Sequel: Attractions

Counting the Ways to Reject You

Chapter Two

It was after practice and Sharpie didn’t know that when someone said no, they normally meant it. I was skating around, collecting pucks when I felt another presence behind me.

“What Patrick?”

“How did you know it was me?” he sounded genuinely surprised.

After working with hockey since a child, I learned to recognize how players skated and how much noise they made when skating. Sharp was almost completely silent, like Toews, but Tazer never followed me after practice.

“I know you,” was my simple response.

“Come to the All Star Game with me,” he skated circles around me. “Come on, you can see all your friends again,” he tempted me, giving me his trademark smile that could win over any girl. Yeah, any girl but me.

He held some truth in his voice though. I had become friends with a lot of NHL boys over the years. Partially due to my father, but more so because of my own connections. I had worked with a lot of them and therefore made a lot of friends that had unfortunately made it to the All Star Game.

I thought about it for only a second. “I don’t know Patrick.”

“Come on Natalie! Think about all your better halves!” he was starting to lay it on thick. “Kesler, Ovechkin, Nash, Ward, Kopitar, Fleury, Letang, Hiller. I know Hiller wants you to go. I bet as soon as you go check your phone, at least five out of the eight names I mentioned probably have already texted you.”

I rolled my eyes. “Not true,” I stated, even though I knew that probably all of them had texted me by then.

His blue eyes challenged me. “Go check. I’ll wait.”

“I’ll wait till after I clean up all the equipment, thank you very much. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have pucks to put away.”

He watched me as I skated towards the Hawks goaltender, Corey Crawford. He was waiting patiently by the net, doing his after practice stretch. “Nat,” he greeted me. “So when are you leaving?”

“For where?” I asked him, confused.

He tossed me a look that suggested I was stupid. “The All Star game with Sharpie. You are going right?”

I sighed. “Really Corey?”

He grinned. “Come on Nat. You know you want to go. Where’s your phone?”

“I’m not getting it right now!” I shouted at him.

“Well excuse me,” he sassed me. Everyone thought he was this quiet guy, but he wasn’t always. He had quite the attitude that it seemed only I got to see. Well lucky ducky me.


I got back to my phone and tried to get out of the UC as quick as possible after I had cleaned up. I had six missed calls and ten new text messages. Yup, all eight of my boys had tried to get a hold of me.

First to call me was Jonas so I decided to call him back before the others. It was only fair. “Hey!” came his happy voice. “When are you flying in? I miss you squirt.”

I groaned. “Jonas! I don’t even know that I’m going.”

“I knew this was going to be hard. I need back up,” he muttered, while telling me to hang on. I waited patiently and then I heard rings and then instead of listening to one voice there were eight, all yelling at me.

“Natalie!” they all chimed.

I sighed. “Really Jonas?”

I could feel his grin even though he was in Anaheim. “So Natalie says she may not come to the All Star game this year.”

“What?!” was all that rang in my ears for a moment. “Why not?!” Ovie shouted.

“Because Sharp asked her. Dur,” Tazer had taken my phone and was speaking to them for me.

“Really Nat?” Kesler sighed. “Put aside your differences and go with him. I miss you. We all miss you. So do us all a favor and put on your big girl undies and get your little butt down to Raleigh.”

“Whatever,” I had snatched it back from the Captain to smirked triumphantly at me. “I hope Kaner has no choice but to pick you!”

“Hey now. Don’t make Kaner suffer for stuff I’ve done to you,” he said and walked away, Sharp and Crawford replacing him, Skille not too far behind.

“So?” Kopitar asked.

“Yeah sure. Whatever,” I grumbled and hung up on the cheers.

Sharp was grinning from ear to ear. “Plane buddies?”

“Do I have a choice?”

He slung an arm around me. “You know you love me,” he whispered in my ear.

“You wish!” I pushed him away, sticking out my tongue. “You’re picking me up at my apartment at seven o’clock on Friday morning. Don’t be late,” I told him and got in my car and drove away. Damn those stinking hockey players and their capabilities to annoy the living shit out of me.


“So, she’s going with you,” Hossa came up behind me, Kopy on my other side.

“I guess so,” I couldn’t help but smile.

“So she won’t say yes to a date, but she’ll say yes to an entire weekend with you?” Kopy tried to put everything into perspective.

“I’m not complaining. Maybe she’ll actually give me as chance,” I shrugged.

“You know, most girls don’t go for the desperate type,” Hossa reminded me as we stood in front of my car.

“I wouldn’t have to be desperate if she would give me a chance. Maybe this weekend will change everything.”

“Bet you ten bucks she’ll sleep with him this weekend,” Skille said to Kopy. “I mean she likes him clearly.”

“Yeah, it was almost too easy to tell between the many times she’s said no to him,” Hossa rolled his eyes. “I’ll take that bet though. She’s going to come back with the same hatred for him as before.”

“I’m going with the bet that they won’t sleep together, but she’ll have some newfound respect for him,” Kopy handed over ten dollars, as did Hossa.

“Sharp, you want in?” Skille turned to me.

I stared at him, mouth agape. “No! It’s my own freaking love life!”

I shook my head, jumping into my car, driving away from the UC and all the idiots it possessed.


I got home and I realized that I only had half an hour to get ready for Kaner’s party.

At exactly seven, Kaner’s car pulled up, Star in the driver seat, Kaner in the passenger seat. As far as I knew, Star was the only one allowed to drive Kaner’s car besides Johnny Toews. That was saying a lot, considering he wouldn’t even let Sharp drive it home when Kaner was too drunk to drive it home. He called Star and made her drive an hour to pick him and the car up.

I jumped in the backseat and into the middle of an argument. This was exactly how I wanted my night to start.

“Driver picks the music so stop fiddling with the knob dammit!” Star swatted at Kaner’s hand.

“Star! It’s my goddamned car! I can pick whatever freaking music I want!”

“Driver picks the music and passenger shuts his blonde little cakehole!”

“What kind of freaking saying is that?!”

“Hi guys. Thanks for picking me up even though I could have driven myself and been without the arguments about music!” I interrupted them, leaning forward in the seat to really get between them.

Silence for only a moment. “Shut up Natalie,” they both said in unison and then resumed an apparent past conversation about trees.

Some friends I had.

We got back to his and Johnny’s place, the party in full swing. Star and Kaner jumped right in while I skirted the outsides of the party. Parties were never my thing.

“Parties were never your thing,” Crow stated my thoughts aloud, handing me some fruity drink.

“You’re here aren’t you?” I retorted. He wasn’t really much of a partier either, so seeing him here was more rare than seeing me here.

“I’m Sharpie’s ride home, though I don’t want to. . .”

I laughed. “How’d you get stuck with that job?”

“I’m living with him.”

I laughed even harder. “Why?”

“My house is flooded. . .He’s the first that made a decent offer.”

I covered my mouth to hide the laughter. “And the deal is?”

“Well part of it is this. The other part I am not allowed to say. All I know, is come Friday I get the house to myself for an entire weekend. Totally worth it.”

“Well goody gumdrops. Well stick around my dear. Things get much stranger than this.”

He looked around the room at the crazy shit that was already happening. “And this is why I recorded that new program on the History channel. So I can forget I was ever here.”


“Star!” I groaned, banging my head against the window of Kaner’s car. “Why does this always happen to me?”

“He said he hated me!” she sniffled, clutching her phone for dear life.

It had been twenty minutes and Star had managed to get underneath his car and wouldn’t come out.

“Ugh!” I kicked the car. “Starlyn! Get your skinny white ass out here right this instant!”

“Noooo!” she wailed.

“Got issues?” a familiar voice tickled my ear; the first one without alcohol on his breath.

“Sharp. You’re not drunk,” I stated plainly.

“Yes I realize this.”

“Then why is Crow here?”

“Torture? He needs a life? Got you some company? Take your pick. Anyways, why are you yelling at Kaner’s car and why is it responding?”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. “Star drunkenly got herself wedged underneath there after Kaner drunkenly told her that he hated her. She claims she’s not coming out until Kaner leaves.”

“She does realize he lives here, right?”

“Maybe. I’m not quite sure actually. Star? You do know he lives here, right?”

Silence for only a minute before the sobs came. “NOOOOO!”

“Now she knows,” I turned to Sharp. “Well how are we going to get her out? It’s getting close to midnight and you guys have an afternoon practice tomorrow. I don’t want to keep you little champions up much longer.”

“I’ll get Kaner,” he sighed.

Two minutes later, Sharp returned with Kaner and a pad of paper. He pointed and Kaner had trouble reading the print in his current state.

“Star. . . I love you sooooo much baby. I never meant to. . . is that hurt? Hurt you! I love you. Come to bed with me baby!” he finished up falling on the ground laughing face to face with Star.



I had a feeling she only heard the last part.

After another five minutes we got them both upstairs into Kaner’s bathroom and were the last to leave. Crow was waiting by Sharp’s car, spinning the keys around his finger. “Finally. That was probably the most entertaining half an hour in a really long time. Let’s go home.”

Sharp and I laughed. “Need a ride home princess?” he asked.

I sighed. “My two drivers are sleeping together in the bathroom sharing a toilet. How romantic. A ride would be nice. Thanks.”

“You’re very civil tonight,” Crow commented to me quietly as I slid into the backseat where I stretched out my legs.

“Too tired and I don’t have a ride unless I jack Kaner’s ride.”

“He’d have you arrested,” Sharp said seriously.

“Hence why I’m grateful you offered.”

“So we’re still on for Friday right?” Sharp asked, referencing the All Star Game.

“Sharp I told you I’m going. Not for you. Not for the sake the goaltenders. I’m going cause a bunch of sweaty hockey players basically forced me to go. Understand?”

“Number seven,” he said automatically.

“What?” I asked, confused.

“Nothing,” he said, looking out the window.


What the hell?