Saturday, August 20, 2011

chapter three

What in the name of fuck am I doing?

I almost tell the cab to keep going.  He’s merging toward the curb and I want to shout that it’s not here, I’m not getting out, he can take me right home thank you very much here’s an extra twenty dollars.  I could exit on the traffic side and hopefully be run down by a passing car.  But now I’m taking change and telling the driver to have a nice day.  What the hell?

Over my head a green sign creaks in the wind: Gingerman Tavern.  The place is small but full - there’s a baseball game in an hour.  I look down at my bright blue Cubs shirt and think that at least it fits me nicely.  And I can hide under my cap all day.  Pushing my way inside, I look like everyone else in the place.

People are four deep at the bar, shouting orders.  Other crowd around standing tables or loiter in between, constantly moving with people passing through.  I join the flow and let it pull me along so that I cannot change me mind.  Past some dilapidated pool tables - somehow I know he’ll be at the back - and it’s to late to turn and run.

I also know he’ll be early.  Because he doesn’t really expect me to show up at all but he’s careful and hopeful and those are just two more things about him I am not equipped to handle.  I don’t know why I’m here.  I owed it to him - he was beyond nice last night while I made a fool of myself.  But to come today is just to prolong the embarrassment.  I cannot go out with him; I do not want to go out with him.  Yet over the shoulder of the guy in front of me, I see a two-seater table occupied by a single white cubs jersey in the farthest possible corner of the bar.  I break through; he lifts his head, that smile lights up his face.  And here I am, out with Patrick fucking Kane.

“Kristen!” he stands, reminding me that he’s quite bigger than expected.  That’s last season’s baseball jersey too, and fits too nicely over his newly muscular frame.  Khaki cargo shorts hang past his knees and he wears beat up flip-flops.  His blue Cubs hat is pulled down almost as low as mine, but his smile is twice the size.

“Hi,” I manage while my brain goes into self-destruct mode.  Patrick pulls out the other stool for me, then quickly scrambles back to his seat.  With his back facing the crowd, he passes me a drink menu.

“I ordered a beer, sorry.  I, uh...,” he examines my face for the right way to admit this, “I wasn’t sure you would actually come.”

I wasn’t going to.  This morning I paced the house.  Then I went running, grocery shopping, cleaned, waxed, showered, read a book, balanced my bank account, learned Greek and perfected my lemon meringue - and it was still only two in the afternoon.  But I couldn’t meet him.  It would be a date, a real date with the biggest womanizer in the Windy City, the very thing I ran screaming from last night.

Yet here I am.

“I am so sorry about last night.”  That is the truth.

“It’s okay, don’t worry about it.  I didn’t know they were surprising you either.”

The waitress arrives with his beer.  Her megawatt smile all but begs him to look down her shirt, which I’m sure she’s unbuttoned an extra level just before coming over.  As he takes the bottle, she glares at me.

“Can I help you?”  she asks like she would rather cut out my kidneys with a dull knife.

“Blue Moon, please.”

When she’s gone, Patrick scoots his chair an inch closer to mine.  He keeps his face down instinctively and his shoulders up, hiding from the room.

“Did I keep you waiting?” I ask, knowing that he waited anyway.

“No, no.  It’s just... not the simplest place for me, a sports bar in Chicago.”

We both smile, thinking the same montage of thoughts - the Stanley Cup winning goal, the celebration, the parade.  And a few lowlights - cab drivers, shirts off, mullets.  I try not to shudder.

“You picked it,” I remind him.

He tips his beer toward me.  “You showed up.”

The best our waitress can do is a murderous stare as she sets my glass on the table.  It’s ice cold, delicious and gives me something to do with my hands.  I feel better already.  “So, are we going to the game?”

“Yup,” he nods.  “Do you like baseball?”

I point to my shirt.  “Didn’t buy this just for today.”

Of course I’m pointing at my boobs, which I realize only when he takes my permission to admire them.  That’s the Patrick Kane I think I know.  I stammer something else about being a baseball fan and turn my shoulder to block his view.  But real-life Patrick has the grace to laugh.

“Jonathan Toews brought a girl to game a few weeks ago.  Ended up on the broadcast and all over the news.”  One corner of his mouth curls into a sly grin.  He’s testing me.  “She had to delete her Facebook for all the people stealing her photos.”

I know about this, I checked out the girl.  Not impressed.  Well, I was impressed, actually.  And I tell him so.  “To be honest, Pat, she looked like the kind of girl you’d bring to a game.  And I thought Jon would bring someone more....”

“Like you?” he offers.

I nod.  That’s exactly what I was thinking.  The unspectacular girl-next-door type, not the Playmate-next-month.  Pat nods like he expected nothing less.

“Guess I’m full of surprises.  And we’re sitting in a suite, so don’t worry about being seen with me.”

A swallow of beer catches in my throat.  I was only kidding, I was... I didn’t mean it.  That girl may have removed her Facebook but she was at a Cubs game with Jonathan Toews!  Short of coming off the bench and hitting a grand slam, that was the best possible thing you could do at Wrigley.  I hadn’t meant that I would be embarrassed by the same.

“I’m not... I didn’t mean that.  I’m not embarassed.”

Truthfully, I hadn’t thought of it.  Maybe I should have, but I was worried about being with Pat not about being seen.  Those blue eyes and the heat pouring off his body worry me far more than a TV camera, but of course I will have to contend with both.

“Good,” he smiles, “because we’re not really in a suite.”

People head out and the place empties just enough for the waitress to start hovering.  If I so much as go to the bathroom she’ll be in Patrick’s lap.  He knows without acknowledging and keeps his attention focused on me.  I’m so aware it’s like a movie - I see her point of view and his, alternating to tell pieces of the story.  My minds drifts while he’s talking and mid-sentence he puts a hand on my arm.

“What did I just say?”

I freeze.  I wasn’t listening.  Behind him, the waitress was stabbing a rag with a fork like it’s my face.  It’s distracting, and she’s still watching me.

“I, I’m sorry.  The waitress is trying to kill me with her mind.”

Patrick doesn’t turn.  He doesn’t flinch.  He just slides his hand up under the sleeve of my shirt.  “Ignore her.”

“She’s putting a curse on me, I feel it.”  But the real sensation is from his hot palm and long fingers wrapped around my bicep.


Suddenly he’s standing over me, just having put his feet on the floor and leaned up from the stool.  He’s so close.  As awkwardly as required for two people wearing baseball hats, Patrick leans down and brushes his lips against my cheek.  It’s not a kiss.  It’s nothing - the greeting you give your grandmother - but it bolts me to the floor.  I want to punch him, or scream, or for that split first second I want to kiss him back.  Then Patrick pulls away and meets my stare.  He can surely see the fear in my eyes, feel it in the tension beneath his hand.  But he just takes out his wallet.

“Let’s get out of here.”

Inside, true to his word, we are not sitting in a suite.  We are in the third fucking row at the end of the home dugout on the first base line.  We are on the field.  And I am terrified.

“Did you bring your glove?” he teases as we take our seats.

“You’d better have some reflexes, because I am hitting the deck on every foul ball!”

The people around us recognize him, start saying hello.  We’ll be on the damned jumbotron by the first inning.  Patrick just smiles and leans toward me.

“I won’t let anything happen to you.”

It’s as if he’s done this before - brought a skittish girl on a first date to a baseball game.  Something about the lights and the crowd and the game going on right in our laps is hypnotic.  It overwhelms my senses and forces me to forget everything I worry about in a date - getting hurt, looking stupid, feeling discarded.  All I can do it watch and gasp and cheer.  Patrick does the same right alongside me like he’s just having fun.  Little touches - he bumps my shoulder, presses his bare knee to mine - are all that connect us.

I’m looking toward the outfield when he says, “Smile.”

My head snaps up - and there we are for the world to see on the scoreboard screen.  It takes a second, then the crowd goes crazy.  Patrick lifts his hand in a little wave.  Even I’m watching his boyish, almost embarrassed smile.  I hardly notice myself.  He’s tan and healthy and a hero to these people.  Until now I never thought he was beautiful.

“You should wave,” he says, elbowing me gently.  

I snap into reality and give a little flutter of my hand.  The crowd roars again.  The noise is so sudden I jerk back and cover my face.  Thirty thousand people laugh.  Patrick laughs too, and bumps me again.  Finally a batter steps up to the plate.

“Oh my God.” I find myself turning toward him, burying my face in his shoulder.  He can’t help but put his arm around me, and I’ve all but asked.  It’s the literal definition of hot and heavy where it weighs across my back.  The sound of the stadium seems deafening, or maybe it’s the blood rushing in my ears.

“You are beautiful,” he whispers.  It can’t be a whisper, it must be a shout, but his mouth is close to my ear and the words are meant only for me.  

It’s like being knocked off a horse in the joust - impact, fall, impact.  Landing flat on my back would feel no different.  The wind escapes my lungs and I freeze just in case anything important is broken.  He must feel it under his arm because he lifts it a little and turns me to face him.  

We are surrounded by tens of thousands of people.  Patrick got a bigger cheer than any single player on the field tonight.  Surely everyone in our section is watching as I slowly bring my face up to meet his gaze.

He’s going to kiss me.  Obviously. I am shaking in my seat, exposed to everyone and I didn’t even want to come on this date.  Surely this is when Patrick Kane strikes like a snake and stuns his victims.  If he’s ever had to work this hard before.  I don’t know what to think of the man before me, the man who sat next to me last night.  I cannot reconcile this careful stranger with my image of the Blackhawk who scored the Cup-winning goal.  Even that was so sneaky no one saw it until it was over the goal line.  That’s how Patrick Kane operates: you’ve lost before you know the game is on.

He’s going to kiss me in front of all these people, and I’m going to let him.

“You are beautiful,” his words echo in my ears.  


  1. Ahhhh, being a Wings fan I despise Patrick Kane, but I want more more more!

  2. Adorable! What a cute story! Loving seeing a guy normally seen as careless and reckless come off as careful and understanding. Well done!

    You are a very talented writer. Can't wait for the next chapter!

  4. I can't believe he took her somewhere that public on a first date! Totally adorable though :)

  5. aww (: I love Patrick stories, and going to a baseball game/hockey game is my dream date. (:

  6. "Then I went running, grocery shopping, cleaned, waxed, showered, read a book, balanced my bank account, learned Greek and perfected my lemon meringue - and it was still only two in the afternoon." She blatantly wasn't waxing her car. Love it, I'm disgustingly addicted