Can't believe I could think that she would just follow me everywhere I go
I was wrestle with you in my dreams and wake up making love to a pillow
“Lana’s Sunshine Bakery, how can I help ya?” I answered the phone, not sounding as chipper as I wanted to. Maybe it had to do with being exhausted, or maybe it was the simple fact of not really feeling chipper. Thanksgiving had come and gone and suddenly everyone was in the Christmas mood but me. I was dreading it this year. Despite finally finding a decent helper for the shop, I still felt overwhelmed with all the orders that were pouring in. I’m sure it also didn’t help that I was feeling those lonely holiday blues.
Brooks called…a few days later to tell me that he was going to give it a go again with Carrie. I couldn’t blame him for doing so. In face, I would like to think that if I was with someone for 7 years, I wouldn’t just throw the relationship out the window, but that still left me single and miserable.
So, here I was; swamped, over-worked, and alone once more for the holidays. There was definitely nothing to be jolly about in my mind.
“Do you make holiday cookies?” A thick female Russian accent filled my ear.
“I do,” I answered, unable to hide a small smile. Is every Russian accent going to remind me of Alex?!
“I’d like to place an order for some and a few of your other pastries.”
“Okay,” I said, grabbing a pen and paper to take the order. Soon it was all set up for her to pick them up tomorrow at 4:45pm, right before I closed for the weekend. When I asked for her name, she just said Sasha, leading me to believe that everyone in
was either named or
nick-named Sasha. Russia
“I need you to stop by this place and pick-up the order I placed,” my mother said as I walked into the house. I had just finished having a meeting with Coach Hunter and the rest of the Caps management. Unfortunately it wasn’t a meeting about how well things were going, because we all knew how bad it truly was going.
“I’m not in the mood to go out and run errands right now,” I grumbled, flopping down on the couch.
“I don’t care. I told the girl I would be there to pick them up at 4:45pm and it says she closes at 5pm, so you have to go now.”
I looked over at my mom and frowned. She knew I was unable to say no to her. I had too much respect for her. So I held out my hand. She slapped the business card in my hand and walked away. I looked down at it. On the back, in scribbled Russian it was written, “Make sure you bring home a date for dinner.” When I flipped the card around, all I could do was close my eyes and drop my head back into the couch.
I heard the store bells jingle, but I was in the back finishing up a birthday cake that was going to be picked up on Monday morning. I smiled to myself, thinking about how nice it was to have a helper at the store again because if it she wasn’t there, I would have had to stop what I was doing and go out and help the customer. Instead I stayed put and finished dotting the “i” when I heard Tracey loudly say, “Sir! You can’t just walk back there. I have your order already out here!”
When I turned to see what was going on, Alex was already walking through the door of the kitchen. He looked quite the ragged mess. A backwards, red hat adorned his head and he was wearing a black Nike hoodie and a pair of plain grey sweatpants. The winner was his footwear; a pair of Nike sandals and socks.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, feeling annoyed. After not hearing from him since Halloween and seeing the picture he had tweeted of him and Maria a few weeks ago, I was fairly certain he had forgotten about me.
“Since when do you have such a bossy helper?” he asked at the same time. We both froze and stood there looking at each other for a bit. Of course, Alex was the first to speak again. “My mother ordered a cookie tray from you…”
“It wouldn’t happen to be under the name, Sasha, would it?” I asked, trying to hide a smile.
A smile crept over Alex’s face as he nodded. “Yes, it would.”
I nodded and laughed nervously. He looked at me and smiled, but it was a tired, defeated smile. I could tell that he wasn’t his normal self-assured person. “So that was your mother I talked to?”
He shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned against the counter. “Yeah, my parents are over from
. She is making a big dinner tonight.” Russia
“Oh I see,” I spoke quietly, turning my back towards him and making myself busy with the cake once more.
There was a long moment of silence in the room before Alex spoke again. “Lana, you look good,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.
I looked over at him and paused before saying, “I’d say the same to you, but honestly, you don’t look like your normal self.”
He left out an ironic laugh and shook his head. “Life has been…how do you say it? Hectic?”
I nodded my head. “Ah, I see.”
“The girls say you aren’t playing your best hockey.”
“The girls are right. But haven’t you been able to tell that for yourself?” he asked, suddenly taking a step towards my personal space, but I was trying my hardest to not notice.
“I probably could if I actually watched the games, but I’m not into hockey, remember?” I reminded him easily.
“Oh, right,” he said quietly. “I want you to come meet my family, come to my house for dinner tonight,” he suddenly blurted, placing his hand on my upper arm, fully capturing my attention. I took a breath but didn’t dare look at him. “I don’t really think coming to your house for a family dinner is really on my list of exciting things to do at the moment.”
“It’s just me, my family and a couple of my friends…My mom wants to meet you.”
“What did you tell her about me? That I’m the pathetic girl who fell in love with you or the girl who left you walk upstairs in nothing but your underwear after she stole your clothing?” I asked, unable to stop the tears of anger from boiling over.
Alex’s other hand cupped my cheek and forced me to look at him. “She just knows you as girl who has finally made her son realize there is more to life than hockey, money, fast cars and girls.”
I looked at him and bit my lip. The look in his eyes seemed sincere enough. “You know, I meant what I said that night.”
Alex smiled and nodded his head. “I know.”
“If I say yes to coming over tonight, it does not mean I am your girlfriend,” I continued slowly.
“Ah, but it does mean that I still have my way with you,” he joked.
“Will you ever be serious when it counts?” I laughed, wiping the tears from my eyes.
“If I’m not laughing, then I’m not myself.” The pad of his thumb gently caressed my cheek, despite everything, I was still unable to keep myself from leaning into his hand. “We will do things your way, Lana.”
“Slowly?” I asked, sounding like a scared child.
“If that is what you want, then yes.”
Seeing her again instantly made me ache and brought back all the memories I had tried to push away. Like it or not, I had fallen for the southern girl and I knew I needed to step up big-time to prove to her that I was not leading her around this time.
I offered to follow her home and then take her to my house for dinner, but she said that she would be over at 6:30. It wasn’t like I didn’t believe her, but I was slightly afraid she’d chicken out.
The doorbell didn’t even finish ringing when I opened the door. Despite nervously biting her lip, her eyes were smiling as she handed me a bottle of wine.
“I couldn’t come over here without bringing something,” she said quietly as she stepped across the threshold.
Only Lana would go out of her way to bring something along. I’m fairly sure she was right out of the Southern Hospitality Magazine. “My mother will appreciate it,” I chuckled, before leaning down and kissing her on the cheek. I heard her suck in a breath, but when I pulled back she was smiling broadly.
“You smell good,” she whispered when I took her coat.
“And you look delicious,” I said, licking my lips as I looked her up and down. She was in a dark grey sweater dress and black tights. Her hair was pulled back in a low pony-tail. It was obvious she was dressed to impress.
“Well I’m just glad you have clothing on tonight,” she joked, poking me in the stomach before taking back the bottle of wine so that she could personally give it to my mother.
I took her by the arm and led her out to the kitchen where my mom was putting on the finishing touches of dinner. She was scolding Sasha for tasting the gravy right out of the pot when we walked in.
“Ah, Lana! I glad you’re here!” he exclaimed, quickly escaping my mother’s wrath.
“Hi, Sasha,” she blushed easily accepting a hug from my teammate. As soon as he stepped away, my mother walked over to her and took Lana’s hands into her own. It was how my mother greeted everyone for the first time. I always believed as a child that she was a gypsy who was able to read minds when she touched you. Lana didn’t act a bit nervous; instead she just smiled and said, “Hello, Mrs. Ovechkin, it’s wonderful to finally meet ya.”
My mother just smiled and then leaned in to kiss Lana on both cheeks. “Nice to meet you my dear,” she said in broken English. “I understand your English, but I don’t speak well,” she warned Lana.
“It’s okay,” Lana smiled reassuringly. “My Russian is terrible,” she giggled.
“Don’t worry, we will translate everything wrong!” Sasha piped up, causing everyone to laugh loudly.
Thus dinner started off on the right foot.
To no surprise, Alex had changed out of his sweats and was in something more fashionable, which included a tight fitting black shirt and a pair of jeans that accented what the girls called, hockey-butt. When he leaned in to kiss me on the cheek, the scent of his freshly clean skin and cologne filled my nose. Knowing how he easily took comments out of context, I shouldn’t have said anything about him smelling good, but it just kind of popped out. He did smell good and I realized I had to be on my guard because my mind was quickly becoming fogged.
Alex’s mother and father were adorable. They talked non-stop about their son, telling stories about his childhood and divulging secrets that he refused to translate. Of course Semin had no problem translating when Alex wouldn’t, so nothing was left out. Abe and his girlfriend were also present. Although he was not as talkative as the rest of the group in the beginning, he soon was also joining in the conversations and also asking more questions about me. He was a nice guy whose stand-off attitude towards me seemed to diminish with every passing moment. By the end of the night, he made a comment about looking forward to spending more time with me. I was fairly sure that while Abe seemed to come across as just a friend who liked basking in the limelight of Alex, he really did care for him in his own way and I was not about to judge that. I was just glad to finally get to know him a little more than I had known him before.
Tonight, I had learned more about Alex in just a few hours than I had during the few weeks we had been “seeing each other.”
My cookies and pastries were of course the hit of the night. Alex’s mom even made a comment about being positive my baking skills had more than one thing to do with winning over her son. I only blushed and looked away from Alex, knowing he was staring right at me.
During dinner Alex seemed to perk up a bit. Despite still looking tired, his smiles seemed to come easier. What didn’t go unnoticed by me was the way Alex acted around his family and close friends. He was the person I had enjoyed spending time with those times we spent making breakfast together and spent alone on our few dates. There was no superstar act put on when he was in his home. He was just Alex, the Alex I had become intrigued with.
“I think I’m going to head out,” I yawned, placing the last dish in the dishwasher. Everyone had left already and Alex’s parents had already retired for the night.
“But it’s early,” Alex commented.
“And I was up even earlier,” I began to yawn again but instead squeaked when he suddenly picked me up and placed me on the kitchen counter, making sure he had my full attention.
“Did you have fun tonight?” He asked quietly, pushing a piece of my hair behind my ear.
“I did,” I smiled honestly, unable to keep my eyes from connecting with his. They were always so such a hypnotizing blue.
“Are you glad you said yes?”
“I am,” I nodded.
“Can we start over now?” He asked like an excited child.
“One night does not fix everything, Alex,” I said slowly.
“I know this, Lana. I have a lot of fixing to do…”
I couldn’t help but laugh at this statement. I stopped laughing and then paused before saying what I want I had wanted to say earlier today. “I don’t expect you to be an angel, Alex, but honestly, there are somethings you need to work on to make this work.”
“I realize this, Lana.”
I nodded and closed my eyes. Before I could open them again, Alex’s lips were against mine, gently testing me. I kissed him back, unable to turn him away. I had missed him more than anyone would ever know.