Just a Little Longer
And now this. The management hadn’t had the guts to talk to Patrick about this themselves, so they’d sent Jonathan. Or, as they’d put it, it would be easier for him to understand if a person close to him explained it to him.
“I’m sorry, but with everything that has been in the news about you and what people assume about you, something has to be done and these are your two options.” He could either find a girlfriend or let a reporter follow him wherever he went. Patrick still thought it was ridiculous, but he had to give them an answer the following day, otherwise his time on the ice would be limited. They couldn’t deal with someone who went to every party and ended up in the news because he was too drunk to remember a lot of things anymore. He hadn’t been drunk in a while, not even New Year’s a couple days ago, but this image still clung to him.
Patrick sat down on a nearby chair and mulled this over. He wanted to play. No, wait, he NEEDED to play, so he definitely had to do something about this. When he looked up again, Jonathan stared at him. “What do you think I should do?” It was weak, but Jonathan had always helped him.
“I don’t think a random reporter following you around is a good idea. Everything you do could end up in the paper, so that’s no good. That leaves the girlfriend.” When Patrick tried to protest, Jonathan quickly continued. “I don’t mean a real girlfriend. Just someone who’ll pretend to be your girlfriend until they calm down. Till after the playoffs or something.”
“And where can I find someone who’d actually do that?” Patrick raised an eyebrow at this. Their conversation was getting more and more ridiculous.
“A friend of mine just moved here and is working for the Chicago Tribune. That would be perfect. If she doesn’t say bad things about you as a journalist, they’ll believe it.”
“You know that this sounds crazy, right? And what makes you think that she’ll agree to that?”
“We go way back. I helped her get the job at the Tribune and I kinda saved her life when we were kids.” Jonathan looked at Patrick long and hard. “Does that mean you’ll go through with this if she agrees?”
“What else am I supposed to do?”
He had a point.
That evening Jonathan invited Haley Finton over for dinner. Since she’d moved here they hadn’t had time to meet in person, but they’d talked on the phone. She looked gorgeous with her shoulder-length, brown, wavy hair and dark brown eyes and glasses. She hadn’t changed much since he’d last seen her, but she’d shed a few pounds, not that she needed it, quite the opposite. Her smile still lit up her whole face.
“Your place looks really nice. I thought it would be a little messier.” Haley held the glass of wine in her hand after dinner and looked around. “But I’m a bit thrown off by the pink sticky notes on your fridge.”
Jonathan turned around to look at it. A tiny “oh” escaped his lips and he sighed. He’d completely forgotten about this. April had put them there with things they needed to buy, phone call messages and whatnot. He couldn’t bring himself to take them off.
“Oh.” With a start Haley realized that they must have been from April. He’d told her the short version over the phone. “Still no word from her, huh?”
“No, but I’m not giving up.”
“You never do,” she added with a smile and took a swig of her wine.
“Anyway,” Jonathan steered the conversation in a different direction. There was something he had to discuss with her, but he had to choose his words wisely. “How’s work at the Tribune going?”
“It’s really good.” She smiled again showing her dimples. “The people are nice and helpful and so far I’ve researched for really interesting articles. Thank you for your help, Jonny. They probably wouldn’t have taken me without your help.”
“I really didn’t do all that much. You’re a great journalist and they saw that.”
“Still, if you hadn’t given me that interview, I wouldn’t have had such a good shot at this job.” She let out a relieved sigh. “I really want to return the favor somehow.”
“Actually, there is something you could do for me, but it’s a huge favor.”
“Okay, spill it!” She was still smiling. Jonathan didn’t know if she’d think that he was crazy or think that it was some sort of joke, but he had to ask her. It was for the sake of the team and Patrick of course.
And so he explained the whole situation to her. She knew who Patrick Kane was, because of the news and all the stories Jonathan had told her. So she also knew both sides of him. The one displayed in the media, and the one Jonathan and his teammates knew. He knew what he was asking of her, but he also knew that she could do it. She’d gather a lot of information on Patrick she could use for articles and stuff, but she wouldn’t do that without his consent. She hadn’t done this with Jonathan in all these years and there was some pretty interesting stuff she knew about him.
“We really need help with this and I know I can trust you.”
“I’ll do it.” Haley said with a smile that wavered for a moment. “After all you’ve done for me, I’d love to help you for a change.”
“Are you serious? You’ll have to spend a lot of time with Patrick and you’ll be in the newspapers and whatnot.” Jonathan looked intently at her. He was grateful for her help, but she had to be sure that she wanted to go through with this.
“No matter whether I’ll like him or not, I think we can pull this off. I can manage a couple dates out in the city and so on. It’ll be fun.”
She had a point. Jonathan’s shoulders sagged in relief. That was one problem solved. He would tell the management in the morning, so that they could leave Patrick alone. And then Patrick had to meet Haley for the first time.