Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chapter 3

...snapdragons, the presumptuous flower

“Mommy,” Sofia whined as I was getting ready for work the next day.  “Mommy, you have to take me along to the shop with you today!  It’s Saturday and I don’t have school.  I promise to be a good girl,” she begged as she grabbed onto the hem of my shirt.

I turned around to find her with big pouty lips with tears in her eyes.  Now how the hell do you say no to this shit?! Ugh!  I got down on a knee and looked her straight in the face.  Sofia, you are not going along.  Nana already had plans for the two of you today…”

“Nana does not have any plans and I think it’s a wonderful idea for her to go along to work with you today.  I will be by to pick her up after lunch, Avery,” Nana said as she walked by and patted me on the shoulder.

“But…” I protested, as I stood up.

“No but’s darling, Sofia loves being at the shop with you and I think it’s lovely that she has made a new friend!”

I took a deep breath and stomped my foot.  “You both are evil,” I grumbled.

“Maybe you should make friends with him, darling,” Nana said, raising her eyebrow as she took a sip of her coffee.

“Oh, no, please, don’t even go there.  Look what happened last time I made friends with a professional athlete,” I said in a loud whisper as Sofia skipped off to her room to finish getting ready for the day.

“You gave me a beautiful great-granddaughter who is the sunshine of my life,” Nana said as she came over and kissed my forehead like she had done a thousand times over the years.  My Nana always saw the good in things, no matter what the situation was.  She had basically raised me since I was 12 years old after my parents were killed in a car accident in Washington State.  She had to deal with me through my depression filled early teenage years, wild-child late teenage years and my pessimistic adult phase that I was still probably going through, even though I tried my hardest to put a smile on my face everyday I crawled out of bed.  For being in her 80’s she was still fit as a fiddle and always out on the town with her friends.  I was envious of her at times and I could only hope I had half of her energy by the time I turned 30, but at age 25, it seemed like wishful thinking.

I’m only 25, yet I feel like I’m a 40 year old woman who has already seen the best years of her life pass away.  Becoming a parent at 20, smacked me into reality.  I tried to get out amongst people my age, but I had problems being amongst large crowds of people unless they were under the age of 5.  I couldn’t exactly bring a boy back to my apartment; especially since Sofia shared my bed with me.  Sure, I had enough men ask me back to their places, but I just felt like I was being a bad parent, despite my Nana telling me otherwise.  Plus, trusting men was a big deal for me. 

The last time I was involved with any sort of relationship, was with Sofia’s father.  Of course that only counts if you count a couple nights in his bed when he was in town for either a game or during the off season.  I haven’t actually seen him in about two years, but that can probably be attributed to the fact that I changed my cell phone number after I decided I didn’t want him to find out about Sofia.

I’ve been on the odd date here and there with guys my Nana thought were good to set me up with, but they usually turned out to be guys who had no personality or ran away as soon as they found out I had a kid.  I’ve pretty much threw out any hope I’ve ever had on finding someone who might love me and my daughter.  Guys don’t want to get involved with women who have kids.  Well at least any decent guy.  I especially don’t trust anyone enough to tell them who her father is and I refuse to rat him out because I don’t need the headaches that might come from it. 

“I’m ready mommy!” Sofia announced as she jumped up and down in front of me, pulling me from my sullen thoughts.  I quick looked in the mirror to make sure my face was at least semi-presentable and away we went to the flower shop.

“So you have a thing for flower shop girl,” Bobby questioned, but of course it came out more like a statement.

“No, I don’t.  It’s her daughter that has me wrapped around her finger.  She reminds me of my niece, Aubrey and I just feel bad for her for having such a crabby mom.  So, I just told Avery that she should probably think of telling Krissy that she can’t do the flowers for your wedding,” I informed him honestly.

“Why would you tell her such a thing?” Bobby asked, sounding appalled.  “Krissy couldn’t stop talking about her last night after you left.  She said she’s a great girl and definitely has the ideas that Krissy wants incorporated into the wedding.  I hope she didn’t tell you that she would drop us,” he said worriedly as we changed out of our practice gear.  I had finally been cleared for light practices with the team.  Every time they thought I was ready to come back, I would either end up re-injuring or have an infection.  Not being able to play was becoming old real quick.

“Nah, don’t worry, she’s a stubborn one.  I told her that because I think her attitude sucks ass.  She really is a bitch.  I think she’s just sugar coating everything because you are paying customer that is probably going to rake in a lot of cash for her.  Not like she can’t use it, did you see that piece of shit she is driving?” I smirked.

“Since when have you become such the rich snob?” Bobby asked.


“You have a thing for this chick and you don’t want to admit it because you supposedly swore off women just 3 days ago,” Bobby said with a cocky grin.

“No way man, did you see all the ear piercings and the nose piercing?  Don’t even get me started on the black nail polish.  She’s definitely got to be one of those melodramatic punk chicks.  Plus, you know I always go for the blondes,” I said as I threw a towel around myself to head to the showers.

“Maybe that is your problem; you always date the same slutty blondes with no personality.  Besides, I don’t see anything wrong with the melodramatic punk chicks, they are usually the ones who are into a lot of the music you and I both listen to; don’t be so prejudice.  Plus, did you ever think she is a struggling single mother and that might be why she drives a piece of shit?  She looks young, so I’m thinking life has been pretty hard on her.”

“You have officially made me feel like the biggest asshole.  Thanks, friend,” I sulked, feeling like I had just been scolded by my mom.  Which she probably would have scolded me if she would have heard how high and mighty I was sounding.  I don’t think I’ve ever tried to put someone down as much as I just did on this woman I had no clue about except she had the cutest little girl and the temper of a dragon.

“No problem,” Bobby said with a slap of the towel to my ass.

“Loops!” I heard Sofia squeak as the door bell jingled.  I then heard her jump off from her chair and run across the store room floor.

“Hey, grasshopper!” he said back to her in a cheery voice.

I walked out from the back room to find him scooping her up into a hug and then swinging her to his side, holding her parallel to the floor so that he could swing her around like an airplane.  She was squealing with joy as he laughed at her excitement.

He looked amazingly sexy today in a tight fitting button down shirt that was commando green.  His dark, faded washed jeans hugged his thighs and ass in a way that only custom jeans could fit.  He had that Southern Cal, laid back look about it, yet the Canadian accent threw off the whole picture, painting him more of a good boy instead of a snobby rich boy.  His blue eyes were sparkling as he caught me staring at him.  “Hey, Avery,” he acknowledged me as he carried the happy Sofia along with him like she weighed nothing heavier than a sheet of paper.

“Mr. Lupul,” I said non-hostile like.

“Please, call me Joff or Joffrey.  I don’t think I’m that much older than you,” he mocked as he sat Sofia on the counter.

“She’s 25!” Sofia blurted out like only a 5 year old could do.

“And I’m only 27,” he informed me with a smile that put me on alarm.

Oddly, I felt my palms sweating and I found myself having to get a grip before speaking.  “So for what do we owe this visit?”

“I promised Miss Grasshopper a surprise, but I just remembered that I left it out in my Jeep,” he said, obviously unnerved by his forgetfulness.  “So, um, actually did you girls eat lunch yet?  One of my favorite café’s is right down here on the street corner…”

“Yay! Do they have ice cream?!” Sofia yipped as I simultaneously said, “No, we won’t be joining you for lunch.”

Of course Joffrey completely ignored my words and said, “Well, then Miss Grasshopper, I guess it sounds like we are going on a lunch date, complete with ice cream for dessert.”

What am I going to say now?!  My child is over the moon for this guy and I refuse to be the bad person.  I took a deep breath, shot daggers out of my eyes at Joffrey who was looking at me with an amused look, knowing he had won.  “Let me get my purse and I will let Jess know we are going out…”

“That’s fine! Go! I can handle the place!” she yelled a little too quickly from the back room.

I smiled weakly at Joffrey as I took off my smock, grabbed my purse and followed him and Sofia who was now holding his hand and skipping along by his side.

“Are you sure you can eat all that?!” I asked as I watched the waitress put the big chocolate ice cream covered brownie, smothered in whipped cream and hot fudge, in front of Sofia’s half-dollar sized green eyes.

“You bet!” she exclaimed happily as I looked up at her mother to see the same sized eyes also blinking at the masterpiece dessert.

“Um, how about if we get two more spoons so we can share that with you?” Avery asked Sofia as she looked up at the waitress.  The waitress flashed a smile that seemed to say that she had many requests like this before and pulled two more spoons out from her apron, getting a chuckle from us.  “Thank you,” Avery said with a smile that lit up the area around her.  It was probably the first genuine smile I had seen from her since we had met.

As soon as the waitress walked away and Sofia dug into her dessert I took a chance and said, “See, I knew you would look beautiful if you smiled.”  The smile quickly faded and a look of warning crossed over her eyes, sending chills through me.

“I’d appreciate if we don’t talk about things like that in front of my daughter,” she said coldly.

“Fair enough,” I piped back with a reassuring smile, hoping it would show that I meant no harm.  All in all, our lunch was quite pleasant as I learned about what school Miss Sofia attended and what kind of things she liked to do in her free time.  She talked incessantly about her art lessons, her Nana and of course her mom but no word was spoken about her father.  I could only assume that he wasn’t in the picture.

“Do you play any sports?” I asked as I took a bite out of the rich dessert.

“I play kick ball at recess and I like to roller-blade with mommy along the beach,” she said happily as she licked the hot fudge off her spoon.

“You ever play hockey?”  With this question I heard Avery suck in a breath and another glare was shot my way.

“No! But I want to so bad!” she said with an excited look that changed to a somber one.  “Mommy says we don’t have enough money for me to play though.”

“Ssh, Sofia, we do not talk about money in front of strangers,” Avery hissed at the little girl who just looked up at her with big sorrowful doe eyes.

“But Loops isn’t a stranger…”

“That’s enough, Sofia,” Avery warned in a motherly tone.

Of course I did not prod the child because I didn’t want to make the situation any more uncomfortable for either party, but the wheels were already turning in my head.  Instead we saved the real uncomfortable situation for the arrival of the lunch bill.

“How much is our half of the bill,” Avery asked as I took the check from the waitress.

I opened up the folder, looked at it for a minute and said, “Nothing, your meals were free.”

A frown came across her face as she reached her hand out for me to pass the check to her.  “I will be paying for mine and Sofia’s meal, thank you,” she said curtly.

“Um, nope, it was my treat, I’m the one that asked you two lovely ladies to join me for lunch, so it is only fair for me to pay,” I announced as I slipped my plastic card into the folder and signaled for the waitress before Avery could cause too big of a scene.

She leaned across the table and hissed, “I don’t know what ideas you have, but I’m sure they are all wrong.”

I leaned back across the table, placing myself inches away from her and challenged back, “Believe me, whatever ideas you think I have are probably all incorrect.  I brought you out here to apologize for my behavior and to treat my new friend Sofia.  I’m bored as hell with not being able to play hockey with all my back problems, so humor me and relax cranky pants.”

She went to open her mouth, but quickly closed it again as she sat back in her chair once again, leaving me a clear view to smile at Sofia who was looking at us quizzically.

“Now ladies, I guess we should probably get you back to your store so you can sell more flowers to poor old saps like me,” I chirped with a wink before I got up from my chair.  On the way back to the shop, Sofia held my hand again, skipping down the sidewalk beside me.  We stopped at my Jeep and then I followed them back into the shop where we found the counter girl flirting it up with some guy that looked like he could be her father.  She instantly blushed as she said loudly, “Anything else I can get you sir?”

I almost laughed as I heard the man clear his throat and said, “No that will be all, thank you.  Have a great day,” he said as he nodded uncomfortably at Avery and me and walked out the door.

“And what was that all about, Jess?” Avery asked, raising an eyebrow at the blonde clerk as she walked over to put on her ugly green smock.

“I was just giving him ideas on what to write on the card…” Jess said as she twirled her hair and gave me a longing look that made me feel like I was a stripper at Chip and Dales.  “So how was lunch?”

“I had the best dessert ever!” Sofia piped up as she squeezed my hand, causing me to look down at her and smile.

“Well, let me give you what I came here to give you in the first place…”

“Ooo! My surprise!” the little girl squeaked happily as I led her over to the counter.  I picked her up and placed her next to the box I had brought in.  I placed it on her lap when Avery came over to stand behind the little girl.  She just looked at me suspiciously as Sofia opened the box.  Inside were two jerseys that were Sofia’s size.  One was adorned with my name and number, the other with Bobby’s.  Both were signed.  There was also another one of mine that had a note pinned to it for Nana along with 3 tickets for tomorrow afternoon’s game.  “Mommy!” Sofia yelled loudly, causing the 3 adults in the room to cover their ears.  I looked up to find Avery giving me the death look and crooking her finger at me to follow her.

“Um, Sofia, I will be right back.  I need to talk to your mommy for a moment,” I said to the little girl who was now standing on the counter, attached to my neck.  After prying her little hands from my neck, I followed Avery into the back store room.

She closed the door and spun around with the most furious look I had ever seen.  Except for maybe the look I got from my mom when I brought home baby porcupines in my pillow case.

“That is enough!” Avery yelled in a loud whisper.  “Seriously, I don’t know what you are doing but I will not accept those tickets!  We cannot afford something like that and I do not take charity!”

“Um, it was mostly Bobby’s idea and this is not charity.  We do this kind of thing all the time, especially for little kids like Sofia…”

“What is it that you want from me?!” she asked as she took an abrupt step towards me.  “Have you made it your mission to piss me off incessantly and pay me back for not giving you your money back on your stupid ass flowers?  Because if that is the case, you did enough of that the first time I met you.”

It took all I had not to break out into laughter; instead an unwanted smile broke out across my face.  It was one of those times that even though you are getting yelled at, you feel this sudden urge to laugh at the situation, even if it is the worst possible time to do so.


I put my hand up to my face and looked down at Avery in disbelief.  “Really? Did I really deserve that?”

“Yes,” she said simply.  “Please, stay out of my life.  I don’t need guys like you in it,” she said as she began to walk away.

Here we go with the accusations and assumptions again.  I took a step in front of her to cut her off before she got to the door.  “And what kind of guy am I exactly?  Last time I checked, I thought I was an all around pretty good guy.”

“Of course you would think all highly of yourself,” she snorted.  “You make millions of dollars and you don’t care what hearts you break along the way, including my daughter’s, so please spare us the hurt and leave us alone.”

I took a deep breath and tried one more time.  “Avery, I promise you.  I don’t have any ulterior motives except for the fact that I want to prove to you that not all athletes are stuck on themselves or worried only about their money.  I don’t know who hurt you in the past, but I promise that is not my intention.  Your little girl made me genuinely smile yesterday after the first time in about a year, ever since I lost my niece in a car accident last summer.  Please, come to the game tomorrow afternoon so that I can put a smile on that little girl who is sitting on the counter waiting for your decision.  I never meant to overstep my boundaries.  My mom has often said that I go overboard on things I’m passionate about, so I apologize for my weakness.”  I finished my sentence with another deep breath and waited for the wrath.

Avery looked up at me with a torn glance and nodded her head, “Fine, what time do we meet you?”

I silently sent up a prayer and said softly, “Be at the rink around 11:30 if possible, that way I can give you guys a 2 cent tour before hand.  Should I set aside a jersey for you?”

“That won’t be necessary,” she snapped, obviously still annoyed that I won, yet a hint of a smile was beginning to form on her lips.

“Okay, well don’t wear purple unless you want to root for the Kings…”

“Maybe I do.”

“Then I cannot promise your life will be safe,” I said with a chuckle.

“I can hold my own,” she said with a smirk as she walked around me and back out into the shop where Sofia was awaiting the final answer.

I bet you can.

I quickly bounded out of the back room and ran around to the front of the counter to scoop Sofia up into my arms to swing her around.  “Looks like you are going to be my date tomorrow afternoon for the game, little lady!”

“YAY!” Sofia squealed as she clawed towards my neck to give me a bear hug.  “You’re the best Loops!”

“So are you, Grasshopper.”


  1. Awww this was the cutest chapter!! I wonder who Sophia's father is, I feel so bad for Joff. Avery's noy being very fair to him. Once again, I love this storyAnd this update. Great job

  2. I'm really curious to see who Sofia's father is too. And c'mon Avery. Give Joff a break! He's really trying :) Can't wait for the next installment :)

  3. Awe... I have to agree that this the cutest chapter and as well I'm wondering who's Sofia's father is too!! :) And I'm sorry, but Avery does need to give Joff a break!
    I'm really enjoying this story and like always, I can't wait for more!! :)

  4. Liking the story already. I do hope Joff can show her that all guys are not like Sofia's father.
    I think if Avery put her claws & fangs away she might just like