Congrats to the Boston Bruins, 2011 Stanley Cup Champs! Tim Thomas, you earned The Cup for sure! And Recchin' Ball, way to go out with a bang :)
“So you’re running away,” Paddy asks, sitting on the end of my bed.
“I’m not running away, I’m just leaving for a few days,” I sigh, shaking my head and putting my two bathing suits in my canvas duffel bag.
“Sounds like you’re running away, to me. Is this all because of Max and you wanting to tear each other’s clothes off?” he asks, holding up a bikini top and looking at it disapprovingly.
“No. Max and I are just friends, which I have already explained to you, multiple times,” I reply, snatching the top from his hand and putting it back in the duffel, “And I’m not running, just getting some air.”
“Maggie, why can’t you just admit you have a thing for him? It’s obvious that he’s into you,” he says stretching out his long legs on my bed.
“I thought you didn’t want me to be with Max?”
“Well that’s before I realized how much you two love each other.”
“Padraig, we’re not in love. We’re just…”
“… Friends, I heard. But obviously there is some more to it. Otherwise he wouldn’t have let you stay and not had sex with you, AND you wouldn’t be going to … wherever you’re going now.”
“How do you know we didn’t have sex?” I ask raising my eyebrow, watching him as he rolls his eyes.
“Because, my dear sister, you don’t have the look,” he replies sarcastically.
“The ‘I-just-got-laid’ look and you’re still a little cranky,” he smirks at me, reclining fully on my bed.
“Whatever,” I mumble throwing in a pair of cutoffs.
We remain silent as I finish up my packing, a few pairs of underwear & a bra, my 2 bathing suits, a rash guard, flip flops, & my travel conditioner, deodorant, and contact solution.
Paddy was already packed and ready to go. He was due to leave this morning, flying out of Pittsburgh Airport to Alaska to visit Sean. I was leaving right after him.
I shoo him out of my room and change into a white tank layered under a Penn State hoodie. I wiggle into my other pair of cut off jeans and slip on my boots.
I walk out of the room and begin throwing my remaining stuff in my messenger bag; two books, glasses, iPod, phone, chapstick, passport & id, ticket and my leather bound journal.
“Alright,” I say throwing my duffel and messenger bag by the door, “You ready?”
“Yeah,” he says, walking over to the kitchen with me.
I pull out two shot glasses from the cabinet and my bottle of the whiskey I brought back from Ireland on my last visit. I pour the brown gold liquid into each glass, my brother takes one and I the other.
“Here’s to safe travels and good times,” I begin, holding up my glass, as does he.
“To no fear and more beer,” he grins back.
“To learning from mistakes and embracing life.”
“To our next adventure.”
“To our next adventure,” I agree with a laugh.
We clink our glasses and down our shots. It was something all the Sutherland siblings did when we parted. We weren’t a very religious family, much to my grandmother’s dismay, but for us, toasting was our prayer. Life was a mystery and who knew what could happen to any of us by the time we met again… if we ever did, God willing.
We grab our gear and head out, I walk to my jeep but Paddy stops me.
“Nope. I got us a ride,” he smiles at me, waving to someone in the distance.
“You what?” I ask, looking over to where he’s waving.
There he stands, leaning against his car in jeans, a black fleece coat, and that infamous grin. A shiver goes down my spin… because it’s 45 degrees and I have on shorts.
“What is Max doing here?” I hiss at my brother. This made disappearing just a little harder.
“I figured he could give us a ride to the airport, that way you don’t have to pay to park your car for an extended time,” he smiles sweetly at me, his green eyes widening innocently.
I send him a glare.
“You’re welcome,” he smiles pushing me in the direction of Max.
“Hey Maggs, Paddy,” Max grins, pulling me into a hug.
I feel myself tense in his strong arms, trying not to let on that I liked his embrace more than I should. I really needed this trip; being away from him would help clear my mind. I let myself melt into his touch, hugging him back.
“Hey Max,” I sigh, trying not to let his scent get to me, but loving how his arms tighten around me.
“Why are you wearing shorts?” he asks quietly.
I hear Paddy clear his throat behind us, making us pull away.
“We should get going, I don’t want to miss my flight,” my brother says, throwing a soft knowing smile at me.
I nod and climb into the back seat of the car, letting Paddy take the front. The mixture of emotions going through me was beginning to be exhausting, along with confusing. Paddy was leaving, and I wouldn’t see him again until Christmas, luckily that was only a month away. I liked Max too much and I was getting tired of pretending I didn’t. That’s why I had to get out, maybe if I was away from him for a while I would come to my senses, remind myself of why I couldn’t do what I found myself wanting to do for the first time in a long time. I felt myself wanting more than just sex and a friends with benefits relationship. But I didn’t have time for what I wanted. I didn’t and couldn’t live that life.
I stare out the window at Pittsburgh, watching the water droplets from the rain descend down the glass with the cityscape in the background. I could feel Max glancing back at me through the rear view mirror while he and Paddy chatted about hockey, but I couldn’t look back.
“I’ll be right back, I need to use the restroom,” Maggie murmurs heading to the bathroom as soon as we get into the airport.
As soon as she’s out of sight, Padraig turns to me.
“Max, she feels the same way,” he says quietly, his green eyes intensely watching for a reaction.
I look at him, my brows furrowing.
“What do you mean?”
“Maggie, she’s falling in love with you too,” he says, looking over to the bathroom to make sure his sister isn’t coming.
My breath catches involuntarily, could this really work out?
“She… she said that?” I cough, trying to find my voice again.
“Of course she didn’t,” he says rolling his eyes, “But I can tell, she wouldn’t have gone home with you otherwise and she wouldn’t be running now.”
“Running?” I ask, confused again.
“I don’t know where she’s going, somewhere warm, but she’s running from her emotions that’s for sure.”
“So that duffel isn’t yours and that’s why she’s wearing shorts,” I wonder aloud.
“Yup,” he nods, quickly shutting up as Maggie walks back toward us.
“How long?” I ask desperately. She couldn’t be running away forever could she? She had to come back right? Her bags weren’t that big; both could be carry-ons, so she didn’t have that much to go on. Then again it was Maggie.
He looks at me to answer my question, but Maggie has already reached us. He looks at me apologetically, and turns with a smile toward his sister.
“Alright, I’m ready!” she smiles, a little cheerier than before.
“Good, well Max I guess this is it,” Paddy says turning to me, hand out stretched, “Hopefully I’ll see you again soon.”
“Hopefully,” I smile at him and shake his hand. Who knew Padraig Sutherland and I could ever shake hands again or that he’d be ok with me going after his sister. If he weren’t ok with it, the handshake would have been his fist connecting to my face.
“See ya, Talbot,” Maggie waves, heading over to the security line.
“Wait hold up Maggs,” I say reaching out to grab her arm, not wanting to let her go until I knew she was coming back, “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Yeah, quickly,” she sighs, allowing me to pull her away from her brother, and to a less crowded area of the airport.
“Maggie how long are you going to be gone?” I ask quietly, getting close to her small frame so she can hear me.
“Max…” she sighs, averting her gaze to the floor.
“Where are you even going? And why are you leaving?” I ask, trying not to plead.
“I’m going to Australia for a few days, get some sun, surf, and visit an old friend,” she says looking back up at me.
I search her green eyes, making sure she’s telling the truth.
“Why now?” I ask simply, needing to hear it for myself that she was leaving because of me.
“I … um…” she says, leaning in a little close to me, “I just need to clear my head. You know, a good surf cleansing.”
“Actually I don’t know, I’ve never been surfing,” I smirk down at her, “You know most girls go to the spa or something when they need to clear their head.”
She chuckles softly, looking down and adjusting her messenger bag on her shoulder before looking back up at me.
“Yeah, well, I’m not most girls,” she smiles, that familiar mischievous glint in her eye.
“No, you’re not,” I smile back, looking down to her pink smirk and back up to clover colored eyes.
I watch as she bites her bottom lip and watch her eyes wander down lower on my face. I begin to close the distance, wanting nothing more than to pull her away from the airport and back to my apartment to do what I didn’t do the other day. I wanted to close the distance that I had backed away from when she was in my t-shirt and those sexy black-rimmed glasses. Her green eyes had begged me to kiss her that morning, but I let the chance slip away… again.
This time, her hand comes to my chest, stopping me from pressing my lips to her. I sigh, squeezing my eyes shut tightly before opening them and finding her green eyes looking at me almost painfully. Her touch burned through my shirt.
“Max,” she says quietly, her voice was tired as if she was losing a fight, “We… I can’t.”
“Why? Why can’t we just give it a try Maggs? Because there is obviously something here,” I say, gesturing between us, frustrated that she wasn’t willing to give me a chance.
“It’s easier if we’re just friends,” she says, stepping away and pulling her hand away from my chest and sweeping it through her coffee colored mane.
I nod, sticking my hands in my jean pockets with a defeated sigh.
“I have to go,” she says, after a few moments of silence.
She steps closer, hugging me cautiously. I wrap my arms around her tightly, giving her a squeeze and breathing in her mint and pepper scent.
“I’ll see you in a week,” she whispers, before gently kissing my cheek. So gentle that I can hardly feel the touch of her lips.
“A week it is,” I smile, letting go of her.
She smiles back and walks over to her brother, who waves before they head through the security line. I can’t help but watch her little ass wiggle in those cut off jeans. Her leather boots seemed to call more attention to her lean muscular legs.
I sigh and walk back out to my car. As I’m about to climb into the front seat, my phone goes off in my pocket, signaling a text.
From: Paddy Sutherland ‘Don’t give up on her. She’ll give in eventually.’
After saying goodbye to Padraig, I boarded the plane to Australia. Well… first to Chicago, then to LA, THEN to Australia. Over 25 hours after almost kissing Max Talbot in Pittsburgh International Airport, I landed in Brisbane, Australia. I told myself that I wouldn’t think of him from the minute I boarded the plane. However, 25 hours is a long time, and after the first hour I found myself fighting off thoughts of the hockey player. 5 hours in, I gave up and let my mind wonder.
But now, I was here, on my vacation and I was NOT allowed to think about him until I boarded that plane again.
After leaving the terminal and walking into the chaotic crowd I begin my search. I let out a groan as I look around. Trying to find a sun-bleached surfer in an Australian crowd was next to impossible here. I take off my hoodie, it was entirely too hot for that now. November in Australia meant it was almost summer, instead of almost winter in Pennsylvania.
“MAGGIE!” I hear a voice shout to my left.
I look to my left to see my old friend, jogging toward me. I hadn’t seen him in at least 2 years, making him 29 now. He was the stereotypical Australian surfer. He had shaggy blond hair bleached by the sun and salt water, blue eyes like the ocean, and a tall sculpted surfer’s body that was bronzed by living on the beach.
As soon as he hits me, he pulls me quickly against his sun-warmed body.
“G’day mate!” I grin at him, using my best Australian accent.
He laughs, his head falling back making the sound echo off the airport walls. His booming laugh soon diminishes into a quiet chuckle, as his left hand comes to settle on my hip and he steps close again. His light blue gaze drops to my lips, making me smirk, before his eyes connect with mine, shinning with a smile. His other hand comes up to my neck, his thumb brushing my jawbone as he smiles at me.
“G’day mate,” he says quietly, before his mouth is on mine.