Chapter One: Outside the Couple
In the middle of chapter one, we meet two other characters, including our potential third player in this relationship: Nick. He’s another Blackhawks player, aged 21, who is described in terms of contrast with his fellow players and comparison with Jenna. Nick doesn’t normally go out with them, for example, and he isn’t drinking on this night out. When compared to Jenna, they’re much more in line than either character is with anyone else.
They were practically the same person sometimes in how they didn’t fit in and how they both interacted with the guys. They rolled their eyes during their crazy antics, laughed only when it was appropriate, and were quick to chastise them when they went too far (8).
On one hand, these two sound a bit unpleasant to have around when you’re having raucous fun. On the other hand, I’m not really a bar-person either, so I’d probably rather hang out with these two.
Nick looks at her engagement ring and jokes about how big it is, but he also points out seriously that in his opinion, “the ring should reflect the woman” (9). So we further see how in tune they are. However, Jenna says that since it’s Ryan’s style, wearing it is like having “a piece of him with me, on me, all the time” (9 emphasis original). That’s not a terrible way of looking at the situation, even if I think that someone proposing ought to know his/her significant other better and play to his/her style since s/he’s the one wearing it all the time.
Nick laughs at Jenna’s comment and quips, “And we both know how much he likes the idea of being on you all the time” (9). At first, this seems to come out of left field, not to mention being fairly crass humor for someone who had just one page before been described as being received as “stern, somber, and intense” (8). However, in the next perspective shift, we do see Ryan’s interaction with Jenna and it becomes clear.
What isn’t clear, though, is her response, “She cracked a full smile at that line, at his subtler humor” (9). To be fair, this line already hits one of my pet peeves. The narrative calls Nick’s humor “subtler” but doesn’t specify what his humor is more subtle than. Subtler than Ryan’s? Perhaps, but that is not at all clear. Furthermore, how is Nick’s comment, that Ryan likes to be on his fiancée all the time, particularly subtle? Remember, when reading the text chronologically, we have thus far only seen Ryan from Jenna’s perspective.
At any rate, Nick is clearly Ryan’s foil—quiet where Ryan is brash, sober where Ryan is drunk, appreciating Jenna as a person where Ryan treats her as an object.
Alex, another teammate, is Ryan’s other half. They’re road roommates and best friends. (This makes this book pre-2013, because during the most recent lockout, the NHLPA negotiated that players get their own rooms now. Before that, you had to be a veteran of 600 games or 10 years to get your own room.) Alex’s first introduction is him telling Ryan (aka “Biggie”) that he should stop staring at Jenna because they’ll be married soon enough and he has his whole life to make gaga eyes at her. When Ryan accuses him of being jealous, Alex’s answer is very fratboy.
“Jealous? Of what? The fact that you only have one pussy for the rest of your life?” Alex shook his head and laughed. “I don’t envy you. I feel sorry for you” (10).
Classy. He banters with Jenna like this, too, going so far as to give her a ringpop and mock propose. I suspect we’ll hear more from him as the novel continues.