"You're going to fire Pat?"
"Um, yes. Should that even be a question?"
I leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes for a second. Was I pissed at Pat? Hell yes. Was I sure that firing him was the best step to take? No. "Why are you going to fire him?"
"Isn't the reason obvious? Aren't you as mad at him as I am? He lied to me. As my agent, I'm not paying him to lie to me. And he's supposed to be my friend, too. Even if he was trying to do what was best for me as his client, it wasn't what was best for me as his friend."
"I don't know, Sidney. I'm mad at him, I am, but I don't know all of what happened. Maybe it was all some kind of miscommunication?"
"Then that's one huge miscommunication. Usually, you're the one telling me I'm being naïve."
"I'm not being naïve, I just feel like I'm screwing up the good thing you had. Pat's done an incredible job of making you this, like, hockey ambassador to the world."
"You didn't screw anything up. He's the one that made the mistake."
"It's just that, I know he's been there for you since you were the little hockey phenom that all of Canada was abuzz about. I mean, it's like you're breaking up with him. Like a divorce, or something."
Sidney laughed. "That is one interesting way to look at it."
"He's never done something like this to you before, though, right?"
"Not to my knowledge. I just.... I mean, I'm so angry that he would lie. He knew how much I cared about you, and he told you to leave, and then he made it seem like you left all pissed off and of your own accord. He let me thinking we were over."
"I'm sure Pat had a reason. I hate to think that you'd have to fire him and find someone brand new who will do his job just as well as Pat did, because I don't know if you can. So let's just enjoy lunch together, and then you can call him and ream him out or fire him or whatever. But, just. Oh, I don't know. Give him a chance to explain?"
"Do you really care that much?"
I shrugged. "I told you, it's just that he's been such a big part of your life since you were, like, fourteen. And he's done such a good job getting you to where you are, with your sponsors and stuff."
"You act like I had no part in earning those. I worked really hard."
I laughed and nudged him again. "Look at you, trying to take all the credit for being the NHL's poster boy. Like it has everything to do with your hard work and nothing to do with your talent and your boyish good looks. You're an agent's wet dream—you practically market yourself."
He smirked. "Boyish good looks? Try rugged and handsome."
Laughter bubbled up and I exploded into giggles. Sid shot me a look to let me know that it wasn't that funny, that it wasn't funny at all, but to me it was. He had the amazing, sexy body of a professional athlete, but his face was still so young. It made me feel like the cradle robber I was; the age difference wasn't too much of a big deal since he was so mature, but he certainly didn't look older than his twenty-two years.
"Seriously, Nelly, you can stop laughing. There's nothing funny about the way I look."
"You're right," I sighed, wiping the excess water from my eyes. "My rugged, handsome prince," I said wistfully and teasingly as I kissed him. The waitress brought over our meals, and I liked eating side-by-side with Sidney. We didn't really talk, knowing that more serious tasks were at hand. After we ate, we left the restaurant and headed back to Sid's.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket and played with it in his hands as we tried to relax and steel ourselves for the stressful situation awaiting us. We sat on the couch, my legs stretched across his lap. Sid dialed Pat's number as he rubbed my legs. I heard the line ring as Sid put it on speaker.
I wasn't going to participate in the conversation; I was only there to listen. Which was perfectly fine with me. This was between Sidney and his agent, something that Sid had to take care of. Honestly, I liked seeing him take charge of the situation. Usually, Sidney was so laid back and easy-going, eager to go with the flow as the people around him put together his schedule and handled the details. His go-with-the-flow attitude was one of the things I loved most about him. After all, that's how he could so easily calm me down when I got all neurotic. But seeing him get angry and grab the bull by the horns was... hot.
Pat answered on the first ring, as if he were waiting specifically for this call. "Sidn—"
"So, Pat, did you see the game last night?"
"Yeah, I did, Sid. Congrats on the hat trick—"
"And I'm guessing you saw who was in the stands? I'm sure they showed it on the broadcast." I felt like Geno's parents. They always showed Vladimir and Natalia whenever they came to see their son play, and they turned into local celebrities almost as famous as Evgeni himself.
Pat paused on his end of the line. The gears were turning. He knew this conversation was going to happen, but he still didn't know what to say. "Yes."
If Pat was going to continue with his explanation, Sidney didn't let him. "How could you, Pat?"
"Listen, Sid, you don't understand."
"Make me understand." When Sid said that, I tingled. It's not that I approve of anyone losing their tempers, but this take-charge Sid was seriously turning me on. I was having a hard time concentrating on the important matter currently being discussed.
"Obviously, no one was letting this go. It was clear that what we were doing wasn't going to sway public favor in your direction. Like it or not, you two needed to spend some time apart. You needed to calm down, Sidney, or else you never would have thought about this rationally. And Noelle was just too angry to allow us to be rational. When she left, and you asked where she went, I didn't have the chance to explain. You saw she wasn't around, and you jumped to your own conclusions."
Sid reddened, I think in both anger and embarrassment. "But you didn't bother correcting me."
"I know. I should have, but it just seemed easier with her out of the picture."
I was mad. I wanted to scream at Pat, but I knew to leave this up to Sid. And Sidney was more than willing to give him a piece of his mind. "Noelle is not out of the picture. She never was. Even when you let me think she left me, she weighed just as much on my mind. I played like shit because of I was worried about her, and you know it. And when I called to ask you for advice, you could have come clean about it all. Still, you didn't. Letting me think she left was in no way good for me.
"But the worst part is that you told her to leave. Forget about what's best for my career, Pat. I thought you were my friend, too. You should have been thinking about what's best for me, not my sponsors. I'm sorry, Pat, but I don't need you anymore. You're fired."
The line was silent for a long time. "Sidney, do you mean that?"
"Hell yeah, I mean it! It's time I get more hands on with this stuff. You were great for me, Pat, you truly were. When I was a kid, you knew all the right moves to help me make my name. But I don't need you to do that anymore. I don't need someone to treat me like a chess piece."
"No one out there knows you like I do, Sid. I know what you want, and how to get you what you want."
"Apparently not, because you let the only thing I want walk out the door, under your direction," he said, squeezing my calf. I had to swallow the contented sigh I wanted to let out. Mr. Perfect, at it again.
"Well, I get it now. Give me a second chance, Sid, and we'll fix this yet."
Sid looked over at me. I bit the inside of my cheek and nodded. He let out a deep breath before he continued. "I'll have you know that if this was up to me, you'd be fired. You should thank Noelle, because she's willing to overlook your major mistake."
"Thanks, Noelle," Pat sighed, somehow knowing that I was listening.
"You're welcome," I spoke up. "I have the feeling that you've never crossed Sidney before, so I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, that you just had a temporary lapse of judgment since you've never had to deal with this kind of publicity problem before."
"But I'm taking care of it," Sid said, taking over the conversation again. "I talked to Lynne, and she's going to get the reporter to issue a retraction."
"You realize that it will be a tiny blurb on page E9? No one will read that."
"It's a step in the right direction," Sid grunted. "It's better than skirting around the issue. I'm trying to get the truth out there. What's the saying, 'The truth will set you free'?"
I nodded at him, and he smiled. He was wise beyond his years.
"It's not that simple. I think you started a good thing, though. That was a great game, and seeing you in there cheering, Noelle, will do wonders for Sid now. What we should do now is—"
"No," Sidney moaned. "No more schemes. When we try to set it up to look like everything is magical and happy, it just blows up in our faces. So, no creating this façade for people to see. Things are magical and happy, we don't need to pretend. We'll just let them see the real us, and it'll be fine."
Pat didn't like the sound of it, but he agreed nonetheless to what Sid decided. Not like he had a choice—it was that, or no percentage of Sidney Crosby's hefty paycheck. Sidney made it perfectly clear that he was the one in charge now, and any slip up on Pat's end would result in his ultimate termination.
When he hung up the phone and laid down with me on the couch, I kissed his nose and teased him. "'Magical and happy'? Those were the best adjectives you could think of?"
Sid laughed at me. "Sorry, we can't all be experts on the English language like you."
"Hey, I'm no expert, but I can think of something better than 'magical and happy.' Speaking of experts on the English language, guess what?"
"Aren't you going to guess?"
"No. With you, it could be anything. Just tell me."
"Geno asked if I would help him with his English."
"Really? When did this happen?"
"Before the game yesterday. He was mad when he came into the lounge, and he was complaining about the interviews, and how people make fun of his English. Turns out, my mouthy boyfriend was apparently bragging that I was smart, so he wants me to help him."
"You are smart. I think this is a really good idea, actually. Are you going to do it?"
"I told him I'd think about it, and he thinks that means I said yes. I guess I thought his comprehension of the language was better than it really is," I laughed.
"Nelly, I really think you should do it. I mean, I bet Geno would pay for an English tutor. You could quit your job, since you hate it anyway." I tensed in Sid's arms as he said this. "What's wrong? Don't you think this is as brilliant as I do?"
"In theory, it sounds perfect. But I wouldn't charge him, I'd do it as a favor to him. And, yeah, I do hate my job, but it's not like I can just give it up that easily. It's a steady paycheck, and in this economy, I just can't give that up on a whim. Besides, I wouldn't even know how to go begin helping him. If he's willing to pay, he should be paying for a professional."
Sid leaned toward me and kissed me. "Well, it's like I told Geno. You're smart. I know you can figure it out."
Sid made it sound so easy, like I could suddenly become an amazing teacher. But thinking I could instantly become an English tutor would be the same as if any other English speaker could do the same job; without a proper background in education, how I expect to teach Geno? It seems everyone had faith in me that I could do it, but I wasn't sure. So I decided not to think about it. I placed my hands on the back of his neck and brushed my lips softly against his. "Are the doors locked?" I asked.
"I think so. Why?"
"I want to make sure we aren't interrupted this time," I answered. Between our schedules, I knew that I wouldn't get to see him again until Thanksgiving. On our last day together for practically the next two weeks, I planned on taking full advantage of him.
My Favorite Five (2015)
1 year ago