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.