Sorry for the wait for this chapter but I was having a hard time getting where I wanted to go with it and I ended up re-writing it a few times so I apologize ahead of time. I didn't want Mel to sound too whiny in this and I'm not sure if I got it right or not.
The restaurant is empty, except for the staff who are either standing back by the bar or hovering nervously nearby, just in case Sid’s glass gets to half empty. This is what it means to date a superstar. You either do it in private or you pay for a kind of privacy. I thought a full restaurant would be more clandestine, that it would be easier to hide in the noise and the crowd but he simply explains that he knows best and I have to concede. After all, he is the one that’s been living this life.
I just know he wouldn’t have to do this back in the Harbour. Everyone back home respects him too much to bother him.
Of course I can’t remember the last time I ever saw him go out for dinner there….
“You don’t like the shrimp?” he asks, actually looking concerned for me. I shake my head and smile across at him.
“I was just thinking, at home…you wouldn’t do this would you? Could we just go out there, do you think?” The smile that meets my gaze then is a sad one, but not like he’s feeling sorry for himself, but more like he’s feeling sorry for me.
“Just wait, once this is out…you and I…you won’t be able to go to Timmy Ho’s for coffee anymore,” he replies calmly and factually, as if there’s no doubt about it. He reaches across the table and stabs one of my shrimp with his fork and chews on it while I stare at him, thinking about what that might be like. “Ask Natalie what it was like the first time the cameras were on her at a game and she went home to Montreal,” he adds, as if I don’t believe him and need further proof.
“But it won’t always be like that,” I decide, blocking his fork with mine as he reaches for another shrimp from my plate. “Some other player will come along and…not that you won’t be important but…”
“It’s still like that for Gretzky,” Sid replies, sitting back in his chair and regarding me like a disobedient child that hasn’t been listening. “He can’t go out. Not in Canada. Still. And he hasn’t played in what? Twenty years? It’s always going to be like this Mel. You’ll need to get used to it. I have.”
“The others don’t,” I reply petulantly. If he’s going to go back to treating me like a little kid again, I feel like acting like one. I feel like stamping my feet and saying ‘but I don’t want to’ and making him grab me and shake me instead of sitting across the table all cool and calm and controlled.
“You mean Max,” he sighs, taking the starched, white linen napkin and crumpling it up to put it on his plate, indicating to the wait staff that he’s done. He falls silent, staring across the table at me with this disgruntled look on his face that makes me feel like I should be squirming and staring at my plate or anywhere else but at him. But I won’t. If we’re going there, then I’ll answer for my malfeasances like an adult. So I cross my fork and knife on my own plate and wait silently, my hands twisting in my lap while the waitress silently takes our plates. I notice she doesn’t ask if we want any desert. They must know him here, or at least the Sidney that won’t allow himself so much as a single chocolate chip cookie anymore, although there was a time…. “Some of the guys like the attention,” he continues as soon as she’s out of range of overhearing the conversation. It’s fascinating how he seems to know just where that line is without so much as looking. “Max likes the attention. He’ll do almost anything to get to be the center of attention.”
“I thought you two were friends,” I point out quietly, making it a statement rather than a question as I watch Sidney slide his credit card into the waiting black leather bill fold without even looking at what the total comes to. When he looks up at me, it’s with that tired half smile of his that says volumes and nothing at the same time.
“He’s just very different from me,” Sid states quietly, falling silent again the moment the waitress reappears at his side to take his credit card away. She glances over at me, not for the first time, with that curious look on her face as if she’s trying to decide if I’m a friend or something less, but not more. She doesn’t give me that narrow eyed look of disapproval and she would, I know, because I’ve seen the furtive, hopeful smiles she gives to Sidney, hoping he’ll notice her. He won’t, of course. That’s not his modus operandi; at least not when he’s with someone that matters to him.
“Oh I don’t know about that.” I tilt my head to one side as I look at the boy I knew across the table and the man I hardly know at all. I know he probably shaved between practice and taking me out today but he still has a dark line on his upper lip now where, if he didn’t shave for a couple of days, there would be a fine, but dark moustache. I hate when he lets it grow during playoffs and he knows it. Of course I also know it grows in thicker now than it did the first time he let it grow. “You can be fun,” I say at long last, just as the waitress reappears. “Or at least you used to know how to be fun.”
Sidney takes the bill fold from her and I watch the way she makes sure to slide her long, slim fingers along his thick ones, her blood red nails serving as a stark contrast to his pale skin. If he notices the insistent, if unrequested touch, Sid doesn’t show it. Just signs the slip quickly, omitting his number that he’d include in an autograph and taking the top slip before handing the bill fold back to her. She affords him a wide, brilliant smile but he only nods and turns back to me. It’s only then that she gives me that dark, almost threatening look that says she doesn’t think I’m nearly good enough for him and then it’s my turn to give her my widest, happiest smile as Sidney comes around to my side of the table to pull out my chair and hold my jacket for me, draping it carefully over my shoulders. I hold her annoyed gaze as he presses his lips, very lightly, to my cheek.
“I can still be fun,” he promises in a whisper against my cheek, his hands still resting on my shoulders as the full solidity of his chest presses against my back. “Just not in public. Not where people will talk,” he adds, his hand trailing slowly but deliberately down my back, down the line of my spine until it comes to rest on the swell of my hip. “So let’s go.”
I try to make my smile triumphant as he guides me out of the restaurant but I can feel my lips twitch as my heart begins to hammer once again in my chest at the thought, no, the hope, that he might actually mean that.
“Truth or dare? What are we, twelve?” Matt laughs as he shakes his head and then adds a shake of his outstretched hand to add to the negativity of his thoughts on the idea before uncoiling himself from the floor and heading toward the main body of the party which is upstairs or out in the pool. Part of me wants to go with him but Jana Britton isn’t making a move to leave and if there’s any chance at all….
“So what’s it gonna be then Kelly? Truth or dare?” Jack asks, leering across the circle at where Mel is sitting with her knees drawn up to her chin. She stares back at him and I can see the wheels turning in her head. If she says truth, he’s going to ask her something stupid or possibly embarrassing or both but if she says dare….
“Dare,” she says calmly, unfolding herself until she’s kneeling and staring at him, like maybe if he says the wrong thing she might actually spring at him like a mountain lion and claw his face off and it would probably serve him right. Everyone knows that he tried to get Mel drunk at the school dance. What Jack didn’t know is that she’s been drinking from her mother’s gin bottle since kindergarten and probably has a higher tolerance than any adult we know.
“Okay then,” Jack grins, that Halloween jack-o’-lantern grin of his that he’s had ever since he lost one of his front teeth when he want over his handlebars into the back of a pick-up truck down Huntingdon Drive. Mel just keeps staring him down, her chin high, like she’s ready to do anything. Maybe I’m the only one who notices that she’s blinking like crazy, just like she does when she’s getting ready to be good and scared. “Kiss Sidney.”
The room falls silent and everyone turns to look at me. Well not everyone.
Mel’s still staring at Jack but now the look on her face is totally different. She’s looking at him like…like he’s the worst person in the world; like he’s just killed her rabbit Cody or something. She almost looks like she wants to cry.
“Go on,” Jack grins like the cat that’s got the mouse under its’ paw. “I double dare you.”
I want to tell her she doesn’t have to, and I actually turn to tell her so but the way she’s holding her head, high with her chin sticking out, which doesn’t really hide the fact that her bottom lip is trembling makes me keep my thoughts to myself. I’ve seen that look, too many times. It’s the same look she gets when her mom tells her that she can’t do something. No, not just can’t, but that she’s incapable of doing it.
“This is a stupid game,” I mutter, getting to my feet, intending to give Mel an escape but she grabs my hand and spins me back to her and plants one no me, fast and hard, before turning and wiping the back of her arm across her lips and running up the stairs and out of the basement.
We used to call it necking, back when we’d take a girl out behind the rink or, when we had drivers’ licenses and cars, out to the lake in the dark where we’d steam up the windows and spend hours just trying to get to second base. Right now I’d call it torture, her soft body pressed against mine in the dark, her arms wrapped around me, our mouths melded together.
As hard as I try to keep my hands still, or in her hair, they slip. As if they have minds of their own, they slip down to cup her ass or worse, slide down over her shoulders to brush over the soft mounds of her breasts. That’s when she sighs, or moans and my body reacts the only way it knows how and then I have to resort to thinking about pk formations and shot angles, anything to make my mind go blank instead of rushing ahead to seeing her naked.
Because that isn’t going to happen, I mean, not tonight and not for awhile.
I mean it can’t. Not while we still have so much to figure out and not until she understands what she stands to lose to be with me. Like tonight, I knew she thought it was weird to have a restaurant all to ourselves and that’s just dinner. What about when she finds out about sneaking into movie theatres after the show starts? Or that it’s got to the point where I have to have someone else do my Christmas shopping?
And I haven’t even had her introduced to the WAGs yet or told her that she’ll be expected to do charity work instead of a real job and that she’ll have to give up all this fashion nonsense.
“Sidney,” she breathes, placing the flat of her hand against my breast bone as we come up for air and I wonder if she can feel how hard my heart is beating beneath her fingertips. “Where were you just then?”
“What?” I smile at her, leaning in to taste her sweet lips again, part of me wondering why it took me so long to realize that kissing her could be so much fun.
“Just now, I could swear you were thinking about something else,” she says, her eyes searching mine as if she’s going to find any kind of answer there. I try to erase the doubts I feel and smile back at her but as she’s always been, she’s too damn quick for me and the next thing I know she’s scrambling back across the bed until her back hits the wall. “Do you actually think about hockey when you’re kissing me?” she asks, not exactly sounding hurt but more betrayed and a little outraged at the same time.
“Not exactly,” I begin but she only rolls her eyes and grabs one of my pillows and wraps her arms around it, using it like a shield.
“Sidney…arrrggh!” I have just enough time to block the pillow she throws at me with my forearm but try as I might, I can’t stop myself from laughing, even though I can see how pissed she is at me.
“I’m sorry Mel. I just…I think a lot,” I try to explain but another pillow sails towards my head and I manage just to duck out of the way of it but her aim is exceptional and I feel it just brush the top of my head.
“Well you know what I think? I think if you thought a little less about hockey and a little more about me we’d be making a little more progress, that’s what I think,” she mutters and there it is, a sight I haven’t seen for a long time, her full bottom lip trembling while her eyes spit fire.
“Melody Kelly you know that doesn’t work on me,” I grin, reaching for even while she tries to push me away and gathering her onto my lap. “And for your information, I do think about you, probably more than I should,” I admit, brushing her hair from where it’s stuck to her cheek. “So please don’t pout and ruin our time. I have to go on the road in the morning and I don’t want us to fight.”
“Stop. Treating. Me. Like. I’m. Some. Kind. Of. Kid!”
Instead of being placated, like I’d hoped, Mel shoves her way clear of my arms and scrambles off of the bed and stands there in front of me with her little hands balled into fists, like she’s going to fight me.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” I sigh, shaking my head at her and holding my hands out for her again. “Now you’re acting childish.”
“Don’t you dare patronize me Sidney Patrick Crosby. Just because you know I’ve been in love with you since I was five fucking years old does not mean you get to be a condescending asshole,” she snarls and then her hand swipes across my face with a slap, so hard, that it makes my head snap to the side. “And if it’s more fun to think about hockey than be with me I hope you have a good time whacking your hockey stick off you…you freak.”
She turns to leave and all I can think of is ‘I wonder how she thinks she’s going to get back to New York in the middle of the night’ when I know damn well I should be stopping her from leaving, especially as angry as she is. But it’s such a stupid misunderstanding that it makes it hard for me not to just laugh and let her go. But I know it’s not the right thing to do, not if we’re supposed to be building something here.
“Melody,” I call out, forcing myself to get onto my feet and take the few steps it takes to put my hand on the door and stop her from walking out. “Don’t go. Not like this. I wasn’t thinking about hockey, not like you think,” I add quickly as I manoeuvre to get in front of her, or at least between her and the door. “I was just thinking of all the things you don’t know that you’re going to have to put up with to be with me, about what it’s going to take for us to be together,” I explain, keeping one hand on the door, because she still has her hand on the doorknob, but reaching out to cradle her face in my hand. “Because you’re right when you say not all the guys have to live like hermits but I do Mel. That’s what my life is and if you’re going to be in my life, I’m sorry, but it’s not going to be easy for you.”
She stares straight ahead, but not at me, but I can tell she’s listening by the tension in her jaw. She remains silent for a long moment and then she turns the full force of her anger on me.
“Do you think I don’t know that? Do you think I haven’t thought about that? I said stop treating me like some kind of ignorant child and I mean it Sidney. I think you hide yourself away a lot more than you really need to but I know that you do what you think is right and fair by the other guys and, even if I don’t like it, you’ll do what you think is right for me. So don’t you dare stand there and play the fucking high and mighty all seeing all fucking knowing hockey god. Mister 'l’m twenty-two years old and an NHL player and I have the Cup so I know fucking everything'. You don’t even realize that the reason I’m here, that the reason that I’ll be here for you is because I do get it…I’m just not sure you’re going to get me.”
It’s a challenge and as I look into his gold flecked hazel eyes I know he knows it too. Oh yeah, I get him. I understand him better than he thinks because I’ve seen him face challenges and I’ve seen him fail, probably more than anyone else. So I know what makes him tick and as I stare him down I can see him start to chew on the corner of his lip where his full bottom lip always looks a little swollen because of the build-up of scar tissue from his worrying at it. I also know what that means and it’s all I can do stop myself from grinning at him, bearing my teeth like a wild dog and growling my challenge.
“Melody Angeline Kelly,” he begins, his hand snapping up to cup my chin, hard. Hard enough that I’m wondering what the imprint of his fingers will look like in the morning. “This is not a game. I won’t let you play me like you played with Jack or Stew…,” he’s saying it but the look in his eyes is saying something else and I can’t help but grin as his mouth crashes down over mine and he presses me up against the solid wood door so that the width of his chest presses against mine and I can feel both of our hearts beating wildly together.
“You keep forgetting that I’m a woman and not a girl,” I hiss to him as his teeth graze the line of my jaw.
“I can hardly ignore that fact,” he growls back at me, his hand finally sliding down over the flimsy silk of my blouse to cup my breast and stay there.
“Then stop treating me like a little girl,” I whisper into his ear, my eyes fluttering closed as his thumb flicks at my nipple, raising an ache through me entire body. “I won’t break, I promise. And I’ve waited so long….” And that was the wrong thing to say, I realize, as his head snaps back from where he’s been nibbling at my collarbone and his eyes search mine in the half dark. I can see the question there and it makes me squirm. I don’t want to give him that power, to know that I’ve waited all this time for him to do this, to take my v-card, to make me his and his alone. But on the other hand, I don’t want to lie. “I just meant to be with you…I just want to be with you,” I manage to squeak out, telling myself it isn’t a lie and omitting the fact that he’d be the first to place his flag on me isn’t a bad thing, not yet.
“I know,” he smiles, becoming that gentle, sweet boy again, his hand lifting to cradle my cheek as he kisses the tip of my nose and then both of my eyelids in turn. “But we should wait, don’t you think? You do mean a lot to me Mel and I want us to really know each other before this gets any more…complicated.” I want to growl and snap at him, dig my teeth into his flesh and tear at it I’m so frustrated. I want him to be passionate about me like he is about hockey not…business like and economical. “Besides, you don’t want it to be like this, not here.”
“I don’t care where,” I mumble, feeling like stamping my feet, except apparently that isn’t getting me anywhere. “I just…I want to stay with you.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” he sighs, winding my hair around his fingers. “We’re both too tempted to…rush things. You understand, don’t you? Why I don’t want to rush into this?” he asks, to which I can only shake my head, half afraid if I say much more I’ll start to cry and that’s the last thing I want to do now. “If we’re going to do this…if we’re going to be serious about this then I have to be sure Mel…”
“I’m sure,” I whisper, forcing my voice around the huge ball of emotion that I can’t quite swallow and he smiles affectionately at me before letting the back of his hand brush across my cheek.
“You think you are, but it’s not easy…my life…Mel you can’t know what it’s like. It can be so hard and I don’t want us to get…tangled into something we can’t get out of if you suddenly realize that it’s too much for you.” I grind my teeth together as I force myself to look into his eyes. I know he thinks he’s doing the right thing for me, being protective, but it feels too much like it used to when he was being the older brother, making all the decisions for me and I hate it. “Before you say it,” he smiles, kissing the corner of my mouth, “this is just as hard for me as it is for you.” I’m doubting it, sincerely, but I swallow my pride and nod, deciding that I’m not going to win this argument and I know that I’m not going to force the control freak into anything he isn’t willing and ready to do. “I knew you’d understand,” he adds, cupping my cheek and pressing his lips softly over mine.
“So…the guest suite…again?” I mumble, spitting the words out like they’re poison, which is exactly what they taste like to me.
“Mel…don’t be like this,” he sighs, and I can hear the tired pleading in his voice so I force myself to smile up at him.
“Forgive me if I’m a little impatient. I don’t mean to push,” I lie, trying to force the lie into my gaze, telling myself I can deal with my disappointment later. I really don’t want to make this any harder than it has to be on him. I know I can’t win that way. Not in the long run anyway. “Can I borrow something to sleep in?”
“It’ll be okay,” he whispers as he reaches down to squeeze my hand and I nod, although it doesn’t feel okay, not at all. I smile and nod and play the obedient girlfriend and bite down on the inside of my cheek as he roots through his laundry to find a clean pair of shorts and a t-shirt that’s worn enough he doesn’t mind losing it. Still, when he places them in my hands, I can’t help but feel a shiver run down my spine as his hands cover my own and I know when exactly what he’ll see when I look up into his eyes. “It isn’t because I don’t care,” he begins, but I shake my head and clench my teeth together, refusing to cry.
“Sometimes…sometimes I just wish you’d treat me a little less like…well, like me and little more like one of your pucks.” I know the minute I say it that it’s not coming out the right way, or at least he’s not going to take it the way I mean it.
“You don’t ever want to be treated like that,” he growls, his fingers digging into my shoulders. “Do you hear me?” I want to tell him that I do, that he has no idea how much I want him to but instead I just shrug my shoulders and sigh.
“I just meant…I’m not made out of glass. You don’t have to be so…careful with me.” I feel his hands loosen and then his hand cups my chin again, forcing me to meet his gaze and he smiles down at me but there’s something dark and dangerous in his eyes, something protective and angry too.
“Of course I’ll treat you like you’re fragile. I’ve missed you Mel. I’ve missed you calling me on my shit. I’ve missed you giving me hell when I play bad and when my head gets too big and…and I’ve missed things I had no idea I was even missing and I am not going to take a chance on losing that by jumping into bed with you,” he whispers, his voice harsh with an edge of both anger and need. “No matter how much you pout Mel. I’d rather not do this at all than lose you altogether.”
“You won’t lose me,” I sigh, feeling resigned to my fate and much more like the younger sister again than the girlfriend.
“You never were very patient,” he chuckles, that indulgent brotherly grin reappearing. I hate the sight of it. It makes me want to slap him, again.
“Yeah, well you never were one for taking chances,” I add, wanting the last word, even if it means being petulant and childish. “Good night Sid. I guess if I don’t see you in the morning, good luck.”
“I’ll see you before I go,” he sighs, shaking his head before pressing his lips softly to the top of my head. “Try not to worry so much. Everything will happen when it’s supposed to happen.” Nodding, I turn to head down the hall, because I swear if I look back, I’ll either cry or scream and neither of those is going to help the situation at all.
I push the door closed behind her and sink to the floor with my back to the solid weight of the wood, my eyes screwed tight, my jaw clenched, and my hands balled into fists.
I hate this. My head is everywhere. I want her. I want to do things to her that I shouldn’t even be thinking of and I want to wrap her up in bubble wrap and send her away from me until I get my head on straight. This is insane, this seeing her only once a week, if that. One day, a few hours, here, there. It isn’t enough and it’s too much.
I hate the way she looks at me, like she’s disappointed, like I’ve done something to hurt her. As if I would.
Of course I have. Not that I knew that I was but she blames me all the same. I can see it, in the way she looks at me, that hurt little girl looking out at me through her eyes, accusing me. I don’t know how to make it up to her, how to make it right, except to do what I’m doing, holding her at arms’ length.
It’s not like that’s what I want. It’s not like I want her to be down the hall, in another bed. It’s not like I’m not going to lie here awake, thinking about what could have been. Fuck, I’m human aren’t I?
Not that she think so.
Not one for taking chances…no, she has that right. Not that my dad would ever let me. Don’t take a chance on getting hurt by playing in the prospects tournament, he said. Yeah, I’ve never heard the end of that one. Don’t take a chance on getting some girl pregnant and have her take all your money and by that he didn’t just mean put a condom on, he meant don’t do it at all.
Which is why I was shipped off to Shattuck's. Not that Mel knows that. Hell I didn’t even know it at the time. Troy took one look at Mel washing her dad’s car out in the driveway in her very first bikini and caught me looking and the next thing I knew, I was on a one way ticket out of town. For my own good.
As if Mel had even been aware of how she looked at the time. Hell I hadn’t really understood.
No, that’s a god damn lie. I may not have really understood my feelings then or maybe, just like now, I was only in denial but I did ache for her. I missed her then with a bone deep ache that took time and space to ease and only after I told myself, just like I’m doing now, that I can’t take the chance on losing my head over her.
If only she knew, if she had any idea at all, how easily she could be...is my undoing. If she knew....
Fuck! I hate this.
But I have to do this. If only to show my father...even just to show myself that this is for the right reasons and not just for reasons that have to do with hormones and lack of self control. I will do this. I will .
Its wishful thinking, I know, when I see a shadow fall across the pool in front of me. I look up and behind me hoping that it will be Sidney, knowing that it won’t but am surprised to find Max sneaking around the deck with his shoes in his hand.
“Are you kidding me?” I reach into the water and send a handful of water his way, causing him to curse under his breath in French. “You told me you were breaking it off with her.”
“I was…I am,” he grumbles as he slides down onto the smooth concrete beside me. “Tabernak, it’s not so easy…she’s a nice girl. I don’t want to hurt her and besides,” he sighs, dropping his feet into the warm water and making lazy circles, “it’s easier to be with her than some of those…other girls.”
“Other girls?” I ask, my curiosity piqued.
“You know the ones, those girls that wait outside the arena, or the ones we meet at the bar. Even if they seem nice…you don’t know what they’re after. Or you do…I mean I do…and it’s not my sparkling personality,” he grins over at me but it’s a smile that doesn’t go all the way up to his eyes. “Sid’s lucky to have you. At least with you he knows where he is,” he adds, and then goes back to staring into the water, lit from below, turning our feet bright white.
“Does he?” I sigh, leaning back on my hands and staring up at the sky. “I don’t think he thinks he’s lucky…or if he does, why am I out here and he’s in there?” I don’t need to glance over at him to feel Max’s eyes on me and then I feel his foot hit against mine.
“Trouble in paradise?” he asks, and I shrug.
“I love him Max,” I sigh, tracking a satellite as it makes its way slowly across the sky, “but he puts me on this pedestal and treats me like…like I’m some kind of porcelain ornament to be looked at but not touched and…well you know,” I glance over at him, feeling bashful, feeling heat rising into my face as I think about it. “I’ve been thinking about it so long…wanting him so long, that this waiting…it’s making me a little crazy…and maybe a little angry at him too.”
“Don’t be too hard on him mon chère,” Max replies after a long silence, his little finger reaching over to pull on mine until I look over at him. “For you it’s easy, you’ve known what you want for a long time. But for him…,” he shrugs one shoulder and then lets my finger go and turns his attention back to the water. “For him it’s either going to work or not at all and I can understand why he would want to avoid making that mistake.”
“You men!” I groan, pulling my feet out of the water until I can pull my knees up to my chin. “Why is everything so god damn black and white with you?”
“Because we’re men mon chère,” Max grins at me, reaching over to take my hand and kiss the back of it before looking up and meeting my eyes with a mischievous grin. “If it’s that bad, you could come to my house for the rest of the night,” he adds, with a surprising lack of the usual Max lechery in his voice and expression.
“As tempting as that sounds,” I sigh, playfully kicking a spray of water in his direction, “I don’t think it would be a good idea to slink off in the middle of the night after behaving like such a brat...no matter how much he frustrates me,” I add, tilting my head back in the direction of the house.
“No, you’re probably right, but perhaps next time it would be wise to have...other accommodations ready, non?” he offers, pushing himself to his feet and grabbing his shoes once again. “Are you...okay?” he asks, after a moment’s thought and I can’t help but think how many women must miss the truly sweet side beneath all of Max’s renegade exterior.
“Oui, je pense que je serai bien, merci,” I smile up at my friend, knowing that he actually cares. I only wish someone else cared that I was still up, still awake and feeling lonely.
“You have my digits, if not, oui?” he asks, and I nod. “Good night mon chère, jusqu’au lendemain.”
“Bon soir mon ami,” I call after him, watching him walk into the dark, wishing I felt the pull of my bed...and not someone else’s.
For a moment I just watch her sleep, lying on her side sort of curled around one of the pillows, with the comforter pulled up to her chin. She looks content and restful and it seems like a shame to wake her, but I did promise.
Lowering myself onto the bed, I try not to think about how wrinkled my suit will look when I get back up and concentrate instead on how warm and inviting she is, how relaxed her body feels as I tuck myself up against her. I do my best not to think about the way she fits so snugly against me or how the curve of her hip feels under my hand. Thoughts like that have already kept me up half the night.
“Sidney,” she mumbles my name in that way that says she’s really still asleep, even as she pushes herself back into my arms until her back is pressed against my chest and my lips are pressed to the curve of her shoulder. She makes a little sound, in the back of her throat that sounds...if not happy, then at least satisfied and I wish I felt the same. I wish this was enough, to hold her, to breathe in the clean, warm scent of her skin, and to know that she’s mine. I wish it was enough. It would be so much easier if it was.
“I’m going now,” I whisper and this time the sound she makes is an unhappy one, a complaint in the form of a low whimper that’s matched with her warm, relaxed body going rigid in my arms. “I know, but you knew...,” my voice drops away as she scrunches up her cute little nose and shakes her head, or makes a movement approximating that considering most of her face is pressed into the pillow.
“I know...I know you have to play,” she says sleepily, stifling a yawn before stretching and rolling over until she’s facing me, but with her cheek pressed to my chest. “I just wish we hadn’t gone to bed...mad.”
“Oh I’m not mad,” I sigh, running my fingers through her silky hair before dropping a kiss onto the top of her head. “What did I say? I missed you calling me on my shit. So I’m sorry if you went to bed mad at me. But I’ll make it up to you when we get back, I promise.”
“Yeah?” she blinks and rubs at her eyes as she turns those orbs up to meet my gaze. “Whatcha gonna do Crosby?”
“I don’t know yet,” I reply honestly, because if I think about it, especially now, even with a sheet separating us, I can feel her soft curves, the valley of her waist, the slope of her hip and the now that the sheet has tugged tightly across her chest, it’s all too clear that my t-shirt has ended up somewhere other than on her. “But believe me Mel, I’m not...blind and I’m no matter what you might think, I’m not unsympathetic to your...to what you might be feeling.” In fact it’s becoming all too apparent just what I’m feeling as she snuggles closer to me, using my tie to pull my lips down over hers’. In fact, as her lips open beneath mine and her tongue snakes out to curl around hers’, my mind begins to go blank, a sort of haze falling over my thoughts, and I know exactly how easy it would be for me to forget that Fleur is probably already waiting in the driveway to take me to the airport. “I have to go,” I mutter, pulling back from her enough so that our lips are barely touching and I prepare myself for the complaints I’m sure will follow, but they don’t. Instead, she smiles up at me and brushes her lips against mine again.
“So go,” she smiles and then yawns before going back to a dreamy, happy sort of smile. “Sooner you go, sooner you come home.”
“That’s my girl,” I sigh in relief, cupping her cheek in my hand before happily pressing my lips over her eyelids one more time. “Lauren will take you to the airport. See you Saturday?”
“If you’re good. Score lots,” she mumbles, quickly falling asleep again.
“I will. I promise. And Mel?” I look down at her, wondering if she’s already fallen asleep but her full lips curl up into a mischievous smile.
“Thank you...for being here. For being her for me,” I add, wanting to say more but knowing I’m not ready to say it. Not yet. Not out loud.
“Go,” she mumbles, stifling another yawn behind her hand. “I can hear Flower’s Lambo.” Nodding and smiling to myself, I turn to go, heading down the hall feeling a hundred percent better than I had when I’d got up to shower this morning. At least she seems like she understands. That’s something, a step in the right direction anyway. The last thing I want to do is make her unhappy.
“Mon ami, you look well rested. Ce n’est pas ce que je me suis attendu àce matin,” Flower calls as I grab my bag from the doorway and swing it over my shoulder.
“How many times?” I sigh, shaking my head as I descend the front steps to where his Lamborghini is idling in the drive. “We’re waiting until it’s right.”
“Well don’t let the others find out about that,” Fleur sighs, shaking his head. “Mon Dieu, peux-tu imaginer ce que Max dirait?”
“No, you’re right, I don’t want Max’s fucking opinion,” I laugh, stuffing my bag behind the seat and sliding into the warm leather. “No more talk of girls. Let’s talk about medals,” I grin as he slides behind the wheel.
“Médaille d’or you mean,” he grins back at me as he puts his foot on the gas and my mild mannered friend burns rubber out of Mario’s driveway.