring back at me in pixelated form.
"Wow. Okay, yeah. You are definitely calling him.", Amy said decisively before walking out of the dressing room with her purchases.
Chloe just looked at me smugly and winked, following Amy with a triumphant flip of her blonde hair.
Well, that was that. I mean, if they said I had to call him, I wasn't really left much of an option. Right?
Four days later I still hadn't called Sid. I was sitting at home, eating Cherios from the box and watching "The Hangover", feeling completely grossed out with myself. For the last four days I had been trying to convince myself of all the reasons (read: excuses) why I shouldn't. He was too young, so he'd be too immature. We probably wouldn't have anything in common. He was probably promiscuous, or ego-maniacal. Or had some sort of weird dark side. Or, most importantly, didn't like dogs. I knew I was being ridiculous. Sure, he was younger than me, but 4 years wasn't really that huge. I'd known 20 year-olds who'd turned out to be more mature than most 30 year-olds I knew, so that argument went out the window pretty quickly. And, from the limited time I had spent with him, ego-maniacal was not in his make-up; he was certainly lacking the bravado and swagger that one would expect from a famous athlete. He was a good person. I don't know how I knew, but I did. I suspected my reservations towards him had more to do with my own history with the opposite sex than with any deficiencies on his part.
I reached forward and picked up my cell from the table in front of me and entered the number that Amy had given me. I hit send, placing the phone next to my ear, letting it ring once, twice, three times. Then I hung up, releasing the breath I'd been holding. Well, no one can say I didnt try, I thought to myself, tossing the phone on the couch beside me. Yeah, right, Jen. You're not fooling anyone, let alone yourself. Should I just text him? That way, I wouldn't have to actually talk to him. Wouldn't have to suffer through the awkward pauses, the nervousness in my voice. The...here we go again. Why am I acting like an insecure teenager?
I was snapped out of my thoughts by the buzzing phone on the cushion next to me. I picked it up hesitantly, eyeing the caller ID. It was Sid. C'mon, be an adult here, Jen. You had a completely wonderful conversation with the guy four days ago.
"Hello?", I answered.
"Hey, Jen? I was beginning to think I wasn't going to hear from you", he said good-naturedly, sounding a little breathless. "How've you been?"
"Not too bad. Sorry, I would have called sooner, but I've been swamped at work. You know, deadlines and such", I lied through my teeth.
"Not a problem", he laughed. "I'm just glad you did".
And there it was again. It wasn't necessarily what he said, but how he said it. When he said he was glad to hear from me, he seemed so genuine that I thought I was going to melt. God, I barely knew this guy, but somehow I already knew he was going to be the end of me.
"Yeah, me too", I replied, this time truthfully. "What about you?", I asked, wondering when or if he was ever planning on telling me his job title.
"Uh, pretty much the same for me. We've got some pretty big events coming up in the spring that we're working towards, so..."
"Oh, yeah?" Now, I may not have known who he was, but I am Canadian, and like any good Canadian I am familiar with the game on some level or another. So, when he described the 'big events coming up in the spring', I knew he was referring to the NHL playoffs. Why, I thought, was he so reticent about telling me who he was and what he did? "Cool. So, those guys you were with the other night, they were your co-workers?", I asked with a lilt of amusement in my voice.
"Uh, yeah. Max and Jordan...I work with both of those guys...I actually work with mostly guys", he answered, and it took almost every ounce of restraint to keep from laughing aloud. "So, it's kind of nice to have a conversation with a lady every now and then", he laughed softly. I couldn't help but think that he struck me as old fashioned. Like a throw back to my grandfather's day when men held doors open for women, and walked on the outside of the street when walking with them. And called them ladies. I hadn't been referred to as a lady since my Uncle Alf was lecturing me about my ripped jeans when I was 16. And that was to tell me that I should dress more like one. Oh, and the young man at the Safeway check out who was angry with me for trying to use my credit card in a cash-only line. But that time the term didn't have quite the same ring to it.
"Yeah, I bet", I replied. "So, I was so busy babbling about myself the entire night that I really didn't let you get a word in edgewise to tell me about yourself", I said, genuinely embarrassed that I really hadn't asked him much about himself at all.
"No, don't worry about it", he laughed. "I'm pretty okay with not talking about myself, so your rudeness is excused. This time", he joked.
"Oh, well, thanks for the pass! But either way, it's your turn to bore me with your details. Chop, chop!", I teased, though I was completely serious. I was NOT going to let him dance around an explanation anymore. I wanted to know more about him.
"Okay", he laughed. "Let's see...I'm 20..."
"Oh, God. You're only 20", I said under my breath, not intending to have said it out loud.
"Yeah, is that a problem?", he asked slowly.
"No, it's just that I'm...older than 20."
"Like how old? 21, 22?"
"That's very generous, but no", I laughed. "Try 24. Practically 25."
"An older woman! Even better", he laughed into the receiver. That infectious, boyish laugh that instantly lifted my spirits.
"Sorry, I interrupted. Go on..." I prodded.
"Man, again? You just can't help yourself, can you lady?", he teased. "So, as I was trying to say before being rudely interrupted...I'm originally from Cole Harbour, which you already know. I have a younger sister named Taylor. Dad's Troy, mom is Trina. I have a dog named Sam that stays with my parents back home. I've been able to travel a lot for my career, and love it, but I also miss being away from home so much of the year. I go back to Scotia every summer. I love pretty much any sport, including fishing, though I suck at it. I'm really competitive, so it's crucial that you always let me win at everything if this is going to work out", he said with mock-seriousness.
I laughed out loud, his own laughter quickly joining mine. He clearly wasn't as shy as I'd initially thought, and there was a little cockiness poking through from under the surface. But a little cocky was okay. I could definitely work with a little cocky. "Well, seeing as you already have this all planned out..."
"What can I say? When I set my mind to something..." Oh, man. This kid was going to be trouble. "Anyway, yeah. What else? I'm a creature of habit, I'm pretty private, and I'm really protective of my family and friends. Um, my favourite foods are...sadly, pretty much everything. I like most kinds of music, but seeing as you work for a record label, I should probably tell you that it's been said that my taste in music is questionable at best, so please don't hold it against me. Oh, I should probably also give you a heads-up that I have a pathetic, crippling addiction to videogames that I'm trying get under control, but it's an on-going process. Aside from that I'm incredibly smart, funny, and attractive. And I'm hoping you don't notice that you intimidate the shit out of me. There you go. Me in a nut shell".
"Wow, I feel like I know you now", I teased. "But seriously, if it makes you feel better I think it takes a real man to admit that he's intimidated by a girl. I get why you're intimidated, though. I mean, I may only be 5"4, but it's pretty obvious that I'm stronger than you!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, easy! Not quite what I meant, but you just let me know when you want to go tete-a-tete and I'll be there."
"Oh, it's on Crosby!"
"Listen", he laughed. "I have to get going bu--"
"Oh, sorry! I didn't realize you were busy."
"No, it's fine. I called you back, remember? We just had a break in a meeting, but I should get back to it..." he trailed off.
"Oh, okay. No problem. Thanks for calling me back", I said and was met with silence on the other end. "Uh, Sid, you still there?"
"Yeah. Yeah, sorry", he laughed distractedly before continuing. I could hear other male voices in the background. "Listen, I was wondering if maybe you wanted to hang out again sometime?" he asked, the words coming out so quickly that at first I had a hard time understanding what he'd said.
"Oh, uh, yeah, sure. I mean yes. Definitely", I stammered like the clown I am. One step forward, two steps back.
"Cool" he responded, releasing a breath and sounding relieved. Nice!, I thought to myself, allowing my ego to bask in the satisfaction I got from my power to make him as equally nervous as I was. "What're you doing tomorrow?", he quickly continued.
"Um, after 6, nothing."
"Awesome. What shoe size are you?"
"What?", I laughed in response.
"Your shoe size", he said again.
"Um, a 6 1/2, 7, usually. Why?", I asked, now suspicious of what lion's den I blindly was throwing myself into.
"You'll see. It's a surprise! Just dress warm and comfortable and I'll pick you up around 7?". He sounded almost giddy, and despite how mature he seemed, it was instances like this where you could recognize his still-boyish qualities. It was very disarming as I was used to men who used every head game known to man to prevent me from knowing the real them under the facade.
"Sounds good", I smiled, and gave him my address. "I'll see you then, I guess".
"Yes, you will. Goodnight Jen"
"Night", I said before clicking my phone closed.
What am getting my self into?, I wondered. I didn't know, but whatever it was, I knew I couldn't wait to get there.
Friday, August 27, 2010
I awoke the next morning to the sound of my cell phone ringing shrilly from my bedside table. Reaching out and pressing ignore, I cocooned myself back into my comforter, attempting to resume the deep sleep I had been enjoying. Obviously not deterred, the demon-spawn on the other end called again. Looking at the caller ID, I answered with my head still planted under my pillow.
"The world better be ending for you to be calling me this early on a Saturday morning, Amy", I grumbled into the phone.
"Get your ass out of bed and come down to my place. I've already got coffee on, and you and Chloe promised to help me find a dress today."
"Fine.", I said before ending the call, having no real intention of opening my eyes, let alone getting out of bed and hauling myself over to Amy's apartment. Besides, she should know by now that shopping wasn't really my forte. The idea of milling around a packed mall, trying on items that either didn't fit my ass or my boobs was not really appealing to me today. I was not a large woman by any stretch of the imagination, but I was blessed with a small waist, relatively large breasts and a nicely shaped rear-end. Any women out there with the shape of an adult female, not that of a teenage boy, could relate to my fashion predicament, I'm sure.
Twenty minutes later my cell rang again. "OKAY! I'm on my way", I answered knowing it was Amy on the other end.
"And bring some bread for toast. I'm out", she added before hanging up.
Needless to say, I'm not a morning person. In college it took two separate alarms clocks to wake me up in time to make it to my 10 am American Lit class. Since then my distaste for waking up hadn't lessened in the least, and I brushed my teeth in a half-conscious state before grabbing my house-coat, Metallica slippers, and rye bread, and schlepping down to Amy's 5th floor apartment.
The door was already ajar when I got there, so I walked in, immediately hit with the smell of coffee and eggs.
"Feed me", I joked as I walked in to Amy's kitchen to find her haphazardly flipping pancakes.
"You can feed yourself after you pour me a cup of coffee."
"Yes, Martha", I responded sarcastically as I poured us two cups of coffee before perching myself on her kitchen counter.
"Okay, we have to eat fast cause Chloe wants to meet us downtown at noon. And you", she added as she turned around and looked at me, "need to have a shower. Just because your pretty, Jen, doesn't mean you're exempt from bathing and basic hygiene."
"Oh, a comedienne", I replied sarcastically before we both dug into breakfast. I went back to my place to get ready, opting to wear my favourite threadbare band t-shirt, a pair of tight skinny jeans, and some knee-high black leather boots. I put my dark brown hair into a bun, put on some mascara and lip gloss and headed out the door.
Amy and I met Chloe downtown and made our way through the stores and boutiques lining the streets, trying to find an outfit for Amy to wear to her Christmas Party.
"So did you at least have a chance to unwind last night?" Chloe asked while we waited outside the dressing room for Amy to model her latest pick.
"I did! Don't worry so much, Chlo" I assured her. "Trust me, I had a better time than you think" I said almost under my breath, but knowing full well she had heard me.
"Oh, really?", she asked, intrigued now.
"Yes, really. I actually had a really great conversation with a young man while you two were out neglecting me", I continued coyly.
"Oh, please", Chloe rolled her eyes. "So was he hot?". Chloe. You can always count on Chloe to go straight for the goods, and that, my friends, is why we love her.
"Yeah", I sighed.
"Um, why do you sound so disappointed when you say that? You didn't sustain a brain injury since I saw you last night, did you?" she joked, eyeing me expectantly.
"Ha. Ha. Yeah, no. All good on that front. But since you asked, he is gorgeous. And way too young for me." I answered decisively, unclear as to whether I was trying to convince myself or Chloe.
"Oh, My God!", Chloe burst out, her eyes looking like they were going to pop out of her head. "How young are we talking here, Cradle Robber?".
"I don't know. 21, 22, 23. Somewhere around there."
"Oh, please", Chloe responded, almost disappointed. "That's only like a year younger than me. 4 years younger than you. Big deal".
"Uh, what were you expecting, Sicko? Some sort of Letournou action? No, thanks.", I responded.
"ANYWAY", she continued. "What did he look like?"
I groaned, tossing my head back. "Ugh, Chlo, he was beautiful. He's got this dark, curly hair, big luscious lips, and these beautiful dark eyes and long lashes, And beautiful skin." I added.
"Wait, we are talking about a guy here, right?" Chloe asked slowly.
"Stop it, I'm serious! Gorgeous and adorable with the cutest laugh and this incredible smile. And he seems like a genuinely kind person. AND he's Canadian to boot".
"To BOOT, EH?", Chloe shot back, met by my glare.
I continued to get the third degree from Chloe and now Amy as we jumped from store to store. With the added help from Amy, the questions were now bordering on an interrogation: What was his name? Are you going to see him again? Where does he live? What do you mean you didn't get his number?
I was perusing through a particularly hideous display of UGG boots when Amy yelled to me from the dressing room of the 10th store we'd ended up in that afternoon. My feet were killing me, and now thanks to the UGG's my eyes were, too.
"Uh, Jen. Can you come here a second?"
"Yeah what's up?"
"Do you want to tell my why I have a text on my phone from a Sidney Crosby asking if I can get you to call him?" she asked, confusion evident in her voice and on her face as she opened the dressing room door.
At that moment Chloe almost spit out the sip of water she had just taken, choking and coughing for several seconds before she managed out a loud "WHAT??"
Monday, June 28, 2010
Thank Christ above!, I thought to myself as a tossed the cabbie a $20 and jumped out of the cab, making my way across the street to The Bin, a southside bar I had agreed to meet some friends at that Friday evening. Never in my life had I been more thankful to see the end of a work week. Starting bright and early on Monday morning when my computer died, losing several irreplaceable files in the process, the week had only spiraled to hellish depths. Thursday ended with me dumping my Mocha down the front of my white blouse on the way to meet the label heads who had flown out from Vancouver. By the time Friday rolled around, I half expected fate to add insult to injury by throwing a bus in my path as I crossed the street to the club.
Jen-1. Fate-Nothing, I thought with a smirk as I sidled my way through The Bin's large maplewood doors, unscathed. I couldn't help squinting as I entered the dark, incredibly packed bar. Oh, Man. This was going to be a man hunt.
"Well, well, well", I heard a familiar, teasing voice say. I turned to see Jake, the bar's owner standing next to me, a beautiful blond woman on his arm. "Thought you weren't into the whole 'meat market' vibe of the place, Jen? Finally came to your senses and lowered your standards to our lowly depths, I see?", he winked at me. "It's way more fun down here anyway."
"You are never gonna let me forget that one comment are you, Jake", I responded as rolled my eyes. "I was referring to one night, one wet-t-shirt contest, and many drunken frat boys. I've long since forgiven you", I joked.
"Hey, we got to make money somehow, and frat boys and women tend to do the trick!".
"Yeah, coz clearly you're hurting for that, what with how slow the place is", I replied sarcastically, motioning to the massive expanse of bodies occupying every square inch of space.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Chloe and Amy are upstairs in the lounge. Have fun" he admonished before disappearing into the crowd.
I slowly made my way up the stairs, manuoevering my way through the sweaty bodies, drunken couples, and half-clothed bar-stars until I spotted my friends occupying a plush booth near the back.
"Wow, guys. I guess I should really specify my idea of 'low-key' next time we make plans to meet up" I huffed as I sank into the booth, plopping my head down on the cool surface of the table. "I am exhausted and I really need a drink".
"Okay, you need to drop that attitude right now, get a drink in you, and get that fine ass of yours on the dance floor!", Chloe chirped happily, looking to Amy for agreement. "There are several definitely-maybe's here tonight, and you are way too hot to still be single", she said distractedly as she panned the room.
"Yep. C'mon, get a move on. You have some catching up to do", Amy added as she motioned the waitress over.
"Single, yes, but somehow still human. I swear", I laughed as I turned to the waitress.
"What can I get you, sweetie?"
"Can I get a rye and ginger with a lemon on the side instead of a lime", I asked. Judging by the look on the waitress's face, I knew I may as well have been speaking Chinese as I ordered my go-to drink of choice in Canada. "Scratch that", I smiled, "Ill just get a Heinekken".
I'd only had a sip of my drink when Chloe decided it was time to get on the dance floor. "Oh, my God. I love this song. Let's go!" she said, pulling on my arm.
"Nope. Not right now, Ladies!. Hate to be a buzz-kill, but my feet are killing me, and I am going to sit and savour this damn drink!. You two go, and I'll man the fort so no one swipes your purses", I joked.
They looked a little deflated, and I couldn't help but feel guilty for being in such a foul mood and possibly ruining their night.
"Fine. But don't think we're not coming to drag your ass up there soon. You need some Jen-on-male socialization, STAT", Chloe said over her shoulder as they sashayed through the crowd to the dance floor.
"And my credit cards better all still be there when I get back", Amy yelled jokingly behind her.
Cute. They meant well, I knew. I had been living in Pittsburgh for going on 7 months and hadn't had a date to speak of. In all honesty, I hadn't had the time or the desire to date, having moved to the Pennsylvanian city to spearhead an offshoot branch of an independent record label that I had worked for back in Vancouver, Canada. Why they chose Pittsburgh I'll never know, but it had definitely been a nice surprise. I had immersed myself in my work, knowing that a successful launch would mean possible promotion within the company. But the truth of the matter was that work provided a welcome distraction, having ended an incredibly unhealthy relationship back in Vancouver. So, when I was offered the opportunity to move across the continent and away from painful reminders, I had all but jumped at the chance. Though I had several friendly acquaintances here, Chloe and Amy were the first close friends I'd made since relocating. I'd met Chloe where she'd worked as an art-director for the same record label. She was as eccentric as she was beautiful with her 5"9 frame, blond hair, and high cheekbones, combined with an incredibly quirky, free, and dare I say, flaky spirit. Amy, on the other hand, was the polar opposite. She was comparatively reserved, stable and grounded, and worked as a technician at Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh. We'd met in the laundry room of the apartment building we both lived in, bonding over shared stories of our insane, elderly landlord. She had a quiet, elegant beauty about her, more understated than Chloe's, but she had a warm, welcoming face, beautiful skin and thick, chestnut coloured hair. Despite our differences, we complimented each other's personalities perfectly and had been inseparable in the months since we had met.
I reached into Amy's purse, pulling out her cell-phone, thinking I could check my voicemail after my phone had died. Several minutes had gone by, and I was so immersed in trying to figure out the small lap-top that Amy called a 'phone' that I didn't even notice the young man that had seated himself across from me in the booth.
"You need some help with that?"
I had every intention of offering the owner of this voice the same pat answer that I would have given to any other man who seats himself next to a woman sitting alone at a bar. But when I looked up and came face to face with a pair of warm, hazel eyes, and a full-lipped, lopsided grin, the curt words stuck in my throat.
"Uh...no. No, it's not my phone, Maybe not such a..rad idea", I stammered out. Oh, God, had I actually just said 'rad'?, I cringed inwardly. I could feel a blush beginning to stain my cheeks and became instantly annoyed that this young man and his grin could so easily revert me back to my awkward teenage self. I wasn't necessarily a man-eater type, but I had certainly had my fair share of attention from the opposite sex. So, I was not not prepared or happy to be so easily knocked off my game by....a kid.
"Okay then", he laughed, revealing a beautiful, toothy smile that lit up his alabaster skin. My, God. Jen. Snap the hell out of it, I thought, mentally lecturing myself. He appeared to be a good 2-3 years younger than me. And the dark curls peeking out from around the edges of his baseball cap only served in making him look even younger than he probably was. Dangerous. And at 25, I certainly was not prepared to become a cougar in training. "So, what brings you here tonight" he asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.
"Oh, you know, just manning the fort while the friends are ripping up the dance floor...and trying my damndest to forget the disaster that was this week", I smiled ruefully.
"It couldn't have been that bad. What happened?", he pressed, seeming genuinely interested in the answer.
So, I told him. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you why, but I spilled my guts to this virtual stranger in the middle of the dark, crowded bar. From the day plucked straight from the dungeons of hell, to my recent move to Pittsburgh and the stresses of the job, it just came pouring out--I told him everything without a second thought. Maybe I had just needed to vent, maybe it was the fact that he was a complete stranger and the chances of ever seeing him again were almost non-existent; but it was as if I had known him for years, and there was a calmness and kindness about that him allayed my normally suspicious nature.
We ordered a couple of more drinks from our waitress, who gave me a pointed look that I had trouble interpreting. And she wasn't the only one tossing slant-eyed looks in our direction. In fact, throughout the conversation I couldn't help but to have noticed several onlookers, both men and women, that had seemed to have congregated in our vicinity, taking a strange interest in our table. It was oddly unnerving, and I couldn't for the life of me understand what was so fascinating. Still, I ignored the looks and whispers, carrying on our conversation and chalking it up to oversensitivity, too many beers, or both.
"So", he asked, snapping me out of my thoughts, "these friends of yours, are they men or women?" The tone of his voice told me he was definitely flirting, but his confident tone did not match his shy body language. It was as if he was trying to be smooth, but did not have any actual confidence in his wooing ability. It was surprising, given his striking looks. He lacked any of the smarmy pretense that men his age usually appropriated when approaching women. He was none of that, and it was charming as hell.
"Oh, no. Just the girls. It's Friday night, ladies night, you know", I answered lightly, trying to make him feel at ease.
"Happy to hear that", he replied softly, averting his eyes and picking at the label on his beer. "It makes sense though. I wouldn't let a woman as beautiful as you out of my sight."
Oh, he was smoother than he thought, the little shit. But as I smiled back at him I could also see the blush start to creep up into his cheeks, tinting the tops of his ears. Absolutely fucking adorable. I definitely needed to tread carefully here.
"So being from Vancouver, you're a fellow Canadian then", he continued, filling the slightly awkward silence that hung in the air.
"I knew it!", I exclaimed, pointing at him, happy to be back on a topic that didn't make me want to imagine what he'd look like out of this bar. Like, say, in my apartment. "I could hear you have an accent, but I couldn't place it! Where you from?"
"Excuse me, Sidney?". I looked up to see two pretty, scantily-clad young women standing at the table, eyeing my stranger flirtatiously--and seemingly completely oblivious to my presence at the table. In fact, the brunette had all but turned her back to me, drawing a invisible but definitive line between me and them. And, more importantly, him . "Um, we were wondering if we could buy you a drink", the brunette offered, twirling her hair in her fingers, suggestively.
"Yeah, on us. The drink I mean", the blond giggled, offering an gleaming, over-whitened smile that appeared even more fluorescent when contrasted with her orange skin.
"Uh, no I think I'm okay for now", he answered, flashing that gorgeous smile. "Thanks though", he added politely before turning back to me, leaving the two of them standing there looking as if they'd just been bitch-slapped. They then followed suit, also turning their eyes on me with looks that could only be described as incinerating. 'If looks could kill', I thought, 'I would be but a puddle of plasma on the floor'.
"So, yeah. You ever hear of Cole Harbour?", he continued, the girls finally taking the hint and walking away, obviously stung by the gentle blow-off.
"Can't say that I have", I laughed.
"Well, it's not as big as Vancouver, but it IS a pretty big deal in Nova Scotia", he laughed.
"So what brings you to Pittsburgh then?", I asked innocently, immediately noticing an almost imperceptible raising of his eyebrows as his eyes darted up to meet mine. He just as quickly regained his composure.
"I, uh, was given the chance to work at a job that I love, and I jumped at the opportunity", he offered cryptically.
"Living the dream, then", I replied. "So wh--"
"No fucking way!! Sid the Kid!". An extremely drunk frat-boy sidled up to the table, offering my stranger a fist bump in return. The ill-timed interruptions were beginning to get a little frustrating." You were amazing tonight, man!", he slurred. "Way to represent the Burgh!".
"Thanks, Buddy", Sid responded politely, as the young man was whisked off by his more sober friends. He looked at me sheepishly from under the bill of his baseball cap that had a little black penguin on the front. Cute, I thought. "Sorry about that", he apologized.
"No worries", I laughed. "So, what is it that you do, exactly?", I asked slowly, narrowing my eyes a little.
"Sid, there you are! Where the fuck have you been, man? We've been looking for you everywhere", came a booming voice that belonged to an equally giant, incredibly inebriated blonde man. Sid just closed his eyes and shook his head in amusement. We hadn't managed to exchange more than a few words at a time before being interrupted, and at this point is was bordering on comical.
"You want a ride, Creature, we're leaving now", another man with a French accent offered. "Don't worry, he's not the driver", he continued, winking at me, and motioning to the taller man, obviously having noticed the incredulous look on my face.
"Just give me a second, guys", Sid continued, giving the men a loaded look. The guy with the french accent looked from Sid, to me, and back to Sid. You could practically hear the cogs in his head turning as a look of comprehension settled across his features when it finally dawned on him they had interrupted our conversation, thereby committing the cardinal sin of interrupting their friend's game. It was all I could do to not burst out laughing as I watched the exchange. "Ooohhh, whoops. Sorry, Creature. I mean, Sid. You know, if you wanna stay...", he continued with an amused smirk.
"No, it's cool. We've got to get going anyway. We have that meeting tomorrow morning. But give me a couple of minutes", Sid instructed. The two men retreated from the table, quickly becoming preoccupied with a gaggle of young women sitting close by.
"So, anyway", he sighed jokingly, shaking his head and extending his hand. "It was really great meeting you...?"
"Oh, my God. I'm so sorry. It's Jen", I replied taking his hand, completely embarrassed that I hadn't even formally exchanged names with this man I had been yammering at for the last hour.
"Sid", he smiled back.
"Yeah, I gathered as much", I joked, referring to the handful of random club-goers that had approached us throughout the night.
"Yeah, sorry about that", he laughed as he finally released my hand, and then before I could object, grabbed Amy's phone from the table. "Don't worry, I know what I'm doing. I actually have one of these", he reassured me as he punched at the phone's key pad for several seconds before handing it back to me.
"There you go", he said proudly. "Text to your heart's content."
"Thanks. I was just short of bashing it against the table caveman-style before you showed up. You saved my friend a phone", I grinned up at him, as he stood from the table, shadowed in the lights.
He laughed softly. "Listen, I mean it, it was great to meet you, Jen. I really enjoyed talking to you."
"Yeah, same" I grinned back. "Maybe I'll see you again sometime."
"I'm counting on it", he replied, flashing that 100 watt smile, before turning and grabbing his buddies, then disappearing into the crowd.
I managed to check my voicemail distractedly before Chloe and Amy bounced up to the table, much more drunk and sweaty than when the had left. "I am so sorry we took so long. We got so caught up we didn't even realize how much time had gone by", Amy apologized.
"So, what did we miss? Any cute guys come and sweep you off your feet while sitting like a d-bag at a table by yourself?" Chloe asked sarcastically, obviously still a little disappointed I hadn't joined in the fun.
Oh, they had no idea. But really, it dawned on me, neither did I. Who the hell was this guy?