Which Team are you on?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Story!!

As promised, I won't make you wait to start reading my new story and for those of you who wanted to pound Sid in the head in this story, I think you'll be much more pleased with our boy in this new story, so follow me over to this new story:


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chapter 44

First and foremost, for those of you who've made it all the way through, thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for caring about the characters and the story and thank you especially to those of you who took the time to let me know that you were reading and caring and taking sides. It is a great privilege to know that you are out there.

I think this is as far as the road goes for this story but I hope to have the first chapter of my next story up soon, so I hope to see you there.

Merci, thank you!

“Are you sure about this?” Max asks as we gaze up the steps of the beautiful old gothic cathedral.

“No,” I reply honestly, “but I feel like it’s something I have to do,” I add, taking a deep breath. If it wasn’t for the warm, firm grip Max has on my hand, I know I couldn’t go through with it. But I also know that if I don’t, I won’t have that closure that I’m sure I need. I glance over at Max in his dark, pin striped suit with his stylin’ fedora and feel a genuinely happy smile grow on my face.

The ceremony is over, not that I’d had the stomach to watch that. We’d waited, outside, until the guests started streaming out, including Jordy and Kennedy, though they’d both told us they wouldn’t go. For Jordy’s sake we’d told them they should. After all, Jordy wasn’t the one who’d asked for a one way ticket out of the city.

Max’s hand tightens around mine as the ‘happy couple’ comes out of the cathedral to the sound of loud cheers, both from the hundreds of guests standing on the steps but also from the thousands of fans who have been waiting outside all morning behind security lines. We are somewhere in between. Too well dressed to be thought of as mere well wishers, and besides, he is Max Talbot and so we’d slipped by security and waited in the antechamber, slipping out just before the rest of the guests.

“She stood there and dabbed at her eyes the whole time. It made me want to hurl,” Kennedy hisses as she finds us at the bottom of the stairs, looking up to where the hired professional photographer is only getting slightly better position than the rest of the media for shots of the young phenom with his new lady love.

“If you just signed away your right to all his money in a prenup in the limo right before the wedding you’d cry too,” Jordy offers, creating a vision to which it’s impossible not to grin. Sidney had never talked about such legal necessities with me. It made me wonder if he had been going to spring them on me this morning too or if he’d really never thought of me as a threat to his millions. Daddy dear would have, I’m sure, at some point. I stare up at Sidney and I can’t help but see that boyish smile of his, all dimples and teeth and I can feel a flutter inside of my chest.

“Do you think she’ll make him happy?” I ask, more to myself, not that anyone knows her well enough to know any better than I do, standing here, thinking I should feel scorned or whatever they call it. I don’t. It feels sort of like I’m watching a show, a movie or something else that I’m not invested in. Like what I’m watching doesn’t affect me at all.

Except that it does.

But then again, does it?

The photographer wants a shot of just the bride and her bridesmaids and shoos Sidney away to the side and I feel Max give my hand a hard squeeze.

“You don’t have to do this,” he reiterates, but I do. We both know that I do. So I smile at him, hoping he can see that I appreciate his standing by me this way, and then I let go of his hand as I take a deep, deep breath and then it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other until I find myself standing in front of Sidney, looking handsome but just a little bit like a boy getting dressed up in a man’s suit.

It takes a minute for him to notice me. Not that I can blame him, considering the zoo around us, but if nothing else, it makes it clear to me that if we had ever had any kind of special bond, it was truly broken now. In fact it took a sharp elbow from Flower in Sid’s ribs to snap his attention away from watching his new wife ,who, I had to admit, albeit a little grudgingly, very beautiful in her huge princess dress with its full skirt and all of the crystal beading on it. It wasn’t my taste, but I was willing to bet it had filled the aisle of the church better than mine would have.

“You look…great,” Sidney says at long last, his gaze finally settling on me after cautiously gazing around to see who else might be watching I suppose. “Did you wear that on purpose?” he adds, glancing down at my dress, and I allow myself to smirk, for a moment before shaking my head.

“Yes, but not for you. Max likes it,” I explain, smoothing my hand down the light purple dress that I’d worn that fateful night, the night of the two kisses…. “And we’re on our way to Bali and I wanted to wear something…light,” I add by way of a better explanation that I hope doesn’t make it sound like Max ordered me to wear the thing. He didn’t. He asked and the look in his eyes had made it impossible for me to turn him down. “Look I just wanted to say…I mean…that there’s no hard feelings. I don’t blame you any more than I blame myself,” I begin, the speech I’d prepared in my head failing me utterly as his gold flecked gaze holds mine and a sort of sorrow and pity stare back at me through his eyes.

“We could have worked on it,” Sidney says quietly, reaching for my hands, holding them in his own, the pads of his thumbs stroking along my knuckles in a way that used to be relaxing, comforting, but now just makes me want to pull my hands away.

“We would have ended up like our parents,” I reply honestly, withdrawing my hands slowly and dropping my gaze from his while I take another, long, deep breath to steady my nerves. “I don’t think that’s what either of us wants,” I add, finally managing a smile as I look back up at him.

“So you and Max…?” Sid’s voice trails off as he looks over my shoulder to where Max is keeping his distance and then down at my hand where the far less inconspicuous ring sits on my finger.

“Will be waiting a while before we rush into anything,” I reply, not quite able to keep the judgmental tone out of my voice or the sarcastic smile off of my face. “I’m sorry,” I apologize immediately, “maybe it’s a good thing for you to be a little impulsive for once. I’ve always told you not to over think things. I usually meant hockey but…,” I shrug and Sid nods.

“I know it seems a little spur of the moment but I’ve decided to try and be in the moment a little more often,” he explains, his cheeks turning bright pink for a moment. “I’m sorry if this seems like…I mean it wasn’t about you or anything,” he stammers and I just shrug. I may have taken it as a slight, at first, but not now.

“I only came to say that I really hope you’ll be happy. Honestly,” I reply, meaning it as I stand there awkwardly, not knowing what the right thing to do is. I don’t feel like I can or should hug him but it feels strange just standing there, staring at him.

“And you…will you be happy, do you think?” he asks, glancing past me again.

“I think so,” I reply quietly, glancing back over my shoulder and giving Max an encouraging grin. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure but…we’ll see. I want to…make sure this time, you know?” I add, realizing that that too sounds accusatory but I can’t help it if it happens to be true. Sidney nods and then reaches out to run the knuckle of his index finger down my cheek. Part of me wants to turn my face away but I don’t because the other part of me is sort of enjoying the guilt that’s now plain as day on his face. “Who knows, maybe we’ll turn out to be like Flower and Vero, the happily unmarried couple,” I add, trying to sound more jovial than I feel, and I’m afraid it must show in my face, as Sidney doesn’t so much as give me the briefest shadow of a smile.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he whispers, and I shrug, which makes his hand fall away.

“I think you’re needed,” I smile, glancing over to where his bride is now looking our way with an obviously concerned look on her face. Can I blame her? No, but I think there’s been enough third wheel stuff already in our relationships. I didn’t come here to get in the way or cause a scene. I’ve said my piece, time to go.

“Mel,” he grabs my wrist and I look down at where his fingers are digging into the thin skin, forcing the small bones in my arm to rub together, almost painfully, and then I look up at him. “I am sorry,” he insists, and I find myself smiling, despite the pain. It’s the first time in months that he says it and I think he actually gets what he’s supposed to be sorry for.

“I know,” I nod, and then look meaningfully down at my hand. I watch his fingers peel away and then I look up at him and give him a smile that I hope says something like ‘someday we’ll be friends’. I don’t know when that time will be, I just hope that someday that time will come. I turn to go, but as soon as I turn, there’s a camera in my face. “I’m just a friend of the family, you don’t need to take a picture,” I growl, putting my hand up to his lens, careful not to actually touch it, and then, without looking back, I slowly make my way back to Max and I’m glad when he doesn’t try to say anything, just offers me his hand and leads me down the steps and back down the street to the car.


“What was all that about?” Charline hisses into my ear as I rejoin her for more pictures. Oh, so now she’s going to be insecure?

“She was just saying goodbye,” I reply quietly, taking a deep breath and then putting on my best advertising smile. I didn’t expect it to hurt, today of all days, but Mel was so fucking calm, so unemotional and I can’t help it if it hurts my pride, just a little, can I?

“That was all it was?” Charline asks, her grip on my hand tightening.

“Fuck woman, I just put a damn ring on your finger and this fucking picture will be on the front page of every paper in Pittsburgh and Canada and you’ll have a five page spread in Hello magazine, what more do you want from me? She’s leaving, right now, for Bali with Max. We’re married. Enough already,” I snarl. Great, I haven’t even been married five minutes and I’m already regretting it.

“I just…it looked…it looked kind of…intimate,” Charline says quietly, sounding hurt and I guess I did snap.

“Mel and me…we go back, but she’s definitely with Max,” I sigh, turning to cradle Char’s face in my hand and I can hear the sound of hundreds of cameras going off as I do. “You have my ring. I don’t want to hear another word about it, okay?” She nods and I kiss her lips and just for a moment, I feel the same ache in the bottom of my stomach that I had when I woke up this morning and there’s that little question again. Am I doing the right thing?

Of course it’s too late now. If I’ve fucked up royally, well, it’s done.

Not that either Troy or Mario would have let me walk out on her this morning, even when I was holding fast to a bottle of JD and swearing that I couldn’t do it.

I had made my bed, they’d told me, it was time to be a man and lie in it.

I’d thought it was all better when I saw Charline walking down the aisle in the beautiful dress behind all her teammates in their red and white satin gowns. It hadn’t seemed like such a crazy idea then. Everything had been fine, until Mel was there and now….

“You’re a good looking couple,” Troy says putting his hands on both of our shoulders and Char turns around to beam up at him. He likes her. He approves. Well, of course he does. She’s a hockey player and a goalie to boot. The fact that she’s still a student and actually has less of her future planned out than Mel did, well, that hasn’t occurred to my father yet.

“And I hope we’ll be hearing the pitter-patter of little feet very soon?” my mother chimes in and Char’s smile gets even wider.

“We will, sooner than you think,” she says, winking at me and my skin crawls for the second time today. The first was when she whispered it to me on the way back up the aisle. She’d said that she’d taken a test this morning and it was positive. I’m gonna be a daddy. I want a big family. It was one of the things that Mel and I argued over, so why did every hair on my head stand up when she told me?

“That’s great, let’s get one of the family,” the photographer calls and I my dad puts his big ape like arm around me and I can’t help but gaze down the street to see Max holding open the door for Mel. She stops, and they kiss, a long, slow kiss and then she slides into the car and my chest gets tight.

But I’ve made my bed and I will lie in it and I’ll do my best to make it work because I hate to fail, at anything, even though I might be watching my biggest failure drive away.


“Un sou pour vos pensées?” Max asks, his warm body curled around mine in the cot on the private deck beside the private pool in our private villa near the beach. Staring out at the millions of stars that are glittering down over us from the darkest of night skies, I can’t actually put my finger on what I’m thinking, everything and nothing at all.

“Nothing specific,” I mumble, closing my eyes and laying my head down on his arm, reaching for his other hand, the one that’s resting on my hip and lacing my fingers in his. “Which makes a very nice change,” I add with a sigh and a contented smile. I feel totally relaxed, maybe for the first time in months, and am able to revel in the languid feeling of afterglow for maybe the first time…ever.

The air is heavy with heat and humidity and my body is sticky with sweat and other body fluids and the small private pool is looking inviting but I can’t quite be bothered to move. I like the feel of Max’s body pressed against mine, the occasional brush of his lips on the back of my neck, my shoulders and knowing we don’t have to worry about being found out, that the worst we have to face is a few heartbroken puck bunnies if and when we go back to the ‘Burgh.

“That was a brave thing you did today,” Max says at long last, breaking my dreamy silence as he his warm breath bathes my neck.

“I don’t know about brave,” I sigh, bringing his hand up to my lips to press a soft kiss to each bruised and scarred knuckle. “I think that I had to see it, that he was really going through with it…,” I let my voice trail off as I think about Sidney in his tux with his bride in her enormous, over the top ball gown. “They looked like something off of the top of a cake,” I muse, rolling onto my back so that I can look up into Max’s face, which, for the moment, is impassive. He unlaces his fingers from mine and traces my bottom lip with his thumb and them replaces his finger with his lips and kisses me, gently and thoroughly, until my body begins, once again, to turn into a wet noodle.

“You don’t have to be brave about it,” he whispers, his eyes, the colour of twilight, search mine as his fingertips run gently down my jaw and onto my shoulder. “You don’ t have to pretend to feel nothing at all for him,” he adds seriously, his fingertips grazing over my collarbone and then lower, making me shiver, even in this tropical heat.

“I’m not,” I smile up at him, sucking in a ragged breath when his fingertip traces a slow, deliberate circle around my nipple. “I thought I’d feel…mad… disappointed…even humiliated but all I felt was…well, I guess I felt sorry for him really,” I sigh as he reaches across to trace the same circle on my other breast. “Maaaxxx!” I hiss as I arch my back, my body no longer relaxed in his arms.

“Sorry, it’s just so much fun to play with you,” he whispers, capturing my lips with his, his mouth moving over mine, our tongues dueling for a moment before he pulls back to look down at me, curiosity brimming in his ocean blue eyes. “He did look a little…overwhelmed.”

“Mostly, honestly, I just feel bad that I don’t see he and I being friends,” I mutter as Max’s lips and teeth make their way down to my neck, making it easy to forget that it should hurt to think about that.

“So you weren’t even juste un petit peu jaloux about the dress and the bridesmaids?” Max asks, pushing himself up on his elbow so he can look down at me, obviously expecting some hesitation or some different answer than the one I give him.

“No, and don’t push Maxime,” I reply gently but firmly and Max replies with a cheeky grin.

“If you never marry me, as long as you’re with me, mon amour, je serais le plus heureux des hommes,” he purrs, cradling my face in his hand before he captures my lips with his and seals his promise with a soft kiss that slowly heats until our bodies meld into one, locking together, a tangle of sweat slicked limbs. “Mon amour, je t’aime,” he whispers and I feel my heart swell. “Thank you….”

“Je t’aime Max,” I whisper back, nipping at his ear. “Thank you for being there for me, for waiting,” I add, feeling tears filling my eyes.

“Oui, parce que je savais, tout ce temps, je savais que tu était à moi,” he whispers back, his eyes full of the kind of love I’ve always wanted and I know that my heart has its home, for now, forever.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chapter 43

“I’m sorry about the series,” Charline begins and I find myself letting out a long whooshing breath of relief.

“Oh that…yeah, well, that wasn’t my best hockey ever,” I admit, reaching for her bag, which she doesn’t allow me to take. It’s just a small pull behind, but she seems determined to pull it herself. “Halak is in a groove, a lot of our guys were pretty banged up and tired. I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” I continue, turning to head back towards where I’d parked the car.

“Still, after the Olympics, it had to be a big let down,” Charline continues, reaching for my hand with hers as we walked and found that her hand fit in mine perfectly. It feels good there.

“Yeah, I guess,” I shrug. “I thought you were going to say something about Mel breaking up with me,” I admit as we reach the Land Rover and I open the tailgate to stow her bag but when I reach for it, her hand stays mine.

“Mel…broke up with you?” she asks, sounding incredulous but she can’t hide the smile that suddenly lights up her entire face. I shrug, as I’ve been doing in reply to that question every time I tell someone about it. As if it’s not possible for someone to want to break up with me. Considering what a total dick I’ve been, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. “So…is the wedding…off?” Charline asks quietly, hesitantly, her dark eyes searching my face for answer. I find it hard to answer this part, especially to my close friends that know the truth, and, I find to her.

“I haven’t…quite managed to do that…yet,” I admit, expecting the same sarcastic laughter that has been greeting me from my teammates and even my father, not that I’d expected less. But Charline reaches out and puts her hands on my shoulders and makes a little cooing sound, like a dove, and when I look into her eyes, I see actual sympathy.

“I’m sorry Sidney. I know you two have been very good friends for a long time,” she smiles sadly and then plants a soft, sweet kiss on my lips. “I know you’re not the kind of man who sets out to hurt anyone,” she adds quietly as she wraps her arms around me. Standing there in the middle of the parking lot with her arms around me, I feel better than I have for a long time. I hadn’t expected to. In fact I’d almost called her back and told her not to come. It had seemed wrong, somehow. Like rubbing salt into a wound, even though I didn’t seem to be as upset about Max and Mel being together as I thought I should be.

“Thanks,” I tell her as we unravel ourselves from one another. “I think I needed to hear someone tell me I’m not a complete monster,” I admit, brushing her hair back from her face s she grins up at me.

“Actually, I think I’m kinda the bad one here,” she admits, her dark eyes glittering with mischief. “I didn’t just come to give you some TLC, although I hope I’ll get the chance to do that,” she admits, reaching for my hand again and lacing her fingers with mine, all the while giving me one of those long, suggestive looks that causes my body temperature to rise. “I was hoping…I mean it sounds bad when I say it out loud, but I just thought…after what you’ve told me…well, I thought you might not actually go through with it and…it’s not like I was going to come into the church and be the one to stand up when they ask if anyone has any reason why you shouldn’t do it but…I was going to sort of wait outside…in case you bolted,” she admits finally, with a shy sort of a smile, her cheeks taking on a light pink hue. I can’t help but smile at the idea of her skulking around outside the cathedral, waiting for me to chicken out and run for my life. “I’m not saying you’re the kind of guy that leaves a girl at the altar but…I guess I am saying that I don’t really think you’re the kind of guy who’d marry a girl you don’t love either,” she adds, very quietly, almost under her breath, her expression turning deadly serious as she gazes up at me.

“I did…in some ways,” I tell her honestly, my hand still resting on her cheek, “and to tell you the truth, I don’t know what I would have actually done but…thank you for being here,” I add, just as honestly and then I capture her lips with mine and feel her body melt into mine and I can’t ignore the feeling that her body fits mine as if it were meant to.


The answer had come far more easily than I had thought it would. Even though my brain had begged for time to think about it and somewhere in my head I knew that it was too soon and the gesture too extravagant and yet my lips had opened and the word had tumbled out of my mouth before I could take it back. Then, the relief and happiness on Max’s face…it had been infectious and soon I had found myself in a huge happy group hug in and amongst people I know really, deeply care for me. But now, alone with Max, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed.

Especially now as I push my key into the lock and the deadbolt slides free, knowing that I’ll be alone with him again and that Kennedy and Jordan have gone off to find a hotel room, so that there is no risk of our being interrupted, maybe even for days. Suddenly I feel shy, nervous, those little butterflies in my stomach beginning to stretch their wings again.

Even when I feel his hand on my shoulder and his lips pressing softly to the nape of my neck, I think it should make me feel comforted, protected, and safe, but it doesn’t. I feel edgy, more anxious than I did the first night I’d gone to him looking to lose my virginity. I never imagined Max falling in love, least of all with me, and it seems like a huge responsibility has been placed on my shoulders - the woman who tamed Mad Max.

“Ma bichette, votre coeur est battement comme d’un petit lapin,” he whispers, his breath warm on my skin, sending goose bumps racing across my shoulders and down my arms.

“I’m scared,” I admit, pushing the door open and walking into the dark apartment. He follows close behind and when he closes and locks the door behind him, I nearly jump out of my skin.

“Of me, ma petite?” he asks, managing to look hurt and give me his come hither bedroom eyes at the same time. “Qu’aurais-je pu faire pour vous faire si mal?” he asks, moving to stand with me, taking my hand in his and raising it to his lips, his eyes, even in the dark, looking like the calm sapphire blue green seas off of a tropical island. I shiver as his lips make their way, slowly and deliberately up my arm, his gaze holding mine all the while. “What would you have me do, mon coeur? What can I do to make you…relax?” He says the last with his lips upturned in that mischievous smile of his that makes me grin back at him. “Pour vous, je ferai tout ce que vous me demandez,” he adds, raising his eyebrows in a way that says ‘dare me’.

“Aren’t you afraid?” I ask him, searching his face for any signs of the same misgivings that are currently plaguing me.

“Of what ma petite?” he asks, letting go of my hand in favor of brushing my cheek tenderly with the back of his hand.

“That I’ll go back to him? That…that I’ll hurt you?” I ask, leaning into the warmth of his hand and shutting my eyes against the naked emotions swimming in the sea blue of his eyes. Even though it’s only his hand pressed against my skin, I can feel his entire body go still, can hear his breathing pause, but only for a moment and then I feel his other hand slide across my cheek in and into my hair and then I feel his lips brush over mine.

“Je t’aime, mon amour,” he whispers, his lips brushing over my eyelids. “I’d rather try this than sit on the bench and watch him break you down, bit by bit.” It hurts to have someone else blame Sidney for what’s happened, but at the same time, it’s like Max is peeling my fingers away from the ledge I’ve been holding onto and whispering at me to let myself fall. “Je suis ici. Je serai toujours ici pour tu. Tu as mon coeur, est-il possible que je pouvais faire autre chose?”

“And if you aren’t?” I ask, opening my eyes to search his face. “If you go back to being the man whore….” He smiles but shakes his head as his hand slides down so that the pad of his thumb presses to my lips, effectively silencing me.

“I was never…well, no, that’s not true. Maybe at first…but it was more of an act after the first year. Those empty, meaningless women…they were never for me. But you…ma petite chaton, there’s always been more to you. Je tu promets, since we met, there has never been…il n’y aura jamais n’importe qui autrement pour moi, only you.” How could my heart not melt to have Mad Max say that? I can barely breathe as he strokes his thumb along my cheekbone and gazes down at me with such tenderness, love and utter devotion in his eyes. I feel tears filling my eyes again and his smile is full of the same sort of relief as he bends to cover my lips with his, his gaze still holding mine until his lips lift from mine, just enough for him to speak. “Can you love me, ma petite? I’m not asking you to declare your love for me now, just…do you think you can? Pensez vous que vous pouvez apprendre à m’aimer? “Taking his hand in mine, I bring it down so that he can feel that my heart is beating impossibly fast and then I offer him my lips for a long, soft kiss that leaves us both breathless.

“I have loved you Max,” I whisper, pressing my hand over his rapidly beating heart. “I’m only beginning to understand that what I feel for you is real and what I felt for Sidney was…a cheap imitation. I thought what I felt for him was real…until I was with you. There’s always been a little part of me, deep inside,” I whisper, pressing his hand to the centre of my chest “that was waiting, empty, to be filled. I knew he didn’t fill it but I kept waiting for him to. The first night I…that we…,” I feel a soft heat infusing my skin as I think about that first night in his bed. “The first time we were together…I knew. I fought it but I haven’t been able to evict you,” I add with a shy smile as I turn my lips up to his.

“I will never ask for more,” he whispers, a single tear escapes his sea blue eyes and then his lips crash over mine like a tsunami hitting a beach and I know there will be no more words tonight. Not unless they are in the forms of sighs or moans.

I feel his hands fisting in my hair, dragging my head back, his lips and teeth working at my neck, making me shudder. Backing me into the kitchen table, he lifts me up onto it and places himself between my legs. Our tongues twine, and dance before he lifts the black t-shirt I’d worn to match the one Gareth had worn out onto the runway at the end of the show when he’d joined me and Max and GaGa and all of the girls had come out clapping.

Inch by inch he lifts it, his hands running up my rib cage, his lips following until he captures a nipple between his teeth. Letting out a sigh, I dig my fingers into his hair and hold him there, enjoying his ministrations, biting down on my bottom lip and still not able to keep a moan from escaping as his other hand brushes over my nipple, his thumb flicking and running over it.

Pushing his tux jacket off of his shoulders, I hear myself making impatient noises which eventually get his attention and he looks up at me, that mischievous smile of his mocking me as he raises his eyebrows as if to say ‘what? What do you want?’ before he switches the attentions of his lips and teeth from one breast to the other.

“Maaaxx,” I moan, arching my back, wanting more but impatient to touch him at the same time.

“Patience ma cherie, now that I have you to myself…I intend to take my sweet time,” he chuckles, dragging what’s left of my t-shirt off and throwing it aside before carefully slipping out of his jacket and loosening his tie, before going back to work on my aching nipples, his tongue swirling in slow circles, his teeth tugging, his fingers pinching until I can barely breathe and only then do his hands drop to the snap on my jeans.

I reach down to help him but Max pushes my hands aside and make short work of tugging my jeans off and tossing them aside, along with my panties, and then he just stands there, smiling this sort of cat that’s about to get the cream sort of grin while he very slowly and deliberately tugs loose his tie, pulls it over his head and tosses it to me.

“Wear it,” he grins as his fingers go to work on the buttons of his crisp white shirt, undoing one button and then two, before meticulously rolling up his sleeves, as if ready to go to work. I drop the black satin tie around my neck, feeling the cool fabric drop and slide between my breasts as his gaze holds mine. I watch him lick his full lips as he rolls one sleeve all the way up to his elbows and the heat and desire in his gaze makes my nipples tighten, my stomach clench and my mouth go dry.

Having discarded my heels in order to pull off my jeans, Max now slips them back on my feet, but not before placing a soft kiss on each instep. Then, while he slips the black patent stiletto ankle boots back on, he kisses the inside of my knee, and then inside of my thigh and then, tossing my knees over his shoulders, he spreads my thighs wide and just…blows. His warm breath, blown across my most sensitive of sensitive spots makes me cry out, makes me whimper and beg and I know this is what he wants, maybe even what he needs, for me to be entirely and utterly at his mercy and knowing that he and only he can soothe the savage beast he has created and that is when I grab hold of him, tangling my fingers in the short choppy pieces of his sandy brown hair, and beg him for release.

Of course he has no intention of providing that release any time soon. He teases and taunts with soft vibrating kisses and short, barely there licks and nibbles that do nothing more than torment me, making me writhe in his hands, making me whimper and plead out loud. Happy in his work or at least content to be torturing me, he hums and sings bawdy French songs as he spells out his full, complete French Catholic baptismal name across my clit with his tongue, over and over again until I can barely breathe. But every time I start to hear that buzzing in my ears and feel that clenching at the base of my spine and that tightening in my stomach…he pulls back and blows, warm, soft breaths over my pussy until I’m nearly relaxed, and then he begins the game all over again.


“What are you thinking about?” I blink and turn to see Charline, lying on her stomach, watching me. I’d thought she was asleep. “You’ve been staring at the ceiling for…it’s her isn’t it?” she asks, and I’m surprised to see that she doesn’t look angry or upset at all. Instead, she reaches out to touch my face and smiles. “It’s okay, if you want to talk about her. I don’t mind,” she offers, the shadow of a smile playing at the corners of her lips.

“I’ve just been kind of a jackass,” I sigh, turning to stare back up at the ceiling.
“I knew…or I should have known that she’s been in love with me for…years,” I sigh and then shut my eyes. “I just keep wondering…I wonder if she’ll ever even talk to me again. If either of them will,” I add, wondering about what happened when Max went to her. I’ve decided that Mel must have felt like she had to turn to someone for physical consolation because I wasn’t there for her but I can’t see her being with Max. He seemed serious about it but I can’t see him staying that way….

“You can’t be responsible for how other people feel. If she kind of threw herself at you…,” I shake my head before Charline can finish her thought.

“It felt like we should be together,” I insist, heaving another sigh before turning to look at the woman lying shamelessly naked in my bed, her cool fingers now running along my ribs, teasing me, reminding me of the oblivion her body provides me. “I tried…she tried…I hate failing,” I grumble, and hear her laughing or trying not to laugh, but she can’t quite stifle it behind her hand.

“I’m sorry,” she apologizes when I shoot her a dirty look. “I get it. I do. Hey, I play too, I’m competitive too but you can’t be competitive in a relationship. You’re not on opposing sides. You have to be a team Sidney,” she snorts and although I know that she’s making fun of me she’s also making a point that I know some of the guys have tried to make with me more than once but….

“I feel like I’ve lost my two best friends,” I sigh, trying to explain what the worst outcome is and her expression becomes more serious and she cuddles closer to me, sliding her hand across my stomach and pulling herself into me.

“If your friendship is strong enough, you’ll be able to fix it,” she says quietly, looking up at me with her dark eyes, all sympathetic, which I don’t feel like I deserve right now.

“I don’t know how,” I shrug, reaching down to run my fingers through her long dark hair.

“Let yourself…let them have a little time, and then, when the time is right….”

“That’s the thing…if he’s traded, I might not have a chance to see them again,” I insist but Charline, even more insistent, straddles me, but not in a sexual way. More like in a wrestling sort of way, pinning me down and forcing me to listen to her.

when the time is right and enough water has gone under the bridge, if your friendship was strong enough, then yeah, you’ll be friends again. Especially you boys, you don’t hold grudges the way we girls do,” she grins, leaning down so that her arms are wresting on my chest and her pointed chin rests on the back of her hands, her lips not too far away but inaccessible, for the moment.

“I hope you’re right,” I sigh, gazing up into her beautiful face, running my hands through her long, chocolate coloured hair. I don’t want to think about Max or Mel anymore. It makes my head hurt, and she’s here and real, warm and available, her soft breasts pressed against my chest, a tantalizing reminder of how good she feels beneath me. “And I guess I don’t have to cancel all of those plans,” I add, fisting my hand in her hair and bringing her lips down to mine. She tastes of cinnamon gum and cool, clear water and I kiss her until it has to be all too clear to her just how done I am with this particular topic of conversation.

“You should though,” she whispers against my lips, her hips moving to make it easier for me to slide up inside of her and then she gasps, her eyes fluttering closed, her lips falling open in a sexy little smile.

“We could just change one of the names on the invitations and announcements, they weren’t going out until last minute,” I explain, reaching up to bite at her bottom lip. “You and I both know this isn’t just sex, not anymore. Marry me Charline. Fuck all the rest of it. Marry me.”


Taking my hand, Max leads me to my bedroom and when he pushes the door open, I’m suddenly very glad and more than a little relieved that this room has never been…‘christened’. Sidney’s never been here and in all the times Max was here, he never so much as came into my room. Until now, and as I cross the threshold, Max pulls me into his arms almost like a dancer and kisses me, a long, slow, sweet kiss that makes my heartbeat multiply.

It doesn’t matter that I can taste my own juices on him, or that he’s still fully dressed or even that my entire body is still tingling from being brought to the edge of the precipice too many times to count without being allowed to actually have release. All that matters is that his hand on the small of my back and curled around the back of my head makes me feel so safe, so wanted that tears spring to my eyes and I end up clinging to him, my head buried in his shoulder.

“Ma petite, mon amour, je t’ai fait mal? Ce qui est faux?” he asks, tipping my chin up and searching my face with the most concerned expression that I can’t help but smile it’s so endearing.

“Nothing…no…I just realized that I…that I really do love you,” I whisper, nipping at his bottom lip and being rewarded with another long, soft, toe curling kiss.

“Je t’aime, je t’adore,” he whispers as he kisses my neck and backs me toward the bed until my knees buckle against its edge and I fall back on it. He stands there, over me, looking down at me with a tenderness that makes my throat swell with emotion but even when I hold my arms out for him, he just stands there, his gaze holding mine and then, slowly, agonizingly slowly, he undoes the rest of the buttons of his now very wrinkled white dress shirt. Pulling the tails of his shirt out of his pants, he shrugs it off and then, balling it up, he tosses it aside.

Biting down on my bottom lip until it hurts I let my eyes roam over his round shoulders, that patch of wiry hair in the middle of his chest and those tats…. My hands reach out almost of their own volition, until I’m sitting up, running my fingers down his rib cage, tracing the dark ink with, first, my fingertips and then my lips and tongue until I feel his entire body shudder and I reach for his belt.

“No, mon chéri, if you even touch me I don’t think I will be able to control myself,” he insists, his hands reaching to pry mine off of his belt. I grin up at him, raising my eyebrow, assuming it’s a challenge but he smiles and shakes his head. “I mean it, mon amour,” he whispers, pushing me gently back onto the bed until he’s kneeling over me, his belt undone, his pants low enough on his waist that I can clearly see his goody trail and his hip bones and I can’t take my eyes off of the obvious bulge in his pants.

“Max…,” I begin to reach for his pants again but he pushes my hand away and leans in to capture my nipple in his lips, sucking it into his mouth until I lose that particular train of thought and am once again lost amidst the sensations his mouth and hands are causing as he slides his fingers inside of me and presses up against that spot that makes me cry out and push down against his hand. “No Max, I want you…now…please,” I whimper, feeling that tell tale clenching at the base of my spine, that cold tingling in my thighs.

I hear him grunt and struggle one handed with his pants, but he never stops his tormenting ministrations until I feel his thick fingers pull out and all at once they’re replaced by the long, thickness of him and in one, long hard thrust he forces the air from my lungs. Wrapping my legs around him, I pull him into me, pushing my hips up to meet his as his mouth finds mine and his hands dig into my hair and I feel him moan into my mouth and I know that he’s close and I know that he’s trying to distract me with his tongue and his teeth but I won’t be distracted.

“It never felt like this,” I whisper, pulling his mouth and teeth down to my neck where his teeth dig in, sending sharp bolts of pain mixed with pleasure that leave me panting beneath him. “It never felt like this with him Max. You ruined me for anyone else,” I hiss as he grinds against me, trying to force himself even deeper inside of me and I lift my hips, wanting him deeper.

“I never want you to be with anyone else, jamais, m’entendez vous?” he growls, his teeth digging into my shoulder as he makes, short, hard, deep thrusts that should almost hurt, but they don’t. I’m so wet, so close to the edge and every single thrust pushes me closer and closer to finding that happy oblivion. But I won’t go, not yet, not without him.

“I’ll never want anyone else,” I promise and believe it as I say it, my nails digging into his ass, pushing him deeper, hearing his breathing grow ragged as I do.

“Tell me you don’t love him, le dire pour moi. J’ai besoin de savoir,” he pants, losing all rhythm to his thrusts, just fucking me now, driving into me with lost abandon.

“I love you,” I cry, feeling that first wave reach the beach of my consciousness, knowing I’ll go under with the next.

“Mais, avez-vous l’aimez encore?” he grunts and I know he’s holding back, that he won’t allow himself to go unless I say it.

“I don’t,” I whimper as he holds my face between his two hands and stares down at me, fire and desire mixed with pain and longing in his eyes.

“Say it, pour moi, s’il vous plait, dites-moi,” he growls, holding himself still, which has to take enormous will power at this point. I find myself staring up at his handsome face, watching the sweat beading on his brown, the strain in his neck and around his dark, now almost royal blue eyes, and I don’t need to lie.

“I don’t love him anymore, if I ever did. I love you Maxime. You, I want you,” I insist, pulling his lips down over mine with one hand curled around the back of his neck while the other digs into his back and with one, last, hard thrust, I feel him let go. He groans into my mouth and his entire body goes rigid and still but I can feel his heart hammering against his chest and I can feel him let go inside of me, filling me as my own body clutches at him, holding him in a vice grip as my back bows off of the bed and I howl my release, holding onto Max for dear life.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chapter 42

as always, thank you tons and tons for all your support. I can smell the end of this story from here, but have no fear, I've already started the next one and I have a feeling Sidney will be a much more heroic figure in the next one, but in the meantime...

“Fuuuuuuuuuck!” I stab myself for what seems like the hundred thousandth time as I pin yet another model into her outfit. Considering we’d just had them in to try the garments on the day before I am about ready to stuff some cookies into some of these girl’s mouths. How they could lose an inch in one single day, and why they would when they knew damn well that they had a job….

“You need to start getting into your own dress,” Gareth reminds me, taking the pin cushion out of my hand and reaching carefully to draw the ones I have held between my teeth out. “Hair and make up, off you go.” I give him one, long, pleading look but he just shakes his head and points towards the area where chairs and mirrors have been set up, where flat irons and hair dryers are being wielded like weapons of mass destruction. A shudder runs through my entire body and my stomach begins to clench uncomfortably, reminding me that I haven’t eaten in maybe a day, maybe two, but all the same it thinks it can find something to bring up.

“Ah the wedding dress girl,” the beautician gushes as he reaches to run his fingers through my freshly dyed hair. Kennedy insisted on doing it this morning, even while I was half asleep.

“I don’t care if you cover my head with a potato sack,” I mumble, as he reaches for a very large can of hairspray.

“This face? Oh darling, if you were a few inches taller you’d be on that runway twice a day and on the cover of Vogue,” he replies encouragingly, to which I can only roll my eyes. How many times have I been told that I’m pretty just not pretty enough? I know that part of the make-up artist at these things is to build the girls’ confidence before they step out onto the runway, like cheerleaders with blush brushes instead of pompoms. It’s hard to believe, in all of their tall, skinny loveliness that they could be as insecure as I am, but I know it’s true.

“You have a visitor,” Kennedy whispers in my ear, her hand firm on my shoulder in a non verbal gesture that says ‘be strong’ or ‘don’t run’, one or the other. I immediately feel the fluttering of birds’ wings in my stomach and put both hands down over it, as if I might really feel the brush of their wings against my skin.

“I don’t know that the best man is supposed to see the bride, isn’t that bad luck or something?” Kennedy asks, glancing up at where Max has suddenly appeared in the doorway, looking a little worse for wear, unshaven, and in the way that says he hasn’t slept for days.

“I’m pretty sure it’s just the groom,” I mumble, taking the veil out of Kennedy’s hands and shoving the combs into my hair hard enough that the plastic teeth graze my scalp and make both me and the beautician wince. “Could you just give us a moment?” I ask, glancing up at Kens and then at the hairdresser, telling myself to be calm, that whatever is coming I can deal with it.

We both watch Kensie drag the hairdresser out of the room, keeping our thoughts to ourselves until she’s well out of earshot. I don’t even try to do anything while I wait for him to speak, I just fold and refold my hands in my lap, feeling the cool slick ivory satin beneath my hands move against my thighs as I wait.

“Is it…is it over with him?” Max asks finally, sounding defeated even as he says it, and when I look up at his reflection in the mirror before me, his expression says that the knows what I’m going to say. ‘So why say it? ‘ I wonder to myself, turning my gaze back down to my hands, staring at the Claddagh ring; Sidney’s promise to me and mine to him. “Tabernak woman, you aren’t even in love with him.”

The sting of having my own words thrown back at me makes me wince but I just keep staring at the ring and reminding myself that there has never been any other for me, only Sidney and no matter what else has happened, there can never be another to take his place. There’s never even been the remotest possibility of that.

“I have to get ready,” I mumble, forcing my hand up and forward to grab a tube of mascara, feeling it shake as I try to twist off the cap.

“Merde! You stubborn woman. I’m in love with you. Doesn’t that mean anything?” The mascara wand drops from my hand, my fingers having gone numb along with everything else, as I stare back at him, watching his green blue eyes grow misty. “Oh don’t look at me like you didn’t know. It’s been months, months! You had to know how I felt.” I shake my head, denying it because I’m used to denying my feelings around Max but they were my feelings and half of me is relieved he’s not asking me to be honest with my feelings. But this…this I didn’t expect. I didn’t know. “Sainte Criss! Did you not think when you came to my bed that it was more than some cheap thrill? Could you not tell how much I wanted you?” I open my mouth to say that it was all nothing but I can’t make the words come out.

“You’re my friend. You’re his friend.” It’s my defense, my argument, my only fall back and Max deftly dekes it as he strides across the room and falls to his knees at my feet.

“I’ve tried to be but this? You can’t go back to him. You can’t go crawling back to him…because you don’t love him and he’s my friend and because I love you and you’re mine.” My heart beat doubles and I feel a fine sheen of sweat breaking out across my brow.

“What do you want from me?” I ask, forcing the words through my teeth; part of me wanting desperately to fall into his arms and the other part of me still clinging to my dream.

“What I want? What I want is to tear your clothes off with my teeth and fuck you up against that door,” he growls, pointing at it, his breathing becoming heavy and labored, “until you scream my name so damn loud that everyone out there can hear you. What I want is for you to look at me,” he continues, grabbing my chin in his thick fingers and forcing me to look at him again, “and tell me the truth. Tell me who you love. Vraiment, qui aimes-tu?” I press my hands over my stomach again, feeling those wings beating a mile a minute.

“I can’t do this. Not right now. I…I have things to do,” I mumble, blinking rapidly to keep the tears at bay.

“Melody,” his voice is calmer now, quieter, but there’s still an edge to it that says he means business, that he wants an answer, an answer I’m not prepared to give. This is something I’ve been trying so hard not to think about that I if answer now it will be an emotional knee jerk reaction and I’ve screwed up so many times already basing things on gut reactions instead of taking the time to think things through….“Ma chère, mon amour,” his hand rests on my cheek, gently but insistently forcing me to look up at him, to meet his passion filled gaze. “Si tu peux m’aimer même un peu….” His voice catches in his throat as his hopeful gaze searches mine and my heart begins to beat so hard that it feels like there’s no way my chest can hold it in.

“Max…,” I close my eyes and take a deep breath, feeling the warmth of his skin transferring to mine calling up so many memories that make my body tingle, that threaten to steal my breath away. “Max I can’t…you can’t ask me things like that right now.” I open my eyes and let him see my fear, my confusion, and I add a plea to the maelstrom of emotions that are making it hard for me to even speak. “Un peu de temps. Un peu d’espace. Mon ami, si tu sentes quelque chose pour moi du tout….”

“Je sens quelque chose, je sens l’amour,” he insists, that angry edge leaking into his voice, anger, mixed with passion that reminds me of the stairs in his house and I bite down on my bottom lip to keep from whimpering at the sense memory that makes my insides clench and my nipples ache.

“We have to finish,” the hairdresser says, almost apologetically, holding up a round brush and that can of hairspray and both Max and I stare daggers at him but I know that he’s right and this time it doesn’t take more than a silent pleading look to send Max away, shaking his head, his hands balling into fists at his sides.


“So what are your plans?”

I look up from toying with the scrambled eggs on my plate to find both Nathalie and Mario standing side by side, staring down at me with looks of equal amounts concern and bewilderment on their faces.

“What? Am I being traded or something?” I mumble, not really serious, although I recognize that something is going to have to be done to make the team more competitive next year. I’m sort of hoping that it’s going to be Geno and Max or even Flower, just not me.

“Nooo,” Mario begins, but narrows his eyes at me in a way that says ‘we’ll talk hockey later’. “We’re wanting to know what your plans are for dealing with wedding. Will you be calling around making the cancellations or is Melody doing that from New York?” I nod, understanding now where they’re coming from while I stab at my eggs. I haven’t had much of an appetite since before the game last night.

“I doubt Mel’s had time to do anything about it. She’s got that…show or whatever,” I mumble, pushing my plate away at last. “I haven’t thought about it,” I reply honestly, shrugging.

“Well, it’s coming up, pretty quickly,” Nathalie adds quietly, taking my plate away and heading for the sink. “Do you think that you and Mel will be…making any kind of conciliation?” she asks, hesitantly, over her shoulder. Now I’m wishing I still had the plate of eggs in front of me to play with.

“I uh…no, I don’t think so,” I manage, my tongue feeling thick, my throat closing around a ball of emotion as I say it. It’s not that I’ve suddenly come all over emotional over it. It’s just that I feel guilty and I’ve been sitting here wondering if we’ll ever even be friends again.

“Well then, don’t you think it’s about time you started calling it off?” Mario asks, and I nod.

“Yeah, I guess I should,” I sigh, “considering it’s really all my fault.” Look at that, I think to myself as I slide off the stool at the breakfast bar. I even manage not to blame her for sleeping with Max, even though I still can’t picture my little Mel being that girl that just…jumps someone.

I pull my cell out of my pocket, knowing the caterer and the wedding planner’s number are on it, and there’s a text waiting for me, from Charline.

I thought you might need some TLC, I’m flying in. Pick me up at the airport

Huh. I feel a smile tugging at the corners of my lips for the first time in days. Maybe all that cancelling stuff can wait…for a few hours anyway.

A dozen very fit, very well sculpted topless men in white satin tights, wearing fantastical horse heads over their own, pull a white baby grand out onto the stage. Lady GaGa is singing something…is it Boys Boys Boys or Eh Eh? I don’t know…I can’t really hear it past the rushing of blood in my head.

“Go, go!” Gareth gives me a push out onto the stage and I almost stumble even though I’m only wearing kitty heels.

Blank, I tell myself. Keep your face blank, concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, small steps, no stomping. That had been what one of the other models had suggested when she saw the dress. Small steps would show the dress better.

Ignore the flashes. Stop at the head of the runway, take the bouquet of blood red roses and sparkling crystal encrusted fake flowers and hold it in one hand, pick up the skirt with the other to show the Grecian inspired sandals wrapped around your leg. Don’t look down at the people seated beside the runway. Now, look down the runway as you start to walk and….

Standing there at the end of the runway in a black tuxedo, crisp white shirt and slightly shiny black tie is a clean shaven Max, or at least wearing only a few hours’ worth of stubble, which truth be told, is the way I prefer him. For the second time I nearly stumble, my legs feeling even more like spaghetti than they had a moment ago and now I’m certain all I can hear is my heart pounding wildly in my chest. I drop the hem of the dress and my hand flies up to my chest, as if my heart might really beat its’ way out of my chest and I might actually be forced to hold it in.

I glance around, not sure what to do, not sure if I should keep walking or not. I catch sight of Gareth, Kennedy and Jordan, all sort of holding onto one another with these big, goofy grins on their faces and Kensie is even wiping at her eyes as if she’s crying which means this is real, this is really happening.

Taking a deep breath, I take another step and then another and then…and then Max goes down on one knee and I freeze again, all the air leaving my lungs in one whoosh of a breath.

I can hear a sort of buzz around me and I’m not sure if it’s in my head, in which case I’m about to faint, or if it’s the sort of hum of excited hushed voices but I try not to think about it as I watch Max reach into his jacket pocket. ‘Oh god’ I think, forcing myself forward, my eyes trained on the expectant and nervous smile he’s wearing as he watches me. ‘Oh my god’ I repeat to myself as his hands open like a clamshell revealing a large, sparkling diamond that catches the lights over the runway and seems to turn into a rainbow before my eyes.

I shake my head, trying to clear the buzzing, half sure that I’m seeing things. A few minutes ago Max had looked disheveled. Now he looked…well not exactly like the handsome prince from Sleeping Beauty but he did look…well sort of like a sexy James Bond. Like Gerard Butler in Tomb Raider Cradle of Life when Laura Croft finds him in that Chinese jail….

“Do you remember?” Max is asking as I draw near, his voice low, pitched for only my ears. “That first night, at Sidney’s party in Cole Harbour, when I said to you qui pourrait oublier une si belle creature?” I nod, my eyes filling with tears, my head swimming with memories half forgotten. “I think I’ve loved since that very first moment. I know you’re not expecting this ma chere, mais, je t’aime. Tue s devenu ma vie entire. I will never lie to you. I will never put hockey in front of you and I will never, ever make you a promise that I won’t keep. Mon petit chaton, ferez vous moi l’homme le plus heureux au monde entire, serez vous mon épouse?”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chapter 41

wow...I'm flattered & just a little scared by how vehement some of the opinions are about how this story should turn out...oh well, I'm just going to have to go with my gut and hope you're okay with it.

Not that this is the last chapter...just saying

“Her boobs aren’t big enough,” I grumble, holding the fabric up with one hand and reaching over to the table with the other, blindly feeling for the double sided tape.

“I’m right here,” the very pretty but very skinny model snipes at me and I afford her one, quick, disgusted glance.

“You’re a clothes hanger and clothes hangers don’t have opinions,” I snap, tearing off a piece of tape and pressing it down against her skin a little harder than is strictly necessary. She opens her mouth to make another smart remark no doubt but one more narrow look from me and she shuts her cherry stained lips and stares straight ahead like a good mannequin should. I press the fabric to the tape but the dress doesn’t look right. It just sits there on her flat chest, gaping in one spot and falling flat in another. “This looks like hell.”

“Mmmm, you’re right, her tits are way too small,” Kensie agrees, looking absolutely drop dead goth girl sexy in a streamlined black gauzy gown that shows off her subtle curves and makes her look about ten inches taller than she already is.

“Maybe we can trade, she might look okay in your dress,” I mutter, standing back to compare the two shapes but when I look up at Kensie’s face she’s wrinkling up her nose and as she stares at the younger, willowy model.

“She’d look like crap in this too,” Kennedy sighs, fingering the barely there fabric stretched over her hips. “She’d make it look like an empty garbage bag.”

“I’m right here,” the girl insists again but both of us shut her up with one of those ‘if looks could kill’ glances.

“You know that was made for you,” Kensie reminds me. “It fits you. Unless we can find a model with a sweet rack like yours….”

“You’ve been hanging out with Jordan too long,” I snort, shooting her a look that I know says ‘I appreciate the sentiment but really?’, before I start looking around at the other models all of whom are even taller, thinner and almost all of whom are lacking almost anything in the boob department. Curvier models are saved for commercial shoots, for FHM, Maxim and Stuff.

“You’ll have to wear it,” Gareth says, appearing from nowhere and tipping his head to one side, “unless you have another piece to put at the end of the show.” I wish I could say that I do but I don’t. I’ve been spending so much time in Pittsburgh that I have a lot of stuff on paper, but not a lot of pieces actually complete enough to put on a model.

“Me? Out there?” I can hear the sounds of the stage and runway being set up, the chairs being put out for tomorrow’s show and all I can think of is if I have to go out there I’m seriously going to need some time with Miss Jay.

“We could do something…we could have like a swing or something rigged to come down right at the front of the stage,” Gareth thinks out loud while he fusses with the bodice of the gown, trying, just as I’ve been doing, to make it fit the model’s boyish figure. “Maybe two swings…Ga Ga on the other….” That makes my stomach hurt. As if the idea of being out there in front of celebs and photographers isn’t bad enough, I’d almost forgotten about Gareth’s favorite new patron being involved.

“Or we could find another model,” I say, hopefully, looking from Kennedy to Gareth and hoping for some sign that they will agree.

“Kennedy’s right,” Gareth grins as he cups my cheek and gives it a gentle squeeze. “You made it for you, you’re going to have to wear it. We don’t have time to do any alterations on it. You’ve got enough to do tonight.” That was true. Almost every garment needed some finishing touches, an inch taken in there, a hem taken up there. Then there was the accessorizing…it was going to be a long night. “Besides, my muse, you outshine most of these girls, especially this one,” Gareth adds, grabbing both of my cheeks and planting a kiss on my forehead. “Now get this off of this girl and get her into something that fits and I’ll see you in the morning.” I stare after him, half filled with butterflies at being called his muse and half filled with dread at the thought of all that I still have left to do.

“C’mon, let’s get a move on,” Kensie sighs, turning so that I can yank her zipper down. “I’ll help as much as I can.”

“Thanks Kens, I don’t know what I’d do without you right now,” I sigh, signaling for the stick thin model to turn so I can undo the laces on the back of the gown.

“Yeah well, I hope you remember that when I want to go to the Bahamas next week with Jordy,” she reminds me and again, those butterflies wake in my stomach. Sidney had hinted at a honeymoon on the white sands of an exclusive resort somewhere sunny. I couldn’t help wondering if he’d still go, maybe with one of the guys, maybe with some other woman….

Shaking my head, I tell myself not to think about that now, or him for that matter.

Every time I start to my stomach started to hurt and my throat started to get tight. There was going to be plenty of time to feel sorry for myself later, after the show.


The room was quiet. Like, you could hear a pin drop quiet. It was almost worse than losing game seven to the Wings two years ago. That had been the quiet of everything being left out on the ice and not having the energy to say anything. This was the quiet of shock, of disbelief. We’d owned Montreal all year. Well three out of four games anyway. We didn’t think we could lose and yet, here we are.

The urge to point fingers is pretty high, except the first and foremost finger has to point at me. I’ve been telling myself that I’m trying hard but…but with only a few seconds off the clock I was already in the box and I couldn’t get my head on straight after that.

I could blame Mel. This whole thing with her giving me the ring back and then finding out that Max wants her…well it’s thrown me for a loop.

But I can’t. I can’t blame either one of them. I’ve been in a foul frame of mind and it’s my own fault. I knew I was trying to force a round peg into a square hole and I just kept trying to stuff it in there because there was something about having her here, supporting me, that I was looking forward to having for a long time.

“So, a whole summer for a change,” Jordy says quietly, half a smile on his face as if he’s expecting me to jump down his throat and pull his balls up through his throat. Under normal conditions after this kind of a loss, the guys know to leave me alone for a while. At least until I’ve talked myself down off the ledge. It’s pretty brave thing Jordy’s doing.

“Yeah, I guess,” I manage to which he nods and goes back to unlacing his skates. We have played a lot of hockey in the last couple of years. Not that we minded the last two summers being a little short. Not if it meant we were one of the best teams in the league. Actually the last two summers were a lot of fun.

I look across the room to find Max almost entirely out of his equipment already.

“You going straight up to New York?” I ask, causing Max to pause, half way out of his shoulder pads. He glances over at me, wary, like he’s expecting me to go tell him I’ve changed my mind about giving him permission to date Mel. Not that there would be any point, apart from warning her away from him and that thought has crossed my mind, more than once.

“I am,” he says quietly, dropping his shoulder pads into his bag, like he’s not expecting to come back here.

“You gonna ask for a trade?” I ask, staring at his bag. No one else has their bag out. Everyone else will be back in a day or two to clean out their lockers her in the Mellon in a day or two. It doesn’t look like Max is planning on joining us for that particular ritual.

“Thinking about it,” he mumbles, glancing over at Kris and Flower who both stop what they’re doing and stare at him. “Ne me regardes pas comme un traître. What would you do?”

“Tu ne sais pas même ce qu’elle dira,” Tanger points out and Flower gives him that look that says ‘yeah, what about that?’ and Max shrugs.

“Tu pense que je pourrais rester ici et jeu avec lui?” he asks, an accusatory tone leaking into his voice as he points at me.

“I just gave you permission to ask her out,” I point out but the look Max gives me tells me this isn’t just about that.

“Tu la penses qu’elle voudrait tu voir? Chaque jour?” I think about not seeing her, maybe never seeing her again and my there’s a pain, deep in my chest. Not that I’d blame her for not wanting to see me. Not that I could blame him for wanting to steal her away and keep her all to himself. And yet….

“Why don’t you let her decide that?” I ask, hoping Mel might remember that above everything else, that we’ve been friends for a really long time. “If she wants you that is,” I add, unable to stop myself from planting that seed of doubt. I just can’t picture her with him.

“I’d never presume to make decisions for her,” Max snarls, shaking his head. “J’ai le respect pour elle,” he continues, “àla différence de vous.”

“I’ve been her friend forever,” I remind him to which he continues to shake his head.

“Some friend,” Max laughs sarcastically and I find myself on my feet, my hands curled into fists.

“Ralentissement mes amis,” Flower jumps in between us and suddenly that silence is back and the only thing I can hear is the sound of my own blood pulsating through my veins as I stare at Max, willing him to take the first shot so that I can take out all of my frustrations on him, so that even if he does go to her, he’ll be black and blue and I don’t care if that makes him sympathetic. Right now I don’t care about that. I only care about putting my fist through his self satisfied face.

“Tu as raison Flower. He’s not worth it. I have a woman to woo,” he grins at me, showing every one of his teeth, like a threat. “Have fun explaining to the press why you’ll be spending the summer tous par tu-même, mon capitaine,” he adds, reaching out to give my cheek a tap, but I push his hand away. “You don’t want to toss me those tickets to the Maldives do you mon capitaine? After all, you won’t be needing them,” he adds, grinning wide, like a fucking retarded jack o lantern.

“Max, please” Jordy pleads, pushing my sometimes wing-mate towards the showers. “You might still be teammates next year. Don’t make this worse. C’mon, let’s just get ready and get out of here.”

“You’re going with him?” I feel like adding et tu Bruté and reeling backward as if I’ve been stabbed but I decide there seems to be enough theatrics right now.

“Kennedy’s in Mel’s show, they’re expecting us,” Jordy explains apologetically, shrugging his big shoulders as if that is all that needs saying.

“They’re expecting you? Mel’s expecting him?” I point at the furry Frenchman and then look up at the big blonde forward whose blue eyes are a little too wide.

“Well…I mean, no not exactly. I mean…I’m sure she won’t be surprised…I mean…I mean…,” the big farm boy looks around for help and that hush falls over the room again and all of a sudden I get that prickly feeling at the back of my neck telling me that I’m missing something, something that should be obvious, after all, everyone else in the room seems to know.

“What do you mean Gronk? Tell me…I’m curious. Why would Mel be expecting Max?”

“They’re friends,” Tanger reminds me, and, having taken a deep breath, I decide I can accept that argument and decide to drop it in the name of team unity.

“And she knows I’ve been waiting for you to screw up and now that you have…I intend…,” Max’s voice trails away and then he shrugs and just shakes his head.

“What? What do you intend to do Max? Go on, tell me? I’m dying of curiosity now,” I call to him as he turns to head into the showers. “And what do you mean she’s been waiting? What the fuck does that even mean? Mel’s so in love with me….”

“Yeah, so in love with you she’s spent two night in my bed,” Max snarls, whirling on me and crossing the room in two strides to push me off of my feet and onto my ass.

There it is, that silence again. This time I know that everyone’s holding their breath, waiting for me to get up to my feet and shove my fist down his throat. The funny thing is, even though I’m angry, blood boiling angry, I don’t feel like hitting him. I actually feel kind of relieved. I actually feel like I’ve been holding my breath and all of a sudden I’ve come up to the surface of a deep pool and I can actually pull oxygen into my lungs again.

“You…you slept with Mel?” I almost laugh as I climb to my feet and brush myself off and it actually requires a certain amount of willpower not to. Max stands there, staring back at me with an expression on his face that speaks volumes about how much he would like to take back what he’s just said but I can also see that he’s too proud to. “You stood there and lectured me about Charline, and you were sleeping with my fiancée the whole time?”

“You keep calling her that mais tu ne l’aimes pas meme! You starved her of affection. Her eyes dance when you come in a room mais tu l’incites à se sentir comme elle n’est pas mériter de ton temps! Don’t you dare stand there and try to make this something ugly, quelque chose sordid. Je l’aime avec chaque fibre simple de mon être, something you could never understand.” I’ve rarely seen Max quite this passionate about anything or anyone. The usually laid backed, jovial, goofy man I’ve known for years is staring daggers at me. Even when he fought Carcillo, I never saw murder in his eyes.

“Jesus Christ Max…have you felt like this the whole time?” I watch as a bright pink stain creeps up from beneath his collar and finally makes its way to the tips of his ears. “Fuck…you have haven’t you? Fuck man, why didn’t you just say something?”

“Because…because she’s in love with you! Because I was trying to be your friend. Because I wanted her to be happy, quelque chose que tu pourriez avoir pensé pour essayer.” It’s like being stabbed with a knife and not in my back and not exactly in my heart either. More like in my conscience. Suddenly it’s impossible to look at him, to meet his gaze or anyone else’s. “Oui, tu as été un piqûre égoiste. Time to grow up and stop trading on the fucking pure as hell image you think everyone fucking buys into,” Max snarls, brushing past me, heading into the showers.

It’s only then that the normal sort of buzz of activity begins again and leaves me standing there in the middle of the room, staring at my feet, wondering just what kind of asshole I’ve actually turned into.

“Still up?” Kensie asks, yawning and stretching as she appears around the corner wearing a faded grey t-shirt that I’m guessing probably belonged to Jordan once upon a time. It’s long and miles too big for her, nearly reaching her knees.

“Yeah, but I’ve only got a couple more little pieces to fix,” I smile gratefully up at her as she leans on the edge of the sewing table. “Thanks for staying here,” I add, glancing briefly at the cot in the corner of Gareth’s studio where she’s been curled since about two in the morning. “I couldn’t stand the thought of being here all night by myself.”

“Hey, what are friends for. Speaking of which, how long are you gonna keep wearing that?” she asks, picking up a pair of shears and using it to point at the Claddagh ring on my hand. I stare down at it, holding my hand out like it’s not really a part of me, which at almost five in the morning isn’t that much of a stretch. I’ve been sewing, half asleep, for hours. I have so many pin pricks and needle jabs I could pass for a junkie.

“I dunno,” I answer honestly. “I haven’t really thought about it,” which is a lie. I have. I just keep hoping that somehow…some way we can salvage something from this mess, and not even necessarily anything like the girlhood dream I’ve now come to terms with doing without. Just…friends. “I’d settle for friends now,” I shrug, looking up at Kensie, expecting her to give me one of those sort of big sister disappointed looks. Maybe it’s because she’s tired or I am, but she smiles and reaches forward to muss my hair.

“He’s crazy if he doesn’t at least value you that much,” she adds, moving to pry my fingers off of the piece I’m finishing, putting it and the needle in my hand down on the table. “I’m not as good at this as you but I think I can manage a hem. You need to get some sleep or you’ll have to have as much make up on as GaGa when you go out on that runway this afternoon.” I start to reach for the piece but when I look down at my hands and see them shaking, I give in and let her lead me to the cot. “Oh and by the way, just so you don’t flip out if you happen to see him skulking around tomorrow, Jordan’s coming,” she adds as I try and stifle a yawn.

“Jordy? But aren’t they…?”

“They lost tonight. Man you really haven’t paid any attention have you?” she smiles as she pulls the blanket up over me.

“I’ve been making a concerted effort not to,” I sigh, closing my eyes. “I can’t believe they lost to the Habs…Sidney must be…,” I bite down on the inside of my cheek to stop myself from saying it. I have to stop thinking about him all the time. What would Sidney do? Like some kind of mantra that he’s not really deserving of. “I wonder if Jordy will bring Tanger or any of the guys?” I wonder aloud, as sleep pulls me down into through the haze and into the deep darkness of sleep.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Chapter 40

A special shout out to K whose comments I always smile when I see them and I love that you get the familial and genetic reasons behind the behaviors. Thank you

As for the rest of you thank you for enjoying and craving more.

“Mother fucking son of a cunt licking whore!!” I’d heard Army put together that particular string of profanity once and I’d liked it, but I keep it for special occasions. Having to go to a game seven against a team that we’ve owned all year seems like an appropriate time to use it.

“Sacre bleu,” Tanger laughs, and I round on him, ready to snap and let him have it with both barrels until I see the sardonic look on his face and then I just nod.

“It’s another game,” Gonchar shrugs, putting his hand on my shoulder and leading me away from the defenseman who I can see is already blaming himself. “We can do better next game.”

“Maybe you can,” I grumble, “I can’t hit the fucking broadside of a barn with a fucking map and a mother fucking compass.”

“Maybe if your head was in the right space,” Billy G begins and I feel my upper lip curling at the indictment in my winger’s voice. “Don’t look at me like that kiddo. We’re all friends here. I have to be honest with you and I think you already know it. You’re head isn’t in it. I don’t know where the fuck it is but you haven’t been yourself lately, and I don’t just mean since the other night,” he adds quickly, obviously seeing that I’m ready to argue the point. “I’m not asking you to tell me what’s going on with you but you’d better get your head on straight or it isn’t just going to be that little girl that you’ll be losing.”

“She’s got nothing to do with this,” I snarl but both he and Gonch shake their heads.

“I’m not saying whatever happened between you two the other night is what’s messing with you out on the ice, but I am saying that whatever head space you’re in is and probably had something to do with what’s happening between you and that girl of yours. So do yourself a favor, on the ride home tonight, instead of playing games or whatever, maybe think about what the fuck you’re doing right now and get fucking honest with yourself kid. You’re better than this, on both counts,” Billy adds and then with one, long disappointed father look on his face, he turns and heads to his stall.

I stare at his back, all kinds of retorts springing to the tip of my tongue, but all I end up doing is standing there looking like a fish out of water, my mouth opening and closing uselessly with nothing coming out of it because I know he’s not wrong, I just don’t fucking know what’s right. I’ve been off for most of the second half of the season and I can’t figure out why. I’m not injured, not anymore than anyone else, and there have been games where I’ve felt like myself but ever since the Olympics….

“Aaaarrrgh! Fuck it!” I toss my gloves down and run my fingers through my hair because my head hurts and because I want so much to fucking punch a wall and I know if I do I’ll hurt myself and I’m already letting everyone down….

“Quoi de neuf?” Flower asks quietly, looking sheepishly up at me like he’s half afraid I’m going to knock his block off and why wouldn’t he? I can feel the murderous rage pumping through me and I know it shows, it always shows.

“Je suis très confondu en ce moment,” I explain, leaning my head against the wall and closing my eyes.

“C’est au sujet de la fille de l’equipe Canadienne?” he asks, almost under his breath and I grunt in reply and it almost hurts to do it, like it’s painful to admit to it and I keep thinking so it should be. I let Mel down. She trusted me and I’ve been fucking horrible to her because of this and she didn’t deserve it. I’ve known it. It’s been there, in the back of my mind, like a fucking cancer for weeks. “L’aimes tu?”

“Don’t ask me that Fleur,” I beg, banging my head against the wall. “I don’t fucking think I know what that is.”

“Tu aimes Mel?” he asks, and this time I don’t even shrug or grunt or anything. I know the answer to that. I’ve known it all along but I’ve been trying to do the right thing, or what I thought was the right thing, but now…?

“No,” I sigh, turning to slide down to the bench before dropping my head into my hands. “I mean…I’ve tried to…I’ve wanted to but…no, no, I don’t think I do.” I raise my head, prepared for whatever disapproving or sympathetic look Fleur might give but instead my gaze locks with Max’s intense and angry glare across the room. He’s supposed to be one of my best friends but lately we’ve hardly been talking and I don’t have to ask whose side he’s on. It’s clear on his face.

“Are you done?” he asks, his voice gruff and low, his gaze level and simmering. “Es tu fini jouer des jeux avec elle?” I open my mouth to argue that I haven’t been playing games, but I guess from the outside looking in, it might look exactly like that.

“I never intended to hurt her,” I begin but Max shakes his head and his gaze grows even darker until it reminds me of the look he had out there on the ice tonight when it was clear the rink had tilted in their direction and we were digging our own grave, fast.

“Je me blâme,” Max shrugs, his gaze still holding mine intently. “I should never have talked you into speaking with you at your partie de celebration pendent l’été,” he continues, a sneer that Billy Idol would be proud of on his face. “Mais cela n’importe pas maintenant. All I want to know now is…is she free? Es-tu fini mettre son bas et la prendre encore?”

“Max…,” Flower’s voice holds a warning but it’s clear from the grim but determined look on Max’s face that whatever is on his mind, he’s going to let it out.

“is. She. Free?” he snarls, his meaty hands curled into fists on his knees.

“You mean…you and…and Mel?” So many things are clicking into place now, how angry he’s been, how disapproving he’s been…. “Have you had a thing for her this entire time?” I ask, still trying to picture the two of them actually together, and not just the show they put on for my benefit a few months ago…at least Mel told me it was a show.

“Is. She. Free?” he repeats, forcing the words through his teeth and I feel a strange mixture of jealousy and relief as I think about giving him my blessing to date my fiancée, if that is what he’s about to ask.

“And if I say yes?” I ask, watching his expression carefully. His eyes narrow and his lips purse and I can see that he’s trying to decide if he’s going to answer the question or not and then he stand, shrugging out of his shoulder pads and half turning away.

“If you do or you don’t, I can’t watch you do what you’re doing anymore. She…she doesn’t deserve you.”

“Oh I see, and she does deserve you?” I ask, thinking about all of the times that Max has had three, sometimes up to five girls on the run at the same time.

“Oui,” Max says quietly, that joker’s grin that’s more threat than smile slowly spreading across his face. “You see, I love her. Je mourrais pour elle, c’est la difference, non?” I find myself staring at him, my breath literally stolen from my lungs as he stares me down, daring me to disbelieve him and I can’t. Not when it’s clear on his face that what he wants to do right now is to rip me to shreds, except that he won’t because he’s loyal like that, because we’re teammates and the team matters more than the individual. “Je peux voir que tu comprends. I’ve tried, god knows, I’ve tried not to feel…how I feel for her because I love you like a brother but…I won’t…not anymore. I can’t stand by and let you treat her like…comme une putain commune, comprends?”

“Oui, je comprends,” I say quietly, feeling like there’s a knife in my back but that I probably deserve it. “Just do me one favor,” I ask quietly, my voice barely above a whisper. “Tell her I’m sorry.” Max stares at me for one long, silent, uncomfortable moment and then he nods and holds his hand out towards me. I stare down at it, a little shocked that he’d offer it to be honest. But then I take it and we shake and I know that it will be okay, whatever happens.


“You’re not even going to watch it?” Kennedy asks as she drops her leather jacket onto the chair and tosses her keys in the bowl before heading for the kitchen to grab a beer. Every time she does that, I wonder how many girls she beat out for a modeling job today are busy picking away at some plain lettuce and a boiled chicken breast while she’s drinking beer. Life just isn’t fair.

“Nah,” I answer, glancing at the TV set that I haven’t even turned on. “I have some designs I’m working on,” I explain, grabbing another coloured pencil and shading the edge of the jacket I’ve been designing.

“Mmm,” Kensie looks over my shoulder, digging her pointy elbow into it as she does. “It’s good. I’d wear that.”

“But is it haute couture?” I sigh, lifting the pencil away and looking down at it disparagingly.

“Gareth just said he wanted good ideas from you, he takes care of that outlandish crazy shit that people don’t really wear. You’re prêt-a-porter, remember?” she reminds me, tipping the neck of the beer bottle towards me before walking over towards the TV and dropping onto the couch, one foot slung over the back. “So you’re really not gonna even watch? I mean, that’s really it? You’re really done with the love of your life?” she asks sarcastically, grabbing the remote in her free hand and aiming it towards the TV. I wince as I watch the picture flicker to life. It hasn’t been nearly long enough for me to feel convinced of my own will power quite yet, hence the game not being on.

“Don’t call him that,” I mutter, doing my best to focus on the page in front of me and not on the little black and gold figures racing around the ice.

“Well you’re the one that’s been going around all cow eyed,” she smirks, downing half of the beer to try and hide the smile on her face. I know she’s just teasing. Well, teasing and testing me. She was great when I got home, let me cry and didn’t ask any questions, so I guess I can put up with a little good natured ribbing.

“I’ve decided that he isn’t the person I grew up with.” I can’t keep my eyes off of the screen, no matter how hard I try. I find myself watching the screen, searching for his number almost absentmindedly, like my brain is do attuned to doing it that I can’t stop myself.

“He probably isn’t,” Kennedy agrees, pushing herself up to an actual sitting position and regarding me with sympathetic eyes.

“I think that we didn’t give ourselves time to get to know who we are now,” I continue thoughtfully, watching him sitting on the bench, gnawing anxiously on the corner of his bottom lip. “Or maybe I just didn’t want to see who he is now,” I add with a little sigh as he jumps out onto ice and glides easily towards centre ice.
Neither of us says anything for a while. We just watch the Pens running in circles trying to keep up with the obviously more energized, more hungry Habs who, unlike the Pens, are making short, crisp tape to tape passes and successfully blocking shots.

“What about Max?” Kensie asks as the cute furry faced Frenchman slams into the SS Gill behind the net and manages to make it look like he wasn’t trying to cause the big defenseman some serious physical damage.

“Ahhh,” I sigh, feeling that now familiar tightness in my chest.

“What’s that mean?” Kensie asks, leaning over the back of the couch to look at me.

“There can’t be a Max,” I reply, somewhat wistfully.

“Why not?” she asks, dropping her chin onto the backs of her hands and peering at me with pursed lips as if I’ve said something stupid. Tipping my head to one side I raise an eyebrow. “Okay, besides the obvious friendship and teammate things.”

“Does there need to be more?” I ask. “And besides…I’m broken hearted here. I can’t start…I wouldn’t want to start…and it would be too complicated and…and it was just sex anyway.” They’re all the reasons I’ve told myself, words I’ve practiced in my head. They sound right, honest, sane but when I watch him being lead to the sin bin, I can’t help smiling back at the mischievous grin he wears on his face.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chapter 39

I think we're probably all reeling from last night. I know I am. I don't think this is going to help like some of you seem to hope it will, but here goes nothing...

“Was there ever any doubt?” TK shouts as he raises his hands above his head, celebrating our victory. I can still hear the crowd leaving the arena, it sounds like the buzz of a beehive.

“Fucking A!” Jordy howls, dragging his jersey off and tossing it in the pile in the middle of the room before making a muscle man pose and growling like a rabid dog.

“It’s one game guys, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Papa G counsels quietly from across the room where he’s quietly taking off his pads. Christ it was good to have him out there again, even if I still came up empty handed as far as the score sheet is concerned.

“I say we drink to our win,” Brooksy announces, one hand on his chest, the other out like he’s holding a shot, and knowing Brooks, it’s going to be named something like sex on the beach and have whipcream on it.

“Drink? We haven’t won anything yet,” Flower points out, looking over to me for support and normally I’d be right behind Billy G with his warnings to cool it but even though I haven’t been able to crawl my way onto the score sheet and even though we’re not handling Montreal as easily as I think we should….

“I’m up for it. So Diesel or Privé?” I ask, watching Fleur’s mouth fall open as I do. “What? It’s not like whatever I’m doing is working and I had sex before a game and we won so…why not?” I feel a cool hand on my forehead and spin to see Jordan looking down at me with a furrowed brow.

“Who are you and what have you done with the Creature?”

“I’d take him up on his offer if I were you.” We both turn to Max who has quietly sat down beside me on the bench and is untying his skates. “Just wait until he has ankle biters, he won’t be so accommodating then.”

“So Privé it is,” TK announces, standing up on the bench. “First round’s on the Captain,” he adds with a grin and wink in my direction.

“You coming Max?” I ask, to which he shrugs as he gets up to put his skates on the shelf above his name.

“May as well,” he sighs, tugging his jersey off and adding it to the growing pile in the middle of the room before eyeing the door to the room with a wariness that isn’t like Max at all. “Is she coming?”

“She who?” Jordy asks, sounding interested, as if he hasn’t been exclusively hot and heavy with my fiancée’s roommate for months now.

“Je ne sais pas,” Max replies, raising an eyebrow as he drops his hockey pants and grabs a towel, throwing it over his shoulder. “Will it be Mel tonight or Charline?”

“Mel, definitely Mel. I’m committed to that now. I’ve decided,” I reply happily, thinking about how acquiescent and sweet she was last night after we got that little matter of ‘our song’ out of the way. It’s nice to be wanted, I’ve decided. Nice to know that she still needs me and that this whole job in New York thing hasn’t entirely distracted her from our relationship.

“Oh so you’ve decided now have you? Well I guess that must be so comforting to Mel to know that you’ve ‘decided’ to commit to her now,” he snorts sarcastically before shaking his head and heading for the showers. “Lucky her, to have you so committed,” he adds, making rabbit ears in the air as he walks away from us. “Quelle fille chanceuse.” I open my mouth to argue but Jordan puts his hand on my shoulder and just shakes his head.

“He’s just…,” Jordan stares after him and shrugs. “He’s having a hard time out there and you two are hardly hanging out now…it’s hard for him,” the big blonde defenseman explains, as if that excuses Max being such a petty bitch.

“Oui, laisseaz-le seul pour maintenant,” Flower agrees, his gaze also following our furry French friend towards the showers. “He’s dealing the best he can.”

“What about me? I haven’t scored…well unless you count last night,” I add with a grin, earning me a hard punch in the arm from Jordan.

“Shut up! When’s the last time Mel brought Kensie with her? Give me your fucking phone. I’m calling your ho and telling her to get that bitch on a plane,” Jordan makes a grab for my jacket and I swat his hand away.

“Hey, use your own phone and my fiancée is not a ho, thanks very much. She’s a very sweet girl from a small town and I’d like you to treat her accordingly,” I laugh, grabbing my own towel and starting to twist it to use as a weapon.

“Okay, okay, I’m going, fuck!” Jordan howls, sucking his gut in and running for the showers. “Hurry up Cap, I wanna get drunk tonight!”

“You boys don’t stay out too late,” Pappa G admonishes us, putting his hand on my shoulder. “We do still have one more game. At least I hope it’s one more game,” he adds with a grin, and then, with only his towel thrown over his shoulder, he too aims for the showers, leaving me and Flower and Cookie alone in the room with reporters breaking down the doors.


“This place is…,” I let out a long low whistle as I turned around and around in the middle of the club, the VIP section which didn’t make a lot of sense, being smack dab in the middle of everything where everyone could gawk at us, but who was I to say?

“I think swank is the word you’re looking for,” Jordy tries to finish my sentence as he grabs another glow in the dark martini from the platter being carried by a tall, voluptuous brunette. Not that Jordan even looks twice at her, a fact I remind myself to pass on to Kennedy when I email her later.

“I was thinking more along the lines of classy,” I muse, taking in the luxurious couches, the diffused lighting, and all of the well dressed clientele. “This is way better than that other place you boys like to go and get sweaty at,” I add, taking the drink from Jordan and joining him on the couch next to where Tanger is deep in conversation with a curvy dark haired girl with glasses who is giggling and blushing at whatever, probably profane, things he’s saying.

“You mean Blush?” GoGo asks, returning from the bar armed with a tray of shooters.
“I think she means Diesel,” Sid sighs, rolling his eyes at his teammate, shaking his head at the tray when it’s offered.

“I thought you said you were going to have some fun,” TK sighs, taking two shooters himself and downing both of them without seeming to even swallow. I shake my head, eyeing a whip cream and cherry topped shooter and wondering if Sidney would dive into my cleavage for it but before I actually get my hands on the tiny glass, Sidney’s pulling me onto his lap and sliding his hands up under the hem of the black leather halter dress, one of the pieces from the collection that Gareth has given me that I had had no idea where or when I was going to wear it but clubbing it with the Penguins seemed like an appropriate use of it.

“Have I told you yet how good you look tonight?” Sidney asks, his fingertips tracing the patterns in the lace at the top of my stockings.

“Have I told you how funny you are when you’re drunk?” I ask, glancing furtively around to see who, besides his teammates, might be watching the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins getting overly friendly with his fiancée in public.

“I’m not drunk babe. If I was drunk…,” his voice trails off and he gets that look in his caramel coloured eyes that tells me exactly how much farther his hands would be up my dress if he was well and truly under the influence.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drunk,” Jordan chimes in, watching the two of us with a mixture of jealousy and genuine curiosity.

“Can’t think of the last time I was,” Sidney replies thoughtfully, his eyes still glazed over, that half smile of his telling me that he isn’t really thinking about that at all.

“I remember,” the voice behind me makes the small hairs on my neck stand up on end. “Diesel, last year, after we won, you were hitting on everything in skirt,” Max adds dryly, reaching past me to grab a shot from the platter, downing it and then reaching for another.

“I seem to remember you stumbling around too,” Jordan reminds him quietly but pointedly, his gaze clearly adding a warning that, with a quick glance up at the bearded Frenchman, I can clearly tell he’s going to ignore.

“I have Mel to keep me on the straight and narrow,” Sid replies with a wink to me, as if I’m in on some kind of secret, his hand sliding even further up my thigh until I emit an involuntary shudder as his fingertips chase along the edging of my panties.

“Stop it,” I hiss, grasping his arm, my hand too small to even wrap around his muscular forearm but my nails long enough to dig in and leave nasty red welts behind. “I am not one of your puck fucks to be toyed with in public,” I growl, struggling to free myself from his grasp but his hold on me is firm and unyielding. “You are drunk,” I snap, digging my nails in deeper to his pale, white skin.

“I am not and you need to relax,” he smile boyishly, as if butter wouldn’t melt, his fingertips now gently brushing the outside of my panties, just at the spot that even the smallest brush steals my breath and makes my body go rigid. “Kennedy, give my girl here another shot. She’s not having fun yet.”

“I was having fun,” I insist through clenched teeth, blinking back tears of humiliation as Sidney continues to softly stroke the center of what seems to be the nerve centre of my entire body. My head, now entirely at war with my body, is sending signals to swat him, to rake my nails across his face. My body, being traitorous, is pressing against his hand, wanting more. “Don’t…just…mmmm,” I bite down on my bottom lip, sucking it into my mouth as his fingers find their way beneath the edge of my panties. Heat flames in my cheeks and I press my forehead into his shoulder. “Please Sidney, don’t,” I beg, but he only chuckles in response.

“You say don’t, but you’re so wet,” he whispers into my ear as his other arm, the one that’s been cinched around my waist, slides up until his hand is cupping my breast, his thumb flicking my nipple, which, also being traitorous, is almost painfully hard. “We could find a quiet, dark corner and have a private celebration,” he suggests, his voice like liquid honey in my ear.

“Stop. It. Now!” I snarl and with one hard shove, dislodge myself from his lap, smoothing my dress down and looking around for an exit. I notice that none of his teammates will even look at me, and the few other WAGs that have joined their men for this celebration are giving me that look, as if I’m some kind of cheap whore who’s crashed their party.

Feeling ashamed and embarrassed and with my eyes brimming over with tears, I stumble towards the velvet ropes, the invisible barrier holding back the ‘riff-raff’ from joining in the Pens’ players celebrations. No one tries to stop me. No one reaches out or turns to ask what’s wrong and Sidney doesn’t follow me. All I can hear is a buzzing in my head, the thrum of my blood surging through my veins, panic and the urge to breathe fresh air sending my body into flight mode, until I hear a voice that, just one moment I think it’s only in my head, that I’m imagining it.

“We have a request here from the superstar of last year’s game seven against the Wings, the Pens very own number twenty-five, Max Talbot, sending a shout out to a lady very near and dear to his heart that he wants to send a special message to tonight. You know who you are. And I have a message for you too, give the guy a break, the poor dude’s wrapped around your finger.”

I stop, my hand on the door as I hear the first bars of the song, a song I’ve been listening to over and over again on my iPod since I first heard it. The song is so incongruous for the place that we’re in that everyone seems to be standing still, confused. It’s probably my imagination but it feels like everyone’s watching me, as if they’ve all turned at once to stare.

What I’d give to take you dancing
What I’d give to make you mine
If you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers
And my answer is yes to you every time
What I’d give for just one minute

My heart is already pounding, my pulse already rapid, my chest already nearly too tight to breathe, but now my knees begin to give way, except that a pair of hands reaches out to steady me, or I’d have fallen, right there on the floor in the middle of the lounge. Instead, I find myself staring into the grey blue of a storm building off the coast that are Max’s eyes and the plea that is crystal clear there, shakes loose the last of my defenses.

His full lips open to speak and I already know what he’s going to say and I know that I can’t hear those words, don’t want to hear them, and I shake my head, tears rolling down my cheeks and I don’t know what or who I’m crying for. All I know is I have to get out of this place. I have to breathe the night air into my lungs. I have to clear my head. I have to think.

“Don’t…please don’t,” I whisper, reaching out to press my fingertips to those lips that I know would raise a fire in me if I let them and Max closes his eyes against the plea in my own expression and lets me go, his hands slipping away from arms as he turns and disappears into the crowd, vanishing before my eyes.

I stare at the place where he’d just been standing, part of me aching to go after him, to have him hold me and tell me again, as he’s always done how it’s going to be alright, but my feet stay rooted to the spot and the next pair of hands I feel on my shoulders turn me to face the crème caramel coloured eyes of the man I want to love as he searches my face curiously.

“What is with you tonight? You’re as jumpy as a cat on a hot tin roof,” Sidney asks, reaching up to cradle my face tenderly in his hand.

“I don’t think…I don’t think this is what I want,” I whisper, my hands shaking as I raise them, as I stare down at the antique ring on my finger. I glance up into Sidney’s curious gaze and see a flicker of panic pass behind his darkly fringed eyes. But then he controls it, wipes it away, just as he would on the ice. Never let them see you sweat.

“Think about this…before you do something…brash,” he says quietly, like a threat.

“I have,” I whisper as I turn the wring on my finger, pulling it slowly up and over my knuckle. “I seem to do nothing else,” I add as I reach out to cup his hand in mine, pushing the ring down into his palm with my other hand. I stare down at the ring, at how small and insignificant it looks in his hand, and then I force myself to look up into his fierce gaze, trying my best to school my expression. I want to see hurt there. Hurt and disappointment, but all I see in those caramel coloured eyes that I have loved to look into since I was a little girl in pig tails, is anger. Anger and loathing.

“You’ll regret this,” he hisses and I nod.

“I do,” I whisper, blinking through the tears that make it hard for me to see. “You have no idea how much I do,” I repeat and then, going up on tip toe, I press my lips to his cheek and then turn and force myself to walk slowly away, keeping my back straight and my head high.