Hold On Tight
[Five] A Nealer Girl
There was a thrill that followed being on stage. She had never felt it in anything else she did, but she had come, in the brief time she’d had it, to be addicted to it. It was the kind of feeling that made her feel like she could face anything and come out the other side stronger than she was before. She could have stayed in Boston with this thrill. She could have moved somewhere other than the perceived comfort of Dallas with it. She could face the uncertain future, because the present was so good with it.
Haley picked up the toddler that ran into her and spun him around. “Hey little one.”
She laughed as she made her way to the booth her friends always claimed as their own. “You guys. The shirts. Amazing.”
Juliet and Bek threw their arms around her and James in a group hug.
“And you! Absolutely amazing!” Bek untangled herself from the mass of limbs and giggling. “We loved the new songs.”
Juliet looked at her with a serious expression. “I want to hear about Boston one day, Hals.”
“I know.” Haley smiled softly at her. “Soon, I promise.”
“HALS!” She had barely just set James down safely before she was bombarded with more arms, these ones lifting her up off the ground as well. Haley giggled. No matter how many times they saw her sing, her friends were always super excited – something she couldn’t thank them enough for. From the very beginning, they had been by her side with in everything – helping her with songs, getting her the gig at the bar which was owned by one of Eric’s friends, helping her pick stage outfits, and like they did tonight, being crazy and making t-shirts with her face on them.
Once Eric let her go, Jake, the most calm one of the group, smiled at her and squeezed her arm, a silent understanding passing between them. Their friendship, a by product of her closeness with Juliet, was probably her favorite of everything in the group. Though he wasn’t really shy, he didn’t over-exaggerate, and would never be the one to partake in a running hug, unless it was with Jules. From the very moment they met, four years ago, he had been a silent constant in her life – the one she found herself going too when she just needed a breather from having to explain every little feeling she had. He never tried to fix her, instead just letting her be broken when she needed to be. She knew that even though he didn’t show it like the rest of them, he was in her corner, there when she needed him, and a silent constant when she felt that she didn’t.
It took her friends a while to settle down, but as soon as they did, she wished she could go back to her performance high, as their topic of conversation turned to a subject she wasn’t too fond of.
“So, the Stars this season.” Brayden grinned. “How do you think Seguin and Benn are gonna do?”
Haley inwardly groaned. “Please, guys, no hockey talk.”
Eric patted her on the head. “Don’t be bitter because your precious James Neal is out for the moment.”
She awkwardly laughed, hating herself for not telling them the truth about her history with Tyler a long time ago. They had seen her when she first arrived at Dallas, excited about cheering on the Stars. When the call came that Tyler had been traded, they couldn’t figure out why she had suddenly stopped wanting to hear anything about them, instead packing away her brand new Jamie and Jordie Benn jersey’s and bought every James Neal jersey there was – Dallas, Pittsburg, Nashville, and finally, Las Vegas.
Haley just couldn’t tell them. She wasn’t too sure that they would believe her, and even though she knew they would, especially since she had pictures somewhere in the darkest corner of her apartment to prove it, they loved the Stars. The Stars were the reason why Bek went to Dallas for graduate school. They were the team Brayden and Noah grew up loving. She couldn’t ruin it for them. Because it would have. They were the most fiercely loyal friends she had ever had, and one bad comment about Mr. Tyler Seguin and it would all be done and over with.
So she clapped back at them with James Neal and the Golden Knights – a buffer against why she didn’t root for her new hometown team, especially since they had seen tons of photos of her and her family at Boston games. They couldn’t understand why, with her past devotion to all things Bruins, she couldn’t find it in her to root for ‘Seggy’.
She had told them she had always loved James Neal, though. From his time on the Stars, through all of his trades, and especially with his current prospective stats with the new Las Vegas expansion team. She told them that her brother loved him too, and hockey was always something that kept them close, so she changed herself from a team fan, to a player girl – a Nealer girl.
She might have well just told them that she wanted to sleep with him, because that’s how they all took it. And when Jules and Jake asked her to be Godmother to their little boy, she jokingly suggested James, just to mess with them. It wasn’t her fault they actually went with it.
And that’s where she found herself, five years after she first left Boston, with a godson named after her favorite player, that was just a stand in for the one she lost, and an aversion for all things in Victory Green.
Her friends didn’t pay any attention to her frown as they discussed what the new season would look like without the Benn brothers. When they started talking about Tyler, and how “it was a crime for someone to look that good”, she had had enough and decided to go get a drink. Especially with the way Brayden kept looking at her with a secret smile whenever the center was mentioned.
“I need a beer,” she muttered, picking herself up from the low seated bench and making her way to the corner of the bar. The owner, a guy named Pat, gave her a thumbs up and slid her favorite bottle, Landshark Lager, down the bar to her.
She smiled at him in thanks, and used the bottle cap opener left on the table in front of her to pop the top open. Before she could take a drink from it, however, she felt someone standing behind her. Sighing, she let her head drop, a little frustrated that she couldn’t seem to find any time to just wallow in her self-pity without one of her friends constantly checking up on her. Taking a guess at which one of them it was now, she chose the moron who seemed to take an even more invested look into her love life.
“Bray, I just need-“ Haley turned around and almost dropped the bottle clutched tightly in her hand. Her heart started to beat faster, she became light headed, and she silently wondered why this was the first time they were running into each other since he moved here, a mere couple of months after she did. “Tyler.”
A little short one, but chapter six is already written! Let me know what you think!