Wednesday, July 15, 2009

20: The After Party

"So, what's going on about this after party that everyone's talking about?" Véro asked.

I wished she hadn't have brought it up, because now I felt like I was going to invited for the sake of saving face, even if they didn't want me there.

"Oh, yeah," Sidney said. "Noelle, I hope you have some time this evening. I forgot to mention it to you earlier. Would you like to accompany me to the party tonight?" I felt eight eyes on me, and I gladly accepted. "Great, because I hear it's going to be a blast."

"Where's it at?"

"What's-his-name's place, I think," said Max, and they all nodded and mumbled, avoiding my question.

"Wow, you guys all suck at lying," I scolded.

"Come on, Noelle," V encouraged. "Just—"

"I know, I know, go with the flow," I said, finishing her sentence. She and Max laughed, and we made our way toward the parking lot.

"Why don't you ride with me?" Sid asked.

"I don't want to leave my car in the East lot all night," I answered. "Is it okay if I just follow you?"

"Well, parking at the party is probably going to be crowded, and you know the traffic out of the parking lot here is going to be a bitch. Your car will be safe here until you want to go home."

"You'll bring me back out to the arena to get it though, right? When the party's over?"

"No, I'm going to make you walk," he joked. I shot him a look, and he wiped the smile off his face. "Of course, I'll bring you out here to get your car."

"Okay, then." He offered me his arm and led me to the player's lot. Marc, Max, and V veered off to get to Marc's car while we headed for Sid's.

"So, what did you think about the game?" Sidney asked, when there was a sufficient pause in our conversation.

"Oh, it was great! Those seats were beyond incredible. You sure know how to spoil a girl. And congrats on the hat trick! That was amazing!"

"Oh, by the way," he said, reaching into his pocket. "I picked this one up off the ice. But I can't decide if I should keep it or give it back to its rightful owner."

"My hat!" I laughed. "How did you know it was mine?"

"I watched you throw it. I wanted to see your reaction," he admitted, playing with the hat in his free hand before handing it to me.

I put the hat on backwards and looked up at Sid. This was a position I had been in before, walking arm-in-arm, but something about this guy and this night made it feel better than in the past. "Max got this for me during the second intermission so I'd have something to throw on the ice. I was worried he jinxed you, and you wouldn't get that third goal, but I guess your talent is just too much for any bad luck."

He snorted and reddened a little too, and I relished in making him feel slightly uncomfortable. Superstitions and routines were just as important to hockey players as hard work and heart. Not to mention, Sid had a lot of pressure on his shoulders, even after leading his team to a Stanley Cup last season. I know it couldn't be easy, and having a good sense of humor about it is the only way he'd be able to withstand it.

Sid opened the side door for me. What manners. When he slid in behind the wheel, I asked, "So, where are we going? Everyone's been so vague about it. I feel like when I was ten, and I asked my parents whether or not Santa was real, and they wouldn't give me a straight answer."

"You'll see," he said, starting the engine.

We didn't speak again for a while. Not only was I slightly annoyed that he wouldn't be honest with me, but I was also nervous. The two of us didn't get to spend a lot of alone time together, and I was weary of where the conversation may go. I knew in my heart of hearts that I truly liked him, even though I'd never admit it to myself. Well, I did admit it to Véro and Marc that first night at Diesel, but that was before I got to know him. I would be crushed if he didn't feel the same way about me.

"We're almost there," he said, turning his Range Rover down a sparsely populated street. It seemed like he randomly pulled into a driveway, because there were no lines of cars up and down the road for this so-called party. The lights weren't even on in the house.

"Is this some kind of joke? Should I be worried that you brought me into the middle of no where to kill me and dispose of my body?"

He laughed, but I was starting to get worried. "No, this is where the party is. I mean, this is where the party will be, once it gets started." Sidney got out of the driver's side and rushed over to open my door for me like a gentleman. "Welcome to my home."

Now it was my turn to snort. "You mean, welcome to Mario Lemieux's."

"No," he said, proudly. "This is my home. I bought it over the summer."

"Congratulations!" I offered, abashed at my harshness. "It looks beautiful. At least, from what I can see, because it's kind of dark out here."

"Well, come on in, and you can see the inside." He took my hand and guided me to the porch. I had to struggle to keep up with him, because in his excitement, he took long strides. He unlocked the front door and ushered me inside. When he flicked on the light switch, I got a sense of how big the house was. The foyer spanned both the first and second floor, with an elegant staircase leading upstairs. There was a huge chandelier hanging above us, and the sight of it took my breath away.

Sidney followed my line of sight. "I think it's a little too much, but my mom really liked it, so I haven't decided if I'll keep it or not. Let me give you a quick tour."

We walked through the first floor, which had the living room, den, kitchen, and formal dining room. The basement was finished, and he turned it into his "man cave," to which I laughed, but really it was part game room, part weight room. Upstairs were the the master bedroom and two guest bedrooms, along with an office.

"The place isn't as big as Mario's, but I really don't need that much space. Even once I get married and have kids, this is still plenty big. I mean, I didn't want a big house or a mansion, that's not my style. But it's great that I have two guest bedrooms, for when my parents and my sister come down. Now that I have somewhere for them to stay, they'll probably come down more often. Which is great, because I don't get to see them nearly as much as I'd like to.

"I don't really need an office right now, but I figure it may come in handy down the road, or it can be converted into something else if need be. There's a lot of space I didn't quite know what to do with, but this works for now."

"This is incredible, Sid," I said. "I can't believe you bought a house and furnished it so quickly."

"I had a lot of help. I just wanted the place to feel like home before the season started."

"Does it?"


"Feel like home?"

Sidney shrugged. "Not quite. It feels like my place, just not my home. It takes some time getting used to, I guess. But I thought, what better way to make a place feel like home than throwing a party? Speaking of which, I'd better start getting everything out. Will you help me?"

"Sure." We walked down to the kitchen, and suddenly it hit me—he had been holding my hand the whole time. He let go so he could begin to pull things out of the fridge. There was a veggie tray, chips and dip, tortilla chips and salsa, a cheese plate with crackers, shrimp cocktail, spinach dip, cookies, and more.

"Will you order the pizzas?" he asked. I could tell he felt awkward asking me to.


"I'll pay for them and everything, I just don't want to give them my name with this address for delivery."

"Aw, Crosby, scared to get mauled by the pizza delivery boy?" He blushed but didn't otherwise respond. "It's cool, I understand. Just tell me what you want." I took care of the pizzas, even though I thought he ordered way too much food.

"Don't underestimate the appetite of hockey players," he warned.

I organized everything on the island of his kitchen as he filled buckets with ice and beer. "I'm going to go change," he said, as he began loosening his tie. Looking down at my jersey, I realized that everyone else was probably changing before the party too, and I'd be the only person with a Penguins logo on. Sidney read my mind. "Don't worry about it. I should have told you about the party, so you would have been prepared. No one'll care."

"I still feel like a dork," I muttered. "I'm like the crazy fan that snuck in." I started to feel vastly out of place.

"Don't worry about it," he repeated. "Everyone loves you. If anything, they'll think it's endearing."

I raised my eyebrows and shook my head. "Whatever, Crosby."

Sid went upstairs to change out of his suit, and I let my mind wander, which was really becoming a bad habit. This whole situation, which had until now felt surreal, began crashing down around me. I was an ordinary girl—what in the world was I doing in his house? A few months ago, this was something I only could have dreamed about.

The doorbell pulled me out of my overwhelming, starstruck moment. Sid hollered down and asked if I could answer it and let them in. As I approached the door to open it, I wondered what it would be like if this were my house, too, and these were my guests. Ugh, what was I doing to myself? Thinking like this could only get me in trouble.

Marc, Véro, Max, TK, Kelsey, and a few others were waiting outside. "Are we too early?" Tyler asked.

"No, guys, come on in," I invited. "I was just about to figure out the music dilemma."

"Dilemma?" Marc questioned. "Is it that serious?"

"Music is an essential component of a party," I jokingly lectured. "It sets the mood and tone. I don't want to be blamed for playing the wrong type of music and ruining the party."

The guys laughed at my dramatics and offered to take care of it. I thanked them, and Véro pulled me over to the side. She looked me up and down. "I brought you something," she said, reaching into her oversized purse and pulling out a handful of black cloth. "I figured you'd want to change out of your jersey."

"V, you're a life saver," I thanked. I held it up, but I didn't quite like the look of it. "Kinda low cut, isn't it?"

She smiled that knowing smile that made me want to cringe. "Just put it on." When I still hesitated, she added, "It's this or the jersey."

I smirked and went to the bathroom to change. The top was simple with billowing sleeves and a v-neck. Véro had a classic style that I loved, but just because I liked her style didn't mean it agreed with mine. The shirt definitely didn't match my converses, so I took them off. Looking in the mirror, I removed my hat and finger-curled some of my hair to give it more bounce. Then I stashed my jersey, shoes, and hat in one of the closets of the guest bedroom, where I figured my stuff would be safe.

I descended the staircase to see the house had filled with people since I had excused myself to change.

"Aw, you took my jersey off," Max said.

"Damn it," I cursed.

"What's wrong?"

"Your shorts are in my car, and my car is still parked at the Mellon."

"I'm sorry, can you repeat that?"

"Yeah, your shorts are in my car—"

"Sorry, the music is a little loud, can you say that one more time?"

I chuckled, knowing exactly what he was doing. He wanted everyone to hear me say that Max had some clothing in my car. He could be such a pervert, sometimes. I raised my voice so everyone in the room could hear. "I said, your shorts are in my car!"

A few of the partygoers looked in our direction, giving Max exactly what he wanted. No wonder he had such a bad reputation. "That's what I thought you said," he teased, and I punched him in the arm.

I looked around, and tried to figure out where to go. I knew a handful of people in attendance, but I was afraid of hovering around the same people. After all, I had spent the whole game with Max, and V looked so cute cuddled up next to Marc-André that I didn't want to interfere. First, I thought about going into the kitchen for some snacks and something to drink. When I looked in the room, I saw Sidney talking with Geno. We locked eyes for a moment, until he broke the connection and looked me up and down. I smiled, silently thanking Véro for her forethought, and instead turned over to the stereo to browse through the music and try to look busy.

As I peered through Sid's CD collection, Jordan walked over to me. "Hey, congrats on the shorty. How's, uh, Tanya and the baby doing?"

"Thanks. They're doing great. Isabella is at home now, and Eric's freaking out about having to travel and be away from them."

I laughed. "That's cute. I'm sure being a new parent and a young father isn't easy." He gave me a perplexed look. "He was drafted in 2003, right? He was second overall, after Fleury, so he's what, 24?"

"Amazing. You're just like one of the guys, except a lot prettier."

I looked up at him and laughed. He was a full foot taller than me, maybe even more since he was wearing shoes and I wasn't. "Not to mention you've got a great view down my shirt from up there, huh?"

He smiled and shrugged, dismissing my accusation. "You are a spitfire. But honestly, can you blame me?"

"Yes," I giggled, and I gave him a playful shove.

"Woah, am I interrupting something?" Sidney appeared behind Jordan.

"No," Jordan said. He hung around for a few seconds before bolting.

"That was weird," Sid said about Jordan's quick departure.

"I think I scared him away," I joked. "I have a tendency to do that with people."

With a grin, he responded, "Not with me."

1 comment:

  1. ahh I want something to happen with them already!! haha they are toooo cute.