Beers Ago [Friday, January 27th, 2012 12:30 AM]
“Who was that guy?”
Amelie’s thin brows furrowed. “Who was who?”
“That guy you were just kissing, who was he?”
Amelie’s gaze narrowed even further. “I wasn’t kissing anybody, Claude.”
Claude rolled his eyes. “Don’t even give me that shit, Amelie.”
Amelie threw her hands up. “Claude, I don’t know what you think you saw, but I’m telling you the truth. And even if I was kissing someone, what right do you have to be mad?”
The Quebecois fire that flared inside of her was still there, like he remembered it. As she began to raise her voice, Claude looped his arm around her waist and guided her through the crowd. “Hey, where are we going?” Amelie’s boots clacked against the wooden floor as he ushered her to the smoking section. There were a few smokers dotted on the patio, but there were a lot fewer than in the bar, where everyone was there to listen to their feud. He swore half the town knew their story.
Once they were outside, Claude stuffed his hands in his pockets, a lock of golden hair tumbling onto his forehead. “Do you know why I’m mad, Amelie? Because I see you here tonight, two fucking years without seeing you after you walked out on me, and you’re even funnier and more beautiful then I remember. Then just when I think you might be willing to pick up where we left off, you’re cuddling up to some guy.”
“Claude I still don’t – wait, you mean Philippe? You don’t remember Philippe? From high school?”
Claude brought his hands to his hair. “Are you fucking serious? That was Philippe? That asshole used to scam on you so much in high school.”
“Franchement, Claude. I highly doubt that. He’s just a friend, and nothing more than that.” Claude tossed his hands in the air, rolling his eyes. Amelie’s eyes narrowed in response and she inched towards him. “I can’t believe you. We’re not even together and you’re acting like I’ve committed some unforgiveable crime that didn’t even happen in the first place. Don’t you see how crazy you’re acting?”
Claude simply blinked at her. “I’m the crazy one. Me. I’m the crazy one who kissed you, when we would have never gotten together otherwise. I’m the crazy one who wanted to marry the girl that I’d been with for two and a half years, the girl I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I’m not the crazy one, because I’m not the one who walked out on something perfect you knew you’d never find again with anyone else.”
Claude was inches from Amelie. Her eyes were full of tears, teetering on the edge of her eyelids and dangerously close spilling down her cheeks. She shook her head, smiling to herself in disbelief. “You think that life for me would have been perfect? Saddled at 23 years old to an NHL superstar hotshot in another city where none of my friends or family lived? Wake up and smell the Canadian air, Claude. It might sound perfect now, but when all of your NHL pals go out for a night on the town and you’re the one stuck with a wife, it wouldn’t be so perfect for you either. I don’t want that life for you, Claude. At least not right now. Call me crazy all you want for not wanting a life that revolves around someone else, but I’m not the one who fucked it all up again.” With that, Amelie turned on her heels, tossing her long legs over the steel fence of the smoking area, her heels clacking quickly in the other direction.
“Walking out on me again, are you?” Claude called. By then, there was no one left in the smoking area, and Amelie left his question unanswered, floating away into the crisp January wind. “FUCK!” Claude shouted, kicking over one of the plastic chairs that sat on the patio with force. He huffed with rage, ready to swing at the next person he saw. Right on cue, the patio door squeaked open.
“Sounds like you need a cigarette.”
Claude whirled around, face to face with Philippe. Without hesitation, Claude approached him swiftly, grabbed him by the collar and tossed him up against the brick wall. The pack of cigarettes in Philippe’s hand tumbled to the ground. “YOU! You’re the one who fucked everything up for me!”
“...Claude? W-what the hell are you talking about?” Philippe asked frantically.
“Since when have you been with Amelie?”
Philippe’s gaze narrowed in utter confusion. “What? I’m not with Amelie. We’re just friends!”
Claude rolled his eyes. “Cut the shit, Phil. I remember you with your hands all over her in high school.”
“Yeah, because we were close, and she felt comfortable with me touching her, for obvious reasons.” Philippe’s bite was just as sharp at Claude’s.
“Comfortable with you touching her?” Claude’s knuckles were white. “Now I’m really going to fucking kill you.”
“No, no! You don’t get it, do you? Wow, you hockey players and your complete lack of sense.”
“What? Wait, what are you – ” Suddenly, Claude released Philippe from his grip, who quickly fixed his peacoat back in to place. He gently scooped up his cigarettes from the ground, which were lying next to his black polished pointed-toe loafers. Even Claude knew that Philippe’s peacoat was fashionable, with white piping along the collar and a seam that hugged his body tightly. When Claude took a good look at Philippe, his face was perfectly groomed, with wavy charcoal hair that was perfectly parted and coiffed across his forehead. Claude went pale. “Oh.”
It was Philippe’s turn to roll his eyes. “Yeah, oh is right, mister. If you want a hope in hell of salvaging your relationship with Amelie before you go back to never seeing her again, I’d suggest you go look for her. And run.” Claude sighed to his feet and nodded sternly. “Here, I’ll call you if she turns up back here.”
They quickly exchanged numbers, and Claude gave Philippe a hard pat on the back.
“Thanks, man. Sorry if I was, uh,” Claude cleared his throat, lowering his voice, “...a bit of a dick to you in high school.”
Philippe spat a laugh. “I wasn’t your number one fan, either. And I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing it for Ame. She’s still crazy about you, Claude. I just don’t think she realizes it yet...so remind her.”
Claude nodded and flashed Philippe a toothy grin, his fake tooth practically sparkling. He immediately took off down the street, hoping that he could stop the love of his life from walking out on him for the final time.
- - -
The snow outside had slowed, and as Logan’s chin pointed towards the sky, he watched as the few snowflakes dotting the night air seemed to float, never touching ground. Beside him, Zoe chomped on a Big Mac, cheeks bulging as if she had shoved the entire thing into her mouth at once. “This is so good, Logan. Thank you for buying it for me.”
“Don’t mention it,” he said with a smile.
“Have a bite!”
Logan shook his head. “That’s okay, I don’t eat McDonald’s. Us athletes have got to treat our bodies like temples.”
Zoe threw her head back, as if she couldn’t believe she had been so stupid to have forgotten who she was talking to. “Mm, you’re right. You don’t get 56 points in 79 games by stuffing your face.”
Logan chuckled. “I can’t believe that of all the food in the world, you chose a McDonalds hamburger.”
Zoe giggled, her bulging cheeks bulging even more. “I’ve never had one of these before, you know.”
“What? A Big Mac?”
Zoe nodded quickly. “My mom was always really protective of me. She was never that way with my older brother Brady, but I guess things become different with your second-born, especially if she’s a girl. She wouldn’t let me go anywhere after dark, she didn’t want me doing anything by myself, and she never wanted me to eat junk food. She did everything she could to try to shield me from the world. But I guess it wasn’t enough...” Zoe took another bite of her burger. “So maybe it’s time to start eating junk food, you know? Maybe I should be staying out late, and doing things by myself. Avoiding all that stuff never got me anywhere, but doing it is what brought me here, to you.”
Logan looked back up at the sky, breathing heavily. “Can I ask you a question, Zoe?”
She popped the last bite of burger into her mouth. “Shoot.”
“You don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to.”
Zoe chuckled. “You’re Logan Couture. You’re my idol. Like I would refuse to answer your question.”
He gave her a lopsided grin, but quickly pressed his lips together to settle his smile. “Alright, well, I’m curious. Are you...are you afraid of dying?”
Zoe put her hands in her pockets, looking down at her salt-stained Ugg boots. The crunching sound of the snow beneath them became clearer as the longest silence of the night hung between them. “...Yes. And no.” Logan gazed down at her, the movements of her wig in the wind hiding the expression on her face. “It sounds weird for something a young kid would think about, but before I got sick, I remember thinking once that if I had a good life right before I died, that I would be okay with dying. But then when I found out about my lymphoma, I was just...mad. It didn’t feel fair.” On that word, her voice faltered, and Logan’s chest tightened in pain when he knew she was trying to hold back tears. “All I could do was accept that it was a part of my life, because there wasn’t anything I could personally do to make it go away. The chemotherapy will either fix things, or it won’t. Whatever happens is whatever is meant to be. Once I accepted that, things kind of changed for me. I just pushed everything I was afraid of to the back of my mind. I believe in fate, you know? Everything that happens is meant to happen, and for a specific reason. I was meant to get lymphoma. I was meant to get it because it would make my life better. It made me realize that I have to make the most of my life or I won’t be allowed to live anymore. Ever since I discovered that, I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. If I live, I live, but if I die, then I know that I built myself a life to be proud of.”
Logan nodded to himself, at a loss for words. He thought about himself at fifteen years old; cocky, confident, lived for hockey, and felt untouchable. He couldn’t imagine how he would have reacted if he had been diagnosed with lymphoma. He knew he would play the victim card, that he would be mad, and that he’d be nowhere near as composed as the girl with the wig who strolled along next to him, sipping on her Fruitopia as if she was on top of the world. Suddenly, her head turned up towards him. “Can I ask you a question?”
He swallowed hard. “Alright.”
Zoe pressed her lips together, as if trying to contain the question they were begging to ask. “Are you only talking to me because I have cancer?” Logan cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his neck. Zoe’s big blue eyes were staring up at him, blinking up at him expectantly. “You can be honest, I won’t be mad.”
Logan sighed, trying to summon the words and string sentences together in his brain before they came out all wrong. He knew she wanted the truth, and he knew he would give it to her, but with her, he wanted it all to be perfect. “Honestly? At first, I was. But you’re something, Zoe. When I was your age, there was no way I would have been as brave as you. You don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve this,” he panted, motioning to his expensive peacoat. “You’re the one who deserves your name up in lights, and tens of thousands of fans cheering your name. You deserve the world. And I wish I could give it to you. I want to do whatever I can to give the world to you, Zoe. Because I want the world to know how special you really are.”
A slow smile spread across Zoe’s face. Quickly, she lunged towards Logan, wrapping her arms around him and squeezing. “Thank you, Logan. I’m so glad I met you.” He smiled down at Zoe, who beamed serenely with her eyes squeezed shut. He rested his arms on her frail little body for a moment before she pulled back and gazed up at him. “So I’ll be eighteen in less than three years, and you’ll be 26. Eight years isn’t a big deal, right? You’ll give me a chance, won’t you?”
Logan laughed heartily and gave her a pat on the back. He gazed skyward, and saw the moon poke through the ceiling of clouds suspended above them. “Deal.”
- - -
Violet stared out of the window of Tyler’s hotel room at the Westin Hotel. His room was facing the Chateau Laurier, the Parliament buildings, and the Ottawa River, which made for a breathtaking view. The old buildings gleamed under the pale brown sky, and Violet listened to the faint sounds of cars driving down Wellington and Rideau Street. Violet had called Ottawa home her entire life, and she loved everything about the city. Seeing it at night, looking so peaceful, from up in the sky, she found a whole new appreciation for it.
Violet whirled around to face Tyler, who was standing in the kitchenette with a bottle of wine he had evidently just pulled out of the mini bar. “Sure.” After they had left the bar, Tyler and Violet hadn’t even spoken a word to each other, let alone touched one another. Tyler would snake his arm around her waist, and she would brush him off. He even reached for her hand, and she curled her fingers into a fist. They had simply walked the five blocks to the hotel in silence.
Tyler handed her the glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and she gazed across the suite. The room was stunning – there were beautiful pieces of refurbished antique furniture nestled in front of the window, with a massive king-sized bed neatly made against the wall, just waiting for the covers to be thrown. Looking at the bed, picturing their sweaty bodies tangled together and panting in passion, Violet felt her neck get hot, and she started to breathe heavily, taking a sip of wine to calm herself down. Remember, V, you’re in control. Taking one last gulp of wine, Violet turned her gaze to Tyler. “So? When are you gonna turn on the moves?”
“Moves?” Tyler cocked a brow, slipping the wine back into the fridge. “What moves?”
Violet twisted her lips. “You know, the moves to show me you’re a gentleman, that show you know how to treat a lady, but in a way that gets me begging to get between the sheets with you, absolutely lusting for your body and the way it feels under my sweaty palms...those moves.”
Tyler was motionless against the counter, his lips pressed together, trying with all his might to hold a smile back. “You mean buying you all those beers, karaokeing horribly in front of a giant crowd on top of a bar for you, and opening a bottle of wine that costs god-knows-how-much isn’t turning on the moves?”
Violet sat on the edge of the armrest, clasping her hands together. “That might be good enough for some girls, but not for me.”
Tyler rolled his eyes and grinned. “Then humour me.”
Violet smiled, biting the inside of your cheek. “Let me see your closet.”
“Yeah, let me see it.”
Tyler paused, staring at Violet with intrigue. He stood up straight, taking a few steps towards his closet, motioning for her to take a look. She stood up, pacing slowly towards the closet, her eyes on him the whole time. He matched her gaze with a bold smirk of his own. She opened Tyler’s closet, glancing over the dozen suit jackets and dress shirts that hung neatly. She brushed her hand along all the sleeves, stopping on one and lifting it off the rack when she noticed all his ties hanging around it. She held the jacket in front of her, examining his tie selection. Amongst the half dozen, there was a red velvet tie and a black velvet tie. She slid both off the hanger and tossed them on the bed. She then placed the hanger back in the closet, sliding out a plain black suit jacket and a white dress shirt. “Where are your dress pants?”
Tyler gave her a puzzled look, a smile playing on his lips. He motioned to one of the drawers in the dresser next to the bed. She grabbed the pants, and slapped them down on the bed next to the ties, shirt and jacket. “Now put these on.”
Tyler’s brow furrowed. “Why?”
“Because you’re going to treat me like a lady tonight.”
Tyler crossed his arms, smirking. “Oh really?”
“Where’s your room service menu?” Violet’s gaze whirled around the room, completely ignoring Tyler’s comment. She took a seat at the table in his kitchenette where the menu sat.
“So I’m wining and dining you, huh?”
Violet intently scanned the menu. “You’ve got it. Now suit up.”
Tyler sighed, pacing slowly towards the bed. “You know, I kind of pictured us taking off our clothes, not putting more clothes on.”
“When did I ever say we won’t be taking our clothes off?”
Tyler raised his brows as he started unbuttoning his jeans, and Violet quickly averted her gaze back to the menu. “Well why don’t you help me out?” he asked in a low voice, which numbed Violet’s skin.
“Forget it! No cheating.”
“Why, because you know the second you get your hands on me you won’t be able to resist?”
Violet rolled her eyes. “Hurry it up, get dressed!” Her eyes were glued to the menu, shooing him with one hand.
“You’re not even going to watch?! Wow, you’re no fun. Remind me why I brought you here again?” Violet’s mouth gaped open, and Violet heard Tyler let out a full-bodied laugh. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding.”
With Violet’s eyes firmly stuck on the menu, she heard the movement of clothes. The movement of a belt buckle. The unzipping of a fly. The sound of his jeans dropping to the floor. The menu was millimeters from her eyes. Violet stayed motionless, out of fear that if she swallowed, Tyler would hear the oversized lump that was forming in her throat. In her peripherals, all she saw was skin, with a pair of tight boxer-briefs covering him up. When she saw Tyler slip on his dress pants, she snuck a peak. He was shirtless, and in the half second her eyes landed on the curvature of his chiseled upper body, she had already saved copies upon copies of it to her memory’s hard drive.
“Tie my tie?” he asked. When she finally looked over, he had almost completely buttoned his white dress shirt up to his neck. Without a word, Violet stood and grabbed the black tie from the bed. “Good choice,” he affirmed. She looped the tie around his neck, adjusting both sides to the right lengths. “I can’t remember the last time I dressed up like this for a girl.”
Violet smiled warmly, her eyes creasing. “No way.”
“When’s the last time you went on a date?”
Tyler looked skyward, lips twisting in thought. “Maybe the summer?”
Violet looped the tie around. “And when’s the last time you hooked up?” she asked, avoiding his eyes. Tyler was silent. He simply watched the movements of her fingers, his face unchanged. “Come on, Tyler. Be honest.” She made the final knot, tightening the small knot up towards his neck.
“Ew, Tyler!” She tossed the amount of tie she had left in her hands at his chest.
He shrugged, his shoulders up at his ears. “You told me to be honest!”
She grabbed the phone on the bedside table and glared at Tyler, shoving it into his chest. “Call the front desk. I would like a poached eggs smoked salmon benedict with a mimosa. You’ll be having the same. Tonight, you and I are going on a real date.”
- - -
James followed Harper up the stairs, trying not to watch her behind swing tantalizingly from side to side as she ascended the stairs. The hem of her cutoffs was millimeters from the curve of her ass – if the hem had moved even slightly, the round of her ass would have peeked out from her shorts. When Harper finally reached the top of the stairs and pushed the door open, James was thankful he was free from the torture. As the door shut behind him, the song playing changed to She’s Country by Jason Aldean.
“Oooh, I love this song!” Harper chimed. She whirled around to face James, grabbing his hands. “Dance with me?”
“What? No!” James blurted before he could control himself.
“What? Why not?”
James could think of a million reasons why not. First of all, her boyfriend was standing fifteen feet away from them, and the sight of him merely touching Harper would send him over the edge. Second, James couldn’t dance to save his life. Despite being one of the most coordinated athletes in the world, he was about as rhythmic as a fish. Before he could conjure a third and fourth reason, Harper’s bottom lip drew out and her eyes went to full-on puppy mode.
James folded his arms and pressed his lips together to suppress a smile. “You are not giving me the puppy dog look right now.”
“Come on, James! Don’t make me miss the chorus!” Once again, James was being guided through the crowd by the petite little bombshell, completely and utterly powerless. They stopped in the middle of the dancing crowd as soon as the chorus started. “Country, from her cowboy boots to her down-home roots, she’s country!” Harper sang. James smiled wide, and Harper hummed at the sight of his adorable smile lines. She continued to sing, placing her hands on James’s shoulders, feeling the crisp material of his oxford beneath her fingers. She slid them slowly down towards his chest, moving her hips along with the song. Her eyes followed the trail of her fingers, stopping just above his pectorals. James stood awkwardly and completely still in front of her, bobbing his head to the music. When her hands started to slide south, he gently took her wrists and placed them at her sides before his temperature could rise any higher than it already was.
“Harper,” he warned.
“James!” she teased. “Come on.” She stepped closer to him, her breasts gently grazing along his chest. He could feel his heart pulsing from his toes to his ears. She placed her hands on his shoulders, and before he could contest, she stood on her toes and brought her lips to his ear. “I won’t tell if you won’t,” she whispered.
Just the sound of Harper’s voice in his ear was enough for his brain to switch off and his white flag to wave in the wind. She was devious, she was naughty, and she was out of control. If it wasn’t Brady’s ear she was whispering into, it wasn’t James’s doing. If it wasn’t with him, it’d be with another guy. He was tired of fighting a battle Harper wasn’t giving up on. He didn’t even want to win it in the first place.
James immediately wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her against his body urgently, beer swimming through his veins. The soft feeling of her small frame in his hands made James think that his hands weren’t meant to hold a hockey stick, but made to fit to her body. For a split second, Harper’s eyes flashed with distress, frightened by the abrupt turnaround. But then, as the second verse started, her full pink lips glided into a satisfied smile. She tossed her arms around his shoulders, and with the six-inch height difference helped along by her cowboy boots, her hands rested perfectly on the nape of his neck. Her fingers toyed with the ends of his hair, and he was practically salivating. Her hips rolled, and James’s eyes were caught in a whirlwind between the movement of her hips, her breasts, and her gripping eyes. But even with the molten-hot rises and falls of her body, he was always drawn back to her eyes. It was the first thing he had noticed about her. Her dramatic blue eyes held his gaze through long lashes, daring him to take it a step forward. He inched his hands down her waist, and she inched closer. He felt the dramatic curve of her feminine hips, and she threaded her fingers into his famous, thick hair. His hands slid back to the round of her ass, and she rolled her hips to meet his. Skin ablaze, breath heavy, James couldn’t wait any longer. He craned his neck towards her, eyes locked on her lips. He could practically taste the sugary savour of her full, most lips, and he licked his in anticipation. Harper felt waves of heat flash across her skin as she realized what James was about to do. He lowered his face to hers, their lips grazing.
In a flash, James was instantly plucked right off of Harper and practically flung through the bar by a tight grip on his shoulder. James could hear Harper shouting behind him, but he couldn’t make out what she was screaming. From what he could decipher, it sounded like begging.
Seconds later, James was outside, tossed in an alley between the bar and the building beside it. The force that threw him was so strong that James stumbled to the ground. He blinked hard, trying to focus his gaze, and trying to figure out what the hell was going on.
“Get up!” a male voice spat.
Just as James pushed himself to his feet and turned around, he heard Harper’s voice. “Brady, NO!”
When James’s gaze finally focused, it was on a fist flying towards his face.
- - -
Despite the cold air, everything in Tessa’s body burned, including the hot tear that rolled down her cheek. Curled up in Gabe’s arm sitting on a curb around the corner from the bar, her lungs were on fire, and the world around her was spinning. She tried to focus on Gabe, whose eyes were flickering across her face. He cleared his throat, leaning his face even closer to hers. “I’m sorry, Tessa.”
Tessa snorted a sob, nuzzling herself deeper into Gabe’s firm body. “I just don’t understand what I did wrong,” she sobbed. She didn’t even care that there was snot trickling down from her nostril, and that her dark mascara was gliding down her cheek along with her tears. There was something about Gabe’s grip that was so comforting that she didn’t care what she looked like. She knew he was there for her.
“Tessa, you didn’t do anything wrong. Your cheating boyfriend and your backstabbing friend were the ones who screwed it all up. They’re out-of-their-mind crazy, Tessa. No one deserves something so horrible from two people who are supposed to love you like...family.” Gabe looked down at Tessa, watching single snowflakes fall into her straight brown hair. He sighed heavily. “Look, I know we just met, but I wasn’t really having a great time tonight until we did.” Tessa sat up, her eyes heavy and trepid. “It was so much fun hanging out and spending time with you, I can’t even imagine someone cheating on you, of all people. I mean, you’re so...” Gabe stopped himself, tangling one hand in his hair. From the moment Gabe had started speaking, Tessa’s tears had stopped. He seemed so distraught over what had happened. It was as if he was experiencing several emotions at once, ranging from happiness to anger, that he didn’t know he could experience and didn’t know how to express. “I just wish I could turn back time and stop it all from happening. You know, like punch him in the weiner so he couldn’t...well...”
Tessa giggled, covering her mouth with her hand. She was so glad to have him there. As a security blanket, a new friend, an ear willing to listen, and, as she looked up at his perfectly chiseled jaw and blonde hair floating gently in the wind, perhaps something more. “Why are you being so nice to me?” Tessa asked, her eyes narrow, but face placid. She rested her chin on the hand she had placed over her mouth, trying her best to await his answer patiently.
He took her other hand in his. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s cause we have something in common.”
Tessa sniffled. “What, your boyfriend cheated on you too?”
Gabe rolled his eyes. “Ha-ha, not quite. I guess I felt a little ostracized tonight and couldn’t help but be in the same boat as you. Obviously your situation is a lot tougher than mine, but sometimes...this life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, ya know? Everyone has these huge expectations about who you’re supposed to be, and what you’re supposed to represent, and how you’re supposed to act, but when you don’t live up to those expectations you’re cast out...” Gabe huffed, pulling Tessa close. “I don’t mean to complain about the life I live, it’s absolutely amazing, but...I guess what I’m trying to say, is...sometimes it’s hard to pretend to be someone else just to make other people happy, but finding one person you can be yourself around makes it all worth it.” Suddenly, a smile formed on Gabe’s lips and he turned Tessa’s mascara-stained face towards his with his finger under his chin. “Or, y’know...maybe I’m being so nice to you because I like you,” he added softly.
Tessa gulped as she was forced to stare directly into the cornflower blue pools of wonder that were Gabriel Landeskog’s eyes. She was suddenly aware of who the man that sat beside her and gently held her face centimeters from his was. Gabriel Landeskog. Gabriel fucking Landeskog. With his lips hovering over hers, in any other situation, she would have removed the space between them and kissed him without hesitation. If she hadn’t broken up with her boyfriend of almost two years minutes earlier. If they weren’t both completely inebriated. If he wasn’t a rising NHL star permanently displaced in the Mile-High City. If his face wasn’t so unfairly gorgeous that he’d easily take the crown over her in a beauty pageant. She was waiting for her teeth to fall out, or to start flying, or for any sign that she was in a dream so she could wake up and go back to her real life. But after every moment passed as they gazed at each other in silence, Gabe was still there.
Finally, Gabe cleared his throat, and moved his hand to her knee. “Tessa, I know I can’t turn back time, but if there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know. I’ll do anything I can.”
His look was pleading, like he knew exactly what he could do for her, and was waiting for her to say the word, to open the floodgates and let him in. Tessa huffed, suddenly calm. What was she doing, crying over two people who had wronged her so much, when she had a caring, gentle, smoking hot Swede’s face only inches from hers? She wanted to slap herself silly for wasting her time crying over those two assholes, when she knew exactly what Gabe could do for her to make her feel better. It was her chance for her movie moment.
Quickly trying to devise a way to make the moment as fiery and as passionate as could be, Tessa tangled one hand in his thick blonde hair and grabbed the back of his neck with her other hand, prepared to lay a big wet one on those heavenly lips. But only an instant before she pressed her lips to his and locked eyes with Gabe once again, his face wasn’t pale and angelic – it was pale and sickly. Suddenly, his 200-pound body began to slump on hers.
“No...no no NO!”
Before Tessa could dodge the impending bullet, Gabe vomited Jack & Coke, beer, and Smirnoff Ice all over her lap.
“FUUCK!” Tessa cursed loudly into the night, gazing down at the wet, putrid puddle that dripped in her lap. Soon thereafter, with a quick thwap, Gabe’s head followed. “...Gabe?”
His face rolled over to the only sliver of dry lap left, with the wet, puke-covered side of his face towards the sky. A moment later, his solid body went completely limp. Trying to squirm out from underneath him, his face rolled back into the puddle on her lap, with the dry, puke-free side facing her. When she saw the gentle, almost serene look on his comatose face, she stopped. She liked that side of him – the gentle, caring, affectionate side that had shown itself to her in bits and pieces all night, not the drunk, puky side of him that was being forced on him by the pressure of what he felt he was supposed to be. Once he came to, if he remembered what had happened, she hoped her puke-covered lap would be a sign that what he was expected to be wasn’t what he needed to be.
The subsequent silence that hung like a thick fog in the air caused Tessa to take a breath, and finally reflect on the whirlwind that was her Thursday night. As she tried to hold back tears, she slowly slid the scarf from around Gabe’s neck and began dabbing at her lap. “Oh lord, I’m cleaning up puke. I’m cleaning up Gabriel Landeskog’s puke. After I nearly kissed him, holy hell, holy friggin hell I’m cleaning up Gabriel Landeskog’s puke!” Tessa mumbled to herself frantically. God almighty, she thought to herself. This night couldn’t possibly get any crazier.
“Hey, ‘scuse me?”
With Gabe’s head in her lap, all Tessa could do was turn her head. She saw a familiar scruffy redhead behind her, which instantly revved up her nerves. She quickly wiped the tears from her eyes and sniffled. “Uh, yeah?”
“Have you s—whoa, what happened to him?” Claude asked amusedly.
“One too many, perhaps. Much to my delight, of course.”
Claude furrowed a brow. “Sure. Do you know a girl named Amelie Gauthier?”
Tessa shook her head, noticing how crisply his French accent uttered her name. “No, I don’t, sorry.”
“Well I’m looking for her. She’s about 5’7, long sandy brown hair, most beautiful girl you’ll ever lay eyes on? Ring a bell?”
Tessa smirked. “Sounds like half the girls in there tonight.”
Claude chuckled. “I wouldn’t know. I only have eyes for her.” His face quickly sobered as he cleared his throat. “Do you, uh, need any help with him?”
Tessa bit her lip. She didn’t know if she could handle any more all-star related tomfoolery for the rest of the evening. First, the two closest relationships in her life had been torn to shreds. Then, she met Gabe, who nearly had his tongue in her mouth one second, then his dinner in her lap the next. Even if Claude was trying to be nice, she didn’t know if his generosity was masking something else. Anyone who she trusted fucked her over – but it wasn’t as if she had anything left to lose. “Alright, thank you. I can help you find your girlfriend, if you want.”
Claude’s eyes shifted in thought. “’Girlfriend’,” he said to himself aloud, as if he’d never heard the word before. “I don’t know if I could call her that,” he replied as he tossed one of Gabe’s arms over his shoulder. “Hey...are you crying?”
“What? No!” Tessa quickly jerked her head so Claude couldn’t see her face.
“I have a sister, I know when something’s up with you ladies. We have a couple of blocks to get Landy here back to the hotel, so you can tell me. But only if you want.”
A tear tumbled from Tessa’s eyelid, but she stopped it on her cheek. “Thank you, really, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it. Let alone with someone I don’t even know.”
“It’s Claude, by the way.”
“Tessa. And...I actually know who you are. I know Gabe, I know Scott, Tyler, James, Logan, all you guys in there. It’s kind of why I came tonight.”
They came to a stop at the crosswalk, and Claude sighed a stream of condensation into the cold air. “Based on the tears in your eyes, I guess we weren’t what you expected.” As the words came out of Claude’s mouth, he motioned with his chin to Gabe’s slumped body leaning against him.
Tessa smiled weakly. “It’s not that. Well, maybe a little bit of that, but...like I said, I don’t want to talk about it. I’ve been talking his ear off all night, and look how he ended up.”
“Alright, fine by me,” Claude replied, holding his free hand up. “So I’ll just have to guess, then.”
Tessa winced, but couldn’t control the smile on her face. “Alright, if you guess, I’ll tell you.”
Claude bit his lip. “Pressure’s on.”
Sorry it's been so long since I posted a chapter! Life has been a little loco, so I'm posting two chapters today! xx