Apollo was a man on a mission. He was going to win his woman back. Tess had no idea the avalanche she’d just started. He was going to sweep her so far off her feet, she would never want to come down. First things first, though. He went through his phone and trashed every female’s phone number with the exception of family. He got rid of all the contacts for his regular hook ups, his random hook ups, his I-might-hook-up-laters. He deleted every incriminating photo, going so far as to delete everything he no longer wanted or needed from his cloud storage. Looking at the space freeing up, he was surprised to see how much data appeared. Shit. Did he really have so much crap he didn’t need in the first place?
He kept every photo of Tess. The ones she knew he snapped. The ones she had no clue he’d snapped. The ones he’d stolen from his sister. Now, she was taking up the space where so many others had been. She belonged there. They didn’t. He stopped in at Mickey’s to grab a burger and a beer. He also wanted to talk to Marcus. The man had game but it wasn’t sleaze that kept the women at his beck and call. Dude was genuine. He was also Apollo’s oldest friend. It was early afternoon so the place would be all but deserted.
“Hey my man,” he smiled as he greeted Marcus. Marcus drew him into a man hug and proceeded to pour him a drought. A few minutes later and his burger order was in. The two men sat together at the bar, engaging in small talk for a bit. Apollo bit the bullet and decided it was time to get down to business. “I need your help, man.”
“Oh yeah? You planning on winning Tess back?” Damn it, could he fool no one? Apparently not.
“Yes I am,” he said in a stern voice. “I fully admit I fucked up in a really bad way but she’s the one I want for the rest of my life. It’s time to stop burying my head in the fucking sand, man up and get my woman.” Marcus grinned wide and slapped him on the back.
“It’s about fucking time you grew your balls back, dude.” Apollo laughed. Marcus got up to bring him his food and the conversation flew from there. He told Marcus the story his dad had shared with him, what had made him realize he needed to get his ass going if he was going to win Tess’s heart for keeps.
“Wow, that’s pretty intense,” Marcus huffed out a breath. “My parents are pretty vocal about their disagreements and Mom is usually right. Dad is a stubborn bastard though,” he laughed, “but Mom always gets him in the end.”
“Do they still speak to one another?” Marcus nodded.
“Yeah they do. They fight like crazy. I think that’s why Dad still calls her. He misses the misery.” The two friends laughed, then Marcus sat quietly with his hand scrubbing the stubble along his jaw. “You know, I like what your dad did with the whole breakfast thing. Tess eats like a fucking horse though so I’m not sure one pastry and a cup of coffee will do it. You’re going to have to go big.”
“Go big or go home, right?” Apollo winked, shoving a fry in his mouth. “I know her favorite flowers are lilies of all kinds. She loves shoes more than she does people, I think. Oh! And dark chocolate. Definitely have to do something with dark chocolate.”
“Those things are all great man but you have to dig deeper with Tess. She’s not your average fall-in-your-arms kind of girl over typical romantic gestures. You have to hit her in the heart, get her where it really counts.” Marcus thought for a minute before a wicked grin crossed his full lips.
“I know that look, man,” Apollo chuckled. “What are you thinking?”
“Do you remember the day she beat her dad’s 20/20 challenge?” Nodding, Apollo finished his burger and downed his beer. Marcus got him a refill, that smirk still on his face. “Twenty stops in twenty seconds?”
“Hell yeah I remember that. Tess was a blur on the net that day. No one got past her. She did it twice in a row if I remember right.”
“Yep, she sure did.” She was fifteen in on the second round when he had entered the arena that day with his girlfriend. Was it bad he couldn’t remember the girl’s name? He hoped not. Tess was fierce on the ice. Her long red braid swung out behind her with every move. She was lightning fast and could split like nobody’s business. Her pelvis reached all the way to the ice. There was no gap. He loved watching her. Letting the memory flood his brain, he now realized he was taken with her even back then. She was skilled on the ice but she was also fire off of it. Her quick wit and sarcastic nature, all paired with her big ass heart and beautiful smile made his heart race all those years ago. Why had he never paid attention?
“So, let’s set it up for her again. She hasn’t played in so long and I can see the longing in her eyes when she talks about the years she spent playing. She may not be at her full caliber after such a long time away but she will never forget it. And you, my man, will be her knight in shining armor for giving her the joy of hockey back.” Apollo rubbed his chin, thinking of what Marcus had just revealed. It was a perfect plan.
“You are a fucking genius, Marcus!” Apollo slapped his friend on the shoulder, downed his beer and threw some bills on the bar. “We don’t have anything this Sunday. Coach gave us the weekend off. Dad’s having this huge ass BBQ at his house because all his kids will be home for the first time in…oh hell I don’t remember. Then we got Alexis’s birthday party at Persephone’s that evening.”
“Yeah I know,” Marcus laughed. “Dad’s shutting down the bar for the weekend so we can go. Aunt Shannon is going to be there too. And before you say anything, I have no idea what the fuck is going on between her and Uncle Dee. She ain’t saying shit and it’s driving Dad nuts!” Both men erupted in laughter. If it was one thing Sean O’Leary hated it was secrets, especially among family. If his baby sister was in fact dating his best friend, he would birth kittens over the point that she didn’t tell her beloved brother.
“Yeah I think they are seeing each other but Pop’s not said anything either. I don’t think it’s because he’s still hung up over Mom but who knows? Maybe they’re just testing the waters. I think it would be good for the old man to find him a sweet little honey to spend his evening hours with.”
“Hey now, that’s my aunt you’re talking about,” Marcus laughed. “I agree with you though. Uncle Burke was an ass and I never figured out what she ever saw in him. Their divorce was beyond ugly, man.” Apollo winced, remembering the tirades Sean would go on over the way Shannon’s ex husband was treating her. He threatened countless times to fly over to Ireland and kick the man’s ass. Shannon forbade him from doing anything. In the end, she took care of her own business and set Burke in his place. Firmly.
“Well if they are or they aren’t, I’m just glad she’s back.”
“Me too. I always liked her. Besides, she much better looking than your dad.” Apollo laughed as he avoided Marcus’s swipe.
“Get out of here, ya eejit!” Apollo laughed all the way out the door. When he tucked himself into his car, he couldn’t help the goofy grin on his face. He couldn’t wait to see the light return to Tess’s soulful green eyes when she skated across the ice again. Turning onto the freeway, he called up his sister.
“Yo, Meed! I need your help.”