He felt like a complete douche, to say the least. It was so bad that he was actually happy Ovechkin had scored a hat-trick. That meant that no one was paying attention to him, and with the swarm of reporters in the locker room, he was more than able to sneak away after his shower.
He didn’t want to explain to Mike why he freaked out like that, or why he was fine now, and so he was glad when Mike didn’t ask anything about it.
That was the good thing about being friends with someone for so long; they knew when you needed to talk, and they knew when you needed them to leave you alone.
Their drive home was relatively quiet, and at some point, Cosmo had fallen asleep in the back of his SUV.
Brooks could still see the headlights of Emily’s car in the rear-view mirror, so he knew they’d all be arriving back to the apartment at the same time.
At the thought of Emily, he couldn’t help but exhale loudly.
It was frustrating to the point of infuriation.
Part of him was relieved; if he could be wrong about thinking a guy was flirting with her, then maybe it was possible he was wrong about what she did for a living.
The other part of him was simply feeling dejected. He couldn’t explain his reactions on the ice, or even the way he had been this morning when he met the guy outside her apartment door.
He chalked it up to the fact that Emily was spending a lot of time at his place, mainly, a lot of time with his daughter. Cosmo was attached to her - that much was obvious to anyone - and he didn’t want to think that the only female influence in her life was up to something he didn’t approve of.
“Everything ok?” Brooks sighed as he felt Emily come up behind him. She moved towards him slowly, but with purpose, careful not to startle him as he stared out the window.
He nodded his head finally, after musing over her words for a minute. He’d have to lie… there was no way to explain what he was going through without coming right out and telling her that he knew what she did. “Yah… just a little… stressed, I guess.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?” She asked quietly, gently placing her hand on Brooks’ arm. He turned around to stare at her, his brain turning to mush as he tried to think of how he could let her know that there was nothing she could do, short of… well… not having sex with men for money.
What he didn’t know is that she assumed he was talking about being a single father on the road all the time, not specifically about her.
“You know…” She added slowly, after she realized that he wasn’t going to say anything. “You don’t have to be embarrassed if you need help… there’s nothing wrong with asking for it.” And she meant it. She had no problem spending her free time helping him with Cosmo. She loved that little girl and basically, she didn’t trust some stranger to come in and look after her.
He wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, other then, maybe she was using backward psychology to reach out to him.
Like maybe she was embarrassed to tell him what she did, but she wanted out of it and thought that if Brooks hired her then she wouldn’t have to do it anymore. He went with it. “You mean like… you’d help with Cosmo? On a full-time basis?”
She smiled at him and shrugged. “If that’s what you wanted, then yah… I mean… I’m right across the hall and, she already knows me-“
“No, I think that’s fantastic idea.” Brooks couldn’t help but smile; this was one of those awesome decisions, where he could help himself and help her in one go.
“I guess that’s settled then… you can move in tomorrow.”
“Well I mean… yah, you’re only across the hall but… all of Cosmo’s stuff is here so you might as well just stay-“
“I think that’s a really bad idea.” She said quickly, quietly, averting her eyes away from him. “Sure I can come over here whenever and I’ll stay when you guys are gone but I’d rather have my own place.” She sneaked a peek up at him, giving him an apologetic smile. “If that’s ok with you.”
Brooks nodded dumbly, he wasn’t even a hundred percent sure why he had offered to let her move in in the first place, but it wasn’t something he was about to pressure her into. “Yah, that’s fine… I, umm… just forget I said anything.”
“Fine! But if this comes up again… she’s not getting my room!” Mike said loudly as he stuck his head out from around the corner, his smile a mixture of guilt and concern.
As if fate was giving them the opportunity to test out their new ‘nanny’, Brooks and Mike had another away game the following night.
They decided to spend the morning at home, skipping the optional practice. Mike was simply too lazy to go, and Brooks wanted to spend as much time with Cosmo as possible, before he was gone for another three days.
Emily sat in the living room with Cosmo, as the two boys stood in the kitchen, arguing over who had actually managed to ‘capture the flag’ in their latest game of Halo.
She could only smile to herself as Brooks talked a – painfully – gullible Mike into the belief that it had been his heroic acts that had one the game.
Cosmo was tugging on a loose strand of her hair, and she reached back, pulling the tight bun free and allowing her hair to cascade down around her shoulder. The little girl squealed with delight and grabbed onto the dark mass of hair in front of her.
“Yours is prettier you know… you have hair like your daddy.” Emily cooed, gently tugging one of Cosmo’s tiny pig-tails. “Do you know how many girls want nice blond hair like this? Lots! You’re gonna make all the other girls jealous when you’re older… I’ll have to shoo the boys away with a broom.”
“Or daddy will beat them to death with his hockey stick.” Brooks chuckled from behind them. Emily glanced over her shoulder to see him leaning over the back of the couch, watching them.
Emily blushed a bit, surprised that she didn’t hear him approach.
That was short lived though, as Cosmo have a hard tug on her hair. “Oh ouch!” She yelped, gently taking Cosmo’s hand and trying to unwind her hair from it. “No hair-pulling please…” She said calmly, before lifting Cosmo off her lap and putting her on the floor.
Mike called out to Brooks and he turned around, heading back into the kitchen and leaving Emily on the floor, watching after him.
“Em-me!” Cosmo squealed as she pulled herself onto her feet; her tiny hands holding onto the coffee table for support.
Emily opened her mouth, but couldn’t find the words as her lips curled up into a smile.
“Brooks…” She finally exhaled, trying not to frighten Cosmo, who was staring down at her foot. “Brooks, I think she’s gonna walk…”
Brooks and Mike were there in an instant. Both of the standing beside the couch, staring at Cosmo intently.
“Cosmo! You’re standing! You’re standing like a real person!” Mike yelled loudly. He made a fist and held it up to Brooks, who bumped his own fist against it before leaning back into their customary hand shake.
“Cosmo!” Emily yelled excitedly as the young girl let out a scream. When the boys looked back she was already in Emily’s arms, laughing excitedly. “Oh my gosh! Did you see that? You’re first steps!” She cried loudly, planting a kiss on Cosmo’s forehead.
“Wasn’t that amazing? To think we were all here for that?” Emily grinned, looking over at Brooks and Mike.
“Umm…” Mike began to say, not sure whether or not he should tell Emily that he’d just completely missed it.
“It wasn’t my fault!” Brooks said loudly, glancing back and forth between Mike and Emily. “It was his fault, he was the one that wanted to do the hand shake!”
Emily rolled her eyes and exhaled loudly. “Do you mean to tell me that you idiots just missed her first steps, because of a fist bump?”
“We should go.” Mike interjected quickly, nodding at Brooks before running down the hallway towards his room.
Brooks nodded. “Yah… away game and all that… See ya!” He yelled, moving over to kiss Cosmo on the head before following after Mike.
A few minutes later they were both jogging out the apartment door, leaving Emily and Cosmo on the living room floor.
“Well sweetie… looks like it’s gonna be a girl's night, huh?”