Mel insisted on driving us to the hotel instead of having to take a cab back. "You came to all the trouble of stopping by to see us, so why shouldn't we repay the favor?"
Colby stayed behind to get ready for his morning skate while Mel drove us to the Ritz-Carlton so I could collect my things and check out. "It was so nice to meet you, Mel. Thank you for breakfast," I said graciously.
"Oh, it was nothing. I'm glad that you were able to come down to visit. I'm so glad we were able to meet you and place a face to the girl Sid was talking about," she replied.
Sid blushed beside me. "All right, that's enough girl talk. Maybe you can come up when we host the Thrashers? And then we can have you over," he offered.
Mel smiled. "I'd like that. It would be nice to see Pittsburgh and everyone again. I love Atlanta, don't get me wrong, but I fell in love with the Burgh and everyone there."
"The girls speak very highly of you," I said of V and Heather.
When Sid and I got back to my room, I finished packing up my things. When my suitcase was zipped up and locked, I sat next to Sidney on the bed and put my hand on his knee. "So, do you think he liked me?"
"Who, Army? He likes everyone. Don't worry about it. I like you, and really that's all that matters anyway."
I felt kind of sheepish. "I just want to fit into your life," I mumbled.
"You do," he whispered, grabbing a hold of me and pushing me against the bed, but in a fun, playful manner. Sid grabbed my sides and started to tickle me.
"Please, stop!" I cried, struggling to inhale and keep my composure as he employed his torturous techniques to distract me from myself.
"Hm, that's not what you were saying last night. Or should I say, that's not what you were screaming last night."
"It's not funny," I continued to whine, fidgeting beneath him in an attempt to get away from his fiendish hands.
"I think it's funny," he laughed, relenting his attack. I scooted up toward the head of the bed, not trusting him to be finished with me yet.
"You would. Just because you don't have a ticklish spot on you, you think it's okay." My sides hurt from laughing and my lungs burned from lack of air. "But it's torture!"
Sidney laughed again. "Aw, come on, baby. You know it's all in good fun." He crawled further up the bed toward me, and I curled up in anticipation of another attack. "You act like you're afraid of me."
"I'm not afraid of you," I giggled, "I'm afraid of that look in your eye that says you're about to come at me again."
He smiled and let out a high-pitched, infectious laugh. "You know I won't hurt you. Just don't fight me."
Sid launched himself toward me, and I rolled to my side to avoid his reach, falling off the bed and landing on my tailbone in the process. I groaned and rubbed my ass, trying to massage away the pain. "Look what you did to me."
"I told you not to fight me," he chastised, leaning over the bed to see if I was okay.
I smiled to let him know I was all right. "And I told you to stop. It's all fun and games until I break my ass."
"You'd better let me check it out. You know, make sure it's okay." This time I had to bat away his way-too-friendly hands. "Aw, come on, baby."
"If you say 'aw, come on, baby' one more time, I'm gonna shove a pair of Cooke's nasty socks down your throat."
I let Sid grab my wrists and pull me to my feet. "Sorry, but are you really okay?"
"Yeah. Wish I had more padding back there," I laughed, "to cushion my falls. Kinda like yours."
"Hmm, don't wish that. I like yours just the way it is. And don't make fun of my butt."
"I'm not making fun of it, I like it," I teased, reaching around him and grabbing as much of his ass in my hands that would fit. "You really know how to fill out a pair of pants." I stood on my tip toes, gave him a peck on the nose, and then let go and walked across the room to grab my suitcase. "So, I need to go check out and head out to the airport."
"You know, I love seeing you like this, when you come into town for an away game, but we don't get to spend a lot of time together."
"Well, of course not. Half the time is spent with you on the ice and us sleeping. But don't forget that this Thursday is Thanksgiving. You can come over around nine or ten if you want to get there before the rest of my family does."
He interrupted me before I could continue. "I thought about this, and I was thinking you'd come to Wednesday's game? Spend the night, and then we'll go to your place for the big turkey dinner?"
"I could do that. But we'll have to make sure to get home early on Thursday morning. You see, my maternal grandparents will be there, my aunt, and my cousin will be there with her husband and their twin infants. So, to have some quiet time with my parents, we'll need to be there before the circus begins around noon. They'll all leave after dinner, but I don't know how late you can stay, since you've got to be in New York on Friday."
We walked out of the room, and he asked some questions about my family and what he was going to expect meeting everyone. I told him a little bit about everyone, but I knew he'd fit in smashingly so I didn't want to worry him with too many details. This was a big step for me, since he'd be meeting my grandfather—my favorite relative.
"He's the one you're going to need to impress," I warned. "He's kind of a hard ass. He was in the military, a very no-nonsense kind of guy. But as long as you're straight with him, he'll like you."
"I'm really looking forward to it, Nelly. I can't wait to get to learn more about you."
I rolled my eyes. "Then you're going to have a blast, because I'm sure they can't wait to embarrass me with stories from my youth."
"I can't wait. Because I know my mom will whip out the photo albums and show you all these horrifying pictures of me."
"I can't wait," I mocked him. "One holiday at a time, though."
We rode the elevator down to the ground floor and stepped up to the front desk. I looked around for any little kids, and if I needed to be on my best behavior. That made me a little worried, but Sidney kept talking to me and I wasn't able to put much thought into it. "So, did you decide if you're going to help Geno or not? He's been pestering me all week about this."
"Yeah. He asked me last night, before you showed up, and I told him yes. I had a feeling he wouldn't take 'no' for an answer."
"Good, I'm glad you came around to this. I promised Geno that I wouldn't let you say no to him."
I cocked an eyebrow. "You wouldn't let me say no? What's that supposed to mean?"
"What? He was really excited that you might help him. He really does want to get better at speaking English, and this is a really great opportunity for you, too."
"How do you even know that?" I didn't mean to get an attitude with him, but it just kind of happened. "How do you know what's good for me?"
"Calm down, babe," he said.
"Stop calling me that! I'm not 'babe' or 'baby,'" I grunted quietly through my teeth.
"Where is this coming from?" he asked, taking a step back. "I just think this would be good for you, good for Geno, and good for the team. There's no need to get all uppity."
I didn't apologize, but I didn't keep yelling at him either. "Just stop pushing me. I said I'd do it, but you're not helping when you think you're being encouraging. You act like I know what I'm doing, but I don't. If you keep thinking that I can do this, then you're just going to end up disappointed. I don't know how to teach English. I speak it and I read it, but I certainly don't know how to teach it."
Sid smiled, knowing that since I had backed down, that was as good of an apology as he was going to get. "You don't back down from a challenge. You're like me that way. I know you'll take this on and work through it. And you'll do great."
I paid the bill for the room with Sid's card that was under my name, and then we split a cab. The driver dropped him off at the team's hotel, and then we sped away, leaving Sidney on the curb at the main entrance. I turned around and watched through the rear window as he walked into the building.
Even though I thought about it, I don't know why I got so angry with him when he suggested how good for me this chance was. I hated how he pushed me; I didn't need that from him. I needed support, not pressure.
Maybe it was because I was getting so swept up in his world, his perfect world. Things in my life never came easy for me, and I wasn't used to opportunities just... falling at my feet. I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. But, maybe, it was time that things started going my way, for once. Maybe it was time things got a little easier for me.
My Favorite Five (2015)
2 years ago