"Hey seat buddy? Ready for the next 6 hours?"
My mouth drops open but nothing comes out; was this really happening? And how did he know that we were going to be seat buddies before I sat down? "Did you plan this Giroux?!" I practically yell and some of the guys give me a weird look.
"Plan? I would hardly say that," he replies quietly with a smirk after seeing everyone's gaze.
I'm about to give him a piece of my mind when Del Zotto suddenly walks up and interrupts my train of thought,"Hey G thanks again for switching with me, I needed to talk to Wayne about some stuff."
"Anytime Delly," Claude responds cheerily.
"Ugh!" I groan, "are you serious? How'd you even figure out where I was sitting anyways?" I ask as I flop down in my seat, beyond irritated at this point.
"Don't worry about it," he reassures me, peering up from the magazine in his hands. I stare him down until he gives in, "fine, fine, let's just say the woman at the front desk was happy to share the information with me," he informs me with a cocky grin.
"Sleep with her too Giroux?" I snap.
"Katina," he says, losing a part of his cocky attitude but I refuse to be dumb enough to let my guard down around. "I just want to talk."
"Well I don't Claude," I whisper, so no one can hear us arguing.
"It'll be hard not to on this 6 hour flight," he challenges as the plane starts to move.
"So you trap me on a 6 hour flight next to you just so you can talk to me?" I ask completely fed up as the plane prepares for take off, my stomach starts to churn; I'm not sure if it's Claude or the plane making me more nervous.
"Yeah pretty much," he smirks, "that was the plan." The plane roars to life and makes it's trek down the runway at an incredible speed. Claude notices the complete change in my attitude, my face going white from my nerves; he looks at me with a questioning expression.
"I don't like planes," I grumble, "and you're not helping." The plane lifts up suddenly soaring into the air making my stomach lurch. I grip the arms of the chair instantly as a reflex and I end up grabbing Claude's hand; it sends shocks up my spine. I immediately retract my hand from his, "Don't even think for a second that I meant to do that G," I spit, looking over to his face, the tips of my fingers still tingling from the touch of his skin. "And don't get any ideas," I add as the plane makes a sharp turn, tilting all the way to the left; Claude holds up his hands in surrender.
Once the plane steadies and the initial ascent into the air is finished, I place my hands in my lap as my nerves calm; I pull out my headphones and phone so I can listen to music instead of Claude's tempting voice. Before I put one of the buds into my ear, I hear a dark whisper, "You know it took a while to wash out the pumpkin scent from my skin."
"Good- I'm glad- you deserved it. Now if you don't mind I'm going to try and fall asleep so I don't have to be awake for this plane ride from hell," I retort and blare my music before he says anything else.
I wake up off and on all throughout the plane ride expecting Giroux to be the culprit but he was asleep most every time I looked over at him. His hair is messily pushed back with wild soft curls pushed behind his ears. I can't help but to be reminded of the morning I woke up beside him, feeling so comfortable and warm with him. "Like watching me sleep Katina?" Giroux asks suddenly with his eyes closed, startling me.
I let out a huff and roll my eyes even though he's not looking, "You wish, Giroux."
"That's not what it look like to me," he lets out with a yawn. I let out a grumble before pulling out a book out of my bag to read, but soon after drowsiness takes over my eyes once again.
I wake up about an hour or so before the flight ends by a rumble of the plane. I rip out my headphones and look around to see if anyone else is having a panic attack as the plane falls and picks up repeatedly. The seat belt sign turns on with a quiet doorbell sound.
"Calm down, it's just a little turbulence," Claude comments, looking up from his iPad.
"The plane is moving pretty crazy- I would hardly qualify it as little," I bark at him- why did I have to get stuck with him? At least he let me sleep for a few hours.
"You're so over dramatic," he remarks with a shake of the head and a smile.
"Over dramatic? Sorry I'm not totally okay with this plane falling from the sky- I am not being over dramatic" I roll my eyes.
"Coming from the girl who threw a scolding hot latte in my face," Claude laughs.
"Hey- like I said you deserved it- you were practically begging for it," I remind him.
"You're right I was," he smiles sweetly, making my heart flutter in my chest, his cocky attitude no longer apparent.
Just as I am about to make a snarky remark, the plane drops suddenly, and longer than the others. I let out a gasp, shut my eyes tightly, and hold onto the closest thing my hand can grab. Claude interlocks his fingers with mine as I reach and I feel an instant comfort in his touch. The plane bounces back up to regular altitude, making my stomach turn. "You're okay," Claude whispers and strokes my hand with his thumb.
Once I gather my wits about me, I release my hand from his and try to deny how much I loved his grip. Surprisingly he doesn't say anything after that and the plane gets ready for landing- thank god.
"Katina- I wanted to talk about-" Claude starts to say but I cut him off.
"Claude not here- not around everyone," I whisper harshly, "do you want everyone to know? Brayden knows- he saw you give me back those shoes and put it together."
"What?" he asks, sitting up more in his seat, "are you serious? Why didn't you tell me?"
"Yeah, you're right I should've told you- yep right before you fucked that girl," I comment sarcastically as my heart twinges with pain.
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about Kati-"
"Nope. I don't care Claude- I don't want to talk about it- you can screw whoever you want." I state as I put my headphones back on as I bite my lip, helping fight off the urge to tear up. The last thing I want to happen is to start crying on this stupid plane- it would definitely be noticeable if I walk off of here blubbering like a moron. I can't give Claude that kind of satisfaction of knowing he broke me.
I shut my eyes tight and grip my own hands as the plane makes its initial decent towards the ground. I'm sure I hear Claude laughing at me a couple of times but I ignore it. The combination of heartbreak, nervousness and the bittersweet memories of that one night churn around in my mind, making it hard to keep a tough face on. Why did Claude have to remind me how much I loved his touch? Why was he being so nice one minute and the biggest jerk on the planet the next? This was just a nice reminder of being another notch in his bedpost. Once the plane lands and we can get off, I unbuckle my seatbelt, grab my backpack, and sprint off the plane as fast as possible. I hear him call my name behind me but I rush past the flight attendants wishing us to have a good night.
"Katina!" I yell as she practically races off the plane, "Kat! Damnit!" I pull her purse from underneath the seat in front of hers- great now I'll have to corner her just give her the damn purse back. Why did the woman have to be so frustrating?
"Yo what's wrong?" Masey says hearing me letting out a grumble while I place the handbag in front of me.
"Nothing- Kat just left behind her purse," I answer. Suddenly, Schenner pushes up through the aisle as Coots follows closely behind.
"What's with Kat?" Schenner asks in a rush. Mase gives him a strange look along with Neuvy probably wondering why Brayden sounded so worried.
"Nothing- she uh- just- had to pee," I lie, stammering, "she forgot her purse."
"I'll give it to her," Brayden offers as he reaches for it but I pull the handbag away from his reach.
"I'll do it, Schenner," I say sternly giving him a strict look. I walk down the aisle of the plane and exit the tunnel connecting it to the airport. I look through the crowds of people coming and going through the terminal, searching closely for Kat's face. I suddenly see her emerge from the women's bathroom; her eyes a tad red and puffy. Her eyes widen as soon as we make eye contact. She attempts to lose me in the crowd but luckily I catch up quick before that happens.
"What, Claude," she says defeatedly as she turns around, giving me an aggravated look.
"You forgot your purse on the plane," I reply matter-of-factly, holding it up in front of her.
"Oh," Kat says quietly, her face softening realizing I wasn't here to terrorize her, "thanks." She slowly takes it from my hand and hangs it on her shoulder.
"Kat?" we both hear being yelled in the distance, we see it's Brayden and Coots soon after.
She goes to walk past me towards the two guys searching for her but I stop her gently by placing my hand on her arm, "do me a favor? Call of the guard dogs?" I ask and nod my head in their direction; Kat just gives me a blank expression not really knowing what to say. I drop my hand from her arm and make my way towards baggage claim, leaving Katina behind. Maybe this is the only way we can talk- be at each other's throats like this. Hell, I'd take her throwing a latte in my face any day if it meant she'd talk to me.
"Hey, what happened back there? You ran off the plane," Sean asks.
"What did he say to you?" Brayden follows up.
"Nothing- don't worry about it okay? I'm fine," I lie. Claude was right about one thing- these two are my guard dogs- but why'd he say to call them off? "Did you say something to him on the plane?"
"I might have gave him some hell but-" Brayden begins to say.
"Please don't- I don't need any suspicion being raised about me and Claude," I confess and Sean and Bray nod understandingly.
The next day is spent touring around Vancouver with Brayden and Sean until we have to leave for warm-ups at the stadium. After being hassled by Claude all day yesterday, it was nice not having to see his face anywhere- at least that what I keep telling myself. Brayden and Sean even bought me a couple touristy things while we perused the gift shops.
"Jeez Coots, who have you been texting all day?" Bray asks as we enter another shop, since Sean almost knocks over a rack of post cards while looking down at his phone.
"No one," he insists, but then gives me a knowing glance and I can't help but to giggle.
"Oh no, who is she?" Bray asks, noticing my reaction.
"My roommate," I smile as Sean blushes ever so slightly.
"Jules?" Brayden asks with a grin as he looks at a couple of cheesy shirts, "I bet your girlfriend would like this," he adds holding up a dumb t-shirt.
"She's not my girlfriend," he reminds the two of us.
"Oh stop- you kissed her forehead before we left. Last time I checked friends don't do that," I half laugh.
"I know I just- I feel like she's not that into me," he admits.
"Are you an idiot?!" I practically yell in the middle of the store, "she is so head over heels into you Sean. Thought that was pretty obvious."
"Maybe not to everyone," Brayden laughs and I shake my head with a smile.
After I repeatedly tell Sean to stop being so nervous and make his move on Jules once we get back to Philly, we head back to the hotel where we get ready for the game tonight. I get off the level before the guys on the elevator- I was relieved that I was on a different floor than the rest of guys this time; instead I was on the same floor with the trainers, equipment managers, and assistant coaches. As I dig for my hotel key in my purse, I try to juggle my handbag and a few shopping bags filled with random souvenirs. Suddenly, I collide with a hard body, making me stumble back a few steps, and drop one of my shopping bags. Déjà vu.
"Oh my gosh I'm so sorry," I apologize as I pick my bag up from the floor. When I look up I am greeted by the sight of a cute guy with brown hair, and blue eyes, with a straight, perfect smile like Brayden's- did I just say that?
"Don't worry about it, I should be saying sorry," he confesses lightheartedly. "I'm Parker," he sticks his hand out to shake mine.
"I'm Kat," I smile and return the handshake.
"Do you work with the Flyers too?" he asks, "it's just that they usually group us all together."
"Uh- yeah actually I do- I'm the team photographer- I was just hired, you?"
"I thought you looked familiar. I'm actually one of the trainers- recently hired too- we already have something in common," he gives me a 'heart throb' grin, causing me to blush intensely.
"Well it was nice meeting you- I've got to get ready for the game," I confess.
"Hope to see you there, Kat," he smirks and we part ways.
After an amazing win against the Canucks, the Flyers' locker room is buzzing with excitement and "Knock Knock," their victory song, is blasting though a small speaker- so far the road trip was going in our favor. As we file onto the bus, the guys are still energetic from the win. "Hey Kat," Simmer says as I sit down in the seat behind him, "we're ordering pizza and playing games in the lounge room on our floor when we get back- you're gonna be there right?"
I bite my lip hesitating whether to say yes or not- from the corner of my eye I see Claude watching me, anticipating my answer. "Uh, yeah sure, count me in," I try to smile enthusiastically. I'm not going to let Claude get in the way of me getting closer to the rest of the guys- I can't just hide when he's around. "Awesome!" Simmer smiles and sits back down in his seat.
"I'm glad you're coming," Brayden leans in and whispers, "G can get over it."
When we get back to the hotel, I quickly change out of my staff fleece to show off my laid back but killer outfit- I feel like the guys, especially Claude, only see me in my staff shirt and fleece ensemble. I get a text from Sean saying that the pizza has arrived and that I should come up. I reply back quickly with "coming now!" and head towards the elevator after remembering my hotel key laying on the night stand. (Kat's Outfit)
"Hey Kitty Kat!" Raffl chimes as he opens the lounge door with two beers in his hand- I grimace at the nickname.
"Please don't call me that," I chuckle as Raffl hands me the unopened beer in his hand.
"Too bad- it'll grow on you, promise little buddy," he flashes a grin, "nice outfit by the way, lookin' good- sick of that staff uniform, yeah?"
I roll my eyes playfully as he lets me pass by him. "Holy shit," I murmur underneath my breath as I take in the expensive and elegant room I was now in. I laugh to myself, taking in the scene before me; a bunch of rowdy guys drinking beer and eating greasy pizza in such an expensive looking lounge- how ironic. I take a slice of pizza while I make my way to a comfortable looking leather love seat where most of the guys were. Sean, Steve, Delly (Del Zotto), and Simmer were preoccupied by a sports game they were playing on their play station hooked up to the enormous plasma screen TV. I sit on the arm of the chair that's already taken by Brayden, "Hey Bray- who's winning?" I ask and take a sip of my beer.
"Hey!" his face lights up with a smile, "Delly and Simmer are crushing Coots and Mase pretty bad," Brayden laughs.
"Hey not fair- I've already had a couple beers," Steve chuckles, trying to defend himself, making us all laugh.
Time flies by as we all take turns playing against each other- Brayden and I make a pretty good team, knocking Delly and Simmer off their throne. And to top it off, Giroux wasn't showing his face- I mean he knew I was coming- maybe he didn't want to see me. With the pizza almost gone, and music playing, we sit around the lounge, talking and laughing.
"G-buddy!" Raffl suddenly yells cheerily as the door opens. Shit- I spoke too soon.
"You missed it, Kat and Schenner were killing it on Playstation," Luke smiles as he hands Claude a beer from the mini fridge. I grin confidently as Brayden offers a high-five, "dare I say we make a good team together?" Bray chimes and I see Claude's face twist into a grimace.
"I still think Kat hustled us," Scott admits playfully.
"And I'm not going to deny that," I add on and we all laugh. I take the last sip of my beer as new conversations form. I take a couple empty beer bottles scattered among the coffee table and take them to the recycling can in the kitchen area.
"Moving onto Brayden pretty quick, eh?" I hear a French Canadian accent pronounce once the bottles fall into the bin with a clang.
"Excuse me?" I look up to Claude; he sips on his beer and raises his eyebrows at my tone.
"You two are looking pretty cozy over there," he remarks with attitude.
I roll my eyes and shake my head at him- don't let him get to you Kat, my subconscious tells me. "Dressing up for him too? Is tonight the night you'll get together? Just don't forget your shoes when skip out of there before he wakes up," Claude chimes as he takes another swig of beer.
I try to say something back but I can't find my voice- I feel tears coming on and I bite my lip in an attempt to stop them, "why did you have to say that? I left because I panicked- sorry if I hurt your precious ego." I turn away from Claude and quickly make my way to the door, "I'm leaving guys- I'm really tired- thanks for inviting me," I call out with a fake smile stretched across my face.
"What? Already?" Simmer asks in disbelief.
"Yeah, uhm- you know my internal clock is all messed up- this three hour difference is killing me," I lie and don't wait for someone to stop me from leaving before getting out of the lounge door. I quickly walk towards the elevator, which progressively turns into a jog as a tear falls down my face. A door behind me closes followed by familiar voice yes, "Katina!" while I slam on the elevator 'down' button a thousand times. I turn around to see Claude jogging after me.
"Damn it you stupid elevator," I grumble and wipe a tear from my cheek with the sleeve of my sweater. I lunge for the door leading to the staircase and pull it shut behind me before descending a flight of stairs.
"Katina wait!" Claude repeats as he enters the stairwell. I don't make it very far before Claude grabs my hand and stops me from getting any further.
"What do you want Claude? Insult me again? Terrorize me? Introduce me to next girl you're going to screw? Well guess what you don't have to tell me I was just another conquest- I already heard you tell everyone at practice last week- Cinderella heard you loud and clear," I yell, my voice echoing through the stairwell.
"Kat, I never meant any of that- I only said that so the guys would lay off" he admits at the same volume I was yelling at. My heart drops when I hear him say those words, but I keep me defensive composure.
"And they did- mission accomplished Giroux. Doesn't mean you have to be such an asshole to me all the time- I don't get it!" I yell back at him and head down a pair of steps but he stops me before I can, grabbing my hand, shooting shocks into my chest. He backs me against the wall, putting his hands on the wall behind me; I rest my hands on the cold steel railing pressing against my lower back.
"We can't be together," he lets out in a breath, gazing into my eyes, "I've been pushing you away being a complete asshole, and it's no excuse, but it's the only way I could keep you away- to distance us- it's so hard to have you around and not want to be close to you. I'm sorry Kat- I really am." My heart flutters wildly- did he really just say that? "But I can't keep fighting with you, partially because I don't think I could handle getting hot coffee thrown in my face more than a couple times," he laughs softly, calming my nerves- I can't help but to let out a giggle.
"Yeah and I don't think Philadelphia would be very happy with me if I horribly burned their captain," I smile.
"So can we please just be friends again? Get back to before everything that happened? Forget about that night- move past it- it was nothing," Claude asks and my heart drops. Nothing?
I try my best to throw on a convincing smile and nod, "uh- yeah I would like that- uh- already forgot about that little mistake of a night," I awkwardly stick out my hand as if we're making a deal. He backs away and returns the handshake stiffly.
"I'll walk you to your room," Claude smiles and leads us down the staircase. "Sorry again for being a jerk, Katina"
"Yeah just don't pull shit like that again- besides I'll just get back at you for it," I give him a devilish smirk.
"Will you at least warn me when that'll be?" he asks playfully.
"No way! It's much more fun this way," I grin as we get to my door.
"I'm glad everything's going to go back to normal," he admits, as we stand in front of my door. Yeah, and if by normal you mean me fighting my feelings for you everyday. Once I say goodnight to Claude and he's on his way back upstairs, I sit in silence processing everything that just happened. As much as I like resolving what was between us, I can't help but to think about how impossible it'll be to only have friendly feelings towards him and not something much more. "Get over it Kat, he obviously doesn't have feelings for you," I mumble to myself, shaking my head, as I swipe into my room.
I toss and turn in my bed as I try to fall asleep with Claude's voice ringing through my mind, "Forget about that night- move past it- it was nothing."
NotesHey guys! Hope you enjoy the update- sorry it's so long lol it's just over 4,000 words! Thank you so much for all the commenting, reading and subscribing- your feedback is amazing! I'm not sure when the next update will be but hopefully it'll be within the next 2 weeks- I wish I could update more for you guys! Have an awesome weekend everyone!
20 chapters of Picture Perfect already! (And probably a lot more to come!)
I NEED an update!!!!! AHHHHH! This story has me crazy! I want to know what happens!!