December 22, 2009
Sarah stood in the kitchen, mixing bowl in hand, her arm furiously whipping around a cookie mixture of ingredients to make the perfect batter. She heard a movement upstairs and knew that her boyfriend was finally awake. It’s gotta be the smell. He seems to always know when I’m baking.
She smiled to herself and then looked down, noticing that the lumps were finally all gone and the dough was finally perfect. She had planned on doing this later, but after last night… well, she was sure he was in need of something yummy and unhealthy. Jordan had come out of the locker room last night after the game and looked… horrible. There was just no other word for it.
He’d been axed down like a tree and she’d had tears in her eyes when he went down, and had wanted nothing more than to jump onto the ice and help him. Vero and Mel had kept her from that, and then had held her hands as she watched the love of her life be helped off the ice by his teammate and trainer. At least he’d made it off that way, she thought to herself as she pulled a cookie sheet out and checked the temperature of the oven. It could’ve been worse. There could’ve been a backboard involved.
Once they’d gotten back to his place after the game, she’d tried anything and everything to make him feel better. He was so anxious to get back to Thunder Bay. And now, any photo with his family would be ‘ruined’ he said. He had laughed, however, when she promised to punch Marc and Eric so they too would have black eyes.
Laughing to herself, Sarah set down the bowl and picked up the cooking spray to coat all the cookie sheets before grabbing a spoon and shoving it into the dough. Then, dollop by dollop, she dropped it onto the sheets, until all four trays were covered. Opening both oven doors she slid each one in and set the timer. Five minutes, turn around, five minutes, pull ‘em out. That’s what Linda had said.
She’d called Jordan’s mom this morning to see what she’d always done for the boys when they’d come home hurt. Linda had laughed and said that the first couple times she worried over them like crazy… after the tenth incident though… she’d just started baking them cookies. Jordan’s favorite was plain sugar cookies and Linda had happily read the recipe she always used to her son’s girlfriend, ingredient by ingredient.
The two had talked for a few more moments before hanging up and Sarah thought once more how lucky she was that Jordan’s family liked her. Coming from a single parent, only-child house, and being accepted in the massive Staal clan… it was a wonderful feeling. The timer dinged and Sarah grabbed a potholder, flipped the trays, and put five minutes on the clock again.
Then she turned and started to clean her workspace. The kitchen was where she felt most comfortable, so it was always spotless, even if she refused to clean the rest of his place. He was an adult; he could take care of himself. It wasn’t like she lived there or anything. She might as well, with all the time she spent at her own place… oops, let’s not dwell on that. If he wanted you to move in, he’d ask you.
Shaking off her thoughts she piled everything beside the sink to rinse, pulled open the door to the dishwasher, and started piling things inside. She got to the final objet, the bowl. It still had a little dough left, and it would be a shame to waste it right? Ding. She set the bowl down and went to turn the oven off. Sarah took a quick moment to set up the cooling racks before grabbing the potholder and taking the trays out. Spatula in hand, she tested he first cookie, it slid right onto the utensil and she all but squealed in delight. Please taste good.
Cookie after cookie was placed on the racks and the trays were slipped into the dishwasher. She loved that he had such huge appliances. One load and everything would be done. Turning, her eyes fell on the bowl again and she grabbed the spoonful of dough that had been left. She shoved it in her mouth, turned around, and came face-to-face with Jordan who was standing in the doorway of the kitchen with his hands on his hips and a stern look on his face; wearing nothing more than a pair of Reebok shorts.
“Goo’ mor’in sweepy-hea’!” Ok, talking with mouth full of cookie dough, not a good idea.
He burst out laughing, which must’ve hurt his nose, because he stopped almost immediately and put a hand up to his face. Sarah was able to swallow the lump of dough and rushed over to his side.
“Are you ok? Do you need anything? Ice? A towel? How about pain pills?”
“Lord, you talk fast in the morning.” He turned and looked down at her, a small smile appearing on his banged-up face once again. “What are you doing anyway? It smells like my mom’s house in here.”
“I just thought that… maybe you’d like a little… well, a treat.”
“Am I a dog?”
‘Good grief no! I just wanted to do something for you, and when I called your mom she…”
“She told you about the cookies?”
“Yeah. I hope you don’t mind. I know it was her thing, but I didn’t know how to help.”
“Just being here last night helped. And this is very thoughtful.” He kissed her forehead before sauntering over and snatching a cookie from the closest rack. Taking a huge bite, he chewed for a moment and then whirled around to face her.
“Oh god, are they horrible?!”
“No, they’re fucking delicious! Mom gave away her secret didn’t she?”
“The recipe and then how to cook them… she’s never told that information to anyone! Come here.”
Sarah walked over and stopped in front of him. He tilted her chin up with his hand and leaned down to capture her mouth in a kiss, he tasted liked vanilla. He tastes like cookies, but then he’s always been sweet.
She tastes like Christmas morning.
That was the thought that passed through Jordan’s head as his tongue ran over her lower lip before it swooped inside her mouth. His fingers were tracing circles over her shoulder blades and he growled against her lips when her hands fisted in his hair and yanked him down to try and get him closer. She must’ve taken his noise as a grunt of pain because she released him instantly.
“Oh Jordan, I’m sorry. Did I hurt you? Here, let’s grab some cookies, I’ll get you some milk, and we can go sit on the couch.”
“I’m comfortable right here thank you very much.”
“But I thou--”
He silenced her with another kiss. She always talked too damn much. Not that he actually minded. He loved her incessant rambling. Even when it was the first thing he dealt with in the morning. Pulling her against him once again he spun them around so that she was pressed against the counter. Then he covered her body. She still wasn’t close enough. Grabbing her hips he made an up motion and she jumped when he lifted. Their mouths stayed attached while he placed her on the counter. Her knees spread and he stepped between them.
Jordan groaned as he felt her legs wrap around him. They were pressed together intimately, so close that even a sheet of paper wouldn’t be able to get between them. He tugged on her ponytail so her head would tilt back. Then his lips skimmed across her chin and cheek before sliding down her neck. Her shirt, no, his shirt was in the way. Thank god she chose to sleep in one of the workout shirts. Pulling back slightly he looked down to see if it was one of the shirts with the rip in the front. It was. Score.
He grabbed the two cut ends at the top and pulled, hearing the rip of material and Sarah’s gasp at his act. His eyes met hers and he saw the desire pool in her eyes. He dipped his head and took the tip of one breast in his mouth, sucking greedily. She moaned and her hands fisted in his hair again.
It should be illegal for something to feel this good.
Jordan was now tugging her nipple between his teeth and Sarah released his hair, her hands slamming back onto the cupboard door behind her head as he took his time with her. He decided to double her torture and moved to the opposite breast, his tongue licking and his teeth finding the hardened nub. She could do nothing but moan his name as he continued his sweet torment of her breasts. Her hips arched against him, feeling his hard length through the two pair of shorts that was now the only seperation between them.
His mouth was now trailing down her torso, stopping to nibble on her skin at the waistband of her shorts. She knew what he would do next, knew how much she would enjoy the movements of his tongue against her slick folds, but she was too hot, she wanted him too badly. His hands were attempting to pull her shorts down. She put her hands on either side of her on the counter and lifted up enough for him to manage his task. But when he bent forward she touched his shoulder. When he looked up she gave him a saucy smile and shook her head no, beckoning him to come back for another kiss.
“But I want--”
“I know what you wanted to do and normally you know I’d let you but… but I need you, inside me, right now.”
She giggled as he fumbled with his own shorts, and then they fell to the floor and he was back between her legs, his hands on her hips once more. Jordan pulled her gently until she was right on the edge of the counter. She stared down and watched as he took hold of himself, placing the head against her moist folds. He started to push inside and she glanced at his face. He was staring back at her, a look of love and desire in his eyes. One hand went to each leg and as he thrust into her he spread her wide.
They both groaned, and as he felt his pelvis rock against Sarah’s he thought for sure he had died and gone to heaven. His face hurt, his muscles ached from the rough game, and he knew that he couldn’t move if he wanted to. Then she arched her hips against him and he felt a burst of energy hit him. She had that effect on him.
Jordan pulled almost all the way out before plunging deep again. He loved the noises she made for him; the moans and little gasps when he hit that sweet spot inside. Setting a languid pace, he let go of one leg to bring his hand between them and rub his thumb in circles over her clit. Sarah moaned his name again and he watched her nipples tighten as she got close to her climax. He stopped his motions and wrapped her in his arms. Her eyes opened wide and he smiled down at her as he picked her up and carried her, still buried inside her depths, into the living room. He sat down on the couch and listened to her groan as the movements bounced her up and down.
Their new position forced her to take control of the pace, and he reached up to release her hair. It spilled down her back, some of the shorter strands falling around her face. His right hand came up to cup her cheek, then curled around her head, his fingers entwined in her silky, smooth hair. Sarah had started moving again, and the only sounds he heard were their bodies slamming together and the squeak of the couch spring.
Jordan was watching Sarah’s face, smiling as she bit her lip to keep from crying out when he lifted his hips to meet her downward thrust. He waited, and then a couple minutes later repeated the action. She couldn’t hold in the sounds that time.
“Yes!” She had leaned down, her forehead against his and her hands on the back of the couch.
“You like that baby?”
“And what about this?” he asked as his free hand found her clit again. She tried to jerk back but he kept her in their current position with the hand still in her hair. “Do you like that too?”
“Oh… oh god… faster please!”
“You’re in charge here Sarah. Tell me what you want baby.”
“No, move your hand faster… please!”
Jordan did as she requested, his thumb flicking fast over that little nub. Sarah was gasping every time her body bounced on his now; he wanted to watch her fall apart before he came. He loved the look of wonder that always came across her face right before she came in his arms. She was repeating his name breathlessly now, so close she was to finding her completion. He pumped his hips in the air, her body slamming into his with each thrust. He felt her tighten around him.
“Look at me Sarah.”
She opened her eyes and saw the smile and love in his eyes. Then he flicked her clit once more and she screamed his name as she convulsed around him. His hand moved from its spot between them and he cupped her face, kissing the scream from her. With a couple more thrusts he froze underneath her and she felt his release inside of her.
Sarah collapsed against him, careful not to bump his bruised face. She snuggled into the crook of his neck and sighed, her heart full to bursting with her love for this man. She murmured her words of love and he whispered his own back in her ear. She smiled and snuggled against his body, her skin finally cooling off and goose bumps prickling her arms. He seemed to notice right away and grabbed the blanket off the back of the couch and opened it, letting it fall over her shoulders and cover them both.
She knew they should move, should at least untangle themselves from one another, but her body felt like lead. She couldn’t have moved an inch, not even if the house was on fire. He was running a hand up and down her back in a soothing motion and she could feel herself slipping into a contented sleep.
“We should go clean up and shower.” She knew he knew that, but she needed some encouragement to actually get off him.
“Yeah, we should. And you’re pretty heavy.” Sarah lifted up and prepared to yell at him when she saw the smile on his face.
“I should flick you in the nose.”
“Oh god, anything but that. Seriously! Punch me in the gut, kick me in the balls even, but don’t touch my face in anything other than a tender caress.” The fact that he had said ‘tender caress’ made her laugh. He joined in and then gave her a sound kiss. She could feel him stir inside her and groaned as her body instinctively moved against him.
“You’re very beautiful. I guess I can’t help myself.” Sarah just laughed and slowly pulled out of his embrace and off his body.
“C’mon stud. Let’s go take a shower. I’ll see what I can do about JJ there.” She knew he found her nickname for his dick amusing. But really… what other than Jordan Jr. would work? They both made it up the stairs and into the bathroom without attacking each other. In the shower was a different matter.
Jordan stared at the sleeping woman in his arms. They had enjoyed their shower time immensely. And since Coach had given him the day off from practice, they spent the day being lazy. Sarah was on Christmas Break from teaching History at one of the middle schools, so she had nowhere really important to go either. After the shower, she’d had him lay in bed and had treated him to a back massage that relaxed him for half a second before he just wanted to feel himself lost deep inside her again.
And so they spent the day in bed, leaving its warmth and comfort only to go downstairs in search of food. It wasn’t late, barely even six o’clock but Sarah had completely passed out on him after that last round. Not that he could blame her. He’d done his best to wear her out completely. As he stared down at her, her lips parted slightly and gentle snores coming out of her mouth. A lock of hair fell onto her face and he watched her nose twitch a couple times. And as much as he would love to see those big brown eyes all sleepy and content, Jordan thought she deserved her rest. So he brought a hand up and brushed the hair aside, smiling when her face turned into his hand.
She hadn’t been what he was looking for. She’d literally fallen into his arms one day. He’d lost the shootout at practice. Coach hadn’t been there long, but he’d made the drill kind of fun. They were flying out later, so he found himself at Qdoba ordering almost thirty burritos. And the person ordering in front of him had placed her purse on the ground while she paid, laughing with the cashier. Then, forgetting what she’d done, the woman had turned and tripped over her own purse. Good reflexes, and the fact that her laugh had him staring, had given him the chance to play ‘knight-in-shining-armor’ and catch her in mid-air.
Her hand had grabbed his arm and the jolt of awareness made him nearly drop her. They both stared at each other until the clerk had asked for her signature. He released her, righted her, and watched as she picked up her purse and turned, to-go bag in hand, and walked toward the door. He’d wanted to go after her, but if he didn’t pick up the team’s order he’d be in deep shit. Ten minutes later he was walking out the door. Turning the corner he’d literally bumped into his mystery girl again. She’d been debating whether or not to go back and try and get his number. They’d exchanged names, phone numbers, and when they parted ways she’d grabbed his shirt and kissed him!
He’d been hooked ever since. He loved her. The first time he’d told her she hadn’t believed him. The second time, she’d believed him then. It had been after Game 4 in the Finals last season. Stress had been eating at him, and fear that a repeat of the 2008 Finals was on his mind. After practice he’d come to his apartment and found her cooking his favorite pregame meal. They ate together, something completely different than normal, and then she slept in his arms. That night, she’d worn his jersey for the first time, and he’d scored that short-handed goal. After the game he’d picked her up, twirled her in his arms, put her back down and told her he loved her. His buddies had laughed at his enthusiasm, the other girlfriends had squealed in delight, and Sarah… Sarah had looked at him, gifted him with a giant smile and that laugh that he had first noticed and promptly tackled him to the ground with a hug and kiss.
From then on, she always cooked before, took his nap, and wore his name. And now, now she was doing things to make him feel better. She had talked to his mom. And his mom had given away her treasured secret to make he and his brothers feel better. Not that he needed it, but the cookie thing, that was his mom’s way of approving, he knew it was, which was good because Jordan already had the ring picked out. It was already sitting under the Christmas tree at his parent’s house. He’d gone and wrapped it in a giant box, filled the whole damn thing with those little Styrofoam peanuts. She was gonna kill him when she finally found the little box. It was going to be great!
God I can’t wait to get home! This Christmas is going to be the best!
December 24, 2009
Sarah sat on the plane with her eyes closed. Her gift for Jordan had been shipped to his parent’s house and Linda had called yesterday to say that she’d wrapped it for her already. The woman was seriously the nicest mom on Earth! She’d taken the first puck, jersey and stick that he’d gotten for his first NHL game, and she’d had them set in a frame, almost like a giant shadow box. He’d just had the stuff sitting in a box. It had taken some time but she’d had everyone from both teams that night sign all around it. She’d threatened a couple of the guys with bodily harm if they wrote anything nasty or perverted. I hope he likes it.
She must’ve been frowning or something because she felt lips press to her temple, and Jordan told her to smile because it was Christmas Eve. She couldn’t help but oblige him, opening her eyes and to see him smile back at her.
The plane landed and they grabbed the rental to drive out to the house. When they got there, it seemed like utter chaos to her. Sarah wasn’t used to big family gatherings, and definitely not a Staal family gathering! The minute they entered the door there was talking and laughing, rough-housing between the brothers, Tanya foisted the new baby onto her… pure insanity. Jordan had walked off with Eric and Sarah stood there in the living room unsure of what to do. Henry came down the stairs and found her there, the sleeping baby in her arms and looking around for help. He laughed and led her over to the couch. She plopped down gently and stared at the babe in her arms. He was precious.
Sarah glanced around and noticed that there was absolutely no one else in the room. It was peaceful even. And then he started to cry. Oh god, this is why I don’t do babies. She started to rock him, but it didn’t seem to quiet him down. Not knowing where his mom had run off to, or where in the house people had gone, she got back up and slowly rocked him while leaning back and forth. She had heard about this funny version of the 12 Days of Christmas that centered around the Pens and she started to sing it to him. She stumbled a couple times, trying to remember the right words. Those fans can come up with the craziest things, but it’s working! The baby was once again sleeping peacefully in her arms by the time she got to the twelfth day.
Jordan and Eric were standing in the kitchen discussing hockey, of course, when Marc came into the room.
“Dude, your girlfriend is singing the baby back to sleep. And you gotta hear what she’s singing to him!”
They all filed down the hall to the living room, grabbing Tanya and their mom along the way. Their dad was already there, leaning against the wall with his eyes closed, his fingers tapping the beat on his arms. No one said anything. They all just stood in the doorway to listen. Jared was even there, trying desperately not to laugh. It was honestly the most amusing version of the song that Jordan had ever heard. And he was a part of it!
Eric leaned over to whisper in his ear.
“She’s trying to corrupt my son, trying to turn him into a Pens fan isn’t she?” Tanya elbowed him in the ribs while Jordan just smiled and shrugged his shoulders. The twelve days were done and he watched as Sarah smiled down at his sleeping nephew. She’s going to be great with our children. That thought should have bothered him. But it didn’t, it just made him smile even wider! He put his arm up to rest against the doorway and watched her. She finally turned around, seeing the entire Staal family doing nothing but watching her. He thought he should go to her. That would be the right thing to do but on the other hand, if she was going to survive his family she was going to have to learn to deal with being embarrassed. So he stood by and saw her cheeks flame and knew she wanted to scream with embarrassment. He watched as his sister-in-law went over to take the baby, and Sarah put her face in her hands.
Eric crossed the room before Jordan could even blink. He didn’t know what he said to her, but she looked up at him and laughed. Her face was still bright red, but she was smiling. That was a good sign. Hopefully Eric wasn’t picking on her too bad. Then she leaned up and whispered something in his ear. Whatever it was must’ve been good because Eric had a look of shock and awe on his face when he turned around.
“Jordan! I just got threatened! What do you plan to do about it?”
“Watch as she follows through her threat, obviously.” He wandered over and slid his arm over her shoulders, feeling content when hers wrapped around his waist. “So what was the threat, exactly?”
“To punch me in the face so you wouldn’t be the only one with bruises in the holiday photos!” Jordan laughed then, looking down at his pint-sized counterpart. Yeah, she’s going to fit in perfectly.
Dinner came and went, along with an after dinner drink and some old Staal family stories about when the boys were younger. Sarah loved them. She didn’t think that she’d ever laughed so hard in her entire life. Jordan hadn’t left her side after The Incident, as she was calling her previous embarrassing karaoke-type moment. She’d taken some good-hearted ribbing from the brothers and had taken it as a sign of acceptance. Tanya had cornered her in the kitchen for an amusing round of 20 Questions, seeing how she felt about Jordan and the family and life in general.
Henry, Jordan’s dad, had been the one to rescue her from that. He was by far the nicest man ever. And with those four hooligans as sons… she was amazed the man could even remember his own name!
As was tradition, everyone was to open one present tonight, and the rest would be done in the morning. Jordan had prepared her for all of this, and she had asked that her presents be the ones that they open tonight. No one had argued with it, and Mama Staal had requested that she open her present from them. Since it was the perfect time, she got up and scrounged around under the tree and the literal mountain of presents beneath to find the presents she’d brought. Henry and Linda’s was a package deal, and the boys all had their own, with Tanya and Parker being included in Eric’s.
Sarah passed them out and sat back to watch them all unwrap their presents. She’d asked Jordan what his family would like, taken the different ideas, and combined them to make one basic base present. Then she’d gone through all his stuff to make each present reflect the person it was centered around. It was time consuming, and annoying when things wouldn’t fit right, but she’d ended up with what she hoped would be something that they all could cherish: a personalized Staal family DVD, starting from when each son was young and going as up-to-date as the past season. Jordan had said that they had all the old family tapes, but that no one had bothered to move them to DVD’s yet. Sarah just took it one step farther.
And she and V had worked together to make a cover, table of contents, the works. Just like regular movies had. Melany had asked some of her students to help as extra credit assignments, and the finished projects were in the hands of the rightful owners. She watched Linda’s eyes fill with tears, and when she looked up, Sarah could see the appreciation in her gaze.
“Does this… does it have everything?”
“Everything that Jordan had at his place has been compiled onto that disc. Including commercials, funny quotes and interviews. You name it, I put it on there.”
Marc chimed in. “So we all got the same thing?”
“No, your parent’s got one with EVERYTHING. Yours is just you. I had Jordan help me with the music that plays. He just didn’t know that he was helping!” She glanced at him.
“Wait,” he said. “That’s why you wanted to know what kind of music they liked.”
“Yes, I couldn’t tell you. Because then you would’ve known what I was doing.”
Linda wanted to watch it right then and there. That was honestly the last thing on earth that Sarah wanted. Not that she didn’t love the fact that her gift went over so well, but she’d done nothing but watch those videos for the past four months! She was a little tired of the Staals and their family videos! Jordan seemed to realize that and reached out to take the tape from his mother’s hands before she could make it to the entertainment center.
“Uh, Mom… I’m guessing that Sarah here has watched the contents of these DVDs so much that she would scream if you put that in the player.”
“Oh no… it wouldn’t be a problem. If you want to watch it, we can watch it. Really… it would be fine.”
Linda laughed. “Oh no dear. I won’t put you through that. I hadn’t even thought of that when I made the request. I have an idea. Why don’t you open your gift! Then you and Tanya come help me in the kitchen and we’ll get the other Staal Family Tradition ready!” Everyone seemed in agreement to that, and Sarah couldn’t hide her excitement, even though she tried to play it off like she was only worked up about the present and not getting the chance to get in on some more Staal women family secrets. The last one had gone over so well.
Henry got up and lifted a big present from behind the tree. It was flat, but quite large. Once it sat it in front of her, Sarah couldn’t decide how to open it carefully. She finally ended up just ripping the paper down the center. After getting all of it out of the way she looked fully at the gift in front of her. It was a frame, with thick wooden sides. It looked to be hand-crafted. And there were three places to put photos, with stained glass covering the rest of the area. It was… beautiful.
“Oh my goodness. This is just exquisite! I… I don’t know what to say!”
Jordan chuckled. “Say you like it.”
“Like it, oh my no… I LOVE it! Where in the world did you ever find this??”
“In the garage,” Henry told her with a smile.
He laughed outright at her perplexed expression. “We made it in the garage. I did the crafting, Linda did the glass.”
Tears pooled in her eyes as she thought about the time and patience it had taken to make this. She couldn’t help it, one fell down her cheek before she could blink them away.
“It’s so beautiful. You just don’t understand. This is perfect. I don’t have a clue what photos could ever possibly go in here though!”
Henry got up and grabbed the frame, taking back to the tree. Linda grabbed her hand and hoisted her up, taking her and Tanya to the kitchen. “Don’t worry dear. I’m sure you’ll think of something,” she said with a motherly smile.
“Dad, you guys made her a frame like Eric and Tanya’s.”
“You’re pretty sure she’ll say yes.”
“Of course she will. Besides, no one makes her boyfriend’s family gifts that are like these,” he said, holding up the DVD, “without caring about that man a lot! So, you just sit back and relax. Tomorrow is going to go over just fine.”
The ladies came back into the living room with mugs of hot cocoa and all the fixings for s’mores. Jared, the youngest of them all, was in charge of getting the movie ready. Jordan saw the confused looks Sarah gave him and he just smiled and patted the seat beside him. Marc took it though. Sarah glared and then smiled at him. She plopped down on the floor, her body nestled between his legs. She was leaning against his leg and staring over at his nephew, making funny faces and blowing him kisses. The little guy was smiling like crazy, and Jordan couldn’t blame him. seeing her smile always had that same effect on him. He leaned forward, his lips pressed against her ear.
“I love you Sarah.”
“I love you Jordan.”
The music started and he watched her eyes light up when she realized what they were going to watch.
“Is this the original Grinch movie? I used to watch this every year with my family!”
Everyone settled in with their mugs and spent the next half an hour watching what had been a Staal family tradition for as long as he could remember. After it was over they took turns roasting marshmallows in the fireplace to make s’mores. The baby was put to bed and everyone sat around just talking and enjoying one another’s company. After a couple hours Jordan noticed Sarah’s eyes drooping a little.
“Let’s get you to bed. You’ve had a pretty interesting day.”
“I don’t want to be a bad guest.”
Before Jordan could correct her, his mom slung an arm around her shoulders and guided her toward the stairs.
“Nonsense. Jordan will show you up to your room. He put both your bags up there already. Don’t you worry. It’s so wonderful to see you up here.” He watched his mom envelope Sarah in a hug and saw the tears in his girlfriend’s eyes. This had been a tough year for her. Her grandpa had passed away in February, her mom in July in a traffic accident, and she just didn’t feel up to seeing her family right now. He couldn’t blame her.
“Thank you all for making me feel so welcome. And I’m glad you liked your gift. I won’t lie, I had a little help on them”
“I can’t believe the amount of thought and time you put into these. I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful to watch! Now, go get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be insane… if you can believe that!” They both laughed and then Jordan stepped in to take her upstairs.
They got ready for bed and as she pulled down the covers of his old bed, Jordan couldn’t help but grab her and lift her in his arms.
“Thank you for coming up here.”
“Thank you for inviting me.”
“I just… I didn’t want you to be any more uncomfortable right now than you needed to be. And I know you never really did big family things, but… they all loved you.”
“And I feel the same way. You have a wonderful family Jordan. If I had a larger family… I’d want them to be just like yours. After this last year…” Her words died off and a tear fell. He ran his thumb over her cheek.
“No crying. Not now. Let’s go to bed. Things will look brighter in the morning. You’ll see.”
“You’re a wonderful boyfriend. You know that right?”
“Of course I am. Now, give me a kiss like a wonderful girlfriend should, and we’ll snuggle all night as we wait to see what Santa brings!”
“You’re such a dork,” she laughed as she grabbed his face for a kiss.
Jordan kept her in his arms as he walked to the light switch. After flicking it down he carried Sarah back to the bed. They both slipped under the blankets and as he lay on his back, he felt her crawl up his body, her body stretching sideways, half over him, her arms coming around his neck. She loved falling asleep on him like this. And he loved holding her as she slept. His last thought before he drifted into a wonderful dream was that he had everything he wanted in his arms right now.
December 25, 2009
She woke up to someone tapping on her forehead. Opening her eyes, Sarah came face to face with Jordan’s older brother Marc. He was lying beside her in Jordan’s bed, his face like an inch from hers. The scream came out so fast that he didn’t have even a second to prepare himself. She grabbed the pillow under her head and swung it around, smacking into the older Staal’s head before he could stop her.
Marc rolled away to avoid another blow and fell off the bed, landing with a satisfying thunk onto the floor. He let out a mumbled curse before the door flew open and the rest of the clan was standing in the doorway. Sarah turned to yell at Jordan, but he was sitting up, a huge grin on his face. She thought about bringing the pillow around to whack him, but then thought of his nose.
“You’re lucky… once that nose heals, watch out! I’ll get you sometime when you least expect it!”
They all started laughing, even Marc who was now sitting on the floor. She looked around the room.
“I’m guessing it’s time to open presents?”
“Yes!” Marc exclaimed. “So you two need to get your lazy bums out of bed! C’mon!”
Ten minutes later everyone was sitting around the tree, and Henry put Marc in charge of dishing out the gifts to their respective recipients. Sarah was amazed at the number of presents that came from under the tree. There seemed to be an endless supply. Jordan had warned her, but she was still shocked.
Everyone waited until they were all passed out before digging into their stashes. She and Jordan both asked that their gifts for one another be saved for last. Marc rolled his eyes but a wad of wrapping paper to the head from Eric told him to shut it.
In less than five minutes everything had been opened and thank you wishes were pouring back and forth. Linda told Jordan to open his gift finally. Sarah knew she had seen what the finished product looked like, and for her to be so excited, she knew that it must’ve turned out perfect!
She leaned back and watched as Jordan ripped the ribbons off, then the paper. When he looked down at the giant shadow box, Sarah couldn’t really gauge his reaction.
“Is this… is this all the stuff from my first game?”
“And are these all the signatures from the guys?”
“Yeah. I tracked everyone who had played that night from both teams and had them sign it.”
“You got everyone?”
“This is AMAZING!”
“I was hoping you’d like it.”
“Like it, babe… I love it! You have no idea! I know exactly where I want to put it already!”
“The long wall of the living room?”
Everyone was smiling and laughing. Sarah was so glad that he liked it as much as he did. She knew he didn’t show a lot of emotion for things like this. Scoring a goal, yeah, he went crazy. Sharing his feelings, not so much. This meant so much to her in itself!
She was brought out of her musings as Jordan got up and then pushed one more present across the floor toward her. It was a big box, at least a three foot cube. And the fact that he’d pushed it and not picked it up had to mean that it was heavy. She grabbed two of the corners to pull it closer and practically fell backwards when it easily came with her.
Sarah lifted an eyebrow at him but Jordan just smiled. He was there in front of her, relaxed on his knees, waiting for her to open his present. She tore into the box and after lifted the flaps, Styrofoam peanuts attacked her. Jordan just smiled when she shot him a look.
“You have to dig through it to find the real gift.”
“I may have to hurt you.”
“Well, if you don’t have the patience then just dump it out.”
“I can’t do that! Can I?” She glanced over at Jordan’s parents and they just smiled and nodded in agreement. Sarah smiled and did as he’d suggested. She turned it sideways and watched the peanuts fly across the floor. But nothing was there. Just a box of nothing.
“Is this some kind of joke?”
“Nope, it’s there.”
Sarah used her hands to push the peanuts around, trying to find something in the middle of all the little easy-flying pieces that seemed to stick to her hands, her clothes, the floor.
“Oh, here it is,” she heard Jordan say. Turning around, there was Jordan, now just on one knee, holding a small velvet box in his hand.
“Jo-Jordan?” Her boyfriend gifted her with that giant smile that he saved for when he was truly happy and not just goofing around. He brought his other hand up and opened the box, an elegant sapphire with diamonds set in what she assumed was white gold was shining at her. Her eyes flew back up to his face.
“Sarah Williamson, I love you. I know that I don’t always tell you what you mean to me, but I try to show it. And I know that there are tons of other guys in the world, many who would be better suited for you than me. We don’t always agree on things, and you’ve put me in my place a time or two when I was wrong. Every night before I fall asleep I thank my lucky stars that Coach made up that damn shootout drill and that I lost it. I’ve got a wonderful family, a job I love, and a Stanley Cup. Would you please agree to be mine for the rest of our lives and give me the one thing I’ve always wanted but never knew I needed. Say yes and be my wife, my better half, my one and only.”
She’s crying. And she’s not giving me an answer.
Jordan stared and tried to decipher what this meant. He looked over at his parents, then glanced at Tanya and Eric. He thought back to when Eric had asked Tanya to be his wife. She’d laughed and hugged him while telling him yes. This was completely different, and he didn’t know how to handle it.
Then Sarah launched herself into his arms. He lost his footing and fell to the ground, his arms coming around her to protect her body. She was kissing him, her lips moving against his as she whispered something to him while trying to get as close to him as possible. He brought a hand up to push her hair back from her face and get her to look at him.
“Baby? Will you?”
“I just wan--” her voice cracked. “I adore your family, I get so much joy out of watching you do what you love, and I love you more than I thought possible. And you’re right about is not always seeing eye-to-eye on things. But I would like nothing more than to spend the rest of my life beside you.”
He brought them both up to a sitting position, resting her in his lap.
“So that means…”
“That I can’t wait to plan this wedding with the help of my future in-laws! Yes Jordan Staal, I will marry you and be a part of this insanity from now until we’re old and gray.”
Jordan let out a hoot and took the ring out of the box, sliding it deftly onto her finger as his family all laughed and cheered for him. He kissed her quickly and then he helped her stand as he looked around him all their smiling faces. His mom was crying as she held his dad’s hand, Marc and Jared were laughing and poking fun at him for being sappy, and Eric grasped his hand in one of those ‘I’m-proud-of-you’ handshakes as Tanya held the baby to her hip with one hand and Sarah’s hand in the other, admiring the ring he’d chosen. “I have an idea now of what pictures you could put in that frame,” he heard her tell his fiancé.
His gaze finally settled on Sarah. She was his life aside from hockey, and she’d even managed to weasel her way into that part of him. She was the rock that kept him grounded, and he was the breeze that helped her soar. They balanced each other and he knew, without a doubt, that no matter what trials they faced in the future, they would always stand beside one another.
She turned and glanced at him while they were both pummeled with questions and congratulations. The look in her eyes said it all.
I love you, she mouthed. And he smiled as he thought about that day at the restaurant. Who’d have ever thought that he’d meet the woman of his dreams while buying burritos for his teammates? I guess things really do happen when you least expect them.