As always, thank you for the feedback. You make me blush, you really do!
“There aren’t very many people that know him as well as I do,” Max explains as we walk down the street, my arm in his, passers by looking at us like we were a cute young couple, and I guess we may look that way. After all, for some odd reason I’m beaming. Maybe it’s having got the whole sordid thing out in the open. Maybe it’s having finally shared my secret with someone. Or maybe it’s just because Max is highly entertaining. “So you couldn’t have picked a better accomplice,” he continues, looking down at me like a fond older brother would do, and I suppose, if we are going to carry off the ruse he’s proposed, I’ll have to get used to looks like that. “And he’s crazy competitive, but then, I don’t have to tell you that, do I?” I shake my head. Everybody knows that about Sidney. You don’t need to know him that well to know just how competitive he is about everything. “So your idea was a good one. If someone has something he wants, like the scoring title, a girl, the puck, he gets very single minded about it, non?”
“You betcha, very,” I agree with a sigh, “to the exclusion of every damn thing around him.”
“Are you sure you want anything to do with him?” Max asks suddenly, stopping me in the middle of the sidewalk, putting his hands on my shoulders and staring down at me with a serious look on his face that doesn’t seem much like the Max I’ve been getting to know at all. “I mean…Mr. Intense, he’s like this all the time you know; serious, distracted, intense, moody. He’s not exactly a bundle of laughs.” As if I don’t know that. As if I haven’t sat on the sidelines and watched him practice his shot for hours. As if I haven’t sat on the steps in his basement and watched him play with the other boys from the street. As if I haven’t been in the car with him after a loss when he wouldn’t speak to anyone, not even when bribed with treats or tickets to watch the older boys play. As if I haven’t sat with him through those games and watched him watch the puck sliding across the ice, his eyes greedily following the play. As if I don’t know exactly what he’s like.
“I’m sure,” I reply, to which Max only nods solemnly, and turns, offering me his arm which I take and we walk silently down the street, each of us no doubt pondering our roles in our proposed charade and the dark workings of Sidney’s mind.
“If you keep looking up at the door every time it opens, you’re going to get whiplash,” Gronk warns, which only serves to make me turn my attention, very self consciously back to the movie I haven’t really been paying much attention to. I’ve been waiting for Max to get back and every time one of my teammates comes or goes, my heart speeds up, hoping it will be Max and every time it isn’t means that he’s still with Mel and that means….
Well that isn’t something I want to think about. Because the later it gets, the closer the hour hand creeps toward curfew, the more my stomach clenches and knots up. I’ve been telling myself not to care, but the fact is that I obviously do. Now I’m busy trying to convince myself that I’m just worried that Max will be…well Max and somehow I’ll end up with the blame for being the one to introduced them. Not that I had, well not exactly. Max had just sort of horned in, which is what Max does when he’s not dumpster diving for sluts and puck bunnies.
“You know what they say about a watched pot don’t you?” Billy G asks, from the back of the room where he’s sitting reading, not watching the movie, despite the fact that it had been his idea to watch the damn thing in the first place; Miracle on Ice…whatever.
“Just hoping Max doesn’t get caught missing curfew,” I mutter, wishing everyone would stop sticking their nose into my business.
“Sure you are,” TK snorts, earning himself a hard punch in the shoulder which I’m gratified to see makes him wince. “What?” he whines, moving farther away from me, just out of punching range I notice. “I saw her waiting in the hall. She’s cute. I’d tap that.”
“You still jerk off into a sock Kennedy,” Cookie sighs, kicking TK’s chair hard enough that it topples over, sending him sprawling onto the floor. “You’d tap anything that stayed still long enough to let you,” he adds shaking his head as our younger teammate comes up fists clenched.
“Give it up Kennedy, no one’s fighting anyone,” Gonch sticks his leg between the two and, with a look that makes both men shake their heads and laugh, TK storms from the room, nearly knocking Max over as he reaches to push the door open.
“Hey, what’s with him?” Max asks, staring after our disgruntled teammate as he flees the room with a virtual black cloud over his head.
“Never mind what’s with him,” I grumble, grabbing his arm and pulling him back out into the hallway, ignoring the laughter that follows me out. “Where have you been?”
“On a date, mon ami, remember? We talked about this earlier,” he grins at me, reaching up to pat my cheek, which only raises my slow boil to a rolling one.
“I know but it was just supposed to be dinner, and it’s almost midnight, so, where have you been?” I don’t want to say it and I hate the shit eating grin that he gets on his face when I do and I have this sinking feeling in my stomach that he’s about to tell me something that I’m not going to like.
“Walking,” he suddenly replies, yawning like he’s exhausted, a full head back, gap mouthed yawn so that I can see his tonsils dangling in the back of his throat.
“Walking?” I hiss, disbelieving, as Billy G finally emerges from Gronk’s room and with a sidewise glance towards us, heads for his own.
“Oui, nous sommes sortis pour une promenade gentile. It is New York after all. A little window shopping, a little Italian ice….” I want to shake him, make him tell me the truth, but on the other hand I really don’t want to hear the truth if the truth is what I think it is. And yet…though he’s got that Cheshire cat grin on his face, it’s not exactly the look he usually wears when he’s…well, when he’s gotten lucky.
“That’s it?” I ask again, trying to be blasé, like I don’t care, like it doesn’t matter if he did take her to bed or not and Max just shrugs.
“Oui, c’est tout,” he sighs. “I told you mon capitaine, she’s different. I’m not just going to treat her like all the rest,” he adds with a flourish, a dramatic waving gesture as if to signify all of the other girls who have gone before, of which we both know, there have been many. “Now, if this recherché Espagnole is over…. What is everyone watching?”
He moves past me and into the room, met with wolf whistles and cheers like he’s returned a hero from battle or something, and just for a moment I wonder if he’ll tell the boys something different than he’s told me and I wonder why I care.
I shouldn’t care. I don’t care about Mel, not like that, not in a way that this should bother me. She’s all grown up. I shouldn’t even be feeling protective of her. I can just imagine how very unimpressed she’d be with me giving Max the third degree over their date. If she were here, she’d be telling me to stuff it, in no uncertain terms and probably using much more colorful language than that.
Actually thinking about that makes me smile and that makes me think of her smile, or the way she used to smile when we were friends, and that…well that makes me wonder if we can ever be friends again.
It’s funny. I didn’t know I missed her. Not until now. But I do…at least I think I do because I can’t be jealous…that can’t be what I’m feeling.
“He was…perturbed let’s say.” Max says with a note of amusement in his voice. Lying on my single bed, cell in hand, staring at the ceiling I imagine Sid’s full lips pursed and his hazel eyes flashing as he pins Max to the wall and I can’t help but smile.
“Did he want to fight? Y’know, punch your light out?” I ask, to which Max only snorts and I can hear him coughing as he barely contains laughter. “So he wasn’t that mad?”
“No ma petite, not that mad…not yet. But he was…pas très calme, let’s just say that. Don’t worry ma petite chou, by the time I am done with him, he will want to kill me. Déchirez-moi member du member. Qui tu rendent heureux?”
“I don’t want him to kill you Max…I just…want him that’s all,” I sigh, thinking about him being angry enough to pin me against a wall and have his wicked way with me…now that would make me happy but that isn’t a fantasy I’m willing to share. Not with Max anyway.
“And he you shall have, ma belle princesse. By the time we are done, he will not know what’s hit him but he will be so twisted around your little finger he’ll never find his way loose again,” Max promises and now I really can’t stop grinning at the thought of him weak at the knees for me for a change.
“So what’s next Max? What do we do now?” I ask, that fluttering in my chest telling me that I can’t wait too long to have this whole…game over with and have him, for real, in my arms with his lips pressed to mine again. In fact, just thinking about it has me brushing my lips with my fingertips, the sense memory of that kiss still so clear in my mind that it makes my lips tingle.
“Ah well, I have put a ticket aside for you for the game in New Jersey. Now, here’s what I want you to do….”