The More Things Change
The morning of Game 1 brought at knock on Katherine’s door and to her feet in yet another strange room at 6:00 in the morning. She had been struggling with the time zone changes, sleeping in a bed without Paul beside her and living out of a suitcase for the last three weeks. The Sharks were on this ride for the duration and the only thing Katherine could do was to hold on and hope for the best.
A second knock on the door snapped Katherine to reality as she stood in her hotel room, barely awake and definitely not dressed to open a door. She scrambled to find her glasses and Paul’s Minnesota hoodie that she had been wearing on the road trips. Quickly pulling the hoodie over her nightshirt and putting her glasses, Katherine made her way to the door. One more knock that was followed by a “Ms. Donnell?” and Katherine was fully awake.
Katherine checked the peephole and opened the door.
“Ms. Donnell, these are for you,” squeaked the voice of a hotel attendant who was holding bouquet of flowers, “and this is also for you,” as he handed the flowers to Katherine and pushed his was into her room with a cart of what appeared to be from Room Service.
Katherine just gave the attendant a curious look as he stepped away from the cart, leaving her standing there in her disheveled state.
“Complements of Mr. Martin,” the attendant said as he closed the door behind him on his way out.
Katherine looked at the domed plates full of what she could only image would be breakfast and navigated her way directly to silver pot that she was praying contained coffee. As she lifted the pot to pour herself a cup, an envelope fell off the cart and onto the floor. She noticed a familiar handwriting on the front of the envelope, a handwriting that had been leaving her notes at the most random places for the past three years. Katherine picked up the envelope and opened it. Inside was a small note with two words on it, MARRY ME.
It wasn’t Paul who was dragging his feet on setting a date and getting married. Hell, if it would have been up to him, they would have gone to the closest justice of the peace the morning after he proposed to Katherine. And it wasn’t Katherine who was indecisive about the wedding. She was on board with getting married, it was just finding the time to pull one off. When she and Paul moved to San Jose together they barely had time to unpack before the Sharks Training Camp started, which was quickly followed by scouting trips for Katherine and the beginning of the regular season for Paul. During the season they traveled together, were able to enjoy their downtime during the home series, and even snuck in a quick trip to Savannah during the All Star Break, but the thought of trying to plan a wedding during the Playoffs was idiotic at best.
Katherine tapped the note against her chin and contemplated just going to the Allegheny County Courthouse and filing the paperwork for a marriage license while they were in Pittsburgh. She finished pouring herself a cup of coffee and reached for her phone as she climbed back onto the bed. As the phone rang she couldn’t help but think of how lucky she was that she had this wonderful man who after everything they had been through still loved her and still wanted to marry her.
There was no answer on Paul’s end of the phone as it went directly to voice mail. Katherine knew that he was either on his morning run or in the shower so a message would have to do for now.
“I just wanted to thank the gentleman who not only sent me flowers, coffee, and I’m guessing an egg white omelet with spinach and mushrooms, and still wants to marry me,” Katherine smiled as she spoke. Paul could still do that to her. It could be something as simple as a song, or a scent, just a quick random thought during the day, he could always put a smile on her face. “Yes baby, I will marry you, but you have one little thing to take of first.” And in a few hours that one thing would be for Sharks to beat the Penguins.
Paul found himself on the North Shore near Heinz Field. He was more than enjoying his morning run in the city that would always have a piece of his heart. He had left the William Penn and ran through the streets until he got to the Clemente Bridge when he decided to add another mile onto the run and head over to the North Shore. As he ran past PNC Park on his way back to the William Penn, he chuckled at the memories of the nights that he and James Neal put their best moves on coeds who were more than willing to entertain them after a Pirates game. Those days seemed like a lifetime ago and for the most part, they were.
When the Sharks were playing the Preds, Paul and Katherine had dinner with James and his girlfriend Melanie at the house that they two were now sharing in Nashville. Nealer was settling into the role of an adult pretty well, thanks in part to Melanie and perhaps a change of scenery that the trade to the Preds gave him. It was Melanie who reached out to Katherine to invite her and Paul for dinner on one of the nights that they had off during the series. For what could have been and awkward and uncomfortable situation, it turned out to be a nice night in with good friends, good food and a lot of laughs.
Paul knew that Katherine would always have a soft spot for James and he totally understood why. The three of them, James, Katherine and Paul, had all found what made them happy. They had all left Pittsburgh to make a new life for themselves in a new city and for as much as things changed, they all found themselves back in the run for the Stanley Cup.