Snow was blowing through the city. A blizzard was in the forecast, which threatened to cancel flights. The clouds were white and puffy. For once, Trevor was not thinking about the weather as he walked up to heather’s apartment, his arm behind his back. He knocked on the door with his left hand. A few seconds later, Heather opened the door, a surprised look on her face.
“Merry Christmas,” Trevor said.
Heather gave him a small smile. “Merry Christmas, Trevor.”
“You’re going home, right?”
Heather nodded. “Yes.”
“I brought you a Christmas present,” Trevor said. He moved his right arm to be in front of himself, revealing a green snake wrapped around it.
Heather let out a loud gasp. “A snake? How did you know I like snakes?”
“You mentioned it once when we were working together at Taco Bell,” Trevor said. “You said you had always wanted one but your mom would never let you get one because she is afraid of them.” He thought she would appreciate it; he had wanted to get her something she would really like. She deserved it.
A puzzled look crossed Heather’s face, probably from the fact that he had remembered something so specific from so long ago. “Most guys would get a girl a kitten, but you…” She shook her head and then smiled at him. “You’re amazing. Thank you.”
Trevor smiled slightly. “You’re welcome.” He was glad he had done well. He wanted Heather to have an amazing Christmas, even if he never enjoyed the holiday himself.
“I’ll get you something in Chicago. And something for Liam.” She blinked and looked behind him. “Where is he?”
“I sent him home for his Christmas break,” Trevor said.
Heather smiled. “That was nice of you.”
Trevor shrugged. “I figured his family will be missing him.” And it was a nice break to have peace and quiet in his apartment for once.
“What will you be doing for Christmas?”
Trevor frowned. “I don’t know. Something with my teammates maybe. Our schedule doesn’t give us much time to go home, except for the Minnesotans.” He never had anyone to spend it with anyway; he did not really see the point.
Heather looked at him sympathetically. “Just don’t be alone, ok? No one should be alone on Christmas.”
Trevor chose not to respond. He had spent most Christmases alone recently. He needed to change the subject, so he extended his arm with the snake to her. “Do you want to meet him?”
Heather smiled. “Sure.” She placed her arm near his so that the snake could crawl onto it. “Will you keep him for me until I return?”
Trevor dipped his head. “Of course.” He would be pleased to do anything for her.
“Thanks.” Heather watched the snake in wonder as it transferred itself to her arm. “I’ll have to think of a good name for him.” She looked at Trevor. “Do you want to come inside for some hot chocolate?”
Trevor had not had hot chocolate since he was a child. “I would love to.” He felt a warm feeling as he entered the apartment after her. Maybe this Christmas would not be so bad after all.
Against all of Trevor’s expectations, Christmas turned out well; what hurt was the eight game losing streak of the Wild. Luckily, it ended with a win over the Oilers the Thursday after Christmas. Trevor could feel the season slipping away. Where was the consistency in this team? Nothing seemed to be boding well for them; he failed to see the point in trying anymore. He could not become a star on this team either.
Christmas actually helped him forget about hockey. Justin had invited him over to have dinner with his family. They were a nice group, and they seemed to like him. He found himself wishing he could have been born onto a family like that; he pushed the thoughts away at the time so that he could enjoy himself.
Trevor rested on Friday. The snow storm outside was too strong for him to be out there, and he needed a break from all of the holiday activities. The New Year was almost there; he wondered what exactly it would bring. Nothing seemed to be certain in his life anymore. He would probably still be with the Wild. He still had two more seasons on his contract after this one. He could not wait until he was a free agent and was able to negotiate with teams on his own.
He was lounging on the couch when he heard a knock on the door. He groaned as he sat up. It was probably Justin wanting to invite him to join in some other holiday cheer event. Well, he was just not up to it. He trudged to the door. When he opened it, he was surprised at who he saw. “Heather,” he said with a gasp.
Heather gave him a small smile. “Is this a bad time?”
Trevor shook his head quickly. “No, come on in b.” He stepped aside, holding the door open for her. “When did you get back?”
“Wednesday,” Heather said. “I wanted to come when I knew you did not have a game. I was busy at the store all day, so I could only come tonight.”
“Come for what?”
Heather smiled. “Robert, of course. Did you take good care of him?”
Trevor frowned, shocked how disappointed he was that she had not come just for him. “Yes. He’s been a good snake.”
Heather chuckled lightly. “Great. Oh, I also brought you your Christmas present.” She revealed a large bag from behind her back.
Trevor blinked in surprise. He had forgotten that she had said she would get him something. “Wow. Thanks.” He took the bag from her hands and walked over to the couch to sit down.
Heather followed him. “I got something for Liam too, but he’s not back yet, is he?”
Trevor shook his head. “He’ll be back on the first.”
Heather smiled. “I’ll have to give it to him then. Go on, open it.” She motioned to the bag.
Trevor opened the bag, ripping out the colored tissue paper. He dug his hand in deeper and pulled out something that felt like apparel. It was black and white. Unfolding it, he saw that it was a White Sox jersey. On the back, his name “Clifton” and number “16” were stitched. He stared at it in wonder and admiration.
“You don’t already have one, do you?” Heather said.
Trevor shook his head slowly. “Not like this,” he murmured.
“Try it on.”
Trevor slipped his arms in the shirt and then buttoned it up. He stood up to better look at himself. He looked at Heather. “This is amazing.”
She smiled. “It looks good on you - aside from it being the Sox.”
A small smile formed on his face. “Thank you. This was a great gift.” He could not believe how thoughtful she had been. No one had ever gotten him a present like that; no one had ever cared enough. He was struck by how different she was from most everyone else he had ever known.
Heather stood up and faced him. “You’re welcome. I thought you would like it.”
Without thinking, he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her. “I do,” he whispered. He closed his eyes as Heather hugged him back. Warm and happy feeling enveloped him; he never wanted to let go. After a minute, he realized what he was doing and pulled away, coughing awkwardly. This was no good. Time to try something else. “So, uh, did you get Justin something?”
Heather looked at him blankly. “What? Oh.” She frowned. “No.”
Trevor’s heart started to speed up. “Don’t you usually buy your boyfriend something for Christmas?”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Heather said quietly, looking down. “We decided not to see each other anymore.”
Part of Trevor felt elated, but the other part was horror-stricken. “What? Why? You two were great together.”
Heather shrugged. “We like each other and get along well, but he said he feels like we’re not meant to be together.” She looked at Trevor, a calm, serious expression now on her face. “I agreed.”
Trevor focused on breathing slowly. “You’ll find someone else.”
A smile flickered on Heather’s face. “I think I already have.”
Trevor swallowed. His heart was hammering now. “Who?”
Heather took a step closer to him. “You.”
Trevor froze. He had had dreams of her saying something like this. He had a strong urge to take her into his arms and kiss her, perhaps forever. But… He shut his eyes tightly and shook his head. His mind had to be in control of his heart; he could not risk making any mistakes with this girl. “No,” he said stubbornly.
Heather touched his arm, causing him to flinch and step back. “What’s wrong?”
Trevor opened his eyes and took slow, deep breaths. He knew how to fix this. It would be easy. “I’m sorry. I don’t feel the same way,” he said in a steady voice.
Heather frowned. “Are you sure?”
“Yes.” Why was she questioning him?
Heather paused. “Can you help me make sure?”
Trevor looked at her quizzically. “Ok. I suppose.” He hoped he would not regret this.
Heather smiled. She stepped closer to him so there was hardly any space between them. His breathing was growing shallow; he knew what she was doing, but he had no will to stop her. She brought her right arm around his neck and placed her hand on the back of his head. He was frozen; he wanted this to happen. She then wrapped her other arm around his necked, pushed his head down, leaned up, and pressed her lips against his.
Trevor could not control himself. The energy from her lips passed into his own and permeated throughout his body. He reacted immediately by kissing her back. To wrapped his arms around her waist and held her close to him. He was flooded with feelings of passion and happiness. He could not think. He let his senses take over him, and he reacted by instinct. He did not know how long it lasted, and it did not matter. All that he cared about was the moment, which was perfect.
Heather was the one who broke away first. She was smiling in triumph and joy. Trevor stayed with his head bent near hers, his breathing labored. They were still holding each other. It took him a minute to regain his reasoning faculties. When he did, he found himself shaking his head and saying against the screaming of his body, “No.”
Heather lowered her right hand and gently brushed it against his cheek, making him shiver out of pleasure at her touch. “Why?” she asked softly.
His heart felt heavy as he was reminded of the reality of his life. He did have to admit that the truth was out; there could be no more secrets. It was probably better for her to know everything so she could take the appropriate actions to protect herself. “I can’t have you,” he said in a rough, ragged voice. “I’m not good for you.” He let go of her and stepped back until there was several feet of space between them.
Heather frowned, her eyes shining with compassion. She took a step closer to him.“I don’t agree. You’re too hard on yourself.”
Trevor took several steps back. He shook his head. “You don’t know enough about me. I would end up hurting you. It’s in my nature, and it’s how I was raised.” He shut his eyes and turned away. “I never had a chance with you. Even in high school.”
Heather gasped. “What are you saying?”
Trevor opened his eyes and looked at her with a pained expression. “All those notes, the candies, that was me. I’ve been in love with you all this time.”
Wonder crossed Heather’s face. “Wow. I never thought-” She shook her head. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I had to push you away so you wouldn’t get close to me,” Trevor said. “I had to protect you. You couldn’t know because-” He had backed his way into a wall, but she was still coming closer.
Heather stopped about a foot away from him. She was staring at him calmly. “Because if I knew and I loved you back, you would have to respect my decision to be with you?”
Trevor shut his eyes and shook his head defiantly.
“We can work this out,” Heather said from right in front of him. You have a good heart.”
“Not good enough,” Trevor whispered. “Not good enough for me to have you.”
“Then how about this,” Heather began, wrapping her arms around his neck. He opened his eyes wide, his heart hammering in his chest. She smirked slyly. “What if you let me take the reins? You don’t have to put all of this pressure on yourself. I can take care of myself. Let me have you.”
Trevor opened his mouth to protest, but no words came out. He was struck by the ingenuity of the proposition. His mind could come up with nothing to combat it. He raised his shaking hands and cupped her cheeks. Staring into her deep, blue eyes, he said as firmly as he could, “I love you.”
Heather smiled. “Then trust in your love enough to believe that everything will be fine,” she said softly.
Trevor did not wait to hear more; he was not in the mood for listening. His heart was hammering out of control, so he did the only thing he could think to do: he brought his face close to Heather’s and kissed her again. She responded immediately and energetically. In the moment, he thought he could believe that what she was saying was true. He felt stronger with her so close, like he could take any challenge life presented him. In the back of his mind, he wondered if she was what he had been missing in his life all along.
He pulled back to look at her for a second. Overcome with emotion, he started kissing her everywhere – her cheeks, her forehead, her neck. She only smiled at him, encouraging him. It was a relief to be able to express emotions that had been pent up for years. When he could not take it anymore, his lips found hers again. The resulting emotion was pure bliss.