Still half asleep she stumbled into her closet to find something to wear; this was something that she should have done the night before but she had been with Marc, comforting him until late. The whole situation had taken a toll on Kailey but Marc, as was to be expected, was completely out of sorts. A black skirt, blouse, and heels were what she finally decided on; the usual attire for a funeral. With her hair up in a bun she grabbed her jacket and went out to her car where she found her boyfriend awaiting her. "Morning Jare," she said stopping in front of him.
"Morning baby, you look beautiful."
"Thanks, you look quite handsome today." She tried to bring herself to smile as she said this but her expression remained the same. Today was going to be hard for her; even though she had only known Vero for a few months they had become close. Deep down Kailey loved Marc in a way other than friendship and she knew that Marc had loved Veronique with all of his heart, and knowing how much he was hurting hurt her. Jared took a step closer to her and wrapped his arms around her, as he did snow began to fall from the sky, this would normally make Kailey at least smirk, but not today.
"You gonna be okay?" He released her, but held her at arm's length.
She nodded and cleared her throat as if she were choking back tears, which she may have been. "I'll be fine; I have to be strong for Marc today." With that Jared pulled her back towards him, kissed her cheek and opened the driver's side door for her.
The night before Kailey had offered to drive Marc to the funeral home but he said that he would be fine. He had been fine driving there for both viewings so she trusted that he would in fact be okay.
One more person needed to be picked up before the short trip to the funeral home, Amy. She was dresses much like Kailey and didn't say much one she got in the car. The funeral home was close to Kailey's house and when she pulled into the snow covered parking lot there was only three other cars; Marc's, Vero's parents, and the funeral directors. Once inside Kailey walked straight to Marc who was standing at the casket, staring at who had been and still was the women he loved.
Marc sensed that she was there, or at least that's what Kailey thought because she hadn't said anything to him yet and he turned towards her. She could tell that he needed a hug or a time machine so that he could make this all go away, but for now a hug would have to do since the latter was impossible. She held him tightly for a moment before looking him up and down. He wore a black suit with a white button-up and black tie. His hair was slicked back, his eyes were still filled with sadness and hurt but the dark circles had begun to disappear; he must have had a decent sleep the night before just as Kailey had. "How ya holdin' up?"
"Okay," he paused. "For now."
"You're allowed to cry sweetheart," she took his hand in hers.
"I know," he turned back towards the casket, each time he looked at her another piece of his heart broke. Kailey stayed there with him in silence until they were told that everyone would soon be leaving for the church. "I'll meet you outside, okay?"
Kailey nodded and turned to go outside with everyone else. Marc remained inside for a moment more; placing his hand on the side of the casket be began to speak quietly, a whisper. "I love you Vee, I miss you so much. I know that you're in a better place now, I would do anything to have you back, to see a smile on those beautiful lips. To see hope and love in your eyes. To hold your hand, to kiss your lips, and hear your voice. You could always make everyone in a room smile, Vee you could make me smile after a loss and no one else could. Now there's only sadness. I love you Veronique, I love you." All of this he said in French before looking at her lifeless yet beautiful face one last time. "Good-bye, for now."
At church everyone found their seats and sat mostly in silence. Kailey sat with Marc in the front; his family along with Vero's was also in that row. Jared and Amy sat directly behind Kailey. Mass began with a song and when it came to the eulogy both Kailey and Marc fought to keep tears from spilling over. "She was easy to love and she loved with all of her heart. She could bring a smile to any one's face, and I know that now she's in heaven smiling down on all of us," he father said from the pulpit.
Kailey knew that this was true, she had been holding Marc's hand thoughout the eulogy and at this point his grip tightened. She looked up to see that tears were falling, she didn't blame him, she was crying as well. with her free hand she whipped a tear from her cheek, when her hand reached her lap she felt a hand on her should. She turned to see Jared leaning forward, his hand on her shoulder; he was comforting her.
As everyone began to process out Jared waited for Kailey to leave her pew with Marc. She let go of one goalie's hand and it was soon replaced by another. "I love you," he whispered. "And everything will be okay, I promise."
"I love you too."
***The next day the Pens played and Marc took the ice for the first time since Vero's death, well in front of a crowd. He was a bit nervous, he shrugged it off though, he was nervous before every game. He started out playing well but his game started to slip as the Blackhawks fired more and more shots at four by six behind him. The final score was Chicago three, Pittsburgh one. Marc left the ice with the rest of the guys as usual, but unlike every other day, he was the last one to the locker room. He was interviewed by FSN, but it was kept short as they knew that he was still mourning. Most of the guys had already showered and started to head home while Marc still sat at his stall, pads still on; leg pads and chest protector. It was almost eleven when his cell phone rang on the bench next to him. "Hello?"
"Hey Marc, did know if you still wanted to have our normal post game phone call, but I'm going to bed so I wanted to say goodnight."
"Oh, yeah I forgot, I'm still at the arena."
"Marc, the loss wasn't your fault, well it wasn't all your fault. Oh wait-" It finally clicked in her head; Vero had always been there to comfort him after a loss, even if it was just a phone call. Her voice had cheered him up enough to shed his gear, say 'We'll get 'em next time', and shower before going home. "I'm sorry sweet heart."
"It's fine, get some sleep Kaiely. I'll be fine I promise," he said before she could bring it up.
"Okay, goodnight Marc."
Over the next few weeks Marc got a few wins but he was still quite out of it, he was still hurting and it was showing in his game. Thursday the twenty-ninth after practice he was called into the general manager, Craig Patrick's office. "Marc, we know that you're still not yourself, and we understand that." The we he was referring to was coach Eddie Olczyk and himself. "But we're sending you back to your junior team. It's what's best for you and the team. As you probably heard we're having some financial trouble, and it should be good for you to be somewhere you're comfortable with."
"I understand," he said before leaving the office and going to the locker room. After clearing his stall he headed home to pack and while he was doing so he pulled his phone from his pocket. Kailey was still in school, but he had to tell her that he was leaving. She would be getting done soon and he hoped to time the phone call so that she was walking out of school as it began to ring.
"Hey, are you free?"
"Yeah, what's up?"
"I'd be better if I tell you in person."
Kailey told Marc that as soon as she got off the bus after school she would head over to his apartment. This is exactly what she did and about twenty-five minutes after they hung up Kailey was standing at Marc's door waiting for it to open. When it did she say sadness in his eyes. "What's wrong sweetheart?"
"I'm going back to Cape Brenton, I just wanted to say good-bye in person."
Kailey was shocked to say the least, she had become such good friends with him since their meeting back in August. She had just lost a good friend in Vero and now that Marc was leaving there was a chance that they wouldn't be friends anymore. She helped him pack and when everything that he would be taking was put into suitcases Kailey walked him to his car. "I'm gonna miss you Marc."
"I'll miss you too Kailey, I promise we'll stay friends though, okay?" Kailey nodded and hugged him one last time before he held her at arms length and said, "Good Kailey."
"Good-bye Marc," she kissed his cheek before he got into his car and she watched him drive-away.
They had been through so much and she knew that they would stay friends because of this. "I love you Marc-Andre," she said just before his car disappeared.