Wednesday, July 7, 2010

107.) Birthday Surprise

I could hear their voices behind and beside me, talking about me, but I wasn’t listening to what they were saying. Not anything new from what I had been hearing for the past couple of days, anyway.

“Buck up, dude,” Mitch said to me, pulling me out of my stare. I hadn’t even been focused on anything in particular, but I was reluctant to glance away. The bus ride from the airport to the hotel was long and bumpy as we made our way through Denver for tomorrow’s game.

“Huh? I’m just tired,” I replied, feigning a yawn. The motion set forth a real, tired reaction, and I let out a long, low yawn.

“You’ve been like this all week,” Pickles added, throwing in his two unwanted cents. “Come on, what’s up?”

“I told you, it’s nothing,” I lied, brushing away their concerns. They could ask all they wanted, but I wasn’t going to talk to them again about Jo. Every time I did, I got myself in trouble somehow; either the guys told me something that got me in deep with her, or I said something about Jo to the guys that would somehow get turned around on me. It was best to just keep some things to myself.

“It’s girl trouble, isn’t it?” Couture asked, leaning forward and grabbing onto the back of my seat. “Of course it is. Girls equal trouble, end of story.”

McGinn laughed, “What the fuck do you know about girls anyway, Logs? You just hump ’em and dump ’em.”

“Yeah, that’s how I avoid all this fucking girl drama that you guys get all caught up in,” Couture replied, very matter-of-factly. “Pssht, who needs it?”

“At least, that’s what you keep telling yourself,” Guch said with a howl of laughter. “Face it, Jenn was the only chick who’d put up with your shit, and once she dumped you—”

“Hey, hey, hey, hey,” Logan roared, holding up his hands in a halting motion and getting the attention of more than just the group of us in the back. “Jenn did not dump me.”

“You sure as hell didn’t dump her,” Pickles laughed. “Tanger’ll back me up on this. We were both there, and she was fucking pissed at you, man. Piiiiiiissed.” I nodded as Pickles glanced at me to back him up. “She finally got fed up with you and kicked you to the curb, and ever since you’ve had no luck with the ladies.”

“Who needs luck, when all you wanna do is fuck?” Logan chuckled. “Hey, did you hear that? I was a poet and didn’t know it!”

I shook my head, staring back out the window and smiling to myself at his stupid little rhyme rather than what he said. That encouraged him. “See, Letang thinks I’m funny. He agrees with me, too.”

“No, I don’t agree with you,” I told him. He looked at me like he expected me to go on, but I didn’t. I was through talking about Jo with these guys—especially with these single guys who didn’t, and couldn’t, understand.

Jo and I were still together, still desperately in love of course, but things had been strained ever since Tuesday’s conversation. We talked every day, like we always had, and we made sure to say that we loved each other. For all intents and purposes, our conversations never changed; but somehow, they were different nonetheless. And forget about phone sex. I didn’t want to flat out ask. I mean, I wasn’t sure how to go about propositioning her anyway, and since she never initiated it after that heated discussion, I let it go and went without. When we talked, she didn’t mention Dave, and I didn’t ask. I knew she’d keep her word and stop hanging out with him in a more friendly capacity.

Maybe I could have broached the subject a little better, somehow. I could have been less brusque about it or less demanding; just because I felt so adamant about this didn’t mean I had to go about it like that. But once Jo had sprung it on me that she had gone to the movies with Dave—and that they were going out to dinner, too—I had to say something. I couldn’t let it slide anymore. I liked to think that I was easy going and relaxed about a lot of things, considering the situation Jo and I found ourselves in. So shouldn’t I be granted some leniency here?

I couldn’t help it; every time I thought of those two together and alone somewhere, I got a bad vibe. I hoped I was overreacting, but I’d rather overreact than let it go and regret it later. I didn’t want Jo to find herself in a situation like she did in the club over her visit out west, where she was at some guy’s mercy—and this time, with no one to back her up if needed. There wasn’t anything wrong with playing it safe, and I’d rather be paranoid than wrong.

Yeah, I could have done a better job of making my point, making her understand, and coaxing her into agreeing of her own volition, but I was already under a lot of stress and my emotions got the best of me. Instead of the calm discussion I had envisioned, I blurted everything out and told her to stop instead of just telling her how I felt about it and asking her to see my side. Really, I had snapped. That would have been the most effective approach, especially since Jo was pigheaded and liked coming to her own conclusions in her own good time. She hated to be forced into anything.

And I didn’t want to force her into anything. I didn’t want to be the type of guy who made demands or treated my girlfriend like this, hurting and upsetting her. I didn’t want to be a jerk, an asshole, or an insensitive, malicious prick toward the one person who meant the most to me in this world.

I didn’t want to be my father.

That was something none of these guys would understand. I could tell them that I had told Jo to stay away from Dave and other guys, but they would only do something stupid like congratulate me for sticking up for myself or standing my ground or finally acting like the man and wearing the pants in my relationship. That kind of stuff didn’t bother me, because I knew in my heart that Jo and I had give and take; we had a special bond that no outsider could possibly understand.

Just because we were hitting a bit of a rough patch now didn’t mean that our bond was shaken. We only had to get through the next two weeks; that’s when Jo’s semester would be finished. She had one last full week of classes to attend, and then the following week would be for her finals. We had to wait and see how the first round would pan out before we knew what my schedule would look like, so things were still very much up in the air about when we’d get to be together again. We were now looking forward to that more than ever. It felt like all our problems would be solved if we could just be near each other; that’s where all this tension was coming from.

I had to focus on tomorrow’s game, though—that’s why the guys kept hounding me about what was bothering me. None of us could afford to be distracted right now, and I had been distracted since Tuesday. We had won Tuesday’s game in yet another overtime, and then we slaughtered the Avalanche in Thursday’s game with a five to nothing win, which put us up three to two in the series. We had to seal the deal tomorrow in the Pepsi Center, and that required everyone’s full effort and attention.

That sucked for me, because I wanted to fix what was wrong between me and Jo. I hated that things were strained in general, but it was worse because this was already a stressful time for me. Yes, it was the playoffs, but it wasn’t just that; I wasn’t nearly so tense in prior years when I played for the Pens. This season was more intense because it was a new experience for me, being all the way out west with no support system other than my teammates. I considered them my friends, for the most part, but we didn’t have the fraternal connection or chemistry that we would have had if I had been here for the whole season. I had played twenty games with them since I had been traded, which had helped me adjust to life out here, but this still did not feel... right.

When I was with the team, my mind drifted off to think of Jo; when I was off the ice and away from the team, all I could think about was lacing up my skates again and playing the game. If we could win tomorrow’s game, we’d probably have a few off days before the second round started, which would help me to clear my head and figure out how to make things right with Jo again before we took on the next opponent.

“Anyways, all I’m saying is,” Couture went on, giving up on hoping for a further response from me, “girls are more trouble than they’re worth. The only thing that should be on our minds is dinner tonight, a long night of sleep, then getting focused for tomorrow.”

I could hear it in his voice, although he’d never say the words out loud—nor would anyone else on the team. Since we had crushed Colorado on Thursday, we knew we could do it again and win. The previous games had all been tight, with three games’ decisions coming in overtime. This past game had been the only one with a decisive victory. The Avalanche were a tired team, and we were grinding them down.

That being said, of course, they had to fight for a win to stay alive, if they had any hopes left for winning the series. They needed to win to stay afloat, and they would be skating hard. We had to watch for that, but we also had to keep our own agenda in the forefront of our minds. We couldn’t just stop them from winning. We had to win.

Finally, the bus pulled up to the front of the hotel. This was the same place we had spent for games three and four. Some of the guys were superstitious and liked to keep things as routine and familiar as possible, and since we had split those games, there was no real reason to want to switch to a different hotel. We stayed on board as the guys in front of us got off, and by the time Pickles, Couture, Mitch, Guch, Ginny, and I stepped off the bus, our suitcases were out of the storage compartments under the bus and lined up in the sidewalk. We grabbed our respective bags and headed into the lobby so we could get our keys, drop off our stuff, and head for our big team meal.

Husky had been roommate from the day I got out here; Coach thought that if we spent as much time together as possible, we’d develop chemistry more quickly, which would help us out on the ice. He was an all-around solid guy, and we roomed together well. Husky wasn’t really outspoken, but he wasn’t too quiet either. He snored, commandeered the converter and always picked the worst shows to watch, and he liked to sleep naked—but none of those things were really deal breakers for me when it came to roommates. Kent never brought back girls to the room, he never stayed up late or kept me up (besides his snoring, that is, and I had quickly stocked up on ear plugs to combat the noise pollution), and he never hogged the bathroom or made me late.

He stood over by the desk and waited for our pair of card keys so we could find our room and deposit our suitcases before dinner. I held the back of my hand up to my mouth as I stifled another yawn, and then I lifted up my hat and tucked my hair back into place as cards were being assigned and passed out to various people.

“Seriously, dude, stop it,” Logan chirped, fighting through his own yawn. “Don’t you know that shit’s contagious?”

“Sorry,” I chuckled.

Pickles spoke softly to me. “You sure you’re all right, man? You gotta make sure you got your head right.”

“My head’s on just fine,” I returned. Out of all these people gathered in this room, I was the one who knew that the most—after all, I had just won the Stanley Cup the season before. I had won it most recently, so I could freshly remember all the hard work and focus and determination that was required of a player in the playoffs; I was the last person here who needed to be lectured.

“It always comes down to a girl,” Guch sighed.

I shouldn’t have let them bait me, but I couldn’t stop myself from responding to that. “Why is it that everything I do makes you guys automatically assume that it all comes down to Jo?”

Couture laughed. “Because everything does boil down to her when it comes to you. It’s like you guys are one fucking person.”

My initial reaction to that was to explain that I loved her and she loved me. We weren’t one person, but we were one couple—and we both understood how important it was to communicate and make each other as much a part of our lives as possible, especially considering all we had to connect through were phone calls and text messages. That meant putting in a lot of work, but I wasn’t sure how much he understood that about relationships. He was just a young guy with a big paycheck; he’d figure it out for himself along the way when he got tired of the bachelor lifestyle.

But I knew that he wouldn’t have listened, so I didn’t expend the effort. I shrugged.

“But things are okay, right?” Pickles asked. He didn’t want it to look like he was gossiping, so he quickly followed it up with, “Jamie’s kinda looking forward to having Jo come back out west again. She asked me when she’s coming out for the playoffs.”

“Her semester’s almost over,” I sighed. “Once the schedule for the next round comes out, we’ll figure it out and get her on a plane.” I knew that I was being cocky and talking like we were going to win, but I couldn’t help it; I wanted that outcome so badly.

“So, things are good... right?” he pressed.

Because it was Pickles asking over anyone else, and because he had a serious girlfriend and would potentially understand, I caved a little bit and explained, “I told her that I didn’t like her hanging around with that guy, so we had a, uh, talk, I guess, about it.”

“She flipped a shit, didn’t she?” Guch asked, shaking his head and trying not to laugh. “Oh my God, I can just imagine.”

“So? What happened? Did she agree?” Mitch asked, fascinated with the turn the conversation had taken.

“Well, yeah, of course she did,” I said. “It was important to me, and she knew that. It’s a weird, tough situation, but it’s the best thing for our relationship, so she agreed not to hang around with him.”

“Nah, couldn’t’ve been that easy,” Logan mused. “I can’t see that happening.”

I rolled my eyes; like he knew anything about relationships—let alone mine and Jo’s. “Well, that’s what did happen. Because when it comes to real relationships, like partnerships, you both do what you have to in order to make things work. I love her. Fights don’t change that. Distance doesn’t change that. And if Jo were here, she’d tell you the exact same thing.”

Couture got this weird look on his face, like maybe he didn’t believe me or he was questioning it for some reason. “Really? Would she?”

I opened my mouth to tell Logan that there was no doubt in my mind that Jo would in fact express that same sentiment, but someone else said the words before I could. “Yes, really, she would.” I couldn’t believe the voice behind me. It was one I instantly recognized because I’d know it anywhere, but it took a few seconds for it to dawn on me that the owner of that voice was here in the lobby with us. It came as such a shock. Having heard her speak, I shouldn’t have been surprised to turn around and see Jo standing there, but I was very, very much surprised.

She had been sitting in one of the chairs in the lobby, but she stood as my eyes spotted and locked onto her. The smile on her face was a sight for sore eyes as she beamed at me, and everything else around me melted away; there was no more tension or stress or anything else to interfere with the relief that I was feeling now. Jo giggled as she stepped toward me, but all I could do was stare with my mouth slightly agape. I couldn’t believe it, even as she reached out and touched the lapels of my suit jacket. The pressure of her hands assured me that yes, physically, she was here. She lifted her right shoulder and tilted her head to the side, then saying quietly so as not to draw any more attention to us, “Surprise!”

“You’re here.” I couldn’t say anything else other than that, because it was the only thought running through my head. I didn’t know how she knew what hotel we were staying at or when we were going to arrive so she could beat us here, or how she managed to get out of work, or whether she was supposed to be studying for exams, or any of those other big, important details. But none of that mattered with her here, standing before me, smiling and happy to see me.

Jo looked different; her hair was longer than I remembered and a little lighter brown, and her face was a little paler but her cheeks more pink. Her lips were a little chapped, like she had been biting or gnawing on it as she waited. She was wearing khaki shorts and a light blue tee shirt with blue flip flips and a tote bag slung over her shoulder. I hadn’t seen her when we walked in or even looked over in that direction as we waited for our keys. How could I have possibly missed her?

“Happy birthday,” she replied. We were in Denver for tomorrow’s sixth game of the series, which would be taking place on my twenty-third birthday. All I had wanted to commemorate the day was the fourth and final win to end the series and advance to the next round; Jo had said that she wanted to get me something, but I hadn’t wanted anything from her. Having her, though, made for an amazing surprise. Her next words egged me on, trying to provoke a reaction from me other than gawking. “So... are you going to thank me or something?”

That’s when I finally made my move and placed my hands on either side of her neck, holding her in place as I bent down and pressed my mouth against hers, hard and desperately. Jo let out a little squeak as she responded to me by pushing up onto her tippy toes, so I had less of a distance to lean down from, and opening her mouth without me having to make the first move. She let go of my jacket and wrapped her arms around my shoulders, and I grabbed a hold of her waist and pulled the length of her body against mine so I could feel as much of her as possible at once.

My eyes were closed, but I could feel that several pairs of eyes were on us; they probably were curious to see how far this was going to go while we were in the public lobby. But I couldn’t have cared any less. This was such a surprise—a great, wonderful, happy surprise—and I was way too excited to see her and hold her and kiss her and touch her like this to worry about who saw.

The guys, however, had my back. Pickles chuckled and nudged me. “Get out of here before McLellan or Yawney or Woodcroft sees you. They won’t like to see this going on the night before a big game.”

Instead of responding verbally, I tightened my hold around my girlfriend and began to walk her toward the elevators without separating our mouths, not caring that we hadn’t even checked in yet. I didn’t have my wits about me, so thankfully Jo did. She turned her head and broke the oral connection. I moved my lips to her neck, sucking her thin flesh into my mouth and nibbling on it.

“Key,” she squeaked, reaching out with a hand for Husky to hand her the card to get into our shared room. “What number?”

Kent replied with a laugh, “Five thirty-seven. Don’t forget your bag, Letang.”

I growled and temporarily relented my attack on Jo, holding onto her with my right arm as I reached with my left for the handle on my rolling suitcase. I pulled it behind me as we headed toward the bank of elevators. The doors opened as soon as I pressed the up button, and I backed her up into the empty elevator as I began to kiss her again. She pressed the level five button as I reached behind her legs and hitched her up against the mirrored wall. I pressed my body into hers and slid my thigh against the vee between her legs to keep her up. Jo awkwardly hooked one of her legs around me and grabbed my ass as she tried to gain leverage to grind against me as our make-out session quickly evolved into something more sexual and primal. As she writhed against me, I was sliding my hands under her shirt and cupping her breasts over her bra, brushing my palms against her hardening nipples and then pinching them between my thumbs and fingers.

Jo moaned and sighed and squeaked as we swirled our tongues in each other’s mouths and unceremoniously groped each other in the privacy of the elevator. There were things that she wanted to say to me, and there were things that I wanted to say to her... but all of those things could wait. Neither one of us was making any effort to stop kissing so we could use our mouths to talk.

That is, until we reached the fifth floor and the doors pinged as they opened. Jo pushed against me and spoke against my lips. “Our floor.”

I grunted and resumed kissing her, easing my grip and letting her down so she could walk. It took us forever to find the right door because we were too hesitant to pull apart long enough to read the room numbers. Finally, we found 537, and I pushed Jo up against the door as I took the key from her, guided the card into the slot, and waited for the green light to signal granted access. When it flashed, I swung the handle and opened the door, and we stumbled and fell inside the room.


  1. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

    I;m so fucking happy right now!!!
    I can't believe she surprised him and how happy he is.
    I can't even think of anything else to say right now lol

  2. yay! i am so happy right now that she came to see him! i hope they can work everything out. i love them as a couple sooooo much, and that's all because of your writing!

  3. What a hot surprise! Trying to keep up with this and I'm so glad she flew out... will Kris bend for hot sex the night before the game even if its birthday sex? Hope so :)

  4. This is so much better than the last post. More updates like this please.

  5. Awesome!!!!!!!!!

  6. Uh uh. You did not stop there???!!!!

  7. OMG YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES TIMES 100,000!

    I hope she finished her finals early and hauled ass out to stay in San Jose for real because they suck when they're apart. Ugh, Jay, you are the BEST.

    This was like a birthday surprise for me too (even though it's not my birthday!)!!!!

  8. I didn't see this coming!!
    What a surprise!! : )

  9. I this story.

  10. Jo's entrance was awesome and pure epic.

  11. Great, sweet update.

    First off, when Kris was thinking "They could ask all they wanted, but I wasn’t going to talk to them again about Jo." I was thinking yay, he certainly learns from his mistakes, but then it turns out that they're a lot more sympathetic than you might think. Just as he gets to know them better, they get better too. And they've got his back. Plus the team is finally winning. That's what great about your writing, the complexity of people: nobody is a straightforward good guy or villain, everyone is just human.

    I love Jo's low key, smart ass entrance. And the whole liplock kiss and elevator is totally cinematic. Really perfect description, and sexy too. Who plays Jo in the movie anyway?