A few days later, Sidney and I were having lunch together in a downtown café when I recounted my introduction to the staff at the radio station.
“You’re kidding!” She practically screamed.
I shook my head and stifled a laugh. “I’m not kidding. The one guy at the bar, who I thought was hot, works in the building. I mean, what are the chances?” I shook my head at the absurdity of the situation.
Sid looked thoughtful. “Actually, considering how small the city is, it’s not that hard to believe. I’m just surprised because this kind of stuff always seems to happen to you.”
“Well, if ever there was a chance that I’d date again, my choices just flew out the window.” I laughed as though the idea of dating was completely illogical. I knew there was no way I’d date again anytime soon.
“Just because he works in the same building doesn’t mean that you can’t date him.” Sidney tried to reason with me.
I shook my head furiously. “I forgot to mention that he’s the sports director. I don’t want anything to do with sports anymore. I can’t get wrapped up in that life again.”
Sid gave me a sympathetic look. “He’s not a player, Sienna. He works in radio.”
“It doesn’t matter to me. I don’t want to be involved with anyone who is remotely close to the sports world. I’ve done that before and look how it turned out for me.” I paused. “Besides, there’s no way I’m dating again. Not now, not anytime soon. I was just joking about the idea of dating.”
Sid sighed, defeated. She knew that when I put my mind on something, I would never back down.
A few minutes later, as I chewed the last bite of my wrap, Sid went on to tell me that she had found three houses for us to look at that day. She hoped that I saw something that I liked because two of them were just put on the market and they won’t last long.
We quickly finished eating and headed to see the first house in a new area of the city. It was a brand new house that had never been lived in and, in my opinion, it was too big for just one person. It was 2600 square feet, two floors, and it overlooked the entire city. The granite kitchen was immaculate, the bedrooms were pure white, and the master bathroom was something out of a magazine.
“This is way too much house for just me, Sid. I hope the next one is smaller.”
The next house was a lot smaller, almost too small, with its narrow hallways and tiny rooms. It was an old war-time house that had been renovated and upgraded from top to bottom. It was nice, but just a little too small for my needs. I knew I would have felt cramped in the tiny space.
The last house on the list was a few blocks from the city center, where the radio station was, on a relatively quiet street with older neighbours. The street had mature trees and perfectly groomed boulevards. I could easily picture myself living in such a quiet, picturesque area of the city. When we walked in the front door of the older home, I was impressed. There was a sitting room with a fireplace on one side of the entrance and a large dining room on the other side. Through the dining room was the kitchen which had been updated recently. Upstairs were two guest bedrooms, a bathroom, and the master suite. When Sid took me out the French doors which were off the main bedroom, I knew this was the house that I wanted. I pictured myself drinking coffee on the balcony outside of that bedroom each morning.
“I want to put in an offer, Sid.”
She clapped her hands together happily.
Two weeks later, my family was helping me to move boxes into my new home. My sister was in my bedroom, hanging all my clothes in the walk-in closet. My brother-in-law and nephew were hauling boxes and new furniture into the house from the moving truck that I had rented. As I watched my new furniture being unpacked, I realized that I had forgotten how much money it cost to furnish a house. My mom and I were in the kitchen, washing and drying the new dishes I had to purchase.
“This is a beautifully restored house, Sienna.” My mother grinned with pride. “That master bedroom suits you well.”
“Thanks, Mom. As soon as Sid and I walked in through the front door, I knew this was the house I wanted. The bedroom was the deciding factor. Did you get a chance to check out the balcony off the bedroom yet?”
My mother nodded. “I love that it overlooks the backyard. I can help you do some landscaping in the yard after you’re settled in.”
“Thanks, Mom. I’d really appreciate that.” I gave her a one-armed hug and then continued to put dishes in the cupboards.
“When do you start working again?” My mother inquired.
“The network in L.A. has been re-playing old shows while I get settled at home. I’m hoping to work on new material as soon as tonight and then record my show at the radio station tomorrow.”
My mother had always hated my personal radio show. She was proud of me for achieving my dream, but the content and swearing on air was something that she said bothered her. She listened to my first couple of shows but eventually explained to me that she didn’t like hearing me talk about sex, drinking, partying in Hollywood, and living such a crazy life. My mom was the traditional type and found it hard to understand the differences between our generations. For as much as she was proud of me, she just couldn’t bring herself to listen to my provocative radio show. She meant well, and I understood her perspective so I didn’t push her to listen in.
Later that evening, as everyone sat around my new kitchen eating pizza that I had ordered for dinner, Parker mentioned that his next little league game was on the weekend. “We’re going to be playing the toughest team in the league. I don’t think we’re going to win.”
“You have to think positive, Parker. If you start with a losing attitude then you’ve already lost the game.” I threw my pizza crust in the garbage and sat down at the table again. “I have a great idea,” I casually mentioned, “I’ll take you to a local baseball game tomorrow and we’ll watch the big boys play. That should give you some motivation and it will show you how a losing attitude can change a game.”
“Are mom and dad coming with us?” Parker asked.
I shook my head. “No, it will just be me and you. We’ll give your parents a break from us for a few hours.”
Parker fist-pumped the air while taking another bite of his third piece of pizza.
That night, after everyone had gone home for the evening, I sat on my bedroom balcony, sipping on a cappuccino and working on new material for my first show while I watched the sun set.
As I wrote notes on the culture shock of moving home, my mind drifted back to my time in Los Angeles. I missed my friends and a part of me yearned to be with Hudson’s family again.
Hudson. I sighed. I closed my notebook and set it aside. In the grand scheme of things, our time together seemed so short. I smiled to myself as I thought back to the awards show where we saw each other for the second time.
Time had moved forward and my life was changing at a rapid pace after I started working on my own show. I was no longer a local fill-in sportscaster at a small station. I was a well-known face in sports. To promote my show, my persona was plastered everywhere in the sports world. I was on billboards, in flyers, and the network made me do a couple of commercials to promote my show as well. More people recognized me in the street, I couldn’t go grocery shopping without having to sign autographs, and, more often than not, my drinks were usually paid for by strangers when I went out with my girl friends. Because my network wanted to give me every possible opportunity, they got me tickets to any game I wanted to see, every party in the sporting world, and as many fundraisers as I could fit into my schedule. I was living the celebrity life but doing a different job than the celebrities themselves. I was living on the fringes of celebrity life and I loved every minute of it.
As weeks turned into months, my show’s ratings kept getting better. My bosses were happy, but I felt that I needed to do something more for my viewers. I wanted to take the cameras off the filming sight and do live interviews again. I had always loved doing live interviews at games and behind the scenes so I thought it would be a nice treat for my viewers every once in a while. The next thing I knew, I was doing locker room interviews again, phone-in interviews with some of the hottest athletes, and there was a waiting list of stars who wanted to come on my show. My show was a huge hit and the network thanked me by buying me a condo in downtown Los Angeles and leasing an expensive sports car. I was living the high life and things could not have been any better.
Even though I covered basketball, football, baseball, and a lot of other sports, my favorite was always hockey. Having my own sports talk show was the catalyst for my love of hockey. Of all the tickets that were sent to my office, I always used the hockey tickets. If I had something else planned for the evening, I would reschedule and go to the game instead. Sometimes I’d go alone when it seemed that no one else could come with me, but I didn’t mind because I loved learning about the sport. A few times, I was lucky enough to be able to go behind the scenes to talk to players, coaches, managers, other hockey staff, and even some of the hockey wives and girlfriends that worked tirelessly behind the scenes of each organization to help their husbands and boyfriends. Above all else, I learned that it was true what they said; hockey wasn’t just a sport, it was a way of life.
So, when the network couriered tickets to my office for me to attend the awards show in Las Vegas, I was like a kid in a candy store. Even though the network expected me to do interviews on the Red Carpet at the awards, I was still as excited as a child at Christmas when I realized what an honor it would be to attend the event. I was as giggly as a school-girl.
I stood on the Red Carpet entrance to the Awards as all the hockey players made their way inside. I felt as though I had interviewed every single player that walked past me that evening. With excitement and adrenaline pumping through my veins, I knew that it was some of my best work while I had been employed at the sports network.
As things were winding down on the Red Carpet and the awards were about to be handed out, Hudson Iver was the last player who made his way up the red carpet. He noticed me right away and walked up to me with a smile.
“We meet again.”
His sexy grin melted me and I could feel my cheeks turning red. “Hello, Hudson. How are you feeling tonight?” I held out the microphone to capture his answer.
“I feel good. I had a pre-game nap and I’m ready for anything tonight.” He winked at me.
“You’re nominated for the top defenseman trophy tonight along with a few other hard-hitting defensemen. Do you feel confident that you’ll win?”
Hudson smiled his charming hockey smile and leaned towards my mic. “I am included in a group of really great players. Whoever wins will surely deserve the win.” He looked over his shoulder at his agent who was ushering him along. “I should go inside now because I’m late.”
I thanked him for taking some time to talk with me.
Just before he turned to leave, he leaned closer to me and whispered in my ear. “You look stunning tonight.” He flashed me a dazzling smile and then walked away.
I stood in complete shock as I watched him disappear into the building. My cheeks burned crimson and I felt flattered yet embarrassed. Hudson Iver just told me I looked STUNNING! Inside, I was a mess of emotions. On the outside, I attempted to contain myself.
A few hours later, after all the awards had been handed out, I was in a cab, heading towards an after-party where I was hoping to talk with some of the winners of that night’s awards. That was the only negative aspect of my job – while everyone else was having fun and enjoying some down time, I was always working. But, because I was always around the most interesting people and invited to a lot of amazing events, I didn’t complain. I loved my job.
When I walked into the party, there were hoards of people milling around in groups. I made my way up to the bar and asked for a drink. As I waited, I noticed some of the most famous players from each team scattered around the room. I made a mental note of who I wanted to talk to that night.
And then I inadvertently caught his gaze – Hudson Iver stood among a group of people he played with, a smirk played at his lips. I was so focused on work at the red carpet entrance that I had overlooked the fact that he looked so handsome in his suit jacket and dress pants. I quickly turned back towards the bar and accepted my drink from the bartender.
When I turned back around, Hudson was smiling in my direction. He then held up his beer as if to say “cheers” and I returned the gesture.
As quickly as I could, I made my way out of his sight, afraid that he may have walked over to me. He was the only man I had ever been around that made me feel like losing control.
During the course of the evening, I had the chance to speak with some of the winners and their spouses. News cameras weren’t allowed into the after-party so I didn’t have any video footage of my discussions. Luckily, I had a great memory and I knew that I’d be able to recount the most important topics of conversation after I returned to my hotel room later that night.
Later on, after socializing with some of the winners, I sipped on my last drink. Just as I was about ready to leave the party, content with the information I had acquired from the people I talked to, Hudson Iver crept up behind me as I finished the last sip of my drink at the bar.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman look so beautiful in red before tonight. That dress looks amazing on you.”
His whispered words startled me, but I tried to keep myself composed as I swiveled around to face him. “Thank you,” I replied as diplomatically as possible.
He helped me off my bar stool and then held onto my hand for a moment too long. “Dance with me before you leave.” He paused. “Please.”
I hesitated even though his grin mesmerized me.
“One dance and then I promise I will never bother you again.” He held out his hand.
After considering his proposition for a moment, I let him lead me to the dance floor on the far side of the room. A shiver rippled up my spine as he put his arms around me and pulled me into him. When I looked up at his face, his green eyes sparkled in a way I had never seen before. We swayed to the music, not breaking our gaze.
As we danced, he spoke. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. I haven’t been able to get you off my mind since the first day I saw you on the big screen at the rink. And, when I met you, on the set of your show…” He sighed. “You have been on my mind ever since.”
I looked away from him, scared of the feelings he stirred within me.
He lifted my chin until I met his gaze again. “I need to get to know you.”
Before I could say anything in response, Hudson’s lips were on mine as we continued to sway to the music.
The beginning of our relationship was a fairy tale, and I knew that, had things turned out differently, Hudson and I could have had an envious relationship just as my sister had with Lukas.
But life had a way of surprising me with dark secrets.