Friday, July 17, 2009

22: Tricked

Conflicting emotions aren't a new thing for me. I overanalyze everything, which is probably why I made such a good literature major. My brain doesn't stop, and I always have something on my mind. Tonight wouldn't be any different.

We did it—we finally really kissed and cleared the air. I liked Sidney, and he liked me, too. I was ecstatic, but I was also anxious. Instead of just enjoying everything that happened, stupid me couldn't help but wonder, What now?

Forget his hockey rockstar status and my monotonous 9-5 schedule. Right now, I was concerned about how our feelings were going to affect our interactions. So what if we liked each other; what did that mean anyway?

In the normal world, if two people liked each other, they'd date for a while and see how that worked out. If those dates went well, then they'd make the commitment to be exclusive, and therefore would become "boyfriend and girlfriend." Is this how it was going to work in Sidney's world? Dating him would be hard enough—he traveled a lot, did interviews, promotional ads and commercials, and did charity work, too. Throw my schedule into the mix, and the evenings we could spend together evaporate into thin air, because so many of his games are played at night.

I tried telling myself not to worry about it, because there wasn't even a guarantee that this would become an issue. We exchanged spit and "I like you"s, not passionate declarations of undying love. Actually, I had preferred uncomplicated relationships in the past, which is why I felt so unnerved by my current situation. Not only did I not have previous experience to rely on, but I realized that this meant I had feelings toward Sidney and not just a physical attraction.

After kissing in the kitchen, Sid and I joined Geno, Max, and Kris in the den. It seemed that the guys who had girlfriends in attendance stayed with them in the living room. Oksana had gone back to Russia, and as far as I knew, neither Kris nor Max had serious girlfriends. I felt like I was intruding in on the male-ness of the room, but the guys were too engrossed in playing NHL '10 to notice a rise in estrogen.

Sidney and I sat on the uncomfortable futon, just watching them play. I was sitting next to him and resting against him, and he had his arm around my shoulders. There wasn't a need for us to say a whole to each other. I wondered if the same thoughts were milling around in his head, too. After all, he was dedicated to one thing—hockey. As far as I knew, he didn't have a girlfriend during his previous seasons, unless that was kept under wraps. The captain was too busy working to up his game and improve his team's standings for a personal life.

Would that change now that he was a Stanley Cup champion?

Not that I wanted to come between him and the game. I would never make him choose or make him feel guilty for not spending enough time with me. That's when I decided that if this relationship made it off the ground, I would have to fit into his hockey life, instead of making him fit hockey into our relationship.

Besides, it was like I told Sid when we first met: I support the the hockey team. I would not be the Yoko Ono to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If, I reminded myself, we acted on our feelings. I never tried to assume things would work out between us. And if you always expect the worst, you will never be disappointed.

"Do you want to play?" Kris asked, offering me his controller. "I'm heading out, I want to hit the gym early tomorrow."

"Uh, no thanks. I've never played before, I don't know how."

"No time to learn like the present, eh?" Sid asked, although it was more like a statement. Before I knew it, Max, Geno, Sid, and I had formed a team, and I was sucking miserably. I just started pushing random buttons, trying anything to pass the puck. Instead, I caused a turnover, which the opposing team promptly scored on.

"I give up!" I said, setting the controller on the carpet. "Give me Super Mario Brothers over this any day."

I thought maybe the guys would argue, and say that I wasn't doing too poorly and I just needed more practice. Well, I should have known better, because their competitive nature easily let them restart the game with just three players as they excluded me. What a bunch of boys.

As I watched them play, I thought about going into the other room and finding The Girlfriends, as I liked to refer to them collectively in my head. In the end, I decided to just to stay there, curled up on one side of the futon against the armrest. The guys really got into the game, and Sidney was concentrating so hard that his tongue was sticking out of his mouth. I giggled, but they were so immersed that I didn't even exist.

I must have fallen asleep at some point during the night, because Sid shook me and I was disoriented. They had finished their game, and Max and Evgeni were preparing to leave and head home. Marc-André and Véro were in the threshold of the entry as if saying their goodbyes.

"Glad to see you're having such a good time," he laughed.

I smiled at him. "No, I was just resting my eyes for the drive home."

"I don't want you driving home in the dark if you're tired."

"Well, that's too bad for you, because I need to go to bed, and home is where my bed is."

"I have a bed here you could use."

"Yeah, Andy, and I'm sure you'd just love to get me into your bed. You may have succeeded in that on your birthday, but it's not gonna work tonight," I teased.

Evgeni butted into our conversation. "You sleep together?" He was looking at us expectantly, so I knew right away that Sid hadn't told him what happened after the club on that night in August. Geno was waiting for an answer, and so were Max and Marc-André. I knew that no matter how familiar you are with English, what I said could be misconstrued to mean several things.

"We slept together, but we didn't sleep together," I mumbled in an attempt to explain. I realized that besides Sid and me, Véro was the only other person who knew what had happened that night—and that was my doing. Maybe he didn't do as much locker room talk as I thought he did.

Evgeni still looked confused, but Max laughed and hooked his arm around his neck. "Come on, I'll explain it to you."

We said our goodbyes, and as everyone filed out of the front door, I turned to Sid. "Let me go get my stuff, and then you can take me to get my car.

"I was serious," Sidney said. "I don't want you driving home in the dark if you're tired."

"I don't care what you want—"

"I mean it. It's not like you're five or ten minutes away. You'd be driving for an hour. I don't want to be responsible if something happens to you."

"You won't be responsible, because it's my decision. You promised me that you'd take me to get my car after the party," I reminded him.

"No, I said I'd take you to get your car later. I never said when."

My eyes widened. "You tricked me! You did this on purpose!"

"No way," he said. "I had full intention of taking you. But you fell asleep, so you're obviously tired. Maybe you think you could handle it, but you're a potential hazard to other drivers, too."

I looked out the door, to see if everyone had left. Maybe if someone were still around, they would take me to the Mellon to get my car. The street was deserted.

I knew he was being honest with me—I could hear the earnestness in his tone—but I still felt tricked. "I can't believe this."

"Listen, you can be mad all you want, but it won't change the fact that I'm not letting you go anywhere. It wasn't a trick or a ploy to get you to spend the night with me. You can have your pick of the guest rooms," he offered.

I could see that he meant what he said. Fishing in my pocket, I pulled out my cell and typed a text message to my mom, letting her know that I wouldn't be coming home. "Fine."

"Okay, just let me clean up the kitchen a little and we'll get you settled in."

Following him, I helped out by putting some of the left over food in the fridge. To my chagrin, there was only one piece of pizza left. Sid gave me an I-told-you-so look as we fought over who was going to eat it. I lost that battle, but he took a large bite and gave me the rest. I hopped up on the counter and crossed my legs, picking off a piece of pepperoni and popping it in my mouth.

"I'm sorry," I said, and I knew my sudden apology caught him off guard.

"For what?" Sid stopped what he was doing and turned to face me.

"I had just assumed that you told all the guys about what happened on your birthday."

He shook his head. "I only told Talbo. I mean, he knew we spent the night in the same room, and I figured he'd want to know that he didn't need to wash those sheets right away," he joked. "No, honestly, I needed some advice. We've known each other since I was, like, fourteen, and I knew he'd understand. Flower's been with Véro for so long that he wouldn't be able to give me any help. I didn't say a word to anyone else."

"Really? Advice about what?"

"What to do about you. I mean, I liked you, but I was going home to Nova Scotia for a while, and I was afraid what would happen if I left for an extended period of time. Talbo told me to just tell you how I felt, or else I would regret it."

The conversation I overhead clicked in my head. "Aw, that's so cute Crosby. Max probably isn't the best person to ask for advice concerning girls, though. It's just that I knew you'd talked to him, and then Bill Guerin said you talked about me during training camp. I jumped to conclusions about what you had talked about. So, I'm sorry."

"Apology accepted," he said, turning back to finish cleaning.

"Well," I continued, "what did you say about me, then?"

Sidney laughed. "You're not gonna drop this?"

"No. I'm too curious. I thought I knew, but since I didn't, I have to know."

He stopped what he was doing again. "I said that I met this girl, who knew exactly who I was and what I did, but when she was around me, she treated me like just another guy. She was a Pens fan and really knew and loved the game. I said that I thought she liked me back, and I couldn't wait until training camp was over and I could see her again. And I said how much I liked it when she called me by my last name when she teased me, called me 'Andy' when she wanted to put me in my place, called me Sidney when she was feeling sentimental, and called me Sid all the rest of the time. Not to mention how beautiful she is."

"Oh, Sidney," I swooned. He crossed the floor and approached me, and I cupped his face in my hands and kissed him gently, making sure not to deepen it so close to when we planned on heading upstairs. I didn't want to start anything I wasn't sure about finishing.

"What do you say we get to bed? It's late." Sid helped me off the counter and walked me upstairs. "So, I take it you need something to change into. Pick out a room and I'll get you something."

I found the room with the closet in which I had stashed my stuff and plopped on the bed. It was bouncy and soft, but I knew I wouldn't sleep much in a strange bed. As I surveyed the room, a shirt hit my head. "Hey, that's not nice," I said, holding the black Reebok shirt from his SC87 line that he threw at me.

"Well, that'll teach you to pay attention to me," he countered. "I put a spare toothbrush in the bathroom for you."

"Thanks. Can I, or are you using the bathroom?"

"No, there's a bathroom off the master bedroom. This one's all yours."

I smiled at him to thank him again, and I went about my business. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and even found a hair tie that must have been his sister's that I borrowed. Then I changed into the shirt he gave me, but I left my jeans on and decided to take them off right before getting under the covers.

After finishing my routine, I checked to see if his bedroom door was open so I could say goodnight. He had changed into a plain white shirt and red shorts, and he was sitting on the edge of his bed, taking off his socks. I knocked lightly to get his attention. "Thanks again, Sidney. I'll see you in the morning. Good night."

"Good night, Nelly. Sweet dreams."

I went back to the guest room I chose, shimmied out of my jeans, and crawled into bed. After the day I just had, I could only have sweet dreams tonight.

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