‹ Prequel: Takes Me Back
Sequel: Leads Me Here
Status: Rated 'R' for language. Will start soon!

Brings Me Home

Stark Contrast.

“Talbo!” Leah’s voice is loud as she reaches out to my former teammate. “How are you?”

Max laughs and pulls her into a hug, like always. “Fine, mon cher. Is Staalsy treating you right? It’s never too late to run off to Philadelphia with me, you know.”

Leah throws her head back and laughs before stepping back into my arms. “I think he’ll do,” she smiles. “But keep that offer open, you never know.”

“Should I be worried that you two are plotting to run away together?” I tease.

“Yes,” they deadpan together and I shoot Max a glare. I could never be mad at Leah, no matter how hard I tried.

“Actually,” Max scratches his neck. “I’ve-uh- met someone.”

Both Leah’s and my eyes nearly pop out of our skulls. Max Talbot settling down with a real girl?

“Who is she? What’s she look like? Will I like her? When can I meet her?” Leah fires off questions before shaking his arm. “When!”

Max fishes out his phone and brings up a picture of his shaggy haired self and a pretty brunette. Leah snatches the phone out of his grasp and examines the picture.

“Why didn’t you bring her?” she asks.

“It’s kind of a new thing,” Max blushes. “Like, three or four weeks officially.”

“I want to meet her before the summer is over,” Leah decides. “Bring her to Flower and Vero’s wedding in July.”

“Who’s coming to our wedding?” a distinct French accent asks.

“V! Flower!” Leah whips around and hugs the goaltender and his fiancée. “I’m glad you guys made it.”

“So are we,” Vero nods. She’d been sick with the flu last week. “Who’s coming in July?”

Leah smiles. “Max and his girlfriend.” Her voice starts to sing.

“Talbo, you dog,” Flower slaps his best friend on the back. “Good for you.”

In another half hour, the rest of the guests for the rehearsal dinner had arrived. We were getting married right here on the farm, so it made sense to have the practice round there too.

Leah’s bridesmaids were made up of two close childhood friends and a girl she’d met at university. My brothers stood beside me at the altar, same as I had for Marc and Eric’s weddings and would for Jared eventually.

She wears a simple white sundress and wedge heels with a small bouquet of flowers in her hand as her right arm is looped through her father’s. The music is slow, almost too slow. I see my teammates and friends and family in the seats, smiling. My mom has tears in her eyes already and even my father seems a little misty.

Getting to the altar, Leah kisses her father on the cheek and he shakes my hand. We’re only practicing, so things go by quickly. The minister talks about the things he’ll say tomorrow and explains our vows. When he is done, he smiles to us.

“And then I’ll say,” he pauses. “Jordan, you may now kiss your bride.”

I didn’t need telling twice. I grab Leah by the waist and pull her towards me, bringing our lips together. I hear someone cat call and other whistles, all from either my brothers or teammates. As she pulls away, I kiss her again. Practice makes perfect, after all.


After the casual dinner, guests take to the dance floor. We have a local singer, Haley, a girl we knew growing up, to sing now and at the reception. Soon, my brothers pull Leah away from me and they laugh around the other dancers. She’s always been family, but by this time tomorrow, she really will be.

As the night drags on, family members, friends, and even a few teammates drift off to their sleeping arrangements. Soon, there are only a few of us left around a huge bonfire Marc and I had started earlier in the night.

Around the circle, Sid, Tanger and his pregnant girlfriend, Catherine, my brothers, sister-in-laws, nephews, Max, Nealer, Flower and Vero, Kuni and his wife, and both sets of parents sit around us as Leah leans her head against my shoulder. She had ditched her uncomfortable shoes after dinner in exchange for a pair of flip-flops, same as most of the woman involved.

“You never told us how Jordan proposed,” Catherine pipes up.

“Yeah,” Nealer sits forward. “How did Gronk pop the question?”

Leah smiles. “It was very sweet and I can’t remember the last time I cried so much.”


The day after speaking with her father, Eric, Marc, Jared, Tanya, Lindsey, Leah, and I all headed for a little camping trip, sans children. My parents had offered to spend the weekend watching over their grandkids.

We hitched the boat to my truck and loaded tents and everything else into Eric’s. Marc and Lindsey rode with us while Jared caught a ride with Eric.

We spent all of Saturday lounging around, playing in the water. Marc ended up falling asleep in the sun, giving us the perfect chance for a prank. Lindsey opted to sit it out, saying she loved her husband too much to take part, but not enough to stop it. Eric, Jared, Tanya, Leah, and I filled buckets with ice and water. Together, we crept over to my sleeping brother and on Jared’s count; we dumped five huge buckets of icy lake water fell onto Marc. He shot up, ready to kill.

Later in the night, after a dinner around the campfire, everyone but Leah and I got on the boat for a trip up the river and back down. There was a fireworks show that night and even though you could see it from the campsite, there was better viewing out on the water.

“I don’t see why you didn’t want to go with everyone else,” Leah yawned as we sat on the beach, waving to the boat riders. “We always do.”

“I wanted a change,” I shrugged, planting a kiss on her forehead. “Is that so bad?” I had a hand in my pocket, around the small velvet box that contained a ring that I’d bought weeks ago.

“No, I guess not,” she leaned into me as the wind blew around us. “Have you talked with any of the guys recently?”

“No, they’re all pretty busy, I think,” that was a lie. I’d just spoken to Kuni and Duper that morning and I’d gotten texts throughout the day from the other guys wishing me luck. But Leah didn’t need to know that.

We drifted into a comfortable silence, Leah’s eyes drifted shut and I looked at our feet, submerged in the wet sand. Her bright pink toes peeked out next to my big, ugly ones. Just like the rest of us, they stood in stark contrast. She was tiny and petite and I was big and hulking. She wrote for a living while I smashed other men into glass for a little piece of rubber.

“Come for a walk,” I said, pulling her up with me.

She groaned but started to walk with me anyway as I slung an arm around her. I didn’t intend for us to walk far, just a little ways so that I could prepare for the life changing question I was about to ask. She would say yes, I knew it, but there was still a little doubt in the back of mind, a little fear of rejection that had always been there. Hell, it had been one of the reasons I had never asked her out.

Getting to a massive tree that had roots sticking out every which way and were perfect for sitting on. As we took a seat, the fireworks began overhead and both our gazes drifted up. Perfect timing.

Slowly and casually, I slipped off the root, acting like I was picking something up. In actuality, I stayed on one knee and took out the small black box.

“Li-Li?” I asked, getting her attention.

Slowly, she looked to where I’d been sitting and seeing that I wasn’t there, down to the sandy ground. Her eyes went wide and her hands flew up to her mouth. I motioned for her to stand up and she did, like a sloth.

I took her left hand from its place on her face and held it in my hand. “Leah,” I took a deep breath. “You’re my best friend and the only person I can see me spending the rest of my life with. I love you more than words can say, but I want to have the chance to try and tell you in a different way every day for the rest of our lives.” I stopped, watching the tears stream down her cheeks. “Leah Marissa Emerlee, will you marry me?”

She made a sobbing noise before nodding. “Yes!”
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Happy holidays! I hope you're all enjoying the winter season-even without hockey! As Joey the Junior Reporter would say, take it easy on the eggnog! (If you don't know who that is, you have not lived!) Let me know what's on your minds, lovelies!