It was late. Music played loudly and beers were passed around.
Usually after a game, especially a win at home, the younger guys go out to a bar or club. However tonight everyone decided to keep it low key and headed to James’ apartment.
The Penguins’ tall and lanky blond sat on the sofa with an empty beer box in his lap. His lips were pouty and his eyes confused, like any second beer would magically reappear for him to drink.
James rolled his eyes before grabbing the box and throwing it in the recycling. He went to the fridge, only to come up empty handed.
The store it is!
He let his teammates know he’d be back in 20, and jogged to the store.
He grabbed two cases and went to the checkout line. More than once he caught himself looking around for Charlie.
I highly doubt she spends her nights in the grocery store. She’s probably out with her friends, or even worse—her boyfriend.
James was snapped out of his thoughts when he ran into something.
“Ow,” he heard a whimper.
There she was. Lying on the ground in front of him was Charlie. His smile grew when she recognized him.
“Well?” she said. “Are you going to stand there or are you going to help me up?”
He quickly put down the cases and reached down to pick her up. Her hands were soft and small, they practically disappeared in his.
“My apologies,” her hand was still in his.
James jumped at the sound of his phone going off in his back pocket. “One second,” he motioned to Charlie.
“Nealerrrr! Where are you? We have no beer!” Jordan shouted. James heard some shuffling around before a think Russian accent came on the line. “Why no beer? No beer, no fun. You left to get beer. You not back. You lazy.”
He looked down at Charlie who was standing there awkwardly, twirling her thumbs. Quickly he hung up on his teammates.
“Sorry about that,”
“It’s ok. No beer, no fun,” she winked.
James blushed. He had to get going, but he wanted to stay. Just as he was about to ask if Charlie wanted to join she said something about how she had to go grab some things before heading out. She left him standing there with his two cases at his feet.
Oh well, the guys would have scared her shitless anyway, for the better. Right, you just keep thinking that James.
“Where are you?” she groaned.
“I’m like five minutes away, ten tops. Geez, don’t get your panties in a wad,” her best friend sighed through the phone before hanging up.
Charlie was nestled in a booth at the back of a neighborhood coffee shop. Her best friend Victoria was supposed to have met her twenty minutes ago. You’d think when you’re planning a wedding you’d want to be on time.
Let’s just say it’s been a long 4 months. I cannot wait till this wedding happens already.
She wondered why she got annoyed though—the last time Victoria was on time was when Tanner Smith had asked her to a house party back in high school.
She was twirling her hot chocolate when someone cleared his throat.
Well I’ll be damned.
“Look, if you want to ask me out, just ask me out. You don’t have to stalk me first.”
James stood there in dark jeans, a Pittsburgh Penguins hoodie and a baseball cap on backwards. In one hand he held a cup of coffee and the other was on his hip.
Charlie shrugged her shoulders, “Now where’s the fun in that?” she asked before taking a sip of her drink. His smile widened, his lips pulled back to display his beautiful white teeth. Charlie licked her lips.
Without asking—and like she’d tell him no—James slid into the booth across from her and leaned forward on his elbows.
“So tell me Charlie, how long have you been following me?” He sounded so cocky, but they both knew it was all fun in games.
I think. He was joking right?
Leaning forward to imitate him, she replied, “Who said I’m the one doing the stalking? I do believe I was here first, no?”
James nodded his head from side to side, “Eh, it’s debatable,”
Charlie giggled, her hair falling her face. She ran a hand through it and pushed it behind her ears. She hadn’t been this close to James before, his green eyes were mesmerizing.
They had stared at each other for just a bit, nothing coming from their lips but flirtatious smiles. James took a deep breath like he was going to say something as Tori came barging through the coffee shop and up to their booth.
“I’m here, I’m here. Let’s get this shit show on the road!” she announced eloquently.
“Oh,” surprised to see James sitting with her. “Oh, well hello there.” Her best friend eyed him up and down.
She introduced them, “Tori, this is James. James, this is my best friend Tori.” As they shook hands Tori grinned over at her, winking. Charlie just rolled her eyes.
“Nice to meet you Tori,” James said politely.
“Oh please, call me Victoria.” She pulled her hand back and stood there glancing at both sides of the booth.
“Well I should get go—“
“How about you join—“
Tori just laughed at their misshape. James slid out of the booth to let Tori take his place.
“Would you two be interested in a little house party tonight? It’s just a small get together with some of my friends,” he asked the girls, but his eyes never left Charlie’s.
“Oh, how fun! Doesn’t that sound like fun Charlotte?” Tori beamed, kicking her leg under the table.
“Um, ow.” Charlie mumbled, glaring across the booth. Her eyes softened as she looked back up at James, laughing at her friend’s eagerness. “Thanks, but I can’t,”
Tori’s hand dropped on the table, “What?!”
“Oh, it’s alright,” James assured. “Maybe another time,” it sounded like more of a question.
They said their goodbyes and both Charlie and Tori stretched their necks to watch James walk away. When he was out of sight Tori turned back around.
“Damn you Charlotte! You’re no fun!”
Without a word, Charlie reached for the left hand of her best friend and held up her ring finger. “Doesn’t mean I can’t look,” she pouted. “And what could you possibly be doing tonight?”
Charlie took the last sip of her drink and put on her coat. “It’s Sunday, I do the same thing every Sunday,” she reminded her.
Sighing, Tori stood up with her hands on her hips. “Alright. Let’s go Wedding Planner!”
James had spent the better half of practice trying to figure out what to do.
He had asked Charlie and her friend to come to a house party last night, but she turned him down. He didn’t have her number, which made Marc Andre publicly question his manhood.
The Penguins had a home game the next night, and wouldn’t be back in town for week before a solid five days at home. He didn’t want to wait that long, he couldn’t.
He could wait around for her to show up again at the grocery store, or even the coffee shop.
And that’s when it really is considered stalking, he thought as he sat at his stall and ripped of his hockey pads.
“Or, you could just grow a pair and bring her dinner,” his stall mate Pascal Dupuis suggested.
Oh shit, did I say that out loud? Wait, that wasn’t such a bad idea. I do know where she lives… creeper… Bring some dinner, a little wine. Get to know her—get her number!
James clapped his teammate on the back, “Genius, Duper. Genius,”
He grabbed a towel and headed into the showers, the ideas running through his head.