PART TWENTY FIVE:
As I shook hands with Troy, I noticed just how much Sid looked like him. His mum, Trina, seemed to be one of those women that still worries when he gets checked. And Taylor.. She looked to be around ten, and seemed to be a sweet kid, but I couldn't be too sure.
"So, how long has it been, Aubrie?" Trina asked me as we sat at the kitchen table.
"Going on three months next week. Oh, and please, you can call me Brie," I told her in a polite voice.
"Oh hun! No need to be shy! We're not going to do anything to you."
"Sid says that you're a great hockey player," Troy mentioned, a gleam of excitement in his eyes.
"Really? Well.. I think great is an overstatement. I'm not bad," I answered.
"Nuh-uhh! He said you beat him one on one! My brother never loses," Taylor interrupted.
"I guess.. I mean, I was varsity captain of my team in school last year, and now I've been coaching them since I graduated. They won state, and we're going to Nationals in May."
"So you're the full deal, eh? Player and coach. Goodness, you must be busy."
"Lately, but I usually only play in one winter league, and it's over until fall."
"Do you have a brother or a sister?" Taylor asked.
"Actually, yeah," I grinned. "He's the goalie of the Pens. Marc-Andre."
"The one with the yellow pads?"
"He's really nice," she smiled.
"Yeah, I know. But like all brothers, he can be a real pain," I laughed.
Trina then cut off her daughter, "Tell us about yourself. Sidney just talks about how great you are, but not much else."
I felt myself flush before answering, "Well.. I'm from Sorel, Quebec, and my first language is French. Uh.. I started skating when I was four, and hockey came shortly after. I moved out here with Marc-Andre during the summer when he got drafted here, and now I'm really involved with the team."
"Where are you living? House.. apartment?" Troy asked.
"I share an apartment with my best friend about twenty or so minutes away from Mellon."
"Are your folks coming out to see your brother play?"
"I'm not sure," I let out a small sigh, "they're still up in Quebec. They own a restaurant, and it's really busy this time of year."
"Well I'm sorry to hear that," Trina comforted.
"Yeah, that sucks," Taylor nodded.
"It's cool. They're kinda one of the reasons why I have so much support for Marc and the team. I've got enough for all of us."
"That's sweet," Trina cooed.
"Thanks," I smiled, taking a liking to Mrs. Crosby.
Lunchtime came around one, and Troy and his wife were talking about how they wanted to go to a cafe, but Taylor wouldn't like the food there.
"Hey, if you guys want, I can take Taylor back to my apartment and we can have lunch there while you two explore," I offered.
Trina thought about it, but Troy nodded eagerly.
"Please, Triiinnnaaaa," he pleaded, that begging look in his eyes.
"Now that's where Sidney gets it from," I laughed, causing a grin to spread over Trina's tired face.
"Sounds good. Then we'll just meet you at the arena at quarter to four?"
"Yep," I nodded, leading Taylor out to my car.
"Oh, and thank you so much!" she called as we left.
"No problem," I answered over my shoulder, closing the door behind us.
"So, you really like my brother?" Taylor asked at a red light.
"Yeah, I really do. I love him a lot, too."
"Well, he loves you back."
"Did he tell you that?"
"He didn't have to. I can tell," she smiled.
At home, I was making grilled cheese and Taylor was sitting at the counter watching, when Henry emerged from his room.
"I smell grilled cheese!" he rubbed his stomach.
"Yeah, make it yourself."
"Woah, who's this?" he motioned to the ten year old girl.
"Umm. I took her from the playground?" Taylor giggled at Henry's shocked face.
"You did not. Did you..?"
"No you tard. This is Taylor, Sidney's sister. She and her parents are in town for playoffs, and they wanted to have a romantic lunch."
"Oh, well. Hi, I'm Henry," he waved.
"You live with a boy?" she gaped.
"Yeah, he's my best friend," I told her, setting a finished sandwich on the counter for her, and the other for Henry, then started on my own.
Once lunch was finished, she wanted to see my room, so I gave her the tour.
Taylor really liked the tropical theme to my room, and she was glued to the pictures on the wall.
I'd recently put up a couple of pictures Sidney and I had taken together over the past few months.
"Which is your favourite?" I asked, and she pointed to one from the end of winter, just before all the snow melted. I was standing with the snow man we'd made- Rufus, my arm around its neck, a smile on my face. But Sidney was on the other side of Rufus, his arms crossed with an over dramatic, jealous look.
I had just gotten Sidney outside to make a snow man, and he wasn't exactly helping.
"Sidneyyy! Why aren't you helping me?"
"Because! You're making a new man, what if you leave me for him?"
"I was planning to anyways," I grinned cheekily.
"Well if you put it that way," he began to walk towards the house.
"Fine, if that's how you want to spend the last hours of our relationship!"
He sighed, running back over to help me finish Rufus, making snide little comments the entire time.
I didn't even notice the open album on my bed, as Taylor began to look through it.
"Who's this boy?" she asked, pointing. I looked down to see Nate's smiling face.
"Taylor! Please, don't," I picked it up and set it on a shelf.
"I'm sorry," she told me, a worried look on her adorable face.
"It's okay. His name was Nate."
"Yeah. He passed away a little over a year ago."
"Oh, I'm really, really sorry again."
"It's no problem. I just miss him a lot."
"I still miss my hamster that died last month.."
"Aw, I'm sorry to hear that." I gave her a hug, and she asked, "Is that what you feel like?"
"Times a hundred," I nodded.