Be calm. This isn't high school. Everyone will love you.
I took a couple deep breaths as I pulled up to the arena, which housed my new office. Today was my first day as Director of Player Communications and Media Relations, and I was so nervous. More nervous than I got on the first days of a new semester or when I gave some cute guy my phone number and waited to see if he'd call. I knew a lot of the people I'd be around, but still. First days are always nerve-wracking.
Despite the anxiety that this was creating havoc in my stomach, I was so thankful to start this job. Not just because of the general awesomeness of the position, but because if I had to spend any more time in Sidney's house without him, I'd positively burst. It only took me two days to unpack all of my things and distribute my stuff with Sid's throughout the various rooms, but our things didn't seem to be meshing. Like it was a forced amalgamation of our possessions that really didn't belong together. There was his stuff, and there was my stuff; nothing was ours. Not to mention that everywhere I looked, despite my things being there too, I only saw his stuff. His stuff that reminded me that he wasn't around and I was alone in this big building with no one to keep me company and nothing better to do than be lonely and miserable while I missed him.
So needless to say, getting back to work was going to be a great distraction for me. After reassuring myself that yes, everyone would love me and today would be great, I walked down the hallway, following the directions Mario gave me. The click-clack of my heels echoed off the walls, making it sound like a herd of stiletto-clad models were following me. An older woman poked her head out of a doorway. "Noelle? We've been expecting you."
I followed her as she darted around a few desks and led me into a small, windowless room with a desk, a lamp, and two chairs. "This will be your office." She handed me a large, interoffice mail envelope. "This is the new hire paperwork. You can hand it to me when you're finished. Mario also left you a note in there. If you have any questions, just let me know." She smiled and left me alone, and that's when I realized I didn't catch her name. Really, I don't think she told me her name. Oh well.
Plopping into my chair behind my desk, I looked around the room. Definitely needed some personal touches, like pictures and trinkets and junk like that. I never did it at my legal assistant position because I knew it was temporary. But this? I could fall easily into this position until it was time for me to retire. Or die.
I pulled out all the paperwork that I needed to fill out. So many forms. Direct deposit, new hire, insurance application, time sheets.... It was going to take most of my morning just for this. I pulled out a pen and got to it, writing out my social security number so many times that I worried I was transposing the numbers. I hated this type of hoop-jumping, but it's not like I had anything better to do anyway, because the boys would be returning from their road trip today. Mario gave me the day to get get acclimated before meeting with him after lunch.
It took me two hours to fill out everything they had given me, including a request to do a background check with the police. After that, I waited until I could take my half hour, paid lunch break. With nothing on my mind, I fantasized about how I would decorate my little nook. Definitely a couple of pictures. Maybe I could actually get some use out of that expensive piece of paper and hang my diploma on the wall!
As I was lost in thought, I heard a knock my door. I looked over, reluctant to be pulled out of my thoughts, to see Sidney with his arms full.
"Sid! I didn't expect you guys to be back so soon!" I started to get out of my seat to help with the bags in his hands, but he stopped me.
"I wanted to take in the sight of you in your own office. Pretty impressive, Ms Lambert," he teased, referencing the nameplate on my office door. "We landed a little bit ago, and I thought I'd bring you lunch on your first day."
"That's really sweet of you," I told him as my cheeks flushed. "What did you bring?"
"I stopped for Chinese. Sweet and sour chicken okay?"
"Sounds good." My mouth was already salivating. "What else do you have there?" I asked, noticing a blue package tucked between his arm and his side.
"Oh," he said with a slight blush. "I brought you a little 'office-warming' present."
"I know, I know, I didn't have to do it. But you may change your mind once you open it."
I bit my lip as I accepted the poorly wrapped package. I loved Sid dearly, but he couldn't wrap if his life depended on it. Fighting through the tape, I finally ripped away a corner of the paper to reveal the box underneath. "Oh, this is awesome. A digital picture frame. It's perfect!"
"Open it," he told me. "I already loaded the pictures on for you."
A grin broke out across my face. Ever the thoughtful one. I pulled out the frame and turned it on, watching five different images fade across the LCD. First, the screen displayed the picture of us in the sand at the volleyball court, when I nudged him and he fell to the ground taking me down with him. Second was another picture of us that had ended up on the internet, of us kissing and dirty dancing at Diesel, the night of the season opener, when we forgot who we were and that we weren't alone on the floor. The night I agreed to officially be his girlfriend. That night was incredible.
The third image to appear on the screen was a picture of us taken by his mother at Christmas. He was wearing his Reebok tie, and I was in my new blue cashmere sweater that his parents had given me. Our bodies were facing each other but our heads were turned to the camera, smiling and posing, and my left hand was stretched across to his chest, the bracelet he had given me in full sight, glinting in the light of the flash. That faded away to a simple close-up of Sidney's beautiful face. His pink, full lips were drawn into his classic half smile, his golden-flecked eyes were clear and peering into my soul, and some of his soft, brown curls fell over his forehead. He was so gorgeous; I could have spent the rest of my day taking in the sight of that picture, but it, too, gave way to one last image.
The last picture he had uploaded was the one that started it all: he and I at Diesel, the night of our serendipitous meeting. He had promised me a picture when we had first met, and this was Sidney fulfilling his promise to me. We were in that standard couple pose, foretelling our own future with our posture. When I showed him the picture after I had taken it at the club, he asked for a copy, and that started our correspondence. Sure, we had met in that restaurant by my house, but it wasn't until he spotted me at the club and invited me up to the V.I.P. lounge and we really talked that our relationship started.
In the time it took for the digital frame to rotate through all five images, I had gone through the course of our relationship. Water spilled over from my eyes and onto my cheeks.
"Those are happy tears, aren't they?" Sid whispered.
I looked him and smiled sweetly. "More than happy. Have I ever told you how perfect you are?"
He shrugged and grinned back at me. "Not today."
"I mean it. This is great, Sidney, I truly appreciate it," I told him as I stood the picture frame next to my computer screen, so I could easy look at the pictures when I wanted to.
We dug into our lunches, eating at my desk. This was great. I loved the simplicity of the moment, of talking and sharing our day. I told him all about my morning, which was brief and uninvolved, and he told me some tales of what happened on the road while he had been away. Things were good.
After we had eaten, I threw away our empty containers, and then Sidney grabbed my hand. "So, this is a nice little office. Is it soundproof? Do you have privacy back here?"
I shrugged at him. "I don't know, I've only been here for a few hours. And I've had the door open, but no one's been back here to bother me." Then I gave him a look. "Why?"
"You have some time left on your lunch break, don't you? I figured we could close the door, and you know...." He waggled his eyebrows.
"You're such a horn-dog," I whispered with a chuckle.
"Oh, come on. Don't tell me you've never thought about it," he said, pulling my arm until I was right next to him, our bodies almost touching, and breathing into my ear. "Swiping everything off the top of your desk. I can just hike up your skirt. I bet you aren't wearing any underwear, are you? I don't see any panty lines."
I felt his hand reach around and grab my ass, pulling me against his crotch. Oh lord, I was going to get fired on my first day for having sex in my office. "Sid..." I whimpered, trying to protest but also acquiescing. I had turned his name into both a yes and a no.
Luckily, I heard the footsteps before that person made it to my door. I pushed Sid away from me and tried to compose and settle myself for my visitor. Sidney turned with a slight scowl on his face, and we both saw Mario as he appeared in the threshold of my office.
"Hello, Noelle. Hey, Sid, this is a surprise. But I guess I should have expected to find you here," he added with a chuckle. We both greeted him, and he continued, "Are you ready to get together to discuss our plans?"
"Sure..." I hesitated at what to call him. When we were first introduced, he told me to call him Mario. But now that I was working for him, should I address him as Mr. Lemieux?
"Meet me up in my office in about five minutes, and we'll get everything sorted out."
"Of course. I'll see you in a few," I told him, and I let out the deep breath I had been holding as he turned and left. I shot a playful glance in Sid's direction. "Way to go, hot shot. You want my boss to catch me in a compromising position on my first day?"
"You think that was compromising?" He quipped back with a smirk. "Compromising would be bending you over that desk—"
"Oh, and Sid?" Mario interjected, poking his head back into my office. I was sure I turned as red as a Team Canada jersey. "Nathalie said you owe her a night of babysitting? I don't know what that means, but she told me to tell you."
Sidney and I burst into laughter once Mario was gone again. It was a sign: we'd never be able to have sex in my office. Which is probably for the best; I'd never be able to get any work done if I thought about Sidney's hot body every time I set foot into this room.
"So, what was that about?" I asked him as I gathered a notebook and a pen, so I could conference with Mario about which players I'd be focusing on and what I had in store for them.
"Oh, nothing. It was a bet we made a couple months ago. I lost, so I owe her a night of watching the kids. They don't even really need to be babysat at this point, Nathalie just feels better having an adult there."
"So, what were the terms of your bet?"
"Nothing," he said, looking away. "I should get going—"
"Hey, wait, aren't you gonna tell me?"
"Because it involved you." When he said that, I kept my eyes focused on him, willing him to just tell me. "Okay. Nathalie bet me that you were going to move in with me before the end of the year, and I said no way it would happen in oh-nine."
I crinkled up my nose. "She really said that?"
"Yeah. Funny, huh? Anyway, I guess I should let you get to your big meeting," he said, teasing me slightly but also feeling proud of me, too. It's like the way I feel about him after he makes a big goal or does something else that's amazing on the nice. "So, I'll see you when you get home?"
"Yup," I told him. I really liked the sound of that. Coming home to Sidney.
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