Sunday, February 13, 2011
“Jon!” His big hands rolled into fists, he was back to staring up at the backlit numbers above the elevator doors. His jaw was clenched, he was bouncing on the balls of his feet and he was ignoring her. Or at least he was making a good show of trying to. “Jonathan Bryan Toews, I’m talking to you.” He blinked, or at least she thought he did. His jaw moved, almost as if he had flinched. She was almost there but the elevator doors were sliding open. If he got in and she didn’t, she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. “Damn it Jon!” She broke into a run, which in a pair of canvas espadrilles was a feat in and of itself.
“Don’t, just don’t,” he hissed, holding his hand out towards her as if, with some invisible force field he could stop her from getting into the elevator with him. Edie ignored his verbal warning and the hurt and livid glare he shot at her, following him in and then sending her own warning glower at his teammates as they looked to trail in behind her. She waited for the doors to slide closed before she turned to face his tensely immobile form.
“I know you’re pissed,” she began, only to have him shake his head, a contemptuous grin on his face. “I’m thinking about you. You hardly know me. You’re an important person. I’m sure there are other people who should be in on decision like this, steps that should be taken. It’s not something that should be a spur of the moment thing, no matter how sweet that was.”
“Pissed? Yeah, I don’t think you know how I feel about anything at all,” he growled back, his gaze still glued to the numbers above their heads.
“Jon,” she began, reaching for his arm only to have him flinch and pull away.
“Don’t. Don’t touch me right now,” he snapped, gnashing his teeth in a way that told her that he was willing the numbers to change faster. He obviously couldn’t wait to get away from her.
“We should talk about this, don’t you think?” she prompted quietly, doing some Vulcan mind tricks of her own, staring at him until she saw his darks eyes shift, just for a moment to look in her direction.
“Not really,” he shrugged and then returned to bouncing nervously and staring at the numbers blinking on and off and then, very suddenly he went still and very slowly turned his enraged gaze on her. Edie felt herself shrink in the face of such blatant fury. It was like standing in front of a blast furnace wearing a parka over a snowsuit.
“Did you even quit your job?” Edie winced. She didn’t think Jon was the type of man to actually raise his hand to a woman but she felt as if he had. Her cheeks burned and suddenly she couldn’t meet his accusing gaze. “Fuck!” he cursed and then she felt the elevator car shake as he turned and smashed his fists against its wall. “You fucking promised!” His voice filled the space and Edie cringed like a kicked puppy trying to hide in plain sight.
“I don’t know…,” she began in a voice that sounded like it belonged to her five year old self, not the confident flirtatious woman that she had become. She couldn’t finish the thought though. Partly because she didn’t really know what to say and partly because he had turned to face her, and his dark eyes were brimming with tears. “I didn’t say no to hurt you,” she told him instead, crossing the small, but seemingly endless distance between them to wrap her arms around his waist and bury her face in his chest. “It’s just all so fast. I don’t want this to be one those things that blazes one minute and burns out the next.”
“It won’t,” he replied firmly. She didn’t doubt that he believed it but the conviction in his voice did nothing to quell the fear that had set her stomach churning the moment the morning sunlight had glinted off the huge diamond that was now pressed against her hip from where it was currently hiding in his pocket.
This wasn’t the way the morning was supposed to go. She was supposed to say yes. She was supposed to have at the very least given her notice at work. Ideally she was supposed to come home to Chicago with him as his wife. That was the way it was supposed to go.
How could she not have even given notice at work? Did she even love him at all?
“You fucking promised!” He could hardly bear to look at her. It hurt to breathe when all he wanted was to slam her against the wall and make her say yes, show her how much he had wanted just that one little word to come out of her soft, ripe lips.
“I didn’t say no to hurt you,” she whispered, her bottom lip quavering like a child’s as she practically ran to him, wrapping her body around his and clutching onto him like he was some overstuffed teddy bear. His head was suddenly full of her perfume and it made him dizzy. “It’s just all so fast. I don’t want this to be one those things that blazes one minute and burns out the next.” He shook his head. She didn’t understand. How could she say that when she had ripped his heart out of his chest and stomped all over it? How could she make it sound like she was doing him some kind of fucking favor?
“It won’t.” He knew it the way he knew that the sun was going to come up in the morning and down at night. He knew it the way he knew how to breathe. He knew it the way he knew the dimples at the small of her back, the scar on her right knee and the tiny piece of pencil lead embedded in the palm of her left hand. He knew. He just knew.
“You don’t know that,” she laid her cheek against his chest and hugged him tighter. “You can’t know that.”
“But I do.” He lifted her chin so that she had to look at him. He hated that he was crying like a fucking kid with a skinned knee but he wasn’t going to hide it from her either. She’d done this to him. She should know this is what she had reduced him to. “And the thing is, if you don’t, if you can’t feel it,” he continued, peeling her hand from around his waist and placing it gingerly on her chest, “then I guess you just did me a huge favor.”
“Jon, it isn’t that simple,” she sighed, looking down at their hands and then back up at him.
“It is to me,” he told her and meant it.
“He’ll come back. I mean a guy can only sit and watch the rippers so long and I mean if it was me, you might have to wait all day, but it’s Jon so….” Kane grinned like he’d said something funny. Edie seriously considered dumping her giant strawberry margarita over his head, except that she seriously needed the injection of tequila it was providing.
“Short stuff is right, about one thing. He’ll be back. He’s just…well he’ll be kinda embarrassed,” Sharpe pointed out and Edie nodded. It wasn’t her fault that he’d decided to make the grand gesture in front of his teammates but she knew that she could have handled it better. She hated herself for putting the hurt and pain in his eyes that had been the last thing she’d seen before he’d blended into the crowd and left her standing there, alone, staring after him.
“He’ll just need a little space,” Seabrook reached over and put his hand over top of hers. Edie looked down at his big hand and then up at him and he quickly withdrew it. The last thing she wanted was some man, any other man, touching her.
“I do love him,” she informed the men sitting around the table. Not that it was any of their business but she felt the need to clarify at least that point. “Maybe he is mortified or whatever, but I did the right thing, right?” She looked at all of their faces, and was surprised to find each man nodding, except for Kane. “What? You were dead set against the idea of us even seeing each other. You couldn’t possibly want him to marry me.” Kane shrugged and swigged back the last of his pint and signaled the scantily clad waitress for another.
“I think the guy’s nuts for even considering it,” Jon’s curly haired teammate agreed, “but I also think that he should do whatever makes him happy and…yeah I don’t get it but I know that you make the guy fucking happy so…yeah, whatever.” Edie’s mouth literally hung open as she stared across the table at the nonchalant Kane who had already gone back to watching a group of girls pass by. One of them was wearing a tiara and veil. She was probably on her hen night. They all looked happy and it made Edie wonder what it was she was so afraid of.
“But you get it right? I mean this isn’t just about me,” she turned back to the table to find Kane’s chair empty. She looked up to find him already following the gaggle of girls. Shaking her head she turned back to Jon’s other teammates. “He’s got this whole crazy life with all the marketing for the team and his Canadian Tire kids start thing…he couldn’t have thought this through,” she insisted, expecting all of the men sitting around the table would agree, but to a man, they all shook their heads.
“We rode him pretty hard on this,” Seabrook began.
“He’s a serious kid…no.” Sharpe smiled and shook his head. “He’s a sensible, sincere kid and he wouldn’t ever do anything he hasn’t though through. Believe me. Sometimes it pisses me off when I can see him doing it out on the ice but that’s him. He wouldn’t be Tayzer if he wasn’t over thinking everything.”
“Aww fuck,” Edie sighed and dropped her head into her hands. “I’ve really fucked up, haven’t I?” She didn’t look up to see their reaction. She didn’t want to. The churning in her own gut was bad enough.
“If it helps,” she felt Sharpe’s hand on her shoulder, “it makes us all feel better about his choice that you realize there’s more to him than a multi-million dollar contract.” Edie lifted her gaze to meet the handsome winger’s and felt a hint of relief when he gave her a warm smile. “The kid’s crazy about you. He’ll be back, I guarantee it.” Edie wanted to believe it but there was a part of her that knew, even if he did, she’d have to be ready with her own grand gesture to bridge the divide.
“I’m gonna need your help,” she said solemnly, looking at each man at the table. “Who’s in?”