LET THE FUN BEGIN!!
“So when ya tellin’ the parents?” Flower asked as we boarded the flight to Philadelphia together. “My parents? I don’t know. We’re telling her parents tonight,” I cringed at the thought but Flower flashed me his smile letting me know everything was going to be okay. I glance down at my watch quickly and see that Lillianah’s flight to Philadelphia would be taking off any moment. I could only imagine what she and Vero could be talking about. Flowers, lace and alcohol I’m sure. I take my seat next to Duppers and pull my iPod out for the short hop across Pennsylvania. We’re already up two games to none against those Flyer bastards, and it’d be nice to sweep them on their home turf. The games haven’t exactly been a cakewalk, but we have them figured out. We know where they are weakest and it’s only a matter of time before they crumble.
Once we are safely in the air, I tighten my earphones over my head and turn my iPod to the playlist Lillianah had created for me the night before. All instrumental, no singing just beats. Something I can nod my head to, get lost in if needed. I lean my head back and close my eyes. The song I’m currently listening to quiets down to an upbeat piano solo, and I try and imagine Lillianah in a white dress, but I can’t picture it. I see her in red. Something spunky, something unoriginal, something that screams ‘this is who I am, love it or fucking walk away’. That’s my Lillianah. She won’t wear white on our wedding day, but I don’t care. She can wear what she wants, how she wants. Her head could be bald, or she could be wearing a wig. It’s taken me a long time to find out the inner human being to a woman is by far more beautiful than their exterior; and Lillianah is fucking gorgeous.
I feel a nudge on my shoulder and looked up to see Duppers is holding my bag out to me. We landed. Fuck. I was hoping to prepare my ‘I’m marrying your daughter’ speech while on the flight, but instead I was completely lost in thought of other things. “Focus Talby, big game tomorrow,” he grins at me and I nod my head. I don’t know what’s more nerve-racking now, being in the playoffs or announcing my engagement to my future in-laws. “Yeah, I know,” I grumble feeling the sweat in my palms begin to cumulate around the handle of my bag. We all file out like ants, from the plane to the bus. As soon as I step off the plane though, I can smell him. Carcillo, that fucking goon. No one throws the butt end of their stick at my head without retaliation. I just had to wait for the right moment to take him down.
The bus pulls up to the hotel and I see Lillianah waiting just on the other side of the line of fans. A red scarf wrapped around her head, a flowing yellow dressing swirling around her knees. I pull my phone out and send her a text message to meet me inside as it will be impossible to connect outside the building. I watch her pull her phone out of her purse, read the text than head inside the hotel’s front doors. I toss my bag over my good shoulder and walk off the bus and head straight into the hotel. I’m never one to walk away from fans, but today, my nerves wouldn’t be able to handle it. My eyes catch hers, and I bypass my teammates to take her in my arms. Sure we had only been apart some two hours, but even that was too long. “We better hurry, dinner is in an hour,” I whisper into her ear before pulling away and kissing her gently on the lips. “You sure about this? You know how my mom is.” “Telling your parents will only make it feel more real, so yes,” I laugh as I take her bag from her and follow her toward the elevator.
We stand outside a small café just down the road from the hotel waiting patiently for her family. I find it rude and impolite to be wearing a hat in her families presence, but in Philadelphia, I couldn’t be careful enough. I pull the bill down just a tad bit lower when I see two blond heads waving at us erratically. I pull my hat off and push my glasses up on the bridge of my nose to see Molly and Liz making their way towards us, with Steve and Charlie close behind. The girls pull Lillianah into a long, tight hug before turning their attention to me. I kiss their cheeks, and then shake the hand of my to-be father-in-law. He can read me so easily as he smiles and nods. He already knows there is more to this dinner than just a small get-together. I hold the door open for everyone to enter the café but Steve stops short, and I close the door stepping away to join him near the curb of the street. “I have a feeling there is going to be an announcement, and I want to tell you right now Max that you’re already apart of this family. Molly and I have been so thankful for what you have done for Lillianah in this trying time. We don’t know how we will ever thank you.” I smile genuinely up at the man that could easily break me in two. “Well not objecting at the wedding would be good enough for me,” I laugh and shake his hand again before we proceed to enter the café.
My palms are swearing, my legs bouncing as I spin my ring around my finger under the table. I hear Max chuckle as he places his hand on my knee to steady my nerves. I place my left hand on top of his and I smile at my parents. “Lil is playing piano again,” Max announces and I squeeze his hand in horror. I can only imagine the words that are about to come out of my mom’s mouth. As if this dinner wasn’t nerve-racking enough. “Really Lily? That’s fantastic! I still have all your old sheet music, would you like them?” My mouth drops open and I look at my mom astonished. “You hated the piano,” I state just above a whisper and she pinches her eyes together as if she’s trying to understand me. Like I just spoke in a foreign language. “I loved listening to you play, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I look over at my dad and he’s looking back and forth between my mother and me. “You never listened to me play. Never came to recitals or even in the house you wouldn’t come listen.” She takes a sip from her coffee and sets it down on the ceramic table in front of us. “I was at every recital, and I listened to you in the house. Whenever I was near you while you were playing you would clam up and freeze. I didn’t want your talent going to waste. I hated myself for a very long time knowing I was the reason why you stopped playing.” Once again I look at her in complete shock. “Why didn’t you tell me to keep playing?” “Because you left.”
“Lily, you okay?” My sister asks as she walks into the bathroom. I look at myself in the mirror, my furry head free for all to see. “I feel like there’s this whole chuck of my life I wasn’t even aware of. It makes no sense to me. Just as I’m moving forward I feel like I’m being jolted back,” I explain not taking my eyes away from the blond sprouts that are appearing all over my head. It’s quiet for awhile and I look in the mirror at Liz. Her mouth opens to say something but her eyes travel down to my hand that’s resting on the counter. Her mouth opens once again before she closes it. She steps up to me and takes my hand in her own. “Is this what I think it is? You said yes?” I nod my head as tears brim my eyelashes. The whole piano ordeal is thrown out the window when she says this. It does feel real now, so much more real than before. Max was right. I nod my head and my sister pulls me into a hug. She pulls away suddenly and holds me at arm’s length. “Promise me you’ll have a wedding and not just elope.” “Of course we’re going to have a wedding, why would we not?” I ask laughing as I reach behind me for tissues to wipe both her eyes and my own. “Cause that’s just your style sis. Untraditional,” she winks at me and we ready ourselves to join the table once again.
My mom and I share that knowing look. That everything is okay and everything is going to be okay. I pick up my spoon and dig into the hot fudge sundae in front of me. I can see Max starring at it, and I know how badly he wants to take a bite, but he can’t. Strict diet, playoffs, rules, all that fun stuff I don’t exactly listen to. Instead I give him the next best thing. I take a big bite, the taste of chocolate still lingering in mouth as I reach over and give him a big kiss. He smiles into the kiss knowing what I’m doing. “Tastes good,” he whispers against me and I giggle. “Ahem!” My sister shouts from across the table and I pull away from Max. She lifts her eyebrows at me and looks down at the check waiting to be paid on the table. Dinner was almost over we needed to announce our engagement now or I’m sure we never will. I open my mouth to start out with the traditional ‘mom, dad, we want to tell you something’ but Max beats me to the punch line. “So looks like we’re getting married.” He wraps his arm around my shoulders and smiles down on me. True Max fashion, just blurting things out.
My mom squeezes around my body harder outside of the café, I’m almost sure I’m not breathing. She pulls away and looks at my ring one more time. “You couldn’t have found a better man Lily,” she gushes pulling me, as well as Max into another hug. She wasn’t shocked when we told her, she just smiled, glowing almost. Her baby girl was growing up in front of her eyes thanks to a rambunctious French-Canadian. “I want to throw your engagement party, can I do that? After the playoffs of course,” she gushes pulling away from us. “Sure mom, I think I would like that,” I smile to her. “Excellent!! I’ll start planning, just let me know when!” My father finally drags her away and I look at Max and I can’t help but just smile. “You good?” He asks me as he intertwines his fingers with mine. “Better than good,” I smile and kiss him gentle before we both turn to head back to the hotel. Now that my family knew it felt like a huge weight was taken off my shoulders but Max still looked a little tense. “You okay?” I ask in return as we cross the street. “I’m warning you now Lil. I’m happy tonight was perfect, I can stop sweating bullets now, but playoffs. This is everything I have ever dreamed of, and we came so fucking close last year. I just don’t think you fully understand the history between us and the Flyers.” He stops walking and turns me around so we’re looking eye to eye. “You have to promise me you won’t get mad if I do anything stupid.”