Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chapter 7: Yuengling and Chinese

I peel off my under armour, my hair no doubt standing up in all different directions. I rub my hands over my face; the tiredness starting to seep in after the press had left practice. I look down to my bag by my stall. I sigh and take out my phone, There was a text from Frank asking when Mom’s Birthday was, a text from “Anna” I think she was the blond that took my phone last night at the club and plugged in her number. Apparently she wanted to know if we would be at the club again tonight, and a text from Verizon, telling me about a new plan they offered. Still nothing. Not a text or a voicemail, or even a missed call. Nothing.

I sigh frustrated, throwing my phone back into my open bag and heading toward the showers.

3 week. 3 fucking weeks and I had still not heard from Maggie! I knew there was a chance that I would never see her again after I walked out of the apartment, but now it was bugging me that we lived in the same city and I had no one to pick on. Which wasn’t entirely true, I had a whole hockey team, but it was just so fun getting under Maggie’s skin. I missed her spit fire attitude and infectious laugh. I didn’t want to just not see her again for the next decade.

I step into the shower after turning on the water. My skin jumps and I let out my breath in a hiss as I come in contact with the extremely hot water. Soon, it numbs my skin, easing the tension out of my muscles.

I needed, no not needed… I wanted to see her. I groan, letting my head fall back against the tile in the shower as I think of her at the club, the white tank top, that slick golden skin, the thick mane of raven hair and those emerald green eyes. The way her hips moved to the beat, the gold buckle of her belt catching the light in the club. How her hands came up, running up the nape of her neck to collect her hair. I feel my cock twitch just at the memory. I couldn’t have forgotten how she looked if I wanted to, and it was a damned turn on. I was going to have to make the first move. Maggie was too damned stubborn to admit that she may have been wrong. It was a pointless fight. I turn off the water off, and step out of the shower, toweling off and wrapping the towel around my waist. I was going to go find her.

Maggie’s POV

“Ugh,” I groan in frustration. I wipe off my mud-covered hands on my jeans and pull my mass of wet hair back into a ponytail. Getting the annoying sopping strands out of my eyes. I bend back down into the shallow hole, scraping away more dirt as does the worker next to me.

“Maggie!” I hear a voice call.

“Yeah, what’s up Jeff?” I ask popping my head up and looking in the direction of the voice.

He motions me over to the other carefully marked hole he is digging. I nod my head and putting my hands on the dirt wall of my own carefully dug hole and hoisting myself out. I try to brush the mud off my jeans, but only brush more on. I let out a frustrated sigh as the rain continues to pelt down on me.

“Does it ever stop raining here?!” I grumble.

“Haha, it doesn’t seem to,” he laughs, “Maggs what do you say we pack up early today? I mean it’s Friday and everyone is miserable in this rain.”

He was right. It had been raining for the better part of a week but today was horrible. It was like Monsoon season on the African plains. Everyone was cold, wet, and miserable. Digging in the dirt was fun, but digging in cold mud was not only difficult, but also exhausting.

“Yeah, let’s pack up and get outta here Jeff. I’m beat and I think so is everyone else,” I nod.

He nods and walks off to inform his crew while I walk over to mine and tell them the good news. I wipe the water dripping off the end of my nose as the rain comes down harder and I suppress a shiver. I was soaked to the bone.

After a good half hour of getting everything squared away and making sure all the workers left the site, I make my way back to my jeep, only to find a nice looking little black sporty thing next to my car. I stop, in my head I go over who it could possibly be, when the front door opens and HE steps out.

I had to admit; he looked damned good in jeans and a hoodie, the heavy rainfall quickly marking a dot pattern on his broad shoulder as he smirked that cocky smirk at me.

“What do you want Talbot?”

Max’s POV

“Excuse me, is there a Maggie Sutherland, here?” I ask stopping some cold and pitiful looking guy.

“Yeah, she’ll be along in a minute,” he nods, heading to his car.

I mumble a thanks and go back to claim the shelter of my car. I’m about to turn on the car, and turn up the heat and music. But I spot petite figure headed my way. She smiles and waves to some guy, giving him a smile as she adjusts the strap of some old beat up leather bag around her shoulder. I watch as she pushes a soaked wet curl out of her face and tucks it behind her ear. I smirk as she walks toward me, trying to find her keys in her bag. The jeans she wore hug from her hips because of how saturated with water they were with brown patches of mud intermixed in the denim. Her khaki military style coat added soaking weight on top of a waterlogged dark red t-shirt. I chuckle at the sight; maybe I should have waited until it was at least a sunny day out. She pulls her keys out of her bag and her eyes connect with my car when she lifts her head. She stops her brow furrowing as I step out of the car, those green eyes widen slightly before narrowing on me.

“What do you want Talbot?” she asks lowly, continuing to walk over to her car.

“Hey to you too Maggs. How’s the dig?” I ask, walking over with her.

“Could be better, it’s pretty difficult to dig in the mud,” she mumbles, unlocking her car.

She throws her bag in the passenger seat before hopping into the driver’s seat.

“Maggs come on…” I begin, knowing that she was just planning on rolling out of their without saying a word to me.

“What Max?”

“Can we at least talk? I mean, I wanted us to see each other more than once ever decade,” I chuckle.

“Max, I’m cold and I’m wet…” she begins, her head wiping up to meet my amused smirk, “Don’t make that last one dirty.”

I fake shock, “Maggie, I would never.”

“Uh huh. Look Max, I just want to go home and take a hot shower and order Chinese and do nothing. I’ve been working in the rain for the past few days,” she grumbles.

“I’ll bring the beer,” I smirk, before closing her door and cutting off her rejection. She looks straight up pissed as I hear her muffled voice draw out my name in a warning. However, I ignore it and head back to my car.

“See ya there, Maggs,” I wave.


“Honestly, Talbot, you have nothing better to do today than follow me home?” she grumbles, shoving her key into lock and with a solid twist unlatching it.

“Nope, I’m all yours today Maggs,” I grin at her.

“Oh, joy,” she says, her eyes rolling skyward before walking into her apartment.

I walk in behind her and let my gaze wonder around the apartment. My jaw slightly slackens at the sight in front of me. In the 3 weeks since the shouting match of the century, Maggie had managed to transform her apartment into a one of a kind space. Pictures covered one of the walls in a mismatched abstract pattern of sorts, while the other wall was completely hidden by two bookcases that were big enough to make me wonder how Maggie even got them through the door. They weren’t empty bookshelves either. Each shelf was lined from end to end with an assortment of books. There were only two shelves that didn’t contain any books, instead were a few artifacts and then more pictures.

The actual wall space that was seen was a sage green color and a red worn-out Persian rug was nestled under the dark wooden coffee table.

“Wow, Maggs. I like what you’ve done with the place,” I say taking a look around.

“Thanks. I need a shower…”she sighs, running a hand through her drenched locks, after throwing her keys on the kitchen counter and hanging her jacket and bag on an oak coat tree next to the door.

“Is that an invitation?” I grin suggestively at her, setting the case of Yuengling down next to her keys.

“Hardly,” she snorts with an eye roll, “Are you gonna be here when I get out of the shower, or am I just going to find a note?”

“Oh, no worries Maggie, I’ll be here,” I chuckle, plopping down on the beat up brown leather couch.

“Fine, just don’t break anything,” she replies with a yawn before retreating to her room.

I watch as she walks into her room, and snicker at the brown smudge of a handprint that was on her ass. No doubt she had wiped off her hands on the back of her jeans. I listen to her opening and closing drawers and a closet door before she heads into the only bathroom with a towel in hand. I wait for a minute before I hear the shower turn on, telling me that she was in there for at least 10 minutes. Should I or shouldn’t I? I look down passed my hands and to the dark hard wood floor, searching for the answer.

“Why the hell not?” I murmur before hauling myself off the couch and into Maggie’s bedroom.

The walls were doused in a deep dark red color that screamed warmth and sex. The ceiling was painted a warm chocolate brown, closing the room in, not in a cave like way, but instead instantly giving the room a cozy feel. Small gold details were painted around some of the corners and edges of the room, giving it a Moroccan feel. The bed had a comforter that had an Indian or Moroccan design, but I couldn’t make out the pattern because it was in a crumpled mess on the one side of the bed, evidence that Maggie had flung it off herself as she stumbled out of bed this morning. Multiple deep colored pillows seemed to act as a cocoon, almost making the deep walnut headboard of the bed disappear. The bed looked comfortable and inviting, making me want to fall into the bed and sleep there for the rest of the week... Or throw the raven haired beauty in for a romp. I could just imagine how her tawny skin looked against the deep red of the sheets, her fingers clutching at them as her back arched off the bed. How her dark hair would spread out on the pillow. How those red sheets would outline her naked curves perfectly, one slim leg peaking out as she looked at me with lusty dark green eyes, biting her full lower lip.

I groan at the thought, I was getting Maggie Sutherland into that bed. It would happen and I would show her the time of her life.

I shake off the image I have just conjured up in my brain and continue looking around the room. The last thing I needed to do was have Maggie come out of the shower with me in an obvious state of need.

A dark weathered wooden dresser stood on the opposing wall, next to the doorway I had come in. A blue bra with three little rhinestones between the cups was hanging from the black iron knobs of the drawers. The closet doors rested open, showing the place where Maggie’s wardrobe lay. It wasn’t much, like one would expect from a woman, but that was Maggie.

There was an antique jewelry box from some middle eastern was placed on top of the chest of drawers, a silver Celtic cross hanging from one of it’s four corners. A deep red almost maroon sari looking fabric covered the windows adding to the dark mystic of the room. Clothing littered the floor next to the closet and a pair of wet leather boots had been kicked off at the edge of the bed. The smell of pepper and mint was faintly in the room, a smell that was uniquely Maggie.

A few pictures decorated the bedside table. One of Maggie and some guys standing next to the pyramids, her in a canoe in a river surrounded by a jungle, one of her with an elephant. I recognized her brothers in a few of them too, all had either green or blue eyes and surprisingly tawny skin coming of course from their father. There was one of Maggie on Paddy’s back, both laughing. They looked strikingly similar, except Paddy had his straight dark hair cropped into a faux hawk. There was one of her perched on the shoulders of Sean and Liam. One was of all 5 Sutherland boys and Maggie in front of a pub; Maggie was the shortest of them all. All the men were at least 6 feet tall, but I knew who was the wild child and the boss, the 5’2’’ beauty. There was a picture of all 6 of the Sutherland kids, Maggie in a white cap and gown with a huge grin in the middle of her brothers who were all causing a commotion around her. The admiral standing off to the side in his uniform, his arms crossed over his chest, and a stone lion statue crouched in the background.

The final one was in a silver frame, a Celtic knot in the one corner of the frame. In the picture was a redheaded woman hugging a raven haired little girl. Neither looked very much like the other. But the plentiful waves in their hair and the strikingly similar bright green eyes were the same.

“Snooping around my apartment, eh, Talbot?” a voice purrs from behind me.

I whip around to see Maggie padding toward me in a fluffy white towel. Her hair masked by a similar towel on the top of her head.

“Just trying to get a glimpse into Maggie Sutherland’s life,” I smile charmingly.

“Haha, right, just don’t go sniffing through my underwear drawer,” she chuckles, plucking the blue bra off the dresser knob.

‘Why hadn’t I thought of that one?’ I think, as I watch her walk away from me and back to the bathroom, black ink running from the nape of her neck and following the spine before disappearing into the white towel. It took almost all my energy to not pull her back to me, rip the towel off her, and have my way with her.

“So,” she says over a mouthful of Chinese food, “What did you want to talk about?”

“Why didn’t you call me back Maggs?” I ask, watching for her reaction.

She sits on the other corner of the leather couch, opposite of me, in a navy blue oversized hoodie and plaid boxer shorts. Her legs tucker under her, Yuengling sat in front of each of us on the coffee table.

She shrugs, pushing around her chicken and broccoli with her chopstiks.”I was busy.”

“For three weeks?” I ask skeptically, raising my eyebrow.

“Yes! I’ve been starting with the dig and then getting this place all set up,” she says motioning around the room with her chopsticks.

“Maggie, come on. You couldn’t have taken 2 seconds out of your busy schedule to say, ‘Hey, Max, good game?” I ask, I watch as she just shrugs and looks back down at her food, “Unless… unless you didn’t watch any games?” I half ask half state, my heart sinking with the realization that Maggie wasn’t even a devoted hockey fan. She probably had no idea what our record was, when I was at home or away, the goal I had scored a few nights ago, or the close encounter fight I had almost had.

“Have you watched any games Maggie?” I ask quietly, dreading her answer.

“Yeah, I’ve watched almost all of them,” she says quietly, not meeting my gaze, her cheeks tingeing a slight pink.

My mood immediately improves and I can’t help the grin that spreads across my face. She HAS been watching my hockey games!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chapter 6: The Morning After

The rain comes down at a steady rate. Not quickening or slowing down. No thunder. No lightning. No wind. Just a dreary day. I look out into the city, feeling an immense amount of peace overwhelm me as my playlist specifically made for the rain plays it’s soft mellow tone in the background. I hug my white mug filled with coffee closer to me before taking another sip. The warmth slipping through my body as I let out a content sigh.

The grey sky outlined the contours of the city’s skyscrapers and reflected off the murky rivers. There was almost no sunlight shining through the thick grey clouds. I watch as the water drips down my high window, making small patterns. The light of the candles that I had lit gave a soft glow to my apartment. I had always loved the look of candles, they gave the room a soft natural glow, especially on a dreary day like today. Not bright and artificial like the ceiling lights or lamps. I always made sure to keep candles everywhere in my apartment, but I only had a few lit at the moment. Traveling so often had put me in many spots where there was no electricity. A candle was seemingly almost like a comfort of home; I could take one just about anywhere. Right now, the whole room smelled of warm vanilla from all the wax. It was a soothing morning, a much-needed soothing morning after the night I had had last night.

I look back into the stormy weather, my thoughts drifting. His eyes matched almost perfectly to the color of the sky, a blue grey. And like the sky they changed with his mood, sometimes a bright blue, other times a stormy grey. I’m pulled out of my thoughts when I hear his foot steps come from my bedroom. I turn to greet him and find that he is only in his grey dress pants from last night. The sight of him shirtless made my breath hitch for a minute as I trace the contours and lines of his muscles and broad bare shoulders. I could see the cross tattoo that marked the right of his rib cage, before my eyes make their way across his abs and up his solid torso and to the Talbot ‘T’ on his right bicep. My eyes finally make their way to his face; his eyes were a stormy grey color and clouded by sleep as he looked at me, pulling on his already messy short brown hair. I wanted to jump him right there, I had never felt so attracted to Max Talbot and he looked damned hot when he first woke up. Hangover and all. But it was Max and I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.

“Good Morning,” I say speaking first, it coming out more of a warm purr than I had wanted or expected it to.

“Morning,” he replies, his accent thick in a sleepy haze.

His eyes searching around the room and stopping to flicker over me. Suddenly I realized how short the robe I had brought back from China really was. I resist the urge to tug it lower, knowing it would give away my uneasiness. His eyes move over me, a heated look in them as they flicker up to my eyes. Confusion in their depths.

“The coffee is over by the stove and the aspirin is on the counter,” I murmur, not breaking his gaze.

He continues to stare at me for a moment, no doubt having trouble registering my words in his current state. Finally he breaks our silent staring contest and nods, his hand coming back up to tug on his hair before moving to the counter to get coffee and aspirin.

I turn my attention back to the view as The Weepies play “Gotta have You” softly in the background. I think back to a few minutes ago, replaying the picture of him walking in.

Fine, I’ll admit it, I wanted him. Perhaps a little more than I wanted to admit. He was strong, cute, funny. He could keep up with my sarcasm and dish it right back at me. He knew more about me and my past then most people I had interacted with over the past couple years, with the exception of my brothers. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t because I knew how strong my feelings were for him before, a little more than a simple high school crush. No I wasn’t in love with him, I knew that, even then I knew I wasn’t in love with him. But I could. I could fall in love with him and I don’t think it would take much. All the other guys I was romantically involved with were mostly for, well, sex. My longest relationship only had lasted 3 months, and that’s how I liked it. I had never been in love. I had loved, but I had never been in love and it never bothered me. I was not tied down to anything and that’s how I wanted to keep it. If I fell in love I couldn’t travel the world like I wanted. I didn’t want that. I wanted to travel the world, taste it, smell it, see it all.

That’s why I couldn’t be with Max, even if it was just sex. It would ruin what we had. I was here for the next 6 months and then I was leaving. If we remained friends we could keep in contact, the occasional letter or phone call before it eventually became too much and it faded away. No heartache, no obligations. If I got together with Max, there would be more attached to it. It wasn’t a random hookup, we had a past. It couldn’t be anything more than what it was now. No matter how curious I was to how good he was in bed. No matter how much I wanted to find out. I just couldn’t.

I feel an arm snake around my waist, making a warm and tingly sensation spread around my lower half and my heart lurch in my throat. He places a simple kiss under my left ear, the scruff on his face tickling my neck, his lips soft against me. His touch burned its warmth through my thin robe. My eyes close tightly, ‘No, no I can’t.’ I think, as I bite my lip to the feeling of his simple kiss lingering and the mixture of his musky cologne and the slight stale smell of alcohol hitting me.

“Thanks for letting me crash here last night Maggs,” he mumbles, his voice gravely in my ear.

I take a deep breath calming myself before opening my eyes turning around in his arms. I hadn’t realized how close to him I would be though and I subconsciously bite my lip nervously. Only inches where between me and his sexy smirk with the smell of coffee on his breath and mine. My eyes move up to connect with his stormy blue ones before I drop my gaze down. His bare chest almost touching me, making me curse myself for buying such a thin robe. He leans in a little closer, looking down to my lips.

I inhale quickly and take a step back breaking free of his arms. I hear him let out a rather defeated sigh.

“Sure thing,” I reply, looking down in almost empty coffee mug, gathering myself with a deep breath.

Clean slate, no emotions. Well, ok, emotion, just not the sexual charged one. I look back up to him, my eyes avoiding his dangerous ones that I know will pull me into a place that I just escaped from.

“So, how’s the jaw there, Ali,” I ask, turning his head with my two finger to view the side of his jaw.

“It’s fine,” he huffs, pushing my hand away, his own hand sneakily hanging onto my wrist.

“Really? It doesn’t hurt at all?” I say skeptically.

“I’m fine.”

“Huh, and here I thought that he really landed that punch. Max, why would you try to pick a fight like that? I mean I know you were drunk but come on!”

“I didn’t pick a fight,” he growls rolling his eyes.

“Oh right, him punching you after you stood chest to chest and said I was going home with you, wasn’t picking a fight,” I snort.

“I didn’t mean for it to be a fight, I just didn’t want you going home with that dirt bag,” he says frustrated.

“Why the hell not?! It’s not like you don’t do it, and yes I know about your reputation, I figure people out for a living,” I say holding up my hand.

“That’s different and don’t pull the job card. You figure out dead societies not living people.”

“Same thing… sort of,” I shrug, “Don’t change the subject. I wasn’t a fan of having to take you home and take care of you when I had a perfectly good… “

“Lay? And you didn’t take care of me, you told me to that you were sleeping on the couch and threatened to break my fucking hand if I objected. None of this would have happened if you would have just obeyed the damn rules,” he grumbles, his hand tugging on his hair while he mumbles something in French.

“The rules? Max, come on! When have I ever obeyed rules that were set for me?! And your fucking rules were shit and you know it,” I shout.

“Damnit it Maggie! They were so that neither you nor I would get in trouble. I’m so sick of pulling you out of trouble,” he shouts back.

“Then don’t! I already have 5 brothers that feel like it’s their duty to do so, I don’t need another one. I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself!” I shout before walking off to my bedroom.

“Where the hell are you going?!”

“To take a fucking shower!” I shout over my shoulder before slamming the door to the bathroom. I walk over to the sink and brace myself on the cool granite counter, my head hanging low as I catch my breath and cool myself down in order to keep from punching the mirror. One I’ve cooled down enough I turn on the stereo I have in the bathroom, turning it up loudly incase ‘someone’ came knocking at the door wanting to continue our screaming match. Christina Aguilera ‘s “Fighter” blasts through the speakers, consuming my hearing and letting the anger roll around in me as the cool water from my shower cooled me down and slowly let my red hot temper flow down the drain. It wasn’t hard to get my blood boiling, but no one could heat it up as fast as Max Talbot, except maybe my father. But my blood was always boiling around him. No, Maxime Talbot was the only one that could make me go from completely mellow to a screaming match so quickly.

Max’s POV

She was so fucking infuriating! I set my coffee cup down on the counter a little more forcefully than I should have making the hot brown liquid jostle out over the sides and into a puddle on the grey counter. I come out and she looks so tempting in that short little red silky robe, tied ever so loosely around her waist giving me a peek at the tank top she was wearing last night, but this time no bra underneath. Her legs were just as I had remembered, surprisingly long on her small frame with lean muscle that danced at any slight movement. With her back turned to me, I couldn’t resist her. Her skin was so soft and warm beneath my lips, smelling faintly of pepper and mint. Then she turned around in my arms, those captivating emerald eyes told me that she was feeling the same thing I was. That sexual pull. Her breasts brushing my chest through the thin fabric of her robe made me want to lay her on the nearest flat surface. I wanted her badly. But then she abruptly pulled away, making me frustrated. And then it began. God why did she always have to be so… so …

“Ugh,” I grumble out loud as I hear music blast from her bathroom.

I sigh my headache spreading to right behind my eyes in stress, and I pinch the bridge of my nose in hopes of stopping the pain. There was no way that the conversation would continue after that spat, nope nothing was going to happen at all today with Maggie, sexually or verbally. I walk into her room and button my shirt up, tucking it into my grey pants and quickly tying my tie so as to get out of here before she got out of the shower. When I woke up in her bed this morning, this wasn't how I envisioned the rest of the morning playing out.

I walk back into the kitchen and somehow I’m able to find a Sharpie and a napkin amongst a sea of boxes, some empty, some still needing unpacked. I jot down a quick message to her, before putting the cap back on the Sharpie and heading to the door. Luckily, I had my car here. Her car was still at the arena, but I’m sure that she would figure out how to get it. If she was truly desperate she would call me and begrudgingly ask me for a ride to pick up her car. But Maggie I’m sure wouldn’t wound her pride like that. She would figure out how to get it on her own.

I sigh deeply, the anger had defused out of me making me feel the slight ache in my jaw and thank God for the creation of aspirin to take away the pounding in my head. However, I couldn’t help but feel a slight ache in my chest as I looked around the room. The walls were still bare, but I’m sure that would change, after all Maggie was a photographer. The only picture on the wall was a startling image of the sun, orange color contrasted the stark white bottom of snow. I couldn’t tell if it was a sunrise or a sunset, but it was stunning. I hoped that I could see the rest of her photos at some point in time, get to know more about what Maggie had become. But now, I was just hoping that she didn’t completely shut me out. I walk out of the apartment wondering when or even if I would ever see Maggie Sutherland again.

Maggie’s POV

I step out of the shower and towel off, I slip on a simple pair of boxers and a sports bra before walking out of the bathroom, just incase Max was there. Usually I wouldn’t have put anything on, but I wasn’t sure if I could stop him again if he looked at me like he had last night.

But as I walk into the kitchen, I see no sign of the overly confident hockey player, just a napkin with writing on it next to his coffee mug sitting in a puddle of coffee.


Call me when you’re ready to talk.


“Ugh, drama queen,” I say rolling my eyes. Leave it to him to make this my fault and blow everything way out of proportion.

“Well, Max Talbot, if that’s how it’s going to be, then fine. I’ll call you when I’m ready,” I grumble.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chapter 5: Itchy

“Fine. Let me just get my bag out of my car,” I growl, finally agreeing to go with Max in his car instead of taking my own. Probably not the best idea but if it would get him to shut up, … I run over to my new car, and by new I mean a 2007 jeep wrangler X in dark red, used with 35,000 miles on it. Not exactly everyone’s dream car, but it suited me and who knew where I was going after this.

I first take off my fleece jacket and pull the t-shirt Max gave me over my head. I shiver in the chilly weather my arms bare and my body covered by only my thin tank top, I quickly shove my arms back into my black Columbia fleece and zip it the whole way up, shivering to get the warmth back into my body. I grab my green canvas messenger bag out of the passenger’s seat and check to makes sure I have the essentials. My glasses, a book, Guns at the Forks by Walter O'Meara was my current read, and my wallet… I was good to go. I plop my cell phone in the bag and lock the car behind me, stuffing my keys into my bag as well before slinging the bag over my shoulder.

“Alright, let’s go,” running back to Max, who is leaning on his car waiting for me.

I had to admit; he looked good in his grey suit with a simple white dress shirt underneath and a black and grey-stripped tie. His arms were folded across his broad chest. My eyes wonder lower across a flat stomach and down to his lower half. I could see the signature hockey player thigh muscles through the fabric.

‘Powerful to say the least,’ I think as I subconsciously bite my lip.

My eyes drag up to meet his. His eyes were looking particularly blue at the moment as he smirked at me knowingly. I had been caught checking him out. But hell, who wouldn’t?! It’s not like I had the urge to crash my lips against his in what would be a very heated kiss. No, I didn’t want to feel that slight scruff against me as his lips worked over mine, nor did I want to run my hands through his still wet hair. Nope, maybe some girls… most girls, even… but not this one.

“Finally!” he says getting up and walking passed me giving me a whiff of his mouth-watering cologne and a good look at those broad shoulders. I bite my lip again, suppressing a groan. I was a sucker for strong broad shoulders. I swallow my thoughts, reminding myself that it’s Max, nothing can happen. I could go home with a guy tonight and get rid of the sexual tension that I needed to get rid of and it would all be good again.

He steps in front of me and opens the passenger door for me.

“My lady,” he says with a charming smile, gesturing for me to get inside.

I roll my eyes as I hop in, “I’m not your lady,’” I snort, before closing the door on my own. I watch as he just shakes his head and chuckles before walking to the driver’s side of the car.

The car starts with an immediate blast of warm air making me realize how chilly it is outside. Some sort of rock station plays on the radio as he backs out of the parking lot and out onto the open road, well the city road.

“Alright, here are the rules,” he says glancing over at me quickly.

“There are rules?” I ask, raising my eyebrow skeptically.

“1. Try not to get in trouble.”

“Pfft, no promises,” I mumble.

“2. Watch what you do with the team, especially if there are cameras around,” he says totally ignoring my previous statement.

“Aww, damn! And here I was going to jump the Crosby kid,” I say rolling my eyes.

“3. Try not to get into a fight with another girl, because quite frankly we all know the other girl doesn’t stand a chance…”

“Hey now, it’s not my fault girls are particularly catty around me. The tight clothing apparently allows less oxygen to get to their brain and they pick fights. I just defend myself,” I say defensively pointing a finger at him while he drives.

He lets out a snort of laughter, looking over at me.

“Well, if you decide to ‘defend yourself’ make sure you tell us so we can watch/ video tape it,” he grins at me.

“Oh please. You of all people should know I don’t fight like a girl.”

“But seeing a girl try to take you on - priceless!” he grins.

I just roll my eyes and shake my head with a deep sigh.

“And finally rule 4…” he says breaking the silence.

“There is a Fourth Rule?!” I say looking over at him in shock.

“Don’t go home with anyone unless it’s A. someone I know will just drop you off at your house and keep his hands off you or B. me, “ he says bluntly.

I’m taken aback by the 4th rule. The first 3 were understandable… well ok, maybe the first two were. But the fourth was utterly ridiculous! And if the thought I was going to follow the fourth rule he was dumber than I thought.

“Ok,” I say quickly and very sarcastically.

“Maggie, I’m serious,” he says slowly, giving me a look before quickly turning his attention back to the rode.

“Mmmhmm, I know,” I smile, “But Max, I have every intention of breaking the fourth rule, otherwise I wouldn’t have agreed to go with you guys”

His hands tighten on the steering wheel as he lets out an annoyed sigh, his stormy eyes meeting mine for just a second, warning me, before they flickered back to watch the road. I just smile back, honestly he should know better. When have I ever followed rules that were set specifically for me? And if you ask me, it was very hypocritical of him to make rule 4. I knew all about his reputation, “googling” is not a complicated process. I also knew that with that grin and those good looks, Max Talbot had the ability to charm the pants off of any girl he wanted.

Max’s POV

Loud. Hot. Dark.

Not only a good lay but a good nightclub as well. Maggie follows behind me, taking in the place. I look over my shoulder at her as her eyes scan the lights and the people on the dance floor. There was nothing on her face that said, ‘fuck this,’ or at least not yet there wasn’t. I smirk; maybe this was going to work out after all. I make my way over to the VIP section. As I approach the area I pull Maggie to my side, touching the small of her back lightly to indicate that she was with me. I feel her flinch at the initial touch, but a small annoyed huff told me she understood why I was doing it. I’m easily let in to the area where I can see that Jordan already has a girl with him and TK is working on another. Flower and his girl are together, pointing out whom they thought I would go home with tonight (they loved betting on that) and Sid was talking with Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang as they drank.

“Jesus Christ, it’s as hot as hell in here! Honestly you would think this is a club in Egypt, don’t you people know about air conditioning?” Maggie mumbles from beside me.

I roll my eyes, “then take your damned coat off Maggs,” I grumble.

She lets out a sigh as I hear the zipper being pulled down just as we approach the table.

“Hey guys, you remember Maggie,” I say gesturing behind me. The boys look up and I see a few jaws slacken before they mumble their hellos.

“Hey,” I hear her say back cheerfully.

I look back at her wondering why they were staring. My breath stops for a moment as the blood rushes through my ears noisily. When Maggie said she wouldn’t have any trouble competing in what she was wearing, I was doubtful. But looking at her now I should have known better. She had pulled off her coat leaving her in only a white racer back tank top. I could faintly see the black outlines on her ribs from her tattoos. The ink was noticeable enough to peak curiosity and concealed enough to make me want to strip her of her shirt and find out what was written there. The neckline plunged low enough so that I got a glimpse of tempting cleavage but stopped short of being racy. The shirt continued down to just below her belly button. Leaving a band of temping tanned skin for my eyes to feast on before it slipped back under her dark blue jeans, held up by the worn leather belt with the gold buckle. I had never seen a simple white tank top look so good on some one, nor did I think one could get me so hot. Her hair fell in waves of dark coffee brown down her back and framing her face. Her green eyes looked at me curiously as she cocked her head to the side.


“Umm… nothing,” I sigh shaking my head and looking down to the floor.

There was no need to not look at her, the image of her standing there was burned in my brain… and she was fully clothed! I could only imagine what it would be like if everything else was gone. I risk it and look back up at her. She smiles a knowing smile at me and her clover green eyes sparkle. Now was when every other girl would let out a small giggle and close that step that stood between the two of us. Every other girl would wrap her arms around my neck and tell me we should get out of here. Every other girl would be in my bed in 15 minutes. But Maggie wasn’t every other girl. She just shakes her head with a smile.

“I’ll see you later Max,” she laughs before turning and making her way through the crowd and to the bar.

What the hell was she going to do at the bar alone?! I shake my head, I’d give her 10 minutes and then go save her and bring her back to the table. I walk back over to the guys grabbing one of the beers on the table and twisting open the cap. I chat with the guys for a bit, smirk at a few girls that I would normally take home on a night like tonight. But tonight, I was going to take Maggie home. I might not get her in bed tonight like I would like, but she would want to go home soon anyway. After all it was Maggie, she didn’t even like dancing.

“Whoa” I hear TK say slowly, looking wide eyed over my shoulder and onto the dance floor. The other guys also have their jaws touching the floor.

I follow his eyes and I feel my jaw drop as well. I never thought I would see the sight that I was seeing. And man was it hot.

It hadn’t even been 10 minutes yet and she had her back pressed up against some guy! I watch as they dance to the music, Maggie’s chest slightly glistening with sweat. Her brown leather belt caught the eye, accentuating the sensual movement of her hips as the gold buckle caught the dim lights every so often. Moving my eyes back up her torso I could faintly see black across her rib cage from her tattoos. Her hair was pulled up high in a messy bun; making it easy to see those two eagle feathers behind her ear. I realize that she was right. She definitely didn’t need all that other stuff the other girls had on. Maggie could probably have any guy in this club and you couldn’t even see her ankles. She was hot in jeans and a tank top, minimal makeup. Add her unwavering confidence to that and you had a hell of a catch. And I wasn’t the only one that thought so, as I looked around not only were my teammates looking at her, but other guys checked her out as the women that didn’t have the guts to come to a club dressed as Maggie had, sized her up, whispering behind their hands. But if Maggie noticed the attention, she gave no indication. Honestly, she was probably oblivious to the fact that all the girls wish they were her and all the guys wish they were with her. Maggie had no idea how gorgeous she was.

I watch as her hips move to the beat and the guy she was dancing with puts his hands on her hips. Those green eyes move up and catch with mine. She looks at me as her arms rise so that they are situated behind her around the guy’s neck. His hands move up from her hips, finding the space where her waist flared back in. She smiles wickedly at me, before grinding her hips into him a little harder. I can see the guys fingers dig slightly into her flesh at her movements and the sight made my blood boil. The son of a bitch moves his head down to her neck, his mouth moving over her, to which she answers by grinding into him harder.

“Jesus Christ, do you see her over there. It’s like they’re having sex on the dance floor. Get a room damnit!” I grumble, pounding back a shot.

“Oh please Max, you are out there all the time doing the exact same thing,” Sid says rolling his eyes.

I just grunt in response, my eyes still trained on the Maggie. I watch as his mouth moves up her neck to behind her ear, right where those feathers are. She bites her lip and closes her eyes, as his mouth works over them. Her white teeth barely showing out as they bite into her full bottom lip, making even me groan at the sight.

That’s enough, my mind seems to snap. I roughly push my chair back and stand up, taking a few steps over to them.

“Hey!” I shout so that they could hear me.

The guy looks up at me and upon seeing the source of the voice his eyes widen. Maggie sighs and slowly opens her eyes to glare at me.

“Something the matter, Talbot?” she purrs, making a shiver go down my spine as those emerald eyes have become a dark forest green.

“Step off her man, you’re done,” I growl at the guy while continuing to stare at Maggie, who just glares at me.

“Sorry, I didn’t think she was taken. Good goal tonight,” he says letting go of her and immediately backing off.

I nod in his direction before grabbing a hold of her arm and dragging her off the dance floor.

“Max what the fuck?” she hisses in my ear.

“I should be asking you the same question! You two were all over each other!” I growl back.

“Who the hell do you think you are, one of my brothers? Let me have my fun, Max,” she snaps pushing me off her and making her way back to the dance floor.

I let out a low growl as she comes to a group of guys by the bar. I did want her to have her fun, but I wanted it to be with me not those other guys. They could have her as soon as I was done with her.

There was no doubt about it, Maggie knew exactly how to land a guy. But I don’t think she realizes how good at it she actually is, she could get any guy in this club. I watch as she runs her hand up the nape of her neck, brushing a few unruly strands of hair that have escaped from her bun. She then takes a long swig of the beer in front of her. Her naturally pink full lips tightly around the beer as she drank, making me groan. Two guys follow her out on the dance floor, seemingly tripping over their tongues as her hips sway in front of them, I watch as they begin to dance, sandwiching her in the middle. Even just looking at the scene made me hot.

I go to the bar tender and down another shot before grabbing a beer, how many was that now? I spot a busty red head wink at me from across the bar as she twirls a strand of her hair around her finger and bites her lip. I take a swallow of beer and briefly look to Maggie, just as her eyes meet mine. My eyes flash as my mind growls, ‘two can play that game,’ and I walk over to the red head.

Maggie’s POV

I look over to the bar, to make sure Max won’t interrupt my decision making… err, I mean dancing. I spot him sitting on one of the bar stools, his stormy eyes immediately catching mine, making me shiver inadvertently at their intensity even with the current extreme heat I was pressed between. I watch as his gaze drifts to the end of the bar where a red head, whom had previously tried to pick up Crosby and Malkin, winks at him. His gaze snaps back to me and with a slight smirk he makes his way over to the red head. I watch as he whispers something in her ear, to which she responds with an eager giggle and nods her head. I roll my eyes as he offers her his hand and she giggles again, following him out on the dance floor where they begin doing exactly what I was doing, deciding. For them it was deciding if they were going home with each other, for me it was deciding which one of the two guys I was sandwiched between was going to scratch my itch.

I watch as Max snaps his gaze quickly up to me with a smirk and it hits me. Was he trying to make me jealous?! Please, if anything this girl was taking him off my hands. She could do what ever she wanted with her perfectly manicured hands and high heels. If she was with Max, that gave me the opportunity to take one of these guys home.

“Hey Synder, I’ll see ya later,” I hear the guy currently pressed against my back tell his friend that was pressed to my front. A man that takes charge that’s what I like, I think.

‘Snyder’ looks down at me, and I flash him that ‘sorry kid maybe next time’ smirk making him drag his feet as he leaves the dance floor. Letting his friend get some action tonight instead of him.

I can immediately feel the guy behind me straighten his posture in a more dominant manner, he had won his mate for tonight and I’m sure the victory had pumped up his testosterone and his ego. His hands come up to my hips, pressing me harder into him as he grinds into me, my hands move up to the back of his neck, pulling him closer to me. His lips come to brush my neck by my collarbone making me hum with pleasure. But then his lips venture higher and graze lightly against my tattoo, I tighten my fingers, pressing them into his neck more as I bite my lip and allow my eyes to close at the feeling.

“Oh, ya like that, huh?” he whispers gruffly in my ear.

He lets out a slight chuckle, no doubt getting another ego boost at the knowledge that he had found my weakness. His mouth moves over the spot again, this time giving it a small nip and then running his hot tongue over my skin. I let out a quiet groan before he spins me around so that we’re front to front. His lips almost immediately crash down on mine, his tongue forcing its way into my mouth. Like I said, I like a man that takes charge, but this guy was a little too high on his high horse. His ego was getting the best of him. As his tongue moves around in my mouth I feel his hands wonder up from my hips and under the hem of my shirt.

This guy was getting way too cocky; to be honest he wasn’t even that great of a kisser. I could tell this guy wasn’t going to last very long in bed if he kept it up. But right now, I wouldn’t protest to letting him take me home. I was damned itchy.

His thumbs brush the underwire of my bra and I pull away from his heated kiss.

“Whoa, hold on there Tiger, we’re still in public,” I purr, looking over his face. He was a little under 6’5’’ (well over a foot taller than me) and you could tell he spent a good amount of time in the gym. He had sandy blond hair and light brown eyes. He was definitely hot, just a bit too drunk.

“Well then what do you say we get outta here,” he rumbles back, his light brown eyes slightly glazed over from the alcohol he had consumed and the lust that was running through his blood.

I put on my best sexy siren smile and am about to agree when a voice growls behind me.

“Go find another girl to take home, ‘Tiger.’ She’s not leaving with you,” the familiar voice growls, his French accent coming out more in his anger and drunkenness. I groan inwardly, as I turn to face him.


“Come on Maggs, we need to leave,” he says lowly, his hand coming to my arm to pull me away from the guy.

“Hey, fuck off 'Superstar.' Go find a different trophy. She’s with me tonight,” my would-have-been -itch-scratcher replies.

“Excuse me, trophy?” I respond turning to look at him, but he doesn’t hear me as he and Max continue their staring match.

The guy is taller than Max by a good 5 inches and he had at least 20 more pounds on him. I sigh, there was no way this was going to end well.

“Sorry, but she’s already taken,” Max growls back as I’m some how pushed out of the way and they stand dangerously close to each other.

Taken?! Like hell I am!

Suddenly, I hear a solid thud as a fist connects with Max’s jaw.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chapter 4: Max's 'New Bunny'

“Pop, pop, pop, pop…pop”

My teeth grit as I hear the noise, while Maggie obliviously looks off into space.

“Ugh, I hate when you do that,” I groan, covering my ears and looking down at her hands. She had multiple leather, hemp, and beaded bracelets adorning her left wrist, with charms that hung all over the place in a mismatch of colors. She had a silver band covered in Celtic knots on her left middle finger, and a curvy silver band on her thumb. He right ring finger still bore a simple silver band, just like it had in high school. I look to see dark green letters running up her thumb bone on her left hand. “Is that a new one?”

I run my finger over her soft skin, my finger tips slightly tingling at the warmth of her hand.

“Depends on your definition of ‘new.’ I got that one shortly after I got to Penn State. It’s O’Malley in Irish,” she says, referencing the words, “Ní Mháille” that I had just touched.

“O’Malley?” I ask, my brows knitting together in confusion.

“Yeah, part of my heritage. Partially for the Pirate Queen of Ireland, but mostly for my mother. It was her maiden name,” she smiles softly, her fingers tracing over the words as her thoughts carried her away from the table.

“Oh,” I state quietly, not knowing what else to say.

I had never met Mrs. Sutherland, and I didn’t know much about her. I remember when we first met, Maggie and I, I had asked where her mother was. She looked up at me with those bright green eyes, with a hurt I had never seen before. She didn’t say anything, just that she would see me the next day after her soccer practice. Sean later told me that their mother had died when Maggie was only 7. It had apparently devastated her. I also knew that Bridget Sutherland was buried in her native Ireland, but that was all I knew about her. Maggie had grown up in a house full of guys and her mother was a sore subject. Of course her father was too, he never understood Maggie, and Maggie never wanted what he did. She was always dismissing the Admiral’s orders.

“What about you? Any ink?” She sighs, coming back to the present day.

“Yeah, two. The signature Talbot ‘T’ on my right bicep, and a cross up my ribs. But I’ll show you later, not here. I’d have to take my sweater off and it’s chilly.”

“Wimp,” she says rolling her eyes. But I catch her eyes wandering over the places I had said.

“So is that all the ink you have?” Knowing it surely wasn’t, but wanting to know what else she had.

“Ha, no. I’ve got a few. I get a tattoo when I go to a new country or place, and feel that I should commemorate,” she laughs, “the names are scrolled running down my spin, I think I have about 16 right now. I have some important words on written on a few of my ribs. I have one that’s far enough down that you’re never going to see. And I have the two Native American feathers behind my ear.”

“For the Mohawk on your dad’s side, right?” I ask, reaching out to brush away her thick coffee colored mane away from her neck, revealing the two eagle feathers behind her ear. My thumb as a mind of it’s own as it brushes over the area, feeling her slightly flinch at my touch. I can’t suppress the small smile as I think of when she first got them her senior year. She went behind her father’s back and I was one of the first people she showed.

Maggie and I were constantly fighting and flirting in high school but it never amounted to anything. I had thought about asking her out, but it was Maggie Sutherland. If she didn’t kill me, surely one of her brothers would have. But I distinctly remember her showing me the tattoo. I had reached out and touched it, to which she flinched because it was still sore. I had a bruise on my left shoulder for a while after that. A friend of mine had once gotten lucky enough to make out with Maggs at a party, apparently her neck was sensitive, and those feathers were placed in just the right place. After hearing that every time she wore her hair up or brushed it back to show off her rebellion, I had thoughts of dragging my tongue over them and eliciting a moan from her full pink lips as she tugged on my hair.

“I remember the feathers. That’s how I recognized you. Boy, was the Admiral pissed when you got those,” I laugh, finally getting out of my hot and heavy thoughts.

“I thought he was going to send me to sea right there. He might never have found out, if Paddy would have kept his damned mouth shut,” she grumbles.

“And what about this tattoo lower down?” I ask. Did she really think I was going to forget she said that? I grin as I see her cheeks flush a slight pink.

“That’s for only me and the privileged few to know,” she says looking down at her coffee.

“Privileged?” I laugh, “I’ll have you know I happen to be a Super Star.”

However, I did know that it was a privilege. Maggie was picky… or at least she was in high school. No guy that I knew had ever gotten her in bed. But two had come close. From what I heard, she was the best kisser around and she could do wonders with her tongue.

“Ha! Please. Like I said, it’s a privileged secret,” she grins, a sexy sly grin. Those emerald eyes darkening.

I think for a minute of what it could be.

“Is it dirty?”

“Like I would tell you! Sorry, Max, but you won’t be finding out,” she glares at me, with a small grin.

I took her words as a challenge. I will find out, even if I have to work my ass off to get there. Maggie was the one that got away, the only one that had ever gotten away. And I was determined to not let her get away again. Not a relationship, no, there was no way I would surrender to the tying down of a relationship. Nor would she for that matter. But there was only one way to cut the obvious sexual tension between the two of us. I would get her in bed, and find out just what exactly that tattoo was and get a good look at the rest of them while I was at it. I would drag my tongue over those feathers and as I worked my magic, I would get not only a few moans, but a few screams. I could just picture her, biting her lip with her head thrown back and her eyes closed in pure ecstasy. I plan on driving Maggie Sutherland insane, until she begs me to fuck her. And I’m sure it would be the time of her life.

“What if I want to find out?” I ask, deepening my voice.

I watch as her eyes widen slightly in shock as she just stares at me for a few moments. I had finally caught her by surprise. Finally I had the upper hand and rendered her speechless. But then like a switch, her eyes narrow and she stands up. I catch a quick glimpse of golden colored skin by her hip, poking out from between her worn jeans held up by a brown leather belt and her thermal dark green v-neck long sleeve shirt. Maggie was never that into fashion, but her style fit her and to Maggie that was all that mattered. She walks to my side of the table with a slight sway to her curvy hips, bending down close to me. She swept her hair to one side, allowing me to look at those eagle feathers and smell a sharp aroma of mint and pepper. Her lips brushed against my ear, almost making me jump at the contact.

“In your dreams,” she snarls, before picking up her coffee cup and heading toward the door.

I grin and quickly grab my cup before following her outside. That was Maggie Sutherland, wild and untamed, taking no one’s shit.

“So, will you?”

“Max. I don’t know,” she sighs into the phone, “I’ve got a lot of unpacking still and I start at Fort Pitt in a few days.”

“Come on Maggs! It’s just a hockey game, plus all of the guys want to meet you,” I plead.

I hear her sigh deeply on the other side; she was beginning to cave because she really did want to go. Otherwise she would have told me flat out no.

“Alright. Fine.”

YES, I grin.

“What team are you playing so I don’t accidentally wear their colors?” she sighs. I could tell she was walking around her apartment; opening boxes every so once in a while. I had told her I would help her unpack, but she insisted I would get in her way… which I probably would have.

“How about you stop by the locker room before the game? I’ll have something for you to wear,” I find myself saying before I can stop myself, immediately making me wish I hadn’t. This wasn’t some puck bunny I was getting to take home after the game, it was Maggie, I would have to actually work to get in her pants.

“Fine,” she huffs.

Fine? Fine? It couldn’t be that easy.

“Great, umm… I’ll have tickets waiting for you at the arena,” I say a little surprised, “Just come down and show the pass to the guard before the game.”

“Ok Max, see you then,” she hummed into the phone, obviously done with this conversation.

“Bye Maggs,” I grin.

Maggie’s POV

“Maggie Sutherland.”

“Give me one second…” the lady says, “Oh, here it is! Here you go Ms. Sutherland. Enjoy the game.”

“Please it’s Maggie,” I grin back at the older lady, “And thank you very much, have a good night.”

“Why thank you Maggie!” she smiles back before I walk away to find my way around. There really weren’t that many people around yet, being that warm-ups hadn’t even started. But I needed to get here early, especially since I had no idea where I was going. I always have to get lost first before I find my way around.

I made it to the glass, and gazed out over the ice. I watch as a guy in shorts and tennis shoes shoots pucks into the net. He didn’t have any gear on but his gloves. I can’t help but let out a chuckle, some things never change. I take a seat in one of the chairs and just watch him, letting my mind wander.

It had been years since I was in an ice rink. Being Canadian, my father made sure that all of my brothers had their taste of hockey. Paddy and Sean especially liked the game, but the Admiral refused to let me play hockey for a team. Girls didn’t play hockey. So I would go to Sean and Paddy’s practices and games and in return they came to my soccer games. When we lived for a while in Ontario (the Admiral always had the family moving around) I remember crying because Paddy got to take hockey lessons, but I wasn’t allowed. I cried because I was the same age as Paddy (6 years old). I didn’t understand why I couldn’t play too. The Admiral told me that only boys play hockey, that girls ice skated, but I’d be damned if I was going to be seen in those dresses. I wanted to hit people and score goals, not jump and twist about. I cried and I cried until my mom finally found me under my favorite tree. I remember sitting in our kitchen with my cup of tea telling my mom what happened. After that she somehow convinced my Dad that soccer could be a girl’s sport too.


I jump at the loud sound and I look up and see him grinning that cocky full of himself grin at me. He had just shot a puck at the glass right in front of me.

“Asshole,” I mutter as I make my way over to where he was exiting the ice. There were a few more people now in the arena. How long had I been sitting here?

I look at him over the black railing as he grins up at me.

“I told you to meet me in the locker room,” he says.

“Well I couldn’t find it!”

“Look, just go around to…” he begins pointing the way, which would no doubt take me 10 minutes to get to the locker room when it was right there.

I roll my eyes at him as he continues to explain, standing up and giving the rail a good shake. I look around to see if anyone is watching and when I’m satisfied enough I jump over the rail, landing next to Max who just looks at me stunned for a minute.

“Or… you could do that,” he chuckles shaking his head, “Come on, I’ll introduce you to everyone real fast.”

He leads me through a grey door marked “Penguins Locker Room” as if it was that simple. Little did everyone else know it was almost impossible to find a clear marked path down there.

As we walk into the room I’m hit with a smell I haven’t smelled in awhile. An almost musty smell but with a slight scent of men’s cologne or body wash. It smelled like used hockey gear and gym socks. A dampness sort of stuck in the air as guys chatted in their wooden stalls surrounding the Penguins Logo on the floor. It smelled like… like… Paddy and Sean’s room. Ah, memories.

As the door closes behind us, one of the guys finally looks up. He looked older than us, with short dark hair and stunning eyes and of course that hockey player build.

“Max, who’s your lady friend?” he asked smoothly with the undertones of the French Canadian accent I knew so well.

“Guys, this is Maggie Sutherland. Maggs, these are the guys,” he gestures around to the room of 15+ men.

“Boys,” I greet back with a small salute.

A few chuckles ring out as a couple of them salute me back, while the others settle for a “Hey Maggie.”

“Ok, over here Maggs. Let’s get you dressed for the game,” Max says pulling me over to his stall. Next to him sits the apparent goalie of the team, who looks up at me with big dark brown eye, his dark hair concealed beneath his hat as he shows me a huge grin. I recognize him as one of the guys in the pub.

“Hey,” I smile at him.

“Hey, Maggie, right?” he asks his voice also carrying a heavier French Canadian accent. How many were on this team?!

“Yeah, and you are?” I grin back.

“Marc. I saw you in the pub the other day,” he says shyly.

“Yeah, I recognized you, but when he rattles the names off they don’t really stick,” I say rolling my eyes as I point my thumb in the direction of the man digging through a bag. “Max Talbot that shirt better not smell like your sweaty ass …”

“Aww… Maggs, you don’t have to pretend, I know you want a piece of this,” he says gesturing to himself, to which I let out a very lady like snort while rolling my eyes, “You’re not putting it over the fleece are you?”

“No, I have on a shirt underneath. I don’t know if you noticed but it’s a tad chilly outside,” I snap sarcastically, unzipping my jacket.

“What the hell do you think you are doing?” he asks.

“Putting on the shirt you gave me?” I say looking at him astonished, was he serious?

“Not here!”

“Max, I just told you I have a shirt on underneath,” I say exasperated.

“But you can’t change in here, this is a locker room,” he says gesturing around.

I stare at him like he’s insane. Did he just hear what he said? I can’t change in a locker room? I look over at Marc who is trying desperately to suppress his laughter, before giving Max a confused look.

“Not before a game, ok? Just put it on in the bathroom,” he sighs, running a hand through his short hair as I watch him drag his eyes up my body, to which my face slightly flushes.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” I say lowly.

“Please Maggie,” he says quietly, looking up at me with hurt blue grey eyes.

I sigh and roll my eyes, knowing it’s just one of those hockey player things.

“You hockey players and your damn superstitions. Fine. I’ll see you after the game,” I sigh sarcastically, moving out of the locker room.

“What, no good luck kiss?” Max calls before I can reach the door.

The room let’s out a chorus of catcalls and whistles as I turn on my heel to glare at him, ignoring the summersault my stomach just did.

“Don’t make me break your nose Talbot. I can throw a punch better than Liam can,” I growl pointing my finger at him. Making the collective “OOOoooo” sound around the room. He just grins at me that cocky grin before I turn back around.

“Good Luck Boys!” I yell as I’m walking out the door.

Max’s POV

“Max, you coming with us to Diesel?” TK asks from his stall, unlacing his skate.

“Yeah, you can bring your new bunny, Maggie,” Matt Cooke calls over.

“My new bunny? Don’t let her hear you say that or you’ll be missing a few more teeth,” I laugh.

“Yeah, she seems like a feisty one,” Staalzy says.

“That’s because she is,” I laugh.

“So what’s the story with her? You finally settle down?”

“With Maggie?” I can’t help but laugh, that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard,

“No, if there is one person that would be less likely to settle down it would be Maggie. No, she and I were neighbors in our last two years of high school.”

“Hmmm, so she’s single?” Jordan asks.

“Yeah? But I’d watch out if I were you. Maggie can be quite the handful. She had to keep up in her family,” I chuckle.

“Big family?” Sid asks from his stall pulling off his sock.

“5 brothers.”

“Damn. I though I had it rough.”

“Yeah, all older than her too.”

“So she can keep up with us. You’re going to bring her along aren’t you?”

“I’ll try my damnedest.”

As if right on cue there is a knock on the door, asking if everyone is decent. After a chorus of “Yeahs” a raven-haired beauty walks into the room wearing a black Penguins t-shirt.

“Well, well, well, Mr. Talbot. That was a pretty good goal,” she says with a grin walking over to my stall.

I smile back; her smile just seemed to light up the whole room. The shirt was way too big on her petite frame, but somehow she made it work. She had tucked it into the front of her jeans, making the gold of the worn belt buckle stand out. The ends of the sleeves hit just below her elbows as she had her fleece coat hung over one arm. I wanted to grab onto the leather belt and pull her into me and silence her smart mouth with my own.

“Thanks Maggs! So you liked the game?”

“Yeah, I did. I forgot how entertaining hockey could be, I missed it,” she smiles plopping herself down on my seat. I huff in frustration, having nowhere to sit now. She simply grins at me, knowing she was getting under my skin.

“Hey Maggs the boys and I were wondering if you wanted to come out with us tonight, celebrate the win?” I ask casually.

“Depends on where you are going,” she says looking around the room as if analyzing the scene.

“Diesel, it’s this club on the Southside,” I begin.

“Yeah sure,” she shrugs.

Was it really that easy? The girl that always avoided high school dances and prom was agreeing that easily to go to a nightclub?

“Really?” I ask shocked.

“Sure, why not. I’ve got nothing better to do, might as well check out some of Pittsburgh’s nightlife. After all I am living her for a while.”

“Wow, ok… well, if you want you can go home and change, I guess. I could pick you up there,” I say rubbing the back of my neck.

“Nah, I’ll be fine. I just wait for you. My stuff is packed away in boxes anyway, not that I’d wear it anyway. It’s not like I’m going on a date.”

“But Maggs, you’re wearing a t-shirt and jeans,” I point out.

“Thanks for the insight Joan Rivers,” she rolls her eyes, “I can compete in this. I don’t need your little puck sluts’ short as fuck skirts and break-your-neck heels to get a guy.”

“Maggie….” I warn, the last thing I needed was for some blond chick to go home with a black eye that she received from the crazy ass tomboy with a mouth like a sailor at the club.

“See you soon,” she waves before leaving the dressing room leaving me to get ready.

“Pain in my ass,” I grumble throwing my shirt into the locker as I continue to strip to get to the shower.

I walk out of the locker room and into the waiting area where all the players’ wives and girlfriends waited. I look around the room but I can’t see Maggie anywhere. I catch the eye of Marc Eaton’s wife, Sharon.

“Are you looking for someone, Max?” she asks.

“Umm… yeah. Was Maggie down here?” I ask confused.

“Maggie? I don’t know her what does she look like?”

“Dark brown hair, green eyes, about 5’2’’ with a Talbot shirt on that’s too big for her,” I say thinking of the girl that barged into the locker room about a half hour ago.

“Nope, haven’t seen anyone like that in here,” she shakes her head.

“Oh. Hmm… ok thanks, Sharon,” I respond. Where could she have gone?

I walk back out near the locker room, and look up and down the halls, but there is no sign of her. I turn to my phone, quickly finding her in my contacts.

“Are you done yet?” she sighs impatiently on the other end after 3 rings.

“Yeah, where are you?”

“By the locker room.”

“What?” I ask, walking back over there, “I’m standing by the door but I don’t see you.”

“Really? Cause I can see you just fine.”

I look around down the hallway, but there is no one there but TK who is leaving to go to Diesel.

“Maggie, where the fuck are you?”

“Right here, dumb ass,” I hear her whisper from behind me, making me whip around. There she was, just standing their smiling up at me with those emerald eyes, teasing me.

“How the hell did you get there?” I ask exasperated, how did she always manage to get under my skin?

“I was sitting in the stands,” she shrugs.

“Are you allowed to do that?”

“I dunno, but Jimmy didn’t stop me.”

“Jimmy? Who’s Jimmy?” I ask confused as to how she always does this.

“The security guard outside the door,” she says simply putting her hands in her back pockets.

“You know his name?”

“Yeah, and he knows mine. I also know that he has a fiancé named Amy, they have been dating for almost 3 years, and sharing an apartment for a year. They’re thinking a Spring Wedding next year. Oh, and they have a gold fish named Jaws because Amy is allergic to dogs and Jimmy is allergic to cats,” she smiles up at me bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet, “So are we going or what?” She begins to walk away leaving me to stand there, wondering how in God’s name she knew all this shit about our Security Guard. I watch as she continues to walk down the hallway her hips swaying with her hands in her back pockets.

I run down the hall to catch up with her.

“How the hell do you know all that?”

“It’s my job,” she shrugs.

“What do you mean it’s your job?! You’re a photographer!”

“And an archaeologist. And as an archeologist, it’s my job to get to know people and how they live. Except usually my specimens have been dead for a few centuries,” she says as if thinking things over, “Plus I’m a personal people person with an infectious smile,” she grins.

“And humble as all hell,” I laugh walking with her down the hallway and out to my car.

There was no doubt in my mind that this trip to Diesel would be interesting with Maggie Sutherland tagging along.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chapter 3: Pain in my Ass

“Break down the Walls, Kick down the doors, we’re escaping….”

I groan, covering my head with the pillow in an ill attempt to shield me from the Young Dubliners.

“I’m not hear, dammit!” I moan.

“…All bombs away, we live for today, no more waiting….”

I sigh and grab my phone off the makeshift bedside table of boxes.

“What?” I mumble sleepily into the phone, not bothering to look at the caller I.D.

“Oh… still not a morning person, eh?” a cheery voice laughs at me.

“What time is it?” I ask, pulling my watch close to my face so that I can read it without putting on my glasses.

“8 o’clock sleeping beauty,” he chuckles.

“Why the hell would you call me at 8 in the morning on a Saturday?” I grumble into the phone.

“Just so I could hear your cheery voice.”

“Max. It is too early for sarcasm, what do you want?”

“Awww, Maggs, it’s never too early for sarcasm!”

“I swear to God, I will hang up on you, Talbot, and turn my phone off if you don’t get to the point.”

“I wanted to know if you wanted to get a cup of coffee,” he asks in a cheery voice that makes me cringe before the coffee has been had.

“At 8 in the morning?”

“Umm… yeah, that’s generally when one drinks coffee.”

“Max,” I groan.

“I’ll pick you up at 8:30,” he laughs, before hanging up the phone.

I groan, curling up into a tighter ball and pulling the covers over my head.

“Brrr….Brr…. Brr….”

“Oh for God’s sake!” I shout, grabbing my phone off the box.

“From: Max Talbot - Where do you live?”

I sigh in frustration, throw the covers off of myself, and get up, texting Max before heading into the shower.

“Pain in my ass…” I grumble.

There is a rhythmic knock on my door as I fasten my watch on my right wrist. I get up from the bed and make my way to the door, butterflies seemingly fluttering around in my stomach.


That couldn’t be, it was only Max. I don’t have feelings for him. I couldn’t. It was probably just because I hadn’t eaten breakfast. That was it, I just haven’t eaten breakfast.

I take a deep breath, trying to calm my sudden… err, breakfast hunger, and open the door. He is leaned against the doorframe, in a pair of worn out jeans, and a grey t shirt, with a stripped sweater over top and a grin plastered on his face.

“You look great Maggie,” he says in a charming manner, making me grit my teeth.

“Uh huh, sure. Let’s go Talbot, I need coffee,” I grumble, shrugging my jacket on and walking away quickly to grab my keys.

“You do!” I hear him say from behind me, “Nice place, love the decorating. I heard geometric was in, but you went all out.”

“What can I say, I just love the homey contemporary feel of moving boxes, “ I say with a cheesy grin, coming back over to the door and stepping out to meet him, locking the door behind me.

I begin walking down the hallway to the stairs, ignoring the elevator as I usually do.

“Uhmmm… is something wrong with the elevator?” I hear him say behind me.

“What?” I ask turning around, “Oh. No, I don’t think so. Why?”

“Then why are we taking the stairs?”

“To go downstairs?” I say confused.

“But the elevator works, why not take it?”


“Oh look, see it’s even empty, let’s go Maggie!” he calls from inside the elevator.

“Honestly,” I huff in annoyance before walking back down the hall way to the elevator.

“I thought you said you were a hockey player. Are stairs really that much of a problem?” I ask.

“Nope, just like the elevator. And you do look good today, Maggs,” he says quietly, looking down at me as we stand shoulder to shoulder in the elevator for no apparent reason.

I look up in surprise, wondering why he brought that up again. My eyes connect with his in confusion, and I find it hard to tear away from his gaze.

“Thanks,” I manage before I hear a ‘ding’, bringing me out of the temporary trance he had put me in. I walk out of the elevator with him following closely behind me. Must be the lack of coffee.

“So, where are we going for coffee?” I ask, slowing my pace as we walk out of my building and onto the sidewalk.

“There’s this little hole in the wall coffee shop a few blocks over, The Mud Puddle,” he sighs going over to his car.

“Wait, what’s it called?” I ask stopping.

“The Mud Puddle?” he asks with an eyebrow raised.

“You get coffee at a place called ‘The Mud Puddle?” I say biting my lip to contain my laugh, “Should I have brought my galoshes?”

“They have good coffee!” he says defensively.

“Uh huh, sure they do… hehe… Mud Puddle,” I grin, before climbing in the passenger’s seat of his car, as I see him roll his eyes closing the door behind me.

I sit in my seat at a small table that of course Max picked by the window, watching the busy Pittsburgh life, even on a Saturday morning. I have to admit, this place was cozy and it smelled wonderful. I sigh softly, resting my chin on my hand, watching a young mother and her daughter walk buy, hands swinging.

“Here you go, to give you that fix you need,” Max says setting a grande coffee down in front of me, and a blueberry scone, ”And I could have just taken you to Starbucks you know. But your scone wouldn’t be nearly as good.”

“Nor would the atmosphere, but I’m still not letting you off the hook,” I grin wickedly at him.

I take a deep breath of my coffee, the smell alone making my brain switch on. I take a sip cautiously, too hot, but I sigh in satisfaction as it hits my taste buds. Black, nothing but black.

“You remembered?” I ask him with a smile, a little taken back that he had remembered.

“Well, not many people drink their coffee black anymore, Maggs. Plus you pounded it into my head that your favorite food was blueberries when we were in high school,” he smiles almost shyly, his eyes lowering from mine.

Max Talbot shy? I apparently needed this stuff through an i.v. I smile taking off the lid so that it will cool faster.

“So, Maggie Sutherland, catch me up. What have you been up to since graduation?”

“Hmm… Let’s see. I got out of the Admiral’s house as soon as possible, went to Penn State. Graduated with my Bachelor’s in Archaeology. I interned with National Geographic as a photographer, and now I work there as a full time photographer and archeologist. That’s about it,” I shrug.

“Wow, that’s it? Maggs you’ve been traveling the world, how can you say that’s it?!” he asks throwing his hands in the air for emphasis.

I shrug.

“What about you ‘Mr. I’m in the NHL now’? Your life doesn’t exactly sound boring,” I grin over my cup of coffee at him.

“Yeah, it’s awesome, if I do say so myself,” he grins.

“Sounds like you’ve said what you were going to do. Pretty big accomplishment,” I smile.

“Whoa! Was that a complement? Coming from you? Maggs, what has time done to you?” he says faking shock.

“Hey, don’t get used to it Talbot,” I growl with a grin, pointing a finger at him before popping a bit of scone into my mouth.

“Never. But what about soccer? As I recall you were captain of your school’s soccer team, weren’t you suppose to go to a school in Montreal with a soccer scholarship?” he asks, “The Admiral said you were going to be in the military as soon as you graduated college, if you didn’t go into the big leagues for soccer.”

“Yeah, well, when have I ever done what he says,” I laugh bitterly.

“Very true,” he chuckles back, “Speaking of the Admiral, how is he… and the rest of the Sutherland crew?”

“From what I know they’re good. Gerry is a contractor in Ontario; he’s got a wife and three kids now. Connor is a gourmet chef in Oregon; he’s married but no kids yet. Liam is a history teacher in Maine now, he’s engaged. Sean is in Alaska right now, documenting the growth rate of trees and some invasice species of plants. And lastly, Paddy is currently in, I think he said Copenhagen, checking out all the different beers there. He’s thinking about opening a pub in Ireland,” I chuckle, thinking about my youngest older brother.

“You and Paddy are twins aren’t you?” he asks, taking a sip of his coffee.

“Mmhmm… but he’s 3 minutes older than me and won’t let me forget it,” I laugh, all of my brothers were older than me. It was quite a household to grow up in, being that I was the only girl in a house full of 6 guys.

“Ahh, Paddy, Sean, and I had some good times. They were good hockey players too, if I remember correctly.”

“Yeah we all played sports, Admirals orders,” I say shaking my head.

“You never answered my question about him, how is your dad?”

“Good, I guess. I haven’t talked to him in awhile,” I shrug.

“How long is awhile Maggs?” Max pushes, he knew me a bit too well, even if it had been 8 years.

“I don’t know. I think the last time I talked to him, was the 10 minute call I placed from Egypt to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. He still doesn’t understand why I am, as he says, ”digging up ancient history and taking pictures of old pots,” I sigh, before taking a sip of my coffee. My father and I never saw eye to eye. “What about your family? Does your mom still make those amazing pies?”

“Ha, yeah, yeah she does. My parents are good, they and my brothers are all in Montreal. Frank is a salesman, and Will builds Rolls Royce jet engines.”

“Ahh, the infamous Talbot brothers, always goofing off in school and always getting into trouble,” I grin, “And somehow usually getting out of it, with all that smooth talking, if I remember correctly.”

“Hey now, those 5 Sutherland boys with their rampant sister were pretty infamous too. No matter how much the Admiral tried, he could never seem to break you, he got close with your brothers but you were always wild. You were always getting in some sort of trouble, and those brothers of yours were always your back up. I distinctly remember Gerry and Sean threatening to turn me inside out, and I believe that it was Liam that gave me one of my first broken noses.”

“You deserved it! You kicked the soccer ball as hard as you could at my face! You’re lucky MY nose didn’t break!” I snap back, my voice slightly rising as I looked at his slightly crooked nose. He was a hockey player, it was to be expected. I’m sure he had had multiple broken noses since Liam had delivered a sharp jab to his nose years ago.

“Well you were the one that body checked me!”

“Oh please you’re a hockey player, shouldn’t you be used to that?” I wave my hand, brushing him off.

“Maggie, it was a pick up soccer game!” he speaks loudly, “… Against the Sutherlands, I should have known better.”

“Yes you should have,” I laugh.

We sit in silence for a few moments, reminiscing about all the good times of our childhoods. I had only known him for 2 years before I bolted out of the house, and out of Canada for that matter. But we still had memories, that was for sure. I crack my knuckles, getting rid of the slight ache in them and catching Max’s attention.

“UGH, I hate when you do that!” he groans, “Is that a new one?”

I look down to where his slightly calloused fingers brush over the dark green lettering, making my skin slightly tingle from the warmth of his fingers.

“Depends on your definition of ‘new.’ I got that one shortly after I got to Penn State. It’s O’Malley in Irish,” I answer in reference to the ink scrawling the words, “Ní Mháille” creeping up my lower thumb bone.


“Yeah, part of my heritage. Partially for the Pirate Queen of Ireland, but mostly for my mother. It was her maiden name,” I smile softly tracing the letters with my fingers.

“Oh,” he quietly replies.

“What about you? Any ink?” I sigh, braking out of my thoughts.

“Yeah, two. The signature Talbot ‘T’ on my right bicep, and a cross up my ribs. But I’ll show you later, not here. I’d have to take my sweater off and it’s chilly.”

“Wimp,” I retort, rolling my eyes after they had looked to his strong right biceps and to his side, wanting to get a look at the muscles… or rather the ink on the muscles.

“So is that all the ink you have?”

“Ha, no. I’ve got a few. I get a tattoo when I go to a new country or place, and feel that I should commemorate,” I laugh, “the names are scrolled running down my spin, I think I have about 16 right now. I have some important words on written on a few of my ribs. I have one that’s far enough down that you’re never going to see. And I have the two Native American feathers behind my ear.”

“For the Mohawk on your dad’s side, right?” he states, brushing my hair away from my neck so that he can look at the feathers behind my ear. His thumb gently brushes over them, and I have to suppress a shiver, inadvertently biting my lip. My neck had always been a sensitive place. I look up to see if he had caught onto my weakness, but he seems to have not noticed. He smiles softly, his eyes on the tattoo as he was in his own thoughts, “I remember the feathers. That’s how I recognized you. Boy, was the Admiral pissed when you got those,” he laughs dropping his hand to his side of the table again.

“I thought he was going to send me to sea right there. He might never have found out, if Paddy would have kept his damned mouth shut. ,” I grumble. That was one of the only things I was accepting of on my father’s side, my heritage.

“And what about this tattoo lower down?” he asks his voice getting smooth as he flashes that charming grin at me that made even me blush slightly. Max had the ability to literally charm the pants off almost any girl.

“That’s for only me and the privileged few to know,” I say setting my face straight.

“Privileged?” he snorts, “I’ll have you know I happen to be a Super Star.”

“Ha! Please. Like I said, it’s a privileged secret,” I grin.

“Is it dirty?”

“Like I would tell you! Sorry, Max, but you won’t be finding out.”

There is a long pause as we continue our staring/ glaring match.

“What if I want to find out?” he asks, his voice getting deeper.

My eyes widen slightly at his words, as I internalize their meaning. His stormy blue gray eyes holding mine, slightly shining at his victory. He had finally managed to catch me off guard. With any other guy the topic we were talking about would have usually ended there, or with him pulling me out the door and back to my apartment, laying me down on the nearest flat surface until I begged him to put me out of my misery. But this was Max. I thought I could count on him to make a joke about it. But right now, everything in Max Talbot’s expression told me that he was dead serious, and it scared the hell out of me.