“I’ll be back after practice, please tell her.” Eric said kissing his sister and then fist bumping me on his way to the door. “No more stories.”
“Not even soldier Eric,” Maddie said and she began smiling.
“You wouldn’t,” he asked shocked.
“She has one more treatment after this one. I will if I need to and you will take it like a man.” She said smiling.
“Easy sis, I still have easy bake oven to work with.” Eric said and she looked shocked. He laughed as he was running from the room.
“Easy bake oven?” I asked.
“Never you mind mister,” she said smiling at me. The she crawled under my arm and we waited. Haley woke a little around noon and after her parents got to see her she had asked for both of us. She looked tired but she smiled as we entered the room.
She immediately reached for Maddie’s hand, and Maddie didn’t even hesitate, as she took hers. Maddie was perfect, and even if I ever had any reservations about giving up hockey, watching her with Haley squashed them.
“More stories,” she asked and Maddie smiled.
“Eric said I can’t tell you any more stories,” Maddie said pouting. When Haley looked sad then Maddie piped up, “So we just won’t tell him.”
Haley and Maddie laughed together as Maddie got comfortable on the bed with her. “I’m saving the best story for your last treatment as a reward, but I have a few more I can tell.”
Maddie went into a story about their childhood pet, a cat named smoky. Apparantely Eric, as a child used to chase the cat and grab its tail. One day the cat got tired of that and when he grabbed his tail, he turned and jumped on Eric’s head and Eric and the cat went screaming through the house together.
It was a good story, and I smiled and laughed in all the right places. Maddie and her continued on and while I was being left out; I felt good being there and being both of their rock so to speak.
“Haley, I have to go back to work. We have some important charity stuff I have to be back for. Your last treatment is Friday; I will be here for that.” Maddie said sounding sad that she couldn’t stay but I knew it was hard in a position like hers.
“I understand, mom and dad said it was real nice that you came, and I couldn’t expect you to be here the whole time. Even my dad has to work, but Mom will still be here.” She said like the growing young adult that she was. It was amazing what being in her situation would do as far as looking at the world in a whole new way.
“That’s a good thing. I think your mom would like to spend some time with you.” Maddie said and I believed her as quick as Haley did. There was just something about Maddie when she seemed to know something.
“Jack, I hope you get to play again.” Haley said looking at me now.
“Don’t you worry about that munchkin?” I said giving her a fist bump.
We left the room and hugged her mom and said we would be back for the final dose Friday night. She smiled and tears were starting to form so we slipped away and were leaving the hospital when we were stopped by a familiar voice.
“Jack, can I have a statement for the viewers?” Miss Alvord said and Maddie started heading toward her.
I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her back to keep her from doing anything she might regret. Of course part of me wanted to know what she would do to her, I was envisioning wonderful things.
“You will stay away from that little girl,” Maddie said with enough vengeance in her voice that even I was scared.
“I have to go where the producer tells me,” she said a little panicked. I bet she never had a woman threaten her before.
“I am warning you, and you can even get this on camera, if you so much as bother that little girl, or paint any kind of illusion about her so help me god I will find you, do you hear me.”
Maddie then pulled me after her and we went to her car. Before we got too far away I heard Miss Alvord ask “did you get that?”
“Nope, wasn’t taping,” the camera man said laughing.
“How could you not be taping, she threatened me?”
I laughed as I got in the car and waited for Maddie to buckle herself in.
Oh that bitch pissed me off. One thing coming after adults, but now to go after a kid in the hospital, oh I was going to so do something about this. I was still steaming even when we pulled into the parking lot of the Storm Stadium. I parked and when I finally looked at Jack he just kind of stared at me.
“What,” I said a little sharper than I should have.
“Will you protect our children the same way?” He asked with that shit eating grin of his.
“Of course,” I said shocked that he would even wonder.
“Good, just checking.” He said laughing as he got out of the car.
“Fuck you Crabb,” I said getting out the other side.
He was around the car and had me pinned against it before I could say another word.
“Was that an offer Miss Maddison?” He said looking at me with those penetrating eyes.
“No, I have work to do, and so do you.” I said smiling trying to wiggle away from him before I couldn’t. I was totally turned on and wanting him bad after working myself up earlier. If I didn’t get away from him soon I would take him here in the parking lot.
“Work, wait, I haven’t started my new job yet.” He said confused.
“I know. In the meantime, I don’t want you bored. I took it upon myself to volunteer you as a helper for the Storm today. No pay of course because we could get in trouble again, but, you need to keep skating, and these kids could use some pointers. Now go report to Lumm.” I said pushing him off me and toward the door.
“I didn’t bring my skates,” he whined.
“Already taken care of, the trainer has a set for you. Today is speed and conditioning drills. We’ll see how much energy you have after that.” I said laughing and running away from him.
He caught me. He always would. “I’ll still have enough energy for more physical activity later, don’t you worry baby. You just think about that all day.” He said leaving me standing there laughing as he went inside ahead of me.
I was whipped. I was sweating like a tropical forest and I was sore. Just a few days out of the game and my body was screaming about a normal workout. Of course I thing Lumm was pushing it, trying to use me as a motivator for what it took to get to the big team.
“Three on goal,” Lumm shouted and I skated to the bench.
“What are you doing Crabb? Get your ass on the ice.”
“Coach, none of these guys will play with me in a game, so I wouldn’t want to throw their rhythm off.” I was lying. I was tired and wanted to sit down.
“Oh so mister big time can’t cut it with the minor leaguers. Wait till I collect my money from Maddison.” He said laughing.
“What money?” I asked standing back up.
“Maddison bet me you would be in shape, as good as the kids, and I told her I would take that bet, because you big leaguers were lazy. Looks like I was right. Easiest hundred bucks I ever made.” He said walking away.
“Not yet Coach,” I said skating back out after taking a long pull from my water bottle.
Threes weren’t that bad. Three guys attacked the goalie and tried to slip the puck in for a goal. The groups rotated because of me and I got a chance to be on everyone’s line at least twice before Coach called it quits.
“Twenty two saves and eighteen goals,” he read off his clipboard. “Good job offense, that leaves a difference of four, get skating.”
What ever the difference was that was how many breakers we had to do on the ice. It was end line to each line and back, in other words it sucked, and by the time I was done I wasn’t the only one ready to puke in a bucket.
I had to admit the exercise did feel good, after I puked in the toilet, and I was tired, but if Maddie thought she could put me off later, well, we would see about that. I thought smiling to myself.
I found her in her office and she looked knee deep in paperwork. She was on the phone but she handed me some files and I sat down and started going through them. They were high school prospects and while none were in the junior circuit, they were all considered blue chips. I went through those until she finished.
“Hey baby, you look whipped.” She said smiling.
“Don’t worry baby, I’ve still got some gas left in the tank.” I said winking. “Oh and I saved you that hundred bucks.”
“What hundred dollars?” she asked and I knew I had been played. I would get Lumm back for that. Of course he did play me like a fiddle so I had to hand it to him.
“Nothing, don’t worry about it.” I said writing notes in each file. I would have to see game tape to finish these and she knew that, so I would be in the video lunge for a while. “How much time do we have?”
“Go ahead, we have time. I have to call Mister Green and see what we can do about maybe moving up a couple of rounds in the draft. I don’t like what we can get toward the bottom; there isn’t even a chance once you get past fifth.”
“No worries, I have enough to look at.” I said heading down the hall to the tape room. I had just finished when the door opened and she stepped in.
“Don’t freak out,” she said and I already was.
“What, what happened?”
“My parents called. They are in town, and want to have dinner with us.” She explained.
“Oh, that I can handle. I thought you might say that there was a spider or something in your office. I hate spiders,” I said laughing and wrapping her in my arms.
“The great Jack Crabb is afraid of a spider?” She asked laughing.
“Not afraid, they just are weird. I could kill one, but, I’d rather not have to.” I said in my defense.
“You are priceless. You’re not worried about dinner with my parents, but you are worried about spiders, I love it.”
“Stow it Maddison,” I said dragging her out the door and toward her car.