William Nylander - Part 3
Tumblr won’t let me add a picture and I’m kinda pissed…. JK fixed it
I wake in the morning feeling like train wreck. When I stumble into the bathroom I’m surprised to see that I can see out of both of my eyes, though one is completely black and purple. The swelling has seemed to go down quite a bit from when I went to bed and I breathe a sigh of relief. Not that I have anyone to look good for, but I don’t exactly want to be scared to look in the mirror every day.
Letting the hot water from my shower wash off the remaining dried blood and I’ll admit, a few tears from last night. Nathan had been all over me like a mother hen, insisting that he stay the night in case something happened and when I in turn asked him what he thought could possibly happen he couldn’t think of a scenario. So Rian has shooed both him and Jake off before they could even walk inside the front door. She had been able to convince me to stay at my parent’s house with her, saying that she wanted to keep an eye on me but I really knew it was because she didn’t like staying in the house on her own. Our parents weren’t due to come home from their anniversary cruise until next week Monday and it was only Wednesday.
I dress myself, careful when I pull my shirt on to not rip my stitches and make my way downstairs. Rian is already up and about to go out the door to head to school.
“I was going to wake you, but thought better,” she says and eyes my face. “Balance the black on your other eye and you could make a good living as a hooker.” She smirks at me.
I throw her a filthy look. “Don’t you have to be somewhere?” I huff back at her, making my way into the kitchen.
“Yes, actually. But I wanted to see your face when I tell you this,” she says following after me and I frown at her.
“Tell me what?” I ask slowly.
“That you’re an internet meme now,” she looks overly happy and I tense.
“What?” I ask, my voice much louder than I intended.
“Someone at the game took a picture of the jumbrotron and you giving a thumbs up with a mangled face. Now people are posting those pictures with the clinche caption of how tough hockey fans are and all that,” she rolls her eyes and I relax.
“Oh, then that’s not so bad,” I say and dig through the cupboards for something to eat.
“You also might want to check your phone,” Rian adds, a devilish grin on her face when I turn to look at her. “See you later,” she says and skips out the door.
I stare after her a moment and then make a mad dash to my coat hanging in the hallway where my phone is still resting. Swiping the screen on my stomach drops, there’s over five hundred notifications from all my social media apps and text messages.
“How can people possibly know who I am? I got hit in the face with a puck!” I yell out loud into the empty house. Groaning, I start going through the follow requests and mentions, getting annoyed after thirty seconds and just changing my settings to that anyone can follow me instead. That takes away over three hundred of the notifications.
Scrolling through the messages I ignore most of them from people I haven’t talked to in months. Both Jake and Nathan texted me this morning asking how I feel and I respond to them and them only. None of my friends that don’t watch hockey haven’t said a single thing to me so I know that it’s not as big a deal as Rian made it sound like.
I mute my phone and get set on my bowl of cereal and think about what I’m going to do today. Working as an editor for a publishing company, I’m able to work from home most days and today will be no different. Cleaning up after myself I get my car keys and head back to my apartment downtown. I keep my hat down low on my head when I sneak into my favorite coffee shop and no one gives me a second glance. I hurry across the street to my apartment and breathe a sigh of relief when I get into the elevator.
Kota is waiting for me at the door, meowing like she’s been starved to death. I fill her bowl that wasn’t even empty while she preys on my foot, thinking she’s the almighty queen of the apartment. I force myself to walk into my home office, the stack of manuscripts on my desk is intimidating and I grimace as I sit down and pull on my glasses carefully. Before the headache can even have a chance to start, I reach into the desk drawer and down a few pain meds. Always good to be prepared.
Four hours later a ding on my phone nearly makes me fall out of my seat. I place the highlighter and pen on to the desk beside the thriller manuscript I had been pouring over all morning, yellow and red marks all over the sheet glare up at me. Picking up my phone I see a message from Rian.
Half day today. Ready for pizza?
I glance at the clock and cringe at the time.
Give me fifteen minutes
Another manuscript get the better of you?
See you in a few
I scramble from my chair, Kota startles and sprints across the room sending toys and papers alike scattering across the floor. Giggling, I make my way into my room and strip down from my comfy clothes and into something that makes me look a little less homeless. I catch a glance of myself in the mirror and groan.
Having forgotten the black eye and angry red stitches, I reach for another ball cap and pull the bill down as far as I can. It doesn’t help much but I don’t dare to even try and put makeup over it. Maybe we can get a table in the back corner.
I meet Rian in the parking lot and to my dismay the place looks packed.
“Why are there so many people here? Don’t they have jobs?” I grumble and Rian laughs.
“You have a job and you’re here,” she smirks at me, her eyes traveling to my bruised cheek. “Not gonna lie, you look pretty badass in your whole ensemble.” She gestures with her hands to the rest of my outfit and I realize that I put on all black, even my coat. “I’m loving the whole dark energy thing.”
I roll my eyes at her and push her through the front door. While there are a lot of cars in the parking lot, there are still several empty tables and I’m grateful when the hostess leads us to one in a secluded corner. I pick up the menu although I don’t know why, I get the same thing every time I’m here. Rian does the same thing and we laugh at each other.
“Remember when dad used to take us here when mom would go out of town. Literally every night she was gone this was our dinner,” she smiles down at her menu, tracing the restaurants logo that sits in the top right corner.
“Yeah, I do,” I smile as the memories as well. “Carson and Logan annoying us to death with their spit ball wars.”
“I miss them, I hate that their camp is two weeks long. When I went it was only a week,” she pouts and I have to laugh.
“I thought the same thing when you went, they will be back soon. And then you’ll be calling me begging to come over so you can get away from the twelve year old devils,” I say and she nods.
“True, but I still miss them. The house feels so empty without them and mom and dad gone. I might go insane before Monday,” she replies, tracing her finger along the condensation on her glass of lemonade.
“See, when I was home alone like you, I loved it. No one to annoy me or take my things without asking.” Rian scowls at me for that one. “It was nice, but I loved it even more when you all came home,” I add and wink at her, she softens her scowl.
“I guess that’s the difference between you and I. You’re Miss. Independent and I’m the exact opposite. I don’t think I could live alone like you do, work at home like you do… I wouldn’t be able to function.”
“I have Kota,” I argue and she gives me a look. “Hey! She’s a person too, just because she can’t talk doesn’t mean she doesn’t have feelings.”
“Oh my God, my sister is already a crazy cat lady,” Rian says, rubbing her face with her hands and I roll my eyes. Her eyes dart to the side of me and widen slightly.
“What are you looking at?” I ask her, preparing to turn around when she shakes her head.
“Nothing, thought for a moment I left my straightener on at home,” she says, busying herself with her lemonade.
I eye her blonde locks, perfect spiral curls going every direction. “Funny your straightener would be on when you wouldn’t have used it.” I quirk an eyebrow at her as her cheeks flush. Lucky for her, the waitress arrives again to take our order.
After the waitress leaves I forget about the straightener and excuse myself to the bathroom. I keep my head low as I pass by the booths and tables, both when I head towards the bathroom and when I’m returning. I glance up to make sure I’m in the right line of booths when I notice that Rian traded seats with me.
“What are you doing?” I ask her, pausing at the side of the table and eyeing her.
“I wanted to watch the T.V,” she says nonchalantly, sipping her beverage though she never looks at me.
I sit down slowly, still eyeing her. “You don’t like UFC fighting…” I say and she blushes again.
“Well then maybe I thought you would enjoy the view sitting there,” she whispers, a smirk playing on her lips as she glances down from the T.V for only a second.
“What are you talking about?” I ask and lift my eyes to gaze around, I don’t see a single T.V and the decorations are just that, decorations. It isn’t until I lower my eyes to the large table beside us do I realize what she meant. Oh God. I pull the hat down even lower and drop my eyes back to my empty plate. “Rian, switch back with me,” I plead in a whisper.
“Nope,” Rian responds, not bothering to look down from the T.V again. “I’m good here.”
“Rian, I swear to God if you don’t switch with me right now-“
“What? What are you going to do?”
I hesitate. “Cry.”
Rian snorts a laugh. “No you won’t, I haven’t seen you cry since we watched Marley and Me six years ago.”
I pout and dare to peek up at the table to my left. Big mistake. My eyes meet those blue ones again and I shiver. A smile flashes across his face before he looks back at one of his teammates.
“So, what did you see?” Rian asks, trying and failing to keep the smile off her face and I aim a nice kick to the shins under the table. She jerks in her seat, hitting the table with her arm and causing the whole thing to tremble. Another mistake. I can feel the eyes of the table beside us.
“God, I hate when you do that!” She snaps, rubbing her leg with her hand and glaring at me.
I give her my biggest smile and flutter my eyelashes. “Do what?” I ask.
Rian throws another look my way before our waitress returns with our pizza. All fighting is set aside as we devour the pizza with our eyes, still too warm to eat.
We each have four slices a piece and I lean back in my seat when I finally gulp down my last bite. I let out a satisfied sigh and wish nothing more than to take a nap right there.
I open my eyes to say something to Rian but my attention is caught once again to the other table. Will is immersed in the plate before him, shoveling food into his mouth like he hasn’t eaten in a week. A faint smile pulls at my lips I continue to watch him, he doesn’t seem to notice until an arm nudges his side and when I look over at who the arm belongs to, I meet the eyes of another player, Morgan Rielly. He nods at me before I can look away and when Will looks in my direction I flush crimson and stare at my glass. Mortified.
“I think I’m going to go the bathroom,” Rian says, oblivious to what just happened and I give her panicked look.
“What? No, don’t leave me here alone!” I whisper quickly and she looks at me like I’m crazy.
“You’ll be fine,” she says and slides out of her booth.
“Rian, no!” I say, willing her to sit back down. She gives me one last confused look and walks past me towards the other side of the restaurant where the bathrooms are. “I have no sister!” I whisper and I think I see a faint hint of a smile before she’s out of my view.
Turning back in my seat so I’m once again facing my empty plate, I try very hard to regulate my breathing. I can hear the faint conversation of the boys at the next table and I reach for my phone. My only distraction. I scroll for a moment until I feel the gaze to my left again. Pressing my lips together I tense, I can just barely see him to the side, my eyes still focused on the screen though I’m not reading a single thing. I see him stand slowly and say something to Morgan.
Oh no. Please no. Will takes a step towards me and I stop breathing. I keep my eyes down even when he reaches the side of my table, his gaze hot on my face and I know I’m the color of the cherry red booth I’m sitting on.
“Mind if I sit for a moment?” Will asks and I open my mouth to answer but nothing comes out. I can’t even look at him. Instead I slowly nod my head and put my phone down on the table.
He moves into the booth and my eyes go his hands folded in front of him on the table.
“How’s the head?” He asks and finally I’m able to look up.
“It’s okay,” I answer, searching his face for the other question that he seems to be holding back on.
“Good, it doesn’t look too bad,” he says, his eyes trailing up and down the side of my face.
“Too bad?” I ask, raising an eyebrow.
“I didn’t mean it like that!” He says hurriedly. “I mean that I figured your eye would be pretty much swollen shut is all.” Will smiles at me and I just stare back.
“What are you doing here?” I ask him after a moment and he frowns. “Didn’t think pizza was exactly the meal a hockey player has the night before a game.”
Will’s eyes dart back and forth between mine, fumbling for an answer. “Because you said you would be here.” He says finally and I’m floored by his honesty.
“What?” I stammer.
“You asked your sister last night if you could come here today,” he says slowly and I remember the elevator ride.
“So… you wanted to check up on me?” I ask, raising an eyebrow and he blushes. I hate how adorable it looks.
“Maybe.” Is all he says and we sit in silence for another few seconds.
“And that was it?” I ask again, pulling my glass closer to me and trailing my fingers along the lip slowly, concentrating on the shapes instead of his face.
He watches for another few seconds, not looking up at me when he answers. “Maybe not.”
“So, what else could there possibly be?”
He hesitates again and fidgets slightly in his seat. I make him nervous. “I kinda wanted to make it up to you, somehow,” he finally says and I halt my finger on my glass, my eyes flashing to his.
“What?” I ask dumbly.
“What can I do to make it up to you?” He asks and his blue eyes overwhelm my own and I have no idea what to say.
“Tell you what,” he says after a beat. “I’ll give you my number, and when you think of something. You let me know.” Without waiting for a response, he reaches across the table and grabs my phone. When he sees that he needs a passcode to unlock it, he reaches back across for my hand. He gently slides my hand across the table, pressing my thumb to the home button and I let him. Will opens my contacts and adds his own in before sliding it back across the table to me.
“Hopefully you let me know sooner rather than later,” he whispers, slowly sliding out of the booth just as my sister reappears in the corner of my eye. Will smiles at her and nods before flashing his eyes back to me, winking before he turns and returns to his own table where several of his teammates are staring.
I blink several times and finally let out the breath I didn’t realize I had been holding. Rian sits back down across from me, pressing her lips together.
“So, what did I miss?” She asks after a moment and I laugh.