Sid and I agreed to have lunch at his house on Sunday. Let me correct that—we agreed that I would be cooking lunch for him on Sunday. He told me to come by his house around ten in the morning; we'd go grocery shopping and pick up what we needed, then come back and cook.
Needless to say, things didn't go as planned.
But not in a bad way.
As soon as I set foot in the door at Sidney's house, we attacked each other with kisses and caresses. In fact, we couldn't even make it out of the foyer before we started ripping each other's clothes off. Garments were strewn on the stairs and in the hallway leading to his bedroom like a Hansel and Gretel trail of breadcrumbs leading home.
It felt as if we had been apart for weeks, not days, and I was startled at how excited I was to see him again and at how desperate I was to be in his arms. I wasn't just craving his touch either; I needed to feel his presence. Being in the same room with him was enough to put my mind at ease.
I didn't love him yet, but I knew I could. As long as our relationship stayed on this track, I knew I could fall head-over-heels, til-death-do-us-part in love with him. Maybe Sid was right. Maybe love is easy, and we were the ones complicating it.
"I'm starved," he said, pulling me out of my thoughts. "Let's order in, eh?"
"You lured me here under false pretenses, Crosby," I joked, curled in his arms.
"Do you still want to go out shopping and cook? I mean, given the alternative of staying in bed with me," he returned, rubbing my back.
"I think I need a break from you, or else I won't be able to walk. Besides, what's the point of having such a gorgeous boyfriend if I can't show him off?"
"I am pretty gorgeous, aren't I?"
I rolled my eyes with a laugh. "Not like you need the reminder, Fabio." After I made known my resolution to really not stay in bed all day, we dressed and went to Whole Foods. It was the first time I had been in the store, and Sid led me around for everything we needed.
"So, what do you want, anyway?" I asked. Because I still lived at home, I didn't have to do a lot of cooking for myself, but my mother was the best cook in the family. She was the oldest of four kids, and while her parents were working long shifts to provide for them, she was the one who cooked the meals, cleaned the house, and mended the clothes. My mother was an old-fashioned woman who would never leave the kitchen if she didn't have to, and I learned everything I knew from her.
"I was thinking Italian."
"That's giving me a pretty long leash to decide. Can you be more specific?"
He shrugged. "Surprise me. You're the great chef, make whatever will make my taste buds sing."
"You're a dork, and I'm saying that from the bottom of my heart." Since he was no help, I decided on a classic favorite in my house—baked ravioli. It was a fairly simple recipe that was as delicious as it was easy. We bought four-cheese ravioli, ground beef, cheese, and spaghetti sauce, pre-made salad mix, and a loaf of French bread, as well as any spices that I thought I might need. Who knows what the state of his cabinets were like, but I assumed they were barren. Back at the house, Sid sat on the counter and watched me brown the ground beef as I started cooking.
"This better be good, Nelly."
"It's a favorite in my family. I'm sure you'll like it. Speaking of family, I'm dying to know, and you haven't told me. Did your parents like me?" I bit my lip, very nervous to hear his response.
"Are you kidding? I think my mom wants to adopt you right now. She told me she's already planning to have you up for Christmas. And Taylor knows that I like you, and that's good enough for her."
"What about your dad?"
"He takes a while to warm up to people. He likes you...."
"But he doesn't exactly like me being your girlfriend?"
"He doesn't like anyone being my girlfriend. It's nothing against you, he's just always been like that. Before, it was about focusing on being ready for the draft. Then, it was about getting the Cup. Now he's really worried about how the Olympics are going to go. But that's in February, and right now I need to focus on making sure the team has a good start to the season. Which shouldn't be a problem with you at the games, since you're my good luck charm. I'll never have to hear him say, 'That's girl's not good for you, son, she's hurting your game.'"
I laughed at his horrible impression of his father. "It's a good thing you're a hockey player, and not a comedian."
"Sorry, but I just want to make you laugh. Really, don't worry about it. I truly think he likes you, because you're a fan of the game as well as my fan. You see the bigger picture than just me, that what life is going to be like this season is a sacrifice for the city and the team. That's the type of girl he wants for me, eventually."
"You make it sound like it's going to be so hard. I mean, it will suck that I won't be able to see you when I want to, but it's not like I don't have my own life. I'm in a book club," I told him, and he laughed. I layered the ravioli with sauce, cheese, and the browned ground beef before popping it into the oven. As it baked, I cut the bread and opened the bag of salad mix.
"Well, we play at home on Wednesday, and then we've got our first real road trip coming up. Road trips aren't bad, because it's so easy to fall into a routine, but I'm going to miss you like crazy. I figure we'll hang out after the game on Wednesday—"
"I can't make it to that game," I said, cutting him off.
"I have a case due on Thursday, and one on Friday, too. I'm swamped with work. I'm going to have to log some extra hours just trying to get everything done on time, so there's no way I could possibly leave early to make the game or stay out late and come into work exhausted."
"Can't someone else handle it?"
"Hey, that's not fair, Sid." I stopped what I was doing and walked in between his legs to get his full attention. "You know I would love to be at that game if I could. But I have responsibilities, too. I can't ignore them or put them aside just because you want me to."
"I know, Nelly, but you've been at every home game so far—"
"Luckily, they were all on a Friday—"
"—and it's going to ruin the routine we have—"
"—we don't have a routine, Sid, stop being so superstitious—"
"—but I know you're there, and it gives me a boost to know that."
"—and I'll still be rooting for you, whether I'm in the building or not."
We'd been talking over each other, so we said what was on our respective minds without listening to the other's babbling. I was kind of kicking myself for not being more open with Sid about my life. Maybe if I had talked more about work, he would know what it's like and what was expected of me for forty, forty-plus hours a week.
Sidney spoke again first. "I'm sorry if I made it seem like I expect you to put my game before your work. But I'm still disappointed you won't be there."
"I'm sorry that I can't be there. Believe me, I'd rather be there cheering you on than stuck at my desk and then watching from home."
"But if you really want to come, then why not?"
I sighed. Sidney was usually so understanding and accommodating with me, but he wouldn't let it go. "Not everyone has a job they love, like you do. I'd love to blow it off, except that may mean I don't have a job next time I go in. My boss has been good with letting me leave early and make up the time somehow, but deadlines are deadlines."
"It doesn't seem fair."
"Since when has life been fair? But there's not a lot a girl can do with an English Literature degree, and I was lucky to get this job right out of school. It's temporary, until I figure out what I want to do."
"What do you want to do? I mean, what was your reason behind choosing your major?"
I shrugged. "I love to read. If I could find a job that paid me to read books, that would be my dream job."
"So, become a book critic! Problem solved!"
The look on Sid's face was one of innocent pride; he was so pleased with himself for coming up with the answer to my life's quandary. I was so tempted to skip work for his game, but I had to stay grounded in reality. My job would be around for as long as I wanted it, as long as I didn't majorly screw up, but I couldn't make the same guarantee about my relationship with Sidney.
"It's one game," I said, being as rational as I could. "I told you, you make your own luck. You're going to have a great game because you're going to play your A-game. It doesn't matter if I'm in the stands or not."
"But then we start our road trip, and I'll be gone for a week."
"It's a four-game road trip, followed by a five-game stretch of home games. And I'll definitely be able to make at least three of those," I explained, trying to cheer him up.
"What, do you have my schedule memorized?" he asked, laughing.
"Only 'til the end of October," I responded, blushing. He rubbed his thumb against my cheek, and I thought about how lucky I was.
"I'm still not going to get to see you for, like, two weeks."
"I'm just as miserable at that idea as you are, Sid. But don't a lot of the guys leave their girls on these road trips? You'll have the games to focus on, and you won't even be thinking about me. Besides, you can't give your dad any reason to hate me," I joked. If it was this hard to spend time away from Sidney so early in the season, I didn't want to know how hard it would be come winter or spring.
"He'd never hate you. And you're right, it's going to be hard. It's like they say, though: 'nothing worth winning ever came easy.' I'm still going to miss you, especially at night, when I'm lying in my bed, all alone."
"First of all, what a cop-out—that saying was displayed on the ice during the Stanley Cup playoffs last year. Second of all, if you're really lonely, maybe you can get one of the guys to cuddle with you. Maybe Marc will be missing V, and you can console each other," I teased.
"Ha, yeah, because spooning with Flower's broad shoulders and hairy legs are really going to compare to you," he laughed. "You know, I was always too focused before to even consider trying to balance a relationship with the demands of the season, especially when we were all so determined to win the Cup. And it's not that I don't want to repeat and win again, but watching the guys celebrate with their girlfriends or their wives last year, it made me wonder what that could be like. It was nice winning and sharing it with my parents and my sister, but I can only imagine what it would be like to win and share it with someone. Someone like you."
The timer buzzed, and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. I was worried I'd start to cry. His words resonated within me. Sid was ready for this; he was thinking long-term. He was ready, but was he prepared for the hard work of a long season and a serious relationship? I hoped so, because I knew I really could fall head-over-heels, til-death-do-us-part in love with him.
The only way I could describe my feelings is if I had opened a box full of puzzle pieces and upended it. As the pieces flutter to the floor, they magically fall into place. No searching for that missing piece that ultimately would fill in the picture but disappeared somewhere along the way. No constructing the border and hoping the middle would follow after. No trial and error, pounding the pieces into place and making them fit, even if it didn't feel right.
I pulled the hot casserole dish from the oven, and as it cooled, Sid set the table and even lit a couple candles. We were so easily falling into domesticated bliss. As much as I enjoyed the feeling, I knew that those few weeks apart would be good for us, because I was in over my head.
"Nelly, this isn't half bad," Sid so poignantly conveyed, as he fed himself a forkful of ravioli.
"Wow, I'm glad you enjoy it so much," I mocked. "Your delight is positively overwhelming."
"No, I mean it, it's really good. I thought you were exaggerating when you said you could cook."
"I do have some talents, you know. Not everyone can be like you and display one incredible skill."
"I just didn't realize you had so many. You're smart, funny, beautiful, a tennis star, a hockey fan, a top-notch cook. How did I get so lucky?"
I almost lost it. My eyes brimmed with water, and I blinked ferociously to prevent tears from streaming down my face. I wasn't a crier; I don't typically show my emotions that way, especially if I'm deliriously happy.
Sid's face fell. "I'm sorry, what did I say? Don't cry. What did I do? I'm so sorry." He reached out and grabbed my hand.
"No," I laughed, despite the tears. "You didn't say anything wrong. You said all the right things. You're damn near perfect, Crosby."
He pulled me off my chair and into his lap, and then used his napkin to blot at my running mascara. "Will you please remember what you just said when I muck something up and you get angry with me? Really, I should get that it writing."
I laughed again and kissed him, tasting the salt of my tears. I slid off his lap so we could finish eating. After lunch, we went down to the basement for a game of pool. Even though I had played before, I pretended to be ignorant of the game so he would have to put his arms around me and show me how to hold the stick.
After a few practice shots, Sidney suggested a risqué game of strip pool. I tried to get out of it—I knew his competitive nature, and I knew I would lose—but when he called me a coward, I couldn't back down. He broke, and before I even got a turn, my hoodie, shirt, and shoes were discarded.
However, I wouldn't say I was at a disadvantage. Playing the ultimate tease, I leaned across the pool table in just a bra. By the look on Sidney's face, I knew I was a great distraction, and it didn't take long for us to abandon the game and busy ourselves with other activities.
My Favorite Five (2015)
2 years ago