Which Team are you on?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chapter 11

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“Watch this one, she’s just got her license and she thinks she’s running the Indy,” Sidney warns as he walks me out to the car where Lauren is waiting. “I strongly advise holding on and keeping your hands in the car at all times,” he adds, sounding a lot like a ride operator. “As for you,” he turns his attention to Lauren, “this is precious cargo. I don’t want to hear that you’ve dropped her in a ditch or something.”

“Are you kidding me?” Lauren laughs, turning to slide into her car, a brand new series 1 BMW, the smallest of the Beamers, but one hundred times more expensive than the car I got when I was her age. “She’s going to make me haute couture for homecoming. I won’t let a hair on her head get harmed.” Nodding, Sid seems contented with this and turns back to me, stopping to push my hair back behind my ear and leaning in to press his lips to my forehead.

“This was good, I’m glad you stayed,” he whispers against my cheek, sending a shiver down my spine. No matter how much I batted my eyelashes at him, he wouldn’t join me in the guest room and no matter how long I stayed awake, staring at the ceiling, hoping and praying that he would, he didn’t try to sneak in my room either. Our time, under Mario’s roof, has almost been platonic, other than a few kisses and it hasn’t been nearly enough. Not for me. “Have a good week at school, study hard,” he adds, brushing his lips across mine before reaching around me to open the door.

I feel rooted to the spot, wanting to pout, wanting to grab him by his t-shirt and pull him to me and have him press his body against mine but I don’t. Not only because Lauren is sitting right behind me but because Mario and Nathalie are standing in the doorway, holding hands, looking like proud and approving parents. I know what their approval means, not only to Sid but to me. So as much as this goodbye is far to chaste, I smile and wave to his ‘foster’ parents and hope that he can see in my last look shared with him, that this needs to be remedied and soon.

He reaches in when the car door closes and covers my hand with his and he holds my gaze and I’m almost sure that he shares my feelings but he says nothing. He does, however, lean in and presses his lips once more over mine before tapping the roof of the little red sports car and Lauren obligingly punches it, squealing the tires as she turns the car out of the driveway and onto the quiet tree lined street.

I turn to watch Sidney disappear into the distance but the curve comes too soon and he’s gone from my view so I turn my attention back to real life, sinking down in the black leather seats.

“I’m glad he’s finally dating someone,” Lauren says out of the blue. I glance over at her, trying to decide if I want her to elaborate or not, and decide to keep quiet and see what she says. “I used to have a huge crush on him, just so you know,” she adds, unprompted, glancing over to me with her father’s winning smile before she wrinkles up her nose, making a face and turning her attention back to the road. “I so couldn’t deal with all his…bullshit though,” she continues and then, just when I do want her to elaborate, she falls silent. She looks over at my, quizzically, as if to say ‘you do know what I mean, right?’ but when I don’t affirm that fact, she sighs dramatically and turns her attention back to the windy suburban lane in front of us. “You know. All that chicken cacciatore on game days and no sex the night before a game and waking up at the same time and putting your right sock on first…all that nonsense.” She turns to me again, waiting for me to agree, so I shrug, because I don’t.

“I’ve known a lot of players around the Harbor and they’re all kind of crazy like that,” I suggest, which makes her roll her eyes and shake her head and flip her long hair back over her shoulder.

“Let me tell you, I’ve lived with my dad my whole life and he’s not like that, at all,” she sighs, but before I get a chance to ask what Super Mario is like, she continues on as if it was merely a statement of fact, not to be challenged. “I mean, if we’re going to be like…practically sister in laws then I can tell you,” she adds with a secretive sort of smile. “Max and I are having this sort of…thing and he’s not like that at all. In fact that’s sort of how I knew he was serious about me, when he’d still see me the morning of a game,” she adds, with this innocent but completely honest grin. My breath catches in my lungs and part of me knows that she’s sharing and she is sort of like Taylor to Sidney and if she’s treating me like a confidant, I have to respect her privacy but the other part of me is shaking my head and alarm bells are going off.

Thing?” I ask, hoping that she’ll say friendship and knowing damn well she isn’t going to.

“It’s all very hush hush,” she begins, with this beatific smile on her cherubic face that tells me I am not going to like what I’m about to hear. “I mean if my dad found out…,” she shudders and makes a face before continuing, “Max would so be on the next plane out to Florida,” she adds in a matter of fact sort of tone and there is no doubt that she’s right, but I can’t help but think that Mario isn’t the only one who would come to that same conclusion, unless….

“And Sid knows?” I ask, thinking that the protective boy I knew who would never even let the older boys near me, even if they were his friends, must have changed a lot more than I think he has if he’s allowed this. Lauren’s eyes go wide and she shakes her head vehemently.

“Oh my god, are you kidding? He’d be so much worse than my dad,” she cries, turning her wide eyes to me, pleading silently for me to keep my council. Well, at least that means he hasn’t changed as much as I thought.



“This thing…this thing with you and Jack…it stops, now.”

I look up from my Biology textbook and smile up at a very annoyed Sidney who’s standing over me with his most ferocious look, his nostrils flared, his eyes glittering dangerously gold like a lions and his fists curling and uncurling at his sides. Then I look back down and continue to highlight what I’ve just read on the page. I’ve heard him and now I’m ignoring him. I can hear his breathing. He’s taking short shallow breaths through his teeth, which normally means that either he’s just come off the ice, or he’s about to break something; because it’s never someone and it’s never, ever me.

He knows I’ve heard him and what with all his recent media attention his new pet peeve is having to repeat himself, which I know he’s not going to do. I also know that I’m not going to answer him because it’s none of his damn business.

“I’ve already told him,” he suddenly continues, his voice rising a little because it’s just breaking and normally I’d tease him about it, but that would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull right now and I’m determined not to fight with him about this. Not that there is anything to fight about. Who I see and when is none of Sidney Crosby’s damn business. If he won’t go to the Valentines’ dance with me, I am so not going alone again.

“Is that so?” I ask, not looking up at him because I won’t give him the satisfaction of seeing that he’s getting to me, that I’m clenching my teeth which probably means my nostrils are flaring now.

“He won’t go with you. Not if I tell him not to.”

Oh that is so it, the final straw.

I carefully and slowly put the lid back on my highlighter and then close my text book before I feel like I have my expression under control enough to look up at him.

“Really? Well I guess we’ll see about that.” I can see that little twitch in his jaw that tells me he’s not sure what I’m going to do, which is good. I’m not one of his opposing forwards that he can try and guess my next move and out maneuver me. After all, I’m a girl and smarter than him. I smile, that smile that says that I’m about to do something either he or my mother are definitely not going to like and then I turn and walk over to the table in the library where our friend Jack is sitting, put my books down carefully and quietly next to his, and then while he’s looking up at me expectantly, plant a long, slow kiss on his lips.



I’ve been tapping my fingers impatiently on the arm rest of the taxi while the driver maneuvers it through the narrow streets of the older urban neighborhood. I can feel Kennedy’s eyes boring a hole in the back of my head but I know if I tell her where we’re going and why she’ll only ask too many questions and then try and stop me from getting involved and maybe that would be the right thing to do, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m already involved.

“Are you sure this is it?” I ask as the taxi pulls up in front of a brownstone on a side street and the driver nods, looking at the two of us a little sheepishly. I know what he’s probably thinking; stalkers. But when I hand him the hundred dollar bill his expression changes and he no longer seems at all concerned for the local celebrity’s safety and well being.

“Where are we? What are we doing here? I thought we were going to the airport?” Kennedy complains from the back seat as I get out and stand on the sidewalk looking up at the building, wondering why he’d choose to live here when the rest of the guys live in brand new homes in the ‘burbs where their anonymity and security are assured.

“Just wait here. I won’t be long, I promise.” I don’t even turn to her before I head up to the door because if I do she’ll see it in my face; that I’m up to no good. Instead I cross the sidewalk and pound on the door, mostly for the sake of how this looks, and then I push the door open. It figures of course that it’s unlocked. I’d guessed that already by the fact that his car was parked out front and the other guys are already on their way to practice.

He’s late.

But then again he is injured, which probably means he’s not taking a full practice today, I tell myself as I slam the door behind me so that he knows someone is coming in.

“Mon chère,” he grins, stopping half way down the stairs. “This is a pleasant surprise.”

“This thing with Lauren…. Max, are you crazy?” I snarl accusingly at him. “Christ Max, she’s a child.” I expect him to argue, to point out that I’m only a very few years older than her and I have a counter argument for that, but he doesn’t. He only hangs his head and slumps on the stair until he’s sitting, his hand still curled around the banister.

“You’re right, naturellement,” he replies quietly, letting out a long, frustrated sounding sigh before he raises his gaze to meet mine. “Would you believe me if I said this is all just a joke that got completely out of control?”

I’m ready for just about any argument he might have come up with, except this one and for some reason, I believe him and it sort of takes the wind out of the sails of my anger. So instead of giving him the huge lecture I bite my tongue and walk up to sit beside him on the stair.

“She’s in love with you, you know that right?” He nods, his shoulders sagging and then he shrugs and lets out another long, pathetic sounding sigh.

“It was just to see if I could. I mean, TK and Jordy and some of the others thought it was funny but…it was just to see if I could and then it turns out she’s not exactly the spoiled princess that we all thought she was and now I don’t know how to end this without hurting her…or getting sent to Edmonton,” he adds with just the hint of a grin playing across his features. That I can sympathize with. Not only because Edmonton is the asshole of Canada but because the weather sucks and they’re the worst team in the conference, barely on life support and being sent there would be like being sent to purgatory.

“What we did…Max what we did was bad but it was for a good cause. This…this is bad,” I point out and he only nods, mutely. Obviously he doesn’t need to be told.

“So how do I do it?” he asks, looking over at me with puppy dog eyes and I almost feel bad for landing on him like a ton of bricks. He obviously does feel bad for what he’s done. “I mean, without getting sent to the KHL?”

“Well normally I’d say honesty is the best policy,” I begin, but then shake my head as we both snort at the idea. “But in this case…lie Max, lie your ass off. “

“Oui but…what? What can I say that won’t send her running to daddy or…or Crosby?” he asks, and even though I search his gaze, ready to call his bluff, I can see that he is honestly drawing a blank.

“Must I do everything?” I sigh, reaching over to grab his hands. “It’s not you , it’s me. You’re far too good for me. I’ll never be good enough for someone like you. You have your whole life ahead of you and…my whole career could be over the next time I get pushed into the boards and besides,” I add more softly, batting my eyelashes at him, “I don’t want to ruin your reputation and it would be ruined if anyone found out about us and I couldn’t do that to you.” I can see it in his eyes that Max is going to argue but then he seems to think better of it and nods his head, dropping his gaze from mine.

“You’re right, of course you’re right,” he sighs, giving my hands a squeeze before putting them carefully back in my lap. “It’s only my pride, after all. It’s not important.”

“You’re pride? Max, you can get any girl in this city and you know it,” I laugh, pushing him hard, sending him sliding down one stair and threatening to kick him down the rest. “And if it’s some bet you’re going to lose, better that then practicing in West Edmonton mall for a bunch of trailer trash honeys,” I add, grinning at him when he laughs. “Now I’m stupid late for a flight. Promise me you’ll do it today,” I insist, accepting his hand up and then walking down to his front door beside him.

“This week, at least,” he promises with another sigh. “What?” he grimaces, and then, when I roll my eyes at him he nods. “D’accord, alright already. Today.”

“Best to get it over with, like a band aid,” I explain, grabbing his arms and pinching his skin hard before pulling it back, making him wince. “Just remember, it would hurt worse to have Quinn tossing pucks and spitting his gum at you.”

“”Okay, today. Fuck. Do you boss Sidney around this way?”

“Of course,” I lie with a smile on my face as he leans in to buss each of my cheeks before turning to lock his front door.

“How was your weekend, by the way?” he asks, actually sounding interested. I keep the same bright smile on my face and lie some more.

“Amazing, really good. Thanks.”


“Morning Mr. Staal, nice of you to grace us with your presence,” Coach calls out as Jordan stumbles out onto the ice. For his part, Jordan just waves at Bylsma and puts his head down and tries to sort of meld in and disappear into our ranks as we skate laps to warm up. He isn’t the only missing, I notice as I turn to skate backwards, enjoying the feeling of my muscles bunching and flexing as they warm up.

“I don’t think I can take it if Kennedy comes down every weekend with your girlfriend,” Jordy grumbles as he catches up to me, using the flat of his blade to try and trip me, but I’m obviously more awake than he thinks I am, as I sidestep his stick and shake my head at him.

“I think this might be the first time I’ve heard you complaining about getting laid,” I laugh at him, knowing the difference between Gronk hungover and Gronk exhausted and right now, he looks a whole lot like he’s been rode hard and put up wet.

“I’m not complaining, exactly” Jordy assures me with a sleepy sort of grin. “I’m just saying I didn’t get any sleep, if you know what I mean,” he adds with a raised eyebrow, his grin growing as I roll my eyes. “Oh c’mon Crosby, are you tryin’ to tell me you couldn’t have used another couple hours after you kicked her out this morning?”

“I’m fresh as a daisy,” I reply as I skate a close circle around him, ending with my elbow in his ribs and both of us up against the boards. “Not all of us are only looking for a quick fuck.”

“Oh god, not that holier than thou shit again,” Jordy moans, pushing me off of him and starting to skate away from me, “there’s nothing wrong with a good fuck.”

“I’m not saying there’s not,” I agree, falling into step beside him. “But Mel and me, we go way back and I’m not going to just turn her into another notch on the belt. Not that it’s not fucking tempting,” I add, thinking about the way she tried to drag me into the guest room with her, grabbing me by my belt loops and giving me that come hither look that just about had me following her in.

“I’m glad to hear you’re still wearing the chastity belt mon ami,” Max suddenly joins us out of nowhere and I’m almost sure he wasn’t on the ice a minute ago. “Some things are worth waiting for, non?”

“As if you would know,” Jordy laughs, sending Max sliding across the ice on his ass, cursing loudly en Français and gesturing wildly. “But seriously, you two are holding out? Really? That’s sweet,” Jordy adds, patting me on my shoulder and I actually do feel pretty proud of the fact that I haven’t tried anything major on Mel yet.

“I don’t know, you know? Shit’s changed between us. I want to make sure it’s right before we get into…that,” I explain, to which I’m surprised that Jordy actually nods in agreement.

“Because she could be it, that’s what you’re saying,” he adds, which sends a shiver down my spine. I open my mouth to object, to argue, but quickly shut it again. He could be right. It’s kind of scary to think of it that way but…yeah, he could be right.

“Oh my god, do I hear the patter of tiny little Crosby skates?” TK asks, making kissing noises at me like we’re in grade five or something, so I take a leaf out of Jordy’s book and shove him into the boards, ignoring his threats and curses as I skate away.

I have other things on my mind, namely, getting to know Mel better and spending more time with her lips moving under mine. Yeah, that’s definitely worth thinking about.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chapter 10

It’s a fucking palace. No matter how much he tries to convince me it’s not, it is. It’s a fucking castle. It’s clearly bigger than anything in Coal Harbor, or almost anything, but it’s definitely bigger than even the way too big house Sid has on the lake and some of those houses are big. For fuck sakes it’s even bigger than our high-school back home.

To make it worse, the Lemieux’s house is old money big. It’s got that solidity that says ‘we’re important’. It doesn’t scream family home, unless by family you mean the Kennedys or Rockefellers. No wonder Sid doesn’t want to move out of the place.

“I’m sorry I didn’t meet you at the airport,” he apologizes again, for like the third time as we stand there on the front steps, he on the cold marble floor and me on the welcome mat, and I can’t help but think that he shouldn’t be apologizing for that so much as the fact that he’s answered the door in socks and jeans and a ratty old t-shirt. Especially when I’m wearing what should have been my class project, a black cocktail dress with red lace overlay and high heels that look great but are pinching the shit out of my feet. “There was this scrum after practice and I didn’t get in the shower until you were landing and…”

“That’s okay, Jordan found me just fine,” I mutter, wishing he wouldn’t just stand there in the doorway and wishing Jordan would just drive away and take Kennedy with him instead of idling in the driveway watching me squirm. It’s probably at Kensie’s insistence, which should make me feel better about it except for the fact that she’s betting that Sid’s thought better about this meet the folks moment and doesn’t think that his old friend from the Harbor is up to the task and the truth of the matter is, if that is why I’m still standing on the welcome mat, I don’t really blame him. If they have more than one fork on the dinner table, I’m fucked. “Sooo, are you gonna stand there staring or am I coming in? Cuz I think Jordan’s pretty eager to get Kennedy alone.”

“Sorry,” he manages to look flustered as he stands aside to let me in to the marble foyer before waving Jordy away. “It’s just…,” he tilts his head to one side as he looks at me and then sort of shrugs before closing the door. “I guess I’m still getting used to seeing you in a dress.”

“Oh…that again,” I mutter, now feeling even more self conscious than I was before. I’d agonized over what to wear, wanting to be sure not to let him down and now he tells me that I could have worn my overalls. Or at least I think that’s what he’s trying to tell me.

“Sorry,” he apologizes again, proving that all the ‘good Canadian kid-ness’ hasn’t been knocked out of him. “It’s still a big change for me to get used to.” I bite my lip and keep my smart ass comments to myself. I’m on my best behavior after all and besides, the way his t-shirt is worn and frayed around his neck keeps distracting me and making me think of the other night on my couch and then it’s hard for me to stay mad at him. “But you look…beautiful,” he adds, finally closing the gap between the two of us and reaching forward, wraps one of my curls around his finger before leaning in to press a gentle, soft kiss on my lips that makes my entire body tingle.

It makes me smile, it really does, even if there’s still a part of me that hates that I light up when he approves of something I’ve done. As if I’m one of those carnival hammer games waiting for him to hit just the right spot just hard enough to make the light go on.

“So is this her? The one you keep telling us about?” My cheeks heat and I feel my knees get weak for an entirely different reason as I find Mario Lemieux bearing down on us with that big, easy smile of his. As if he knows, and maybe he does, Sid’s hand curls around mine and the solid strength of his body pressed up against mine lends me enough strength to stand there and smile back at Sid’s benefactor.

“I’m not bringing any sand in from the sandbox, I promise,” I grin up at the tall French Canadian and Mario laughs, a deep rich sound that makes it easy to smile back at him.

“I was just trying to imagine the girl Sidney talks about with the pig tails and the glasses,” he admits, holding his hand out to me and I slide my hand out of Sid’s to take it, taking a step forward, doing it on my own without his help. “I don’t know what you mean at all Sid. She’s lovely,” Mario adds, causing me to glance back at Sidney, darkly. What the fuck does that even mean? “Come in Melody, the girls are looking forward to meeting you.”

I take Mario’s offered arm and let him lead me inside, my brain working over what he’s just said and trying to interpret the flush that had coloured Sidney’s cheeks when he said it.


She talks brightly and effortlessly about her year at École Superieure de mode de Montréal, which I know nothing about and the girls gush over her seamstress skills and they and Nathalie ask about designers I’ve never heard of and for once, hockey isn’t mentioned at the table. Not even once. There isn’t a single time when I feel like she needs to be rescued and even when she insists on clearing up, I get the feeling it’s so she can talk to Nathalie more, rather than because she feels obligated to and so I’m left heading into the living room with Mario, feeling at a total loss.

“She’s charming,” my mentor says admiringly. “Trés jolie.”

“She is,” I affirm before slumping into one of the couch’s wondering why and what exactly is bothering me about that. It isn’t just that she’s not what I remembered her to be or the fact that I can’t keep my eyes off of her, it has to be something else.

“She’s not like Vero at all,” Mario continues, pouring something thick and amber into a glass and handing it to me. I let the rich spicy scent of the whiskey fill my head as I think about how she is and is not like one of my best friend’s girlfriends.

“She is,” I insist. “I mean…I thought, with her being from the Harbor too she’d be intimidated but…I don’t know,” I shrug, shaking my head at how wrong I’ve been.

“Paris, Rome…she’s seen a lot of the world you haven’t even seen yet,” he adds, that little smile on his face telling me that we’ve come across yet another situation where I don’t know what I thought I did and, as usual, that bugs the shit out of me.

“She’s exactly the kind of girl I thought would be right for you,” Nathalie adds in a whisper, her bejeweled hand giving my shoulder a squeeze as she walks around behind the couch before taking another glass of wine from Mario and joining him on the other couch. “She’s going to bring her design book down next time she comes,” she adds as Lauren and Stephanie come around the corner, still chatting animatedly with Mel. “Isn’t that right Melody? Lauren would love to have a one off designer gown for homecoming.”

“Steph reminds me of me,” Mel adds, giving Mario’s more hockey inclined daughter a hug as they enter the room. “Except she’s way better at hockey than I ever was, but then you never gave me pointers so I guess that explains that,” she adds, not sounding like she’s upset about anything but I can see something dark in her eyes as she shoots me a glance that would make a plant wither and die.

“I can’t believe you made that dress and you can tune an engine,” Stephanie gushes back at her and that seems to brighten Mel’s mood. “I mean Sid told us about the car but not about the designing thing.”

“Well he is a boy,” Mel replies, shooting me another look that makes me want to squirm further into the couch and hide behind the cushions. “You have to forgive them for being dumb, am I right?”

“Especially Sidney,” Nathalie chuckles over her glass of wine as she curls up next to her husband. “If it’s not on skates or attached to a puck, he doesn’t usually notice it at all.” It’s a description I resemble too strongly to argue about and the little smile that tugs at Melody’s lips makes it worthwhile not even objecting to.

“Well maybe I can design him a suit that fits him better,” Mel adds, disentangling herself from Mario’s daughters and holding her hand out to me. “Now, you promised to show me around this place,” she adds as she helps to tug me to my feet and that twinkle in her eye makes my mouth go dry thinking about how hard it was for me to separate myself from her once we’d started kissing the other night.

Fortunately this is a family home and Mario’s rules stand as long as I live here so while Mel might be tempting in that dress and there are any number of nooks and crannies in this big house, we’re both on our best behavior and a little time alone can’t get us into too much trouble.


“You should stay,” he says suddenly, putting his glass down on the table as his gaze fixates on the pool. “We could go for a swim. It would be like old times.” He turns to me with that big boyish smile of his and I feel my heart melt and then immediately turn to ice again.

“I didn’t…I left all my stuff in Jordan’s guest house,” I explain, part of me still wondering, considering the size of the place, why that had even been necessary. “I don’t have my bathing suit,” I continue, my head suddenly working around the first part of the statement. The moon glinting off the pool had sort of dazed me for a moment, but when I thought about it, there it was. He’d said stay.

Could it be? That night, in New York, we’d lost track of time on the couch and then he’d sort of just…stopped and then my seven minutes in heaven had just been over when he’d said, very calmly that he would stay on the couch, like I had cooties.

Could it be that he’d had as restless a night as I had and now he wanted to make up for it? I grin across at him and shrug my shoulders, hoping to be more pleasing and less derogatory, which has been my goal the entire night, to be the bright, pretty, pleasant girlfriend that no one can object to.

“I guess we could do what we used to do when we used to go camping. I could wear your shorts and one of your old t-shirts tied around my waist,” I offer, thinking about the nights out at the lake, sneaking onto someone’s property for a cool splash on a hot summer night.

“I don’t think…I mean that was fine when we were more or less the same size and shape,” he explains, a delicate rose colour filling his cheeks. “But uh…maybe Lauren has something that might fit a little…better.” I want to say ‘so you have remembered that I am a girl then’ but instead I just shrug and bite my tongue because I don’t want to argue and spoil the evening. Sure we’re having alone time now, but it’s been filled with awkward silences and I keep hoping for that easy way we used to talk, or at least the way he used to talk to me. It hasn’t been easy for me to talk to him for years.

“We could always go skinny dipping,” I suggest, not because I’m serious, which I’m not, but because I know it will get a reaction and even anger would be better than this…this polite silence.

“There’s people and rules and….”

“And I don’t think there would be rules at Jordan’s so why aren’t we there?” I ask, feeling angry and more than just a little hurt by his immediately negative reaction.

“I wanted you to meet Nat and Mario, they’re important to me,” he begins, sounding hurt that I should even have suggested not coming, to which I can only shake my head.

“So I’ve done that and passed with flying colours but why are we still here if you’re afraid to even touch me with your whole new family around, or maybe you just don’t want to?” I suggest, trying to reconcile the cuddly Sidney who didn’t seem to want to let me go at my apartment to this one who now seems to want to keep time and space between the two of us at all times. Sidney hangs his head for a long moment and my impatience begins to build but just when it’s about to boil over into more accusations, he looks up at me with that serious ‘now listen here’ look on his face. So I bite my tongue, and wait.

“You’re wrong,” he says simply, his gaze holding mine for a long moment, like he’s considering exactly what to say next and then he looks away, his attention turned back to the silvery ribbon the moon has left on the dark water in the pool. “I just want to do the right thing here and I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about…well I just don’t know about us,” he sighs and then turns to me and reaches for my hand across the table, taking it between his and turning it over. We both stare at my upturned palm, probably because it’s easier than looking at one another during the charged silence that follows. I watch as the pad of his thumb traces the lines in my hand and it feels good, him holding my hand. But the silence that draws out again between us doesn’t feel good at all.

“I don’t understand,” I sniff, breaking the silence because I can’t stand it anymore and because there are all these things that I want to say and haven’t said and if I don’t say something I’m afraid all of the things I’ve been holding back will burst out without any kind of editing at all. “One minute you’re telling me that you’re happy and the next you can hardly look at me Sidney…. I don’t understand.”

“I know,” he sighs, closing my hand and covering it with his two, bigger hands before he looks up at me. “I just want to do the right thing and…I’m not sure what that is yet,” he says, looking sheepish and a little unsure as he says it. “It would be easy to treat you like…well, like any of the other girls but Mel…you’re like one of my best friends and I’m still afraid if I do something wrong, if we don’t do this right that I’ll lose you, forever and I don’t want that.”

It’s the single most sweetest, nicest thing that anyone has ever said to me…ever and suddenly I just feel like a complete bitch and tears spring into my eyes that I can’t quite control. I might mind that I seem to be crying around him a lot but Sidney just smiles and reaches across the table to wipe my tears away and then his hand cradles my cheek and we sit there for a long moment, just staring across the table at one another.

“Okay,” I whisper, my voice catching in my throat and he smiles, that sweet, boyish smile that makes my heart swell in my chest and then he pushes his chair back and leans across the table and presses his lips to mine in a long, soft, sweet kiss.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chapter 9

“Look who’s managed to drag his ass to the rink!” Jordy calls, slapping me on the back as I walk into the dressing room still wearing the suit I wore to the rink on Long Island the day before. “Dirty stop out,” he adds, messing my hair, which normally would send me off the deep end but considering I’ve just dragged a knit cap off of my head, I shrug it off, this time.

“Will you look at that afterglow? He doesn’t even care if you touch his head,” Cooker grins, reaching to do the same, but once was enough and I duck under his hand and move to my spot on the bench and start toeing off my shoes.

“You didn’t have to come you know,” Flower points out, “it’s voluntary today.”
“I know, but you know me,” and I know I don’t have to give any more of an explanation than that to him or anyone else on the team. Voluntary or not, I practice, even when I’m injured.

“How did she take your slipping out of her bed in the wee hours?” Max asks and I glance over to find him busy taping his stick, not looking at me and I feel just the smallest twinge of regret. Not for leaving her, but for stepping in to the position he’d only just vacated. Normally it isn’t something I’d recommend any guy do to any of the other guys on the team, unless it has to do with a puck fuck and then it doesn’t matter but….

“Look I’m sorry Max. I mean I know you said to go but…it couldn’t have been easy for you,” I begin, feeling actually sorry for the guy, but he only shakes his head and laughs.

“Mon ami, je suis très heureux pour vous, for both of you. She finally has what she wants and you’re getting laid. Everyone’s happy.” I know Max is smiling, and he looks and sounds like he means it and I want to believe that he does but there’s something in his eyes that tells me he’s not really as happy for me as he wants me to believe.

“If it helps, I really don’t think she went through you to get to me Max. You know how little patience I have for that sort of shit,” I explain, thinking that that must be it. That there is a line that I won’t usually cross, that I won’t go out with girls who try to go through my friends to get to me.

“I don’t think that,” Max says more quietly, putting his hand on my shoulder and studying me for a long minute. “I think she used me, sure, but not like that. She didn’t want to feel things she feels because she thought you didn’t…fuck! Ecoutes-moi! Pourqui est-ce j’etant suis sérieux tellement fichu? Ignore me, mon ami. I hope you will both be very happy together.”

I watch Max go but I can’t help feeling that he’s not being completely honest with me or if not me, himself. Still, it’s part of the code we have in this room. If that’s what a guy wants you to believe, like if he’s just taken a slash to the back of the knee and you can tell it’s hurting, if he tells you it doesn’t, you go with that. So I’ll leave it, for now, because that’s what he wants and a guy has his pride.

“So, was she all you dreamed about and more?” Jordy asks, reappearing in front of me and reaching for my hair again. I bat his hand away and shake my head.

“Is that all you think about Gronk? Sex?” I laugh, which brings on an assault of wolf whistles and other animals sounds that generally suggests that that is pretty much what all of my teammates think about.

“Spill it Croz. I’ve seen her, these losers haven’t. So, was she hot in the sack or what?” I shake my head and seriously consider saying nothing and letting them believe whatever their dark, twisted little imaginations can come up with but then I think, she’s going to be one of the Wags and I want her to be respected and this is the sort of thing that could come back to bite me in the ass.

“I slept on the couch, okay? Happy?” I add, getting up and turning my back on the sarcastic gasps and other derisive sounds that tell me that they either don’t believe me or that they think I’m just covering up for a night of hot, sweaty amazing sex and I’m just too humble or too embarrassed to talk about it. Either way, I’m not saying more than that. I’ve told the truth and I’m not going to get into it with them.

After all, Mel and I know what happened and I know that when we get to know each other again, when the time is right, it will be amazing and that will be worth waiting for.


“It’s for you. It’s your boyfriend’s girlfriend. ” Kennedy hands me the phone and sort of rolls her eyes as she drops it into my hands before returning to her lounging position on the couch with her legs draped over the edge and her magazine held up over her head.

“Bonsoir Max,” I laugh, not having to be told what she means by it to know that it’s him.

“Et bonsoir à tu mon chère,” he replies, sounding amused by my French I suppose. Either that or it’s just Max, hardly ever serious. “So how was your first day in heaven? Because if you’re anything like mon ami ici, you’re grinning all of the time and walking around as if your feet will not touch the ground, oui?” I can’t help but break out into a huge grin at the idea of Sidney walking around with the same fluffy white cloud under his feet that I’ve been walking around on all day and it warms something deep within me to hear it.

“Oh I think I’ll do,” I reply, trying to sound calm and reserved, like it doesn’t matter, like I have it all together but Max doesn’t seem to buy it. I can hear him chuckling to himself on the other end of the line even though he has the decency to hold the phone away or at least muffle it while he laughs at me. “Seriously though, I owe you big time. Next time you’re in the Big Apple we’ll have to take you to dinner or something.”

“Oui, or something eh?” he laughs, sounding like the dirty Frenchman everyone knows and expects him to be. “Amenez un ou deux de vos jolis amies pour moi,” he adds really putting on that heavy Quebec accent that makes him sound more like Pepè le Peu than he usually does and that image makes me laugh more than what he’s said. I can well imagine him grabbing up some poor girl off of the street like Pepe does Penelope Pussycat and covering her with kisses. “Speaking of dates, I hear you are coming down to have your first official date?” he adds, making my stomach churn all over again at the mere thought of it.

“Yeah, apparently I’m to meet the Landlord and his entire brood,” I sigh, rubbing methodically at that spot between my eyes that starts to throb every time I think about it.

“L’idiot absolu! For your first date?” Max snorts and I have to concur with the sentiment, although it isn’t what I’d told Sidney. Of course I’d agreed. It had seemed somehow important to him.

“Oh me nerves. I don’t even know what to wear Max. What are they like? I hear they live in a castle or something?”

“Ne t’inquietes pas,” Max sighs, going back to the Max I’ve gotten to know, the serious Max, my friend. “Just be you, mon chère, they’ll love you, like we all do.”
“That’s sweet Max. I’m glad I have at least one of his friends on my side. I can’t wait until Troy finds out about this. I swear as soon as I sprouted breasts that man wanted to get me away from his son,” I mutter, thinking about Sidney’s barrel- chested and constantly disapproving father. “Well as long as they don’t totally hate me….”

“Mon chère, I promise that’s impossible,” Max laughs, and that helps a little to alleviate that tight feeling between my eyes. “Maybe I’ll see you when you’re down here. If mon capitaine doesn’t keep you all to himself. Not that I could blame him if he did. I know I would keep you tied up,” he adds, his accent thickening the way it does when he’s trying to be funny, or seductive, or in Max’s case, both.

Maaaxx,” I moan, shaking my head at the double entendre. It’s like he can’t himself.

“No, seriously though mon chère, if you need anything, I’m here for you, d’accord? Anytime,” he adds, and it goes a long way towards making that throb behind my eyes go away.

“Thank you Max, really. Like I said, it’s good to know I’ve got one of his friends on side and if Sid gets out of line I can always threaten to go back to you right?” I add, still feeling vaguely guilty about our ruse but at least Sid hasn’t questioned me too directly on it so it is still an option, although I don’t think I’ll need it, or at least I hope not.

“Naturellement!” Max laughs and I don’t have to see him to know that he’s grinning in that ear to ear sort of way that he does when he really likes something. “Jusque là, bonne nuit mon chère.”

“Yeah, good night Max,” I sigh, hitting the end button and turning to put the phone back in the cradle, finding Kennedy watching me over the top of her magazine with a speculative look in her eye. “What?”

“You and Max…Sid doesn’t know that was all crap does he?” she asks and, for the first time I’m reminded that she knows a little too much about what’s going on and that she might have told Jordan. “You should tell him,” she continues before I have time to explain, going back to her magazine, making the pages rustle noisily.

“I will…sometime,” I add under my breath. I have no idea what the right time would be for that kind of conversation, and besides, I have this ‘meet the parents’ kind of dinner to go to first and I think that’s really enough pressure for one night.

“It’s not going to be easy you know,” she continues, suddenly folding her magazine and sitting up, watching me with shrewd, knowing eyes as I reach for the remote. My hand hovers above it as I stare at her, wondering where this speech has suddenly come from. “Jordan says they all break up with him for the same reason.” They all…just the thought of a lineup of nameless, faceless and yet pretty young women makes that throbbing sensation return and I straighten, reaching for that spot and trying to rub it away. I know there has to have been who knows how many. I know it and yet it’s the last thing I want to think about. “I’m just saying,” Kensie continues, “Jordan says he doesn’t envy anyone that gets involved with him. He says it always turns out that he doesn’t have time for them and it always ends the same way.”

Closing my eyes, I hold up my hand to stop her from talking. Partly because the throbbing between my eyes has now turned into a full on splitting headache, and partly because I just don’t want to and don’t think I need to hear it. It takes a moment or so before I can force my eyes open so that she can see just how serious I am when I say it and then I smile, as much as I can through the pain, and try to explain it in as short and sweet a manner as I can.

“I know him, probably better than most people. I know how he eats and sleeps and breathes hockey. I won’t be one of those clingy girls who ‘needs’ his attention. I’m not that girl. Besides, that’s part of the reason I stayed here and didn’t go chasing him down there. He’ll miss me. He’ll be glad to see me and he’ll make time for me. You’ll see.” I feel confident as I say it and even Kensie has to shrug and seemingly ascent to my plan but as I turn to head to my room to go back to planning my wardrobe for the weekend she calls out to me.

“Just be careful Mel. After all, he’s not just that kid you knew in Coal Harbor anymore is he?” I turn to look at her but she’s got that magazine open again, effectively dismissing me and cutting off the conversation at that.

It’s a fair enough warning I suppose if you don’t know him. But I do, I grin to myself as I head back into my room to delve into my closet. I know him better than anyone and I’ve waited this long for him to see me. Nothing can go wrong now. That’s not how the story goes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chapter 8

“I’ve just been worried about this…about us being together ruining our friendship,” I explain, pressing my lips to the top of her head while she wraps her arms around my middle.

“Oh c’mon, really?” She makes a derisive sound in the back of her throat and looks up at me with her eyes narrowed and her soft, full lips drawn into a confused line. “We haven’t been friends for a long time; probably not since you went off to Shattucks. I don’t know what happened to you there, and,” she adds with just the hint of a smile as she reaches up to stop me from trying to explain, “I don’t know if I want to know but…whatever happened there, by the time you came back we were just…different.”

“You mean I thought you were still eleven and you were really thirteen?” I sigh, nodding as she tips her head to one side with that ‘you know I’m right’ look on her face. “I did notice…I mean…you know; kinda hard to miss?” I add, feeling heat rush up into my face as I glance down at the way her breasts tug at the bib of her overalls.

“Ah yes, the girls…suddenly I couldn’t quite get away with just being one of the boys anymore. Either you all were too busy noticing or too busy not noticing,” she smiles and then lets out an unhappy sounding sigh. “Besides, by then you were already ‘the Kid’,” she adds, letting go of me to make bunny ears with her fingers around that nickname that I hate but can’t seem to get rid of, “and you didn’t have time for that little girl next door that worshipped the ground you walked on.”

I want to apologize, or at least it seems like I should as I reach out to pull her back to me, to put my arms around her and hold her close while she goes quiet and still. I think about that little girl that used to follow us all around and about that girl that sat on her front steps and watched us play but didn’t even ask to play anymore and my chest gets tight.

“I’m sorry, I just…I didn’t know.” I don’t know what else to say and am relieved when she finally turns her eyes up and gives me a smile that tells me that she understands.

“Of course you didn’t. You had all your buddies and besides you had Taylor. It’s not your fault that you’ve always been my whole world.” It’s like taking a slap shot to the cup to hear her say that to me. Christ, it’s never occurred to me that, being an only child, the boy next door would be brother, best friend and very likely her only escape from her overbearing and controlling mother.

And then I abandoned her….

“Mel…I don’t know what to say. I…..” She lifts her hand to cover my mouth and then replaces her fingers with her soft mouth and, just for a minute, makes me feel a little less like a heel.

“I just said that it wasn’t your fault dummy,” she whispers softly against my lips. “I figured out a long time ago that women are far superior to men intellectually, so I don’t hold it against you.” I’d argue but the smile she gives me tells me she’s just playing…or at least partially and suddenly I feel like we’re back in those days when we used to walk to and from school together and it was just us and we could tell each other anything. “That’s better,” she whispers, her cool hands curling around my neck, bringing my lips down over hers’ again, her lips opening beneath mine, and our tongues twine in a dance that feels entirely unfamiliar and intoxicating. I feel like I could kiss her forever. I feel like we’ve wasted so much time not kissing.

She tastes sweet, and her body feels soft and warm in my arms. I’m tempted to march her backwards to the couch and press her down onto it just to feel her body beneath mine and as soon as I start to think of that I can feel my body reacting accordingly and so I withdraw instead, just enough to get a little air and a little space.

“So when did all this start?” I ask, peering at the work she has on her desk, afraid to touch anything but curious about this new Mel that I’m half afraid to stop holding onto.

“If you had cared to know, a long time ago,” she sighs, seemingly happy to stay in the circle of my arm, her cheek resting against my chest.

“I didn’t even know you could draw,” I say apologetically as I trace the outline of one of her designs, a sketchy silhouette of a figure in a full skirted wedding dress.

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” she chuckles, lifting her lips to mine again and I’m only too happy to oblige her, covering her mouth with mine and easing into a long, soft leisurely kiss but as soon as that heat begins to build again, I break it off and clear my throat nervously.

“I thought you wanted to be a mechanic.” I keep thinking about her with grease up to her elbows and a wrench in her back pocket. This new, more feminine Melody is going to take some getting used to.

“Why do you boys always see things so black and white? Are you saying I can’t wear a dress and change a tire?” she asks, giving me a punch in the stomach, which reminds me that I had planned on eating dinner on the train.

“Put on a dress for me now?” I ask, releasing her hair from the confines of the elastic holding it back, and as I run my hands through it I can’t help but think of the way she looked when she came to the barbeque during the summer. “I’ll take you to the most expensive restaurant in Manhattan and show you exactly how much I think of you.”

“You don’t have to do that,” she grins, ducking her face away from my gaze. “You could take me to McDonalds and I don’t think I’d be less happy than I am now.”

Are you happy?” I ask, lifting her chin in my hand and searching her gaze, wanting to know the truth and wanting to see if every shadow of hurt and disappointment has, at last, has been erased from her eyes.

“Are you?” she asks in return, raising her eyebrow inquisitively at me and giving me that smile that I knw all too well which has just as much of a ‘fuck you’ as it does an invitation to fight. I’ve seen it right before she beats my ass at Mario Kart or sends a fastball directly at my head.

“Are you always going to make me say it first?” I ask, shaking my head at her as her grin grows, showing her straight white teeth, and still it’s more menacing than a smile should be.

“Maybe not always,” she drawls, “but I think considering how long it seems for you to figure things out, I think that’s more than fair.”

“He slept on the couch?” Kennedy asks incredulously as she stares at the remnants of our first, very innocent, night together; the quilt from my bed now lying abandoned on the floor and the cushions still showing the indent of his body. I’m tempted to touch that indent, to see if it’s still warm, but I manage to control the temptation and turn instead to go back and refill my coffee cup.

“He took a cab to JFK early. He wanted to be on time for practice,” I explain, leaving out the part about the discussion we had about taking things slowly. Not that that had come as a huge surprise to me, considering, instead of a Lambo or a Ferrari, Sidney chose the safer, sturdier Land Rover for a vehicle.

“So you’ll be packing then? When do you go to the ‘Burgh?” she asks as she joins me in the kitchen, grabbing her own mug and pushing it suggestively in front of me. I fill her cup, smiling to myself as I think about our plans.

“I’m not going anywhere, for now.” I wonder too myself as I say it how much of that decision was really about my finishing the semester out as it was about Sidney trying to be a gentleman. I know it hadn’t been easy for me to send him to the couch and it had probably been far less easy for him. I don’t have proof that the shower he took before curling up on the couch had been a cold one, though I’d been sorely tempted to peek knowing he was naked in my apartment, but I hadn’t. I’d also been sorely tempted to release the tension in my own body but had been far too afraid of his hearing me should I momentarily lose control. The thought of his shocked face peering into my bedroom door catching me in the act makes me blush and Kensie just shakes her head.

“You’re really going to let him roam around the ‘Burgh without keeping an eye on him? I mean, now that you finally have what you want?” she asks and I know exactly what she means. It’s not like the thought hasn’t occurred to me; all of those girls offering themselves to him, partying with Max and the boys and a long list of puck bunnies.

“I have to trust him,” I sigh, leaning back against the counter, thinking of his gentle, soul searching gaze as we stood at the door in the early hours, knowing he was just as worried about leaving me behind as I was about letting him go. “Besides, if I did go…if we were together all the time right away…there’s always that chance that things would be great and then…fizzle out.”

“The burn brightly and hot and then poof thing,” Kensie nods sagely, like she’s been through it before and she probably has. I don’t know from experience but I’ve seen it happen and that isn’t what I want for us. “So,” she grins, giving me a punch in the arm, “when’s the wedding?”

“Oh fuck,” I laugh, squeezing my eyes shut and wrinkling my nose. “I don’t dare tell my mother. She’ll put a fucking announcement in the Truro Daily News.” I shudder at the thought, knowing full well that there is nothing on earth that would make my mother happier than to be the mother of the bride of the year. Not that isn’t something she’s been contemplating since I was old enough to crawl around after Sidney. Of course that’s always been part of the problem. How could I possibly want the same thing my mother wanted?

Well, no, that’s not entirely true. I don’t care about all the attention that he gets. In fact I’ve hated it and been jealous of it in turns since the television crews started showing up at his house and the local rink to see the ‘next one’. It never has been and never will be about any of that for me. It’s only about him and about his arms around me and how safe I felt last night.

Oh, and the way he kissed me when he left this morning, like he wanted me to remember it. Or maybe he just wanted me to have to have a cold shower.

“Fuck. Look at you. You’re really in love with the boy aren’t you?” she grins, looking me over like I’m some kind of odd specimen and that is pretty much how I feel. My skin is tingling, my lips feel bruised, and my pulse just feels…different. It’s like my blood has turned into thick, liquid honey and it’s having a hard time getting around my body.

“I’ve loved him for a long, long time Kens,” I sigh. “I didn’t know I could love him more but…,” I can’t even say it out loud. My heart suddenly feels too big for my chest and it doesn’t seem right to even be saying it out loud, or at least I don’t think I can say it without crying and laughing at the same time.

“Wow…okay, I think it’s a good thing you two get a little space if you’re going to get all fucking mushy like this,” she laughs, but pulls me into a long hug anyways.
I don’t think either of us really wanted the space but I can’t help thinking she’s right, no matter how hard it feels to be away from him right now.


“How long will you be gone?” Standing at the end of my driveway, watching his dad load his gear into the back of their station wagon it’s all I can do not to cry. But I won’t, not in front of him. I’m going to wait until their car goes down the block, so he won’t know.

“I’ll be back at Christmas. You won’t even know I’m gone,” he laughs, like it’s funny. Like it’s possible that I won’t feel like half of myself has disappeared. Like I won’t feel completely alone the minute he’s gone.

“Is it far?” I ask, hoping he’ll say no. Wondering if I can run away from home on my bike and live under his bed, where my mother can’t braid my hair and try and put me into stupid, frilly dresses when my Grandmother comes to visit.

“Yeah, Mel, it’s far. I don’t know…it’s in the States,” he says matter-of-factly, like I’m stupid for not knowing. Shattuck St Mary’s. It sounds French. It sounds like maybe it could be in New Brunswick where they speak that guttural French Scottish brogue and that’s not that far. Not really.

“Why can’t you stay?” I ask, or rather beg. I can hear it in my voice. I’m going to cry. I hate that he seems happy about this, excited. I mean, I understand why. I know what it’s been like. I’ve heard the comments the other parents make. I know some of the older boys have been really hurting him out on the ice. But he can’t leave me here. Not by myself.

“If anyone gives you any grief, you just tell them I’ll give them what for when I get back, okay?” he grins, that toothy grin of his, his eyes narrowing the way they do when he really smiles, when he’s happy. If I’m his friend I should happy for him but….

“I hope you hate it there. I hope everyone’s mean to you…you…you stupid jerk!” I curl my hand into a fist, just like he’s shown me to do, with my thumb on the outside and I hit him in the chest as hard as I can.

He looks at me, wide eyed, surprised and stricken and his mouth just sort of hangs open as I stand there, watching him clutch at his chest and all I can think is ‘good, I hope it hurts’. Maybe he’ll know how it feels to be stabbed in the heart.

I can feel the tears now so I turn and run back inside, slamming the door behind me and rush right past my dad, the man who says nothing and never helps with anything, and head straight into my room, grabbing my pillow and hiding my face in it so that no one will hear me cry.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chapter 7

As always, thanks for your patience. There's so much going on here in Vancouver, not to mention the opportunity to stalk Sid so forgive me if the next couple chapters take a bit to write!

Pacing. That’s all I’ve done since she walked away from me. I’ve paced the locker room and now I’m pacing the loading platform at Amtrack. I’m not an idiot. I know what she was trying to say to me. I knew it but for some reason I stood there like an idiot and let her berate me. Maybe I thought she had a right to get it out of her system. No, she had the right, there’s no doubt about that. I just can’t believe I let her walk away afterward.

“Mon frère,” Max’s hands come to rest on my shoulders and I look up into his serious expression with a look that I can only hope says ‘please don’t fucking talk to me right now.’ “You know you’re an idiot for not going after her, est-ce que je suis correct?”

“Even if I wanted to, which I don’t by the way, I couldn’t anyway. We’re waiting for a train,” I point out which doesn’t seem to have the desired effect on my colleague.

“We don’t have a game for two days and besides, if it was me…yeah, c’est un grande affaire à son sujet, but you mon capitaine? What’s the worst they are going to do? Fine you? Because they don’t fucking dare sit you, mon ami, and you know it. So, go already. Go be the fucking white knight et toute cette de merde.”

“Don’t Max. Of all people right now, the last person I need a fucking lecture from is you. If you cared how I felt you wouldn’t have gone out with her in the first place,” I growl at him and usually Max knows my moods well enough to leave me alone when I get like this but this time he doesn’t back off, doesn’t shake his head and move away from me. He just stands there, staring at me like I’m the idiot.

“You know she’s in love with you ca va? I mean, you do realize that you’ve been an ignorant petit christ, oui? Esti d’tapette de calisse.” I’d argue with him but when he’s right he’s right. The signs have been there, if I’d only thought to look for them. But still, there’s that argument, that niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I can’t risk our friendship when I don’t even know if I can be anything to her at all.

“It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand,” I mutter, pushing him away and turning to begin my pacing once again.

“You’re right, je ne le comprends pas. I don’t understand why you don’t go to her place right now and cover her with kisses and get down on your knees. Tell me she’s not worth it and then I’ll agree that maybe it’s trés complicated, too complicated for me, obviously. “ Sarcasm drips from Max’s voice as he stares at me like he’s talking to a child, and right now, that’s exactly what I feel like; a child on a bike that’s afraid to roll down the driveway without my training wheels.

“And if I do…if I go there and it’s too late?” Max shakes his head at me and sighs.

“It’s beyond me why, but I think as far as she’s concerned, no matter what you do, how badly you treat her, it won’t be too late.” Max shrugs and then he lets go of my shoulders and starts to turn away and then stops. “Just…whatever you do, don’t fuck it up Crosby.” He turns and I believe the warning in his eyes. I just wish I knew how not to because when I think about it, knowing what I think I know now, I’ve done nothing but.



“There’s someone here to see you.”

I look up from my project to give my mother that look, the one that reminds her she’s supposed to knock when she comes into my room but there’s this funny look on her face and my dad’s hovering right behind her looking anxious which means it’s a boy and that means….

“Sidney?” I ask, my voice catching in my throat as I try to take the anxious note out of my own voice. Except for a brief visit for Christmas he’s been gone for months and I’d almost believed that I didn’t miss him anymore, until I see my parents both standing in the hallway.

If we’d been born a hundred years earlier, maybe I’d have been promised to him in the crib and wouldn’t have to worry about this, about whether or not he missed me, or thought about me at all. Which he probably didn’t, I tell myself as I brush past my parents and tell myself to walk slowly down the hall. Walk, not run because he’s not that important. He’s just like any other boy. He’s not that special.

At least that’s what I tell myself, until I round the corner to find him standing on our front step, his hand stuffed into the front pockets of his jeans, his t-shirt fitting a little tighter than it did when he left for that private prep school in the States, and not I a bad, ‘I’m away from my parents so I’ve eaten nothing but junk food’ sort of way, but in that ‘I’ve grown up and filled out with muscle’ sort of a way and I have to force myself to look up at his toothy grin and tell myself not to look at him that way.

“I guess not everything’s changed,” he laughs and glances down at what I hadn’t realized I was still holding in my hand; my sewing project for school, a fuzzy teddy-bear with glass eyes. “Still playing with dolls Mel?” he asks, grinning too wide, laughing at me.

“It’s…it’s for school,” I manage, immediately feeling crest-fallen, like someone’s just taken a baseball bat to my gut. I try and hide the offending piece of monster fur and stitching behind my back but it’s too late, he’s already seen it and decided that I’m still the little girl with the braces and oversized glasses that I was when he left. He doesn’t even seem to see that I’m wearing jeans that actually fit me now or that the Depeche Mode concert tour t-shirt is pulling across a pair of breasts that my father keeps telling everyone have just sprung up over night. All he sees is the damn bear. “It…it matches the Roadrunner,” I add, trying to make it cooler by pointing out my dad’s pride and joy in the driveway. The purple and black muscle car, gleaming in the early summer sun, freshly washed and waxed.

“Yeah, well uh…just thought I’d tell you I’m home. Me and some of the guys are going to play a little shinny in the morning, if you want to come,” he adds, stepping down a step, like he can’t wait to get away from me and on to his male friends.

“Yeah, I’ll play,” I reply, trying to sound cool and calm and not as eager and over anxious as I feel when I say it, wanting to be included.

“You?” he narrows those gold and umber eyes at me like I’ve just said something in another language that he doesn’t quite understand.

“Yeah, I’ve been playing lately. I mean, someone had to play in net when you’re not around,” I point out to him, lifting my chin a little higher, daring him to contradict me which he doesn’t exactly do. He just laughs instead.

“Yeah well, I’m back now so, you can keep score again,” he replies, turning to go, stepping down that last step and heading down the cement walkway through our front lawn towards the driveway. It’s all I can do not to throw the teddy-bear at his head and yell at him, call him names. I slam the door instead and run back to my room, slamming that door hard enough it makes the house shake, and then I proceed to pull that bear apart, stitch by stitch.



I thought about asking him how he’d found the place, but I guess that was just one more thing I was going to have owe Max for. I also thought about saying something sarcastic like ’haven’t you taken a wrong turn?’ but decided against it. Instead I just left the door open and walked into the room, putting space between me and how good he looks in his charcoal gray suit and how good he smells, all cleaned up with the smell of expensive cologne and aftershave gently filling the air around him.

“I think I owe you an apology,” he says quietly behind me as he shuts the door. I listen to the sound his dress shoes make on the hardwood floor and take another two steps away from him and then busy myself poking through a stack of dvds, like I’m looking for something and not like I’m avoiding looking at him.

“Well if you start at the beginning, that could take quite a while, maybe I should get a snack,” I mutter, feeling defensive and just a little angry now that I’m backed into a corner in my own apartment, with no means of escape other than to throw him out in the cold, which, while tempting he probably knows as well as I do that it’s not actually going to happen.

“I deserve that,” he says, surprising me enough that I turn around to see if he actually means it and the wary look he has in his eye says he does.

“Okay, I’m listening,” I reply and now it’s my turn to watch him with wary eyes as he fidgets with his watch and the cuffs on his shirt before he looks up at me again and the serious look in his eyes makes my pulse jump.

“I didn’t know. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t know how you…felt…feel?” He looks up at me with those deep honey coloured eyes and part of me wants to deny it but instead I just shrug, and drop my gaze from his as my heart hammers against my chest. “So when I kissed you at my place during the summer…I was only thinking about myself…I mean I didn’t realize that I might have…that that might have given you this idea that….” I feel my hands curl into fists at my sides and my teeth grind together as I realize that I’m enduring yet another humiliation at Sidney’s hands and once again I’m stuck somewhere between tears and hurling something at him that might hurt him as much as he’s hurting me, or at least make him bleed.

“Oh yeah, god forbid the little woman might get ideas about Prince Sidney. I mean, we wouldn’t want that would we? Why don’t you just tell me to get in fucking line, huh?” I snarl, turning away so he won’t see the tears that I can’t seem to keep from filling my eyes.

“If you’re waiting for me to do the whole, ‘no one puts baby in a corner’ thing Mel, I’m not going to do it, but if you could stop being so fucking defensive for a minute, I’m trying to say I kissed you because you looked so fucking beautiful that night that I had to, okay?” It should make me feel better, and just for a moment, it does put just the hint of a smile on my face, but it doesn’t make up for everything else. Not even close.

“And?” I sniff, wiping at my tears before turning to him with what I can only hope is a look that passes for frustrated, at the very least.

“And?” he asks, obviously confused.

“I’m still waiting for the apology. I mean, if you think telling me that I almost was good enough for you one night is going to make up for calling me four eyes….”

“I didn’t mean that and you know it!” he snaps, crossing the floor in two strides and grabbing me by the shoulders. “You caught me off guard. You know I don’t think of you like that.”

“I don’t know what you think,” I reply, looking him dead in the eye and clenching my teeth, even as his fingers dig into my shoulders and I can tell, just by the look in his eye that he wants to give me a good, hard shake.

“I think…I think about you damn it,” he growls, and then his gaze softens and falls to my mouth and he just sort of stares for a long moment and I have to tell myself to just wait and breathe.

If I do this, if I kiss her again, then I know there’s no going back. She’ll never just be my friend and I’ll…I’ll fall in love with her and then what? And then what? And then she’ll be in New York and I’ll be in Pittsburgh and that won’t work. And then she’ll end up hating me at then there will be places I won’t be able to go back home during the summer….

“You’ll have to move to Pittsburgh,” I tell her as I stare at those pink lips of hers, unable to stop thinking about the colour of her lips and the way it felt to kiss her.

“I can’t drop everything. I have plans, school….”

“Do you want to be with me?” I ask and she closes her eyes against me and tries to pull out of my grip. “Melody…if this happens…if this is what you want then I want you to be with me. I don’t want to be without you and I can’t be here.”

“You can’t order me around. I’m not one of your fucking puck bunnies,” she snaps, pressing her hands against my chest and pushing, but I won’t let her go.

“Do you always have to be so fucking stubborn?” I ask, or rather demand, cupping her chin in my hand and giving her just enough of a shake that she opens her eyes to look at me. “I’m saying I want to be with you. Isn’t this what you want?”

“Don’t you dare patronize me!” she hisses, her eyes lit with fire from within even as tears begin to flow from them. “What I want? When have you ever fucking cared what I want? Now all of a sudden, after I try and get on with my life, now you care that I might actually have feelings?” She pushes my hand away and turns her back on me but I know her, whether she believes it or not. I know by the way that her shoulders are hunched and how still she becomes that she’s trying her damndest to stop the tears from her flowing. She used to do it when she scraped her knee, when she didn’t want to cry in front of us boys. It didn’t matter to me then and it sure as hell doesn’t now.

“I’m sorry,” I tell her as I place myself behind her, trying to be gentler than I really want to be. What I want to do is grab her and shake her and tell her to stop playing games. What I do is to hold her arms and pull her back against me, waiting for the moment when she relaxes against me so I can turn her to face me. “I’m sorry if I hurt you. I didn’t know…I just didn’t know,” I sigh, reaching up to brush away a tear and when she tries to turn her face from me again, I hold her cheek in my hand, forcing her gently but firmly to face me. “Mel I…I’m not good with shit like this. I…I just know that I want to kiss you. Every time I’ve seen you lately I’ve wanted to and if you want that too….”

“Who says I do?” she sniffs, lifting her chin and trying to give me that steely goalie stare down but I’ve faced Marty Brodeur and she doesn’t scare me one bit.
“Do you always have to make things so fucking difficult Kelly?” I ask, trying my best not to smile when she narrows her eyes and purses her lips at me like she’s about to let me have it. It’s not frightening. It’s cute.

“Do you always have to get your way, Crosby?” she counters, fire leaking back into her eyes and I can’t keep the smile off of my face any longer. This is the Mel I know and…and love.

“Yeah, I do,” I whisper, leaning in to press my lips over hers’, softly. “I’m kind of spoiled that way,” I add before deepening the kiss and wrapping my arms around her.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chapter 6

Thanks, as always for all your comments and for generally cheering the story along. and just remember, GO CANADA GO!!!!

“Do you really think this is a good idea?” I ask as the waitress places my martini in front of me and takes the menus away from the table. She’s pretty, in that fragile porcelain doll sort of way but Max doesn’t even look up at her or watch her go. He just smiles across the table at me while I sip at my caramel apple martini.

“Well if he calls and I’m not with you, then we’d have some explaining to do, d’accord?” I have to admit he’s right, but it still seems like an unnecessary expenditure of his time to carry the ruse this far. “Besides, your friend and Jordy seem to be having a good time,” he adds, glancing sideways at where Kennedy and the big blonde are sitting near the window laughing and talking animatedly. I feel a twinge in my stomach as I recognize the look in my roomie’s eyes. If only….

“I can’t believe he minds her wearing that jersey,” I mutter, thinking of the tall reserved red head that seemed so different from his younger brother.

“I’ll tell you a little secret,” Max whispers, leaning across the table and grinning in that conspiratorial sort of way. “If Jordy gets lucky with your friend, he’ll never let Marc hear the end of it.” I have to laugh. Brothers; I may not have any biological ones but the way I grew up with Newt and Sid and some of the other boys from the neighborhood I have had plenty. “You’re thinking about him again,” Max sighs, leaning back in his chair, seemingly becoming fascinated with his ice water.

“Is it that obvious?” My own drink becomes infinitely fascinating as I feel the slow burn of blood rising from my neck into my face. This is why I don’t play poker.

“It will be hard you know,” he begins, tracing the lip of his glass with his finger tip before looking up at me. “He’s always doing something for somebody. He’s always thinking about hockey. He’s not even easy to be friends with never mind…more.” Max’s gaze holds mine and I suppose he’s trying to let me know that he’s serious about his warning, but for the second time tonight, all I can think is, don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I’ve already thought about that? But instead of saying any of that and risking sounding like a whiny child, I bite my lip and merely shrug.

“I know,” I add, quietly, in response to which Max lets out another sigh before once again leaning forward and closing his hands over my own.

“Don’t get me wrong, Sid’s one of my best friends but…why go through all of this for someone who…who hasn’t even taken the time to keep in touch with you?” It isn’t exactly a knife to the heart but it is certainly painful to hear it said out loud, especially with Max looking at me like…well, like he pities me and that seems to make it worse.

“I wish I could explain it,” I reply sheepishly, because to say that I’d forgive Sidney almost anything sounds pathetic enough in my own head that I’m afraid to say it out loud.

It’s clear that it’s not enough of an explanation for Max because he puts on his determined face and I brace myself for the lecture, the same one all of my friends have already given me a hundred times, but then he seems to think better of it and sits back, letting go of my hands and changes the subject, to talk about himself and the game and lets me off the hook just like all of my girlfriends do when they know that no matter what they say it isn’t going to get through.

Except it does, just a little bit; enough to make my chest get tight as I think about it because Max knows him, the new, grown up Sidney that I don’t know and if he thinks I don’t stand a chance…then maybe I’m actually going to have to face up to the fact that I’ve wasted all this time on a dream that’s never, ever, going to come true.


“Why are you doing it?”

Max pauses, his jersey half on, half off, and then I hear him chuckle and that, if I wasn’t already angry at him, makes me furious. As it is, I've already decided that I was going to try to behave like a gentleman over this, no matter what he might say.

“I suppose I don’t have to ask what you mean by that,” he smirks as he turns to face me, tugging his jersey down over his pads. “I’m assuming you mean dating Mel, which, I’ll remind you that you told me you were okay with it.”

“Yeah, I know but why are you making such a…such a fucking spectacle out of her? That’s not…her. Just explain why you’re trying to turn her into something…else.” I hate the way the corner of his mouth turns up and he sort of shakes his head at me like he can’t believe I’m harassing him about something like this. Like it’s none of my business or worse, it’s not important, she’s not important.

“Un spectacle? You think I am making a spectacle of her?” His grin grows wider and then he laughs as he reaches out to tap the flat of his hand on my cheek. “Mon ami…you have a lot to learn about women.”

“If you want a puck, there are a lot of them out there. Take your pick but…why do you have to try and make her into….” Max’s hand slips from my cheek to my shoulder where his grip tightens and his expression turns from wry amusement to very serious.

“If I wanted a hockey whore, I’d have one. Maybe you should get your head around this. You don’t know her. You haven’t bothered to know her for a long time. Maybe you should be the one making a adjustment, pour un changement, mmm?” I open my mouth to argue, but I have nothing to say and the smile that appears on his lips tells me he know it too. “She misses you mon ami. Le seigneur sait seulement pourquoi.”

With that he gives my shoulder another pat and then walks past me, leaving me staring after him, feeling like a heel. Not that it means I forgive him for dressing her up like some kind of puck fuck Barbie doll but I guess I don’t have much of a leg to stand on either.

“If it helps, at all,” I turn at the feeling of another hand on my shoulder to find Jordy standing behind me watching Max turn to leave the room, “I think he really likes her. He wasn’t pulling all that Casanova shit he usually does and when we took her and her roomie back to their place, he didn’t even try and go in.”

I know what he’s saying is supposed to make me feel better, but somehow it doesn’t. Not at all.


“I thought we were going to the game?” Kennedy pushes the door to my room open to find me still in my jammies, tucked up in my bed, book in hand, tea on my bedside table.

“Yeah, about that, I’ve kinda decided that isn’t a great idea,” I sigh, turning my book over and putting it down so that I can reach for my tea.

“So is this an ‘I’m not feeling good’ jammie session or is this an ‘I’m feeling sorry for myself’ kind of thing?” she asks, kicking aside a pile of clothes on the floor so that she can climb onto the bed beside me, from which perch she studies me with a tilt to her head that tells me she knows damn well which it is, so I refuse to answer and continue to blow across the top of my cup. “Gee, let’s see, you’ve got a totally cute professional hockey player who wants to take you out to top restaurants and give you front row tickets to his games and you’re sulking because….?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” I mumble, taking a sip of my tea and then wincing when I realize I’ve burned the top of my mouth.

“You’re right, I don’t get it at all. Max is cute and he obviously digs you and….”

“No, actually, he doesn’t,” I sigh, putting my tea aside and grabbing my teddy bear instead, dropping my chin onto the top of his head. “It’s all bullshit. It’s a fucking act. I was just trying to make someone else jealous and…and it’s not working so I’m going to do it anymore.” Kennedy looks at me for a moment and then she turns so that she’s totally facing me, crosses her legs and gets comfortable.

“You’d better spill chickadee.” Rolling my eyes I cuddle my bear closer and shake my head.

“It’s such a long story and it doesn’t matter anyway. He doesn’t care about me so…so that’s it,” I reply firmly, almost as if I have to tell myself again, and again. Which I guess I do or I wouldn’t be in my jammies pouting about it. Kensy gave me a long hard look and then turned to look up at the jersey hanging on the back of my closet doors.

“I’m guessing now that you didn’t score that from ebay?” she asks, and all I know that yet again, my transparent as glass face has given me away.

“Not exactly,” I reply with a sigh as I feel the tension build in my shoulders at the thought of the story I’m going to have to tell now.

“Well then,” Kensy grins, pushing herself up off of the bed and holding her hand out to me. “You can tell me on the way, if you want to that is, but in the meantime, get dressed. We’re going.”


“Now that’s more like it.” Normally I pay very little attention to Max’s comments on the women in the crowd, but I realize as I follow his gaze up the stairs behind the bench that I almost can’t wait to catch him looking and point out to him that I don’t think Mel would appreciate his leering at other women. “You’re right, mon ami, she does look cute as un bouton dans des combinaisons.”

Mel and her roommate are being shown to their seats by the usher and even he can’t stop himself from grinning at the pair of them even though neither of them is wearing a stitch of makeup, or at least that’s what it looks like from where I’m sitting, and Mel is looking…well almost exactly as I remember her, in a plain t-shirt and a pair of faded overalls, although there’s something about the way the bib of the overalls fits across her chest that’s…well completely different from what I remember.

Her hair is even pulled back into a simple pony tail and she’s wearing a pair of scuffed and faded high-tops that remind me of the ones she used to wear everywhere, even to school dances, and I can’t help but smile.

“I can’t believe you didn’t tap that when you had a chance,” Dupers sighs, gazing up at her with a look on his face that makes the warm, fuzzy feeling of reminiscing disappear. “C’est une pitoune.”

“Not you too,” I snarl, turning back to the ice and forcing myself to watch Jordy line up for a face off. “She was my friend, okay?” I add, forcing the words through my teeth. “You don’t do that with your friends.”

“Friends with benefits do,” Max replies, elbowing me in the ribs before he gets up to climb over the boards and hit the ice. It makes me shutter, to think of Max and Mel and…benefits; a reaction I know that isn’t strictly fair, but as I turn for another glance back at where Mel and her friend are settling into their seats, I can see the men around them in the stands glancing at them too and that sets my teeth on edge.

She just wasn’t like that before and you don’t look at your friends that way. You just don’t. I’m even feeling bad about that kiss during the summer now. I don’t even know where that came from anymore. I don’t just go around kissing girls.
I’m not Max for god’s sake.

“Ma chère,” Max kisses my cheek and then leans over Kensy’s hand and presses his lips to the back of his hand. It’s quite a show, especially when Jordan hip checks him out of the way to get to Kennedy and sweeps her up in his arms, throws her over his shoulder and carries her off, squealing and kicking. As if she really wants to get free. “Don’t go anywhere. I will be back shortly and then…dinner?”

“Uh, Max, we should talk,” I mutter, glancing around the hallway, looking to see if there is some more private spot, or at least one not so crowded with media, equipment managers and family members.

“Ah, I recognize that look,” he sighs, and hangs his head, shaking it one before peering up at me with one eye, just so I can see the hint of a mischievous smile on his face. “Are you breaking up with me already ma petite? I’m wounded to the core.”

“This is just as bad as what he’s done to me my entire life. I’d rather just tell him than play this game any longer,” I sigh, smiling despite the butterflies in my stomach at the idea of actually confronting Sid, again. “Not that I don’t appreciate your help,” I add, reaching up to touch his be-whiskered cheek. “You’re very sweet to help me but…I don’t honestly think it would work anyway.”

“Well, now there you would be wrong,” he replies, quietly, leaning in so that he’s practically whispering in my ear, sweat dripping from his brow onto my shoulder. “I think our little ruse is working very well,” he adds, pressing his lips to the thin skin just below my ear, which, despite the fact that it’s Max and not Sid, causes my eyes to flutter close and a small whimper to be emitted from my lips.

Maaaxxx,” I sigh, pressing my hands to his chest, pushing him away only to open my eyes to find Sidney standing across the corridor, staring at us and the look on his face is…well, unfriendly.

“Mon ami, elle semble merveilleuse, ne penses-tu pas?” I find myself looking from Max to Sidney and back, wondering how in the hell I got myself into this position and how in the hell I’m going to get myself out of it. Something in my expression, probably panic, must have tipped at least Max off because he did one of those things he does and kissed my cheek before turning back to Sidney with a much less enthusiastic expression. “She just broke up with me, can you believe that? Elle est ton amie, parles-elle pour moi, s’il vous plait.”

I can’t help but smile as I watch Max walk away and I have to give him credit for his ability to turn on a dime and I remind myself that I will owe him a very big favor some day for his acting skills, but by the time I turn to look back at Sidney, I manage to school my features into something that looks, I hope, more or less blank.

“You broke up with him?” He looks so damned pleased with himself when he asks the question that I truly want to reach out and smack him as hard as I can just to wipe the self satisfied grin off of his face.

“You’re not honestly surprised are you?” I shrug, turning my face away so he won’t see how infuriated with him I am.

“Not really. I did try and warn you though,” he adds, softening his voice as he draws nearer to me and then that smell…that funk of moldy hockey gear, sweat and ozone fills my head and my entire body sways towards him, looking for that underlying scent that is all Sidney and when I find it, that unmistakable mixture of Fierce Wild Berry Gatorade and Speedstick, the world goes sort of star filter and I have to dig my nails into the concrete wall behind me to stop myself from falling.
“Yeah, like you care,” I mumble, doing everything I can to keep my voice from trembling as I force myself to look up into those burnt caramel eyes of his.

“What’s that mean? Of course I care or I wouldn’t have said anything before,” he insists and the stricken look on his face tells me that he might actually mean it.

“I’m not going to give you grief about it, if that’s what you’re waiting for,” I shrug, and turn to go but his hand closes around mine and I find myself looking down at the those thick fingers of his, curled around my hand and my heart begins to race.

“Mel, if you need to talk….” Dragging my gaze away from our clasped hands, I search his face and even though he looks sincere, I just don’t believe it.

“You haven’t been there for me…ever. Why start now?” I ask, swallowing the giant ball of emotion that suddenly threatens to force tears from my eyes. “You don’t even see me now, not really. Just go Sidney. Go to your friends. Leave me alone.”

“I do see you,” he insists, looking hurt at the idea that I would say such a thing to him, which only makes it hurt more that he still isn’t getting it. “You’re right here. You’re hurt. I’m your friend. You can talk to me.”

“Really? Really Sidney?” This rush of emotion, mixed with the fluttering of wings in my stomach and the familiar scent of him filling my head crashes through the walls I’ve built around my pain and my lips open before I can force the thoughts back behind the safety barricades. “Do you remember, in sixth grade when Tommy O’Sullivan gave me that big bag of cinnamon hearts?” I ask, wincing when he grins back at me and nods like a bobble head, seemingly pleased that he’s remembered and thinking I will be similarly appeased by his remembering that grim day. “Well he didn’t. I bought them. They were for you. But the fact that you actually thought a male of our species might actually find me interesting enough to buy me cinnamon hearts on Valentine’s day made me so happy I ate the whole bag and I hate cinnamon hearts,” I explain, watching and waiting for it to dawn on him, which of course, it doesn’t. He just stares at me, expectantly, like I’ll have something else to add. Some shocking stat that will make it all make sense to him. So, with a sigh, I try another tactic. “Do you know how broken your dad was when you went to Shattucks?” I ask, to which he shrugs and lets out a sigh. He liked it there. Of course he did. It was away from prying eyes and the media and all the parents who cursed at him and made him cry. “Who was the first person was that you went to see, after you got back?” I ask, waiting for him to remember, and again, like an eager Labrador puppy he smiles warmly and affectionately and nods his head.

“You. I’d missed you,” he adds, like that should matter, and it does and it did then but that doesn’t change anything.

“Do you have any idea what that might possibly have meant to a thirteen year old girl?” I ask, searching his gaze which goes from happy to confused and I wait, wait for it to dawn on him but he just stands there staring at me like I’m a puzzle with missing pieces and all I can do is shake my head. “You still don’t see me Sidney and I’m tired of waiting.”

Leaning forward I press my lips to his soft cheek, hating that tears squeeze out from beneath my eyelids when I do, and then I turn and walk away from him, feeling his eyes boring into the back of my head until I slip between the coach and a reporter and dodge my way out of a fire escape and out into the bitterly cold night.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chapter 5

Thank you so much for all your thoughts and feedback. You guys are funny, bright, thoughtful and charming. So I hope this lives up to all of that.

Even with all the new, more feminine clothes that I’d added to my wardrobe in recent months, nothing and I mean nothing came close to this. It had taken some getting used to dresses and skirts, especially ones that required slips but when I wore jeans, I went for comfortable. Not like this. Jeans so tight…well, like they say, nothing was coming between me and my Levis tonight.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, in a sea of Red Devils jerseys the pink Penguin on my chest stood out like a beacon in a storm and I cursed Maxime Talbot for his fashion advice with each stair that brought us closer to the bench. I kept checking my ticket and staring at the number on the aisle, hoping the next one would be it and with each set of stairs we walked down, my hopes were dashed.

“Behind the bench. Well alright. These are good seats.” My roommate, Kennedy, was my only saving grace. She had chosen to wear a Rangers jersey to the game and the only other reason I hadn’t forbade her from doing so was because it was a Marc Staal jersey. That, and if she got beat up for wearing it and drew attention away from the name and number currently emblazoned on my back, well that would suit my purpose just fine.

Max had told me when we should arrive, given a specific time and it looked like he’d known exactly what he was talking about because as we walked down the row to find our seats slap dab in the middle of the row behind the bench, the boys were just emerging from the tunnel to very loud and very prolonged boos. He’d wanted me to blow him a kiss. I couldn’t think of a time that I’d ever blown anyone a kiss, including my mother when I was a child and liked her more than I did now, so instead I waved but not a big friendly wave. No, more of a flirtatious bend of the fingers or at least that’s what I hoped it looked like.

Max was one of the first out of the tunnel, right behind Flower. He hit the ice backwards, blowing me kisses until he was near centre ice, when he turned around and skated hard across the rest of the ice. I’d already lost interest by then, waiting nervously for the line of players to thin out, for the tail end to emerge, because Sid was always one of the last out. It had always been that way. It was more a defense mechanism, from the days when the parents of even his own teammates would hurl insults that were so painful even a cool, calm and collected boy could be made to cry.

I willed him to look when he emerged from the tunnel, but he didn’t. Of course he didn’t. He never did.

I shouldn’t say never. There was a time….



“Oh my gawd, be a little more obvious,” I muttered, glancing down the boards at a group of giggling teenage girls in their cut off jean skirts and low cut tops, shivering from being so close to the ice in so little clothing.

“Jealous much?” Sidney asked, not looking up from undoing his skates as he sat alone on the bench after practice. Well not alone. I was there and a couple of the other guys are not far away, including Newt who was flirting with a trio of similarly scantily clad girls who look like they’re close to college age. But then most of the guys on the team were a couple years older than Sidney.

“Of them?” I ask, having glanced at the girls in their short skirts and their half tops and turned up my nose. “Put them all together and they couldn’t even come close to my IQ,” I added, sticking my hands in the pockets of my down jacket as I leaned against the boards. That earned me a half smile from Sidney as he looked up at me before shaking his head and returning to tugging his skates loose.

“You wouldn’t understand,” he replied quietly, shrugging the shoulders that were already wider and more muscular than almost any boy his age had.

“Oh wouldn’t I? Look at Newt, all over them like that. He’ll probably catch something fatal,” I muttered, rolling my eyes at the way Andrew Newton was grinning at them and making them giggle like girls half their age. Grabbing his skates, Sidney stared at the group of girls, who made no attempt to hide the open desire in their gazes as they stared back, welcoming smiles on each of their faces. I looked at them and then back at Sidney and watched as he began to turn red, starting with the tips of his ears. “Oh my god, Sidney Patrick Crosby…have you…? You have, haven’t you? You disgusting pig.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about Mel. You’re too young to understand,” he insisted, brushing by me as he headed for the locker room where I could not follow.

“Whatever. You ‘re stupid if you think that makes you cool,” I shouted after him but I could feel the heat of shame in my face as I stared after him, realizing that no matter what I did, Sidney was always going to think I was just a stupid kid that tagged along and he was never going to see me like he did those girls.

He was never going to see me.


(present day)

“What’s she doing here?”

“Mel?” Max turns toward the bench and waved at her with this big stupid grin on her face. “She’s my new lucky charm.”

“You’re kidding right?” I mumble, forcing myself not to look up to see her watching us, standing there behind the bench in one of those short girlie jerseys. Pink. I’ve never seen Melody Kelly wear pink. Not ever, and to make it worse, she’s wearing his number, his fucking number.

“Mon ami, you said you were okay with this. If you are not….”

“I’m fine…whatever. I just hope it’s not serious or anything because if you hurt her I’m the one that’s going to get it in the ear from her mother,” I explain gruffly, to which Max only laughs and pats me on the back.

“Ne t’ inquiétes pas d’une chose,” he says, actually sounding serious when he says it. “If anyone is breaking anyone’s heart it’s mine you’ll be picking up off of the floor.” I start to call him on his bullshit but the look on his face makes me shut my mouth and go back to staring down at the ice. Fuck me. He seems actually serious about this shit. “Tell me something though,” he carries on, dropping to the ice to stretch as I stand there, sending a puck sliding back and forth on the ice in front of me. “Why didn’t you hit that? She’s a nice girl, pretty, smart….”

“Fuck, I know all that okay?” I grumble, glancing up at her, thinking that she isn’t at all the girl I remembered but she is the girl that’s been haunting my dreams.

“She’s just…we’re friends, you know? You don’t do that, you don’t…I don’t know,” I sigh, forcing my attention back to the ice because looking at her, dressed like puck bunny and knowing that she’s doing it to please him makes me grind my teeth together.

“Well, all I know is, she looks good in my jersey, non?”

“No, man, she doesn’t ,” I growl, refusing to look down at him, knowing full well he’ll have be wearing that shit eating grin of his and if I see that look on his face right now, I’ll toss down the gloves and end up getting my face rearranged. So instead, I push the puck in front of me and head towards the net, bearing down on Flower with malice.


“What if I asked you not to?”

I was busy laughing with Kennedy, and trying to keep out of the way of the equipment managers and members of the press. I hadn’t notice him creep up on us.

“Not to what?” I didn’t want to look at the way his damp hair clung to his cheeks and forehead or the way his soft pink lips looked chapped after being out on the ice. I didn’t want to think about the way his skin was almost glowing after all the exertion. Forcing my mask back into place, I put up my shields until I could feel like the real me was hiding and then I allowed my gaze to meet his.

“Date him. What if I asked you not to?” I could feel my heart stop in my chest, but I bit down hard on the inside of my cheek and chased back the smile that had nearly showed him how I felt about his demand.

“Why would you do that?” I ask, trying very hard not to look smug as I tilted my head to one side and hoped that my smile was not too wide as I waited while he pursed his lips and stared back at me with a look that I knew all too well. It was the ‘please don’t make me talk about that here’ look. The ‘not in front of other people’ look.

Well fuck that. I’d been waiting for years for him to want me. I was not going to let him sneak around dark corners. If he was going to forbid me from spending time with Max, he was damn well going to tell me the truth, here and now.

“I just don’t think it’s a good idea. He has…bad habits when it comes to women and…you’re from the Harbour, not exactly big city. You don’t know about guys like that.”

I felt my jaw go slack, as I stood there, staring at him, disbelieving. Had he honestly just said that I was a small town hick who didn’t know about smooth city boys? Did he honestly just say that?

I could feel Kennedy go still beside me and knew she was holding her breath as she waited for me to explode. She hadn’t known me long, a few weeks, but my temper wasn’t exactly something I had much control over. In fact it was legendary, and I was a bit surprised that Sidney hadn’t remembered that before opening his fat mouth.

“Really?” Smiling back at him, I bat my eyelashes and give him my best, most vacant smile. He should know the look, the threat it contains and I see him blink as he realizes his mistake. Fortunately for him, Max appears over his shoulder, grins at me, winks and then dangles his arm over Sid’s shoulder.

“You’re not flirting with my girl are you Croz?” he laughs, leaning to give Sid a kiss on his cheek, which only causes Sidney to make a face and push him away. This, of course, does not disturb Max in the least and he only laughs and moves towards me, arms open. At first, I freeze, almost forgetting my part in this charade. But then I step into his arms and let him cradle my face in his big hands, telling my body to relax against his as he places a soft kiss on my lips. “Did you see me score that goal?” he asks brightly, as if there is no one else around us. As if Sidney isn’t standing directly behind him, fuming. “Good deke, huh? That’s me, superstar.”

“It was very good,” I agree breathily, biting down on my bottom lip as Max’s gaze levels on my lips, like he’s thinking about kissing me again. He really is very good at his part. “Very…masterful.”

“Wait until later,” he laughs, kissing the tip of my nose instead of my lips, and then winking as if to say we’ve both done our parts well. “I’ll show you masterful later. Right now, I’ll shower, but you wait here ma chère, ça va?”

“Oui, ça va,” I agree, watching him turn to go and watching Sidney stare after him like he can’t believe what he’s seeing. I don’t even have to brighten my smile when he turns back to stare, disbelieving at me. I’m finding that I like it when he’s mad.

“You should think about what I said,” Sidney says before turning on his heel to go.
“I’ll do that…I’ll think about it,” I call after him, making sure to add a high pitched girlish giggle when he turns to glare at me over his shoulder.

After all, that’s what girls he likes do, isn’t it?