“Welcome home!” Sidney exclaimed, opening the door of Mario’s mansion and leading Ashlen inside.
“Oh, wow! This is incredible! You live here?!” Ashlen was shocked with how big and amazingly nice the house was. Sidney chuckled at her enthusiastic reaction and wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Yepp, and now you do too.” He smiled at her and she laughed out of pure bliss.
“This is amazing. You’re amazing. Everything is amazing!” She said and kissed him on the lips.
“That was pretty amazing, too.” Sid grinned as they separated.
“Yes, yes it was.” Ashlen smiled back at him.
“So, you ready to meet muh frans?” Sidney asked in a ridiculous girly voice that made Ashlen crack up.
“I fershurr am!” She replied, attempting to mimic his voice but couldn’t help laughing.
Sidney laughed and picked her up, carrying her like a groom would carry his new bride, and walked towards the room where his friends were said to be waiting according to a few text messages.
When the couple entered the living room, Emily was sitting on one couch with Geno next to Kris and Ashley and Jordan. Lauren was with Tyler on the other couch with Leah and Max, who were finally starting to talk a little more thanks to Emily. And Marc-Andre and Eric were each seated in recliners.
“Sid-naaay! It’s about time, brothaaa!” Jordan exclaimed with a smile. Ashlen looked at Sidney, who was still holding her, with a amused grin.
“That’s Jordy.” Sid told her with a laugh. He set her down and began the introductions. “Ashlen, this is Kris, Emily, Geno, Ashley, Jordan,” He said pointing them out as he said their names, “Eric, Marc-Andre, Tyler, Lauren, Leah, and Max, who you’ve already met.”
Ashlen smiled at them all, “Hi, I’m Ashlen.” She said, introducing herself. Everyone smiled and either said hi or some other form of a greeting. Emily and Ashley got up out of their seats, to their boyfriends displeasure, and went up to greet Ashlen personally. Sidney left the three of them alone while they talked.
“Hi, it’s really nice to finally meet you! Sid talks about you non-stop.” Emily said with a friendly smile.
“Nice to meet you too! And good things, I hope?” Ashlen replied, looking over at Sidney with a raised eyebrow as she said the last part.
“Only the best.” Ashley assured her with a laugh. “He totally loves you.”
“That’s what he says.” Ashlen said with an blissful smile on her face. Emily and Ashley looked at each other with slightly shocked expressions.
“He told you he loves you?” Emily asked, happy for them if it was true.
“Yeah, it was the sweetest thing ever!” Ashlen gushed and told them exactly what happened.
“Oh my gosh, that is the sweetest thing ever!” Ashley agreed after she heard the story.
“I know, he’s amazing.” Ashlen smiled, staring at him as she said it, “What about you guys? You’re dating Jordan, right?” She asked, referring to Ashley.
“Yeah,” She nodded with a smile of her own, “He’s amazing too, in his own slightly weird way.” She added with a laugh.
Ashlen then turned to Emily, “And let me guess, you’re with Kris?”
“Oh, no. No I’m actually dating Geno. Kris is like, my best friend though.” Emily corrected her.
“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s just, you two look like you’d be a super good couple. I don’t know why I thought that.” Ashlen apologized.
“Don’t worry about it.” Em reassured her that it wasn’t a big deal. She actually liked that she thought her and Kris looked like a good couple.
“Yeah, everyone thinks they’d make a good couple actually. Except Geno, but ya know.” Ashley added with a laugh.
Emily looked at Ashley, confused. “Everyone thinks we’d be a good couple? Since when?”
“Since forever and a day.” Ashley shrugged like it was no big deal, “But you and Geno are super cute too, don’t worry.”
“Oh. Okay.” Emily said, not sure of what else to say.
“Anyways,” Ashley wanted to change the subject. She didn’t want Ashlen to get some weird impression of them by starting some conversation about Kris and Geno and blahhh. She put on a smile and turned to her new friend, “Welcome to the Burgh!”
“So you gonna watch me play tonight?” Max asked Leah, not sure what else to say.
Leah giggled, “Of course I am. I watch all of your games.”
Max smiled at her answer, “Well be prepared for this one. You’re in for something special.”
“Oh, am I?” Leah asked with a smile. She was so happy to be talking to him.
“Yes you are.” Max nodded, looking in her eyes, “I plan on putting on quite a show, for someone very special. So keep an eye out for me.”
“Will do.” Leah smiled, wishing she was brave enough to kiss him. Max smiled back and the two were silent, not knowing what else to say as they looked at each other for a while.
“I like your eyes.” Leah said, breaking the silence but feeling embarrassed as soon as she said it. Max just smiled a little bigger.
“Thank you.” He said, “I like yours too.”
“Thanks.” Leah could feel herself blushing.
Just then, Mario Lemieux, himself, walked into the room. He went mostly unnoticed until he spoke up.
“Boys, we need to get going.” He announced to them all. The guys had to get to leave for New York soon and they didn’t have time to just sit around and hang out.
“Mario,” Sidney interjected leading Ashlen over to him. “I want you to meet Ashlen.”
“Hi,” She said nervously as she shook his hand, “It’s so nice to meet you.”
“You too.” Mario replied with a friendly smile, “Sidney has told me a lot about you. I’m glad he’s finally found himself a great girl, such as yourself.”
“Wow, thank you. And thank you for letting me stay here. I really appreciate it.” Ashlen said with a smile at his complement.
“No problem at all. You can just think of this as home.” Mario told her, making her feel, as he said, at home. He then turned to look at each of the guys. “Seriously boys, we need to go.” He said and tapped his finger on his wristwatch.
“We’re coming, we’re coming.” Sidney insisted with a smirk. Mario smirked back at him with a chuckle.
“It was nice meeting you, Ashlen.” He said with a smile and continued, “And ladies, feel free to enjoy the place while we’re gone. Nathalie’s around here somewhere if you need anything.”
“Got it. Thanks Mario.” Emily told him and the rest of the girls thanked him for his hospitality as well.
“You’re very welcome. See you when we get back.” Mario replied, “I’ll give you boys two minutes to say goodbye. Two minutes.” He said and walked out of the room.
Everyone got back to their own little conversations so the guys could tell their girlfriends goodbye, and the girls could wish their boyfriends good luck.
“Sucks I have to leave when you just got here.” Sidney said to Ashlen, holding her hands in his.
“I know, but I’ll be right here waiting for you when you get back.” She replied, looking up into his eyes.
“Promise?” Sid asked with a smile.
“Of course! I’m not going anywhere, babe.” Ashlen said, also grinning.
“Good.” He said and kissed her on the lips. “And I meant what I said earlier, about being in love with you and all.”
Ashlen smiled and hugged him tight, “I know. And I’m in love with you, too.”
“So when am I gonna find out what the surprise is?” Emily asked Geno. She was sitting on his lap on the couch.
“Once we get back. And when the guys are ready to tell I guess.” He told her with a smile.
“Should I be nervous?” Emily asked. She had no idea what to expect from them.
“Ha, no. It’ll be fun. Don’t worry.” Geno assured her. He kissed her lips and she smiled.
“Okay. I won’t.”
“Seriously,” Lauren looked her boyfriend in the eyes, “What are you so excited about?”
“It’s nothing. I’m just in a good mood. It’s a nice day out.” Tyler shrugged, but Lauren wasn’t buying it.
“Teek, it’s like 12 degrees outside.” She said, arguing against his excuse of it being a nice day.
“I like the cold.” He smiled. Lauren rolled her blue eyes.
“It’s been like that for weeks and you weren’t ever this happy.” She said. She really wanted to know what was up with him, but he wouldn’t give in. He was being stubborn. “Just tell me what’s up.”
“It’s nothing.” Tyler tried to get her to quit, but she was persistent.
“It has to be something. Are you excited to be away from me? Is that it?” She was becoming aggravated with his secret.
“No, no, no! Laur, babe, I love you. So, so, so, so much! Believe me, trust me. Let’s just say there’s gonna be a surprise. Please don’t be mad at me for trying to make you happy.” Tyler said with his hand on her cheek. She looked up at him and a smile sprouted on her face.
“Okay, I’m not mad at you. And I love you too. I just worry when you start acting weird cause I don’t know what you’re thinking.” Lauren said.
“But if you knew what I was thinking, then the surprise would be ruined.” TK replied with a grin.
“Oh jeez. What kind of surprise is it?” She asked, not too fond of the idea of a surprise at all.
“One that you’ll like a whole freaking lot.” Tyler chuckled, “Or at least you better or I’ll be a very, very depressed man.”
“Oh, well if that’s so then I promise I’ll love it.” Lauren told him and kissed him.
“I hope so.”
“Bitch, I’m gonna miss you.” Jordan said to Ashley. She smiled.
“I’m gonna miss you too, Asshole.” She replied, making him smile as well.
“I love you, Ash.” Jordan told her. His arms were wrapped around her, holding her close to him.
“I love you too, Jordy.” She replied and kissed him. “Play like a champion tonight. Kay?”
“Um, last time I checked I was a champion. So playing like one is, like, a given. It happens naturally.” Jordan said jokingly confident in himself.
“Alright then, go out there and play naturally. Score some goals for me.” Ash smiled up at him.
“I’ll put that on my to-do list.” He winked and smiled back.
“You best put it at the top of that list.” Ashley warned him.
“The very top is where it shall be.”
“So,” Leah started, looking at Max with a small smile on her face, “Good luck tonight. I’ll be keeping an eye out for you.”
“Thanks,” He replied, “You’re in for a show.”
“Can’t wait.” Leah said. The two of them were silent for a moment.
“So did anyone tell you about the surprise the guys were planning?” Max finally asked her. She shook her head no.
“Not that I can remember.” She said. “What is it?”
“Well, I can’t really say. But are you going to be free the rest of the week?” Max asked, trying not to give anything away.
“Yeah I should be.” Leah told him. He smiled at her answer.
“Okay, good.” He said. “It’s gonna be fun.”
Kris looked around the room at his friends and teammates. It made him sick watching the couples hug and kiss and act all flirty with each other. Particularly Emily and Geno. He was trying to be patient and wait for her to dump his ass, but it was hard and he didn’t know how long it would actually take. The fact that Kris would wait forever to be with her, didn’t mean he actually wanted to wait that long.
“What’s wrong, Tanger?” Eric asked him with a smirk, noticing his gloomy expression. “Don’t got anyone to kiss goodbye?”
“If I’m not mistaken, you don’t have anyone either.” Kris replied, trying to sound a little more lighthearted than he was feeling.
“And I’m okay with that.” Godard chuckled, sounding blissful.
“What’s gotten into you?” Kris asked.
“Life, man. You should try it.” He replied with a smile.
“Are you high or something?” Kris wasn’t sure what was up with him, but it was different than how he usually acted.
“Ha, no! I’m just living my life without worries. No sulking around about useless shit. Just enjoying every breath I take and making the most of every second. You only got one life. Might as well live it up.”
“Easy for you to say.” Kris sighed, taking a glance over in Emily’s direction.
“Yeah it is easy for me to say. Wanna know why?” Eric asked him with a look on his face that said he wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
“Sure.” Kris didn’t fight it.
“Cause someone very close to me told me something that changed my life. And now I’m gonna tell it to you, and I’m gonna change your life.” Eric said, looking Kris in the eyes.
“Okay, I doubt that but go ahead anyway.” He told him, feeling kind of awkward.
“Everyone wants to be happy, right? Right. But everyone tries too hard to be happy. I’m here to tell you that it’s not worth the trouble. Skip the drama of chasing that great girl you just can’t have, or the hassle of finding the perfect house to live in. Man, happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it eludes you. But if you just focus on other stuff it will eventually come right up and land on your shoulder.” Eric placed his hand on Kris’s shoulder as he spoke, “Look at me, man. I’m not stressing about nothing. I’m just enjoying my life the way it is, and that beautiful butterfly I like to call happiness is perched upon my shoulder. Right now. It’s there and it’s not going anywhere. I’m happy, man. You need to take my advice.”
Kris was quiet for a moment, Eric figured because he was taking in his little speech.
“Seriously, you sound like a stoner right now. Are you sure you’re not high?” Kris asked, a little disturbed by Godard’s weird behavior.
“Man, if I’m high, then it’s on life.” Eric said with a smile, “But seriously, Tanger. Just think about what I said.”
“Okay, sure. I won’t forget it.” Kris said, trying to get him to lay off. Hearing about how happy Eric was wasn’t making him feel any happier himself.
“Good. Now we better get outta here before Mario starts the jet up without us.” Eric told him and then spoke up for everyone in the room to hear. “Let’s go guys! Two minutes is most likely up. Kisses to the misses, see yinz when we get back!” And with that being said, Eric walked out of the room and to where Mario was waiting outside.
“What’s he on?” Jordan asked with a laugh.
“I don’t know. He was talking about some butterfly happiness shit.” Kris said rolling his eyes.
“So our tough guy's a pansy now? That’s just great, considering how well the rest of us are at hockey fights.” Sidney said, looking directly at Jordan during the last comment.
“Hey!” He protested.
“Whatever guys. He’s right that we have to leave so let’s go.” Marc-Andre said, laughing to himself at his teammates.
The girls said their final goodbyes to their boyfriends. Kris rolled his eyes again, not seeing why they were making such a big deal. They had away games they couldn’t come to all the time. Just cause Sid’s new girlfriend was here didn’t mean everyone needed to kiss any more than usual.
As dumb as Eric’s happiness speech had sounded, Kris decided to take his advice and not “chase” after Emily to say goodbye. He was walking towards the exit, following Fleury, when he heard his name being called.
“Kris, come here!” Emily called after him. Geno didn’t have the most pleased look on his face as he stood next to her, but he didn’t say anything to protest. Kris turned around and Emily ran up to him and gave him a hug. “Don’t even think about leaving without telling me goodbye!” She laughed, making Kris smile.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” He said. If happiness really was a butterfly, then Emily must be some kind of big beautiful flower that butterflies are attracted to because when Kris was with her, he couldn’t be any happier.