Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chapter 25

It was easy to forget.

There were so many things that had to be done in a short amount of time, times made shorter by the fact that he could only do them in the few hours he could steal between practice and games and on the very rare off day. But if he wanted to be involved in the choice of basinette and if he wanted to be the one to pick out and put together the changing table, then he had to make the time.

It was a happy time, despite the fact that time seemed to slip through his fingers as he watched Tabby’s stomach grow and stretch. Every day he put his hands on her stomach and every day there seemed to be that much more space between his fingers.

It seemed strange and wonderful to wake up next to a warm body, to hold her in his arms and know that she was his. To come back from a game, worn out to the bone and have someone there to work at the knots in his shoulders, to remind him to eat, to sleep, to forbid him from watching game video over and over and just take his hand and lead him to bed.

Of course it was also that time of the year when there was other kinds of shopping to do, plans to make for that free day they would have for Christmas, when she would meet his family. A day he was dreading and looking forward to all at the same time.
So with so much on his mind, you could forgive him for being forgetful, just for a moment.

He’d wanted her to drive the Land Rover, figured it was safer with a little snow and ice on the ground but it had been her idea to drive him to the rink. It was a widely held belief that Sidney looked forward to practices. The truth was he was just as liable to drag his ass when it came to early morning practices as anyone else and on this particular morning, he was grateful to have someone more attentive at the wheel, which may have been the other reason he didn’t remember.

He forgot about the many pairs of eyes on the vehicle as it passed through the barricades, past the security and down the ramp towards the secured area of the underground parking lot set aside for the players but not entirely apart from the lucky owners of luxury boxes and their guests. He forgot to be coy and to play the role of the sullen single bachelor boy, of the focused professional on his way into work.

Instead he let his lips linger on hers’ as they parted, his gaze holding hers’ a little longer than it should have if he’d remembered where he was at that particular moment. But he didn’t. Not until he stepped out of the vehicle and instead of the usual screams, instead of hearing his name called out and hearing it echo against the concrete around him, Sid found himself surrounded by utter silence and he knew, with a twisting of his gut that he’d been caught.

It felt like the time his mom had opened the door and caught him red handed pulling his pud, Penthouse in hand. He found himself glancing around furtively, his face hot and bright red, his ears burning despite the fact that he was also telling himself furiously that he had every right in the world to have a girlfriend, that damn near every guy on the team did and no one ever made a big deal about that.

And yet he knew, without a singular doubt in his mind that it didn’t matter about anyone else. It mattered about him and only him. Even if he thought it was unfair, it was still true and no amount of bitching and moaning on his behalf was going to change that fact.

Sidney glanced up the tunnel towards the gaggle of girls and autograph seekers and saw their wide open eyes staring back at him, their slack jaws and then the silence ended, just like that and was immediately replaced by a buzzing that sounded like he’d walked near a beehive. He watched them turning to one another, speculating behind their hands, pointing, talking about him. They weren’t even subtle about it, he thought gloomily dolefully as he hung his head and turned on his heel to head into the building.

There’d be buzz on the net before the game even started, of that he was sure, thanks to face-book and twitter and other so called social media that he probably wasn’t even aware of. By the time the game was over there might even be those kinds of fuzzy, indistinct pictures that while, he could hope, wouldn’t be clear enough to make out details, would be clear enough to confirm that yes there was a woman driving his SUV and yes, he’d been kissing her.

It would be enough to have Troy calling and reading him the riot act and worse than that, have the Commissioner on the phone, threatening to enforce the privacy clause in his contract, fine him or worse, force him into a press conference and parade Tabby in front of the media and that…that he wasn’t willing to stand by and let happen. It was one thing to casually date a girl and have her torn to shreds by puck bunnies on the internet but it was quite another thing to have the kind of Monday Morning Quaterbacks that made up the majority of the Sport media ogling the mother of his child.

With a heavy sigh and a rise and fall of his shoulders, Sidney dug out his blackberry and plugged in the speed dial number for his agent. Pat would know what to do.

___________________________________________________________

“You’ve definitely gone up in the world. Nice wheels.”

Tabby frowned as she flipped the page of the wallpaper sample book she was currently browsing and glanced up, half expecting to see her friend waving at her.

“I don’t get it. How do you know what I’m driving?” she asked and heard Mel snort on the other end of the line.

“Wow…how many times have I said you are so out of touch by not being on Facebook?” Tabby rolled her eyes and pushed the book forward, thereby removing the temptation to continue looking through it and forcing herself to concentrate on what Mel was trying to say.

“Yeah, yeah. And how many times have I told you that I don’t want to make it easy for my ex boyfriends to stalk my ass? So again, I’ll ask, how is it that you know what I’m driving? Or are you just guessing and trying to make me paranoid?” Twice already Tabby had looked up from one of the decorating books she was looking through at the hardware store to find girls giggling behind their hands and staring at her like she was some kind of bearded lady in a freak show. “As if I’m not already being driven insane by hormones, thanks,” she added, making a face as yet another wave of heart burn sent her diving into her purse looking for Rolaids.

“I know some people might find it cute that you’re na├»ve honey but seriously, now that your main squeeze is basically a teen heart throb, you might want to get yourself a fucking twitter account, okay?” Tabby’s paused, mid search and withdrew her hand from her purse so she could switch her phone to her other ear, grab her purse and, with a surreptitious glance around, head out into the parking lot.

“What are you talking about?” she hissed into the phone as she pulled the keys to Sidney’s Land Rover out of her jacket pocket.

“About you, being on like, every social networking site about hockey players right now,” Mel informed her calmly, as if it was an everyday occurrence.

“Are there a lot of those?” Tabby asked as another wave of nausea hit her that had nothing to do with being pregnant and everything to do with the world of being a Wag something she was still learning about and what she’d learned so far…mostly she didn’t like.

“Define a lot?” Mel mused and Tabby knew by her tone that it wasn’t a question. It was just more of what Mel considered punishment for her lack of social awareness. “Seriously, you have a laptop or something around there?”

“No, I’m in the car,” Tabby grumbled as she pressed her forehead to the steering wheel. “Just tell me.”

“Well, I guess it could be worse,” Mel began and Tabby grimaced. Her friend was sounding way too amused for it to be good news. “I mean, his tongue is definitely down your throat but at least he’s not grabbing your tit or something.”

Grrrreat,” Tabby sighed out loud, squeezing her eyes tight against the bile rising in her throat. She’d been warned, by Michelle Cooke, by Vero, and a couple of the other well meaning Wags that though some of them did suffer a certain of ridicule on the internet for merely breathing, when, not if, her identity became widely known she was certain to receive death threats. “So it’s definitely me? I mean you’re sure?”

“I hope you’re not suggesting that hot boyfriend of yours is cheating on you already!” Mel exclaimed and then laughed, as if the mere suggestion of his infidelity was absurd which sent a shiver of portent down Tabby’s spine. She couldn’t help but remember the way that both Michelle and Vero had admitted, without so much as batting an eyelash, that infidelity was not only a real possibility, but something to be accepted. The idea of it still gave Tabby a major case of the ‘heebie-jeebies’. “Yeah it’s you chickie, but then I bought you that shirt, so I’d know,” Mel pointed out, which helped Tabby to relax, if only momentarily.

“And what else?” Tabby asked, leaning back against the leather seat and staring out at the gloomy, dark grey sky. “What are they saying? I mean, I’m assuming they’re talking about how ugly I am and….”

“No, Ruby Gloom, they aren’t…yet,” Mel added and Tabby was certain she could hear a smirk on her friend’s lips. “I’m sure they will but who the fuck cares? You’re the one banging his brains out. Am I right?” Tabby managed the ghost of a smile at this and let out a sigh.

“I know I was supposed to expect it and I guess I should be glad I’m not exactly at the point where I’m attracting small moons into my orbit but…it’s weird…I never thought of being watched,” Tabby grumbled, rubbing at the ache that had just begun in her ribs.

“Well it’s kinda like being a celeb. I mean, not Lady GaGa or anything,” Mel laughed.

“I don’t want to be like Brangelina,” Tabby moaned, “I just want to be with the man that…,” a lump formed in her throat as she thought of the way Sidney had held her hand and kissed her before he got out of the car. It made her heart skip a beat every time he told her that he loved her. “I want to be with the man love,” she finished, in time to hear Mel gagging at the other end of the line.

“I’m sure Sid will know how to handle it. Hey, maybe you’ll have like a whole crew, a bunch of gorillas to protect you. That would be cool,” Mel laughed but Tabby didn’t. It sounded too much like a possibility.

_____________________________________________________

“No.”

“The best thing to do is get in front of it,” Pat insisted but Sidney just shook his head.

“I’m not discussing my private life with Ron McLean or anyone else. That’s why they call it a private life, because it’s none of their fucking business.” Sid paced the dressing room, his teeth grinding as thought about having to sit in front of a camera and explain why he was ‘living in sin’ as his agent had just so succinctly put it. After all, that hadn’t been his choice. If he’d been given a choice….

“You have to remember this isn’t just about you Sid. This is about your girlfriend too. I don’t want to speak for her but I can imagine I’d rather have the truth out there than a lot of lies and speculation.” Sidney stopped pacing and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was developing a migraine, mostly because he knew Pat was right. This wasn’t just about him and it wasn’t even just about Tabs anymore. The kid was going to grow up and he didn’t want his son surfing the internet and finding who knows what kind of lies about his mother.

“You’re right. I fucking hate it, but you’re right and the CBC is probably the most professional way to go with it. Just…just let me fucking break it to Tabs before we put anything in stone,” he sighed and began pacing again.

“There’s just one thing we’re going to have to address before we go public with this,” Pat’s tone made it clear that whatever he was about to say, Sid wasn’t going to like it. So he sat down on the bench and pressed his forehead into his hand.

“I think the cat’s kinda out of the bag, don’t you?” Sid grumbled.

“Yeah, but you have a certain…,” Pat paused and Sid knew it wasn’t for dramatic effect. He really wasn’t going to like what was coming next. “You’ve got that clause in your promotional contract with the league.”

“Aaaah fuck.” He could see the clause in his mind’s eye, the fine print. It hadn’t seemed like such a big deal when he’d just been turning eighteen and still had a healthy fear of women in general and puck bunnies in particular. He’d never imagined himself being in the position where a morals clause would even come up. He hardly ever touched Sudafed, never mind recreational drugs and he’d always been careful about using protection…until Tabby and then that whole mess afterwards….

“I’m sorry to bring it up kiddo but I think we’ll need to address it with the league before you sit down with Ron.” Sidney’s stomach sank and his shoulders slumped. That would mean a call to Bettman and that was going to be worse than telling Troy. Ten times worse.

“I will,” he promised with a sigh. “After I talk to Tabs…I will, I promise.”

6 comments:

  1. awww poor tabs! she doesn't know what shes in for!

    great update!

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  2. Aww poor Tabs and Sid. This was not what they needed.

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  3. Aw, poor guys, I hope that there is some role that his teamates play and back him up with Bettman and the league! I love the interaction he has with Tabby but also with the rest of the team!

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  4. Awwww! This made me so sad! I hope it gets resolved quickly, because if there is one thing a pregnant woman does NOT need it is more stress! :(

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  5. Wow, great update and a lot for us to look forward to!! :)

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  6. awwwwwwww so sad keep them together seriously i feel bad for sid, he needs a life too

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