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.


  1. AWWW... Yay!! That was too cute. I fucking love Kaner!! :)

  2. Cannot wait for more!!! update soon!!
    Love jonathan and callie

  3. Well she's definitely a better person than me. Thank god for Tara explaining the situation otherwise it could have been stalemate! :)

  4. Bah, update, Update, update!!! Puhlease!! :)