Monday, September 21, 2009

Chapter 28

“Come on Lovejoy! Get in there…” I shouted as I swung back around towards the other end of the ice. Vitale sent the puck spiralling backwards at me; and I was lucky to get enough of it that I could push it up to Tangradi. Shot down in front of the net, Tangradi turned the puck over and once again Lovejoy let one of the Pirates past him. Don’t send a man to do a woman’s job, I sighed as I hopped back into the bench.
I watched as the Pirates got a lucky shot past Thiessen; tying the game up at 3-3. I let out a sigh as I turned around and looked up towards the box.
Even though he was an owner, it wasn’t very often that Mario Lemieux came to watch our games; needless to say, I wanted to do good. I wanted to win.

It had been projected that I would be selected in one of the top three slots; but apparently being the first girl in the NHL had some liability issues. After all the hoopla, the media frenzy and the statistics were in; I had been selected 120th overall, at the end of the 4th round - by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Jake had gone first overall to Tampa Bay, Consti had gone second to the LA Kings. After a few Swedes, Russians and Canuks, Rennie had gone 11th overall to the Hawks.
After everything was finished; I had sat through another hour of interviews - nodding my head and masking any emotions that I felt. “I had no expectations coming into the draft… I’m just glad that I’ve been picked by such a great organization and I hope I don’t let them down… No I don’t feel that being selected so low will effect the way I play if I make the Penguins team… I hope to make the team this year, but who knows; they’re an amazing group already so I’ll just have to wait and see.”
The Penguin representatives, on the other hand, had other ideas. “If there’s a need throughout the season then Carlie will be the first person that we will be calling up. We would love to have her out there now but we think the best transition for her will be to spend a season or two on our Scranton team. There is a major size and experience difference when you get into the NHL, the Penguins organization believe that Carlie Simone will become an asset to the team; but we want to let her excel in the AHL first.”

I had tried to hide my disappointment, tried my best to smile and be happy for my friends; but it was hard.
It was hard sitting in the auditorium and watching guys that I knew I could dominate be called, over and over again, to their respective teams; while I was overlooked.
I had tried my best to hide my disappointment; and for the media, my best had worked. With the end of the first round, I was old news. I was a has-been before I ever was. The fans of the NHL and the collective hockey world had watched me under a microscope for months; and had decided that I was nothing more than a wannabe; a little girl trying to compete in a man‘s world.

In private, hidden from the world, Geno had said he believed in me, believed that I would make it; and more than I deserved, he waited diligently for my name to be called - then hugged me like I’d gone first.
Harder still, was to let him go; remind myself that I couldn’t hold onto him.
I had flew home from Ottawa that night - packed my things and left my parents house the next day; moving into a 4 bedroom house with Lovejoy, James, and Grant.

“Not so bad… 9 games; 11 goals, 8 assists.” Mario chuckled as he came up behind me in the dressing room. I nodded my head, giving him a smile over my shoulder and I grabbed my purse out of my stall. “Think you’ll be ready for the big show next year?”

“That depends, are you asking, or offering?” He smiled and followed me out into the hall; away from the reporters that were still milling around.

“Both I suppose… there’s been a lot of injuries this year. I might need you sooner.” I stopped walking and turned around, staring at him incredulity.

“Don’t joke about that…”

“I’m not. I’m not saying for sure either; we’ll see how it goes. I just wanted to let you know… keep up the good work. Vindication is a hard thing to do, but it’s worth it - I promise you that much Carlie.” I nodded slowly as he walked away and Lovejoy took his place in front of me.

“Out tonight, Carlie?” I shook my head, causing the grin on his face to fall.

“You guys go ahead, I’ll see you at home tonight.” I turned away from him and headed down towards the parking lot, before he could stop me.

We only lived about 20 minutes away from the rink; the perfect distance. Long enough that you could belt out a few tunes on the way to practice, but not long enough for you to freak out before the game.
Lovejoy, James and Grant were all great guys. Lovejoy was the party-boy, the one that was always getting himself into trouble; and not caring about it at all. James was like the fixture I never had; he was patient and caring - not to mention a natural born leader (why he made such a great Captain). Grant was just a regular everyday guy. He had a girlfriend back home in Nova Scotia; and when he wasn’t on the phone with her he was playing Xbox or working-out.

I saw the light of the answering machine flashing as I came through the door and chucked my keys down on the table. I walked towards it and hit the button. “Hey CC! Great game, I watched it with Marty… he said to tell you that you played awesome. Give me a shout whenever you get in.” I smiled as Mattie’s voice filled the room.
He really was incredible; there was no hint of animosity or bitterness in his voice at all as he spoke. I knew I wouldn't be as accepting as he was.
I hit the speaker button and dialed his number; letting the phone ring as I walked around the kitchen, making some food. “Hey!” He exclaimed excitedly after only 2 rings.

“Geesh, sitting on the phone much babe?”

“Just waiting for you. Feeling good about that one?”

He was eager, as always, to hear about the game, the team, the way the ice played. It was good to talk to him; he was better than re-watching the game on a tape. He pulled out the good and the bad, gave suggestions, and talked plays out with me.
I told him about what Mario had said to me after the game, and we analyzed what it could mean, from every possible angle; before saying goodnight.

I fell down onto my bed and sighed. Trying to fall asleep quickly, before I allowed any bad thoughts to pour out.
My body was exhausted, but my mind was wired. I was awake for so long, that I could hear the boys coming into the house. I rolled over and watched the door, as two shadows passed by my door; another stopping just outside. I smiled slightly as I watched my wonderful distraction push the door open.

Connor James gave me a smile as he closed to door behind him. “Room for one more?” He asked softly as he crossed the room, not waiting for a response as he pulled off his shirt and climbed in behind me.
I wasn’t in love with him, and he wasn’t in love with me. Anything I did with James, was under a strict ‘no strings’ condition. With were friends and team-mates, who also just happened to be each others distraction.

His girlfriend of four years had broken up with him the summer before; and I spent my free time trying to remind myself why I needed to stay away from Geno and Mattie - in the relationship sense anyway.
We were the perfect match of abandonment and destruction, and for right now... that's all I could allow myself to have.

Mattie's POV

I hung up the phone with Carlie and called Marty back into the living room. He flopped down on the couch and we continued our game of Halo. He didn’t ask me how the conversation had gone; because we both knew what I’d say - the same thing I said every night.

Things had changed so much in the past 6 months. From the accident, to the draft, to my friends moving away…
Sure Carlie was only an hour away but; it would never be the same… I would never be the same.

I tried to push the thought out of my mind but I couldn’t. I hated this; what I had become mentally, emotionally, physically.
As far as the guys said; Carlie was single now… which was good. It meant that she still loved me. I, unfortunately, knew better. Carlie was single because she wanted to be single… because she couldn’t make up her mind. Maybe she had made up her mind, and she just didn’t want to tell me.

The only reason she wasn’t with him, as far as I could tell; was because she felt guilty about me every time she thought about him. She wasn’t with me because… well… who would want me now?

Carlie could have anyone. She was going to play in the NHL; and even without that she had guys tripping over themselves to get to her. She could date NHLers for crying out loud. So why me?
I was suppose to play in the NHL too; I was suppose to have a normal life, a normal existence - and now what?

Now I’ve got nothing to offer. Mediocre at school, mediocre at life. The only thing I was ever good at was hockey… and I would never play it again.
No, I didn’t hold it against Carlie, I didn’t hold it against anyone. All my friends deserved to be where they are in life now… I just wished that I could be with them.

Carlie was on the up-and-up. She was worried, scared, confused; but she was heading in the right direction; even if she didn’t realize it.
I was done. Why would someone want me? A stupid, faulty, good-for-nothing paraplegic.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chapter 27

***So short I know but... I didn't want to tack this on to another update so... here's a little blip... a real update coming soon lol***

Alone. How do you explain such a susceptible term? How do you lie in a building, bursting with people, and feel like you’re the only one left on earth? How do you long for people and then push them away when they come, only to wish that they were back once again? Back to save you from the loneliness; the crushing emptiness that surrounds you, closes in around you - alone.

How do you cry when there’s nothing left? When your mind can’t function and your heart can’t handle anymore? Your throat burns with every breath you take; and you wish that they would just stop. Your eyes are glazed and your body feels like it’s being pulled apart; torment rips through everything - throbbing.

How do you gaze up at the man that loves you, and continue to look him in the eye as your heart breaks over the one person he wishes you would have forgotten about long ago? How do you face him, knowing that the world has changed? Knowing that no matter what has been said, or what will happen from here on out; that you can never go back to the way that you were.

How do you live once you’ve known death? Once you’ve known the raw edge of a life being put out. When it’s that close, how do you survive? How do you hold on to innocence and na├»ve dreams, once your mortality has been brutally smashed in front of you? Where does your immortality go?

How do you continue on? How do you continue to put one foot in front of the other and face the day?
Most importantly, how do you let go?

Letting go…
at that thought I gripped on tighter. Holding on with any strength left in my weary arms. Is there anything more beautiful than the feel of a warm body? A body with a heart beat and a breath… how we take for granted the feel of life.
Is physically letting go of someone harder than letting them go mentally? I think not.
You can move away from a body, as easy as you can draw a breath. You just shove off, let go, and then it’s gone. If only the mind worked so easily…
But it doesn’t, and no amount of wishing or pain can make my mind let go of the boy that I had loved - still loved? Who knows?

Do I love him again because my Mattie is gone? Or have I always loved him… and it took this… this to know for sure? And what does it even mean now? Is it a better love for finding the truth, or a lesser love for never existing.

I took a deep breath, inhaling life. Pressing closer into the vivacity beneath me. Will be it like this forever now? Has my inexperienced life been lost forever? Why does loss spread itself so far away from where it started.

I continue to lie with his arm draped across me; loosely, too loosely. He won’t close it though, not anymore. He’s with me physically, but his mind is not here; or it is, and he just doesn’t have the heart to hold me - his subconscious self is trying to push me out. I am more pain then I’m worth. Why do I continue to hurt him so much… what more can I do, I kill people; I ruin lives. My mistakes - my selfishness - is the demise of the innocent.

I knew in my heart that the accident was my fault. If I hadn’t invited Geno to come talk to me - encouraged him like that - this wouldn’t have happened. If I hadn’t kissed him - this wouldn’t have happened. If I had of heard Mattie out, gave him time to explain himself - this wouldn’t have happened.

I didn’t deserve to be here now; wrapping my arms around him, nuzzling into his neck, running my fingers through his dark hair as my tears fell liberally. Why do I continue to hurt him so much?

I rested my head on his chest, listening to his heart beat steadily through his chest; a sound that life had taught me to never take for granted.

Thinking back to yesterday; so much had changed. Everything I had ever wanted seemed so foolish - my entire life’s work was now just a dim, foolish memory.
I couldn’t stop the tears at all anymore, as once again the pain burned up through my chest. I thought back to all the days before, the better days, will I ever feel that way again?
And what about the eyes, that knew me so well. Always loving, deep, passionate; how do you forget that?

Something in the back of my mind was telling me that I still had a purpose, something I would have to get up and do; that my life once had a meaning… Once I was also safe though, and even next to a warm solid body; the innocent belief in safety I had once had, was no more.

I knew those were fleeting thoughts though, and as much as I knew it was killing Geno, I couldn’t bring myself to forgo the new duties that had been instilled in me. Of course I had a meaning, a purpose; it was just simplified now…
Spend every moment holding onto him…

Until he woke up; until I had to tell him that he would never be the same. The words flew through my mind as I allowed his heartbeat to steady my breathing again as I put my head back down on Mattie‘s warm chest..
Don’t let go… don’t let go…

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chapter 26

Geno had me in a death-grip when I woke up. I laughed silently to myself as I tried to wiggle my way out of it. He mumbled something intangible in his sleep; causing my giggles to renew.
I heard a light tap at the door and froze. “Evgeni… Evgeni, someone’s at your door.” I whispered, trying to wake him.

He mumbled something at me in Russian before he rolled over. “Oh…” he sighed when he saw me; that crooked grin spreading across his face. He pushed himself out of bed and walked towards the door.
I couldn’t see who was there but, judging by the voice it was his father. They spoke for a minute before Evgeni came back in, closing the door behind him. “He think I kill you.” He chuckled as he climbed back into bed beside me.

“Why?” I yawned as I nuzzled into him.

“He say… sound like I try kill you.” I groaned as I realized what he meant. Of course they would have heard everything last night...
He laughed softly, the motion shaking me slightly; he seemed very unconcerned about the whole thing.
We lied there a bit more; it was nice to feel so safe, being held by a strong man. “Eat?” He asked, pulling me into the present.

“Sure!” I grinned sitting up. I was starving but I didn’t want to leave his bed; in fact I knew I wouldn’t, if he didn’t at least leave it first.

I watched him get up again, his boxer barely staying up over his hips as he moved around the room. I stared in fascination as he turned towards me, shimmying himself into a pair of loose blue jeans. Not realizing I was watching him he continued to look for a shirt. Grabbing a white one out of his closet he stretched up and pulled it down over his head; the fabric moving down to cover his delicious torso…
I sighed and climbed out too; if I stayed in there any longer… I grinned to myself, pulling on my jeans from last night and searching for my shirt.
I looked up to see Evgeni holding it out to me. I smiled at him before I pulled it over my head.

We donned our coats before heading downstairs. I was more than slightly mortified as we made our way past his parents. I was sure that they would hate me for sleeping with their son, but they both smiled at me warmly as I followed him out the door.

We walked arm and arm down the street; apparently Geno was even more famous in Russia than Pittsburgh. Almost everyone we saw either said hello or acknowledged him in some way.
It made me feel good - in a selfish way - being with someone like that.

We were seated at an exclusive table at a very expensive looking restaurant, Geno sitting next to me. The waitress came and gave us the lunch menus. I cocked my head at it as I held it in my hand before asking Evgeni for the time.
“Umm, 2-4-4” he said before turning back to his menu.

Holy crap! How did I sleep that long? I sighed to myself, I guess it wasn’t really that long, since we were up most of the night… I let my eyes wander over the menu too.

We ate a great lunch together; Evgeni was infectious - you couldn’t do anything but love him. By the time he was paying the bill, my face was soar from smiling so much.
Heading back out onto the street we walked along aimlessly for a bit; before heading back to my hotel.
The closer we got, the more awful I felt. Evgeni’s hand found mine, almost like he was subconsciously reaffirming my decision. I was going to break up with Mattie.

It hurt to think about, but it was my fault. No matter what happened from this point on; anything that I went through, was my fault.
I knew that I was going to be devastated without Mattie, but I couldn’t keep hurting him; and for whatever reason, I couldn’t stay away from Evgeni. Especially not now.

I sighed as we reached the door, figuring what I was going to do next, would not be pleasant. “I go too?” Evgeni asked as he put a finger under my chin; tilting my face towards him.
Yes! My mind demanded as I gave him a small smile; but I shook my head no.

“I should really do this alone…” He nodded and followed me into the lobby; plopping down on one of the couches.
We had decided at lunch that it would be better if I moved in to his house for the remainder of the tournament. Coach wouldn’t notice my absence and it would be easier on both Mattie and I, if we didn’t have to continue to share a room together. Part of me also understood Evgeni’s point of view; his girlfriend in a room with her ex-boyfriend wasn’t a happy thought.

I opened the door to the room; expecting to see Mattie and a few of the boys kicking around - but the room was empty. So empty; it looked like no one had been in there for a while. I took a quick walk around, looking for some sign of where he might be.
I shrugged my shoulders and started throwing my things back in my suitcase. As much as I wanted to talk to Mattie and clear the air, I was selfishly happy that I didn’t have to face him… I knew it would happen eventually, but it was nice to be able to put it off.
I pulled my suitcase after me as I exited the room. “Woah! Alright… so we’re going?” I turned around to see Rennie walking towards me.

“What are you talking about? Going where?”

“We were waiting to see what coach said about the rest of the tournament… like… if we’re gonna keep playing, or if we’re leaving.”

I started laugh, “Rennie what the hell are you talking about? I’m leaving the hotel… why wouldn’t we be staying for the tournament?” This whole conversation was confusing me; and I was getting antsy, the sooner I left the better.

He stared at me incredulity, his mouth falling open. “Why are you in such a good mood?” He asked quietly, looking around the hall.

I shrugged my shoulders. “Is this about Evgeni and Mattie?” How much does everyone know now? “Cause, that’s where I’m going… to Evgeni’s. I’m upset about the whole thing with Mattie but…” I shrugged my shoulders and gave him a weak smile.

“Do you not know?” He asked, stepping towards me.

“Not know what?” Rennie stared at me, shaking his head slowly as he pondered my question. He grabbed my arm and pulled me after him down the hall.

Geno was waiting for us in the lobby; he shot Rennie a glare as he caught sight of his hand around my arm. “We have to go…” Rennie said to Evgeni as we got closer. “Come on!” He called over his shoulder as he headed for the door. Geno looked at me, wondering what was going on. I told him I didn’t know and he grabbed my luggage as we followed after Rennie.

Rennie refused to say anything as we grabbed a cab and headed to Geno’s. I watched as Evgeni set my luggage inside his house before returning to the cab.
The longer we drove the more antsy Geno became. He started shooting questioning glances at Rennie as we drove deeper into town; coming to stop outside of a giant building.

We walked through the doors and I realized that we were standing in the lobby of a hospital. I glanced over at Rennie, who was already walking towards the elevator.
We rode in silence until the fourth floor; when Rennie hopped out and headed down the hill. He stopped halfway down, throwing the door open. “Dude! I could have been getting my freak on with that hot nurse… dick…” I heard Consti grumble as I followed Rennie into the room.

“Consti!” I screamed, throwing my hands over my mouth. I rushed to his side and jumped on him, pulling him into a hug.

“Wow… good to see you to.” He pulled away and gave me a smile, nodding at Geno and Rennie.

“What happened? Why are you in here?”

Consti stared at me with disbelief on his face. Why is everyone looking at me like that? I sighed as I waited for him to continue. “Ummm… we were in a car accident last night, Carlie…”


“Me, Mattie and a cabbie.” He said slowly, studying my reaction.

“What?! Where’s Mattie?” I shoved myself off the bed, backing away. “Where’s Mattie at Consti?”

He cocked his head to the side and studied me. “He’s still in intensive care.”

“What do you mean… like… he’s hurt? It was bad? You don’t look that bad…” I rambled, unable to function properly any longer.

“I just got a few cuts and bruises…”

“And everyone else?” I pressed, looking back and forth between Conti and Rennie.

“The cabbie died; he died on impact.” Rennie said softly, causing my breath to catch in my throat.

“Mattie?” I whispered out, now turning my eyes to the floor, unable to focus on anything.

“Carlie?” I looked up to see Dean standing in the door way, motioning for me to follow him.

I walked past Geno and Rennie, back out into the hallway. “Dean… what’s going on?” I pressed as soon as we were away from Consti’s room.

“Alright… Carlie; the boys were in a bad accident last night. Consti’s going to be fine. He has a bit of whiplash but that’s the worse of it for him.”

“And Mattie?”

He looked at my face and then away. He exhaled loudly and shook his head slowly.

“Mattie?” I asked again, louder, as I felt my throat beginning to burn.

“I’m sorry Carlie.” He turned and headed down the hallway, away from me.

“Sorry? Sorry for what? Why are you sorry?!” I screamed down the hall as Dean continued to walk away from me. “Somebody tell me what the fuck is going on!” I felt hands grabbing my shoulder and turning me around.

Geno crushed me into his chest and I began to sob uncontrollably. He held me for a minute before scooping me up in his arms and carrying me to the waiting room.
Setting me down a chair, I watched him with blurred vision as he headed to the information counter.
I laid down in the chair; curling up into a ball as I stared into space.

At some point Geno had come back and moved me onto his lap. “Evgeni?” I whispered quietly, not sure if I was even talking at all.


“What did they say… is he going to be alright?” I turned me head to look up at him as he pointedly stared away from me. “Evgeni?” He looked down at me and let out a sigh.

“I sorry.” Was all he said. It was all he needed to say. With renewed sobs I covered my face with my hands as Geno pulled me up against his chest. Holding onto me for dear life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chapter 25

Two Years Previous

Good old pond ice; was there anything better? Not a chance. I thought as I propelled myself around the perimeter of the ice. It was a flooded lake that I hadn’t been on for years, but it still felt natural, comfortable.
It was getting dark but; luckily the city had installed lights at some point - probably when Crosby came and hockey was cool again. I shook my head as I remembered the day I had just had.
Our team was lucky enough to have gotten a chance to practice at Mellon Arena; it was amazing. Some of the guys stayed after to meet the wonder kid but; I had had no interest. I laughed as I remembered the look on Mattie’s face - I won’t be surprised to hear he asked Crosby on a date, he totally had a man-crush.
Another plus of tonight, was the fact that playing in that huge stadium had given me another taste of the good life. I wanted, no needed, to play pro hockey… NHL or bust. At that thought I dropped the tip of my stick on the ice and started taking some shots on the tipped over garbage can - acting as a net.

“And it’s Simone with the shot, she feints to the left, back to the right; and it’s a beautiful shot in the 5-hole, as the crowd goes wild!” I screamed, bouncing down onto a knee in a mock-celebration. I laughed at myself as I hoped back up, realizing for the first time that I wasn’t laughing alone.

I turned quickly, towards the deep laughter, catching site of a towering man standing at the end of the ice.
Ugh, that’s embarrassing… I sighed and skated over towards him, hoping to save some face. “Hey, how’s it going?” I said loudly as I came to a stop a few feet away; crap he’s big.

He let out a groan and shook his head, sadness on his face. “Are you ok?” I pressed, moving closer. He looked up to meet my eyes, letting out a huff. He pointed back down the ice at the puck.

“Hoo-kay?” He said in a thick accent; his deep voice resonating through the quiet December air. I gave him a smile; understanding the sadness on his face. The poor guys’ Ukrainian or something, he probably doesn’t know a word of English, I chuckled as I reached out my hand to him.

“You. Play. Hockey?” I said, making pictionary-ish movements with each word. He laughed and nodded, taking my hand and following me back towards the ’nets’.
He moved fluidly for a big-guy, and I was impressed with how at home he seemed on ice. We skated around a few laps, I was passing him easily but I wasn’t sure if it was because I could; or because he was letting me.

We started playing one on one; he was incredible. We chased each other around and I held my own; but there was no doubt he was a talented player.
Who are you? I thought silently as he flashed me another crooked, boyish, grin.
There was also no doubt that he was loving this; my looks of appreciation and sincere wonder. I didn’t bother trying to hide the fact that I was impressed - it wasn’t like I could just come out and say it, I might as well let him know somehow.

We played until midnight - when the city turned the lights off - before calling it a night. We both stopped at the half buried picnic table to remove our skates. I dumped mine into my bag and zipped it up. “Ummm… bye!” I said for lack of anything else to say. Of course this was a lot of things that I wanted to say to the beautiful man that I had just messed around with for more than 4 hours; but it wasn’t like he’d understand it anyway.
He looked at me, like he had things on his mind too; but I gave him a last smile and turned to leave.

I was four blocks away when a car honked at me. I turned around to see a huge SUV pulling up behind me. The windows were tinted so I couldn’t see who was inside - against better judgement I walked over to it anyway.
I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as he pointed into his vehicle, “Hoam.” He said it smugly, grinning at me with that toothy charm I was becoming so accustomed to. I hoped in beside him then sighed;
how was I suppose to explain to him where I lived?

A normally 20 minute drive turned into a 2 hour ordeal as he finally pulled into my drive-way, laughing endlessly. I whipped my eyes as the tears-fell from them; I can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed this hard, I thought happily as I opened the door. “Ummm…” He sighed looking over at me.
Suddenly his face lit up and he motioned for me to get back in. I sighed and did as I was told, closing the door on the cold night air. As I looked back over I saw he was holding a cell phone to his ear. He mumbled a few words in his crazy gibberish, before hitting another button and holding the phone out between us.

“Hello?” A mans voice sounded out. The boy looked at me and nodded; excitement etched clearly on his face.

“Hi…” I said slowly,
who the hell is this?

“Oh, oh… hi. My name’s Sergi and the guy you’re with is Evgeni… he doesn’t speak English.”

“You don’t say?” I laughed, looking up at the boy - Evgeni.

Evgeni said some more gibberish and Sergi spoke to me. “He wants to know your name…”

“Carlie. My name’s Carlie.” Evgeni smiled at me and looked back down at his phone.

“He wants to know if he can see you again.”

“Yes.” I said, almost forgetting that it was someone else, “yes…” I nodded earnestly at the smiling boy. He pulled the phone back up to his ear and spoke quickly. He hung it up a short-time later and smiled at me again.
I almost wanted to ask why we couldn’t do that for the directions but I laughed the idea away; I had too much fun to question anything, especially someone who had no idea what I was asking.

I took one last look at him across the seat and turned to leave. Evgeni grabbed my hand and brought it up to his lips, kissing it softly; before I ran into my empty house.

I flopped down on my bed and giggled; a foreign sound on my lips. It was after 2 now, and I wasn’t tired at all;
what an amazing night. What an amazing guy.
I wonder who he is, where he came from, why’s he here?
There were so many things I wanted to learn about this guy. This was such a new area for me; I was use to guys but not guys in this capacity. Either way, I was sure tonight was going to change everything.

Eight Months Later

“Geno… I’m sorry.” I paced back and forth, unable to sit still anymore; how many times was he going to make me say this? “You know I care about you… you’re great, I just…” I sighed and turned to face him. He was sitting with his head in his hands, flopped on a bench in the Penguins dressing room.

“Why you go?” His voice was deeper than usual; husky, emotional. “I no… you no… no.” He shrugged his shoulders and looked up at me, his eyes pleading.

I dropped down on my knees in front of him. “This isn’t the end Evgeni… look at me.” He had dropped his eyes but he brought them back up at my request; he always did anything I told him to. “I need to do this on my own. I already get shit now… people already say that I’m only on my team because coach is dating my cousin. Geno, I need to do this. I need to get into the NHL… if I’m…” I let out another sigh and moved to sit beside him, resting my head on his shoulder. “Evgeni… say that I do get drafted; by some stroke of luck. I’ll be laughed back out if people find out that I was dating a pro-hockey player. They’ll assume I only got in because of you. Can you understand that?”

He turned his head towards me, “I no know…” I looked away again as the tears began to fall.

“I’m sorry.” I shrugged, pushing myself off the bench. “I’m so sorry, Evgeni.” I headed towards the door, stopping only when he called my name.

“If you in… we together?” I turned back around and nodded at him. “if you no in… we together?” I nodded again.

“If you still want me, then yes.”

“You no leave… new guy?”

I shook my head, “I’m not leaving for another guy; you’re my only guy.”

He gave me a sad smile and nodded, “I wait.”

“You don’t have to-” I began to say as he cut me off.

“I wait.” He said again, firmly.

I gave him a fleeting smile as I let the door close behind me. I had spent my entire life trying to get taken seriously in the game; it was my life, I needed to succeed.
Leaving Evgeni was an impossible task. I was serious when I said I would love to see him again, regardless of what happens; once my shot at the draft had come. I doubted he’d wait for me though; Evgeni Malkin shouldn’t have to wait for anyone.

Do I love him? No, I don’t think so but regardless… I was sure tonight was going to change everything.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chapter 24

Mattie’s POV

She had come back smiling; chatting away with Rennie and Consti like nothing had happened, like my world hadn’t just come crashing down around me. How had we gotten so far from where we started? How had we ended up like this?
We were both at fault, not that that made it any better - two wrongs don’t make a right, right?
She looked over at me and her smiling stopped, not because she saw me, but because of the look on my face. I realized that my face was twisted into anger; not at her, but at myself. I tried to change it, smile at her - but it was too late, she had already turned away.

She didn’t speak to me the whole day, and I didn’t speak to her. We avoided each other as much as possible without drawing attention to it. I couldn’t even focus during practice; I was that angry at myself. I kept running over the night before in my head, trying to figure out why I had said things so horribly. I should have told her that I loved her, that I wasn’t thinking, that the girl meant nothing and I would never do it again. I didn’t though, I had watched her walk away and I never bothered to follow her, never bothered to call her.
I tried to convince myself that I was giving her the space she needed but I didn’t know if that was true anymore.
She was so… unemotional when she was around me now, like being with me was just something she had to do before she could leave and be happy again. I love Carlie, loved her enough that I wanted to her to be happy; even if it wasn’t me that made her happy any more. The thought of her with him made me sick, I wanted to be the one that was there for her, I wanted to be the one she depended on; laughed with, cried with.

Leaving the ice I looked up into his face, and rage came boiling up inside of me. He was here - of course he was here - watching her. She was playing amazing and I couldn’t even keep up; he gave me a small smile and it took all my will-power to not throw myself through the glass on to him.
Every thought I had had for the entire day was gone; as I watched - watching me - I knew that she needed me. I knew her, I wanted her, I always had. He knew nothing about her; she was just some girl to him… she was my whole world.

I watched him grab her arm and pull her down the hallway. I exhaled loudly and looked around the room; everyone was either staring at the swinging door, or watching me.
I grabbed my jacket off the hook and threw the door open. I felt people moving behind me but I didn’t stop to see who it was. I stormed down the hallway, rounding a corner before coming to a halt. I slammed my fist into the wall, feeling it crack from the pressure. “FUCK!” What the fuck is wrong with me? Why did I just do that. Now I couldn’t play if it was broken; and judging by the shooting pain that ripped in my hand every time I moved, it was broken.

“Mattie?” I turned around and saw Consti watching me. “Let’s get out of here… you need to get that looked at.”

“I don’t want to go.” I slumped down on the floor, holding my broken hand out in my lap. I was pouting, I was being a baby, I didn’t give a shit.
I couldn’t believe that I had said those things to her; what is wrong with me? “Consti… I called her a whore…”

“I know you did but, you’ve always been a dumbass.” I stared up at him incredulously.

“Gee, thanks.”

“I’m just saying… she’s probably more upset about the situation then the fact that you said something dumb… you always say stupid things.”

“You’re one to talk.” I retorted, looking away from his smiling face.

“Yah well, I’m not the one on trial here.“ He plopped down beside me and started laughing, “ok so, what was this about a Russian girl at the bar? Did you actually pick up?” I huffed out a sigh and continued to look away. Consti let out a low whistle in response, “wow, never thought you’d have the balls.”

“Damnit Consti! This isn’t helping!” I clenched my hands into fist and let out a scream. “Fuck!”, already forgot about the hand.

“Mattie, just calm down man…”

“Calm down!? Consti, I just told my girlfriend, the girl that I LOVE, that she was a whore and that she didn’t matter to me… and you want me to calm down?”


I pushed myself off the floor and spun around the glare at him. “That’s the worst idea ever! I need to do something… she’s leaving… with him .” I spat the last word out.

“Yah, but here’s why we’re not going to do that. Number one, he’s a big fuckin guy, and I really don’t feel like watching you get your ass kicked - because you will. Number two, Carlie’s gonna go wherever she wants to go.” He shrugged his shoulders, “if she wants to leave with him, we’re not gonna stop her… you know that.”

And I did. I knew there was no point in chasing after her, which was why I didn’t. I let out a groan and tried to keep my burning eyes from tearing up. “What if she sleeps with him?” I asked quietly, unable to keep the fear out of my voice.

“He might crush her… she pretty tiny but-”


“Ugh, Mattie what do you want me to say? So what? Who gives a shit? If she wants to sleep with him, then fine, let her. Are you still gonna love her if she does?”


“Then what’s the problem?”

“It’ll… suck…” I finished weakly, sitting down on the floor again.

“Yah well, it probably sucked when you got on some chick the other night.” He remarked thoughtfully.

“Well, it sucked when she made out with him the night before that!” I fired back.

He chuckled and shook his head, “you kids are quiet the pair, you know that?”

We both sat in the deserted hallway for a while, not saying anything. After what felt like forever, the throbbing in my hand had subsided; but it was swelling bad. “How did this get so fucked up?” I asked, not really directed at anyone.

“You punched a cement wall… shithead…”

“Not my hand!” I sighed and shook my head, “Carlie and me…”

“Oh… I don’t know. She’s in love with two people… that both love her; that’d fuck me up.” I nodded in agreement, as much as it hurt to think about, I had to admit that it was true.
I love Carlie and I knew she loved me. But she loved him too, and some part of me knew - even if I didn’t want to admit it - that he loved her too.

Consti pushed himself up and motioned for me to follow. I walked in step behind him as we made our way out into the Russian night. “Let’s go get that looked at; I think it might be a knuckle.” I nodded my head and glanced down at my hand again, while Consti flagged down a cab.

It was hailing buckets by the time we got in. Consti instructed the cab driver to take us to the hospital and sat back in his seat. “Consti…” I began, watching the hail pelt against the window as we took of through the streets. “I need to make this up to her… but I don’t know how. We need to start over…”

“Well I’m sure you’ll figure that out when the time comes bud.” I tried to nod in agreement; but it came out more as a shrug. I returned my attention to the outside world, watching the winter night pass by in a blur.

Consti’s POV

I felt the car screech beneath me as the driver tried to stop too fast at a red light. The rear-end of the car shot out sideways and lunged forward. My hand flew out and grabbed onto the driver’s seat as I braced myself for what I knew would be a crash.
I glanced over at Mattie who was braced similarly; noticing he didn’t have his seatbelt buckled. “Seatbelt Mattie!” I screamed as the front of the car slammed into something hard.
I looked up in time to see the world beginning to twist; as the car started to flip on the ice.

We turned a number of times before the car stopped; right-side-up against a guard-railing. I let out a huff and looked down at myself.
The roof was almost fully caved in and the window next to me was busted outward; the ice-air assaulting me as I examined the small-cuts around my arms. I reached up and grabbed my shoulder - under the seatbelt - it was soar, but not broken.
“Where’s the other car?” I asked as I undid my belt. “Hey…” I reached forward and shoved the driver gently on the shoulder. He flopped forward; dead or unconscious I wasn’t sure. “Holy shit, Mattie…”
I glanced to my right, looking for Mattie; he wasn’t there.
The car was crushed in worse on his side and the window was gone; his seatbelt sat, still unstrapped. “Mattie?” I yelled looking around the cab before crawling over to his side of the car.
There was blood on the seat but no Mattie; if he got thrown out… I said silently, refusing to finish the thought. I grabbed the handle and tried to open the door but it wouldn’t budge. I backed up and slammed my leg into it a few times before I felt the nausea hit. I fell backwards onto the seat as the darkness fell in around me…

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chapter 23

***In what seems to be an ongoing pattern with me as of lately... thank you Jay =)***

We lied awake for hours, talking in whispers under the covers; acting like we were children trying to hide from his parents. Being with Evgeni made me forget about everything else; the media, the tournament, feeling betrayed. Everything seemed so simple when I was around him, like nothing else mattered.

He drove me back to the hotel before lunch; wishing me luck and informing me that his father and him were going to be there, watching my game. As calming as Geno’s presence had been the night before, the thought of him watching me play terrified me; as if a poor performance could change his opinion on me.
I was just pushing through the front doors when I was hailed down by Rennie and Consti. “Coach was flipping shit, man! Where have you been?”

“I… I stayed at a friends house for the night.” Rennie nodded at my explanation, while Consti watched me through knowing eyes. “So, when do we leave?”

“Not for a while yet. We play Canada at 7pm, but we’re suppose to be there at 5.” Rennie explained as we made our into the hotel’s restaurant for lunch.

Mattie was sitting with the O’Shea twins, a look of condescension on his face when he saw me; a look that mad me glad I didn’t spend the night with him. As Rennie jabbered on about the game tonight; my mind wandered over to the night I had just had. It was amazing, in a way; Mattie was my boyfriend but here I was, feeling guilty for not being around Geno. What is wrong with me?

Our warm up was stressful; not a good sign. The arena was packed… Canada vs. USA was apparently a big deal to these people. I took my time skating around, staring into the crowds, searching for Geno; it seemed futile given how many people were here.
When the final buzzer went I headed into our bench; taking a glance up as I did. He was there, smiling at me. Of course he’d be behind the bench; he was Evgeni Malkin, he had connections. I laughed to myself and gave him a smile back. I took my seat and glanced over my shoulder one last time, to see his father patting him on the back and nodding in my direction. Oh no Evgeni, what did you tell him about me? I sighed and turned my attention back to coach, there’s nothing I can do about it now.

Canada… oh Canada… the home of hockey. They never even saw it coming. Whether I was just having an ‘on’ game, or if the smiles I kept glancing over to see in the stands were pushing me to be better; I was unstoppable.
Every move, was sure and fast. My weight shifted effortlessly back and forth over my pumping legs, keeping me ahead of the game at all times.
My hands worked in a blur as I moved forwards, then sideways; squeezing into the places that no one else saw.
The game was tied at 3-2, for us. 2 of the goals belonged to me; the other to Jake.
In the final minutes of the game I pulled back, allowing them to get ahead of me. I wanted them to move first, I wanted them to make a mistake and show me an opening.
Finally seeing my opportunity I took it, flipping the puck up on my stick and switching around to my backhand. I barrelled in on the net; realizing just how outnumbered I was. With no time to see where anyone else was I feinted a shot, giving the goalie only enough time to see my smile; before my hat trick sealed our win.

“What the fuck was that Simone!?” Consti screamed in my ear, pulling me into a one-armed hug. We were elated, ecstatic. I wasn’t sure if I was more excited about getting a hat-trick in front of Evgeni, or the rest of the world. “Eh, no one’s gonna have a problem with a girl playing in the big leagues now are they?” I could only smile in response… what a picture perfect game.

“Your boyfriends waiting for you outside.” Mattie spat in my ear. I tried not to think too much of it, he had played a horrible game; of course he would be mad… but I wanted a fight. I wanted a reason to spend time with Geno.
It was amazing how much had changed in the course of one night. I knew I shouldn’t hold what Mattie did against him; I knew that I loved him and I knew that I would regret doing anything to screw-up our relationship. But I wanted it… knowing he had cheated on me had changed so much, I could only imagine what my betrayal had done to him.

“And where’s your girlfriend at tonight? Oh wait… you’re not even sure who the fuck it was. Don’t give me your shit Mattie… you’re just as guilty as I am now.” He gave me a mocking-laugh, staring at me like there was a bad taste in his mouth.

“What does it matter… one whore’s as good as the next.” He spat.

“Fuck you!” I shoved him backwards, grabbing my purse off the bench. “Don’t stand there and judge me like you’re so perfect. I made a mistake, and I’m sorry that I did that to you; but that doesn’t give you a ‘get out of jail free card’. You’re no better than I am.” I glanced away from Mattie around the room, realizing that our argument had escalated enough to grab the attention of everyone present. I took one last look at Mattie before I turned on my heel and headed for the door, praying Geno was still there.

“He only wants you cause you’re not his. As soon as he gets in your pants he’ll be done with you.”

“Well, at least I don’t have to worry about him trying to fuck some Russian in a bar.” I fired back.

“Who are you-” Dean started to ask as I reached for the door. The question caught in his throat as I threw it open; Evgeni was standing on the other side.

The smile on his face faltered as he caught sight of my expression. He looked back into the room glancing around at the eyes all focused on him. He caught sight of, what I assumed was Mattie, and understanding dawned on his face. He reached for my arm, grabbing me as the tears started to pour over my lids. Ushering me quickly down the hall; he gave up on trying to steer me, instead pulling me up into his arms ‘bride-style’ and carrying me out of the arena.
Once I felt the cool night air hit my body, I heard a man talking in rapid Russian; concern evident through the language barrier. Evgeni responded in a few low answers, clutching me close to his body.

I couldn’t bring myself to let go of him. I clung to his body like my life depended on it; unable to control myself as I sobbed into his neck. He spoke softly to me, in words that I would never understand; but he held me close, rubbing his lips back and forth across my hair as his arms gently massaged my back.
I truly was a disgusting human being. I wasn’t even sure who or what I was crying over anymore.
Mattie, what had I done? Was it over? Did it even matter? I had broke his heart, that was for sure; I didn’t deserve him.
Evgeni, even less did he deserve this. An innocent bystander in the destruction that was my life, someone that hurt - but hurt no one.

And here I was, crying over things that I had caused myself; crying over one boy, in front of another boy. Suddenly the thought of what I was doing hit me. I pulled back and looked up into Evgeni’s tender eyes; he was watching me suffocate myself over someone else.

We stared at each other for a minute, before he looked away. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed; even if I understood. He was disgusted with me now, so much trouble and pain wrapped up in one person.
But I was wrong. His line of sight wasn’t in avoidance, it was focused on the door. His breathing began to increase as he unwrapped himself from my body and crossed his room to the door.
I sat unmoving, afraid of going under; as I watched my lifesaver float away from me.
He pulled open the door and looked out, waiting, watching. I felt my breathing increase as I began to shake; waiting for him to bolt, to run, to save himself from the certain destruction that came from spending too much time with me.
He closed the door softly, and turned back to me; resting his back against the door as he watched me.

“Carlie, I sorry…” He began, and I had to close my eyes, nodding.

“It’s ok, I understand, you can’t do this.” I wasn’t even sure what this was… I just knew he needed to get away from me.

“Not do this…” My eyes flew open as his voice came back, closer than it should have been.
His face was inches from mine, and I could feel his warm breath caress my face as he leaned closer. Cupping my face in his hands he gently pulled my lips to his; moving slowly at first.
He dropped his hands, wrapping them around me as he laid down next to me. His tongue filled my mouth as he pressed his lips against me harder; his hands tracing my side as I rolled over into him.

We stayed like this, slowly, passionately feeling the pressure of each other as his breathing increased and so too did the force of his hands on my body. His hand ran down my side, coming to rest on my hip. A low moan escaped his throat as he grabbed my thigh hard, pulling my leg over his waist and pressing himself against me.
I pulled my lips away from him, gasping for air. He stopped moving, looking back at me, fear and sadness on his face. “You no want…”
I shook my head vigorously and grabbed his hair in my hands, shoving his face against me again.
He slapped my thigh and roughly rolled himself on top of me. Grabbing the end of his shirt I started pulling it. He pushed himself up onto his knees; pulling it up and over his head, throwing it in the ground. I let out a moan as I stared at his body; oh mother of god…
He smiled in response, licking his lips as he reached for my shirt. I sighed as I shimmed around, allowing him to pull it off. I reached out to touch him, sighing softly. I needed him; needed to touch him, taste him, feel him. I needed to know every part of his body until it took over every other part of me. I wanted him to make me forget my own name.

Suddenly I couldn’t lie still anymore as emotion and heat flooded threw my body. I pushed myself off the bed and flew into his arms; wrapping his dark hair in my hands as I shoved him against me.
He responded with even more enthusiasm, flipping me onto my back, pulling my sweats off of and removing his dress pants; before falling down on top of me. His hands began to roam my body, as his lips left mine and filtered down towards my chest.
Without a conscious thought, I gripped the sheets in my hands and arched my back towards him; revelling in the feeling of his hot, soft tongue as it headed further south.
I knew where he was going, and I also knew we wouldn’t make it that far. I dug my fingers into the back of his head and used his hair to pull his face back up to mine. “No, now.”

“Now?” He asked, unsure of the meaning behind my words. My patients with the language barrier was at an all time low and I pushed him down, climbing on top; leaving no room for doubt as I pulled my hips into small fierce circles on top of him.

He let out a rough low growl as he gripped my hips tightly in his hands and pushed me down harder. My head rolled back as I felt him move against me.
Fingers gripping into my sides he threw me down on the bed, grasping my boy-shorts in his hands and jerking them off; before removing his boxers.

His body fell down on top of mine again; his elbows digging into the bed as he moved himself forward. He sat on the edge for a minute, moving himself onto his hands and watching me as he began to push his way inside me.
He entered all the way slowly, stopping once he was in completely, lowering his face towards mine and kissing me again.

We began leisurely, moving at a slow pace. I wrapped my limbs around him, pulling him closer and breathing him in.
After only a few minutes I could feel my body clenching into orgasm; a moan escaping my throat as I gripped his lip in between my teeth and tried to propel him in faster.
The reactions he was pulling from my body began to grow his excitement and he pushed me further onto his bed until I was straddled between his body and the wall. Another throaty moan left me as he began to increase his tempo.
He thrusted in hard for the first time; simultaneously drawing a whimper from me and a loud bang from his bed. “Geno…” I whimpered, pushing myself away from the wall as his body slammed into mine again. “Oh god, your parents….”
He shook his head and gripped me closer, pushing himself into me as hard and fast as possible.
It took all my strength to keep from crying out; abandoning my attempt to keep the bed quiet as he reached deeper inside of me than I thought possible.

Continuously he propelled himself into me; earning a grunt of approval every time he completed a cycle.
I was positive that the headboard was through the wall but I didn’t care; any attempt to be quite was over as soon as we climaxed together.

I gripped him tighter as our tempo wound down. Unable to keep the smile off my face as he pulled out and rested his head on my chest. His sigh of contentment matched my own as we lied there.
I traced my fingers around his head, listening as his breathing became even and I knew he was sleeping.
I bent forward and planted a kiss on his head, following him into sleep.

When I woke up it was dark outside, I was still naked but I was wrapped tightly in a thick blanket. I glanced around the room; realizing for the first time that I was alone. I sat up and looked around, swinging my legs over the bed and walking towards the door. I peered out and saw a mute light coming for a door. I was terrified that I was going to run into his parents but I shuffled out anyway; staying as quiet as possible as I made my way toward the light.
I peered around the corner and smiled when I saw Evgeni, sitting shirtless in front of the computer screen. I cleared my throat and moved into the room. He turned and smiled at me, holding out an arm. I shuffled towards it and he pulled me down into his lap. “What are you doing?” I asked kissing his lips gently.

He let out a sigh and pulled me head against his chest. “I… try to show…” I felt him shake his head unable to find the words. I glanced over at the screen, all in Russian; nonsense to me, in front of which sat a Russian/English dictionary. “I find… music for you?” He said nuzzling his face into my hair. “Show words I no know…” I smiled up at him as he leaned forward, clicking on the screen.
Music poured out of the speakers softly.
As I listened intently, curled up in his lap, I felt my heart swell into the empty expanses of my chest, filling with the depth of emotion I was only beginning to feel:

The batter swings and the summer flies
As I look into my angel's eyes
A song plays on while the moon is hiding over me
Something comes over me

I guess we're big and I guess we're small
If you think about it man you know we got it all
Cause we're all we got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free
I love you freely

Here's a riddle for you
Find the Answer
There's a reason for the world
You and I...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chapter 22

I laughed as I watched Mattie regaining consciousness beside me. “Good night party boy?” I asked, unable to contain my smile as he stifled a groan next to me.

“Ugh… what time is it?” He asked, rolling over onto his back and stretching.

“3... Pm…” I laughed again as he whimpered, throwing his hands over his face.

“I don’t remember anything… how did I get back here?”

“Ah… Geno carried you here, over his shoulder I might add.” I watched as his face squished into disapproval. I could understand why Mattie still didn’t like Geno but, he was lucky Geno showed up; I shuddered to think whether or not Mattie would have gotten back alright without him.

It had been a fairly awkward meeting last night. I had answered the door in a pair of sweats and a Malkin jersey; hair dishevelled. He looked unbelievable, standing there in a pair of fitted jeans and a button down shirt. While he looked like prince charming, Mattie looked like he was about to blow chunks.
I still couldn’t understand why it ended up being Geno that brought him home, but when I pressed him for answers he only shrugged and said: “I find him. Take him home. You happy.”

The next few days flew by as the team readied itself for the first game against Sweden. On the down-side, between skates, practice and interviews I had almost no time to myself; on the plus-side I also had no time to think about Geno.
I never really felt ‘out of place’ when it came to hockey. Guys would be upset about a girl on the team, then they’d play with me, then they’d get over it. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for the media outbreak that I caused everywhere I went.

Of course I had expected to get a bit more attention than my team-mates; being the first girl to a play at the world junior level with men, would do that. What I hadn’t expected was the hours of interviews I would be made to sit through, day after day.
Are you excited to be here? What’s it like to be the only girl on Team USA? Do you feel more pressure than your team-mates? Are you afraid of being singled out by the other teams? Are you hoping to win gold?

Most of the questions were ridiculous. By the end of the last day I was ready to blow, and it took all my self restraint to keep from saying what I was really thinking: No I’m not excited to be here, I sure hope that the other teams try to kill me… gold? Pshh, who wants gold when you can loose?

Our game against Sweden was the first game of the World Junior. I sat quietly in the dressing room; glad to be ’just another player’ for once. We were all caught up in our own world, each person dealing with the stress of the situation in their own way.
My way was to stare blanking at the wall ahead of me and pray that I didn’t fall flat on my face on the way out.

The Swedes were fierce, coming out fast and hard. Their main advantage against us was their size; their bodies were so large it felt like we were outnumbered 2 to 1.
The majority of the players on our team, excluding Consti, weren’t sure how to play against such large opponents; for me, there wasn’t much of a difference - I was use to being the smallest.

Catching the puck from Rayner, I dodged a body and turned, bearing down on the Swedish goalie. Experience told me their defence would try to catch me from the side; I was right. A quick turn in perfect balance allowed me to catch him before he was able to react, pushing myself out of the cross-fires and into the crease.
My goal was the only goal scored that game.

Rennie was unstoppable, making amazing save after amazing save; with Mattie and myself creating the majority of our goal chances.
Overall, I was pleased with the victory, but fearful of the next game. Sweden wasn’t suppose to be a medal contender; that honour was meant for USA, Canada and Russia. Tomorrow we played Canada.

Since the night he arrived back to the room with Geno, Mattie had been distant and distracted. I wrote it off to nervousness regarding our first game, but on the bus his mood seemed unchanged. “Everything ok?” I asked as I stared out the window on our way back to the hotel. He didn’t say anything, his only reaction at all was to shrug his shoulders. “Mattie, you played really good.”

“I’m not upset about the game… can we just wait till we’re back in the room?” I nodded my head, worried for the first time. Was he just now, starting to get angry about my kiss with Evgeni?

I sat on the edge of the bed and waited for him to stop pacing. My heart was hammering into my rib cage as I watched him; terrified that this was the end. “Carlie, I cheated on you.”

I watched him, as he watched me; waiting for my reaction. I started to laugh, slowly at first until it boiled over into a fit. “Mattie be real, what is this about?”

He sat down on the bed across from me and continued to watch me; no humour on his face. “I’m not kidding Carlie.” He said after my laughing had ceased.

“But… I don’t- when?”

“The night Geno carried me home.”

I sighed and looked away. “Because you wanted to hurt me too?”

“No, because… I wanted her.”

My eyes snapped back to his face. “Who?” My face was filling with heat as I felt tears threaten to fall.

He shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know, just some girl at the bar… we kissed but, it would have been more if he didn’t come over and stop me.”

“Why did he have to stop you?” I spat, infuriated.

“I was drunk… I don’t know why I did it, but I know I had no intention of stopping it myself.”

“Why are you telling me this?” I whispered softly as the first of the tears began to pool over my lids.

“You need to know… you need to know what I did.” I looked up at him, he was staring at his lap; refusing to meet my eyes.

I pushed myself off the bed and left the room. I wasn’t sure who was worse. Me; for making out with someone I love, or him; for making out with a girl because of alcohol.
I never would have slept with Evgeni… if he had of tried I would have stopped that; I did stop him as it was. Mattie said he wouldn’t have stopped; he only stopped because Evgeni forced him to.

My thoughts carried me down the hall way, down the stairs and into the lobby. What do I do now? I knew it wasn’t fair to take off on Mattie like this, but I wasn’t sure what else to do.
Even less fair was what I was about to do; as I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket.

I dialled Geno’s number and after a short conversation I was rounding the corner on the nearby bar; he was already waiting out front. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I accused, jabbing my finger into his chest. He shrugged his shoulders and reached for me; at a loss as to what was going on. “You knew that he cheated on me, you were there, and you didn’t tell me.”

“I no understand.” He said pointedly, finally grabbing my arms in his hands and pulling me against him.

“He kissed a girl in that bar Geno.”

Comprehension dawned on his face as he let out a sigh. “I hope he no tell you…”

“You hoped he wouldn’t tell me? Cause I don’t deserve to know?” I screamed, not caring that people were watching us now.

“Carlie, you come.” He grabbed my arm and led me down the street; shaking off his jacket and throwing it around my shoulders. I had walked fifteen minutes in a t-shirt - through Russian winter - without realizing it.

We walked for over a half-hour; the cold-air taking the edge off my anger. Finally stopping at a row of connected, brick houses; Evgeni led me up a set of stairs. He unlocked the door and yelled something in Russian. A woman replied back at him from somewhere in the house.
Evgeni didn’t stop to inform me what was going on; he continued to tug at me, leading me up a set of stairs.
I glanced at the pictures hanging on the wall as we passed; some older, black and white photos, mixed in among pictures of Evgeni. First as a child and then as he was now. Oh my god… I’m in his parents house, I gasped as he lead me to a door at the end of the hall.

I sat down beside him on the bed, while he stared at his door. I listened to the noises going on in the house below; hearing what I assumed was his parents moving around, watching TV.
Once he was satisfied that we wouldn’t be disturbed, he turned and grinned at me. That grin, my grin… that lopsided, crooked-tooth grin that would look terrifying on anyone else; but managed to be charming and contagious on him.
“What?… what?” I sighed as he just kept grinning at me. I let out a disgruntled huff and flopped back down on the bed. Evgeni laid down beside me.

“You stay here. I take you tomorrow.”

“Take me back to the hotel tomorrow.”

“Is what I say.”

“Geno, you’ve lived in the US for a while now… you should probably learn proper English.”

“Is proper English.” I sighed again, why bother? “Carlie…”

“Yes Evgeni?” I smiled even though I tried to sound stern; he had a way of making everything seem so much easier… well… when he wasn’t kissing me…

“I glad you here.”

“Me too.” I rolled my head to the side and looked him straight in the face. He looked completely serious, the childish grin was gone from his face; replaced by a contemplative look. “I know that look… no kissing, Geno.”

He gave me a small grin. “I know. Is hard…” He turned away from me, staring up at the ceiling, “it feel like you mine… is hard to know you not… now.” I sighed, and turned my face away from him; his eyes getting watery. If there was one thing I couldn’t deal with, it was Evgeni crying.

It felt wrong to say, I knew it was wrong, but I needed to say it. “I love you.”

He nodded and looked back at me, “only reason I still ok. I love you.”

We both looked away, lying in our own little worlds; where life is easy and love is uncomplicated.