Status: In Progress

The Icy Lens

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Since they had a long drive ahead of them, Abby and James to amuse themselves. So in order to stay awake, they started playing "car karaoke" with her iPod. The most memorable moments included them each picking a backstreet boy to sing for "As long as you love me," her rapping the entire first verse of "Cowboy" by Kid Rock from memory, and James car dancing to Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger". The entire time they were both laughing hysterically, and the argument they had days before faded away.

Out of nowhere, John Mayer came on breaking their upbeat music groove. As she moved her hand towards the skip button, James to stopped her and said, "Don't skip this one." She paused and responded, "Ok, Didn't know you were a John Mayer fan." He shrugged and said, "I'm not, I just like this song and have some memories attached to it." Something in her mind told her this song had a significance, so she continued to drive as she listened to the lyrics for a few moments. As the chorus broke in, that was when it hit her. "Dallas..."


Abby stood on the back deck staring down at her phone. Her whole trip to Dallas to visit Matt before his season started was great, that was until the argument she just had with David. It was the same old problem, She was away from him and he got defensive and nervous about her being away from him. By the way he argued with her, It was as if he was jealous of the relationship she had with Matt. The two of them were family, not anything more than that. But he just seemed to get so bent whenever she was around him and David was not there. It was like he didn't trust her, and that hurt just as bad as the words he said during their argument. She looked out at the city of Dallas and tried to wipe her eyes dry, but she just couldn't stop herself from crying.

"Hey, You OK there?" said a voice from behind. She quickly wiped her eyes again and said, "Oh Me? Yeah I'm fine." She didn't turn around, instead she just continued to stare out at the city. "I've never been to Dallas before, I'm just enjoying the view." She sensed the man walk up next to her and then watched as he set a cold beer down in front of her. "I think you need this," he said, "Was that you're boyfriend?" She picked up the beer then looked over at Matt's teammate, James Neal. He towered over her even as he leaned up against the deck railing. She didn't realize anyone was there when she was arguing, and she actually felt a bit embarrassed about it.

"Fiance actually," she said with a frown while looking at her ring. "Well no offense, but he seems like a jerk if he made you cry." She laughed for a second and said, "He is sometimes." The guy shrugged and said, "I'm not here to butt in on your relationship problems though, just figured you could use a smile." She looked at Matt's friend and said, "Well thanks, but I don't really feel like smiling right now." He looked at her and said, "Exactly, that's why you should dance with me. You did say that you wanted to have a good time." She smiled and took another sip of her beer and said, "Thanks, but I shouldn't." He held out his hand and said, "Come on, It's just a dance, I'm not asking you to marry me."

She paused, but decided to set down her beer and take his hand. "Ok, one dance, but that's all," she said, "And watch your hands mister." He gave her a big, boyish grin saying, "I will be a perfect gentleman, I promise." He moved in and they started to dance to the slow song that started playing from the party. For being a hockey player, he was a pretty good dancer. As they moved in time to the music, she began to feel a bit better as she listened to the sound of the soulful guitar and lyrics.

"We're going down, And you can see it too.
We're going down, And you know that we're doomed.
My dear, We're slow dancing in a burning room."

"Who play's John Mayer at a party," she giggled as she realized what the song was. James shrugged and said, "I don't know, Maybe someone is having a make out session in there." He stepped in slightly closer, and then surprised her as he lowered her into a dip. She could feel his muscular arms underneath supporting her body. Abby smiled and let out another giggle as he slowly raised her back up. He grinned and said, "Now that's what I wanted to see, A real smile. My mission is complete." She smiled and shook her head at him and said, "You are just too sweet, thank you." He continued to dance with her as he said, "Anytime, I'm glad I could help."

"Neal, what did I tell you about keeping your hands off my sister," Matt said from behind in a serious tone, "You just broke the bro code man! It would be like me kissing Rebecca." At first she thought he was being serious, until Matt began to laugh. James played along and stepped away, throwing his hands up in the air, "Hey man, I was just being nice." Abby laughed and turned around and said, "It's fine Matt, he really was just trying to cheer me up." Matt stopped smirking and instead looked annoyed as he asked, "Oh no, what did he do this time." She could tell by the tone in his voice that Matt already knew it was about David. She walked over towards her best friend and said calmly, "It was just a stupid argument. That's all."

He looked annoyed and pissed off at the same time, but bit his tongue. Instead he threw his arm around her and said, "Thanks Neal for cheering her up. Abby, we should get going, you have an early flight tomorrow." She pouted, but knew he was right. She had to get ready to fly back and go back to her internship with the Penguins. "I'm pissed that you're right," she said with a sigh, "I want to stay longer." Matt smiled and said, "Well you could always just pick up and move to Dallas." James broke in and said, "Yeah, you know we could find ya a job down here." Abby shook her head and said, "No, I have to back to Pittsburgh Matt you know that."

She let out another sigh and walked over to James and said, "Well I guess this is goodbye, It was nice to meet you, and thanks for the dance." She watched as he grinned like a teenage boy and said, "My Pleasure, We'll see you again right?" She laughed and said, "Probably the next time the Pens play you!" James smiled and said, "Well whenever that is we can meet up for drinks, after we beat them on their home ice?" Abby laughed and said, "I don't know who will win, we'll have to just wait and see." Matt started to pull her away and said, "Come on Abby, Let's go. I'll See ya tomorrow Neal." She gave him one last wave goodbye before walking down the back steps of the deck towards Matt's car.


"Wow, I'm surprised you remember," he said with a smile. Abby looked over at James and listened to the song as the memory of that night faded. "How could I forget, it was a fun night." James leaned back in the car seat and closed his eyes for a moment and said, "It was, That was the night I knew I wanted you." Abby started to feel her cheeks turn red as she said, "Wow, I didn't know that was the night." She listened to the song more and remembered that it was about a relationship that was slowly burning to the ground. Looking back, it was another sign from the universe that her relationship with David was going to hell. But instead she just stayed in denial, and rode it out for almost two more years.

"So I guess that's why you asked me to dance that night, You sly fox!" He laughed and said, "No, Well maybe a little, but I still wanted to cheer you up that night." He grinned and said, "So while we are on the subject, I'm curios. When did you finally started to fall for my boyish charms?" Abby started laughing and said, "I'd say it started during the All Star draft party. You were Mr. Rico Suave with all that perfectly timed flirting, then you finished the night with that sweet little kiss on my forehead." He grinned, but she cut him off before he could respond. "I want to know why you waited so long. I mean you had to have noticed the flirting right?"

James laughed and said, "Yeah I did, but I wasn't sure if you were ready yet. Plus I was worried about making things awkward between me and Matt. But the night of your birthday Matt and Kris ganged up on me and told me to go for it. You just happened to beat me to the punch." Abby giggled and said, "Really? That night Kris told me you were too chicken, so I should make the first move!" James shook his head and muttered out "Bastard. I knew he left the two of us alone on purpose."

They continued to throw questions back and forth at each other for the next hour. She enjoyed it because it allowed them to learn a little more about each other, and it helped kill time on the trip home. But then he threw a heavy hitting question into the mix. "So you don't have to answer this if you don't want to, but why did you stay with David for so long?" Abby frowned slightly and said, "He was my first love. I can look back now and realize for the last year and a half that I was in denial about the relationship being toxic. As the arguments got worse and the wedding kept getting delayed I tried to blame it on our hectic schedules, but really it was just us." She paused for a moment before saying, "I could tell that friends and family were biting their tongues, and heck I knew deep down that my best friend hated him. But somehow I was still totally blind. I think it was that I was too stubborn or scared to walk away, that's all I can come up with now."

She started to cry a bit as she said, "I was a total idiot, I wasted so many years on him. I just don't know why I couldn't see it coming." He quickly reacted and took his hand to wipe the side of her cheek. "I'm sorry, I didn't want you to upset.." She shook her head and said, "No, It's OK. I needed to say it to someone, Might as well be you." She smiled slightly and said, "I couldn't admit that to Matt, he'd start saying he told me so." James seemed to finally smile again and said, "Well, I'm glad you told me then." She looked over ant him and said, "Anyway, what's in the past is in the past. Everything happens for a reason right?"

James looked at her and said, "Well I'm not a philosophical person, but I gotta say that while it sucked at first, you were worth the wait." He put his hand on her thigh and said, "Abby, I know you went through so much with him, that's why I want to make sure you have the world if that's what you want." She took her eyes off the road for a moment and locked eyes with his as she said, "I don't need the world, I just need you." She turned her eyes back to the road just as he leaned in and kissed her cheek. She smiled and said, "OK, enough of these sappy moments. Let's go back to car karaoke or else I'm going to fall asleep!"

James laughed as he leaned back as he looked at her iPod, scrolling through her music. "Let's see what we have here," he said, "What sappy songs could I put on. More Than Words? Or maybe I should pick The Reason by Hoobastank." Abby started laughing and said, "No, No more love songs. Put on something upbeat!" He pulled the iPod closer to him and he continued to tease her with more sappy love songs. He settled for her 80's playlist which began with "Faith by George Michael. Within moments car karaoke began again, the and the remaining three hours of their trip began to fly by faster than the lines on the road.