Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Story!

I'm feeling all winter-y and I bet my favorite concussed captain could use a little hug. So a Crosby story is next on the block...

Taking Off

I hope you'll check it out - you guys rock t and as always, your comments are the best part of writing this stuff.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chapter Ten [the end]

Callie twisted herself into Jon’s arms. They had burrowed under the covers the moment they got home and stayed there till they were spent. She laid her head on his chest and felt his breathing lighten. They’d barely said a word since leaving the arena except to make sure they were taking care of each other. The cityscape below offered a faint glow as Jon twisted a strand of her hair and spoke into the near darkness.

“Should we talk about getting married?”

Callie squeezed in closer. “Jon,” she said in a warning tone. “What’s the hurry?”

He shrugged, moving her too. “No hurry. But I’m thinking about it.”

Callie lifted her head and met his eyes, which shone with that trademark intensity despite the low light. A smile twitched at the corner of his lips, making him the perfect mix of the boy she’d always known and the man she knew she’s spend the rest of her life with.

“When we’re 25. I will marry you when we’re 25.”

“What if I win another Cup first? Can we do it then?” He was serious, as always.

“Okay,” she gave in happily. “25 or the Cup, whichever comes first.”

He kissed her lips softly. She opened her mouth to his, only to be surprised when he rolled onto his other side, turning his back to her.

“What are you doing?” she laughed.

“Need my sleep. Winning the Cup twice in a row is hard work.”


I was thinking about taking this story farther, but this seemed like a natural ending.  Sorry if it's surprising.  Puppies and cupcakes, right?  Everybody likes a happy ending?  I just couldn't bring myself to mess them up anymore.  So they all live happily ever after... the end. 

Thanks for all your comments - this was a really fun one to write.  New story coming soon, after I do some one shots.  Keep an eye out for them at (One) Shot Through the Heart.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Chapter Nine

A/N: Jon will play tonight vs. Los Angeles - welcome back!


Callie felt like crap at work all day. The sun had woken her sharply, her corporate apartment seemed soulless and depressing. She planned to order in lunch and spend the time looking at apartment listings online. It was nearly 11 AM when her phone desk phone rang, asking her to pickup a delivery at reception. She was so out of it she wondered if she’d called out for food already and forgotten.

On the front desk was a huge bouquet of flowers: tiger lilies and mums and roses mixed together. The receptionist was smiling like someone should be happy to see such a beautiful surprise. Callie just set her lips and exhaled.

Now they’ll all think the new girl is a bitch, she told herself, carrying the vase to her desk with a pissed off look on her face.

She wasn’t expecting the card to be hand-written. It stopped her heart, a single tight squeeze, to see her name in Jon’s writing. She hadn’t seen his writing in years, not since they’d traded notes under the pillow at his parents’ house. Tears burned at her eyes and it was a full minute of blinking before she was able to read the paper inside.

I love you. I’m sorry that happened but it’s over, like I promised. Please, Callie. Call me.

His writing was a little shaky by the end. He hadn’t signed it.

Callie wanted this to be over – she wanted to call him and hear his perfectly good explanation and then run as fast as she could to wherever he was. But she was getting crazy again, heart leading the way. It could be the right direction, or it could be the same path again. But she would have to do something.

Her apartment search was half-hearted at best. She emailed three places and made a list of open houses being held the coming weekend. But every neighborhood or landmark reminded her of things Jon’s teammates had recommended so she closed the browser and kept working

At four o’clock, Callie needed a break. She took a wrong turn and had to circle the same block twice, partially because she was new and also because she was spacing out. She stopped into a Starbucks to get her bearings – at least the things on the menu were familiar. She ordered a tall mocha.

Oh shit, she thought instantly. Standing at the other side, waiting for her order, was Tara.  Callie spun and hurried toward the front door. Too late.

“Callie!” She knew the voice was the same from last night. Heels were clicking across the floor behind her. “Callie!”

Callie got outside and went left – then instantly realized she should be going right. But she couldn’t turn around. She hesitated a step and it was enough.

“Callie! Wait, please.”

With a sigh Callie faced back toward the store. Tara wore a black business suit and shuffled up in her expensive high heels. Out of nowhere, she smiled.

“I wouldn’t be much good in a chase today,” she conceded. Callie was very confused – hadn’t this girl caught Callie and her boyfriend cuddling last night, obviously well acquainted and on their way back to bed any second? Why the hell is she smiling?

“I’m sorry about last night,” Tara said.

“No, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, I felt horrible when I realized…,” she tried.

“Callie...,” Tara was interrupting then she stopped. “Wait. When you realized what?”

“That you and Jon were obviously a lot more serious that he led me to believe. I had no right to be there anyway, but he lied to me and then you came in and, Christ, you have a key! That’s serious! I’m so, so sorry. And for what it’s worth I hope you dump his ass because I for one am never speaking to him again.”

Tara put a hand out to catch Callie’s arm as she was ranting. It made Callie draw in a breath and try to get herself under control.

“Stop. Stop before you make yourself sick. Here, sit down.” Tara gestured to the Starbucks against the window. Callie couldn’t believe she was being invited to coffee by the woman whose boyfriend she had slept with. “Callie, I know all about you.”

That shut Callie up.

“Let me just tell you all this before you really make up your mind, okay? Jon told me about you. Probably most of the story. At first it was kind of weird, him talking about another girl, but I could tell that he really missed you. And I thought it was sweet – young love and all that. Last night when I saw you… I thought you were some puck slut or something. That’s why I freaked out, I thought Jon had gone off the Kaner diving board and starting picking up bunnies while I was away.”

Callie was perfectly still.

“Jon and I are not… were not serious. We had fun together but we were more friends than anything. Well, not just friends, you know what I mean but we were not in love. I thought that maybe someday I could fall in love with him, because who wouldn’t want to? But that was a long way off. I could scream and throw things here because I’m the woman wronged but that would really be a lie.”

She paused for a moment to sip her coffee.

“Now don’t get me wrong. I was pissed last night and I still don’t take kindly to Jon dumping me without so much as a moment’s notice. That sucks. But Callie, he did it because he loves you. I have spent maybe three months with Jon and we were never exclusive. Even so I knew he would never bring home a stranger or anything like that. Jon is not that guy. The only thing I ever worried about was you.”

Callie put her head in her hands as Tara kept talking.

“I met Jon after the Olympics but before the Stanley Cup. By last summer he literally had every single thing in the whole wide world that he wanted – except for you. And I knew that. What does that tell you about how much Jon talked about you? I don’t think he even realized he was doing it, since I know he wasn’t calling you. But he should have. He wanted to.”

“But you have a key! And your stuff is in his closet!”

Tara shrugged – she wasn’t happy, but she wasn’t mad either. “I left some stuff there. And I only have a key because he needs someone to check in when he’s on the road, water the plants and stuff. He didn’t want to hire someone, so I said I would do it. I can see how it looks weird but it really wasn’t anything important.”

Callie picked at her nails. “But still, I should have left when I saw your shoes. I shouldn’t have done anything until I knew he’d talked to you.”

“That would have been nice, for me,” Tara said, but she was making a tiny smile. “But the minute Jon told me who you were I understood what had happened. He lost his mind to have you back, Callie. He practically lost it missing you.”

The barista from inside came out, carrying Callie’s coffee. “I think you forgot this, miss.” She took the cup and rolled it between her palms.

“What should I do?” she asked, still disbelieving that she was now asking relationship advice from the woman she’d just ousted.

“Do you love him?”

Callie nodded yes.

“Then go let him make it up to you.”

Tara hugged Callie goodbye, thinking that she better have the best fucking boyfriend in the world next time around because she’d just earned it.

Jon left Callie another message at lunch. His stomach ached to think that he’d fucked up the second chance he’d been waiting so long for. He was getting desperate, even debating going to her office and trying his luck. But he was afraid to push too hard, and he had a game to think about. So he went to the rink at the usual time and tried to clear his head for the night’s matchup against Philadelphia.

“Any luck?” Sharpie asked the second he walked in the door. So much for clearing his head. Jon just said no and started stripping off his suit.

“She’ll come around,” Pat said, low enough so it wasn’t broadcast to the team. “I mean, you two go way back. She’s not going to disappear without at least letting you explain yourself, right?”

“I hope so, man. And I hope she does it soon.”

Callie could only think of one thing to do. It was almost five and Jon would already be at the arena. She didn’t want to talk on the phone, she wanted to see him but there would be no way to do that before game time. She at 5 PM she clocked out, ran home and then took a cab to the United Center.

At the box office she bought a single ticket for the lower bowl and disappeared into the crowd of Toews jerseys filing into the arena. The security guard gave her a big smile.

Her heart beat like a drum. There was a reason they called this place the Madhouse on Madison – it was jumping already, 40 minutes before game time. A beer did nothing to release the knot in her stomach and she looked around like she might be waiting for someone, trying not to feel awkward at a hockey game by herself. Ten minutes until the warm-up skate.

I should have asked her to come tonight, Jon thought. In his message at lunch he’d only asked her to call him. Maybe if she could be here, if she could see me skate she’d remember everything good about us. But he hadn’t and it was too late now.

The team filed out of the locker room and through the tunnel. As usual, the house was packed and rocking, a sea of red and white jerseys. People were lined ten deep at the glass on their end of the ice and Jon circled so fast that it took three passes for him to see it.

Jonathan Toews, will you be my prom date?

Bench side, at the hash marks, the sign was pressed to the glass just above the boards. And right behind it in a Winter Classic jersey with a C on the shoulder, was Callie.

Jon nearly fainted. Guys were zipping by at warp speed and he was stock still in the middle of the zone, staring at her. The other thousands of people must have thought he’d never been asked out before. Risking his life amid his teammates flying past, he skated right to the glass. She had a small smile on her face, not the huge grin he would have preferred but he was in no position to argue. Her hair was dark and full as it fell over the jersey – his jersey – which hid her body with such volume that it was a sin. But he loved it.

“Hi,” he said loudly. If nothing else she could read his lips. The entire crowd was staring at them.

“Hi,” she said.

“When’s the prom?” People around her were snickering.

“After the game.” She didn’t move, just looked at him seriously like he’d better know this was his only second chance.

“I’d love to,” Jon said. People near her started clapping.

“See you there.” It was another small smile, but it made Jon’s heart sing. Then Kaner bumped him from behind, smooshing him against the glass and making the crowd laugh.

Jon skated right over to the bench and sent an equipment guy to find her. He had to know where she was sitting. The guy jogged off as Jon checked to make sure Callie was still standing at the glass. She knew better than to leave now.

“We could bring her down to those seats,” Duncan pointed to the two seats between the team benches that people could only get by donating to charity, “wait till you’re at that end then put you two on the Kiss Cam.”

“Can she sing the National Anthem?” Sharpie butted in.

Kaner said it best, of course. “Just hijack the lucky seat drawing. Section 115, row 9, seat 17, will you marry Jonathan Toews?”

Callie’s heart pounded as she unrolled her sign. There was a chance that Captain Serious would be so focused he might not see it. But she had to try – both to call him out and let him know he was forgiven. The moment his eyes found the sign she felt it like a tractor beam, and the look in his eyes as he came toward her was unmistakable. I love you, she thought, hoping he could somehow feel it in the air.

Everyone around her at the glass wanted to talk after Jon skated away. She played it off like she was as amazed as they were her sign had worked. As time expired on the warm-up skate, a couple of the guys she knew came over to give the boards a bump where she stood. Good luck everyone, she said silently.

And good luck they had. The Hawks got 2 in the first period, one by Sharp and one by Seabrook. Callie could only imagine what the electricity in the building must feel like to the players – she was amped up beyond belief just sitting in the crowd. She’d been approached by a staffer and given him her seat number. As predicted, she saw Jon looking for her more than once.

In the second period, Jon caught a breakaway coming out of the penalty box. The whole place was on its feet before he crossed the blue line. When he put the puck over Bobrovsky’s shoulder, Callie thought she might actually explode.

I’m here! she wanted to yell. And I totally fucking saw that!

She totally fucking saw that, Jon said to himself, searching the crowd again. He was on the bench, listening to the goal announcement.

“Nice one, Tazer,” Kane yelled from a few seats down. “Someone should dump your ass every day!” The clock couldn’t run down fast enough. When the buzzer finally sounded, the Hawks won 4-2 and Jon was climbing out of his skin.

“Will you go get her?” he asked the same equipment guy. Then he hurried to the room to get the interviews over so he could shower and change.

Twenty five minutes later, almost all the press were gone. Jon was buttoning up the front of his shirt.

“Out time or alone time?” Duncan asked.

“I think alone time,” he was answering when the locker room door opened.

Callie got three steps inside and stopped dead. Her hand flew to her face, covering her nose and mouth. “Oh my God!” she yelled. “It smells like the ass end of hell in here.” She looked at Jon over her makeshift gas mask. “I’ll be in the hall!”

He pulled his coat on, laughing.

Callie had wanted to be all dramatic and run in and kiss Jon in front of everyone. Like in a movie, right? No such luck – there would be no opening of her uncovered mouth in that room, ever. No matter how much she loved him.

Two minutes later, that dark brown head of hair came out after her. His suit was gray with a light blue shirt and dark blue tie. He wore it very, very well. It reminded Callie of the times he had to wear suits for games in high school, the way he’d always looked like a little boy playing dress up. Well he was a man now.

“Callie, I’m sorry,” he said, stopping just inches from her.

“I talked to Tara today.”

“What?! How?”

Callie fought the urge to touch him. Some things needed to be said first. “Ran into her at Starbucks. Actually, I tried to run away from her. But she caught me. And then she explained the situation and defended your honor. I was expecting a latte in the face.”

Jon breathed out in a whoosh. Tara had heard about Callie and the way she’d given up without a fight last night had told him that she knew even more than Jon had ever said. He silently thanked her for being a better person than he was.

“She said that she always knew you loved me, and that I was the one thing she could never hope to compete with.”

“She was right.”

Callie was so close. “Jon, this whole thing has a lot to live up to. I’ve been dreaming about it for so long, I’m afraid real life will mess it up.”

He moved another half step in. “You are the only thing I have ever wanted.”

She lifted her lips for the kiss, the international symbol of giving in. If it was going to be messy, then let it. They had handled so much already. If all they really wanted was this, then they could make it work.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chapter Eight

Jon was interviewed (along with his mom - too cute for words) at the game in Anaheim today and said he hopes to be back in the lineup tomorrow.  That's why we love hockey players - you're back from a 2-week injury in 6 days.  Tough guy.


Sunday morning passed with Jon and Callie hiding, making up for lost time. Jon wondered how he ever could have thought he was past this, ever imagined he was over her. Callie veered wildly between heartbreaking relief and the knowledge that she might not be able to walk for a few days.

Jon resisted the urge to join Callie in the shower and took the time to place the phone call he’d promised: to Tara. He didn’t want to break up with her over the phone; he may not have been in love with her but she was still a nice person. She deserved at least a face-to-face conversation, especially if it would be their last. Her voicemail said she was traveling all day – Jon was so caught up in Callie’s surprise appearance that he’d forgotten Tara was out of town for work. He left a message that he wanted to see her, hung up and hurried in to catch the end of Callie’s shower.

She smiled up at him – he was an absolute Adonis, perfect body and a perfect face. Beneath the warm fall of water she kissed him, promising herself she would do this as many days as possible. Then she leaned forward, hands splayed on the tile, and let Jon take her again. When they finished they had to start getting clean from the beginning.

“I owe you a date,” he said, finally pulling a shirt over the chest that transfixed Callie. He insisted it be at one of his favorite Chicago places, so they went to the original Pizzeria Uno and over a red and white checkered tablecloth put away the biggest pizza Callie had ever seen. It was so easy to talk and laugh with Jon – not Captain Jonathan Toews, just her Jon. She wiped a streak of sauce from his lip and licked it off her finger.

Jon told Callie everything he could think of. If she wanted to know him now then he would happily oblige. She had lots of questions and comments, and then she gave her the story of her last 5 years as well.

“Boyfriend?” he asked. It was only fair – she knew about Tara.

“Eh. A couple, but no one special. Nice guys though.”

“So you weren’t saving yourself for me, pining away in some dorm room? Sleeping in your underwear and a Hawks t-shirt?”

“Those are totally my pajamas,” she poked at his arm. “In fact, I probably have 5 Toews shirts and jerseys. It’s quite a collection. Some of my friends thought I might be obsessed.”

Jon tilted his head. “You didn’t tell them about us?”

Callie shrugged. “My close friends, yes. But I didn’t want to go around advertising to people that were used to be a thing. Everyone in LA name drops like crazy and everyone assumes they’re lying. Plus… it sounded kind of sad. My old boyfriend is a super famous hero athlete and here I am, wearing his jersey and watching him on TV in my slippers. All I needed was a cat and a tower of old newspapers to complete the picture.”

“Did you ever…,” Jon couldn’t finish the question that had been burning in his mind.

“Yeah, I did. You remember that the Hawks didn’t come to LA your first season, and the next season it was when I was in Singapore. But last year I was there, in my Winter Classic jersey, screaming my head off.”

He’d stopped eating. “I wish you’d called.”

“I thought about standing at the glass to see if you’d recognize me.”

“I would have died.”

“I could have made a sign, ‘Jon will you be my prom date?’ But there were like ten of those already.”

They finished eating and Jon hailed a cab to Navy Pier. Hand in hand they walked around the tourist attraction, the weather still unseasonably nice. Jon insisted they ride the Ferris Wheel for the view, but they saw nothing. Callie put her legs across his lap and kissed him the entire time.

They were always touching. It wasn’t urgent or desperate, they weren’t ripping each others’ clothes off even though they each thought about it a few times. Instead they were just being together, relaxed and happy. It felt like they would have forever.

Callie didn’t protest when Jon suggested dinner at his place. Instead she steered them into a market and bought all the food they could carry. She’d peeked around his kitchen and found that half the utensils and supplies still had their tags on. In the condo lobby, the doorman greeted her by name, making Jon squeeze her hand.

Jon followed Callie’s instructions and helped make baked salmon, tarragon mushrooms and wild rice pilaf. It wasn’t as much work as he’d expected, probably because Callie kept taking things away from him.

“I can actually eat this,” he said. “Very healthy. You could cook here all the time, you know.”

Callie laughed. “I only cook when I’m hungry; otherwise you’re on your own.”

Dinner was delicious. Callie even bought the right bottle of white wine to go with the fish, something she claimed to have learned in California. Jon knew she was savvy, but she’d also become quite sophisticated in their time apart. He was glad to see she’d clearly been enjoying herself in Los Angeles. He complimented her endlessly on the food, insisted on clearing the table and then poured two more glasses of wine and joined Callie on the couch.

He wanted to her to stay the night again. She’d have work in the morning and he had practice, so they wouldn’t get the chance to stay in bed together, but he didn’t want her to leave. Ever. It was nearly 9 PM and they were watching Get Him to the Greek on InDemand. He thought when the movie was over, maybe he could offer to drive her to her place to pickup clothes for the next day.

Callie was so, so comfortable. She was curled up against Jon, lying alongside his body to the inside of the wide couch cushion. It took her fifteen minutes to stop thinking about the bicep that supported her head and just as she focused on the movie, Jon shifted and his shirt rode up. The sliver of skin at his waist took another half an hour. She wanted to stay. She could go home quickly in the morning to change. Maybe he would invite her, or maybe he thought he didn’t need to. She figured they might fall asleep on the couch first, wrapped up together like the got to do this sort of thing every day.

“My mom is going to freak out when she hears about this,” Jon said, making Callie realize he wasn’t paying attention to the TV either.

“What will you tell her?”

“That her master plan worked and I am trying to get you back.” His hand stroked along her arm.

She nestled into him. “My mom will just say ‘I told you so.’”

They went back to the movie, and half an hour later they were cracking up watching Jonah Hill drink an entire bottle of liquor so Russell Brand couldn’t have any. It was warm and soft where they lay entwined in the low light. Callie could almost close her eyes and drift off even though it was barely 9 PM.

Jon felt more relaxed than tired. He was drowsy from the feel of holding her tight and the workout that she’d given him that morning. The thought of it made his whole body quiver. He knew know that what the guys all said was true: it’s different when it’s with someone you love.

They were both thinking about each other, about snuggling and sleeping and waking up to do it all over again tomorrow. So they were slow to react when a key scraped in the lock. Jon didn’t hear it at first, laughing at the movie. Then the door was open and Tara was standing there.

“What the hell?”

Jon jumped to his feet in a single motion. Callie was a little slower, rolling into the void he’d just left and having to lever herself up from the cushion. She wore jeans, flip flops and a borrowed t-shirt, but they’d still been in a compromising position.

“Tara!” Jon said.

They stood there for a moment, all looking at each other, not knowing what to do. Callie and Tara sized each other up – she had shoulder length blond hair and a pretty face plus a little more junk in the trunk than Carrie carried. She was definitely hot.

Tara regained her senses first. She simply gave Callie a dirty look and said, “The first night I stayed over, that’s the shirt he lent me too.” Then she marched through the apartment, presumably headed for whatever stuff she had left inside. Jon’s eyes pleaded with Callie to stay put then he chased Tara into the master bedroom.

Callie felt awful and angry. Obviously Tara was more important than Jon had let on – she had her own key for Christ’s sake! The look of shock on her face kicked Callie in the stomach. And worst of all, Jon had lied. Callie scooped up her bag and jacket and hustled out the door. He could keep her top and lend it to the next girl.

“See you soon, Miss!” the doorman called as she hurried past.

“Unlikely,” she said to herself.

“I’m so sorry, Tara. I wanted to see you so I could tell you. I… I didn’t think you’d come over.”

Tara came out of the closet, two pairs of high heels gripped tightly in her hands. Jon had never before noticed how sharp they looked – he took a step back. Her face was set with a look like he could eat shit and die.

“You asked me to come over. But I think you forgot to tell your date.” She shoved the shoes into her purse and went back to check for anything else. Her voice carried out to him. “Only you, Jon. Only you would fucking cuddle with someone watching a movie – that is your idea of cheating. Anyone else would have a regular one night stand with someone they can’t remember and fucking get it over with.” She reappeared with a t-shirt and a pair of her underwear. “You had us all fooled.”

He started to explain, but she was already in the hallway. “Wait, Tara, I….”

“You what, Jon?” She stopped dead in the middle of the living room and turned to face him. She was smaller by a foot but the moral high ground gave her quite a boost. “You what?”

“That’s Callie.”

It was all he said. All he had to say. The fight went right out of Tara and her shoulder slumped.

“Shit.” She closed her eyes.

“She called me three days ago and said her work was moving her here. Yesterday I saw her on the street. There wasn’t any time to tell you and I didn’t even know what to say….”

Tara released the death grip on her bag and let it drop to the floor. Jon had told her about Calllie, about his high school sweetheart, the one that got away. She’d always thought it was such a nice story even if it didn’t have a happy ending. She and Jon had been seeing each other late last season, then he called her again when he came back to Chicago. He was loyal like that; didn’t need a lot of variety, just wanted something stable. Tara wished that one day maybe Jon would talk about her the way he talked about Callie. He obviously still loved her, even after so long. The only difference was that Tara hoped to still be around to hear him.

“Shit. I thought she was a fucking puck bunny, not the goddamned love of your life,” she threw up her hands. Now that Callie was back, Tara knew there was no way she could compete with that.

“We haven’t seen each other in five years and I didn’t know if….” He sat on the back of the couch with a thud.

Tara opened her eyes. The confused, sad look on his face said it all. “Well you know now,” she said. She scooped up her things from the floor and dug into her purse. A tiny thwap landed next to Jon: she’d tossed his spare key onto the couch. Then she left.

Jon stayed there, the hard back of the couch digging into his thighs like penance. He had done things in the wrong order, gotten swept up in Callie and now she’d seen something terrible. Something he never meant to happen. She would think he was an asshole now.

He called her five times before she turned her phone off.

Callie sat on the hotel-grade carpet in her bedroom and cried. From such a high to such a low in a single day. She berated her heart for not listening to her brain – he’s different now, he’s a star, he can do whatever he wants. Tara obviously thought she was more than a casual date, and Callie had willfully ignored the clues: anyone who leaves multiple pairs of big-night-out shoes in a guy’s closet has been there a lot of times. And she’s coming back.

Fucking figures, Callie told herself. Never should have called him. Should have left it alone. At least I’d have my old Jon to remember.

Her phone rang incessantly. She turned it off one second before she would have thrown it out the window, then climbed into bed and stared at the wall until she finally passed out.

Jon went straight to bed, knowing sleep would be a long time coming. He contemplated going to Callie’s apartment – there could only be one Oakwood on Silver – and relying on his famous face to get him in the door. But he remembered how stubborn Callie could be and knew it would be another mistake to add to the list. If she was going to hear him out, she would need time to cool off first.

In the morning, he called her first thing. No answer, but this time he left a message.

“Please Callie, call me.”

At the morning skate, he had trouble keeping his head in the game. This is just a rough patch, right? An argument when she finally returns my call and we could move on? But Jon had lost Callie before and so the fear was already woven into his DNA. To have her back for a single day and lose her again would be the cruelest fate.

“Jon… Jon!” Sharpie waved a hand in front of his face, snapping him out of it. “How was yesterday? Callie seemed pretty happy with you.”

Jon whipped a shot at the net, missing high with enough force to scuff the glass. “I fucked up. I didn’t have a chance to talk to Tara and she showed up last night, while Callie and I were…”

“She caught you having sex with someone else?!” Pat’s voice got very loud, very quickly.

“No! Thank God. We were just watching a movie but we were all tangled up on the couch and it was pretty fucking obvious what was going on.”

“What did Callie do?” Pat asked the right question. Not ‘what did Tara do?’ because ultimately that wasn’t the point. Jon felt bad about that but it was done. Callie, he hoped, was not.

“I had already told her about Tara, and that I would end it. I was so wrapped up in Callie being there that I didn’t do it right away. Then she left. Tara came in and immediately started getting her stuff and Callie just left without a word. Won’t pick up the phone.”

“Wait, how did Tara get in?”

“She has a key.”

Pat sucked in a breath like he was in pain. The realization hit Jon like a piano falling on his head.

“SHIT. She thinks Tara had a key!”

“Uh, Tara did have a key.”

“But, no… she waters my plants when we’re on the road and stuff – she volunteered for it. The co-op has to approve the person and they sure as shit weren’t going to approve Kaner. Fuck. Callie thinks Tara had a key like ‘you’re my girlfriend, here’s a key to my place.’” Jon put his foul smelling glove right over his face. “She thinks I lied to her.”

Pat smacked Jon on the leg with his stick. “Better do something about that.”

Friday, December 31, 2010

Chapter Seven

 “It's kind of like your cave on top of the world with a view,” says Toews of his high-rise condo. “It's all very modern, it's new, it's young. I just really felt it fit my personality.”

Callie caught Jon’s lips with her fingertips, just inches from her face.

“Whose shoes are in the closet?” she asked quietly. On her little self-guided tour of the master bedroom, she’d noted two pairs of high heels neatly arranged in the corner of the walk-in closet.

Jon closed his eyes, mouth still pressed to her hand. Tara. Fuck.

“I’m… seeing someone. We’re not exclusive, and she isn’t….” At heart Jon was a nice guy and he did like Tara. She just wasn’t special, not to him at least. But that sounded colder than he meant it. It wasn’t something that Callie would appreciate hearing, even about the competition. “It’s not serious. And it’s not going anywhere.”

She let her fingertip brush over the soft curve of his lip, over the beauty mark he’d always hated and down the strong line of his jaw. Looking at him made time stop, made her feel 17 and indestructible and terrified.

“What about this?” She meant them, a blink away from where they had been five years ago before they broke each others’ delicate hearts without even trying.

Jon planted a kiss in the center of her open palm. “Oh I am Captain Serious about you, Callie. I always have been.”

She smiled up at him, still delicately exploring the smoothness just underneath his chin. “Last time Jon, I… I didn’t mean to hurt you.” She’d been waiting so long to say that. When she blinked, her eyes came back teary.

“Shhhh,” he put his forehead against her temple desperate to kiss her but more determined to do this right. If she would give him another chance he would never, ever lose her again. “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.”

A silent nod was the best she could do. More than anything she wanted to feel his lips again, after forever. But every time she’d kissed him she’d really been kissing him goodbye. “What if we don’t know each other anymore? What if I’m not the same person?”

I love you, he wanted to say. I’ve loved you every day, even when I didn’t think of it, like breathing or blinking, it’s just the way I’m programmed. But at 22 those three little words carried a lot more weight than at 17. Especially when you’d said them before and gotten burned.

I know you. I love you, Callie wished she could tell him. His hand was on her thigh, fingers firmly pressed just below the back pocket of her jeans. They nearly burned through the denim. In the five years they’d been apart, she’d learned a lot. She’d lived her own life. There were things in that time that had shaped her. The last thing she wanted was to start something with Jon on false pretenses.

“Let me take you on a date. Get to know me again, Cal, and I’ll get to know you. It hasn’t really been that long, you know. We should be able to cover it over dinner.” He meant it, but smiled to cover it up. She wouldn’t be pushed.

“And the other girl?”

Jon craned his neck to see the alarm clock. “What time is it? I’ll call her right now.”

Callie’s tension broke visibly. She slugged him on the arm, rolling him away. If only he’d known that one more second looking into those eyes and she’d have done anything he wanted.

Jon gave Callie a t-shirt and shorts to sleep in, the rummaged around in his bathroom and came up smiling.

“You can tell my mom you used this, she’s the one who stocked this place up.” He handed her a new toothbrush. Instead of going to the guest bath, Callie took it right into Jon’s bathroom. It was pretty clean – a little gob of toothpaste on the sink, the mirror needed a wipe down – but he wasn’t too embarrassed.

Callie nosed around while she brushed. He had some prescription-strength ibuprofen in the medicine cabinet and she guessed he probably needed it after every game. Shampoo, boy-smelling soap, shaving cream. A basket full of Maxim magazines made her laugh.

“Night Jon,” she said when she was finished. In sweats and a tee, barefoot on the smooth floor, he looked even more like his high school self. He opened his arms and she walked straight in. They both sighed at the comfort of each others’ bodies. Jon rested his chin on top of her head and promised himself he would find the right way to do this. Callie pressed her cheek to his chest and said a prayer that they could make it work.

His lips were soft against her forehead. “Night Callie.”

Jon lay awake in bed. In the last year it he’d had his entire life changed by a few, individual days. But at least there was build up, there was work behind the gold medal and the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup. Callie had just turned up, like a gift and he was terrified that she could slip away as easily. At least he knew what he wanted. Getting there would be a delicate process, and he had to be careful not to get too serious about it.

Last time we slept in the same house… he texted her.

Two minutes later, she replied: That was my last night in the house I grew up in.

Jon: I miss home too.

Callie: Your mom totally knew, btw. She offered to have “girl talk” with me after you left.

Jon: Oh my God.

Callie: She’d be pretty proud of me tonight.

Jon: Katie McKenna would not.

Callie: HA! Goodnight, stud.

Jon: Night Cal.

In the morning, Callie could almost swear it had been a dream. Except she woke up in a very comfortable bed in an apartment that was not hers, wearing clothes fit for a rather large boy. It was before 8 and light poured in the uncovered windows. Oh, what the hell, she thought. Her feet were almost silent on the floor as she padded toward Jon’s room.

He didn’t wake up as she opened the door – she reasoned he’d had so many roommates over so many years that he probably slept through anything. Well anything other than a girl climbing into bed and wrapping herself around him from behind. Before her arm was around his middle he was rolling onto his back.

“Good, all that really happened,” he mumbled as he slid a bicep under her head and snuggled into her. The warmth from his body could have powered the condo and Callie felt herself relax to a whole new level as she burrowed inside the cocoon he’d made. She tucked her head against his chest, into his shadow.

“How do you sleep with all this light?” she whispered.

Jon didn’t answer, just pulled the comforter right up over both of their heads.

Jon woke in the dark confines of their little fort. Callie was fast asleep, barely making a sound as her chest rose and fell with shallow breaths, lifting the arm he had curled around her. There was no light to see by but it didn’t matter. Jon had long ago memorized her face, even in sleep. He knew exactly what she looked and felt like now. He closed his eyes and drifted off again.

Callie rolled onto her side, Jon stuck to her back. His top knee was between hers and her ass fit perfectly into the hollow of his lap. Well hollow except for the fact that he was hard. She gasped when she realized that Jon’s typical boy morning wood was pressed firmly into one side of her ass. Her brain could not be controlled – Wow, it said. Everything about Jon is bigger now.

Shut up, shut up! she willed, trying not to giggle. Or move. She didn’t want to be wiggling around right now. But she was couldn’t help it.

“If you don’t stop moving, I’m going to lose my shit,” Jon said, voice muffled by the pillow and her hair.

That did it – she busted out laughing.  "Does this count as that date you promised me?"

I’m going to die, Jon thought. He knew his face was beet red, so he turned it down and hid against her back. Of course I’m hard, like a perverted high-schooler. Thanks a lot. But he didn’t want her to leave. Everything about her felt right and he figured she must know that he wanted her in every way.

“Jon,” she sputtered, but there was nothing to say. She just laughed. Soon he was laughing too, embarrassed and unable to help himself.

“I’m getting up,” she said.

Jon locked his arms tight. “Wanna bet?”

Callie felt like splatter paint – she was everywhere with no cohesion or form. She wanted him and he wanted her, she wanted this so much that it overwhelmed her.

“You’re the one who crawled into my bed,” he whispered. His voice was husky, the sound of sleep replaced by lust. If anything, he was harder than before since waking up to find his excellent dream was in fact real.

“I missed you again,” she said quietly.

Rolling her over took no effort. Looking into her eyes took some, knowing that it would only make him want this more. And there was no amount of trying in the world that could stop him from kissing her. He put his mouth on hers. The hesitation in her body only lasted a second – he felt her tense, then melt. It was like cold water on a burn: instant relief so deep it was almost painful in itself.

It had been eight years since their first kiss and five years since their last. Pitifully few kisses had been exchanged during a romance that had run their entire adolescent lives. Jon intended to run up that tab now. Her soft lips gave way and he let everything go.

There was nothing to think but Jon and nothing to do kiss. Years of trying and failing, of wanting and waiting were erased by the velvety feel of his tongue. Callie had remembered their last kiss so many times she’d worn it smooth, like a rock from a river. This new kiss had all kinds of cliffs and drops.

Callie pulled at the same time Jon moved, rolling him on top of her. His shirt came off to expose a square mile of smooth, sculpted body, hot to the touch. She moved a leg between his and ground her hips into his erection, letting him know he didn’t need to be shy. He kissed her so deeply she almost fainted.

The t-shirt he’d lent her hit the far wall with a thump. He tracked kisses down her neck and insider her shoulder until finally his lips met the rounded outside of her breast. The milky skin was just as he’d remembered, topped by a rosy pink nipple. His hand lifted the soft rise to his mouth and he closed his mouth over the achingly taut peak.

“Jon,” she whispered. Callie was going to come before she even had her pants off. She knew there had been some reason not to do this last night. Or yesterday at lunch, in the computer store, in a bathroom at the club. But she couldn’t remember it. All she could feel was Jon leaving a slight trail of moisture from her breast to her navel.

Jon ran passing drills in his head to keep from fainting. The flat plain of her stomach was broken only by a sexy line at either side that defined her abs. Kissed traced down that line and Jon held her firm as he hit a ticklish spot and she twisted. His fingers bunched the fabric of her borrowed shorts and pulled them off with ease.

Last night while dancing, while feeling the round of her ass and the curve of her thigh grinding against him, he’d wondered what kind of underwear she was wearing. Seeing the lacy black waistband above a tiny piece of striped fabric that disappeared into the cleft in her legs nearly made him come in his pants. Their eyes met and she smiled. He kissed the spot where the band crossed her hip, then tugged it down and kissed the bare skin beneath. The other side got the same. Then he slid them off altogether.

There would be time to explore, time to tease and torture. There would be nothing but time. But right now, Callie couldn’t wait. Her fingers pressed into Jon’s shoulders as she urged him upward until their faces were level again.

“Are you scared?” he asked. It was the same question five years ago when they’d done this for the first time.

“A little,” she gave the same answer because it was true.

“Me too.” And just like he had back then, on a squeaky double bed with printed flannel sheets, Jon told Callie the truth. “I love you.”

There was no doubt in his eyes and none in her heart. “I love you, Jon.”

His shaft throbbed in her hand as she guided him to the spot. With terrible slowness he pushed inside, making every fraction of an inch feel like free fall. Callie was at terminal velocity when he finally filled her up and ran out of length.

Jon felt like a virgin all over again. He felt he would come immediately, desperately and ruin everything. His heart hammered. Callie’s slick, succulent body welcomed him with a fireworks display. When he finally felt his base meet her lips, the sigh was as much pleasure as it was relief.

“Oh God,” she said. It had never, ever been like this, not even back then when they’d bumbled and fumbled away at each other. Callie didn’t want to know how much practice he’d had, but she was sure he had it down perfectly now. They’d barely moved together and she was already clawing at the edge of the world.

“I should have come for you, I should have been there,” he whispered, face close and eyes clouded with worry. “There were times when I could have…”

She kissed him quiet. “Shhhh. I could have too, Jon. I could We didn’t do anything wrong.” Her voice had the ring of truth.

“I’m sorry I wasted so much time,” he told her. “I almost let you get away.”

Callie had tears in her eyes as she shook her head. “It was always you, Jon.”

Her hands on his hips signaled for him to move. Every long, slow stroke seemed to take a day off the calendar. Jon calculated he’d need just under 2000 strokes to rewind five years. He figured he could work straight through.

Her fingers got to know every inch of his upper body, searching for purchase against the motion of their bodies. She hooked her feet together behind his back and gave him all the angle she could to plumb her depths. His thick, hard cock took everything she had and begged for more. She dug her heels into his lower back to hold him close when the blackness came.

“Jon,” she moaned as her body melted. Callie could have drown in the sensation. Pure white light flooded through her body, taking with it every last ounce of worry and confusion she’d felt since hearing she was moving to Chicago. Jon was right there with her, whispering that he loved her, needed her.

Jon held himself stock still, buried as deep as he could go, and closed his eyes as Callie’s body went liquid all around him. Hearing his name forced from her lips was as good as any cheer from any crowd. His own voice made promises that he looked forward to keeping. When finally she drew in a huge breath and the shuddering stopped, she put a finger to his lips.

He moved again slowly, impressed with his own restraint. A tiny smile crossed her face to feel him shifting inside her. Someday, he told himself, I’ll work all day to make her do that a hundred times. But not now. Trusting that she was satisfied, Jon let himself go. His hips met hers on every stroke as she arched her back to give him more. Heavy desire pooled between his hips. It had never, ever been like this. Not in their brief time together, even the first time when he’d never experienced anything like being inside the girl he loved. She was a woman now, and she was finally his.

It struck like lightning, tearing a groan from his body. He came so hot he worried he could burn her. Five years of frustration and longing pumped out, draining his hopes and fears into her secret places.

“I love you,” he said again, exhausted but thrilled, winding his arms around her back to be sure she could never, ever disappear.

“I love you,” she answered, kissing the bulging round of his bicep.

“Stay with me. Don’t get an apartment.” He hadn’t planned how to ask her, so it didn’t come out like a request.

She leaned her neck back to look into his eyes. It was dangerous – she knew she couldn’t resist them – but necessary. “I think we’re a little ways from that yet. Remember the shoes?”

Damn. He remembered. “I’ll take care of it today.” He spoke quickly to reassure her there was nothing to worry about.

Callie didn’t know how true that was, but the bliss and being reunited with Jon and the post-sex glow they were nursing were things she knew she would never feel again. They weren’t about to be spoiled by anything.

“And curtains,” she added. “You need curtains.”

He pulled the blanket back up over their sticky, sleepy forms and closed out the world.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chapter Six

I finally re-found the picture that inspired this whole story.  Jon and Co having lunch outside.  Can you imagine walking past this on the street?  I'd freaking pee my pants.  Obviously I altered things a little and it was last chapter, but you get the idea.

 (via ilovesharpie)

All Callie could do was laugh. Standing in the bathroom of her comfortable-but-bland corporate apartment, she felt like she was getting ready for the prom all over again. Legs shaved and eyebrows tidied, she dried her hair as she examined her pedicure fresh from the nearest nail salon. A little eyeliner and mascara on curled lashes – not too much, but enough. Hell, she hadn’t seen him in 5 years.

In front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom, Callie wondered if she’d made the right decision. She had no idea where they were going, so she chose something manageable – a blue jewel-toned silk blouse that draped from short sleeves into a flattering, svelte shape. Dark skinny jeans were cuffed above a pair of killer black heels with a peep toe that flashed her bright pink nails. The shoes were dressy, the roll of the jeans casual; she thought it worked. Her long hair stayed was brushed to a shine and left hanging loose.

Pat knocked on the door at 7 sharp – the doormen had stopped announcing his arrival ages ago. He had an open beer in one hand and the other held five bottles left in a pack. “So that’s her,” he said, taking a stool at the kitchen island.

“That’s her.” People assumed that guys never talk about their feelings but they were wrong. Jon and Pat had been roommates since rookie year and they knew each other like twins. They’d been through a lot, including the past summer with the Cup. Jon had argued with himself over calling Callie, inviting her to the celebration at home. Pat had urged him to do it but in the end Jon chickened out. He thought it looked like he was showing off.

Honestly, there were times he could have visited her since they broke up. He could have made time, and he certainly made enough money. But the more time passed the more awkward it felt. So to call her in for his own parade and lake-naming seemed horribly self-serving and conceited. Kaner had called him a coward.

“She’s something, Jon,” Pat acknowledged. He didn’t want to say too much, in case Jon wasn’t ready to hear the obvious. Everyone at the table could tell from first blush that Jon was still very, very much in love with Callie.

“She’s the one that got away,” Jon admitted.

Pat cracked a beer and replaced his empty. “She’s here now.”

At 8 PM she was really there. The doorman didn’t even check his list, just sent her upstairs. Her heels clicked loudly on the marble lobby floor. In the elevator, she closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths. She had to do it again outside Jon’s door.

“Hi!” he said, too loudly. He stepped in, then instantly stepped back totally unsure of himself. Callie looked like a dream – she floated into his apartment with wide eyes.

“Woah, Jon. This place is amazing!” She moved right to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city and the lake. Her shirt matched the evening sky, silhouetting her perfectly against the glass. Flat-footed and dry-mouthed, Jon stood watching. A lot of girls at 22 wished to look like they had in high school. Callie looked better. Her long legs were lean and strong inside her jeans, the delicate fabric of her shirt begged to be touched and it was impossible not to think about sex when looking at her shoes. She was healthy and happy and more beautiful than ever.

“Hey Callie,” Kaner came in from the kitchen to save the day. He handed Callie an open beer and dropped onto the couch. She showed herself around, commenting on how nice everything was. Jon felt a pinch on his arm and heard a bottle cap hit the hardwood floor.

“Dude,” Pat whispered sharply as Callie turned into the kitchen. “Roll up your tongue!”

Jon shook himself out of it and followed her. She was at the fridge, examining a photo stuck behind a magnet. It was Jon with his brother and parents and the Cup. Her fingers touched the very edge of the paper.

“I’m still not over this,” she said quietly. “You really did it.”

As she turned, Jon had to physically grip a stool to keep from throwing himself at her. Her eyes glistened with tears – proud tears, happy tears. His heart beat like a bass drum, trying to escape his rib cage.

“Yeah,” he croaked. “It still doesn’t feel real to me either.” He was only mostly talking about the Cup.

Callie sensed that something was off with Jon as she showed herself around the apartment. It was big and luxurious but not ostentatious. The last door was closed, she knew it was the master bedroom. Old Callie would have gone right in. New Callie wasn’t sure what she’d find; half a closet full of some other girls’ clothes, photos of Jon and another smiling face on vacation, or with the Cup. It was inevitable, but Callie chose to believe her fairy tale a little longer. Her fingers slipped from the doorknob, leaving it unturned.

He was on the couch, wearing jeans and a black button-down rolled up over his massive forearms. It made his tan seem darker, made him impossibly more fit looking than normal. Callie couldn’t get over his size – wider, thicker and more solid than he’d looked even on TV. There was a time when she could put her hand around his wrist, now she’d be hard-pressed to do it with both hands. She sat next to him, not too close. Thirty seconds later half the Blackhawks rolled in.

They walked a few blocks to a steakhouse. Callie knew she would like these guys and she was right. Duncan Keith put an arm around her shoulders and strolled with her, digging for juicy Jon stories and not-subtly trying to get some details about her life as well.

“So you just up and left LA? Nothing to keep you there?”

She put an arm around his waist – he was very comfortable. “Nope. I was ready for a change after 4 years, and the job made it worth my while. There’s only so much perpetual sunshine and warmth you can take before Canada stops looking like home.”

“Well you’ll get it here,” he laughed, gesturing into the unseasonably warm October night. “Take advantage of this because when it’s over, winter lasts forever.”

Jon hung toward the back of the group, not wanting to cling but eavesdropping on their conversation. If Callie gave up anything about herself he had to know.

They’d reserved the back room at the restaurant and soon were eating more food than Callie had ever seen put away. Some of the guys brought girlfriends, so Callie sat between Dave Bolland’s girlfriend Brooke and Jon. The women promised to help her get settled quickly and some even suggested more reasonably-priced places to live. A few knew of buildings with apartments open.

Jon searched his mind for a way to invite Callie to stay with him. It was too forward and probably inconvenient – she must have a whole apartment worth of stuff stashed somewhere, waiting. Her work was even paying for her place now. But he couldn’t help himself, a little fantasy rolling out that she’d start in the guest room and then end up in his room, forever.

Seabs had chosen the next destination carefully – a swanky downtown lounge with low couches and lower lighting. Rat Pack-era tunes played to a well-heeled crowd and the bartenders wore fedoras with vests and ties. It could have been cheesy, but there was too much money invested. Callie examined the overhead chalkboard menu. Jon was thankful for the crowd and noise, excuses to stand close. “I’ll have… what are you having?”

“A bourbon and Coke.”

She made a face, wrinkling her nose and shaking her head. Jon laughed. “I’ll have a cucumber gimlet. Sounds fancy.”

Jon got their drinks and followed her through the crowd to where the guys had batted their missing teeth at the hostess and magically unreserved a reserved table. He saw how heads turned toward Callie but had become oblivious to the heads that turned toward him. Kaner slid into the booth, making room for Callie and half of Jon. She bumped against Pat, earning Jon another six inches.

“Can you fit?” she asked. His wide shoulders and huge were nearly pinning her to Patrick, but she didn’t care.

Jon pressed into the space as far as he could. “Yeah, but I have to…” and he put his arm around Callie’s shoulders. Now he was in. Kane patted his arm to say good job, but Duncan was not so coy.

“Smooth, Tazer,” he said out loud. Callie just sipped her delicate martini glass.

It felt perfectly normal to sit with Callie pulled into his side, all warm and soft. Jon was grateful for his friends – they took a lot of the work away from him. Callie talked like she’d known them forever. Drinks kept coming and Jon fought to concentrate on the conversation and not just the silk of her shirt sliding erotically along the sensitive skin inside his wrist.

When Callie laughed, she rolled her head into Jon’s shoulder. It was impossible not to enjoy being held by someone so big, so solid and comforting. He would have been that if he were a stranger, but for Callie he also held 20 years of shared life. The more they drank the closer they got, until Callie had to warn herself to slow down. She didn’t know Jon now, didn’t know if this life had changed him. Every woman in the place was undressing him with their eyes and a few obviously hoped to make it a reality by night’s end. His arm felt reassuring, but it could be something else. It could be that Jon’s fame had taught him he could have whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. Callie took smaller sips and declined a round, knowing that her defenses were already thin. She didn’t want to ruin anything the first day she had him back.

“Callie, do you like to dance?” Brent asked.

“The chance to see the Kaner Shuffle in person?!” She turned toward Pat, huge excited expression on her face. “Fucking right!”

Seabs was batting a thousand for the night, having chosen a fun, low-key club that was full of people dancing away the warm night. Callie smiled over her shoulder at Jon as she followed Pat right to the floor.

Jon watched her as he waited for drinks. Kaner was putting on his little show, but Jon trusted his friend. In fact it was great not to bear the full weight of Callie’s presence – he needed tiny breaks to collect himself. She bobbed around, letting Pat have the floor. Unable to resist the spectacle, a few of the other guys joined them: Seabs, Duncan, Skille. The people around them backed up, except for any women in the area who moved right in. By the time Jon had two beers in hand he had to fight his way through a tangle of bodies to reach them. At least three different sets of hands groped him on the way through.

There was nowhere to dance except very close. Callie took the drink and pulled him right in. Jon wondered if one of the guys was in the DJ booth, bribing him. Lady Gaga’s “Love Game” came on and the whole crowd moved in tighter.

Callie knew the sharks were circling. Each of the guys had been peeled off by at least one girl until she’d been almost dancing by herself. Jon felt it too – he latched right onto her. His free hand rested on her hip and she slid one leg between his knees. He loomed over her, wide enough to block out the world, and her arm went around the back of his neck.

They were close enough to kiss. If there weren’t drunk enough on alcohol then the desire was plenty put them over the edge. Callie kept her eyes down to avoid his – if she looked into those depths right now she’d fall forever. Jon couldn’t keep any distance. His hips met hers, rolling and swaying with the beat until there was no space between them. His hand slid across silk at her lower back, holding her close.

“It’s nice to have you back,” he said, lips pressed to her ear in almost a kiss.

“I missed you,” she said out loud.

The song ended and many more played. Each time Jon and Callie separated they breathed deeply, regaining their balance. But the right songs kept bringing them together and every time they were imperceptibly closer. By 1 AM Callie was holding a handful of hair off her neck and fanning herself.

“Think you can stop humping her leg long enough to eat?” Duncan asked, appearing at Jon’s side. Jon shot him a sharp look though it was way too loud for Callie to overhear.

“Cal, food?” She nodded enthusiastically.

Drunk people in a diner are always fun. Two confused, horny people who really want to ravish each other are way more fun. Kaner orchestrated the entrance so Callie would be all the way to the inside of the booth, Jon next to her. Then he pushed Seabs in and climbed in himself, smooshing everyone together like sardines.

Callie almost laughed – Kane was not subtle. But she wasn’t feeling subtle either. She lifted her knees and put them over Jon’s thigh, her feet hanging between his legs. It made a little more room for them and was just as good as copping a feel of those massive legs she’d been grinding against all night.

Oh God, Jon thought, willing his body not to get hot and bothered and give away his brain.

The guys ate a huge second dinner. Jon nibbled at his sandwich and tried to ignore Callie tongue-kissing the straw of a chocolate milkshake six inches away. If anyone else at the table was thinking what he was thinking, he’d kill them.

Callie saw Jon looking at her from the corner of his eye. He thought he was so stealthy. She drowned a giggle in her straw and went on giving it the time of its life. Even without the confusing, messy feelings and raging hormones, Callie was having a great time with Jon’s teammates. They knew each other in a way that normal people rarely experienced with friends. Callie couldn’t believe she had been reluctant to call Jon – she’d have been alone in her apartment right now, sleeping away a perfectly good night.

When they finished, Callie never saw who paid. She hadn’t seen who paid for anything. Instead she was concerned about untangling herself from Jon and missing the thick, warm feel of his leg beneath hers. Groups broke up and started hailing cabs outside. The guys hugged Callie goodbye and she traded numbers and promises to get together soon with the girls. Kane gave Jon a giant slap on the shoulder and left the two of them standing on the curb.

“I think my place is that way,” she pointed left. “And yours is that way,” she pointed right.

It was out before Jon could think and he didn’t want to take it back. “Come over. I’ve got a guest room,” he added quickly.

“You have two,” she corrected.

He looked down into her eyes and did his best sad puppy face. She’d never been able to resist it before. “Not fair! That face! You’re like a baby panda.” But she waved for only one cab.

Callie had the hiccups and Jon was laughing at her. They were in his living room – on opposite sides of the L-shaped couch – having a night cap. She’d been in the middle of a story about running into a celebrity in the supermarket in LA when her giggle caught in her throat.

“Stop – hic! Jon!”

He fetched a glass of water and they both waited while she sipped and held her breath. Finally, they were gone. With her first real sentence she asked, “Can I see your room?”

All the blood in Jon’s body went to his lap. He was definitely drunk. And there’s no other reason a girl would want to see your room, right? She followed him down the hallway.

“Woooo,” she said softly. The dark hardwood floor continued throughout the master suite. One wall was all windows, floor-to-ceiling with the lights of the city sparkling outside. The king size bed had a brown comforter and a chaise lounge chair sat across from it.

“This is a bachelor pad!” she pronounced it approvingly. “My place in LA was 3-bed, 3-bath, but I had to share it with two other people.”

Jon visually calculated the distance between where she stood and the wide, low mattress. One throw, he knew. He could have her on her back in a single movement.

Callie tried not to look at the bed. She could take a long week doing what she wanted to him on every inch of that huge expanse. Better not to think about it. But she was loopy and tired. At the window she looked straight down into the river. “Sure beats a view of my backyard at home.”

Jon joined her, resisting the urge to press her against the glass. It was an amazing view, the number one reason he’d chosen this place. He had to do something before he lost it completely. “I can’t believe you’re here,” he said.

Callie didn’t turn her head. “Five years. I have missed you for 22 percent of my 22 years.”

“You’re 23 now, Cal.”

She laughed, having forgotten that her birthday was just two weeks ago. “Wow, that sounds like forever.”

“Cougar,” he gave her a little hip check.

She pushed back. “Jailbait.”

Jon took a seat on the edge of the bed, hoping Callie would follow suit. She did – sitting about two feet away from him and flopping back onto the mattress. “Tell me every single thing that I’ve missed about you, Jon.”

He rolled onto his side, looking at her splayed out across the bed. His bed. Callie was really, finally, actually here. The last time he’d seen her had been in the last place he called home. He told her about last season, about the playoffs and the Cup and the parade. When he got to the part about his celebration in Winnipeg, he couldn’t help but ask. “Why didn’t you come?”

Callie turned to face him now. Her hair pooled on the mattress beneath her elbow. “I didn’t think you’d remember me.”

He covered the space between them in one slide. Without touching her – that would be too much – he got close and whispered, “I could never forget you.”

“I know. But after so long, on your biggest day ever, I felt like I didn’t have a place there. Like that was for your life now and I wasn’t part of it,” she paused. “I’m sorry I missed it, Jon. I wish I’d been brave enough to just show up, even if I didn’t talk to you. I would have loved to have seen you give that place what’s for.”

He wanted to cry. Worried he was about to lose that last scrap of composure, he cracked a joke. “Katie McKenna was there.”

Callie made a choking noise and fell onto her back. “That stupid skank! Tell me she was all over you, talking about eighth grade and trying to get in your pants.”

“Yup. She was.”

“Did it work?” Callie’s voice was a little quieter than she intended.

“Oh my God.” Jon pulled down a pillow and smacked her with it. She shrieked and curled into a defensive ball while he wailed away, pummeling her. Her laughs were muted by the thumping.

“I surrender! Surrender!” she called. Jon threw the pillow onto the floor and when she unfurled, she was right up against him. Without pausing, Jon leaned down to kiss her.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chapter Five

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Jon's out two weeks with an upper body injury - bummer!  I'll try to get you through it with this story.

“I talked to Jon’s mom today.”

“MOM!” Callie said sharply. “I told you not to! Let me get there, get settled and then I’ll text him… ugh!”

Her mother was having none of it. Even internationally via long-distance she could still give Callie a piece of her mind. “Absolutely not. Jon is your best friend. You were in love with him for years, Cal! For crying out loud. I don’t know what happened to you guys but you are not moving to a city where he is the only person you know and not calling him.”

Callie looked at the movers putting the last of her things in the truck to the storage unit. It would all follow on the company’s dime once she found a place to live. “I will call him when I get there,” she protested.

“The hell you will. I asked his mom to give you the day, but after that she’s telling him. Andree agrees you two have been apart too long.”

“It’s not that Mom, it’s… different. He’s different, he won’t want me hanging around like some loser with no friends. In case you don’t get the news in Singapore he is a superstar now!”

She heard her mom sigh, exasperated. “The only person treating him like a superstar is you, Callie.”

For the last time, Callie drove herself to Santa Monica, tied her sneakers tight and ran down the Venice Beach boardwalk along the Pacific Ocean. It was crowded with tourists and transients but it always helped to clear her mind.

The decision to move had been easy – a simple yes, right away. She wanted the promotion, and her job in LA would be downgrading anyway. Some of her college friends had left and the rest were caught up starting their own real lives. The guy she’d been dating, Brandon, had taken a job in New York two months before and Callie hadn’t really even missed him. LA had been fun for four years but she was ready to go.

And plus, it was Chicago. It wasn’t like Jon was waiting for her – he was the toast of the town now and she was just some old girlfriend. None of her college friends ever talked about their high school sweethearts, and every single one of those long-distance freshman year relationships had ended long ago. Still, you never know, she couldn’t stop thinking.

Callie stared at Jon’s name on her phone screen for a few minutes before calling. It was the first time ever she heard herself think: please don’t pick up. Her wish was granted.

“Hey. Leave a message and I’ll call you back.” Since becoming THE Jonathan Toews, he’d taken his name off the voicemail. As if people couldn’t recognize his voice.

“Jon, hi. It’s Callie. I’m uh… I’m moving to Chicago. Surprise! My work is transferring me and I’ll be there in a few days. When I get in, maybe I could buy you dinner? It’s, um… well I don’t actually know anyone there so even though it’s been a long time I thought maybe I can at least take you for a drink to celebrate all the amazing things you’ve done. So, give me a call. Or I’ll call you when I get there. Okay? Bye Jon.”

“Holy shit,” Jon said out loud. He’d been at practice, skating hard and working on drills. Repeating for the Stanley Cup was nearly impossible in the NHL but Jon and the Hawks were trying to reach that goal. The season was two weeks old and things had not started out well.

“What?” Patrick Sharp said, dropping in next to him on the locker room bench.

“My, uh… wow. Callie is moving here. To Chicago.”

His teammate leaned back a little. “Callie, Callie? The ex-girlfriend?”

Jon shook his head. He’d never, ever called her that. “No, well… we were together for a long time. But we grew up together, next door neighbors since we were tiny. Before she was my girlfriend she was my best friend. Ever. First kiss, first… everything.”

Jon blushed as Sharpie slapped him on the back. He’d gotten married over the summer and the guys teased him for becoming a romantic softie. “Why’d you break up?”

“Never got to see each other. Too far apart.”

Sharpie raised an eyebrow. “Not anymore, eh?”

A million thoughts flooded Jon’s mind – like his life flashing before his eyes. Touching her lips for the first time during that basement party, Callie holding his hand at the movies when Katie McKenna dumped him, kissing her to stop her crying when he left, watching her sleep that New Year’s weekend. The last time he’d seen her, waving as he drove away.

“What about Tara?” Sharpie broke through his daydream.

Crap, Jon thought. Tara was the girl he’d been dating, more for company than anything else. She was nice enough and the sex was distracting if not memorable. It kept the guys from dragging him around the clubs and throwing a steady stream of puck bunnies in his path. Tara was… well, he hadn’t thought of her first, so she really wasn’t.

“I don’t know that Callie and I are still anything. It’s been a long time,” Jon admitted, as much as it hurt to say that to the love of his life, he might be just another guy. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Jon finally called Callie later that night. He didn’t want to wait but he didn’t know what to say. If she was moving, she couldn’t have a boyfriend, right? That was getting ahead of himself – he hadn’t seen her in five years. Maybe she had changed. Hell, his life had certainly changed enough. There was a good chance that she was over him, way past what they had and wouldn’t want to be part of his circus anyway.

But still, it’s Callie.  If it was possible to be nervous pushing a single button, he was. She didn’t answer.

“Callie, hey, it’s Jon. I can’t believe this! You definitely owe me some dinners. In exchange, I’ll let you wear my gold medal. Call me when you get here. Do you need any help moving stuff in? I know some pretty big guys… okay. See you soon, eh? Can’t believe I’m actually saying that again. Bye.”

I know some pretty big guys…

Callie laughed at Jon’s message, but it also twisted her stomach. He would be nice. He’d be unfailingly polite and friendly because he was a good solid Canadian kid whose mom had raised him right. And that mom would be asking about Callie. So Jon would fulfill the obligation borne of growing up next door. But his world was so much bigger now, his life something Callie couldn’t possibly comprehend. Surely there would be no place for her there.

But still, it’s Jon…. She saved the message anyway. Two days later, she got on a plane to Chicago.

Callie had her map out and her head down somewhere in the warren of downtown Chicago streets, looking for a computer store her office recommended. The wireless router in her short-term corporate housing wouldn't pick up the card in her laptop. She didn't know an N router from a G and was one service call away from throwing it out the window. She lifted her eyes to the street signs; surely they were on this map somewhere.

Patrick Kane had been watching her for half a block. He never missed the approach of a pretty girl. She wore black jeans on shapely legs, high brown riding boots and a lightweight, oversized white cable knit sweater with a bright green scarf wrapped once around her neck. Long dark hair was caught beneath the strap of her messenger bag and held off her face by sunglasses. She stopped on the corner, four feet outside the fence that contained the outdoor table where half the Chicago Blackhawks were having lunch.

Pat leaned over the low railing, still in his chair. "Can I help you find something?" A few of his teammates turned to see who he was talking to.

Callie looked up to say yes, please, thank you. The words were already on her tongue when she saw his face. Sound caught in her throat. Patrick instantly smiled, proud to be recognized and prepared to be adored.

Jon barely flicked his eyes from the menu. He'd seen a million Kaner conquests and couldn't care less about one more: another long-legged, long-haired girl. His brain barely registered anything before his eyes went right back to her, wide.


She recognized Patrick, of course. It nearly stopped her heart to see him, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Instantly she realized he was with a group, sensed the size of his tablemates. They could only be... her gaze shot a bull's-eye without even trying.

"Jon!" she gasped. It wasn't a scream or a question. It was like someone opened the airlock in a sci-fi movie and the entire world went completely silent and still. She was weightless, jettisoned into space.

Jon didn’t hesitate – he was a man of action now, a tried-and-true winner, up and moving before his name was off her lips. He wore a gray collared t-shirt and black cargo shorts, every part of his body twice the size she remembered. His hair was short, his skin tanned but the smile, that aw-shucks baby-faced smile was like a time machine back to home.

They both thought it. They were both embarrassed and tried to push it from their minds. They both failed.

Please don't be in love with someone else.

Jon wove behind Seabs’ and Duncan’s chairs and stepped over the railing like it was a curb. Callie's mouth still hung open, just an inch. She looked like a memory, a face he'd seen only in dreams for five years. That beautiful face.

Callie's brain did nothing. Or something. It shot 1s and 0s; binary code for some equation that would not compute. An error message kept popping up: Jon. Jon.

He was on the street in no time, Chicago's most recognizable face on a busy sidewalk in the middle of the day. His arms went around her like she was poured into a mold. Before he could slow down, Jon buried his face in her soft hair. "Callie."

"Wow," she whispered. "Hi."

They hugged for an hour. A day. Maybe a month. Callie inhaled the scent of pure, clean boy: soap and deodorant and fresh laundry. Jon was massive in her embrace, like a wall or a sculpture; solid, heavy and warm.

"Ahem," Kane had to say three times before anyone heard.

"Oh," Jon said, remembering his lunch companions. He blushed, putting his chin on top of Callie's head as she too opened her eyes. He unfolded and opened toward the table. "Guys, this is Callie. Callie, this is...." Eight sets of eyes sized her up, the woman on their captain's mind.

She rolled her eyes. "I know who they are, Jon."

The guys laughed while Jon's heart squeezed hard. If she knew who they were, then she'd been watching. Not just Goggling him once in a while.  She'd been watching.

"Join us, we haven't even ordered yet." Jon stepped over the fence and reached out for her. Sharpie slid his chair away from Jon's, making room for another. Jack Skille asked the next table if they could spare an extra.

Callie took Jon's hand, cleared the railing and moved around to the newly arrived seat. "You guys don't mind?"

"Tell us embarrassing high school stories about Tazer and we'll even pay," Duncan said.

Jon could not believe that just like that, one moment from nothing, Callie was sitting next to him. After waiting so long that he almost forgot he was, she was right next to him. Not over the phone, not on Skype. She wasn't a once-in-a-blue-moon text message or a heartbreaking surprise photo on his iPad. She was here.

Callie took a sip of water, smiling at Seabrook telling a joke. She half-listened, half-reeled. Jon sat beside her like a radio tower, emitting a constant buzz of energy that made every hair on her body stand up. He was right here, right now. She reached out and squeezed his forearm. Bad idea, she thought. It was like squeezing carved marble.

"Just making sure you're real," she whispered.

"Where are you staying, Callie?" Kane was asking.

"Oakwood corporate apartments on Silver, while I look for a place. My job moved pretty quickly so there was no time to find a one first." The guys tossed out suggestions about neighborhoods, making Callie smile. As if she could afford what they liked! But she listened, noting places that were young, had nightlife, were near the El. And where not to live.

"How do you like it so far?" Duncan took his turn at 20 questions.

"It's great. I've only been here two days."

"So you haven't been to...." A hundred suggestions came at once. The general consensus was they had a lot to show her.

"Starting tonight," Seabrook said. "Jon’s place at eight, don't eat first."

Callie looked at Jon, who nodded enthusiastically. "And here I thought I wouldn't have any friends!" she laughed.

"Isn't Jon your oldest friend?" Kane asked. "Or has he been going on about some fantasy he made up."

She giggled. "Oldest, definitely. The boy next door."

Jon was blushing uncontrollably. It didn't match the glare he tried to give Pat, shaking his head almost imperceptibly. Having spent so much time together, Jon knew when Kane was about to misbehave. And when he was about to ignore a warning.

"We heard you were Jon's first kiss," Pat went on.

"My first too," Callie put a hand to her face. "Spin the bottle strikes again."

The guys erupted - Jon had left out the part about the game. "You had to win it, Tazer? You didn't tell us that!" Skille howled. Jon sent him a look like if you want to survive your rookie season, shut the fuck up.

"Ooooh, no. I was so awkward - Jon was bailing me out. Showing me how it was done." She squeezed his arm again.

Kane snorted. "Right - you're awkward, he's cool. We also heard...."

"Pat, I'm going to murder you," Jon finally broke his mortified silence.

Callie rescued him. “I knew you two stayed up late telling secrets. Bromance!”

And just like that, Callie and Jon were having lunch together. His heart pounded and her brain sizzled. Every time one caught the other looking, they would both blush and turn away.

Callie had the unmistakable urge to kiss him: those lips formed the same smile by which she’d judged her own happiness for nearly 20 years. She wondered if they were still soft, who bought him Chapstick now, who got to feel the warmth of his body while he slept.

Jon snuck a thousand glances at her. Some she caught, most she didn’t. Judging by the looks on Kane and Bolland’s faces, they saw every one. He was drunk on the smell of her hair, the fall of it down her back and over her shoulders. Her sweater had been soft in his hands. He wondered what she’d left behind, who was missing her now. Surely a girl like Callie did not go unloved.

Lunch ended too soon. There were 6 hours before Seabrook had suggested that Callie meet them for the evening. “What are you doing now?” Jon asked.

“Finding the computer store to sort out my internet connection.” She patted her bag. “I have lost patience I didn’t even know I had.”

He stood up and pulled out her chair. “I’ll go with you.”

She’d only been off by one street. Happiest accident ever, she thought. The idea of seeing Jon had made her so nervous and she’d built it up into something impossible. He was so famous, so successful – he was a real life idol. But the moment she saw him she also knew he was just Jon, the same guy she’d been in love with all her life. He walked with hands in his pockets – she was grateful, or she might have tried to hold one.

Thank God, Jon said to himself. He thanked his mom and Callie’s for making sure they were in touch and he thanked his lucky stars that Callie seemed to still be the girl he’d always known. He was desperate to put an arm around her waist or pick her up or something, anything, so he tucked his hands into his shorts.

“You look great, Cal,” he said, reaching for some way to break the ice.

“Thanks, Jon. You too, but I cheated by watching you on TV all the time.”

“I saw your pictures on Facebook when I was home – Dex showed me.” He wanted to ask why she hadn’t come, but he didn’t want to put her on the spot. She’s here now, he reminded himself. That’s all that matters.

“I saw your lake.” They both laughed at that, sharing some memories about times they’d visited that spot when all this winning was just a dream. Callie noticed people noticing Jon, but no one approached or said anything. Until they were in the store. Callie put her bag on the counter and began pulling out her laptop. The clerk stood with his mouth open, staring at Jon.

“Hey man,” Jon said nicely.

A woman from another part of the store came over. “Oh my God, Jonathan Toews!” She introduced herself. That sparked the clerk to life and he did the same. Then another employee. Pretty soon six or eight people were around them and none were interested in Callie’s computer. Jon looked at her apologetically.

“I think I’ll go,” he offered.

“Or I’ll never get this done! Text me the place.”

“See you at 8.”

Jon left, and all the onlookers turned toward Callie. As if they were memorizing her face for when they saw it in the newspaper.

Callie got her electronics sorted out, and the clerk gave her a big discount for no reason other than she obviously knew Jon. When she finally left the store, she went right past her apartment to the neatest street of stores.

I was fine until I saw him, she thought. Now she knew there was still something, at least on her part. And that called for an outfit. She couldn’t go out with the Blackhawks in some wrinkled work clothes. Callie searched through the stores, relishing the raise that had come with her transfer and thinking of it as a gift, which she would spend for this special occasion.

Jon is my friend, she reminded herself. Surely over five years she’d lost of the privilege of anything else, especially with someone like him. The world was at his feet and she was just old news.  She’d stay there, just to be near him. But already she knew this was going to hurt.

Jon wanted to run home - anything to make 8 PM come as soon as possible. Adrenaline and hormones flooded through his system.

Please please please, his brain chanted. Jon’s heart did not share the optimism. The more he thought about it, the more he knew that Callie was out of his reach now. He had the chance but it had passed – maybe if he’d gone to her sooner, made an effort to prove what she had meant to him. What she still meant. But he’d let it go far too long and that would cost him. A girl like that… you don’t get a second chance, he thought. Still he would take whatever he could get, a tiny little slice of her life would be better than what he’d lived without for five years. But it wouldn’t be easy.

He wasn’t inside ten minutes before his phone rang.

“I’m coming over at 7,” Kane said. “I think you need a drink or you’re not gonna make it through tonight.”