Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chapter Thirty-Five

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Thirty-Five

The Penguins went on to win that game and the next three against Montreal. Riley was back in the Sports Guide station to recap the series and the intense game four.

“Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price were outstanding through sixty minutes of regulation, sending game four into OT tied at zero.

“With three minutes left in overtime, Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby put himself and the puck past Carey Price. They would check it and there was no need to correct it. The Penguins sweep the Habs, four games to none.”

They went on to play the Boston Bruins in the next round. Unfortunately, their magic didn’t allow them to sweep another team. The series went to game six in Boston, where the home team lead it three games to two.

“With two-twenty left in the third, Boston’s Zdeno Chara sealed the deal for his team by ripping a laser from the blue line; ending the Penguins’ 2008-2009 Stanley Cup Playoff run,” Riley reported in a voice that never wavered, even though it broke her heart to have to recall that disappointing night.

Sidney had come home late and in a sour mood after that loss. Riley saw him the next morning asleep on the couch in the living room. He looked exhausted, even in his sleep. She knew that the regular season and especially the playoffs had drained him – physically, mentally, and emotionally. He wouldn’t be back to his old self for a good week or two.

Not until he got away from the hockey atmosphere. Like that would ever happen, she thought. He was never fully away from the hockey world.

Sidney stirred, groaned, and eventually opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was his girlfriend staring at him, eyes wide with concern. Under all of that worry, he noted, there was fatigue. He knew he probably didn’t look too great himself, either. And she’d be all over him for that, too.

What he’d really needed now was a relaxing summer. And Riley. With both he would hopefully be able to recharge for the next season. He made a mental note to ask her if she would care to join him for the summer in his home province, Nova Scotia.

But for now he needed to try and put it all behind him, the season was over and he needed to remember that. He didn’t want any tension between them, especially now.

There would be some, though. There was no escaping it. Tension was already growing between the team. Once the game had ended and they’d made their way back to the dressing room no one had said a word. What was there to say? But, they’d been through it before, he mused. This, though, would be the first time he’d get over it with a woman. With his girlfriend. Sure, during the last offseason there’d been women who he’d shared his bed with, but not one who he’d cared for so much. Not one he’d give up anything to keep.

This offseason would be something entirely different. In a way, he was looking forward to it.

“Good morning, love.” Riley said as she raced past the living room.

“Morning,” he said groggily. “You’re up and moving early.”

“Yeah,” she said, handing him a mug of fresh, hot coffee. “I’d love to stay and chat but I’ve got a meeting in twenty minutes.” She kissed him lightly on the lips.

“Oh, I don’t remember you mentioning anything about it.”

“I just got word about it an hour ago.” She fussed with her hair in the mirror. Looking at her watch, she frowned. “Brett should be here any minute now.”

“Brett’s driving you.” He didn’t know why it angered him.

“Hmm. Oh, yeah; we usually carpool to work together.”

“Ah, well.” He nodded. “Have you had any coffee yet?”

She unbuttoned the collar of her green blouse. “No, we’ll grab something on the way there.”

“I see,” he murmured. “Have I met Brett?”

His tone made her turn to face him.

“I don’t think so, no.” She tried to hide the suspicion in her voice by passing it off nonchalantly.

Just as he opened his mouth to speak the doorbell rang.

“That must be him…” Riley trailed off as she sauntered over towards the front door. As soon as she opened it she was greeted with Brett’s smiling face.

Sidney scowled.

“Hey stunner,” Brett said, pulling her into a hug. “I got your regular on the way here.” He handed her a cup of hot coffee. “Now, if you don’t mind, could I use your washroom? There was traffic and a long line at Starbucks.”

“Thanks. It’s the third door on the left.”

As he headed off Sidney got up to stand next to Riley. He wanted a good look at Brett when he came back.

“He knows your regular, stunner?” he asked, with a brow raised.

“Err, yeah.” Normally she would’ve told him to take the stick out of his butt, but she realized that he was probably still irritable about losing so she let it go. “I’m not too sure of when I’ll be back, but I’ll call you if I’ll be any later then three, okay?”

“Yeah, all right.” He kissed her long and passionately. “I love you.”

Brett walked back towards the front door and saw Riley wrapped intimately around a young guy he took to be her boyfriend.

Riley looked over because she sensed him. She cleared her throat before speaking.

“Sid this is Brett, my co-worker and good friend.” She motioned towards him, smiled. “Brett this is Sidney, my boyfriend.” She kept the smile, bright and friendly, on her face even though she felt awkward.

“Nice to meet you,” Brett said, extending a hand. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Likewise,” Sidney said, and shook his hand.

“Well, we’d better go,” Riley said, and kissed Sidney one more time before heading out the door.

They walked down the steps to Brett’s car. The weather was warming seeing as it was approaching the last half of May. The flowers were starting to make their mark on lawns everywhere. More and more birds were spotted sitting on trees throughout the day.

As they drove, Riley started to let her thoughts wander. She thought about the summer and how she and Sidney were going to work that out. He would obviously be doing something. But what? Riley thought, pursing her lips. What did he do during the summer? Surely he wouldn’t stay in Pittsburgh. How much time would they spend together over the summer?

Better yet, what would she be doing over the summer? Hopefully not covering baseball, she thought with a wince. She really, really didn’t like the sport. She could, however, see if there were any openings at other stations…

“So,” Brett began, pulling Riley out of her thoughts. “Your boyfriend doesn’t really care too much for me.”

“What?” She was shocked. “How do you know? Of course he likes you, why wouldn’t he?”

“Well, he seemed pretty tense around me, and I could understand why.”

“Sid? He’s just tense because they got eliminated the other night.” She tried to brush it off – wanted to – but couldn’t. “What do you mean, you know why?”

“Come on, Rye, you can’t tell me you don’t know why.” He looked over and saw he bewildered expression.

“I actually have no idea what you’re talking about.”

He sighed. “Riley, you’re beautiful. Trust me, you are, you wouldn’t be on TV if you weren’t – it’s a very shallow business,” he added when she opened her mouth to protest. “Any man, especially someone like Sid, would be, let’s say, protective of you if you were their girlfriend.” He smiled at her embarrassed expression. “He’s head over heels for you, hun.”

She gaped at him. “You think he’s jealous?” She threw back her head and laughed. “Oh man, that’s hilarious; Sidney, jealous.”

“Uh, why do you find this so funny?” he asked, his brow furrowing.

“Because it’s so true. He won’t admit it but I know he doesn’t like it when I work with men. It’s funny because he’s the one worried about guys coming on to me. I should be worried about the girls that are offering to have his children.”

They walked into the station in good moods. They met up with some other people from the station and walked in together. The entryway was nice and open. The windows were large and situated everywhere, letting the beautiful sunlight shine in.

Immediately, they saw Cheryl, who was heading in their direction. The woman walked fast for being in heels. Oh crap, Riley thought as she looked down at her own feet. Yup, forgot to put on heels. She was standing there in her purple Converse. Blouse, dress pants, Converse.

“Good morning Brett, Riley, Julie, and Thomas.” Cheryl greeted warmly. “Can I speak to you for a moment, Riley?”


Cheryl led her over to the far wall of the building where a man stood in a dark suit watching her intently. He seemed to be studying her, judging her.

“Riley, this is Philip Andrews. He works for KDKA. He asked to speak with you.”

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chapter Thirty-Four

It's kind of a short chapter but there is, indeed, more to come. But I do have to say, how about those Pens totally kicking Flyer ass! The overtime game the other night had me on the edge of the couch holding my breath. A wonderful two-man advantage goal by Billy Guerin. :]


Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Thirty-Four

“Good luck, baby.” Riley kissed Sidney sweetly on the lips.

Baby, she thought as she walked towards the seating area of the arena. They’d both been calling each other that lately, along with others as well. She kind of liked it. It made things more intimate.

They’d been together for over half a year, Riley calculated. Only half a year and she’d all ready let down every guard she’d ever had for him; let him in. Yes, she mused, he now held the power to break her, the power to destroy her.

She probably had the same power over him, too. But now was not the time to hurt him, it was the time to be there for him. To understand.

They probably wouldn’t win the ultimate prize in all of hockey that year. Their competition was too skilled, too strong, too prepared. Their competition was too ready. Both Sidney and Riley know that, but they never spoke of it. Perhaps they should’ve, but there was never a right time for it.

And there never would, she thought sadly.

All she could do for Sidney right now was to support him. They started their playoff run in fifteen minutes. How far would they go? She’d asked herself that many times. How would Sidney react to losing the Stanley Cup again? Riley only hoped that he wouldn’t take it too hard and shut her out.

They had, after this game, another three guaranteed. She would make sure that she’d be present for all of them. She’d make sure to be encouraging to Sidney. To be optimistic for him.

Deep into thought, Riley nearly bumped into several fans. Shaking off her thoughts she walked to where she would sit whenever she came to a game; with the other girlfriends. She saw them, sitting there looking gorgeous as always.

“Hello ladies,” Riley greeted with a bright smile.

“Rye, come sit next to me!” Vero patted the empty seat next to her.

It had taken a little while, but Riley now felt completely comfortable sitting with these women. At first she had been a little intimidated by them, thinking that she’d be judged – and judged harshly because of who had introduced her to them.

But they’d been so warm and so kind to her. They’d been quite welcoming to her. Some didn’t understand why she continued to carry on a career that inevitably gave off a lot of stress. She’d merely pointed out that she’d worked hard for years to get that job and that she wasn’t giving it up any time soon.

Riley chatted along with them as they, along with everyone else, awaited the drop of the puck. They talked about clothes and shopping then somehow drastically but subtly veered off to the topic of trashing the opposition. She had laughed when she heard some of the creative things those women came up with.

Once the anthems were sung, the teams positioned themselves for the puck drop. The Penguins won it and spent the majority of the first period in the other end. Their defence was strong, very rarely letting the opposing team slip past centre ice. The forwards were strong as well. They fired off a lot of shots on net but Carey Price was astounding between the posts.

The first period went by quickly because there weren’t many whistles. Off-sides and penalties were kept to a minimum. Hits, however, were thrown more than ever. The game was played at a faster pace during the playoffs. There truly was nothing better than playoff hockey.

With the time winding down in the first, the score still tied at zero, a Montreal player laid a massive and arguable hit on defenseman Kris Letang. He went down and stayed there for several minutes.

“Oh God,” Vero whispered as she grabbed a hold of Riley’s hand, held tight.

The Penguins captain, however, would have none of that. Sidney went at the guy full force. For the first time since they’d started dating, Riley saw Sidney drop the gloves. She was having an internal battle between being excited or frightened. She tightened her grip on Vero’s hand and sat on the edge of her seat, holding her breath the entire time.

She let it out audibly when Sidney’s fist collided with the other guy’s face, knocking him to the ice. The refs got in there and pulled the two apart. Both players were lead to their team’s dressing rooms. But before Sidney stepped off the ice he shot Riley one dazzling smile.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chapter Thirty-Three

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Thirty-Three

“What did you do?” Riley stared at Sidney wide-eyed.

“I simply told him to back off,” he replied, smugly. “I also told him what’ll happen if he doesn’t.”

“You threatened him, didn’t you?”

“If that’s how he chooses to perceive it.” He backed out of the driveway. “Look, Riley, I love you – ridiculously so – and he’s a slug. I’ll do whatever I can to keep you safe and happy,” he said before she could respond. “And, I really don’t care if you want me to or not.”

She sat there stunned. His answer wasn’t what she had expected to hear from him. When Sidney said or did things like this Riley could feel her heart melting. He had, she knew, so many sides of him that are very rarely exposed to many people.

She turned to him, smiled. “Thank you.”

He quickly glanced at her, smiled, and took her hand in his. “You’re welcome.”

A few minutes later they arrived at the arena. They were practicing in the Mellon Arena as Southpointe was being occupied for the day. The arena seemed empty when they walked in, but later proved otherwise when Coach Dan Bylsma ran past them chasing Jordan Staal with a large water bottle.

Riley watched them race by her and Sidney and down the hall. They were screaming and laughing the entire time. Like children, she thought. The guys seemed to be having more fun.

“He’s a good coach,” Sidney said as he and Riley made their way to locker rooms. “I have to get changed now.” He kissed her lightly on the lips. “Practice starts in fifteen minutes.” He gave her hand a quick squeeze then disappeared through the large door that was marked with a large picture of a penguin.

Riley walked over to the ice and picked a seat that was a few rows up. She never liked being in the first row at a hockey game. When she was seated she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. For the first time in who knows how long, Riley wasn’t expected to report back to her boss with a full article on how practice went. This time it was different. This time she was just there to watch the love of her life play the sport that he enjoyed.

Hockey, she mused. Hockey was what brought them together the first time, six years ago. And hockey was what had reunited them. Hockey was a huge part of both their lives. It was his career and hers. It was what had brought them to where they stood now.

Shaking her head, laughing a little, and getting comfy, Riley prepared to watch the show.

As she watched, she pulled out her notebook. The newspaper she occasionally wrote for had asked her to write a little introduction for the readers about the 2008-2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The idea of it was more descriptive then anything. They wanted the readers to feel like they were there, watching the game for themselves.

She started it off slowly, it wasn’t due for a few more weeks but she decided that this was how she’d pass some time.

She could picture it all perfectly.

The lights were set to a low dim, the announcer’s voice boomed. The crowd roared. Spotlights displaying the picture of a large, fierce-looking penguin criss-crossed over the freshly cleaned ice. The chants began just seconds before the home team stepped on the ice. The crowd got louder.

A few boos where hollered when the visiting team stepped on. Both teams, consisted of twenty men each, warmed up on their end of the ice. Both set up in the widely popular butterfly drill. Pucks crossed from end to end, passed tape to tape, and shot into the net. Some stretched, some were being interviewed, and some skated around scoping for colourful, homemade signs with interesting sayings on them.

Everything came to a halt when the national anthems were sung. Five skaters and a goalie of each team stood on the ice and faced the flags; the other fifteen players stood on their respective benches and bowed their heads in respect.

As the home team’s national anthem began the crowd cheered and sang along loudly, their hands on their hearts.

Once over, they prepared for the puck to drop and the show to begin.

Yes, she could see it all. She could feel the intensity and only hoped that her readers would too.

Looking up, Riley saw that all of the guys were standing at one end of the ice, coach at attention. He was giving instructions for a new drill. And Sidney would be leading, naturally.

Soon after, they switched to another drill. This one seemed to be more physically draining than the others. It dealt more with fore checking and back checking – a vital part in the game.

Turning her head at the sound of feet walking across the sticky floor, Riley smiled at the woman dressed in a black tracksuit who looked like she’d just stepped out of the spa. Her long black hair tied loosely in a ponytail, her skin shining, and her makeup-less face glowing. Yup, Riley thought, she looked like she’d just been pampered for a good few hours.

“Hey, Rye,” she said it so sweetly with her beautiful French accent.

“Hey, Vero. How are you?”

“Oh, I’m good. How about yourself? I haven’t seen you in forever.”

“I’m doing well. And yes, it has been a while.” Riley closed her notebook and shoved it into her bag.

As Vero sat in the seat next to Riley, they began to talk about clothes, hair, makeup and boys.