So I couldn't figure out a title for this one... so I went with a song. It's by the Plain White T's and as you read you'll understand*
And just to give you a little background... John comes into play in this chapter. He's Mel's ex and best friend. He's in the military and the one guy she'd probably give up Sid for. Okay, happy reading!!!
Sid couldn’t stand to listen to the crap anymore. He didn’t know where this was coming from, but it was going to stop. Right now.
“No, it isn’t the fucking right thing to do! Why would you think that??” He watched as she jumped off the stool and faced him. Max just smiled and walked past him, stopping in the doorway.
“I think that I’ll let you two talk about this. And I’ll keep everyone out of here. I’ve seen how you guys get in other people’s kitchens.” Cocky French bastard. Good thing I like him so much. After Max left he closed his eyes, not wanting to start off on the wrong foot.
Sid turned as he heard one of the stools scrape over the floor. He watched Melany as she settled herself onto the one beside it. He stepped over and sat down. He didn’t have any idea what he should say, just that he didn’t want her to think that she wasn’t wanted, especially by him. Luckily, she started talking first.
“How much did you hear?”
“All of it. I was… well, it’s not that I didn’t trust Max… I just, didn’t trust him. And I knew you’d been acting odd. I wasn’t expecting to hear what I did, and I know that you had no idea I was standing there. But why did you think you couldn’t talk to me about what you were feeling. And did my dad have anything to do with this?”
“You’ve got so much on your mind right now, what with the conference finals and all. And I didn’t want to burden you with… feelings of inadequacy. It’s not that I feel worthless or anything. But… you’re Sidney Crosby. And no, it’s not your dad. It’s me this time.”
“That’s the second time you’ve said that. Yes, that’s my name, but that’s not who I am.”
“You aren’t really Sidney Crosby?” Sid shot her a bit of a glare.
“Don’t be a smartass Mel. You know what I mean.” He picked up her hands in his. “I’m not some mighty hockey god. I know it seems like that, but I swear I’m not. I’m just a hot-blooded male who’s in the most serious relationship he’s ever had. And I don’t know how to do this any better than you do. But I need you to know that you can tell me when something is bothering you. I’m learning, from you, that there may be other things in life that could matter more than hockey. I’m still not one hundred percent on this, but I’m pretty sure that I’m falling for you too. So cut me a little slack. I’ve never been in this whole ‘sharing the feelings’ situation, but I won’t be able to do it either… not if you don’t talk to me.”
“How do you do that?”
“What?” He tried to go over what he’d just said. Had he said the wrong thing?
“Make it seem so simple.”
“I’m pretty sure it really is that simple.”
“Nothing with you can ever be simple Sid. Look at who you--”
“Don’t say it.” He sighed and dropped her hands, running on of his through his hair. Did I not just explain this? “You’re very stubborn, you know that?”
“I’ve been told that a few times.”
“Well, listen to the next person who tells you. Because they’ll be telling the truth. Don’t you understand me woman? I… I care about you. You’re turning my world upside down, and instead of being mad or scared, I can’t wait for the next time we’re together. I’m pretty sure that I’m losing my mind and figuring out the secret to life at the same time. It’s very confusing. You’re very confusing. But for some reason, I don’t want to miss a chance to feel the way I do when I’m with you. So, could you please forget for a moment that I’m who I am, and just think of me as your boyfriend. Your boyfriend who would very much like to just take you home and keep you in bed until you understand that you are completely worthy.”
“I don’t want this,” she pointed between the two of them, “to get in between you and your dad’s relationship. Or hinder your hockey career. Then I’d have to deal with the entire city of Pittsburgh, and probably all of Canada.”
“Forget about Pittsburgh and Canada. Call me Jack from now on if you want to. I don’t care. I just want you to know that I’m not going anywhere. You’ve gotten under my skin in the best way imaginable. And as for my father… he and I need to have a little conversation about what’s appropriate and not. Because right now, making you feel like crap, that is not what he should be doing.”
“I think I make him nervous.”
“As you’ve stated, I’m stubborn. I’m also independent, and I think I’ve confused him. Because I don’t want you for your money, or because you’re famous. I don’t think he can wrap his head around that. Then I went and said that I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living. That was probably the wrong thing. Because I’m pretty sure he saw that as ‘I’m going to mooch off your son,” instead of ‘Hey, I’m only twenty-two, almost twenty-three, and I don’t know if teaching is what I’d excel in.’ So he thinks once again that I’m a gold-digging whore.”
“Well, Mom likes you. And Taylor says good things about you. She told me the other day that I found a smart girlfriend. I’m pretty sure that you can just ignore my dad. I try to do that a lot. It seems to work well for me.”
“But he loves you no matter what. Me… probably not so much,” she told him with a small smile. Sid knew his dad could be a bit… overbearing.
“If you can handle the press babe, you can fend off my dad.”
“Oh, that was sneaky Crosby… very sneaky.” Sid chuckled, knowing he was winning this battle.
“I can be like that when I have to be. Now… can we please go back out where everyone is? Have I put your fears to rest? I don’t like seeing your upset, but neither do I want to have this conversation ever again. I chose to be with you. And if things get more serious, then they will. I’m open to this possibility, hell… I’m actually hoping for it! But I’m not going to push you or myself into something that down the road we can’t handle. So, we’ll take it slow like we have been. Having fun, making love, and just enjoying one another. Deal?”
“Deal,” he heard her whisper.
“Good, now, seal it with a kiss,” he told Melany as he grabbed her and planted a sound kiss on her lips. He felt her pulse jump where his fingers wrapped around her wrist. He heard her moan as his tongue swept across her lower lip. And he felt her tremble as he nipped at that lip. “I should stop before we actually do end up in the same situation as Geno’s.”
“M’hmm,” Mel mumbled as she wrapped her arms around his neck. She had lifted up on her tip toes to be more level with him and in turn found his hands splayed across her back. He was warm and inviting. And he was right. With an unknown amount of self-control, Mel pulled away from him, burying her head in his neck. “You’re pretty perfect ya know.”
“Nope, not at all. Got tons of faults. I just don’t want you to see them all at once,” he teased. They were walking out of the kitchen and Mel screamed as the back door fell open and four bodies fell in a heap when she turned the handle. Jordan lay on the bottom with Marc, Jared and Max on top of him.
“Staalsy… what on earth are you doing?!” Mel asked as she stared at them.
“Well… you see… Max said we needed to give you guys alone time to talk. And then he mentioned something about you and kitchen counters. And I remembered the marks I’ve seen on Sid…” Mel glanced up at Sid, a blush staining her cheeks, and saw that he was doing the same thing.
“So you decided to listen to if you could hear us getting busy??”
“Well… no… umm… yes?”
“Thank god Eric has some sort of manners.” She heard laughter coming from the side of the house as the eldest Staal and Tanger popped around the corner. “Oh no, not you too!”
“We couldn’t see anything, but I could get a pretty good earful of what you guys talked about.”
“Jesus,” she all but screamed, “it was meant to be a private conversation!! Sid, help me out here!”
“Deep breath babe… think of it as a paparazzi experience.”
“Papa… Heather! Tanya!” She watched as Eric’s face paled and Jordan scrambled out from underneath the pile of people. They took off running into the house as their significant others came over. “Your two Staal’s are evil… pure evil.”
“Yes,” Tanya agreed, “but you have to love them.” Heather nodded her head and they both had their own secret smiles. Mel buried her face in her hands with a groan.
“You guys are no help! You know that right?” Everyone started laughing and Sid pulled her against him, an arm securely set around her waist. “I don’t like your teammates.”
“No, you love us!” Jordan had only his head out the door, a giant smile on his face.
“Yeah, yeah… paparazzi… ugh.” The two brothers came out and enveloped her in a hug. The others joined in and soon Melany felt like she was going to die, being squished in between all those hockey bodies. “Guys… Having. A little. Trouble. Breathing.” There was more laughter as everyone meandered over toward the little patio area.
Eric was helping to try and explain the life of being with a hockey player, but Mel couldn’t stop glancing Sid’s way. He kept wiggling his eyebrows at her and making her smile as she made a horrific attempt to listen to Eric. Jordan pulled a hot pink iPod out of his pocket and put it in a docking station. Mel quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Uh-huh,” she replied before giggling. Music started playing and some people started dancing. A few songs in and she felt someone pulling her away from her mini lecture. As the tempo slowed, she turned and burrowed against Sid’s chest. He held her tightly as the lyrics started playing.
“This is rather appropriate isn’t it,” he whispered into her hair. Mel focused on the words coming out of the speakers.
You're upset and I don't know what I said
But I'm sorry
Don't you give up on me?
Take off your jacket
Don't walk out that door
You and me
We should be
Making a memory whenever we're together, yeah
Look at me
Can't you see
We were meant to be
Making a memory
Don't pretend you're not smiling again
Let's just leave it
You know I didn't mean it
Don't know why we put up such a fight
When we could still be something
As they swayed to the music, Mel felt everyone and everything around them disappear. She breathed in his scent, felt him shiver as her fingertips brushed along the back of his neck. She smiled as Sid pressed his forehead to hers. He tunneled his fingers through her hair and tilted her head, his lips pressing gently against hers. They fed off each other and soon she could feel his desire taking over as he groaned, his tongue dueling with hers. Pulling away to gather some air back into her lungs she heard the whistles and turned, smiling sheepishly as she noticed almost everyone was staring at them. Yeah, I could fall for him so easily.
I’m falling so easily. Sid smiled to himself as he thought about the woman in his arms. She was unsure of herself, but he couldn’t blame her. Not really. She was being thrust into a crazy situation. But she didn’t seem to mind the fact that he was who he was. No, she was more concerned that she wasn’t good enough to be with him. More concerned that she might be a bad thing for him.
He hadn’t been lying when he’d told her before that he’d never done this relationship thing. But even he could tell that when someone was more concerned about your feelings than theirs, that was someone you wanted to keep around. Not because they made you feel important, but because they made you feel wanted, and cared for, and… loved. It kept coming back to that. Love. It was going to bug him now. How soon can you fall in love with someone? How do you know if it’s real love or just infatuation? Once you’ve figured out the difference, if it’s real, how do you keep it?
He could hear Melany humming the melody of the song as she tapped the beat on his shoulder. He didn’t think she even realized she was doing it. Another little quirk that he was finding out about her. Earlier tonight he’d learned about her aversion to redheads and green vegetables. It amazed him that she and Erin were such good friends when Erin was, in fact, a ginger as Mel liked to call them.
“You wanna get out of here babe?”
“Sure. Back to Mario’s?”
“I was thinking Geno’s for a bit if he and Erin aren’t busy. I know she’s been staying there the past couple of days.”
“Yeah, I’ll give her a call,” Mel told him as she disengaged herself from his arms. As she walked away, phone to her ear, Sid was oblivious to everything else. So when Eric popped up beside him it literally made him jump in surprise.
“So, the Kid has found himself a girl… how did that happen?”
“I almost hit her with my car… twice. And then I hit her in the head with a puck.”
“Certainly a way to make sure you got her attention. And injuring her was probably an easy way to get her name. When Jordy mentioned a girlfriend, I just about flipped. I couldn’t believe that Sidney Crosby had finally grown a set and asked someone out! She’s funny. Smart aleck too.”
“Yeah, she keeps me on my toes,” he said, realizing for the first time how right that statement was.
“How’s she handling the pressure?”
“Surprisingly well. The only rough patch so far has been my father.”
“No… really??” Eric put a hand to his chest and pretended to be shocked. Sid just laughed and then nodded as Melany gave him a thumbs down.
“Funny… really. Well, looks like we’re headin’ home for the night. I’ll probably see you at the rink tomorrow.” They shook hands and Sid and Mel told everyone goodbye before heading out to the car and going back to Mario’s. Falling asleep that night, Sid watched her for a while before he finally dozed off.
When he woke up he heard Mel talking to someone. He felt for her beside him but finally noticed, when he opened his eyes, that she was over by the window, phone to her ear and a smile on her face as she laughed at whatever the person on the line was saying.
“… yeppers. I’ll be home in a bit… I know, I miss you too! It seems like forever!” Sid sat up, hearing the excitement in her voice. Who the hell was she going to see with a voice that happy? “Haha, I know… it just seems like less of a hassle… Alrighty… Yeah… no, I believe he’s waking up. Love you too Mom.” Oh, her mom. Way to freak out. He heard the phone snap shut as he relaxed, folding his arms behind his head and sort of propping himself up.
“Going home to see your mom for the day?”
“Actually, I thought I’d stay there for a couple days, come back on Thursday for the game.”
“Would she like to come? To the game I mean. Is it something she’d be interested in?”
“I’m sure she’d be thrilled! I’ll talk to her about it when I get there!” They showered and got dressed, actually keeping their hands to themselves for once. They had breakfast with Nathalie before Sid threw her bags in her trunk and walked over to stand by her door.
“Ok, so you’ll talk her into coming to the game?”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Good. This is going to be a little weird. You’ve been with me for what seems like forever.”
“Yeah, my mom was starting to think I’d forgotten about her. I guess we should work on your sharing skills. Maybe this is actually what we needed. A couple days without each other,” she said with a small smile. He smiled back. It wasn’t like she was going to run away from him.
“Yeah, you were becoming a pain anyway.”
“I can be pretty annoying.”
“Get going before I tie you up and throw you in my closet,” he growled as he pulled her in for a kiss. Sid felt her melt against him. She had just wound her arms around him when her car alarm went off. They both jumped and separated as Nathalie laughed from the front door.
“You forgot your keys my dear,” she said as she continued to chuckle until tears ran down her cheeks. Sid looked over at Mel to apologize but he saw she too was bent over, laughing rather loudly. He finally joined in too. That was how Mario found them, him and Mel leaning against her car and Nat against the doorframe, all trying to get their breathing under control again.
“Are you three okay?”
“No sir,” Melany said, “No we’re not.” And they all burst into another fit of hysterics. Mario just smiled and shook his head, murmuring something about wanting to stay out of the insanity loop. Sid wrapped an arm around Mel’s waist, before turning her and enveloping her in a hug.
“I’ll see you Thursday.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Nathalie had regained her composure as well and stepped down to hand Mel her keys. He watched as she whispered something before tugging his girlfriend into a giant hug. Then, after pulling away she slid a hand to Mel’s cheek, smiling and turning away to go back inside. He watched as Mel wiped her eye and came over to him.
“Yep,” she replied shakily. But the smile was genuine. Women.
He watched her drive off and waited about two minutes before calling her cell to tell her he missed her. Nathalie came running to the open door, a phone blaring in her hand. Shit.
As Mel pulled up in front of her mom’s house she smiled. So many memories here. And she’d gone off on her own… only to find herself back here. In less than a week she’d be 23, and living with her mom once again. Maybe this would be different though. It wasn’t like she would be treated like a child. Hell, even when I was a child I wasn’t treated like one. She shook her head at her thoughts and opened her car door as he mom came out to greet her, the phone against her ear.
“Yes actually, she just pulled in. Why yes, it’s nice to talk to you as well. And I would love to come to the game with her! I’ll probably hop a ride with Erin unless she’s staying at Geno’s… oh they are… Oh no, I couldn’t. Are you sure? My daughter’s right, you have wonderful manners. I can’t wait to meet your mother.” Mel watched her mom laugh. “Yes, she is giving me that look. Wait, I think it’s dawning on her.” Mel grabbed her purse and sifted through it, smacking her palm to her forehead. “She realizes now. Hold on,” her mom smiled. Coming over for a much needed mother/daughter hug, smiled at the kiss on the cheek and handed Mel the phone. “I believe it’s that young man of yours.”
“I think you forgot something,” she heard him chuckle.
“I think you’re right. Will you just turn it off and put it somewhere safe for me until I get back.”
“I will. You have a text from John though. I didn’t read it. I just saw who it was from.”
“Really?” She couldn’t keep the excitement out of her voice. It had been so long since she’d talked to him. She had yet to tell him about Sid. Maybe he’s coming home soon. “Will you open it up for me??”
“Sure thing babe.” She heard a thunk and pictured him dropping onto his bed. Her lips curled up as she pictured him there, relaxing against his pillows. “Hey, it’s great news! He and Jessica got married! That’s great. Who’s Jessica?”
“He… He… MOM!!!” The phone dropped out of her hands and hit the sidewalk. Before she could blink, Mel was on the ground. Her body was practically shaking and the tears were streaming down her cheeks. She sensed her mom beside her, and she could hear Sid yelling over the phone. “John… he, he got… he and Jessica got married! How, how could he??” The shock fled and anger replaced it quickly.
“How can he just go and get married?! He’s supposed to be one of my best friends! He knows how much I care about him!” Mel could feel her mom holding her as she sobbed. Somehow she recalled Sid was still on the phone. Leaning over, she grabbed it and held it to her ear. “I’m gonna… have to call… you back…”
“Just answer me this… please. Are you… are you angry he didn’t tell you, or that it’s not you?” She heard the fear in his voice. God, I’m an idiot for making him freak out.
“That he didn’t tell me… please. I’ll call you back as soon as I calm down. Everything between you and I is still there. I just, I need to process. Bye.”
She heard him mutter a goodbye too, and then she was wrapped in her mom’s arms and sobbing. She hadn’t even known that he was back with Jess, and now they got married! Taking a couple shaky breaths, she laughed as her mom used her own shirt to dry her eyes.
“There, there sweet pea. It’s going to be okay.”
“But, we were supposed to be there for each other’s weddings. We promised to stand up there for one another. He’s my damn maid of honor! Why would he hide it from me until after it happened??”
“Why don’t you call him and find out?”
Mel looked at her mom, nodding, before they both got up and walked into the house. She sat down on the coffee table in the living room and punched the familiar number. He picked up after three rings.
“What the fuck??” Smooth Mel, smooth.
“Not exactly the reaction I was hoping for. And what took you so long to respond?”
“I left my phone at Sid’s! How could you Johnny? I was supposed to be there. We… we promised each other…”
“We just woke up a couple weeks ago and said ‘Let’s get married!’ and that was it. I didn’t know how to tell you, and I didn’t figure you could just drop everything and fly out. So we went to the courthouse and signed the paper. We don’t even have rings yet. I just… it felt right Mel. I’m sorry, okay? I am. I know how much it would’ve meant to you to be here. If it makes you feel any better, Jess has been on me for the past week, she thinks you’re going to hate her.”
“Her? God no! You, you I may bash in the head. Or get one of my new buddies to beat you up. Just promise me that if you two decide to reproduce, I’ll know about it before the kid turns eighteen.”
“That’s my girl. Now, who is this Sid person and your new buddies??” She couldn’t stay mad at him, ever. When they had dated and thought they’d be together forever and then broken up, she wanted to hate him. They hadn’t spoken for awhile, then one morning at breakfast in the cafeteria they had started talking. After that, it was smooth sailing. He was her constant rock.
“Well, I’m seeing someone. We’ve been dating about six weeks. And he’s… amazing. Intelligent, funny, sweet, thoughtful, talented, athletic. He’s even a little bit of a celebrity around these parts.” And the rest of the country. And all of Canada.
“I see. Have I ever met him? Can he get me tickets to a Steelers game the next time I’m in town and they’re playing?” She heard him chuckle and couldn’t wait to shock the hell out of him. Serves him right for this little stunt of his.
“No, you’ve never met him. And I’m almost positive he could hook me up with a couple tickets. John, you aren’t going to believe it… but I’m dating Sidney Crosby.”
“Hahahahaha!!! Oh man, this is your way of getting back at me for hiding something from you? I’m pretty sure you could’ve thought of something more believable!! You and Sid the Kid?! Puh-leeze!”
“Yeah, sure. And you just happened to leave your phone there? So, if I were to call your cell, he would answer?”
“If he saw it was you calling, probably. We were talking when he read me your text and I had a meltdown… Ass.”
Sid stared at the phones in his hands. He’d heard the freak out, and wished he could’ve helped. She sounded so hurt and so confused. He knew he shouldn’t have asked her what he did. He still felt like a bit of a jerk, but he’d needed to hear her say that she was upset because of what the guy had done, not because of whom he’d picked. Did that make him selfish, probably. Did he care, not in the least. This John character lost his chance, he shouldn’t get another one.
Mel’s phone started ringing and he looked down and read the screen. Johnny. Against his better judgment he hit Send.
“Ok, so who did she put up to this? Who are you?”
“This is Sidney. Is this John?”
“Cut the crap. I know you aren’t Sidney Crosby. Is Mel sitting there laughing over her little joke?”
“No, the last time I talked to Mel she was freaking out and crying because I’m pretty sure you just broke her heart a little. And this most certainly is Sidney Crosby.” Sid heard the intake of breath and the curse that was muttered.
“Ok, then how about we play a little game?”
“Fine by me.” This prick wanted to try and quiz him, let him take his best shot.
For the next twenty minutes Sid sat on the edge of his bed answering question after question about his life, his career, and a couple personal questions about Mel that made him blush. This guy could certainly interrogate with the best of them. No wonder they made him a Marine. He heard the man sigh on the other end of the line.
“I still don’t know if I believe you. But can you answer me one more question?”
“Why not… shoot.”
“Do you make her happy?”
“I’m certainly trying to.”
“Good, because if you really are Sid the Kid, I’d hate to have to come home and kill you because you hurt my best friend. And believe me, I know enough ways to do it that I don’t think I’d get caught. Or if I did, I’m sure I could use the self-defense plea.”
“How about the four of us have dinner together the next time you’re in town?”
“I’m coming in for her birthday. Kind of a surprise…”
“Hate to burst your bubble, but she’s coming to Carolina with me,” Sid practically crowed with victory. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the guy, he just… didn’t like the guy at the moment.
“Then I guess I’ll see you in Raleigh.”
“Yep. I’ll have Mel text you the details for the bash. It’s going to be Saturday night, after the game.”The two exchanged rather stressed goodbyes and Sid called Mel at her mom’s right away.
“Did you two play nice?”
“I don’t think he believed me.”
“Probably not. He can be tough… He’s beeping in. Hold on.” Sid sat there and waited, wanting to go through the phone and punch this so-called friend. “Sorry, I told him I’d call him back. Just didn’t want him to think something was up. So, he didn’t believe you?”
“No, and at the risk of him actually punching my lights out, you should call him back, because he’s got some more news for you.” He heard her groan and chuckled. “It’s nothing bad don’t worry. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Ugh… fine. Turn off my phone please. Toodles.” Sid just shook his head and turned the phone off. no more insane calls from ex-boyfriend/best-friend/military people. He threw on some clothes and was just headed out the door to go crash at Flower’s for awhile when his cell vibrated.
“That didn’t take too long. Miss me that much?”
“HE’S COMING TO RALEIGH?!” Ok, I’m pretty sure I’m deaf now.
“I just told him that you wouldn’t be in town, so if he wanted to celebrate with you, he’d have to come there.”
“Are you two gonna have some weird pissing contest… all macho man and shit?”
“No, I don’t plan on it anyway.”
“Ok. I guess that’s all. I’m going to stop calling you every five minutes, I promise.” Sid just laughed and put the car in drive as they talked aimlessly for a few moments until he heard her mom in the background.
“Go spend time with her. And don’t let her take no for an answer. She can stay here after the game. Gotta go.”
“What? Okay, bye.” He turned the music up and jammed the rest of the way to Flower’s. Vero was out with a couple of the girls so a few of the guys had deemed Marc’s house as the hang out spot. They were going to be immature and play games for a few hours. It would be good. He was doing his thing and Mel was doing hers. He glanced down at the clock on the radio. Is it time for her to come back yet?