I followed Véro's directions and ended up at her and Marc's house in Moon. Marc had already left for the arena, and Kelsey was there, too.
"I'm glad to have another girl to add to the club," Kelsey said. "I mean, all the girlfriends tend to hang out together during the games and stuff, but some of them are annoying as hell."
"You heard that one girl, Lynne, last Saturday," V said. "The 'just let him pay' girl? I can't stand her," she laughed. "Kels and I like to relax and eat before the game, before we have to put up with those girls."
"We're ordering Chinese tonight, does that sound okay?" Kelsey handed me a menu.
"Yeah, sure, love Chinese," I responded, taking the menu and thinking about how many times I've eaten out in the past week. I opted for the chicken and steamed vegetables as a smarter choice, but I still had to get an egg roll—my greatest weakness.
As we waited for our dinners to arrive, I learned more about Kelsey. She was from Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, and had known Tyler since they were young. He was lucky enough to play in juniors for his hometown team, but when he went to play in the American League for the Baby Pens, they lost contact. On his next trip home, he saw her and realized she wasn't the little girl he knew as a boy, and he wanted to get to know her as the beautiful woman she turned into.
"That is the cutest story," I gushed.
She shrugged. "It's so hard for the guys to meet nice, quality girls, so they date girls they knew way back when, before the fame and money is in the picture."
"Oh," I said. I can't believe that never occurred to me before. Of course the guys would fall for the girls next door. City girls were puck bunnies for having fun, but when it came to serious relationships, the hockey players would chose hometown girls. Maybe Eva was right, and thinking in the longterm with Sidney was a bad idea.
"No, I don't mean that about you!" Kels retracted. "You're obviously an exception. I can tell you're not like that. You're one of the few people I've met here that seems genuine. And you and Sid are so cute together."
"Thanks, Kelsey, but you're still right. I mean, being a professional hockey player is a difficult thing, and I think they need someone who's going to be there at the end of the day, win or lose. Girls like me aren't able to do that, and that's a big factor when they pick girls as girlfriends."
Kelsey and Véro looked at each other, and then turned back to me, and they spoke at the same time.
"Noelle, you and Sidney are so cute together. You can't possibly think he isn't interested in you—"
"Do you see the way he looks at you? The two of you are lucky to have met, you really have a shot at something here—"
"Girls, it's fine. Listen, I'm just trying to keep perspective about this all. We like each other, and as long as that lasts, I'm all for it. But I'm not going to pretend like things are going to be easy and fall into place, that's all."
"Good, because you've officially been initiated into our little club. We need girls like you, and not Lynne!" Véro offered.
"Exactly, you're going to make going to the games and hanging out with everyone so much easier. Otherwise, we'll all go crazy," Kelsey added.
"You girls are surely exaggerating. It can't be that bad at the games."
They rolled their eyes. "Just wait and see."
"By the way, that reminds me. I have to send him his pregame text," I said, pulling out my phone, quickly typing play well, and hit the send button.
Dinner arrived, and we ate, talked, and laughed. I was having a blast with these two, and I was looking forward to doing this as often as I could.
"Does he make you send him that text as part of his superstitions, or do you do it because you want to?" V asked.
"Because I want to. I always tell him to play well. What do you guys say to the boys?"
V said, "I ask him to make a save for me."
"I say, 'Go get 'em, tiger!" Kels laughed.
"I'm totally going to start calling Tyler 'Tiger' now. Do you think we can make it stick?" I giggled.
"No! Don't tell him I told you that, he'd be so embarrassed," Kelsey begged.
"I don't know if I can do that. It's hilarious." I cracked open my fortune cookie, popped half of it in my mouth, and read the fortune out loud, "Lady luck will visit you soon."
"Oh, I wonder what mine says!" Kelsey grabbed a cookie and opened it. "To understand a man's mind, listen to his words."
V added,"In bed," and we all cracked up laughing.
When we finished eating, I offered to drive the girls to the arena. V said that it probably wasn't a good idea, because my car could break down at any point and leave us stranded. They gave in, and we made the quick trip to the Mellon, I got my ticket and pass, and we made our way up to our seats. Some of the other girls were already there, and I also noticed the Malkins in our area, too. I couldn't believe that I was in the family/friend section for the Pens game.
To my surprise, I was the only person in the section wearing Penguin paraphernalia. The Girlfriends were wearing cute outfits, and this was just another instance that made me feel out of place in the behind-the-scenes hockey world. If I had been sitting a few rows up or down, a few sections to the right or left, I would have blended in perfectly as just another face amongst the fans in the sold-out arena.
I was anxious for the game to begin, but the company I was with made the wait unbearable. Kelsey and Véro hit the nail on the head when they described the other girls, who I found to be obnoxious. They gossiped like high schoolers and glared at me because I wasn't dressed appropriately—as they deemed so—for the night's game. But I was proud of my Talbot jersey, and when the lights dimmed and the players came out on the ice, I screamed my head off like a true fan. Some of the girls glared at me, finding it difficult to continue their conversation with a banshee like me making so much noise.
As the periods went by and the Penguins dominated the Blue Jackets, V, Kelsey, and I intensely watched the game, celebrating the goals by Malkin, Kunitz, and Staal, the saves by Fleury, and the blocked shots by Letang and Orpik. Even so, the other girls seemed to cheer and support their boyfriends, while I was the only one cheering for the team and watching the game, not specific players.
The guys won in a shut-out, with Crosby picking up two assists. He didn't score a goal, but I knew he had to be pleased with the win and a multi-point game. We headed down to the lounge and waited for the guys, and I was amazed as the security guard recognized me and let me through without having to see my pass. I couldn't believe I was becoming a regular.
Luckily for me, Sid was able to finish his interviews early, since the spotlight was on so many of the other players after their performances. He strutted out a gray suit, a light purple shirt, and a dark purple tie. The color really set off his brown eyes—and it was my favorite color. Just like last time, he swept me up in his arms and thanked me for being his lucky charm. "It can't just be a coincidence that I'm racking up the points when you're here," he explained before
giving me a slight peck on the cheek.
"You should have gotten my fortune cookie fortune. I must be your lady luck!"
He took my hand in one of his, and then wrapped his other around them. "So, the guys were thinking about heading over to Diesel, but I'm starving. Do you wanna grab something to eat, and then head over?"
"I'm up for whatever," I said. "That sounds fine to me."
"Let's duck out, then."
"Wait, on two conditions."
Sidney furrowed his brow. "Two conditions?"
"Yes. First, either we take my car or I follow you. I'm not leaving it here again. And second, I'm paying." He opened his mouth to stubbornly argue, and I pulled my hand out of his grasp. "Well, if that's not okay, I can just head home. Great game tonight," I added, turning as if to leave. I took a few steps, knowing—well, not knowing, just hoping—that he would stop me and call my bluff.
One step, two steps, and nothing.
"Okay, all right. You can follow me, and maybe go halfsies on dinner?"
I smiled broadly, and then tried to suppress it as I turned around. "That could work."
We made plans to meet at a 24-hour diner, since he would end up signing some autographs for the waiting fans and I'd have to fight the traffic. It took an extra half an hour, but he and I finally were able to settle in a booth across from each other and enjoy a little privacy and quiet. I had taken my jersey off, and he had removed his jacket and tie. The collar of his shirt was open and the first button undone, and I could see the gold necklace around his neck with his 87 charm.
"So, did you enjoy the game?" he asked, as I ordered fries and a chocolate shake, and he ordered a cheeseburger.
"I did. Man, you guys took the wind out of their sails in the second period, with Fleury's save on the breakaway, and then Malkin's goal right after. I mean, those were the keys to the win."
He shook his head, and at first I thought he was disagreeing with me, until he smiled. "That's what I told the guys. When you know your goalie is backing you up and playing great, you want to support him by putting points on the board so he can relax. And then we're all feeling confident, and that's what it takes to win."
"I think this is exactly what you guys needed before heading to Detroit on Sunday. I can't believe you have to play the Red Wings in the preseason."
Sidney smirked. "We don't have control over the schedule, but if we control our mindsets, we're going to a send message early on that this year, we're still the team to beat."
Rolling my eyes, I told him, "Nice politically correct answer. But I can see through it. That's just a nice way of saying you're going to rip off their asses and serve 'em on silver platters."
"Shh! Don't tell anyone that," he whispered, and I laughed.
When my food came, I realized I was hungrier than I thought. I salted my fries and then dipped them into my chocolate shake. It was definitely a Pittsburgh thing—and it wasn't as good as fries in a Wendy's Frosty—but it still cures any craving I have. Salty, sweet, carbs, chocolate, warm, and cold, all in one. Sid laughed at me, until I ordered him to try it. He tried to turn me down, saying he was in training and he stayed away from junk food and sweets during then, but I insisted. No one's ever tried it and told me they didn't like it.
We ate and talked a little more about the game, and he asked about my work week.
"I don't want to talk about work," I said to him. "This is the weekend, and this is when I forget about my stupid boss and the headache that'll be waiting on my desk come Monday morning."
"That bad, eh?"
"I've got a lot more responsibility now, so there's more pressure. It was easier when I was paid to do as I was told, and now I've got some leeway and therefore more room to make plenty of mistakes. It's a whole nother ball game," I explained.
As he ate, I watched him. He wasn't doing anything that was particularly fascinating, but I couldn't take my eyes off him. That's when it hit me: I wanted him. Bad. When the realization hit me, my stomach somersaulted. I decided I had to get away from him before I did something I might regret.
He took his last bite and caught me staring. "Do I have something on my face?"
"No. Listen, I'm not feeling up to going out tonight with everyone—"
"We don't have to go out if you don't want to."
"I don't want to keep you from celebrating with the guys."
"No, that's fine with me. I see 'em all the time, but I don't get a lot of time with you. We can just relax, and spend some quality time together. You wanna head over my house, maybe watch a movie or something?"
My nerves calmed when he said that. Even when I was on the verge of going spastic, he made me feel comfortable and soothed. Wanting to be with him wasn't the end of the world—in fact, it sounded like the perfect end to such a great day. "That sounds good. I mean, whatever your schedule allows. I don't know what you have to do tomorrow."
"Practice at ten, and then we leave for Detroit. I think I can handle a movie."
He was going to need to handle a lot more than a movie tonight, with all the thoughts running through my head. We got the check, and I grabbed it before he could see it. I walked to the register and paid it in full, despite our earlier agreement to pay half, and then we got in our respective vehicles and started back to his house. As I pulled into his driveway, I remembered what I had said to Sidney after the game—that he should have received my fortune for the night. Lady luck had helped him through the game, and now he was going to get lucky.
My Favorite Five (2015)
2 years ago