Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ch. 24

A/N :Two songs for our soundtrack today... the first one would be considered from Kris's point of view.. the 2nd being Abby's despite the gender role in the song... I'm sure ya'll can see how it fits.
Just wanted to say thank you again for all your comments!! Great to hear from you and I'm glad to hear you are enjoying it, even if we are at a not so happy part in the story... MelTing - I kind of laughed when I read your comment, you always seem to ask the right questions and they are fittingly answered for you in the next chapter. Enjoy!

What ravages of spirit
conjured this temptuous rage
created you a monster
broken by the rules of love
and fate has lead you through it
you do what you have to do…

and I have the sense to recognize that
I don't know how to let you go
every moment marked
with apparitions of your soul
I'm ever swiftly moving
trying to escape this desire
the yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do

a glowing ember
burning hot
burning slow
deep within I'm shaken by the violence
of existing for only you

I know I can't be with you
I do what I have to do

Cause goodbyes are like a roulette wheel
You never know where they're gonna land
First you're spinning, then you're standing still
Left holding a losing hand
But one day you're gonna find someone
And right away you'll know it's true
That all of your seeking's done
It was just a part of the passing through
Right there in that moment you'll finally understand
That I was better as a memory than as your man
Better as a memory than as your man

Ch. 24
“She just quit it like that?” Mitch asked, sounding as shocked as I felt.  It was late Sunday night and I as close as I had come with some of the guys on the team, I still felt bad calling them at this time.  However, I didn’t think twice about calling my brother.
“Yeah, Patrick had warned me that she was falling into a deep depression, but still, I didn’t realize it would come to this,” I sighed into the phone.  “What the fuck do I do?”
“You are asking me what to do?!  I’m the younger brother, I’m supposed to be the one calling you and asking questions like that,” he half joked on the other end of the phone.  “Seriously dude, I have no clue,” he finished sincerely.
“I love her,” was all I could think to say.
“That was obvious the day you brought her along to my game and hell, you weren’t even dating at that point.  She’s a good match for you.”
“You should hear her now though, she’s totally broken and sounding so depressed…” I said as my stomach churned just thinking about her sad voice.
“Can you get up to Toronto?”
“No.  We are playing a game every other night this week; the soonest I might be able to see her would be next week.  We have an away game in Ottawa and then two days off before a game in Buffalo.”
“That might actually work out well, it will give her some time to cool off and maybe things will be better with her dad by that point.  If things are better I’m sure she’ll be a little easier to talk to and persuade into rethinking her decision.”
“See, this is why I called you, those are words of reason that I need to hear right now.”
“I’m sure you would have eventually thought of it that way yourself,” Mitch chuckled.  “Besides, if I know you as well I think I do; I don’t think your going to give up on this girl.  Let it be known that if you do give up on her, I’m totally challenging you to a wrestling match in the basement of Grandma’s house once you win the Cup again this summer.”
“Speaking of Cup’s, you guys going to win the Kelly Cup?” I asked in an attempt to get off the Abby subject for a bit.
“Damn, I hope so.  It would be nice to at least have some sort of championship under my belt to compete against you,” he chirped.
“Yeah, but you’ll always be my little brother,” I joked back.
“This is true, but it could definitely be worse.”
“Suck up.”
“You know it.”
“Love ya Mitch.”
“Love you too, bro.”

“I still don’t understand,” Kristy said as we took a walk around the garden at the hospital.  She was on her Spring Break from school and was somehow able to finagle some days off from The Continental so that she could fly up to be with me.  It was exactly a week and a half after Dad’s accident and he was finally off the ventilator and beginning to be his normal demanding self.  To his insistence and our hesitation, I brought in his laptop and cell phone so that he could do some work from the hospital bed.  “How could you just walk away from something so good and not seem to think twice about it?  You have to think about yourself Abby.”
“That’s exactly what I did and look at what happened?” I exclaimed, becoming slightly annoyed that everyone was questioning my decisions.  I knew what was best for me and I was tired of hearing everyone else’s opinions.  I don’t know how many times I heard the words that I couldn’t blame myself for everything, but what did they know.  It had been my fault several times over the years.  It was my fault that Grandpa died.  If I hadn’t been throwing a temper tantrum about not wanting to go visit, we might have been there before he had his heart attack and we could have called 911 to help save his life.  I remember the look in my mother’s eyes the day of his funeral.  I knew she blamed me, even if she claimed she didn’t.  However, those were the things that never went away, no matter how much older you got.  Sure, I’ve kind of come to believe that when it’s your time, it’s your time, but when it comes to my family I’m still not 100% sold.
“Can I be truthful?” Kristy asked as she stopped walking.
I left out an ironic laugh and shrugged my shoulders, “Since when haven’t you been?”
Kristy frowned before speaking.  “Abby, all you are doing is going back to where you started.  What happened to Operation Happy Abby?  You got so far and now because of one set-back you have totally given up.”
“I’m not giving up, I’m just changing my path,” I said quietly, still digesting the words so that maybe I’d actually believe them at some point.
“You’re being a chicken.”
“Gee, you make me feel so good about myself,” I said sarcastically as I began walking again.
“I’m being your friend, Abby.”
“Well if you’re not going to support me in my decisions, then I don’t want you to be my friend,” I finally snapped.  “I don’t need Kris.  I can make it on my own.”
“You know what?  You are right.  He doesn’t deserve you, Abby,” Kristy snapped back and walked back inside, probably to find Patrick so they could talk behind my back again.
I was bitter, I was unhappy and most of all I was torn apart.

“So do you think it’s worth me making a pit stop in Toronto before heading to Buffalo?” I asked Kristy after she told me everything.  She had stopped over at the apartment to visit me as soon as she got home from Toronto and it was obvious she was exhausted just from dealing with Abby.
“She’s a total head-case right now.  To be honest, I didn’t even know who she was at times.  This is a whole new ballgame,” Kristy sighed as she flopped herself down on my couch and took a sip of the beer I had handed her.  “I think it’s only going to leave you more frustrated and possibly make things worse.”
“I want her back.”
“I understand this, but with the way she’s acting I’m thinking that won’t happen because you will just end up walking away more hurt than you are now.”
“Well that’s not overly reassuring,” I said, trying to laugh about the situation because otherwise I was going to just cry.  I had immersed myself in the game because that is what hockey players did; if something was going on in our personal life, we forgot about it by throwing ourselves into the only thing we knew never changed.

“Fancy meeting you here,” Tyler chirped as I glided around the ice.  It was Monday, April 4th and Dad was home, beginning a long schedule of physical therapy and rest.  He insisted that I get out of the house and go skating.
“If you don’t get your ass out of this house, I’m going to shove this crutch up your ass Abby,” Dad growled as I sat his breakfast tray down on his bedside table.  “I’m tired of seeing you mope around here for no reason.  If you are going to stay here, then you need to get back to some sort of normalcy.”  I knew he was right, but it was easier said than done.  I was lonely, despite the fact that my family was all around me.  I was angry at myself for treating Kristy the way I did and it was obviously going to take some time to forget Kris.
I cut to a stop, creating a spray of ice in Tyler’s direction.  I wasn’t surprised to find him here, considering I had talked to Boyce while I was lacing up my skates.  I was at the Leaf’s practice facility and the players were always coming and going around here.  “Glad to see Darryl still hasn’t learned how to keep a secret,” I said in a flat tone.
“Good to see you too,” Tyler shook his head and skated closer to me.  “How is Dad?”
I couldn’t help but smile when I told him that he was home being a tyrant, including throwing around violent threats at me.
“So instead of going out shopping or something, you are here skating?” Tyler laughed taking my hand to lead me around the ice at a slow, relaxed pace.
“Do you expect anything different from me?” I sighed.
“Not at all,” he said, smiling easy over at me.  His brown eyes were sparkling and the look he gave me brought back a few memories.  “Rumor mill says you ain’t going back to Philly…”
“That rumor would be fact.”
“What changed?”
“I need to be here with my family,” I said.  I was worried that he would ask more questions that frankly I was annoyed of having to repeat, but Tyler had always been perceptive when it came to me.  He always seemed to know when I did or didn’t want to talk about things and it seemed as if he still had that touch.
“Come out to dinner with me and some of the guys tonight,” he summoned as if he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.  “You need to get out of the house.”
“I was going to stay home tonight…” I began.
“I will call your dad and ask for permission if I need to,” he warned me with a playful look in his eyes.  “Don’t worry, I promise to drop you off at your house as soon as we are done dinner if you want.”
I chewed on the inside of my cheek as I looked warily over at him.  “You promise not to get the wrong idea?”
“Abby, come on.  You know I will always care about you but you also know that I respect you,” he said sincerely.
I knew he was speaking truthfully; I also knew that he respected me and wouldn’t push me into anything I didn’t want.  The only time he had been pushy was the last time I was in Toronto for my sisters’ birthday and I had come to believe that he was only that way because he knew Kris was stomping on his turf.  I took a deep breath and nodded my head.  “Fine.”
He left out a little whoop and spun me around on the ice, making me laugh for the first time in over 2 weeks.

The guys were in good spirits despite the fact that they were not going to be in the playoffs once again this year.  “That’s awesome that you are staying up here in the Great White North,” Caputi said with his big Italian grin.  “Just let me know when you are hungry for some Italian food and I’ll be sure to cook you a big meal,” he winked at me, causing me to roll my eyes at his enthusiasm.
“Yeah, I’m sure he’ll make sure there is some extra dessert with that too,” Boyce piped up, causing Luca to throw a punch his way.
“No doubt,” I laughed as both were now engaged in a slap fight.  Glad to see the immaturity never changes.
“Hey, are you going to dye your hair back to your original color?” Army inquired from next to me.  His wife had already headed back to their home in Saskatoon with the kids to get it ready for the summer, so he was subjected to hanging out with his single teammates.  Colby and I had become instant friends when he came to Toronto and I absolutely adored his wife, Melissa.  He was a straight up good guy.  “Melissa said she really liked it when you were up in Toronto the other month, but she was shocked that you decided to even change the color of it in the first place.”
“Yeah, I shocked myself in doing it, but now that I have it this color, I have to admit that it’s grown on me,” I smiled before taking another sip of my beer.  “I’m still debating what I want to do, but I actually have a hair appointment tomorrow so I better figure it out soon,” I said, running my fingers mindlessly through a couple strands that had fallen in my face.
“Mmm, I think you should go back to your original color,” Tyler piped up on the other side of me.  “I always loved your raven hair.”
“Who gives a shit on what you think, Tyler,” Luca chirped loudly.  “I think she looks fucking hot as a blonde.”
“Thanks Luca,” I laughed with the rest of the guys as Boyce tried to tell him to pipe it down, reminding him we were in a public place.
A night out like this was probably exactly what I needed.

The days snailed on by and I tried to keep myself as busy as possible by hanging out with the guys or just spending time rotting my mind with Call of Duty.  It took a lot for me to get down, but this was definitely testing it.  Sometimes I was angry as hell at her, pissed off that she could do this to me and then the next moment I found myself totally sympathetic of her decision.  Truthfully, this was officially the first time I ever knew what it was like to experience a broken heart; at least I hadn’t had once since the 5th grade when my teacher told me she was too old for me.
Luckily I had JVR, Giroux, Carcillo, Hartnell and Richie kept me occupied.
“Come on Steeger!  You’re making me lose and I totally hate getting my ass kicked by Carcillo when we play Call of Duty!” James whined as we sat in Richie’s and Cacillo’s hotel room in Ottawa.
“Ugh, if Carbomb would stop fucking sniping me, I’d be a lot better off,” I chirped as I threw a chip over at Danny’s head.
“Dude, don’t hate the master,” Danny exclaimed while throwing his controller up in the air as he made the last kill, promptly giving a high-5 to Richie and Giroux.
I was just about ready to take a sip of my water when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.  I pulled it out and cursed, “Fuck,” quickly jumping up from the bed and running out into the hallway for privacy.
“Abby?” I breathed, slightly out of breath from my sudden burst of energy and the adrenaline that was pumping through me.
“Hey Kris,” she said quietly on the other end.  It was the first time she had called since the other Sunday.  “Were you just running or something?” she asked, sounding a lot more chipper than she did the last time we spoke.
“Heh, no, I just quickly ran out of Richie’s room for some privacy,” I chuckled, thinking about how the guys were probably still looking at each other confused.  “What’s up?” I asked.  I miss you.  Please tell me you are calling to say that you have finally come to your senses…
“I just wanted to call and check in,” she said hesitantly, sounding as if she was second guessing herself.
“Oh, I see…”
“I’m sorry…I probably shouldn’t have called you, but…”
“Abby, I miss you.”
I heard her heave a sigh.  “I miss you too.”
“Please tell me I can stop in and see you Wednesday, I got permission to stop in Toronto when the rest of the team heads for Buffalo, I need to see you Abby,” I quickly spoke, probably sounding pathetic but I didn’t care at the moment.
She was silent for a few minutes before she began talking.  “I-I don’t know if that’s a good idea, Kris.  I don’t think that’s going to help the situation, I think it could just make things worse.  We need to move on,” she said, attempting to sound strong, but it wasn’t working.
“Abby, like I said before, things don’t need to be like this.”
“Yes, they do.  This is for the better.”
“For who?  It’s obvious we are both hurting here,” I began raising my voice a little more than I wanted to, but I couldn’t help it as I felt the blood beginning to angrily pulse through me.
“I’m moving on, Kris.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m moving on…”
“Are you back with Tyler?”
“I might be getting back with him, I don’t know…”
“Don’t fucking lie to yourself Abby.  You and I both know it’s just because you have history together,” I snapped into the phone.  “Don’t do this.”
“I’m sorry for ruining everything,” she whispered before hanging up and leaving me sitting in the hallway of the hotel staring at my phone that displayed the picture of me and Abby at Mitch’s game in Reading.

I had to do it.  I had to lie because I had to make sure he wouldn’t keep pursuing me.  I was correct when I guessed he was going to try and visit me during his last road-trip to Canada.  I needed to make sure he moved on because it would make it easier for me to start anew.  There was absolutely nothing going on between Tyler and me, because personally I knew I couldn’t go back to that.  If I was going to begin rebuilding my life once again, Tyler was not going to help me with that unless we were just friends.
I almost couldn’t do it.  I almost found myself begging him to fly to Toronto as soon as his game in Ottawa was done but I stubbornly stood my ground and now I was left with an even bigger hole in my heart.  Somehow I cried harder than I did the night I found out about my father, but this time instead of crying for someone else, I was crying for myself.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ch. 23

Breathe in, breathe out,
Tell me all of your doubts,
& Everybody bleeds this way,
Just the same.

Breathe in, breathe out,
Move on and break down,
If everyone goes away i will stay.

We push and pull,
& I fall down sometimes,
I'm not letting go,
You hold the other line.

Cause there is a light in your eyes, in your eyes.

Ch. 23

I stood there and watched a look of horror cross over her pretty face.  She clutched at her chest and literally collapsed down onto the cold macadam of the parking lot making this god awful gasping sound.  Somehow I could hear a voice on the other end saying, “Miss, Miss, are you okay?”  Kristy got down on the ground and huddled close with Abby as I took the phone from her shaking hand and began asking questions.
“Hello?” I said, interrupting the man on the other end.
“Who is this?”
“Who is this?” I growled back, intending to take control of the situation.
“This is Captain Gotwall from the Royal Mounted Police in Toronto…I was in the middle of speaking to Miss Burke.”
“And now you will be speaking to me.  Whatever you told my girlfriend has her very upset, please tell me what is going on,” I said, my voice cracking under the emotion.
“Well sir, Mr. Brian Burke was involved in a very bad accident tonight.  He is in the hospital at the moment in critical condition…”
“What hospital?” I asked as I pulled my phone out of my pocket to punch in the name.
“St. Michael’s…”
“Is he going to make it?”
“I’m not sure, sir.”
“Please tell her family that she will be on the next plane to the city.  Do you know if Patrick Burke was notified?”
“Negative, he was not notified yet…”
“Okay, well don’t worry about it; we will take care of it.  Is there any other information you need?”
“No sir.”
“Okay, thank you.” And at that I punched the end button on the phone and hit my knees to hold a devastated Abby.  After allowing her to sob for a good 5 minutes, a decent crowd of my teammates were gathered around us wondering what was going on.  Kristy began explaining the situation to Lavy and he immediately called Patrick while Richie began making phone calls to get Abby a plane ticket.
“Kris, let’s get her in my SUV,” Matt Carle said calmly as he leaned down and touched my shoulder to get my attention.  “She’s too upset to go home with you driving.  I’m sure she’ll want to get a few items packed…” his wife continued.  I nodded and attempted to Abby up to her feet.  She didn’t budge so I scooped her up and carried her over to the Carle’s SUV.  Kristy followed us back to the apartment building with my car and then came up to get Abby packed.  Mike was able to get us tickets for a 1am flight from Philly to Toronto.  It was already 11pm.
While Kristy and Carle’s wife flitted around the apartment, Matt began looking up things on the internet to see if he couldn’t find more information about what happened and I held Abby on my lap.  She was still crying, even though the tears were all dried up. 
“Here it is,” Matt suddenly spoke, breaking the tension filled room.  “Toronto Maple Leafs, GM Brian Burke was driving home tonight from the ACC when he was hit broad-side as a young driver ran the traffic light about 2 miles away from Brian’s home.  Sources say that Mr. Burke had to be cut from his car and was unconscious during the rescue efforts.  More information will be printed as it comes available.”
I felt Abby tense at every word Matt recited from the internet news article and I just held her closer, wishing there was some way to just mold her against me to keep her from enduring anymore bad news.  But no matter how tight I held her, I could see her unraveling before my eyes. 
After some major coaxing I got her into her bedroom and helped her change out of the jersey and get into comfier clothing for the plane ride.  She just stood still, her arms heavy as I lifted them up to pull the hockey sweater over her head.  It was as if she was a million miles away from me.  Her eyes were glazed over and her shoulders were hunched over as if the pain was pulling her inside out.
“Abby, it’s going to be okay,” I whispered as I placed a chaste kiss on her forehead.
“I can’t go through this again,” she croaked out.
“You won’t have to because it’s going to be alright and I’m here with you.”  I pulled a sweatshirt down over her head and then wrapped my arms back around her.  It felt as if I was holding a piece of cold, heavy, chiseled granite.  I was still holding her when Kristy came back into the room.
“Patrick just called,” she said breathlessly.  “He’s just getting a plane out of Boston and he said that Jennifer called and updated him.  Your dad is in a coma and is breathing with assistance from a ventilator.  They think he has sustained a serious concussion and he has a couple broken bones.”
I nodded and looked down to find Abby just staring at Kristy and at first I was unsure if she even heard Kristy’s information.  I was just about to ask her if she did in face hear what Kristy said when I noticed the tears begin to well up in her eyes once again.
“That’s exactly the same report I got about Brendan,” she whispered faintly.  Instead of saying wasting my breath on words of support that wouldn’t mean shit, I just pulled her head to my chest and held her as she broke down again.  It was going to be a long plane ride to Toronto.

The flight to Toronto was the longest ever, even with Kris by my side.  I knew I should sleep, but I couldn’t because I was afraid the nightmares would just over take me anyway.  It was 4am when we arrived at St. Michael’s and my whole family was there, sitting out in the waiting room in a vigil.
“Abby, oh thank God you are here!  Kris, thank you so much for accompanying her…” Jennifer exclaimed, trying to smile but failing miserably.
“How is he?” I heard myself ask.
“He’s stable but still very critical.  We are not going to know how much brain damage he has until he wakes up,” she said quietly.
“I need to see him,” I spoke again, sounding like a robot.
“Of course,” Jennifer said, taking my hand and leading me down the hall to my father’s room.  Kris left go of my hand for the first time since we left Philly and just nodded a reassuring look towards me, as if he was telling me that he knew I could be strong enough to go about this alone.  I knew he was right, but I felt so fragile at the moment.  “I’m so glad you had a travel buddy…” Jennifer continued, wrapping a loving around my shoulder.  “He must really care about you.”
As much as I wanted to agree, all I could do was nod my head.  Kris was the last thing on my mind right now; all my thoughts were geared towards the man that had been number one in my life since I was born.
Tears sprung to my eyes as soon as I saw him lying supine in the hospital bed with tubes and machines all around him.  This took the cake when it came to looking at one of the most horrific scenes.  I always knew my father as the strong head of my household, but not he looked far from the strong, steadfast pillar I leaned on throughout my life.
“Daddy,” I whispered through my sobs.  “Daddy, I’m here and I’ll stay here until you go back to work.  I’m not going to leave your side.  And I kept that promise.  The only time I would leave the room was to use the bathroom or to go home and get showered. 
Kris went back to Philly later on in the evening because he obviously had a job to do.
“Please call me if anything changes,” he whispered as he held me close out in the hallway of my father’s room.  There were a bunch of the Leaf’s players standing in and around the room at this point, so a private moment with Kris wasn’t really available, but he didn’t seem too bothered.  He lifted my chin with his hand, forcing me to pay attention to him for a few moments.  “I will get back up here as soon as I can…”
“I know your schedule is kind of crazy for the next few weeks,” I said quietly.  “You have a job to focus on.  Don’t worry about me.”
“I will be worried about you, but I promise to be out on that ice playing for you every night.”
“I don’t know when I’ll be back in Philly.”
“I know and understand this, Abby.  I love you.”
The last three words made my brain come to a complete halt and everything was instantly blocked out.  “What?”
“I love you,” he said more firmly and before I could protest, question, or reciprocate his lips were pressed hard against mine.  When he pulled back I was still speechless but he didn’t seem bothered by it, he just smiled faintly and kissed me once more on the cheek.  “I will call you when I get back to Philly.  Take care of yourself and you call me whenever you need someone besides family to talk to.”
I nodded and mouthed okay.  The last feeling of warmth left me as I watched him walk down the hall, leaving me here to deal with my own personal hell. 

After a few days I realized that Abby was somehow blaming all this on herself.  I wasn’t able to figure out how she would have stopped the accident from happening, but I’m fairly sure she believed that if she hadn’t moved to Philly and “only thought about herself” as she put it, this might have been avoided or at least she could have been by his side sooner.  I tried explaining to her that accidents happen, but she didn’t want anything to hear of it.  Patrick on the other hand was already back to his normal schedule.  I was actually a little surprised when I found him wandering the halls of the Coliseum on Long Island on Saturday afternoon before our game against the Islanders.  “Patrick!” I yelled after him.
He turned around and put on a half smile.  He looked exhausted.  “Oh, hey Kris.”
“What are you doing here?”
“I can’t really do anything up in Toronto, so it’s just easier for me to be out and about,” he said honestly with a sad face.
“How is Brian?”
“The doctors say he is doing better, but with all the sedation it’s hard to see it.”
I nodded my head in understanding.
“I’m worried about Abby…” he suddenly spoke out.  “I know that this is a little different because Dad is going to have a better outcome than Brendan, but this is exactly how she acted after Brendan passed.”
“How do you mean?” I asked; also concerned because she sounded completely depressed every time we spoke.  Obviously she was going to be put out, but every time we spoke she sounded less and less like the Abby I had come to love.
“Abby blamed herself for Brendan’s death, even though it had absolutely nothing to do with her.  She also blamed the loss of the baby on herself; even though I’m fairly sure she did nothing wrong to cause the miscarriage.”
Whoa, miscarriage?!  “What miscarriage?” I asked in a voice that sounded less stunned than I felt at the moment.  She had never mentioned anything about a miscarriage.
Patrick looked up at me like he had let the canary out of the bag, not realizing it was never out in the first place.  “Um, last summer her and Trevor got pregnant by accident for lack of better terms…6 weeks later she miscarried.  Things were already strained between the two of them after Brendan’s death, but that was basically the straw that broke the camel’s back in their relationship.  I’m sorry I thought for sure she would have told you…” he apologized, looking terribly upset that he basically just ratted his sister out.
“Abby and I are still learning more and more about each other every day,” I said quietly, realizing there was a whole other part of her that I obviously had no clue about.  No wonder Tyler was more than just a little upset about me being with Abby.  I probably would have been a little more protective of Dawn if we had gone through something so tragic together.
“Well I will warn you now that I think she’s slipped back into her sad ways again,” Patrick said sadly while kicking at something on the floor.  “It sucks that all of this had to happen now because I think if you were able to be with her, she’d be a little better off.”
I knew he didn’t mean the words to be condescending, but unfortunately I took them as a kick in the stomach because I already felt bad about not being by her side and now hearing that from him made confirmed my original thoughts.  How was I supposed to take care of her when I couldn’t even be with her? 

“What about your job?” Jennifer asked worriedly as we sat down in the hospital cafeteria, Sunday morning.  “I can’t imagine them letting you off for a long period of time.”
“If I lose the job, I lose the job,” I shrugged as I took a bite of my sandwich.  I didn’t really have much of an appetite, but if I didn’t eat I wouldn’t ever hear the end of it from Jennifer.  In the last 5 days I probably only ate a total of 5 actual meals since I arrived.  I wasn’t hungry, plus my stomach was in such knots that I was fairly sure it wouldn’t allow me to keep much in it.  “I was actually debating on just moving back home here…”
“Why would you want to do that, Abby?  Up until the accident, it seemed you really enjoyed your life in Philly.”
“I do enjoy it, but I’ve missed so much by not being near my family…”
“Abby, we don’t expect you to be here for every little thing, you are an adult now and it’s only natural to have your own life,” Jennifer said soothingly as the tears began rolling down my cheeks.  I was an emotional mess, I was either walking around with my eyes dry and pasted open or the spigot was turned on and I was snotting and tearing up over every little word.  Kris would so be making fun of me right now with how terrible I look.
“Who says I can’t live my life right here in Toronto though?  I mean I could transfer up here for college, I can get just as good of an education up here…”
“But Drexel is such a wonderful school and you’ve been looking forward to going there since you started your under-grad, Abby.”
“But dreams change.”
“No, life changes, dreams don’t,” Jennifer said in her motherly tone.  “Abby, what about Kris?”
“Kris and I have been together for a couple weeks,” I said plainly, as if breaking up with him wouldn’t matter if it meant that I could be here for my family.
“Kris and you are perfect together.”
“I’m perfect together with my family,” I said continued to push my argument.  I was set in my thoughts and I wasn’t going to budge.  “Not having a boyfriend is not the end of the world.”
Jennifer looked at me as if she wanted to say more, but it was obvious she thought of it as hopeless and kept her mouth shut.  However, I could hear my heart crying out in hopes that she would just slap me out of my stupid thoughts.  Part of me believed that what I had with Kris could be life altering but the depressed, broken side of me was winning me over and said that my decision to stay in Toronto was the safest to make.  At the moment the safer route was all I was looking at.  Kris was still a chance, even though so far he had given me no doubts when it came to being serious about us.  Ever since he got back to Philly he had called me at least 2 times a day to check in and just talk to me.  I felt bad that I never said a lot, but Kris had no problem with keeping the conversation going for the both of us.  Later on that night was no different.
“Abby, you should have seen Mike after the game against Boston tonight; I thought for sure he was going to punch one of the reporters in the locker room.  He’s totally pissed about the team’s effort and to be honest, it’s a little scary.  I’m pretty sure his silence is more deafening than Phaneuf’s loud mouth.”
I giggled, thinking about how much Dion could out-talk the best of them and had a way of riling up the team by chirping loudly around the locker room.  “I believe that, Richie seems to be a very intense person who does not take his position lightly.”
“Oh for sure, that’s why I enjoy playing on the line with him…”
“You, JVR and Richie really seem to be clicking,” I said thoughtfully.  I had watched them on TV the last couple games and I was sometimes in awe with how the chemistry between the 3 of them was seemingly blossoming over night.
“We are.  I just hope whatever funk some of the guys are in right now, snaps so we can just focus on playing hockey and not worry about who is or is not working their hardest,” Kris sighed.  There was a quiet pause in the conversation and for some reason I had clue about what question was coming next.  “Abby, now that your dad is awake, when do you think you’ll be coming back here?”
I bit my lip and hunched over in the chair I was sitting in.  I was in the unit waiting room, but thankfully since it was so late, no one else was around.  I took a deep breath and said the words that I had rehearsed over and over again since I made up my mind earlier in the day.  “I’m not going to be coming back to Philly.  I’ve decided I’m going to stay here in Toronto, I need to be with my family.”
“Not coming back to Philly?  What about Drexel?” he asked, sounding surprisingly calm, but I could tell he was on edge.  If it was one thing I learned with Kris, he was very good at keeping his emotions in check, but then again the majority of hockey players were good at that.
“I’m just going to go to school up here…I can still get as good of an education up here.  An MBA is an MBA,” I said, knowing I was still trying to talk myself into believing my own words.
I heard him take a deep breath before asking the inevitable question, “And where does that leave us?”
“I don’t know,” I said so quiet that I wasn’t sure if he actually heard me.
“Abby, pushing me away isn’t going to change things,” he said in a tone that wasn’t scolding but firm enough to get his point across.
“I don’t expect it to change things, Kris.  I just feel that I need to be here with my family.”
“What would make you think that I wouldn’t be supportive in making sure you are with your family when you need to be?  I’m fairly sure I’ve proven that by flying you up to Toronto…”
“Please Kris, don’t make this harder.  This has nothing to do with you.  It has everything to do with me.”
“That is where you are wrong.  This has everything to do with you and me,” he said, emphasizing the ‘me’ part.  “This is about us, Abby.  You are obviously down about everything and rightfully so, but I’m here to help you with that.  I’m not Tyler, I’m not going to just walk away and forget about you.”
“I would never compare you to Tyler,” I said, obviously totally ignoring the words that he was willing to support me.  I didn’t want to hear anything that might un-make my mind up.  This was the decision I had made and I was going to stick with it.  In all honesty, I was down so deep that nothing Kris would say was going to make me change my decision.
“Ugh, Abby, what happened to my strong will, independent woman?” he murmured.
“I’m shattered, Kris.”
“Let me help put you back together again.  Please, don’t do this.”
“Thank you for everything Kris, I know that you will find someone to make you happy,” I said like a robot.
“You don’t mean that, Abby,” he said in a very emotional tone that hinted he too was now crying.
“Bye Kris,” I choked out before hitting the end button on my phone.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ch. 22

A/N: Sorry for the little break in between chapters.  Kind of got stuck in a little ditch and I wasn't quite sure how to get started again.  After watching Kris score his goal against Washington I got a little inspiration... So now you get an uber-long chapter to read today.

Today's soundtrack... a timeless classic in my book. totally romantic and mellow:

Turning circles when time again
It cuts like a knife oh yeah
If you love me got to know for sure
Cos it takes something more this time
Than sweet sweet lies
Before I open up my arms and fall
Losing all control
Every dream inside my soul
And when you kiss me
On that midnight street
Sweep me off my feet
Singing ain't this life so sweet

This years love had better last
David Gray – This Years Love

Ch. 22
“Are you guys actually going to win a game in regulation?” she joked into the phone as I laid in my hotel bed in Dallas.  It was Friday night and we had just gotten in from a team dinner.  We had spent the day out and about in the city, enjoying the warm weather and checking out some of the sights but I was ready to play the game tomorrow night and get back to Philly.  Wow, since when have I ever been ready to get back to see my girlfriend?  This has got to be a first.
“I think I liked it better when you acted like you didn’t know a thing about hockey…” I laughed into the phone.
“Well I’m still waiting for you to score so I can yell obnoxiously, ‘OhMyGod that’s my boyfriend!’” she said in a ditzy, high pitched voice that made me pull the phone away from my ear.
“You do that and I’m going to tell Carter to make sure Fiona calls you so that the two of you can hang out and be BFF’s,” I warned her.
“That would be evil.”
“Push my buttons and you’ll find out.”
“What did I ever do to deserve a threat like that?” she scoffed.
“Mmm, well, where should I begin…?”
“If you were here I’d be punching you.”
“If I was there we wouldn’t be talking right now,” I growled back at her.
“Hmm, sounds like I better text Carter to warn him that he might wake up in the middle of the night and find you humping his leg or something.”
“You aren’t right.”
“Never claimed to be,” she giggled into the phone.  As I laid there listening to her talk, I closed my eyes, picturing her beautiful smile and those light green eyes.  I was falling for her and bad.  The scary part being that this was not me at all.  I was never the guy who was independent, only worrying about myself; yet here I was picking up a simple necklace at a jewelry store while we were out earlier today and constantly smiling every time I thought of her.
“Dude, what is your deal?” Burish chirped me as he sat across from me at a café in Dallas.  He wasn’t playing in the game against us tomorrow, but we still made sure to meet up.  Besides Buflugyn, Adam was my closest friend from the Hawks.  He was a big prankster, but one of the best friends a guy could have.
“Huh? What?” I asked, looking up from my phone after reading a text from Abby that informed me she had finally met up with Jackson to officially dissolve things.
“You’re grinning like you just won the Cup again.”
“Just reading a text that Abby sent me…”
“Yeah, who the hell is this Abby chick anyway, besides being Brian Burke’s daughter?  Buff sent me a text to warn me that you were walking around on cloud 9 and that you were a party-pooper in Atlanta, refusing to go out and pick up chicks,” Adam chirped me for the low-down.
“Well, she lives across from me in my apartment building…”
“And let me guess, she’s basically living in your apartment now?”
“Maybe,” I said, trying to hide my smile because Adam knew how to read me like a book.
“So I’m guess that means no more ‘Steeger the Ladies Man’?”
“Damn, this must be serious because you didn’t ever think twice about Dawn…”
“I know, right?”
“Good, it’s about fucking time.  So tell me about her.”
I left out a nervous laugh because let’s face it; it’s not normal for any guy to just begin gushing about a girl to their guy friends.  “Well, she’s a little shorter than me.  Right now her hair is short and strawberry blonde.  She’s got these green eyes that are fucking amazing and her body is smoking.”
“Heh what?”
“Dawn was hot, but that didn’t keep you from messing around on her...”
“Abby has the perfect personality to balance me out.”
“Ah, now that’s what I’m really wondering.”
“She’s a complete smart-ass, no-nonsense chick who gives me a run for my money.”
“She sounds perfect for you.  Hell, she sounds perfect for me.”
“And for that simple fact I will not be introducing you until she’s got my ring on her finger and prego with my baby…” I joked as I threw a fry at my friend.  I could totally see Abby and him hitting it off like she did with my brother.  However, Adam knew how to charm the women like it was his main job in life and would probably charm Abby right out of my bed if he had the chance.
“Ah, you give me no credit, Steeger.”
“Like I don’t remember all the girls you stole away from me at the bars in Chicago?”
“You just need to have game,” he leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms above his head as he grinned and winked at me.  “It’s definitely something good when you can find a woman like that.  Meet Daddy Burke yet?”
This question just made me laugh, “Yeah, no, not yet.”
“Are you going to punch him or hug him?”
“Well, considering how things have worked out here in Philly thus far, I just might kiss him.”
“Yeah, I’d prolly just go with the handshake…”
“Smart idea.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t call you sooner,” Jackson said regretfully into the phone as I was out for a walk on Friday afternoon.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous and everyone in the city was enjoying the early spring treat, including me.  “This pediatric rotation is bloody miserable and taking up all my free time…” he continued.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, truly sympathetic.  This was the first time he had called me since our date the Saturday before I left for Toronto.
“So, how have you been?  How was your trip to Toronto?” he asked.
“I’ve been really good, actually and Toronto was great.  I’ve really missed my family, so it was nice to see them,” I spoke, making small talk and pushing off the inevitable conversation that I was kind of bummed to have.  Jackson really was a great guy and someone I wouldn’t mind befriending, but I had a strong feeling Kris would not warm up to the idea and it would just end up being awkward anyway.
“You wouldn’t by any chance be available right this moment, would you?”
“I’m actually out for a walk right now…”
“Where at?”
“I’m along
South St
“Can you meet me at 4th and
Gaskill St.
?  There is a coffee shop called the Philadelphia Java Company…”
“I’ve heard of it.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you there in about 20 minutes if that’s okay?”
“Sure, I’ll see you then.”
I was only a few blocks away, so of course I ended up beating him there.  I ordered myself an iced tea and took a seat outside at one of the tables and waited apprehensively.  I was in the middle of texting with Kristy about what I should say to him when he spoke, “I’m fairly sure you would fit perfectly at a café in Europe.”
I looked up and smiled, “Why is that?”
“You just exude the confidence that tells me you would fit in wherever you would go,” he mused as he took my hand and kissed it.  He looked as handsome as I remembered, but suddenly his charm wasn’t what it was the first night we had met.  I had become too interested in a boy who could rock the backwards hat look, and charm me with his blue-collar ways.  And here was Jackson, dressed in a 3-piece suit with a blue tie that made his blue eyes blaze like sapphires, who was comfortable in his white collar society.  Of course within the few short moments he had been standing by my table talking with me, I couldn’t help but notice a couple women take double and triple takes at him.  And here I am officially putting him back on the single market.  My how the world makes life interesting…  “Something is different from the last time I saw you,” he said quietly when he came back with his cup of coffee.
“Oh?” I said, almost choking on my drink.
“Your eyes, they are sparkling…”
I looked down and broke eye contact with him and just shrugged.
“What’s up, Gabby?  You haven’t been this quiet since the day we meet,” he chuckled.
I looked up and smiled sadly at him.  “I’ve started seeing someone,” I said quietly, pulling my eyes up and forcing myself to look into his.  “It has nothing to do with being unhappy on the two dates we had.  This was completely unexpected…”
I stopped talking when I felt his hand cover mine.  “Well this is kind of a surprise,” he said, sounding like he was caught of guard.
I left out an ironic laugh, “Yeah, you’re telling me.”
“So I’m guessing this was someone you already knew?”
I nodded my head, unable to stop myself from letting out a smile.  “He is.”
“He wouldn’t be the guy with that Audi, would he?”
I looked at Jackson curiously when I answered, “Yes?”
“I saw him drop you off at the hospital the night of our first date…”
“Oh, yeah, he offered to drive me since he was headed to his game,” I said.
“That’s one sweet ass car,” Jackson laughed.
All I could do was groan.

“He seriously said that?!” I laughed.
“Yeah, he did and if he wasn’t such a nice guy, I’m fairly sure I would have slapped him for it,” she grumbled as she took a step out onto the ice.  We didn’t have a scheduled practice today, but Abby wanted to get out on the ice to do some skating of her own.  She mentioned something about having a bad dream about Brendan last night and then something about needing to clear her head from the bad thoughts.  I needed to do a light work-out anyway, so I figured I’d tag along.
“I honestly think the Audi is growing on you, just like I’ve grown on you,” I skated over to her wrapping an arm around her to spin in around.
“You really are full of yourself Versteeg…” she sighed and clicked her tongue.  “Too bad you talk a big game and can’t back it up with your hockey skills.”  At this she pushed away from me and sped across to the other side of the rink. 
I was going to chase after her, but decided it was time to once and for all settle the score on who was the better at playing hockey.  I snuck into the equipment room and grabbed a set of sticks, a puck and my gloves.
“What are you doing?” she asked as she glided past me while I was throwing the pair of gloves down for our make-shift goal.
“Settling this once and for all.”
“Hope your ready to be shown up by a girl,” she sneered, grabbing a stick out of my hand.  She was volleying the puck back and forth on the ice when I went over and poke-checked it away from her.  Instead of yelling at me she quickly chased me down and threw her body against me in an attempt to get me off the puck.  I was surprised by the hit she gave, but I held my ground and headed towards the goal.  I was paying more attention to the puck than I was her, so you can imagine my surprise when I looked up to shoot the puck and found her in front of me.  She was obviously quick on her skates and next thing I knew she poke-checked the puck from me, dangled the puck as she spun around me and took off for a breakaway.  I could only laugh as she spun herself around like a ballerina after scoring the goal.
“I’m fairly sure you cheat.”
“I’m fairly sure I’m just better than you.”
“Well if that’s the case, are you going to teach me a few of your tricks, Burke?”
“Maybe later on down the line…” she played as she handed over her hockey stick and went back to doing figure-8’s around the rink, humming a happy tune.  After I set the equipment aside I caught up to her and wrapped an arm low around her waist and skated along side of her.  “Were you a figure skater in another life?” she asked, sounding amused that I was actually able to skate next to her like this without tripping up.
“I used to skate with my mom like this when I was little…”
“It took Tyler forever to learn how to do this without tripping us both.”
“Just gives you another reason on why I’m better for you,” I joked as I laid a kiss on her head.

“So my Mom asked me what we did on our first date…” Kris rolled his eyes as he looked over at me and squeezed my hand.  We were on our way home from Skate Zone after a nice morning of skating together.  I hadn’t had a dream about Brendan ever since Kris and I started really hanging out, so I was actually shocked when I woke up in a fit-full screaming session last night.  I was kind of surprised that he was willing to come along with me, because I knew they didn’t have practice today and I knew he was probably tired from the week long road trip, but he said he would count it as his light work-out for the day.
“What did she say when you told her that you were dating me?” I asked.
Kris laughed, “I had to pull the phone away from my ear because this god awful squeal suddenly came across the phone.  She then said something about making sure I brought you along home with me for the summer.  I warned her not to get her hopes up about that because you probably won’t put up with me for that long.”
“Well, it’s good you did, because I planned on dropping your ass after you introduce me to Jonny Toews…”
“OhMyGod you would totally eat him alive!” Kris laughed hysterically.  “Honestly, he would probably hide in a corner and cry if you pulled half the shit you’ve pulled on me.”
“Am I that horrible?” I exclaimed.
That horrible and then some.  You’ve totally corrupted me, to the point that I had to tell my mom our first date was our day trip to Reading to visit Mitch…”
“It’s not my fault that you seduced me!  And why would you have to tell your mom when our first date was?”
“Because she’s a sappy romantic who thinks she needs to know every detail when it comes to a romance.”
“Maybe we should have asked her to send us the memo of what the proper order is for dating,” I giggled.
“Well if we want to feel better about it, then we can just count going to the bar and to Reading together as our first two dates.”
“Guilty conscious?”
“Nah, I’m never going to be sorry for making you yell out my name,” he grinned while puffing out his chest.
I just groaned and smacked my forehead.
“Just think, if you wouldn’t have decided to go out on a few dates with Dr. Doolittle, you could have been getting some a little sooner.”
“Last time I checked, sex isn’t what makes a relationship…” I played, knowing what kind of rise I would get out of him.
“Hey! Wait! I-uh-damn you Abby,” he grumbled.  “You know damn well I do not look at this relationship as just good sex.”
“You don’t?” I acted surprised, even placing my hand over my heart for added theatrics.
“Grrr,” he growled.  “How do you know every button to push, woman?!”
“You are just too easy,” I sputtered out as I laughed hysterically.
“I’m going to skip our lunch date and take you back to the apartment to punish you,” he threatened as he made it look like he was going to make a U-turn in the middle of the busy street.
“You might be able to get away with that if you didn’t drive such a fancy ass car, but I’m thinking you’ll be caught,” I continued to pick.
“You weren’t complaining about my car last night,” he chirped.
I leaned across the console and whispered heavily into his ear, “I’ve never complained about the driver’s performance.”
By the time I was done speaking, Kris was swatting at me and shivering from my breath.  “Seriously Abby, I’m about ready to turn the car around and just head home.”
“Do what you want,” I once again whispered into his ear.  I laughed when the car lurched forward and heard the clicking of the blinker echoing in the car.
“No lunch…” he grumbled, acting like this was a punishment.
“We can make lunch after you spank me,” I giggled, now hearing him smash the gas pedal to the floor.  “Geesh, the way you are acting would make me think you haven’t gotten any in months…”
“I haven’t since I was traded here.  The Friday night after Toronto was the first I’ve had sex.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I scoffed.  “There is no way in hell you went that long.”
“Why not?”
“Because no hockey player can keep it in his pants for that long.  Come on Kris, I’m not naïve.  I know you guys have an over-active sex drive. Plus I even remember having a similar conversation with you just the other week in the car…”  I looked over at him to find him clenching his jaw and unclenching it.  “Ha! See! I knew it!” I exclaimed, pointing at him.  “You did have sex.”
“One blow job,” he hissed quietly.
“I had one blow job since I’ve been here and that was actually in New York City and I could have gone farther but I didn’t because all I could think about was you and even though you still weren’t really giving me the time of day, I still felt like it would have been cheating on you in someway.”
This completely shut me up.  The silence in the car was deafening and I suddenly felt like I was the size of an ant.  Oh shit.  “That was right before our trip to Reading,” I said quietly.
I sat there for a moment and stared at the dashboard, allowing things to mull around in my head for a moment.  “So if what you say is true and what you said about constantly cheating on Dawn while you were actually dating her, what is different now?” I asked slowly.  I didn’t dare to look over at him; instead I waited with baited breath.  Depending on the next words that came out of his mouth, it could very well be the death of me.  If I was on the fence about how serious this was, his words might very well put rest to all of that and there would be no turning back because I knew I would fall hard for him.  I silently took in a breath as he loudly sucked in his own air and held it as he began to speak. 
“After Dawn and I broke up, I sat downstairs talking to my mom the next morning…they had heard the whole argument because Dawn was not very quiet when we’d argue.  I told mom that I wasn’t sure why I just didn’t ask Dawn to marry me and be done with it.  I mean we had been together for so long and according to Dawn it was the next logical step.  However, I just always thought I’d be a one woman man once I actually settled down and obviously that wasn’t at all the case while I was dating Dawn.  I always felt bad the morning after I cheated, especially when I’d wake up and have a text message from her or call to talk to her but I never thought twice about it when the next willing woman would come along.  Anyway, my mom asked why I didn’t propose to Dawn and I told her that it just didn’t feel right.  Her response was then I did the right thing because lying to yourself is one thing, but lying to your heart is a whole other matter.  Another thing she always said to us boys was that when the right person came along we’d instantly know; we might find ourselves doing things we would have never done before to make sure it worked with that person, but at some point we’d realize that it was completely different from anything we ever knew.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that since I met you that morning in the gym I just felt like I had to get to know you.  I have never pursued a girl like I pursued you and truthfully I’ve never felt the way I do when we are together.” He paused for a moment and left out a nervous laugh.  “Wow, that totally sounded like something out of a movie.  It’s official; you have ruined me, Abby Burke.”
And I’m just sitting here waiting to be woken up from this beautiful day-dream.

It was official, she has ruined me.  The only thing stopping me from telling her that I love her is that I’m scared something is going to come along and tell me that this is all a dream.  Life is never this perfect.

“You have no idea how happy I am that you are coming to the game tonight,” Kris exclaimed as he swirled his key-ring around his index finger, waiting in my apartment for me to finish getting dressed.  I had the night off and I figured it would probably be a good idea for me to go to one of his games, especially since he was a whiny baby every time I was unable to go because of work.
“I’ve seen you play twice,” I reminded him as I walked out of the bathroom and into my bedroom to grab my jersey out of the closet.
“But I didn’t even know you when you were in New York and I highly doubt you had much of a choice when it came to the Leafs games,” he called out.
“I just saw you play the other week in Canada…”
“Again, I repeat that no choice statement.”
I rolled my eyes and pulled the jersey over my head.  “You guys are pathetic.”
“Like you didn’t get extra pumped up when a friend or family member was in the crowd cheering you on when you played hockey?” he asked, walking into my room.
I pushed my hair back from my face and looked up at him, “I guess you’re right.”
“I know I’m right,” he smiled.  “Wow, how did you get that old-school jersey with my number on it?” he suddenly asked as he took note of the #10 on the sleeve.  I giggled quietly as I turned around to show him the name on the back of the jersey.  “LeClair?!”
“Yeah.  He had the number before you Mr. Bigshot.”
“I know this…but…will you wear my jersey if I get you one before the game?” he asked, suddenly sounding as if it would be the end of the world if I said no.
“What’s it to ya?” I decided to make him suffer a bit.
“My self-esteem.”
“You’re pathetic.  I have never worn my boyfriend’s jersey,” I informed him.
“How come?”
“Cause I think it would just be bad to break up with him and still have his jersey in my closet,” I answered seriously.
“Well then I’m definitely making you wear my jersey tonight,” he growled as he suddenly wrapped an arm around me and pulled me into him.
“Why is that?” I squeaked.
“Because that would just mean that you can’t leave me.”
“Only you would think of that.”
“Only you would make me think like that,” he said sincerely before kissing me gently on the lips.  “Please wear my jersey,” he said quietly as we ended the kiss, his forehead still against mine.
“You realize I’m going to be the only person with a Versteeg jersey in the arena…”
“What are you trying to say?”
“That you suck.”
“I suck?”
“Yes, because you always get your way,” I pouted before pulling my LeClair jersey up and over my head, throwing it on my bed before walking out of the room to head to the game.  I just shook my head when I watched him do a fist-pump as if he just scored a goal, I decided later on that night that it was better to watch him do that on the ice with 19,000 fans cheering along with him.

The Washington Capitals were in the building and the place was becoming more and more like that play-off atmosphere every player loved to feed off of.  We were fighting to stay in first place of the Eastern Conference, along with fighting to find the stride the team had played with up until the last month.  We were slightly relieved that Ovi was not going to be playing, but there were plenty of other guys on the Caps that were just as dangerous as their captain.
During warm-ups I found Abby and Kristy standing up against the glass.  Abby was giggling with her nose literally pressed up against the glass, putting on her best impression of being an obsessed fan.  Carcillo got over to her first, slamming himself into the glass, making her and Kristy scream and promptly back away.  I laughed when I got over to find her scolding Carcillo through the glass.
“Totally not funny, Danny!” she yelled at him, causing some lingering puck bunnies to shoot dirty yet curious glances at the girls.
“That will teach you to put your nose to the glass,” he yelled back, tipping a puck over to a little kid that was standing a few feet away from Kristy.  “Hey, nice jersey by the way, I’m thinking Steeger had to scour the bottom of the boxed to find that for you…” he chirped as he turned and thwacked me across the shins with his stick.
She was still shaking her head when I bumped myself into the glass in front of her.  “Show off,” she called, trying to act like she was still cool for me but she couldn’t stop herself from blushing.
“Where are your seats?”
She turned and pointed to her coat that was just 5 rows off the ice, along the aisle.  I nodded and punched the glass before returning to the warm-up.  “Good luck!” I heard her yell, causing me to smile and just lift my hand up to acknowledge.  It was time to get my game face on.
We came out hard in the first, but when the horn sounded to end the period we were down 2-0, due to Bob playing poorly between the pipes with Neuvy putting on a decent act for his team.  The team was completely down when we walked into the locker room.  “We can still take care of shit out there!” Someone chirped as Lavy walked into the room to give us his point of view.  The stab in the heart came early in the 2nd period when Wideman slammed one past Bob.  Boosh was immediately called upon and back to battle we went. 7 minutes later I was fed a pass from the defense and took a Hail-Mary shot at the next, scoring the first goal of the game and giving us the life we needed to push back.  I left out a whoop and did my fist pump celebration, making sure I did it right in front of Abby and Kristy.

What an amazing game.  It was hard hitting, fast paced; everything about it was exciting making it feel like a play-off hockey game.  The fans were pumped, but the place quickly quieted when the Flyers went down 3-0 a little over a minute into the 2nd period.  Some Boooosh chants rang out through the arena as he replaced Bob.  When the puck hit the ice with Boosh now minding the net, it looked as if Lavy traded out all of his players for a completely different team.  Physical play stepped up 10-fold and the forecheck was spot-on.  I watched as Kris wound up for a slap-shot and next thing I knew the horn was making my heart vibrate inside my chest as Kristy and I flew up and screamed our lungs out with the rest of the fans.  I cracked up as Kris came skating by to celebrate his goal, mouthpiece still hanging out of his mouth as he flashed that familiar shit-eating grin.  Someone patted me on the back and yelled, “Well I guess that makes you feel good after spending money to buy that jersey…” I just nodded and laughed even harder.
By the time the shoot-out came we were biting our nails and soon we were left in our seats watching the Caps celebrate the shoot-out win against the team who almost came back to win from a 3-0 deficit.  What another story it would have been.  Instead it was just 1 point given to the team who battled harder than the team that got 2 points.
After the game, Kristy and I found ourselves downstairs waiting outside the locker room, waiting for the guys to come out.  I made small talk with Matt Carle’s and Braydon Coburn’s wives who came over to introduce themselves.  I received a couple sideways glances from a couple other women, but I was used to it after all these years.  Some WAG’s were more welcoming than others, and considering Kris was the new guy to the team, I was definitely at the bottom of the totem pole.  I’m sure some of the women were aware of who my relation was, but that didn’t seem to change their demeanor towards me and frankly, I was okay with that.  I was still enjoying the anonymity of my life here in Philly but even I knew it wouldn’t always be that way.
“So you interested in going out tonight?” Kris asked as he swiftly pulled me into a hug as soon as he walked out of the locker room.  “The guys want to head to Lucky Strike and do some bowling to just blow off some steam.”
“I’m game,” I smiled before kissing him softly on the lips.  “Besides, we need to celebrate that goal of yours,” I laughed easily.
We were walking out to the player’s parking lot when my phone began ringing in my purse.  I unhooked my arm from Kris’ and dug through my purse retrieve my phone.  I looked down at the caller ID and noted it was my dad; I was slightly surprised that he was calling me, considering he knew I was at the game tonight. 
“What’s up Daddy?” I chirped into my phone.
“Is this Abby Burke?” a stranger’s voice asked over the line, throwing me off kilter.
“It is…”
“Is Brian your father?”
“He is,” I answered, a knot quickly forming in my stomach.
“Ma’am this is Captain Gotwall from the Royal Mounted Police.  There has been an accident involving your father…”