Hold On Tight
[Six] Nothing to Lose
Tyler rubbed his hands nervously down the thighs of his pants, his heart seeming to pound in his ears. What was he doing? Trying to talk to her after all this time. She had been clear that she never wanted to see him again, and he was never one to try so hard.
As soon as Haley and her friends came into view, Tyler’s stomach lurched and he immediately turned to Jamie. “I can’t do this. This is a bad idea.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Let’s go. I bet Avery is wanting you home now.”
Jamie rolled his eyes and pushed him towards the blonde. “Avery is visiting her parents for the weekend, so that excuse just flew out the window.”
Tyler tried to dig in heels into the sticky, alcohol covered wood floor. He could feel the panic bubbling up his throat, threatening to choke him.
He heard Jamie sigh deeply behind him. “Dude, what is the worst that can happen? She slaps you? The sting will only last a second. She doesn’t want to talk to you? She hasn’t in five years. You literally have nothing to lose because you currently don’t have anything.”
“I just want her to see-“
“That you’ve changed.” Jamie moved in front of him and nodded in understanding. “She will. First she will see that you don’t have a baby face anymore…”
Tyler softly laughed at the jab, making Jaime smile. “But after that, she’ll see that you’ve grown up. You were young back then, and you let the life of a NHL Stanley Cup Champion get to you. I remember the Tyler that first showed up here – he wasn’t fun to be around – but you grew up. That isn’t you anymore.”
Tyler opened his mouth to answer, but was interrupted by a shout. “Hey, you came!”
Putting on a fake smile, one he mastered for the media, Tyler looked around Jamie to see Brayden walking up to them with an excited grin on his face.
Jamie turned and reached out his hand. “Yeah, man. You were right, she’s extremely talented.”
“Thanks man. Come here, we were just talking about the upcoming season and I’m sure Jules and Bek would love to give you some advice, since they yell it at the TV enough. Brayden let them the little ways to the booth filled with people, everyone staring at them in shock. Everyone except the blue eyes he had wanted to see the most.
“Where’s Haley?” Jamie asked, bumping Tyler's shoulder as a sign of commodore. "We want to congratulate her on her set. She's pretty good, man."
A man with blonde beard and a matching colored man bun pointed in the direction of the bar. “Hockey talk. She went to get a beer.”
Before anyone could make a move to go get her, Jamie pushed Tyler in the direction. “That actually sounds like good idea. Segs will get us refills and bring her back for you.”
Tyler glared at him while Brayden grinned at him. “Yeah! She likes the end of the bar best, so start there.”
“Yeah, I know,” he muttered, ignoring the curious looks from her friends and slowly made his way to the bar, his heart pounding in his chest at a mile a minute.
He saw her leaning up against the end of the bar, tapping her fingers against the wood grain. He took the time to walk closer to her, letting his eyes roam the length of her body. She had changed a lot since he had last seen her. Her hair was longer and, despite the countless of times he’d heard her complain about her hair being in her eyes, she had bangs now. She wasn’t the twenty-one-year-old girl he used to know.
He didn’t know what to say. He was just standing behind her, hoping that she would turn around, and praying that she wouldn’t. His heart was in his throat. Whenever he opened his mouth to say her name, he choked on it.
He heard her sigh in frustration and his stomach filled with dread. How did she know it was him? Did she see him in the crowd as he stared in awe like another love-stricken fan? “Bray, I just need-“ She turned around and faltered. “Tyler.”
The look in her eyes told him everything that he needed to know in that moment. She had never been able to hide how she felt. She could school her face to no betray any emotion all she wanted to, but one look into those beautiful blue-green eyes, and he could see all the pain and loneliness she felt between they’re years together. He had hurt her. He knew that, but like with her songs about him, he couldn’t run from it anymore.
He tensed, sensing that she was secretly looking for a way to get away from him. He couldn’t give her a chance to run. Not this time. Not again. “Listen, I know I hurt you. I can never apologize enough for my actions. I was young, and I got caught up in the lifestyle, and – I don’t know. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was stupid, and – and I’m just so sorry.” He wiped the tears that fell from his eyes, staring into her beautiful blue ones the entire time, hoping she saw the truth in his. “I don’t think it fully hit me, what I did, until the next morning, when I opened my phone and didn’t have any calls or text messages from you, and that was really shitty of me, because you were everything I could have ever wanted. You didn’t deserve what I did. I didn’t deserve you. Not then, and probably not ever. I know you probably can’t forgive me for it, and I understand you probably want nothing to do with me, but please, Haley, don’t walk out of my life again. I’ll take whatever you have to give me.”
He was talking fast. She probably didn’t hear anything that had come out of his mouth, but she just need too. All he wanted her to hear was that he was sorry, and the plea for her not to walk away from him.
Haley looked at him with wide eyes and he braced himself for her reaction. She had never been one to lash-out, no matter how annoying he was, but heartbreak does a lot to a person, and he wouldn’t blame her if she slapped him.
A voice behind Tyler seemed to snap her out of her thoughts and she looked over his shoulder, giving the person a small smile. “Yeah, Jules, just – just give us a second?”
Tyler’s shoulders slumped in relief. She was going to talk to him. Finally, after five years, she was going to talk to him.
“Tyler…” Haley sighed, and he tensed again. “I… I appreciate that you’re sorry. I honestly didn’t know I needed to hear it in person until right now, but-“
He took a frantic step forward, not wanting to hear what came after that. “Friends. That’s all I’m asking for. I won’t try to win you back, I’m not dumb enough to try to do that, not after everything. We don’t even need to be best friends – I just want to be able to call and actually have you pick up the phone. To be able to have lunch with you every now and then, and to see you at some of my games.” He waved a hand over her body. “I want to get to know this girl. This badass country singer who tears her ex’s apart in her lyrics.”
She gave him a small smile and cupped her cheek in her hand. “I am pretty badass now, huh?”
He let out a loud laugh, the relief coursing through his body, making him feel like he could do anything. “Yeah.”
She bit her lip and averted her eyes away from him. The air was tense around them as he waited for her, something he seems like he’s being doing for the past five years – waiting for her to somehow come back to him. When she let out a huff of air, he braced himself for the worst.
“I can’t promise anything.” She told him, her voice hard. “I can’t promise I’ll be fair, that I won’t lash out at you in anger, because I don’t know if I will or not. I pushed everything concerning you so deep down that I don’t even know what I feel anymore.” Haley shook her head, almost as if she couldn’t believe what she was doing. “But… I have a feeling you aren’t going to stop now that you found me, so…”
He couldn’t help but grin. “So?”
She signed again. “Probationary. That’s all I can offer. I will try to be friends with you, but-“
He wrapped his arms around her, all rational thought fleeing as he heard words he never thought he would. Friends. He can do that. “No buts! I can take any lashing out, I don’t care. Friends. I promise you won’t regret it.”
“I already am,” he heard her mutter into his shoulder before she pulled herself away from him. He let his arms drop to his sides, hoping he didn’t fuck up already.
She shook her head and gave him a soft smile. “It’s okay, Tyler. I have to go, but I’ll see you around.”
Tyler grinned at her. “You can count on it.”
Haley’s stare lingered just a little bit longer, the look in her eyes indescribable, but making his stomach twist in knots anyways. She had always had a way of leaving him a puddle with just her eyes – something that made his teammates constantly hound him about her, and what eventually let him to letting her go.
He didn’t know the impact she had made on his life. Not until she was gone. He didn’t have anyone in his corner anymore. His mom and sisters were too far to help him after a tough loss, and his teammates had only really liked him when he was playing well and wanting to party. It was only until he came to Dallas that he found out what friends acted like off the ice, and it was something he always wished he could share with Haley. She had gone through hell and back with his teammates in Boston, always trying to get to know them and be apart of his life, but they never made it easy. They viewed her as temporary, and that’s how they treated her. That’s how he had started to treat her.
With a glance behind him, he saw Jamie making his way towards the bar and an idea flashed through his mind. The first step to show her that he had changed from the kid she knew before was to show her his new life – and that started with introducing her to his best friend and one of the main reasons why he had grown so much in the years they had been apart. It also didn’t hurt that he was her brother’s favorite player.
“Hal.” He lightly touched her arm as she moved to walk passed him, ignoring her slight flinch. “Before you go, I want you to meet someone.”
“Introducing each other to our friends already?” She looked uneasy. “That’s a little fast.”
Tyler grinned at her. “Just one, Hal. And I think you’ll like this one.”
“Hey, Ty, we gotta get going – just got a text from coach about early practice tomorrow.”
Tyler smiled to himself as he saw Haley’s eyes widen at the sight of Jamie Benn. He knew her brother was a Dallas Stars fan, and after listening in on countless phone calls between the two, the boy crush that Dylan Anderson had on Jamie had been increasingly apparent.
“Jamie Benn,” Haley whispered, just loud enough for Jamie to hear her and send her a wink. Tyler laughed as he saw her face flush red.
“Hey, Haley, you were really good up there. Next time you play, let me know so I can bring my girl, she’d really like your music.”
She turned to Tyler excitedly. “Jamie Been thinks I’m really good.”
He couldn’t help but laugh again.
A look of what seemed to be recognition flashed across her face and she looked at Jaime again. “Oh my god, you were drafted by the Stars in 2009!”
Jamie looked at Tyler in shock. “Uh, yeah, I was.”
She grinned. “You played with James Neal before he was traded to Pittsburgh. For a little more than two seasons, right?”
Tyler frowned at her. “Yeah, he did.”
“How is he in real life? I have seen him play multiple times, and yeah, he’s a little rough, but my god, his hair. And his face. And his smile.” The boys watched as she physically swooned. “He’s mine and my brothers favorite player – we are so excited for the Knight’s upcoming season. We have tickets to their first game against you guys.”
“Nealer? But I thought you two liked Benn?” He could have sworn it. It was one of the reasons he was so excited to be traded to Dallas.
She shrugged. “We did, but when…“
Haley didn’t have to finish the sentence for him to know what she was going to say. They liked the Stars and Jamie until he moved here.
He nodded his head slowly. “I get it. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay.” She waved his apology off. “There are a lot of hockey teams, Tyler. And there’s Neal, who was my brother’s favorite when he first got drafted.” She looked over his shoulder again and nodded. “I really need to go now. It was nice meeting you Jamie. Tyler.”
Tyler watched as she disappeared through the crowded bar on her way back to her friends.
“Well, that wasn’t bad.” Jamie patted him on the shoulder.
“Okay,” Jamie laughed. “That is bad. Sorry, bro, but you can’t compete with the Real Deal.”
Tyler groaned. “Don’t call him that.”
“Seems like your girlfriend does.”
“She’s not my girlfriend, and the only reason she likes him is because I fucked up.”
“One man’s loss is another man’s gain.”
“Shut up, chubs.”
“So… everything good with you two?” Jamie asked as they started to leave the bar.
He nodded. “Yeah, I think so. She agreed to try to be friends. Get coffee, come to games, answer the phone when I call her.”
“Did you get her number?” Jamie laughed when Tyler cursed. “Smooth.”
And they meet again!
Let me know what you guys think!