Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chapter Thirty

The rest of the night carried on with relative ease. I sat with Mario, Nathalie, and Riley and we enjoyed the Penguin victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Geno played like a man with something to prove, notching two goals and two assists to carry the team to a 5-1 win. At least he was channeling all of this negative energy to a productive source. Well, besides beating the shit out of me. After the game, the box emptied pretty quickly and soon enough, it was just myself and Riley.

“Fun game,” she commented, snagging one of the remaining glasses of wine.

“Indeed it was,” I replied, walking over until I was directly in front of her. “Now, why don’t we go back to my place? You know, I’ve got a little time until the flight leaves for St. Louis.”

“You’re going away?”

“For a mini-road trip. And don’t I deserve a going away present?” I watched as she rolled her eyes and shook her head no. “But, I could get you out of this dress.” I snaked my arms around her waist and brought her closer to me. “Just think how good it would look on my floor.” I heard her mumble something about me not getting away with this, but I ignored her. “I could put my hands here.” I brought them down to her ass. “Or here.” I moved one hand to graze across the top of her cleavage and I watched as she closed her eyes and licked her lips. “Or maybe I could throw you on the bed. I remember how much you enjoyed that.” I watched her facial expression as she remembered our encounter last night. “Or screw the bed. I could fuck you in the living room. Wouldn’t you like that? Or in the foyer. Or right here if you wanted. I could do that thing you like, with my hand.” I traced a finger up her inner thigh and heard her moan slightly. “Or I could do that thing with my tongue. Remember that?” I watched her physically shudder and she reached out to pull me closer. I moved my hands back to her waist and massaged the small of her back. “What do you want, Riley?”

“I want you---”

“Oh yeah?”

“No, you didn’t let me finish. I want you to agree to meet my parents. Please.” I heard an undertone of begging in that statement and figured if I tried a little harder, I might be able to get away with it.

“No, no. Let me do all of this for you first. And then we’ll talk about meeting your parents.” I began kissing her neck until I felt her tense and push me away.

“If there’s no agreement first, then there’s no sex.”

“No agreement.”

“No sex.”


“Fine.” I watched as she turned on her heel and headed out of the box. And to think, it seemed like I was so close. Believe me, I wanted to be with her, but I just wasn’t ready to meet her parents yet. A step like that takes weeks of mental preparation. Everything had to be perfect for them so I could make a good first impression. I never felt like I was good enough for Riley, I’m selfish, loud, obnoxious, and self centered. And she’s everything opposite of that. But for some reason, God only knows, I had won her over and I wanted to win her parents over too. I know Riley would probably feed me some line about how her opinion is the only one that matters and that’s true to a certain extent. But, I wanted Riley to have her family’s support on this one and that meant making a good first impression and we’re back to square one. I grabbed her glass of wine, downed the remnants, and headed out to meet up with the team.

Riley’s Point of View
I had to get out of that room as fast as I could. If I stayed for one more second, I would have given in and let Max have his way with me right there on the floor. Not that that would have been all bad. Once I was outside and at my car, I felt my heart beat return to normal and I took that moment to actually be proud of myself. I actually resisted Max Talbot. The Max Talbot. I was playing with fire here. And could it be I wasn’t getting burned? Max seemed to be suffering, his efforts to seduce me weren’t working, and before long, he’d be groveling at my feet and dying to meet my parents. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty damn good. Which is why, when I got home, I called Vero and asked if she wanted to come over and spend the night. We’d have a good ol’ fashioned sleep over complete with pedicures, gossip, and junk food. Ultimately, it didn’t take much arm twisting for her to oblige. Around three in the morning, when all of the Cheetos were gone and we were relying on coffee to help us pull an ‘all nighter’, we started talking about Max. I actually couldn’t believe that subject hadn’t been brought up until now.

“How are you guys doing?” Vero asked from the foot of my bed. She was sprawled on her stomach, sucking on popcorn kernels.

“We’re doing really good. We said ‘I love you’ last night after we had sex for the first time,” I answered, unable to keep the smile from my face and the blush from my cheeks.

“How was it?”

“It was the perfect moment. Just hearing him say those words literally sent shivers down my spine. I haven’t felt this way about anyone before, V.”

“No, I meant the sex.” She started laughing and I threw a pillow at her, hitting her square in the face. She tried to retaliate, but I fended her off.

“See! That’s what you get for being a bitch!” This time it was her turn to hit me upside the head with a pillow. Once we finally caught our breath, I answered her original question. “The sex was so fucking amazing.”

“Ah! I knew it! Not gonna lie, Max always struck me as the kind of guy who would be fantastic in bed.”

“Well, your intuition was right. He was beyond fantastic. I just can’t even put it into words. How’s Marc?”

“Have you seen the way he moves when he’s in net? That speaks for itself.”

“Point taken.” We burst into another round of laughter as Vero went on to tell me some story about Marc’s bedroom acrobatics and how he accidentally knocked down a picture behind their bed, sending glass shards everywhere. I struggled to catch my breath when she was finished. I never ever laughed this hard in my whole entire life. I went on to tell her about our night in Mario’s box and then the whole ‘meet the parents’ issue.

“I wonder why Max doesn’t want to meet them. That’s so weird,” Vero pondered after I finished explaining.

“I know right? So you know what I did?”


“I put him on sex probation until he comes around on this issue.”

“No way! That’s such a good idea! I have to use that on Marc next time he doesn’t do something that I want.”

“It’s like a big game because you get to try all of these fun ways to seduce him until he eventually gives in. Max has no will power, so it should be happening soon. Although, I’m running out of ideas.” I watched as Vero scrunched up her face in concentration and then suddenly jumped up in excitement.

“Okay, just go with me here. How do you feel about road trips and bustiers?”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chapter Twenty Nine

I waited in the living room for Max to come downstairs and after a few minutes, I saw him come sulking around the corner. He plopped down heavily next to me and I put my head in his lap.

“Shouldn’t you be taking a pregame nap?”

“Oh that’s right, I didn’t get a chance to tell you before, I’m not playing tonight. Healthy scratch.”

“Because of the fight?”

“Because I can’t put my helmet on without being in excruciating pain.” I felt a twinge of guilt in the pit of my stomach. No matter what anyone said, I was always going to see myself as the reason that the fight took place.

“I’m so sorry.” Max caught that the tone of the conversation had drastically shifted and reached down to stroke my hair.

“Whatever you’re thinking right now, stop it.” He smiled down at me and just as I was about to say something, his cell phone rang. He reached into his pocket, looked at the screen, then looked at me, then looked at the screen again, and back up to me.

“Who is it?” I saw his blue eyes go wide.

“It’s Mario.” Getting a call from Mario for no reason was a pretty big deal, so I sat up and leaned in to hear what was said. “Hello?”

“Hey, Max! How are you?” Mario asked from the other end.

“I’m fine and yourself?”

“I’m doing pretty well. Listen, I know you’re not playing tonight and I’d like it if you’d come sit up in the box with me. I’ve been meaning to talk to you and I figured this is the perfect opportunity. We’ll have a few drinks, watch the game, it’ll be fun.”

“I…um…yeah! I’d love to! Thanks so much for offering.”

“No problem at all, Max. I’d also really like it if you brought someone. Maybe a girl? Maybe a relative of one of your teammates? Maybe a Malone? I don’t know, whoever you see fit.”

“How did you---?”

“I’ll see you tonight, Max.” And with that, he hung up. It was sort of like being summoned to the principal’s office. You stressed about it all day thinking, ‘What in the world did I do?’. Only this time, we knew exactly what we did.

“I can’t believe he knows,” Max said quietly, still looking at the phone in his hand.

“I can. I mean, he’s co-owner. He probably knows a lot more than you think he does. I’m sure he wants to be on the up and up about his players. I know I would.”

“Yeah, but this seems different. Like really personal.”

“But I guess since it’s affecting the whole team, then he’d want to know what’s going on. Especially since there was a fight, and a write up in the paper, and the fact that you’re not playing tonight.”

“You’re right. That makes sense.” Max nodded even though he seemed like he was still in a daze. We put off talking about the issue for a couple more hours while we lounged around lazily, ate pizza, and watched TV. Eventually though, Max knew it was time for him to leave so he could shower and get dressed before we had to go over. We decided that we’d take separate cars so nothing would look suspicious. When I was choosing my outfit, I decided on a simple black dress that showed just enough skin so as not to offend Mario, but tempt Max at the same time. I still had to make sure he caved first. Once I was dressed, put on my makeup, and grabbed my jacket, I was out the door and making my way to the Igloo. I made my way down to the player’s lounge and met this guy named James who worked at Mellon. Max told me that James would be the one to bring me up to Mario’s box. So, after a treacherous climb, I finally arrived. For the most part, the box was empty with the exception of a few staff members and people I didn’t know. I spied an open bar with glasses of wine sitting on the surface, snagged a glass and grabbed a seat at a table. As the minutes ticked by and the glass emptied, more people began filing in, until at last, Max took a seat across from me. He seemed pretty distracted and didn’t notice what I was wearing until he actually sat down.

“Whoa,” he said, a smile breaking out across his face.

“You like?” I asked, downing the rest of the wine.

“I love. Where’d you get that?”

“I’ve had it for a while. Thought I’d break it out tonight. It seemed like the right time. By the way, have you given anymore thought to my proposition?”

“Yes, and my stance is still no.”

“Oh really? Well, that’s a shame. I was really hoping you’d changed your mind.”

“Nope, because I have a theory.”

“And what’s that?”

“You can’t resist me as much as I can’t resist you. Sooner or later you’ll be begging to have me in your bed and you won’t give a damn whether or not I agree to meet your parents.”

“I beg to differ. I have an unusually strong amount of will power. You on the other hand, not so much.” I smiled at him and watched as he grabbed a napkin from the corner of the table and pulled a pen out of his pocket.

“You know, you’re impossible to live with,” he said as he began scrawling something across the napkin.

“I never said it’d be easy,” I replied with ease. He shook his head and slid the napkin across the table. ‘I love you’ stood out in bold letters across the white background. This was only the second time I’d heard it from him and technically he hadn’t even said it this time. But just seeing it written there was enough to send my heart into overdrive. I felt myself smile involuntarily and I looked up at him to find that he was smiling right back. This was a moment I wanted to remember forever and capture in my memory. But then I watched as his expression changed from happiness to terror and I quickly realized that it was because Mario was standing over my shoulder, reading the note.

“Mario! Hey!” Max said, practically tripping over himself to get over to him. I stood up and took my place next to Max. “This is Riley.”

“Hi, Mr. Lemieux,” I said politely, having absolutely no idea what to call him.

“It’s so nice to meet you, Riley. But please, it’s Mario,” he responded. Awkward greeting, officially over. “Now, I hope you don’t mind if I steal Max for a little while.”

“Oh no, not at all. Steal away.” Mario smiled pleasantly and began to walk away, assuming Max would follow him.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” Max whispered in my ear before trailing behind Mario. I watched the two of them convene on the other side of the room and I barely noticed the pretty blonde woman who had come up on my right.

“You must be Riley,” she said suddenly. I turned to face her and I guess she read the puzzled expression on my face because she quickly added, “I’m Nathalie, Mario’s wife.”

“Oh, it’s so nice to meet you,” I replied, repeating the statement her husband had made to me.
“I’ve heard so much about you, I feel like I know you already,” she remarked. I inwardly cringed at the thought of this. She probably heard something along the lines of: “Riley Malone? Oh yeah, she’s that whore that’s tearing the whole damn team apart.”

“Is that so? I hope it was nothing too incriminating.”

“Not at all! I’ve heard how you’re the beautiful cousin of Ryan and how you’ve seemed to capture the heart of one of the most ‘un-capturable’ men on the team.” I felt the heat rise to my cheeks immediately as I thought of Max. But then it occurred to me that even though she probably knows about my relationship with Max, she could also have been referring to my ‘relationship’ with Geno. “How are you two doing?” I figured it was best I go the safe route and assume she meant Geno.

“Oh, Geno and I are doing well. We’re very happy.” I gave the best diplomatic answer I could. I thought for a minute I had succeeded until she lowered her voice and leaned in closer to me.

“Please, Riley. I know that’s not true. I’m pretty sure you’re a little bit happier with Max, no?” She winked and I breathed a sigh of relief. Someone else I could confide in.

“So much happier.” I laughed as she led me to our seats.

Max’s Point of View
I felt bad about leaving Riley by herself, so I hoped to make whatever conversation I had to have with Mario short and sweet.

“How are you doing, Max?” Mario asked once we were far enough away from Riley and Nathalie.

“I’m fine.”

“No, Max. Really, how are you doing?” I sighed, it was no use sugarcoating it. He’d get it out of me anyway.

“Terrible actually. I can’t stand what’s going on with the team. I can’t stand not being able to play. I can’t stand fighting with Geno and Ryan. And I can’t stand having Riley constantly blaming herself. I’m just as much to blame as she is. But she never gets that.” I didn’t have any idea how impossibly good I’d feel just saying that. It felt like a thousand pound weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. “And even though all of this is going on around me, I’m happy. Happier than I’ve ever been. I know that sounds crazy, but I have Riley and for some reason that makes it all worthwhile.” Mario was watching me intently, as if taking in everything I was telling him very carefully. It was a good two or three minutes before he spoke again.

“Do you love her?"

“Yes. I love her.”

“Okay then, Max.” Needless to say, I was utterly confused by this answer.

“Okay then?”

“Listen, Max. I’m sure you can gather that I don’t like what’s going on with the team right now. Yes you guys are winning and yes you’re keeping it together on the ice, but if things keep up the way they are, and personal affairs begin to intermingle with hockey life, then it will start to fall apart. It’s not bad now, but it could get that way. No owner, coach, staff member, or even other teammate ever wants to hear that two players can’t stand each other or are in some type of feud. But that’s beside the point right now because what you’re telling me, Max, about how much this girl really means to you, is something that only comes around once in a lifetime. And I have the utmost faith that once you square things away with her, everything will be just fine out on the ice.” Was this really happening? Was Mario actually telling me, in a roundabout way, to put something else before hockey? “Just please, Max, please try and work it out with Geno. I know that Riley has to pretend to be his girlfriend for a little while because now the press is involved, but what really matters is who she’s coming home to, and that’s you. He’s jealous and hurt, don’t hold that against him. I’m telling you, he’ll get over it. Just promise me, no more nightclub incidents.” I nodded, trying to soak in everything he was telling me. “And as for Ryan, he’s just playing the protective cousin right now. He’ll get over it as soon as he sees how good of a match you are for Riley. It’ll all work out, Max. Trust me.” And believe it or not, at that moment in time, I would have trusted Mario with my life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chapter Twenty Eight

When I got up the next morning, Riley was still asleep, which I expected. I had woken up earlier than normal so I could drive myself over to my place and change before heading over to practice. When I finally reached the arena, I bolted into the locker room, noticing I was running late.

“Hey man, what’s with the shit-eating grin?” Jordan asked as I approached. I hadn’t even noticed I’d been smiling.

“Oh, I don’t know. Nothing,” I answered throwing my bag down.

“Oh, I think I know. Someone got laid last night!” he screamed punching me in the arm. A couple of the guys whistled and clapped before returning to dressing.

“Alright, maybe I did. But it was kind of a big deal, okay?”

“Max Talbot getting a lay is a big deal?! I thought it was an everyday occurrence.”

“Shut up, Staalsy. It was…uh…the first time with Riley.”

“Dude. You’re fucking with me right? You’ve been hanging around with her for weeks and this is the first time you’ve fucked her?”

“Okay first of all, can we not scream this in a public venue? And second of all, can we not say I ‘fucked’ her?”

“Did you lose your dick sometime between yesterday and today? Since when is the word ‘fucked’ off limits? And, dude, I can’t believe she would even touch you with a ten foot pole. Your face is so fucked up.” Just as I was about to reply, Dan came over to us.

“Trainer, Talbot,” he said to me sternly. I nodded and made my way to the trainer, Chris. When I entered the room, I looked to my left and into a little mirror. I still looked like a complete horror show. And, if I wasn’t seeing things, it looked like my face had gotten worse.

“Um, hey Chris,” I called out. He had his back to me and was writing quickly in a notebook.

“What do you need, Max?” he asked without turning around.

“Well, Coach thinks you should have a look at me,” I answered. Chris finished up his writing and turned around to face me.

“Holy hell! I heard about the fight, but I didn’t think it was this bad.” He immediately began poking and prodding, much to my dissatisfaction. Everything on my face hurt and I’m pretty sure a good majority of it was swollen. “It’s not looking good for you, Talbot. You’ve got some pretty serious bruising going on under your right cheekbone. Your nose isn’t broken though, so that’s a plus. And what’s this cut on the side of your head?” I reached up and felt a sore spot near my hairline on the left side of my head. “Jesus, can you even put your helmet on without being in pain? Go get it.” I did as I was told and came back with the helmet. “Put it on.” I placed the helmet on my head and tried to minimize the wincing and grimaces I knew I was making. “You’re not playing tonight. You need a day.”

“No, seriously, I’m fine,” I protested.

“No, seriously, you’re not,” he replied. “You should go home. I’ll tell Dan.”

“I’m fine though! At least let me practice!” It was too late though. Chris left to go find Dan and I was left sitting alone until he returned five minutes later.

“Go on, go home. Just make sure you’re back here tonight. We’ve got a flight to catch to St. Louis.” I sighed dramatically, but left. I really wanted to see Riley, but I wanted to give her some space too. I was sure she’d get sick of me if we saw each other too often. So, I decided to take a drive. I needed some time to clear my head anyway. I started the engine, and took off, with no particular destination. While I was driving I thought about Riley mostly. Things were starting to go the way I had wanted them to go. I loved her, she loved me. That part was good. That made me feel amazing. There’s no better feeling than to love someone unconditionally and have them love you back the same way. I could spend hours talking to her about absolutely nothing. I loved the way I could tease her mercilessly about things, but I also loved how she could dish it right back. She complimented me. I wanted to hold her and kiss her all the time. I wanted to put a huge ass ring on her left hand. I wanted to show everyone that she was mine and solely mine. But…Geno. That son of a bitch was standing in my way. He wanted her too, that was easy to see. Just look at my face. He wasn’t willing to back down either. If he wasn’t in the picture though, things would be so much easier. All I wanted to do was be able to walk down the street holding her hand! Was that too much to ask? I felt like I was constantly fighting an uphill battle. No matter how hard I fought, there was always someone standing in my way, waiting to take Riley away from me. I had to consistently be on my guard so as not to allow myself to lose her. I had won for now, but it felt like I could never quite keep a hold on her. I continued to let my mind wander for a few hours, until returning to Riley’s house. I opened the door and frowned at the fact that it was unlocked.

“You know, you really should keep that door locked. You never know who could walk in here,” I called out as I entered the house.

“Alright, love you too, bye,” I heard Riley’s voice in the living room, then I heard the clicking of the phone. “Hey, Maxie.” She greeted me at the doorway, throwing her arms around my neck.

“Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” I sighed. Oh great, just something else to screw us over.

“Bad then good,” I replied.

“Well the bad news is that my parents are coming to visit. But the good news is that I’ve been thinking about having sex with you. All. Day. Long.” She didn’t even leave time for a breath between those two phrases and the majority of blood in my body began to rush southward. I knew she was trying to distract me, so I had to keep my focus.

“Oh, really?” I managed to ask. “When?”

“Next Saturday,” she replied, hooking a finger in my beltloop. I immediately thought of 50 different ways I could have her underneath me in the next ten seconds.

“That’s nice.”

“Mmm, it is.” She moved her mouth to my jaw line. “Hey! Let’s go upstairs.” She began dragging me up towards her bedroom and since my mine was not really in a proper functioning state, I followed her wordlessly. I allowed her to guide me towards the bed, push me backwards, and sit in my lap. Soon my t-shirt was fluttering to the floor.

“Should I…should I be concerned? You know, about this?”

“No and can you stop talking? I’m trying to concentrate on pleasing you.” The way she drew out those last two words made me salivate at the thought of her pleasing me and I could think of quite a few ways that could be done. But no! I wouldn’t let her distract me with sex.

“But…where…are…they…staying?” I asked when her mouth wasn’t covering my own.

“Jesus, Max!” she got off of me and walked across the room, perching herself in a comfortable looking chair. My mind automatically conjured up an image of us having sex in that chair. See what she’s done? I can’t even think straight now! “Here I am trying to have what I was certain was going to be amazing sex with you and all you can talk about is my parents? You do know that tends to be a major turnoff right?”

“Yes I know! I’m sorry, but you just sprung this on me and I wanted to know what the deal was. But we can talk about it after.” I admit it, I’m weak when it comes to her.

“No, the mood’s dead now. They’re coming into town next Saturday because my mom's old friend is getting remarried and they’re going to be staying with me. And I really really really want you to meet them.” I looked at her and frowned.

“You, um, want me to meet them?”

“Yes, isn’t that what I just said?”

“Yeah…but…well, I don’t know about that, Riley.”

“You’re kidding me right?”

“No, it’s just that I’m not really a ‘meet the parents’ kind of guy. They just never like me. I don’t know why.”

“Honestly, Max? You don’t have to worry about that. I know my parents will adore you.”

“Yeah, well, don’t you want to introduce them to Geno or somebody?”

“No, why would I want to introduce them to Geno?”

“Because you’re ‘dating’ him?”

“Max, I’m not really dating him. And plus, I’m not going to lie to my parents. I want them to know what’s going on. I want them to meet the man who says he wants to be in my life for quite a while. Unless, you’re backing out of that offer?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying at all.”

“Then you have absolutely no excuse to not want to meet them.”

“Riley, you can’t make me want to meet them.”

“Oh, I know, I’ll just take something very important away from you.”

“And, what might that be?”

“Sex. No sex until you agree to meet them.” She said it with a completely straight face, but I knew she had to be joking. That couldn’t be for real.

“Are you kidding me? We had sex one time and you’re already depriving me?”

“Just until you come around on this issue about my parents.” And with that, she flounced off downstairs. These next few days were going to be absolute hell until one of us caved.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chapter Twenty Seven

**I'm so sorry for the delay in this story, I've just been extrememly busy lately. I'm also sorry that this chapter is just kind of "filler" so to speak. I promise though, an actual chapter will be coming up (hopefully!) soon. (: Oh! And as always, thanks for reading. <3

“You’ll never catch me, Ryan!” I yelled, skirting around the various forms of shrubbery in the backyard. The sun was beating down fiercely overhead and my sunburn from that trip down to Florida was stinging the bridge of my nose as the wind whipped my face. My plaid dress flapped behind me as I attempted to evade my pursuer.

“That’s what you think!” Ryan called back before making a running dive at my ankles. He caught me, of course, and I flopped down into the soft grass underneath the giant tree. He perched himself across my midsection and looked down at me with a victorious smirk before poking me in the cheek with one finger. “You’re all red.”

“It’s because I’m sun turned, dummy!” I fought beneath him, but he wouldn’t let me go.

“Actually it’s called ‘sun burned’, dummy.” He rolled his eyes at my ‘idiocy’ and then turned back to me. “You look pretty.” He cocked his head to the side after he said it, as if wondering why he did so.

“Don’t say that, Ryan! You’re a boy! It’s gross!” I gathered all my strength and pushed him off of me and into the surrounding grass. “I hate you!” I took off running as fast as I could, coming to a stop on the back patio. I sat down on the swing and closed my eyes, listening to the sounds of summer. When I opened them again, it was nighttime. I was older and so was Ryan, who was perched next to me with his arms around his knees.

“Why does Jason hate me?” I asked, putting my head in my hands. I could feel the hot tears assaulting my jeans as they landed in my lap.

“Jason’s an idiot,” Ryan replied, looking out into the night.

“But why did he invite Katie to the movies and not me?”

“I don’t know,” Ryan answered rather moodily. “But listen, you’re gorgeous, smart, and funny. And Jason’s a moron not to see it.” He suddenly grabbed my hand and kicked the ground, making us swing back and forth. We sat like that for what seemed like hours before it was time to go to bed. “You can sleep in my room if you want. I’ll even let you have the top bunk.” I happily nodded as we headed up to his room. However, sometime during the night, I crept down to the bottom bunk, not really wanting to be alone. When I opened my eyes for the second time and looked to my right, I saw a Ryan that I was much more familiar with. He was looking at me with that toothy grin that I had grown so accustomed to. “I can’t believe we just did that!”

“I know!” I laughed with him as he brushed a stray hair out of my face. He brought his mouth to the side of my neck.

“Round two?” he murmured, biting down softly and automatically causing my back to arch. I could hear myself calling Ryan’s name, but my voice sounded distant. And then I heard another voice all together.

“Riley? Riley?” Max’s features swam into view as I started to wake up. I looked around and noticed how dark it was, then I looked at the clock which read 3:27 AM. As my eyes began to adjust, I noticed the bemused expression on Max’s face. “Well, well, well, what were you dreaming about?”

“I don’t really remember,” I lied. “It’s kind of a blur now.”

“Well from the way and the volume that you were moaning in your sleep, I’d say it sounded pretty good.”

“Oh really?” I tried to keep my tone light and nonchalant.

“I hope you were dreaming about me.” He winked and reached for my hand. I gave it willingly and laid back down, perching my head on his bare chest. I could hear his heart beating, a sound that would normally soothe me, but instead made me antsy and anxious. I waited a few minutes until I was sure Max had gone back to sleep before I slipped out of bed and downstairs. I paced the length of the living room floor, desperately wanting to go somewhere, but not being able to think of a single place to go. My mind was running a million miles a minute. Why on earth did all of those memories of myself and Ryan come back to me in a dream? I suddenly had the urge to pick up my phone and call Ryan to ask if he remembered that stuff as well as I did. Probably not though. I’m the only one with the ridiculous sentimental memory. And even if I wanted to call him, I couldn’t. We weren’t on speaking terms. Why did everything have to be so damn difficult? It seemed like things were finally on the right track with Max and then my subconscious throws a wrench into everything. Thinking about those days with Ryan made me actually miss him and the way things used to be. And, believe me, missing Ryan was the absolute last thing I wanted right now. I’d probably rather get hit by a mack truck than miss him, and that’s saying something. Or, maybe my subconscious was making all that stuff up? What if it never really happened? I walked over to the stand next to the television that housed all of the photo albums my mother gave me. I opened one of the older ones, flipped through a couple of pages, and sure enough, there it was. Staring me right in the face was a picture of myself and Ryan sitting on a patch of grass. And indeed, I was wearing that plaid dress. I even had the same sunburn from my memory. I slammed the book shut and put my head in my hands. What the hell did I want? Well of course I wanted Max, but why when I was finally able to tell him that I loved him did these feelings for Ryan resurface? As if on cue, I heard Max tiptoeing down the stairs. I turned around to see him standing on the last step and the way the moonlight was highlighting his bare chest was enough to make me salivate. “Is everything okay? I noticed you didn’t come back to bed.” I was dimly aware of the fact that he threw on his jeans, but I was too captivated with his well toned abs.

“Yeah, everything’s fine.”

“Are you sure? Did I do something wrong before? Did I hurt you?” I heard the genuine concern in his voice and I felt really bad for worrying him over nothing. He was already leery of sleeping with me because he thought that I thought that he only wanted to get in my pants. And here I was making him feel all awkward about it even thought it was possibly the best sex I’ve had in my life.

“You were absolutely perfect,” I said, walking over to him and placing a hand on his chest.

“Are you sure? I mean, you bolted out of there pretty quickly after you work up.”

“I’m positive, Max. Everything was amazing, you were amazing. Let’s go back to bed.” I followed him up the stairs, desperately trying to shake my head clear of this daze I was in.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chapter Twenty Six

YES! She wants to marry me too! I knew it. How could she not? The only thing left for me to do, besides properly proposing, was telling her that I loved her. I had absolutely no problem saying it, but I didn’t know if she felt the same way. Well, wanting to marry me has got to mean she has some sort of fond feelings towards me, right? At least a mild interest. With all of these thoughts running rampant through my mind, sleep was now impossible. I hopped out of bed and crept downstairs, parking myself in front of the television. There had to be some way to tell Riley I loved her without freaking her out. The more I thought about, the more an idea began to form in my mind. I wouldn’t tell her at all, I’d show her. I was so anxious that when she didn’t wake up after about two hours, I made my way back upstairs. There she was, laying on the bed, the epitome of everything I wanted. Her hair was draped over her shoulder and her shirt had risen up near the bottom, exposing a silken looking glimpse of her stomach. I slowly made my way over, taking my former place on the bed. Once I was next to her, I gently grazed that portion of her stomach with my mouth, leaving a trail of light kisses as I worked my way up to her neck. My plan was working, in about thirty seconds, her eyes were fluttering open and she was looking down at me with a smile.

“What are you doing, Max?” she asked groggily.

“Waking you up,” I murmured into her neck. I heard her giggle quickly change into a soft moan and I figured that I must be doing something right.

“What…what do you want for dinner?” she stammered, trying to change the subject.

“You.” I growled before moving my lips to hers. I felt her arch into the kiss and then, to my surprise, she gently pushed me off of her and stood up, walking over to the window, trying to calm her breathing.

“So, I was thinking, Italian?” she asked not looking at me. What. Just. Happened? Did she just…did I just get rejected?

“Are you okay, Riley?” I asked, not moving from my position on the bed.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Had I been too quick to try and sleep with her? Now did she think I only wanted to get in her pants? Oh, great.

“Did I do something wrong?” She finally turned to face me and for the life of me, I couldn’t place the look on her face. It was something between confusion, frustration, and…sadness?

“No, of course not. Now, dinner, dinner, dinner, what do you want?” She put on a fake smile and began walking towards the bedroom door, but I was too quick for her. I caught her hand as she passed the bed and brought her into a seating position.

“What’s going on, Riley?” I put one hand on the side of her face and she shrugged me off.

“Nothing’s going on.” She avoided my eyes.

“I don’t believe that for a second.”

“Can we just drop it?!” Her voice was shrill as she stood up. I was taken aback by her actions, I’d never seen her act like this and I figured it was best to just wait until she came around.

“Consider it dropped.” I tried a smile, but she turned away and headed downstairs. What the hell was that all about? I followed her wordlessly into the kitchen and watched as she rummaged through the cabinets and the fridge.

“I need to go grocery shopping,” she said more to herself than to me.

“We could go somewhere.”

“No we can’t, Max. Geno’s agreement, remember? We can’t leave the house together or be seen together.” I caught an exasperated tone in her voice as if reminding me of this was taking a whole lot of effort. I must have really done something to upset her because only a few short hours ago, everything seemed perfect.

“We could order something?” I watched as she looked at me, rolled her eyes, and grabbed the phone, throwing it at me and nearly pegging me right in the face. “What would you like?”

“I don’t care.”

“You said something about Italian before? You wanna get that?”

“Chicken Parm.”

“Alright.” I watched her storm off into the living room and plop down on the couch. I called in the order and then sat in silence with her in the living room, desperately wanting her to give me an answer for whatever was going through her mind. When the food finally came, she paid for it and we ate in more silence in the kitchen. About halfway through the dinner, her cell phone started buzzing on the table. She looked at the screen and then up at me.

“I’ve gotta take this.” She got up from the table and walked upstairs.

Riley’s Point of View
“How are you holding up?” Vero’s voice floated out of the speaker on my phone. I was laying face down on my bed, staring at the floor.

“Not too good, V,” I answered honestly, rolling onto my back.

“What’s wrong?” I heard the concern in her voice and I felt so bad for burdening her with my stupid problems, but I needed to get it off my chest.

“Well, when Max came back to my house, I had every intention of breaking up with him. I really didn’t want him in any more danger from Geno. But then he went on this whole little tangent about how Geno’s plan to keep us apart was never going to work and how he, get this, wants to marry me. And it was all so sweet and I…I just don’t know. It all seemed too good to be true. I honestly do want to marry him too, but it can’t be that easy. We can’t find happiness so quickly. And then I started thinking about something that Ryan said before. We were talking about Max and he said something like ‘Max won’t be sticking around for long if there’s no sex.’ And then I started thinking that he’s probably right. And I want Max to stick around obviously, but then I started getting all these crazy ideas that Max was only saying all that stuff because he wanted to sleep with me. And then, as if to confirm my suspicions, after my nap today, I woke up to him kissing me and it just…I don’t know. So I basically told him to ‘fuck off’ when I rejected him and then I’ve been giving him this stupid attitude that I can’t control and I hate myself for it.”

“Wow. Listen, Riley. If Max just wanted sex and you weren’t giving it to him, he would have been out of there a long time ago. He’s obviously sticking around because of something else and I bet you anything it’s because he loves you. And before you protest that, he said he wants to marry you. He. Wants. To. Marry. You. You know that’s gotta mean something. And the only reason he tried to sleep with you was probably because he feels that it’s the next step in your relationship and he’s ready to commit. You know, sex isn’t always meaningless. A lot of the time it’s a promise, a commitment. You have to cut him some slack, Riley. I’ve known Max for a long time and I can tell when he’s being serious about a relationship and this is it. He’s probably just as scared of messing it up as you are.”

“Why does everyone make so much more sense than me? Thank you so much for that, Vero. You’re amazing. Remind me to give you something spectacular when Christmas rolls around.”

“Why wait till Christmas?! I can always use something large, shiny, and expensive now.” Her laughter on the other end was contagious and I immediately felt better.

“Nice try. I was thinking more in the range of 25 dollar gift card to Target.”

“You’re awful!”

“It’s part of my charm. But let me go, I really need to apologize to Max. Thanks again.”

“Any time! Now, go get it on with your man!”

“Vero!” I looked down at the phone but she had already hung up. I rolled my eyes, tossed the phone on the nightstand, and made my way over to the door. I almost ran right into Max when I tried to step through the threshold. “Oh, you, uh, heard all that?”

“You’re a loud cell phone talker.” He smiled at me and brought me back into the room where I took a seat next to him on my bed. “And curiosity got the best of me. Was that really why you were mad? You thought I was just trying to sleep with you? You know that’s insane.”

“Well yeah I know that, but things seemed too perfect. I needed to find a flaw I guess.” I heard how completely idiotic I sounded.

“You know, sometimes things are that perfect. Sometimes all the pieces fall into place.”

“I’m actually starting to believe that.” I leaned my head on his shoulder and felt his arms around me. I toyed with a button on his shirt and looked up at him. “Now, where were we before I so rudely interrupted?” In a matter of seconds I was on my back and in a matter of minutes he was poised to enter me. After scratching, clawing, and calling to deities, I was nestled comfortably in his arms, completely exhausted and euphorically happy. “I love you, Maxime Talbot.” The words flowed from me as naturally as if I had been saying them all my life.

“I love you, Riley Malone.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chapter Twenty Five

Kris stayed with me until I promised him that I wouldn’t do anything “drastic”. Whatever that meant. After he left, I began pacing, thinking of the best way to tell Max that, for his safety, it was best that I didn’t see him anymore. Granted, Max was the best guy I ever met, I couldn’t put him through this. It was just selfish. I cared about him way too much to let anything else happen to him ever again. On about my two hundredth time around the couch, the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, I found Max standing on the other side. At that moment, I felt my heart literally tearing in two. Looking at his face, it was clear that he had been brutally attacked not only with the intention to send a message, but intention to harm. Upon seeing him I completely lost it and in a matter of seconds he was across the threshold and his arms found me. He led me to the couch and just held me until I gained control of my sobs. This was another reason why I was no good for him. In the state he’s in, I should be consoling him. Not the other way around. When I finally managed to breathe, I was able to choke out a sentence.

“Look at you,” I said, gently running my hand along the side of his face. “Look at you.”

“Look at me? Look at you!” he replied, cracking a smile. I guess he was referring to my post-hangover, no make-up, still in pajamas, appearance. “I’d take this over that any day.” He pointed first to himself, then me.

“Max! This isn’t funny!” I looked at him with a serious expression to get my point across.

“Okay, sorry.” He looked away from me and out the window. I was tucked protectively in his arms and I began to slowly untangle myself from him. I’d never be able to do this if we had any kind of physical contact.

“I heard what happened. You don’t have to explain it to me. And before you say anything, just let me say what I have to say. Max, I…I don’t know if this is going to work.” I paused and gauged his reaction. He was watching me with wide eyes and I hurried on before he could interject or before I lost the nerve. “What happened last night and seeing you now, I know it’s going to happen again. One of you is going to fly off the handle and who knows how badly you’ll be hurt next time. Seeing you get hurt, because of me, is something I can’t live with. Max, I can’t put you through this anymore. I won’t put you through this. And don’t worry. I’m not going to go ahead and date Geno or anything. I’m just going to break up with him and then…maybe move. Yeah, I’ll move. That way I’ll be out of your way. For good. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I want to be with you, more than anything. But it’s not healthy. For any of the parties involved.” I stopped after my long speech and Max stared at me for what seemed like an hour. And much to my dissatisfaction and amazement, he began to laugh. And not just a chuckle, a hardy, knee-slapping laugh. “What?! What’s so funny?”

“Riley! God, how long have you had that speech worked up in your head? Seriously, we just got together. You think you can get rid of me that easily? When I want something, I tend to stick around for more than two or three days. And believe me, I want you.” He smiled and brought me back into his arms.

“But…but…I just broke up with you! And you’re laughing?”

“What aren’t you understanding, my love? You didn’t break up with me. I’m not letting you.” He laughed again and planted a kiss on my forehead.

“But…I don’t understand!” I backed away from him and stood up. He stared at me for a minute, shook his head, and pulled me back down. “Max! Didn’t you hear anything I said?! It’s dangerous for you! Being with me is a hazard!”

“Let me ask you something. Do you honestly want to break up with me?”

“No, not at all.” I answered in a heartbeat. “But---”

“But nothing. I want to be with you. You want to be with me. We’ll work it out. I promise.”

“But Geno.”

“What about Geno? Listen, I’ve come to terms with his agreement, Riley. We’ll just have to live with it. But I’m telling you now, whatever scheme he thinks up to keep us apart, it’s not going to work. It’s not going to change the way I feel about you. It’s not going to alter where I see us in the future. It’s not going to do anything. Let him be jealous and spiteful. He’ll get over it eventually. They always do.” I sat there staring in astonishment at him as if he were speaking Korean. The words that were coming out of his mouth were so reasonable, so sure. It made it impossible not to believe them. But, my hearing picked up on something he said.

“The…future? Who’s future?”

“Our future, of course.”

“We…we have a future?”

“Only if you want us to.” He flashed me a smile and my heart, previously torn to pieces, was instantly mended.

“I want us to.” I said quietly, smiling back up at him.

“Good, I’m glad,” he said while getting up and wandering into the kitchen. He brought back two bottles of water and only after I took a sip did I realize how thirsty I was.

“Thanks, Max.”

“Anytime, so, where do you see yourself in ten years?” he asked, relaxing into the couch and looking over at me.

“What is this? A job interview?” He laughed again and shook his head.

“No, I’m serious. Where?”

“Well, I don’t know. I’d love to get married someday. Start a family. I love kids.”

“Oh what a coincidence, me too!” I saw a suspicious looking grin play across his features. “I want to marry you.” I thought it only happened in movies, but I literally did a spit-take.

“Who me?”

“Yeah you, who else?”

“Oh Max. I don’t know. I mean I’d love to, but I just I don’t know. It’s so soon and there’s so much to discuss and---”

“Whoa, I didn’t say I wanted to marry you tomorrow. I just said that I’d like to. It wasn’t even a question. More of a statement. There’s nothing you have to answer. I was just, you know, stating what I’d like.”

“Oh yeah? Well it’s good to know you have our future planned out. I don’t even have to think, you’ll make all the decisions.” I poked him in the side and laughed.

“God, every time I propose to you, I get shot down.” He was smiling again.

“Um, if I recall correctly, the first time was more of a command.”

“Well, one day I’ll do it right. I promise. And you’ll accept. I promise that too. Let it be known right now, one day you will be Mrs. Riley Talbot. It will happen. Just you wait and see. Could be the near future. Could be three years from now. Who knows? This is one of those questions that can only be answered in…the Twilight Zone.” He did the mysterious voice, complete with hand gestures.

“Keep dreaming buddy.” I said, patting him on the arm. Telling him that it’d be my dream come true to just elope with him tomorrow would be giving in too easily. Max doesn’t like anything that he doesn’t have to work for. “Now, where do you see yourself in ten years?”

“Where do I see myself? Hopefully settled down with a family. I know I don’t strike you as the ‘family man’ type. But it’s something I’d like to have. I come from a big family, you know, and I’d like to continue that. Lots of kids. I love kids.”

“Aw! That’s so cute!” I couldn’t help but reach up and pinch his cheek. “I want lots of kids too. They make a house so jovial and loving.” A few minutes passed between us as we were silently lost in our own thoughts. I wondered how talk of a potential break-up turned into talk about our potential future together. “I think you should really try and get some rest, Max. As we’ve discussed you look horrendous. And on top of that, tired.”

“You’re right, I’m dead.” He stood up and held his hand out for me, leading me up to my bedroom. Max laid down right away while I went to adjust the blinds so the light wouldn’t keep us up. By the time I got back over to the bed, Max was already rolled over onto his side and I’m pretty sure he was fast asleep. I laid down next to him and cuddled close to his back.

“I want to marry you too.” I whispered in his ear. I watched as he mumbled something and rolled over. I prayed to God that he didn’t hear me, I’d never live it down.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chapter Twenty Four

I never thought my head could hurt this badly in my life. Mental note to self, never EVER drink a ton of vodka right after you have a concussion. Stupidest idea on the planet earth. I rolled over in bed with absolutely no idea how I got there. The last thing I remember was bringing Geno a drink. What happened after that? I got up, stumbled to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Red eyes, hair a mess, and make-up smudged. I looked like the hangover poster child. I splashed some water on my face, put my hair in a pony tail and walked back into the bedroom. I sat down on the bed as I tried to gather my thoughts, but then I heard noise from down in the kitchen. Thank God Max was here. I really needed some answers. As I rounded the corner into the kitchen and saw Kris sitting at the table, I knew something was definitely wrong. He was hovered over the newspaper and didn’t even hear me enter the room.

“Uh, hi Kris,” I said from the entryway. He jumped, shoved the paper in his lap and turned around.

“Good morning, Riley. I tried to cook for you, but I’m not too good,” he said, blushing. I looked over at the burnt bacon in the frying pan and immediately felt sick to my stomach.

“Aw, thanks. I don’t think I could eat anything anyway.” I walked over to the table and sat down opposite from him, bracing myself for whatever bad news he had to give. This was it, wasn’t it? I made a complete fool of myself at the club last night and Max finally decided that he didn’t want to be with me anymore. We were officially over before we even began and he hated me so much that he sent Kris over here to break up with me for him. “Where’s Max?”

“Oh Max? He’s at the…” The last few words of his sentence were inaudible.

“The where?”

“Oh just the…” Another inaudible sentence.

“Come on Kris, where is he?”

“Thepolicestation.” He said it so quickly that I wasn’t sure I heard him right.

“The police station?!” I got up from my chair and walked to the counter and back. “What do you mean the police station?!”

“It’s no big deal really,” Kris said quickly. “There was a tiny little altercation last night. But really, no big deal.”

“Oh good God! Let me see that paper.” I extended my hand towards the newspaper in his lap.

“It’s nothing to see really it’s just---”

“Give me the paper now, Kris.” He handed it over and I flipped it to the sports section. Staring me right in the face was that hideous picture of Geno kissing me in the locker room yesterday. The caption underneath it read ‘True love at last?’. I shuddered and scanned the rest of the paper. At the very bottom in huge bold letters there read a headline. ‘Penguin Brawl’. My breath caught in my throat as I read the rest of the article.

‘Last night at popular Penguin hangout, Club Diesel, dancing and drinking weren’t the only entertainment of the night. After a little too much to drink, two players began exchanging some words and much to everyone’s surprise, an actual physical fight erupted. Sources say that at first the fight was strictly between the two men, but soon other players jumped in and it became an all out brawl. We have received word that some of the players were even brought down to the station. As of now, no charges were pressed.’

I let the paper fall from my hands and flutter to the floor. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. This was not happening. No way. Going down to the police station?! Alright, time to wake up from this nightmare.

“What happened last night, Kris?”

“Well, you got really drunk and Max wanted to take you home, so he told Geno that he didn’t care what his opinion was, he was taking you home no matter what. Then Geno got in his face and said that if Max wanted to take you home, he’d have to go through him first and then Max hauled off and punched Geno in the face. And then Geno got pissed and punched back and he was beating Max up pretty bad. You know how big Geno is. It was really tough to watch. So then Jordan jumped in and started defending Max and he was beating up on Geno, telling him to leave Max alone and that Max only had your best interests in mind and that Geno was too much of a moron to see that. And, well, Jordan’s a pretty big guy too so the fight was a little more equal. And then from out of nowhere Ryan, jumps in, taking Geno’s side. I have absolutely no idea why. So then it was two against two. But you know how Sid hates fighting? So he stepped in to try and stop it, but a stray fist caught him in the side of the face and his nose started bleeding. Then he got pissed and asked Ryan what he did that for. And Ryan didn’t even care, he was just like ‘well, you were in the way’ so then everyone was just like punching randomly and then Tyler goes over there to give it another go at breaking things up, but it was no use. He just got sucked into the fighting too. And I’m thinking this is all crazy because they’re all teammates. Like what are they doing, you know? But then from somewhere in the middle of all of that, Max yells at me to take you home. And I grab you and as I’m leaving, everyone’s standing around staring and then I call Flower and tell him what happened and he said he was coming over there to try and talk some sense into them. And when we got back here, I put you in bed and I decided to stay, you know, just in case you got sick or something. And then I got a text from Dan, saying that practice was cancelled. And I knew something really bad had to have happened for practice to be cancelled. And then I got another text from Flower, saying that they all went down to the police station. And yeah that’s it.”

I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was absolute, ABSOLUTE insanity. I was coming between a team. This was just…wow. I sat down on the floor and put my head in my hands.

“Oh my God, Kris. Oh my God. I can’t believe it. This is all my fault. I bet they never wanna see me again. Any of them. I wouldn’t blame them either. I mean, who wants someone who causes this much trouble hanging around. I’m poison. I’m poisoning their team. I’m awful. I’m ruining everything.” Kris sat down next to me and put his arms around me. I let my head rest on his shoulder.

“Shh. You’re not ruining anything. It’ll be okay. Honestly. You’re not coming in between anybody.”

“OH MY GOD! I’m the Yoko Ono!”

“Will you stop? You’re not the Yoko Ono. Just relax. Everyone’s going to be fine. Nobody hates you, I promise.”

Max’s Point of View
“What the fuck is this?!” Dan yelled at all of us once he got down to the station. When no one answered, he repeated the question. “Are you all deaf?! I said, what the fuck is this?” I had never seen coach this angry…ever. “I have to come down to cancel practice because half of my players are in the station?! Oh, someone better have a good ass explanation for this and someone better have it now!” His gaze sat heavily on Sid and I felt extremely bad for him. He just tried to break it up. “Crosby? Got an answer for your team?”

“It’s not his fault! I started this,” I said, standing up.

“Talbot? Is that you? Jesus Christ look at your face!” He covered his face with both his hands, rubbed his temples and looked back at me. “Start talking.” How in fuck’s sake was I going to explain this? I didn’t want to get Riley in trouble. Think fast.

“Alright well, we were drinking and then I saw Geno and he was…uh, kissing Riley and then I got jealous, because, I liked her or whatever. So then I punched him.” Skepticism spread like wildfire over everyone’s faces and Dan wasn’t buying any of this.

“Sit down Talbot. Anyone care to give me the truth? Or so help me, I will bench all of you! Don’t give me that look Kennedy. I can do it and I will.” Jordan immediately stood up, gave me a shrug, and began telling the whole story. After he was finished, coach sat down and looked at all of us.

“Listen to me, right now. All of you. I don’t care what the hell is going on in your private lives. You leave that shit at home. Everyone get out of here except for Talbot and Malkin.” The guys scrambled for the door and I was left alone with Dan and Geno. “This story is far too complicated for me to even follow, but hear me now. I will not tolerate you two acting out like this, ever again. Just keep up whatever little deal you have where Riley is seen with Geno in public or whatever. I think it’s ridiculous, but that’s just me.” He took a breath, and then looked at us in an almost fatherly way. “I know this sounds odd coming from your coach, but just hear me out. Geno, I think it’s in everyone’s best interests if you just let Riley date whoever she wants to date. Making her be with you in public isn’t going to make her fall in love with you. It’s just not. I have no idea why you chose to bring the media into this though. That was highly uncalled for, but what’s done is done. Now on the other hand, Max, if Geno does indeed want this little scheme, it’s best to respect that, alright? I know you care about her, but if you want to make it easier for everyone involved, you’ll learn to live with it. This is all just too much for me. The shit you guys get into.” He almost laughed a little. “Anyway, I’ll tell this to the rest of the team later, but you guys are walking on eggshells now. I don’t know who called the cops, but God help them when I find out. This is a media buffet. As of now, you are to avoid all press questions having to do with this situation. When we finally release some sort of statement, it will boil down to the fact that you guys just had too much to drink and harmless teasing turned into something more. Jesus, I have no idea how to make this sound remotely good.”

“But what happens when people who were there that night start speaking out?” I asked.

“It’s our word against theirs.”

“Yeah, but what if they all band together or something.”

“Can you shut up for like three seconds?! We’ll worry about that when the time comes. I’m more concerned with whether or not you’ll be able to play. You’re going straight to the arena after this so a trainer can look at you. Seems like you got the worst end of the fight.” I looked to my right into some cheesy mirror that said ‘You could be the hero’. I had two black eyes and my right cheek was swollen. My nose felt tender, I hoped to God it wasn’t broken, and my lip was busted. “Alright, let’s go.” Geno walked out ahead of us and Dan caught my arm. “I’m sorry about everything that happened. But I think that now that the media’s involved, you might want to just go along with this Geno scheme. It’s obvious he introduced her to the press to get back at you for cheating with her, but maybe it’s a good idea to humor it, at least until this whole thing blows over. I know it won’t be easy, but I think it’s what’s best. I can’t tell you how to live your life, Max, but think about it.”

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chapter Twenty Three

I watched Geno lead Riley out of the locker room and I felt my heart ache. I wanted nothing more than to run after them, take her in my arms, and punch Geno’s lights out. I pinched the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger. Jordan sat down next to me and cleared his throat until I looked over at him.


“I saw what happened back there?”

“Back there? It happened right in front of us.”

“You know what I mean! Anyway, why is Riley still with Geno? What happened in the hospital last night?”

“It was perfect last night. I couldn’t ask for a better night. It was this afternoon that was fucked up. Ryan told Geno that Riley and I were seeing each other behind his back and then it just went downhill from there. Now Geno wont let Riley be with me in public to hold up some bullshit appearance thing. I don’t know. It all sounds like some made up load of shit and him just being jealous.” I watched as Jordan nodded.

“Where’d they go?”

“Where do you think? Diesel.”

“Then what are you doing sitting here?! You have to go keep an eye on them.”

“What for? It’s just gonna piss me off.”

“’What for’? Are you friggin insane? Just in case he…I don’t know. Tries something.”

“Geno? He’s not gonna try anything. I don’t even think he wants anything to do with her. It’s publicity, remember?”

“Yeah, but you never know. She’s hot, Max. And after a few drinks…”

“Okay! We’re going!”

Riley’s Point of View
Geno drove one handedly the whole way over to the club, keeping a death grip on my wrist with the other. It was like he thought I was going to jump out of the Porsche in the middle of traffic. I was desperate to escape him, but not that desperate. The ride was awkward and silent and all I wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed. Ideally with Max by my side. When we finally got to the club I was about two seconds away from telling him off, but I held my composure and followed him into the VIP section.

“Vodka,” he spat at me before I could even sit down. Oh. Hell. No. I was not about to be his bitch for the evening.

“Get it yourself,” I replied, with venom in my voice. I started to walk away, but before I could take two steps, his hand was back on my wrist.

“Get it, or I tell them you cheat with Max. Bad for everyone,” he said with a smirk. I didn’t think it was possible for me to feel this much rage at one time. I turned on my heel and, in a blind fury, made my way to the bar. I couldn’t deal with this right now. He was threatening me. That son of a bitch was threatening me. Just wait until I tell Max. He’ll go insane. Once I was at the bar, I ordered two vodka tonics. I planned on that being one of many throughout the night.

“I’ll pay for that,” Max’s warm breath made my skin tingle as he spoke into my ear and slipped an arm around my waist. “You have no idea how long I just wanted to touch you.” I set my drinks on the bar and turned into Max. He was smiling so broadly and I couldn’t have felt happier. But then I remembered who I came here with. I looked over at Geno who had some skanks draped over his lap. So he was able to have a good time, but I wasn’t? “Can we…?” He looked in the direction of Geno as well but this time he was staring back at us.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think so. It got worse. But I’ll tell you later okay?” He was frowning at me with obvious disappointment.

“I fucking hate him,” he said bitterly.

“Tell me something I don’t know. I’ll try and catch you later.” Geno was once again distracted by the girls and I quickly pecked Max on the cheek and walked back to Geno. “Here’s your drink.” I shoved the glass at him and took a seat. He drank it quickly and resumed his conversation with the girls. I sat there for the next hour as Geno had his arm carelessly draped over my shoulders while he flirted with other women. I knocked back about five vodka tonics in the course of this time and I wasn’t really feeling anything anymore. I barely noticed when Jordan sat down next to me.

“Max sent me over here to keep you company.”

“Maxie? Where is he?” I looked around, but the spinning room didn’t afford me a good look.

“He’s over there, talking to Tyler.” I looked in that direction and saw some blonde all over him.

“If you’ll scuse’me Jordan. I need to see what’s doing.” I heard Jordan mumble something about too much to drink, but I ignored him and walked over to where Max and the blonde were.

Max’s Point of View
I saw Riley walking over to me and I felt a smile come over my features, this blonde girl was unceasingly hitting on me and I was trying to politely turn her down, she just wouldn’t take the hint. My smile quickly faded however when I saw how much Riley was staggering. I knew this could only mean all sorts of trouble.

“Excuse me,” she said a little too loudly. “What’s going on here?”

“Nothing that concerns you,” the blonde said with an edge to her voice.

“Everything that concerns Maxie concerns me too,” she slurred, linking her arm with mine.

“I wasn’t aware he had a babysitter,” the blonde answered. “Or a girlfriend?” I watched Riley’s face fall as she looked from me to Geno.

“I’m not his girlfriend. I’m his…best friend,” she tried. She took a clumsy step in between myself and the girl.

“Whatever,” the girl said and walked away. Riley turned to me and put her arms around my neck.

“I just. I just wanna kiss you. A little bit.” She moved closer to me and I stealthily ducked away.

“Riley, you can’t. Not here. Geno’s watching.” I held her at arms length. My body ached for her, but I restrained myself.

“Just one little kiss?” she pleaded with me. I knew that I couldn’t because if I gave in, it wouldn’t stop at just a peck. When I made it clear I wasn’t budging on the issue, she started to leave, but tripped over her own two feet and ended up on the floor. I helped her up and put her safely in the arms of Tyler.

“That’s it, I’m telling Geno that you’re leaving. Right now,” I said. “Tyler, watch her okay?” He nodded and I walked over to the VIP section.

“Geno, Riley’s drunk out of her mind. She’s leaving right now, with me.”

“She stay with me.” He stood up so he was face to face with me. I was in no mood for this right now.

“I’m pretty sure this is universal in every language, so fuck you.” I turned and Geno stepped in front of my path.

“In public she mine. You not taking her.”

“She’s not a piece of property. No one owns her, okay? I’m taking her home.” Geno wouldn’t let me around him.

“You want her, go through me.” That was all I needed to hear. In about three seconds, fists were flying.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chapter Twenty Two

**so, i absolutely hate advertising myself, but it's time for a little plugging haha. all of a sudden, i had this idea to try my hand at a Sidney Crosby story. it was completely random && the idea just wouldnt leave me alone until i wrote it. so the product of my little idea is this: if you happen to give it a read, i'd love to know what you think of it (:

The last thing I remember hearing was Max’s voice whispering what I assumed were words of comfort in my ear, in French. I took Spanish when I was in high school, never thinking that French would come in handy. Turns out I was wrong on that one. Something about the way the French words rolled off his tongue was immediately soothing to me and I found no trouble falling asleep. When I finally rolled out of bed, by myself, it was nearing 6:15. I dredged up enough energy to take a shower and head downstairs. I walked into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water. When I closed the fridge something caught my eye. There was a note underneath my favorite magnet that I picked up in Jamaica. ‘I hope I see you at the game tonight…even though seeing you is all I’ll get to do.—Max’. It’s only been a couple of hours and this whole arrangement was already making me feel terrible. I walked back out to the living room, plopped down on the couch, and whipped out my cell phone.

“Oh my God, Riley! How are you feeling?” Vero’s voice was anxious on the other end.

“I’m doing better, Vero, but so much has happened. I just…I need someone to talk to,” I admitted.

“I’ll be over in fifteen,” she said before hanging up. And sure enough, in fourteen minutes and thirty two seconds, my doorbell was ringing. “Tell me everything.” So I told Vero the whole story of how I made things right with Max and how now Geno was screwing us over.

“And so basically, I’m gonna be spending a lot of time in this house,” I concluded. She looked at me with an expression of both shock and sadness.

“I’m so sorry, Riley. I can’t believe Geno would do something like this! It’s just not in his nature at all.”

“Yeah…I didn’t think it was either. But in some regard it’s exactly what I deserve. I mean, I cheated on him. That was awful of me.”

“Yeah, but you were planning on telling him the truth right away. Damn Ryan had to go and mess everything up.” She banged her delicate hand on the couch cushion. “But hey, look at the bright side. At least you have Max now. And honestly, you guys are perfect!” She smiled at me and I couldn’t help but to smile along with her. She was right, I did have Max and that’s what was most important. Even if it was only in private.

“Alright so let’s get ready!” I got up and climbed the stairs with Vero in tow.

“Ready for what?”

“Um, the game, silly.” I began rifling through my closet looking for that dreaded ‘Malkin’ jersey that I would be spending so much time in.

“Seriously, Riley? You just suffered a concussion and you’re going to a hockey game?!”

“I just can’t stay in this house. Thinking about how much time I’m gonna be spending here is making me crazy.”

“That’s true. Max gave you a ticket?”

“Nope, my family has season tickets and if you want, you can sit down there with me!” I saw her smiling when I looked up in the mirror.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” So with that, we drove our separate cars to the stadium where parking was a total nightmare because we arrived about ten minutes before the puck was going to drop. When we finally got situated I noticed Max staring at me from his place on the bench. A smile spread across his face as I felt Vero nudging me with her elbow. “Oooooo” She whispered as I felt my heart fluttering. There were seventeen thousand other people here and all he wanted to see was me. Something about that was overwhelming. I felt my breathing become hitched and I thought I was going to have one of the panic attacks I hadn’t experienced since eleventh grade. I wondered how I could be what he really wanted. Vero brought me back to reality. “Whoa, are you okay, Riley? You look kind of pale?” I looked around and noticed that the game had already started.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I put on my most cheerful smile and settled in to watch the game. The Penguins proudly defeated the Islanders 6-2 and much to my dismay, Geno scored the hat trick. This could only mean that there would be a million people from the press there and I wouldn’t be able to rush back home and be with Max. I dutifully made my way down to the locker room area and hung out in the lounge with Vero. We chatted about nothing as we watched the players file out one by one. Marc finally came for Vero and I said goodnight to them while I continued to wait for Geno. After ten more minutes I saw Geno poke his head out of the locker room, apparently looking for me. I stared blankly at him as he made his way over and I was pissed to see that he wasn’t dressed yet. He still had his gym shorts on…I guess dealing with the media takes longer than I thought. Especially when there’s a language barrier.

“Come here, Riley,” he called and I obeyed.

“Yes, Geno?” I couldn’t hide the exasperation in my voice.

“I want to show them, come on,” he said dragging me into the locker room. It took a minute for what he said to register, but then I immediately understood. He wanted to introduce me to the damn press! I tried to loosen his grip on my arm, but he wouldn’t give it up. How could he do this to me? I’d never, ever be able to date Max after this. Was this some kind of punishment for cheating on him? I glanced over helplessly at Sergei who purposely wouldn’t meet my gaze. Geno must have told him about this. I wanted to die. The press immediately swarmed when I entered with Geno. “This my good luck. My girlfriend, Riley.” The questions came flying about how long I’d been dating Geno and how long I’d known him and if we were in love and what did I cook for him. I answered them as best I could, thinking up creative lies for each of them. At one point, Geno bent down and kissed me, much to the delight of the press. After minutes that felt like years passed by, the interviewers took their leave and I sat down on the bench, sullen, and waiting for Geno to change. This was most certainly not what I wanted, ever in a million years. I looked up and saw Max sitting across from me. He must have witnessed the whole thing. My heart hurt. I reached into my bag, took out my phone, and began typing a message to him.

“hey you”

“hey. you look gorgeous tonight.” I blushed and looked up at him.

“you’re looking pretty good yourself, superstar.”

“you have no idea how badly i wanted to punch Geno before.” I had some idea.

“you have no idea how badly i wished it was you i was kissing.” I saw him smile a little at that.

“i can’t believe he did that. with the press. jesus.”

“yeah i know. i think he wants me to suffer in some way. you can’t blame him. after all, i did cheat.”

“hell yeah i can blame him. Riley, its not your fault that you didn’t wanna be with him. he should just accept that.”

“yeah but i CHEATED.” I looked up and he was frowning at me.

“that really bothers you, huh?”

“more than you’ll ever know.” Geno hovering over me interrupted my thoughts.

“We’re going to Diesel,” he said gruffly, reaching for my hand. I took his hand and followed him out of the locker room. He did not want to give me a break tonight.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chapter Twenty One

“Good job! You win!” Max said happily, planting a kiss on my forehead. We had been playing a game where he gave me an NHL team and I supplied him with the city or state in which they played.

“And what do I win?” I asked looking up at him.

“A date with a Superstar, of course,” he answered with a smile.

“Eh, I think I’ll pass,” I said rolling over with my back to him. Max slid his arms around my waist and buried his face in the crook of my neck.

“I think you’ll change your mind,” he murmured. His words sent electric waves through my body and I felt as if I was on fire.

That night could go down in the history books as one of the best nights of my life, even though it was spent in a hospital. I pleaded with my doctor to let Max stay and after much begging, he finally caved. The doctor had advised me to get as much rest as possible, but I was too excited to sleep therefore sleep came in twenty minute intervals. The rest of my time was divided between kissing Max and answering ‘yes’ every time he asked if this was for real. The pain in my head was subdued by the medicine I was given and even though I knew that I’d be feeling it tomorrow, I didn’t care at that point. I didn’t care about anything except being there with Max. I awoke the next morning by myself and I had to squint to see because the sunlight was coming through the window in bizarre unnatural streaks. I looked to my left and realized why. A giant vase with roses sat on the bedside table and the sunlight peeked between the flowers and leaves. I reached up and grabbed the card. On one side it said ‘Get Well Soon’ and on the other, Max had written a message. ‘I wish I could have woken up with you, but practice was mandatory. Sometimes it’s hard being a world famous hockey player! Oh well. I heard that you’re being released today, so I’ll come by your house after practice. Miss you! No I don’t…yeah I do. But not really. Sort of. Yeah, yeah I guess I do.’ I rolled my eyes at the complete idiocy of the card and reached up to finger a flower. They were a beautiful deep red and their aroma was intoxicating. The flowers and the card were like the two sides of Max. The flowers being the mushy, sensitive side and the card being his silly, childish side. It baffled my mind how someone could have two completely different sides to them like he did. Around ten thirty the doctor came in to run some final tests and once I was cleared, I was in a cab and on my way home. I walked up the pathway noticing that all the flowers had been removed. I thanked God for this as I struggled with trying to open the front door while holding the new bouquet. Once inside, I placed the roses on the living room coffee table and went upstairs to get two Motron. After taking the pills I went back downstairs and stretched out on the couch. I had every intention of staying up and waiting for Max, but the next thing I knew I was waking up to someone gently rubbing my feet. I would have screamed if I hadn’t been so tired.

“How’d you get in here?” I asked groggily looking at the clock that read 2:30.

“You really shouldn’t leave your spare key in such an obvious place. Under the front mat? Come now, Riley,” Ryan said in a demeaning voice.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, rubbing the sleep from my eyes and becoming more alert.

“That was a cute little stunt you pulled. Stepping in front of Jordan like that. Very cute,” he continued, ignoring my question. “What was he doing here in the first place? Are you fucking him too?” I looked at him with disgust.

“Not that it’s any of your God damned business, but he had something to talk to me about.” Ryan’s look faltered for a moment, but then he regained his composure.

“What about?”

“Nothing that concerns you. And just so you know, I’m not fucking anybody, okay? Not Geno, not Max, not Jordan, and certainly not you ever again.”

“I’m not sure just how much of that is true. You’re dating Geno, and you’re not sleeping with him? I find that hard to believe. And Max? Ha! Max won’t be sticking around for long if there’s no sex involved.”

“It’s not like that with us!” I felt myself becoming angrier and the need to defend Max overwhelmed me.

“’Us’? Are you and Max an ‘us’?” A smug look taking form on his face.

“I’m dating Geno. You know that.”

“That’s not an answer to my question is it? Or actually, that’s all the answer I need.” I eyed him carefully.

“All the answer you need for what?”

“I’m sure Geno would love to know exactly what’s going on between you and Max.”

“There’s nothing going on. So there’s nothing to tell.” I answered defiantly. He kept his stare locked on mine.

“That sounds perfect, then. I’ve got Geno and Sergei waiting outside. Let me just run and get them!” Before I could even say anything Ryan was out the door and in a matter of seconds, both Geno and Sergei were with him.

“Bugsy tell me that you see Max?” Geno asked staring at me.

“Geno, I---” I started but he cut me off.

“Is true?” Geno asked again staring at the ground. At that point in time I just wanted to die. And what I least wanted was what happened next. Ryan had left the door slightly ajar and Max ambled right through it and into the middle of our little scene. Shouldn’t all of these guys be taking a pregame nap or something?!

“Riley?” Max asked surveying the situation. I looked up at Max who looked beyond confused, then over at Ryan who wore the smuggest expression I had ever seen. I looked back at Max who had finally seemed to put the pieces together. He began to slowly back towards the door when Ryan called him out.

“Leaving so soon, Max?” Max didn’t answer, just froze in place and continued to watch the rest of us. All I really wanted to do was grab his hand and run out the door.

“Riley. It’s true.” Geno stated aloud. He looked up at me and I nodded. I felt my heart breaking for him as he sat down on my couch and put his head in his hands. The same position I had been in yesterday when Jordan came to talk to me. I walked over to him and placed my hand on his shoulder but he jerked away from me. He had every right to. I was awful and he didn’t deserve this. Suddenly though, he began speaking very swiftly and angrily to Sergei who just nodded in understanding. When he was done I looked to Sergei. He seemed uncertain if he should tell me, but Geno nodded and Sergei began.

“Well, Riley, Geno’s really upset that it had to end this way. He really liked you. He really likes you and it’s hard to imagine you with anyone else. That being said, to protect both of your reputations, it’s best if you act as if you’re continuing to see each other. The media has already spotted the two of you out and you can just imagine how it would look if, say tomorrow, you were walking down the street hand in hand with Max. So, until a respectable amount of time passes you will be seen in public with Geno, you will sport his jerseys at games, and you will go to events with him. And after that time passes, you guys will have a clean, swift break up. Then, when another respectable amount of time passes, you may begin seeing Max publicly. To the outside world, you are Evgeni Malkin’s girlfriend and behind closed doors, he couldn’t care less what you do. Fair?” My mind could barely process what was just said.

“Fair,” I squeaked back. Sergei stood up and tapped Geno’s arm. Geno took a few steps towards the door before turning around and coming back to stand in front of me. He bent down and placed a quick kiss on my lips before exiting. A kiss goodbye I assumed. I looked over at Max who wore a stunned expression and Ryan’s face held one of equal surprise.

“Get the fuck out, Ryan,” I said icily.

“Wait, Riley I---” he began, but I cut him off.

“What Ryan? What?” I couldn’t stop myself and the tears began to flow. “Are you happy now? Are you finally happy? Look what you did! I can’t even be with who I want to be with in public! We have to keep our whole damn relationship a secret, Ryan! Do you understand that? Do you understand how painful this is going to be for everyone involved?! If I would have handled this the way I wanted to, things would have worked out! It would be different now. But okay Ryan, you won. Alright? I’m a prisoner in my own damn home because of you. Congratulations.” I pushed past him and ran up the stairs and into my room. I slammed the door, but I could still hear them talking downstairs.

“I…I had no idea that it would end up like this,” Ryan said.

“Yeah…I…I don’t know. I think you should, um, leave,” Max responded. Without another exchange, Ryan left. I then heard Max’s footsteps making their way to my room. I was face down on the bed and Max sat down next to me, rubbing soothing circles into my back. “It’ll be okay.” I wanted nothing more than to believe that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Chapter Twenty

**so, i'm back earlier than expected && i'm so excited because i got some ideas while i was away && i couldn't wait to get home to write them down! also this is chapter twenty && it sort of feels like a milestone. i can't believe how far this story has come && it all started with one silly idea i had one day haha but enough rambling. thanks for all your comments && support. you guys mean the world <3

Jordan arose from his seated position and nervously wiped his hands on his pants. I could only imagine how crazy he looked to the neighbors. Just sitting there, waiting. He smiled awkwardly as I made my way over to him.

“Jordan?! What are you doing here? Is everything okay? Is anyone hurt?” I babbled the stream of questions at him, not really allowing adequate time for response.

“Calm down, Riley. Everything’s fine. Everyone’s fine. I just wanted to talk to you, if that’s okay?” he asked gingerly.

“Yeah sure, of course.” I opened the front door and ushered him inside. He declined my drink offer and instead took a seat on the armchair.

“Don’t you want to know how I know where you live?” he asked, a small smile creeping across his face.

“I don’t really need the details on how you stalked me, so the floor is all yours for whatever you wanted to talk about.” I laughed and he relaxed.

“I wanted to talk to you about Max.” My chest tightened and a million thoughts began running through my mind. Had Max sent Jordan to tell me that he never wanted to see me again? Was he finally through with my indecisiveness?

“What about Max?” The obvious waver in my voice put Jordan on edge again.

“I know this isn’t really my place, but he’s beating himself up about this and to tell you the truth, I’m kinda sick of hearing about it.” He smiled again and I nodded for him to continue. “The bottom line is that he likes you…a lot.” The words hung in the air and quietly floated around. I was already pretty sure of this, but hearing it from someone else just makes it that much more realistic.

“I may have heard that.”

“And you like him too. I know it. It’s obvious. I really don’t know how Geno doesn’t see it.” I winced at the mention of Geno’s name. It hurt to hear his name brought up in any conversation about Max.

“You’re right.” My voice was now just above a whisper. “You’re absolutely right.”

“I know. Now, all you have to do is break it off with Geno and get with Max!” He smiled broadly, obviously proud with himself.

“Jordan, it’s not that easy. First of all, I’m not one to break hearts. I couldn’t just break up with Geno tomorrow and go out with Max that afternoon. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. And also, this is the more selfish side of me, I don’t want to be the first one to give in. I don’t want to come crawling to Max and tell him how I feel. I thought I could do it before, but I’m not that person.” I put my head in my hands as he got up, sat down next to me, and put his arm around my shoulders.

“I know where you’re coming from, but it wouldn’t be crawling back to him. I’m telling you, you’ll feel so much better if you just do this. Not only for yourself, but for Max and for Geno. You’re stringing Geno along and you’ve got to let him go. You know it. And with Max, he’ll be the happiest guy on the face of the earth once you guys finally get all of this out in the open. You’re both so damn stubborn, but once one of you finally gives in, it’ll all be worth it.” I honestly couldn’t believe how much sense he was making.

“When’d you get so smart?” I asked, hitting his arm.

“I was just born that way.” His triumphant smile never leaving his face.

“Well thank you, so much. You’re right. I’m gonna do it. As soon as I get the chance!”

“Ha! That’s what she said!!”

“Oh my God, you’re a moron.” I rolled my eyes as he stood up, laughing at his own stupid joke.

“Well I really should get going. Thanks for listening. I know I don’t make a lot of sense most of the time, but I had to do this for Max. He’s like my brother and I don’t like to see him upset.”

“Oh that’s cute.” I laughed and opened the door, following him out onto the walkway. I gave him a hug before looking past him and into the street. “Why’d you park so funny?” I pointed at a car parked crooked against the curb in front of my house.

“I didn’t drive here. I took a cab.” In a matter of seconds, I saw Ryan bounding across the grass and up to where Jordan and I stood. His fist was poised as he approached and Jordan was frozen in shock. I quickly stepped in front of Jordan, hoping my presence would deter Ryan, but by the time I moved, Ryan’s fist was already soaring through the air and I felt it making contact with the side of my head. Ryan must have put a lot of power into that swing, because the edges of my vision started to go blurry and as darkness surrounded me, I heard someone call my name, but they sounded very far away almost as if they were underwater. And then, I heard nothing.

Max’s Point of View
Jordan’s words rung in my head as I raced to the hospital.

“There’s been an accident. Riley’s hurt and in the hospital. What? No. She’s alive. Dude, I swear. Well, she was sort of punched. By who? Well, by Ryan. But wait Max! Before you overreact---”

And that was all I heard. That was all I needed to hear. I hung up the phone, grabbed my keys and headed over. I burst through the doors and saw a flock of familiar faces in the waiting room. Vero was there, with Marc by her side. Geno was pacing up and down conversing in quick sentences to Sergei. Jordan was trying to read a magazine, but I could tell that he was staring blankly at a page, not seeing anything at all. And Ryan. I saw red and immediately lunged at him. Jordan was too quick though and held me back, Marc jumping up to help.

“What the fuck are you doing here?!” I spat, rage filling my voice.

“I’m her cousin. I have every right to be here.” He answered with just as much bitterness.

“You’re the one who fucking put her in here!” I shouted at him.

“Um, gentlemen, if there’s a problem I’m going to have to ask you to step outside to resolve it. Otherwise, you need to remain quiet in here,” a nurse said coming over to us. Ryan quickly spun on his heel and walked away and Jordan and Marc released their grip on me. I took a seat next to Jordan.

“What’d the doctor say?” I asked impatiently.

“Nothing yet, she’s still in there, out cold,” Jordan said looking down at the ground. “If she hadn’t jumped in front of me to try and stop him…” He trailed off. I put my arm around his shoulders in a reassuring half-embrace. The next four hours were some of the longest in my life. I willed the clock to move faster but it was of no use. It was approaching two o’clock in the morning when the doctor finally came out.

“Alright, you can all finally stop worrying. Riley’s fine. She suffered a minor concussion and some pretty serious bruising on the left side of her face, but other than that, she’s going to be more than okay,” he said with a smile. All of us breathed an evident sigh of relief. “Now, she’s just waking up and I’m going to let one of you see her. Who’s it going to be?” Ryan, Geno, and I all ran up to the doctor. “Okay, I’m pretty sure I said ‘one’. What’s your relationship to the patient?” His question was directed at Geno.

“I her boyfriend,” Geno said confidently. The doctor then turned to Ryan.

“I’m her cousin,” Ryan answered. I was next.

“I’m her…friend,” I said lamely and I watched Ryan smile broadly.

“Doctor, he’s nothing to her,” Ryan said pointing at me. “And I understand that Geno is her boyfriend, but please let me see her. I’m related to her by blood after all.” The doctor contemplated this for a moment then nodded.

“You’re right, son. Go ahead. Room 827.” Ryan practically skipped down the hallway and the rest of us returned to our seats. Less than five minutes later Ryan was walking back out to us, his smug expression replaced by one of shock.

“She, uh, she didn’t want to see me,” he mumbled. “She…she wants to see you, Max.” I felt a strange sensation in the pit of my stomach upon being requested to be seen by Riley. I got up from my chair and made my way to 827. When I entered the room, a nurse exited and Riley looked over at me.

“Hey you,” she said smiling a little.

“Hey,” I answered breathlessly. I moved closer and saw the left side of her face. Bruised, just like the doctor said. And a pair of butterfly stitches adorned a space above her left eye.

“Sit down.” She patted a space on the side of her bed and I sat down carefully. She then took my right hand in hers and brought it up to her mouth, kissing it gently. I was dumbfounded by her actions and I just stared at her blankly. “I’m glad you’re here, Max.”

“I, um, I’m glad you’re okay.” She smiled again and reached up to run a hand through my hair. I was so taken aback that I had to do this now. There might never be another chance to discuss this when she was so calm and willing. “What do you think of me, Riley?” I let the question hang out there and it took her a while to answer.

“What do I think of you? Well, I think you’re loud, obnoxious, self-centered, arrogant, cocky, stubborn, and annoying as hell. But, there’s another side. The one that’s sweet, kind, selfless, funny, smart, charming, silly, and lovable. That’s the one I like. The one I love.” I was pretty sure that I stopped breathing. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. Was this for real? “What do you think of me?”

“I think you’re perfect.” My answer was simple but it conveyed everything I’d felt for what seemed like an eternity. “And I lo---”

“No, don’t say it. Not yet.” She cut me off mid-sentence.

“But you just said it.”

“No I didn’t. I said I love that side of you. Not that I actually love you.” She smiled playfully. “Let’s wait until we get to know each other better before we say it. I want to know everything about you. And I want to tell you everything about me. And we have so much time for that. I just want to be with you.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Are you sure you’re not hopped up on pain meds or something?” I asked, seriously fearing that she was. “Are you gonna forget all of this tomorrow and go back to the way we were?” I watched as she laughed lightly.

“Oh Maxie, no. I’m not even on any pain meds yet. I’m gonna remember everything. This is all coming from me. I’m serious. It’s for real.” I felt a warm sensation flood through my body at the word ‘Maxie’.

“Can I…can I kiss you?” I asked timidly. For once in my life fearing rejection.

“You never, ever have to ask.” I brought my face down to hers and realized that this was our first real kiss. Not one clouded by alcohol or pity. But one of equal want on both sides, when both of us were one hundred percent coherent. Nothing felt more perfect.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

a quick notice

**i'm sure all of you are aware that my updates have been anything but consistent. i'd love to tell you that i'll udpate every monday && thursday or something like that, but i know i'd fail miserably =p anyway, i really hate to leave you hanging, but starting tomorrow, i'm going away for roughly two weeks && i wont be able to update ): BUT i promise that as soon as i get back, i will glue myself to this computer && give you the next chapter. i hope all of you are enjoying your summer && as always thanks for reading && commenting xoxo (:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chapter Nineteen

**sorry that this chapter is so short...or maybe it only feels short because the last one was ridiculously long =p in any case, i just wanna thank you guys for all of your comments. they truly mean alot && make writing this worth while (:

Alright so that was not the way that was supposed to happen. I wasn’t supposed to get some smug attitude and I wasn’t supposed to be such a complete ass. I could have waited. I should have waited. I should have waited until Riley was ready to tell me on her own. I watched her walk away, fuming, and throw open the door of the restaurant. She was so cute even when she was throwing a fit. I just wished it would have gone differently. I wanted to tell her everything in a calm, sincere way, and I wanted her to tell me how she felt in the same demeanor. But now it was too late. I found out in the worst way possible. She wasn’t supposed to scream it at me. So that’s one special moment gone. I slowly made my exit and walked onto the sidewalk with the rest of the guys.

“We’re leaving,” Riley said curtly. “It was a wonderful lunch and we’ll see you soon.” I watched as Vero gave her a strange look and Riley mouthed ‘We’ll talk later’ before turning on her heel, linking her arm with Geno’s, and walking down the street. I watched them go, feeling my chest tighten and that all too familiar pang of jealousy every time I saw them together. Marc and Vero were the next to leave and one by one, Sid, Tyler, and Kris soon took leave. It was finally just Jordan and myself.

“How’d it go?” he asked as we began walking, with no clear direction.

“How’d what go?” I replied, playing innocent.

“Dude. I’m not an idiot. I know you were talking to Riley about something concerning your ‘relationship’ or whatever it is. How’d that go?”

“Oh that,” I began. I considered lying to him and telling him to mind his own damn business, but I didn’t. “It didn’t go so well. It actually went terrible.”

“I’m sorry, man,” he said sympathetically. “What’s the deal anyway?”

“In short, we both have feelings for each other. But she’s with Geno. So yeah,” I answered. He stopped in his tracks and turned to look at me.

“She’s into you too?” he asked with a hint of incredulity.

“Yeah…why? Is that so hard to believe?” I asked, caught off guard by his surprise.

“Well, no. It’s just that I thought you only fooled around or whatever. I didn’t think there were like real feelings involved. And not to mention the fact that Geno is probably the polar opposite of you. I mean, come on,” he answered honestly.

“We didn’t even really fool around. We kissed a few times and that was that. But we were hanging out the other night and she was drunk. And she told me that she really wanted me and not Geno,” I said as we continued walking.

“Drunken words are sober thoughts.”

“Wow. That’s really profound!”

“I know. I read it somewhere.” I rolled my eyes and continued.

“Anyway, then she came to my house and I think she was gonna actually tell me how she felt, but I had a girl over and it just ruined everything.”

“Dumbass mistake. Why would you have a girl over if you’re into her?”

“I don’t know. I just figured I had to try and get myself over her. I just assumed she’d stay with Geno and never give me a second thought. I don’t know.”

“Well, she’ll eventually realize that she has to stop lying to herself and that she should be with you. It’ll all work out in the end.” Something about his nonchalant attitude made me desperately want to believe him.

“I really hope so.”

Riley’s Point of View
Alright so that was not the way that was supposed to happen. I wanted that moment to be special. And here I go, screwing it up because I’m too obnoxious to just admit my true feelings in a calm, docile manner. I really hated myself sometimes. I was so pissed at him that he had power over me like that. He drove me insane and to the edge and something about it was so enticing. He brought out the worst in me, but I liked it. So, without a glance backward I marched out of the restaurant and to a waiting Geno. His questioning glance alerted me that I must have worn a pissed expression. So, I quickly changed my face to one of mock happiness and chatted lightly until Max emerged. At that moment, I couldn’t stand to be within five feet of him.

“We’re leaving. It was a wonderful lunch and we’ll see you soon.” My voice rang fake in my ears. Vero gave me a look to which I mouthed ‘We’ll talk later’ before turning around and linking my arm with Geno’s. I was secretly hoping that this motion was eating Max alive. I knew little things like that bothered him. Geno and I walked quickly back to his apartment and when we arrived, we collapsed on the couch. I buried my head in his chest, wanting to forget the day’s events.

“You okay?” he asked looking down at me.

“Sure I’m fine,” I lied, smiling up at him. He seemed to believe this and just smiled in return.

“It was good day.” His arm draped over my shoulders.

“Yeah it was.” Then I looked over at the clock and started laughing. “It’s only three o’clock!”

“I know. I have idea. Kill time.” He looked at me suggestively and guided me towards the bedroom. So we slept together. Literally. I wrapped myself up in his arms and we took a four hour nap. This had to be one of the oddest dates I’d ever been on. I awoke to find an empty spot next to me where Geno should have been. I was too physically tired to move, but about ten minutes later Geno walked back into the room.

“How long have you been up?” I asked as he came over to my side of the bed.

“Only twenty minutes.”

“Why didn’t you wake me?”

“You look beautiful when sleep.” He bent down and kissed my forehead. The guilt sat heavily on my chest as I tried hard not to cry. At that point I honestly did hate myself. I was the worst girlfriend on the face of the earth. I wanted to tell him everything. The complete truth. But I didn’t want to break his heart. Although, by prolonging it, I was surely only making it worse.

“Oh Geno.” I took his hand in mine and closed my eyes. We sat in silence for a moment until he spoke.


“Very much so.” Geno really wanted to go out, but I insisted that we stay in. I had had enough of going out for one day. So we ordered a pizza and ate it on his couch while watching T.V. After dinner was finished I didn’t feel like hanging around, so with a kiss goodnight, I made my way out of the apartment and to my waiting car. After a short drive, I was pulling into the driveway, thankful for the bed that was awaiting me. However as I approached the front door, I noticed someone perched on the steps.