Which Team are you on?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Chapter 34

the things you people make me do...

“The piece de resistance?” Sidney repeats, linking his arm with mine as we walk down the darkened corridor. It’s hard to believe there will only be another few times of walking down this cement corridor with him.

“Yes, the last piece that goes down the runway. Usually it’s a wedding gown, but it doesn’t have to be,” I explain, still feeling that fluttering in my stomach as I think about it. “He says I have this natural sense of drama,” I add, thinking of the way Gareth had held his hands out and made this sort of explosive gesture followed by a sort of rain of petals with his fingers. I’d been entranced by his hands and the way it made me feel and I wasn’t over the excitement yet.

“So what are you going to do?” Sidney asks, actually sounding interested, which makes me feel even better. I can’t get the smile off of my face.

“Well the whole Fall storyline is leather and latex, black on black, very structured, so I’m thinking if do something that feels like those designs but in a completely different colour palette,” I explain as we walk through the doors into the dressing room, my brain wrapping itself around the idea of doing something very flowing and feminine and yet still futuristic like the rest of Gareth’s designs.

“You are trying to get yourself traded,” Tanger’s hurling a balled up sock at Max who knocks it away with an outstretched hand. His quick reflexes only remind me of the way his muscles stretch and flex underneath the tight under armor that he’s wearing and I find myself biting my lip as he bares his teeth at Kris. “Tu sais à qui elle appartient, faites tu pas?”

“Of course I do,” Max is growling back, looking like he does right before he puts someone into the boards. “Je ne suis pas stupide.”

“Then start acting like you’re not stupid. Move on. Get over this stupid obsession of yours,” Jordan hisses, turning to stare at us as we stopped inside the room, which then falls eerily silent.

Oh god, I think, here it comes. This is when they tell him. This is when Sidney finds out what I’ve done.

“I thought you told me you were going to stay away from Lauren?” Sidney is staring at Max in that ‘don’t make me injure you’ sort of way and I feel myself go very still beside him as I hold my breath and wait for one of the guys to pipe up and tell the truth, but they all just stare back at us, waiting for Sid to make a move.

“I should have known. When she left the other night. I should have known it was you,” he continues, and I wait for someone to flinch, to bat an eye, do something that will give it away, but they all just keep staring at us, silent.

“It wasn’t Max that left with her. I took Max home.” It’s Flower’s voice, from somewhere behind us and it should have made the entire room exhale, so why re we all still standing there, holding our collective breath?

“You don’t have to cover for…,” Max is staring at me as he says it, the look on his face telling me that he can’t lie anymore and I feel my knees start to go weak. He’s going to tell Sidney and then Sidney isn’t going to love me anymore and then what am I going to do?

“Alexei…It was Ponikarovsky,” Jordan pipes up, turning to watch the young Russian coming into the room with his wool overcoat, as if it isn’t early Spring and already warm outside. Maybe not warm to a Russian I think as he pauses, mid step, realizing that every head had turned and every pair of eyes was on him.

“What?” his gaze took in the whole room and his face blanched, which only made the colour of the love bite on his neck more livid.

“Mario’s daughter,” Sidney lets go of my arm and marches over to grab the young Russian’s lapels. I let out the breath I’ve holding and feel my knees buckle beneath me. I would have gone down to the floor if not for a pair of strong hands pulling me back up to my feet.

I stared into the deep twilight blue of Max’s eyes and blinked.

“I wasn’t with Lauren,” he says quietly, almost under his breath as he helps me sit down in Sid’s stall. He doesn’t let go of my arm though, as he stands over me, giving me that look that says ‘you have to believe me’. It shouldn’t matter, I knew that. If he was my friend, then it shouldn’t matter if he was getting a little sumthin’ if it was on offer, and I knew with Lauren that it probably was. It shouldn’t have mattered and yet it did. More than being afraid of Sidney finding out, the idea of Max with her….

“I believe you,” I reply, though there’s a voice in the back of my head that says ‘no you don’t’. “Not that it matters,” I add quickly, because it seems important to say it, to put it out there. “I mean, you’re both adults, no matter what Sidney might think, right?” I add, as if I’m trying to make small talk as I stare at the way the long line snug fitting shorts hug his thick thighs.

“I haven’t been with her, or anyone, since…,” I shake my head, dragging my gaze away from him and staring instead at a spot on the floor. I don’t want to hear it, and yet, I do. “I promise you,” he adds, quietly, his voice husky as he tips my face up so that I have to look at the deep, dark endless oceans in his eyes.

“Well you know what they say about playoffs,” I reply brightly as Sid returns to my side, shucking off his jacket and stepping out of his shoes.

“No,” Max says quietly, taking a step back and holding his hand out to give me a hand up. “What did he say?”

“Sid was just telling me how you all have a rule,” I tell him, putting my hand in his and feeling his thick, warm fingers close around mine. “No sex during playoffs.”

“Esti de tapette de calisse,” Tanger growls at Sid who flicks him the bird. “More like more sex. Rien comme un bon démodé n’établissent avant un jeu.”

“And maybe that’s why I can step it up and you can’t Tanger,” Sid shoots back, starting an all our riot of discussion pro and con sex before games. I stare down at Max’s hand curled around mine and then up into his intense gaze that tells me without having to ask, just what his take on the discussion would be, and feel a shudder run through my entire body.

“Good luck,” I give his hand a squeeze before turning to buss Sidney’s cheek and, putting one foot very deliberately in front of the other, I manage to walk out of the room before my knees give way again and I have to press my back against the cool, concrete wall and let go a number of colourful profanities.

“What’s up buttercup?” Kensie asks, appearing out of the crowd with a large slice of pepperoni in one hand a giant coke in the other.

“I’m just reminding myself to keep my eyes on the prize,” I tell her breathlessly and she just grins back at me.

“Yeah being in that room can be a little distracting,” she agrees, allowing me to wrap my arm around hers ‘as she leads us to the elevator. “Particularly when Kris is playing with his hair, I just want to reach out grab it and run my fingers through it and make him call me mistress,” she adds with a lecherous grin that helps to erase the feel of Max’s hand on mine.

“Does that mean you want Jordy to grow out his mane?” I ask as the metallic doors slide open.

“No, he’d look stupid with long hair,” she sighs. “I’m just saying, I wouldn’t toss that furry little Frenchman out of bed for eating poutine,” she adds, with a snort as the doors slide closed behind us. “You know what I mean?”

“I think I do,” I agree, staring at the closed doors and imagining an altogether different furry Frenchman feeding me half melted cheese curds and gravy off of my own stomach, and feel something low inside of me clench at the thought. “Yeah, I think I do.”

“You were serious?” Mel stares at me, incredulous, as I turn to open my bedroom door and leave her behind.

“Of course I'm serious. I have to concentrate. I need all of the strength and stamina I can get. I can’t have you waking me up at two in the morning and wearing me out,” I tell her, turning to cup her face in my hands and planting a long, soft kiss on her lips. “It’s only a couple months,” I add, kissing her once more and feeling my body telling me just how stupid an idea this is. Damn, it was always easy to give this up for a couple of months before when it just meant not going to pick up girls at a bar, but this…, I let my hand roam down over the curve of her ass and pull her hips towards me so she can feel how much I don’t want to go through with my own idea.

“But we’re getting married in a couple of months,” she reminds me, her hand slipping between us to cup my quickly hardening dick. “I thought we were getting in some practice time,” she adds, her hand sliding up and down the length of me, making it even harder and making it almost impossible to turn her away.

“It’s not that I don’t want you,” I whisper to her, pressing against her hand and wondering if it’s too much to ask her to get me off so I can sleep. “I just have to keep my strength up. As it is,” I sigh, peeling her hand off of me and pressing my lips to the centre of her palm, “I’m going to have to have a cold shower now. Don’t make this harder for me Mel,” I add, kissing the tip of her nose. “Just use the spare room and it will be like it was before, for a while. Not forever,” I add, already worrying about the Caps in the second round. I just can’t see us having trouble with the Sens.

“I can just sleep,” she offers, looking up at me with her doe eyes, which, with her new pixie cut, seem to be even bigger. “I’ll just sleep. I’ll keep my hands to myself,” she promises. I want to believe her but it’s not really her that I’m worried about.

“Yeah, in the guest room, now go,” I chuckle, pressing my lips one last time to her brow and then turning her around and giving her a pat on the ass. She looks back at me with narrowed eyes and for a minute I think she’s going to argue some more, but then she heads down the hallway, her hands clenched at her sides.

I turn and head into my rooms, heading directly for the shower. I do need that cold shower.

“Mel,” he doesn’t argue, doesn’t ask why I’m here, even though the question is in his eyes. He just looks down the driveway at the cab and then back at me. “Do you need money for the cab?” he asks and I nod, once, feeling a little sheepish at having to ask. He grabs his wallet from the dish beside the door and jogs down to the end of the driveway. I watch him go, rubbing my hands along my arms where the chill of the early morning hours has my skin crawling with gooseflesh. He doesn’t seem to notice, or isn’t affected by it, I notice, when he returns in nothing but those boxer briefs he wears and takes my hand, pulling me inside with another furtive look around.

As if I’ve been followed. As if anyone would guess I’d come here.

“He meant it,” I tell him quietly, as his hands take over rubbing at my cold skin. “The no sex during the whole play offs. He meant it. He wanted me to sleep in the spare room,” I add, which had felt like adding insult to injury. I’m not enough to make him want to break his superstitious silliness. I had even lain awake, waiting for him to come down the hallway, tell me he’d been wrong, but he didn’t. He never came.

“Il est un imbécile,” Max replies quietly, reaching over to lock the door. I watch his hand turn the deadbolt and a shudder runs through my entire body. “You can stay here, if you want. I’ll make up a bed…,” he begins, but his voice trails away when I reach out and begin to trace the cross fleur de lis on his ribs with my fingertips. “Mel…Melody,” he says my name more forcefully, his hand snapping around my wrist. I look up at him, and I know that I probably look just as lost and confused as the last time I came here and I wouldn’t blame him if he turned me away, but he doesn’t. Something goes soft in his expression and I feel his arms wind around me as he pulls me into the circle of his arms, against the warmth of his skin and I close my eyes, reveling in the warm clean scent of him. “C’est une mauvaise idée,” he sighs, and I can’t tell if he’s telling himself or me but when I look up at him, feel his hand touch my cheek, I don’t care. I know it’s a bad idea. It’s a crazy idea, but when his lips, trembling, take mine, I forget how stupid this is and relax against his body and reach for his tongue with mine.

He moans into my mouth, moving to press me against the wall, and I feel him, hard and ready, pressing into my stomach. Running my hand down his back, I feel his muscles twitch beneath my fingertips and as my hand slides down over his ass, I feel him pull back. But I haven’t come here for him to pull away from me too. So I grab onto his ass and pull him to me, climbing his thigh with my other leg, wrapping myself around him.

“Ma petite, tu sais ce que tu me demandes?” he asks, breathlessly, his beard burning my skin as he kisses his way down my neck.

“Oui, je veux que tu me fasses le sentir quelque chose,” I sigh, arching my neck, wanting more. “Make me scream Max, make me beg,” I whimper as his hand locks around my thigh, pulling my legs up and around his as he tries to take me to the stairs but doesn’t even make it half way up them before he puts me down and reaches for the zipper on my jeans.

I push his hands out to the way, my fingers clambering with the zipper before I push them down over my hips and he drags them off the rest of the way, tossing them to the bottom of the stairs. Then his mouth is on mine again and the feel of his beard, of the wiry hairs on his upper lip rasping against my tender skin does nothing to dampen my need as I wrap my legs around him, pulling him deep inside of me. I ignore the way the stairs digs into my back, reaching for the railing and using it to lift my body off of the ground while my other hand presses against the wall, nails digging into the plaster, feeling paint lifting off as I scramble to stay with him, to meet him thrust for thrust as his body presses into mine, deeper and deeper, harder and harder until I can’t breathe, until there isn’t anything but his name on my lips and I cry I to the heavens as he pulls me close and our bodies meet one last time, my back arching like a bow string, his hands clenched around my waist, his back straight as an arrow and I hear my name as he growls it between his teeth and I feel…I feel everything.

I feel my blood coursing through my veins. I feel my heart hammering inside of my chest. I feel my lungs expanding as I gasp for breath. I feel my muscles contracting around his dick deep inside of me. I feel his cock pulsing deep within me, filling me with the hot, wet rush of his seed. I feel his breath warm on my neck as he pulls me close. I feel my arms wrap around his muscular neck as he carries me upstairs to his bed.

Mostly I feel wanted, really wanted and I know that when I do finally fall asleep tonight, it won’t be alone.


“Toast?” I turn the corner to find Lauren, Mel and Nathalie busy at making an enormous breakfast. Bacon, eggs, French toast, pancakes, chopped orange sections, grapefruit….

“You guys must have been up for hours,” I mutter, grabbing a section of orange and crossing the kitchen to where Mel is standing over the stove, flipping silver dollar size pancakes.

“Well Mel was anyway. I woke up to the smell of real coffee for once,” Nathalie grins, inhaling happily over a cup of something dark and steaming.

“That’s my girl,” I grin, wrapping my arm around her waist and pressing my nose into her hair. It’s still a bit wet but it smells of strawberries and her skin, where I press my lips at the curve of her shoulder, tastes of vanilla.

“I know you’re not a big breakfast eater,” she apologizes, flipping another pancake before reaching for a plate and shoveling half a dozen onto it before handing it to me. “But I just couldn’t sleep and I thought the girls might like to have a cooked breakfast for once.”

“Mmm, what smells so good?” Mario rounds the corner, already in a suit and tie, hair slicked back. “I have a good mind to call of my breakfast meeting and stay,” he adds with a grin, walking over to press a familial kiss to the top of Lauren’s head before he slides onto a chair next to his wife. “To what do we owe this pleasure?”

“Sid kicked Mel out last night, something to do with the playoffs,” Lauren muses, leaning against the counter with a dry piece of toast in her hand.

“I didn’t kick her out, I just asked her to stay in the guest room as if it’s any of your business,” I snarl at her which only gets me a raised eyebrow and a shrug of her thin shoulders.

“You’re not actually subscribing to that old wives tale are you?” Mario laughs, reaching for the syrup and quickly covering his stack of pancakes.

“What do you know? You used to smoke before games,” I tell him, staying where I am, pressed against Mel, and putting down my pancakes next to the grill, eating them dry.

“You have me there,” Mario laughs, putting three pancakes in his mouth at once.

“Still, poor girl. I hope you slept okay in the guest room. I know the bed is a lot smaller than the one in Sid’s room,” he apologizes, shooting me a dark look.

“I think she must have slept out by the pool,” Lauren interjects, walking by and stealing a pancake from my plate. “I don’t think her bed looked slept in.”

“I make my bed in the mornings,” Mel shoots back, reaching to turn off the burner and turning around to wrap her arms, welcomingly around me. “You should try it,” she adds, though her attention is now on me. “And how did you sleep?” she asks, looking relaxed with the healthy glow about her that speaks of a long, hot shower.

“I should have taken you up on your offer,” I tell her quietly, kissing her lightly.
“I hardly slept at all. I tossed and turned all night,” I sigh, reaching to nip at her ear. “I missed you,” I add, tugging at the collar of her bathrobe, and then stop in my tracks.

“Bug bite,” she explains, tugging her robe back and then reaching for my hand to steer me to the table. “God, I’m so hungry I could eat the entire first line of the Sens,” she grins, pushing me firmly into a chair and then crawling onto my lap and demanding to be fed.

“Don’t worry, we’ll take care of them in no time,” I tell her, feeling her round little bottom pressing down on me, making me second guess my plan of abstinence.

“Good,” she smiles warmly down at me. “I like the sound of that.” I can’t help grinning and when I look around at Nat and Mario they’re grinning back at us in that way that says ‘aren’t they a cute couple’ and I can’t help but think that maybe we are.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chapter 33

Team Max seems to be catching up but is Team Sidney making a come back???

“You look so elegant,” Nathalie sighs as she stands back, pin cushion in hand. I have to admit that she’s right but I’m beginning to think it’s too much. What had started out as a breezy, light summer dress has turned into the ballgown from My Fair Lady, complete with the crystal beading which I’d sworn not to do but between Lauren, Nathalie and everyone at Pugh’s, the design that had started out as simple and flowing has taken on a life of its own. Not that it doesn’t make me a little misty eyed to see my reflection looking back at me looking more like a Princess of Fairy than a girl from Cole Harbour.

“I am sooo getting you to design my dress when I get married,” Lauren sighs, from where she’s been sitting, watching the whole show with that kind of look on her face that says she can’t wait to trade places with me and be the bride rather than the bridesmaid.

“I’ll be happy to,” I reply, turning sideways with the hopes that it won’t look quite so bling from that angle. “I’m just thinking I should have had someone else design this for me.”

“You did. Sort of,” Kensie chortles from where she’s still pinning, kneeling at my feet, where I’m standing on a step stool. “We did sort of took over you design,” she adds, grinning up at me, knowing I won’t kick her and send all her carefully placed pins flying.

“It was supposed to be a simple summer dress,” I sigh, catching a glimpse of the gathering at the back and the train that snakes at least three feet behind me.
“Well if you were having a simple garden wedding, then that might have been perfect, but you’re not, are you?” Kensie reminds me with a raised eyebrow and a smirk that makes me want to crawl into a corner, get into a fetal position and call for the men in the white coats. This whole wedding thing has gotten completely out of hand. All I’d wanted was a simple, small, intimate wedding in the back yard of Sid’s place on the lake back home. What we are ending up with is the society wedding of the year, with, at last count, over three hundred guests, in Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Hope, which, while gorgeous, isn’t exactly what I’d had in mind. It is now all out of my hands and firmly in the hands of Sidney’s publicist, which is turning into both a blessing and a curse.

“Don’t remind me,” I mutter, shuddering at the thought of the wedding planner that has been hired on our behalf. The woman drives a Barbie pink Cadillac escalade and wears cell phones like accessories.

Holeeee sheet! Look who’s dripping in bling!” I turn to tell Jordan that he’s supposed to be downstairs keeping Sidney occupied while we pin up the dress, but seeing Max standing behind him with that kicked puppy look on his face and all the words I intend to say just sort of disappear on me.

“Tu es si beau. Tu ressembles à une princesse féerique.”

I want to say thank you, but more than that, I want the glow I feel when he says it to be nothing more than the simple happiness of being given and accepting a compliment, but having had Max avoid me at all costs for almost an entire month, I find that I can’t do either. In fact, it’s all I can do to blink back the tears as I stand there watching him staring back at me.

“If you ask me she’s too covered up,” Tanger muses aloud, breaking the tension as he shoves both Jordy and Max down the stairs in front of him, a six pack hanging from his finger. I watch them disappear down the stairs, my skin still prickling just the way I remember it doing when Max had laid me out on his bed and knelt there, on the edge of the bed, his gaze roaming over me, half hungrily and half reluctantly.

“Let’s get you out of this so you can get it back to your worker bees back in your sweatshop,” Kennedy say quietly, appearing behind me, carefully picking up my train and cradling it in her arms as I step down off of the stool to follow her back to the guest room where the garment bag is hanging. “Have you got something to tell me?” she hisses the moment we get around the corner.

“Huh?” I almost fall forward when she hustles me into the room and nearly jump out of my skin when she slams the door behind us.

“Don’t you dare ‘huh’ me. I’m your roommate and I’d like to think one of your best friends in the world and I cannot believe you didn’t tell me,” she snarls as she unzips the dress and helps me step out of it.

“If I knew what you were talking about..,” I begin only to have her let out a bark of laughter as she unhooks the garment bag from the back of the door and lays it across the queen size bed.

“You, sleeping with Max,” she huffs, laying the dress carefully beside the garment bag before turning her blazing eyes on me. “Jordan told me. I didn’t really believe him until I saw that little display. Have you lost your cotton pickin’ mind?” she asks, hands on hips, peering at me as if I’ve gone completely off my rocker.

“It’s hard to explain,” I begin, but I can tell that isn’t going to suffice, so, with a sigh, I launch into the whole gory, sordid story. “I had to lose my virginity, okay? And don’t look at me like that. I know, I was the oldest virgin on the fucking planet, but I’d been saving it for Sidney and then it turned out he had like zero interest in being the cherry popper and I just needed to do something about it and Max is like…well he’s my friend and….”

“Oh girl, you are soooo blind. That boy is not your friend. He was looking at you like a fat kid on a diet looks at a piece of triple-decker chocolate ganache cake.”

“I know,” I mumble, feeling my cheeks grow warm as I think about that same look on his face as he’s brought me over the edge of pleasure, his fingertips brushing gently up from my hips, over my breasts before he’d rolled me over and pinned me to the bed beneath him. Closing my eyes now, I can feel the same shiver that look had sent through me, a fine sort of ripple that began at my lips and worked its way down to my toes as he’d kissed me, softly, but thoroughly, and then whispered my name against the line of my jaw as he slid into me once more. “I know,” I repeat, partly for her sake but mostly for myself. “I mean, I guess I realize that now.”

“Oh my god, the poor fucking bastard. He’s obviously in love with you and you do that to him? And now, just to top it off, you’re going to marry his best friend?” Kennedy shakes her head. “Nice, Mel, very nice.”

“I thought he could handle it!” I cry in self defense. “He’s supposed to be some kind of epic man whore. It was just sex,” I add, throwing my hands up.

“Even man whores have feelings Mel,” Kensie sighs, shaking her head.

“I didn’t know!” I insist. “I don’t think he did…not before…and if he did he could have said no. I could have gone to someone like Tanger or….”

“Would you? If it had been you and Sidney, would you have turned Sidney down a year ago if he’d come to you?” she asks, and though I want to argue my innocence, I know damn well I don’t have a leg to stand one. Kennedy shakes her head and rubs at her eyes before turning her impatiently gaze back to mine. “And if Sid finds out?”

“He won’t,” I insist, remembering how Max had promised me that the guys would never tell.

“Jordy told me. What makes you think that I won’t tell him?” she asks, and I know she’s just being facetious, that she would never do that to me, and I only have Max’s word that the guys won’t tell but….

“Because that’s not what’s supposed to happen,” I say quietly, knowing she’s going to roll her eyes at me Cinderella construct, my fantasy, my belief that Sid is supposed to be mine and nothing is going to get in the way of that.

“You’re nuts,” she says quietly, grabbing my head and pressing her lips to my forehead. “That ass doesn’t deserve you,” she adds, staring me dead in the eyes. “But what you did…you? I can’t believe you did that,” she shakes her head and laughs. “Was he as good as he thinks he is?”

“Oh my god! I don’t want to talk about it,” I cry, wrenching free of her grasp but not before I feel my cheeks turn a bright crimson.

“He was…oh my god, he was, wasn’t he? Better than Sidney?” she asks, but I’m already pulling on my jeans and grabbing my t-shirt, intent on getting out of this room before she pins me to the wall and subjects me to torturous questioning that I don’t even want to think about let alone answer to. My hand is already on the door with my t-shirt only half pulled over my head when the door opens and I find myself stepping directly into a man’s broad chest. Like a blind person, I feel the broad chest, the slight indentation between each rib bone, and the massive plate in the middle of his chest and I know who it is.

“Kensie, your man’s looking for you,” I call, tugging my t-shirt down and sneaking around under Jordan’s arm before making a quick exit towards the kitchen, hoping for some comfort food in the way of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.


“As-tu un souhait de mort?”

I look up from my cards and turn to see Tanger pushing Max into the wall in a way that looks like he’s cruising for a fight but Max only brushes his arm away. I notice he doesn’t move though, almost like he thinks he deserves whatever’s coming to him, but Tanger only shakes his head and gives Max’s whisker covered cheek a gentle slap.

“Tu es un vieux romantique, et un imbecile,” Tanger adds, shaking his head again before turning away from Max to dump the beers he’s brought with him onto the table. “Deal me in,” he laughs, as if nothing’s happened. I glance back at Max to see him staring up the stairway, and I think about cashing in my chips for this hand to give him a talking to about Lauren when Kennedy and Jordy appear crashing down the stairway like a herd of elephants, Kensie on Jordy’s back yelling mush and hitting his ass hard enough that we all wince just a little.

“Is uh…is Mel coming down?” Max asks, peering around them at the empty stairwell.

“She’s not down here already?” Kennedy asks, jumping off of Jordan’s back and onto the couch, grabbing the remote out of Flower’s hand. “Who’s got popcorn?”

“Where is my fiancée?” I ask, glancing at the empty stairwell and then back at Kennedy who is busy shoving TK off the end of the couch to make room for Jordy presumably.

“Pouting, I think,” Kensie answers, now being joined by her boyfriend and the two of them are now turning TK into a human tug toy. “Or going over place settings, some shit like that. Seriously, if I ever get married and pay what you guys are paying for a wedding planner and the bitch still wants me to make decisions, I’m running for Vegas.”

“Vegas eh?” Jordy raises an eyebrow, letting TK go who lands in a heap at his feet and grabbing his girlfriend instead. “Quick and dirty? Drive through wedding maybe?”

“Oh yeah, on the back of a Harley,” Kensie grins back at him, like it’s a dare. “Who needs all this rhinestone encrusted, lily of the valley and white roses shit when you can get married on a Harley and go gambling instead?”

“I love this girl,” Jordy declares, grabbing her and pulling her onto his lap before reaching for her tonsils with his tongue.

“Ewwww, get a room,” Lauren cries, appearing, alone at the bottom of the stairs.

“Can’t you two keep your hands off each other for like…ten minutes?”

“Jealous much?” TK asks, looking up hopefully at her.

“If I wanted to play tonsil hockey with a Staal, and I do mean if,” she points out emphatically. “It wouldn’t be that Staal. And if I just wanted to play tonsil hockey with someone here,” she adds, glancing towards the table where Tanger, Brooksy, Godsy, Gogo and I are sitting. “You’d be the last one in line,” she laughs, stepping on TK’s stomach on her way to squirming in between Flower and Dupes are sitting at the other end of the couch.

“I thought this was a guy’s poker night?” Dupes asks as he glances back at me and mouthing something like ‘get rid of her’ to me. Shaking my head, I open my mouth to tell Max to do the honors in dragging her back upstairs, but I can’t see him. He must have hit the head.

“Whose deal is this?” Tanger asks, glaring unhappily at his cards. “Is this Crosby house rules where the lucky fucker wins again?” he growls, making all the guys laugh and making me forget, for now, to wonder where Max has wandered off to.

“I thought I might find you out here.” I hear the sound of the French door closing and then the scuff of his jeans hitting the concrete step beside me. I don’t even look over. I just hand the tub of ice cream to him, or what’s left of it.

“So you’re talking to me now?” I ask, still staring at the way the lights play on the water of the pool.

“I wasn’t not talking to you,” he begins and that’s when I turn and raise my eyebrow at him. “Okay, maybe I was avoiding opportunities to talk to you but can you blame me?” he asks, trying to hand the tub of S’mores back to me, but I wave it off.

“You’re supposed to be my friend,” I mutter, hearing the undercurrent of anger growing in my own voice that sugar and chocolate have done nothing to curb.

“I am…I am,” he insists when I turn to him with that same raised eyebrow. “I just…I hate watching you do nothing while he makes into a perfectly behaved Wag,” he explains which makes me twitch, thinking of all the times I’d used that word as a epithet for girls with no brains, long legs, high heels and bad dye jobs. That wasn’t going to be. I’d sworn that to myself, even as I longed and wished for Sidney to notice me, to want me and hated him for it too.

“It’s all a stupid tug of war,” I sigh, dropping my head in my hands and rubbing at that ever present throb in my temples. “I want him but I don’t want this life…I can’t believe I can’t have both. Someone must have both,” I insist. I feel his hand on my arm, at first and realize that I want to feel that comfort and so when his arm goes around me and pulls me against him and I feel the heat of his body and the hear him whispering comforting words to me in French, I close my eyes and let the tears fall. Tears that I’ve wanted to cry every time he’s avoided me when I’ve gone to the games and been down in the halls of the arena, waiting for Sidney while Max leaves in a group of guys and doesn’t so much as wave, leaving me feeling abandoned. Tears that I’ve felt when I’ve laid in my fiancé’s arms at night and not felt the sort of contentment I felt that first night…. “You don’t…I mean, Kensie says you do but…you don’t have like…a crush on me do you?” I ask, pulling away from him enough to look up into his eyes. Tonight they’re the colour of water in a deep inlet, a dark, dark bluish green. A long moment passes as he reaches up to brush the hair back out of the wet trails my tears have left behind and then he smiles, that easy, mischievous smile of his and shakes his head.

“C’mon, I’m Maximus. I’ve got them cueing up outside the arena for a piece of this,” he grins, holding up his arm and flexing his bicep, showing off that shield with the T for Talbot inside of it. “I think you’re beautiful,” he adds more quietly, brushing my cheek with his fingertips. “But you have your man and I’m a big man whore as you like to call me. We’re just friends, d’accord? And if you’re still worried about that thing…?” I shake my head vehemently and duck my face away, feeling my cheeks turn bright pink just thinking of it in front of him. “Good, because the guys won’t tell and I’m not going to tell anyone; I haven’t got a death wish,” he laughs, pulling me into his arms again. “You’re just having nerves about all this crazy out of control wedding bullshit that you don’t even want, and who can blame you? What’s this I hear about some giant ice statue of Mario at the reception?”

“It’s not of Mario it’s just a hockey player,” I correct him, digging my elbow into his ribs and though I know it’s not hard enough to make him actually do it, he grabs his ribs and makes the proper ‘woof’ sound of losing his air as we both scramble to our feet. “And I totally vetoed that.”

“Well I’m glad because that cucaracha cumberbund your man is going to wear is bad enough,” he adds, leaning over to pick up the abandoned pint of ice cream, giving me a target I just can’t ignore.

“You get down there and tell him that it’s silver and not fucking la cucaracha,” I order, giving his but a swift kick as I send him shuffling towards the door in his socks.

“As my mistress wishes,” he laughs back at me.

“Who’s a dirty mistress? What did I miss?” Jordy and Kensie appear around the corner, looking like they’ve been looking for a little alone time, his long arm around her neck, his fingertips just brushing the top of her breast, her arms wrapped around his middle, looking up at him like she can’t stop looking at his face. The sight of them stops me in my tracks. Sidney never looks at me that way.

“If you…if you see Sid tell him I had a headache and went to bed,” I mutter, pushing past Max and heading into the house. It wouldn’t be a lie. That pounding never seems to go away and right now, it just got worse.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chapter 32

If you're all team Max, why is Sid still winnning I wonder?

“It’s a nice place.”

“It’s fucking huge is what it is,” I mutter, walking backwards with the measuring tape in my hands as Max holds it against the wall while gazing around like a tourist.

“It’s roomy,” he muses, that little grin of his tugging at the corner of his mouth telling me that he’s saying shit now just to fuck with me.

“I think they call it palatial, or monstrous,” I reply, glaring at him while he continues to act oblivious, staring up at the huge, gaudy chandelier hanging over the spot where the dining room table will go.

“It’s nicely appointed, tastefully decorated…,” he continues, and now I’m sure he’s just fucking with me.

“Yeah, nothing a little red velvet wallpaper won’t fix,” I reply, letting the tape go and sending it speeding back towards his hand.

“Red velvet wallpaper? Tabernak woman, I thought you had some taste,” he says wrinkling his nose at me. Raising my eyebrow, I shake my head before writing down the measurement we’ve just taken.

“This from all black leather and chrome boy?” I reply, cocking my head to once side while he nods in agreement.

“You may have a point,” he agrees with a smile before following me into the kitchen.

“I don’t understand this American fascination with taking refrigerators when people move,” I mutter as I stare at the stove trying to decide if I want to keep it and match it or get rid of it. “I’ve always wanted an Aga but you can’t really have those on the second floor. I don’t suppose Sidney would consider knocking the entire second floor off of the house a renovation?” I ask, looking hopefully towards Max who is now leaning against the island in the middle of the kitchen.

“You could gut the place and put the kitchen, dining room and living room downstairs and just have the bedrooms upstairs,” he nods, backing up to look around the corner towards the master bedroom.

“I wish you wouldn’t say that,” I sigh, pressing at what seems to have become a constant throbbing at my temple.

“What?” he asks, furrowing his brow as he watches me, curiously.

“Bedrooms…rooms…as in multiple, many. As in, if Sidney says ‘patter of little feet’ one more time, my fucking head is going to explode,” I explain, glancing towards the hall where I know there are four bedrooms, two bathrooms and an en-suite; bedrooms to be filled with little Sidney’s or Melody’s.

“Don’t you want kids?” Max asks, as if there can be no other answer to that, or maybe that’s just me. Maybe that’s just all I hear now; women should be barefoot and pregnant.

“Of course I do…or at least…I like a cute kid as much as the next girl, but…I’m twenty years old Max. It’s not like my biological clock is making any noise at all. You know?” I look over at him, hoping he’ll understand when no one else seems to.
Well, no one but Kensie. But then she hates Sidney so that hardly counts. “Why? Why does he want to have a family so desperately?” I ask, knowing that he hated being an only child for so long, that he’d wanted to have brothers, and all of that I can understand but what that has to do with having his own little brood….

“Progeneration?” Max shrugs. “I mean…we could die out there. We’re all one fucking icing race away from going head first into the boards and then…whap…dead. So…kids,” he answers and I have to give it to him. It sounds ridiculously plausible. “Et il obtient de dormer avec tu.” The last is said in a low whisper that I’m not sure I’m meant to hear, but it’s a big empty house on a quiet cul-de-sac with no traffic, no screaming kids (yet) and so I can’t help but hear it.

And so there it is, the giant ten foot pink rabbit in the room that we’ve been doing such a good job tip toeing around.

“Max…,” I begin, but his eyes, today the colour of still waters off the coast of white beach, meet mine and any words I intend to say about how that shouldn’t matter die on my lips. The look in his gaze is pure and raw and full of hunger and for a moment I feel like a gazelle in the tall grasses staring down a cheetah.

“I’m trying to be friends with both of you,” he says quietly, like the warning purr of a big cat just before it strikes. “Ce n’est pas facile, tu comprends? You’re always questioning your relationship with him and the way he treats you…fait mon ébullition de sang.” He stalks towards me just like a big cat, his gaze holding mine, slowly, carefully. Careful not to make me run, as if I could, frozen as I am to the spot as I watch those wide, round shoulders moving under the snug white t-shirt he’s wearing with the Ed Hardy design down the same side his tat is, and I keep thinking about those two designs moving over one another and my hands slipping along his ribs…. “You deserve better mon chère,” he says, his voice losing the threatening tone, the prey drive leaking from his gaze as he reaches up to cup my cheek, and yet I can’t stop staring at his full mouth, knowing how it feels to have those full lips moving insistently over mine.

“Max…stop,” I breathe, trying to make myself back up but there’s a counter behind me and all I’d have to do is get up onto the counter and he would be between my legs and….

“Je suis désolé.” Hanging his head he takes two steps back and I shut my eyes, willing the visions away. I’m in the house my fiancé has bought for us to bring our family up in and it’s the worst kind of violation of the idea of that to be having these thoughts here. “I can’t help it. How can I help thinking about the best night I’ve ever had in my life?” My heart stops beating as I open my eyes to look into his, storm tossed grey green now, sad and resigned as he shrugs those wide shoulders and holds his hands out in entreaty. “I won’t lie to you, ma petite. There it is. I can’t help thinking about it.”

“You have to,” I tell him as much as I’ve been telling myself. “You have to put it out of your mind. Like it didn’t happen,” I add, wanting to bridge the gap between us and grab his hands in mine so he can feel how hard my heart is beating in my chest. We can’t talk about this. It never happened. “Besides…it…it couldn’t have been the best night of your life. I didn’t know what I was doing and….” And there he is, quick, like a jungle cat, he has my face in his hands and his breathe tastes like mint and as I look into the deep blue ocean of his eyes I know he’s going to kiss me, if I let him, and I know that I can’t.

“Tu saves ce que tu faites à moi,” he breathes, his lips so close to mine. I put the flat of my hands against his chest, knowing I should be pushing him away but when I feel the truth of his words in the hammering of his big heart under the palm of my hand, I don’t. “Dites-moi que tu l’aimes. Dites-moi et je ne tu embraisserai pas.”

“I…I…love him,” I manage to stutter, feeling his chest heaving as he gulps for breath and fights for control and part of my brain is screaming at me to let him loose control, because I like when he loses control and something low in my belly clenches at the thought of him slamming me up against a wall and pressing his body against mine. “I love him Max. You know I do,” I whisper, staring back at him as my own chest rises and falls with quick shallow breaths I have to take to keep the musky smell of his skin and the spicy scent of his cologne from overcoming my defenses. “You’re my friend,” I add, which is the cold slap in the face that makes him growl and turn away, grabbing his leather jacket from the counter and rounding the corner, out of sight.

I hear his quick, hard footfalls on the stairs and then the entire house seems to shudder as he slams the front door. I remain motionless while I listen to him gun the engine of his sleek, dark car and only when I hear the squeal of rubber meeting pavement do I allow myself to actually breathe, turning to grab hold of the edge of the marble counter top, shutting my eyes tight as I scream.

Pale white, I trace Sidney’s shoulders in the moonlight with my eyes as he lies, comatose, on his stomach. He is hard, thick muscle everywhere, not an inch of softness anywhere. Not even that great big derriere of his, I know, having dug my fingers into it as I urged him deeper. I can see the livid welts now, marks my fingernails left behind, appearing dark blue in the moonlight.

Once and he’s out like a light; one, unsatisfying time.

I tried to tell him what I wanted, tried to direct him but it was like talking to a wall. He was so focused, as if some kind of haze filled his eyes, as if he wasn’t looking at or hearing me at all. Reaching down, I slide my hand between my thighs and probe at the tenderness he’s left behind in his wake. It doesn’t hurt, not exactly. It’s more of an ache; a deep, muscular ache.

He does look like a Pre-Raphaelite angel when he’s sleeping though, his full, pink lips slack, his long, thick eyelashes lying on his round cheeks. I brush his cheek with my fingertips and he smiles, as a child would do. A contended, sleepy sort of smile that makes me smile back at him, tender, maternal feelings making my chest tight as I run my fingers through his dark hair.

I feel his arm tighten around my waist and I look down at his thickly muscled arm where it’s thrown protectively across my stomach and watch with a certain amount of fascination as my body is pulled across the Egyptian cotton sheets towards him. He lets out a little murmur as my body slides against his and then he nuzzles my neck like a puppy and lets out a contented sigh before falling back into a deeper sleep once again, his breathing deep and regular.

I close my eyes but I know sleep isn’t going to come. My head is still swimming with too many emotions for sleep to be able to carry me away on her gossamer wings.

Guilt, for one. As much as Sidney’s single minded passion sweeps me along, having his six pack, his p chiseled chest moving over me sent my brain into overdrive and I kept seeing Max, but every time I tried to shut my eyes against the phantom in front of me, Sidney would grip my face hard in his hand and kiss me urgently, tell me to look at him and I would but I wouldn’t feel anything.

I don’t feel anything. When he’s inside me, I don’t feel anything but him slamming inside of me. I don’t feel heat or the rising wave of desire. I don’t feel any kind of warm honey glow filling me. I just want it to be over.

I tell myself it’s because of his…size. That my body just isn’t used to him but something in my head tells me that he should fit. That it should be like a key to a lock.

I keep waiting for the moment when I see stars, when my body burns with desire and that wave crashes over me and leaves me shuddering and crying in his arms. Max had laughed then. Not a cruel or even a funny laugh. More of the kind of laugh you have when you see something cute. He’d held me in his arms then and kissed my cheeks and told me it was normal, when it felt that…good.

Guilt. Squeezing my eyes tight I feel the hot sting of tears running down my cheeks and then I feel the pulse of a sob rushing up my throat and even grabbing the edge of a pillow and stuffing it in my mouth doesn’t stifle the sound of it altogether.

I feel Sidney stir beside me and I feel both of his arms snake around me and I feel his chest press against my back as he pulls me into him, his heavy leg sliding over mine and pulling me even closer. I feel his lips on my shoulder and I will myself to be still. I try to breathe through the tears. The last thing I want is to explain this to him. I wouldn’t hurt him for the world.

“Did you have a nightmare baby?” he asks, his voice thick and slurred with sleep.

“Mmmhmmm,” I mutter as his lips move to the back of my neck and I can’t help but sigh when he finds that spot, right at the nape of my neck and his teeth graze over it, making me shudder. His body responds, his dick hardening, thickening against the small of my back and I press back against him, encouraging him.

“You want me baby?” he chuckles, the reverberations of his voice making me shiver as his hands slide down my arms, his big, thick fingers lacing with mine.

“Yes, please Sidney,” I whisper. Better this time, I add silently as he rolls me onto my stomach, kneeling between my thighs. I feel him pushing inside of me and gasp. Christ if it was too tight before, from this angle, it’s impossible. I start to squirm but one firm hand on my waist and the other on the back of my neck, forcing my face down into the mattress and I can barely breathe, let alone struggle as he screws his way inside of me.

Relax, I tell myself. You’re so uptight about making it work, worrying about how it should feel that you’re not letting yourself feel, I tell myself.

Closing my eyes I chase all thought form my mind and concentrate on where he is joined with me, the long, thick, hard length of him buried deeply inside of me, stretching me. I feel him pull out until only the thickest part of him stays inside, and then he slides inside of me again and I can feel my muscles pulling and sucking alternatively, making way, tugging, holding him.

Max had reached around, found my clit, worked it until I couldn’t breathe. He’d made short shallow strokes. I’d been blind with need and then….

“Yeah baby, you like that don’t you?” Sidney’s fingers dig into my hip and I feel his body slamming against mine and I grab at him with my muscles, tightening and loosening and I feel that pressure beginning to build, that dull thud in my brain, that tingling at the base of my spine.

“Yes, Sidney, harder,” I beg, pushing back against him, feeling him respond, long, hard strokes that press me deeper into the mattress. I reach back myself, taking my pleasure into my own hands, sliding my hand up between my thighs and I press down on that little button as he slides into me and I hear myself saying his name over and over as he slams into me, harder and harder until I can’t hear anything past the blood surging in my veins.

“Oh god…yes! Fuuuuuckkkk!”

I feel him slam into me and stay there, both of his hands now digging into the soft flesh of my hips and I can feel his body pulsating inside of my own and I shut my eyes tight and massage my clit harder, rubbing it in small, frantic circles until I feel my muscles clamp around him and my entire body shudders and I collapse onto the bed, muttering incoherently and grinning like an idiot.

I did it. I came with him…or nearly. Near enough. It was good, pretty good, getting there at least.

“Mmm, you liked that didn’t you?” Sidney asks, pulling me back against him again, his body curling protectively around mine.

“It was good, yeah,” I smile, pulling his arm around me and resting my chin on his hand as it curls around mine. “Tired now though.”

“I was tired before,” he chuckles, nuzzling my neck, “but I’m glad you woke me up. That was nice,” he adds, his body relaxing around mine.

“Yeah, it was,” I agree, taking in and letting out a long, deep breath. “I love you Sidney,” I add in a whisper, snuggling back into him and shutting my eyes.

“I love you Mel,” he whispers back, his voice already thick with sleep. I press my lips to his scarred knuckles and then, with a contended sigh, surrender to the beat of sleep’s gossamer wings.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chapter 31

Love all your comments, but I just want to reiterate that I am NOT trying to make Sid into a bad guy, just a little self centered, self absorbed and a little thoughtless in the way that men who are used to getting their way can be. Plus, the more I watch Max goof around, the more I like...

“So he slept over,” Kensie prompts, dragging her fingers through my hair, which I think shows a great deal of self control to have waited this long to bring up the sleeping form on the couch.

“Yep,” I reply noncommittally.

“So…?” she stares at me in the mirror and then rolls her eyes when I merely shrug.

“Oh…fine. Sid and I had…a little fight. Little,” I reiterate, holding my hand up with my finger and thumb only an inch apart.

“And Maxipad is here for moral support?” she asks, but makes it sound more like a comment, which is probably just as well considering a bleary eyed Max has just rounded the corner and is now leaning in the doorway to the bathroom sporting nothing more than a pair of black boxer briefs. He scratches at his cropped brown hair, the dark T and shield on his bicep bulging as he blinks at us and smiles.

“Comment allez-vous deux belles dames çe matin?” he asks, leaning against the doorjam so that his arm is stretched above his head, lengthening his side and making his ribs and six-pack even more prominent. It’s a sight that makes my mouth go dry and memories of his body similarly stretched out over me while he held on to the headboard of his bed for better leverage, my legs wrapped around his hips fill my head. Now, just as then, the urge to rake my fingernails down his ribs, to feel him shudder beneath my fingertips, is overwhelming.

“I don’t know Mel, how are you this morning?” Kennedy asks, grabbing the towel on my head, pushing it down over my eyes and giving my hair a quick rub before removing it altogether, leaving us all staring at my reflection in the mirror. “Foxy lady,” she muses, tossing the towel towards the sink and running her fingers through my hair instead, tousling the now very short strands into place.

“Well…don’t just stand there gawping,” I glance nervously towards Max who is alternately staring, gap mouthed, at my reflection in the mirror and then at me, as if he can’t decide if what he’s seeing is real.

“Il est court…et…et rouge,” he sputters, making my stomach tighten.

“You hate it,” I mumble wretchedly, reaching up to touch a very deep red edge of a chunk of hair. Number nine Raggedy Anne slut red Kennedy had called it as she’d mixed it together.

“It…it doesn’t matter what I think,” Max says quietly, inching forward until he too is running his fingers through my hair, reminding me of how I’d fallen asleep to his gentle ministrations. “Sid…,” his voice trails off as his gaze meets mine in the mirror.

“He’ll hate it, we know,” Kennedy grins back at my reflection before grabbing the back of my head between her two hands and planting a kiss on the crown of my head.

“But what do you think?” I ask, turning to stare up into Max’s concerned expression.

“I think…I think…Il est très énervé, very… very sexy,” he replies, running his hand up the back of my neck where all my golden curls used to be and where now there is a very sharp point at my nape, almost like an arrow to that sensitive spot where his fingers stop and dig in. My eyes flutter shut and I have to bite down on the inside of my cheek to stop from moaning out loud. In one night he’d discovered all the magical spots that send me rushing to the edge of bliss and in all these months Sidney’s barely discovered one. It seems so entirely unfair. “But he will hate it,” Max agrees quietly, removing his hand and stepping back, giving me room and air, both of which I feel like I suddenly need.

“I don’t want to lose myself anymore,” I tell my reflection in the mirror and I hear Kensie chuckle somewhere behind me where she’s cleaning up the mess we’ve made. Standing, I carefully take off the towels we’ve draped around me and lean forward toward the mirror, turning my face on way and then the other, studying my new reflection. “I thought red might help me be a bit more…feisty.”

“Who doesn’t like a feisty woman?” Max chuckles from where he’s found a seat, at the edge of the bathtub, one of the only untouched towels we have left draped across his lap.

“Sid, for one,” Kensie answers, broom in one hand and a bag of my hair in the other. “He really strikes me as one of those guys who think women should have long hair and be barefoot and pregnant. I mean this is the guy who calls your chosen career path ‘dress up’, “she adds derisively.

“Well I think it’s sporty,” I muse, standing straight, my hands on my hips, my chin high as I smile at my own reflection. “I think I’ll fit in at Pugh’s better than I did looking like that small town girl next door.”

“You’re going to take the job?” Max asks, aiming his broad, easy, jovial grin at me and I can’t help but grin back at him.

“I want that job. I’m taking that job,” I reply, and find myself pulled into a three way bear hug. “You never know, maybe I’ll get a tat next,” I add as they finally let me go.

“Now, now let’s not get carried away,” Max laughs, grabbing my face between his two big hands and planting a kiss on the tip of my nose. “You don’t need anything else to make you beautiful.” I blink into his sea storm coloured eyes and find that my own eyes have begun to fill with tears.

“What I wouldn’t give for Sid to say that,” I sniff, blinking back the tears, which is a losing battle.

“S’il ne le te dit pas, alors il est un retard,” Max replies in a hoarse whisper before kissing one of my tears away and then gathering me against his warm, solid body and wrapping me up in his strong arms.

“Woooweeee!” A chorus of wolf whistles and cat calls erupted in the room and I wasn’t even going to look up, assuming it was just Vero in another new low cut outfit, but when the noise didn’t immediately die down, I do look up to find Max on the arm of a curvy red head in a skinny black metallic leggings and a grey and silver striped baby doll dress that whose wide horizontal stripes only served to accent her curves.

Trust Max to have told me he was going to look after Mel only to pick up some model in New York.

“Boys, boys, make way for the new toast of Fifth Avenue, junior fashion designer for club style icon Gareth Pugh, Miss Mel Kelly.”

My mouth literally falls open. That can’t be…it can’t be….

I watch Max bend over her hand with a flourish, before leaving her in the centre of the room.

“Close your mouth. Tu ressembles à un idiot,” Max hisses at me as Jordy and Fleur get up to congratulate her and I can see the looks on the other guy’s faces. They’re practically drooling while I’m standing there, trying to decide just how inappropriate it would be for me to yell at her in front of everyone.

“Did you talk her into this?” I growl at Max, deciding it would be better to fight with him than her, for now anyways.

“No, I had nothing to do with it, réellement,” Max grins like a wolf showing his teeth. “Mais, je pense qu’elle semble étonnante, non?” I disregard the question of how she looks for the moment, because she looks nothing like Mel and it’s plain that he knows what I think anyway.

“And what about the job? She has an interview before the game tonight with RBK that I….”

“Mais oui, we all know you set up the interview, Monsieur très importante. Not that she could not have earned the job without your help by the way, parce qu’elle est très douée. Not that you would give her any credit for that,” Max snarls back at me, as if he could have done that for her. As if I’ve never done anything for him.
“You do have a thing for her!” I laugh, poking him in the middle of the chest, setting him back on his heels.

“Ne soyez pas un âne,” he growls back, pushing my hand away.

“No, I mean it. Right from the beginning of the summer, you’re always sniffing around. You really don’t want her to marry me do you? Are you that jealous that I have someone now is that it?” Max shakes his head at me and then stands there, laughing.

“Tu vraiment ne comprends pas un chose simple au sujet d’elle,” he laughs, shaking his head and rolling his eyes all at once. “Let me tell you something, mon ami. She doesn’t love you,” he hisses, stepping into me so that our noses are only a hair apart. “She thinks she does. She wants to, but she doesn’t love you and you don’t deserve her love. Elle est trop bonne lointain pour toi,” he adds, giving my cheek a gentle smack before he turns and heads out the door.

My gaze follows him and then falls back on Melody who has obviously been watching our tête à tête with wide, worried eyes. She glances towards the door through which Max has just disappears and then looks back at me with narrowed eyes.

“What did you say to him?” she asks, crossing the floor to stand near, but not too near me. Like she’s afraid of what I’ll do.

“What did you do to your hair?” I demand and watch her steel herself for a reply I can already tell is rehearsed.

“It’s just hair,” she says simply, shrugging a single shoulder.

“I liked your hair,” I point out to which she gives the barest of shrugs.

“Hair grows back, but it’s my hair,” she points out. “You don’t love my hair. You love me,” she adds, and her eyes hold the question that she won’t voice, ‘don’t you?’

“I’m just saying, I just got used to you without pig tails and now this,” I tell her, reaching out to touch the too gelled, too stiff hair that really will take some getting used to.

“So you really hate it,” she sighs, eyes downcast. “I really thought you might be more mature than that.”

“Babe, it’s just hair,” I force myself to smile as I cast my eyes down the rest of her, over her curves in anticipation of what I have planned for the afternoon. “I’m not that shallow.” She looks up at me through her eyelashes and gives me a shy smile. “That’s better. I was just…in shock. I mean…red…it’s very red.”

“Well if I’m going to keep you in line, I thought I’d better amp up my attitude a little.” Pulling her close, I let my hand wander down over her ass and give it a pat, a little harder than necessary but not hard enough to hurt, just hard enough to make her squeak and jump a little.

“I haven’t started in on the whole job thing yet,” I remind her. “We were supposed to meet with RBK this afternoon.”

“I know, and I took that into account when I spoke with Gareth. He’s going to let me do licensed work for them, if you want me to work on your stuff and if they’ll accept some of my other ideas for hockey related off ice wear,” she adds, producing a sketch book from her purse with edgy logo design of a skull with a puck in its jaws and crossed hockey sticks. “And it really isn’t that far,” she adds in a pleading tone, giving me those doe eyes of hers’.

“You’ve thought this through,” I sigh, feeling like I’ve had an end round done on me.

“I’m a smart cookie. You used to tell me that,” she says quietly, a hopeful gleam in her eyes.

“Yeah you are,” I sigh, giving her ass another firm pat before drawing her into a long, soft kiss that makes me think of dragging her into the showers with me, except that I’ve been warned about putting on shows for the guys by Dupers, so instead I turn her around and give her a pat on the ass and push her towards the door. “See you after practice,” I call to her as she sashays towards the door, working those horizontal stripes to great effect.

“I’ll be waiting,” she promises, turning to blow me a kiss, which I hold my hand up to catch, but as soon as she’s through the door my annoyance returns and I wipe that kiss down the leg of my hockey pants.

“Dude, your girlfriend is haaawwwtttt,” TK calls across the room.
“Too hot for you knucklehead,” I call back, picking up a roll of hockey tape and hurling it at him over my shoulder.

“Vero will be jealous,” Flower says quietly, returning to his spot next to me on the bench. “She’ll see that haircut and want to do that,” he adds, letting out a long sigh. “I ‘ope she doesn’t do it.”

“Yeah…how much are extension do you think?” I ask, and then we both shake our heads and laugh.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chapter 30

“Expectations have a way of doing that,” Kennedy notes as she leans over to add a second coat of slut red as she calls it, to her toes.

“I’ve been dreaming, fantasizing about being with him for so long…and he has this amazing body and I just can’t believe it was that…bad,” I exclaim, flopping down on my bed and staring up at the ceiling, silently cursing the gods for my ill luck.

“Like I said, your expectations were too high,” Kensie muses, having very little sympathy for me, which, if she knew half the truth would be even less. “Plus, you know, he’s probably one of those guys who's never had to learn the tricks of the trade. Just because he’s fucked a hundred girls doesn’t mean that any of them had the vag to tell him to do something with it other than use it like a plunger,” she adds with a self satisfied grin as she wiggles her red tipped toes.

“Do you think that’s what it is? That he’s just never had any direction?” I ask hopefully, turning over and grabbing my pillow to lean on.

“Sure,” she shrugs, offering me the bottle which I shake my head at. Not my colour. “He’s probably like one of those guys with the really big dicks that thinks you should just be impressed by that and they never learn how to do anything with it,” she adds matter-of-factly in that sort of ‘this comes from personal experience’ sort of way. “And with your boyfriend having a certain degree of celeb status and the sort of nauseating way those little girls throw themselves at him, you can’t really blame him if all he ever does is throw them a fuck without caring if they actually get anything out of it,” she continues, making a world of sense.

“So he can learn,” I say, hopefully, only to have Kennedy look up from wiggling her toes with a single arched eyebrow.

“God, you really will do anything for this guy, won’t you?” she asks, sounding incredulous. “I mean, I can see that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into him but…fuck Mel. He wants you to toss your whole life away and be a MILF…what the fuck is up with that? Can’t he appreciate how fucking talented you are?” I open my mouth to say ‘you don’t understand’ but even I’m sick of hearing myself give that excuse. “I know he’s cute and loaded and all that but seriously…Mel…he treats you like shit babe.”

“You make it sound like he beats me or something,” I mutter, staring at her toes because I can’t meet the accusing look in her gaze. “It will be different when he’s not playing…in the off season. It will,” I reply fervently, which has become this sort of mantra I’ve developed for myself.

“Well for your sake, babes, I certainly fucking hope so but you’re going to have to start telling him where he’s fucking up and I’m telling you right now, if there’s no progress pretty damn quick, then you need to cut your losses because poster boy or not, there are other fish in the sea,” she adds, patiently but with an edge of exasperation in her voice.

“Everyone keeps telling me that,” I sigh, rolling back over on my back.

“Really? Like who?” she asks, suddenly sounding interested.

“Well…I mean, in different ways, everyone keeps telling me that either I’m not good enough or he isn’t. Like Lauren says I’m not good enough for him,” I begin, to which Kennedy replies with a derisive sounding snort. “Then there’s Max….”

“Yeah well…ulterior motive there,” she chuckles, grabbing up all her cotton balls and padding over to the garbage.

“I hardly think so,” I sigh, thinking of the rubber he’d left behind in Dupes driveway. “He couldn’t get away from me fast enough.”

“Well it was pretty low rent to do it in front of everyone,” Kensie smirks, turning to head for my closet where she begins to sort through the clothes that I brought back from the fashion show, taking each item out and holding them up to her. She’d look great in any of them. Well, any of them but the one that’s tucked carefully away in a garment bag.

“We didn’t…no, you’re right, I have no argument. I didn’t even want to….”

“Then, just curious, why did you? I mean…I feel like I’m fucking repeating myself, but if you don’t want to do this shit, why do you? I mean…do you ever wonder if it’s because you’re so god damn accommodating that maybe you’re just too fucking convenient to pass up? There you are. Practically no assembly required; one dutiful, sweet, faithful, worshipping wife?”

The words hurt. Of course they did. They were designed to cut to the core of the matter and even though it sounded like Kennedy had just rattled them off of the top of her head, it was more than apparent to me that she’d given more than a little thought to this, and when I opened my mouth to argue, no words came out.

Well of course not. That was exactly what I was trying to be wasn’t it? I had been working so hard to be the easy, simple, choice that I’d become Trina.

Oh god, I’m turning into his mom and I have almost no respect at all for her, for the way she follows big bad Troy around, careful not to say anything out of turn or draw too much attention to herself. She was an oatmeal cookie, and not the good kind with raisons or better yet, chocolate chips. She was just plain oatmeal. I’d never wanted to be oatmeal.

But then when I’d been prickly, irritable…in short when I’d been the me he’d grown up with he hadn’t seen me. He’d looked right through me. He hadn’t wanted me.

“I’m sorry,” Kensie sighs dropping onto the bed beside me as I stare at water stain on the ceiling. “I don’t mean that Sid isn’t a perfectly nice guy…when he isn’t being a spoiled…sorry, there I go again,” she chuckles, nudging me in a way that I know is meant to say ‘laugh with me’ but I don’t much feel like laughing.

“I love him,” I say simply because I don’t know how to explain any of the other things that are going through my head.

“I know,” Kensie says quietly, reaching to grip my hand. “I know you do.”


There’s a spring in my step as I hit the sidewalk outside the Gareth Pugh’s Fifth Avenue studio, hugging my portfolio to my chest and grinning from ear to ear. That is, until the sunlight catches the diamond on my hand and reminds me of my reality and stops me in my tracks, my smile quickly fading.

He loved my work, especially the prêt-a-porter designs. He said I was edgy, talented. He’d wanted to hire me on the spot. He wanted me to start working on his Fall collection.

I’d had to tell him that I had another offer, which isn’t a lie, it’s just that the other offer is RBK and I’m sure the only reason they’re even giving me an interview is because of Sidney. They did say they liked the men’s wear work I’d done, even if it was limited and fairly conventional, which for them, being commercial, is a good thing.

I just can’t see myself designing t-shirts and track suits. I’ve been dreaming of my designs walking down cat walks in Milan and Paris. I’ve day dreamed of walking into exclusive boutiques on Rodeo Drive and having celebutantes trying on my dresses to wear on the red carpet at the Oscars. As much fun as it was, seeing Max and Tanger in recycled army surplus just doesn’t live up to those kinds of hopes and dreams.

“Did it go well?” Blinking into the early spring day light, I find myself staring at Max, his hands jammed into the pockets of his dark grey hoody, his green eyes showing a spark of mirth behind his glasses. “Of course it did. Look at you. You look like a fashionista.”

“Max...how did you…what are you doing here?” I stammer, still staring at him open mouthed, except instead of wearing the frown I’d just been sporting I find that suddenly I’m smiling and feeling suddenly like laughing instead of crying.

“We’re playing in Jersey tonight,” he shrugs, as if I didn’t know.

“Yeah but…Sid said you guys had practice this morning and then some…zigtech shoot?” I ask, trying to remember the exact reason I’d been given for why he couldn’t see me when they’d got into town last night.

They do. I’ve got a groin pull,” Max explains with another shrug. “I thought…I mean, Sid thought maybe you’d like to go to lunch…maybe a movie and then I’ll escort you to the game?” he offers, watching me expectantly from behind his glasses.

“A movie?” I ask, trying to think of the last time I’d done anything that normal and low key.

“Any movie you want…except that Miley Cyrus thing, please don’t make me go to that,” he begs, offering to take my portfolio for me and then offering his other arm.

“Alice in Wonderland?” I ask hopefully, feeling an almost childish happiness at just getting to choose and that earns me a bigger grin.

“I’ll even let you share my popcorn,” he adds, turning to head us towards the theatre district.

“I can’t believe Sid sent you,” I sigh happily, grinning to myself and telling myself that he can’t be as thoughtless as he sometimes seems lately.

“Yeah well…he’s you’re knight in shining armor, or whatever” Max mumbles, not sounding as happy as he had a moment ago.

“He’s something alright,” I reply, trying to keep the tone light but Max remains silent as we walk along, and eventually the silence wears on me. “Are you guys all still mad about the other night…at Pascal’s?” I ask, bracing myself for his response but all I hear from him is a sort of snort.

“Do you have to bring that up?” he asks and I feel my heart skip a beat in my chest as I prepare myself for the lecture on behavior and other people’s property, but instead, he laughs. “I’m still having nightmares about the way his âne blanc colossal looked all distorted by the pool,” he says, giving a shiver of emphasis.

“I’d argue but…yeah his ass is that big isn’t it?” I giggle, giving him a hip check that nearly sends him into a tall, leggy blonde who’s also carrying a portfolio in her arms. Just glancing at her, I’m betting hers is full of glamor shots. Max, on the other hand, doesn’t even seem to notice her, despite the fact that she literally stops to look at him.

“I have to see that thing enough in the showers,” Max continues without so much as missing a beat. “I don’t need to see that on my own time too. I can’t wait to see how much junk your kids will have in their trunks,” he adds, turning a cheeky grin towards me.

“Maximus, have you been checking out my butt?” I ask, feigning wide eyed astonishment, which makes him shake his head and laugh.

“Je ne suis pas mort,” he replies nonchalantly, refusing to look over at me, but grinning widely, “ou aveugle,” he adds, unable to keep a straight face any longer, and then we both end up laughing out loud, which gets us some very strange looks as we make our way through the crowds.

“You took my fiancée to a movie?” I stare up at Max and shake my head. “Well…okay I guess,” I sigh, going back to undoing my skates.

“You’re in New York and what…were you even going to see her?” he asks in this accusing tone that I’m getting a little sick of from him.

“I was busy, she knows that,” I remind him. “That’s part of her charm, she understands shit like that.”

“Her charm? Is that what you call it? Fuck,” he mutters, still standing over me as if we have more to talk about which, considering the way we just sucked out there, he’s lucky I’ve even had this much to say. I look up at Max, hoping he can read my impatience with this entire topic on my face but he isn’t even looking at me, but he is obviously fuming.

“What is this? Have you got a crush on my fiancée Max?” I ask, laughing as I say it because Max doesn’t care about anyone but Max, if it has a pussy he’ll fuck it but he doesn’t care about it.

“I just thought someone should remember that she had a big day today and obviously you didn’t. I mean, she’s out there. You are going to see her right?” I find myself tilting my head to the side as I stare at him, not sure what to make of the jittery, nervous looking Max in front of me.

“Of course I’ll see her but we’re flying out to Tampa tonight and she knew that, which is why I didn’t make a big deal about seeing her during this trip, you know, so thanks for that Max,” I add, dragging off my socks and standing to take off my hockey pants. “She understands, she gets it, I don’t know why you’re making a big deal about this.”

“I just think, you know, it’s nice for her to see you,” Max grumbles and turns to walk over to talk to Dupes and Flower, probably about me and what an ass I am. That seems to be the topic du jour, at least since Dupes party. A guy has sex with his fiancée in a pool and you never hear the end of it.

“Hey,” I call as I walk out onto the cold concrete floor in my bare feet, still wearing my under armor.

“Hey yourself,” she grins, turning around, a big welcoming smile on her face. That’s not all that looks welcoming. She’s wearing a curve hugging black knit dress that looks soft like a baby blanket and leaves nothing to the imagination. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s wearing a pair of knee high black boots with evil look points and high heels. Plus her hair is all sort of…piled up and she’s wearing bright red lipstick. She just doesn’t look like Mel…at all. She moves to hug me but I hold my hands up and step back. I probably smell worse than I look and I know I’m dripping with sweat.

“I haven’t showered yet,” I mutter, still entranced by this vampy outfit of hers. “You went out on a date with Max…in that?” I ask, staring at the way the soft fabric tugs across her chest, unable to shake the way her tits felt pressed against my chest when we had sex.

“Date? What? Oh this,” she looks down and then looks back up at me, her cheeks going bright pink. “I was at that interview,” she reminds me, which makes me shake my head.

“But I thought we agreed…,” I begin only to have her roll purse her lips and look disappointed in me.

“No, you told me to cancel it but…,” I watch her take a deep breath and square her shoulders like she’s about to take a face off before she opens her lips again, “I want to do this. They’ve offered me a position and I want to take it.”

“So you want us to have a long distance marriage?” I ask, feeling irritated and now not just because I couldn’t put the puck past Brodeur.

“It’s working right now, isn’t it?” she asks in a way that isn’t so much a question as a statement, though I can see that she’s ready for me to blow giant holes in her argument. She tilts her chin up, her eyes focus and her lips become a thin line. I’ve seen her do it so many times, and not just with me but her mother and anyone else who dared argue with her. I just sort of thought she was over this kind of stuff with me.

“We talked about starting a family,” I begin, trying to reign in my temper, trying to keep my voice low and even. This really isn’t the place for this discussion, out here in the crowded hallway between the dressing rooms. Already other players, staff and family members are starting to notice the beautiful girl not looking at all happy to be talking to the Pen’s captain.

You did. I said I wanted to wait,” she says, not sounding as defiant as the expression on her face might suggest. I can see the indecision in her eyes. I can read her like a book.

“Did you think when I asked you to marry me that I wanted to wait?” I ask, stepping closer, knowing that I can’t keep the irritation and impatience out of my voice. “Don’t you think that it will look…oh I don’t know, strange, that you feel like you have to work?”

“Oh for god sakes Crosby!” she snaps, sounding as frustrated and irritated as I’m feeling, but her bottom lip has started to tremble and her eyes are filling with tears. “It’s not the dark ages anymore. Women work you know.”

“I know babe,” I sigh, changing my tactics and going for the quiet, supportive approach, for now. I can’t deal with this, not right now. I don’t have the patience and I’ve seen my dad do this with my mother a hundred times so….. “I know you have this dream and that’s why I wanted you to talk to my guys at RBK, so we could set something up and you can work from home and….”

“I don’t want to design t-shirts. I’m good. I design gowns! Haute fucking couture! Not that you’d know that if it crept up and bit you on the ass. Have you even looked at my portfolio?” she snaps back, her voice barely above a whisper, her nose almost touching mine, and then it’s gone as she whirls to pick up some leather bound case that’s resting on the jersey box behind her. “Look,” she says, unzipping the case and opening it to a page that looks a lot like a bunch of coloured lines vaguely making up the shape of a dress. It reminds me a bit of some of the designs I’d looked at when I was working with Sportchek and RBK for my line, except that there’s satin and sequins, not cotton. “Kleinfeld’s wants exclusive rights to this design. Do you have any idea how rare it is for someone right of design school to get a dress into Kleinfeld’s?” she asks when I look back up at her.

“What’s a Kleinfeld?” She blinks at me, like I’m the one talking in tongues and then lets out a little sigh.

“They’re the biggest, most famous bridal boutique in Manhatten,” she explains in a stilted, controlled voice as if she’s forcing the words through her teeth, like she’s annoyed.

“Well that explains that then,” I mutter. “I told Max you’d never wear a dress like that to your own wedding.”

“Well…no of course I wouldn’t but…are you listening to me Sidney? I’m telling you that this is something that’s important to me. This is something I want,” she tells me earnestly, her gaze searching mine.

“But I thought you wanted to be with me,” I reply, reaching up to touch her cheek, wanting her to just calm down and think this through.

“I do,” she replies, leaning her cheek into my hand and lowering her long fan like eyelashes over her eyes. “I just don’t want to turn into my dad, always standing in the shadows, never doing anything for himself. I don’t want that for myself,” she adds, looking up at me with her doe like eyes. “If you love me you won’t want that for me either.” She says it like she’s rehearsed it and it feels like a trap. One of the things I’ve always liked about Mel is that wasn’t the kind of girl to play games and I’m feeling a little more than annoyed that now that she has my grandmother’s ring on her finger she thinks she should start playing now.

“Of course I don’t want you to be a little mushroom cap Mel. I mean, how could you? You’re my girl,” I smile at her, though I don’t feel much like smiling, but her face lights up in response and then I feel a knife twist in my gut. Christ she’s beautiful. “This is a lot to think about…I mean, we’re buying a house there and let’s face it, I’m in a long term contract in Pittsburgh so…let’s try and figure out how to make it work with you there, okay?” She nods, silently, and I’m pretty sure she’s trying hard not to cry. I’ve seen that tension in her jaw and as I press my lips over hers I can feel how reluctant she is to return my kiss. “Are you going to be okay?” I ask, searching her eyes, wishing she didn’t look so sad. “You know we’re flying right out?” She nods and gives a little shrug.

“I’ll see you on the weekend,” she affirms quietly, reaching down to lace her fingers with mine. “You’re playing Carolina Saturday right?”

“Yeah, Staal brothers battling it out,” I respond cheerfully and she manages to give me a smile that almost looks genuine. Huh. I guess we’ve had our first fight. “I promise we’ll sit down and talk about this then okay?” Again she nods, but says nothing and the way her lips are still drawn in a thin line tells me that the fight isn’t over yet.

“I’ll make sure she gets home.” I look over Mel’s shoulder to see Max standing a little ways back, far enough to give us privacy but still….

“You won’t make the flight,” I begin but he just shrugs and stares me down, like he’s daring me to contradict him.

“I’ve cleared it with Disco Dan,” he responds coolly, turning to lean against the concrete wall, half turned away from us.

“That okay with you?” I ask, looking back down at Mel, who nods, once. “Okay, well…I’m proud of you for the whole Kleinfeld thing. That’s great, really,” I tell her, lifting her chin and placing a kiss on her brow. “And I’m sure we’ll figure something out and Mel?” She raises her gaze to meet mine and the hope that I see there sweeps away any anger I’m holding on to. “I can’t wait for Saturday.” As I bend to kiss her again, I can see Max lurking right behind her, so the kiss I give her is more chaste than I’d planned to leave her with. “If this guy gives you any trouble, let me know,” I add with a grin that she doesn’t return before she turns and heads down the hall. Max gives me a long, disappointed look and then turns to follow her.


I sit flipping through my portfolio, staring at each design, following the lines with my fingers, remembering what it had felt like to see the final result come to life as I stare at the photo on the opposite page. Each one is like a child. I feel proud of each and every one of them, cherishing them all and feeling my heart swell as I look at them.

Max sits beside me in silence, just as he had in the back of the big, black town car as it had sped through the wet, dark streets while I stared out at the rain drenched sidewalks and tried not to cry. I felt like I’d let myself down and I’d let him do to me just what Troy did to Trina every time she tried to change things. I was going to back down, just like she always does. I was going to do what he wanted me to do and say nothing, just like my father does and I could feel a little part of my heart dying as I admitted that to myself. Dying, and turning into hard, cold stone.

“You’re talented,” Max says finally, breaking what seems like hours of silence.

“Not that it matters,” I mutter in return, closing my book and staring at the black leather cover. “I’m not going to do anything with it.”

“You should,” he says quietly from where he’s sitting at the end of the couch in my darkened apartment. “If it means anything…he’s already had everything he could possibly want. You should have what you want too.” I turn to look at him and try and smile, although I can feel only one corner of my mouth turn up. I just don’t have it in me even to be grateful.

“It would be nice not to have to choose,” I sigh, shrugging my shoulders.

“You shouldn’t have to…he shouldn’t make you…,” Max begins, but I just shake my head and lean in to press my fingers against his lips, silencing him.

“Don’t…don’t beat up on him. I’m the one with no balls,” I add with a half a grin before I curl up, putting my head on his lap and closing my eyes.

“And aren’t we all grateful for that,” he chuckles, running his hands slowly and gently through my hair, untangling my backcombed mess while I try and let my tension go, while I try not to think, while I try and just relax and let my mind go until…. Yawning, I turn to glance up at Max to find him watching me with sympathetic gaze.

“You can go…I mean shouldn’t you go?” I ask, between yawns.

“I’ll stay…until you go to sleep…if you want,” he adds, the rhythmic movement of his fingers through my hair making it all but impossible not to fall asleep on the spot.
“If you’re sure it’s okay,” I mumble, closing my eyes an going back to thinking about nothing, or trying to, until darkness closes in around me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chapter 29

So, wow, some of you guys are starting to argue pretty vehemently for your sides, which is great and I feel humbled to say the least that you care so much so I'm going to do my best to make the characters worthy of your feelings, but I just want to say that I'm honestly not trying to make Sidney hateful in this...it's just the way he's coming out for me.

“It’s too big,” she says under her breath as she turns in a slow circle beneath the vaulted ceiling in the foyer of one of the houses down the block from Nat and Mario’s.

“I know they don’t have anything like this in the Harbour, but for a gated community, it’s not really that big,” I reply, stuffing my hands into my pockets as I watch her look around in wide eyed wonder. “It’s been on the market for a bit, so Mario thinks we could get a deal on it,” I add, leaning back against the wall while she runs her hand up the aged copper banister.

“I can’t imagine keeping a place like this clean,” she sighs, staring up the wide, elliptical oak staircase.

“Is that what you’re worried about?” I have to bite down on the inside of my cheek not to laugh at her naiveté, which is completely cute and understandable, even though her mother would never have assumed anything but …. “We’ll have a maid service,” I tell her, doing my best not to sound patronizing but her cheeks turn a bright pink anyways. “Besides, we’ll fill the place up soon. I mean, first it’ll be rookies living with us but then,” I grin, crossing the foyer to join her at the foot of the stairs, “we’ll be making our very own hockey team, right?” I ask, nuzzling the back of her neck.

“H…hockey team?” she asks, reaching for my hand as I slip it around her waist to pull her back against me.

“I want a big family Mel, you know that. Lots of rug rats. That’s why I told you you’d be too busy for any of that dress up shit. You’ll be having babies, lots of babies,” I tell her, nipping at earlobe.

“But you wanna wait right? I mean, you just told me how you haven’t had time to even look for your own place. When do you think you’d have time to be a dad?” she asks, turning in the circle of my arm so that our faces are only inches apart and I can feel how fast her heart is beating where our bodies press together. Reaching up, I gently brush her hair from her cheek and I can’t help but smile at the image that appears in my head of her meeting me at the bottom of these stairs with a couple of toddlers clinging to her legs.

“Are you saying I’m going to be a bad father?” I ask, laughing as her eyes get even wider.

“Nnnnooo,” she replies quietly, but the strain is evident in her voice. “But you’re always doing something, interviews, marketing, signing, practicing…. I mean, we can wait until you’re not quite as…in demand.”

“But I don’t want to wait. I want to be young and be able to chase them around and teach them how to skate and take them to practice. C’mon Mel, you know how much I love kids,” I reiterate and her head bobs up and down but I can see the worry in her eyes. “Don’t worry, you won’t be all alone,” I whisper, pressing my lips to hers’ softly, “there’s always nannies.”

“Nannies?” she pushes me back and screws up her cute little nose at me. “You want me to raise my kids with…strangers?”

“Everyone does it,” I assure her. “Ask Lauren if it was so bad.”

“Nathalie and Mario had a nanny?” she looks at me, incredulous. As if I’d lie about something like this.

“When they were little, yeah. Mel…we’re not in the Harbour anymore. I have, y’know, a lot of money. That’s what people do when they have lots of money,” I try and explain, but Mel just keeps staring at me like I’ve grown another head.

“I don’t…I’m not one of those girls that’s impressed by mansions,” she says, sweeping her arms around her to take in our surroundings, “or your bank balance and I don’t want nannies raising our children or making our food. Who the hell do you think I am?” she asks, managing to look both sad and angry all at the same time.

“My Mel,” I reply quietly, reaching to capture her cheeks in my hands. “Why do you think I asked you to marry me?” I ask only to have her stare back at me blankly. “Because you aren’t one of those girls who only wants to date me because of who I am and how much money I make, but I do have money and we don’t have to live like…like we did growing up. Life doesn’t have to be hard like that. Not for us. And that doesn’t make us bad people,” I add as I softly wrap her up in my arms. “Trust me.”

“It’s not that,” she sighs as she leans her head against my shoulder. “This is just…it’s so much all at once. I guess I’m having a hard time taking it all in.”

“You just need to relax about everything,” I tell her, tipping her face up so that she can see how in control I am with all of this. “Leave it to me. I think I know what I’m doing,” I add with a grin that makes her smile at last. “Now, the guys are having kind of a party for me and Brooksy tonight. Maybe that will help you relax.”

“Maybe,” she replies, smiling up at me in that childlike way that makes me want to hold her close and protect her from the big, bad world.

“That’s my girl. Now, one more house to see,” I grin down at her and laugh as she rolls her eyes at me. “And if you thought this place was big, just wait until you see this place. It makes Nat and Mario’s look like a carriage house.”

Sidney had surprised be my turning into a social butterfly once he was amongst all of his teammates and their ‘significant others’. I’d done my best to be cheerful and put on my best ‘happy’ face while he introduced me to everyone, and I did my utmost to keep their names straight, but once left to my own devices, I did what any self respecting socially inept loner does; I went looking for a friendly face.

“It says in the media guide, that your favorite singer is Celine Dion,” I grin leaning against the bar beside where Max has been nursing something dark with big blocks of ice in it. “Please tell me that Flower or Dupes wrote this for you.”

“She’s Quebecoise, I have to give props to my girl. She makes a butt load of money. I’m just hoping she’ll take me on as a house boy,” he adds with a sly grin as he stirs the ice in his drink thoughtfully.

“Oh yeah, poor hard done by millionaire,” I sigh dramatically as I stare down into the melting ice in my glass.

“It goes quick,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. “You wouldn’t believe how quick it can go. Not that you’ll ever have to worry about that.” I open my mouth to protest but he waves me off and shakes his head. “I don’t mean it like that. I’m just saying, it could all stop now and Sid and his whole family could live very, very nice lives and never have to worry. Me? Every time I got out on the ice now I worry, is this it? Is this going to be my last shift? Am I going to get injured and never be able to play again?”

“No wonder you’re holding the stick so tight,” I mutter and he snorts and almost laughs.

“Maybe that’s one reason,” he sighs, picking the lemon wedge off of the side of his glass and pushing it into his drink, stabbing it methodically with his straw. “That and I told Jordan and Duper.” It takes a minute for me to realize what he’s
admitting to and then my heart starts to hammer against my chest walls so hard I’m sure he must be able to hear it. “Don’t worry,” he says quietly, turning those emerald green eyes towards me. “They won’t say anything.”

“You told Jordan Staal? You should have just taken out an ad in the fucking Hockey News. Are you fucking insane?” I hiss at him, wanting very much to pick up the solid looking ashtray off of the bar and break his head open with it.

“They won’t say anything, they’re my friends,” he reiterates, casually, as if that solves everything.

“Yeah, well, they’re his friends too,” I point out emphatically but he only smiles wryly and shakes his head.

“Creature isn’t close to them like I am. He doesn’t make friends like that.”
“What do you mean? You’re his friend,” I point out but again he only shrugs those large shoulders and sighs. '

“Sure, I’m everyone’s friend. I’m the funny guy who tags along, having a good time. It wasn’t just Sid’s big bash I went to this summer you know. It was Geno’s as well. We took a private jet, to Russia, it was a pretty big deal,” he smirks, obviously remembering some ménage a trois with the mile high club or something else I don’t want to know about.

“You are his friend. I’ve seen you together,” I reiterate, becoming more irritated by the moment that he doesn’t seem to see this as life and death like I do. That’s when Max turns to me, looking very serious, and reaches out to take my hand. For one moment I feel calm, like it’s going to be okay, and then I realize that’s what he wants me to think, so I pull my hand free. Rolling his eyes, Max grabs my hand again and looks me dead in the eye.

“Crosby doesn’t have friends, except maybe you. He had, before. Army, Bugsy…but every guy he gets close to gets traded or something. So now, we’re like, co-workers or something. No matter what you see, or what you think you see, we’re not that close. He won’t let anyone close to him. Not like that. But now he has you,” he adds, his gaze sliding away from mine as he lets my hand go and turns back to his drink. “He’s a lucky guy.”

“Yeah, well, you know how great I’m not,” I point out, turning back to my drink and swirling the half melted ice cubes in my glass.

“Don’t say that,” Max replies stubbornly. “That’s far from true.”

“Oh, c’mon. I’m naïve, I’m small town, I’m too young to know better, and apparently I’m not really pretty enough for him,” I sigh, thinking back to Lauren’s warning.

“Well that’s a fucking lie,” Max sighs, hanging his head and chuckling sardonically.

“This isn’t you,” he says, raising his green eyes to look into mine. “This isn’t…when I met you at his place in the Summer…you were so…alive. Now…it’s like you’re half of who you were, and in New York you were different…. Don’t you see what he does to you? Why do you let him walk all over you like this?”

“You don’t understand,” I reply quietly, turning away from him, feeling both embarrassed and defensive at the same time.

“Tu as raison, je ne comprends pas,” he hisses, downing his drink, pushes the bar stool back with a loud scraping noise and storms off. I watch him go, tears filling my eyes and an ache beginning in my chest. It feels like disappointing my favorite teacher or worse, losing my best friend.

But he doesn’t understand. This is all I’ve ever wanted. I’ll do anything…anything to make this work.


“Dupes says we can stay over,” I whisper to her, lacing my fingers with hers on the cool wet tile beside the pool where we sit, dangling our feet into the heated liquid, watching the steam rise over the water lit from below. I hear her catch her breath and feel her entire body go very still. “If you want,” I add, glancing at her hopefully. Most of the crowd has already gone home to their own beds. There are still a few stragglers inside like Jordy and Tanger but they’re making plans to hit an after hours club and will be gone soon. I’m reminded of that night back at my place in the Harbour, our feet appearing nearly translucent in the brightly lit water, surrounded by nothing but quiet darkness. “I know it’s still not…private,” I add, “but don’t you want to be with me?”

“Of course I do,” she whispers back, and I’m sure I can feel her hand tremble in mine.

“We could go for a swim first,” I offer, “no one will come out.”

“Sidney…I don’t know,” she says, turning those doe like eyes on me. “I don’t think it’s a good idea,” she adds, looking very serious, so serious it makes me smile.

“Oh c’mon Mel. Don’t tell me you’ve never done it with other people around,” I whisper, leaning in to press my lips to the shell of her ear. “I bet you’ve even heard Jordy and Kennedy doing it,” I add, chuckling at the idea of her lying on her own in her own bed, in the dark, mortified by the noises they’d be making.

“You don’t have to be so crude,” she sighs as she stares disapprovingly at me. I just smile back, because I see that look in her eyes, the one she gets when she knows she’s being challenged and she’s about to rise to meet that test. As I watch, she slides her hand free from mine and then drags the filmy white peasant top she’s been wearing over her head and tosses it aside. Just as I’d guesses most of the night, the bra she’s wearing beneath is white and lacey, innocent looking, just like she looks as that challenging look leaks from her gaze, replaced by a hesitation as she bites down on her bottom lip and waits for me to make the next move.

I pull my t-shirt off and get up and reach for my belt and I’m sure, even in the semi-dark that I can see her cheeks painted a sweet pink colour. Dropping my shorts to the concrete, I dive into the pool and surface to see her wiggling out of the tiered broomstick skirt that’s been hiding her shapely legs all night, which leaves her standing on the edge of the pool in a pair of white cotton panties with the word angel written strategically across the front with a halo hanging around the bottom of the ‘l’ as if it’s slipped.

“Are you coming in?” I call, treading water as I watch her stand, shivering at the edge of the pool. “The water’s warm.”

“I’m…shy,” she calls back to me, her arms hugged around her, staring at me with wide, doe like eyes.

“Mel, we’re engaged,” I laugh. “Isn’t it about time you trusted me? Now c’mon, get in here.” I can see her shaking as her she stands there staring back at me and I can see hesitancy clear on her face. Then, just as I’ve seen her do a hundred times before, she raises her chin and her eyes flash and I know she’s made up her mind to do something she’s half afraid to do. That’s my girl.

Licking my lips, I watch her reach back to undo her bra, though she covers herself before she drops the white lace garment to the ground. Then she walks into the shallow end and slips her panties off beneath the water before tossing them onto the deck of the pool as well. All the while, I remain treading water just at the edge of the deep end where I can’t quite touch the bottom so she has to swim to me, using long, graceful strokes, with her hair floating in the water behind her.

As she reaches me, I take a few strokes backward until I feel the sold concrete wall behind me, then with one hand on the wall I reach out to slide my other arm around her waist and pull her to me. The warm water mixed with the cool touch of her skin on mine feels amazing as does the soft wetness of her lips as I press mine down over hers’. I can taste the chlorine on her mouth and the raspberry Stoli she’s been drinking as my tongue twines with hers’.

She’s still shivering as our bodies press together and now I know that it has nothing to do with the cool night air. She is so like the deer in the headlights that her wide eyes suggest as she draws back to search my face. If I didn’t know better, I’d almost think this was her first time.

“I love you Sidney,” she whispers, like she has to say it to me, like I have to hear it as I nudge my erection between her thighs.

“I know,” I smile back at her, letting go of the edge of the pool long enough to brush her wet hair from her pale cheek and place my lips there, just on her cheekbone and then down to the edge of her jaw. “How lucky am I?” I add, dropping my hand down to her hips, holding her there in the water, our buoyancy holding us apart. She wraps her legs around me then and I slide up into her, the heated water doing the work that an hour of fore-play couldn’t have done any better.

I hear her draw a quick breath as I push up into her and her arms wrap tightly around my neck, holding on as the concrete wall digs into my back. Still, it feels so good, warm and tight inside of her and I just hold myself there enjoying the feeling of her fitting around me like a glove before I let her go, the water sort of pulling her away before I take her hand and draw her into the shallows where I can get a better purchase.

Turning her into the wall, I press her back against it and draw her thighs up and around me as I bury myself deeply inside of her. She lets out a little cry as she wraps her arms around me.

“Do you like that?” I ask, my hands reaching for the edge of the pool, using it and the bottom of the pool to hold myself in place while I draw out of her and shove myself back inside, making her cry out again.

It isn’t the rose petal strewn bed or the candle lit setting I’d always imagined. It isn’t even romantic. What it is, is an opportunity and Sidney was clearly tired of waiting. I didn’t really want to do it like this and the idea of getting caught did nothing for me in the way of heightening the sense of anticipation but I know I can’t stand here all night in my underwear, staring at his broad, round shoulders bobbing above the clear blue water either.

“Are you coming in?” he calls, grinning up at me and reminding me of all the times we’d dared one another to swim across the lake in the pitch dark in the middle of the night, except now the dare isn’t to be one of the boys, to swim farther and faster. “The water’s warm,” he adds, as further incentive, although it’s hardly the incentive I need. My incentive is clearly in front of me in the form of the man I’ve dreamed of being with ever since I stopped thinking boys were icky.

I can see him working up to one of those speeches, the ones where he tells me to suck it up, man up or whatever. Where the dare moves from just a dare to a double dog dare and that just isn’t what I need right now. What I want and what I’m going to get are obviously two different things so instead….

“I’m shy,” I tell him, which is true. I can’t believe after all this time I’m going to be naked in front of him and that’s when the guilt hits, when I actually feel like I may have made a mistake going to Max instead of waiting for this…well this less than ultimately romantic moment.

“Mel, we’re engaged. Isn’t it about time you trusted me? Now c’mon, get in here.” It isn’t exactly a double dog dare but it has the tone of impatience behind it and I have a flashback of being overdressed for winter and running to keep up with him, idiot mittens dragging behind me in the snow. The twinge of pain that vision causes sweeps away the guilt and instead I think about torturing him, making him wait to see me.

So I reach back to undo my bra, keeping my arm across my chest when I drop the white lace push up behind me, but I can’t keep my arm there and take my panties off so I take a few steps into the water, just enough to have the tub water warm liquid reach my waist before I begin pushing them down and wriggling until I can step out of them. They’re cute, but not the ones I would have chosen to wear if I’d known tonight was going to be the night, I think as I swim out to wear he’s treading water, moving his thickly muscled arms in slow lazy circles as he watches me with greedy eyes.

He takes the teasing a step too far as far as I’m concerned when he keeps moving just out of my reach, but then, when I have him trapped against the edge of the pool, he pulls me against him and there’s no doubt about how much he’s enjoyed the show so far.

And then he kisses me, a long, languid kiss with his soft lips moving over mine gently and forcefully in turn, and as much as I want to be the sexy siren, my nerves get the better of me and even against the warmth of his body and in the steaming water, I can’t help but shudder, a mixture of fear and anticipation making my entire body quake.

God! This didn’t happen when I was with Max. Sure I’d been scared, but it’s almost all I can do not to cry as he presses the hard, thick length of his cock against my stomach. I have to say it to myself, over and over in my head, ‘don’t cry, you can do this, don’t cry’ like a kid being forced out onto the stage at the Thanksgiving pantomime.

“I love you Sidney,” I whisper, more for myself, to remind myself of why I’m doing this, or why I’m letting him do this to me as I feel him push himself up between my thighs. This isn’t what I wanted but it’s him and I want him so I want this. I do.

“I know,” he smiles at me, gently brushing my wet hair back from face where it’s stuck like seaweed, and just for a moment there’s tenderness in his voice instead of insistent greed and I find myself relaxing against him as he kisses his way down to my jaw line. “How lucky am I?” he adds, making me smile as he urges my thigh up and around his hips so that he can slide inside of me which presses the air out of my lungs and for a moment I grit my teeth, expecting the pain that doesn’t come even though it does feel like he’s stretching me wider than I’m meant to go. So when he pulls out and presses himself back in to me I can’t help but gasp.

Then he withdraws and I look up from where I’d buried my head in his shoulder to find him dragging me into the shallows where he presses me up against the concrete wall and lifts me onto his thick cock, dragging another gasp from me as my body stretches to accommodate him.

“Do you like that?” he asks, his voice husky as he whispers in my ear. “Is it better than anyone else?” He can’t help it I guess, the competitive juices flowing even now as he shoves himself deeply inside of me. Burying my head in his shoulder I bite down on my cheek and try not to laugh. Sidney’s always had a foul mouth but talking dirty…it’s so far from how I’d imagined this moment to be that I want to laugh except that I know if I do not only will it ruin the moment but he would probably take it wrong.

Max wouldn’t, I think, closing my eyes and letting my head fall back as he jams away at me like he’s playing whack a mole instead of making love. I catch myself smiling at the thought of Max putting on his thickest Pepé la Pue accent and kissing his way up my arm all the while telling me ‘you ‘ave never looked more ravasheeeng, eeet eeez luuuvvv at first sight it is, non?’.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I try to shake off the thought of him, but when I open my eyes, he’s there before me…

Shutting my eyes, I shake my head, telling myself that I’m missing the moment, that I’m making love with the man I’ve loved ever since I can remember but when I open my eyes….

Max is staring back at me through the kitchen window and the anger and disgust on his face…

“Sidney,” I try pushing at his shoulders but he’s too far gone, too wrapped up in what he’s doing to really hear me.

“Yesss, Mel, you feel so good,” he moans, his hand fisted in my hair, his teeth digging into the curve of my neck. “You like it don’t you? You love it don’t you?”

I hear myself say yes, but I shake my head as I stare back at Max wishing he didn’t have to see this and suddenly wishing this had never happened that I could take it back, that I could dial the clock back and make things come out differently. This should never have happened I tell myself, wanting to send that message my telepathy to Max as he turns from the window and heads back into the house. This was wrong; the wrong place, wrong time. You don’t do this at someone else’s house, even if you are the captain of the team. It’s wrong. It never felt right in the first place.

“Sidney stop,” I whimper, pushing harder at his shoulders.

“Yeah, is that the way you want to play it?” Sidney grins up at me suddenly, his eyes alight. “You want me to play it rough? Is that how you like it?” he asks, and I shake my head vehemently but he keeps going, digging his fingers into my hips and slamming me hard enough into the wall of the pool that I know I’ll have bruises to go along with my humiliation later.

Close your eyes and think of England. Is that how the saying goes? I close my eyes and bury press my forehead against his powerful shoulder and wait for it to be over with, making all the appropriate sounds and hating myself every single moment for doing it. But I do it anyway, all the while wishing it was different and hating myself for knowing how it could have…how it should have been.