"I'm telling you, Nelly, you just need to calm down. I can feel your pulse," Sidney told me, as we got out of the cab and were walking up to the front door of the Armstrongs' house. He squeezed my hand, and I tried to squeeze back. "Your heart is racing."
"I'm sorry," I whispered. I couldn't speak any louder. "But I don't know how you can't think that this is a big deal."
He chuckled, and I resented that he could be so relaxed while I was sweating bullets. "It's... Army. I don't know what you're so worried about. The guy gets along with everyone."
I squeezed Sidney's hand even harder. "I just want him to like me. I want to fit in," I groaned, feeling like I was back in elementary school. Before he or I could say anything else, the front door flew open and I saw a tiny woman with dark brown hair beaming at us.
"Sidney! It's so good to see you again!" she said, and Sid let go of my hand to step forward and pull her into a hug.
"I haven't seen you since the wedding. How was the honeymoon?"
"Oh, good. You know, honeymoon-ish." She pulled away and fidgeted, looking at me. "Sid, aren't you going to introduce us?"
"Of course. Melissa, this is my girl Noelle. Noelle, this is Army's wife Mel."
"I'm his girlfriend," I said, smiling but speaking through clenched teeth. "Not his girl." Sid didn't understand the distinction, but I minded the way he referred to me sometimes. I held out my hand, but Mel batted it away and hugged me, too.
"It's nice to meet you," she replied with sparkling eyes. Why did I suddenly feel like I was in over my head? We were escorted into their gorgeous house and sat in their formal dining room. Mel had prepared a continental breakfast, with all kinds of fruit, juices, coffee, croissants, yogurt, and so much more. "Colby's waking up, he should be down here any minute."
Walking in on cue, Colby appeared with bedhead hair and Superman pajamas, like a twelve-year-old trapped in a twenty-six-year old's body. I did my best to suppress the giggle in my throat, but I couldn't stop the smile.
"What are you guys doing here so early?" he asked, rubbing his eye with the back of his hand. Yup, just a like a kid. "I thought you weren't going to be here until nine."
"It is nine," Mel commented, rolling her eyes.
Colby looked at me for a moment before opening his mouth again. "So you're the girl, eh?"
I looked from Colby to Sid, to back at Colby. Shrugging, I said, "I guess so."
Still unmoving, he smiled. "Nice pick, Kid. You know what they say about redheads." Sidney shook his head, and Colby continued. "You can sleep with a blonde, and you can sleep with a brunette. But you get no sleep with a redhead."
We both blushed, but Sid answered, "Yeah, that sounds about right." I punched his arm playfully. I was finally meeting one of his friends who didn't know all about our sex life, and our business was being broadcasted anyway. Couldn't I get a reprieve? But I saw how Colby brought out the goofy side of Sid, and that's why they were such good friends.
"Okay, that's enough of poking fun at our guest. Why don't you all sit down?"
"Thanks, Mel," I said, quickly taking a seat at the table and helping myself to a croissant and some Nutella, quite possibly my biggest weakness. Soo good.
I had a blast as I listened to Colby and Mel talk about how they met in Wilkes-Barre when Colby was playing for the Baby Pens, and then about how she had moved to Pittsburgh with him and later moved to Atlanta. Just another story about how distance couldn't break up the love of a hockey player and his girlfriend.
It still surprised me how Mel could follow Colby across Pennsylvania, just like Véro followed Marc-André into another country. I realized that when you truly love someone, you can easily leave behind your life for someone else. Especially when that meant allowing him to fulfill his dream. Nevertheless, I was glad that I would never be put in that position. Sidney would be able to stay in Pittsburgh for as long as he chose. He was the type of player that franchises were built around; he could play his entire career for the Penguins, as long as he decided to stay there.
After Mel finished her story, she insisted on hearing the details of how Sidney and I met. "You can't rely on the guys to get their stories straight," she reasoned. "I can't trust anything Colbs told me."
Sid rolled his eyes. "You'll love this story, because it's so unromantic and pathetic."
"It's not that bad," I reasoned. "My friend and I went out for dinner, and he happened to be at the bar. But I mistook him for the comedian Andy Samberg."
"How is that possible?" Colby asked, laughing at me and shaking his head in disbelief. "I mean, from what Sid's said about you, you're a Pens fan. And you just happen to mistake the face of the frickin' NHL for some actor on a late night comedy show?"
I laughed. "I know, it sounds stupid, right? But I guess my brain just didn't want to process that it was the Sidney Crosby that walked into my favorite restaurant. It just seemed more probable for me to meet Andy Samberg than for me to meet Sidney. Anyway, I guess it makes for a great story."
"Something to tell your grandkids," Mel joked whimsically. I giggled nervously, wanting to be polite, but what the hell was all this talk about kids and grandchildren for? It's like all I heard about this week was marriage and children. I thought I had a lot of time before this matter would have to weigh on my mind.
"Ugh, Mel, stop it," Colby added, shaking his head again. "I don't want to think about him procreating. I had to move all the way to Atlanta to get away from that huge ass of his, and it followed me here."
"Oh Army, you know you miss me," Sid chuckled.
"You're right. All those nights on the road. Just you, me, and Friends."
"Hey, now, it's better than Ellen."
"Ellen DeGeneres is a funny woman. There's nothing wrong with enjoying her show."
"No, but there is something very wrong about how you would dance in our hotel room while she danced on stage."
"How many times do I have to explain this to you? I was limbering up for the game. Let me show you," Colby offered, standing up from his chair and dancing around the table. Mel and I were practically rolling on the floor in fits of giggles and tears. Colby was a riot. "So, you must be something," he said to me after our collective laughter abated.
"I don't get it," I replied.
"Get what?" Colby asked.
"It's not a joke."
"I thought you were supposed to be funny."
"I am funny."
"Funny looking maybe," I quipped. "Speaking of your big nose, thanks for not breaking Fedotenko's hand during the game."
We all laughed, but Colby turned serious again. "I mean it. You must be something to have captured Sid's eye. And you must really be something to have captured his heart."
Mel let out a soft sigh, and Sidney said, "I see marriage turned you into a real sap, Army."
"Nah," he dismissed. "I just have to watch out for you, buddy. Make sure she lives up to the high demands of," he paused as he folded his hands under his chin and batted his eyelashes before continuing, "the Future Mrs. Crosby."
"Whatever, Army," Sid offered while rolling his eyes.
"And how am I doing?" I inquired.
"Well, let's see. First, you knocked down the Kid's ego by mistaking him for an actor and not fawning over him for being a hockey superstar. So you get points for that. Second, you're kinda hot. So, you get more points for that. And third, you're doing a pretty good job of handling the media stuff. So, I'd say so far, so good."
I leaned back against my chair and eyed him up. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
"Well, I'm putting up with you. Doesn't that count for something?"
Colby laughed, and the others chimed in, too. I was having a great time with Colby, and I think he liked me. I allowed myself to relax as we continued to joke around and enjoy each others' company. Yeah, I'd say so far, so good.
My Favorite Five (2015)
2 years ago