"Oh, no. You are not wearing that." Adrienne steered me into her bedroom and opened her overflowing closet. "You can borrow one of my dresses."
"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" I asked, looking at my black button-down shirt and gray pencil skirt.
"Did you wear it to work today?"
"That's what's wrong. You look like a librarian."
"I am a librarian."
She shook her head and pulled out a strapless, short black dress. "You're wearing this."
I knew better than to argue. Adrienne and I had been friends since our freshman year at Pitt, and five years of friendship had taught me that when Adrienne got an idea in her head, arguing was futile. I quickly changed into the dress and glanced at myself disapprovingly in the full-length mirror. "Do you have a cardigan or something that I can put over this?"
"You don't need one. Here." She pulled my long, blonde hair out of its ponytail and fluffed it through her fingers and found a substantial sapphire necklace for around my neck. "Oh, that makes your eyes look amazing."
"I look like a hooker."
Adrienne rolled her eyes. "You do not. That dress is way too classy, even for an expensive prostitute."
We took a cab Downtown, to the Penn, where a red carpet was spread out in front of the entrance. When I saw the other attendees of the fundraiser, I was glad Adrienne redressed me. I would have looked dowdy compared to some of the other women.
We found a table with a few other people from the Tribune-Review and Adrienne began snapping pictures and taking notes with her iPhone for her article. I glanced around the room and tried to see how many players I recognized. Of course, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were easy to spot. I was pretty sure the tall, lanky one in the corner was Fleury, but I couldn't tell who the rest of the players were. I would catch the occasional hockey game if I didn't have anything better to do, but for the most part I avoided sports. I had moved to Pittsburgh from Hartford, Connecticut for college and had never caught onto the intense sports culture that defined the city.
Dinner began at eight o'clock and the players-turned-waiters descended on their respective tables with food and wine. A man with dark skin, brown hair and eyes, and a French-Canadian accent approached our table with a bottle of Merlot.
"Oh, no. Adrienne Michaels. How did you get past security?" he said in mock-seriousness.
"You know seeing me is the highlight of your evening, Max. Here's $50 for you to shut up."
Max grinned and put the money in his apron pocket. "Darling, there isn't enough money in the world for me to shut my mouth." He began pouring wine for the table, and when he came to me he leaned down so his mouth was close to my ear. "You look like a nice girl," he said to me. "What are you doing with this one?" He motioned to Adrienne.
I couldn't help but be conscious of his breath on my ear. I flushed slightly and smiled. "I guess I'm here to keep her out of trouble," I replied, a little flustered by how close he was to me.
"Ah, I see. Good luck." He flashed a cute grin and walked away.
"Max Talbot," Adrienne said to me quietly, knowing that I didn't recognize him. I swore sometimes that girl could read my mind. "Number 25. He's a charmer, isn't he?"
"Oh yeah. He's cute, too." I couldn't stop my eyes from following Max around the room throughout the dinner. He had an enigmatic personality. No matter who was around him, he always seemed to be the center of attention.
"Ask him out," Adrienne said quietly. My eyes snapped to her in surprise. She had a knowing grin on her face. Apparently she had been watching me watch Max for the past hour.
"Yeah, right," I scoffed. "I don't want to date anyone. Plus, why would a professional athlete want to go out with me?"
"It's Max. He loves women. All women. Ask him out. He'll say yes."
She shrugged. "Alright, then. I guess I have to take matters into my own hands."
"What do you mean?" I was slightly panicking. Adrienne had a familiar, mischievous look on her face. I didn't like it.
Her grin grew larger as she called Max over. "Mr. Talbot, I will give you $100 if you ask my friend Jessica on a date."
I blushed furiously and gasped. "Oh my God, Adrienne, no."
Max laughed loudly and shook his head. "I am not a gigolo."
"But it's for charity!" Adrienne argued.
"No, you don't get it. I'll take her for free."
I fluctuated between being absolutely mortified and slightly flattered that a professional hockey player wanted to go out with me.
"Excellent!" Adrienne exclaimed. "Here's her number. You'd better call her."
"Oh, I will," Max replied, smiling at me.
I closed my eyes and shook my head. My face was burning hot from blushing. "Sometimes I really hate you, Adrienne."
A week and a half later, Max still hadn't called. Although I refused to admit it, I was slightly disappointed. I was still mad at Adrienne for setting us up, but as far as set ups go Max wasn't a bad deal. He was cute, funny, and flirtatious. If I had to go on a date, I would have liked it to be with him.
I was getting ready to go out with Adrienne and some friends on April 10th, almost a full two weeks after Skates and Plates, when Max finally called.
"I'm sorry I haven't called sooner, but my schedule has been ridiculous with games and practices. I want to ask you to dinner, but I'm sure you've lost interest in me and have your eyes on some other lucky guy." His tone was apologetic and half-serious. I couldn't help but smile.
"Oh, I suppose I could find some time for dinner," I teased. I couldn't stop myself from flirting with him. He was far too charismatic for me to not be excited about him calling.
"Is Sunday okay?"
"Yeah, Sunday is great." I gave him directions to my apartment, and he said he would pick me up at seven. I went into Adrienne's room with a big smile on my face. "I have a date with a hockey player," I said, realizing that I had not been so excited about spending time with a guy in a long time.
4 years ago