I'm going away for the weekend for a wedding, but I am scheduling Ch.5 to post on Sunday morning, so keep an eye out for it!!
This is a song I heard on Pandora while writing the Chapter and I thought it fit so perfectly...
This is the last song that I write while still in love with you
This is the last song that I write while you're even on my mind
'Cos it's time to leave those feelings behind
This is the last song that I write while you're even on my mind
'Cos it's time to leave those feelings behind
Oh, 'cos blue skies are coming
But I know that it's hard
But I know that it's hard
“Way to go Nealer! Score for you and the college chick!” Max clapped me hard on the back. “She looks familiar though…” he said thoughtfully, probably wondering if she was one of the many he had hooked up with throughout the ‘burgh.
I shrugged my shoulders and walked with them towards the center. We were having a morning skate in lieu of our first game of the season. “She’s the girl from Diesel the other week…” I informed them unwillingly, but I knew that if I didn’t give them some of the 411, they would be harassing me even worse.
“You should invite her to the game tonight!” TK spoke up excitedly.
“No. Truthfully, I don’t think she even knows that I’m a hockey player.”
“Oh, well that could be fun then,” Max winked and elbowed me. “Sometimes it’s better when they have no clue about hockey, that way they don’t feel the need to console you or get all emotional when you lose a game or play bad.”
Actually it was one of the things I missed most about Hanna. She knew when to console me or when to give me my space. She was also knowledgeable enough that we could have intelligent conversations about the game and I didn’t have to worry about her being all nervous around the guys because she didn’t look at them any differently. The girls I had dated that had no clue or interest about hockey really got weird around the guys and the one ended up becoming way too into the sport because she ended up banging one of the guys from the away team one night. For right now I didn’t really care. I just didn’t think it would hurt to go out on a date and have someone new to talk to, despite the simple fact that there was probably only one woman I wanted to talk with but I ended that and I had moved on.
I met James’ brother, Michael about a month ago when the Texas Stars came up to
to play a game. He surprisingly just walked up and introduced himself to me, despite the fact that Andrew and JP were standing there glaring at him. I quickly walked Michael down the hall to get out of ear shot and eye sight from my protective boys. Glen Falls
We made short small-talk, I asked how his parents were and he asked me how the job was going. He made a comment about wishing he had gotten to know me in
because he had heard so much about me from his mom and from James. I thanked him, wished him luck on the game and we said our goodbyes. My heart clenched a bit seeing some of the familiar facial features I had imprinted into my brain, but I wasn’t left much time to dwell on it because my name was being yelled over the radio to get up to the media room to fix a computer that one of my interns seemed to have messed up. Life was moving on and so was I. Dallas
“I’m still not totally sure about this…” I whined, biting my lip as I watched Mike put my suitcase in the back of his truck.
“You said that the front office was okay with it,” he reminded me with a reassuring smile. “Plus, we are giving you the room in the basement, which is the largest out of all the rooms!”
The front office did okay the move. It was amazing how lax this management was compared to
. When they said I was allowed to basically fraternize with the team, they meant it. However, I was still hesitant. This was my job, not some play time. These were the same words I told Mike when he came to me with his offer a couple days ago. He, JP, Andrew Rowe and Benny Holstrom had a huge house they rented and shared on the upper-side of the town and they all insisted that I move with them so that I didn’t have to live in the hotel or an apartment “all by my lonesome.” The first month and a half of the season had trucked full steam ahead and already a couple of the guys were bouncing back and forth between the big club. Mike and Benny being two of them. Dallas
“I’m fairly sure this is all a ploy to have a woman do all your cooking and cleaning for you,” I laughed.
“Shit, you figured it out before we moved you in!” Mike poked at me before grabbing my hand to pull me towards the passenger side of the truck. He opened the door and helped me in. It had a decent lift-kit with no step bar, so he always felt the need to help me. “You better have something planned for dinner because I’m starving!” he exclaimed cheerfully with his blue eyes sparkling playfully.
I was learning that Mike was an amazing mix of James and Matt. He was a fun guy who loved to make me smile and laugh like Matt, yet there was this seriousness and goal oriented side of him that caught my attention and of course that side reminded me of James. Mike and I were quickly becoming very close. “If your starving, then you better stop at McDonalds before we go home because my cooking skills are seriously lacking,” I frowned.
“Guess we’ll have to fix that. I grill up some mean fish dinners,” he grinned while buckling his seatbelt and starting the truck. “I’ll teach you some tricks so you can be the next Betty Crocker.”
This comment just made me snort and shake my head. “Yeah, okay Julia Child.”
It was obvious Mike was pulling my leg when we stepped in the front door of my new home because the smell of steak on the grill filtered in through the open windows at the back of the house and the place was decorated with streamers that were hung terribly. Normally the crey-paper streamers were supposed to be twisted into pretty spirals, but that was not the case as they hung droopily from the wooden rafters in the renovated barn/house. There was also a poster with “Welcome Home Hanna!” written in decent block letters. Tears began welling up in my eyes as I stood there looking at the picture before me. I had definitely made the right decision.
“Hanna Banana!” Rowe called out from the back porch. Get your ass out here and drink a beer with us! You need to be put through the proper hazing!”
A couple hours later I was feeling good, lying out on the couch, laughing my ass off at the boys as they showed me their Rock Band skills they honed last summer while living together after they were signed by the Flyers. “This is quite the party entertainment!”
“Don’t expect private concerts every night,” Benny smiled, poking me with his drum stick.
“Yeah, make sure you always have at least 3-4 drinks in you before they start playing because they usually sound terrible,” JP chirped as he lay on the other couch across from me. He was the only one in the house that wasn’t apart of the band. He claimed it was because his skills were too exceptional and he didn’t want the other guys to look bad. Mike said it was because his older brother was just plain old terrible.
“I think Hanna should sing!” Mike suddenly announced. “In fact I have the perfect song for you!” he exclaimed, pulling me up off the couch as I protested loudly.
“I don’t sing!” I protested adamantly.
“Liar! You were signing this song the day JP and I stopped in your office…” Mike argued. Before I know it the microphone is in my hand and I’m belting out Undo It. A Grammy award would definitely be the next goal on my bucket list.
“Oh wow,” Shelly breathed, blushing a little as it became obvious she was thrown off course a bit when I announced I was a hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins. We were eating dinner at a quiet Italian place near the Duquesne Incline. “I guess I should have known, but I don’t watch sports…”
“It’s okay,” I smiled over at her, still debating if this even had some sort of chance of being more than random dates. She was a pretty girl and very nice, but she wasn’t Hanna. However, no woman was going to be Hanna except for Hanna and this was a fact I was just going to have to accept. I think the worst apart about this deal was I was acting like Hanna was dead when in reality she was living, breathing and possibly kissing another man at the moment. Of course I liked to entertain the idea that she too was constantly thinking about me and constantly dialing my number and hitting end before it could connect.
I called Shelly a week after we had met up in the coffee shop. I was feeling overly lonely and was tempted to call Hanna, so instead I thought it wise to call Shelly instead. Luckily she didn’t seem to put off by the fact that it took me a week to contact her and she also didn’t seem to have a problem with my aloofness. We had been on a few dates before this one, but I found out quickly her school schedule was a little crazy, coupled with my own. So it was slightly troublesome finding a night or two free at the same time. “Have you ever been to a game?” I asked, getting back to the task at hand. She shook her head no. “Well then I guess I’ll have to get you to one,” I smiled.
“I would like that a lot,” she smiled broadly back.
A few hours later I found myself standing outside of her apartment building, ending another nice evening together and already planning our next date. I probably shouldn’t have planned another one because I was still on the ledge of uncertainty, but instead I made myself dive head first. We were at the awkward moment of the goodbye where you don’t know if you should just walk away. Shelly was just about ready to turn away when I grabbed her hand to get her attention.
“I really had a nice time tonight,” I said softly, leaning closer with each word. She met me halfway and kissed me hard. Her lips were soft and she tasted like the after dinner mint we had been given, yet something was totally off kilter with it all but I allowed her to wrap her arms around me and pull me in. I needed something to help me forget and there was something in the kiss that told me she was feeling the same way. So why couldn’t this work out? We were both what seemed to be similar situations and we both needed to move on.
The next morning I woke up confused in a small bed before realizing that Shelly was lying in the crook of my arm, still sound asleep. It was an awkward night of hushed cries and cold touches, but in the end we both fell asleep probably dreaming of what we couldn’t have.
“I’m impressed with your snowboarding skills, Richards!” Mike called, stopping next to me at the bottom of the mountain, spraying me with the fresh powder. I was excited to find that one of the perks of living here was the close proximity of the ski slopes. It wasn’t
, but it quenched my thirst for feeling the cold air in my lungs while flying down a mountain of snow. Plus, the Catskills had their own distinct picturesque beauty. Colorado
“Do you forget that I lived in
for the better half of 4 years?” I raised an eyebrow. Colorado
“I try to forget because I’m just a little bummed that you were in my home state that whole time and I never met you until now,” he answered honestly. I was a little taken back by the comment, trying to figure out if I was supposed to take that as him hitting on me or not.
I just laughed the comment off and shook my head. It wasn’t the first time he had made a similar remark and it wasn’t the first time that I found the butterflies in my stomach when he spoke like that. I was attracted to Mike but for once I found myself afraid to take the step in letting the attraction be known. With James, I was open and more than forward, but seeing where being that open got me, I wasn’t planning on being so cavalier this time around. It probably didn’t help that I still thought of James more than I probably should have.
Too often I was watching or listening to Penguins games, just to catch a glimpse or hear information about him. That had cooled off though since I moved into the house. The boys kept me busy and I was learning how to rot my brain away with movies and video games.
“I still don’t understand how you haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies!” I exclaimed as Mike literally came waltzing into my room later that night with a huge bowl of popcorn and a bag Hershey’s Drops, on which my attention immediately diverted to. “Oh my gosh! Those are my favorite!” I squeaked, quickly clambering to the edge of the bed to snatch them from his hands.
He spun around and stuck his ass in my face, standing just far enough away that I couldn’t reach him or the sacred bag of chocolate. “Uh, uh, uh! You will be sharing them. I found them and I remembered seeing you get all happy about them on the last road trip when Backlund had them on the back of the bus. So I figured you might want some, but I want some too.”
“I will share…”
“I want more than just a few,” he frowned playfully, knowing me all too well.
He handed me the bowl of popcorn and I slid myself back against the headboard and propped against the pillows. Some of the guys were out for the night; JP’s girlfriend was with him upstairs, so Mike and I decided to have a movie night when we got back from the slopes.
“Sunshine, daisies, butter, mellow; turn this stupid fat rat yellow!” I recited in perfect Weasley English.
“I swear if you are going to recite all the movies, there will be issues,” Mike proclaimed with a mouthful of popcorn.
“Whatever, it cannot be as bad as you and Rowe reciting every line of the Simpson’s movie in unison at the top of your lungs!”
“But we do all the voices…” he pouted.
“You’re just jealous.”
I snorted, “Okay, I don’t know of what though. I mean, I live with you guys. So I have to smell your stinky asses constantly, clean up after you all, hear noises that a girl never wants to even think about hearing from hot guys, and then dealing with all the sexual harassment that would probably get people fired and put in jail. So seriously, there is definitely nothing to be jealous or envious of except for maybe a girl’s night out.”
“So are you sorry you moved in with us? Does all that stuff bother you?” he asked worriedly.
I tried to act like it bothered me, but I couldn’t help but letting a smile escape. “Nah, it’s like living with my brothers that I miss a ton,” I said quietly.
“Do you really think I’m hot?” Mike’s eyebrows shot up with the most adorkable puppy face.
I pushed him back, “I said hot guys; I didn’t say who!” I rolled my eyes, trying not to let the secret out through my eyes. Mike had gotten very good at reading my thoughts.
“Oh come on Hanna…Do you think I’m seeeeexy?” he drew out like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality while moving closer to me. “Do you want to kiiisss me?” he joked while attempting to move over top of me as I tried to squirm away from him, but it was impossible because I couldn’t stop laughing hysterically.
“Get off of meeeeee!” I squealed.
“Do you want to looooove me?” he asked, finally capturing me and pinning me to the bed by straddling my hips. “Because I think you’re beautiful and I’ve wanted to kiss you since you stood nervously in front of us at our team meeting,” he finished seriously, his blue eyes staring deep into mine.
“How could you tell I was nervous?” I asked quietly, trying not to smile and trying to ignore the rush of emotion I was feeling bubbling through my whole body.
“Because your brow furrows slightly, like it’s doing right now,” he answered softly, brushing his fingertip across the crease to prove his point. “It’s cute.”
I was going to say something else, but I didn’t know what and I didn’t have time as he leaned down and softly kissed my lips. It wasn’t an invading kiss, it was just a sweet (and salty from the popcorn) kiss that probably was probably inevitable. I, however, denied it until the moisture of his lips left the proof on mine.
Mike pulled back and carefully evened his weight on my thighs while he looked intently at me. We sat staring at each other for a bit before he broke the silence. “Will you share your Hershey’s Drops with me, Hanna Richards?”
“I guess since you’ve asked so nice, you can have more than one,” I grinned. He leaned in and kissed me again, this time he nibbled at my lip, coaxing me to open my mouth to him, which I obliged after the 3rd nip. Again he wasn’t demanding, but I enjoyed the slow, languid strokes he took with his tongue as he familiarized himself with my mouth. He pulled back to end it again with a please smile on this face. I smiled back, telling myself I had to be careful and take this slow. I couldn’t even begin to compare the kisses we shared to the kisses I shared with James. It wouldn’t be fair. Mike and James were two different guys and my feelings for them came from opposite sides of the spectrum. I had a lust for James that drew me to him. Mike became my friend first. His kisses made me feel comfortable and made me realize that life sometimes held more options than it sometimes advertised.