Sunday, October 30, 2011


Tori swung her legs under the kitchen counter, claiming a bar stool at the large granite island.  I wish I used this room more, because it was beautiful.  My condo, which I’d finally bought after the All-Star Game after renting for eight months, was all beautiful.

“Oooh, get excited,” I said with my head in the fridge.  “I have chocolate milk.”

Behind me, Tori clapped her hands.  

In any other circumstance I would have been embarrassed.  I didn’t even have chips or anything, just wheat crackers and carrots and Gatorade.  But Tori hadn’t had a beer since dinner.  She took the glass I offered and lifted it to the light.

“These are cool,” she examined the Wolverine pint glass, from the Marvel Comics set my sister had given me as a housewarming gift.  I hadn’t even thought to use a plain glass.  Of course I’d have comic book kitchenware.  

She probably thinks I have a race car bed and Superman Underoos.  I am the Twenty Year-Old Virgin.

“Rogue was my favorite of the X-Men.  Her power was so sad, but she was bad ass.”  Tori looked at me, then laughed.  My mouth literally hung open and everything else twitched, taking notice.  Everything.

“What, I’m not allowed to know that?”

“No, I just... I mean....”  

“I didn’t really read the comics, but my brother did.  I just saw the movies.”

I took the stool next to her and tried not to geek out.  Lots of the guys on the team loved superhero movies - it wasn’t too nerdy.  And I hadn’t really read comics either since I was about ten.  But I imagined Tori liked Gossip Girl and Reese Witherspoon movies.

“What would your superpower be?” I asked.

She took a long drink of milk, tipping her head back so her hair dangled and the curve of her neck elongated beautifully.  Then she licked her lip - she might as well have pushed me off the stool.

I hadn’t meant to dance with her the way I did.  It was a big, flashing roadside billboard that warned of danger and slowdowns and other things that would ruin your day.  DANGER: VIRGIN AHEAD.  I practically told all my secrets as I drove her hips around in my lap like I’d never been so close to a girl before.

But she’d let me - caught up in the moment, I supposed.  Her arms around my neck like she wanted me all to herself.  The smell of her shampoo filling my face, her lower back no wider than the span of my hands.  I let myself get way too far along, but she was shaped so perfectly.  Her good parts rubbed against mine and she let me be in control.  All I could think of was that our dancing could easily translate into something more.  A few less layers of clothing and we’d be right where I was so desperate to be.

Then she’d bailed me out from that girl in the red top.  Tori had clung to me so convincingly I almost believed it myself.

Stop it, junior league.

“I’d be able to move things with my mind,” she answered.  “Telekenesis.  But I’d be so lazy - I’d just bring myself pizza all day long and be a huge slob.”

“You’d still be beautiful.”

The words were out before I could stop them and she giggles.  Hot, angry color rushed up my neck to fill my face.  I clenched my fists in frustration and turned away.

“What about yours?”

“Uh, stamina.  I’d be able to skate all day and not get tired.”

“You would use your superpower for hockey?” she arched an eyebrow.

I shrugged.  “Well, yeah.  I wouldn’t want to be different from everyone else.”

Tori tilted her head to the side like she was considering me for the first time.  Earlier in the night, she joked that her guy friends thought I was a superhero.  She said they were right.  But I wanted to be just like those guys - normal, fun, cool.  Hanging out with girls.

“Too late,” Tori finally decided.  “But you’d look really good in one of those spandex suits.”

We moved to the couch.  I put on the latest episode of Saturday Night Live from my Tivo and settled down one couch cushion away from Tori.  She helped herself to the blanket thrown across the arm.

“Want some?”

No, but yes of course I did.  She scooted a little closer, not quite touching, pulled her legs up underneath her body and draped the throw across both of our laps. I pretend to pay attention to the monologue, laughing whenever she did.  Instead I was thinking.

She has a whole life outside of hockey.  She doesn’t need me, not in her real life.  But maybe she would help me.  She cares about everyone.

Now if only I knew how to ask a girl to have sex with me.  To teach me.  

Probably not a right way to do that.  But lots of wrong ways.

A few times over the course of the night, I could have just kissed her.  I felt like the opportunity was there, the moment.  But as quickly as I realized, it was gone.  I talked myself out of it - she’d freak and stop being friends with me.  I had literally no one else I was even this far along with, no one I trusted.  If I lost Tori, I was back at square one all alone.

Now, she was inches away on my couch, under a blanket with me, cracking up at pretend Lady Gaga on Weekend Update.

I could just ask her out.

Good thing something funny happened on TV, because that thought made me laugh out loud.

If I didn’t do something soon, I was going to mess this up.  Either I had to ask or decide that I never would and proceed as usual.  Because I couldn’t keep thinking what I was thinking - her perfect mouth on mine, her soft skin tangled in my sheets.  All the things I’d pictured on a long night in a hotel room... those girls hadn’t all been Tori, but my imagination was easy to steer.

I was still imaging how to ask her when the show ended.  She stood and stretched, revealing an inch of bare skin along the top of her jeans.  I gripped the blanket.

“I should go before I fall asleep,” she said.

You should stay before you fall asleep.

“I’m glad you came out tonight, Jeff.”

I did a mental checklist to make sure I wasn’t popping a tent, then stood up and dropped the blanket behind me.  I had a big night ahead of me with Tori after she left.

“Thanks for inviting me.  Can we do something else?”

Tori stepped into my outstretched arms and poured a hug all over me.  My eyes rolled back with the effort not to groan.

“Anything you want.”

I want everything.

Two days later, Tori and I went to lunch on her break at work, when my practice was over. The owner of the cafe fawned all over us like I was such a big deal.  I hoped maybe it would rub off on Tori.  That weekend, she took me on a tour of her college campus.  It seemed like every single person we passed, especially the guys over six feet tall, knew Tori by name.

“Hey Tor, did you do the homework for 204?” asked a guy who looked like Cam Ward.

“Tori!  We missed you at trivia night,” said one who looked like Eric Staal, complete with a hug.

“Babe.  I still owe you ten bucks from that pizza night.”  College, my ass.  That guy was at least twenty-five.  It was proof of how pretty she was that no one even looked at me.  A simple baseball cap and I was invisible.

I called her from our road trip to St. Louis and Dallas, just to say hi.  Her voicemail picked up.  Three hours later, just before our eleven o’clock curfew, she texted me back.

Sorry, out and can’t hear.  Good luck tomorrow!!  Bring home some wins!

I climbed out of bed and into the shower.  My roommate Zac didn’t bother asking why.

We got back to Raleigh late, but I was up early the next day so I went to the rink before optional skate.  It was Tuesday, a day Tori usually worked.  If I trolled around long enough maybe I would run into her.  And I did, almost first thing, thanks to a sneaker that dropped out of my gym bag.

“Oof!” she turned a corner at high speed and crashed into me, bent at the waist, picking up the errant shoe.  She bounced off, stumbled a few steps then steadied herself.  “I’m so sorry!”

I was up by then too.  “That’s a illegal hit, I was turned toward the boards.”

Tori smilled.  “Mmmmm, Shanahan.”

I burst out laughing.  She was just so damned pretty.  What had been a dead run turned into a casual walk as she fell into step beside me.  “Weren’t you in a hurry?”

“If I’m with you, I’m working.  Not late.”

She wore gray tweed trousers and a white sweater with black patches on the elbows and buttons along one side of her neck.  I wanted to open those to her collarbone and kiss the indent.  Then everywhere else.

Get a grip!

But it was just getting worse.  Tori went in front of me through some narrow spots around carts and equipment, and I just followed her ass in those pants like a man with tunnel vision.  Several days away from her had not made me any better at holding it together.

“What... what are you doing later? Wanna do something?”  Pretty soon she’d think I actually had a stutter.

She waited for me where the hallway widened.  “Yeah, sounds good.”

I spent all of practice trying to think of something.  There were activities like bowling or places like the movies, though sitting next to her in the dark for two hours not touching sounded like torture.  I’d squirm a hole into my seat.  We could go out for dinner, or cook in my kitchen, though that just dissolved into thoughts of chocolate frosting and christening the new counter.  For the third time, Eric smacked the back of my legs with his stick.

“What?” he finally said, coming to a dead stop and towering over me.


Eye roll.  “You are the worst liar who ever lived.”  Then he turned to the team and hollered.  “Skinner’s got a secret!”  

“Ooooh,” chorused twenty guys.  I cursed at Eric and made everyone laugh.

“Get caught jerking off to the Disney Channel again?” LaRose called.

“What’d ya pop a woody on the school bus?” Sutter suggested.

I gave them the finger with my glove and prayed for the drills to end.  It wasn’t till we were tossing equipment into the locker room hamper that Eric leaned over.  “What’s the matter?”

My scowl must not have been very convincing, because he just bumped me out of the way and took up all the space in front of both of our lockers so I couldn’t even get to my stuff.

“I’m doing something with Tori later,” I said quietly.  Eric nodded once, computing that to mean something he shouldn’t tell the entire room.  He was good like that -that’s why he was captain.  And kind of like my big brother.  

“Something like getting a blow job?”

I started to snap at him but he smacked me with a huge hand.  That trademark Staal grin really got on my nerves sometimes.  Just because he and his wild pack of supermodel brothers had probably been getting blowjobs from cowgirls on their sod farm since they were fifteen....

“Okay, okay.  Jeez.  What are you doing?”

“I don’t know.”  And there it was: helpless Jeff Skinner couldn’t even plan an evening with a friends, an un-date.  That pretty much ruled out blow jobs.

“Go mini-golfing,” he said.  “Worked for me.”

“Worked how?”

Another fucking Thunder Bay grin was his only answer.


  1. Loved the exchange with Eric! Laughed out loud at the last line. Skinner's awkwardness is so endearing.

  2. This was great, as always :)

  3. I love how fast you are updating this! Its wonderful!

  4. “Get caught jerking off to the Disney Channel again?” LaRose called.

    “What’d ya pop a woody on the school bus?” Sutter suggested.

    That trademark Staal grin really got on my nerves sometimes. Just because he and his wild pack of supermodel brothers had probably been getting blowjobs from cowgirls on their sod farm since they were fifteen....

    There was so much about this that made me laugh! Excellent. I particularly love ANY staal references

  5. Haha LOVED this! I probably shouldnt read it while Im at the cafe....people are probably looking at me like Im an idiot haha

    Gotta love the trademark Staal grin!

    Awesome chapter! Cant wait for more :) Check out my Neal story when you have a minute!

  6. Another fucking Thunder Bay grin was his only answer

    Made my day! :)