Sidney was concerned for Bryce. She’d had some sort of breakdown the other day and had gone off about things that just didn’t make any sense. At least not to him anyway. Ever since she’d helped him start putting together his house he’d had a feeling she had walls up. He didn’t know if they were just up for him, or for everyone. He just knew that for some reason he was starting to want to break them down.
Every time back home came up, she seemed to clam up either choosing to not respond to things or diverting the conversation entirely. He knew that she’d been kind of a loser, for lack of a better word, in school, but was it so bad that she couldn’t even talk about home? Maybe there was more going on that he didn’t know about. He wanted to find out.
“What’s up, Golden Boy?” his friend Zane asked when Sidney answered his ringing phone.
“Not much. Just getting rearranging some of the new furniture. You?”
“Starting to gear up for the visit next weekend!”
Zane and four of Sidney’s friends from home were all coming in next weekend for a long weekend. He always looked forward to their yearly visit. When he was with them he could really loosen up and be himself. There was nothing like friends he’d known his whole life to put life into perspective.
“Everyone’s still in, right?” he checked.
“Come on, like any of us would pull the chute?” Zane chastised. Sidney laughed along with him.
“How are things going with Whitney?” Sidney asked, referring to Zane’s on again, off again girlfriend, who was also coming down.
“Right now, things are good. We’ll see how long that lasts,” Zane responded with a laugh. “How about you? Any chicks we’re going to get to meet out there?”
Bryce immediately came to mind. It wasn’t like he and Bryce were dating. He was still trying to get to know her now as opposed to the girl he knew from school. He found that he was thinking about her more and more often though. Hell, what would his friends think when he told them he’d been spending the majority of his free time with her?
“Yeah, there is actually someone.” Sidney heard a clattering sound on the other end.
“Sorry, I dropped the phone from shock. Are you serious? There’s a girl?”
Sidney walked over to his computer and logged onto his email. He attached a picture of Bryce he’d taken while they were working on his house. She wasn’t trying to be anything in the picture, which is why he thought he loved it so much. She was putting in no effort, and she looked flawless. She’d also yelled at him when he’d snapped the photo, but he'd kept it anyway.
“Check your email,” Sidney told Zane. He purposely kept Bryce’s identity a secret so he could get Zane’s reaction.
“Jesus, Crosby, the girls a fucking smokeshow. How’d you land pussy like that?” Sidney cringed at his friend’s language. It wasn’t like he didn’t hear it on a daily basis, but for some reason, hearing Bryce described that way just didn’t seem right.
“Do you remember Bryce Sirota from school?” he asked.
“The chubby math geek? Yeah, so what? Don’t change the subject.” Sidney muffled his laugh.
“That’s Bryce in the picture,” Sidney told him. He could hear coughing coming through the phone.
“Okay, seriously. Who is the chick?” Sidney laughed, completely expecting this reaction from his friend.
“I’m not kidding. That’s Bryce Sirota. She moved to Pittsburgh with a friend after she graduated university. We ran into each other and have been hanging out ever since,” he explained.
“Okay, so somehow Bryce got hot, I’ll give her that. How can you even stand to spend time with her? Isn’t she like some weirdo genius or something?” For once, Sidney felt like maybe his friends needed to get out of Cole Harbour so they could grow up a little.
“Actually, she’s awesome. She’s been helping me put my house together so we’ve been spending a lot of time together. She’s nothing like you would have expected based on school.”
Sidney continued the conversation with Zane for a little longer about Bryce. Zane couldn’t seem to comprehend that Bryce was no longer the girl they used to know. The more he talked to Zane, the worse he felt about the years Bryce had to spend in high school with them. Sidney wasn’t naïve. He knew how his friends had been back then. Her life really must have sucked.
He hung up when another delivery of furniture showed up at his door. Despite the breakdown, Bryce had called him the next day and insisted they go out and look at more stuff. He’d ended up purchasing the majority of the furniture for his house. Throughout the entire trip she’d insisted that she was fine, but he had the same feeling he usually did around her. She was hiding something.
I checked out my reflection in the mirror, double checking my hair, makeup, and outfit choice. Harmony, Oliver, and I were headed over to Sidney’s house for a housewarming party. They’d had an afternoon game, so he’d planned it for after. I wasn’t sure what people usually wore to housewarming parties thrown by people like Sidney Crosby, but Harmony had insisted on heels, leggings, and a long and tight black shirt.
“Are you sure I look okay?” I asked Harmony for like the hundredth time. She stopped walking past the bathroom, gave me an annoyed look, and nodded.
“What the hell are you so worried about? I thought you were faking this whole relationship thing so you could crush him?”
“I am,” I replied. She rolled her eyes at me and continued on down the hall.
I followed her out and the three of us piled into Oliver’s car and headed over to Sid’s. I was a little anxious about everyone’s reaction to his place. I wasn’t exactly an interior design expert so I hoped that it was well received. I just didn’t want anyone laughing at Sidney’s place. Oliver pulled up to the house and had to park on the street. Obviously there were already people there.
I walked inside with Harmony and Oliver behind me. I immediately began to look for Sidney because I didn’t really know any of his teammates that well. I spotted him sitting on the couch in the living room talking with a group of the guys. I made my way over figuring he’d be able to introduce Harmony, Oliver, and I around to everyone.
“Hey, Bryce!” he greeted me with a smile when he saw me walk over. He said hi to Harmony and was then introduced to Oliver. He then did the courteous host thing and walked us through the house and introduced us to everyone.
It was easier to get along with and talk to his teammates and their significant others than I expected it to be. I guess when you’ve always been on the outside looking in, you put people up on such high pedestals. I just expected them all to be a little snobby and wary of outsiders. That wasn’t the case at all. The girls made sure to include Harmony and I in all their conversations and the guys recruited Oliver to game of Rock Band.
As the night wore on and I got a few drinks deep I began to think about McKenzie in a lull in the conversation. Fearing that I might have some sort of breakdown, even if it was minor, I chose to go outside onto the deck in rear of the house to get some fresh air. It was chilly, being mid-November, but I tolerated it to make sure that I could keep myself collected.
“What are you doing out here?” I heard Sidney ask. I turned to see him walking outside and shutting the door behind him, blanket in hand. I smiled at him and shrugged.
“Trying to keep my drink cold,” I joked, holding up the mostly full vodka soda. He laughed and motioned for me to sit down on the bench next to him. I did just that and he spread the blanket out over us.
“I hope no one did anything to upset you,” he started. I shook my head adamantly.
“Everyone has been great. I just wanted some fresh air. You don’t have to sit out here with me, you know.”
“I know, but what kind of host would I be if I let someone freeze outside on their own?” I laughed at him.
Just like all the other times before when we’d spent time just the two of us working on his house, we fell into easy conversation. He told me stories about his teammates and I was able to finally put faces to names of stories I’d heard from him previously. We had both reached the point where we were laughing so hard we were crying after a while.
“So Harmony seems really great,” Sidney mentioned when we’d finally calmed down. I should have taken it for the compliment that it was, but something in his comment stung me. Everyone always loved Harmony.
“Yeah, she’s never had a problem making friends,” I told him.
“Do I sense something in your tone?” he asked. I cursed myself for letting any bitterness I felt towards Harmony’s perfection that stemmed completely from my high school experiences and not at all from her get out into my tone at all.
“No, not at all. Harmony’s my best friend, and I love her. She’s just always had it all,” I said.
“What do you mean by that?” I turned towards him.
“I always say Harmony’s had things I’ve always wanted my whole life, the three P’s. She’s privileged, popular, and pretty.” The smile on Sidney’s face faded a little when I said that.
“Bryce, you’re just as pretty if not prettier than her.” His statement caught me by surprise. I don’t know how I’d expected him to respond, but it wasn’t like that.
“What?” Sidney laughed quietly, more in disbelief than in humor.
“You don’t realize how amazing you are, do you?”
I felt like my heart skipped when he said that. Suddenly my stomach was an eruption of butterflies, and I couldn’t think of anything to say in response. Instead I just sat there looking at him in shock. A slow smile spread across his lips and I realized that our faces were inching closer together. Dear God, this was really going to happen. After a lifetime spent wishing, I was finally going to know what it felt like to kiss Sidney Crosby. Our lips were mere centimeters apart and I closed my eyes in anticipation.
“Hey, Crosby, what the fuck are you doing?!” a loud accented voice called out as the door was ripped open. Sidney and I both jumped in response. “Oh, shit. My apologies.” Sidney and I watched as Maxime Talbot retreated back into the house. Even so, the moment was ruined.
“I think if I stay out here any longer, I’m going to get frostbite,” I said, trying to end the awkward silence that had taken us over.
“Inside it is,” Sidney replied. We both stood up and walked back inside, and I was left wondering if I was relieved or upset.