Status: Work in progress...

Brave the Storm

Chapter 1

“Sidney I am not going in there and you can’t make me!” Kailyn Kane yelled as she tried to pull her hand out of the vice-like grip of her best friend Sidney Crosby. She planted her feet and forced him to stop and turn to face her instead of the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Sidney just gave her a disapproving look with his chocolate eyes, “Kai if you do not get your ass into that arena and make me proud, I will be forced to throw you over my shoulder and make you do what’s best for you as always,” he informed her deadpanned.

“Too late,” Zach Parise said as he effortlessly lifted Kailyn and put her over his broad shoulder. He had been listening to Sidney try to reason with Kailyn the whole drive to Raleigh. He knew this would be hard for Kailyn with this being her first NHL trade, but he knew that she would calm down once she faced the challenges at hand. His best friend knew how to roll with the punches.

This time, however, it would be a difficult task to pick up and keep moving through. She was now divorced, traded, and after Sidney and Zach left, alone. She didn’t know what she was going to do; she just wanted to pull her blond hair out. Never had she ever felt so low. She didn’t believe Sidney and Zach when they assured her that everything would be fine once she settled into her routine of hockey once more.

She had been drafted in 2009 to the Washington Capitals ever since women were permitted to enter the draft in 2007. She had spent her two year career in Washington and was heartbroken to hear that they had tossed her out the door so carelessly. She knew that they hadn’t treated her well ever since they drafted her, but Kailyn was a creature of habit. She needed a set routine and a familiar setting to be able to survive.

Kailyn wasn’t stupid; she knew who had pressured the General Manager into sanctioning her trade and putting her on waivers. Her divorce from star defenseman Mike Green had made everyone uneasy about going into training camp. She figured Mike wanted to prove where his loyalties lie by getting rid of her for the team so they could all breathe a sigh of relief and continue as if nothing had happened. Too bad the one who had to pay the price was Kailyn.

It wasn’t like she could have been picked up by Pittsburgh, her childhood friend’s team. It had become an unwritten rule never to put Sidney and Kailyn on the same team ever since the pair had played on a coed AAU team together back in their early hockey days in Canada. Wayne Gretzky had fondly named the pair the terrible two to reinforce the point. They were the inseparable friends forced to do just that.

Her friends Sidney, Jon, and Zach believed in her and knew she would come through this disaster, though they didn’t know how she silently cried herself to sleep in her lonely bed in the newly bought Crosby/Kane residence. They pretended not to notice pound after pound she lost because she couldn’t find the motivation to pretend everything was okay. She felt so alone even with her house full of her high school friends. None of them had the touch that her former husband had that could instantly calm her.

She missed everything about the man she used to call her own. She missed his brown eyes that reminded her of a steaming cup of hot chocolate, waking up to the smell of Old Spice and Dove soap every day, she missed the soft and deep voice that she would never get tired of hearing. Most of all she missed the fact that even the gentlest of touches that could easily disarm her.
She smacked Zach on the butt and yelled, “Zachary Justin Parise! Put me down, I am not going in there!”

“Why the hell would you want to go back to Washington? You’re already miserable; you wouldn’t survive if you had to go back. Yeah it was a dick move to get you traded like that, but he did you a favor too. You can beat the shit out of him now and can make new friends now. It’s all going to work out Kai, I promise,” Sidney told her confidently.

“This is going to blow up in my face, but whatever you say Sid.” With that she crossed her arms and allowed Zach to cart her into the arena with Sidney following behind them. She was grateful that her friends were here at the very least to help her with the first few steps of her new life by herself. They were the single comfort that Kailyn had in her life as of late.

They walked in the player’s entrance and found their way to the empty ice rink. The three shared quizzical looks as Sidney checked his watch. They were on time to meet, so where the hell was everyone? The RBC Center was completely deserted. This was odd, even if it was the off season and months before the opening game was set to take place. Someone should be here to welcome them.

“I see the new recruit has arrived, with friends nonetheless. Welcome to Raleigh and the Hurricanes organization,” said a smooth voice to the side of the trio that was standing by the entrance to get on to the ice from the locker room runway. They had come in from one of the gate entrances and came down into the seating area, Kailyn was just going to hop over the bar and Sidney would hand her a gym bag filled with her equipment.

They turned to the side and saw a strawberry blond and caramel eyed man that was standing in his practice gear with his hockey stick and helmet in hand. She had never seen the Staal brother up close before, but now that she had; she couldn’t help but admire her new teammate. From his strawberry blond hair to his caramel eyes, she knew she was going to have to avoid the captain like the plague.

“Thanks,” she told him simply as hopped over the bar behind him. Sidney handed the gym bag to her and she draped it over her shoulder.

“We will pick you up later Kai. Parise and I will go unpack your apartment more.”

She stepped on the gray carpet and looked around her new locker room. She looked around the square room and looked for her name plate. She walked around the perimeter of the room to see the wooden stalls and finally found her name. She rolled her eyes; of course it was by her new friend Eric. Something told her she was going to have a hard time trying to avoid the captain.
She quickly got dressed in her gear and took the ice. She glanced up at the stands to see that Sidney and Zach had already vacated their posts. She figured by the time she got home, they would have the rest of her things moved in and put into their proper place. She was incredibly grateful that they had helped her get her apartment in order so quickly, but she couldn’t help but feel abandoned at practice that they didn’t at least stay a little bit for moral support. She had her head down and refused to look anywhere but the ice.

She hated her new self. She used to be confident, could look any player straight in their eyes, and pass around profanities like it was her second job. Now she was barely a shell of the woman she used to be. She kept her head down and avoided confrontation instead of voicing her strong willed opinion like she was accustomed to doing. She would confront any player no matter how big if they even looked at her wrong. She wouldn’t dream of it now.

*********

The pair silently did a couple of warm up laps before stretching out. Eric was faced with conflicting emotions, on one hand he felt supremely awkward practicing in silence with an essential stranger and the other he felt oddly comfortable. He could quickly tell that she was the type of woman that didn’t need to cloud the air with useless chatter. Though he knew she was probably more content with silence, he wanted to get to know her so he engaged her in an ice breaking conversation. “How do you know Sidney and Zach?” They skated to an area of the rink that had cones up in a line so they could practice skating and stick handling skills.

Kailyn skated backwards through the cones with no real effort while she explained, “Sidney and I grew up in Nova Scotia as neighbors. We have been close for as long as I can remember. Now with the divorce and all that we just decided to move into a house together this year a few minutes from our parents. When he went to high school we met Zach and Jonathan Toews. The four of us have been thick as thieves ever since. They have all been really great about being there for me through this crappy time in my life. I wouldn’t know what to do without them.”

Eric smiled as he followed her through the cones however he stayed facing her instead of trying to skate backwards, “I’m glad they was able to be there for you. If you trust the team and let us in, we can be your support system. We won’t ever let you fall again. And as your captain I will personally kick any guy’s ass that you need or want me to. Look they can’t be here for you with their schedules as busy as ours, so if you let me I’ll look after you until they come to visit. I want you to fully be a part of this team and that involves getting close to some of us.” He was totally sincere. She was the only female on their team and he felt it was his duty to defend her honor as his teammate and hopefully one day her friend.

Eric wanted her to realize that she deserved a loving significant other with her good friends. She had been thoroughly screwed over by life and in Eric’s opinion, it was his team’s duty to pick her up and put back the pieces of her life even if she didn’t want them to. They were going to help her put herself back together and she was going to be happy once more if it was the last thing Eric would do.

He couldn’t explain why he was so bound and determined to put Kailyn back on her feet again, but he just felt it was the right thing to do. The beautiful girl was destroying herself and without anyone to take care of her, she would quickly self destruct. She was on the right track. She was pale and drawn indicating that she barely ate or slept these days.

It broke his heart to see her in this state. If he was honest with himself, he would say that she was one of the hockey players of the present that he looked up to the most to become a better player and a better person. She was always giving her spare time to volunteer at local hospitals and local hockey camps. She never let the game change her morals as a person. She was always the same caring woman she was on the ice, proving this by apologizing after hits or fights. No one in the league could criticize her demeanor; she had a heart of gold no matter if she was playing a close game or being ripped to shreds by an anti-fan. That’s the reason he needed to help her, because he wanted that kind of a role model in the league and to keep her flame intact. He believed she was a truly inspiring person and he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t help her stay that way.
She seemed so helpless and heart broken in a new city. She was the shell of the woman he used to see at the NHL All Stars. She was always so lively and fun when they said their pleasantries at the All Stars and now she was barely saying two words to anyone. Now that he knew her relationship with Sidney, he could remember them laughing and goofing off chasing each other around the hotel as he tried to exit his room. It seemed highly unlikely that she would ever be caught doing that anymore. He needed to get her back to her old self.

She sighed, “I reserve the right to terminate this teammate bonding experience whenever the hell I want.”

Eric smiled and nodded in agreement to her stipulation and eagerly awaited her response. It would mean everything to him if she became as close to everyone as the team was with each other. He wanted her to be able to get close to Jeff and take him under her expert wing. It was not only for the team to be able to protect her, being close to the team would also heal her broken heart. He wanted to heal what was in shambles because he came from a family with good values that believed no woman should be treated like dirt. He didn’t know the whole situation with Mike, but he knew enough to know Mike didn’t have any respect for Kailyn and he would pay for that mistake. Eric would make sure of it.

“Fine, I have beer at my apartment and you are welcome to one whenever you want so we can become more acquainted and get this bonding experience going,” she offered. She then muttered to herself, “This is either going to be the greatest move of my life, or I am going straight back to Washington.”
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Welcome to the Eric and Kailyn adventure! I hope you enjoy the ride!