Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chapter 3

Sidney walked down the street next to Bryce in complete shock. The girl walking beside him was not the Bryce Sirota he remembered. He knew it had been years since he’d seen her last, but this was a transformation he’d never seen coming. Could people really change that much in six years? He didn't even know how he'd recognized her.

The Bryce he was used to seeing was uncoordinated, short, a little overweight, and wore ill-fitting glasses. Her hair had always been pulled back in a ponytail and she hardly, if ever, wore makeup. She’d been the meek girl in school, keeping to the background, practically invisible to everyone else. The only reason he even remembered she existed was because she grew up just a couple houses away from him.

The Bryce that was walking next to him seemed to be the exact opposite of that girl. She was wearing a long tight fitting shirt over black leggings with knee high boots that made her almost as tall as him. The outfit did everything to attract attention to her obviously in great shape body. She had her long dark brown hair down and flowing behind her in the breeze. Her makeup was done in such a way that her emerald green eyes were the first thing anyone could notice. How had he not ever realized she had green eyes like that before? He didn’t even want to get started on her pouty red lips.

The Bryce Sirota walking alongside him right now was a knockout. No straight guy in his right mind would be able to walk past her without taking a second, third, and probably fourth look at her. She finally stopped doing whatever she was doing on her iPhone and stopped in the sidewalk to put it in her purse. The brief pause gave him the opportunity to really look her over.

Jesus, if he didn’t stop checking her out, he was going to have a hard time explaining the growing bulge in his pants to her and everyone else walking around downtown Pittsburgh. When she was done she looked up and flashed a smile at him before catching up. He couldn’t help the image of those red lips doing something else that popped into his mind.

“How are your parents and Taylor?” she asked as they paused to wait for a light to change at an intersection.

“They’re good, thanks. How’s your family?” he returned. He saw a flash of something, pain maybe, run through her eyes before she responded. It was gone as quickly as it appeared however.

“Good. Mom and Dad are still back home working and Kellen is at McGill working towards his law degree,” she explained.

He remembered Bryce’s brother, Kellen. He’d been almost the exact opposite of Bryce. Kellen had been athletic and popular. People had always been shocked when they found out he was Bryce’s older brother. The only thing the two of them had in common was their intelligence. It didn’t surprise Sidney to learn he was in law school.

They arrived at the coffee shop and Sidney opened the door first, holding it open for Bryce. She smiled and thanked him before walking through the door. He couldn’t help it. He paused at the door and watched Bryce’s ass through the skin tight material as she walked inside. Fuck, he’d do some dirty shit to that ass if he could.

“So what made you move to Pittsburgh?” he asked her when they’d sat down at a table as far from the others as possible with their drinks.

“My friend Harmony,” she replied, like that explained anything. He waited for her to elaborate, but she took a sip of her skinny vanilla latte instead. He nearly groaned when he saw Bryce’s tongue slide out from between her red lips and lick them. Was she doing this on purpose?

“What for?” Bryce’s eyes connected with his and she smiled over at him. The smile just oozed sex. Who was this girl?

“Harmony decided she wanted to open a restaurant in her hometown. I got tagged as her business partner. Don’t ask me how that happened, because I’m still not sure myself.”

“What kind of restaurant?”

“I have no idea,” she told him with a laugh. “I’ll let you know when Harmony makes up her mind. So what’s been going on with you the last few years?” Was she serious with that question? How could she not know what had been going on with his life?

“Playing hockey…..” She cut him off before he got any further than that with a wave of her hand.

“Yeah, yeah. I know about the Cup and the gold medal. I meant with you. Hockey can’t be all there is,” she said. He was both surprised and thrilled at what she’d said. There was actually someone out there that cared about him as a person.

“To be honest, not a whole lot. Hockey really is my life. I can barely step foot outside without being approached by people so I tend to stay home when I don’t have an obligation,” he told her.

“You’ve done pretty well so far today,” she commented, a hint of a smile playing on her lips and he found himself smiling back at her without even meaning to.

“It’s a freak occurrence, trust me.” She giggled and took another sip of her latte.

“So no girlfriend, fiancĂ©e, wife, or social life at all then?” she questioned. He shook his head.

“I don’t have the time for one even if I wanted to,” he told her truthfully. She looked at him with an eyebrow raised in question.

“Interesting choice of words ‘if I wanted to.’ Why wouldn’t you want that?” He sighed and took a sip of his coffee.

“Because I can never tell what anyone’s intentions are. People pretend they don’t care about who I am, and I always find out later that they do. I hate having to try to guess. It’s stressful and not worth my time.” She nodded like she understood.

It was strange of him to confess all of this to anyone, but for some reason he felt comfortable with Bryce. He didn’t know if that came from the fact that they’d grown up in the same town, just houses away from each other. Maybe it was knowing who she was in high school that made him think she wasn’t as superficial as others. There was something though, that made him feel like she’d get it, get him.

“I guess the Notorious B.I.G. was right. Mo’ money mo’ problems,” Bryce cracked. He couldn’t help but grin over at her. “I am sorry though. It can’t be easy to live like you do.”

“It’s not,” he sighed. “Sneaking around hotels in visiting cities, not being able to go places and do what I want, needing to have handlers, having to be always politically correct. It fucking sucks.” He heard the bitterness in his own voice. He was taken by surprise then when he felt Bryce’s hand settle onto his and give it a squeeze.

“If it helps, you do an amazing job at playing the poster boy despite how difficult it must be. It has to take an incredibly strong person to be able to do that day in and day out,” she told him.

There was something there this time when he looked into her eyes that was more than just sex. Until now he’d been imagining Bryce in all sorts of different positions he could put her into. This time he felt something tug at him that made him want to know her. Really know her. He hadn’t realized he’d done it until he glanced back down at the table, but at some point he’d turned his hand over and interlocked his fingers with hers.

“Okay, enough about me. What have you been up to the last few years? Last I heard you were graduating from high school as the valedictorian,” he said, changing the subject and pulling his hand away. She took another sip of her latte as she shrugged.

“I went to Stanford University where I just graduated in June with degrees in both Math and Economics,” she explained.

“Wow. Isn’t Stanford a really good school?” he asked, completely impressed with what she’d just told him.

“Yeah, it is. Depending on where you look, it’s always ranked at least top 5 in the nation.”

“I’m not at all surprised. You were always so good at school.” He watched as her eyes narrowed at him after he said that. Had he struck a nerve? Why? A moment later the look was gone and she was smiling back at him again.

“Yeah, well, there wasn’t much else for me in Cole Harbour.”

It was a pointed comment and he understood it. They both knew she’d been an outcast in school. Her statement also made him feel a little guilty, like he’d just been reprimanded by his mother. It wasn’t like he’d made her the person she was in high school, but he suddenly felt like maybe he hadn’t helped either.

“Speaking of Cole Harbour, do you get back often?” he asked, changing the subject. He saw the same flash of whatever that emotion was in her eyes previously at the question and he felt like a complete asshole, even though he didn’t know why.

“Not really. I double majored so I was at school year round to keep myself on track to graduate in four years. Now I live here, at least for now. I only get back for holidays, and even then it’s usually just a week or so,” she told him. Something told him that there was more to her not going back than school, but he didn’t push.

They sat there talking until their drinks were gone. As they stood up to leave, Sidney decided that he didn’t want this to be the last time that he saw Bryce. When they got outside and began to walk back to their cars Sidney began to build up the confidence to ask for her number. He’d never been good at that sort of thing.

“It was really nice running into you today,” Bryce told him, turning her head to smile over at him. Sidney took his chance.

“We should do it again sometime. It’s nice to have a familiar face around,” he replied. Her smile grew and she nodded.

“What’s your number?” she asked, taking out her phone. He gave it to her and a moment later his phone vibrated, signaling he had a message. “Call me when you find some free time.”

With that, Bryce flashed one last sex-filled smile before turning and walking over to her car. Sidney watched her go, unable to keep his eyes off of her ass. When she got into the car he continued to walk to where his was parked. The whole trip to his new house he couldn’t keep her off his mind. It still baffled him that this was the same girl he’d grown up near, because this Bryce Sirota was drop dead sexy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chapter 2

“I told you that I’d send pictures of anything I saw,” I said to Harmony over the phone. She was on a weekend trip with a guy she’d met the month before and I was furniture shopping with her father’s credit card. I’d never understand rich people.

“I’m just making sure,” she replied.

“I’m there so I’ll call you later.”

I hung up the phone and walked into the store and began to make my way around. I blew off a salesperson, but was given a handful of cards I could place on anything I wanted. Each piece was unique and I knew they didn’t have mass stock in a back room. It didn’t take long to find a red couch that I knew Harmony would love that would also fit perfectly into our living room. I immediately put a card on it despite the fact that I didn’t have her approval.

I took a picture and continued on throughout the store. I took some more pictures of a few tables and chairs. I sent all the pictures to Harmony and waited for a reply from her to see what she thought. As I waited for her call I saw a few of the store employees pick up the red couch and start to carry it into the back.

“Hey, what are you doing?” I called to them.

“We just sold it,” one of the men said as they continued by me.

“What do you mean you sold it? Are there more in storage?” I asked.

“That’s not how we do things,” the other grumbled, obviously struggling with his end.

“Oh, I see. You just sell things out from under people who already had cards on them,” I spat at them angrily. They put the couch down and turned to look at me.

“Look, lady, it’s been bought. If you don’t like it, talk to the manager,” the first one growled at me. I glared right back at him.

“I suggest you go get that manager then,” I demanded.

“Is there a problem?” a third voice cut in.

I had my back to the person speaking, but I’d know that voice anywhere. My whole body froze in shock. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening. The shock turned into nervousness at seeing him again. The nervousness turned into fear. The fear turned into anger. Who the hell did he think he was? I spun around on him.

“Yeah, the problem is that you’re taking the couch I already claimed,” I told him angrily. His face showed no sign of recognition, no hint that maybe we knew each other. I should have known I’d never be someone that would stick in his memory.

“I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said calmly. I shot daggers at him with my eyes.

“Oh, I guess the fact that this was sitting on the couch mere minutes ago means nothing to you,” I yelled walking over to pick up the card that was now lying on the floor and waving it in his face.

“What’s that?” he asked, like he didn’t know. The fact that he had no idea who I was when I was all too aware of who he was angered me even more.

“You’re unbelievable! I guess just because you’re Sidney Crosby you think you can just come in and take whatever you want, everyone else be damned. It doesn’t matter that I was going to purchase that simply because it struck your fancy and you decided you had to have it. You’re one selfish asshole, aren’t you?”

I stormed past, throwing the card at him on my way by. I knew at least part of my anger came from high school, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to let him treat me like nothing again and get away with it. My heart was pounding as I reached the door.

“Bryce?” I heard him call from behind me. I froze once again. He remembered me? “Bryce Sirota?” I slowly turned back towards him. I was still angry, but also a little embarrassed. Yelling at him only seemed okay when I was some random stranger he’d forget about by tomorrow.

“Hi,” I said meekly. I suddenly felt myself transforming back into the girl from high school.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, making his way to the spot I was frozen to.

“I live here,” I managed to choke out, my voice sounding nothing like it usually did.

“Really? How long?” he asked. Had he forgotten that I’d yelled at him just seconds ago? Had he forgotten that we weren’t friends? Before I had a chance to answer, my phone rang. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw Harmony’s name pop up on the screen.

“I have to go,” I said lamely. I turned and walked outside the store and began down the sidewalk.

“That couch needs to come home with you,” Harmony said before I had a chance to say hello.

“He’s here,” I told her.

“Who’s there?” she asked. I didn’t respond. I couldn’t think of anything to say. “Shut up. Did he see you?” I was interrupted before I could tell her what happened.

“Bryce, hold on!” Sidney called over to me. I turned back to see him jogging out of the store and over to me.

“Is that him?!” Harmony shrieked through the receiver.

“I’m sorry, I have to take this call,” I said to Sidney.

“Bryce Jillian Sirota, you talk to him this minute!” Harmony demanded.

“Well, do you want to go grab some coffee or something after you hang up? Maybe we should talk,” Sidney suggested.

“Tell him yes, Bryce,” I heard Harmony say.

“I’m sorry, I don’t think so. I’m busy,” I said, turning him down.

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” Harmony yelled. Sidney looked at my phone and I realized he must have heard Harmony. I gave him a small smile and turned to walk away before this got any worse.

“I’m sorry about the couch! I didn’t know you wanted it!” Sidney called to my back. I felt my blood start to boil again. Was he really still sticking to that story?

“What couch?” Harmony questioned.

“Are you an idiot or do you just assume I am?” I shot at him as I spun back in his direction. He looked surprised at my outburst and it took him a moment to respond.

“I’m not sure what you’re implying,” he said.

“I’m implying that you knew someone else wanted that couch, but you decided you wanted it more. Because of who you are, you know that people in this city are going to bend over backwards for you so you just do what you want. You didn’t care that someone wanted that couch and now because you got called out, you’re trying one last lame attempt to try not to look like an asshole.”

“Oh, Bryce,” I heard Harmony moan.

“Okay, I get it,” Sidney said in defeat. I smiled in satisfaction at my victory. He turned and began to walk away. Then he paused and turned back. “I saw the couch the other day, but wanted to think about it before I bought it. When I walked in today I simply asked if they still had it available. They told me they’d pack it up immediately. I never walked over to it and I never saw that someone had a card on it, and I wasn’t told. If I had known, I never would have bought it. I’m sorry.” My smile faded as I watched him continue the walk back to the store and through the front door.

“Way to go,” Harmony commented. I suddenly felt like shit. I knew I needed to talk to Sidney and I knew I didn’t need an audience. I hung up the phone without a word and walked back in the door.

“I just don’t like having special treatment like that. Please cancel the transaction. She wanted the couch and had a claim on it. It’s not fair for you to sell it out from under her. What kind of business does that?” I heard Sidney saying angrily to one of the salespeople. Now I felt even worse. Apparently he wasn’t an asshole at all.

“You don’t have to do that. If you want it, take it,” I said. He turned and looked back at me in surprise.

“No, it’s not right. I’m really sorry that this happened,” Sidney said.

“I should really be the one apologizing. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions,” I apologized.

“Please, take the couch,” he pleaded. I shook my head.

“No, thanks. I don’t want to do business with a company that would treat customers the way I was treated,” I explained pointedly, shooting a glare to the very embarrassed salesperson.

“Neither do I,” Sidney agreed. He walked to the door and held it open for me. I smiled and walked through. “So, how about that coffee?” My smile grew and I nodded. Maybe it was time to let go of that anger after all.

Okay, I know that there will be mixed feelings over another Sidney Crosby story. Sorry to those it will disappoint, but there were 5 options to vote on, all with different leading men, and this was the one chosen. Please don't hate me.....I'm consider starting the one that came in second in the voting soon anyway, and that's definitely not Sidney. I just need to make sure I feel I have time to write 4 different stories at once. If I decide to do it, I'll let you know!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chapter 1

I sat in the booth of the coffee shop shaking my head at my best friend. Was she insane? You can’t just up and move to a new place and open a restaurant. There were so many reasons I was going to say no. You needed the money, investors, clientele, employees, and so much more. Not to mention neither of us had any experience with running anything, let alone a restaurant. Oh yeah, and there was that other reason I couldn’t go. He was there.

“Bryce? Earth to Bryce!” Harmony exclaimed to me, waving a hand in my face. I pushed her hand away as I shook the thoughts out of my head.

“Harm, it’ll never happen,” I told her. She got that look on her face. The half pout, half determined glare. It was only a matter of time until I gave in if I didn’t get out of here now.

“Why not?” she asked.

“I’m not American, for starters.” She rolled her eyes at me.

“My father will sponsor you, or whatever that term is.” She smiled at me like she’d just solved the crisis in the Gulf Coast.

“Where are we going to find the money?” I asked.

“You know my family’s loaded,” she said with a shrug.

“And how about the fact that we know nothing about running a restaurant?”

“That’s why we hire people that do.” I dropped my head down to the table with a clunk. “Look, you double majored in economics and math and I…..well, I’m not sure how my major in communication will help, short of talking. Anyway, we can do this.”

I picked my head back up and looked at her. She looked so calm like she knew exactly what she was doing. She’d just sprung this idea on me, but I knew Harmony better than that. She was never impulsive. She’d probably been thinking about it for a long time. She’d even probably talked to her family about it. Harmony was always full of crazy ideas, but for some reason every single one of them worked out for her. I felt myself giving in even as my brain screamed at me to tell her no.

“Why does it have to be there?” I asked, questioning her choice of location.

“Because it’s where I’m from. I know everything there is about the city. My family and their friends are there. We can’t fail there,” she responded. I felt my stomach churning. It did make complete sense. I just didn’t know if I could be in the same place as him.

“But, Harm, he’s there,” I whispered. She rolled her eyes and laughed, completely oblivious to the chaos going on inside my body.

“So what? It’s a big city. What are the odds you’re going to see him?” I wanted to believe her. I wanted Harmony to be right about me not ever seeing him.

“I don’t feel well,” I mumbled as I got up and tossed my almost full tea into the garbage. I needed to get outside and get some fresh air.

“I don’t get why he bothers you so much,” Harmony said as she followed me.

“He broke me, Harmony.” She sighed as I felt the pain came back.

“You’re being a bit dramatic, aren’t you? You two never dated. You hardly ever talked. How was he supposed to know you were in love with him? Plus, it was high school.” I spun around on her.

“He ruined my prom for me! It should have been the best night of my life and I never ended up going. Instead I sat at the side of the lake all night and cried.” She put an arm around me.

“I know, it sucks. He’s an asshole for doing what he did. It doesn’t mean you can’t come. You’re not the same person you were back then. Even if you do see him, he’s going to wonder what he was thinking and you can do to him what he did to you.”

I looked over at Harmony and smiled, feeling just a little bit better. She was right. I wasn’t the same person I was in high school. College had changed me and for the better. There was nothing for me to worry about.

“Fine,” I said giving in. She let out a squeal and hugged me.

“Let’s get packing. We should get to Pittsburgh as soon as we can.”

Later that night I lay in bed staring up at the ceiling. What the hell had I gotten myself into? Now that I didn’t have Harmony in my ear I was second guessing everything. It had been four years since that night in high school. I’d managed to keep it locked in the back of my mind during that time, but now I’d have reminders all over the place.

I’d been in love with him my whole life. I’d grown up down the street from him and saw him almost every day. I watched him hone his hockey skills in the street during the summers and then on the ice the rest of the year. Of course, it had been from a distance. I wasn’t athletically inclined so no one ever asked me to join after the age of 7.

He’d humored me for a while. After all, I was one of the neighborhood kids. As he got older he cut me out. I was just some chubby math geek with glasses. By the time we were in grade 6 we hadn’t talked in a year. I was the loser in love with the popular kid I never had a chance with. My heart ached when he left for juniors. We didn’t ever talk before, but now I didn’t get to see him anymore either.

“Bryce, are you awake?” Harmony called through the door. I shook him out of my thoughts and made my way out of bed.

A month later I looked out of the window of the plane as it descended to the Pittsburgh airport. Harmony and I picked up our bags at baggage claim and found the car that was waiting for us. When we pulled up to her parents’ house my jaw dropped. I’d known Harmony’s family was rich, but this was beyond my comprehension.

We entered the house and were immediately greeted by her parents. We were also greeted by a couple of housekeepers who immediately took our bags and carried them up the curving staircase. After being treated to a five course meal for dinner, Harmony’s father gave us a list of apartments that were available.

I realized the next day that they weren’t just apartments. As I stepped foot into the first 2000 sq ft apartment that I was in over my head. When I saw how much they cost, I nearly choked. Most were more than double the value of the house I’d grown up in. Basically I left the choice up to Harmony. A month later we were set to move in. There was no turning back anymore.