Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chapter Thirty Five;

By the time everyone arrived at the festival it was already dark out. Christmas lights and paper lanterns strung on the trees and above where people would be walking assisted the moon and stars overhead at providing lighting for the festivities. Booths and tents were set up down the long boardwalk, offering food and fun and other things for the Floridians to enjoy. At the end of the pier there were a few carnival type rides, including a Ferris wheel and a small rollercoaster. The festival extended down onto the beach, as well, where there was a big bonfire already started. There was something for everyone. Even Coach Bylsma and the rest of the coaching staff, who quickly went off to have some fun on their own.
“I bet they’re all gonna get hammered tonight.” Jordan laughed as he watched them scurry away.
All of the girls and their boyfriends plus Max and Fleury were standing in a group, surveying the area and figuring out where they each wanted to go.
“If they do, you ought to get on Dan’s case about it and fine him for breaking the rules.” Marc-Andre suggested with a laugh, “Reverse the roles. See how he likes it.”
Jordan smirked, “That idea’s not half bad.”
“Here’s an idea,” Lauren began, talking mainly to Tyler, “let’s go ride some of those rides!”
“Okay, I’m in.” TK smiled, grabbing her hand.
“I’ll come, too.” Leah added. She turned to face Lauren.
“Okay.” She said but used her eyes to point to Max, trying to get Leah to take the hint to ask him to come too. Leah nodded, understanding, and remembering that her and Ashlen advised her to spend time with him tonight.
“Um, Max,” She turned and called his name, her voice sounding shy.
Max raised his eyebrows signaling that he heard her, but she noticed his eyes were focused over on Emily and Geno who were standing relatively close to the group still, but sort of off on their own. Geno held her close to him as they talked. He looked happy but she seemed slightly uninterested.
“Huh?” Max finally asked, still barely paying attention to anything but Emily, which made Leah a bit jealous.
“Um, do you wanna come with me, Laur and TK to ride some stuff?” She asked him hopefully.
“Oh, uh, maybe in a little bit.” He told her, feeling bad that he declined but feeling like he needed to stay to watch out for Emily.
“Oh, okay. That’s fine.” Leah sounded disappointed but she tried to hide it. “Later then.” She said and turned away from him. Knowing she was upset, Lauren put a hand on her shoulder to try to comfort her as they walked towards the rides.
“Don’t worry,” Lauren whispered, “He said he’d come in a little bit. You’ll win him over then.”
“If you say so.” Leah sighed.

Geno looked at the sights around him, kind of in awe, his arm around Emily’s waist as he did so. She chuckled at the look on his face.
“What? Don’t they have Friday Festivals back in Russia?” She asked with a hint of a smile on her tired face.
“Not Floridian ones.” He replied as he took a final glance at his surroundings before his eyes moved back and focused on his girlfriend in his arms.
“I love all the lights,” She said, observing the strings of the tiny twinkling bulbs overhead. “They look so pretty.”
“Not as pretty as you,” Geno smiled, “But I love them too. They remind me of the first time we kissed.”
Emily thought back to that night. Not one of her finest. She pictured the scene, the snow dusted ground, the faint sound of music in the distance, and those famous lights strung on all the trees. It was beautiful then and it remained beautiful in her memory, she couldn’t deny that. No matter how badly she wished she could go back in time and change the outcome of that night. Things would be so much easier that way.
“Hey guys,” Max interrupted her thoughts and her and Geno’s private conversation when he popped up in between them, a smile on his face and one of his hands on each of their shoulders. “Whatcha doin?”
“Just talking.” Geno said, not pleased with the interruption but tried not to show it too much.
“Oh, well I didn’t mean to impose…”
“But you did.” Geno said flat out.
“No, it’s okay,” Emily added before either of the guys could get angry. The last thing she needed right now was a fight. “We should all go find something to do anyway.”
“Okay, you’re right.” Evgeni agreed. He couldn’t get mad at her. “Let’s go see what Jordy and them wanna do.”
As the three of them walked back toward the others that remained, Emily and Max fell a few steps behind.
Max,” She began, using French to hide from Geno’s ears, “I know you’re just trying to look out for me, but you can lay off a little. I think Geno’s getting suspicious again. He knew you were watching us when we were alone. It’s just, I don’t want him to get mad, and I can handle it for now. Okay?”
Max sighed, but nodded, “I’m sorry. It’s just, I think he’s gonna try something with you tonight.”
That’s what you said last night.” Emily reminded him, not fully trusting Max’s instinct, “Plus it’s not like he can do anything here. Don’t be paranoid.”
Max nodded as they rejoined the circle. Despite her apparent confidence, he wasn’t as convinced that everything would go over smoothly tonight. But for her sake, he agreed, “You’re right, I’ll lay off.”
“Lay off what?” Marc-Andre, the other French-speaker, asked and the rest of the group looked at Max and Emily questionably as to what they were secretly talking about.
“Um, lay off the French fries.” Em said quickly, blurting out the first thing that came to her mind. She turned to Max and pointed at his stomach, “Starting to lose his figure.”
Max shot her a look that said ‘excusez-moi?’, but nodded as to not blow their cover.
“Ya know, I was starting to think the same thing.” Jordan admitted, giving Max an ‘it’s true’ nod.
“Okay, I’m fat, I know.” Max said, letting them have their laugh at his expense, “Let’s go do something instead of just standing around.”
“Well what do you guys want to do first?” Ashley asked.
“How bout we go get something to eat?” Max suggested, trying to get them moving along.
Jordy chuckled, then whispered loud enough for everyone to hear anyway, “Fatty would suggest that.”
Max shook his head but smirked nonetheless, “Look what you got me into.” He actually whispered to Emily. She let out a laugh.
“Oh, hush. It’s not a big deal.” She replied, giving his abs a pat with the back of her hand just before Geno swept her up and out of Max’s reach. He frowned as the couple laughed.
“We’ll meet up with you guys in a bit.” Sidney announced, holding Ashlen’s hand in his.
“Why? Where are you two going?” Fleury asked, his voice sounding a bit suggestive.
“Just to look around,” Ashlen assured him, “See what they have at some of those booths and stuff.”
“Alright, well you’ll know where to find us.” Max told them as he pointed to where all the food stands were.
Sid waved with his free hand as they turned to go in the opposite direction, “See ya in a bit.”

“Why did we even come to this thing?” Kris asked bitterly as he walked down the boardwalk with Philippe at his side.
“Well, all the rest of the guys are here. I figure it’s better than just sitting in the hotel.” He replied with a shrug, “Plus it can help take your mind off of things. Just enjoy yourself.”
Kris sighed. How was he supposed to enjoy himself? If anything, being here made him think about things even more. And by things both of them knew it meant Emily. Everywhere he looked he saw a happy couple, either holding hands, or sharing a pretzel, or giving each other a kiss. It infuriated him that he couldn’t do that with the girl he loved. Not yet. Instead, some Russian clown got to tote her around showing everybody his grand prize. It wasn’t fair.
“Come on, don’t be angry. You had a great game today, kick back and celebrate it.” Boucher tried again to no avail.
Sure, one assist. One hell of a game, eh? Kris sighed again. His silly little assist wasn’t much of a match against Geno’s two plus a hat trick. Just another thing he had to one up him at.
But Kris opted not to sound like a whining child anymore. Philippe was obviously trying to make him feel better, so even though it didn’t work, he didn’t want to be rude to him.
“Sucks Coach didn’t put you in, though.” Kris said, his voice not sounding harsh like it had been.
“Yeah, well that’s life for an old player like me.” Bouch shrugged like there was nothing he could do about it.
“What are you talking about? You’re only like, thirty-six.”
Philippe chuckled, “Well when you’ve got young guys like you and Goose to choose from, thirty-six sounds a lot older to a coach’s ears. Plus it’s not like I was missed. An eight to nothing win doesn’t really scream ‘lineup change needed.’ And I’m okay with that. I had my time to shine, now it’s yours. I wouldn’t take that away from you.”
“You wouldn’t be taking anything away from me.” Kris told him as they continued to walk.
“Regardless, I’ve had a long run. Hell, I’ve been in the league since you were four years old.” Philippe told him with a chuckle at the realization of the age difference, “I’ve been a part of an all-star game, my name’s on Lord Stanley’s cup, I met some great friends along the way,” He gave Kris a playful elbow to the side at the last one, “What more could I ask for from the game?”
Kris looked at his face, sensing that he was keeping something from him, but he didn’t know what. “What are you trying to say?”
Boucher shook his head and put a firm hand on Kris’s shoulder, “Nothing, son. Forget I said anything.”
Kris sighed for a third time. Unfortunately with thoughts of Emily and Geno continuously popping into his head, it wouldn’t even be that hard to forget about this conversation. For now, at least.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chapter Thirty Four;

Everyone was at the Bank Atlantic Center. The Pens and the Panthers were on the ice doing their thing. The girls got seats up with Mario and company in their box. Emily was particularly happy about that since it wouldn’t remind her of her seats from her dream earlier.
Halfway through the first and the Penguins were already up two to nothing. Geno showed up as was expected and scored the first unassisted, and Jordan knocked off $500 with an assist on the other goal scored by Matt Cooke. There were a good bit of Pens’ fans in the crowd so cheering could be heard over the Panthers’ fans’ disappointment.
The first period ended with no additional scoring. But by the end of the second Geno had found the back of the net once again and also assisted on Sidney’s power play goal. Jordan got another assist, this time on a goal by TK, but he was still looking for a goal of his own. Fleury was standing tall in net and blocking every one of the few shots coming his way. The team went into the locker room feeling pretty confident, but not about to quit trying just because they had a five to nothing lead.

“Do I smell a hat trick coming from my BFF Geno?” Jordan exclaimed with a smile once they were back in the locker room.
“I’m feeling it.” Geno said and Jordy gave him a pat on the back.
“Dude, not only are we gonna be debt free but we’re totally getting laid tonight!” He said, obviously excited.
“Yeah, yeah. You’re gonna have to score a goal first before you get to score anywhere else.” Geno joked. Not only was he playing good, but he was feeling real good too.
“I’m working on it, man. It ain’t over yet.” Jordan promised and flashed a smile.
Evgeni laughed, “If you say so, J.”

While Coach Bylsma was talking to his players in the locker room, the girls were having their own conversation up in their box.
“So it’s looking to me like Jordy’s going to win me this bet.” Ashley said to Emily and Ashlen.
“He’s only got two points. Geno’s got three.” Emily pointed out.
“Well Sid’s only got one so I think we know who lost.” Ashley joked.
“Hey!” Ashlen protested, “It’s not over yet. They’ve got another twenty minutes.”
“We should’ve brought hats for Geno’s hat trick.” Ashley said, changing the subject.
“So you think he’s gonna get one?” Emily asked.
“Don’t you?” She replied, shrugging her shoulders.
“Well, yeah probably.” Emily shrugged. To be honest she hadn’t really even thought about it until now. She honestly didn’t care if he got a hat trick, or any points at all for that matter. Her mind was still imagining the fight she dreamt about between Geno and Kris. She didn’t think anything like that would actually happen. At least, not in the middle of a hockey game. She was more focused on Kris when the teams were out on the ice. He didn’t have any points so far, but he had a few shots and some good hits. She loved to watch him skate. And the way he waited for everyone else to go in before he left the ice. It was like he was doing his own thing sometimes. Like when there was a TV time out and he would just skate around on the ice while the rest of the team, other than Fleury, was on the bench. It made her smile. It was the little things she couldn’t help but love about him.
The guys came back out onto the ice and the third period began. You could sense the Panthers’ determination to try to get back into the game by the way they were playing, but despite their efforts, they just couldn’t get a goal past Fleury. It wasn’t until about nine minutes into the period that the lamp was lit again, this time by an ecstatic Jordan Staal.
He flashed a huge smile as he went down the bench, tapping his teams’ fists along the way. He stopped when got to the door and got a seat next to Geno.
“Coach is probably shitting himself right now.” Jordy joked and Geno laughed.
“Not so much.” Jordan turned his head to see Dan with his arms crossed, right behind him. Geno laughed harder. “Good job, though.”
“Thanks, Coach.” He smiled, “Hey, you think you could put me and Geno on the same line for the rest of the game? We’ve been working on some plays that might just make you soil your shorts for real.”
Dan couldn’t help but crack a smile. He scanned the bench, where most of his players were while the TV timeout was going on. “Okay, why not.” He gave in and proceeded to inform the rest of the guys of the minor change.
“Dude this is going to be awesome, am I right?” Jordan smiled, his mouth guard hanging out of his mouth.
Geno chuckled at how big of a deal Jordan was making this, “Hell yes.”

Their next shift on the ice, it was Jordan, Geno, and TK. A Panther took a shot at the goal, only to have Fleury knock it away. Kris retrieved it on defense and passed it up to Jordan, who was calling for it. It was the opportunity he and Geno had been waiting for. Jordy came down the left side while Geno took the right. He faked a shot to distract his man while Geno came shooting around from behind the goal. Jordan snuck him a quick pass past the defense and Geno put it top shelf, netting his third goal of the game.
Had they been in Pittsburgh, celebratory music would be playing, the goal horn would be going off, everyone in the sold out crowd would be on their feet, and most importantly, hats upon hats would be raining down onto the ice.
Since they were in Miami, it was quiet other than the Penguins fans who happen to be there cheering, and only two hats made their way onto the ice.
“I told you we should’ve brought hats!” Ashley exclaimed as her and the rest of her friends stood up and cheered for Evgeni.
“Damn.” Emily shrugged as she clapped. She was more preoccupied with the fact that Kris got his first point of the game assisting on the goal rather than the fact that it was Geno who scored it.
“Well looks like you two are tied for the bet.” Ashlen pointed out.
“There’s still a few minutes left. Anything could happen.” Ashley replied.
“Like Sid could get four quick ones here and I could beat you both?”
“Well,” Ashley smirked, “Maybe not anything.”

As it came down to the final minute, the Panthers decided to pull their goalie in a last ditch effort to retain some dignity and break Fleury’s shutout. Instead, Geno did what he does best and stole the puck off of them. Being the unselfish guy that he is, he passed it up to Max who easily netted it. The Pens fans were on their feet and the Panthers fans were halfway out the door as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Final score; Penguins eight, Panthers zero. That would most likely put them in a good mood for the festival.
The girls waited around until they were allowed in the locker room. The guys were mostly all dressed, their hair still wet from the shower. Lauren saw TK sitting by his stuff and she went to sit next to him. Leah followed her, but was kind of left out when the couple started talking and then kissing.
When Jordan saw Ashley, he immediately swept her up in a hug and a kiss.
“Hell of a game, eh babe?” He smiled brightly.
“Hell yeah it was!” She smiled back at him.
“Me and Geno only owe $8,500 now. Coach shit his pants.” Jordan told her excitedly.
Ashley laughed, “That’s great, babe. But your buddy Geno got a point more than you so I lost the bet.”
“Bet?” Jordan sounded confused.
Emily was standing near them. Geno was just coming into the room now and joined the three of them.
“Yeah, we bet on which one of you would score the most points.” Emily informed the two guys.
“And you lost.” Ashley told her boyfriend, who frowned.
“Sorry, Ash.” He told her and kissed her to hopefully make up for it. Her smile told him he was forgiven.
“So what did I win you?” Geno asked Emily.
“Bragging rights for a month.” She told him and he smiled.
“Sounds like a good prize to me.” He grinned.
Emily nodded, faking a smile and wondering where Kris was.

Ashlen looked around at her friends with their boyfriends and wondered where hers was at. She finally spotted him in the corner surrounded by reporters and camera people. Not even the star of the game, but it was captain’s duties. She got close enough to hear what he was saying and stood, watching and waiting.
Sid was explaining his take on what a shutout meant to Fleury at this time of the year, microphones and tape recorders all up in his face. Ashlen wondered how he could stand it without getting irritated. She laughed to herself, imagining him getting angry and telling them all to back up out his grill.
“Sid,” One of the reporters called, “How do you think the upcoming Olympic break is going to impact your game once you return?”
“Well,” Sidney started to answer and looked up, catching a glimpse of Ashlen. She smiled at him and he smiled back, loosing his train of thought. “Um, I, ugh,” He searched for the words, “It should be positive.” He said hoping that response made sense so he could go be with his girl, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
With that being said, he told them he had to go and the seas parted so he could get through.
“Hey.” He smiled as he finally got to Ashlen.
“Hey, great game!” She congratulated him.
He put his arm around her, “Thanks, but I think the double-mint twins over there stole the show tonight.” He said, motioning over to Jordan and Evgeni.
Ashlen laughed, “Come on, I think they’re all waiting for us.”
“Friday fest, here we come.”