Sid opened his eyes, blinking a couple times and looking around the room. He and a few of the guys had helped her move everything that had been at her mom’s house. One woman should not have that much stuff. But she did. With all of her things, plus everything that Tanger’s girlfriend brought from Montreal... most of the house was already full of stuff.
The library was coming along nicely. He’d already spent some time in there, relaxing on the window bench while Mel tried to sort out a system for stacking the multitude of paperbacks that she just had to keep.
Turning, he expected to see her all curled up under the blankets, but the other half of the bed was empty. Looking around, he finally took in the sound of water running. Smiling to himself, Sid flipped the covers over and swung his legs off the bed, heading toward the bathroom.
He looked back at the iron bed frame once more, images of the first night spent in that bed. With the four posters… it was perfect for putting ‘the kit’ to good use once again. That was how they had spent the first night in the house. Only this time, this time he’d been the one unable to move.
It was scary to trust someone like that, but so worth it.
With a smirk, Sid pulled off his shorts and opened the bathroom door. He could see Mel through the steamy shower door. Stepping over her pajamas, he opened the glass, stepped in and shut the door before placing a hand on her shoulder.
Whirling around, Mel let out a scream and her fist flew out, clocking him in the jaw and sending his feet slipping until he landed on the wet floor of the shower.
“Oh Jesus! Sid, I’m so sorry!! I thought… I don’t know what I thought! But I’m sorry! Are you okay?!”
He was still so stunned that when she straddled him, his eyes didn’t take in the warm, soapy feeling of her skin. All he could do was stare at her, holding his jaw with one hand.
“What the hell were you thinking sneaking in on me?! You know that’s not a smart idea! After we spent the night watching horror movies… Geez! Let me see your face.”
He felt her pull his hand away and then she turned his face, getting a better look at where she’d hit him.
“You should be fine, it doesn’t even look red. Either you have a really strong jaw or I hit like a girl…”
Finally recovering, he took in Mel’s words and chuckled.
“Thank god,” she said. “I thought I’d knock your brain out or something!”
“You hit me.”
“Thank you Captain Obvious. I’m pretty sure I realize that since my knuckles are throbbing like a bitch!”
“Hey now Lieutenant Sarcastic. I’m the one who should be complaining. We have season tickets to deliver today and I’m gonna look like I got in a bar brawl!”
“Big baby… I barely touched you…”
“It still hurts…”
“Come here, I’ll make it better.” Sid smiled as she pressed a kiss to his chin. He drew in a breath as her teeth nipped at his lips and her fingers curled in his hair. “Mmmm, how soon are they picking you up at Mario’s?”
“Nine.” He pulled her closer, feeling her body slide against his. She was cradling him between her thighs and all he’d need was to lift her body up slightly. “Tell me again, how long does it take you to get to the school from here?”
“Plenty of time,” he said against her lips as he shifted their bodies and brought her down hard. The water from the shower was hitting the wall above his head and Sid could feel the spray sloshing down the wall. Grabbing onto her hips, he helped control the tempo, lifting Mel up and down like a rag doll.
He let go of one hip and flipped a chunk of hair around his fingers, tilting her head back as he assaulted her neck. His lips moved quickly over the moist skin, his teeth nipping at her collarbone.
“Touch yourself,” he growled against her throat. She did as he asked and Sid watched her eyes glaze over as she brought herself closer to that sweet release that made her scream his name. Whether she was still hot from last night, or reliving the memories they’d made, she swiveled her hips a few times and then he felt her body go taut, her back arched and her breasts pressed almost in his face. As her mouth opened in a moan of completion, Sid drew one nipple into his mouth, sucking hard as he thrust his hips up twice more before his orgasm took control.
Mel kissed Sid once more as she ran out the door. He held her tightly against him as he plundered her mouth, his tongue sweeping between her lips. She finally pulled away, her body already turned toward the driveway.
“Mpgh, Sid… I gotta go!”
Sid chuckled and she laughed back as he nuzzled her neck. She finally wrenched herself from his grasp and jogged to her car. Thank god it’s Friday and I can wear jeans and a school t-shirt! As she pulled out of the driveway and headed down the street she waved to Kris and Lexie who were on their way back to the house.
When she got to the school, Mel grabbed her two totes and headed inside, pausing to tell a few students ‘good morning’ as she made her way to the office. After picking up her mail and the morning teacher announcements, she wove through the throngs of students to her room.
Unlocking the door, she flipped the lights on and smiled. Her own classroom. She’d spent an extra day in here, setting up the desks the way she wanted and getting all of her things placed throughout. You could definitely tell it was a history class. She had posters on the walls, cutouts standing in the corners. There was a giant globe that Trina and Troy had bought at a flea market, and… Pens gear. There was a one side wall completely dedicated to the Penguins.
She had the students bring in pictures of themselves in jerseys, at the arena, with the guys. With her and Sid standing by the Cup in the center. Mario had given her one of the street banners to hang and it was perfectly sized for the wall. She’d also taken quotes from some of the guys and stuck them by photos she’d taken of them.
Godsy was giving a thumbs up, Jordan and Brooks were high-fiving one another. It was a great idea. It made the kids think history was cool because the guys thought so. Mel was staring at the picture of her and Sid when she heard a knock at the door. Turning, she saw one of her favorite students.
“Good morning Nate! What brings you by so early?”
“Remember how you were telling us that we should try to find a way to make a difference this year? Even if it was something small?”
“Yes. Have you been thinking about it?”
“I have. And I know what I want to do Ms. Huston.”
Mel slid around the desks and walked to the front of the classroom where Nate was still standing in the doorway. He was such a sweetheart. Senior this year, played football and baseball for the school, and hockey in his free time.
“Well, have a seat and tell me all about it.”
He sat down and explained how he’d heard about how the Pens always went to the children’s hospital around Christmas time to give presents and spend a day with the children. But that was just one day. What about all the other days when the only people who came in were the doctors and nurses. Nate said that over the weekend his cousin in California had been diagnosed with some sort of illness, he wasn’t sure what it was… but she would be hospitalized for awhile.
“I’m so sorry Nate. That’s got to be hard on her and her parents.”
“It is. And she’s like a little sister to me. And I can’t be out there to visit her a lot. So I’ve decided that I’m going to go to the children’s hospital here. And I’m going to volunteer a few days a week to go hang out with the kids. That way, I’ll know how to deal with a child in the hospital and when I visit her during Christmas Break I won’t freak out if she’s got tubes everywhere. And, I’ll be putting a smile on someone’s face when I’m visiting the kids here. Is that something like what you wanted us to do?”
“That is perfect Nate. Absolutely perfect. Those children at our hospital would love having someone like you to hang out with for a few hours. And your cousin will love the visit when you go out there.”
He smiled and stood up, telling her he’d see her in class later that day. After he walked out, Mel rummaged through her bag and found her phone. She sent Godsy a quick text and waited for a reply. She didn’t have to wait long, and she smiled at the response.
Of course I’d come in and give the kid a couple tips. Can I do it today??
She made plans to have him stop by during fifth period, when she had Nate in class. She got the okay from the principal to have Nate and Eric talk in one of the rooms in the main office area.
The day flew by and when Nate came into class with his pass from the office, Mel didn’t think his smile could get any bigger. He lingered for a second when class was over and thanked her for helping him. She just smiled and told him not to forget his homework for tomorrow.
When the day was over she packed up and headed out the door with her nice stack of papers to grade. There goes my Friday night and half of my Saturday. She was almost there when she saw a sign for the annual corn maze near them. A light bulb went off and she detoured over to the maze, hopping out to look over the map of the maze.
With all the twists and turns it spelled out the word ‘SAFARI’ and you could see how it shaped up like some safari animals. It was perfect for what Sid had been talking about the night before. A team bonding exercise. In a corn maze. It was kind of lame, and they’d probably have no issues with it, but it was fun and light-hearted.
Mel took a pic on her phone and sent it to Sid with the title “Bonding.” Getting back into her car, she finished her drive home, pulled in the driveway and dragged her bags inside. Lexie was sitting at the bar in the kitchen, looking through a catalog of some sort.
“Bonjour Melany. How was your day?”
They fell into a relaxed conversation as Mel pulled this and that out of the fridge. She was feeling domestic tonight and decided a good home-cooked meal would be nice for a change. After making sure Lexie and Kris would be there, she grabbed a couple mixing bowls and a couple plastic spoons. Setting everything out on the counter, Mel made sure she had all of her ingredients. She was just getting ready to start when Lexie spoke up.
“Don’ you need to get the measuring cups and spoons?”
“No, I’ve made this a million times. I just throw in the different spices and stuff and it comes out fine. It tastes a little different each meal, but still delicious!”
“What exactly are you making?”
“Meatloaf, cheesy potatoes and biscuits.”
“All three with no recipes??”
“Yep, wanna help?”
“No, I’ll mess it up for sure! Maybe if you were using an actual recipe…”
“I’ll grab the book if you would like to make the dough for the biscuits. You can follow it step by step and use the exact measurements,” Mel said with a smile. Lexie laughed and nodded. Turning, she perused the line of cookbooks near the stove. Grabbing one she held it out to Lexie.
“How do you remember which book it’s in,” Lexie asked as she took the book from Mel’s hand.
“That one is always covered in flour,” Mel laughed.
They worked together, listening to music, and dinner was almost done when the guys came in. Kris wrapped Lexie up in his arms, attempting to drag her away.
“No! Kris… I’m trying to make these! Ahhh!”
“But you don’t cook.”
“Mel is going to teach me, right Melany?”
Mel nodded her head yes and laughed when Kris came over, hugging her and yelling he loved her over and over. They all laughed and Mel shooed the guys out so they could finish.
“Go set the table or something you goofballs!”
Sid jogged over for a quick kiss. He tasted like strawberries and she knew he had gotten into the dessert she had made the night before.
“I loved the idea. I told Disco and he thought it was great too. We’re going to close it down tomorrow morning and have it to ourselves.”
“That’s great! I’m so amazing,” Mel laughed.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Get out of here before I hit you with a frying pan!”
“Ha ha, love you,” Sid yelled as he grabbed plates and headed into the dining room.
The biscuits turned out great, and Lexie was already asking what Mel was going to teach her next. After dinner Sid grabbed the totes of assignments to be graded and took them up to the attic. Mel grabbed a couple bottles of Gatorade and headed up too. He had things spaced out on her desk when she got to the top of the stairs.
“I’m going to grab a book and read while you grade, okay?”
“You don’t have to stay up here Sid. Go downstairs and watch a movie with the others. Or turn on the TV in my room.”
“I don’t think that I want to be down there right now… Kris has some plans for her tonight… And I don’t mind just hanging out up here for now.”
“Well, okay then. Here,” she said with a smile, “I brought you a drink.”
He smiled as she chucked the flavored water at him and then they sat in companionable silence for what seemed like hours. Mel was smiling at one of the papers she was grading when she heard a thunk. Turning around, her smile grew wider as she stared at the sleeping man in the double papasan chair, a gift from Vero.
Looking back at her papers, she felt like the giant heap that she’d gone through was good enough for the night, and she’d be able to get the rest done tomorrow while the guys were ‘bonding.’ Mel stole a glance at the clock on the wall. Twelve-thirty, four hours of grading, two-thirds of the way done. Yes, time to relax.
She stretched and stepped over to the pull out couch that they’d decided to set up in the library as well. Smiling to herself, Mel tossed the cushions to the side and flipped out the mattress before sending Lexie a text that they may not want to come up for the night. There was a response quickly sent back that was a mix of English and French so she figured either Tanger had written it, or he was having a good time and Lexie couldn’t think straight.
Mel grabbed a couple pillows from the big window and one blanket, tossing them haphazardly on the bed, before setting her phone alarm so that Sid wouldn’t be late. Then she walked alongside the chair and ran her fingers through his hair. Leaning down, she whispered for him to get up and come to bed. His eyes opened briefly before closing again and Mel giggled as she pulled him to his feet.
They made it over to the couch and she told him to get in bed with a gentle shove. He must’ve been more awake than he was letting on because he grabbed her hand and hauled her with him. They tumbled onto the mattress together and she slid the blanket over them as he tucked her into his arms.
“Good night Sidney. I set the alarm so that you’d have plenty of time. And no one will come up here tonight so we can just rel--”
He tilted her head back and kissed her. Mel gave in to her feelings and just let go. Besides, Kris would end up waking him if the need arose.
“But do you think she’d go for it Lynn? I don’t want her to freak out. Especially not after the house.”
He smiled as he listened to Mel’s mom. She was a riot. And she told him, in no uncertain terms, that her daughter might say that she’s bothered by things. But that he shouldn’t take no for an answer.
“You realize this is kind of a big deal though. And she’s got one already.”
“So get rid of it. Make it so she has to take it.”
“What do you want me to do? Rip it apart?”
“If that works. Now, go wake her butt up and put her on the phone. Have fun at your bonding exercise!”
Sid laughed as he walked over and roused Mel from her sleep. He waved the phone in front of her face and mouthed ‘mom’ before kissing her forehead and heading downstairs to grab something to eat.
He and Tanger left together, picking up Geno and Gonch along the way. They pulled into the field, parking next to Max and went up to the entrance of the maze where Dan was talking with a couple of the new guys.
“Ahhh, here are our three leaders, a quiet one and the class clown,” Sid heard Dan say with a smile.
Sid shook hands with the two guys and they started chatting while they waited for the rest of the team to arrive. Mike was a giant. He was going to give Staalsy a run for his money, and Brent was easy going but kind of quiet. So different than our other goalie, that one doesn’t shut up. After everyone had finally arrived, Dan stood up on a hay bale to get everyone’s attention.
“Alright, we’re going to split up into small groups. Go in one at a time. We’re going to see who can do this the fastest. You won’t get the map until you enter the maze, and your time will start at that moment. You will have a card to punch at the twelve checkpoints. You don’t have to go in order, but you can’t cheat because each checkpoint has a different-shaped punch. And gentlemen, no cutting through the corn. Stay on the path.”
He started calling out names of groups and the guys all paired off. Two of the guy couldn’t make it, so that left them with twenty players in four groups of five.
“Dupuis, Fleury, Letang, Talbot, Crosby.”
“What?! Why do I have to be with all the Frenchies??”
“Just the luck of the draw kid,” Dan said with a wink.
Sid just groaned as Max slipped an arm around his shoulder and directed him over to a bale of hay where the others were already standing.
“Come mon ami, it will be a true test of your patience.”
“Seriously. They stick me with the ADD goalie, one who is incessantly picking on the other, and you,” Sid laughed.
They were the final group to go and Geno’s group had just burst through the end, falling down and trying to catch their breath. But the running had shaved off some time because they had beaten the other groups by ten minutes, with a time of 52:43.
“We can beat that with no problem,” Flower chimed in.
“Really? And just how do you plan on that?”
“I can guide us.”
“You’re going to guide us through a very complex maze?”
“Oui. Do you doubt me? I swear I can get us through this in thirty minutes. Maybe a few more.”
“Maybe with we were going at the speed of light and never took a wrong turn.”
“Do you trust me Sid?”
Sid stared at his friend. Marc had never been anything other than honest with him. he knew that in a pinch there was no other guy he’d want between the pipes. And they didn’t need to win this. it was just for fun. But this was a bonding exercise. In order to bond with the guys, he needed to trust them completely.
“Then once we get in there, give me a second to look over the map. Then follow my lead. D’accord?”
Sid just nodded his head. The five of them walked up to the entrance and he took a deep breath. They entered and Marc took the card with the map. Disco hit the timer and Sid itched to start moving forward. Marc’s eyes darted around the card and then he looked up with a giant smile.
“ Allons-y,” he yelled and took off running. Sid stared at the others and laughed before chasing after Flower. They were taking twists and turns and before he knew it, they were at the first checkpoint, punching a hole through the 1 on the card. One more glance and Marc took off again.
“What the hell? Do we have our own personal ‘Rain Man’ or something?!”
The guys were chuckling and then Max yelled from the back of the group.
“Now, aren’t you glad you were stuck with us?”
Seven checkpoints later, Sid was standing with his hands on his thighs as he bent over to catch a couple big breaths. They were making amazing time, at least he thought they were. And there were four checkpoints left before they could head for the exit.
“Ready to move on,” Marc asked with a smile.
“Yeah, I’m good. Guess I didn’t train enough over the summer.”
“Well, I would think with all the time you spent in the bedroom these past few months, your cardio would be amazing!”
“Flower… you’re dead!”
“You must catch me first mon ami!”
Sid laughed as his friend turned and sprinted off toward the next checkpoint. The rest of them began chasing him. after the final punch, flower told them it was three turns and then a straight shot out.
“I say we do an easy jog until we hit that final turn. Then we sprint tow the end. Agreed?”
“You’ve gotten us this far,” Duper said as he chucked a couple kernels of corn at Tanger.
“Tabernak! Stop that! When we get out of here…”
“Guys! Let’s focus on getting out of here first,” Sid said. “Alright Flower. You’ve gotten us this far, let’s finish this.”
They all turned and started jogging down the path. Marc yelled that they were coming up on the final turn. Sid took a deep breath and as they made the left he saw the straight shot to the finish line. He couldn’t hear the others though. It’s a trap.
“It’s a trap! Guys, they must wait--”
Everything else he was going to say was cut short because as they ran through the finish line, they were pelted with water balloons and super soakers! Everyone was running around, it was like a giant group of teenagers had been let loose or something and somehow Sid got a giant squirt gun in his hands.
They were all chasing each other, using trees and fences as cover. He laughed as Disco dove behind a stack of hay bales. None of the guys could afford to dive like that, in case of injury, but it was nice to see the coach joining in the insanity. After all the guns were empty of water, and all of the balloons had been thrown, Sid came out from behind the giant oak he’d been using as a hiding spot.
Flower and Tanger were sitting against the bales Dan had jumped over and a giant group of the guys were stretched out in the sunlight, wet streaks and splotches covering their clothing. Tossing the gun aside, Sid plopped down beside Max, stretching his hands behind his head and bringing up his knees. He heard Dan asking if everyone was alright, making sure no one had been injured in the fray.
“You had a good thought mon ami,” Max said. Sid kept his eyes closed and just grunted. He knew he should make sure they knew that Mel had concocted this. Well, she hadn’t thought of the battle, but… wait a minute.
“Whose idea was it to have a water battle?”
All of the guys were shrugging their shoulders and looking between one another. They all looked guilty. But if it had been one of them, they would’ve taken the credit. It didn’t add up. If they hadn’t planned it, then who did? Max was trying to hide a smile. He knows.
“Spill it Max. You know,” Sid said with a gleam in his eye.
“I do, but I promised the person I wouldn’t give them up. I was just part of the chain. The mastermind behind it all sent a text to me, and I was to tell certain people. She said that the others would be tak--”
“Tabernak! I say too much already!”
Sid went over to the table where they’d stowed their phones before going into the maze, it made more sense now as to why they’d done that. It wasn’t about cheating at all. It was so they wouldn’t be ruined when they exited. Picking his up, he dialed Mel’s number.
“Did you make it through the maze in one piece,” came the lilting voice on the other end of the phone.
“I’m very wet.”
“Did it start raining?”
“No, I got doused with water guns and balloons.”
“You don’t say! That’s just weird.” He heard her chuckle and knew that she had been the one to construct it all. He laughed too, sending up a prayer that he had someone like her to look out for him and keep him normal.
“We’re going to dry some and then go out to lunch, I’ll get you when I get back to your house.”
“The reservations for the Cheesecake Factory won’t wait for you to dry. I bet if you turn around, the others will be changed into street clothes.”
You’ve gotta be kidding me. Turning his head, he saw that most of them were now in clean clothes, some still pulling polos and things over their heads.
“What am I supposed to wear?”
“Look in Max’s trunk. I bet there’s a pair of jeans, polo and socks and shoes. If they really got you though, you’ll have to go commando! Love you, bye!”
Sid stared at the phone, amazed that she’d been able to go behind his back about everything. But when would she have had the chance to get clothes to Max? He’d been waiting for them here. How could he… Walking over to the car, he grabbed all of the clothes out of the trunk. He was in mid change when it hit him.
Geno, who’d been in a discussion with Brooks about something, lifted his head and beamed a smile at him. Then he went back to his conversation. I’ll be damned. He was in on it too. Sid finished changing and went over to the group. They were all smiling now.
“Okay okay, it was funny. Everyone was in on it. you all suck.”
“Did she confess,” Max asked.
“More or less. She’s going to be the death of me!”
“But you will die happy,” his friend stated and Sid smiled.
Yeah, he would.