Whew...well that last chapter was definitely controversial and I'd just like to say thank you to those that didn't blast me and I really enjoyed almost all of your comments. I hope I keep you guessing.
“Do you have yourself under control now?” Lauren asks, shooting me a dirty look through narrowed eyes as her little red Beamer comes to a stop at the end of a cul-de-sac in very nice new suburban neighborhood.
“Yes, sorry,” I sniff, dabbing at my make up in the little mirror on the back of the sun visor. “It’s just so stressful…,” I begin but her dramatic sigh makes me pause.
“I know, he’s there you’re here, blah blah blah, very dramatic,” she sighs again, yanking hard on the e-brake. “There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s not worth crying over,” she adds, looking at me like I’m some kind of disappointment.
“You don’t understand,” I begin but am quickly shut my mouth when she lets out yet another huffing sound. “Okay, maybe you do, but it is the biggest game of his life and I hate that I can’t even wish him good luck in person.”
“Yeah well, I still think the fact that he texted you and said he couldn’t wait to see you totally overcomes everything else,” she points out, dropping down her own sun visor to check her lipstick.
“No, that’s horrible!” I snap, clenching and unclenching my fists in my lap. “This is the biggest game of his life, he shouldn’t be thinking about me at all!” I cry to which Lauren only yawns and runs her fingers through her long hair.
“Do you have any clue how many women would give their left tit to have Sidney say something like that to them? Do you?” she asks, turning her serious face to me and raising one perfectly plucked eyebrow. I shrug, which makes her roll her eyes. “Well, are you at least done sniffing and blowing your nose so we can go inside?”
I nod and she kills the engine, and we both go around to the back of the car to retrieve the snacks we’ve brought with us. It feels like we’re going to a tailgate party and by the looks of the rest of the vehicles parked around the end of the road, it looks like one too.
“You just missed the show,” Jordy grins as he opens the door to me. I look down at my watch and then back up at him, puzzled.
“The game hasn’t started yet. Or am I still on Pacific time?” I ask, pushing the bowl of homemade salsa Lauren and I made into his arms and brushing past him.
“No, no, you’re good. Game’s on in like half an hour,” he replies, taking the bottle of wine from Lauren before shutting the door with his ass.
“No, it was Max heading for the pool. He won’t say who she was but some hellcat scratched up his back last night,” Duper muses as I round the corner to the kitchen to find most of the guys standing around the chips and dip with beers in their hands.
“Really?” I ask, reminding myself to breathe and hoping that the truth isn’t shining out of my eyes. “Have you guys ever seen any of these mysterious ladies?” I ask, sarcastically, which fortunately makes all the boys laugh.
“Yeah, at three in the morning when they turn on the house lights and we say ‘oh my god Talbot run away’,” TK laughs and gets a high five from Jordy.
“That sounds like someone’s jealous,” I reply, feeling suddenly defensive, though I remind myself that they’re only teasing as Max emerges from one of the back rooms, pulling a tight fitting black t-shirt down over the dark tats my fingers had traced last night as he lay beside me.
“I guess they’re not all that bad. Just most of them,” Jordy laughs, giving Max a playful shove which I know would normally result in some kind of play fighting but this time only earns Jordan a dark look from Max as he reaches for a beer, screws off the lid and promptly guzzles half of it down. “Hey, bud, you should take it easy on those. The game hasn’t even started yet.”
“Who died and appointed you den mother?” Max snarls at Jordan who’s obviously more used to Max’s moods than I am and just laughs it off. I, on the other hand, am not.
“At least someone else is as nervous about this game as I am,” I say brightly, hooking my arm in his. “I was crying in the car on the way over here, wasn’t I Lauren?” I add, which sends her into the story of how I literally started crying over how proud of Sidney I am which I’m sure is no news to anyone but she seems to find it amusing. As she launches into the story, I drag Max out to the living room which is thankfully still empty. “Apart from killing my buzz, I thought I could rely on you to keep last night to yourself?” I hiss at him, which earns me nothing more than a contemptuous sneer.
“Don’t worry your pretty little head, I’m not going to tell anyone. I’m pretty sure it would be worse for me if I did,” he begins, pulling his arm out of my hand. “Just do me a favor and just…just leave me alone.” He turns those green eyes on me and there isn’t a trace of the humor that’s usually there. In fact, the cold heat I see in the eyes that had held such warmth last night makes me take a step back.
“Max…I…you’re my friend…we’re friends,” I stutter, feeling as if I’ve been slapped and I find myself blinking back tears as he shakes his head at me. “I don’t get it. It was just sex,” I hiss at him, only to find him narrowing his eyes at me as if he can’t quite figure out who I am.
“Mon dieu, is that what you call it? Is that why you snuck out in the middle of the night like some kind of thief?” he snarls, grabbing me by arms hard enough that I’m sure there will be bruises in the exact shape of his hands on my upper arms. “I did what you asked, you got what you wanted from me,” he hisses, his face, his lips an inch from mine and his breath warm on my face. I press my hands against his strong chest, remembering how my fingers had explored his chest, the scars on his shoulder from the surgery, the soft whorls of hair in the middle of his chest and I still want to smile at his tenderness but this Max, and the rage coming off of him in waves, batters my warm feelings back. “Now I have to listen to you gush about him all day? I can’t do this,” he snaps, pushing me down onto the couch. “I haven’t had enough sleep for that,” he sighs and, looking tired and resigned, walks away from me.
I watch him go, watch him grab his jacket and head out the door and I have to dig my fingers into the leather sofa to stop myself from going after him. This hadn’t been what I’d expected at all. I’d expected him to tease me, to be his usual lascivious self but this….
“There he is!” Lauren points at the TV and squeals. “Any bets that Sid comes up big and scores the winner?”
“God I hope so. Then we don’t have to listen to Max telling us how he scored in game seven anymore,” Dupes snorts, climbing over the back of the couch with a bowl of popcorn carefully balanced in his hands. “Speaking of Superstar…what did you do with him?” he asks me, and now I know my eyes are too wide but I’m hoping that the story that Lauren’s told in the kitchen will have them all attributing my mood to generalized anxiety.
“He said he had a headache, said he was going home,” I mumble, grabbing a handful of popcorn and shoving it into my mouth to stop myself from saying more.
“More like a massive hangover,” Dupes snorts.
“Prima donna just can’t stand watching this. He wanted to go so bad,” Jordy sighs as he plops down on the loveseat with a bowl of chips in one hand and a beer in the other. “Too bad about the shoulder, they might have invited him to camp otherwise.”
“Oh yes, this coming from the guy who came within a c.h. of making the team, we know,” TK sighs, rolling his eyes as he slides down to the floor at Jordy’s feet.
“I come from a highly talented family, what can I say?” Jordy grins and that earns him a handful of popcorn in the face from Dupes.
“Do us all a favor, say nothing, watch the game,” Dupes warns, laughing as Jordan picks popcorn off of his sweatshirt and shoots him a dark look.
“Thank god his brothers are better looking. Can you imagine if he was hot too?” Lauren asks nonchalantly, putting a single kernel of popcorn into her mouth and munching on it in a very ladylike fashion. We all stare at her, unsure if she’s kidding but then she just grins and everyone laughs; everyone but me. I stare at the screen, watching Sid warm up, telling myself that I did what I did for a good reason, for him.
So why do I feel like I want to throw up?
“You’re looking a little green,” Lauren whispers. “You sure you can handle watching this? Or are you going to be like his mom and go pace out in the hall?”
“I’ll be fine,” I lie, reaching over to squeeze her hand. “I swear. Just fine.”
“Hey, honey, I’m so proud of you,” my mother, with tears streaming down her face, gathers me against her motherly bosom and squeezes the shit out of me.
“Thanks mom,” I mumble, knowing that the next thing I’m going to have to put up with Is my dad patting me on the back hard enough to shake my kidneys loose. “Can I borrow your phone? I don’t want to wait until I get to the bottom of my bag,” I ask, and she nods, sniffing as she digs through her big mom bag, pulling out Kleenex and hand sanitizer and I’m surprised the next thing out of that duffle bag she calls a purse isn’t a ziplock bag of cheerios, but finally she finds her phone and hands it to me. “Thanks mom,” I smile, kissing her cheek and withdrawing just enough to get some privacy. I punch her digits into the phone and then plug my ear as I listen to the ringing until I hear the sound of celebrations on the other end of the line.
“Hello?” I hear her yell excitedly into her phone, and even though it seems like all I’ve been doing since the end of the game is smiling, my smile gets wider just to hear her voice.
“Mel! We fucking did it!” I yell back.
“Sid! Sid is that you? Hey, everyone shut the fuck up, it’s Sid!” I hear the whole gang yelling their congratulations and it makes me laugh, but it isn’t them I’ve called for.
“Mel! I’m coming straight home. We’re not staying, not even for the closing ceremonies. I’m coming straight home to you. And Mel?”
“Yeah?” she asks, and I’m sure that there are tears as well as a smile on her face.
“I’m sorry, I should never have sent you back…I’m an asshole, I’m sorry. I listened to Troy again,” there’s nothing on the other end and I’m trying to figure out if she’s still angry or not with me. “Mel?”
“Just come home Sidney. I love you,” she sniffs and then I know that she’s just crying and just as happy as I am right now. It’s on the tip of my tongue to say it back to her, but I don’t. I want to see her face when I tell her.
“Alright, on my way. See you soon,” I promise, hanging up and handing the phone back to my mom, catching the indulgent motherly look she has on her face as she takes it back. “What?”
“You’re just…you’re growing up and the next thing I know, I’ll be a grandma cheering on my grandson in the Olympics,” she sniffs again, wiping at her eyes. She might be a mom with everything in her purse but she obviously hasn’t picked up on waterproof mascara from Natalie.
“Don’t get carried away mom,” I mutter as Troy’s large hands descend on my shoulders.
“Congratulations son. I don’t think I could be prouder. You really pulled it out of your ass. Fuck was I gonna be pissed at you, but then you fucking pulled it out of your ass.” That’s my dad, always looking on the bright side.
“Thanks pops,” I mutter, knowing this is something I have to go through and that, although it seems kind of backhanded but that’s as good a compliment as I’ve ever gotten from my dad.
“So we thought we’d hit the town, I made some reservations and….”
“Thanks but uh, I have to get back home. I have practice in the morning and a game on Tuesday,” I remind him.
“You mean you have to get back to Melody Kelly?” my father says in an accusing tone that would normally make me cringe or at the very least go along with whatever Troy wants. Not now.
“That’s right, I do,” I smile at him, “and I’ll have grandma Crosby's ring with me. So I hope you’ll be happy about welcoming her into the family too,” I add, watching that twitch in his jaw, the one that says he’s trying to hold back a rant.
“Sidney I think…,” he begins, but I shake my head and reach out to pat him on the shoulder.
“Don’t think, not for me, not anymore. I have the Cup, I have this,” I add, holding up my medal, “so I’m done having you think for me. Mel has stood by me no matter what and when I think about it, I can’t really count on one hand the people that have done that for me. There’s mom and Taylor and my grans and then there’s Mel, and it’s about time I realized that. So whatever you have to say about it, keep it to yourself.” I can see the big vein standing out in his forehead as his entire face gets red. I worry about my dad stroking out over shit like this, but it had to be said. “Mom, thanks for being here. I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” I promise, kissing her cheek and then I head into the locker room. I’m booked on a flight with Flower, Richards, Brooksy and a couple of the other guys and I don’t intend to miss it.
“Max…Max, c’mon…I don’t understand…please just pick up,” I sigh and shake my head as I stare into the dark night, trying to get my head on straight. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to have done,” I reiterate, for what feels like the tenth time tonight. “I thought you would be…that we would be okay with this. I mean you’re superstar right? You’re the stud on the team, it’s just another notch on your bed post right? I don’t understand what I did or if I didn’t do something….” I sigh again and shake my head and let my shoulders drop. “Okay, it’s like midnight and if you’re not out carousing or whatever , which I hope you are, then you should be going to sleep so I’m not going to call anymore tonight but…but Max…we’re friends and I want to still be friends…so just…just call me.” I hit end because I don’t know what else to say and because now I’m just sounding like what happened was important and it’s not supposed to be.
Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself as I push my phone away from the lip of the hot tub. Today was incredible and difficult and amazing and somehow it didn’t feel quite complete without being able to turn and high five Max when Sidney scored. It felt like something was missing and that was the last result I wanted out of going to him for help with my little…problem.
And now I can’t even raise him on the phone to tell me that I can do this with Sidney, that I have the tools now, that I don’t have anything to worry about. I’d call Kennedy but she’d tell me not to it, that he hasn’t worked hard enough to earn it. As if she’s one to talk. She and Jordan jumped into bed the night they met and….
“Well this isn’t exactly what I was expecting, but you certainly look relaxed.” I smile to myself as I feel his body slip into the steaming water behind mine and let out a little sigh as he presses his soft lips to the spot at the back of my neck that sends a shiver through my entire body.
“I couldn’t sleep,” I mutter, allowing him to pull me from where my head is resting on my forearms on the edge of the hot tub, onto his lap.
“I slept on the plane,” he tells me as he wraps his arms around me. “I brought something for you.” For some reason my body stiffens when he says it. I’ve imagined it, or I had done, before…well before, but now, now I’m having trouble seeing it, even when I feel him unravel the medal and feel its weight settle just below my breasts.
“For you, you mean,” I reply, trying to sound sultry when all of a sudden I feel nervous…no not nervous, terrified. This is the moment I’ve waited for and dreamed of over and over since…since forever and now that it’s here, even after being with Max, I don’t feel prepared. My hands are shaking as I lift the gold disk up to inspect it.
“You’re right,” he chuckles, pressing his lips to my shoulder before setting me down on the bench next to him in the water. “There was something else that I brought you.” I expect to see a jersey, a puck, something from the game, or even some other Olympic merchandise, but instead, from beneath the towel he dropped at the edge of the hot tub, he palms something small enough to fit in his hand. I watch his hand skim over the top of the water and feel his other hand reach for mine below the surface. I look up into his hazel eyes, feeling my own narrow in speculation and he meets my gaze with a bright, easy smile that I haven’t seen in a long time. I open my mouth to ask what it is but he shakes his head and laughs, “no way Miss impatient.” Lifting my hand out of the water, his other hand covers it and if my hand had not already been shaking from the thought of finally being with him, my entire body shakes now as I feel his fingers slip a ring down my finger. “I’ve been a complete idiot not to see you right here all along but my head’s been in the clouds and there’s been so many other things going on and you’ve still stuck by me and I know it’s taken me a long time to realize it but I have and I don’t know a better way to let you know how much I appreciate that then to ask you to always be with me.”