Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chapter Thirty-Two

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Thirty-Two

“Rye, I don’t know what to do.” Sidney sighed as he reached toward her.

The Penguins were playing their first game of the 2008-2009 playoffs the next day against Montreal. Over the past several weeks people had gone to extremes to criticize Sidney. He had taken it all in stride and blown off insults and the comments people made when picking apart his playing.

But everyone had their breaking points.

“What do you mean?” She knew exactly but wanted him to talk it out.

She’d comforted him every time someone criticized him. Because, she thought, people were just cruel sometimes. Riley thought that Sidney was receiving way too much negativity from people, and the media especially.

“They expect me to do everything. Like, if we don’t win the Stanley Cup, it’s my fault. If we lose a game, it’s automatically my fault. I can’t do everything. I already have a lot to stress about now with being in the playoffs; I don’t need the media up my ass for not smiling enough or not doing enough commercials or photo shoots – how the hell am I supposed to do everything they ask of me? It’s not humanly possible. So what if I don’t smile enough? We finished fifth in the Eastern Conference overall and are fighting for the Cup again this year – the year after losing in Game 6 of the finals – and they’re miffed because I don’t smile enough? Christ.”

He stalked the bright living room as the fury and frustration seemed to melt away. “I just don’t get it. I mean, I know I’m supposed to portray this image of the face of the NHL – I get that. It’s the whole deal of me having to give away my personal life so I can answer the same boring questions by some reporter who doesn’t know the slightest thing about hockey.” He sat down with a huff. “I just don’t get it,” he repeated, quietly.

Riley sat next to him on the leather couch and put her arm around his shoulders. She rested her head against him. “Do you want to know what I think?” She asked in a loving tone.

He looked at her and after a few seconds, smiled. “Sure.”

“I think that you’re doing an unbelievable job with handling the media, the fans, the criticism, and the intense schedule you live by. Sometimes, though – and I say this with love – you need to learn how to say no. Now, with being in the playoffs, you need to focus on your game. Who cares what the media says. Who cares what people say? You don’t know them personally. All that matters is what you think. You just need to go out there, put on a smile, and do what you do best – dominate at hockey.” She stood and pulled him up with her. “Although, you could shoot a little more often.”

He stood there, holding her, for a few moments. That was exactly what he needed to hear. He needed, he mused, to know that his girlfriend was on his side. Riley was always on his side, he thought with a smile. “Thank you.” He kissed her. “And I’m more of a playmaker than shooter.”

“No you’re not. You’re an all-round player. Plus, I’ve seen your shot; it’s good, so use it.”

How had she turned a serious conversation into a laughing matter? He couldn’t figure it out. It was just another one of her qualities, he thought lovingly. “God, I love you.”

“I know. Now, come on, you’re going to be late for practice.” She pulled him towards the front door.

“Wait, you’re coming to practice?” He stared at her, curiously.

“Yeah, I don’t have to go in today. The new intern, Brian, is going to fill in for me all this week.” She smiled; thinking of how much potential Brian had showed when she’d first met him.

“Wow. Do they usually let interns take over for a week?”

“Well, he’s very good at reporting but he’s not doing the whole show on his own, Brett will be there to assist him.”


“Sharpe. Brett Sharpe. He’s one of our top reporters – and one of my closest friends, too.”

“Ah. I see.” Sidney nodded and pulled out both their jackets from the closet. “We’d better get going then.”

As they walked down the steps from the front door and to Sidney’s silver Range Rover they heard someone holler something at them. Riley looked over first and her smile vanished when she saw Cooper walking towards them.

Sidney looked over when he felt Riley tense. He placed his hand on the small of her back and nudged her toward the car.

“Get in.” He unlocked the doors. “I’ll deal with him.”

“Don’t.” Her eyes were pleading as she got in his Range Rover.

“Hey, can I speak with her?” Cooper stood there looking at Riley who was sitting in Sidney’s car, her attention on picking her nails.

Sidney stepped in front of Cooper, blocking his view of Riley. “No,” he spat. “You’ve got a lot of nerve to even ask that.”

“Look, dude, I just want to talk to her.”

“Well that’s just too bad. Now, I suggest you get off this property.” Sidney’s voice was laced with hate and disgust.

“What’s your problem? You’re so damn protective of her. I think Rye can take care of herself, she doesn’t need her superstar boyfriend to fight her battles.” He shut his mouth when he saw the glimmering hate in Sidney’s eyes.

“My problem is you, you slug. And yes, I am very protective of my girlfriend. I know she can fight her own battles – I’ve seen her do it. But this is one I choose to fight for her. So, I’m going to warn you right now, stay very far away from Riley or there will be a problem. And, you don’t want to piss me off.”

“Whatever you say, dude. But you can’t tell me to stay away from Riley – I’ll go near her whenever I want.”

That did it. “I doubt that she’ll appreciate that. But you could always try. And let me tell you this, if I hear that you’re bothering my girlfriend – I’ll deal with you myself. If that’s not enough, I know that there is an entire NHL team that adores her and like to think of themselves as her older brothers – not to mention that her older brother is now living in Pittsburgh. I’m sure that they would love to beat you’re face in.” And Sidney smiled.

“Is that a threat?”

“No. I’m simply informing you of what would happen if you harass Riley.”

“You know what, fine. I’ll leave her alone. But don’t think for one second that I won’t be reporting on you – and you’re relationship with her. You’re what got me this career—”

“No, you copying Riley’s work is what got you your career.”

He went silent. His eyes went blank. His entire face went blank. He swallowed hard. “I’ll stay away from her.” He whispered it because he was too scared to find all of his voice.

“Good.” Sidney turned and got into his Range Rover.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chapter Thirty-One

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Thirty-One

She arrived at the end of the practice. A few of the guys had already left, while some were still in the showers. Riley decided to sit for an extra few minutes in the stands knowing that Sidney would be near last to leave. She was sitting there letting her thoughts wander when she heard someone sit down next to her.

“Hey,” Kris Letang said.

“Hey Kris,” she said, her face lighting up. “How are you?”

“I’m good, how about you?” Kris and Riley had always gotten along together well. “I haven’t seen you around at practice in forever.”

“Yeah, it’s been a while,” she said with a short laugh. “I forgot how much I miss it.”

“Yeah, there’s never a dull moment at one of our practices,” he smiled when she slid a curious glance at him. “Today, for example, Max skated from one end at full speed, dove, and crashed into the boards. He said it was a hell of a ride.”

Once Kris left, Riley made her way towards the dressing room. She crossed paths with Hal Gill on her way and he told her that only Sidney and Max were left and that she could go on in. And that’s just what she did.

As soon as she opened the door she heard laughter. Max was explaining his exhilarating expedition to Sidney, who laughed at his team mate and good friend. As she got a little closer she could see Max acting it out.

Then Sidney looked over.

“Hey babe,” he said as he walked over to Riley.

“Hey,” she said as he embraced her in a hug.

“You didn’t mention that you were going to drop by.”

“I didn’t think I’d have time to,” she pressed her smiling lips to his. “Hi Max,” she said as they pulled away. Max was standing next to her and Sidney, wearing a smirk. He had done one of those fake, awkward coughs when Riley and Sidney kissed.

“Why don’t you two go have sex in the showers?” Max seemed to be joking.

“Well… I was planning on it, but it would be rude since you’re still in the room,” Sidney replied in a voice that sounded like he meant it.

“I could always leave… or join.” Max stayed straight-faced while Sidney’s eyes popped open wide. Riley had to muffle a laugh with a loud cough.

“Seriously?” Obviously caught off guard, Sidney stuttered for a response.

“Yeah,” Max said easily. “You know, I’ve always wanted to—”

“Err, Max, I really don’t want to know.” As Riley said this she patted him on the arm.

“I see. I’ve got to go, I’ve got a date in ten minutes,” Max said as he picked up his phone off the bench.

“Have fun,” Sidney called after him. He then turned to Riley, “I wasn’t kidding about before,” he then pressed his lips to hers. “I really do want you,” he murmured against her neck, “now.”

Later that day, Riley and Sidney sat in the living room watching TV while eating pizza.
The pizza had arrived as soon as they got in. They had decided to take an evening stroll and ended up at the park.

While there, Riley saw a puppy and awed about it to Sidney. She wanted another puppy after Sachi had to be put down because his internal organs were too damaged to function properly. He had lived another few months after being brutally abused and Riley was satisfied that he ended his life in happiness. For once in his short life, he was safe.

They walked back home, hand in hand, while the sun was setting. They tried to jump ahead of their shadows on the sidewalk but failed miserably.

Once home, they settled into bed and it was another hour or so before they actually fell asleep.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chapter Thirty

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Thirty

Sidney and Riley arrived at Famous Dave’s at five after. They met up with the other two couples inside the restaurant. Upon their entry, a few girls noticed Sidney and screeched his name, all while throwing themselves at him.

“Hey guys,” Riley said as she and Sidney sat down at the table.

“Hey,” Ben said, trying to keep from laughing. “Did you guys cause all that commotion?”

Sidney flushed slightly then answered. “Kinda,”

All throughout the meal Kaylan and Kim talked weddings, Riley joined in most of the time. The guys talked cars when they weren’t being dragged into the wedding conversation. They were sitting at a large table near the back of the restaurant; far from those dreaded screaming girls.

After enjoying a nice lunch with family and friends, everyone parted ways. Ben and Kim both had to go meet with an apartment owner, Kaylan and her fiancé Jordan McGraves both had to work, and Riley and Sidney were free for the rest of the day.

On the way home, Sidney held Riley’s hand in the car. They talked of topics of no real importance and enjoyed every minute of it. They were both at ease. Every now and then Riley would tease Sidney on his driving skills; she thought that he drove a little too slow.

Once home, they both let out a long, relaxing sigh. Riley bolted to the living room and flopped down on the couch, in total comfort. Sidney stood back and watched her. She’s hardly ever at ease, he thought. Which was true, it was an odd thing to see Riley act so carelessly, so freely. He thought that it was because when she was filming for the sports show she had to put on an act, so to speak. She always had to be so poised and so professional. But when she was at home, she could be lazy, loud, wild; politically incorrect.

He walked over to the couch, which his girlfriend was taking up most of, and lifted her up bridal-style and sat down. At her complaining groan he chuckled and set her down on his lap.

“Do you want to get married?” Riley asked, idly

“Are you proposing?”

“What?” She opened her eyes and looked up at his smiling face. “No. No, I meant it more, like, do you ever want to get married?”

“Ah,” he said as understanding spread across his face. “Sure. I mean, I don’t see why I wouldn’t.”


“Why, you don’t?”

“I don’t know,” she answered coolly. “I mean, I don’t think it’s really necessary.”

“Oh?” He straightened. “And why not?”

“Well, I always thought that if you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with someone – you know, like soul mates, sort of thing – then you’re going to be with them, no matter what.” She had thought about this before, but never said anything.

“Rye, what brought this up?”

“I guess I’ve never really understood why people make such big deals about getting married and weddings and stuff. And I think with seeing how Kim and Kay discussed their wedding plans so… vitally, I still don’t understand it.”

“Mhm.” He nodded.

“I mean, if you truly love someone, why do some people think ‘oh if you don’t propose then we’re done.’” She sighed. “You think I’m crazy, don’t you?”

He laughed. “No. Not one bit. Actually, I think it’s kind of attractive how you can speak your mind so openly.”

“Thanks,” she said sarcastically. “It’s not always such a lovely trait.”

Several days later, while Riley was at the station Cheryl pulled her aside. Riley had just finished filming the half hour show that would air the same sports highlights continuously for that whole morning, and then the channel on which it aired would show fishing or poker.

“Great show, as always,” Cheryl praised.

“Thanks,” Riley smiled.

“No problem. You’re perfect for this job, you’re young, smart, gorgeous, poised, you have a beautiful voice – I love the bit of Australian.”

“Again, thanks,” Riley laughed. This was odd, she thought.

“Okay, so I need you to do something for me,” Cheryl began. “We have this young guy, Brian, and I want you to train him since you’re one of our best journalists.”

“Oh. Okay, yeah sure. When would you like me to start?”

“Next week sometime,” Cheryl smiled. She knew Riley would be the best example of talent and discipline. “He’s a great kid, really. Attractive, too.”

Since Riley could sense that Cheryl was hinting, she sighed. “Cheryl, I have a boyfriend.”

“Ooh, I know,” she said it in such a way that reminded Riley of her grandmother. “But I really appreciate this, dear.”

And with that, Riley headed to the arena to watch the remainder of the Penguins’ practice.