It was ten thirty and I had just got home a little while ago and was sitting on my couch with my phone in my hand waiting for it to ring. I was trying to use mind control but it still wasn’t ringing. I knew it would be a little while before Jack could call me but I waiting on pins and needles.
Finally when I was getting ready to head into my bedroom, my phone rang. It wasn’t Jack though, it was my dad. He probably wanted to talk about Eric, I could make this quick.
“Hey dad, didn’t Eric play great tonight?” I said hurrying the call.
“Yes he did sweetheart, how are you?” He asked.
“I’m great, tired though, think I might hit the bed.” I said trying to get rid of him before Jack called.
“Oh, the way you answered the call so fast I thought maybe you were waiting for a phone call?”
“Um, well, I knew you guys might call.” I said. I would never lie to my father, but I could spin around it pretty good.
“Yeah we are going out to a late dinner to celebrate. We asked his line mate Jack to join us, but he was busy.”
“Oh, well that’s too bad, he is a real nice guy, I think you guys would like him.” I said hearing car doors shut. Maybe they were at the restaurant and they would be hanging up soon.
“We did get a chance to talk to him for a bit before he left. It seems he was in a hurry to get to a woman, can you believe that?” He said and my heart dropped. Is that why he hadn’t called?
“Is that what he said dad?”
“More or less,” he said and I heard Eric in the background scoff.
“Dad, what exactly did he say?” I said raising my voice a bit?
“Are you raising your voice to me?” He asked and I was passed the part of caring at this point if he was mad at me or not. I was a twenty five year old woman and I didn’t need to be treated like I still lived at home.
“It will get considerably louder until you answer my question. I can ask mom and she will tell me, you do know that.” I said and I knew I had him. Mom would tell me anything.
“Fine, he said he had to make a call to a woman he was crazy about, and he hoped she felt the same way about him.”
“I see,” I said feeling the butterflies again. “Well, knowing how great he is, I am sure she does.”
“Maddie, Eric already told us, and in front of Mr. Crabb, that it’s you.” My dad said.
“Eric, I am going to kill you.” I said without thinking.
“I’m sorry; it was just too funny seeing the look on Jacks face.” He said in the background.
“I told him Maddie that you are concentrating on your future.”
Oh shit, he must hate my dad now. I needed to fix this in a hurry. “Dad, I love you, but if you screwed this up for me, I am not going to forgive you.”
“Listen young lady,”
“No dad, you listen. I am twenty five years old, and my decisions are mine to make. You had no right telling someone that I care about anything else. I am not happy with you right now. I need to call and fix this.” I said mad.
“For what it’s worth he pretty much already told me the same thing.” My dad said and I held off on hanging up. “He pretty much said everything about Mr. Green knowing, and why he was working so hard, and that he would quit if he had to. Maddie, I watched him play tonight, he’s good, and he is willing to give that up.”
It was a statement because I already knew what Jack had said, and I wouldn’t let him do that. “Dad, this is the part where you go celebrate with Eric. Make sure he is back by curfew, and I will talk to you when I am less mad at you.”
“Maddie, I love you, if I screwed something up for you I am sorry. Fathers just try to do what’s best for their children.” He said but I wasn’t letting him off the hook.
“Good night Dad, I will talk to you later.” I said hanging up.
I dialed Jack’s number ready to do damage control. “Hey you, are you done with daddy?”
I giggled. This man made me giggle. “I just read him the riot act and told him to butt out.”
He laughed. “I understand, you are his little girl, his princess. Someday some boy might try to steal my little girl and I won’t be happy either.”
“Plan on having a little girl huh?” I asked. This was knew territory for us.
“Yup, and two boys, that way they can help look after her.” He said laughing.
“Well that doesn’t work for me.” I said seriously.
“Oh shit, you don’t want kids. Maddie, I’m sorry I should have asked before assuming.”
I laughed. “Nope, I don’t do odd numbers, it’s either got to be two or four, odd numbers don’t work.”
He laughed. “You want to have babies with me, and four of them, that’s a lot of work, but I bet we can make it fun.” He said a little more deeply.
I was getting turned on. He had this way of doing that to me. I was caught up thinking about the baby making process. “Jack, I miss you.”
“I miss you too. I wish we could be together right now.” He said sounding strained.
I needed to change the subject before he did something he would regret later. “Jack you scored tonight, your first NHL goal.”
“Yeah, that was pretty cool. I have the puck, we can decide later where to put it.” He said and he used the word we again. Were we moving too fast? I mean how do you know?
“Jack the way you played tonight they will never send you back.” I said thinking of what was really keeping us apart.
“Maddie, I will work my ass off to stay here if you tell me we can make this work. If they offer me a contract I will take it, even if it’s the league minimum.”
“Oh no you won’t, you keep playing like that, and then you make them pay you. We,” and now it was my turn to use the ‘we’ word; I hope he picked up on it, because it sounded so damn good saying it. “We have a future to think about and four kids are going to be expensive.”
I was waiting for a laugh, but it didn’t come. Instead he was serious and I liked him better when he was more jovial, but what he said sent shivers through me. “Maddie, we need some time alone. There are only twenty one games left in the season and then I need to be with you.”
“I need to hold you Maddie, I need to kiss you, I need to show you how serious I am about us.” He said with a need in his voice that I hadn’t heard before and this time it wasn’t my panties that were dropping it was my heart. My heart was falling for Jack Crabb.
“Jack, I need you too. I miss you, call me every night even when you are on the road. I don’t think I could go a day without talking to you. Promise me Jack.” I insisted.
“I will never let you down Maddie Maddison, I will be here for you forever. I will call you tomorrow, now get some sleep.”
We said our goodbyes after the whole light flirty banter we had developed and now I was off the phone wondering if we both just committed ourselves to each other. I mean it sounded like we did. To put it back in high school terms, I think I have a boyfriend.
The score was three to two and we were down in the middle of the third period. The trade deadline was over and the only other deals we had made were a few minor league pick-ups that had been on my list, and they had cut one of the fourth line forwards who hadn’t been playing well in about two years but had a very large salary that they could use next year.
It had been a physical game up to this point and Pierre along with two other of our defensemen had been in the box a lot tonight for sticking up for the forwards. This game was all about attitude, and LA seemed to have more of it than we did.
This was also our last home game before we began a four game road trip and I wanted to win one more for the fans before we were gone. We had been on a win streak, and even though the kids jersey was the number one seller, the new shirt, We Are Buffalo, was selling like crazy.
“Change, Change, Change, coach was screaming and my line leaped the wall and got out to try and even this thing up. We were making a break when all of a sudden the kid was taking out from behind and it was intentional. I was there before the defensemen could get there and I dropped the little puke that did it.
One of their defensemen came at me and I held a hand up to stop our defensive line from coming to my rescue, if you’re going to retaliate be man enough to face it. Of course it was their biggest baddest player. He dropped the gloves before he even got to me.
I dropped the gloves and we were going at it. We played hockey’s version of ring around the Rosie. He got in a good hit to my jaw, and I got right in with a good poke to his chin knocking his helmet off. He swung twice in a hurry and missed and I landed one on the side of his head knocking him to the ice and I fell on top of him.
“This isn’t over rookie,” he screamed at me as the refs tried getting us up and apart.
“Bring it, I’m Buffalo, we don’t take shit from nobody.” I screamed back.
I got hauled to the sin bin. The crowd was applauding, they loved a good fight. The kid brought me my gloves with a big smile on his face and I nodded still a little peeved from the fight. I won but I knew it wasn’t over. A hush fell over the crowd and I looked around and everyone was watching the big board.
“This isn’t over Rookie.”
“Bring it, I’m Buffalo, we don’t take shit from nobody.”
They played it again, and again. All of a sudden a chant started up in the arena, “We are Buffalo,” over and over.
If there was a noise meter it would be deafening. The fans began stomping their feet along with the chant and it was infectious. I stood up in the box and looked around the arena and everyone was chanting. L A looked around like they didn’t know what the hell was going on.
The referees blew the game back to action and there was a change on the ice. Guys were finishing their hits; no one backed down from a fight or tried to avoid it. Even the kid laid into someone with a smile on his face.
We were still down when we were released from the sin bin and I got to the bench to join my line. Two minutes left coach pulled the goalie and we attacked with everything we had. Pierre shot one at the net and Cussman redirected it in.
The crowd erupted. We tied it up. Minute and a half left and our line was on the ice. I looked at both Cussman and Eric and said “let’s finish this now, no overtime.”
They both were serious as they nodded and we attacked. LA won the face off but we went after them. Coach was yelling at us to play safe but we didn’t get here by playing safe. I dropped their guy behind the goal that was holding the puck trying to drag this to overtime and shot the puck out to the blue line where Pierre fed it right back in to Cussman who redirected it to the kid who tapped it in.
The buzzer sounded immediately after, we won, we won the game. The bench cleared and the next thing I knew we were in a puddle on the ice. You would think we won the cup or something. The fans were screaming, we were screaming, it was a sight. I was told later that some of the fans and us had tears in our eyes.
It was just a game, but something changed during that game, we had hope. The three stars were announced at the end of the night and it was Eric, Pierre, and Cussman, which was good they all deserved it.
As we were leaving the ice I saw an entire family crying as if this game was something special and then I saw the sign they were holding, Make a Wish please make our wish come true. I stopped and looked at them and they all looked at me and then I noticed their daughter. She was bald and probably like ten to twelve or something, and she was still crying.
I looked at the parents and yelled over to them, “what is her wish?”
“She wants to meet Eric Maddison.” The father said and he was shaking.
I nodded. “Don’t go anywhere.” I said and skated out on the ice where Eric was the last of the three getting his star of the game. “Eric, we have a girl from make a wish, or close enough that wants to meet you.”
“Um, Ok, what do I say Jack?” He asked confused.
“Just say hi, I’m Eric, what’s your name, and then talk to her.” I said like it should be second nature.
He nodded and I went to the ushers in charge of that section. “Please escort that family to the players’ family waiting room,” I said. Then I went back to the family and told them to go with the ushers.
We hurried and changed and bypassed reporters as I got Eric to the lounge. The family was there in a corner waiting we walked up to them together because for one they deserved it and for two Eric wouldn’t let me go. He was scared to death of talking to the family.
“Hi everyone I’m Jack Crabb, and this young man right here is Eric Maddison.” I said smiling and the little girl’s eyes lit up.
“Hi, I’m Eric, what’s your name?” He said and it was exactly what I told him to. Come on Eric, she won’t bite you.
“I’m Haley, Haley Mills, I wanted to meet you so bad.” She said smiling a huge smile that was infectious.
“Well Haley I am glad you were here tonight, that was quite a game, did you like it?” Eric said and that was it buddy, good job.
“Oh yes, you were awesome. I mean you are my favorite player.” She was blushing now and I could see Eric getting flustered.
“I don’t blame you,” I said getting their attention on me. “He is my favorite player too.” I don’t know when it happened but now there were TV cameras on us and the girl looked nervous. I stood up and looked around. “Everyone back off, this little girl just wants to meet Eric, she doesn’t want camera’s in her face.”
It was amazing but everyone did as I asked and I leaned back down to her. “You know, when I met Eric, he let me borrow one of his sticks for our first practice because I didn’t have mine. I wonder if he has an extra one.” I said over my shoulder to Eric who just nodded.
“I sure do, I have the one from tonight that scored that last Goal, how about I go grab that.” Then he took off running and she looked at me with awe.
“You know Haley, we are getting better, and with all of Buffalo behind us, I feel good about next year. How would you like to come to our season opener? I will make sure your family gets my personal tickets so you can see us start next year.”
She began crying and then she said something that took my heart away. “I don’t know if I will be here. The doctors said that If I don’t’ keep fighting this, I won’t make it. I’m scared.”
I looked at her parents and they were both nodding and crying. Shit, good job Jack. “Haley, did you see that big guy coming at me to beat me up.”
She nodded wiping her eyes again.
“I was scared. He was huge, but you know what, I stayed in there, do you know why?”
She shook her head no.
“I stayed because I knew that my teammates had my back. I stayed in there because I knew you, and everyone else in the arena was there with me. I stayed in there because sometimes you have to fight. This is one of those times Haley. You have to fight, and I’ve got your back.”
“Me too,” Eric said handing her dad the stick and he bent down to be closer to her size. “I’ve got your back,” Eric said holding out his arms and she dropped into them giving him the biggest hug I had ever seen.
“I have your back,” Pierre said standing behind us. I didn’t know he had come out.
“Me too,” said Cussman. Then it was like a tidal wave. Every player from the team was there and they were all shouting that they had her back. She was crying, her parents were crying, hell I was balling like a baby.
“Haley Mills, I have your back too.” Mr. Green said coming from the side with Miss Alvord and her crew in tow with another set of news people too. I didn’t want this to become a media frenzy but before I could say anything Mr. Green stopped me.
“Jack, I let them in, I needed this official. Haley, I have a contract here that will make you a member of the Buffalo Blizzard juniors. It is a select group of young hockey fans who make a difference in the community. I saw the effect you just had on my players and you my dear, have just made a huge impact on me. If you sign this contract, with your parents’ permission, you will officially be a member of the Buffalo Blizzard.”
She was crying again, I was crying again, hell every person there was crying. Haley looked at her parents and they nodded and she signed the paper. Then Mr. Green shook her hand and said “welcome to the Blizzard. I will let our captain fill you in on the rest. Now if all the news staff will now return back to your places, so the players can have some privacy to welcome their new teammate.”
Pierre then told her about the group, one I didn’t even know that we had, and told her when they were doing a group skate. All the players then shook her hand and her parents and went back to the locker room leaving just me and Eric.
“Thank you Haley for joining our team. Jack here gets kind of bossy, but he means well, and now with you on the team we can stick our tongues out at him together.” He said and then hugged her again.
He left and it was just me with the family again. I bent back down and looked at all of them. “You will fight?”
“Yes sir,” she said.
“Not sir, Jack, you are my teammate. Teammates stick up for each other. I may be bossy like Eric said but it’s because I care. You will fight, and when you feel like you can’t fight no more, you call me, and I will come fight with you.”
“What if you have a game?” She said.
I laughed. “Oh Haley, you are precious, I will tell you the same thing I told my girlfriend, some things are more important than hockey. You call and I will come.” I said holding out my own arms now.
She gave me a hug too. I stood up and shook everyone’s hands, and wished I could do more, but it was amazing what everyone on the team did and I would thank them all in a minute, but this was about her.
“Remember Haley, tickets for your whole family, on the ice, opening night. I need you there. I won’t be able to play without you, in fact, I won’t play without you. If you don’t come I will sit. Now promise me you will come.”
“Yes Jack, I promise.” She said with a smile.
“Good because if I don’t play Eric will probably call me names.” I said teasing her and was able to make her laugh. I said my goodbyes and headed back to the locker room to thank all the guys for coming out.