“He told you everything?” I asked not believing what Jack was telling me. Apparently Mr. Green told him about our conversation, and I wasn’t sure what to say.
“You should have told me Maddie,” he said upset with me.
“Oh Jack, I should have, but if that was the way it was going to be then I would quit before you could. I would just do something different till your days of playing were done. Heck, I could be your agent.”
He laughed. “I bet you would get us a hell of a deal.”
“Oh I would. When my brother’s time came to redo his contract I would take care of that too. I would get the bastards to pay up.” I said thinking about it more and more.
“Relax baby, I just wanted you to know what was said. He seems worried about the press conference, do you trust me?”
“Of course I do,” I said meaning it.
“Then don’t answer your phone or talk to any reporters, or anyone. If this goes south just be ready to welcome me home when I come crawling back.”
“Oh Jack, I’ll quit, then you can sign with any team and we can be together.” I countered.
“Maddie, you love your job, I’ll quit.”
“Jack, you have the potential to make more money than I do. I will follow you.”
“I don’t love my job Maddie, not like you do, it will all work out.”
“Jack Crabb, don’t you do anything stupid. I can’t be your agent if you quit.” I countered trying to keep it lighthearted.
“Oh baby, you can be my agent forever.” He said and it sounded like a lot more than just an idle promise.
“Then don’t do anything stupid. Tonight, make it about you Jack. Make your line great. Make everyone remember why they need you and Eric and Cussman. Beat the other team soundly, do it for me.”
He laughed. “You know it’s the Cannons right, the number one team in the East?”
“Of course I do. No better way to make a statement then destroying the best team. Now Mr. Crabb, go beat their ass for me.” I said laughing.
“Yes Maim, anything for you.” He hung up and I turned on the game. I was home tonight and I wouldn’t be having anyone over. Tonight I would watch, maybe for the last time, my man play the game that he loved.
“Change, change, change,” Coach called and we flew over the wall.
Frenchey got me the puck and I swung it to Cussman, he flew it to the kid who with a great back hand dropped it in the net. The buzzer sounded, and the light came on. We were celebrating as they pulled their goalie. That would teach them to use their back up. We were better than our record and we had something to prove.
First period, three to nothing, and we were feeling good. My line stayed on the ice since we hadn’t been out long and I saw the kid having trouble in the circle while the back up goalie was still getting ready.
I skated over just as I heard the cannon player say something to the kid. “Pretty hot shit, we can fix that, if you aren’t scoring, your team doesn’t score, and I know how to make sure you don’t score again.”
“Really, what might that be?” I said skating up and into his face.
“Oh that’s right, your protector is here. I got something for you too big shot.”
“I hope it’s better than what you usually have, because you suck.” I countered back.
“Not as good as your mom.”
“Dad never complains, and they are still married, so you’re probably right. Of course your mom, well, you know how that is.” I fired back. I had always been quick on my feet.
“Hasn’t anyone explained to you that your team sucks?”
“Then why are we kicking your ass?”
“Our back up isn’t very good. We were trying to get him some playing time before the playoffs, oh yeah, they are for the good teams at the end of the year, you wouldn’t know about that.”
“Good teams, hell, not sure how you made it. I’ll tell you what. We will light your starter up a few times so they both will know how bad they are before the playoffs start.”
“I don’t think so,” he said coming closer to me.
“Try and stop me,” I said sliding forward to meet him.
Refereees were getting between us now. Oh this was going to get chippy. Well that could be fun in a different way.
The goalie was ready and we started up again. Now I just had to make good on my promise.
Well he did it. He destroyed them, and scored his first professional hat trick in the process. The hats came flying down and it took them fifteen minutes to clean the ice. I was so happy for him, and I just kept thinking, he couldn’t give this up, he was too good.
When they did stars of the game, he was the last one out and he was carrying his Storm jersey with him, holding it up for the world to see. Ok Jack what are you up to. Then he held the jersey up and kissed it. Oh Jack, I melted.
He did that for me. Oh Jack, I love you too. I would call Mr. Green and quit tonight. I would not let him give this up for anything. Hell what am I waiting for, no time like the present?
I dialed his number but he didn’t pick up. Well we just won, he was probably swamped with people, and I’d call again in a bit. I waited for the post game conference wondering how Jack would handle the hat trick.
The press conference came on and four people came out. Mr. Green led Coach Braun, Jack and Eric. They all looked less than happy. I mean they should be excited, but they weren’t acting like it. Mr. Green took the podium and before he took the first question he spoke.
“It has come to my attention that someone is here tonight that is going to try and upset this news conference. Tonight should be a big night for the Blizzard, and the Buffalo fan base, but there are always those that don’t like other people’s happiness. I won’t go into how hard everyone here has worked to bring buffalo hope for the future I will just say that I am disappointed in anyone that isn’t pro Buffalo.”
“I will open the floor now, and we might as well start right out with the problem. Miss Alvord, you have a question,” and I watched her as well as everyone in the news conference.
“Making me out to be the bad person won’t help your cause, but if it makes you feel better, Mr. Crabb, the question is for you, did you know that the Blizzard had a non fraternization policy?”
“I do, but I promise you, while Cussman is a sexy beast, I am not dating anyone that is working for the Blizzard here in Buffalo.” Jack said and the other reporters all began laughing.
My heart was breaking. They were talking about Jack and me. She was trying to get to him, and I knew what he would do and tears started falling down my face.
“Mr. Crabb, this isn’t a joking matter, rules like that are put in place for a reason, and you broke those rules. I demand the organization deal with this blatant disregard for its fans and viewership.” She said back.
“I’m not sure what you have against Buffalo, me, or this organization, but it’s sad. We are making great strides to bring a quality team to Buffalo, and you have continued to constantly try to cause waves. What’s the beef Miss Alvord?”
“This isn’t about me Mr. Crabb. I’m not the one who broke the rules. I’m not the one acting like I’m above everyone else, and the rules don’t apply. If you were any kind of man, you would admit I am right and do what’s right.”
“I’ll agree that I broke the rules. Tonight, when we should all be happy for a big win over a cup caliber team, we are answering questions that have nothing to do with our on ice performance. So, I actually believe that you and I have something in common. I guess neither one of us feel the rules don’t apply.”
Jack said and then he looked at the camera and I felt he was looking directly at me. “I Jack Crabb, am in love with Maddie Maddison, Eric’s sister. Eric and his family know, heck, just about everyone knows because I can’t keep a secret, and I don’t want to. Why should I? The problem is she works as a member of the office of the Syracuse Storm.”
“I had hoped that while we hadn’t pursued anything till I left Syracuse that would be enough, but apparently not to some people.” He said looking at the Bitch in the first row. “I can’t tell my heart who to love. If there are rules in place and I broke them, then I will take full responsibility. I’ve already spoke with Mr. Green, and he knows how far I am willing to go to pursue the love of my life, and I will.”
Jack was tearing up now. “Sometimes, it’s a one in a lifetime chance to find the one you are supposed to be with, and I found mine. I can’t give that up, and if that means giving up everything else, well, so be it.”
“I love what we had started here in Buffalo, and I say to the fans, and the team, don’t stop, keep believing, I will be rooting for you and praying everyone finds what they are looking for. Thank you for your time and being part of “we are Buffalo.”
Then Jack left and walked out. Everyone watched him leave and Eric was turning red. He came to the microphone and I was going to regret whatever he said because he didn’t have Jack’s tack. Knowing Eric he would probably call me out and make it my fault, but he was my brother, and I loved him, so I would take the blame.
“I’m sorry I have to say something. Maddie is my sister, and Jack is my friend, and I have no problem with them being a couple. This whole thing is bullshit, I’m sorry, but it is. Jack always tells me, play hard every second, play for the people of Buffalo because they deserve this. What about what Jack and Maddie deserve? I’m pissed.”
With that he followed Jack out of the room leaving Mr. Green and Coach Braun to field questions. I wanted to call Jack, but I wanted to hear what else was said too. So I left Jack to my brother and his teammates for a minute and continued to watch.
Mr. Green took the podium again. “Miss Alvord, I hope you are happy, any questions from anyone else?”
“Mr. Green, Arthur Milne, channel nine news, is Jack suspended?”
“I’m afraid not. A suspension would be if a player did something wrong once and wasn’t going to do it again. Jack has stepped down from the team, so he can focus on his personal life; he has no business changing his decision. If I fell in love I would do all I could to be with the person I loved as well, next question?”
“Coach Braun, who will replace Jack in the line-up?”
“At this time we have a day between games, I will try and find someone at practice, but to be honest Jack is something special, I don’t know who we will choose.”
“Coach Braun, Jack had his first hat trick of his career, this defiantely shadows that achievement. So going forward, where do you get that point production?
“If Jack had gotten hurt we would be in this same situation, we will do what we can and still try to give Buffalo the team they deserve.”
“Mr. Green what will be done about Miss Maddison?” Miss Alvord asked in a snippy tone.
“I’m glad you asked. Miss Maddison is a very valuable member of my team and responsible for finding players like Jack, and Cussman, and Victor, her insight and knowledge of the game our indispensible. While everyone in the organization already knows what the plan is, I will let you know as a courtesy for the last question you ever will be allowed to ask here. I am promoting her to General Manager of the Storm under me, and head of Player scouting for all minor league affiliates.”
“You can’t be serious, she is as guilty as Jack, and you promote her?”
“To be fair I have been grooming her for the position for the last year. To echo what Jack has told me, you can’t help who you fall in love with, Jack stepped down so there would be no conflict with league and team rules. I thank you all for coming, and to the people of Buffalo, we have lost a major member of our rebuilding plan. I wish there was something we could do to fix this problem, but the league has rules, and Jack, well, he always leads with his heart. He has for you and this team, and now for his personal life, we wish him all the best.”
Then they both walked away as reporters began screaming at Miss Alvord for comments about why she personally sabotaged the Buffalo team? She ran out without answering any of them and I turned off the set and picked up the phone.
I looked at the caller ID and was surprised it took her this long. “Hey Baby, what are you wearing?”
“Jack now is not the time for that.” Maddie said chastising me but I knew she liked it, I could hear it in her voice. “What did you do you silly man?”
“I did what I said I was going to do. Look at it this way baby, I went out with a hat trick, I don’t know if anyone had ever done that before.”
“I’ll look it up later. Oh Jack, I love you so much. I tried calling Mr. Green earlier to resign, bastard never answered his phone.” She said and I smiled. We both knew she would try that and had agreed he wouldn’t answer any of her calls till after the press conference and by then it would be a mute point.
“Yeah, imagine that. I am going crash tonight in the hotel room, but then I am coming back to you. I hope that’s alright?”
“Of course you idiot. I want you here with me. I just didn’t want it to be like this. Jack I love you.” She said and I knew I had made the right decision.
“I love you too baby, I will see you tomorrow. Some of the guys are waiting around to yell at me. I’ll get that out of the way and see you in the morning. I love you baby.”
“Love you too, see you tomorrow.” She finished and I hung up and looked around the room as Eric, Cussman and Frenchey were all watching me. I put the phone away and then looked at them.
“Ok, tell me I’m wrong and yell at me.” I said looking at the three of them.
“I aint saying shit. She is my sister and I love her, and it’s your choice. It’s just going to suck without you.” Eric said.
“Fucking right it’s going to suck. I was shit before you two. Do you realize our line is the highest scoring line in the last ten games. We are on fire and I personally have eighteen points, thanks to you and the kid, and now shit. Damn Jack, but I know Maddie, if she was my girl I wouldn’t give her up either.” Cussman said and then he came over and hugged me.
Damn hockey players, emotional bastards we are. “You are a sexy beast,” I said shoving him away.
“Don’t think I won’t get you back for that,” he said shoving me back. “Come on kid, let’s let the Captain chew on him for a bit.”
They both left and it was quiet. Finally Frenchey began talking. “You love her?”
“I do,” I said.
Then he shrugged his shoulders. “Real love only comes once. No matter what the boys do while they wait for it, when it comes you know, I am happy for you.”
His accent was lighter tonight and I knew he felt the words he said. “I appreciate that Captain.”
“Will you sign with another team? You are good hockey player, many teams will want you.”
“Nope, I did this to be with Maddie. If I went to another team it would defeat the whole purpose. I’m ok hanging them up.”
“Good for you Jack Crabb,” he said and he stood up and I did to and we clasped hands. I would miss these guys.