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“Are you kidding?”

“Sidney can probably get an extra ticket to the game and the hotel will be covered.”

Charlene immediately starts searching for last minute flights on her phone. “And I’ll get to meet Darren in person, what could possibly be better?”

I clink my martini glass against Charlene’s. I’ve got her on my side. All I need is to convince my mom and it’s a go.

The deep rumble of my mother’s Mustang and the heavy dance beats signal her arrival at the end of drink number two. As usual, she doesn’t knock. “Is that Char’s car in the driveway?”

“Hi!” Charlene puts down the shaker to accept my mom’s overzealous embrace.

“You look great!” Mom kicks off her shoes and wanders into the kitchen. “Is that a martini? What kind is it? You girls don’t mind if I join you for a drink, do you? Sidney’s got a conference call in an hour, and I’m not in the mood for a quickie.”

I pretend I don’t hear the last part and help Char make her a drink.

“Oh, new flowers!” She waves her hands in the air like she’s ready to break into a dance routine. She sniffs the blossoms. “These are beautiful! What’s this?” She picks up the small box on the counter.

I completely forgot about it, having gotten caught up in explaining the situation to Charlene.

“I’m not sure.” I’m hopeful it’s nothing inappropriate or my mom is likely to overshare her own personal experiences.

She thrusts the package at me. “Well, open it.”

I take it with some reluctance, praying it’s not porn related.

I tear away the red and white paper to uncover a box of maple leaf shaped candies. Huh. This is far from offensive. I’ve grown accustomed to Alex’s mildly inappropriate gifts, cards, and emails.

I pop one into my mouth. It dissolves the moment it hits my tongue. Oh God, it’s heavenly. It’s like . . . maple sugar. Soooooo good. I do the contented moan thing. I don’t want to share them because I’m greedy, but I feel bad moaning my food pleasure while they stare.

“Want one?” I grudgingly ask with a mouthful of melting maple sugar.

They make the same noise I did. Now I get why they were staring. They sound like they’re on the brink of a sugar orgasm.

“Can you get these outside of Canada?” Charlene asks with a knowing look. “I’d go to Canada just to get something like this.” She plucks another one from the box.

How much less subtle can you get?

“I don’t know.” My mom takes another one, too.

It’s a small box. I don’t want to continue to share, especially if you can only get them in Canada where maple trees abound. I guess I could ask Alex to get me more. Knowing him, he’ll send me a year’s supply. Not that I’d complain.

“You should ask Alex.” She goes in for a third.

“Hey.” I smack her hand, gathering the half-empty box close to my chest.

“Aren’t they playing in Toronto this weekend?” Charlene gives me the perfect segue.

“Oh!” My mom gets all excited and bounces up and down. Hint dropped. “We should go! Can you get Friday off, Violet? I’m sure Sidney will be all for going. Any excuse is a good one to go see Buck play!”

I’m shocked at how easy this is. I fully expected Charlene and I to have to work for a minimum of ten minutes to get to this point. Instead it takes one question. Some of the credit should go to the maple sugar candies.

“What about you, Charlene? Would you like to take a trip to Canada with us? Maybe we can find you a hottie hockey player, too! This is going to be so much fun!” She claps her hands together and bounces some more. “I’ve only been to Canada once. We should get as much of that maple stuff as we can.”

My mom takes out her cell phone and starts texting away. Her texting skills are terrible. She’s forever shortening words you can’t shorten.

Her phone pings. “I’ll chat with Sidney and report back!” She gulps the rest of her martini, hops around as she puts on her shoes, and disappears out the door.

Twenty minutes later I get a text from my mom confirming that we’re indeed going to Toronto. I have some idea as to how she managed to make it happen so fast.

My mom is convinced it will be more fun if I don’t tell Alex I’m coming. Charlene isn’t quite as enthusiastic about the plan, but I’m a fan of surprises—as long as they’re the good kind. Despite her reluctance, Charlene helps me fabricate a bogus excuse about a meeting I can’t get out of on Friday and a presentation I have to prepare for first thing Monday morning. I call Alex and give him the “bad news.” He’s so disappointed he doesn’t even want to have phone sex. I feel awful for withholding the truth and for the absence of dirty talk on the phone. I’m hoping the surprise factor will be worth it.

Preparing for a weekend away is a boatload of work, especially when one is packing for a whole lot of sexin’ with a superhot hockey player. Charlene, my boobs, and I head out on a shopping expedition to Victoria’s Secret. I buy three bra and panties sets of the sexy, frilly variety—all of them with red featured somewhere. Beyond the sexified undies, I hit up Target and splurge on a selection of new fun ones since Alex seems to be very interested in seeing me in them.

Thursday is the slowest day on the face of the earth. I’m busy with meetings and Alex has practice, so a few quick texts are all we manage first thing in the morning.

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