thanks for waiting thru the Holidays (or the busiest time anyway). I promise things will heat up for everyone soon!
My parents say nothing when my taxi pulls up in front of their house. My dad takes my bag and walks silently behind me up to the house. My mom just smiles in that tight sort of way that lets me know that she knows something is wrong but isn’t going to ask. They both just watch me climb up to my room and I can feel them watching me as I turn the corner of the stairs, leaning heavily on the banister and I know I’m going to have to tell them, eventually, just not yet.
As soon as I open the door to my room, to the lilac walls and the deep purple bedspread, it feels like a mistake and I find myself half in and half out of the room, afraid of stepping into the past. It feels like I’m walking into the scene of the crime.
This is where it happened, one summer night, one of those nights when it was too hot to sleep when the parents were all somewhere else, a block party, barn dance, something like that, somewhere we were supposed to be.
As I stand there, in the darkened room, I can see us both sitting cross legged on my bed talking like friends do and I can feel the sticky heat in the air even though there’s snow on the ground outside and the sky is grey with the threat of more of the white stuff. It had been one of those nights when a tank top had seemed like too much. I’d understood when Jordan had wanted to peel off his t-shirt. Looking back on it now, his underdeveloped but tanned teenage boy chest probably wasn’t anything to write home about but to a teenage girl whose hormones were all over the place, whose brain was probably a little addled by the heat and whose boyfriend was off at some hockey camp in L.A. making a name for himself, it was breathtaking.
I find my hand reaching out to touch air, the way my hand had instinctively reached out to touch his smooth skin that night. I can still remember how warm he was, sticky with the heat, his adolescent temperature running almost feverishly hot.
Truth be told, it was always Jordan. Oh I’d idol worshipped Eric first and I know if I asked that my mother could pull out photo albums to prove how a little pigtailed girl barely out of diapers had followed the freckle faced oldest Staal boy around with wide eyed astonishment. But that hadn’t even been puppy love. That had just been, well, whatever it is that makes little girls look up to blue eyed boys. But from the time we’d sat together in mud puddles and teamed up to make snow forts, it had always been Jordan even though something in me, something in my brain had told me that as much as he’d always have my heart, Jordy was the wild boy who couldn’t, wouldn’t be tied down.
And so I’d settled for my red haired Staal boy. Marc was a little older, a little steadier and a lot more serious. Marc didn’t laugh with the other girls and make me feel jealous. Marc didn’t treat me like one of his brothers the way Jordy did, like I didn’t have feelings, like whatever he did or said would just be forgiven and forgotten the way boys can do, no matter what.
Marc had been surprised when I’d kissed him and asked him to the Sadie Hawkins dance. I can still see the shock on his face, the colour of his cheeks matching his hair as I’d slid my hand into his bigger one. He hadn’t known then that I’d been making a choice.
He did when he came back from hockey camp out in the land of Hollywood starlettes to find a strange new tension in the room, to find Jordan and I carefully but intentionally avoiding each other. It had taken every ounce of courage I had to tell him that I’d given something to his younger sibling that I’d been making him wait for. I can still remember the pain and resentment in his eyes when I’d admitted that one hot, sticky night while he’d been missing me I’d lay down in this room, in this bed, with Jordan and shared that special moment with him.
I’d felt guilty then and I still do, standing at the end of my bed remembering how it had started so innocently with just the brush of my fingertips down his washboard stomach and ended up with sweat slicked bodies carefully, slowly joining as Jordan anxiously asked, over and over, if I was okay and asking how much did it hurt.
I can’t remember if I’d consciously been that desperate to lose my virginity. I clearly remember all of the times, out in the middle of one of his father’s fields on a blanket, how close Marc and I had come and every single time it had been me that had put a stop to it. Something hadn’t felt right. I’d convinced myself that I wanted the things I’d heard other girls talking about, candlelight or maybe a motel room for the first time. None of those things had mattered with Jordan and to this very moment, I still can’t say exactly why.
“No man, I swear. I didn’t talk to her yesterday at all.”
“What’s that about?” Sid asks in a whisper as he glances over at where Jordan’s pacing in the hallway on his phone. Shaking my head I shrug.
“I just know it’s Marc,” I reply, going back to pulling on my socks. Sid watches our teammate pace up and down the hall with narrowed eyes. Jordy should know better than to do something different anywhere near our superstitious captain, especially when he’s on a hot streak.
“So what’s Tabby thinking of the ‘stache now?” I ask, changing the subject and bringing Sid's attention back to getting ready for the game.
“She’s hating it,” he chuckles, running his fingers across the thickest growth I’ve ever seen the kid get. “She doesn’t want the streak to end, but she really hates it,” he adds with a grin.
“But you’re not sleeping on the couch?” I ask and he actually snorts before losing himself in a fit of giggles.
“Well yeah but only because she’s taking up the whole bed right now what with swollen ankles and man…she has like…the worst gas ever,” he adds, making a face. I know he’s not really complaining. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy so twisted around a woman’s finger as Sid is around Tabby’s.
“She’s got to be ready to pop,” Tanger sticks his oar in and for once I don’t feel like ramming my fist down his throat for doing it. I must be getting over that whole thing.
“Overdue in fact,” Sid sighs, pulling on his skate, his smile disappearing all of a sudden. “So it could be any time. Doc says if she hasn’t gone into labor by Friday she’s got to get induced but…well you know Tabs can be pretty fucking stubborn.”
“Yeah, yeah, stubborn, right.” I don’t mean to be rude and Tabs and Sid are good friends so I do care about what’s being said but this girl’s appeared in the hall and I watch her poke Gronk who’s still pacing and arguing with his brother and I have this feeling I’ve seen her before but I just can’t stop looking at her, especially her cute little bootie all packed into this pair of cut-offs over ripped black tights with these crazy pink and purple striped knee high socks. It’s kind of a crazy look, and one we don’t see with the puck fucks who wait around in the halls of arena for us. But then the way she’s staring daggers at Gronk, I’m guessing that’s not exactly who she is. “Who is that?” I’m mostly talking to myself but Sid and Tanger both crane their necks to follow my gaze and then both of them laugh.
“That’s your girlfriend…oh no wait, sorry, Jordy’s brother’s girlfriend’s drummer,” Tanger points out, thinking he’s amusing, obviously. I do shoot him a dirty look this time but my attention is quickly drawn back to the hallway where Jordy’s suddenly looking perplexed by the fact that the little bundle of energy has his phone and he doesn’t.
“Daze, yeah,” I mumble her name and it makes me smile. Funny, I’ve looked at tons of pictures of her, even talked to her and never thought anything about her until right this minute, maybe because she suddenly isn’t in Kensey’s shadow.
I find myself on my feet, walking towards them like I’m being tugged by some invisible rope and I’m helpless to do anything else, even though I know I’m about to walk into some sort of private conversation which is something, as a teammate, I should try not to do.
“Why did you tell her?” Jordy is groaning, looking like a kicked puppy: a giant, Marmaduke type of puppy.
“Why didn’t you?” she asks, his phone still in her outstretched hand. “We have to go on tour in a few days Jordan. Call her…fix it.” She tries to force his phone back into his hand but he just looks down at it like she’s holding out a handful of squirming snakes instead of a normal blackberry.
“I can’t,” he mutters, still staring down at the phone like it might bite him.
“She broke it off with him for a reason Jordan, think about it,” she’s insisting but the big doof is shaking his head and I really want to ask if they’re talking about what I think they’re talking about but instead I stay just out of their sight lines, trying not to interrupt. “Call her Jordan, before she has time to talk herself into going back to him, again.” The big galoot stares down at the phone as she takes his hand and forcibly puts the phone in it, closing his fingers around it. “Do it for both of you. Fuck Jordan. Do you love her or not?” He looks at her and then down at his hand and then wanders off and I’m left watching her watch him and something in the way she watches him makes me wonder….
“Are you sure you didn’t want him to say that to you?” I ask out loud and her partly exasperated and partly worried expression suddenly changes into a crooked smile.
“I haven’t got the Staal sickness,” she says, still watching him shuffle down the hallway. “I had the Pyatt flu once upon a time,” she adds, turning to me and giving me a long look from my feet all the way up to my eyes. “I’m beginning to lose faith in hockey players altogether though,” she adds with a raised eyebrow that leaves me with my mouth hanging open, knowing I’ve been challenged and that for the first time in a long time, I actually want to rise to that challenge. Tilting her head to one side, Daze smiles at me and as she walks forward towards me and then this predatory look comes over her face that makes me want to follow her anywhere. “I kind of hate New Jersey,” she whispers, pulling a card from her jean pocket and sliding it just inside the waist band of my under armor leggings. “So if you’re over yourself…find me.” I shiver as she walks her fingers up my chest and then she playfully slaps my cheek before she turns on her heel and leaves me there, watching her go.
I learned to skate pretty early, not long after I could walk. It was necessary, to keep up with the boys. Not that they let me play, exactly. I could use my ski jacket to try and deflect pucks, because none of us had any goalie gear. We didn’t want to be goalies. We wanted to be Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, not Patrick Roy and it was catching and deflecting pucks or standing in the snow, freezing.
Other girls could shiver in their pink gloves and scarves. Not me.
I never had figure skates either. Only hockey skates. I guess that’s changed. Sitting on the edge of a frozen snow bank, I pull on a pair of my mother’s old figure skates and tug on the laces. I came here to clear my head. I’m hoping the cold and a few turns out on the pond will help to do just that.
The sound of a skate blade cutting through fresh ice has always been a soothing sound for me. The moment I push off, the moment I begin to glide, I feel better. I love music but just like the boys, ice runs in my veins. I feel at home here with the cold air nipping at my nose and the wind grabbing at my hair but this too brings back all kinds of memories.
This is where Tom Pyatt kissed Daisy. She laughed and laughed and his whole face turned red. He thought he’d done something wrong. She laughed because she was nervous. She’d had a crush on big, quiet Taylor but he’d only ever had eyes for Carly. Thinking of her makes my chest ache, makes me wonder what he’s doing now, how he is.
This is also the place that Marc kissed me in front of everyone else for the first time. It had felt warm and soft and good, like a brownie right out of the oven. I’d felt warm, right to the core, until Eric had laughed and then I couldn’t get out of my skates fast enough. I’d gone running home, mad, hurt and embarrassed.
Eric and Marc had fought. I think Daze told me that. Jordan had made them break it up.
We’d never talked about it, Jordan and me. He’d left that night, snuck out of my parents house, down the tree outside of my window. I’d worried he’d break something, but as worried as I was, I couldn’t stop smiling at him as I watched him shimmy down the trunk. He’d waved. He’d even blown me a kiss. I’d thought it was going to be me and him after that, but then I’d woken up in the morning and remembered that he was dating Kathy MacIntosh, who was just about the prettiest girl in school.
He was holding her hand at the lake the next day. I thought my heart might actually break. I blew it off. I pretended like it didn’t matter, even when he tried to apologize, to explain. I just smiled and smiled and told myself it didn’t matter.
It did matter. It always has.
“Will he call, do you think?” I sit across the aisle from Sid but we’re all watching Jordan, who’s apparently been staring at his phone for hours. Geno sat beside him on the bikes all during the game and watched him stare at his phone, like he was waiting for it to ring and apparently it didn’t. At least that’s what Geno said.
“So, he’s in love with his brother’s fiancée?” Sid hisses, his phone also prominently still in his hand. He’s also watching his, waiting for it to ring.
“I don’t know,” I reply honestly. “I think that’s what I heard but…what do I know?” I reply, shrugging and thinking of Kensey’s band mate. She’d know, not that I should ask. It’s none of my business.
“So are you going to ask her out?”
“Huh?” I turn to stare at Tanger and he raises his eyebrow at me.
“Allez vous lui demander de sortir?” he says more slowly, like I’m stupid.
“Who?” I ask, because I am.
“Daze,” Sid says without looking up from staring at his phone. “He’s asking if you’re going to ask out Kensey’s friend. The one who was grilling Gronk.”
“Je pourrais,” I grin, fingering her card in my pocket. “Je viens peut le faire.”
“She’s cute,” he adds, like I have to be told. I have eyes.
“Why don’t you phone Becky and leave me alone?” I growl back at him and he rolls his dark eyes and then puts his headphones back on. Shaking my head, I think about calling her, asking her to meet me at our hotel. I’m still trying to figure out how I managed to miss that when I met her before. “She is cute, right?” I ask and Sid nods.
“Yeah, totally, in a baby Goth kind of way,” he replies, grinning suddenly as a text appears on his phone. “Airport. Turn this bitch around and get me to the airport!” he yells and heads for the front of the bus and the driver.
So much for finding out if she’d meet me at the hotel.