Thursday, June 25, 2009


I hesitantly opened the door to our apartment for the second time today. This time, Thomas was not there to confront me. I found him sitting on the edge of our bed, holding my engagement ring in the palm of his hand and staring at it intently. He jumped when he heard me enter the room.

"I didn't hear you come in," he said quietly.

I slid onto the bed next to him and smiled weakly. "Are you okay?"

He shook his head with a heavy sigh. "I'm sorry."

"Me, too."

We sat in silence for a few minutes, both watching Thomas turn the ring over and over in his hand.

Thomas finally broke the awkward silence. "So…I guess you came back to talk."

"Yeah…" I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair. "Where do we even start?"

His eyes met mine in an intense stare. "I don't want you seeing him again. Ever."

"I…I don't know if I can do that."

"It's him or me, Karine."

My heart was racing as I thought about the decision I was about to make. My eyes returned to the engagement ring…a large diamond surrounded with sapphires. Taking it back, promising to never see Sid again, it meant I would have a stable future with Thomas. He could provide for me, and eventually support our family. I knew he would be around for holidays, birthdays, pee-wee hockey games. Choosing Sid was not the logical thing to do. For more than half the year he would be traveling for games, and when he was in town he would be practicing. Plus, after the short disaster that was our relationship, I could not guarantee that we would even get to the point where we could decide to get married or have children.

I took a deep breath and dove in. "Can I be honest with you?" I asked, laying a comforting hand on Thomas's thigh.


"Seeing him again…it made me realize that I haven't been happy in a long time."

Thomas let out an incredulous half-laugh and shook his head. "How long?" he asked after a long pause.

"Since…since I left Pittsburgh."

Thomas exhaled loudly, like I had just punched him in the stomach. "Why are you doing this to me?"

Tears stung my eyes. "I'm so sorry…I thought…I thought I could just forget about him and move on with you. I love you. You are an amazing person."


"But you aren't him."

He sat beside me, shaking his head over and over, as if to shake what I had just said away. "You're leaving me for him."

I hesitated and stumbled over my words. "I…I don't know if I'm going back to him."

"Then stay with me. We'll work it out."

"I can't," I choked, crying freely now. "You deserve someone who can be 100 percent yours. I can never do that for you. No matter what happens, part of me will always be with him. If I marry you…I think I'll regret it. And you shouldn't have to live with that."

He wrapped my hand in his and brushed my hair out of my face. "Karine, I want to be with you. I've always known you weren't over him…I just thought I was good enough to make you forget about him, even if it was just for a little while." He sighed and rubbed his eyes. "I always tried to be perfect. I wanted to be the best boyfriend, the best fiancé, the perfect husband…I always tried to be perfect because I was terrified that if I messed up you would go back to him. He was this constant threat to me, and until Christmas I had never even met the guy. I felt so insignificant compared to him."

"Why didn't you tell me any of this?"

"I tried. You would blow me off or change the subject. And the fact that you were afraid to talk about him, to even say his name…God, Karine. I knew this was coming. I knew it."

"I'm sorry," I whispered. "I do love you."

"Just not enough," he replied bitterly.

I stood up and walked to our closet. "I'm going to pack a bag and go to Sylvie's," I said, trying to keep my voice strong and steady.

"Yeah." He stood up with a heavy sigh and moved into the living room. I shoved a change of clothes into a duffle and texted Sylvie to let her know I would be coming.

Thomas was standing in the living room, staring at our apartment like it was a foreign country. "We bought all this stuff together," he said without turning around to face me. He was referring to the furniture, curtains, pillows, blankets, even the television.

"It's yours," I replied.

He shook his head. "I don't want any of it."

"Neither do I." I left the apartment without telling Thomas goodbye. As I stepped out into the harsh Montreal cold, a wave of nausea hit me, accompanied with the realization that I had just given up my chance of a stable, secure life with Thomas. We were over. Irrevocably, irreversibly over.

I took a few deep breaths to settle my nerves and continued walking to my car. I wasn't going to let anxiety get the best of me. No matter what may happen, I knew that I had made the right choice by ending the engagement. I tried to convince myself that it had nothing to do with Sid, but in reality it had everything to do with him. I didn't break up with Thomas for him but because of him. If I would have spent the rest of my life avoiding Sid, I never would have realized that Thomas and I were not meant to be together.

"Are you okay?" Sylvie asked when I arrived at her apartment.

"I don't know." I didn't feel at peace like I should have. Instead, I felt lost.
I couldn't help but second guess my decision.

It was too late for second guesses, though. The next day, Sylvie and I took off work and went to the apartment to pack up my belongings. I only took my personal items—clothes, shoes, purses, etc. Everything else I felt for Thomas to keep or sell. I didn't want any artifacts from our life together. I didn't want to look at my dining room table and feel a pang of regret for the heart that I had broken.

Sylvie graciously converted her office into a makeshift bedroom for me and told me I could stay as long as I needed to.

About a week after the breakup, once I was sure that I could talk about it without breaking down, I began making the phone calls. First to the church, then the caterer, then the reception hall, to let them know that there would no longer be a Lemieux/Martin wedding in August. Next, I called my parents.

"Oh, Karine, stop being so dramatic," my mother said once I told her the news. I could tell by her tone that she was rolling her eyes. "So you had a fight. You two will talk in the morning and everything will be fine."

"No, Mother, you don't get it. It happened a week ago. I moved out. I've already made the cancellations. The wedding is not going to happen."

There was a long pause. "Oh." We talked a little longer and decided that it was unnecessary for me to go through the painful process of individually calling each family member and telling them the news—either my parents would let them know, or they would get the hint when no invitation came.

I hung up with my mother and rested my head on the arm of the couch. Sylvie was peering at me over the book she was pretending to read.

"What?" I muttered irritably.

"I think there might be one more person who may be interested in certain recent developments," she replied.

"Why should I tell him?"

"He's the reason why you ended it, isn't he?"

I shook my head. "I ended it because I wasn't happy."

"You could be happy with him again."

"I'm not having this conversation," I replied testily as I stood up and went into my bedroom.

"I just think you should tell him before Mario does," Sylvie yelled as I closed my door.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I have a couple parts up for a new story, called "Be Still My Heart." So far it's about Max, but who knows where it will take me. I would appreicate it if everyone checked it out and let me know what you think. Suggestions on improvements or plot ideas are definitely welcome =)

Be Still My Heart

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I tore the covers off of me and collected my clothes, which were lying in a pile on the floor. I quickly got dressed and found my phone in my right pocket. I had 45 missed calls. All from Thomas.

"Fuck fuck fuck," I swore over and over.

Sid propped himself up on his elbows. "Morning, drunky."

"I have to go. How…what…oh God. I have to go." I wanted to die. My heart was beating so fast and I thought I was going to vomit. I was going to break down and cry at any moment.

"We didn't have sex," he said matter-of-factly.

I paused on my way out the door. "Then why was I almost naked?"

"Oh, I think you wanted to. As soon as we got in the room you started taking off your clothes. But I stopped you."

"You stopped me?" I repeated with disbelief as I closed the door and reentered the room. "Why were we in bed together?"

"How could I resist a chance to cuddle?"

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Okay, this wasn't terrible. I didn't cheat on Thomas. I just spent the night with Sid. But we didn't do anything. But Thomas didn't know that…all he knew was I met with Sid after the game and I did not return home.

"Why am I here?"

"You were kind of trashed. I was afraid to send you home on your own."

I pressed the heels of my hands into my eyes. "Oh, God," I groaned. "I have to go."

Sid crawled out of bed and pulled me into a hug. "I'm sorry if I got you in trouble. But just so you know…even though I had to take care of your drunk ass, last night was the best night I've had in a really long time. I've missed you so much, Karine. Promise me you won't disappear again."

"I have to go home, Sid. Thomas is probably losing it. I'm sorry."

"Don't disappear again. Please. I need you in my life."

I opened my mouth to say something, but no words came out. Tears clouded my vision as I turned away from him and left the room. I called a cab and then checked my voicemail on my way out of the hotel. Thomas left about 20 messages. At first he was simply worried, but his tone got angrier and angrier as the messages progressed. In the last one, sent around five in the morning, he was literally screaming at me.

I took the taxi to the parking garage where my car was still waiting from the night before. I dreaded going home, but I had no other option. I had to face Thomas and get everything cleared up.


My hands were shaking as I forced the key into the lock. I slowly opened the door, hoping Thomas was asleep and I could have an hour or so before I had to face him. I almost had a heart attack when I saw him standing in the kitchen, right in front of the door.

"Where the hell were you?" he asked in a slow, dangerous tone.

"Thomas, let me explain," I pleaded.

"You were with him."

"Nothing happened, I swear. I was drinking and he didn't want to send me home alone and—"

"SHUT UP," he bellowed, slamming a fist down on the counter.

I flinched and took a step backwards. I had never been afraid of him before, but my heart was racing and my entire body was shaking.

"I don't want to hear any fucking excuses from you," he said through clenched teeth.

"Nothing happened," I repeated. "I promise." I took an uncertain step towards him and stroked the side of his face.

He slapped my hand away. "Don't touch me," he growled.

"Thomas, please. Calm down."

"Calm down? CALM DOWN?! How am I supposed to be calm when my fiancé was out fucking Sidney Crosby all night?"

"Nothing happened!" I yelled. "Listen to me. I would not lie to you."

He stared at me, his entire face red with anger. He wrapped his fingers around my left wrist, holding it so tight I cried out in pain. Without breaking eye contact, he ripped my engagement ring from my finger.

"Get out of my sight," he demanded.

I ran out to my car and sat in the driver's seat, crying uncontrollably. I was out there for at least 45 minutes before I calmed down enough to drive to Sylvie's apartment.

"Oh God, what's wrong?" Sylvie said as she opened the door.

"Everything," I sobbed. I was still shaking and I was having trouble breathing because I was crying so hard. She led me into the living room and guided me to the couch. She got me a glass of water and I calmed down enough to tell her the entire story.

"What are you going to do?" she asked quietly when I was finished.

I shook my head. "I have no idea." Now that I was done crying, I felt like a zombie. My brain couldn't process anything.

"I can't believe Thomas lost it like that."

"Me neither. I've never seen him like that. I'm afraid to go get my stuff."

"Are you moving out?"

I shrugged. "This has started me thinking. Have I really been happy lately?"

Sylvie opened her mouth, but hesitated before answering. "Can I be honest?"


She seemed to struggle reluctantly with what she was about to say. "I don't think you've been legitimately happy since you left Sid."

I frowned and nodded slowly, trying to digest what Sylvie had just said. "What do I do?"

"Whatever you think is right."

Sylvie left me on the couch, where I lay for over two hours thinking about everything. I had been unhappy lately, but I blamed it on being stressed because of the wedding. Thomas was a great guy, but I was beginning to wonder if I had tried to use him to fill the void Sidney had left. And now that I had seen Sid again, it was clear that no one could replace him. I could go back to Thomas, apologize a million times, and promise to never see Sidney again. It would be easy, and I could have a good life with Thomas. But was it the right decision? After seeing Sid again, it was clear some of the old feelings were still there. If I chose Sid, I would once again be forced to make sacrifices for him. Could things be different this time around?

I sighed and left Sylvie's apartment without any answers. I went back to my place and prepared myself to talk to Thomas. If there was one thing that I had learned, it was that running away from my problems was not a solution.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pardon the Interruption.

I know there are some who are less than pleased with the win (I believe I have some Wings fans out there), but I couldn't resist spreading my happiness on here. I've been celebrating all weekend, spending way too much money on Pens merch, and planning a roadtrip with my friends to the 'Burgh on Monday for the parade. Seriously, guys, I'm on Cloud 9.

And because of his stellar performance in Game 7, I think Max deserves his own story. So that will be coming soon.

I love everyone right now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


The cab wound its way through traffic until it finally stopped in front of an inconspicuous, tidy little bar that I had never been to. Sid helped me out of the car, his hand gently wrapped around mine. I smiled weakly. The initial elation I had felt upon first seeing him had faded once the reality of the situation set in. This was not a date. We were here so I could try to explain to Sid why I had left Pittsburgh without a word. And after this sure to be painful conversation, I had to return home to an angry fiancé and try to smooth everything over with him.

I unintentionally sighed and Sid gave me a tight smile. I was beginning to think this was all a major mistake. I should have told him to leave me alone and let him get over me his own way. He had no place in my life anymore.

The interior of the bar was very small, but clean and cozy. It resembled more of a coffee shop than a bar. The only other people inside were the bartender and two twenty-somethings sitting in a corner table.

Sid and I found a table that wouldn't be visible from the front windows. Even though he didn't say anything, I knew he chose the location so people wouldn't see him and come in asking for autographs and pictures. He needed this to be a quiet, personal evening.

I awkwardly picked at my nails as Sid went to the bar to get us drinks. He handed me a Molson and sat across from me, staring into his Crown Royal on the rocks. We sat in suffocating silence for a few seconds before I couldn't take it anymore.

"How did you find this place?" I asked, trying to break the newly formed ice. The atmosphere between us had changed dramatically in the cab. We were happy to see each other at the arena, but now it seemed like being with one another was extremely painful.

"Max told me about it. A couple of us would come here when we're in town. It's nice. Quiet."

I nodded and took a big gulp of my beer. "So…I guess you want to talk."

He smirked. "That was the idea."

"I don't even know where to start."

"The trouble all started with Alissa," Sid observed. "Why didn't you tell me you didn't trust her?"

"I didn't want to be the crazy, jealous girlfriend."

"Karine…you could have told me."

I shook my head and picked at the label on the bottle. "You would have blown it off. You didn't think she was doing anything wrong…you didn't see her for what she was. There was nothing I could have said to make you believe she was a bad person, so I just kept it all in until…"

"Until you slapped her," he said, his lips twitching up into a slightly amused smirk.

I sighed. "Yeah."

"Alright. But even after that happened, when we found you in the cemetery, I tried to apologize for taking her side. I was going to make things work. Why did you leave? I thought you just needed a night to yourself. That's why I didn't stop you when you went to get a hotel room. But Karine…I never thought I would come home to an empty house. Why did you leave?"

"I don't know," I mumbled.

"I don't know isn't an answer."

I took another swig of beer. It was almost half gone now. "It was too much."

"What do you mean?"

"We moved way too quickly. Everything was happening so fast…I was under a lot of pressure because I couldn't find a job, a tiny voice in the back of my head was telling me that I should have gone to Paris, and when Alissa showed up I thought I was going to lose you and I thought that I made a huge mistake by choosing you over Paris. I wasn't sure if I was in love with you, I didn't know if I wanted to be with you anymore…"

"So you ran."

I finished off my beer. I knew I shouldn't be drinking so fast, but it was making this conversation a little more tolerable. "I'm sorry."

He got up and returned with another beer for me. "Why couldn't you just tell me all of this two years ago? We could have talked it out. I would have given you space. I would have given you anything you wanted." He paused and stared at me. "I still would."

I shook my head. "I'm sorry, Sid. I was scared. I didn't know what to do. Everything just felt so wrong and I needed to get away."

"You hurt me really bad," Sid replied in a serious monotone. "I tried so hard to get over you. The guys…they all told me you weren't worth it. But I knew you were. I wanted to fight for you. I tried…I found out that you were living with Sylvie and I came after you. I wanted to talk things out but you just shooed me away. When the guys found out they kept an eye on me anytime I was in town. They thought it would be better if I stayed away from you…they thought I could forget you."

I flushed with shame and took another long drink. I was starting to feel a little tipsy, but instead of making me feel better I just felt more guilty.

"I'm still not over you, Karine. And you have no idea how badly it sucks to sit across from you and know that I can't kiss you." He paused and took a deep breath. He was upset, almost on the verge of tears. I just wanted to hug him and tell him everything would be okay.

"We can be friends," I said, reaching across the table and patting his hand. "I've missed you."

Sid averted his eyes to the floor disappointedly. "Yeah. Friends."

"I'm sorry, Sidney. It's all we can be. I'm engaged…"

"You shouldn't be. Not to him. You aren't happy. I can see it in your eyes. You aren't happy."

I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair. "We have our ups and downs. But he's a good man."

"Well, congratulations. I'm glad you found a replacement for me. I'll never find one for you. I'm never going to get over you, Karine."

"Yes you will," I said softly.

He shook his head. We sat in an awkward silence for almost three minutes. I finished my second beer and went to the bar for a third. I realized how tipsy I was when I stood up. I was wobbling slightly, although hopefully not too obviously. This would have to be my last drink or things would not be pretty.

"So…how have you been? Fill me in on the last two years. I don't even know what you're doing now," Sid said when I returned to the table.

"Well, when I came back to Montreal I moved in with Sylvie. She was doing some freelance photography work for one of the newspapers here and got me in with the business department…it's great. I really like it there."

"I'm happy for you. How's your family?"

"Well, my parents are my parents. Mom is never happy and Dad kind of ignores everything going on around him. My sister is pregnant again…hopefully this one isn't as bad as Julien."

Sid laughed and nodded. "I'm sure everyone is hoping that."

We sat there for a while, chatting and catching up. The tension had evaporated. We had talked about everything that needed to be said, and it honestly felt like we could move on and be friends now. I knew he would always want something more, but at least we could be in each others lives.

Sid's phone vibrated and he read the text. "Some of the guys are at a club near the hotel we're staying at tonight."

"Are you going to go?"

He shrugged.

"Aw, come on. Live a little, Crosby."

He smiled at me. "You're drunk."

"Nooo," I protested. I went to stand up to prove that I was completely sober and had to use the table for support. "Okay, maybe a little. Let's go to the club!"

Sid looked taken aback. "You want to go?"

"Yeah! I miss Jordan and Fleury and everyone else."

He looked reluctant at first, but then shrugged and said, "Why not?"

He called for a cab and we found our way to a busy nightclub where the majority of the team was celebrating their win. There was a long line in the front, but Sid took me around back and we were let in through a private entrance. I shook my head. I had forgotten what a rockstar this boy was.

We entered the VIP area and I felt everyone staring at me. I knew they were all wondering what the hell was going on and why Sid and I were holding hands. Wait a minute, why were we holding hands? I quickly untangled my fingers from his, feeling very guilty. It almost felt like a standoff until Marc gave me a big bear hug. "It's about time you reappeared. We've missed you."

My unexpected reunion with the team became less awkward as I drank more and more. Time lost its meaning. I thought it was four in the morning, but it was only midnight. Faces became blurry, and after my fifth Jack and Coke I couldn't remember a thing.


My eyes fluttered open. I quickly snapped them shut. My head was about to split in two.

I felt Thomas's arm around my waist and lightly stroked his hand with my fingers and snuggled against him. But something didn't feel right. Despite my splitting headache and sensitivity to light, I slowly opened my eyes. This wasn't my bed. This wasn't my room. That wasn't Thomas.

I sat bolt upright and my heart jumped to my throat. I was stripped down to my bra and panties. Sidney shifted slightly to my left.

"Merde," I breathed.

Hey guys, I'm thinking about starting another story. I have a couple ideas floating around but I haven't decided on any characters, so I'm asking for suggestions. I don't want to do another one about Sid because that would probably get confusing, but I want to know who you guys want to read about. It doesn't have to be a Penguins player, but anyone from Detroit is off limits. (Sorry. I hold grudges.) Just post a comment with suggestions for characters or any story ideas you might have. Thanks!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I was still wide awake and listening to my wristwatch tick away the seconds when I heard the bedroom door open gently. It was nearly two-thirty in the morning. I flicked on the bedroom light to find Thomas standing in the doorway, looking defeated and haggard.

"Why did he do that?" he asked in a slow, tired voice. I held out my arms to him to pull him into a hug, but he stood rooted to the spot.

"Where were you?" I asked quietly.

"I found a bar."

"Are you drunk?"

He shook his head. "I just needed to go somewhere to absorb all of this." He sat on the edge of the bed with his back to me. "Why did he do that?" Thomas repeated, this time more forcefully.

I bit my bottom lip, feeling extremely guilty even though I did not do anything wrong. "He wants closure."

Thomas shot me a disgusted look. "You haven't spoken to him in two years. He needs to grow up and get over it."

"Just hear me out, okay? He gave me a ticket to that game so we could meet and talk."

"Don't," Thomas said in a short, nervous tone. "Don't go. If he wanted to talk he could come here. You don't need to go to that game. I don't know what he's trying to pull, but I don't like it."

I scooted over beside him and took his hands in mine. "I have to go to the game. I've tried cutting him out of my life and it didn't work. I can't keep avoiding Pittsburgh just because he's here. I can't keep worrying that he is going to show up on our doorstep. I tried taking the easy way out and it didn't work. If I do what he asks and go to the game, he can be gone for good."

Thomas was quiet for a few long seconds before he sighed and reluctantly agreed. "What was the ring about?" he asked, his voice strained with emotion.

I couldn't bring myself to make eye contact with him. "Sidney…um…he was planning to propose."

Thomas nodded slowly and raised my left hand to his lips. "Give him his closure. But don't forget whose ring you're wearing," he said, kissing my engagement ring.


I washed all the makeup off my face for the third time and prepared for a fresh start. No matter what I did or what colors I used, I could not be satisfied with the way I looked. Even my hair was wrong.

Thomas paced into the bathroom for the fourth time and sighed deeply. "You look way to pretty," he said with dissatisfaction.

I couldn't help but laugh. "I'm not even wearing any makeup!"

He shook his head and stomped into the living room. "You'd better hurry. Game starts in an hour."

I quickly traced my eyes with brown eyeliner and brushed on eye shadow and blush. I totally understood why Thomas was upset—tonight was the game. He had been moody all day, and when he noticed how long I was taking to get ready his bad mood escalated. I kept telling myself that I just wanted to look nice, but subconsciously I knew I was trying to look good for Sidney. And I kind of hated myself for it.

I gave myself a once-over in the full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door. I was wearing jeans, red Chuck Taylors, and a white Canadiens tee-shirt. I momentarily considered wearing Sid's jersey, which was buried in a handbag deep in my closet so Thomas wouldn't find it, but I pushed the idea out of my mind. My mind was a complete mess tonight. I kept alternating between dread and excitement when I thought about meeting with Sid.

I exhaled deeply and exited to the living room. Thomas was standing between the living room and the kitchen, blocking my exit. His arms were crossed over his chest and he did not look happy.

"You're still in love with him," he accused.

I laughed, a little too nervously, and shook my head. "You're ridiculous."

"Look at yourself, Karine! You spent two fucking hours getting ready for a hockey game! And you know what the worst part is? You look happier than you have since I met you. I have never seen you like this. You're fucking glowing. Because you're going to see him."

I rolled my eyes dramatically. "I'm wearing blush, you idiot." I pushed past him and grabbed my car keys from the hook by the door.

"I love you!" Thomas yelled as I slammed the door behind me. But his tone wasn't loving at all.


As I entered Le Centre Bell, I realized that I could not come up with one reason why Sidney wanted me to come with this game. It made sense for us to meet while we were in Montreal, but we could have met after the game. Granted, the seat was amazing and I did appreciate that. Four rows off the class, slightly to the right of center ice. I settled in and checked my messages. One from Thomas. "Be good." Yeah, thanks mom. Sylvie: "I need to know every minor detail of what goes on tonight." I laughed to myself. Although she was going to be my maid of honor in August, she was still pulling for Sid. "You can't deny your soulmate," she told me after Thomas and I got engaged. "He'll be back in your life one way or the other." My lips twitched into a smile. I guess she was right.

I felt a little guilty about the way I left the apartment. Thomas had every right to be upset. While I understood, I couldn't bring myself to feel badly for him. I had never felt this way towards him before…like he was holding me back. I shook my head, trying to get all the bad feelings out as the teams took to the ice.

The Pens were stationed on my side of the ice for the first period. I located number 87 immediately during the preskate. He skated close to the boards and pretended to inspect his stick, but I saw his eyes scanning the area where I was sitting. Our eyes met and he winked, causing me to blush slightly. I gave him a small wave and he skated away.

Good God, I thought. What the hell is my problem? I've turned into a 13 year old girl.

During Sid's first shift of the game, I realized why he had insisted on me being at the game. This was the first time I had seen him play live (or otherwise…I avoided all Pens games, even during the finals, even when they were playing the Habs) since I left Pittsburgh. I felt his intensity. He was composed, concentrated, and a total force when he was on the ice. I watched him in awe and lost track of the game when a man in a black Penguins polo shirt tapped me on the shoulder. "Excuse me, Miss Lemieux? If you would follow me, please." There was less than two minutes left in the game and the Penguins were up by three. He led me to the concourse level and through a discreet door and down to the visiting team's locker room. "You could have a seat, if you'd like," the man said, gesturing to a chair positioned against the wall. "Mr. Crosby is bypassing the press conference tonight. He will be out as soon as possible."

I thanked him and took a seat as he walked away. I chewed on my bottom lip nervously but stopped once I was conscious of my nervous habit. I crossed and uncrossed my legs four times. My right leg would not stop bouncing up and down at a rapid pace. I sighed loudly and tried to calm down.

I was there for about fifteen minutes before the locker room door opened. I jumped up, expecting Sid, but instead came face to face with Jordan Staal.

He looked like a deer caught in the headlights, and I'm sure I didn't look much better.

"Karine," he finally stammered, sounding surprised and awkward. "What are you doing here?"

"I, um, I'm actually waiting for Sid."

Now he looked straight up confused. "Oh. Okay. Well…have fun." He quickly walked past me. I was expecting him to break out in a dead run just to get away from me. I sighed and sat down again.

I had awkward encounters with six other players who recognized me before Sidney finally exited.

I stood up and couldn't stop from smiling widely. All the nervous butterflies were gone…instead I felt calm and relaxed. Noticeably different from the way I felt at Uncle Mario's house the last time we saw each other. I tried to account for the difference, but I couldn't come up with a reason. All I knew was I was extremely happy to see him.

"I'm so glad you're here," he said, moving towards me.

"Me too," I replied.

He smiled, but looked slightly puzzled. "I was under the impression you hated me."

"Well…so was I."

We stood facing each other. I was conscious of every breath, every flicker of his eyelids. For a second I thought he was going to kiss me, but he stepped back, looking a little flustered.

"Ready to go?" he asked, trying to compose himself.

"Where are we going?"

"Somewhere where we can talk."

I followed him out of the arena and into the player's parking lot, where a taxi was waiting in the near corner. We slid into the backseat and I couldn't help but think that this was eerily similar to a date. And I didn't mind at all.