Monday, October 11, 2010

Chapter 8 - Rumor Has It

I’m barely at my desk by 9 AM. Jon drives me home, I change lightning fast, rush in and the chair almost rolls out from under me as I reach for the ringing phone. It’s going to be one of those days.

“Katherine, this is Jane Malone with the Sun-Times, I’d love to talk to you about your relationship with Jonathan Toews.”

“Uhhhh, no comment?”

“After this morning’s photos I’m sure you’ll…” she tries.

“Thank you, Jane. But I have no comment.” I hang up, dropping the phone like it’s covered in slime. Not prepared for that. I hustle into Dave’s office, where he’s also talking on the phone. He holds out the paper. On page 3 there are photos from Saturday’s party – a couple of the guys as a group, one of the Sharps, one of Pat and Marie that reminds me I still don’t know what happened at the end of the night. The largest picture is me and Jon, brandishing our handcuffs.

Yes, Officer: Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews knows how to keep his date close at the team’s annual Halloween party

The little story says nothing interesting, except that I work for the team. No wonder that woman knew where to find me. Dave points to the receiver and makes a talking motion with his hand; he’s going to be a while. I head back to my desk and notice the red message light is glowing on my phone.

“Katherine, my name is Jennifer Parkington with Hello Canada and we’re doing a story on you and Jonathan….” Beep, I delete it. “This is Red Eye calling, my name is Laura and we’d love to have you and Jonathan in for a photo shoot….” Delete again.

A shadow crosses behind me. “Morning Kat,” says Paul from Communications. I must look annoyed as cut the last message off in mid-recording. “I’ve got a bunch of them too. I came to ask you not to speak to them, but to let everything go through me.”

“Absolutely. I just won’t answer my phone today,” I volunteer. I wouldn’t know what to say to them anyway; this part of the gig is way over my head.

“It might be more than a day.” Paul pats the top of my cubicle wall and walks away.

I don’t have much time for distractions. If the vendors and caterers I speak with recognize my name, they don’t say anything and before I know it, it’s game time. I stop downstairs and stick my nose into the equipment room: I don’t know the guy in there, but he gives me a #19 jersey without question.

“Nice dress,” Joanna says when I arrive. The jersey is enormous, but everyone in the place is wearing one. Except Joanna, who’s wearing a few layers of thin shirts and expensive jeans. As soon as I sit down, some of the newer dates/girlfriends start chatting to me like we’re old friends. I met them at the Halloween party, but they weren’t around a few weeks ago for the auction. They talk excitedly about everything but hockey – spas and clubs and shopping and a movie they saw yesterday. I can barely focus on the game without being rude and at the first intermission, I elbow Joanna until she suggests we go for food.

“Will they ever shut up?!” I feel bad being mean but they didn’t look at the ice once.

“You are their idol, Kat. All sexy costumed and loved up with the big man on campus. They’re new, it’ll wear off… maybe.” She fails in her effort to not laugh at me. For that, I take her seat when we get back and leave her closest to the chatterboxes. The Hawks win 4-2 on a pair of goals from Kaner. The girls follow us down to the lounge, but Paul catches my arm on the way in.

“Hang out in my office till the press are gone. A couple of them have already asked for you.”

I grimace at Joanna, who dutifully joins me. The girls look disappointed that no one’s telling them to hide. Twenty-five minutes later, Paul fetches us back. Jon’s nowhere to be seen, but Pat’s already dressed.

“Nice game, Kaner. Thought I was gonna have to buy a hat just to throw it,” I say.

“Thanks Kat,” he looks around, then lowers his voice. “I’m sorry about the party. About Marie.”

“It’s okay, what happened?”

He shrugs, trying to look blasé but he’s obviously annoyed. “I drove her home and told her to lose my phone number. It was stupid to even bring her, I knew she was just using me to get in Jon’s pants. Though I hear someone else got what Marie was after.”

“It’s fine, she… what?! “

He’s smiling like the Cheshire Cat. “Jonny told me about the car. I knew you were into some racy stuff Kat!”

I want to die. My face is purple and my mouth hangs open but no response will come. Pat just laughs harder. When Jon comes around the corner, he eyes light up. Then he sees my expression, looks at Pat and throws his hands up.

“Kaner! What the hell?” The look on Jon’s face is priceless – half exasperation, half stupid. If he wanted anything kept secret, he should never have told Kane.

Pat’s slapping his knee. “Just congratulating Kat. Looks like a summer with me taught you to have some fun!”

Jon closes his eyes and walks blindly toward me, stutter stepping. When he reaches me, he stands dejected with his head hanging down and a little pout on his lips. In his suit with his baby face, he looks like a little boy who get in trouble for playing in his dad’s closet.

I smack him on the shoulder. “DUH!”

I follow Jon home and we watch TV, curled up on the couch. The Hawks highlights are on the local news, followed by a segment about the Halloween party. In the clip, we’re showing off our handcuffs and laughing, then Jon is with all the guys. Pat and Marie are last, and they talk about Pat’s 2-goal game.

“Pat dumped Marie for good,” Jon says, his head on my chest.

“I feel bad for him, she was awful.”

“He’s got plenty of backup plans. But he’s a little worried she might cause trouble. I guess he was pretty mean about it. They had a big fight in the car and she left him a couple crazy messages after.” He’s looking at the TV, but not paying attention.

I continue running my fingers over his scalp, refusing to believe she could have anything worth saying. “How much trouble could she be?”

I ignore the phone until the calls stop. The Fall Ball is two weeks away and we’re almost finished with everything. Dave and I spend a whole day tasting appetizers and desserts, another picking out chair covers and place card stationary. By night, Jon sifts through piles of options and pretends to care which orange is the most vibrant against forest green.

“How about this one?”

We’re in my living room, on the floor surrounded by color swatches and card stock. He’s wearing a dark brown t-shirt that makes his eyes look like bottomless pools of hot chocolate. His jeans are frayed at the heels, like they drag under his sneakers when he walks. White socks stick out where his feet are crossed beneath the coffee table.

“It’s nice. It’s the best one.”

I snatch it back. “Jon, that is pink! That’s not even close to orange!”

He snaps to attention. “Oh, I’m sorry. Kat I’m… shit.” He starts laughing and puts his head back on the couch seat. Then he reaches for me and drags me down to the floor on top of him. “I’m not being very helpful, am I? I’m trying to look at colored paper while I’m wondering what color your underwear are.” Jon’s hands winds its way under the waistband of my jeans.

“Are they white?” he whispers, already touching them. I shake my head – they’re not even cute, really, since I’ve been so busy.

“I have an idea,” I say.

I lead Jon into my room, pull out my underwear drawer and pour the entire thing on the bed. It’s the lot – boy shorts and thongs, brand new and worn out, sexy lingerie I picked out with Steph and boring ones I only wear on laundry day. Jon stares at the pile with his mouth slightly open, like a kid at Christmas.

“Pick something. Surprise me.” Let’s see what’s going on in his head, I think.

Three minutes later, he opens the door and sticks out his full hand. Untangling the wad of fabric, I’m a little surprised by what he chose - the one thing Steph insisted I buy, even after we agreed Jon was the white panties type. It’s a tiny red lace dress with bra cups and slits up the sides laced with silk ribbon. It was expensive and it feels like water as I run it through my fingers. Interesting, I admit as I slip out of my work clothes. I check myself in the mirror, knowing Steph would approve of this use of her room. Might as well. I thank her silently as I choose a pair of red stilettos from her closet.

At my door, I knock softly. Jon opens it like he’s on Mad Men – swings it fully open, catching it with his hand as he leans seductively against the door jamb. He’s cool, but his eyes are wide.

“Nice, babe,” he says. I smile at the name – he’s never called me that before.

“Not so bad yourself.” He’s wearing the #19 jersey I had on at the game the other night. He looks like he always does – on the ice, in a photo shoot, on the news – except he’s not wearing any pants. He pulls me into the room, spinning me around then runs his hands down over my ass, slowly, like he’s appraising something wants to buy. These tall shoes and all this red makes me feel like Jessica Rabbit. His hand trails down the back of my thigh and runs slowly back up the bare skin.

“Katherine,” he says softly.

“Jonathan,” I reply. I’ve got goosebumps all over and my heart is starting to race.

“I want you all the time. I can’t stop thinking about you,” his hand reaches my hip, drawing the lace up with it. That voice, deeper than you’d expect, is husky in my ear. “I’m going on the road in a couple of days and I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.” He steps around to face me, lifting the front of my dress and grazing the back of his fingers along the inside of my thighs. When his eyes finally meet mine, they’re full of lust and urgency.

A heartbeat later, we’re wrestling on the bed, kissing and ripping at clothes. Jon pulls the straps from my shoulders and shoves my lingerie down around my waist, grabbing at my exposed breasts. I roll on top of him, straddling his naked lap and press his growing erection flat against his stomach with the crease of my body. All that separates us is a whisper of red lace. Jon groans in pleasure and impatience, then twists his fingers hard into the hips of my panties. A flick of each wrist and the gossamer fabric shreds. He smiles wickedly and rips them right off me. In my surprise, I end up underneath him again.

“You owe…” I don’t get the words out before his tongue is down my throat and his cock is sliding into my hot core. I moan as he presses all the way in, so hard it takes just one hard stroke, and hear his own sound of pleasure as he bottoms out. The heels of his hands press my hips firmly into the bed, holding me down hard and using me as leverage.

“Fuuuuuck,” I can’t help it. He’s five times as strong as I am and riding me like a racehorse. Every thrust is blackout-worthy, watering the edges of my world until I feel like I’m drowning.

“Kat, my God,” he pants, increasing his pace. My hands are on his ass, even in delirium I can appreciate his perfect form bucking and flexing in my arms. He gets his knees under him and lifts my ass onto his thighs, levering me downward until I swear I’m buried in the mattress for good. My eyes want to roll back but I force them open because I know this looks almost as good as it feels. Every curve of his abs clenches and pulses with his powerful thrusts. Six pack, eight pack… I lose count as he wraps his arms around my back and hauls me up until I’m sitting on his lap.

His mouth takes the breath from my lungs as he holds me down, hard, against himself. I use my feet to lift and drop onto his thick, solid cock. I don’t feel his lips at my neck until he buries his teeth into my skin and I know I’ll need a scarf to hide that tomorrow. Jon presses against the flat of my back, moving me near and far while I move up and down. My stomach flutters.

“Jon,” I gasp as I get closer to the edge. Tiny beads of sweat from his forehead smear against my skin. He reaches for a pillow, positions it under my hips and flips me back down on the bed, throwing his weight on top of me. Something slides off the nightstand then a hail of breaking glass follows to the floor. I giggle without thinking.

“Oops,” he says, pounding at me as I pull down against him, begging for more. Another something shatters. I wrap my legs around his back and hook my feet together or I might be the next thing to fall. I’m holding my breath against tiny little drops in my stomach, like Jon’s driving too fast over small hills.

“Kat, are you… I can’t…”

I yank his face to mine and kiss him silent as my body free falls for a second, then catches back to the track and zooms like a roller coaster. My back arches hard, almost enough to lift Jon, and I cry out as an orgasm rips through me. Centrifugal force spins my body a few times, tossing sparklers around as Jon drives himself home. I feel him break hot inside me. Three pumps and he drains himself with a long, low moan.

“Good thing… not on trip…,” he pants.

A wrapped box turns up on my desk after lunch. It’s six water glasses from Crate & Barrel. Just like the two we smashed the night before – one had been on the bedside table, the other on the floor in front of it. The card says:

Can’t wait to break these when I get back. - Jon

Two more days go by in a blur of signing final orders and head counts. The team leaves tomorrow for a ten day road trip and when they’re back, it’s only three days till the Fall Ball. I’ve all but forgotten about reporters calling and press inquiries when I get a call from Paul asking me to come to Communications. Dave is already there when I arrive.

“Uh oh.” I take a seat.

“Kat, tell me you haven’t talked to any press,” Paul starts. I shake my head no. “Good. I’ve been on the phone with the Sun-Times and they have a story we don’t like. Apparently, Kane and his latest had a falling out…”

“Marie,” I say.

He spreads his hands. “Well she’s got their gossip people sold on a story that he dumped her because he caught her with Jon.”

“WHAT?! That is crazy. Pat dumped her because she was after Jon – everyone at the party knows that.”

“Hold on. Marie’s telling them that Jon kissed her the night of the auction, but she turned him down because he was still with his old girlfriend. Then at the Halloween party, he kissed her again and Pat happened to see it.”

“Not possible. Jon kissed ME the night of the auction.” I feel sick to my stomach. This fucking bitch, I seethe in my head.

“I’m not talking about the photos…” he says.

“Me neither. Jon kissed me alone in the back room. Not for show. There’s no way he kissed Marie that night, we were together the whole time.”

“What about this old girlfriend she mentioned?”

Dave jumps in. “That would be Rachel. She and Jon broke up right before – she was supposed to be in the auction, Kat had to take her place at the last minute.”

That night changed so many things that I hadn’t thought through the exact chain of events. “Marie saw me before the show, and she seemed convinced that Jon and I had been dating in secret during the summer. I told her she was wrong.” The surprise on her face, the insinuation in her voice – it had not really registered at the time.

“And then Jon kissed you and told everyone you two were together. So it looked like you had been dating for a while” Dave admits. “Sorry.”

Paul waves his way in. “But Marie is referring to another girl. One Jon was already broken up from? So she’s saying that night he kissed you both – you in public, her in secret – all while he was still with this old girlfriend. ”

I put my head in my hands. No one ever knew about Rachel, so I never thought about how it looked – Jon and I acting like we’d been together at least a little while, when really he’d been with someone else at that time. It sounded like a bad lie, made up to cover something worse.

“What do we do?”

Paul leans back in his chair. “I’ll talk to the Sun-Times and try to kill it. This girl is in plenty of recent photos with Pat, so she’s not just some crazy stalker. I don’t know that I’ll be able to discredit her. Maybe I can hold them off till the guys go on the road, and the story will just die.”

Jon calls me after his nap. “I talked to Paul. It’s not good. The Sun-Times is going to run the story tomorrow.”

“Ugh. Are they gonna say anything back? Let you talk?”

“No, I’m not supposed to acknowledge it. They think us talking about it will only make a bigger deal.”

I knew it. I understand the logic: denying the story gives it traction, gives the papers more to print. But I hate the idea of someone talking shit about Jon and getting away with it. And about Pat, and about me! If people thought Jon was kissing Marie, then he couldn’t like me very much. If he had another girlfriend the whole time, I’m the home-wrecking bitch.

“Sorry Kat,” he sounds really sad. “Will you still come to the game tonight?”

I’m so mad. “You bet your ass I’m coming. I’ll cheer myself sick so they have something good to show if this story hits the TV news.”

I wear my now-favorite game outfit: Steph’s jeans with boots and my vintage Hawks t-shirt. If we’re going down, I’m doing it in style. I give Joanna and Ashley the abridged version of the story, trying to keep the chatterboxes or any other WAGs from overhearing. I bet they’d all back me up, but you never know. Another woman might be gunning for Jon herself.

“That sack of shit,” Joanna says loudly. I shush her. “What a crock, Jon never even cheated at cards.”

“I know,” I assure her. “Let’s hope the story goes nowhere.”

She looks around the arena at 19,000 people who could be talking about this tomorrow. “Yeah, right.”

The Hawks lose a close one. Pat’s already gone and Jon’s packing up his gear when I’m finally allowed into the room. He wraps me in a hug – the game was hard on him, but I think he means something else.

“I’m so sorry about this,” he says.

“It hasn’t even happened yet. It could still be nothing.”

He kisses my forehead. “Good attitude.”

Jon stops the car at the top of the players’ parking ramp to sign some autographs. I wave at people – very visible, they’re taking photos and I’m in every one. Tomorrow morning this might look a little different. On the road, Jon drives right past my apartment, circles and pulls into a parking spot.

“Okay if I stay over?”

I make us spaghetti and meatballs, which we eat under a blanket on the couch. Jon wears an old t-shirt of my brother’s and some warm up pants that were in his trunk. He doesn’t say much, but he looks tired. The team leaves tomorrow at Noon. When we’re finished eating, he puts our empty bowls in the sink then takes me hand and leads me upstairs. We get ready for bed like a married couple – brush our teeth, I wash my face, he puts a new roll of toilet paper on the dispenser. We climb into bed very orderly and I click off the light.

“It’s gonna be okay, Jon,” I say as he arms circle around me in the dark.

“Something was bound to happen eventually, I guess. I just don’t want you and Pat dragged into it,” his voice is soft.

I wrap my leg around his. “We’re like your defensemen. You need us.”

That gets a laugh and his lips trace the hairline at my forehead. His body is so solid and warm it’s like an immovable force. I can’t believe it’s barely been a month since the auction, since our first kiss – both real and fake. Two weeks since our first date. This is why people say you should be friends before you date, I think as I move a sleeve and kiss his bare arm. You come so far so fast.

“I’m just worried she’s going to mess us up.”

I want to say no way, impossible, I’m crazy about you. But maybe that’s too much for two weeks or a month. Sure he said he wants to have sex all the time but that’s different. I think I know how we feel about each other…

“The only people I care about are you and me,” I say honestly, if a little abridged. “And I’m not going anywhere.”

“I hope you still feel that way tomorrow.”

Jon’s cell phone rings at 6 AM. He climbs across the bed and bats at his pants, hanging off the back of a chair. Finally, he gets the phone and lays down on top of me.

“Paul,” he says without looking.

“Morning Jon. Is Kat there too?”

Jon must be feeling a little better about the prospect of today because he gives me a very saucy eyebrow wiggle. I put my finger to my lips and make a face. Dating is one thing, but for everyone at work to know we’re waking up together almost daily is a bit much, especially if a storm is coming.

“She’s sleeping in a tent in the backyard,” Jon says with a smile.

Paul laughs. “Well when she comes in, tell her to bring the paper. You guys should see this before she gets to work.”

I pull on the track pants Jon wore last night, a sweatshirt and go downstairs with a handful of change. The newspaper box in front of our building has already been stocked, so I try not to look as I bring two copies upstairs. Jon’s sitting up in bed with two of the new glasses filled with juice. He reaches for the papers, but I put them behind my back. Just for a second, I want to look at him. Hair so short shouldn’t get messy, but his reveals hints of sleep and friction. With a big glass of OJ he looks like a little kid, until you realize he’s a 10+ for hotness and at least half naked in some rumpled bed sheets. I crawl up on my hands and knees and kiss his cold, orange-flavored lips.

“I don’t care what this says,” I tell him.

He smiles so gratefully that my heart melts. I get a real kiss for that – his orange juice tasting almost gross with my toothpaste. But not so gross that I’d stop. Jon puts the juice down, takes the papers and drops them at the side of the bed. I slide out of my clothes, under the covers and we pause the morning for a while to enjoy each others’ warm, naked company. Now I really don’t care what the papers say, I think as I lay beneath him, trying to catch my breath.

Eventually, we bite the bullet. The front page of the Sun-Times as a small banner tease at the top with a picture of Jon’s head cut from the Michigan Avenue magazine cover. Toews love triangle: Is Captain Serious Seriously Busted?

It’s not funny, but I laugh nervously. “Oh my God, we’re in a Lifetime movie.”

Jon smiles, but he’s in serious mode now. On page 5 we find the gossip column – which is completely devoted to us: on the right a photo of Marie and Pat from the auction, on the left the one of me and Jon kissing.

“First kiss,” he says, tilting it toward me.

“As if I could forget.”

Below that, surprisingly, is a photo of me and Jon dancing at last year’s Christmas party. The one where he said he thought I was beautiful and developed a crush on me. We both stare at it for a moment, not speaking. I vaguely remember dancing with him, though in the picture we look like a couple.

Toews: Two-timing with teammate’s girl?

Blackhawks captain and general wonderboy Jonathan Toews recently made headlines with his first public girlfriend, charity department manager Katherine Banning. But don’t believe everything you read – Toews may have been trying to score on different ice. Marie Diamonte, pictured at right with Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, claims that Toews put the moves on her so insistently it ended her relationship with Kane.

“Jonathan was very aggressive in pursuing me. He kissed me at the bachelor auction, without my permission, and seemed shocked when I turned him down because I was there with Patrick. Also, I knew Jonathan already had a girlfriend. Then at the Halloween party, Jonathan kissed me again and Patrick saw. Everyone thinks Jonathan is so innocent and nice, Patrick didn’t believe me when I explained what he’d seen. He broke up with me because he thought I was cheating with Jonathan. And I won’t stand for someone to take advantage of me like that.”

The Blackhawks have declined to comment on the accusation and are keeping Toews, Kane and Banning quiet. Diamonte had been seeing Kane since the end of last season, and spent time with Kane and Toews over the summer during Stanley Cup celebration activities. Banning, a virtual newcomer to the equation, has worked for the Hawks for two seasons and may have been involved with Toews as early as 2008 when they were photographed together at a children’s hospital. Last season they looked quite close at the Blackhawks Christmas dinner,” dancing intimately and touching often” according to one guest report.

Has a single summer changed Captain Serious into a serious player? We might expect this kind of behavior from some of Chicago’s other star athletes, but we were hoping for more from the quiet young star.


  1. Ohhh God, I knew she would back with vengeance!

    Glad to see that they're resilient so far, hope this blows over for both of them. Super sweet :)

  2. I knew she wasn't going to go quietly!