Status: Coming Soon!

Everything Has Changed

Is I Know Something Now, That I Didn't Before

“Kind of hard when she’s put a stop on option one Marc, and I’m not ready to just let it go and move on. She means a lot to me, okay? So until you understand what I’m going through, let it drop,” I snapped, standing up to go and find another beer. I saw Lindsay whispering furiously at him, probably chiding him for being insensitive about it, because he didn’t know. He wasn’t there to meet Cheyenne, and because of that I hadn’t explained to him what had happened like I had with Eric. I found the cooler and grabbed another beer, taking a long swig of it before I got waved over by Jordan. Even though he’d technically been a Hurricane for two years now, he still invited some of the Pittsburgh guys out – Fleury, Sid, TK, Pascal, Max, and Geno – because they were still close to him. He’d spent six years playing with those guys, I had no idea how hard it was for him to have to play against them now, but they acted the same whenever they were together in off-season.

“Hey Jared,” Sid and Max immediately greeted me, and I nodded toward them as I took another drink. “How’s it going?”

“All right. You guys?” the Penguins had struggled with a lot of big injuries at the end of the season and for the first time in a very long time hadn’t even made the play offs.

“Good. Well, as good as a guy can be without making it to playoffs,” Sid answered. I nodded, understanding exactly what he meant. We talked for a few minutes, and while I tried to make a getaway Jordan was having none of it. I almost wondered if he hadn’t told his friends about the whole Cheyenne thing, from the way they worked to keep me included in the conversation. It was painful, to say the least. For once there was a question I dreaded more than the inevitable "When are we gonna see you in the big league?" that always made my face heat up and make me feel pretty inferior to my brothers. Never the intention of anybody here, but it never ceased to make me feel that way.

“So, mon ami, this mystery girl of yours, is she coming?” Max asked, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively. Jordan groaned and swatted at him, along with Sid, Pascal and Fleury. Now I knew who he’d told and who he hadn’t.

“No, she’s not,” I mumbled, staring down the neck of my beer, wishing it was full again. Marc scolded Max in French, because he knew that Pascal would be the only one to understand any of it, while Max looked sheepish.

“Sorry, I didn’t realize…” I shrugged, not wanting him to feel bad. It wasn’t his fault.

“No, don’t. It’s okay,” I assured him, before gesturing to my empty beer and using that as my excuse for an escape. I almost made it into the house before my mom called me over, and from the look on her face she was only doing it because she knew I wasn’t planning on coming back outside.

“Your father needs to run to the farm and do a few things, so I need you to man the barbecue,” she explained, although I knew she was fully capable of doing so. There was nothing that she couldn’t do, and she took pride in that. I loved my mom dearly for being so strong, because she’d definitely instilled that in the four of us too, but it made me shiver at the thought of us having had a sister - she'd have been as stubborn as our mom and we'd have gone through hell trying to keep her safe from her own stubbornness. Jordan and Marc wouldn’t fare any better than I would with that idea – Marc had long since taken to being an adopted brother to Lindsay’s youngest sister, and we heard lots about it.

“So… talked to her lately?” this was how my mom kept up with the situation. It was never Cheyenne, it was always ‘her’, as if saying her name would send me off the deep end.

“No,” I sighed, putting burgers on the grill. She was quiet for a few seconds beside me, but I knew it wouldn’t last long.

“How did the family thing go?” she asked.

“Good, as far as I can tell. Her cousin announced his engagement, her aunt just about had a heart attack from the surprise,” I chuckled, remembering that specific conversation. Apparently Tom’s mother hadn’t seen it coming in the least, and maybe didn’t quite approve of Lisa, so he figured announcing it in front of the whole family would spare a scene.

“Sounds interesting,” she allowed, and I knew she was watching me, trying to judge how I was doing without asking.

“Mom I’m okay. Frustrated and upset, sure, but I’m okay. I’m not gonna go jump off a bridge or anything,” I insisted, and while she smiled it didn’t quite reach her eyes. Maybe I’d been more down in the dumps than I’d realized.

“I just hate seeing you like this sweetheart. If this girl can do this to you, I can’t imagine how happy she must make you when you’re together,” she explained, and I nodded. That had been the best week in longer than I could remember.

“You have no idea,” I agreed, and felt her hand on my arm.

“Go after her Jared. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you know you gave it everything you had. Any girl who can turn you, of all people, into someone who hardly smiles must be worth it,” I stood there staring at my mom, not sure what to say. She was always beyond wary when it came to the four of us dealing with girls, even before all of the NHL hype had really started; for her to say this about Cheyenne without having even met her before was huge. It meant a lot that she would trust my judgment like that.

“She is mom, you have no idea. She has no idea, and that’s part of the problem,” she waited patiently for me to elaborate, and I took my time, collecting my thoughts and trying to figure out how to stay emotionally detached while doing so. I really didn’t care to end up trying not to cry in front of almost everybody I knew.

“Part of the reason she didn’t want to try this… us… is because she doesn’t think she’s worth it. She doesn’t think that she’s worth the time apart, the different time zones; any of it. And it’s all because of some asshole who I’d kill to get my hands on and beat the shit out of,” I hadn’t realized how hard I’d gripped the tongs until I realized the metal had cut into my hand. Mom hadn’t noticed yet either as I gently set them down and left my hand at my side, breathing hard.

“Jared, you don’t mean what I think you do… do you?” she asked.

“That depends. Do you think he hit her?” I asked, and she swallowed hard before nodding. I hated being so blunt in saying it, but once I started to see red… it was hard to get back. Jordan used to joke about me being the hulk, until I was big enough to actually do some damage to him when we fought. That quickly put an end to the jokes, but I’m sure not to his beliefs about my temper.

“That poor thing… Jared you have no idea what that would do to her,” she whispered, and then realized there was a pool of blood beside my shoe. “Jared! What did you do?”

“I just grabbed the tongs too hard… it’s fine. I’ll go inside and clean it up,” I told her, trying to keep her from mothering me too much in front of everybody. It was bad enough that I was treated like the baby on a daily basis, I didn’t need it to be when everybody could tease me about it.

I went inside, ignoring the concerned looks from my siblings and their wives. The warm water stung, but getting the blood off of the cut made me realize that I could probably use some stitches. After a few moments of digging through the cupboard I found an old hand-towel, one that was bloodstained from years ago – probably from one of us and hockey puck – and wrapped it around my palm before grabbing my cell and my keys.

“I think it’s going to need stitches – I’ll be quick,” I told mom, and let her kiss my cheek before I started toward the car, knowing she’d worry until I got back. Tanya made her way over to see what was going on, with Parker settled on her hip.

“Jared? What’s going on?” she asked, and then eyed the towel around my hand.

“What did you do?”

“Got a little upset and grabbed the tongs too hard… sliced my palm open; I’m pretty sure it needs stitches,” I allowed, and tried not to wince when she pulled the material back and exposed the cut. She quickly wrapped it back up and then took my keys from me.

“Park, you stay with daddy okay? I’m going to take Uncle Jared to the doctor real quick,” she told him, and his eyes widened. He’d been too busy watching the party behind us to pay any attention to my hand.

“Uncle Jay, is it because of the heart thing?” he asked, and while Tanya looked stricken I shook my head, trying not to laugh. He was really stuck on this whole ‘broken heart’ business.

“No, I hurt my hand and need some stitches,” I replied, and he nodded, running off toward Eric without a second glance. Tanya held out until we were in the car before turning on me.

“Heart thing? What heart thing? Jesus Christ Jared if you have a heart condition and haven’t told any of us I am going to—”

“Tanya! Calm down, I don’t have a heart condition – I swear. Healthy as a horse, minus this,” I gestured to my palm, and she crumpled in relief.

“Then what is he talking about Jared? I’ve never been so scared in my life,”

“Because Eric told Parker I was being a hermit, and then Parker had to ask why. So Heather kindly explained that I had a broken heart and the doctor couldn’t really fix it,” I told her, rolling my eyes. She laughed then, and started the car but didn’t put it into drive. Her hands were shaking slightly, and I realized maybe that had frightened her more than I would have thought.

“You okay?”

“I’m… no, not yet. You have no idea how scared that made me Jared – you’re like my little brother. The thought of you having a heart condition and still playing hockey… after hearing those stories of young guys who play competitive sports that just drop dead from a heart enlargement or something like that… that’s scary,” she explained, and I nodded.

“Well, no heart condition I know of, so we should be okay,” I reassured her, and she nodded.

“Except that broken heart of yours,” I looked to see a teasing glint in her eye, and groaned as she pulled out of the driveway, knowing that she’d continue to tease me about that now.
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:) Let me know what you think! There's kind of a slow start, but I really wanted to give a good view of Jared's mindset and everything before really getting into the story! Most of it will be from his point of view - kind of the opposite of the first one. It's sort of a new idea I'm trying out!