Every time I got close to Abby I had to fight not to kiss her.
I was pretty sure she’d kiss me back. If she’d been some girl in a bar or after a game, I would not have hesitated for a second. But whenever I saw Abby around the rink she was working seriously. Hell, she was more serious that Crosby. I figured it was her young age and the fact that she was a girl – not an easy combination around a professional hockey team. Her boss gave her a lot of responsibility and Abby was not about to mess it up.
We’d invited her to hang out a few times before. She came to a barbeque at Max’s house in the early part of the season, and after the Project Bundle-Up coat drive she joined us for lunch at the diner. There never seemed to be enough time to really get to know her. I was left to admire her shape under her business suits and the way her brown hair curled out at the ends, near her shoulders. She was a total professional, but two coats of makeup and a mini-skirt, she’d have been as hot as any puckbunny patrolling the arena.
Then her boss’ wife announced her pregnancy. Abby started traveling with us just before Thanksgiving and by the first week in December everyone was half in love with her. On her first trip, a late night arrival into Columbus, we’d pranked her by switching her luggage tag with Crosby’s and having his stuff delivered to her room. He had to wake her up in the middle of the night, totally embarrassed when she answered the door in nothing but his smallest t-shirt and a smile. Two days later when I flipped my bag onto the bed in my room, ten pairs of girls’ underwear and three bras came tumbling out first. Max almost peed himself laughing.
Always the dark horse, Kris had asked Abby to be his date for the Christmas party. She agreed only after pointing out that she’d be working too, but instead she spent the whole night dancing with one or another of us. She was funny and smart and she gave as good as she got. The week before Christmas, Max hid mistletoe in his locker and during a post-game interview, pulled her in and kissed her on camera. She retaliated by having the arena crew turn the Kiss Cam on him turning a game while he was talking to TK on the bench. He still hadn’t thought of a comeback.
We were on the bus in Anaheim when I heard her tell TK that she had no plans for Christmas. He lived in Ontario and I was sure he’d invite her to his family’s place. But he had a girlfriend and must have needed to check with her first. I saw my opportunity. Abby’s face lit up even as she protested that she couldn’t impose at Christmas and I knew I had her.
“Mom, can I bring a friend home for Christmas?”
“Is it Max?” she asked.
“No, it’s a girl.”
“Whose girl?” She had raised three boys to the NHL with another on the way… she was no fool.
“All mine, mom. No worries.”
I endured a week’s worth of harassment from the guys. They suggested things that I might have considered with another girl, but I’m sure they would have made Abby faint. Max actually bought me a lock-picking kit for Secret Santa. They were jealous though and I made sure to rub it in. Even Crosby, who wouldn’t bring a girl home till she was ready to be Queen of Canada. But he warned me.
“Don’t get carried away, Staalsy. For her sake,” he paused. “But for all our sakes, make a move, eh? You’re starting to get really boring waiting for her to notice you.”
My parents loved Abby instantly. Not only was she beautiful and charming, she wasn’t hanging all over me the way they’d seen girls do to my brothers and the other guys. If we were really dating, Abby was being classy and respectful. That earned big bonus points with my mom and Abby didn’t even know she’d gotten a gold star. I felt the need to flirt with Abby, to touch her and reach over her so my lie would be believable. Plus, I really enjoyed it.
In hindsight, I should have kissed her goodnight in front of my parents. It would have put that challenge of Max’s right out of reach.
The idea of Abby pretending to by my girlfriend sounded great on the surface. But I had to remember that it wasn’t real and heed Crosby’s warning about going too far. And she promised to make me want her too – a game she didn’t know she’d already won. Hence the reason I had to remind myself not to kiss her.
The trip home was easy, except that Abby stayed very close to me and it made my blood pressure rise. She looked adorable waiting in line for customs with her toque on all ready for the snow. I must have been looking at her like a puppy because my mom caught me.
“Well done, Jordan,” she said.
We pulled into the driveway of a Christmas card. Our big, gabled white farmhouse was set back from the road with a wide, bare tree in the front yard. Someone had even made a snowman with a scarf. Lights were on in almost every window, welcoming us home in the weak winter sunshine. The chimney probably had a curl of smoke twisting to the sky; I almost laughed at how quaint the whole scene looked as our boots crunched in the snow.
“Garage is full – who are all these people anyway?!” my called toward the front door.
A herd of elephants got loose inside the house. Someone spooked them, all at once, and they came pounding toward the front door and landed in a pile of shins and socks and shoulders.
“Merry Christmas!” Marc shouted from the top of the heap.
“We already searched the house for presents,” Jared said, trying to crawl out from underneath our brothers. “So either you didn’t get us anything, or we’re all going shopping right now.”
My dad stepped over them, revealing Abby.
“A girl,” Marc gasped. “Jordo you didn’t tell us you were bringing home a girl!” He scrambled to his feet and extended his hand. When she reached out to shake, he pulled her right into the house. “Who are you?! Where did you come from? And what on Earth are you doing with this moron?” Eric got to his feet, pulling Jared up with him. They lined up right behind Marc.
“I’m Abby. Jordan didn’t tell you I was coming?” Marc was still holding her hand as she looked from face to face.
Eric peeled Marc’s grip away. “Easy bro. I’m Eric, hi Abby. Welcome to Thunder Bay. This is Jared, and that tool is Marc. Sorry, they were quite literally raised in a barn. And now you see why Jordan kept you a secret.”
I pushed her farther in, closing the door behind us. A cloud of warmth snuggled itself around me as I shed my winter coat and kicked off my boots. I wheeled her awful suitcase and she followed me, craning her next to see the two big living rooms and huge kitchen with a long wooden trestle table. I led her upstairs.
“This one’s Eric’s, that one’s Marc’s, this one’s mine… and this one’s yours,” I said, opening the door one down and across the hall from mine. “Jared’s at the end of the hall.” I walked into the guest room, her room. It was total country cute – high four-poster queen size bed with a blanket that my mom had made. The furniture was blond wood, the carpet dark blue. A flat screen TV and a laptop on the desk were the only really modern touches. I plopped down on her bed.
“I always liked this bed…” I bounced twice then looked at her. “My parents already love you.”
“I was always good with parents,” she said wistfully, like she was thinking of the many guys who’d brought me home to meet their moms. I bet they had.
I snatched at her waist and tossed her down next to me. “Don’t be too good at it! I’ll have to tell them we broke up later and they’ll all hate me.”
Abby spun up till she was kneeling over me, straddling my middle. Her legs pressed into my sides and her perfect ass hovered just above my belly button. I wrapped my hands right around the back of her thighs as she leaned down toward my face.
“You are going down big time, Gronk. I only play games that I know how to win.” She squeaked and crabbed away across the mattress as I tried to wrestle her down. I was turning to chase her when my mom yelled.
4 years ago