Sunday, July 27, 2008

TWENTY-NINE

I plastered a fake smile on my face and pushed the door to Uncle Mario's owner's box open.

"Karine." Uncle Mario looked very surprised to see me. He and Aunt Nathalie traded a glance as I took my seat. Either they were both unusually perceptive, or Sidney had told them about our fight and the surrounding circumstances.

"How was Cole Harbour?" Aunt Nathalie asked awkwardly. It was hard to believe that only yesterday Sidney and I were in his childhood home, enjoying a near perfect day with his family.

I chose to ignore the tension in the room. "It was great. It was so nice seeing Sid's family again," I replied easily.

Aunt Nathalie nodded, mirroring my fake smile, and threw another questioning glance at Uncle Mario. He shrugged subtly and continued to stare at the ice, where the Pens and Capitals were warming up.

I settled into my seat and tried to enjoy the game. My fake smile started to affect my mood. I felt generally optimistic about tonight. I ran through the scenario in my mind—I would enter the locker room, Sidney would see me and immediately realize it was silly to fight, and we would hug and make up. I would finally find the words to explain why I hadn't told him about Paris, and he would be forgiving and…and then what? Even if we did make up, there would be no "happily ever after." I would still have to leave for Paris in February. We would still have to break up.

My mood darkened as the announcer introduced the team. My stomach lurched slightly as I heard, "Number 87…Sidneyyyyyyy Crosssssbyyyyy!" boom throughout the arena. The crowd cheered and I leaned forward slightly.

I shouldn't be here, I thought frantically. I could feel Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie staring at me, and I suddenly felt very self-conscious. Sid obviously wasn't ready to speak with me, otherwise he would have called. By being here, I was trying to push him to forgive me and that wouldn't do any good.

"Is everything alright, Karine?" Aunt Nathalie asked quietly.

I shook my head. "No. I think I should leave."

Aunt Nathalie nodded sympathetically, but Uncle Mario frowned slightly. "Stay," he replied. Aunt Nathalie shot him a confused, almost angry look. "Marc-André and Sylvie should be up soon. He was asking about you earlier."

I nodded and sat down again. If I didn't stay for the game, I knew I would never hear the end of it from Sylvie. Sure enough, a few minutes later Marc hobbled in, followed by Sylvie. They both brightened when they saw me.

"Salut, Karine," Marc greeted me with a hug that lasted a little too long. "How are you feeling?" he asked in a quiet, concerned voice.

"I'm fine," I replied. "Marc, I'm really sorry about Sidney last night…"

Marc waved his hand and took his seat. "It wasn't your fault. Everything's fine."

I wish, I thought bitterly.

***

"To the locker room?" Marc asked, smiling widely as he glanced at the scoreboard. The Penguins had defeated Washington by one goal. "I have to tell all the guys to come over."

I started to protest, but Sylvie grabbed my arm and pulled me through the labyrinth of hallways leading to the locker room. "Sylvie, no," I stammered as she pushed me through the door.

Marc started to congratulate his teammates and invited everyone to his party as I tried to hide in a corner. My eyes found Sidney, who was sitting on the bench in front of his locker. I held my breath as I waited for him to notice me. His hazel eyes flickered up and met mine, and I couldn't help but smile. He didn't return my happy gesture—instead, his expression darkened and he pulled on his shirt and quickly exited the locker room.

"You okay?" Sylvie muttered. I didn't even realize she had been standing beside me.

I nodded and swallowed. "Yeah," I whispered. "I'm fine."

***

I followed Marc and Sylvie to their apartment, my mind reeling. He would have to talk to me eventually. The way he looked at me in the locker room…I shuddered. He actually looked like he hated me.

I pulled into Marc's driveway and placed my head against the steering wheel. How did I mess things up this badly? The situation was already bad enough, but my stupid decision to keep it from Sidney made it one hundred times worse.

I heard a tap on my window and looked up to see Sylvie peering at me, looking very concerned. I cut the engine and got out of the car, trying to look relaxed. "Let's start drinking," she suggested.

"That sounds perfect," I replied gruffly.

I stood awkwardly in the kitchen as Sylvie made me a drink. "Do you think he'll be here?"

Marc came up behind me and rested a reassuring hand on my shoulder. "He'll come," he replied firmly.

I took a sip of my rum and coke and perched on a bar stool set against the kitchen island. I didn't know if I should be pleased or terrified.

***

I sighed to myself and made my way into the kitchen to make another drink. It was close to two in the morning, and almost the entire team had taken over Marc and Sylvie's house. Everyone but the captain.

Colby expertly poured a shot of vodka into a glass and grinned at me. "How's it going, Karine?"

"After a couple more drinks it will be going pretty well," I replied with a smile. Although I was in a terrible mood, Colby's presence managed to cheer me up. He had that effect on people. "How was your Christmas?"

"Amazing. I'm sure you've seen Lauren's ring already."

"Several times," I laughed. Colby had proposed to Lauren on Christmas, and of course she accepted. She had been showing off her rather large princess-cut diamond all night. "Congratulations. I'm so happy for you two. Did you set a date yet?"

"Nothing definite, but we'll probably have the wedding in late June or early July. You know, after the season's over. What are you drinking?" He took my empty glass and filled it with ice.

"Anything," I replied.

Colby laughed. "Vodka cranberry it is, then." I watched as he added more cranberry juice than vodka, but didn't argue. I could add more alcohol later, when he wasn't watching. "So," Colby glanced at me from the corner of his eyes and suddenly looked very serious, "how's…everything?"

I smiled sardonically and took a sip of my weak drink. "You're not good at being subtle, Army."

Colby chuckled and leaned against the island. "I'm totally breaking a man law right now, but I think you should know Sid is heartbroken."

I grimaced at the word. "He won't talk to me."

"Do you blame him?"

I shook my head and swirled my drink around. "I was really hoping he would show up tonight."

Colby hesitated, obviously struggling with what he was about to tell me. "Sid called a while ago," he sighed. "He wanted to know if you were here."

"Oh," I replied, feeling deflated. "He's being pretty thorough about avoiding me."

"He'll come around," Colby replied in a concerned, friendly voice. "Just give him time."

I nodded and blinked back tears. "Can you make me another drink?" I asked, holding out my now empty glass. "And make it stronger this time."

Colby laughed and filled the glass halfway with vodka. "Just don't blame me for the hangover you'll have tomorrow."

5 comments:

Steph said...

please update more, this story is great.

Aeryn said...

Ha Ha, Man Law! Loved it, I hope Sid comes around and she doesn't go to Paris.

Kimmy said...

I hope that Sid comes around and comes before she leaves.

Update soon!!

Tay Tay said...

I love Army... such a sweetie! Please update! Can't wait!

Lauren said...

I love Army! And miss him terribly...

I love this story too! More, soon, please! :)