Monday, July 11, 2011

Chapter 8

I need someone to stand by me
Stand by me, just one time.
I hope somebody stands by me
Stands by me, just one time
I don't understand, it's slipping through these hands
I think by now I know when to let go
All I know is here I am baby
Won't you stand by me?

(lyrics from ‘Someone Stand by Me’ Stevie Nicks)

She wasn’t surprised that he’d been willing to let her go, especially after she’d said she wanted to do this before she lost her nerve. What did surprise her was that he insisted on taking her himself and furthermore that when they’d headed back to the garage that he’d handed her a helmet. 

There was something in it, Chelsea decided as she tipped her head back and let the wind blast her face. Maybe he’d known it would help to clear her head or maybe he just hadn’t wanted to talk, but she decided she liked being on the back of a bike, liked having her arms around his strong solid core, even if it was only a moped. 

A fresh onset of giggling plagued her as she recalled the kicked puppy look he’d made when she’d laughed at his bright red scooter and the matching red scarf he’d tied around his neck as he settled himself on the front of the seat. He must have felt her laughter transferred from her chest to his back because he shook his head and, just for a second, he took one hand off of the handlebars and gave her hand that was resting in the middle of his chest a little squeeze. 

She was going to need more than that in a minute, she thought as she let go with one hand and pointed up a street that looked like it lead to nowhere. 

‘What are you doing?’ she asked herself as she saw the lights of her closest neighbor’s house speed by. Her pulse sped up as she thought about what was likely waiting for her up at the house. Jimmy was probably pacing. Her grandparents were probably worried sick. What she’d done was selfish, thoughtless and now she was going to go in there and tell them that the girl they all thought they knew...well, that they didn’t. 

She leaned her cheek against Mike’s back and seriously considered asking him to turn back. She could hide out at his place, it looked like it needed a woman’s touch and from what she’d seen of his fridge he looked like he needed someone to cook for him too. 

“Is this it?” Mike’s voice carried over his shoulder with the wind as he slowed at the pasture at the foot of the hill, where the big gate stood ajar as if they were expecting her. 

Of course they are’, she sighed as she reluctantly let go of him and reached for the strap on the helmet. She’d never stayed out a whole night in her life and despite the fact that it was already dark every light in the house was on and she had no doubt in her mind that the coffee was too. It was going to be a long walk to the house. 

“What are you doing?” he asked, his feet on the ground but the engine still running as he turned to watch her shake her hair out as she pulled off the helmet. 

“This...your my little pony bike doesn’t deserve the abuse of that road, for one thing,” she told him, climbing off the bike and handing him the helmet, “and you don’t need to protect me. I told you, he’s not gonna take a swing at me.” He actually managed to look hurt, even with the open face helmet pushing his slightly chubby cheeks in and making him look a little like Nemo, but with stubble. 

“You might need a ride somewhere...after,” he suggested. Chelsea reached out and traced the lines of the tattoo on his bicep as she shook her head. 

“They’re not gonna kick me out of my own house,” she sighed, her fingertips reading the word, Faith. Not the name of a girlfriend, but a mantra. She raised her gaze to meet his and he looked adorably confused. He’d obviously thought he was taking her to Jimmy’s and with the horses in the paddock having made their way to the fence to greet her, she could understand why. He opened his mouth to ask the question and she answered it before he had to. “He works for my family,” she shrugged and then leaned in and kissed him square on the mouth. “Thanks...for everything.” 

Go now before you lose your nerve’ she told herself as she clung to his scarf, pulling his lips harder against her own. She put her arms around his neck and hugged him, hard. His hair still smelled a little bit like a camp fire but the rest of him smelled like wind mixed with the warm musky scent of boy. 

She turned then, leaving him with her helmet in one hand and the brake and gas in the other. ‘Don’t look back’ she told herself as she kicked at a pebble and headed up the long, rutted drive. This had nothing to do with him. ‘Well not really’, she reminded herself. He’d certainly been the catalyst but the trip to D.C. had been the i.e.d. that had blown her safe little world apart. There was no need to rub Jimmy’s face in the fact that she wanted to be with another man. ‘And it doesn’t have to be him’ she told herself as she hooked her thumbs in the belt loops of her jeans and then sent another pebble skidding across the dirt. She could be with fifty different men if she wanted to. 

Yeah right’ she grinned at herself, ‘as if now that you’ve been with two men you’re suddenly gonna turn into a whore’. That’s the way that Jimmy would see it, she knew with absolute certainly. ‘Which is why you’re not gonna tell him’ she told herself firmly as she glanced towards the barn. The light above the tack room was out, which meant that Jimmy was also waiting for her at the house. So much for having a quiet one on one conversation she thought glumly as she turned and headed up the last stretch of the drive, sending another pebble skipping across the dirt. She watched it disappear under her car and felt her heart stop beating. 

There was a long, black town car sitting right in front of the house and that could only mean one thing. 

Daddy’s home. 

Chelsea stood there staring at the long, low, black car with the limo tinted windows and swore. 

 “You comin’ in the house or are you gonna stand there all night?” Chelsea looked up to see her father standing in the doorway, the light from the house spilling around his tall frame. Suddenly she didn’t feel like the brave, independent woman. She felt like she was five, with Anne of Green Gables braids and a band-aid on her knee. 

“Comin’ daddy,” she sighed, kicking another pebble ferociously against the bottom step, listening to the sound of it thudding off the old, faded wood. That helped. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt like it did. She took her thumbs out of her belt loops and suddenly her hand was in a warmer, bigger one. 

“I couldn’t let you do this alone.” She looked over at Mike and she was pretty sure her smile was brighter than the big old moon sitting low in the spring sky. The way he smiled encouragingly back at her filled her chest with the courage seeing that town car had stolen from her and the way he squeezed her hand as he took that first step up to the front door gave her the nerve to follow. 


It was like walking into McPhee’s office and finding Boudreau, Leonsis and maybe worst of all Fishman. You knew you were fucked if legal was waiting behind that door. That’s what walking into Chelsea’s house felt like for Mike as he saw the older couple at the small table eyeing him with distaste that made him wish he’d done more than pull on a pair of tattered jeans and what he’d hoped, in the semi dark, was a clean white t-shirt. 

Jimmy sized him up from the couch where he sat, fuming as he stared at their joined hands. Mike did his best not to smirk but knew, when the tall, lean cowboy’s hands fisted, that he’d lost the battle. Seeing the tall blonde’s blue eyes flash murderously did help Mike to stand taller, straighter though and for that he was grateful as he turned his attention to the man in the slick grey pin striped suit.

This was exactly like facing Caps owner Leonsis and his legal Rottweiler, Fishman, across a desk. His gut twisted and his palms got sweaty. He wiped his free hand down the side of his jeans and sent an apologetic glance at Chelsea but her eyes were glued to her father. 

She was holding her chin high but he could see her bottom lip was beginning to quiver. He’d expected the tears to be for the dusty cowpoke in the corner. He’d obviously been wrong. 

“Jimmy says you came off a horse. I was supposed to stay in Ottawa for two days. I came all the way home. Where have you been?” Mike watched her nostrils flare and her usually pale, freckled cheeks suddenly bloomed with colour. She was fucking him, in his bed. It was his fault she hadn’t stayed at the hospital. His fault she hadn’t been home when her father got here. 

“She was with me...sir.” He caught her grateful glance out of the corner of his eye but Mike’s gaze was how meeting the furious glare of a very angry daddy bear and just like he knew not to look away when facing down an opposition forward on a breakaway, Mike didn’t so much as blink as Chelsea’s father stared him down. 

“And who, may I ask, are you? And why are you holding my daughter’s hand?” Mike hadn’t met the parents of a girlfriend in, well, maybe not since high school. Usually parents liked him. They took one look at him and thought, harmless. That had been before he’d been a professional hockey player. Now, he was pretty sure, most parents wouldn’t want him anywhere near their daughters and he didn’t blame them which is why he didn’t really ‘date’ much. He was trying to decide if this man might, however, prefer to know who he really was and that he had more to offer his daughter than a skinny guy in pale jeans who cleaned up horseshit for a living. 

“My name’s Mike Green. I met your daughter in D.C. I play for the Capitals there sir, but I live here in Calgary in the offseason.” He didn’t need to turn to look at her to know that Chelsea’s jaw had just dropped. He could practically hear it unhinge and couldn’t resist aiming a quick, smug grin at Jimmy who was looking at him like he was imagining taking him apart surgically and painfully. Mike’s chest swelled just a little. It was usually Ovie’s deal, getting under the opposition’s skin but right at this moment Mike knew why the great eight liked it so much. “I’m sorry you’ve all been worried but I can assure you, I’d never let anything happen to your daughter.” It was bullshit when it rolled off his tongue but when he turned to look at her, when he saw the gratitude and warmth in this leaf green eyes, he knew the only person he was bullshitting in this room was himself. 

 You are sooooo fucked’. It was Brooksy’s voice in his head and he could see his friend’s shit eating grin so clearly it was as if the big shouldered forward was right in the room, laughing at him. He wanted to kiss her, right here, in front of her family. He wanted to pull her close and inhale the sweet, berry scent of her hair. He ran his thumb across the back of her knuckles instead and gave her hand an encouraging squeeze instead. Hop along Jim Bob must have seen it because he got to his feet with a sound of disgust and pushed past them, almost taking the screen door off of its hinges as he set it swinging. 

Chelsea turned to watch him go and Mike could feel the vibration all the way down her arm and into his hand and knew that she wanted to go after him and he got that same feeling he got sometimes right before he put a guy into the boards. Sometimes it was automatic, a way to get a guy off of the puck, but sometimes he wanted to hurt the guy. Right now he wanted to hurt that guy...a lot. 

“Leave him CeeCee. He’s a big boy, he’ll get over it.” Mike glanced back at Chelsea’s father and immediately decided to like the man. “Well don’t just leave your young man standing there. Do you drink coffee or tea son?” 


“That was...interesting,” Chelsea mused as she led Mike out onto the porch. She could feel the eyes of her entire family still on them as they stood under the porch light. They had said their good nights but she knew they wouldn’t be far away.

“Actually I thought it was kind of fun,” Mike replied as he swatted at a moth. Chelsea raised an eyebrow at him and he laughed. “Well okay, just the part where Garth Brooks took off in a huff,” he added with a playful grin. That part, she thought, should be bothering her more than it was but as she gave him Mike a poke in the ribs she realized that she hadn’t thought about Jimmy at all since they’d joined her grandparents at the table and Mike had started telling them all about playing for the Caps and how, one day, he hoped to play for the Flames. 

“You handled them like a pro,” she added more quietly, sending a surreptitious glance over her shoulder. The house looked dark now, at least the front of the house did, but she had no doubt that there were still eyes on them. 

“They’re nice actually. Your grandpa’s a nut. I like him.” Mike gave her hand a squeeze and then tilted his head in the direction of the stairs. Chelsea nodded and followed him down the stairs. They walked down the pathway to the driveway, their joined hands swinging in the cool spring night air. 

“Well it explains your pad in D.C.,” she mused and he let out a bark of laughter. 

“I can’t believe all your theories on that.” She’d admitted to being there, just not when or why and had admitted that she hadn’t known that the place was his. Mike had snorted tea across the table when she’d expounded on her theory that she’d been brought to his father’s den of sin. “I’ll have to remember to tell my dad about that. My mom won’t like it but my dad will think it’s fucking hilarious,” he added with a low chuckle. 

“You didn’t have to do it,” she said as they walked past her father’s big dark car and headed alongside the upper paddock. 

“Well it was kind of my fault they were all worrying about where you were,” he reminded her. “Besides I’d have been kind of a dick to leave you to face the music alone,” he continued in an impish tone. Chelsea glanced over at him and found him looking at her, watching her. “I’m not sure with your old man there you’d have said anything to old hop a long,” he added, his gaze suddenly serious. She dropped her gaze from his and shrugged. He was probably right about that she admitted to herself and knew her body language said the same to him. “Having second thoughts?” he asked as they reached the end of the drive. She could see his moped sitting on its kickstand near the front gate. If he’d done that in D.C. it would have been gone or torched by now. 

Am I?’ she wondered as she listened to the sounds of crickets and the wind moving through the high grass. She felt bad if she’d hurt him, but she did feel like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Shaking her head, she turned to face him and offered Mike her other hand. 

“I guess that sort of depends,” she said quietly, moving closer to him, guiding one of his hands around her waist and letting go of the other so she could slide her hand up beneath his t-shirt, pressing her hand flat against his warm skin. 

“Oh yeah?” he replied, his tone low, voice husky, his lips so near to hers’. “On what?” She swayed against him, moving to a song that was playing in her head as she searched his face until her gaze focussed on his soft, pouting lips. 

“If you’ll be my boyfriend,” she asked in a playful whisper. His lips curled up into a smile and as her gaze flicked up to his he drew her against him and just before mouth captured hers, he laughed. 


  1. Loved it!
    Glad Chelsea's dad and family took it well. I can't wait to see what happens next!

  2. loved!
    loved that he met her fam!

  3. I'm all caught up! Loved that her family took the news better than they both expected!