Chapter 7 ~ I Love You (Prelude to Tragedy)
“What are you doing about Christmas?” I ask, closing my eyes in bliss as she runs her fingers through my hair. Lying against her, between her legs, my shoulders pressed against the full, soft mounds of her breasts is my new favorite place to be. I’ve hardly been paying any attention to the movie, my brain is full of ideas, but all of them will be for nothing if she’s already made other plans.
“Are you trying to angle for a hint of what your present is again Marc?” she says, digging her long fingernails into my scalp in warning, which only makes me laugh. If only she knew, my mind is so far off thinking about what she’s gotten me.
“No, but I know with this case you’ve been working on lately you’ve been so busy so maybe you haven’t had a chance to make plans? Are you going home or…?” I turn so that I can see her face, and am rewarded with a frown of concentration that deepens the worry lines in her forehead. “I mean, I know you said you don’t really get along with your folks but uh I just thought, with it being Christmas and all…,” my voice trails off as she rolls her eyes and shifts her body weight, reaching for the half full glass of white wine on the bed side table. I wish I knew what that meant. Sometimes Tip can be such a mystery to me, but then, as my brothers are fond of telling me, all women are mysteries and they seem to like it that way.
“My parents are going to Hong Kong for the Holidays,” she replies at last, acidity dripping from her voice as she puts the glass back, her long slim fingers falling away from the glass as she reaches to lace them with mine. Her fingers are moist and cool as places them between mine.
“So does that mean you’re free?” I ask, watching her hopefully. Her dark eyes search mine for a moment and I wish I wasn’t quite so eager for her to say yes, but then, I guess it’s time for me to give up trying to be cool and in command when I’m around her. Like the guys have been saying in the room, I’m like a puppy dog when it comes to her. She only has to snap her fingers and I’ll come running.
“Well it’s not like you’ve got a ton of time off,” she replies carefully, her full lips pursing as she tries to read my mind. “You’re schedule is stupid,” she adds with a scornful look towards the calendar hanging on the back of the bathroom door with all my away days coming up. She might be right, but I’m getting used to this having to rush all the Holiday festivities into a few hours.
“But I do have a couple of days and we’re all going back to the farm and…I really want you to come,” I ask, grasping her hands in mine and knowing just how disappointed I’ll be if she says no and that the plea on my face must be all too clear, but I can’t help it. The more I think about it, about having her there, with everyone, the more excited I feel.
“Farm?” she replies quietly, making the cutest little face of disgust, visions of cow shit obviously filling her pretty little head.
“Turf farm,” I correct her, bouncing onto my knees and pulling her to me, knowing that at the very least it’s not an outright no. “You can’t get much cleaner than that,” I add, squeezing her to me until she starts to laugh.
“Thunder Bay, in December?” she moans, digging her fingers into the middle of my chest so that I have to give her room to breathe.
“Can’t be worse than this,” I grin at her, turning to look at the snow falling slowly and silently towards the city streets. “Maybe a little colder but we’ll be inside most of the time, wood fire, lots of food…,” I add, still watching her intently, hopefully.
“And all your brothers,” she mumbles, wrinkling her cute little nose at me.
“You liked Eric, you said so yourself,” I remind her, still holding onto her hand as she rolls her dark eyes at me, “and you’ve talked to Jared on the phone. You said you thought he was funny.”
“I did,” she smiles, reaching up with her free hand to touch my cheek. “Okay, but…I’m not playing hockey outside in the freezing cold with you guys.”
“That’s my girl!” I grin, wrapping her up in my arms and squeezing her tight. “It’s going to be great. So great. I can’t wait,” I admit, feeling my heart beating hard in my chest, thinking of my big plans, of the big day to come. “I can’t wait.”
“So do I get to meet your wonderful Tipsi this time?” Jordan asks, as he tries to hip-check me into the plate glass window of the bar we’re heading to.
“No, you don’t get to meet Tippi this time either,” I reply, dodging yet another attempt to send me flying into a group of people lined up near the entrance, “and would you quit that? If you wanted to do that you should have done it out on the ice.”
“I’m just getting you back for tossing me into the boards head first,” he grumbles, shoving me ahead of him as we walk into the bar, past the line up, right behind Lundqvist and a few of the other, older, guys.
“Hey, I was doing my job,” I grin back at him, feeling pretty proud of the fact that I can still do that to him and get away with it. Staals don’t come up punching. A lot of guys would have come up, fists flying, from that hit, but not us. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t laughing either, not at the time, but we respectfully skated away from one another. That’s how the Staal brothers roll.
“So why don’t I get to meet the little woman? Are you scared she’ll be overwhelmed by my obviously superior skills out on the ice and my superior good looks?” Jordy asks, settling up against the bar beside me, resting against his elbows while he scans the crowd for chicks to hit on.
“Ha ha,” I mumble, signaling the barkeep for a couple of tall cold ones. There was a time I would have joined him in his hunt, but I realize with a feeling of satisfaction that I don’t have to do that anymore. I have Tippi. “She’s working,” I explain as I hand over a folded bill to the bartender. The winner pays, that’s the rule.
“Working? At eleven at night? I think someone’s pulling your leg bro,” Jordy laughs as he leans towards me to knock his glass against mine, sending a shower of golden suds down onto the bar and the floor.
“She works late on the nights that I have games at home and when I’m away. It’s kind of like…an agreement we have,” I shrug, not expecting Jordy to understand. Kind of like Eric, I think he wants his woman to stay home and keep the bed warm, shoot out kids and generally wait on him hand and foot. For some reason I guess I turned out differently. “I like that she works hard. She’s her own person. It’s more…interesting that way.”
“You mean you just like the whole hot secretary look,” Jordan counters with a grin to which I can only shrug. I can’t deny it. It’s happens to be true and I haven’t met many women who look as absolutely sinful as Tippi can in one of my white dress shirts and a pair of her very high heels.
“She’s coming for Christmas though,” I grin back at him and he sort of stares back at me with disbelief clear on his face.
“How are you going to bring your imaginary girlfriend for Christmas?” he laughs, making me shake my head at him.
“My girlfriend isn’t imaginary,” I correct him as I lift my glass so the bartender can clean the mess we’ve left on the bar. He doesn’t say anything of course, doesn’t give us shit or even so much as shoot us an evil look. We’re the Rangers, we come here all the time and bring a hard drinking crowd with us. It’s probably worth a few spilled beers. As long as we don’t bring that retard Avery with us, and I’m glad the rule that Jagr and Shanny put in place has still stuck. Avery isn’t allowed here. He starts fights, and had he been here, I’m pretty sure that he and Jordy would already be at it. That’s the kind of guy my brother is. He won’t stand for a lot of bullshit, which is why he’s glaring at me over his beer. “What?”
“I’m telling you, I’m going to find her. Did I tell you I got copies of all the security films from the bar and hotel from that night? I’ve sent them to, like, every modeling agency in the States to see if anyone recognizes her. I’ve got a feeling in my bones, I’m sure that I’m going to find her.” I shake my head at my brother. His persistence doesn’t surprise me, that’s a trait we all share, but I can’t believe he’s still going on and on about this chick from Vegas. That was months ago.
“So anyways, back to reality,” I sigh, giving him a smile that tells him everything he needs to know about what I think about his search for his mystery woman.
“You’re just bringing her to rub it in my face,” Jordan mumbles, turning back to his beer and staring down into its’ amber depths. “Jared’s got a girlfriend, Eric’s married, now this,” he sighs again, shaking his head.
“No one made you break up with Heather,” I point out, thinking how much shit that poor girl had had to put up with just to be his girlfriend, only to be broken up with over some mysterious one night stand.
“Dude, you don’t understand. I couldn’t go back to like…beer after I’d had champagne you know?” Jordy shudders, like the thought of his ex has him coming out in a cold sweat or something. I stare at my brother and, for the first time since ‘the night’ wonder if he’s actually serious about this thing, about this mystery woman.
“So you’re like…ready to hire private investigators and the whole nine yards over a one night stand?” I ask, watching him intently for his answer, but in true Jordy style he only laughs and slugs me in the shoulder.
“Spend money on a chick? Fuck, I’m not a pussy like you!” he grins and then shakes his head and calls for another couple of tall cold ones.
“Uh, J, I think I might skip the second round,” I say, holding up my mostly untouched glass. “I’m tired and besides…I have someone to go home to,” I add with a smirk that I can’t quite seem to hide.
“Fuck, you’re not telling me you’re living with the bitch now?” he asks, shaking his head, but I notice, not calling off the order.
“Not yet, not…entirely but lately she has pretty much been staying at my place most nights,” I grin, thinking of her all tucked up in my sheets, sliding beneath the comforter to find the cool length of her to press myself against.
“Fuck me. You only just met the bitch. What is with you and ‘Ric? What is the deal about settling down anyway? The world is your fucking oyster, fuck it!” he cries, holding his beer aloft and starting something amongst the rest of the guys who all raise their glasses and cheer along with him. I watch them all and realize that I don’t feel the least bit like raising mine along side theirs. I don’t get the sentiment at all, and I did, once upon a time, but now….
“I’m going to ask her to marry me,” I shout over all the noise, leaning towards Jordy so that I’m nearly pressing my lips to his ear. He turns to me, his eyes wide and a look of utter horror on his face.
“What? What the fuck are you talking about man? You just met the bitch. She could be some fucking gold digging skanking whore for all you know man, what the fuck?” I find myself grinning back at his shock and disbelief. I hadn’t expected less from him or from Jared for that matter. Eric will understand, I’m sure of that. He’ll support my decision. The only reason I’m telling Jordan now is so that, by the time he does finally get to meet Tippi, he’ll have come to terms with it.
“I’ve already bought the ring and everything,” I add feeling around in my jacket pocket for it. I really shouldn’t be carrying it around with me on the streets of New York. That’s pretty much just asking to get mugged, but I couldn’t think of anywhere to hide it, and now that Tippi does keys to my place, I need to find a good hiding spot. Taking out the small square box, I open it carefully to reveal the two white gold bands, a simple, plain wedding ring and a bigger, very ornate, very, very expensive engagement ring.
“Fuuuuuuck me,” Jordy sighs, shaking his head and wiping his brow without ever taking his eyes off of the bling in the box. “You’re serious. You’re gonna fucking do it aren’t you?”
“At Christmas, on Christmas day,” I grin, snapping the lid shut and putting it back in my jacket and snapping the jacket shut, but patting the outside of it just for good measure.
“Holy shit Marc…well, fuck. She must be fucking good at something. Can she suck a tennis ball through a garden hose or something?” he asks, the mischievous glow in his eyes telling me he’s just yanking my chain.
“You’ll never know bro, that’s the best fucking part,” I grin back at him, accepting that second drink after all.