Right on cue, the announcer growl-yelled into the microphone, “PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER FOR YOUR PITTSBURGGGGGGH PENGGGGGGGGUINS! LED BY NUMBER 87, SIDNAAAAAAAAAY CRRRRROSBYYYYYY! FOLLOWED BY NUMBER 71, EVGENIIIIIIII MALKINNNNNNNN! NUMBER 11, JORDANNNNNN STAAAAAAL!” And he introduced all the other players as they skated out into the rink.
This sent the arena into an uproar. The screams were deafening, the pounding of the Penguins Fight Song was right in tune with “Let’s go Pens!” echoing from every corner. Skating triumphantly as they heard the reassuring sounds of the nearly 20,000 people jam-packed into the Igloo, a few of the players skated past me, going too fast for them to notice anyone besides themselves.
The score was 2-1 Capitals at the end of the first period. Ovechkin and Mike Green had both scored, and Pascal Dupuis had scored for the Pens. During the first intermission, while Lauren and Cooper had gone to get something else to eat, I got a text.
814-505-8239: I’m gonna score next period.
Knowing who it was, I replied.
Peyton: we’ll see about that.
As promised, Jordan scored, and after he did he made sure to skate right over to where we were sitting and slammed into the glass. The score was 3-2 at the end of the 3rd period, also picking up a short-handed goal from Letang.
When we were heading out of the arena, I got another text from Jordan saying to bring Lauren and Cooper and meet him in the hallway we were in earlier. After the interviews and showers, Jordan walked out into the hall. “Okay, let’s go,” he said. “Go where?” I asked. He shrugged. “Wherever I want. I’m Jordan Staal.”
I raised my eyebrows. “And what makes you think I’m interested in coming with you?” I asked. He looked at me for a second, and then pretended to burst out laughing. Grabbing his stomach, he keeled over with laughter. I couldn’t help but smile. “Someone’s a little full of himself,” I laughed.
“Yeah, well. I pull it off. Don’t you think?” he asked. “You certainly seem to think so,” I replied, trying to keep a straight face. “And you don’t?” he asked. “I’m not sure yet,” I answered, smiling. “Well indecisiveness isn’t a good thing. Eventually you’ll realize that I can pull off anything. But seriously, let’s go,” he said.
“Fine. But only because it’s Valentines Day,” I smiled. He grinned, exposing his oh-so-beautiful teeth. “Let’s go, then,” he shrugged. “Uh, hello? What are you gonna do, just leave us here?” Lauren asked. “Ugh, right. Forgot about you for a second,” I groaned.
“They can come,” Jordan said, and I rolled my eyes but agreed. We walked down so many halls it was ridiculous, finally exiting into a reserved parking lot in the back. Jordan motioned towards his car, a black Escalade. We all shuffled in, Jordan and I in the front, Lauren and Cooper in the back.
Driving in downtown Pittsburgh was a nightmare. Bumper to bumper traffic, and the noise. By the time we got to place, it was 10:00. When we pulled up, I looked at him strangely. This place sure wasn’t…multi-million dollar, star hockey player worthy; to say the least.
When we walked in, there was a chorus of whistles and cheers. “NICE ONE JORDO!” Someone yelled. Jordan grinned at them and nodded. “Thanks, it was a good game,” The guy raised his eyebrows. “I was talkin’ about that right there beside you,” he pointed to me and roared with laughter.
“Mr. Big Shot likes to slum,” I leaned over and whispered in his ear. He winked at me, “I’ve actually never been here in my life. I was just tired of driving, and it said this place had food. I’m not quite sure if it’s edible, but hey…who’s complaining?” he answered. “Uh, me,” Lauren replied.
* * * * *
I rolled my eyes. We grabbed a tiny little table in the corner, and were waited on almost immediately. “Hey there! What can I get you?” Asked a tiny little bleached-blonde with about ten pounds of eye makeup on. The way she was looking at Jordan made me want to fight.
Before he had time to answer, she asked, “That your girlfriend?” She was glaring at me, smacking her gum loudly. Jordan looked up, pretending to be confused. “Who, her?” he asked, pointing to Lauren. “No, gross! That’s illegal!” he finished.
“No, her,” the blonde said, looking at me. “Oh, her! Yeah, she is,” he said. I whipped my head in his direction and he shot me a look that said “play along.” “Never seen you guys together before…” she mumbled. “Well we’re trying to keep it quiet, you know. The media lives for this stuff and it could get pretty brutal. I don’t want her to have to go through that. So if you could keep it quiet that’d be great. Just until we’re ready to go public with it,” he said with a small, close-lipped smile.
“So uh, I saw the game. You got one of those…what are they called?” she prodded. “Uh, yeah I’ll take a burger, thanks!” Cooper yelled with a sarcastic smile on his face. Lauren snorted, I smiled broadly at him. Jordan’s lips were twitching and he was trying to concentrate very intently at a picture of a high school baseball team hanging on a wall, to take the attention off himself.
“I’ll have one, too,” I said, and Jordan said he wasn’t allowed to eat food like this very often, so he’d just have a water. We ordered a side of bread. There really wasn’t anything else to choose from. Lauren, being the snob she was, refused to order anything. She sat there with her arms crossed, a hideous look on her face. “Excuse me, Mr. Billionaire, you honestly couldn’t take us anywhere nicer?” She hissed at him.
He smiled, nothing ever seemed to bother him. “Sorry but you have to admit, this bread is so good!” He said. Which, obviously he was joking about because it was solid as a rock. “Lauren!” I said, appalled. She glanced at me.
“Good job, Pey. You finally learned my name! Those special-ed teachers are really getting through to you.” I smiled sweetly at her, “Yeah, they work wonders.” We finished up our dinner at the dump and got back into the car.
Jordan had his right elbow up the console in between the seats. I don’t know what made me do this, but I put mine up there, too, just barely nudging his. He glanced over at me, and then looked down at my elbow, before flashing me a small, closed mouth smile. I returned the gesture. “So, how do I get to your dorm?” He asked after a while. “Eh, it’s pretty far. You can just drop me off at home for tonight.”
I gave him directions, and he found the house without difficulty. I felt a pang of sadness as we drove down the long driveway. The second we pulled in, Lauren was gone, and we had already dropped Coop off. “Jordan, I--had a really good time,” I blushed, feeling corny as hell.
This was a cheesy 80’s movie gone wrong. He nodded, “I did too.” We both started to say something at the same time, and then shut up, waiting for the other to speak. “You go ahead,” he said. Such a gentleman. “Oh, uh, I was just wondering if this was like a one time thing or what. I mean, are we ever going to see each other again? If not, that’s totally fine, I just--” I was rambling.
He smiled, “I was really hoping you’d ask that.” I looked at him. “So that’s a yes?” I asked, tilting my head. He nodded. I laughed. “Well, see ya,” I said brightly. “Goodnight,” he whispered. I got out, accidentally slamming the door. “Sorry! Sorry!” I breathed. I could hear him laughing all the way from inside. “Oh, shit!” I huffed, reopening the door.
“My car is at the arena, I just realized,” I said to him. “I’ll take care of it,” he smiled, “It’ll be here when you wake up.” I beamed at him, tossing him the keys. “Thank you so much! It’s a silver Range Rover,” I said and closed the door very softly this time. I dashed inside, closing the front door.
“Hey, Mom! You’ll never guess what just happened!” I breathed as I ran into the office. “Hmm?” she asked absentmindedly, focused on the computer screen. So I told her the story, from following Kris, to Jordan promising that my car will be in the driveway by the time I wake up.
Her mouth was gaping open a little by the end. “Jordan Staal,” she said like she was daydreaming. I smiled. She considered this. “You probably shouldn’t tell your dad about this yet. You know how he gets,” And I knew all too well.
I gave her a hug, and trudged up the stairs to my room. We had one of those houses that everyone assumed just because we lived there we were some rich snobs. Except for Lauren, the snob part wasn’t true. It was huge, and modern meets classic.
Stainless steel kitchen, big windows in every room, and my favorite was the big, marble spiral staircase that you saw right when you walked in. After you walk up the steps, there’s an open foyer, hardwood floor walkway around the place where you see downstairs.
I walked into my room, glanced at the clock (it was 11:15), and sat down on my bed. I changed into some blue boy-shorts and a white t-shirt and climbed into bed. It was early for me, because I usually went to bed late and got up early, but I was tired and had a lot on my mind. I turned the 42” flat screen hanging on the wall adjacent to my bed to Cake Boss (my recent addiction) and drifted off to sleep.