I think we're probably all reeling from last night. I know I am. I don't think this is going to help like some of you seem to hope it will, but here goes nothing...
“Was there ever any doubt?” TK shouts as he raises his hands above his head, celebrating our victory. I can still hear the crowd leaving the arena, it sounds like the buzz of a beehive.
“Fucking A!” Jordy howls, dragging his jersey off and tossing it in the pile in the middle of the room before making a muscle man pose and growling like a rabid dog.
“It’s one game guys, let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Papa G counsels quietly from across the room where he’s quietly taking off his pads. Christ it was good to have him out there again, even if I still came up empty handed as far as the score sheet is concerned.
“I say we drink to our win,” Brooksy announces, one hand on his chest, the other out like he’s holding a shot, and knowing Brooks, it’s going to be named something like sex on the beach and have whipcream on it.
“Drink? We haven’t won anything yet,” Flower points out, looking over to me for support and normally I’d be right behind Billy G with his warnings to cool it but even though I haven’t been able to crawl my way onto the score sheet and even though we’re not handling Montreal as easily as I think we should….
“I’m up for it. So Diesel or Privé?” I ask, watching Fleur’s mouth fall open as I do. “What? It’s not like whatever I’m doing is working and I had sex before a game and we won so…why not?” I feel a cool hand on my forehead and spin to see Jordan looking down at me with a furrowed brow.
“Who are you and what have you done with the Creature?”
“I’d take him up on his offer if I were you.” We both turn to Max who has quietly sat down beside me on the bench and is untying his skates. “Just wait until he has ankle biters, he won’t be so accommodating then.”
“So Privé it is,” TK announces, standing up on the bench. “First round’s on the Captain,” he adds with a grin and wink in my direction.
“You coming Max?” I ask, to which he shrugs as he gets up to put his skates on the shelf above his name.
“May as well,” he sighs, tugging his jersey off and adding it to the growing pile in the middle of the room before eyeing the door to the room with a wariness that isn’t like Max at all. “Is she coming?”
“She who?” Jordy asks, sounding interested, as if he hasn’t been exclusively hot and heavy with my fiancée’s roommate for months now.
“Je ne sais pas,” Max replies, raising an eyebrow as he drops his hockey pants and grabs a towel, throwing it over his shoulder. “Will it be Mel tonight or Charline?”
“Mel, definitely Mel. I’m committed to that now. I’ve decided,” I reply happily, thinking about how acquiescent and sweet she was last night after we got that little matter of ‘our song’ out of the way. It’s nice to be wanted, I’ve decided. Nice to know that she still needs me and that this whole job in New York thing hasn’t entirely distracted her from our relationship.
“Oh so you’ve decided now have you? Well I guess that must be so comforting to Mel to know that you’ve ‘decided’ to commit to her now,” he snorts sarcastically before shaking his head and heading for the showers. “Lucky her, to have you so committed,” he adds, making rabbit ears in the air as he walks away from us. “Quelle fille chanceuse.” I open my mouth to argue but Jordan puts his hand on my shoulder and just shakes his head.
“He’s just…,” Jordan stares after him and shrugs. “He’s having a hard time out there and you two are hardly hanging out now…it’s hard for him,” the big blonde defenseman explains, as if that excuses Max being such a petty bitch.
“Oui, laisseaz-le seul pour maintenant,” Flower agrees, his gaze also following our furry French friend towards the showers. “He’s dealing the best he can.”
“What about me? I haven’t scored…well unless you count last night,” I add with a grin, earning me a hard punch in the arm from Jordan.
“Shut up! When’s the last time Mel brought Kensie with her? Give me your fucking phone. I’m calling your ho and telling her to get that bitch on a plane,” Jordan makes a grab for my jacket and I swat his hand away.
“Hey, use your own phone and my fiancée is not a ho, thanks very much. She’s a very sweet girl from a small town and I’d like you to treat her accordingly,” I laugh, grabbing my own towel and starting to twist it to use as a weapon.
“Okay, okay, I’m going, fuck!” Jordan howls, sucking his gut in and running for the showers. “Hurry up Cap, I wanna get drunk tonight!”
“You boys don’t stay out too late,” Pappa G admonishes us, putting his hand on my shoulder. “We do still have one more game. At least I hope it’s one more game,” he adds with a grin, and then, with only his towel thrown over his shoulder, he too aims for the showers, leaving me and Flower and Cookie alone in the room with reporters breaking down the doors.
“This place is…,” I let out a long low whistle as I turned around and around in the middle of the club, the VIP section which didn’t make a lot of sense, being smack dab in the middle of everything where everyone could gawk at us, but who was I to say?
“I think swank is the word you’re looking for,” Jordy tries to finish my sentence as he grabs another glow in the dark martini from the platter being carried by a tall, voluptuous brunette. Not that Jordan even looks twice at her, a fact I remind myself to pass on to Kennedy when I email her later.
“I was thinking more along the lines of classy,” I muse, taking in the luxurious couches, the diffused lighting, and all of the well dressed clientele. “This is way better than that other place you boys like to go and get sweaty at,” I add, taking the drink from Jordan and joining him on the couch next to where Tanger is deep in conversation with a curvy dark haired girl with glasses who is giggling and blushing at whatever, probably profane, things he’s saying.
“You mean Blush?” GoGo asks, returning from the bar armed with a tray of shooters.
“I think she means Diesel,” Sid sighs, rolling his eyes at his teammate, shaking his head at the tray when it’s offered.
“I thought you said you were going to have some fun,” TK sighs, taking two shooters himself and downing both of them without seeming to even swallow. I shake my head, eyeing a whip cream and cherry topped shooter and wondering if Sidney would dive into my cleavage for it but before I actually get my hands on the tiny glass, Sidney’s pulling me onto his lap and sliding his hands up under the hem of the black leather halter dress, one of the pieces from the collection that Gareth has given me that I had had no idea where or when I was going to wear it but clubbing it with the Penguins seemed like an appropriate use of it.
“Have I told you yet how good you look tonight?” Sidney asks, his fingertips tracing the patterns in the lace at the top of my stockings.
“Have I told you how funny you are when you’re drunk?” I ask, glancing furtively around to see who, besides his teammates, might be watching the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins getting overly friendly with his fiancée in public.
“I’m not drunk babe. If I was drunk…,” his voice trails off and he gets that look in his caramel coloured eyes that tells me exactly how much farther his hands would be up my dress if he was well and truly under the influence.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drunk,” Jordan chimes in, watching the two of us with a mixture of jealousy and genuine curiosity.
“Can’t think of the last time I was,” Sidney replies thoughtfully, his eyes still glazed over, that half smile of his telling me that he isn’t really thinking about that at all.
“I remember,” the voice behind me makes the small hairs on my neck stand up on end. “Diesel, last year, after we won, you were hitting on everything in skirt,” Max adds dryly, reaching past me to grab a shot from the platter, downing it and then reaching for another.
“I seem to remember you stumbling around too,” Jordan reminds him quietly but pointedly, his gaze clearly adding a warning that, with a quick glance up at the bearded Frenchman, I can clearly tell he’s going to ignore.
“I have Mel to keep me on the straight and narrow,” Sid replies with a wink to me, as if I’m in on some kind of secret, his hand sliding even further up my thigh until I emit an involuntary shudder as his fingertips chase along the edging of my panties.
“Stop it,” I hiss, grasping his arm, my hand too small to even wrap around his muscular forearm but my nails long enough to dig in and leave nasty red welts behind. “I am not one of your puck fucks to be toyed with in public,” I growl, struggling to free myself from his grasp but his hold on me is firm and unyielding. “You are drunk,” I snap, digging my nails in deeper to his pale, white skin.
“I am not and you need to relax,” he smile boyishly, as if butter wouldn’t melt, his fingertips now gently brushing the outside of my panties, just at the spot that even the smallest brush steals my breath and makes my body go rigid. “Kennedy, give my girl here another shot. She’s not having fun yet.”
“I was having fun,” I insist through clenched teeth, blinking back tears of humiliation as Sidney continues to softly stroke the center of what seems to be the nerve centre of my entire body. My head, now entirely at war with my body, is sending signals to swat him, to rake my nails across his face. My body, being traitorous, is pressing against his hand, wanting more. “Don’t…just…mmmm,” I bite down on my bottom lip, sucking it into my mouth as his fingers find their way beneath the edge of my panties. Heat flames in my cheeks and I press my forehead into his shoulder. “Please Sidney, don’t,” I beg, but he only chuckles in response.
“You say don’t, but you’re so wet,” he whispers into my ear as his other arm, the one that’s been cinched around my waist, slides up until his hand is cupping my breast, his thumb flicking my nipple, which, also being traitorous, is almost painfully hard. “We could find a quiet, dark corner and have a private celebration,” he suggests, his voice like liquid honey in my ear.
“Stop. It. Now!” I snarl and with one hard shove, dislodge myself from his lap, smoothing my dress down and looking around for an exit. I notice that none of his teammates will even look at me, and the few other WAGs that have joined their men for this celebration are giving me that look, as if I’m some kind of cheap whore who’s crashed their party.
Feeling ashamed and embarrassed and with my eyes brimming over with tears, I stumble towards the velvet ropes, the invisible barrier holding back the ‘riff-raff’ from joining in the Pens’ players celebrations. No one tries to stop me. No one reaches out or turns to ask what’s wrong and Sidney doesn’t follow me. All I can hear is a buzzing in my head, the thrum of my blood surging through my veins, panic and the urge to breathe fresh air sending my body into flight mode, until I hear a voice that, just one moment I think it’s only in my head, that I’m imagining it.
“We have a request here from the superstar of last year’s game seven against the Wings, the Pens very own number twenty-five, Max Talbot, sending a shout out to a lady very near and dear to his heart that he wants to send a special message to tonight. You know who you are. And I have a message for you too, give the guy a break, the poor dude’s wrapped around your finger.”
I stop, my hand on the door as I hear the first bars of the song, a song I’ve been listening to over and over again on my iPod since I first heard it. The song is so incongruous for the place that we’re in that everyone seems to be standing still, confused. It’s probably my imagination but it feels like everyone’s watching me, as if they’ve all turned at once to stare.
What I’d give to take you dancing
What I’d give to make you mine
If you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers
And my answer is yes to you every time
What I’d give for just one minute
My heart is already pounding, my pulse already rapid, my chest already nearly too tight to breathe, but now my knees begin to give way, except that a pair of hands reaches out to steady me, or I’d have fallen, right there on the floor in the middle of the lounge. Instead, I find myself staring into the grey blue of a storm building off the coast that are Max’s eyes and the plea that is crystal clear there, shakes loose the last of my defenses.
His full lips open to speak and I already know what he’s going to say and I know that I can’t hear those words, don’t want to hear them, and I shake my head, tears rolling down my cheeks and I don’t know what or who I’m crying for. All I know is I have to get out of this place. I have to breathe the night air into my lungs. I have to clear my head. I have to think.
“Don’t…please don’t,” I whisper, reaching out to press my fingertips to those lips that I know would raise a fire in me if I let them and Max closes his eyes against the plea in my own expression and lets me go, his hands slipping away from arms as he turns and disappears into the crowd, vanishing before my eyes.
I stare at the place where he’d just been standing, part of me aching to go after him, to have him hold me and tell me again, as he’s always done how it’s going to be alright, but my feet stay rooted to the spot and the next pair of hands I feel on my shoulders turn me to face the crème caramel coloured eyes of the man I want to love as he searches my face curiously.
“What is with you tonight? You’re as jumpy as a cat on a hot tin roof,” Sidney asks, reaching up to cradle my face tenderly in his hand.
“I don’t think…I don’t think this is what I want,” I whisper, my hands shaking as I raise them, as I stare down at the antique ring on my finger. I glance up into Sidney’s curious gaze and see a flicker of panic pass behind his darkly fringed eyes. But then he controls it, wipes it away, just as he would on the ice. Never let them see you sweat.
“Think about this…before you do something…brash,” he says quietly, like a threat.
“I have,” I whisper as I turn the wring on my finger, pulling it slowly up and over my knuckle. “I seem to do nothing else,” I add as I reach out to cup his hand in mine, pushing the ring down into his palm with my other hand. I stare down at the ring, at how small and insignificant it looks in his hand, and then I force myself to look up into his fierce gaze, trying my best to school my expression. I want to see hurt there. Hurt and disappointment, but all I see in those caramel coloured eyes that I have loved to look into since I was a little girl in pig tails, is anger. Anger and loathing.
“You’ll regret this,” he hisses and I nod.
“I do,” I whisper, blinking through the tears that make it hard for me to see. “You have no idea how much I do,” I repeat and then, going up on tip toe, I press my lips to his cheek and then turn and force myself to walk slowly away, keeping my back straight and my head high.