“Oh my god I can’t believe you did that!” Ashlee said when Nicole pulled an entire roll of black tape off the bench.
“Just watch, Geno’s gonna come out and be like, ‘where’s my tape?’”
It was the second day of training camp so there was a decent about of fans now sitting in the blue seats directly behind the benches, each fan anxiously awaiting the start of the day’s practice and seeing the Stanley Cup champions once again.
Soon the players took the ice, some easily recognizable by even the least dedicated of fans; Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin. Ashlee was most excited to see Eric Godard and Mark Eaton, two of the little known guys from the cup team. One of the players who was dressed in black jersey skated towards the bench, his eyes locked on Ashlee.
“Who is that guy?”
“I don’t know but he’s checking you out.” Nicole said from behind her.
Ashlee tried to deny it and went back to just watching practice and enjoying her time with her friends. Throughout practice he spent a lot of time at the ‘away’ end of the rink which was where Ashlee was sitting, maybe he really did like her? Every time he came near her his eyes were locked on her for at least a few seconds, it definitely was not just a glance up into the crowd. He was cute she noticed, and this ‘Chris Lee’ did have pretty eyes.
Following the first group’s practice Ashlee left her seat with Jesse and they skipped down the hallway until they made it to PenStation. She put her money down on the counter after an internal argument and before walking out of the store with a brand new jersey in hand. Pulling the jersey over her head she soon made it back to her seat just in time for the scrimmage between groups A and B. Group A was using the away bench and the new baby blue jersey definitely drew Chris’ attention back to Ashlee. All that was between the two of them was a pane of glass and goalie Jordan Parise.
“Look he’s trying to be close to you,” Nicole said making Ashlee sink down in her seat.
Ashlee couldn’t help but notice that every time he was on the bench he scanned the ice and then made sure that he made eye contact with her. That’s when things got interesting. Nicole had lost her sharpie and asked to use Ashlee’s along with a piece of paper. “What are you doing?” Ashlee asked.
“Don’t worry about it.” She continued to write and soon asked Jesse if she could borrow a piece of tape.
Ashlee turned to look at the glass to see a paper that read, ‘For a good time Lee call Ashlee,’ and then her phone number. Luckily Lee wasn’t on the bench and Ashlee took it down as quickly as possible. She fought with both Nicole and Jesse to get the paper and finally put it in her bag. Nicole wrote another one and put it up on the glass again. Ashlee grabbed it again and sunk down in her chair, now worried about whether or not Chris had seen it.
She went back to watching what was going on on the ice and apparently Mark Eaton had notice that Chris was constantly looking over in the direction of the girl in the blue jersey and that he wanted that place on the bench. “Mark move,” Chris said after his shift. Mark didn’t move so Chris sat down next to him and as soon as Mark took the ice Chris moved closer to the goalie, and the girl in the blue jersey.
Apparently the goalie had seen when the paper was taped to the glass and elbowed Chris when you got back to the bench and told him about it. Chris looked over to the girl, he wished that he knew her name, something about her. He looked over to her and she was looking back at him. They kept eye contact longer than either of them had intended and when it was long enough for Nicole to notice and say something Ashlee went back to looking at the ice and Chris went out for his shift.
The second period of the scrimmage came, Chris was sitting on the bench and Ashlee was talking to Jesse and Nicole about this Chris Lee guy. ‘If anyone breaks their stick I’ll take it,” Ashlee said and obviously the players had heard her. Chris Lee jumped over the bench quicker than he had at all that day.
“Lee obviously wants to give you his stick,” Jesse said with a laugh.
Wednesday morning Ashlee arrived at Mellon arena at six am so that she could get her seats next to the bench again. When the doors opened Jesse went to grab a roster sheet and yelled, “Just go Ash!”
Ashlee ran down the hallway, passing someone on her way and as soon as she reached the igloo club a smile hit her face and she was ready to see her boys again. When she took her seat Eric Godard was on the ice, she smiled at him and he smiled back. Soon Chris Lee took the ice and started talking to Eric while periodically glancing at Ashlee.
“He’s looking at you again,” Jesse said pointing out the obvious. He wasn’t the only player to look over in Ashlee’s direction but he definitely looked over more often than any of the other players.
Ashlee sunk down in her seat as she had two days before, this guy really had a thing for her and she didn’t want to show that she had even the slightest crush on him. Every time the team had their ‘meeting’ on the other side of the ice Chris was standing, making sure that he was able to be seen and that he was blocking Godard from the view of the girl in the blue jersey.
Ashlee tried her best to just pay attention to the drills that were taking place around the ice but she found her eyes wandering from her favorite players, Eric Godard and Mark Eaton, to a player that was quickly growing on her, Chris Lee. She still wouldn’t let Jesse know that she liked this Lee guy, or anyone else for that matter, especially not Lee himself. Every time he came toward her she tried to avert her eyes to somewhere else on the ice, anywhere else. One time though they made eye contact and Ashlee found it especially hard to break it this time, ‘Damn you Chris Lee,’ she thought to herself. It was the end of the group A’s practice and since it was the last day of camp there was no scrimmage, this was the last of Lee that Ashlee was going to see, at least until the game two days later. Chris was grabbing his sticks from the bench and he was the one to break eye contact but not before smiling at her.
Ashlee was almost positive that he saw that she was taking a picture of him but that’s not why he smiled and by the time she pushed the button to take the picture he was no longer smiling and it was just as he was looking down to the ice.
Friday Ashlee was at ‘work’ babysitting her little cousin as she had done every day for the last two weeks. Her aunt had promised that she would be home by four-thirty, giving her plenty of time to get to the arena to student rush with friends, and to see Chris Lee, she was glad that he would be in the line-up that night. However as four-thirty drew closer there was no sign of her aunt, no call, nothing.
As five-fifteen and five-thirty drew closer Ashlee really started to get nervous, she was buying tickets for two of the people who were at the arena waiting for her and if she didn’t get to go to this game she would surely end up crying.
Finally just before six o’clock Ashlee’s aunt arrived home and she quickly ran out to her dad’s car and arrived at the arena at ten minutes after six, twenty minutes to spare. She sighed relieved that she had made it, pulling her jersey over her head and handed twenty dollars to both Jesse and her brother Chuck.
When they finally arrived inside and received their tickets Ashlee officially calmed down, she was sitting in section B and now had not a single care in the world, other than seeing Lee that is. After meeting up with Nicole and Geralyn they made their way to their seats and Hannah, Chuck and Ashlee made their way down to the glass, cameras in hand, ready to watch the players warm-up.
In the locker room the players were suiting up and one in particular was excited to take the ice. This player had short brown hair, beautiful hazel eyes, and wore the number thirty-four, Chris Lee. ‘Wonder if she’ll be here?’ he thought to himself pulling his jersey over his head. ‘Even if she is I highly doubt that I’ll see her, seriously there’s going to be thousands of people out there. ‘ He was obviously rather good at finding her in a crowd though as he found out at practice. She was sitting in the same seat though so that did make it easier for him the second day.
Ashlee, Hannah, and Chuck as well as the rest of the fans cheered when the players took the ice. The second Chris took his first step out onto the ice Ashlee was drawn to him, no one else in the arena knew who he was, she was on the opposite side of the arena but she knew that it was him. As he skated towards her, well to the side of the arena that she was on her heart sped up, this was not supposed to be happening.
From the ice Chris was trying to focus on his warm-up but when he stood at the blue line he looked up and there staring right at him was the girl, the girl he had been hoping would be there, the girl in the blue jersey. “Guys saw that right? He looked right at me, from across the ice.”
Neither of them had seen it, but she definitely was not making it up. Chris went back to warming up and for some reason spent a lot of time on the other side of the ice, something that Ashlee thought was odd. When he did go over to her side of the ice though she was taking pictures and trying to refrain from having a puck bunny moment, something she ended up being successful at. Chris looked at her a few more times before leaving the ice and Ashlee couldn’t help but smile.
When the game started Ashlee sat watching intently and when she looked down at the bench she noticed who was second from the end, Chris Lee. “Guys look who’s second from the end of bench.” None of her friends saw the significance of where Chris was sitting on the bench and Ashlee ignored it and went back to watching the game. “Go Chris!” Ashlee said as he took the puck from the defensive zone.
He lost the puck as he was picked off by the other team and retreated to his own zone. “Stop you’re distracting him,” Jesse said jokingly. Ashlee laughed and looked back at the ice. On the next shift that Chris was out on the ice and he got the puck Ashlee yelled again. “No seriously, stop.”
The final buzzer rang and the Penguins made their way to the locker room having lost the game. Ashlee was as if not more disappointed than the players when she, Jesse, Chuck and Hannah made their way to the players lot to wait for autographs. A win would have made her forget about how horrible her day had been, but now it had only gotten worse. “I want one autograph,” she said to Jesse. “And a hug.”
After a while the players began to come out, most looking happier than they had when they left the ice. Nicole and Ashlee joked about what would be said when Lee came out and made sure that she had id to prove that she was eighteen. Soon Hannah and Ashlee looked around in search of Jesse who had the only sharpie, he was nowhere to be found.
Luca Caputi and Tim Wallace signed for both girls before Ashlee received a phone call from her brother, Chuck. “I got Gogo and Chris Lee.”
“Fuck you,” was all that Ashlee could say before hanging up with her brother and forcing herself to keep the tears that were threatening to spill over back.
Down at the end of the street a bunch of prospects were crossing the street, one that Ashlee couldn’t recognize from across the parking lot and in the dark. Chris Lee was one of them and after asking them to sign Nicole realized that Lee was one of them. “ASHLEE!” Nicole screamed in his face.
Now confused Chris signed for Nicole before crossing the street the rest of the way and finally making it to the Marriott. His expression had changed, of course he was upset about the loss but that’s not why his face now held a frown. He had walked out of the arena talking and laughing with the other guys, yeah they had lost but he had hoped that maybe she had stayed for autographs. He had hoped that he could finally learn the name of the girl in the blue jersey. When he didn’t see her and when she wasn’t with the people he had seen her with at training camp and down at the glass his smile was replaced with a frown.
Arriving at the Marriott he sat down on his bed and it finally sunk in, something that he should have realized at training camp the first time he saw her, he had absolutely no chance with her. He decided to get changed, he needed something to take his mind off of her, he was going to go out with the rookies.
Ashlee decided to go down to talk to her friends, Hannah wanted to stay up at the lot so Ashlee went down a lone. “I’m so sorry Ash,” Nicole said as she approached. “I screamed in his face.” This caused Ashlee to smile, it was only a half smile but it was better than nothing.
Chris changed into jeans and a t-shirt and soon was making his way across the street with Alex Goligoski and Tim Wallace. As they waited for the light to change Tim and Alex decided to cross in the middle of the street, Chris on the other hand went to the cross walk and waited for a green light. “Don’t get hit boys, we need you.” Geralyn said loud enough for the players to hear and they laughed in return. The guys had made it to the parking lot before the light turned green and Chris started across the street. He saw the group still standing on the island and noticed that they had a new member, she was wearing a blue jersey. A slight smile came to his face, ‘It’s probably not her,’ he said to himself.
Ashlee could feel her face getting hot and turned to her left to see none other than Chris Lee. She ripped the sharpie out of Chuck’s hand and as casually as possible she walked up to the man who was a foot taller than her. “Um Mr. Lee could you sign my hat for me?” Mr. Lee, what was she saying? She was always really calm around hockey players, even the ones she liked. She had asked Eric Godard is she could call him Big Ric during the playoffs, why was she freaking out now? Just two days before she had been denying that she even had the slightest feelings for the man.
“Of course, please call me Chris,” he took the sharpie from her hand and smiled, it wasn’t everyday that a fan recognized him.
“Thank you Chris, oh could I have a hug?” She asked shyly.
Just then it hit him, this was the girl that he had been wanting to see all night. “Of course, you’re that girl from training camp, aren’t you?”
Now Ashlee was really nervous, she could tell that her face was turning an even deeper shade of red, and she fought to find her voice, “I am, my name’s Ashlee,” she smiled.
“I didn’t think that I would get to meet you, I’m glad that I came back out here.” Ashlee and Chris continued to talk and Ashlee shot her friends a glare to tell them to give them some space. They took the hint and moved up the street away from the two ‘love birds’. “So um,” he said nervously. “Are you busy?”
“Um I could tell my parents that I’m staying at a friend’s or something if you wanna hang out or do something,” she smiled, she could tell that she was blushing, more than when her phone number was up on the glass inside the arena.
“Wait, first of all how old are you?” He was now the nervous one, all he could think about was that he could have been hitting on a minor, that would definitely put him right back into misery and if the rest of the guys got a hold of it his life would be hell.
“I’m eighteen,” she smiled.
Chris did too, he was definitely relieved, “So what would you want to do?”
Ashlee had thought so much about meeting him and how she would have done anything to get his autograph. She had already gotten that and accomplishing that was quite easy. She had joked around with Jesse and Nicole about how if she was given the chance she would go back to his hotel room and let him have his way with her, but she was only joking. “Well you never gave me that hug.”
“Sorry about that I got kind of, sidetracked.” Chris brought his arms around her and Ashlee hers around him. They had both expected the hug to be weak, after all this was the first that they had ever met each other. To their surprise it was one of the best hugs that either of them had ever received, everything just felt right. “Wow you give really good hugs,” he said when they finally left go of each other after about thirty seconds.
“You too,” she smiled. “We could uh go somewhere to get to know each other.” It had sounded so much better in her head but she had to say something.
“Sure, I was going to go with the rookies but they can have fun without me.”
Ashlee couldn’t believe that this was happening, twenty minutes ago she was ready to push someone in front of car and now she was on her way to the Marriott with Chris Lee, the man who she now had very strong feelings for. Chris felt the exact same way that she did, he was about to go ‘party’ with the rookies to take his mind off this girl but now he was leading her back to his hotel room, to… well he didn’t know what they were going to do. He was just glad that he had finally gotten to talk to her, gotten to know her name, she was no longer the beautiful girl in the blue Godard jersey she was now Ashlee.
As she crossed the street with Chris she turned back to her friends and waved. She pulled her phone from her pocket sending a text to her parents that was a complete lie, she needed to tell them something since she wouldn’t be coming home that night and her brother would. Her dad was pretty easygoing but telling him that she was going back to a professional hockey player’s hotel room would not go over well.
All of Ashlee’s friends stood on the island smiling and laughing about what had just happened. One minute she was ready to kill them all for getting someone’s autograph when she didn’t and then next she was happier than she had been since she watched her team parade through downtown with the precious Stanley Cup.
“What am I supposed to tell my mom when I walk in the house without her?” Chuck asked when his sister had made it all the way over to the Marriott.
“I’m pretty sure that she’s got that figured out,” Hannah said with a laugh.
“She would know since she is her other half,” Jesse added. “I’m such a bad big brother.”
Upon arriving that the Marriott Chris held the door for Ashlee and led her to the elevators and then to his room. It was a normal hotel room, but it felt good to be here with him Ashlee thought. She sat down on the edge of the bed in hopes that she didn’t make things awkward. Chris who had the same hopes sat down in the chair across from her and looked into her eyes, they were such a beautiful blue. “So Ashlee, tell me about yourself.”
Ashlee smiled and began to tell Chris about herself, never once breaking eye contact. Now that she was within a few feet of him and there wasn’t a pane of glass separating them she saw just how pretty his eyes really were. They were hazel and a beautiful hazel at that. How could she have denied that she had feelings for this guy, she had really strong feelings for him. She told him all of the important things that she could think of about herself. What she really wanted was to know about him. “So Chris tell me about you.”
He broke eye contact for the first time since they arrived in the room when he looked her up and down, she was still wearing the jersey. “Before I tell you about me, I’m sure you’re not comfortable in that jersey.”
“Oh I completely forgot about it,” she pulled it over her head and placed it on the bed behind her.
Chris smiled and began to tell her about himself when he felt the need to be near her, it was like gravity was pulling them together and before he stood to sit down next to her on the bed he stopped where he was going with his story about making it to the AHL and asked, “Would it be okay if I sat over there with you?”
Ashlee smiled, she thought that he would never ask. “Of course, you could have just come over here.”
He moved over next to her but not too close, he really liked her but didn’t want to get too close, what happened if he got sent down to Wilkes-Barre. He pushed these thoughts from his head and continued to tell the beautiful girl next to him about himself. With each thing that he said her smile grew but soon she began to show just how tired she was from her long day of babysitting. She began to move closer to him and eventually rested her head on his shoulder, still listening intently to every word he said.
He looked over at one point to see her struggling to keep her eyes open. “Do you want me to stop talking, you can go to bed.” Ashlee sat up, was about to say no but when she realized just how tired she was she said yes. “Let me get you something to change into and you can get some sleep,” he smiled and walked over to his suitcase and pulled out a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. “Here you go.”
Ashlee smiled and thanked him before going into the bathroom to change. The t-shirt was plain and black but it was soft and when she pulled it over her head she was surrounded by his scent. She had learned to like it in the short hour that she had spent with him and was glad now that she had it to herself. After all she was pretty sure that they would be sleeping in separate beds, she was okay with that and didn’t expect anything different but she had become really close to him in the time that they had spent together and if he didn’t object she certainly wouldn’t either.
She walked back into the ‘bedroom’ where she found Chris sitting on the bed in just his boxers, she was taken aback a bit. She had seen him in full hockey gear in even in a t-shirt but neither did him justice. She could definitely get used to this. “So I was thinking me on this bed and you on that one,” he gestured to the bed that he wasn’t sitting on.
“Oh okay,” Ashlee said with more emotion than she had intended to.
He could see in her eyes that she was upset. “Or if you want you can join me on this bed,” he smiled. A smiled can to her face as well and he slid back onto the bed and patted the spot next to him so that she would sit down. She crawled into bed next to him and put her head on her pillow looking up at the ceiling, wanting to be closer to him but not wanting to push anything.
“Ashlee,” Chris said, almost in a whisper. She looked over to him. “You can move closer if you want, I like being close to you.” Ashlee smiled and happily moved closer to him. He wrapped his arm around him and had one more thing to say before they both feel asleep. “Could you do me a favor?”
“Anything Chris,” she said sleepily.
“Kiss me?” He said this reluctantly, he didn’t know if anything really meant anything. Ashlee didn’t say anything but looked him in the eye for a few seconds, those beautiful eyes, before pressing her lips to his. There was definitely something behind this kiss. Yes they were both extremely tired after a long day of work but there was emotion behind this kiss. Both Ashlee and Chris’ eyes were closed and they were both more than happy that things had worked out between them, at least thus far. It seemed like the kiss had lasted longer than it actually had, only a few seconds, and when they pulled away both of their faces held wide, yet sleepy smiles.
Ashlee lay back down, this time her head resting on Chris’ chest and he didn’t object. His arm was around her and he tightened his grip to be like a hug, only the second hug they had shared since they had met. “Goodnight Ashlee,” Chris smiled, his eyes closing as he said this.
“Goodnight Chris,” this was the last thing that Chris heard before he fell asleep. Ashlee did say one more thing but only after Chris’ breathing had evened and she was sure that he was asleep. “I’m pretty sure that I just might love you.” Or at least she thought he was asleep.
“Ashlee,” she heard just before her eyes closed all the way.
“You probably won’t remember this in the morning, but I’m pretty sure that I might love you too.”