I Let You In, Now What?
It’s a week into the preseason and the team is looking great so far. They are definitely showing their depth with all the younger players once again. Some of us hockey ladies came to watch practice today and the team is currently going hard with drills.
“We totally got it this year,” I say confidently.
Katie nods and adds, “The guys are out for blood and redemption.”
“Pat was beyond pissed after losing in the first round.It was a total upset,” Stefanie mentions.
“All the guys were furious, mostly at themselves. They have a lot to prove this year,” Sheena says as we turn our attention back to the hockey players sprinting by.
I remember how heated Adam had been. For a good solid week, all he could talk about was what he could have done differently. You don’t really know how hard hockey players take the playoffs until you see it firsthand.I knew Adam and Dougie cared, that was one of many reasons why I love hockey, but I just didn’t know the whole extent of it.It had been a little overwhelming. Katrina moves to sit between myself and Tatiana.
She nudges my shoulder, “So rumor has it you’re meeting the parents on game day.”
I sigh heavily, “You heard right, and the closer it gets the more nervous I am.”
“I don’t know why you are so nervous, though. Adam’s parents are good people, and you’re amazing,” Stefanie comments.
“Yeah,” Katrina starts, “they won’t be like Looch’s parents when they first met Brittany. They thought she was just a gold digger. Adam’s parents will actually give you a chance.”
My eyes widen in surprise, “You’re kidding?!”
Tatiana chuckles, “We wish, but no it was rough for the two of them for a while because of that. Brittany proved them wrong though and clearly everyone is happy.”
“Speaking of Britt,” I say and change the subject slightly, “Has anyone talked to her today? How’s Valentina?”
“She’s doing better, poor little thing,” Sheena answers.
Katie shakes her head, “Having the flu is bad enough for anyone, but for a little baby to have it during the summer? That’s just unfair.”
None of us disagree with that.Honestly, I’m surprised Looch can even concentrate on the ice right now. His daughter should be well again soon though.
Katrina looks down at her phone briefly then back towards the ice, “Hey Naomi, have you seen Claire lately? I thought she’d be here today, too.”
“I haven’t actually, which is odd, but Dougie says she’s been really busy with schoolwork and the internship,” I reply.
“Wait, isn’t her internship with the foundation you work for? How have you not seen her?” Stefanie wonders.
I laugh, “She is interning in a department I don’t have any contact with at this moment. I’m working on a specific project to get a completely new fund up and running. Claire is with general management.”
“I’d like to see them try to manage you,” Katie jokes.
I toss her a look, “Bitch please, I gave them a whole new way to help cancer survivors and it’s raking in the funds. Management not necessary.”
That gets a good chuckle out of the girls. Soon practice is over and we head out to meet up with our sweaty significant others to head home. As I’m waiting by the car I get a text.
Steph: I miss you!
Me: Miss you too hun.Your new job must be demanding, haha.
Steph: You have no idea, lol.What are you up to Wednesday?
Me: Nothing besides work, why?
Steph: Meet Jen and I for dinner and drinks?
Me: Hell yes! How does 6 sound at BOND sound?
Steph: Sounds perfect! See you then girl.
Me: Can’t wait.
It’s only two days into my work week and I’m already wishing it was Wednesday night. We are getting closer to the project launch and everything needs to be almost perfect. There has to be sufficient funding already in existence before the banquet in November. That’s not what has me stressed out, though because we’re almost there. The selection process of who gets the funding must be fool proof. The people of Boston will be our trial run before taking it to the state legislature. I don’t want to fail those that need our help. I’m heading to a meeting about the process when I see Claire briskly walking down the hallway.
“Claire! Hey Claire, hold up a second,” I practically scream.
She wasn’t that far away that she couldn’t hear me calling her name.
She finally stops and turns to me, “Hi Naomi, what’s up? I’m kind of on my way to get Mr. Berkley a coffee.”
I smile, “That man loves his caffeine.I won’t keep you long .I just wanted to see how you were doing. We haven’t talked or hung out in weeks it seems.”
“Yeah I know, I’m sorry,” she says quickly, “but we’ll do something soon. I’ll call you.”
“Well, tomorrow…” I try to tell Claire about dinner with Steph and Jen.
She cuts in, “Look I really need to go get that paperwork Berkley asked for. He said it’s urgent.”
I raise my eyebrow as she takes a few steps back down the hallway, “I though you said he needed coffee.”
“I, um, well,” she stammers, “he needs both, but he doesn’t like me telling other people about work stuff.”
“Oh okay. I’ll talk to you later then,” I reply not the least bit convinced, but let her go.
The next day I find myself still dwelling on that encounter and rubbing my temples in a vain attempt to relieve the stress. What the hell is going on with that girl? I swear she’s just avoiding everyone, but her boss.
My work phone rings shaking me from my thoughts, “Good afternoon, this is Naomi Connors.”
“Hello Naomi Connors, has anyone ever told you that you have the sexiest phone voice,” Adam croons.
I laugh, “I get that from time to time.What’s up babe?”
“Just got home from practice,” he replies, “I wanted to let you know I’m going out for a team dinner tonight in case you get home before me.”
“Fat chance of that considering I’ll be out with Jen and Steph,” I comment.
Adam chuckles, “Good point.”
“Is Dougie going tonight too,” I ask.
“Yeah,” he answers, “we were able to get the majority of the team to go finally. Why?”
I sigh, “Because Claire’s been acting really weird lately and I’m wondering if they had a fight or something.”
“I can use my subtlety skills to see if anything is going on,” Adam agrees.
“I’m pretty sure you’re the only person I know that is actually subtle,” I mention off handedly.
“That’s because I’m awesome,” he jokes, “but I’m going to go take a nap while I still can. I’ll see you later baby. Love you.”
I smile, “Love you too.”
I hang up and turn my attention to paperwork that will hopefully keep me busy until I leave in two hours.
“Can we get three kamikaze shots and three bud lights, please,” Jen orders just as the server gets to our table.
My jaw drops, “Jesus woman, it’s only Wednesday. I have work in the morning.”
She giggles, “Don’t worry girl. We just need that one round for a proper celebration.”
“What are we celebrating,” Steph asks cautiously.
It seemed like just yesterday that the two of us were picking Jen up off the ground after her relationship with the married man imploded. She thankfully recovered gracefully, albeit, in her own time.
“I got accepted into Northeastern’s PhD program for psychology,” Jen answers beaming with pride.
“Oh my god, that’s amazing,” I exclaim.
Steph grins and adds, “Congratulations! I am so proud of you.”
“Thanks guys,” Jen says, “I can’t believe I made it this far, especially after the David fiasco. I don’t think I could have gotten through that without my two best friends.”
I take hold of one of Jen’s hands, “Don’t short change yourself. You are a strong, intelligent, and kickass woman. You are capable of anything.”
The drinks arrive and Steph leads the toast, “To Dr. Jennifer Monroe!”
“To the doctor,” I cheer and we knock back the shots.
“So I have some news too, kind of,” Steph mentions a little later as we’re finishing up dinner.
I lean into her personal space as far as I can, “Do tell.”
“Creep,” Jen comments at my antics and we all have a good chuckle.
“Well,” Steph starts, “I have a date Friday night with this guy Brian I met at a company event a week or so ago. He’s a real estate agent and drop dead gorgeous.”
“We expect full detail of said date come Sunday,” Jen orders just as the server drops off the check.
“Holy shit,” I say suddenly, gazing towards the entrance.
Jen gives me a ‘wtf’ look, “What’s your issue?”
I get out my phone, “Claire just walked inside arm-in-arm with her boss at the foundation, Michael Berkeley.”
“No way,” Steph and Jen say in unison and turn in that direction.
Steph turns back to notice my phone is in front of my face, “Are you videotaping?!”
“Yes,” I reply simply, “Something weird has been going on. Claire basically dropped off the grid like a week or two into the semester and internship. She’s been avoiding the WAGs, me, and even Dougie to a point claiming she is just overloaded with school and work. Then yesterday I stopped to try and talk to her in the hallway at work and she lied straight to my face. I don’t even think she realized it was a horrible one either.”
“Maybe they are just friends or here for business,” Steph attempts to argue in favor of the younger girl.
“Or maybe she’s cheating on one of my best friends with her 40 year old boss,” I say in horror as Michael gives Claire an extremely French kiss once they’re seated in a booth.
Jen turns back to me, “Please tell me you got that all on video?”
I nod my head, “I got that plus the canoodling and groping that’s going on right now.”
“This is disgusting. Let’s go,” Steph exclaims throwing down money and heading to the door as we follow behind her.
Adam’s waiting for me in my apartment when I get home.I’m not looking forward to sharing this video with him.
“Hey you, how was dinner with the girls,” he greets with a kiss as I curl up next to him on the couch.
“Enlightening,” I reply, “How was the team dinner? Did you get a chance to talk to Dougie?”
He tucks me in closer and rests his chin on the top of my head, “It was fun. We kept the talk light with the season looming closer. I talked to him, but he didn’t have very much to say. Just that school and her internship have taken up a lot of her time. I guess her boss, Mr. Berkley, keeps her late a lot.”
“Oh he keeps her late alright,” I say with a little venom.
“What was that comment for,” Adam asks taken aback by my tone.
I sit up and grab my phone off the coffee table, “That comment was for what I saw tonight while out with Steph and Jen.”
I bring up the video and hand the phone over to him to watch. I don’t need to see it again. Adam places the phone back on the table once the video is done, and he sits stunned to silence for a bit.
“What the fuck,” he finally speaks.
“My sentiments exactly,” I respond still just as outraged.
He scrubs a hand across his face, possibly trying to erase what he just saw, “We have to tell Dougie.”
“I know,” I agree, “and I have to deal with Berkley because that’s against company policy. We don’t need this kind of thing so close to a fund launch.”
“Dougie doesn’t deserve this shit. Why would Claire do this to him? I thought they were happy and in love,” Adam says sounding very distraught.
I pull him against me, “And I bet Dougie still thinks that too.I never would have expected her to do something like this, but people aren’t always what they seem.”
He pulls me into his lap and I rest my head on his shoulder. We stay like that for a while, both lost in thought. I know it is killing Adam that he has to basically break Dougie’s heart, and the idea hurts me too. We don’t have a choice, though, unfortunately.
“Look,” I say coming up with an idea, “I had planned on working from home tomorrow so we could spend the day together since you don’t have practice or anything, but I’ll go in first thing in the morning to talk to HR. I need to show them the video and get this problem eradicated quickly. Claire and Michael’s actions could put the foundation’s credibility in jeopardy. As soon as I get home from that, we’ll both go talk to Dougie. Does that work?”
Adam nods, “It’s going to have to. God damn she is a fucking skank. Why did she have to cheat on him? Why couldn’t Claire have just ended it with Doug? It’s not like he’s been paying for everything and they really haven’t seen each other in a while.”
“I don’t know babe.I just don’t fucking know,” I say frustrated.
I will find out though because no one hurts my friends and gets away with it.