Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chapter 5

Sorry for the wait on this one. It was almost done on Sunday and then I got distracted by True Blood and Mr. Eric Northman (or Jimmy in a Stetson) and then yesterday was just a disaster. But I hope I made up for the wait with a long chapter.

Never stop hoping
Need to know where you are
But one thing's for sure
You're always in my heart

I'll find you somewhere
I'll keep on trying
Until my dying day
I just need to know
Whatever has happened
The truth will free my soul

Lost in the darkness
Tried to find your way home
I want to embrace you
And never let you go
(lyrics from ‘Somewhere’ Within Temptation)

It wasn’t even nine in the morning, the sun was still fairly low in the sky as she watched him lift off his hat, tip his head back and wipe his thick, muscular forearm across his forehead. It was a familiar gesture and one that had always elicited the same reaction from her since she’d barely understood what it meant to get that twisting feeling low in her gut. Chelsea stood now, her hands cupped around a steaming mug of dark, rich black coffee and stared at the man who was both obviously avoiding her and performing for her at the same time. She appreciated the vision in front of her but not in the way she had before. It didn’t make her breathless and it should have. Right at this moment, however, what she did feel was guilt. Cleaning the stalls was as much her chore as his and one they’d almost always shared but now she stood apart, watching and giving him space as much as maintaining her distance.

“Your gran sent up some of those butter tarts you like.” She turned and beamed up at the still burly silver haired man joining her out on the front porch carrying one of those old blue and white speckled tin cups that most people use for camping. It was his cup. It would always be his cup. “She would have come up herself but then she knew you’d think she was just fussin’,” he added, taking his place beside her and looking down at where Jimmy was now sipping water, elongating his neck, the muscles in his long neck working as he swallowed. Chelsea followed the trail of the water that spilled from the corner of his mouth down across the sharp line of his jaw and onto the flat plane of his golden chest. She licked her lips. “Your gran thought you’d have been down to see her by now with some good news about you and your young man there,” her grandfather added, getting right to the point just as he always did. She felt her cheeks heat as she turned away from the distracting scenery. “So the boy hasn’t worked up his courage,” she felt her grandfather’s hand on her shoulder and then his lips on her cheek. His mustache tickled. “Well, never mind. He will. We all know that.” 

That was the problem, Chelsea thought to herself. It seemed like since the first day Jimmy had started working for her parents everyone had been saying what a nice looking couple they made. Of course she’d thought so too, then. She’d lived and breathed Jimmy since she was sixteen years old and too young to date, at least she had been according to her father. That hadn’t stopped her tagging around after him like a loyal puppy dog and it hadn’t stopped him finding reasons to come by the house for a drink of lemonade so he could sit on the porch with her while she did her homework. She’d been sure for so long now that she’d marry Jimmy and they’d live in this house and work this land together, but that had been before she’d told him he had to wait until she’d done something with her life. She just hadn’t realized that doing that would change everything. 

I don’t gramps. I don’t know if this is what I want anymore.” She knew he wouldn’t reproach her for saying it, even though her chest tightened and tears pricked at the corners of her eyes when she said it out loud. This land had been enough for four generations of her family. 

“I never thought this place was big enough to hold you CeeCee,” her grandfather laid his arm across her shoulders and pulled her into the solid wall of his body. “But no matter where you go, just remember that this piece of heaven will always be in your heart, no matter who you decide to give it to.” He didn’t need to say more and she knew he wouldn’t ask.


Loser’, Mike put his head in his hands and forced himself to look away from the screen on his laptop. There was no red headed CeeCee in Calgary on facebook or on any other social media dating site that he could think of. He knew because he’d been surfing the net for at least a couple of hours. ‘See, told you that you should have gone after her’, he berated himself silently as he slammed the heel of his hand against his forehead.  What were the chances they’d both be in Calgary? Those chances seemed impossibly slim but now the thought of knowing she was somewhere nearby and not being able to see her had him back in the same mindset he’d been in when he’d fled DC knowing that if he hadn’t he’d spend the rest of the summer going from bar to bar searching every woman’s face for those incredibly green eyes. 

He’d told himself over and over last night not to think about her but every time he’d closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep, there she was. No matter how many times he’d forced himself awake, turned over and tried not to, she was still there with her moon pale skin and her high firm breasts that fit so perfectly in his hands and her ripe warm lips that called to him so strongly he’d woken up in the early hours of the morning knowing he had to find her but not knowing where to start and now he’d exhausted every social media site he knew of. 

“Maybe you should put up some posters like for a lost cat, y’know,  give a reward or something,” his friend Paul suggested, sliding a couple of heavily buttered pieces of toast in front of him. His head was busting, what he wanted was hair of the dog, but he took a bite and chewed it slowly so it didn’t make too much noise. He was about to take another bite but his hand paused half way up to his mouth. 

“That might work,” he said, mostly to himself.

“I was kidding man,” Paul was looking at him the same way he did right before he did something stupid like farting into a camp fire or heading for the half pipe with a a bottle of Patron. 

“Okay not signs, for real but…I could tweet like a missing person thing,” Mike reached for his phone but Paul grabbed it and held it out of his reach. 

“She’s just a chick. Do you know how many single hot chicks there are in this city?” Growling, Mike reached for his phone but Paul just shook his head and stepped back putting himself even further away.  “Just tell me why you’re spending so much time on this one?” He knew how it sounded in his own head and he knew that at best Paul was going to laugh at him and at worst he was going to call the men in the white coats to take him away. He also knew damn well that if he tried to blow him off, Paul would only poke and prod him until Mike gave an answer. 

Of course there was the easy answer his friend would understand. 

“She’s great in the sack,” he replied and got the reaction he’d anticipated.

“Well why didn’t you just say so? Buddy, I thought you were getting soft on me. Fuuuuck, I thought you were gonna say she’s the one or some fucking thing,” Paul laughed as he handed him back his phone. “Tweet away and hey, ask if she has a friend for me okay?” Mike took his phone back and gave his friend a cheerful gee shucks shrug and grin, right up until the moment Paul was past him and could no longer see his face and then Mike allowed his face to fall. He’d been telling himself that same lie all night. The only problem was that he didn’t believe it anymore. 


“You did not buy those around here.” Chelsea glanced down at the black strappy high heeled Givency sandals on her feet and shook her head. “Yeah, didn’t think so. Fuck, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you out of runners or cowboy boots in your entire life. Maybe flip flops, once,” her friend Mandy took the empty seat across from her at the small table in Chiasso’s. Chelsea was already sipping on her caramel macchiato and Mandy’s mocha was waiting for her. “In fact,” Mandy noted, tipping her head to one side and giving Chelsea one of those long considering looks that, had it come from a man, would normally have made her blush. As it was, Chelsea waited until Mandy’s eyes met hers’ again before she shook her head and laughed. “Well, shit, you look hot and sooo not like you. Jesus, a couple months away and you’re some big city fashionista.” 

“Am not,” Chelsea laughed and put her coffee down and sat back. This felt normal. Nothing else had since she’d gotten back, but Sunday morning coffee with her best friend did. 

“Okay, well I’ve never seen you in jeans that tight or…what do you call that? A hanky?” Chelsea looked down at the asymmetrical flowy halter top and shrugged. “I’m just teasin’ you baby girl. You look amazing but ya gotta admit, it’s not your regular boy fit jeans and dirty t-shirt.” 

“I guess I got out of the habit of slobbing around,” Chelsea admitted with a shrug, picking up her coffee and trying to hide behind the cup. 

“You mean you got away from Jim Bob and stacking horseshit and realized that you’re a girl,” Mandy snorted and Chelsea suddenly found herself unable to meet her friend’s gaze. That came a little too close to home. “Sorry, I know you hate when I call him that.” It wasn’t that but Chelsea was willing to let her friend believe it was, for now. Unlike most girls she found it hard to confide in her friends about Jimmy. At first they’d all thought her relationship with the tall, handsome cowboy was very exciting but as time wore on and her friends moved from one boy to the next, they’d begun to warn her about his controlling ways. She’d never seen him that way. Last night she’d sat up for a long time mulling things over that she’d never allowed herself to even think about. “I notice you’re not wearing a ring,” her friend added more gently. Chelsea flexed her left hand, looked down at her empty finger and then put her hand back in her lap. 

“I know he wanted to…I mean, I’m pretty sure he planned to ask me but…,” she looked up and across the table at her friend and shrugged. “I guess I just need a little time to adjust to being back home.” It was the second time she’d said that, but this time it was as if she was trying to convince herself. 

“Well if he lets you wander around in the city looking like that he’ll have a hard time keeping you to himself, that’s for sure,” Mandy grinned at her, trying to buoy her spirits. Chelsea smiled but that leaden weight in her stomach only got heavier. 

“So, what have you been up to?” 

This was why she’d come out, to hear someone else talk, to hear about someone else’s life and to try and fill her head with thoughts other than the ones that were going around and around in her head like a carousel that never stopped and wouldn’t let her off. She picked at the cinnamon bun in front of her and listened while her friend explained about how she was getting ready for the biggest event in Calgary’s calendar year, the Stampede. She was just one of the girls that wore the shiny shirts and matching chaps and rode around the ring with a flag but it was a big deal. There’d been a time not so long ago that she herself would have been excited to be involved in something as simple as that and she smiled and nodded and asked the appropriate questions in the appropriate places but only part of her brain was paying attention. 

The other part was thinking about the way Jimmy had looked in the rear view mirror of her dad’s old mustang. Had he looked angry? Disappointed? Upset? She wondered what he’d do when she got back. Would he want to talk? Would he try and get her alone again or would he continue to avoid her and if he did, would she care?

“Hey, do you know Mike Green?” Chelsea blinked and then narrowed her eyes at Mandy as her friend stared down at her iPhone. 

“Who?” she asked, wondering if she’d missed part of her friend’s story, if this Mike person was some cowboy coming to town or someone Mandy had met U of C. 

“You know, the hockey player,” Mandy prompted, staring across the table at her as if she should know. Chelsea shrugged. The Flames were big, of course, and her father had taken her to a few games but she’d never showed much interest. She liked horses, not hockey. 

“Did he get traded or something?” she asked, trying her best to be sociable and to stop Mandy from asking about Jimmy again. 

“Nooo,” Mandy wrinkled her nose and looked at her as if she were considering something and then decided against it. “He doesn’t play for the Flames. I was just going to ask if you met him when you were in DC with your dad but why would you have,” she laughed and then stowed her phone away. “Must have been some other red head,” she added with a dismissive sigh. “Another coffee?” 


Mike stretched out on the table and stared up at the ceiling. He’d lost count of how many MRI’s he’d had since he’d started playing hockey. In the last year alone he’d probably had ten. His knee was a mess, he didn’t need a picture to know that, but the surgeon that had been recommended to the team apparently did.

“Try not to move,” the disembodied voice suggested and Mike yawned in reply. He knew the drill and chances were he’d probably have a nap while they did this. He shut his eyes and allowed his heart beat to slow. All he wanted to know was if he was going to have to go under the knife or if he was just going to have to deal with rehab for the entire summer. Ovie had invited him to spend some of their time off in Moscow and Nicky had invited him to Sweden. He wanted to do both trips but if he was going to get serious about his training over the summer, chances were he’d end up doing neither. The farthest he’d probably get would probably be a barbeque and beer boys’ weekend in Wawota with Brooksy. 

He thought about calling Brooks later, when he got back home, and asking him his opinion on finding the red headed vixen who kept invading his thoughts. The first thing Brooks would do was give him shit for letting her leave the club without at the very least getting her digits, he knew that. The big forward would sigh and shake his head and say something like ‘Greener, you have no game’. Thinking about it made Mike smile. 

Brooks definitely had a way with the ladies. Even when they were attached, even if they had their guy in the room with them Mike had seen Brooks work his magic and take a chick right from under the nose of her boyfriend. The man was smooth. There was no doubt about that. Mike wasn’t. The most he could hope for was that some girl would feel sorry for him, buy the whole Eeyore act and take pity on him long enough for him to use his minor skills to get into their pants. Kind of like he had with CeeCee. 

The name still didn’t seem right. Even as he rolled it over in his mouth Mike somehow knew that it couldn’t be her name. It had to be some kind of pet name. Not one he’d ever use for her, he thought with a smile. He’d call her sexy bitch or hot stuff, not CeeCee. 

“Ummm Mr. Green, if we can just get you to relax?” Mike cursed under his breath as he opened his eyes and stared down his body at the tent his dick was making of his sweat pants. 

“Sorry,” he called and shut his eyes again and thought about wing sauce on Boudreau’s cheek, the Speedos Ovie wore when they went swimming at a hotel pool, the way that Brooksy would pick up the bone from a t-bone steak and gnaw at it right in the middle of a restaurant and eventually the thoughts of his red headed vixen were shuffled to the back of his mind. 


As she turned up the drive she could see Popcorn saddled and tied up outside the barn as if she were waiting for her. The mare’s ears pricked up as the Mustang pulled up outside the house and as Chelsea stepped out of the car she was met with a whinny of greeting. Guilt churned in her stomach. She’d been back two days and hadn’t taken her out. This was probably Jimmy’s not so subtle way of reminding her of her obligations and responsibilities. 

Glancing towards the lower paddock she could see him in the middle of the ring holding one end of a training harness, giving a lesson. He looked up towards her and reached up to touch the brim of his hat. So it had definitely been his idea.

“Let me just change into my boots,” she whispered, pressing her lips to the middle of the blaze on the mare’s forehead, and her jeans, she thought as she mounted the stairs. Her boots were sitting near the door on some newspaper, cleaned. Chelsea made a face. “Okay, I get it,” she cursed under her breath and dropped into one of the kitchen chairs to pull off her sandals. She was still silently cursing him and thinking up colourful things to call him when he pulled open the screen door. She stared at his dusty boots, the pale, faded denim jeans with one knee blown out and finally up to the sweat soaked white wife beater that tugged across his chest, reminding her that there was lean solid muscles beneath. 

“If you wait a few minutes I’ll come with you,” he offered. Chelsea made a face and went back to pulling on her boots. 

“I think I’d rather be on my own,” she mumbled. She expected him to insist but only a long drawn out silence surrounded her, shortly followed by the slamming of the screen door. Chelsea winced. She really didn’t want to hurt him but it seemed as if she couldn’t help doing it. 

Stomping out of the door she walked down to the barn and started to untie the mare who flicked her tail and shook her head with impatience.  Chelsea stroked her neck and then slid the reins over her head and put her foot in the stirrup and swung her leg over. ‘Should definitely have changed my jeans’ she winced as the slim fitting denim dug in as her legs settled around the mare’s girth. 

“Go easy on me girl,” she whispered, laying another pat on Popcorn’s neck as she turned her towards the upper pastures. She was sure she could feel Jimmy’s eyes on her back, but didn’t turn to look. She needed some space. She needed some air. The warm wind lifted her hair but it lifted the light flowing fabric of her top too. Chelsea went to tug it down when she felt the mare shy. “Hey girl I said take it easy, we’re not galloping today,” she mumbled as she tried to tug in the loose, uneven edges of her top into her jeans with one hand while holding the reins with another. Popcorn shook her head and stamped. “Hooo baby, just give me a minute,” Chelsea tried to sound soothing and not impatient as she turned to try and tuck in the back of her shirt. That’s when the horse reared and she saw the snake. 

Stupid horse’, Chelsea thought as she tried to hold on with her knees as she felt the reins slip from her fingers, ‘it’s only a bullsnake’. Popcorn reared again and bellowed and Chelsea felt herself slipping. She grabbed for the mare’s mane and missed and the next thing she knew her feet were in the air and she was sliding backwards towards the ground. 


Mike had six messages by the time he got out of the MRI. Three of them were from Paul asking sarcastically if he’d had any luck with his lost sex kitten ad on twitter. He thought about taking a picture of himself flipping the bird and texting it back but then decided that would require too much effort. 

Actually he was feeling pretty stupid about his twitter post now. If she was out there, reading it, she was probably laughing at him. He knew damn well that whenever he worked up the courage to check it all of the guys from his team and no doubt a bunch of guys from other teams would no doubt be giving him a hard time about it. He’d probably still be hearing about it by the time training camp rolled around. 

One of the other messages was from his agent. That one he should probably return he thought as he strode through the patient waiting area, though he was reluctant to. After the season he’d had, he knew the chances of his being moved were probably high. That didn’t mean he wanted to go, though there had been some days through that losing streak that he would have had a different attitude towards being traded. Still, he liked most of the guys and when they were winning they were good to be around and even Boudreau wasn’t the worst coach he’d ever had. 

He had just hit the speed dial button for his agent and was putting the phone to his ear when he saw the blood red orange colour of her hair. He stopped in his tracks, slowly lowered the phone and hit the end button. 

Couldn’t be’ he thought as he backed up a few steps until he could see her profile. He knew those lips. He could already taste them. Her eyes were downcast so that her long eyelashes fell on the soft rounds of her cheeks, cheeks that had a sprinkling of light freckles on them. ‘No fucking way’, he thought as his feet carried him forward, towards her as if she was the light at the end of a tunnel and he had no choice but to follow the light. 

“You’re hurt,” he said as he loomed above her. She was holding her arm between her elbow and her wrist. There were clean trails that tears had made through the dust on her face but she was stubbornly refusing to cry now. 

“I’m fine. It’s a sprain. He’s just being cautious,” she replied with a quick and, Mike thought, angry glance in the direction of that praying mantis in his stupid straw cowboy hat. The guy was a cartoon. 

“Here, let me see,” Mike took the empty seat next to her and reached for her arm. She stared down at his hand like it might sprout tentacles or something but when he slid his hand gingerly beneath where hers’ was, she let go. ‘Shit’ he cursed under his breath as he nearly jumped out of the chair and let go of her arm all at the same time. It was only his years of refusing to let it show when he was hurt that kept him glued where he was with her arm cradled gently in his hand. His heart began to hammer in his chest the moment he touched her and he could already feel the sweat breaking out across his forehead. “You scraped it pretty good,” he noted, gently rotating her arm while watching her facial expression out of the corner of his eye. She didn’t wince. That was a good sign. “Banged it pretty hard too,” he added as he carefully bent her hand down and then up again, still watching her full, sensuous mouth for signs of pain. She clenched her teeth when he pressed her hand in but that was all. She was probably right about the sprain. Still, he felt carefully along her wrist, probably pressing a little harder than he had to but he only knew about broken bones from having his own, from the way they crunched when you pushed on them and the way doing that made you feel like you were going to puke and pass out all at the same time. 

She did neither. In fact, as he looked up at her, those amazingly leaf green eyes stared into his filled with confusion and…god please let him be right, something deeper, something that looked almost like the longing he felt in his heart. 

“I told you I’m fine. He’s just being overprotective,” she snapped all of a sudden, pulling her arm back and cradling it in her other arm. She shot a look towards where her cowboy boyfriend was still filling out forms on her behalf. The way the nurses were looking at him it was obvious they thought that he was the epitome of white knight chivalry. Mike didn’t see it quite that way.

“Is he always an overbearing ape?” he asked and watched as the corner of her mouth twitched, like maybe she wanted to smile but got it under control, just in time.

“It’s kind of part of his job to look after me,” she muttered, those pretty jewel like eyes downcast. What was that cheesy fucking line from that stupid dancing movie, Mike thought as he watched her shoulders hunch and her body roll in on its’ self. ‘Nobody puts baby in a corner’. Yeah that was how he felt as he fought the urge to reach for her, to grab her chin in his big meat claw and make her look at him. 

“Kind of like being kind of engaged?” he asked, doing his best to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. Surly Mike didn’t work well with women. He’d been told that before. He was doing his best to be the good Mike now, the concerned friend sort of Mike. She glanced up at him and then back down at her arm. He wanted to ask if that Stetson wearing giant had done this to her but swallowed the question. It was a question that ornery Mike would ask. 

“We have a…I guess you’d call it an understanding,” she replied quietly. Mike felt his entire face screw up into a frown. 

“What? You mean like an arranged marriage?” She didn’t answer, just kept staring down at her arm. He knew he should leave it, let it go, but he couldn’t. “What time machine did he step out of?” he asked, glancing over at Mr. tall and tanned who was still doing his golly gee shucks routine with the nurses who were eating it up like chocolate pudding. Mike felt the same way watching him as he did watching Crosby do an interview. He wanted to punch something or in this case someone.

“What’s it got to do with you anyway?” she asked and Mike was willing to bet that she had tried to sound angry but it didn’t come off that way. She just sounded tired. Tired of their little arrangement? Mike took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet.

“I bet he doesn’t know about us.” She got very still and then she turned those green eyes on him and he thought that the look she gave him was the same one a jaguar gave its prey right before it pounced. 

What us?” He heard the threat and chose to ignore it. The same way that sometimes he knew he was gonna get hit and maybe take a beating for doing something out on the ice but he did it anyway.

“Normally I’d be the first one to say let sleeping dogs lie but in this case I’m willing to give them a little kick. He’s a prick and you don’t look happy…”

“You don’t know anything about him,” she snapped back defensively but Mike got the feeling that she was defending herself the same way an injured cat will hiss and bite when it’s hurt. All he had to do was be a little gentle and move with caution.

“I’m a guy and I know guys like him and I’m telling he’s an a-one prick that can’t wait for you to be barefoot and pregnant and I know you’re gonna say I don’t know you but…I don’t think that’s what you want.” He saw her get still again, watched her watch her boyfriend from beneath her lashes and then hang her head. 

“You were supposed to stay in D.C.,” she whispered. 

“Yeah, well, so were you, but I’m not a big believer in coincidences. I think things happen for a reason and if we’re gonna keep runnin’ into each other like this I think someone’s trying to tell us something, don’t you?” His heart stopped beating and he held his breath while he waited for her to answer. She kept watching Cowboy Bob for a long time and then her lips parted. 

“So what’s your plan, Mike?” she asked without so much as glancing in his direction. 

“I say we blow this popsicle stand, right now, you and me.” 


  1. i thought that jimmy looked like Eric from True Blood, ahhh he's so hot.
    great chapter, i can't wait for these two to get together and for chelsea to figure out that Jimmy is a prick. awesome chapter, can't wait for the next one :)

  2. Buahahaha!!! That's hilarious! Take off C! Run!!

  3. Just leave! Run NOW!
    Ahh. So glad they ran into each other again! And I can't believe that Mandy saw the add and asked Chelsea if she knew Mike. Let alone the fact that he put up an add on Twitter.
    I cant't wait for the next post!

  4. looooooved the update!!!
    i hope she does leave with mike ;)

  5. PLEAE update fast

    I feel like Mike is moving things tooo quickly. As much as she feels an attraction for Mike, she still has this concious that tellsher to do the right thing and coninue whatever relationship she has with Jimmy. And with experience i knw that this is NEVER A GOOD COMBINATION!!!Mike needs to learn that someone is going to get hurt so somtimes it takes patience!!!