"We're okay, aren't we? I mean, you're not still mad, are you?"
I don't know what to say to that. No, I'm no longer mad, but I'm certainly not over it either. I've done my best to simply ignore that entire section of our evening, and I tried to not let it spoil our time together. I thought I was doing a good job of that, until Charlotte brings it up again.
Since I don't know what to say, I don't say anything at all. I nod, and then I see her reaction as her lips are pursed in a straight line. This isn't how I want her to leave, so I reach out for her to stay, and then assault her mouth with my own. I want her thinking about me, about this, all day, and not that loser and not about what happened last night.
When I pull back, I can see the lust dancing in her eyes. I've accomplished what I wanted. Charlotte gets out of my car with a smile, and I'm glad that she doesn't look back because I wouldn't be able to return that smile even if I wanted to. I cannot so easily forget what happened, although I've given her that impression. I grip the wheel tensely and wait until she disappears past the double doors before putting my car into gear and speeding off for the arena. I'm going to be ridiculously early for the morning skate, but there's no point in going home while I'm already out. Plus, maybe some time in the weight room will do me some good.
I don't want to still be this worked up over what happened. I tried to make it seem to Charlotte like I was over it, okay with it, but I'm definitely not. Would you be? Would you be okay with being called by someone else's name? Sure, there are worse times it could have happened, like mid-coitus. That would have completely ripped my heart out, instead of simply crushing my ego.
Instead, it happened during a fight. Charlotte dissociated. She's supposed to be emotionally invested in our relationship. I'm supposed to be winning her over, which I thought I was, but instead fighting with me makes her think of someone else, someone who she claims to be "over," but apparently she isn't.
Fights are going to happen in any relationship. I don't wish that we hadn't fought, even though it was over something stupid and pointless, in my opinion. Charlotte was upset with me for not appreciating just how much she cared about seeing me again; bottom line is she cared about seeing me again and wanted to make it a special night. That's what I want! Well, maybe I didn't care so much about the "specialness" of the night, but I like knowing that she was just as anxious and excited to get to see me and be with me after that road trip.
I just that she would have been in the present with me, fighting with me and not some ghost from her past. I wish that she would talk about it, so then I would know what I'm up against. It is like I'm fighting against a ghost, an invisible force that I don't comprehend. Charlotte told me he was a jerk, but what else did I know about him and what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Because I have neither forgotten nor forgiven, not yet anyway. I simply compartmentalized and put that moment aside. Charlotte's sorry and upset about it, and I don't want her to feel any worse about it, but I still need to figure out what's going to happen next. I think I have a right to know about her past, especially if I've got to pay for the mistakes of another man. She can't keep avoiding the subject, even though I know she doesn't want to talk about it. Apparently, though, she needs to talk about it, because suppressing it isn't helping.
Sure, I enjoyed the rest of our night, what transpired after dinner: spending the night and showering together in the morning. I love our simple moments like that, when it's just her and me and nothing else to complicate our interactions. It's not always about the sex. I know it sounds so pathetic, but that's when we are at our best. Those blissful memories, however, are not enough to make me forget that one sentence. And that's what this is about. One sentence that ruined my good mood and my peace of mind.
Relationships need to be able to withstand external pressures. It can't just be me and her all the time, without interruptions or outside interference. Shit happens. We need to be a united front against the battle of time and stress. If we can't, then we don't stand a chance. If I can't help her, if she won't let me help her, then we won't last.
I get to the Mellon and head straight for the bench press. I'm still supposed to take it easy on my shoulder; it was a condition of returning to the ice so soon that I not overdo it. But I'm not worried about that now.
I load the bar with weights and get to work, even though there's no one here yet to spot me. I should work on my core or my legs, but I want to feel the strain and burn in my muscles that only the bench press will give me. Without even bothering to count my reps, I just keep lifting until I don't think I can anymore, trying to exhaust my mind.
As much as I'm troubled by this whole situation, I'm also left wondering why this is such a big deal to me. I'm not going to lie; I've accidentally called girls by the wrong name before. But that's because my time with them was like a revolving door system. When you never spend a second night with the same girl, it's easy to lose track of all their names. While they were annoyed with me, that was a part of our unspoken agreement. Those girls weren't looking for more than one night, and neither was I. Now I am looking for more than that, and I'm finding myself in their shoes, being called by another name.
What is this power that Charlotte holds over me? I never expected to find myself in this position. I knew I'd settle down one day and start my search for the woman I'd spend the rest of my life with, but I never expected to want to spend my time with the one person it seems that can rip my heart out. I guess you really know that you care about someone when you give them that power over you. I don't remember giving away that power, though; I think she took it without my knowledge.
The question is: do I make her talk about it, or not? She doesn't want to and she won't want to when I bring it up. But can I move past this if I don't get my answers?
The Kid walks in and disrupts my thoughts. "Hey," he calls as he walks in. "What are you doing here so early?"
I give him a weak shrug as I sit up from my position on the bench press. "I was up early, so figured I'd come in early."
"Oh." Sid doesn't understand. He keeps to a strict schedule and adheres to it no matter what. "You know, tomorrow's Thanksgiving in the U.S."
"Is that so?" I ask, not really caring. I hope he can hear the annoyance in my voice, just so he'll leave me alone.
Sid, of course, can't take a hint if his life depended on it. "Yeah. I'm going home with Noelle. You know, meet the family kind of thing."
He shakes his head in figure-eights, as if nodding and shaking his head at the same time. "Eh. Yes and no. I've met her parents already, but just kinda briefly. The holiday's a really big deal to her, anyway. I don't know why. I mean, it's just Thanksgiving. But we're doing Christmas with my family up in Nova Scotia, so maybe she's nervous. I don't know."
I let out a deep breath, finding it difficult to stay patient. I don't know why he's telling me all this, and I wish he'd just shut up already. How many one-word answers do I have to give him before he realizes I don't want to talk to him? "Maybe."
"What about Charlotte? Are you doing the Thanksgiving thing with her?"
That question gives me cause to hesitate. "I don't know. She's never mentioned it." We were busy last night, but she didn't bring it up at all when we talked on the phone during the previous week, either. Would she be going home to Chicago? Is that why her ex was on her mind, because she'd be seeing him again? Would she go back to him? She said he was a jerk, an asshole, but they obviously had a history, and that counts for more than I think people give credit for.
I hate not knowing any of this stuff! Why do I suddenly feel like I've been hung out to dry?
More of the guys begin to trickle in to get ready for the morning skate. I head to my stall to begin gearing up. I'm quiet, unusually so, as the rest of the guys banter back and forth.
"What's up, Talbo? You're not talking," Staalsy says.
"Do I have to?" I ask back.
"Well, no," he replies.
"Don't act all offended," Tanger adds. "Usually your tongue is flapping in the wind."
I try to hide my scowl by turning toward my stall as I reach for my Under Armour shirt. I chide myself instantly as I hear the catcalls. "I guess your tongue's tired, because it looks like you've been busy!" TK yells out.
Gronk adds, "Man, oh man. And she seemed like such a sweet, nice girl. Guess she's a lady on the street, but freaky in bed, eh?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?" Plastering on my best smirk, I try to look smug. I pull on my shirt and then get to work on my pads, wanting nothing more than to get out on the ice and focus on the drills rather than having to talk to the guys.
I guess I'm not mad anymore, just incredibly confused and unsure. The more I learn about Charlotte, the more I don't know about her. I've made up my mind. She and I need to have a talk, a big talk; I won't let her avoid this subject anymore. I'm well aware that she doesn't like to discuss her past with this John guy, but that's not an option at this point. After all, I've been the one waiting for her, being patient; now I need to know if all that effort has been for naught.
I throw myself into the drills, skating as fast as I can and focusing on making sure that each time the puck is on my stick, I'm making sure to put it in the net. By the end of the skate around, I'm exhausted. It's probably a mistake to have worked myself so physically the morning of a game, but I had to. It worked for me: now I have a game plan.
After showering, some of the guys and I go out for our pregame meal, and it's easier to get on with them and joke around, now that I know what I'm going to do. I may not know what the outcome is going to be, but at least I have a plan. Once we finish our meal, I head home and take a long, recharging nap. When I head back to the arena, I realize that I never asked Charlotte if she'd be at my game. I whip out my phone and send her a quick text, asking her if she'll come.
Her response makes me frown. If u want me there, sure.
Of course I do. Wouldnt ask if I didnt.
Well, u didnt ask so I didnt think u cared.
I roll my eyes as I type back: I just 4got. Ticket @ will call. C u after?
Absolutely! :D Her response puts a brief smile on my face. If her message is any indication, she'll be happy to see me, but she won't be once I start asking questions.
It's going to be an interesting night.