How many tattoo parlors could there be in Pittsburgh? All I knew was that she walked everywhere she went, so I knew it would be relatively close to her apartment, but that also happened to be the epi-center of tattoo parlors in the city. I was in and out of each shop, looking for her friend Alicia. I was getting ready to give up when I walked around the corner and saw one more shop. I walked in and there was a strawberry blond drawing away at the counter. "How can I hel-" Her eyes grew wide as she stopped, looking up at me. "Alicia right?" I knew it was her, I just wanted to make sure. "Yes. Max. You're Max." I nodded my head and walked up to her. "I need to know where she went." She looked down at her drawing searching for words, then she looked back up at me. "She went to her parents." "Her parents? Did I scare her away THAT bad?" When she didn't say anything I looked down at my feet. I ran her away. I scared her to the point that she went to her parents house, the place she only went to when tragedy struck. What the hell did I do? "Hey Frenchie." I looked up at Alicia who had a smile on her face. "You didn't scare her away, she scared herself away. She's never had real feelings toward a man before so she doesn't know what's going on with herself. She took the train to Philadelphia yesterday, and she didn't buy a return ticket. She's a difficult person to deal with, she's stubborn." This is a good thing right? I like to think this was a good thing.
My mind was everywhere but on the puck that day at practice. "Hey TK, what's our schedule like this week and next, do you know?" I knew I knew, but I just couldn't remember for the life of me. "Uh, two home games Tuesday and Thursday, we're in Phillie on Friday, DC on-" "Phillie on Friday?" "Yeah." A smile came over my face. Figuring we would leave after the game on Thursday, I would have a few hours Friday morning to find her. How was I going to do that though? I needed to talk to Alicia again, hopefully she could help me. "We leaving for Phillie Friday night?" I asked to whoever was still listening to me. "Yeah, right after, stop worrying about the schedule and get into practice!" Coach yelled at me and I fired a few pucks at Flower. "She's in Phillie?" Flower yelled at me as he stopped all of my shots. "Yup," I smiled finally sliding a puck past him, blocker side.
After practice I zoomed back down to the tattoo shop where Alicia worked. She was in the middle of a tattoo but she smiled at me and asked why I was there. "I'm going to be in Phillie this Friday. I need to talk to her, can you help me?" She pulled away from the guy she was tattooing and allowed him to take a quick break. "She'll kill me if she knows I'm helping you. If I didn't think you were worth I would tell you to get out of my shop, but I'm not. I'll give you her parents address, but you cannot show up at their door. Figure something else out, you don't want to pull her mother into this." She took her gloves off and pulled her cell phone out and started writing an address down on a piece of paper. "You're her best friend, what do you think the best way to talk to her is?" She headed to a sink and started washing her hands. "I honestly don't know what to tell you. She's a difficult person to deal with. She just doesn't realize that she does in fact want you in her life." So the feelings might actually be mutual.
Three days. I had three days to figure out how to get ahold of her without showing up at her door. Then I thought of it, there was only one thing I could do. I didn't want to force her into seeing me, I wanted to give her the option. I woke up early that Tuesday morning and headed down to the Penguins office. "I need three tickets to the game in Phillie this Friday and I need them over nighted to this address," I smiled handing one of the ticket reps her address. "Who should I address them to?" "Lillianah . . ." Oh wow, I don't even know her last name. "Lillianah Raine. Oh and send this note with them." I quickly scribbled down on a piece of paper and handed it to him. Three days.
She was going to make me open up to her if I liked it or not. She was still wondering why I was there to begin with. "Lily what's going on? You haven't said anything since you got in last night." I looked up at my mom but I just couldn't find the words, I didn't even know what I was trying to say. "Lily, are you in trouble?" Yeah, you can say that. "I met a guy," I said just above a whisper as I stabbed at the sausage she just placed in front of me. "Okay, so why are you here?" I really didn't want to get into details, I just wished that those words would explain everything to her. I guess five years away from home really showed that my mom didn't know much about me. "I'm scared of him. He does things to me that I've never felt before in my life. It's confusing the hell out of me. I ran away from it all, I came here. I might have actual feelings toward him. Mom, I don't get feelings toward men, at all. I was actually crying yesterday before I left." I felt like I was going to be on the verge of tears again, but not in front of my mom, I couldn't do that to myself. "Are you in love with him?" What's with this love bullcrap!? "No, I barely know him. Alicia thinks I am, but . . . I don't know. I don't know what love feels like." She poured two mugs of coffee and handed me one. She knew that this was going to be a long day, and I knew that too. "How do you feel when you see him? Like physically, what does your body do?" I looked down at my coffee, black? Was she trying to give me a heart attack. I got up and walked over to the fridge pulling out the milk. "I get weak." I could feel myself getting weak just thinking about him. As I poured the milk into my coffee the tears were once again present. "What the hell!" I shouted as I set the milk down, seeing the tears drop onto the counter top.
That morning the milk in my coffee quickly turned to Baileys. "Lillianah!" She yelled from the front door. I clenched my eyes closed and then prepared myself. "Hi Liz," I smiled as my sister put a death grip around my body. "Mom called, said it's an emergency, what's going on?" she asked as she pulled away and looked me in the eyes with a very serious look of concern. "Mom," I mumbled as I went back to my coffee. "Your sister is in love," my mom explained to my sister. "Oh that's wonderful Lily!" She was too happy for me, in her khaki pants, baby blue button up collar shirt, and yellow knit vest. "It would be wonderful if she would admit it to herself," my mom continued to explain. This would be perfect, I could let them talk about it for the next few hours and all of my problems would be solved. "Well what's his name?" I went to open my mouth but of course my mother beat me to it. "Max, he plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins." "A hockey player really? Lily I didn't see you as the type to go for an athlete." "It's not my type to have a real relationship period!"
I woke up Wednesday morning with a throbbing headache, I did more drinking at my parents house than I did in a month at the club. I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock. "Midnight?! What?!" I looked toward the window and saw sun peaking through. "Oh, noon, wow." I climbed out of bed and took a cold shower. As I made my way downstairs I could hear my sisters voice and immediately wanted to sneak out of the house somehow. Is there a second story window I can jump to safety from? I took a deep breath and continued my way into the kitchen. "Oh Lily, something just arrived for you from Pittsburgh. It's addressed to Lillianah Raine though, what's that about?" My mom handed me a FedEx envelope and I laughed looking at the name. He doesn't know my last name. I ripped it open and pulled out a note written on Penguins stationary and tried to calm my breathing before I read it. 'Lil, I'm sorry. We will be in Phillie on Friday and I've included three tickets to the game for you. You don't have to come, I just want you to have them, just in case. I want to talk to you. Max.' I reached back into the envelope and pulled out three tickets for that Friday nights game. "Are those hockey tickets?" Liz asked with a little too much excitement in her voice. She snatched them out of my hands and looked at them. "Oh there's three, oh we're going to have so much fun!" "Who said we were going?" Of all the weeks to come, I came the week my father was away on business, he was the only one that would keep my mother and sister from eating me alive.