A full week of road games took an exhausting toll on Trevor, both physically and mentally. He was glad he had Wednesday off before six games at home. He was glad for the nearly two weeks of home games. It would be nice to stay in Minnesota and not have to travel. He did not like flying on planes. He always had to sit with someone, who was usually Justin. Thankfully, because of all the road games, Justin had not been out with Heather again, so Trevor did not have to hear about that.
Another plus was that the Wild had won seven of its last nine games, the only two losses earned on the road. It seemed like the team was making a comeback after all. Trevor was inspired to work harder, and in return, he was earning more playing time. He was refocused on his goal of one day playing for the Blackhawks. It would happen soon. He just first had to succeed in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Liam was excited to see him when he got home. The two had hardly spent any time together in the past week. Liam was talking quickly to fill him in on what he had missed while getting ready before school Sunday morning. Trevor listened to everything he had to say with patience.
“Heather said she’s dating Justin,” Liam said during breakfast. “I think she should be dating you.”
Trevor frowned, troubled. “Why do you say that?”
Liam shrugged. “You seem to like each other. And I like you and I like her.”
Trevor looked away. How could he argue against such a simplistic view? When he glanced at the boy again, he had one idea to dissuade him. “It wouldn’t work, kid. I won’t be here forever.”
Liam looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“I want to play for Chicago someday. I want to go home.”
Liam frowned. “Can’t Minnesota be your home?”
Trevor shook his head. “I’m afraid not.”
“Then what’s going to happen to me? I have to stay in Minnesota!” There was a look of panic in his eyes.
“You will,” Trevor said quickly. “I’ll find someone else to take care of you. Maybe Heather or Justin.” Or both. He pushed the thought away.
Liam crossed his arms and pouted. “But I want you to take care of me. You’re like a brother.”
Trevor let out a heavy sigh, regretting having brought up the topic. “Look, it won’t happen for awhile, so let’s just be happy for the present, ok?”
Liam glanced down at his bowl of cereal. “Ok,” he mumbled.
The kid was relatively silent as Trevor drove him to school. Trevor knew he would be fine. Not much seemed to get that boy down. After working out at the gym, Trevor went home to relax. He had just flung himself on the couch and turned on the TV when there was a knock on the door. He groaned but turned the TV off and stood up to answer the door, swearing to yell at whoever it was if the interruption was not of dire importance.
Trevor’s anger was cut short when he pulled open the door. “Heather!” he said in shock. “What are you doing here? Liam’s at school.” She had never once visited him without being invited over.
Heather smiled slightly. “I know. I came to see you. Can we talk?”
Trevor hesitated. Knowing her, she would not leave until she got what she wanted, so he dipped his head and stepped aside to let her in. “Fine. But just know that you were interrupting something of the upmost importance.”
Heather raised her eyebrows at him as she walked in. Her eyes landed on the remote that had fell to the floor. “Sure.” When she was all the way in, she turned and looked at him almost sympathetically. “How are you doing?”“Good, thanks.” She paused. It seemed like she was trying to work out how to say what she wanted to say. Trevor waited patiently, feeling no need to rush her. Finally, she spoke, “It didn’t feel right leaving you after the last time we talked. I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner, but I was unsure when you would be home because of your schedule.”
Trevor nodded. “I was busy.” He had become cautious as to the topic of interest. He thought he had settled the matter that night. He should have known better. This was Heather he was talking about. She was tough and not likely to give up on anything she set her mind to.
“Well, we’re here now,” she said. “I’m sorry for getting so defensive. You were probably just trying to help, in your own weird way.”
Trevor shrugged. “Yeah, I’m not the best at that.”
Heather gave him a small smile. “Well, thanks for the thought. I’m going to see Justin again on Friday.” She paused. “I’m also sorry I brought up your father. I didn’t know he was such a tough issue with you. I’m afraid I hit a nerve.”
Trevor frowned and looked away, dropping his arms. He did not want to be talking about this. Luckily, he was calm enough to keep his anger contained. “Yeah,” he mumbled. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you. You couldn’t have known.”
“Is there something I should know?”
He looked at her, noticing that she had come closer; he had to find a way out of this. “Need?” He shook his head wearily. “No, you’re better off ignorant.” He did not know if this would stop her, but he at least had to try.
Heather crossed her arms. “Fine. Is there anything you will tell me?”
Trevor hesitated. “How badly do you want to know?”
Heather gave him a sympathetic look. “I just want to understand and to know exactly what I’m dealing with.”
Trevor mulled it over in his head for a minute. He supposed it would not hurt to tell her. It might even send her a warning sign about him. “Alright,” he said. Even if it brought up painful memories, he would do it. He let out a heavy sigh. “Let’s sit down.” He led Heather to the couch and they sat down next to each other.
Trevor sat with his hands folded, leaning over with his elbows on his knees. His dark hair fell down on his face, but he ignored it. He was silent for awhile before he spoke. “My dad taught me everything he knew growing up. When I was young, that meant hockey. He had been a player in high school and he wanted me to be one too. We bonded early over it. I think my mom felt neglected by both of us, but I did not notice then. I suppose I was like a lot of young boys. My dad was my hero.”
“And then?” Heather pressed after a moment of silence.
“Then my mother interfered,” Trevor continued, trying to keep his voice calm. “She and my father began to fight. At first it was just every now and then, but then it became nearly every day. My dad started to drink, probably from the stress. When we were alone, everything was great, just like it used to be. But when my mother was in the room or when he had been drinking, he would get into a huge rage. He would mainly yell at my mother, but sometimes he would turn to me and remind me who I was. I came from him. I would carry on his faults… and those of my mothers. I was no better than him. I guess he was trying to make me face reality way too early.” He paused before continuing. “That’s not how he betrayed me, though.”
Trevor flinched when he felt a hand on his upper arm. Heather withdrew her hand, but a second later she placed it on her shoulder. “Go on,” she said softly.
Trevor shut his eyes tight. The memories were coming back. All of it was so real. He had to speak so that he could not think. He took a deep breath before going on, his voice now laborious. “When I was 13, my mother caught my father cheating with another woman. She was so mad. She threw him out of the house. Nothing was the same since then.” He opened his eyes. They were now clouded and unfocused. He was staring at the floor, but he could see nothing.
Heather let out a small gasp. “That’s terrible, Trevor,” she murmured.
He nodded feebly. “That’s how my father betrayed me. My mother betrayed me when she took him back four years later.”
Heather gasped again, this time louder. She dropped her hand from his shoulder. “What?”
Trevor smiled ruefully as he lifted his head up. “He came back saying he had changed. I didn’t believe him, and neither did my mom… at first. Eventually, she decided to give him another chance. She betrayed me by bringing back into my life someone who had already caused me great pain.” He shook his head. “She did not need to add to it. That’s when I rebelled against them both. Thankfully, I was soon out of there.”
Heather was quite for a minute. Then she said softly, “Your mother forgave your father. That’s not a bad thing.”
Trevor shook his head. “If she wanted to do that, fine, but she did not have to take him back. We were no longer a family. She had no right to bring a stranger into my life. She needed my consent, which I did not give.”
“I can see why that would be upsetting,” Heather murmured.
“Well, that’s the story,” Trevor said, standing up. He walked over to the window that showed the balcony and stood by it.
“I have a question about something else,” Heather said carefully, standing up as well. “What your father told you, about you being like him, did you believe him?”
Trevor turned around and looked at her. His face was pained, for once, hiding nothing. “Yes,” he said in a low voice. “How could I not? I’ve seen his traits in myself. My environment growing up didn’t help anything. Nature or nurture? What difference does it make? It all adds up to the same fate for me.” He turned away from her again because he could feel his anger gathering below the surface.
“What about your free choice?” Heather ventured, stepping close to him.
Trevor shrugged his shoulders, still not looking at her. “If there is free choice, other factors are too powerful for me to make the right choice. I know how I have to live. I’ll do what it takes to keep things that way.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
“I have to focus on hockey,” Trevor said slowly, still formulating the words he wanted to say. “That is my life, and you’re not a part of it. People like you are better off staying away from me. They always have been.” He finished quietly, wondering if he had said too much.
“Wait a minute, the things you did in high school, was all that on purpose to keep me away from you?” Heather was beginning to get a suspicious look on her face.
Trevor gritted his teeth. She was getting too close to the truth. “I did what was necessary,” he said. “If you knew what was good for you, you would stay away from me whether I’m purposely trying to get you to or not.”
“But I could help you,” Heather said persistently.
Trevor turned his head to look at her, his face weary and sad. “No. Maybe if we had met earlier…” He shook his head. “You should go. Now. If you come back, do it for Liam, not me.”
Heather bit her lip. She appeared troubled. After a moment, she said, “Fine, I’ll go. But this is not over, Trevor.”
Trevor let out a heavy sigh as he watched her go. She would learn soon enough. He just hoped he would be able to survive until she did.
It was a hard Monday for Trevor. Sunday had been terrible. He had not seen Heather or Justin, and he was sure he had failed with Liam. The kid was now at a friend’s house for the night. He would be fine. The only good thing happening was the Wild’s four game winning street. Trevor hoped they could extend that for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, David had been bothering him a lot recently. It seemed that the more Trevor tried and the better he played, the more the Canadian hated him. He hated how he was getting under his skin; he did not need to deal with this on top of everything else. Why could he not just be left alone? He wished his life could go back to the way it was when he was with the Stars, aside from the whole living in Texas thing.
Tonight, he was roaming the streets alone. He had done this many times when he was in Dallas. He had lost the habit in Minnesota because of Liam. The lack of the activity was beginning to affect him. He needed time alone to think about everything he was going through. Things were different than they had been in Texas. He had other obligations to think about.
Why couldn’t some other arrangements been made for the kid? It would have made everything much easier. Trevor would have been able to keep away from Heather. She would not be in the danger she was now. He feared how much she already knew and how much she guessed. He hoped he had not hooked her. Nothing he was doing seemed to be working.
And now all of his pain and frustration was building up. He usually let it out during hockey games, but now that did not seem to be enough. He was hardly aware of where he was going as he walked along the dark streets. He had found a part of St. Paul that was dark and gloomy. Several street lights had flickered out, and no one had bothered to replace them. Trevor walked with his hands in his pockets, his head down, looking at the sidewalk.
Someone bumped into him walking past him, flaring up his anger. He rounded on the guy and glared at him. “Watch where you’re going!” he shouted.
“Sorry, I didn’t know you owned the whole sidewalk,” the other man retorted.
“Just get out of my way,” Trevor said. He could feel his anger rising; he hoped he would not have to take it out on this stranger.
The man folded his arms defiantly. “No,” he said stubbornly.
Trevor clenched his teeth, seething. “Do you have any idea who I am?” Why were people not recognizing him? He was a Wild player! He deserved more respect than this.
The man blinked. “A rude stranger who doesn’t know how to move on?”
Trevor could not take it. He rushed at the guy and grabbed onto his jacket. “I’ll show you how to move on,” he growled.
The guy’s eyes widened. “Hey, be cool.”
“You be cool,” Trevor growled.
The man’s eyes were wild with fear. “Don’t make me hurt you,” he stammered.
Trevor narrowed his eyes at him. “You couldn’t hurt me if you tried.” He was much bigger and stronger; he could do anything he wanted to do to him. Then, just to prove it, he used his strength to fling the guy to the side. The man hit the building and slumped down on the ground.
Trevor’s anger slowly evaporated when he saw the guy had been knocked out, at least temporarily. His eyes widened in horror. “No,” he whispered. This was exactly the kind of trouble he had gotten into often in Dallas. It could not happen here. No one could know. He turned and fled.