Sex—it was a life-altering event. From the time your hormones came to life and encouraged you to get laid, you were pretty much screwed.
It was a bargaining chip.
A stress reliever.
Some girls needed to love the guy in order to do the deed. Others were only in it for a good time; commitment wasn’t in the books.
Sometimes it rocked one’s world.
Other times you wondered why you had even bothered—the guy had no idea how to make a woman come. Unfortunately, they didn’t wear a warning label.
They really should.
And sometimes sex came with consequences. The kind of consequences that started with you in the bathroom, the peed-on pregnancy test doing its thing next to you on the counter.
There it was, by the sink as I finished washing my hands. My life? Now at the mercy of a frigging piece of plastic.
If there was ever a time to fail at something, this would be it. Except, when had I ever failed at anything I did?
Never. That was when.
I dried my hands and escaped the bathroom as though it contained a ticking bomb. Kelsey and Erin, my closest friends, were standing in the hallway of my apartment with expectant looks on their faces. I shrugged. “I don’t know yet.” I indicated over my shoulder to the bathroom. “It’s in there…but I can’t look.”
“Do you want me to tell you?” Kelsey asked. Her tone had enough sympathy to overflow an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Sympathy with a splash of excitement. Kelsey loved babies.
Normally, I was a brave woman. I had moved thousands of kilometers from my home in Australia to do my MBA in the U.S., even though there were plenty of great schools back home. After that, I’d landed a brilliant job here in San Francisco. Every day, I lived, breathed, survived in the testosterone-dominated world of finance which required me to be a brave and confident woman.
But normally brave and confident me couldn’t find even a millimeter of courage to check my fate when it came to the pregnancy test.
I nodded in response to Kelsey’s question.
“Okay,” she said softly, possibly to avoid freaking me out more than I already was. Good luck with that.
She entered the bathroom with Erin and I trailing after her as though she were a brave warrior princess getting ready to slay the evil dragon.
I would have gladly taken an evil fire-breathing dragon any day over what was really waiting for us. Behold Holly—destroyer of all things not so pleasant. For that, I could be kick-ass confident.
My bathroom wasn’t large by any stretch of the imagination, but it had never felt so small until that moment. And it had nothing to do with the three of us crammed into the space. Of course, Erin being eight-months pregnant didn’t help either. And right now? She was the poster woman of what the plastic stick possibly held for me—a future involving multiple trips a day to the loo.
She glanced longingly at the toilet. I guess that was my hint to get this over with ASAP.
Kelsey picked up the stick and studied it.
“What does it say?” Bonus points to me for not squeaking when I asked the question.
She didn’t say anything at first, her expression not giving any indication of what she was thinking—or what answer stared back at her.
“Did it work?” I asked. There was always a chance I had done it wrong. Peeing on a stick wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Or maybe the test was faulty. There was always that too.
She nodded slowly, still staring at the stick. Then her gaze slid to mine, and without her saying anything, I knew the answer. Sympathy and awe and happiness all shone back at me. “You’re going to have a baby.”
She handed me the test and the answer was there for the world to see.
But it was the wrong answer.
I wasn’t pregnant. I was sure of it.
Pregnancy tests weren’t a hundred percent accurate. They were ninety-nine percent accurate. It said so on the box. Which meant one out of a hundred times they were incorrect.
And this test was that magical one—the test that got the answer wrong.
Two months earlier
Quiz time. What makes an NHL hockey player both excited and fearful at the same time? That’s right. The final minutes of game seven during the Stanley Cup playoffs. More so when the two teams are tied and the game could go either way.
Too bad for the Rock—it hadn’t gone our way.
Anaheim was advancing to the finals.
And we were now on an early vacation.
But first…we had to pull up our extra large, big-girl panties and congratulate the other team.
Like little boys who lost their favorite toy truck, we skated in a single line and congratulated each member of their team, including the support staff. Some of the congratulations were spoken half-heartedly; I didn’t know those guys and they didn’t know me.
I gave Sutter, my former teammate, a one-armed hug. Until he was traded a few years ago, he used to play for the Rock. “Congratulations. You deserve this, man.” Sutter had been my mentor the first year I played for the team. He was the guy who kept me from becoming a much bigger cocky ass than I was now. Now I was one-eighth cocky ass—maybe a little more during a full moon.
Although compared to Grant—the pain-in-the-ass Ducks defenseman—I was fucking Snow White.
No, I didn’t mean literally fucking her, not that I would complain if I did get to. But if we were talking about getting to fuck a Disney princess, it would totally be that red-haired mermaid—what was her name?
“Now I have to hope Jenny doesn’t go into labor until after the playoffs,” Sutter said.
I stared at him for a heartbeat, letting his words sink in. “I didn’t realize you guys were expecting.”
His face beamed with pride. You would’ve thought his team had won the Stanley Cup instead of the Campbell Bowl. Not that the Campbell Bowl was anything to sneeze at.
But we weren’t talking about the much-coveted trophy here. We were talking about a small human who did nothing but shit, cry, and generally take over your life.
I shuddered at the thought. There weren’t any babies in my future. I’d learned the hard way that the NHL and kids weren’t a good mix.
Just ask my old man.
If you could find him.
Sutter and I didn’t get a chance to talk further. The guys behind us were waiting for us to get moving. The Ducks were eager to get their trophy and we were eager to leave.
Once we were finished with the congratulations, we returned to the locker room.
“Are you heading out tonight?” Mark asked Travis and me. You couldn’t miss the wistful expression that passed briefly on his face. Even his scraggly playoff beard couldn’t hide it.
“I’m meeting up with some friends,” I told him, knowing that the only thing he was doing tonight was diaper duty.
“You’re still joining me and the guys later at The Unicorn, right?” Travis asked me.
“I will if I can,” I replied, spying Coach Woodcroft heading our way with the look he always wore whenever he had to deliver bad news…the type of bad news involving a media request.
“Hoffer,” he said, “they’re asking for you.”
Mark and Travis snickered and started to turn away.
“Not so fast, gentlemen,” Woodcroft said. “They asked for all three of you.”
I did my own share of snickering. Fair is fair.
One of the assistant coaches led us from the safety of our locker room to the awaiting media in the dressing room. They separated into flocks, each pecking at their own victim with their questions.
“How did you feel tonight’s game went?”
“The Rock’s defense was on fire for this game. In what way do you think it could have gone better?”
“What are your expectations for next year?”
The questions seemed never ending, and only delayed me from getting together with Trent and his girlfriend, Kelsey. And let’s not forget Holly, the redhead he worked with who could easily be mistaken for that mermaid Disney princess—only a lot hotter.
And with a sexy Aussie accent.
No, I haven’t fucked her.
But don’t think for a moment that she hasn’t starred in a few of my fantasies, when it was just me, my hand, and the shower.
How did I meet her? She was at a dinner party Trent and Kelsey had thrown a few months ago. After getting together with them a few more times, Holly and I eventually became friends. But our friendship didn’t mean fantasizing about her was off limits—even if I didn’t want to date her.
Nothing against Holly. I didn’t date. Period.
But it was cool having Holly for a friend. She was that female you could call when you needed advice and knew your male buddies wouldn’t know the answer. Or rather, they would have an answer—but it was always a bullshit one. She was that friend who teased you about your manwhore ways but without any judgmental crap.
And the added bonus? She liked movies, but she didn’t feel the need to drag me to lame chick flicks.
Mark was scooting toward the locker room doors, doing his best to escape.
“I need to go now,” I said, attempting my own great escape.
I had barely stepped through the doorway when Travis practically rammed into me from behind. I chuckled. “What, you didn’t want to stick around for more questions?”
“Christ, no. Besides, the sooner I’m out of here, the sooner I can get laid.”
Guess I wasn’t the only one with that post-game mission in mind.
© Stina Lindenblatt 2017