Hold On Tight
[Eight] I Just Want A Chance
Tyler set his bags down right inside his front door, his morning training session tougher than usual. Every muscle in his body ached and all he really wanted to do was sleep and dream about a certain blue-eyed girl who had seemingly dropped off the face of the earth once again.
It had been almost a month since the night she told him she would try to be friends with him, and though he had went back to that bar multiple times during the last three weeks with the hope he would run into someone who knew her, she had vanished. Tyler tried not to panic – or at least not let the gut-wrenching fear show to anyone around him. He had her – she was right there – and now he was terrified he had missed his chance.
Preseason started in two days and his mind was so focused on Haley that he wasn’t ready for it. If he hadn’t been so enamored with seeing her again and had actually gotten her number, then they would be three weeks closer to forming something. Now, he would have to try to win her back in between games and traveling. To gain her trust while he was gone for days at a time with women in clubs who were determined to sleep with a hockey player. He had left her for that life – she wasn’t going to easily believe he was ready to give it all up again, especially after what happened before.
But he wanted a family. He wanted to have kids and a filled house with more than just his dogs. Sure, he loved going out with his friends after wins and he liked to drink, but it didn’t mean anything when life just felt empty. He saw Jamie with Avery – how she was always more than down with going out and drinking with the guy, how much he loved her, how he walked into every jewelry store looking for the perfect ring – and he wanted that. And when he looked into his future, the only one he ever saw by his side was Haley.
He wished he had never let the pressures of being a young NHL player ruin the best thing that had ever happen to him. HE listened to players who had a concrete spot on the team and became someone he hadn’t recognized anymore. In the end, he had lost not only his girl, but he was traded away from a team he thought he would retire with.
He wasn’t proud of his behavior back then – the drunk nights, the waking up in random beds, the ego – it wasn’t who he was supposed to be. It wasn’t who he was with Haley. With her, he loved his life sober. He was only twenty years old, and he saw the rest of his life mapped out in front of him. And he had liked what he saw.
Until his team started chirping.
It had all stated with them making fun of how whipped he was – always calling or texting her, inviting her to everything he could, the planned dates… then they started requesting that Haley not be invited to go out with them. After that, I had seemed like every willing chick was pushed onto him until he wanted to stop saying no.
Tyler wasn’t proud of it. Though he never had sex with anyone else while he was with Haley, he could vaguely remember making out with someone before he broke up with her.
And he hated himself for it. He never wanted her to know what he did. Not because of how it made him look, because he already knew how much of an asshole he’s been to her, but because he didn’t her to be hurt anymore than she already was. She left the fucking state to get away from him. What was she going to do when she found out he had cheated on her? That’s a trust he couldn’t get back, no matter how much he tried to do so.
He looked down at his vibrating phone, answering it when he saw that it was Jamie calling.
“Dude, that guy is here.”
Tyler chuckled. “Hello to you too, Chubs. I’m doing great after coach kicked our asses today, how about you?”
He could practically feel his friend rolling his eyes through the phone. “Never mind, just thought you would want some way to contact the girl you’ve been pinning after for the past couple of years, the girl you ran into and, like a dumbass, forgot to get her number after she finally agreed to acknowledge your presence again. You know, Haley, but whatever, have an ice bath, and don’t come to Adair’s Saloon right this second, don’t come talk to her friend Brayden, who is not currently sitting at the bar talking to the bartender, and don’t find a way to talk to your girl again.”
Tyler didn’t say anything – couldn’t say anything. He just looked stared into his living room, his eyes not really seeing anything, his mouth opening and closing like the idiot he is. A million thoughts were running through his head, but if Jamie asked what he was thinking, he wouldn’t be able to say one word of it, because his mind was running blank all at the same time.
Jamie’s voice broke him out of his trance in an instant. Brayden. Haley’s not boyfriend. Haley.
“Yeah. Yeah! I’m- I’m leaving right now. I’m on my way.”
He didn’t wait for a response, just hung up the phone, pulled on his shoes without lacing them, and raced out of his house.
He had to get there before Brayden left. Three weeks was too long not to talk to her, and he could never understand how he had let years go by without her. He found himself missing her more now than he ever had before. Maybe it was because when she left, he had given up all hope of her ever coming back into his life. He had thought he lost her forever, and nothing he did could ever change it. But now, after just the smallest okay to be friends, he couldn’t stop thinking about her – little smile when she saw something she liked, the way her body twitched when she slept, how she always moved her foot when she read – all the little things that he didn’t ever want to live without again.
Tyler was so lost in his thoughts about Haley, that he almost passed the Dallas dive bar. With a curse, he made a sharp turn into the parking lot, parked his car, and sprinted inside.
Unlike the first time he had come, Adair’s Saloon was almost empty – which was to be expected for a Sunday afternoon. The only people there were a couple of guys in the corner all laughing loudly, a lone blonde male at the bar talking to a pretty bartender, and his two friends who were in a lip-lock in a booth near the door.
Tyler cleared his throat as he walked up to them, causing Avery to jump back, her cheeks a bright shade of red.
“I’m so sorry, Tyler.”
Jamie rolled his eyes. “Babe, stop apologizing every time someone sees us kissing.”
Tyler laughed and waved Avery off. “Don’t worry about it, Av. After five years, I’m used to it by now.”
Jamie nodded to the bar. “That’s Brayden. I wasn’t sure at first, but the bartender asked about him and Haley.”
Tyler raised his eyebrow. “Him and Haley?”
He saw Avery jab her elbow into her boyfriend’s side. “Not like that.” She motioned for Tyler to sit down in front of her and Jamie in the booth. “When he walked in, the girl asked if he had talked to Haley. He moved to the bar to talk to her before he answered, so we couldn’t hear the rest of their conversation.”
Tyler nodded his head slowly, letting the works sink in as he stared at the blonde from across the bar. He didn’t know who Brayden was to Haley, didn’t know if he really wanted to know, be he was the only one who could get him in contact with her at the moment. He didn’t have any other way to see her again, and if he ever wanted her to know that he was serious, then he needed to take a chance.
He snapped his head up when he felt a kick at his ankle. Glaring at Jamie, he leaned down to rub it. “What the fuck, dude?!”
Jamie hid a smiled between a closed fist as Avery reached over the table to hit Tyler on his shoulder. “It wasn’t him, doof. What are you waiting for? Go over there. I didn’t have Jamie call you for you come ruin our date.”
Not being able to hold his laughter in any long, Jamie let it out, turning to his girlfriend before wrapping an arm around her neck. “God, I love you.”
Tyler stood up and rolled his eyes. “I’m going, I’m going.”
With every step he took towards the bar, he felt his throat close up in apprehension. He didn’t know what Brayden knew about him – didn’t know what he walking into. At least when he walked up to Haley at this very same bar three weeks ago, he had scenarios to play through. With Brayden, anything could happen. He could not know who he was – other than Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars. He could know everything, and he could hate him just as much as Haley did. He could know just a little bit of it – nothing past an ex-boyfriend from back home – and he could give Tyler everything he needed to get to her.
The bartender looked up from her conversation with Brayden and her eyes went wide, either because she recognized him as a hockey player, or because of his connection to Haley, he didn’t know. By the way she nudged the man in front of her, however, told him it was most likely the latter.
Brayden spun around on his stool, the look on his face expectant for a quick second before his eyes narrowed. “Well, if it isn’t Tyler Seguin.”
“Uh,” Tyler wiped his sweaty palms on the thighs of his sweats, hoping he didn’t seem as awkward as he felt. “Hey, man.”
“You know, you could have told me when I invited you to her show that you knew Haley.”
“Didn’t want you to warn her I was coming, if you understand?”
Brayden sighed and shook his head. “I don’t. At least, not fully. Hal – she’s not very talkative about what happened in Boston. The only people who really know the full story are Noah and Emma. The rest of us, we know pieces, and even that was only after her show.”
“How is she?” Tyler couldn’t help but ask, fearing the answer at the same time as craving it.
“She’s fine. At least that’s what she says. She was thrown for a loop that night, and I don’t think she knows how to handle you.” Brayden turned around towards the bar again, and Tyler took it as his cue to take a seat.
After telling the girl behind the bar his beer choice, he looked at the blonde again. “Look, what happened before – I fucked up. I knew it the second it happened, and though you might not believe me, I haven’t stopped thinking about her. I asked everyone we knew about her, even braved going to her brother, and if you know Dylan, you know that means something.”
Brayden let out a harsh laugh. “Oh god. Dylan. He hates my guts, and I’ve only talked to him maybe a handful of times. How’d that go?”
“He punched me.” Tyler rubbed his jaw where Dylan slugged him. “Didn’t let me get a word out before his fist was swigging towards my face. Then told met to never talk to her again and to go to hell.”
He laughed again, this time humor evident in the tone. “What I would have paid to have seen that.”
Tyler let out a sigh and dropped his shoulders, absent mindedly picking at the label of the beer the bartender set in front of him. “You don’t know what happened, I get that. You don’t know what much I hurt her, and though my brain is telling me to tell you that it wasn’t as bad as you’re probably thinking so you’ll be more willing to help me, I can’t. Like I said, I fucked up, and I’ve spent the past five years kicking myself for it all. I loved her, Brayden. Fuck, I probably still do love her, and I’d do anything – anything – to get her back.”
He lifted his head to look Brayden in the eye, letting the man see all the regret and hurt that he had shouldered for the past five years. “All I’m asking is for a chance. I just want a chance.”
Brayden didn’t say anything for a long time, just moved his gaze from Tyler’s eyes, to the table top of the bar, and then back. Finally, after what had felt like years to Tyler, he sighed and asked the bartender for a pen. After she reached into her apron for a blue one and handed it to him, he slid it, along with a white napkin, across to Tyler.
“I’m not promising anything on her end, but she told Emma that she wasn’t going to close herself off to being your friend again, and I just want her to be happy. From what I know, you had made her happy, once upon a time ago, and she hasn’t been quite the same since – from what I can tell, that means you still have some kind of hold on her. If you write down your number, I’ll give it to her when she calls me tonight.”
Tyler nodded his head so fast that he was sure he looked like a bobble head and eagerly wrote down his cell phone number.
As he did this, Brayden continued speaking, “It’ll be a couple of days before she calls you – she’s in New York for another week, something about a publishing company testing her on some edits, blah, blah, blah. She gets hyper focused when she’s there, and sometimes I have to call a mutual friend just to get her to remember I’m alive back here.”
Tyler raised his eyebrow and realized that he didn’t know anything about her anymore – not what she did for a living, other than singing songs about ex’s in dive bars, or who she knew. When he knew her, she was a student in college, studying English literature at University of Massachusetts Boston, awaiting graduate school at Boston University, and she didn’t have any clue about what she wanted to do in life. She looked at grad school as more time to decide – a way to better herself with education and ward off being truly on her own for a little while longer.
“Thank you, man. You have no idea.” Tyler shook Brayden’s hand, a wide smile spreading across his face that he couldn’t stop. Before he could make his way back to Jamie and Avery, however, there was one thing he absolutely needed to know, not matter how it made him look. Turning back to the man still sitting at the bar, he hesitated slightly before rubbing the back of his neck. “You and Haley… There’s nothing going on, right?”
He didn’t answer for a while, just looked at Tyler with an expression that told him that he was contemplating his answer. Seemingly coming to a decision, Brayden told him, “I’m not going to say I haven’t thought about it – that I haven’t tried – in the time that I’ve met her, especially the first year after we met. She’s an amazing girl, Tyler, and anyone who doesn’t realize what a catch she is doesn’t deserve a moment of her time. But, no, there’s nothing going on.”
He exhaled, not realizing he had been holding his breath in anticipation for the answer. With a newed sense of happiness, he gave Haley’s friend one more big smile before he made his way from the bar.
Hey all! I am so sorry for the wait for this chapter. I'm finishing my first year of grad school, so I write in a notebook when I'm avoiding assignments - sometimes it takes a couple days to get a chapter done, and then I still have to type it all up and edit it.
Schools ending soon, however, and I have a ton of assignments to procrastinate, so more chapters should be up pretty soon. Once summer comes, I'll be writing like crazy as well.
I have another story I've been working on as well, something I'm pretty excited for, as I've had a lot of inspiration for it. Please check it out! It's a Sidney Crosby fanfic called Accidentally On Purpose