Sidney had agreed to spend some time with my friends today. This was the first big step toward letting him into my life. I was nervous and anxious, but also incredibly excited.
I had been spending the evening with Eva when Sidney and I first met, so he got to know her very briefly. Enough to have her ridicule him for still living with Mario after four years of playing with the Penguins. When we met at Diesel, he didn't talk to any of my friends—either electing to spend his time with me or with his own friends.
Since then, he didn't see my friends again. Sidney and I either went out on dates alone or spent time with his teammates, spent time at his house in the Burgh, or at the arena for his games. Either way, it was in his world, not mine. The most we did on my terms happened on the days he came out to spend time with me after work, and that was only for the sake of spending time together; on the weekdays, it was easier for him to drive the hour to see me right after I finished work, to accommodate my schedule.
It was easier for me that way; if things didn't pan out between Sid and me, then the places I had to see everyday wouldn't be a bitter reminder of what I was missing. Now, we were beyond my petty worries—he was thoroughly involved in my life. I was utterly infatuated with him, and my spare waking minutes were spent thinking of him and relishing in our flesh memories and simple, sweet moments. And I had spilled my guts to him and confessed my love, so there was no way I could keep him at a distance anymore.
I wouldn't tell Sid this, but I was also looking forward to his coming road trip. As much fun as I had spending time in Pittsburgh with him, the other players, and The Girlfriends, things were just too crazy and hectic lately. I was looking forward to relaxing and enjoying some drama-free time to myself. It was so easy to get swept up in the fun and excitement, but I needed to stay grounded in reality, even when reality sucks. With Sid in close proximity, the rose-colored glasses were glued to my face. I honestly just needed him to go away for awhile so I could regain myself.
My mom and dad were going to visit my grandparents for the day, so I invited Megan and Nat, as well as my friend Karen who had recently returned from a study abroad trip while working on her Masters. Eva had never returned my call or message, so I didn't even bother trying to get in touch with her. It hurt that she no longer wanted to be my friend and be a part of my life after ten years, but people grow apart all the time. I guess this was another instance of that.
Sidney and I drove individually out to my house. We were going to do what the girls and I usually did, which included playing Karaoke Revolution, eating until our stomachs would explode, but most importantly laughing and having fun.
I was glad to see them all again, because it was difficult to get everyone together. Our schedules were so packed, and our free time rarely ever coincided. I just hoped that they would love Sidney and approve of him. For some reason, it really mattered to me that they like him.
I sent Sid to the nearby Sheetz to pick up some snacks and some pop. Once I sent him on his way, I realized that he didn't argue with me when I said "pop." It probably sounds stupid, but I'm glad he doesn't call it "soda." It's a Pittsburgh thing, I guess.
When the girls finally started to showed up, I was so excited to see them that I forgot I hadn't spoken with any of them since Tuesday when I called them to invite them over. One look at me and they were speechless. At least that was better than the endless questions. "I'll explain it to you once everyone gets here, because I don't want to have to tell this story more than once," I sighed. I was sick of the stares and explanations. The sooner this bruise healed, the better.
Megan and Nat arrived together, and Karen shortly after. "By the way, Noelle, I thought I should tell you—"
Before Megan could finish her sentence, there was a knock at the door. Which was odd, because I didn't invite anyone else, and we hadn't even ordered our food yet. I slid off the couch and answered the back door. It had to be someone I knew, because only our friends and family members knew we used the back door, and not the front one.
"Eva!" I said, surprised to see her on my porch. "What are you doing here?"
She looked at her feet. "Megan told me you were inviting your friends over today, and I was kind of hurt when I wasn't included. Which I realize makes no sense, because I was the one that wouldn't return your message."
"Yeah. You know, I really could have used you a couple of weeks ago."
"I'm sorry. I know it was stupid of me to get so mad, but I was just worried that if you were dating Sidney, that you wouldn't have time for me anymore."
"So, you stopped talking to me because you were worried that I would stop talking to you?"
She shrugged and half-smiled. "I told you, I know it makes no sense." I hugged her, and she asked, "Does this mean we get to be friends again?"
I laughed. "Sure. You know, my being with Sidney does mean I'm going to be busier, but you're still my number one girl. I will always have time for you."
Eva nodded. "And I should have known that."
"I'm glad that you're here. But listen, I invited the girls over to meet Sid and get to know him. I'd really like him to get to know you, too, but if it's gonna be too weird, you don't have to come in."
"Are you kidding? I need to make sure that he's as good of a guy as he appears to be, especially if he thinks he deserves you."
I smiled broadly. Things were falling back into place. I had my best friend again. "Then what are you doing still standing outside?"
Once everyone was in the living room, I made the introductions. Sidney and I took the love seat, but I kept the PDA to a minimum. I know I always felt uncomfortable around couples that couldn't keep their hands off each other for a second, so I made sure to spare everyone the sight. The girls were scattered between the couch, the rocking chair, and the floor. Sid looked surprised when he met Eva again, but I knew he was happy for me that she was here.
Then I quickly told them about my run-in with Lynne, because they were so curious to know the story behind the abuse my face had taken. "And now that you know, you're never allowed to mention it again, because I'm sick of talking about it."
"Can I just say one thing?" Karen asked.
"I'm glad you punched the bitch."
I almost spit my drink of pop all over her. "Kar, that's not a nice thing to say!" I laughed.
"Yes it is. You're too nice for your own good, so I'm glad you stood up for yourself."
I shook my head while Sidney interjected, "You're saying Noelle is a nice girl?"
I elbowed him and said, "I am a nice girl!"
He laughed and rubbed his ribs where I jabbed him. "I think you just proved my point!"
Initially, I had worried how well Sidney and my girls would get along. Not that I'm saying they wouldn't get along, but they came from very different backgrounds. Megan had graduated a year before me with her Bachelors; Nat and Eva were almost finished with theirs; and Karen was currently in a Masters program. Sidney, in contrast, concentrated less on academics and more on hockey. He was still quite smart, he just never applied himself in intellectual endeavors because he focus was directed toward the rink. It was as if Sid had attended a trade school; he knew his specialized field, whereas we were all liberal arts majors with diversified interests.
There was no need to worry, though, because Sid was still a regular guy, and that's how these girls treated him. They weren't hockey fans, but they knew he was a big deal—even so, they didn't let him off the hook either. The four of them asked Sid about his past and his life. The questions began friendly enough, but soon they escalated in intensity until he was officially in the hot seat.
"Just so we're clear," Eva said, assuming the interrogator's role, "what are your intentions with my friend?"
"Eva!" I scolded, and then lowered my voice. "This is inappropriate."
"If you don't like it, you can leave the room," Nat said. "This was bound to happen, Noelle, so it might as well happen now."
"We've only been dating a month," I reminded them.
Megan giggled. "Yeah, but we all saw this coming since July. Stop interrupting, and let us do our job. Your intentions, Sidney?"
He reached for my hand, which I willing clasped with my own, and he rubbed his thumb along the back of my hand. "I assure you, I have the best of intentions. We're in love, and I'm just along for the ride, waiting to see where this takes us."
I smiled at his answer. Maybe it didn't seem too romantic, but it was the best I could have hoped for. My relationship with Sidney was unpredictable, up and down and all over the place. It didn't make much sense to try to predict now where we'd be tomorrow, a week from now, or longer. We were just along for the ride, with love as our guide.
Wow, that was horribly cheesy and corny.
"Not bad," Eva responded with a nod.
"And I take it you guys are being safe?" Megan continued with the questioning.
"Safe?" Sidney was confused.
"You know, birth control pills? Condoms? I'm sure neither of you are ready to drop some babies."
"Megan! Now that really is uncalled for." I was totally embarrassed.
"We're just looking out for you," she explained.
"Our sex life is none of your business," I admonished them.
Karen snorted. "Until you ask us to babysit."
Nat added, "Not to mention we don't know where he's been."
I laughed and squeezed Sid's hand. "Remind me why I thought this was a good idea?"
He squeezed back. "No, it's okay. They have a right to know. Yes, we're being safe."
"They have a right to know?" I asked. "So, if Max or TK asked, you'd spill the details of our sex to life to them?"
Sid winced. "No. But that's different. They're guys, and they want to know to if I'm getting laid, not if I'm being safe about it," he clarified.
"So, if they asked, you wouldn't tell them?"
With a laugh, he said, "It's too late for that."
I narrowed my eyes at that response. "What does that mean?"
"Remember last weekend? You made it clear to Max that we had been sleeping together."
I blushed. "If you wouldn't have made me so mad, then I wouldn't have had to say that."
Megan, Eva, Karen, and Nat all rolled their eyes simultaneously before Megan commented, "Okay, this is sickening. I feel like I'm watching a bad Lifetime movie."
"All Lifetime movies are bad," Sid snickered.
"As Noelle's closest friends, Sid, we have to let you know that if you hurt her, we will effectively end your hockey career," Eva told him.
"Bust your knee caps," Nat clarified.
"Just something to keep in mind," Karen finished.
I apologized for them and let go of Sidney's hand. He then asked them, "Do you have any other questions to badger us with?"
"One more," Megan said. "Are there any single players on your team that you can hook me up with?"
We all laughed at that, and I was relieved to know the questioning portion of the afternoon was over. I passed around the Domino's menu and began to turn on the PlayStation to begin our Karaoke Revolution tournament. I called in the order, and the girls dug through their purses, wallets, and pockets to scrounge up the money for the food.
Sid opened his wallet and took out a couple bills. "How much is it? I'll pick up the tab."
"You don't need to do that," I told him. "You don't have to pay."
"Woah, woah, woah!" Karen yelled. "Noelle, if he wants to pay, let him. I'm broke!"
I laughed as the rest of the girls nodded in agreement. Sidney shrugged. "If I have to buy your friends' approval, that's okay with me!"
I gave him the directions to pick up the food, so I could have a little bit of alone time with the girls to gather their consensus on my boyfriend. "So, honestly, what do you guys think of him?"
They exchanged looks before Eva finally gushed their collective opinion, "He's so perfect!"
Plopping back down on the love seat, I breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm glad you guys like him."
"Hell, I'm practically in love with him, myself!" Karen laughed.
"Hey, don't joke about that!" I teased. "The last time a girl came between me and him, I broke her nose!"
Their mouths dropped. "You mean you broke her nose when you punched her?"
I grimaced, knowing I shouldn't have told them that. "That's a secret," I told him, "so keep it to yourselves. Alex told me that in confidence."
"I don't want to burst your bubble," Nat cautioned. "But you do realize that this is bound to happen more often than not? I mean, him getting hit on by girls right in front of you? You can't go around beating them all up."
"Yeah, I know. But this was different, because she wasn't just a random, nameless fan. There was more to it than that."
"But still, stuff like that is gonna happen. It's gonna hurt. Are you sure he's worth it?"
I closed my eyes. "Yeah. He means so much to me, and that's why it hurt so bad. You risk a lot of pain when your heart is on the line. But if things work out, then it's absolutely worth it."
"Okay, I'm going to gag," Megan laughed.
I smiled at that. "Thanks, guys. You have know idea how happy it makes me to know you approve."
We switched conversation topics, and the girls filled me in on everything that been going on in their worlds. Sid returned with our food, and we pigged out and sang off-key and had a good time. Until six, when I kicked my friends out to have a little one-on-one time with Sidney. I loved how he looked at home in my home.
"What time do you leave for the road trip tomorrow?" I asked him, stretching my legs across his lap as he flipped through the channels. It doesn't matter how many channels you have; nothing is ever good on television, especially on a Sunday night.
"In the evening. Five or so, I think. So we have time to settle in the hotel and won't be too tired for the morning skate on Tuesday."
"So, what's it like when you go on these road trips?"
He looked at me, sensing that there was more to my question than what was on the surface. I don't know how he could see through me like he did. "If you ask what's really on your mind, I won't have to try to figure out what you're asking."
I sighed. He made me feel so insecure, but it wasn't his fault. I don't think Gisele Bündchen could feel secure in a relationship with Sidney Crosby. "I mean, do you and the guys go out on the town? Do I have to worry about girls throwing themselves at you?"
Sid let out one of his signature high-pitched laughs, even though he knew I was seriously concerned about his female fans. "Nah. I don't like to 'play guilty.'"
"'Play guilty?' What's that?"
He laughed again, this time a little lower. "It's this thing in hockey, when guys think they can play better after 'drinking triple, seeing double, and acting single.'"
"Oh. Do the guys really do that?"
"Luckily, not a lot of the Pens think that way. In all honestly, Nelly, I hardly go out with the guys on the road, even to go out to dinner. It's too hard to go out anywhere and not get recognized, so I usually stay in the hotel, especially in the big hockey cities. And now, I have every reason to stay behind, so I can call my pretty girlfriend and talk to her all night."
"You're incredible, do you know that? I mean, you always find the right things to say. Before we met, I remember watching interviews and the games and stuff, and you seemed like such a good guy. Remember when Mike Millbury asked if you had dark side?"
He laughed again. "Yeah, how could I forget that?"
"Well, I wondered if you really could be like that."
"And what do you think? Do I live up to your expectations?"
I playfully paused and pretended to think about it. Getting impatient, Sid reached for my sides and began to tickle me. "Yes," I squealed, willing to say anything to get him to stop. I squirmed and he situated himself over me. "Stop!"
"I kind of like you like this," he smirked. "At my mercy."
When he quit tickling me long enough so I could breathe again, I coyly stated, "You know, there's more than one way to have me at your mercy." That was all he needed to hear; he kissed me, slowly at first, and then with more passion as I bucked against him, wanting to feel all of his body against me. "What do you say we go break in my bed?"
The next thing I knew, he was on his feet and yanking me off the couch, practically dislocating my shoulder in the process. I led him to my room, where we quickly shed our clothes and went at it like wild animals in heat. It's physically impossible to get enough of him. Even afterward, when I was lying sated in his arms, I couldn't help but look forward to the next time we could consummate our emotions and make love again.
The sound of a slamming car door brought me out of my reverie. "Shit," I muttered, flinging myself away from him, out of bed, and gathering up my clothes.
"My parents are home."
"You didn't tell me you invited them. I didn't know I was supposed to meet them today."
It finally dawned on him. "You live with your parents?"
I stopped my frantic dressing and gave him a look. "Hey, it's not something I'm proud of. I'm a 24-year-old professional. I should have a place of my own by now. So I'm sorry for not telling you sooner. Hurry up and get dressed."
"Shit, Nelly!" He panicked and started to put on his pants. "I wish I would have had more warning. Your friends were one thing, but now I have to impress your parents? This wasn't how I imagined meeting them."
"Me neither," I told him.
My Favorite Five (2015)
1 year ago