Its been a shameful amount of time since I've updated but as usual, my academic life is crazy. I'm not done with this story and it will get finished eventually. Here's a chapter to tide you over for a little bit. I'm hoping to have another one up this week or early next. Ignore my typos and spelling mistakes please :)
Also, thank you so much for your comments! That's why I wrote this chapter because I saw that I was randomly still getting comments. You're all great!
Waking up was a less than pleasant experience. Not only was the alarm shrilling in my ear but Geno had left long before me and his side of the bed was cold. I hit the snooze button and wondered why I had even set it in the first place. Not only was it a Saturday but I had absolutely nothing to do today except go visit the hospital.
Since his heart attack, things had been relatively quiet. Geno was going back into the lineup on Tuesday night in a home game against the Thrashers. Everyone, including a team psychologist had insisted that he sit out at least a week while his Dad's health slowly stabilized. To his chagrin, I had backed this decision and made myself very clear that I wasn't going to visit him if he ended up in the hospital too because of reckless play on the ice.
The alarm began beeping again signalling that it was time for me to wake up and finally get my butt out of bed. In the bathroom, I yawned and stretched, my eyes slowly focusing on a post-it note on the mirror. His crooked handwriting, so unused to western-style characters, made me smile as I read, "Hospital at 12?"
Over the past week, we had still been operating under the guise of fiance and fiancee so that I could get past the nursing staff as a non-family member. Geno smirked every time a nurse made a cutesy comment about us or winked. Even Geno's Mom seemed to be enjoying our lie and took every opportunity to let me know that she approved. It was sweet of course but it also worried me that she seemed to be taking our new, fake status as something that would be permanent in the immediate future. If I didn't even want to permanently live with her son yet, then how did she expect us to get engaged any time soon?
Not to mention, I worried that other people would start to gossip about our "engagement." The nurses were nice to us but that didn't mean that they weren't gossipping about us on their breaks or when they went home to their families.
Out of necessity, I shoved the worrisome thoughts out of my head and turned on the shower so that I could get ready for the day. Feeling how light the bottle of shower gel had gotten, I made a mental note to buy more the next time I stopped at the store.
Things had been so busy lately between going to work, going to the hospital and taking care of both Geno and his Mom, that I had been staying at Geno's house for the past week. I hadn't been back to my own apartment in 3 days and as a result, my shower gel and shampoo had moved into his shower. Because the bottle had suddenly gotten a lot lighter, I suspected that a certain someone was using it as well. It seemed that we were sharing a lot lately.
Even if he was using my shower gel, I drew the line at us sharing an underwear drawer. As much as I wanted to make sure he understood that this living arrangement wasn't entirely permanent, I didn't want to make things more complicated right now by causing tension. Having our underwear all jumbled together in a drawer signified that our lives were completely intertwined.
In the practice of keeping things as simple as possible, I didn't want to bring it up- I just wanted to assert myself in other ways. Aka, keeping our underwear separate. If I could do that, then I could keep both of us from moving too quickly in this relationship.
A couple of hours later and one half of a tuna sandwich later, I felt heavy hands drop onto my shoulders from behind then a chaste kiss on my cheek.
"What? You couldn't wait?" Geno asked pulling out the chair next to me in the hospital cafeteria.
"You're 20 minutes late and I didn't eat breakfast" I explained passing him a napkin for the sandwich he was already eating without my permission.
"Papa had more test" he said in between frowning at my sandwich. "Is this tuna?"
"Yes, I would have told you if you had asked me" I grinned suddenly remembering how much he hated tuna sandwiches. He happily gave it back and sipped my soda instead.
"Tests were good." He commented after a contented lull in conversation between us.
"What kind of test was it?"
He frowned then and I knew that he had either forgotten or didn't really know what it was. I squeezed his hand instead of trying to probe him about it. "It's okay, I'll ask the nurses when we go up there."
Instead of being annoyed at me, he gave me a goofy smile and kissed the back of my hand lavishly. "See? Is why I need you." His expression went from confused to mischievous so fast that I barely had time to keep up.
"Yeah, yeah" I said smiling from his unexpected kiss. Even I wasn't immune to his goofy charm it seemed.
We waited another 5 minutes before walking hand in hand back to the elevators. After waiting for what seemed like forever, an elevator finally arrived and was blissfully empty.
He immediately pulled me to his side and pressed a not-so-chaste kiss to the sensitive spot beneath my ear. "It was nice this morning" he spoke quietly. I felt a shiver creep up my spine, feeling like we were little kids sharing a secret, not full grown adults standing in an elevator.
"What was nice?" I turned so that we were facing each other and slid my arms around his solid torso. I could smell the detergent on his shirt and his cologne from earlier in the morning.
"You, in my bed." I smiled against his lips even though it felt like he was leading us somewhere that I didn't want to go right now.
"It should happen more often" he added. When I opened my eyes he was staring down at me with that light in his eyes that always made me wary.
"We are together almost every night that you're not on the road with the team" I reminded him.
"Almost. Every. I don't like those words. Not good enough."
The elevator dinged and I stepped back out of reach. "Well, then tell Gary Bettman that. It's not my fault that hockey takes you away from Pittsburgh so much." He shook his head but let the subject drop. Both of us knew what the other one was up to. Him taking 2 steps forward and me taking the calculated 2 steps back.
"Ready?" He asked, already reaching for my hand before I could grab his. As we walked past the nurses station, I noticed that they all pretended not to watch us as we passed. Geno would never notice but I saw at least 3 stop and flat out stare at him as he walked. Since he was usually pretty oblivious to the female attention that he got in public, I knew that there was no reason for me to feel even remotely jealous. The only thing that pissed me off was the was the look that I got from the little blonde nurse pretending to do her paperwork.
She usually made a big deal out of letting me pass because I wasn't technically a family member- "fiancee" or not. Really, she was just being a bitch. I hadn't seen this kind of cattiness since the one-day sale at Barney's in New York. Weren't Pittsburgh girls supposed to be down to earth and sweet?
"In Russia we say she's bitch" Geno mumbled to me as soon as we were on the other side of the ICU doors.
He grinned at the astonishment on my face while it took me a minute to process that he was more observant that I thought. "You saw her?"
"Hard to miss" he smiled fending me off before I could slap his arm again. "She's obvious. Not a secret."
"I thought you didn't notice stuff like that!" He never seemed to notice people staring at him in the grocery store or the few places we went out together. Usually we frequented those places because people were nice and ignored us too. Still, that didn't completely weed out all of the female attention he garnered.
Before he could answer, his mother appeared around the corner, presumably to see who was laughing hysterically in the ICU.
She greeted us both in English and said something to Geno that sounded like it would be a scolding. Although I could never be sure since everything in Russian sounds more harsh than English. Geno shrugged and replied then at my look of annoyance filled me in on what she had said.
"She say we laugh too loud."
In his room, Mr. Malkin was sitting up and poking at the hospital food on his tray. It didn't look very appetizing but the last time that Geno or I had tried to sneak a real sandwich in to him, it didn't go over so well with his doctor.
He grinned broadly at our entrance and immediately tried to play on our heartstrings with complaints about the food.
"Too bad. It's good for you" I told him, taking a seat in the chair next to his bed so that I could squeeze his hand. It was pretty hard not to like this man with his constantly upbeat attitude and way of smiling about everything.
He squeezed my hand back but I could tell that his usual strength still wasn't there. When I first met him, his hugs had felt like I was being squeezed by a grizzly. Now his squeeze felt as light as a child's.
"They move him this afternoon" Mrs. Malkin announced, seeming relieved but exhausted at the same time.
I let myself fade into the background as they began to confer in Russian. It was obviously more comfortable for them to speak in their native tongue but it felt like I was intruding on something private and just for the family's ears only.
After a half hour of reading an old magazine, I excused myself to go check my messages on my phone. The mood in the room had turned serious and I noticed that Geno's eyes frequently landed on me while he spoke. My name was never mentioned specifically but it isn't hard to know when someone's talking about you- Russian language or not.
I passed the nurses station again and luckily the bitchy blonde from before was gone, leaving me to make my way down to the visitor's sitting room so that I could scroll through my emails. Even though it was the weekend, the emails never stopped flowing through to my phone.
"I thought I find you here."
Just as I was reading through an email from Coach Bylsma himself, Geno poked his head in the door with his mother in tow.
"Sorry, I just wanted to clear out some emails."
"My husband sleep." Mrs. Malkin added. Her coat was already on and she looked tired. It looked like we were leaving so soon for her sake more than Mr. Malkin who would probably end up watching TV rather than sleeping.
"Okay then, let's go." I slipped my coat over my own shoulders and gathered up my purse. Outside, I waited with Mrs. Malkin while her son went to get his car. When he pulled up, I helped get the door open since she looked asleep on her feet already.
"Are you following?" Geno asked leaning forward to talk to me across the passenger seat.
I shook my head no. "I want to pick up some groceries and check up on my apartment." Even though this was a reasonable excuse for anyone to make, he didn't look pleased. He was never satisfied with anything other than his way and the word "apartment" was enough to annoy him anytime I mentioned it.
"I'll be back to make dinner and stock your refrigerator" I reminded him. Silently we both knew I was saying "drop it" instead.
When their car was out of sight, I began the trek to where my car was parked in the massive parking lot. I couldn't tell which emotion was motivating me when I drove to the Giant Eagle that was 20 more minutes away from where I usually went and then took a 2 hour nap back in my apartment just to prolong my afternoon: stubbornness or fear.