“Look, buddy. There’s a bus! It probably has some Penguins fans in it!” I rolled my eyes. If I had to listen to this guy educate his kid one more time, I was going to snap. My sister, Lauren, and I looked at each other.
Lauren, with her wavy, shoulder-blade length brown hair whipping wildly around her face, and her full lips chapped and chattering from the cold, looked over at the guy with a disgusted look on her stunning face.
She shuddered violently in her Pittsburgh black Malkin jersey. It was Valentine’s Day, and she had bought her and her boyfriend tickets to a Pens game. Of course, I was their chaperone since they were only 16.
We had been standing in line for over an hour. “This is torture,” Lauren moaned. “It’s not so bad when the wind isn’t blowing,” I said. Apparently I spoke too soon, because just then another violent breeze had Lauren burying her face into the shoulder of her boyfriend, Cooper.
He wrapped his arms around her. After what felt like forever, the line started moving. I exhaled, moving up with the rest, as I fought to not reach over and strangle the know-it-all from before; who was now teaching his son about the history of Mellon Arena.
As soon as we were searched, we headed into the arena, color instantly coming back to our pale faces. Thawed out, we headed into one of many gift shops, looking around. I glanced at a few things, not really noticing anything.
That was until I saw Kris Letang, with his hood up, trying to sneak along without being noticed. I nudged Lauren, who saw him and her eyes widened. She grabbed Cooper’s arm and dragged him off behind me, already on the move.
Once we were outside of the gift shop, Kris let his hood fall, as there was no one permitted in the main part of the building yet. “Kris!” Lauren screeched. He froze and turned around. The crowd of people was already swarming into the building.
“Shhhh!” Letang said. “I’m Cooper. Browning. Cooper Browning,” Coop said. “I’m uh, a big fan of yours.” Kris nodded. “Thanks, Cooper Browning.” Cooper was awestruck at being addressed by such a famous NHL player.
“Could-could I get your autograph?” He asked. Looking worriedly at the rush of oncoming people, Kris nodded. “Just, come in here,” Kris said, leading us into a narrow hallway.
Cooper took off his Penguins hat and handed it to the athlete. Kris signed it and Lauren’s cell phone cover before looking at me. He raised his eyebrows. “Peyton,” Lauren whispered. “Sorry,” I said sticking out the sleeve of my blue (alternate) Talbot jersey.
“Oh no, not a Max fan,” he joked, and I couldn’t help but think that his accent was the most delicious thing I had ever heard. “Gotta love the Superstar,” I said. He smiled at me and signed it, too. “Tanger!” I heard someone yell from down the hall. I didn’t have to look to know who’s voice it was.
* * * * *
“Whoa,” I said quietly. He smiled his amazing, breath-taking smile. In person, he was even more gorgeous. Perfect, golden blonde hair. Light blue eyes. Beautiful skin, teeth, and everything. I know most girls think that Crosby is the best looking guy on the team, but honestly…look at him.
I could feel my face burning up. Lauren interrupted my daydream, shoving me aside. “Peyton
here is a fan of yours, Jordan. Actually, a better word to describe her would be pedophile. But anyways, just don’t think too badly about her. She’s only semi-retarded.”
Jordan laughed. “I think she’s cute.” I felt my mouth fall open. “Yeah,” Lauren said. “She thinks that, too. I swear, the girl can’t get enough of herself.” He laughed again. I shoved her, hard. “OUCH!” She flinched. Jordan laughed. “Sisters, I’m guessing?” He questioned.
“Yup,” I said. “My last therapy session is in two weeks.” Jordan smiled. “So anyway, why are you three even back here? It’s off-limits to everyone but players and coaches,” he said. Kris raised his hand. “I let them back here,” he said. “You know them?” Jordan asked.
This led Kris into telling them the story of why we were back here in the first place. Jordan shrugged. “I guess that’s okay. So, while you guys are here, how about a tour?” He offered. I could feel my eyes bug out of my head. “Sure,” Lauren, Cooper, and I all said in unison.
I let out a deep breath. As we walked, I took in everything about him. His clothes: a plain white t-shirt, black Adidas shorts, and sneakers. His smell: wow. It was very hard to describe, but smelled amazing all the same. I laughed, like I always did when I was nervous.
He turned around to look at me, almost knocking the breath right out of my lungs. “Why are you laughing?” He asked. Of course, Lauren had to chime in. “Oh I forgot to mention…she has tourettes too. Uncontrollable laughing, twitching, screaming profanities, you know…we try just to tune it out.”
Jordan smiled at me. I looked at him pleadingly. “I don’t have tourettes. And I’m not semi-retarded either,” I said. He laughed, “I know.” Just around the corner from the narrow hallway, was another. This one was much wider, and had white tables running down the right side. On the left side were a few doors scattered around.
Jordan and Kris led us to the second door labeled Pittsburgh Penguins Locker Room. The smell was the first thing you noticed when you walked in. It practically slaps you in the face. Lauren gagged right away. “SHIT! I thought this was a locker room, not a sewer plant!” A few of the guys chuckled at that.
As I looked around, I noticed that all the players were walking in circles, stretching, talking, and in some cases texting. “Dude! Sidney Crosby! Max Talbot! Evgeni Malkin! Marc-Andre Fleury! This is amazing!” Cooper disappeared, weaving in and out of players, asking for autographs, shaking hands, and introducing himself.
“Guys! Would you look at this!” I heard a familiar, husky French voice yell. I didn’t know why, but Max Talbot was walking over to me. “Hey, hey would you mind turning around and showing these guys the name on the back of your jersey?” Oh, I thought in my head, and smiled.
“Congratulations, Max! I was starting to worry that no one even remembered you were on the roster,” Sidney Crosby said smiling.
Jordan continued to show me and Lauren around the locker room until Dan Bylsma, the head coach, entered, wearing a black suit. “Time for you guys to leave,” Jordan said. He handed me his phone, “Put in your number,” he said quietly. “It’s for Max, of course. Not me or anything.”