I was originally going to write this chapter in present time, with a changing POVs between Max and Maggie, with just a short past story from Max's thinking. But his thoughts seem to run away from me and it ended up being as long as a chapter. Oh well, that just means the next chapter has been started! Hope you enjoy!
We had won 3-2 against the Blues, and now finally, after a 5 game road trip, we were headed home. Most of the guys had significant others that they were antsy to see. I knew a few of the guys, especially the unmarried but in a relationship guys, would not attend the optional practice tomorrow morning. They would spend the morning and most of the day in bed with their girlfriends, only to come to practice on Sunday morning standing a little taller and with more confidence. The “I-just-got-laid” look on their faces.
I sigh, putting on my headphones and hitting shuffle on my iPod. Looking out the window into the dark night sky, my thoughts drifting unintentionally toward a spitfire girl that was not a good relationship candidate. Never the less, she had managed to infatuate me. However, my mind couldn’t decide whether or not to be excited about our dinner tomorrow night because I was getting to spend time with the entertaining beauty, or to dread it with the inevitability of seeing her brother again. It wasn’t a date, it was just three old friends getting together. Yet even though I didn’t do relationships, I would much rather go on a date with Maggie than have to come face to face with Padraig Sutherland after what had happened almost ten years ago.
(8 ½ years earlier in Quebec)
“Maaax! We’re done, man! Finally we can get out of here, done with all that petty high school drama, all those stupid grades. We’re done!” Paul says, sitting down on the couch beside me and spilling his beer as he did so. The blonde in my lap that I was having an unimportant conversation with, giggles at his intoxication.
We had finally graduated high school and now we were off! No more schooling for me, I’m going to make it big. I’m going to play into the NHL!
I roll my eyes before taking a look around the room as he talks to the blonde on my lap, his words slurring together as he drunkenly tries to explain the last hockey fight he was in.
The party is at one of my teammate’s house, and of course his idiotic parents left him alone in the house a week after graduation. They were going to have a hell of a mess on their hands when they got home. It isn’t a huge house, but it is amazing how many people could fill the space. Anyone who is anybody is here, and the people were still arriving! The front door had hardly been closed all night.
I could smell the stale stench of cheap alcohol, wafting around the house and the numerous drunk people. Everyone was laughing, slurring words, and falling over before laughing even harder. Sloppy kisses were being thrown around like the beer cans and games involving cups were adding to the inebriation.
“Oh, look! The Sutherland boys are here… oh, and they brought their sister too…” one of the brunettes behind the couch says, her tone turning to disappointment when she sees the female Sutherland.
The Sutherlands were like gods in the school, but they weren’t the stereotypical popular crowd. They didn’t have crowds of people constantly hanging around them. Instead, there were only a few kids they seemed to be close with. They were the kids that didn’t have to show up to every party to be cool, they just were. With their tan skin, fine features, dark hair, and blue/green eyes, their native looks added a mysterious command and beauty. All were athletic and excelled in their chosen sports, mostly because their father demanded it. They weren’t snobbish or stuck up, instead very down to earth, but with boiling hot tempers and stubborn ways. They were like a pack of wolves in the school, everyone wanted to be with them, but few could be accepted fully
For years they had dominated the school, since Searn, Paddy, and Maggie had moved in 3 years ago. Sean had graduated last year, but because his two siblings had just graduated he was still around in the summers. The twins, Paddy and Maggie, both graduated, just like I had, last week. Paddy was a damned good hockey player, but he didn’t have what it took to go pro. Maybe his skills could progress enough, but he didn’t WANT to continue with hockey. He was off to some college or something in British Columbia. Maggie was a damned good soccer player, and her father wants her to go pro after attending college in Montreal.
“Paddy! Sean!” I yell, getting up from the couch, did I mention the two were not only my former hockey teammates and neighbors, but also my good friends.
“Mad Max!” They both say in almost unison, coming over to shake my hand.
“Congrats, man,” Sean grins at me, “Who would’ve thought you and Paddy would ever graduate.”
“Some how that congratulations lost its effect,” I chuckle rolling my eyes, making them boom out with laughter.
“Hey boys,” the blonde I was with says coming over to us,. She proceeds to hang off of me and size up the Sutherlands at the same time, letting her slightly blood shot eyes wonder over them as her nails drag across my shoulders. “You guys looking to get a lay tonight?” she giggles drunkenly.
It was no secret that every girl that had gone through our high school in the past 3 years had had a crush on one of the Sutherland boys. Two had gone through our high school and three others were around occasionally, all at least 6 foot and muscular.
“Awww… Marie, they don’t want anything you got. But Pauly on the couch over there has been trying to catch a disease,” a sultry voice says, handing the two brothers each a bottle of beer.
If ever girl had a crush on one of the Sutherland guys, almost every guy had a fantasy that involved their sister, Maggie. The Captain of girls Soccer was a spitfire that was for sure. Her plentiful raven waves swept back in a pony tail, showing off her rebellious feather tattoo. Her green eyes stare at me humorously, her pink lips smirking, as her hands rested on her hips that were clad in short cut off jeans.
The blonde lets out a bitter “humf,” and wobbles off.
I pout at the beauty that had scared her off, I could have gotten laid tonight.
“Come on Max, Marie? That girl is a walking STD,” Maggie chuckles, shaking her head as she takes a swig of her beer.
“No worries, Maggs, I’m always safe,” I wink at her.
She throws her head back, letting out a laugh that was even louder than her brothers’.
“Whatever, Talbot. I’ll see you guys later,” she smiles rolling her eyes before sauntering off elsewhere.
“Feels good to be free, eh Talbot!” Sean asks, toasting me with his beer.
I grin back, raising my beer bottle in return looking over to Paddy, who sends a suspicious look my way.
I quickly avert my gaze, playing it off as if I didn’t see it. It wasn’t a secret that I had a crush on Maggie, although she seemed oblivious to the fact. And it definitely wasn’t a secret that Paddy was the most protective of Maggie’s brothers.
“Maxime Talbot,” she giggles, flopping down in my lap.
“Hey Maggs,” I grin, carefully taking the red cup of mysterious liquid from her hand and setting it on the littered coffee table in front of me.
“I’ll talk to ya later Max,” the guy I was conversing with says, giving me a sly grin that said ‘You lucky bastard.’
“Yeah see you Joe,” I nod his way as I feel her hands make their way around my neck and she presses herself into me. Making chills of pleasure go up my spine.
“So, rumor has it you got a lil’ thing for me,” she half slurs into my ear, sending shivers down my spine.
“Oh yeah? Who told you that?” I ask with a grin, as she moves so that she’s facing me.
“Pauly. He said that even though you have all those girls, you really just want me,” she giggles biting her lip.
“What if he’s right?”
Her drunken grin drops as a look of seriousness passes onto her face. Suddenly her mouth is on mine, her tongue in my mouth in a sloppy opened mouth kiss. I try to tell myself that she’s just completely wasted, but I find myself kissing her back. Maybe it was the buzz I was feeling, maybe it was just male instinct, maybe it’s just that I can’t say no to something I’ve wanted for so long. I can taste the mixture of liquor and beer on her tongue as it dances with mine. Her leg swings around so that she is sitting in my lap completely, as she moves her hip slightly to rub her crotch against mine. I let out a groan at the feeling, God I could lay her down on the coffee table right now.
But it’s Maggie, why did it have to be Maggie. Any other girl I would, not caring about how she felt, after all it was only one night. But it was Maggie, I didn’t want that, I wanted to do this right or at least so that she would remember it.
“Maggs,” I groan, taking my lips away from her.
“What’s the matter, Max?” she purrs, her now swollen lips moving to my neck, “I thought you wanted me.”
I groan as she nibbles right below the corner of my jaw before passing her hot tongue over it.
“You have no idea how much,” I say, trying not to lose it right here, “But Maggie, you’re drunk.”
“Only a little,” she giggles against my neck, “But I can assure you, that you won’t be able to tell if you take me upstairs.”
I let out a groan at the thought of doing just that. Jesus Christ, I would love to do just that. Where did this conscious come from?!
“Maggie, I can’t…”
“Come on Max, I really want you,” she slurs, leaning in to attach her lips to mine again.
I put a finger up, stopping the connection, knowing that if I let her kiss me, my self control would dissolve.
“No, Maggs,” I sigh.
She pulls away, her green eyes beginning to water. Shit!
“So Pauly wasn’t right?” she whispers.
“Fine. I’ll go see if Joe wants some company,” she sniffs, before attempting to get up.
“No you won’t,” I say, holding her down, my blood boiling at the thought of Joe’s hands on her.
“Max, I don’t want to be around you now…” she whines.
“Maggie, you can’t go with Joe!” I say firmly.
“STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!” she shouts at me, making me cringe, “Everyone is always telling me what to do! I’m done, leave me alone!”
I look at her and see the tears begin to descend down her cheeks, there was more to this than just me. I look around to see if Sean or Paddy is anywhere near in hopes of acquiring their help.
“Come on Maggs, let’s get out of here,” I whisper pulling her into me and walking to the door, hearing her cry quietly into my shirt.
I walk with her to the playground down the road from the house and sit her on the steps to the slide. Her tears still descending down her cheeks, as her lip quivers. I pull her into me, her arms coming around my neck like before, but now it’s as if she holds on for dear life as a sob tears through her. I just let her cry, knowing that there wasn’t much more I could do. I wait as her sobs slowly slow into quiet sniffing.
“Maggs, what’s wrong? This isn’t like you,” I whisper in the darkness.
“I’m scared,” she whimpers back.
“Scared of what?!” I say taken aback, never in a million years did I think I would hear Maggie Sutherland say those words.
“I need to get out, I need to leave. Dad… I just keep disappointing him, and he keeps pushing me to go into the military or play soccer,” she begins.
“But I thought you liked playing soccer?”
“I’m out of here next week Max. I’m leaving. I can’t wait for August to go to college, and I’m afraid to be alone.”
Her confession caught me off guard. She was afraid to be alone? That was the reason I had never asked her out. She was so independent. She didn’t need a guy. She liked to be alone. And now, she’s afraid to go out on her own.
“What about that college your dad said you were going to? You were going into their soccer program?”
“I’m going to Pennsylvania State University in the United States,” she says shaking her head, “I got accepted and approved for aid. Dad doesn’t know yet. And I never loved playing soccer Max, my dad wants me to play soccer.”
“The U.S.?! Maggs what about your friends and brothers?” I say feeling as though someone just punched me.
“There’s nothing here for me Max. I don’t belong here. Hell, I haven’t felt at home anywhere in… in… ten years,” she murmurs quietly, paying with the necklace.
“Ten years?” I ask confused, and then it dawns on me, “Since your mom died…”
She just nods her head, more tears leaking out of her eyes.
“I can’t stay here, I don’t belong here and I need to get away from the Admiral and lead my own life. I don’t want to be a soccer star, I don’t want to go into the military. I want to travel the world, Max. I want to get to know it’s ancient secrets; I want to go to Italy and eat real Italian food. I want to visit my family in Ireland. I want to stand next to the pyramids at Giza. I want to paddle a canoe in the Amazon. I can’t do that if I stay with Dad. I need freedom!” she says, her voice becoming more powerful.
I had caught a glimpse of the insecure, depressed, and afraid Maggie Sutherland. A rare exotic creature, that was rumored to be extinct. I doubt that many others had ever had a glimpse, even within her own family.
“But I’m afraid that I’ll make mistakes. That I’ll just end up poor, getting married to a guy I hate because he knocked me up and I’ll be stuck in a life I hate all my life.”
I look down at her, as she leans up against me for support.
“Maggs, you need to do this. You are capable of so much more, and you’ve got the guts and fire to get you far,” I chuckle, “Look at me, I’m going to go to the NHL, or at least that’s what I tell people. But who knows if I’ll ever make it. Maybe I’ll get stuck and only make it as far as the AHL. Maybe I’m not good enough. But I have to try. I’ll never know if I can do it, if I don’t try. Which is exactly what you need to do Maggie. Don’t regret not knowing.” I say sternly, wishing I could listen to my own words and take the plunge with her. Maybe we could be something spectacular… but now I guess we’ll never know. After she left for college, I would probably never see her again. The thought tore through me and upset me more than I thought it would.
“Max…” she whispers up to me, her head on my shoulder, “take me home.”
“Sure thing, Maggs,” I smile, helping her up.
As we approach her house 15 minutes later, I stop at her door. Wanting to make sure she got inside ok, before I went to my house next to hers.
“Max, I don’t want to be alone tonight,” she says, trying to concentrate on the keys in her hands.
I take a deep breath, weighing my options. I wanted to, God did I want to, even if it was just sleeping next to her, I knew I might not get time alone with her ever again. But what if Paddy found out, he’d be so pissed.
“Please Max,” she whispers her voice cracking as she looks at me with watery green eyes, unable to find her keys because her mind was clouded with alcohol.
I sigh, finding her house key and following her in.
She leads me up to her bedroom on the second floor. It was small and painted a simple white, with a few posters of landscapes on the wall. Stark, clean line that looked military issue. Definitely not something I pictured as Maggie’s room.
“I have to pee,” she waves, wobbling over to the bathroom.
I kick off my shoes and stand awkwardly in the middle of the room, not sure what to do. I shouldn’t be here. If any of the Sutherland’s found out I was here, I’d be in for a broken nose and worse. I should just leave now, before she gets back in.
I hear the door to her bathroom open, signaling her coming back in. Shit, too late. Maybe I could make an excuse.
“Look Maggie…” I say my hand subconsciously coming to tug on my hair.
“Hmmm?” I hear her ask from the doorway.
I look up, to begin my excuse, but my breath hitches and my mouth goes dry at the sight in front of me. She stood in the doorway, in a pair of black striped boy briefs and the green t-shirt she was wearing before but without a bra. Her dark brown hair out of the ponytail it was in, tumbling over her shoulders.
“I … ummm… nothing,” I manage to stutter out.
She just nods in a drunken sleepy way, before crawling into bed. I watch as her hairbrushes pillow and she pulls her legs to her chest. Staring at the white wall, a single tear rolling down her cheek.
“Maggie?” I whisper in the darkness, only the moonlight illuminating the room.
“I feel trapped,” she sniffs, “I hate this room.”
I sigh, giving in completely, I had to stay. I take off my t-shirt before crawling into bed next to her. I cautiously reach out to her, touching her shoulder, feeling her flinch slightly.
“Maggie, come here,” I whisper.
After a few minutes of me holding my breath and waiting for her to turn to even look at me, she does just that. She turns, looking at me from brilliantly green eyes, tears still on her face. I find myself reaching out, to cup her face in my left hand, as I lay facing her, wiping tears off her cheeks.
“You’re going to make it Maggs. You’ve got what it takes to get out of here and succeed,” I whisper, before my thumb brushes along her jaw soft jaw line, Hoping that she remembers my words in the morning, but knowing she probably won’t.
Her head tilts at my touch, as my thumb drifts to her chin. I watch as her long lashes drift down touching her freckled cheeks. Here she was, in my touch. I could have had her all this time. I could have kissed her everyday. But instead, this was it.
I bring my lips slowly to hers, taking my time wanting to memorize the feeling of her lips next to mine. She was leaving in a week, and I would never see her again. I wanted her, God did I, but I couldn’t do that to her.
My lips move against hers, spurred on when she kisses me back. My hand drops to her slim waist, pulling her closer to me as her hand find it’s way to my shoulder, then my neck, and then her slim fingers found their way through my hair. My mouth opens at the feeling, my tongue poking at her lips, begging her to give me a chance and let me in, at least for a little while.
I hear her let out a content sigh as she slowly gives in, meeting my tongue with her own.
“What the fuck Talbot!” I hear a whisper yell, as a fist connects with my side.
I open my eyes to see Padraig Sutherland sending me a death glare, his cheeks reddening and his green eyes looking lethal.
I look over to see the one person that would make him burst into flame in a fit of rage. Her head rested on my shoulder, her hand across my chest as she slept obliviously with a small smile on her pink lips, lashes splayed on high freckled cheekbones.
“Get up Talbot, before I make you get up,” he growls quietly, apparently not wanting to wake up his sister.
I carefully move out from under the sleeping beauty and out of bed, grateful that I had decided to leave my jeans on. I pick up my t-shirt from on the floor and follow him out the door, looking back at Maggie one last time.
As soon as I walk out the door, Paddy’s fist collides with my face, making pain shoot up from my jaw.
“What the fuck do you think you were doing, Max?!” he speaks loudly, as I hold my jaw.
“Nothing happened Paddy, she was drunk, crying, and she asked me to stay. That’s it, nothing happened!” I growl back.
His fist collides with my face again, “Bull shit. Maggie doesn’t cry.”
“Look Paddy….” I say clutching my face.
“Get the fuck out of my house Talbot. And if you ever come near my sister again, I will turn you inside out and make sure you never play hockey again,” he growls pushing me down the hallway.
“Max let’s go!” Marc-Andre calls, motioning me off the plane. Apparently I had completely zoned out in my thoughts.
“Yeah, I’m on my way,” I respond, quickly gathering up all my shit.
Maggie hadn’t remembered anything about that night, or at least I didn’t think she did. I hadn’t talked to her again since I bumped into her at the Pig and Fiddle a few weeks ago. A week after I had spent the night in the Sutherland house, Maggie was gone, just like she said. And in fear of commitment and my own feelings (although I blamed the fear on Padraig Sutherland’s threat), I let her go.