Tuesday, June 29, 2010

104.) Another Boyfriend

Work was stupid and boring, like always, but I went about it with a smile. More like a huge-ass “I just got laid” grin which was kind of a lie, but phone sex was better than nothing considering Kris and I had been a part for two weeks already. Our relationship had been founded on much more than the physical spark between us, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t a big, important part of our connection either. Plus, it didn’t help that the birth control pills that I started to take were fucking with my emotions a bit, but that was neither here nor there.

So maybe Kris wasn’t incredibly eloquent when it came talking dirty, but just that he had really tried this afternoon spoke volumes. It had been awkward at first, trying to coax him into it, and then he had fumbled with his words a few times, but this was a step in the right direction; long distance relationships can’t work unless we’re both satisfied with all aspects of it. And let’s face the facts: we couldn’t not have sex for two months, and masturbating alone would only do so much to repress our sexual needs until the beginning of May. I had held off for eleven days, the span of time between his trade and my spring break, but fourteen had been pushing it and I needed that release.

Even if Kris’s phone sex capabilities had been sufficient at best, it was still amazing. I knew he thought these kinds of things because he did them when we were in bed together. He just couldn’t string the words together or say them confidently. Maybe with some practice, though, I could rectify that. Maybe eventually, he’d even say the word “pussy.” Maybe.

But that he put aside his discomfort for my sake and tried to the best of his novel abilities was what made it so great. Hands down, Kris was the most skilled lover I’d ever been with. Not only did he have the talent, but he had the patience: he always put in all the effort and he never slacked off. It was the perfect combination. Plus, it seemed like getting me off helped him get off, too. There was give and take because “giving” meant “taking.” Just like when he donned that fireman suit, he tried to give me what I wanted. And he had successfully done that—since he enjoyed it, too, it was a win-win situation.

I had one official month of my semester left. Finals week was the first full week of May, and if I were lucky, I wouldn’t have to take any finals. Comp required a final paper, which I could e-mail to my professor, and public speaking was a final speech that would be given during regular class time. Sociology had turned out to be a total cakewalk, because my professor was a total hippie who didn’t believe in taking attendance or exams, so I had done the reading and completed the assignments weeks ago when I needed to keep busy. There would probably be regular finals in my calc and physics classes that would take place during the designated finals schedule, which hadn’t yet been released. Studying-wise, I wasn’t worried about them.

After four hours of cleaning up other people’s messes, I headed back toward the locker room, where all my stuff was. I began to peel myself out of my overalls as a few other workers did the same. They were talking about what was going to happen once the new arena opened. It was strange the way we were being made to reapply for our same positions at the Consol Energy Center instead of automatically being transferred. Bob had said that this was merely a formality, that everyone employed at the Mellon would still get to work at CEC—but some of the other workers weren’t so sure.

“What do you think, Jo?” Kendra asked me. She was an older lady who worked a lot of nights and weekends, when her husband was at home with the kids. She lived right over in the Hill District, and this job made for a perfect second, supplemental income to her husband’s salary.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” I mumbled, grabbing my purse and keys and preparing to leave in hopes of avoiding this conversation.

“Well, aren’t you applying to keep your job?”

“Uh, see, I was going to, but I’m planning on moving in a few months and transferring schools, so I’d have to quit at the end of summer anyway....”

“Moving on up in the world now, are ya?” she asked, giving me a little smirk. “Moving on to bigger and better things?”

There was no question that these people had seen a transformation in me over the past few months. I had gone from the crazy-haired, reclusive, angry girl to someone who appeared to have a normal, well-adjusted life. I was brunette again, probably looking healthier in general as well, smiling more easily, still socially awkward but getting better at being at least friendlier toward my coworkers, and looking like I had something going for me and something about which to care. It made a world of difference in my world, and of course it’s no wonder that it’s all thanks to one Kristopher Letang.

But none of my coworkers really knew that. There really wasn’t any contractual exclusion from dating any of the players—which now would have been null and void anyway, since Kris was a Shark now and no longer a Penguin—because we as workers were affiliated with Mellon Arena rather than the Penguins organization. There never really were any chances for the people like us janitors, were so down low on the totem pole, to meet the big, important hockey stars of Pittsburgh. How Kris and I met was just one really weird, coincidental, very circumstantial fluke.

Even so, I was quite content to keep the knowledge and disclosure of my relationship under wraps. I mean, just look at the mess it had gotten me into once Dave found out and told his friends. Since I wasn’t looking for a repeat of that, I was very vague about my future to Kendra. “It’s more like a lateral move,” I told her. Which was very true; nothing was changing but my location, because I’d still be doing everything exactly the same as I was now—except I’d be doing it in California.

“Well, whatever it is you’ve got going on, girl, good luck to you. A person your age shouldn’t be stuck in a job like this for long, because then you don’t want to get stuck for life. If you’ve got dreams, you’d better go out and live them while you’re still dreaming them.”

I smiled at her and gave her a quick nod. “And that’s exactly what I’m planning on doing.”

Upon leaving the arena, I headed straight over for Heather and Jordan’s place, the house they were renting from former Penguin Erik Christensen. The Pens had won the game against the Thrashers in overtime, so this was going to be a lot more fun now than if they had lost. It was some kind of end-of-the-season, last-chance-to-party-before-the-playoffs sort of deal, which Heather had openly invited me to. I had been very hesitant to agree because I imagined that it would be weird to see all the guys again since Kris wasn’t a part of their team anymore.

When I pulled up in front of their big house, all that I could remember was when Kris and I had come here to watch the gold medal game of the Olympics. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Parking in front, I headed toward the front door. The place was already jumping, the party fully underway. I didn’t bother knocking—I just walked right in and began to look for people I knew and wanted to hang out with.

Seemed like everyone was there. I knew that their next game wasn’t until Tuesday, because I had the next two days off, so I assumed that Sunday would be an off-day, meaning they could let a little loose today without having to worry about getting up early for practice tomorrow. Even Crosby was here to take part in the last hurrah, which I think spoke to the magnitude and importance of making a point to have a bit of fun before really having to buckle down and get serious about the second season.

I finally found Heather, so I went up to her and said hello so she would know that I made it in. I could tell that she had already had a few to drink by the way she greeted me. “Jo! You made it, I’m so happy!”

“I told you I’d be here,” I laughed, watching as she mildly stumbled in my direction.

“Yeah, but I wasn’t sure if you’d actually come or if you were just saying so to get me to shut up. Jordy does that all the time.”

Jordan’s ears must have perked up when he heard his name. “Hey! Don’t be talkin’ about me!”

“Hey! Bring me a beer!” Heather yelled back. She was pretty funny when she was tipsy, because she was usually the one in control, the ultimate hostess, making sure everyone was okay and enjoying themselves. She turned to me and said, “The boys have been grillin’ all night, there’s plenty of food still on the deck. Help yourself.”

“I definitely will,” I told her as Jordan approached, a fresh, cold bottle of beer in each hand.

“Here, you bossy, demanding woman,” he growled playfully, passing off a bottle to her. Then he noticed me, and I could see his face change markedly from a fun expression to something conveying awkward uncertainty. “Oh, hey, Jo, uh... how you doing?”

“Good,” I replied, giving him a nod and a small smile.

“Uh, here you go.” He handed me the other unopened beer; I knew that he had no intention of bringing me anything and that this was really for him, but I accepted it as the nice gesture he wanted it to be. I smiled my silent thanks and twisted off the cap to take a sip. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had a beer. Since I had to drive and I certainly didn’t plan on staying out late—I wanted to be able to call Kris before it got too late out in California—I knew I’d nurse this one all night. Jordan cleared his throat and asked quietly, “How’s he doing?”

“Good,” I said, repeating myself. I didn’t need to brag, but I wondered how much any of the guys followed each other when someone was traded or left the team. “Really good,” I clarified, keeping my comments vague.

“Good.” And then he was gone.

All my exchanges with the guys were equally as awkward. It’s like they all wanted to know about Kris but they were afraid to ask. Not to mention, it was weird being a single girl—currently completely unaffiliated with the team or organization—at their little shindig. Although, there were countless girls in southwestern Pennsylvania that would have killed—and I do mean kill—to have been in this situation.

I hung out outside where a bunch of people were likewise chilling, but I hung back a little from the group and didn’t really participate in any of the discussions. True to Heather’s word, there was plenty of food, and I was feeling pretty starved so I heaped a bunch of food on a plate and began to chow down. With my mouth busy, no one would ask me any questions or expect me to talk.

My stomach’s always been smaller than my eyes give it credit for; Kris usually helped me out by eating off my plate. It always cracked me up, because he would manage to eat his entire plate as well as whatever was left on mine. He was my human garbage disposal.

Huffing as I looked down at my remaining food, I was saved by Max. He stepped beside me and ingratiated himself to my plate—in fact, he took it off me and took a huge bite of the burger I had barely gotten halfway through.

“Jo, I didn’t expect to see you here,” he mumbled around the half-masticated food in his mouth.

“You say that like you’re not happy to see me,” I replied. “How do you know I wasn’t going to eat that?”

He held the burger out in my direction, like he was offering to give it back. I shook my head and he shrugged his shoulders, taking another humongous bite. His words were barely intelligible. “Exactly. So, what are you doing here?”

I wrinkled up my face. “What’s that supposed to mean? Heather invited me, so I showed up.”

“Sorry, it’s just weird.”

Frowning when he said that, I then pressed the bottle in my hand to my lips and took a tiny, tiny sip. It was warm and disgusting, so I didn’t even take a full swallow. “If it’s so weird, then why are you over here standing by me?”

“Because you looked a little out of place. Hell, you are out of place. Whenever you and Tanger would show up for any team functions, you two never left each other’s sides. It’s weird seeing one of you and not the other.”

“We weren’t that bad,” I countered, hugging myself around the middle. Max may have come over to keep me company, but he was making me feel more lonely.

Oui, I guess you’re right. You never came into the dressing room. During games, you guys were apart.” Sid walked by as Max was talking, and he wrangled him into the conversation by slinging his arm over Crosby’s broad shoulders. “If you want to hang out with the team now, we’re just going to have to find you a new Penguins boyfriend. How about the Kid?”

Sid’s ears turned a little pink as he figured out what we were talking about, and I wasn’t pleased with the direction his conversation was going anyway. Even though I knew that Max was just trying to be playful and funny, the mere implication of Kris and I not being together was irksome. For Sid’s sake and my own, I tried to put an end to it. “No way that would ever happen. I’m still upset over the Olympics.” That made Crosby shrug and smile, feeling more at ease.

But that didn’t stop Max. “Okay, so, American. That really narrows it down. How about Goligoski? And you seem to have a thing for defensemen, non? He’s perfect!”

I shook my head and tried to be a little clearer without being overly mean. “Max, I have my hands full with my boyfriend as it is. I don’t need another one to complicate things, okay?”

“Yeah, Talbo, leave her alone,” Sid said, trying to back me up as he moved out of Max’s hold. Then he spoke directly to me. “Jo, they’re getting a fire started. You look a little cold. Why don’t you join us over there?” Then he held up the bag of marshmallows in his hand. “I’ve been entrusted with bringing the good stuff. We’re gonna make s’mores.”

“Sounds good,” I told him, following him out into the yard. He didn’t say anything more to me, and he probably realized that he didn’t have to. I sat next to him on a big log that had been pushed over by the fire, and I made myself comfortable. He silently passed me marshmallows, which I ate without toasting. The heat from the fire quickly made my temperature rise, and I had to take my hoodie off to compensate. As I pulled it over my head, it got stuck, and I really had to tug and pull to get it off.

I paid enough attention to the conversation around the fire to laugh at the appropriate places, but I also let the crackling and popping of the fire lull and relax me. It wasn’t totally weird to hang around with these guys in a somewhat team-related function because they were all nice people that tried to help include me in the activities. But it still wasn’t the same.

Max eventually joined us in the yard. He stepped beside me at point, but I wasn’t really paying attention to him until he bent down beside me and picked up something from the ground. “Did someone lose some jewelry? Looks like a locket,” he mused, opening up the gold charm. Everyone else around the fire quitted their conversation so the proper owner could be located. My hand immediately flew to that spot on my chest, finding nothing there and causing me to panic. Before I could tell him that it was mine, he looked at the pictures inside and deduced who it belonged to. “Jo, is this yours?”

“Yes,” I said quickly, jumping up from my post on the log and snatching the locket out of his big hands. I examined it and found that the chain had broken, probably snapping when I struggled with my hoodie. I felt like I should have immediately known that it was missing from its place around my neck, but I hadn’t—which made me sad. That locket stayed around my neck; the only time I took it off was when I showered or that one time I went swimming at the Blakes’, because I didn’t want the pictures inside to get ruined.

He was trying to be his jolly self when he began to tease me. “I thought you said you had your hands full with Tanger, eh? So why is his picture in here with another guy’s? Who’s your other boyfriend?”

Everyone’s eyes were on me. It felt worse than when I had given my speech the other day; except this time, it was personal. “It’s not another boyfriend,” I replied quietly, my hand closing around the precious gold locket. I couldn’t believe that I almost lost it. Not to mention, it was my birthday gift from Kris, given to me the night that we went stargazing at the state park—the night we had also shared our first real kiss. I would’ve been so depressed if I had found it missing when I got home after the party.

“Okay, then... who is it?” he asked, prodding for an answer. I wasn’t sure why he so badly wanted to know, unless it had something to do with still looking out for Kris—like he was keeping an eye on me while his friend was away in another state.

I wouldn’t look him in the eye as I said, “That’s my brother.”

Jordan was the next to speak. “You keep a picture of your brother in your locket? That’s kind of weird.” Heather elbowed him in the stomach, but he was only saying what everyone else was probably thinking but too afraid to say.

“It’s not weird,” I bit out at him, feeling from the way that my hair began to stand on end that I was getting defensive. I knew they weren’t attacking me, but I was hypersensitive when it came to anything about James.

That’s when Max spoke up, and I could have killed him. Honest-to-God, killed him. He said, “I thought your brother was dead?”

I had told Max that back in February when he had seen my tattoo; I don’t know why he couldn’t put two and two together and realize that that’s why I carried around his picture in the locket. If James were alive and I got to see him or talk to him on regular basis, I wouldn’t need it.

My hand tightened around the gold trinket and came up to my chest. I nodded, staring into the fire to avoid everyone’s gazes. Suddenly, my voice wouldn’t work, and it was a struggle to choke out my response and share my deepest secret with them. “He is.”

No one said anything for a while, a damper having been put on the mirth of the party. I sat back down on the log with my hand closed securely around my necklace. After a minute or two of a lull in the conversation, Sidney handed me another marshmallow, which I promptly popped into my mouth and chewed on.

9 comments:

  1. Yay! An update! I love that I spend more time on Blogger reading when I should be working at my job :) Anyway, that's what quickly minimizing the page is for, right?

    Excellent chapter! I know that it wasn't exactly humorous but something about Max Talbot being a dumbass always brightens my day. Seriously, is he that clueless? And I'm glad that Jo is really making the effort to go out and be social even if it is often outside of her comfort zone. It's never healthy to rely only on someone else for happiness, especially when that person is on the other side of the country. But still, I just want her to move out to California already so that her and Kris can finally be together again. I miss their dynamic :)

    Loved it!

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  2. Ya, I've been haunting the blogosphere looking for this update, mainly because I never know what's happening next. And sure enough, we're off in a totally new direction.

    I love Jo's frank, take charge attitude at the beginning, while she's considering Kris's phone sex limitations, as well as his in-person "talents". Her honest ideas about sex are really refreshing, as well as the fact that she never seems to treat Kris as a big deal because he's a hockey player.

    The team's whole attitude is a little weird though, not being able to ask about Kris, it's like getting traded is contagious. And I definitely don't like Max's way of offering up a new boyfriend. It's almost like the Pens and the Sharks are trying to split these two up, and they need to be strong to keep it together.

    Rats, I'm thinking there won't be another update before I go on holidays. But then, there will be lots to read when I get back, so that's something to look forward to!

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  3. Yeah,that was f'ed up. It's almost like they were treating her bad to get rid of her.

    P.S. Tillie, please don't end your Emma and Sid story. Yours and this one are two of my faves!! (sorry for talking about anither story on this page, Tillie's page wn't accept my comments).

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  4. YAY updates!!

    As I go...

    "Maybe eventually, he’d even say the word “pussy.” Maybe."
    ^^ L O L. Ok now Jo, let's not push our luck because I can't EVER see that happening. Of course, if you had have asked me if Kris Letang would tell a girl to 'suck it', I would have said no way.
    And yes, I still remember that update. Vividly. lol

    "Kris was the most skilled lover I’d ever been with."
    ^^ Ugh ok, they're not even in the same state and my mind is a helluva dirty place right now.

    "If you’ve got dreams, you’d better go out and live them while you’re still dreaming them."
    ^^ <3 the old lady that Jo works/ed with. I seriously love this bit of advice, and I love even more that Jo is the type of person who doesn't have to be told to do this.
    I know that she'll follow her heart... which is currently pointed at one Kris Letang. Mmmhmmm!

    "Even Crosby was here to take part in the last hurrah, which I think spoke to the magnitude and importance of making a point to have a bit of fun before really having to buckle down and get serious about the second season."
    ^^ BAHAHAHAH! Ok... first off, it's so weird to be back in the environment of "Penguins" and "Penguin related things". I was getting use to the Sharks and all that stuff... I can't imagine how awkward that would feel.
    Anyway, the whole idea that Crosby wouldn't be having a good time if it wasn't necessary, just cracks me up. I love it... love this description!

    “Here, you bossy, demanding woman,”
    ^^ And I kind of love Jordan and Heather's relationship... also, I love that she invited Jo!
    I mean, so maybe the guys are being weird and all 'why are you here', but the girls at least don't think that way. They stayed friends with Jo when Kris left, and that makes me think better of them.

    "He held the burger out in my direction, like he was offering to give it back. I shook my head and he shrugged his shoulders, taking another humongous bite. His words were barely intelligible."
    ^^ This paragraph breaths Max Talbot, in a nut shell. Such a fantastic way to bring him in and let him do his thing. Oh Mr. Talbot, please don't ever grow up!

    Ok, I could kiss Crosby over the 'smores' thing... he's offering an un-awkward situation, sweets and his sexy self to sit beside. What a man. What a man.

    Ugh, ok maybe not so un-awkward. #1, I'm glad she got the locket back... that would be horrible if it fell off and she couldn't find it... but... #2, learn some manners! Jesus! I just don't get it like... are they actually this foolish or are they just being jerks?

    I'm kind of leaning towards the first but I feel like this whole night has been a bust and now I feel really horrible for Jo.

    OH! And don't get me all upset with these titles Miss! I was worried there for a while lol.
    More, more, more!! =D! Fantastic update! I have no idea where you're going with the next one... but I can't wait cause I know it's gonna be amazing!

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  5. I'm not happy, not happy at all!

    First, Max could you have been anymore of a douche? From “Jo, I didn’t expect to see you here,” to “I thought your brother was dead?” Everything he said screamed go away you don't belong here any more.

    Secondly, I don't like Sid in the picture. He is so much like Kris. Quiet, not a party guy, nice, not the kind of guy to hit on girls especially girls belonging to someone else, helpful, trustworthy. I know he's just being nice, not even in a big way. Just little rescues from Max's douchiness. But neither of them would have their guard up, because the notion of something happening is just silly. But sometimes that's how things start, and suddenly you find yourself way off course. So I'm not happy!

    But great update as always! Thanks!

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  6. Max. You idiot!!!
    Not only did he make her feel like she shouldn't be there, then he brings up James. : ( poor girl...
    Enough to make her never hang out with them again.

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  7. Ugh goddamn you Max Talbot. Must you open your ludicrous French mouth every damn chance you get? I wanted to slap him upside the head when he said that. Insensitive much?

    Besides the enormous damper that Max decided to put on this whole thing, I'm actually glad that Jo went to the party. Even if it was pretty awkward, it was nice that she could get out every now and then. And major props to Siddo for trying to diffuse the awkward. I knew I loved that boy for a reason<3

    I'm really excited to see where it goes from here, Jay. Excellent update!!

    Oh and I agree with Zigh, the title of this totally had me scared :P

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  8. Please never ever stop updating this story! I look forward for every update! I literally sit day after day checking 24/7 for another chapter.

    And may I say I'm liking this whole Crosby thing? Maybe they'll become friends? ;)

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  9. Poor Jo. I'm happy that Sid was able to step in and help Jo out a little. I can't believe how much of an ass Max was being. Kris will be pissed if he finds out what he did.

    I can't wait for Jo and Kris to be together again. I get butterflies just thinking about it!

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