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.


India said...

Aeryn I honestly loved it. I loved her "breakfast nervousness" and the nerves she had from not having coffee!! I want to know why she's scared - she knows Max but is it because she's heading into uncharted territory or because she's unwilling to let her guard down because she doesn't want to ruin a friendship? Either way I want to find out and I love the effect Max has on her. She's totally in denial! :)

Anonymous said...

he will definitely see that tattoo....soon i hope! lol

i like them together

Kate said...

Ooooh, loved it!! And I also hope Max sees that tattoo soon, lol.
Can't wait for more. I love the interaction between Max and Maggie.

Penslove25 said...

love love loved it! so happy to see an update, I wondering how long she can hold out against the Talbot Charm before he sees her ink

juliet falls... said...

Ha! Pants off right there in the coffee shop, I say. ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow. "what if I want to see?'
Yep, wow.

Anonymous said...

Aerin, I hope you will be able to update soon!!!!

Anonymous said...