Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chapter 15

Except he didn’t.

Not the next day, or even the next week. He told himself that he was waiting for the right time, but before he knew it his birthday was only a few days away and he was hip deep in lies and getting ready to tell the woman he’d fallen deeply and devotedly in love with, yet another lie.

“I have to go away this weekend,” he explained, that now very heavy lead weight that sat in his gut most days seemed to grow as he spoke.

“Yeah?” Tabby leaned around the canvas, paint brush in hand and smiled. “Where to this time? The Bunny Ranch?” she added in a teasing tone before disappearing again behind the canvas. Sidney leaned a little harder on the hand rail of the stairs. He’d been standing like this, in nothing but his jeans and a tool belt for over an hour and the house was like an oven.

“You should put in central air,” he mentioned to which Tabby’s sarcastic reply, muttered mostly under her breath, was something akin to ‘must have hit the nail on the head.’ “I’m just going to see my parents,” he explained, which only added further to his feelings of guilt and dread. He’d hardly seen anything for his family for the entire summer and the last two conversations he’d had with his mother had been frosty, to say the least.

“Any special occasion?” she asked and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to detect the other question that she wasn’t asking in the tone of her voice. They’d been dating for over two months now, she was bound to be curious about his family and, after all, she’d met some of his friends. Speaking of which….

“Yeah…uh…,” Sidney thought about lying, about saying it was Taylor’s birthday, but then she’d met Taylor, sort of, and aside from that, he couldn’t stomach another lie. “It’s my birthday on Saturday.” He heard the brush stop moving against the canvas and steeled himself for when she put it, and her palette, down.

“And you’re going to go see your parents for the entire weekend?” She didn’t look around the canvas at him and he could hear the hurt in her voice. It was his birthday and he wasn’t including her, despite the fact that he’d told her he loved her now, he couldn’t count how many times, and they’d been living together the entire summer, and now he wasn’t going to share his day with her.

“It’s going to be this lame family dinner thing, grandparents and everything, really boring. But then some of the guys are going to come up and I thought we could have a barbeque out on the deck.” And I better have manned up and told you by then, he told himself sternly, because Gronk was planning on bringing Heather and Flower was bringing Vero and it was one thing to ask the guys to lie but their girlfriends too?

“Oh,” was all that came from the other side of the canvas and Sid’s shoulders sagged. There was no way of taking her to meet his parents. Not only he was prepared to put a ring on it and there was no way that Troy was going to understand wanting to do that with a girl he’d only met a couple of months ago.

Now if he talked her into moving to Pittsburgh with him, something he hoped to do by the end of the summer, then, by Christmas, he hoped his parents would accept his decision. But before he could do that, he had to grow a pair and tell her the truth.

“Tabs,” he put the hammer he was holding into his belt and walked down the two stairs and across to where she was, for all intents and purposes, hiding behind the canvas. “Sweetheart, I’d take you, honestly I would but ask any of the boys, my dad is the asshole of assholes and…,” he reached out to brush her hair back from a lick of paint on her cheek that was holding it there, “I don’t want to go, much less without you, but I’d rather do that than have you…hurt by him.” Tabby nodded, but refused to meet his gaze until he lifted her chin in his hand. Her dark, chocolate brown eyes glittered with unshed tears. “Tabs…,” he began, but she shook off his hand and turned away from him.

“Don’t…don’t patronize me Patrick.” Sidney admired the way she got her emotions into check, how strong her backbone was as she turned back to face him, the silvery glimmer of tears gone, her chin high. “Just say you’re not ready for me to meet your family,” she added, wiping her hands down the sides of yet another one of his dress shirts. He made a mental note to do some shopping while he was in town. He reached or her again but again she brushed off his advances and turned to head up the stairs.

Sidney knew better than to follow. One of the things that he liked best about Tabby was how even keeled she was. She didn’t get clingy or over emotional like so many girls seemed to, but when she got in a mood, he’d learned it was best to stay well clear of her. She’d come around, in her own time, and with any luck he’d be forgiven or at the very least she wouldn’t bring it up again.

Not that it made it better and not that it was bringing him any closer to telling her what he needed to tell her. He had no reason to keep it from her now, other than the fact that he would have to admit that he’d been less than truthful with her and that was harder to overcome than he had thought it would be. As he looked at the painting she was currently working on, besides the embarrassing way she always made him out to be some kind of super sexy GQ hunk, she also seemed to make him out to be a sort of knight in shining armor, far closer to perfect than he could hope to actually be.

It was a lot to live up to, and he tried to. He tried to be the doting, romantic boyfriend and with Tabby, it was hardly like he had to work at it. He wanted to be with her, all of the time. He couldn’t get enough of her, but therein lay the problem. The real him, Sidney Crosby, NHL star, didn’t have time for a relationship like this. Once he told her, once he revealed his true identity, he’d have to explain how he hardly had time to see anyone, that he rarely dated, that he more often than not he would fall asleep watching movies, that instead of cuddling he’d be snoring his head off. He’d have to tell her that the best he could offer was a couple of hours a day, if he didn’t have a list of meetings with endorsement representatives, photo shoots and autograph sessions. Not to mention being away for entire weeks at a time….

That was what he wasn’t looking forward to. That and bursting the idyllic little bubble over the paradise they’d built together over the summer. This had been the happiest he’d been…well since he’d won the Cup and even then, for the most part, he’d been too tired half of the time to truly enjoy all of those activities.

He’d tell her when he came back; for sure this time.

“So you are alive, we were beginning to think you were dead in a ditch somewhere and nobody had bothered to report it,” Taylor muttered as she came through the door, dropping her backpack on the floor and heading down the hall towards her bedroom. Sidney watched her go and kept his mouth shut. His mother was upset enough without him picking a fight with his sister on top of everything else.

“She has a point,” his grandmother pointed, narrowing her eyes over the lip of her coffee mug at him.

“I know Nana Cathy,” he sighed. “But I have things to do, obligations,” he lied. He seemed to do nothing but lie these days.

“During the summer?” she asked, in that tone that said she didn’t believe that anymore than his mother had, though his mother, in the way that she always did, managed to look disappointed and hurt but say nothing. It was worse than yelling at him and he was pretty sure she knew it too.

“I’m an adult, I don’t live at home,” he added grudgingly. “I don’t have to tell everyone my business.”

“So you’ve got a girl eh?” The old woman looked at him with her shrewd eyes and Sidney winced.

“Fucking Taylor,” he muttered, he thought, under his breath.

“Don’t blame your sister. It’s written all over your face. You can hardly wait to get out of here. You’ve been looking at your watch ever since you got here. Now the Sidney I know, that used to mean you couldn’t wait to get out and play street hockey. I’m guessing this Sidney…well, I can only think of one thing that young men around here think about more than hockey.” She didn’t need to say more. That knowing little grin of hers’ said that she could see right through him and Sidney felt the heat burning beneath his skin as he met her gaze. “I thought so,” she added with a slight nod as she sat back in her chair. Together they listened to the sounds of his parents bickering in the kitchen while Sidney fidgeted.

“Nan,” he began, cracking his knuckles as if that would alleviate the tension he was feeling about asking the question that had been lurking in his brain ever since he’d gotten into the car to come here. The older woman raised her eyes to him and raised a single eyebrow. “Do you remember telling me…if the time came…I mean, when the time came, that you had a ring…that I could use your ring….” His hands were sweating like he was on his knees, asking Tabby the big question instead of just asking for the ring to do it with.

“So this girl…it’s serious?” his grandmother asked, a smile on her face that said she was pleased that her eldest grandson might be providing the prospect of great grandchildren. Sidney nodded, sending a furtive glance towards the kitchen that had just grown silent. “Come here.” His grandmother beckoned him forward and keeping an ear out for the sound of his father’s footsteps, Sidney crossed the room and watched as his grandmother struggled to pull the white gold band with the small solitaire diamond off of her gnarled, wizened finger. Sidney had always admired the elegant style of the band with its filigree sides and crown setting. His grandfather had saved for years for it and given it to his grandmother after they’d been married for years. It looked tiny in his hand and yet it seemed to weigh a hundred pounds. “I know I don’t have to ask if you’re sure,” his grandmother said to him, closing his hands around the ring and holding both of his in her own as she smiled up at him. “I know you wouldn’t ask unless you were but…I hope you’ll let us meet her soon. I’d like to know who this is going to.”

“You will Nana,” he promised quietly, bending to place a tender kiss on his grandmother’s cheek. “I just have to make sure she’s sure about me first.”

“And what girl wouldn’t be sure about my favorite grandson?” she asked, grinning up at him adoringly, making Sidney wish he was worthy of that sort of sentiment.

“What’s this about a girl?” Troy’s voice boomed behind him making Sidney stiffen.

“We were just talking about Max,” Taylor slid into the chair that Sidney had just left empty and sent him a look that clearly said ‘you owe me’. He nodded, letting her know he knew it. “How he keeps trying to get Sid in trouble and I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet,” Taylor continued and Sidney couldn’t help but wonder at how well and how smoothly she lied. Maybe it ran in the family.

“You should watch it with that one, and some of your other teammates,” his father agreed. “Some of those boys are just…trouble,” the big man added, digging his meaty fingers into Sidney’s shoulder.

“They’re okay dad,” Sid muttered and tried not to breathe too big a sigh of relief.

“Still…keep your head up son,” Troy added, patting his son on the back hard enough that Sid had to cough to cover up the fact that it made him sputter. “Now, who’s for birthday cake?”

“I’ll be in touch.” Tabby looked down at the card that had just been put in her hand and nodded. She had no doubt that the tiny woman in the high heels and the ‘all business’ suit with the high frilled collar meant it. In fact, she promised she already had an interested party. “Don’t worry, it won’t take long.” Tabby watched the woman’s small, spider like fingers curl around her wrist, covered in rings and long, fake fingernails painted in a sort of flesh tone that made them look even longer and skinnier, like a dead hand reaching out of a grave. Tabby nodded and forced herself to look up into the woman’s face, but just as she had all afternoon, she kept staring at the mole on her chin.

“She’s sorry she left it so late, aren’t you Tabby Cat?” Tabby winced, her shoulders hunching, her entire body going very still as she turned to stare up at her Uncle’s face.

“You heard Margie, it won’t take long,” Tabitha painted a happy smile on her face that she didn’t feel as her Uncle pressed his hand down on her shoulder. All of these people had a hold on her and none of them had her permission.

“I’ll walk you to your call Margie.” The woman, with her too pink lipstick and her giant chin mole batted her too fake eyelashes up at her Uncle and Tabby tried not to breathe the sigh of relief she felt too loud when they turned to walk down the steps. She watched them go and made a nasty little face at their backs and then turned to hide a childish smile.

That’s when the gravel flew in the driveway. Tabby was hardly turned around when she heard his feet hit the path. She watched him read the sign that her Uncle had helped to dig into the front lawn and then she watched as he turned his face up to find her. His usually handsome features were twisted in an ugly way, his nostrils flaring wide, his gold flecked eyes going dark, his soft pink lips turned up in a grimace.

“You couldn’t wait until my back was turned,” he snarled, pointing at the sign. Tabby felt her forehead wrinkle as she watched him turn to glare at her Uncle and the estate agent before he marched up the path, his fists clenched. If this had been a cartoon, there would have been smoke coming out of his ears, flames coming out of his nose and maybe he would have pawed the path with his sneakers like a bull about to charge. Picturing it like that made it a little easier to have him turn that glare at her as he reached out to clamp his hand around her upper arm and drag her into the house, stumbling after him.

She heard the screen door slam over and over behind them, creaking on its’ hinges and wondered if her Uncle would be coming up hard on Patrick’s heels, demanding an explanation, but for a few moments, there was only silence interrupted by the sound of Patrick pacing the kitchen floor.

“Why?” he finally asked, coming to rest in front of the old fashioned white Irish sink, gripping its edges so hard his knuckles turned white. “Why now?”

“You knew,” she ventured quietly, confused by the vehemence of his reaction. “From the very first day I met you, you knew I was selling this house.”

“But you don’t have to!”He curled one hand into a fist and pounded it against the counter before turning his still twisted, angry face at her. “You don’t have to!” he said again, and this time his voice cracked and his face fell, and now he looked like a little boy who’d just dropped his ice cream on the ground. Part of her wanted to go to him, put her arms around him and kiss it better, but the other part was just a little bit hurt and angry at him already and kind of liked seeing him this way.

“I know you helped and all and I know…I mean I haven’t said anything, but I know you must have paid for some of the materials even though I didn’t ask you to, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to discuss with you when I put my house up for sale.” Tabby was amazed at how calm she felt. Earlier, when she’d had to sign the document with the estate agent, agreeing to the price that she was to try and earn for the house, Tabby had cried. Now, she felt cold inside, like there was a solid steel rod running straight through her and she wasn’t about to bend.

That’s what you think this is about?” Patrick’s eyes where wide as he shook his head and then laughed bitterly at her. “You think I care about the price of a couple of cans of fucking paint? How about what’s happened in this house? How about the business and that your grandfather gave you this house to look after and that he trusted you to run his business?”

It wasn’t the argument she’d been preparing herself for and it took her a little off guard. She’d been ready for emotional blackmail, but this….

“I’m sorry…you don’t get to talk about my grandfather and what he wanted. You didn’t know him and I guess you don’t know me.” It hurt to say, more than she’d bargained that it would but she stared him down and felt that cool core start to freeze over.
“I don’t know about you but I have bills to pay and a home to get back to and he knew that and I thought you did too,” she added, crossing her arms and staring at him where he was still standing staring at her from the sink.

Home?” he spat, that bitter laughter opening up again. “You don’t have a home to go to anymore than I do,” he added. “Some fucking place to sleep and store your clothes. This…this is a fucking home,” he continued holding his hands wide.

“For someone, yes,” she agreed quietly and that seemed to hit home or at least it made him stumble and his expression returned to that of a kicked puppy. Tabby had vowed that she wouldn’t allow him to play the sympathy card successfully, that if he made those big puppy dog eyes at her she wouldn’t give in. There was something he was hiding and though she’d decided she didn’t really want to know what it was, or at least if there really was a wife somewhere else on this godforsaken island. She just didn’t want to made a fool of. “Why don’t you go back to…wherever you came from where they obviously love you more than I do, only this time, don’t come back.”

He stared at her like she’d grown another head, or worse, like she’d been horribly disfigured and any feelings he may have had before seemed to dissolve. His mouth twisted into an ugly grimace and then he swore under his breath.

“You don’t mean it,” he growled at her and Tabby thought, just for a moment, that there was just a hint of an actual plea in his voice. Taking a deep breath to help steel her resolve, she smiled at him, and shrugged a shoulder.

“This,” she made a circle with her finger in front of her chest, “was never anything. I get that now so…go. You have my blessing. Go back to her or whatever…just go,” she felt her knees began to buckle as she issued the order but she visualized that steel rod going straight down her spine and into the floor and resolved not to crumble in front of him. He’d made her love him, and maybe she did still, but he’d shown his true colours now. Coming in here, shouting the odds, telling her what she could and couldn’t do and adding that to his disappearing act during which time, though he’d known how disappointed she was, he hadn’t so much as called her.

Maybe she’d regret it, for a while, but it had been bound to end, she told herself as he stood there, staring at her with his teeth bared like some kind of feral hound. The summer was almost over and this was better, it would make it easier, if they didn’t make a bunch of promises that both of them knew they couldn’t keep. Especially if what she told herself was true. He could never belong to her. He was too perfect, too good to be true and if something seems too good to be true….

“You’re right,” he finally said at last, shaking his head and running his hands through his hair. “I should thank you, really. This was a fucking lucky escape. You’re some kind of…,” he paused and looked her up and down as if he was looking at some cheap whore, “you’re obviously a couple pages short of a book.”With that he looked at her, silently, one last time and Tabby thought he was going to say something else, something sweet and tender like he usually did and both of them would dissolve into tears and she would feel foolish and forgive him and… “I don’t usually fall for cheap. I don’t know what I was thinking.”Tabby bit back a gasp and stood staring at him with her hands clenched at her sides as he turned and walked away. She heard the engine of the SUV roar and the spray of gravel as he spun the tires and then there was nothing but silence.

Sidney stared at the lake, watching the fish jump at the blackflies and thought about how much he had loved it here. He’d loved the silence and that people respected his privacy, for the most part, and that he had his own space to do whatever he wanted in.

Now he hated it.

Now when he looked at the lake he thought of her. He thought of her laugh and her smile and her pale skin in the moonlight. He thought of her ripe lips and the way her skin tasted and the way she would smile at him when he walked in the door.

Of course it was his fault for not telling her the truth. He knew that. But he hadn’t expected this. He hadn’t expected the for sale sign on the front lawn or the defensive way she met him. He would no sooner harm a single hair on her head but she couldn’t have known that the way he dragged her inside the house. It had all just knocked him sideways and he hadn’t been prepared.

Sidney hated not being prepared. He hated not knowing what to expect or what to do when things happened. It’s why he watched hours of tapes and why he was always the first one on the ice and the last one off of it. He hated the unexpected. If anyone ever so much as threw him a surprise party…well it would have been sort of like this, he thought as he reached into his pocket and withdrew his grandmother’s ring. He turned it over in his hand, letting the last rays of sunlight bounce off of it.
This should have been so different. He’d had it all planned out. He had been going to tell her, everything. He was going to lay it all out for her, and show her how she fit in his plans for the rest of his life. She was going to say yes and then the guys were going to arrive and….

“Mon ami, ce que l’enfer qui s’est passé? Nous sommes allés à sa maison et l’endroit est sombre.”

It was Tanger and close on his heels, Flower and Max. He imagined the girls were waiting on in the driveway, in case they were walking into a minefield. He hadn’t told them his plans, or they would probably have called ahead. He’d wanted them to be surprised.

Well, he thought bemusedly, ‘surprise!’

“Does anyone feel like Vegas?” he asked, turning that ring over and over between his fingers, part of him seriously considering throwing it in the lake.

“Did someone say Vegas?” Jordan bounced to the end of the deck and cannon balled into the water, sending a spray up and around where Sidney was sitting. It annoyed him but then, just about everything was bound to in the mood he was in. “I could go for Vegas,” Jordan added as he surfaced, shaking water out of his hair and bobbing in the dark water like a seal, with only his blue eyes and the tips of his blonde hair catching the light.

“Vegas it is,” Sidney sighed, pocketing the ring and turning to head back into his cold, empty house.


Tabitha held the cheque she’d received from Harlequin in her hand a moment longer before putting it in the envelope and letting it disappear into the auto feeder at the bank machine. It was enough to get her home and pay a month and half rent somewhere.

She’d packaged up her paintings earlier and had them shipped by UPS. The hockey one was nothing more than a rough sketch at the moment, far from finished, so that canvas was rolled up and in a shipping tube with the rest of her bags. It had seemed like a lot, when she’d landed here a couple of months ago. Now it seemed like very little, she thought, as she watched the driver load them into the back of the taxi.
“Let me know when it sells,” she sighed as she turned to put the ring of keys into her Uncle’s hand. He had sounded confused when she’d called him. He looked confused to be receiving the keys now but she noticed he wasn’t exactly begging her to stay either.

Not that there was any point in staying.

Not now.

“Your mother will be happy to have you home,” her Uncle offered, pocketing the keys. She watched them disappear into his pocket and felt her heart miss a beat. Making the decision to leave was one thing. Watching those keys disappear…well it made it all real.

It was over and she thought it would go down as the best and the worst summer of her entire life. She nodded her answer. Her mother would be happy that she’d finally put the place up for sale and then she’d go back to nagging her about making a real decision about the rest of her life but that was something she could deal with when she got home.

“Well, I guess this is it,” she sighed as she began to step down off of the porch. She felt the tears fill her eyes then. There was still a part of her that was hoping his car would come up the driveway now and that he’d beg her forgiveness and tell her what it was that he was hiding and tell her again how he loved her. She even looked down the road as far as she could, hoping to see some tell tale cloud of dust…but there was nothing.

He wasn’t coming and she was leaving and that, it seemed, was that.

“Well…I guess this is it.” Her Uncle pulled her in for an awkward hug, obligatory because they were family, but it wasn’t like they knew one another. “Tell your mom hi for me. Tell her she should come out and visit some time.” Tabby nodded, knowing her mother wouldn’t be leaving her suburban oasis any time soon for a stretch of rock by a lake, even if she told her that it was a piece of heaven. Her mother would just look at her like she’d lost her mind, which reminded her.

“Do you know a blonde girl…Taylor, down at the hardware store?” she asked, as her Uncle finally allowed her to unwind from his arms. Her Uncle looked thoughtful for a moment and then nodded. Tabby bounced back up the steps and retrieved a brown paper wrapped painting, wound with plain white string. “Give this to her…tell her it’s for her mom.” Her Uncle took the small package and was staring at it when Tabby took his moment of distraction to escape down to the waiting taxi. “Airport,” she said quietly as she slipped into the back seat.

She told herself not to turn around, not to look back. What was done was done. That didn’t stop the tears from falling down her cheeks and it didn’t stop her heart from breaking inside of her chest.


  1. Oh No!! Sid messed up so bad for not telling her the truth!! Poor Tabby!! Can't wait for more!

  2. aww this was so sad. Update soon I want to know where you're going with this.


    NOOOOO why are they both being stubborn.

    i love the way how detailed you provied us with both thier expressions and feelings


    pls chase her sid !!

  4. I absolutely love this story! You are and amazing writer and certainly know how to keep everyone interested with all the surprises :D

    Great job, keep it up :) i CANNOT wait to see how Sid reacts to Mrs. Crosby recieveing the painting! :)

  5. NOOOO!!!! OMG! He'd better go and get her! I can't believe it! :(

  6. uhhhh my heart hurts. real bad!

    “I don’t usually fall for cheap. I don’t know what I was thinking.” - my heart sank when i read that. what an asshole. i'd be wanted for murder if i was told that by someone. lol.

    plz update soon, i really need to know what happens. and plz don't let Sid sleep with some slut ... who am i kidding its Vegas he will do her and all her friends!

    but seriously update soon... like now!

  7. I have this sadness deep down inside. You have pulled us all in to these characters and we want the best for them. Sid's being a jerk and Tabby needs to soften up too. Please keep it going and let them see how wonderful it can be when the truth is told (and don't let him throw Nana's ring in the lake!

  8. i feel so bad for her! hes acting like a jackass. hopefully something good happens

  9. i can't believe that just happened!!

    And to think he called her cheap!!?? wtf I'm so appalled right now.

    Oh, of course the first thing 'Patrick' thinks to do is go to Vegas and whore around afterwards.

  10. oh my goddd please dont let this be the end

  11. Sid + high horse = FAIL!

    Fabulous writing!

  12. Amazing update! Can't wait for the next. Great way to end with the painting for Sid's mom.

  13. gahhhhhhh! must know what happens!

  14. Puhleeze update asap!!!!!!

  15. I think Sid's going to buy it.

    p.s- I was listening to Jet's 'Look what you've Done' - heartbreaking!