Thanks for all of the hockey watching suggestions, ladies! A few of you asked where I am studying for the semester and I'm in Barcelona. I also wanted to thank all of you for your lovely comments. It means so much to me that you guys still keep up with what I write!
P.S. This one's short because I didn't want to lump one chapter together and not have it flow well together.
Song: "Bitch" by Meredith Brooks
Geno spent the next week and a half sulking over my decision to wait and think about moving in with him. I had tried to reason with him and give him more reasons why I was taking this decision so seriously but he wouldn't listen. He just alternated between giving me looks and ignoring me altogether.
I wasn't letting it bother me though. He was only making it harder on himself to convince me that living together was actually a good idea. I didn't want to move in with a child, I wanted a man. And not a caveman either, a real man.
A knock at my office door startled me and I lost my count as I counted the number of press requests that we had received this morning from various news outlets. Most of them were for Crosby and the kid needed a break so I needed to make a few phone calls to suggest other players for interviews instead.
When I wanted charming, I usually went with Talbot or Fleury. The audience in Pittsburgh worshipped them and they did wonders for the overall PR of the team. When I needed tough or when I needed a good image of a guy with a missing tooth and a black eye, I went with Cooke or Goligoski. As for sex appeal, I left that to Letang and Staal. After observing several open practices throughout the season, it wasn't hard to group players into their PR roles based off of the fans reaction to them.
It just left me with Geno. I never quite knew what I needed to do with him PR-wise. He was an odd combination of star power, sex appeal and hometown favorite all wrapped up in one confusing package. The only reason he didn't garner the same amount of demand as Crosby did for interviews was because everyone knew that he refused to give them. I was working to change that even though he didn't necessarily want me to.
I was tempted to make him do a bunch of interviews this week just because he was pissing me off.
"Can I help you?" I asked Maria, one of the secretaries from the front desk. It was rare for them to come back and talk to us in person because they usually just called.
"There's a Mrs. Malkin here to see you Ava. Can I send her back or are you busy?"
My back tensed at the name Malkin but I nodded and told her to send her back to see me. I couldn't send her away, not when she had come to talk to me in person. Still, it made me nervous that she had come here.
"Hi" I said not exactly sure if I should hug her or just let her sit down first. We had been hugging as a greeting lately but the ominous nature of this meeting kept me from making a move.
"I'm sorry I come here, you are busy" she smile slightly putting me at ease.
"I'm not that busy" I assured her. She sat quietly for a minute and took the time to look around my office. It wasn't anything special but she kept drawing out the moment with her silence and I shifted the papers around on my desk uneasily.
"Was there something you needed?" I finally asked, unable to take any more of the silence.
"You are nervous, yes?" She smiled reaching out to pat me on the hand. It was such a familiar gesture that I blinked in surprise.
"A little bit" I confessed watching her smile.
"I'm here to talk about Evgeni" she stated slowly, choosing her words carefully. I nodded, not really sure if I should say anything at all. Obviously I didn't want to talk about him with her but what choice did I have if she was here in person to do it? I couldn't change the subject, pretend there was someone on call waiting or pretend that I was in a dead zone like I would on the telephone. In my office and in person, there was nowhere to hide.
"My son," she paused and let out a deep sigh that further added to my sense of dread about this conversation. "He is difficult. He is head strong."
I nodded in agreement only because she was completely right.
"He tell me that you no want to live with him." I opened my mouth to speak but thought against it when I realized that I still had nothing to say. It wasn't that I didn't want to live with him, I just thought that we were moving too fast. You could ruin a lot in a relationship simply by moving too fast and I didn't want to make that mistake here. Especially since this time last year, I was still engaged to a man that I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with.
"Is this true?"
"Mrs. Malkin," I started only to have her correct me and instruct me to call her Natalia. "Okay, Natalia. It isn't that I don't want to keep moving ahead with Evgeni or that I don't take his invitation seriously. It's just that it's too soon." She nodded without giving any of her emotions away.
"I don't want to rush. Why do we have to rush?" I asked her finally feeling my own flood of emotions rise to the surface. I hated feeling so pressured to make a decision like this when I hadn't even been in Pittsburgh that long or really have time to feel like this was actually my permanent home. Of course it felt more like home now but it wasn't the same as living in New York City for most of my life.
To my surprise, Natalia reached out and held my hand. It was one of the nicest signs of support that I had ever received in my life.
"Evgeni is very strong man. Very smart. But he pushes. Don't let him push you. Push back, be smarter."
"I'm trying" I grinned, feeling better as her loud laughter echoed in my small office. "I care for him very much." For some reason, it was imperative that I make sure she understood this. For some bizarre reason, she was on my side about this issue but I still felt like I had to explain myself to her.
"I know. Mamas always know. I just want to make sure he makes good decision. And he has." She rose to her feet and gathered the purse she had set down by her chair. I walked her back out through the office, still thinking about what she had just said. She kissed me on the cheek and hugged me tightly in the same tight, squishy way that Geno hugged me.
"That was some hug" Maria commented from behind her desk. I hadn't noticed her and it gave me a jolt of surprise to see her watching us.
"By the way, you received 4 different phone calls while you were in your office. Want me to email you the list?
"No that's okay, I'll just write them down if you have a second." And with that, I got back to work and tried to stop thinking about Geno for awhile.
It suddenly seemed like a really good form of payback to keep him busy with interviews rather than ignoring me and giving me looks.