I suck, I know. I cannot tell you how sorry I am for not posting since February. I honestly don't know where the time went. I promise, I haven't given up on this story; I've put way too much time and energy in it to quit now. For those of you that have not give up on me, I thank you. I hope you enjoy the much needed chapter fifty-five.
Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Riley somehow managed to keep her mind off the family drama for the rest of that afternoon. She had walked calmly into the grocery store on her way home and had kept up the casual conversations with the women there as she bought and bagged the items for the meal she would be putting together that evening.
She had tried dozens of times throughout the afternoon to contact Sidney, but since he was in the middle of a hockey game, he hadn’t picked up. Riley hadn’t left him a message either; it wasn’t something she could just tell him via voicemail.
So he would find out by surprise, she thought as she pulled into her parking space at the apartment. She only hoped that Sidney got home before Troy arrived.
As soon as she walked in the door, Riley headed straight to the kitchen to start on dinner. She planned to make a chicken stir-fry because it was quick, simple and healthy. She kept her mind on miscellaneous things as she washed, chopped and sorted out the various vegetables in her mise en place.
With her favourite radio station turned on low, Riley hummed along to the songs that came on as she got set to cut up the chicken. It occurred to Riley half way through that these were the things that she treasured the most. She loved coming home from a busy day at work, changing into comfy clothes and making dinner for her man.
As Riley dumped the chopped up cauliflower, broccoli and onions in the heated and oiled wok, the front door of the apartment opened. Sidney strolled in, already smelling the appetizing aroma of the sizzling vegetables in the small kitchen. With a few more steps ahead, he spotted his beautiful fiancée standing in front of the stove with a wooden spoon in her hand, humming.
He threw his jacket down on the couch and slowly crept towards Riley. Once up close behind her, Sidney wrapped his arms around her waist and rested her head on her shoulder, kissing the side of her neck once.
Riley, who had been lost in her own thoughts, jolted at his touch. “I didn’t hear you come in,” she said and turned her face so her lips could meet his.
“I wanted to surprise you,” he told her, his hands just barely sliding under the hem of her shirt.
“Well you did,” she laughed. She flashed him a smile and said, “Can you get me that bottle of soy sauce? I don’t want to leave this alone.”
“Sure,” he said as he turned to the fridge. “What are we having anyway, babe?”
“Chicken stir-fry, it will be ready in a few minutes so go get changed.”
Sidney came back moments later, just as Riley was scooping out their portions onto their plates. As she placed the steaming plates of food on the table, Sidney took out a bottle of red wine from the fridge. Riley looked over at him, raising her right eyebrow, he just winked back with a sly smile.
There was a knock on the door just as Sidney and Riley were about to sit down. Sidney looked annoyed and Riley looked nervous. Sidney’s arrival had caused her to forget about that evening’s plans.
“I’ll get it,” Riley said as she hurried to the door.
Curious about the look on her face, Sidney followed her to the front of the apartment. Riley opened the door with Sidney right behind her. She smiled when she saw Troy Crosby standing less than a foot away from her. But she didn’t get to look at him for long; Sidney, out of pure reflex, pulled Riley back and stood in front of her, like a lion protecting his lioness.
“Sidney,” Troy said in a weary voice.
“Dad,” Sidney said through clenched teeth.
“Sid, move.” Riley fought hard to squirm out of Sidney’s tight grasp.
“Hello again, Riley,” Troy said, still standing out in the building’s hall.
“Again?” Sidney questioned; his anger still not on a simmer.
Riley sighed; she knew this was going to happen. “Troy come on in, we were just about to have dinner, I’ll get you a plate.” She gave Sidney a glare that told him to bite his tongue.
“Yeah, I’ll help you with that, Rye. Dad, go ahead and make yourself at home.”
Riley was aware of Sidney hot on her trail as she strolled into the kitchen. She could also sense the strong emotions that were practically rolling off of her fiancé. She knew it was wrong to just spring a visit from his father on him, but they wouldn’t get anything sorted out otherwise.
As soon as she stepped foot in the kitchen, she bit her lip. Riley also made sure to keep her back to Sidney as long as she possibly could. She had to give up when he cornered her between the fridge and counter.
“When were you going to tell me?”
She was silent.
“Riley,” he said in a firm voice. “When were you going to tell me that my father was coming over? I thought we agreed to cut the crap and stop the secrets?”
“We did,” she said quietly.
“Really? Then did I just find out that you’ve been speaking with my father now? When he showed up at our front door?”
He was angry, she could see that. “Look, he showed up to my office today and—let me finish,” she said as he was about to interrupt, “—he wanted to talk and make up so we had lunch and I invited him to come here. Then when I got back to my office I caught your voicemail and tried to call you back, but I didn’t get an answer.”
“Are you blaming this one me?” He looked annoyed, and quickly brushed his hand through his dark, curly hair.
“No,” she said, “not at all, Sid. Your father came here to clear the air, and I don’t want to go any farther if we’re not all on fair ground. We all screwed up so now we all have to fix it.”
He looked at her with those dark eyes full of emotion, and sighed. “Alright,” he said. “But if he says anything rude or offensive, he’s out.”
“You know,” Riley said as she pulled a plate out of the cupboard, “he’s actually a really nice man once you get past his protective wall. Which I don’t think I have yet…”
“Rye, I know how he is, I’ve lived my whole life with him. Normally, I could get past his protective side because I could see where he was coming from. But not this time,” he told her. “I won’t tolerate his snide comments and casual insults towards the woman who I love. I won’t tolerate that from anyone, Riley, because you don’t deserve that.”
She smiled and touched his cheek gently with her hand, “That’s really sweet.”
They made their way back into the dining area where Troy was seated. The conversation started off friendly, with all three of them catching up. Troy was letting both Riley and Sidney know the Trina and Taylor were doing well back in Nova Scotia. Sidney filled Troy in on how hockey had been, and how close the Penguins were to top spot in the east.
The conversation started to get into the deeper topics once dinner was finished. Riley had quickly placed all the dishes in the kitchen sink while Sidney led his father over to the couch in the living room. When Riley came back, she sat next to Sidney; he put his arm around her shoulders.
“Now that you’re both here, I suppose it’s time to clear things up,” Troy said from the chair. “I owe both of you an apology for both my actions and my words.”
Riley felt Sidney tense up, but she nodded politely at her soon-to-be father-in-law. “Words hurt more than any action ever could. But I accept your apology and I’m willing to start over.”
“Why did you say it, Dad?”
Troy looked first at his son and then his eyes traveled towards Riley. “At the time, what I thought was completely wrong.”
“What did you think?” Riley asked.
“Riley, I thought that you were only with Sid because of his money. I had noticed that since you had been in a relationship with him, your position in your career had skyrocketed. I thought that you were going to use him for fame and money.” Troy glanced quickly at his son who had somehow pulled Riley closer to him. “But what I didn’t know was that what I thought was completely wrong. I did a little research on you, Riley. I was surprised to find out that you weren’t with Sidney for money, because you already came from it.”
Sidney, having heard this for the first time, turned to Riley. “What’s he talking about, Rye?”
Her heart started to pound. “Ah…” Her ears rang as Sidney stared daggers at her. “I’m not wealthy, but my family is.”
“What do you mean?”
“My dad is a very powerful man in a very well-known company; his salary is a high number. My mom used to be a lawyer but quit her job after the twins were born. Both of them got paid well. It’s really not important though.”
“All the years I’ve known you, I never knew that you were rich,” Sidney said, his father nodding in agreement.
“Because I’m not; it’s not my money.”
Just then Sidney’s cell phone rang, he pulled it out of his pocket, looked at the number and sighed as he got up to answer it. This gave Riley and Troy time to talk.
“Is everything cool between us now, no more secrets?” Riley said, brushing her hand through her hair—the only sign of annoyance she had shown during the entire time Troy had been there.
“Yes,” he answered. “I just wanted to clear the air, to get everything out.” He sipped his drink then said, “How come you never told us about your family? You really only talk about your brother Ben, your parents don’t come up often.”
“Ben and I are close, we always have been. There’s an age gap between the twins and I and we were never really close when we were younger. My mom is so into herself that I’ve learned to keep distance between us and when she’s here, I usually tune her out. And my dad and I are close; we talk through email a lot. But with them in Rimouski and me here in Pittsburgh, it’s hard to see everyone often. Besides,” she said with a smile, “it’s my life now and I’m living it the way I want to. And having Sid here is all the family I need here.”
Maybe it was the way she had said it or maybe it was just what she said that warmed Troy’s heart and showed him that Riley really did love Sidney for who he was, not what was he was. And that’s all he had come to Pittsburgh for.
Minutes later, Sidney had sauntered back into the living room area where his father and fiancée sat, talking casually. He noted on how Riley had moved closer to Troy and she sat with her hand on his knee, a gesture he knew that meant she was completely comfortable around him.
Troy looked up to see his son standing by the couch, watching. “It’s getting late and I’ve disrupted you two enough. I’d better get going,” he said as he stood.
Riley smiled, knowing exactly what he was doing. He was giving them time to themselves since it didn’t come often, not now with the Penguins being in the playoffs. “It was nice seeing you again, Troy. Feel free to stop by any time.”
As Troy left the apartment, Sidney wrapped his arm around his beautiful fiancée. “I was talking to my agent on the phone and we’re playing the LA in the next round, how do you feel about spending a few days in sunny California with me?”
She tilted her head up so her nose touched his chin and smiled. “Sounds great, I’ll just them know at the station when I’ll be off.” And, she thought, she’d make sure Vero came along. This way she could watch her fiancée play the game he loved and do some shopping for the dress she’d wear on the day they vowed to spend forever together.