Thursday, October 28, 2010

So so sorry

If you've read the update on either of my other two stories feel free to stop reading now, because this is going to say the same thing. Life has been hectic lately and I just haven't had time to sit down and write so that I can update my stories for all of you. I'm sorry, but hopefully things are calming down now. Of course, usually when I say that, things start right back up again. And no worries to anyone out there that is concerned. While Bryce is having a hard time remembering what she set out to do to Sidney right now, she's about to get a very rude reminder. It's only going to fan the flames and remind her why she's out for revenge in the first place. I hope you stick this wait out with me and see what happens!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chapter 10

Suddenly my life became hectic. As I drove over to Sidney’s I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d spent more than half an hour by myself. Harmony and I had been busy interviewing and arguing over contractors. Then we were tossing ideas around about how we wanted the restaurant to work. My mother was calling all of the time now “just to talk” even though I knew better. On top of that I was spending the rest of my time with Sidney helping him with his house.

The restaurant was right at the top of my stress list. I was feeling more and more lost by the day. I was also losing any faith I had that Harmony and I were going to be able to pull this off. I don’t know how I got talked into this and I wasn’t sure I was ready to be a failure at something so soon out of college. I really should have just looked for a normal job.

My mother was next on the list. Things always got worse at this time of year. It was two weeks before the day McKenzie had died. My aunt and uncle were a mess for the entire month of November which meant that they relied on my parents for everything. My dad was never very involved in anyone else’s lives, and he spent as much of this month away from home as possible because of my aunt and uncle. This put all the pressure on my mom to carry the family through it which meant she called me over every little thing.

It was even worse this year because mom didn’t want to call Kellen ever. She’d told me that she just didn’t want to disrupt his relationship with Raina. I should have lied to my mother and told her that I had a guy in my life just to see if that would make her leave me alone too, but I doubted it. All I knew was that I wanted someone, just one person to stop leaning on me this month so I could grieve McKenzie too.

I don’t know why I had added completely decorating every room in Sidney’s house to the list, but I had. Thankfully it was the least stressful thing I was dealing with at the moment. Despite spending every moment I could at his house painting and planning, it was the most fun part of my day, which was sad. Nothing about Sidney himself was stressful, but decorating his house while I was planning on crushing him just seemed so wrong.

I wanted nothing more than for this year to be over with. I hated November because of McKenzie. As soon as the date of her death passed I got smacked right in the face with the month of December and holidays. I might hate Christmas more than Thanksgiving, which was saying a lot about how much I hated it. Just another day I was forced to spend time with a family I didn’t understand and who didn’t understand me fresh off the grief of losing McKenzie.

I pulled into Sidney’s driveway and took a deep breath. I could feel it coming. I was going to crack soon and it wasn’t going to be pretty. I just hoped I could hold it in long enough to do it when I found time to myself, and I could just let go of everything. It was almost time for my yearly breakdown, only this time, there was so much more weight on my shoulders.

“I can drive,” Sidney called out, walking out of his house.

“Sounds good to me,” I accepted.

We’d finally finished painting Sidney’s house. We’d literally done every room, which had been no small task. He didn’t exactly live in a small house. If you asked me, it was too big for just him, but I guess he was planning on being there for a while and a family might be in his future. We were now moving on to the decorating part. I already had ideas of what I thought would be good for each room, but I had to see what Sid wanted.

“How is everything?” he asked, as he backed out of the driveway.

“Everything’s great,” I lied, forcing a smile onto my face. There was no reason to get into it right now. We conversed with our usual small talk on the trip until we reached the destination. First stop, furniture.

“Okay, Sid, I don’t want you to think about what would look good with color schemes or anything. Just point out things you like so I can get an idea of your style and we can work from there, okay?” I knew that he was stressed about this part, worried that he didn’t know what he was doing and I wanted to make it as easy as possible for him.

We walked around the store studying furniture, sitting on couches and chairs. He pointed out some of the stuff he liked best and I did what I could to find something as close to it as possible that would match the room it was meant for. I was grateful to see that Sidney’s taste in things was very similar to mine, which made life easy.

We made the rounds to a few different stores to compare and check out options. By the last store we were planning on hitting I was exhausted. I found an antique looking couch and collapsed on it. I was completely overdramatic about it, falling onto it like I was fainting. My legs remained hanging off of the side as I laid back, draping my arm over my forehead much like a distressed woman in an old movie would have done.

“You alright?” Sidney asked with a smile and a small laugh at my dramatics.

“I’m just so tired,” I told him. I didn’t have time to elaborate even if I’d wanted to. The sound of my phone ringing broke the conversation off.

“We have a problem,” Harmony told me. No, not what I needed right now.

“What problem?” I asked, sitting up.

“I think you should come to the restaurant,” was her reply.

“I’ll be right there.” I hung up and glanced up at Sidney. “There’s some sort of emergency. I have to go to the restaurant. Do you mind?”

“No, not at all. I’m actually curious to see what the place looks like,” he responed. I smiled and stood up, leading the way out of the store.

“Nothing like a restaurant,” I said with a laugh.

I fought traffic to get to the restaurant as fast as I could. If Harmony, the most care-free person I’d ever met, said there was a problem, there was definitely a problem. I found a place to park, and practically ran into the restaurant, Sidney on my heels. I found Harmony sitting on the floor looking over some papers. She looked up at Sidney in surprise when we walked in.

“Hey,” she greeted him, as she gave me a questioning look.

“We were looking at furniture,” I explained. She just nodded and gave me one of those ‘sure you were’ smiles of hers. “What’s the problem?”

“Okay, remember that contractor we both liked, but he was really expensive so we weren’t sure we wanted to go with him?” Harmony asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, he was just offered another job. Because we’d gone to him first he’s giving us first dibbs if we want him. He just wants to know by tomorrow.” I let out a sigh and sat down on the floor beside Harmony.

This was a huge decision to make, and we had less than 24 hours to do it in. As if I needed anything else on my plate right now. I sat quietly and thought about what we should do. Even though Harmony had said there was no budget, I think we both knew that we could only spend so much on renovations without being completely indebted to somebody.

“I’m just not sure I like how much he charges,” I told her after a while.

“I know, but he seems amazing. We have all these great references, we’ve talked to multiple people who have nothing but good things to say about him. He really seems like he’d do the best job. Is he worth the money?” I covered my face with my hands and groaned.

“If you think it’s what we should do, we’ll make it work,” I decided, knowing that a long, drawn out argument would ensue if I didn’t agree to hire him. Sometimes it sucked being the best friend of a hard-headed person.

“Okay, I’ll give him a call. I should go and get ready. Oliver’s taking me out tonight. Lock up behind you,” Harmony said as she stood up. Sidney and I said goodbye to her and I watched her walk out and down the street.

“Want the tour?” I asked Sidney. He nodded and I began to lead him around the place, showing him where we thought we wanted everything.

It felt like every step I took around the place increased my stress level exponentially. By the time I’d locked up one side and led Sidney to the space next door I knew I was headed for trouble. My breakdown was going to come much earlier than all the others. I just had to hold it together for a little longer, had to keep it in until I’d dropped Sidney off.

Then he had to go and ask if I wanted to have dinner with him since we were already out. I don’t know what about that question did it, but I couldn’t hold it in anymore. Standing right in the middle of the future restaurant I broke down and began to cry. At first tears just slid slowly and quietly from my eyes, but once they started I couldn’t stop them. Soon I was a blubbering idiot.

“Bryce, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” Sidney asked as I melted down to the floor and covered my face with my hands.

“No. No, I’m not okay,” I told him. I felt his arm slide around my shoulders as he got down onto the floor next to me.

“What’s going on?”

“I can’t do this. It’s too much. There’s just too much. I don’t know what I’m doing. We don’t know what we’re doing. How are we supposed to be successful if we don’t have a clue? And why does my mom have to be the way she is and why can’t my dad just fucking be there for anyone? Why does Kellen get to have a pass because he has a girlfriend? How come this all has to happen before the holidays and why are there so many awful people in this world?” I wailed, knowing even as I said it that I wasn’t making any sense.

“It’ll be okay. Bryce, I promise, it’s going to be okay,” Sidney said, pulling me into him. I let him wrap his arms around me and hold me while I cried. Only Harmony had ever done that for me before, and it was nice to be held.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” I apologized when I finally composed myself enough to pull away.

I looked up at Sidney embarrassed for breaking down the way I just had in front of him. He looked right back at me and into my eyes. He gave me a small smile. Then he lifted his hands and placed his thumbs on my cheeks, just below my eyes. He slowly used them to wipe the tears and mascara off of my face, and I could feel myself forgetting why I wanted to hurt him.

“Whatever’s going on, whatever has you so upset, will pass. It might get worse before it gets better, but it will get better eventually. If there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s that things will always get better over time. I’m here to talk, if you ever need me. Please know that.”

Just those words almost had me in tears again. It was the first time they’d ever been spoken to me. I nodded and managed to choke out a thank you. Sidney offered to drive me home and I took him up on it. I walked into a dark condo and let the tears come back. I went straight to bed and pulled the blankets up around me. I finally had my alone time.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chapter 9

Sidney sat down in his living room and flipped on the TV. He idly changed the channels without paying a whole lot of attention to what was on. This living by yourself in your own house thing wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Sure, it was nice to have your own place, but sometimes it was downright boring, like right now. He hadn’t had anything to do after practice today and now he was just sitting here with nothing to do.

He couldn’t help himself, he was someone that needed to have things to do. He enjoyed down time as much as the next guy, but he was so used to being busy that if he had nothing scheduled it drove him crazy. It was days like this that he’d liked living at the Lemieux house. Someone had always been home whether it was Mario, Nathalie, or one of the kids. He always had someone to talk to and spend time with.

He debated calling up one of the guys to see what they were doing, but decided against it. Instead he glanced around the living room and looked at the plain white and blank walls. Maybe he should start figuring out how to decorate his house. He stared hard at the wall in front of him and tried to picture what would be on it, but was drawing a blank. He knew next to nothing about decorating and didn’t know where to start.

Maybe he should just hire somebody to do it for them. That way he didn’t have to do anything himself. He could just tell them to avoid using certain colors and let them do their thing. Even if he wasn’t thrilled with the outcome, any decoration would be better than the blank house he was living in now. Suddenly the sound of his phone’s ring tone pulled him out of his thoughts. He smiled when he saw it was Bryce.

She’d been a very pleasant surprise. He hadn’t expected to randomly run into anyone from home, let alone Bryce, here in Pittsburgh. He also hadn’t expected Bryce to be the girl he was getting to know and was enjoying spending some of his time with. She just wasn’t what he’d always thought she was all through school.

His change in opinion had as much to do with how she looked now as it did with her personality. Outwardly she was a completely different person than he’d known. Inwardly she was a different person than he’d have suspected. Bryce had been the typical loner math geek. He’d never really thought much about her at all. Now he thought about her a fair amount.

It turns out that Bryce actually had a personality. She was witty, sarcastically funny, not afraid to voice her opinion, and mysterious. He couldn’t help but marvel at how outgoing she was now. Even so he could tell that she was holding something back, hence the mysterious. There was more to Bryce Sirota than met the eye, and the more time he spent with her, the more he wanted to find out what that was.

“I had a disaster of epic proportions with a container of oats. Don’t ask me how it happened, but I destroyed the container and had to find something to do with the oats so I made an enormous amount of oatmeal raisin cookies. Please tell me you’ll take some so I don’t put on 100 pounds from eating them all myself,” she gushed out when he answered.

“How many did you make?” he asked after he finished laughing at her.

“Uh, I stopped counting at 5 dozen,” she replied. He nearly choked.

“You just made more than 5 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies?” She laughed at his question.

“I told you I needed help!” she exclaimed.

“Okay, I have an idea. I’ll take all of them if you come over and help me figure out what to do with my house,” he bargained.

“Deal!” she agreed. He rattled off his address and she told him she’d be over soon.

Bryce showed up at his door 45 minutes later in a pair of jeans and a black sweater, carrying multiple containers in her arms. He laughed when he saw the amount as he took them out of her hands and led her back to his kitchen so he could put them down. She blew her bangs off of her forehead as she collapsed down onto a stool at the breakfast bar.

“Thank you so much!” He opened one of the containers and took out a cookie, taking a bite.

“No, thank you,” he returned when he tasted the oaty goodness of these amazing cookies. She laughed in response.

“What the hell are you going to do with all of these cookies anyway?” she wanted to know.

“The guys will eat them,” he assured her as he popped another cookie into his mouth.

“Oh, right. I forget about the stomach capacity of hockey players,” she cracked. He grinned over at her.

“Well, if you’re going to help me with the house, I should probably give you the tour.” Bryce agreed and got up from her seat on the stool.

He led her through the house showing her each room and she took time in each one to really look them over. He wasn’t sure exactly how much Bryce knew about interior design, but he was hoping that at the very least she could give him a starting point. They ended the tour back down in the living room where Bryce sat down on the floor instead of on the couch.

“Okay, the first thing we need to do is figure out paint. Everything else depends on the color scheme of the room. What’s your favorite color?” He sat down on the floor next to her and turned his gaze to the wall she was looking at.

“Green.” She nodded and kept her eyes trained on the wall as she fell silent.

She then began asking him about what he wanted out of each room. Did he want to entertain in them, who would be in them, what they would be used for, and so on. He hadn’t realized so much went into paint color. He answered each question as Bryce wrote down his responses in a small notebook she’d pulled out of her purse.

“Are you up for shopping for paint?” she asked when her questions ceased.

“Right now?” he returned. She shrugged.

“Do you have something to do?”


“Then yes, right now.” She stood up and he followed suit.

He offered to drive and they got into his car and headed to a paint store. They walked inside and Bryce headed straight for a wall covered in paint chip samples. She immediately began pulling strips out and looking them over. He watched as she surveyed each one, keeping some in her hands and putting others back. She seemed satisfied after a while and waved him over, spreading the strips out on the counter.

“Okay, I grabbed a bunch of different types of green. It’s up to you which color you like best,” she told him. He didn’t know how he could ever make a decision with the options in front of him. It was just too much.

However he went through and immediately pulled out the shades of green he didn’t like. Then he had to get Bryce’s help. Eventually they settled on a light sage and then they got to work picking out accenting colors. Then they had to move on to other colors for the other rooms. It took a while but eventually they knew what they needed and he put the order in.

Since it was going to take a while for all the paint to be ready they went out for some coffee and hung out. Once they figured they’d killed enough time they headed back to the paint store to pick up their cans of paint. Bryce grabbed the rest of the things they’d need while he carried cans out to his car. Once he’d paid they headed back to his house.

“Thanks for doing this with me. I wouldn’t have even known where to start,” he said to her.

“That’s what friends are for, right?”

I spread the drop cloth out over the entirety of the room while Sidney pushed the little bit of furniture he owned out of there. Once done with that we got to work taping. This part by far was my least favorite part of painting. Even so, I couldn’t handle anything less than perfection, and I knew I didn’t have the sturdiest hand.

“How do you know all this?” Sidney asked me after I finished showing him how to use the roller and make sure he didn’t use too much paint.

“I’m pretty sure my mom painted the entire house a different color about every other year,” I told him. He laughed and shook his head.

“I’ve just started doing this and I’m annoyed. How could anyone want to do it that often?” I let out an incredulous laugh.

“No one said my mother was sane.” He laughed at that, probably figuring I was being sarcastic. Unfortunately I wasn’t.

We talked while we painted, mostly about his hockey career and my college days leading into opening the restaurant. I felt like we were both dancing around saying anything too personal about ourselves, like neither of us really wanted to talk about it. We took a break after finishing the room, which also happened to be the biggest wall, and ordered some dinner.

“Do you still keep in touch with anyone from home?” Sidney asked just as I popped a piece of a spicy scallop roll in my mouth.

“Uh, no, not really. Just my family,” I replied shifting uncomfortably in my seat. I wasn’t liking where this conversation was heading.

“Really? No one from school?” he pushed. I did my best not to glare at him and tell him that he’d destroyed any chance of that.

“Really, no one. I didn’t have many friends. I kind of kept to myself.” Even though I knew that he was aware of that fact, I could hear my voice quieting as I said it, like I was embarrassed. I kind of was. “How about you?”

“The same group I always spent time with. They haven’t changed or treated me any differently since I went pro. Other than that, not really.”

We finished the sushi and headed back out to continue painting. We’d moved on to the next room at this point and the smell of paint was beginning to permeate the entire house. We were quiet for a little while until Sidney started sneezing. It got us laughing and talking again, keeping the mood light.

We’d started on opposite sides of the room and worked towards each other. I had my back to him and didn’t see that he’d moved really close, and brought his paint tray with him. I took a step backwards and felt the cold liquid ooze between my toes just in time to feel myself slip backwards and land with a hard thump on my back, paint splattering all over.

“Jesus, Bryce, are you okay?” Sidney asked, squatting down next to me, a look of concern on his face.

I simply looked up at him from my position and then began to laugh. He made a face that told me he was trying not to laugh, but eventually he burst into laughter as well. When I’d finally managed to stop, I sat up and glanced around me. My foot and the bottom of my jeans was covered in light sage. Then I felt paint dripping down my back. That’s when I realized that I had paint all over me.

“And that is why we needed a drop cloth,” I told him with a laugh as he helped me up off the floor.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t laugh,” he said between giggles as I felt paint start to roll down my forehead from my hair.

“It’s okay, it really is funny,” I assured him with a laugh of my own. “I don’t suppose you could let me shower.”

“Yeah, sure.” Before I had a chance to respond I was suddenly in his arms and he was moving towards the stairs. Being lifted into his arms was unexpected and threw me off for a moment. Feeling his arms wrapped around me, my face so close to his was causing my heart to begin to race.

“What are you doing?” I asked, in a little bit of a panic.

“I wasn’t about to let you walk through my house leaving green footprints everywhere,” he explained. The explanation calmed me when I realized that there was a completely logical explanation to being in his arms.

He put me down in his shower and brought in a pair of his sweatpants and a t-shirt for me to put on when I got out. After handing me a towel, Sidney walked out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him. I stripped off my clothes and did my best to rinse all the paint off my body and from my hair. I dried off, threw my wet hair up in a messy bun, and put on his clothes.

The smell of him hit me as I slid the t-shirt over my head. I hadn’t really been close enough to really smell him before, but now I could, and it smelled incredible. It was then that I realized that this had been my ultimate fantasy at one time in my life. I was standing in Sidney Crosby’s house, wearing his clothes. The 14 year old version of me would be so jealous.

The 22 year old version of me wanted to get home and get out of his clothes so the 14 year old me would stop confusing my brain. I didn’t like having those old emotions stirred up inside me when I was on a mission to hurt the same guy I used to be in love with. I pulled the drawstring tight to keep the pants from falling off of me and made my way out of the bathroom.

“I think I’ve had enough painting for now,” I stated as I stepped into the kitchen where Sidney was putting away dishes. He turned to me and laughed.

“That’s understandable.”

“I think I’m just going to head home and get these clothes washed. Maybe I can salvage something. I’ll bring your clothes back tomorrow.” Sidney and I had already made plans for me to come back tomorrow and continue the painting process.

“Don’t worry about rushing it. You can give them back whenever. Let me give you a sweatshirt to wear home. It’s cold out there.”

I took the sweatshirt he offered me and said goodbye. I stepped out of my car and headed into my building amidst strange stares at my oversized Pittsburgh Penguins ensemble. I averted my eyes from all of theirs, put my head down, and kept it down until I walked into the condo. Immediately I heard laughter coming from Harmony.

“That was fast,” she commented, eyeing my clothes with her eyebrows raised. I tossed the bag that held my paint stained clothes.

“I didn’t sleep with him. I fell into paint.” She opened the bag and looked inside before laughing again. I rolled my eyes and shut myself up in my room. I moved to take Sidney’s clothes off, but hesitated. One night in them couldn’t hurt.