Why I love these guys.
I try to relax, but I can't. It's a transcontinental flight, so it's not too long, but it's certainly long enough. I can't stand being cooped up in this small cabin. Flights don't usually bother me, but today, this one does. There is just too much going on in my brain to be able to sit still.
The guys are all playing SoCom. The Kid and Flower kicked me off their team because I wasn't helping. I just can't concentrate. I have Charlotte on the brain. Unfortunately, the last memory I have of her was as a lump in bed. I can't think about the memory I have of her before that, which is of her naked beside me in bed—because that thought is terribly inappropriate to have when surrounded by a bunch of guys on a plane.
She's miserable. I wish I were there with her. Not that being there with her would make her feel any better, but then maybe at least I could do something. I wonder if there's anything I can do now to let her know that I'm thinking about her and wishing her a speedy recovery.
Flower's been dating Véro since, well, forever. If anyone would know what to do, it would be the guy with a steady girlfriend. After all, he's got to be doing something right if she's sticking around this long without him popping the question. "Hé, Flower! Si Véro était malade, qu'est-ce que tu ferais pour qu'elle se sente mieux?"
His eyes focus on the screen of his PSP as he prepares for the kill. "Je ne sais pas. De la soupe?"
I roll my eyes. "Tu es en avion. Tu ne peux pas lui faire de soupe. Alors qu'est-ce que tu fais?"
Sid's too into the game to worry that I may need advice or help. He's so competitive; he's obsessed with winning. I, however, have real troubles to confront. The Kid interjects, "Flower, if you're going to play, watch my back!"
TK calls out, too. "Tanger, you're allowed to move around, eh?" All they care about is that damn game.
"Sorry, Sid," Flower apologizes, before turning back to me. "Je ne sais pas, Max. Pourquoi tu demandes ça?"
Now Staalsy wants to throw his two cents in. "You know, if you're going to talk strategy, do it in English so the rest of us can understand, eh?" I didn't mean for this to become a team-wide discussion. It's why I was using French in the first place.
"Don't worry, Gronk," Sid says, his eyes trained on his PSP. "They're not. They're talking about girls."
That piques Staalsy's interest. Merde. "Alright! Spill, Talbo. Who'd you fuck last night, and was she any good?"
Ugh. I don't want to deal with this right now. "Pourquoi tu t'es ouvert la gueule, Sidney? Tu ne parles même pas français."
The smart-ass replies in French just to spite me. "J'ai joué à Rimouski, tu souviens toi?"
"Come on, guys. English!" TK yells, feeling frustrated since he doesn't understand what's going on.
Tanger speaks up, the first time during the entire flight. I'm still not exactly happy with him, but I'm especially not pleased with him after he says, "Peut-être que cela a quelque chose à voir avec une certaine fille aux yeux verts?"
"He's in the bushes!" Jordan hollers, trying to kill someone. I've lost track of who's playing against whom now.
"Si t'es sage, Letang, tu vas fermer ta gueule. Ça ne te concerne pas." I growl. He should not speak about things he doesn't understand. This is none of his business.
Tanger switches to English. He does it strategically, only when he has the proper audience. "When you lay claim on a girl and never seal the deal, maybe it does."
That makes my temper flare, but Gronk speaks before I have a chance to. "Wait. You never slept with her?"
"Pour ton information, oui, nous avons baisé. Alors fous-moi la paix!" I didn't want to say that, but it came out before I could stop myself. I didn't want to broadcast that bit of information to the guys, especially Letang. But maybe if he knew that Charlotte and I had something, he'd quit whatever mild fascination he had with taunting me over her.
"It's about time," Tanger replies. As soon as I hear him in English, I know he's about to say something I don't want to hear. "Does that mean you're finished with her? Is she available again?"
I start to get up from my seat on the plane. He's sitting across the aisle, and right now he's in my crosshairs. I'm going to make him pay for that. He needs to know he can't say things like that about my girl. "You slimy—"
"It was a joke!" he laughs back, not threatened by me at all. Sure, he's taller, but not by much. He's got ten pounds on me, but that's not much. I can take him.
Flower stands up so I can't confront him. Flower's usually quiet and subdued, but as one of the few French-Canadians on the plane, he knows what's coming. "Assez!"
Tanger tries to stick up for himself. "Pourquoi es-tu si intéressé par une fille?"
"She's not just a girl. She's my girl. You know that. You need to back off!" I roar, and more people around us turn to see what's going on.
"I told you it was a joke. What's your problem?"
"You are my problem, Letang."
"You used to be able to take a joke. You act like you're going to marry her."
"No, I'm acting like you don't know when to quit. You're not funny. And I swear if you even look at her—"
"I don't care," he laughs. "You can have her. I'm just saying—"
"Enough, Tanger," Sid says, speaking up.
I'm too angry to stay in that section of the plane. The worst part of it is Tanger's actually kind of right. We used to joke about girls like that. But now... well, this one means a little more to me to joke around like this about her. I've put so much work into getting to this place in our relationship that I don't want it to go to waste.
Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't know what this means for Charlotte and me. We never talked. I'll call her when we land.
I move further up in the plane's cabin to where Adams and Eats are sitting. They're both married. They can supply me with the knowledge I'm seeking.
"Hey guys," I say, placing a knee in the seat in front of them so I can face them. "Can I ask you something?"
They look at each other before either responds, almost like they're worried about what I'm going to ask. "Sure," Eats says. "What's up?"
"So like, when your wives are sick and you're out on the road, what do you do? Do you do anything to make them feel better?"
They look at each other again. Honestly, it's like I just asked them if they kick puppies or shake babies or something. Adams speaks up first. "I just call her, make sure she's okay. And if she's really sick, I make sure that someone's there to look after the kids while she sleeps or something."
Eats nods. "I might send an e-card or something. Are you... looking to do something for someone?" he asks carefully.
"Yeah. There's this girl," I start to say, and the guys start laughing. "What?" I ask, but they don't reply. "Come on. What?"
Adams shakes his head. "You're twenty-five, and you're asking us about what to do about a girl. Didn't your mother teach you anything?"
I scowl. "What are you getting at?"
"Flowers," he says. "Girls love flowers. Just order her something from a florist, and toss in a 'get well soon' card. Guaranteed, she'll eat it up."
Eats chimes in, "Since when did you start making a fuss over a particular girl?"
"Since I met a particular girl worth making a fuss over," I tell him with a smile.
I call Charlotte when we land, but she doesn't answer her phone. It doesn't even ring; it goes straight to voicemail. She must have turned it off to get some sleep. Then I realize the time difference; it's getting kind of late back in Pittsburgh. "Hey. I guess you're sleeping. I hope you're feeling better. Um, I guess I'll try calling you tomorrow? Goodnight, baby. Sweet dreams."
As soon as I hang up the phone, I hear some of the guys cat-calling and making whip sounds. I shake my head and scowl at them. Most of them who are taunting me are taken anyway, so what the hell are they making fun of me for? Especially Staalsy. He talks a lot around the guys, but he's a completely different guy when Heather's around.
When we get to the hotel, I ask Geno if I can borrow his laptop so I can figure out what I could order for Charlotte. There are so many choices that I'm not sure what to do: roses, cookies, orchids, stuffed animals....
I ask Geno for help in picking something. Lord knows how many times he's had to apologize to Oksana; he should know a thing or two about flowers. But all he advises is, "Bigger is better. Big flowers."
Shaking my head, I go out into the hallway and try to find Adams or Eats again. They were at least helpful. I run into Billy and ask him what he thinks. "No roses," he says. "That's too romantic. Either get a mixture or lilies or something." I look at him with a blank expression. "Come on, Talbo. You apparently need more help than that," he laughs.
He walks me back into my room and points to something on the screen. "This is good. Look, it's got a bunch of different things in it, and it comes in a vase. And you get to send a card, too. Where are you going to have it delivered?"
"I guess to her apartment."
"Get them delivered somewhere public, like where she works. Girls love stuff like that."
"She's sick, though. I don't know if she'll go to work tomorrow."
"It's worth the risk," he tells me, clapping me on the shoulder. "They lap this stuff up. She'll be able to brag for weeks about receiving flowers if you do it where people will see them."
I nod, trying to absorb all this information. Being charming and personable is easy when I'm interacting one-on-one. Saying the right things is easy. But I don't know what to do if I can't be there with her. I hope this works, I think to myself, as I pull out my credit card to place the order.