Just a Little Longer
She quickly showered and dried her hair. She decided to put her makeup on before she got into her dress. It was easier this way. At least for her. She pushed her hair back and applied mascara, kohl and a dash of lipstick. That was more than enough. The color of her lipstick would look good with her red dress. For today she’d leave her glasses at home and go with contact lenses. She didn’t do this often, but she wanted to do it tonight.
Looking at herself in the mirror, only wearing underwear, she heaved a big sigh and diverted her attention to her face again. Before she could go back to her bedroom to get the dress, though, the doorbell rang. She grabbed her dressing gown, tied it around her middle and went to the door to see through the peephole. What the hell? What was Patrick already doing here? When she opened the door she asked him.
“I know I’m early, but I didn’t want to sit around at home anymore.” He looked her up and down. This was the first time he didn’t see her in heels. And, well, only in s thin dressing gown. “Can I wait inside?”
“Fine.” She sighed and stepped back. Great. “If you want something to drink, help yourself, I need to get ready.”
As fast as possible, without making it look like she was running away from him, she made her way to her bedroom and closed the door. She had to take a deep breath before she could concentrate on the task at hand again. After untying her dressing gown, she put on the dress and zipped it up. Good that she didn’t need help with that.
Once she was dressed, she stepped in front of the mirror on her wardrobe. She rearranged her hair, put on a necklace she’d inherited from her grandmother, sprayed a little bit of perfume on her wrists and neck. The only thing missing were her shoes. She chose her favorite black pair of heels, stepped inside, grabbed her purse and joined Patrick again in the living room.
As soon as he heard her, he got up. “You look stunning!” He was only missing her glasses. She was probably wearing contact lenses, but he’d gotten so used to her glasses that he missed them now. “I hope you’re hungry, because the food is delicious there.”
“Jonathan said the same.” She put on her coat and was ready to go. Together with Patrick she left the house. His car was parked right across the street. It wouldn’t take them long to get there, but it was so cold that they both weren’t particularly fond of walking the distance.
In front of the building were a couple of reporters. Haley knew some of them, or had at least seen them somewhere before. Okay, they’d have to look like a couple and she couldn’t make a fool of herself. Patrick got out of the car before someone could open it for him. He motioned for them to leave Haley’s door for him to get as well. He offered her his hand to help her out. With a smile on her lips she got out and held onto his hand, as they walked towards the entry. Patrick didn’t answer any of the questions, which was a good choice in Haley’s eyes.
After taking of their coats, Patrick took Haley’s hand in his again and they were immediately led to their table. Jonathan and April were already seated and grinned at them.
“You look really good together,” April said.
“Thank you, so do you,” Haley retorted as she sat down. There was already wine on the table and she helped herself. It had been a while since she’d been to such a fancy event. She knew her table manners and how to be polite. All of this was off the record, so she couldn’t use any of this for work. Tonight she was one of them and she’d just try to enjoy herself.
Conversation flowed easily during courses, but Haley had big problems finishing what was on her plate. It all tasted so good, but she just couldn’t eat any more. She wasn’t used to eating this much, especially when people were looking at her and she got the feeling that Jonathan and April were looking her way more often than usual. But maybe that was just her imagination. Half of the main course was still left on her plate when she got up to go to the restroom. April got up along with her, so they went together.
Haley stood in front of one of the sinks and washed her hands. She put her now cold hands to her neck and cheeks. Maybe it was the wine that was getting to her, but she doubted it. It had been too much food for her stomach, but she couldn’t throw up here and now. She didn’t want to do it. She hadn’t puked in months, because she’d been feeling better.
“Are you okay?” April’s soft voice sounded in her ears and made her look up. “Anything I can do for you?”
“It’s just been a bit too much food. And I need a moment to myself.” The concern showing on April’s face made her sigh. “I’m not used to eating this much at once. I don’t think I’ll be able to eat the dessert.”
“Then give it to Patrick. He’ll love you for that.” April smiled and squeezed her friend’s arm. She went ahead to join the guys at the table again.
“And?” Jonathan asked, looking curiously at his girlfriend.
“She says it was too much food for her, but she looked like she might throw up.” April sighed and shook her head. “She needs a moment. If she’d not back in five minutes I’ll go back.”
Jonathan sighed. This was not good. They’d all been enjoying themselves, talking about this and that, but he’d seen that Haley hadn’t eaten much, but apparently that was already too much for her. Just when he was ready to go and look for her himself, she returned, a faint smile on her lips.
“Everything okay?” Patrick looked at her when he sat down next to him again.
April nodded at him, leaned over and pressed her lips to his cheek. “Nothing to worry about. I’m just not sure that I’ll be able to eat dessert. Do you want mine?”
That had caught him by surprise, but he agreed. Over the last course, they started talking about the upcoming games again. Stalberg was obviously missing, but they were still holding up pretty well. They’d just have to adjust to the situation until he was ready to return to the team in a few weeks. Patrick and Jonathan wanted to visit him after training one day. They’d have to check with Jane, his physiotherapist/assistant or whatever you wanted to call it.
When the evening finished, Haley had had so much wine that she started thinking too much about things she didn’t want to think about. Actually, it hadn’t been that much wine, but there had hardly been any food left in her stomach.
Patrick drove her home and walked her up to her apartment. They’d hardly said a word to each other after they’d parted ways with Jonathan and April. When she had trouble unlocking the door to her apartment, Patrick took the key from her and helped her.
“Thanks,” Haley mumbled and took off her shoes as soon as they were inside her apartment. That way the possibility of her tripping over her own two feet was not so high.
“Are you gonna be alright?” Patrick closed the door and watched her. She took off her coat, put her purse on a chair and turned to face him.
“I’ll be back in a minute.” With that she was off to the bathroom where she exchanged her contact lenses for her glasses. There, that was much better. Now she could see at least a little clearer.
“There, that’s the Haley I know.” He’d missed looking at her with her glasses on. The contact lenses were nice for a change. “The glasses look good on you.”
“You think so?” She stepped closer, not insecure because of her height. The alcohol had taken this insecurity away, but there was a different one in the room. One that made her suck in her stomach and bite her bottom lip.
“Okay, what’s wrong, Haley?” Patrick carefully wrapped his fingers around her balled fists. Slowly she looked up at him, fighting the tears that were about to break loose. “Come here.” He let go of her hands and carefully wrapped his arms around her, realizing once again how thin and fragile she was. “You know, we should really get you some food.”
Haley, who’s just leaned against his chest, raised her head so fast that it nearly connected with Patrick’s jaw. She vigorously shook her head. “No. I can’t eat any more.”
“But you should.” Patrick sighed. She couldn’t look him in the eye. “I know you might see it differently, but you need to eat healthy and gain some weight. But it might be better to talk about this tomorrow.” He put a finger beneath her chin and lifted her head so that she had to look at him. “And now you need to get some sleep. I’ll help you.”
Haley rose to the balls of her feet and kissed his cheek. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on for dear life. She didn’t even know why. Yes, she’d had too much to drink and her weight was not a topic she liked to talk about, but Patrick saying this to her, made her think. She hadn’t talked to anybody about this. Back home she’d been so busy with work, that she’d hardly had time to meet up with friends. Now that she was in Chicago there were only Duncan, Jonathan and April. And so far she’d spent most of her time at work or with Patrick.
Before she knew what was happening, Patrick scooped her up and carried her to her bedroom. “We should get you out of that dress.” He slowly let her down, turned her around and unzipped her dress. With a shocked expression Haley turned to face him, making him sigh. “Come on, Haley. I might be an asshole most of the time, but I wouldn’t force myself on a drunk or tipsy woman. I just wanted to help you.” He brushed his lips across her cheek and smiled. “Now, get some sleep.”
And with that he turned around and left her alone in her bedroom. She hadn’t thought that he would ever do such a thing, but in her current state she didn’t trust herself. With a sigh she took off her dress and fell right into bed to get the sleep she needed.