(Sorry guys it's really long, but I just couldn't find another natural point to end the chapter that didn't make it crazy short.)
“Aunt Staci!” Laura cried pushing the boy away from her quickly. “I thought you were watching the game.”
“I was, Laura. I wanted a drink, and to make sure you were still alive.” My eyebrow rose into my hairline. “I really would rather not inform your mother about this, so can we please just go back to our seats and leave…” I paused realizing I had no idea who this kid was. Vero chuckled softly behind me.
“James.” The painfully tragic young man piped up.
“James to whatever he was doing before this?” Laura nodded gently her head bowed in embarrassment, I wasn’t sure if it was from being caught or being in the situation to begin with. “Well, come on then. The period is almost over, and you’re mom’s going to be worried about both of us soon.” I held out my hand for the young girl to take, which she gladly did, and the three of us started back towards our respective seats. “Laura, I want to introduce you to my very good friend here, Vero Larosse.”
“Bonjour, Madame,” Laura mumbled looking over at Vero shyly.
“Salut, Laura, I’ve heard a lot about you from your aunt.” Both of us laughed as Laura’s eyes tripled in size. “Don’t worry, it was mostly good.” Vero glanced down at her watch. “Ohh, I’d better go, Marc will be phoning in about three minutes, to make sure I saw.” We rolled our eyes at the childishness of our hockey players. I waved as Vero turned to head into the box where I usually sit at games.
“Aunt Staci, you’re not going to tell Uncle Sid about James are you?” Laura asked as we headed down the stairs to our own seats.
“No, sweetie, I’m not. I’d like to keep Uncle Sid out of jail for the next few months. And I really don’t think that being the face of the NHL would keep him out of jail for murder some how.” I smiled down at my young niece as she winced visibly. “What were you thinking with him?”
“I was honestly just going to get a pop, and then James came up besides me in line and we started talking, he seemed really nice. I really didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.” I wrapped my arm around her shoulders as we came up to our seats.
“And it wouldn’t be, but, Laura, you’re sixteen. Try not to grow up so fast. It’s hard on us old people.”
“What’s hard on us old people?” Claire asked as we sat back down just in time for the third period to start.
“Watching young people grow up. It teaches us how old we actually are.” I grinned and Laura laughed.
“Yah you should talk there, young one.” Claire rolled her eyes. I stuck out my tongue at her and turned back to the hockey game. The third period flew by and I soon found myself herding my sister’s children down to the locker room. Before going through the doors I turned Laura around by the shoulders.
“Ok, here are the rules of the locker room. Number one, no flirting. Number two, no numbers are to be given or received.” Laura glanced up at me with a scowl on her face. “Don’t give me that, Laura. These guys are at least, at least, four years older than you. And hockey players. No numbers and no flirting, understand?”
“I understand.” She mumbled, I looked up as Vero, Lily, Erin and the rest of the girls came in.
“Twenty minutes,” Lily called over to me, grinning.
“Ten,” Erin echoed.
“Nope, half an hour,” Vero smiled waving a five dollar bill in the air. I rolled my eyes at all of them.
“What are they betting on, Auntie?” Bryan innocently asked pulling on my Rimouski jersey Sidney gave me so many years ago.
“How long after the last player leaves that I'll have to wait for Uncle Sid, Bryan.” I smiled and ruffled his hair. “And Mlle Larosse is thinking that it's going to take a minimum of half an hour.”
“That much?” Bryan cried.
“Probably not, sweetheart, but it has before. If he takes that long, I'll give your Maman the keys and she can take you home. Uncle Sid would see you tomorrow.”
“But I want to see him now,” Bryan sighed against my side as the guys started filing out of the room. Maxime Talbot was the first to come half running out of there, dressed nicely in a navy blue suit, fixing his tie.
“Watch your self, Staalzy, you're going to find it hard to see the play with a black eye!” He yelled backwards rubbing the back of his head. “Staci!” He shouted spotting me at the kids. Claire stayed behind to call Guy and update him on the house situation. “When did you sprout offspring?” He ruffled Bryan's hair and gave Laura a quick once-over hoping I wouldn't catch him.
“I didn't, Max,” I glared at him for looking at the young girl. “This is my niece, Laura, and my nephew, Bryan. Claire's in town for a few days.” Max's eyes glazed over as he thought of my sister.
“Where is she?” He asked glancing around the small room.
“Calling her husband.” I smirked as his face dropped. Jordan followed Max out of the room.
“Black eye? Maxy, I told you. I'm just to pretty for you to hit...” Jordan grinned the grin that launch a thousand ships.
“Holy mother of..” I heard Laura whisper as she started unabashed at Jordan, Jordan's on grin grew as his eyes settled on my dear niece.
“Hey,” he crooned walking up to the four of us. “I'm Jordan... Jordan Staal. What's your name?”
“Laura Régnier,” She whispered hanging her head away from Jordan, blushing as red as a midlife crisis sports car.
“Jordan,” his eyes came up and met mine as I used my best teachers voice and placed my arm around Laura. “This is my sixteen year old niece, Laura. I'm sure Sidney would not approve of the look.” Max laughed at the shocked expression on Jordan's face. I smiled slightly as Tyler and Brooks came out to claim their girls with a kiss. “So what's your idea for how long Marc will be, Vero?” I called over to her, to which she repaid with a weak glare.
“Monsieur Talbot,” Bryan called out innocently, “what did Monsieur Staal do to make you want to give him a black eye?” I laughed at the look on Max's face.
“Well, young Bryan,” Max crouched down to look him in the eye. “Monsieur Staal thought his was being funny and he--”
“Ok, Talbo, I don't think the kid needs to hear this.” Jordan blushed bright red. “Let's just say I hit him in the back of the head with something as he left.” His eyes shifted every once in a while to Laura who would blush and lower her own head.
“Okay, okay, Staalzy, lets leave the pretty women alone. Stace, want us to hang around?” Max asked sincerely.
“He's going to be a while, the media hounds were descending on him and Marc-Andrè as we were leaving.”
“It's ok, Max, Vero's here, and I'm sure Marc is going to be just as long.” I smiled softly. “I'll probably send Claire and the kids home.”
“I can drive them!” Jordan cried excitedly, we all turned to him and his blush deepened. “I mean, I'm sure you all came with Sid, so, I'll drive Claire, Bryan and Laura home.”
“Thanks, Jordan, I really appreciate that.” I gave his arm quick pat and turned as Claire entered the small room.
“How's Guy, Claire?” She sighed deeply shaking her head as she came up to us.
“They've moved the date up by two weeks. Two weeks, Staci. How am I going to find a house in a week and a half?”
“Well, I guess it's a good thing that it's Christmas time and school is done for the holidays, so I can help you look. And Sidney's got a couple of days off coming up, he'll help.” Claire's scowl slowly turned into a smile as I offered help from people who knew the city.
“I'll help!” Max piped up, sliding up towards Claire. “Salut, Claire, it's been a long time.”
“Oui, Max, it has.” She smiled kissing him lightly on the cheek. “Guy said to tell you hello and thanks for keeping me company last time I was up here and he had to work.”
“It was no problem. I enjoyed shopping with you.”
“Claire, Sid's going to be a while. So Jordan's offered to drive you all home.” I laughed at the dejected look from Max and the ecstatic look from Jordan. Claire nodded as I handed her the keys and gave her a tight hug. “Just watch him,” I whispered, “I think I saw a budding romance between my favourite baby hockey player and my favourite niece.”
“Stace, she's your only niece.” Claire laughed as we pulled apart. “But I will.” I turned and hugged both Bryan and Laura before I turned to Jordan.
“No funny business, mister.” I poked him in the chest with my index finger. “I mean it. She's only sixteen, let her be a kid.” I pulled him in for a hug before finishing my thought in a whisper. “In two years if you're not married, then you can date her, ok Romeo?” I pulled back to see him blush and nod slightly. “Take care of them, Jordan. Drive safe.”
“I will, Staci, I promise. C'mon, Max. You can walk out with us.” Jordan grinned and led Laura and Bryan out the door. Bryan was running to keep up, asking repetitive crazy questions. Max turned to Claire and offered his arm, which she took and followed her children out.
Vero and I took a seat next to each other on a small couch found in the corner of the room. I laughed as she sighed emphatically as we watched the rest of the team file out. Evengi, Kris, then Ziggy, and Matt. One by one they came out and claimed a girlfriend or wife; or made plans to go to Diesel for a drink or the diner down the street because they were starving.
“So Colby and Mel are coming to down next week.” Vero mused ten minutes into our complete solitude, every having left but our two.
“Yah, Mel is coming so we can pick out bridesmaid dresses. Are you coming? I think we're going on Wednesday...” I dug through my purse and pulled out an overstuffed filofax, which Vero laughed at.
“You know your Blackberry will do that for you, non?”
“I know... I'm old fashioned. I can't put samples or attach pictures in my Blackberry, or if I can, I don't know how.” I smiled at her and flipped open the filofax. “It's just for the wedding. Nothing else. Yes, it's on Wednesday at two. So I was thinking, we could go for dinner and than you guys can help me find my dress.” Vero pulled out her phone and started hitting buttons rapidly.
“Wednesday works. Meet at Gino's?” I nodded and wrote it in my book as she entered it into her phone. Both of us looked over at the door as it began to open. Sitting forward we saw someone enter the waiting room.