Monday, November 29, 2010

Chapter 39: Life After You

Okay ladies, this one took me a few days longer, because I didn't know where I wanted to go with this... well, I know what I want to happen, but writing it all out was more difficult than I had thought! Hopefully this shorter, but emotional, chapter will hold you over until I can get the final few done*
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Putting the last of the dishes away, Sid grabbed Mel’s hand and whisked her off to the front porch. The weather was nice today, starting to warm up a little.

Playoffs are just around the corner when the weather starts to get warmer.

They were rocking back and forth on the new porch swing she’d bought when they started talking about the wedding. She said she didn’t care where it happened, just so long as she got to say ‘I do’ and kiss him. Sid laughed, knowing she was telling him that to take some of the burden off his mind. He hadn’t confided it to her just yet, but he was worried about the playoffs this year.

They were the same, but different than last year’s team. And it’s not probable to win the Cup back-to-back… but he wanted to believe that the guys this season wanted it as badly as the team from last year. He was lost in his own thoughts that he only caught the tail end of what Mel was saying, and he didn’t like it.

“… can plan for the end of May, since that’s when my school year ends. Then, if we need to, we can bump it back until the Finals are over.”

“Oh, so you don’t think that we’re contenders again this year?”

“What?”

“Well, you obviously don’t think we’re going to win the Cup, right? That’s what you were saying?”

“No, weren’t you listening to what I said?! Of course I think you have a shot.”

“Have a shot, not that we’re going to win.”

He stared out into the yard. The sun was shining and one of the neighbor boys rode by on his bike. Everything was bright and cheery, everything but his mood. He felt Melany pull away from him, but he didn’t stop her. He turned and saw her staring at him from the opposite end of the swing.

“Sid, what the heck?! Why are you twisting my words around?”

“You just wanna sit here and plan this big wedding… I’ve only got three weeks before we have to buckle down and really focus. Three weeks until the dates and teams are set for the quarterfinals. I shouldn’t be worrying about flowers and cake flavors.”

“Excuse me?? Ummm, I told you that I’d be happy with just a small ceremony. Maybe at the lake house this summer. You wanted the whole white wedd…”

“You said that. But you don’t mean it. Every woman dreams of the perfect storybook wedding. It’s what they all want, deep down, no matter what they say.”

And he just didn’t want to have to add all the worries to his plate.

“Are you kidding me right now?? Like, are you even listening to yourself?! The way you’re talking, you make it sound like you’re disgusted with the whole idea. Why did you propose if you don’t want to get married?”

“Of course I wanna get married to you! But I have so much to deal with right now… the guys are counting on me to keep the team together. You don’t know what it’s like to have to deal with that, the media circus, and then come back here and worry about what color dresses you think your bridesmaids should have.”

“Well, if that’s how you feel, maybe I should just plan everything on my own.”

His eyes did light up at that. If she handled everything, she could just tell him what they were going to do. He trusted her, she’d make it great. Look what she’d done with Erin and Geno.

“Really? That would be so helpful! Put it all in a notebook or something, like you did with Erin’s. Oh, I bet she could come help you with this. I’ll just give you my credit card and you…”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“You’re kidding me… Is that really how you think this wedding stuff works?”

“Isn’t that why people hire wedding planners? I mean, that way they don’t have to deal with all of the insignif…”

“Get out.”

“What??”

“Sid… you… you don’t get it right now. I don’t know if you even realize that what you’re saying right now is hurtful. I think you should leave before one of us says something that they’re seriously going to regret.”

“I don’t understand…”

“I know that. Please just go.”

Mel felt like her heart was ripping down the middle. If he didn’t get what it meant to have him helping her with wedding details, how would he be at dealing with things once they were married? He looked crushed, he really did. And that hurt her even more.

Sid went inside to get his keys and when he came back out, she refused to even look at him. If she did, she’d run into his arms and try to explain what she was feeling. But that wouldn’t do any good. He needed to be able to figure out these things.

“I’ll see you at the game tomorrow,” he said as he walked to the car. Mel turned sideways on the swing, pulling her knees up and wrapping her arms around them. Suddenly it didn’t matter that the day was turning out to be nice. She ran her hand through her hair, her ring catching on some strands.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Hey Sid, where’s Mel? I tried to call her earlier but she didn’t answer.”

Glancing up at Erin, Sid had no answer. She’d never missed a game that she could attend. There had been two, three times tops that she hadn’t been able to make it. And it was Saturday, in the afternoon… he’d said he’d see her. She hadn’t said she wasn’t coming.

“I’m sure she’s just stuck in traffic.”

“Probably. But she hasn’t sent you a text yet or anything?”

Sid just shrugged and shook his head. Maybe she was more upset than he thought. But he didn’t understand what he’d said to make her so angry. It wasn’t like he didn’t want to be a part of things… but she was asking him to help plan things during the busiest time of the season. She of all people had to know that he had enough on his plate already.

By the end of the game, he was feeling pretty crappy himself. He hated losing in overtime. Hell, he hated losing at all. After some questions and a quick shower he stepped out into the lounge expecting to see Mel. But she wasn’t there. He checked his phone, no messages.

They were leaving for the airport in two hours. He hadn’t packed yet, but he could throw everything together quickly and pop by before he flew out. Deciding on that course of action, he drove to Mario’s and jogged up to his room. Shoving his shampoo, a couple pairs of shorts and tees into his duffel bag, he grabbed his suit bag, picked out something quickly and then he was back in his car, driving to Mel’s.

When he stepped out of the vehicle, he was planning on what he’d say when she opened the door. He rang the bell. Then he rang it again. No answer. He was getting ready to use his key, afraid that she was in there, unconscious, or worse, when he heard a car pulling into the driveway. Tori hopped out, giving him a strange look.

“Hey Sid, what are you doing here?”

“Just needed to see Mel before we left.”

“See Mel… she went to visit her mom, didn’t she tell you that after the game?”

“I didn’t see her at the game.”

“Really? We talked until the third period ended. She said she was gonna go away for a couple days while you guys were out of town. Any of this ringing a bell?”

Sonofabitch.

He thanked Tori for the news and walked back to his car. Once inside, he let out a string of swear words. How could she not talk to me about this?!He didn’t understand. It was one thing to be angry, but she just ran away from the issue and didn’t even tell him.

Stewing about it the entire flight, by the time they landed in Michigan he was royally pissed off. As soon as he could, Sid dialed her number. It rang only once before it went to her voicemail. The only reason that would happen was if she had hit the ignore button. She’s ignoring me?!

He didn’t leave a voicemail.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Who was that on the phone?”

“What… oh no one. It wasn’t important.”

“So, when are you going to tell me why you’re here?”

“Geez Mom… I’m not allowed to just come visit you?”

“Of course dear. But I think there’s a definite reason behind this visit. Do you want to talk about it?”

Mel sat down at the kitchen table. She’d spent many nights here, studying for tests, writing out college applications. Don’t forget the nights you came home from disastrous dates. Mom would make her giant mugs full of hot chocolate, no matter the season. That sounded pretty fantastic right now.

Taking a deep breath, she relayed the events of the previous day. Even as she got to the end of the story, her eyes were burning from holding in her tears. She asked her mom to give her some insight, give her advice on what to do.

“Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? Did I do the right thing? What should I do?”

“Well, that’s up to you really. You can take care of everything, just make sure that he shows up to the designated spot on time. Or you could make him a part of it. Make him see that his input is valuable. But it’s your decision to make.”

“I just want him to make a couple decisions. Pick the place for the reception or decide on where we’ll have the actual ceremony. That’s not too much to ask, is it?”

“Of course not. But you’ve said yourself that he’s never really been in a serious relationship like this.”

“No, but we’ve never had communication problems like this.”

“Then instead of running away, you should’ve hashed it out yesterday, not just make him leave.”

“You’re supposed to be on my side you know.”

“Honey, I love you… but he’s such a wonderful man. Maybe you should compromise a little, get his input on some things. But don’t make him have to pick a bunch of things. Or get a wedding planner. That would take pressure off you both.”

“You’re right, I know you’re right. I’ll talk to him the next time he calls.”

But he didn’t call again that night. He didn’t call the next day. He didn’t call after the loss to the Wings, didn’t call after the shootout loss to the Caps. Mel had gone back to her house before they played in Detroit. She waited to hear from him. She refused to call him, but she got more and more worried as the days went by and he didn’t call her. He didn’t even send her a text. She was moping around the house, walking into the kitchen, when she heard Tori whispering on the phone.

“No, I don’t know what happened between them. She won’t tell me anything. Is he saying anything?”

Stopping in the doorway, Mel found herself holding her breath so that her cousin wouldn’t realize she was there. She must be talking to Brent.

“You guys are flying home tonight right? Well, maybe see if you can get him to come over here. I know she wants to see him.”

Mel clenched her hands into fists. Please let Johnny be able to talk him into coming over.

“No. I don’t think she’s mad. Whatever they fought about last weekend… she’s not angry. Right now she’s just sad. Miserable really… it hurts me to watch her. Just… just talk to him.”

Stepping back into the hallway, Mel climbed the stairs and got ready for bed. They were obviously back in town. Sid hadn’t bothered to get in touch with her. Was this what it felt like to end a relationship?

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Last time we talked, the night that I walked
Burns like an iron in the back of my mind
I must've been high to say you and I
Weren't meant to be and just wastin' my time

Oh, why did I ever doubt you?
You know I would die here without you

All that I'm after is a life full of laughter
As long as I'm laughin' with you
I'm thinkin' that all that still matters is love ever after
After the life we've been through
'Cause I know there's no life after you

Sid sighed in disgust and ripped his headphones out of his ears. Fucking Daughtry and his lyrics that were perfect for the way he felt right now. Mel would laugh at him and call him a girl. What’d he’d give right now for the sound of her laughter.

“So… you going over to Mel’s tonight, after we get back?”

Sid looked up at Johnny. The goalie was staring at him, trying to read his face.

“I hadn’t thought about it yet.”

Liar. You were willing the plane to fly faster the entire time.

“Well, I know it’s none of my business… and you’ll probably tell me I’m reading too much into it… but I hope that you two can work out this difference… she seems pretty perfect for you.”

Sid nodded and stepped off the bus, walking to his car. He drove out of the airport parking lot and before he knew it, he was pulled up right outside her house. Would she be glad to see him? He was slowly walking up to the door when it opened and he was staring at Tori.

“Is… is she home?”

“She is. I believe she actually went to bed. Listen, I don’t know what happened between the two of you… and she’ll kill me for this… but she’s been miserable. I hope you’ve figured out how to fix this.”

“I’m certainly going to try.”

Tori nodded and stepped back so that he could get inside. Sid looked at the stairs, his feet rooted to the ground. Taking a deep breath, he turned and made his way up to Mel’s room. When he opened the door, he noticed there were a couple candles burning. It smelled like a cookie factory. Mel was lying in bed, her hair spilling over a pillow and her blankets tucked under her arm.

He stripped down slowly, leaving him in nothing but his boxers. Stepping up to her bed, he pulled the covers back enough to crawl in beside her. Pulling her back against him, Sid felt sweet relief at her body instinctively seeking his warmth. As she twisted around, facing him, he held his breath. Then she snuggled herself close, burying her face into his chest.

“Mmmm, Sid,” she murmured. He didn’t know if she was awake or not, so he just pulled the blankets up and fell asleep with her in his arms. The next morning, when he woke up, she was sprawled over his body. He ran a hand through her hair and stared down at her, willing her to open her eyes and realize that he was really here. When her eyelids fluttered open, he held his breath, unsure of what her reaction would be.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

God I miss him. I miss him so much that I dreamt that he was here with me. Even now I feel like I’m lying on his chest and…

Mel opened her eyes and looked up into his hazel ones. She blinked a couples times, trying to figure out if he was real or not. She poked his chest and watched a slow smile spread across his face.

“Sid? What are you doing here?”

“I got home from a road trip last night.”

“But why are you here, in my bed?”

“Because I love you… And I needed to tell you that I was sorry.”

“What exactly are you sorry for?”

“Sorry that I made it seem like I didn’t care. About the wedding and everything. I do. I want to be a part of the planning. I just don’t want it to take over our relationship. Does that make sense?”

“It does. I’m sorry too.”

“What on earth are you sorry for?”

“I should’ve tried to explain myself better. I just got angry, and then I let that anger get the best of me. It’s been a while since we’ve had a fight or anything… I’d forgotten how much they suck. But I’d rather fight with you than not talk to you at all.”

“I’d rather fight with you too.”

Mel snuggled into his embrace, sighing. Sunshine and roses was nice, sure, but the simple art of making up… it had its benefits as well.

“So, what are we doing now?”

“Right now we’re going to go downstairs and get some food before I have to leave for practice. Then, once I’m done, I’ll come back here and you can show me what you have so far for ideas on the wedding. And I’ll try to add some valid input.”

Mel laughed and burrowed against him. No relationship was perfect, but what she had with Sid seemed to be the real deal. And she meant what she’d said. Sure, fighting sucked, but if they could work through their problems, then they would be okay in the end.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chapter 38: And A Baby Makes Three??

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! Gobble gobble! Enjoy yet another chapter this week! And for a certain part of this chapter, you can find the corresponding story in my Hockey Short Stories blog. It's titled Melting A Heart of Ice*

**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Mel had been on Cloud Nine ever since she walked off the plane in the Pittsburgh airport and Sid was waiting for her at the terminal gate. His flight had arrived a mere twenty minutes before hers, so he had settled in and found her gate. She saw him sitting there, waiting for her to disembark from the airplane. Max was waiting for them in the Arrivals parking area. He was leaning against his car, scowling at the two of them when they walked out the automatic doors.

“How could you propose without us all there?!”

Sid immediately asked how he knew about the ring and Max snorted.

Flower called me last night. Why did he know?!”

Mel dropped her bag and hugged him tight.

“Good to see you two Maximus. And as for Marc… he was standing there, like thirty feet away from us. He saw Sid holding the ring and saw me leap into his arms. It wasn’t rocket science.”

“But why did it not happen here, when all of us could see it??”

“I don’t think that you guys were on his priority list of ‘people being around when the question is popped.’”

She could tell that Max wasn’t satisfied yet. She turned toward Sid and gave him a ‘help me out here’ look.

“Actually, I didn’t really plan it. It just… happened.”

“So, you just happened to be carrying the ring in your pocket, just in case?! That’s a load of bullsh--”

Mel shushed him by putting her hand over his mouth.

“Honestly Max, it wasn’t planned. Stop acting like a spurned lover and congratulate me! I’ll tell you all about it and what he said if you promise to be nice and not harp on not being there.”

Seeming appeased for now, Max nodded and the three of them walked to his car. She smiled as Sid grabbed her hand, his fingers lacing with hers as they walked. Even as she retold the story, the smile wouldn’t fall from her face. Tossing their suitcases into the trunk, Mel climbed in the backseat, anxious to get home and relax.

When they got to Mario’s house, Sid looked like a little kid. And a scared one at that, like he’d ran away and was now being brought back to await his punishment. Mel wondered briefly if he really would be punished. But they had done nothing wrong. They were in love, and he’d done the natural thing… she didn’t feel guilty. Did he?

“Sid… are you afraid that Mario is going to be angry with you for asking me to marry you?”

“What?? God no! I don’t want to go in there because Nathalie’s home and she’s going to freak out on me for not wining and dining you before I got down on one knee with the restaurant musicians behind me and said the perfect thing before slowly sliding that ring on your finger.”

“I liked how you did it much more,” she chuckled form her seat.

“Mon ami, you need to just go in there. I bet it’s not as bad as you are thinking it will be.”

When Sid still hesitated, Mel threw her hands in the air and opened the door.

“Thanks for the ride Maximus! I owe you one! I’m going inside now Sid, hope you make it in sooner or later.”

Without bothering to get anything but her purse, Mel shut the car door and skipped up the steps to the front door of the house. Knocking in a musical way, she waited until the door opened. Nathalie threw the door open and immediately grabbed for her left hand.

“Let me see! Let me see! Oh my god it’s so beautiful! Where did he find this? Is it a family heirloom? I bet his mom gave it to him! How did she know he was going to propose? You look so happy! Oh my god I’m so excited!”

Mel stood there, dumbfounded, as she tried to process all of the questions that had just been asked. She opened her mouth to speak and heard Mario laughing as he came in from the dining room.

“Good grief Nat, let her breathe!”

Nathalie acquiesced but she still had a hold of Mel’s hand, examining the ring. It fit perfectly on her finger. That in itself was amazing. The stone in the center shone as it caught a beam of light. It wasn’t a classic engagement ring, that was for sure. There were diamonds, but they weren’t the focal point. No, the center stone was a beautiful marquise cut sapphire. There was a ruby on one side of the stone, an emerald on the other. And then, placed throughout the band were tiny diamonds.

Whoever had made this ring had certainly put a lot of time into it. And thought. She had googled the meaning behind all of the stones this morning before she’d boarded the plane for home.

Sapphire: Truth, sincerity, commitment, loyalty
Emerald: Patience, understanding, foresight
Ruby: Love, success, integrity, passion & promise
Diamond: Invincibility, clarity, purity, eternal love

Everything she wanted in a man, everything she wanted in a marriage… all those things were now represented on her finger. Nathalie was still gushing, refusing to release her hand, and Mel just laughed as the woman started making lists of everyone they needed to call, everything that needed to be done for the wedding.

“We haven’t picked a date yet Nathalie, and I still have to tell my parents.”

Mel looked up, finding Sid in the doorway, an amused smile on his face. She broke out into a fit of giggles when Nathalie jumped up and ran over to him, hugging him as she gushed about how happy she was for him, for both of them, and how excited she was. And she was just positive that Troy and Trina were going to be ecstatic.

Mario asked if he’d told his agent yet. Sid shook his head and Mario promised to make the call right away, one less thing that he would have to deal with. Mel was surprised really that it wasn’t all over the internet already. Then again… there had been thousands of people in Vancouver, and it was darker. Maybe no one actually saw what happened in the midst of the ceremonies.

“I should call my mom!”

Pulling out her phone, Mel dialed her mom’s number and waited for her to pick up the phone. Sid was already talking to his mother, she could tell by the look on his face that it was her. If it was Troy, Sid’s face probably wouldn’t have been so calm. She stopped eavesdropping when she heard her mom’s voice.

“Did you make it home safely?”

“I did… Momma… I have something to tell you.”

“Oh do you? Will I be happy when I hear this?”

“I think so. I’m happy about it!”

“Well, then you should come visit soon so that I can see the ring and how beautiful it is!”

Letting out a startled laugh, Mel promised to get together in a couple days. She was promising to call later that night when she heard Sid laugh and promise to give ‘the little lady’ a kiss. Then he asked to talk to his mom.

Wait a minute, he’d been talking with his dad this whole time?! Troy said to give me a kiss?? Say what?! AWESOME!

She put her phone in her purse and leaned against Sid, smiling as he rested his chin on her forehead. They stayed that way until he hung up and then she led him to his room, showing him once more how much she loved him.

She drove home, showing off the new accessory to Lexie and Tori, and then she laughed when Sid showed up on their doorstep, flowers in his hand. They spent the evening just relaxing and vegging out. Turning in early, Mel set her alarm so that she’d have plenty of time to get ready for work. That morning, she felt like hell.

It was the start of a sickness that hit her so hard that she made a doctor appointment after a week of barely being able to function as a human being, let a long a high school teacher. Whatever she picked up in Vancouver didn’t want to go away.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Sid heard the buzzing off in the distance. It got louder and louder, but he couldn’t find it in him to open his eyes and figure out what was making the damn noise. Trying to ignore it, he turned over in Mel’s bed, his head burrowing under the covers.

“Sid, answer your fucking phone before I flush it down the toilet!”

He shot up at the yell. It was coming from the bathroom, and the person the voice belonged to sounded horrible. It had been almost two weeks since the return from Vancouver, and Mel didn’t seem to be the only one who came down with something.

A couple of the guys were sick too. It had started a few days after they arrived back home. A flu bug that wouldn’t go away. Or a virus of some sort. She was going to the doctor’s today. And from the sounds of it, she’d been tossing her cookies already this morning.

His phone started blaring again and he reached out, hitting Send and barking into the device.

“This had better be good because…”

“Alex is getting married!”

“What?! Alex who?? Ovechkin?”

“No Doofy, not Ovechkin. Our Alex… Goligoski…”

“Goose is getting married?! I didn’t even know he was dating anyone seriously!”

“Remember that girl we’ve been telling you about? Maggie? Well, he asked her this morning, she said yes, so they’re getting married!”

“This is the season of love I guess! Well, have they set a date then?”

“Yep… today.”

“WHAT?! We have to fly out to Carolina today!”

“Not until the afternoon. And besides, I have it all figured out. I only need you to do two things. First, I need your support, 110% support with no questions asked, and secondly… I need to you take him to the jewelers.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it. Case closed.”

“What are you planning Bill?”

“Just come to the arena as soon as possible. Bring your suit. Tell Mel to come too if she’s feeling up to it.”

“She’s got an appointment at 8:30. But if she gets done in time, I’ll make sure she’s there. Should I be scared?”

“Hello no! You don’t trust me?”

Sid heard him laugh after he asked the question. Of course I do, but I’m still worried! Bill was up to something huge, and it was going to be insane. Sid was sure of that fact. But promising to be in, he hung up and got out of bed, going over to the bathroom door. Mel was brushing her teeth.

“Goose is getting married. Today. I’m supposed to tell you to come to the arena after your appointment if you can. I don’t know what the old man is planning, but it’s going to be epic. I can tell.”

Mel nodded her head as she continued to run the toothbrush over her teeth. He jumped in her shower quickly, actually getting through in lightning time since she wasn’t in there to distract him. Thirty minutes later he was driving to the arena, his suit laid out over his backseat. When he got into the locker room, most of the guys were there already.

“Okay, what is this all about? Billy… BILLY! Where are you?!”

“Right here Junior. No need to yell. Alex should be here in a few moments. You’re going to take him to the jeweler’s and then straight back here. We’re on a bit of a time crunch, and this needs to go off without any real problems. And no rings… that’s a problem.”

Alex came in a few minutes later. Sid could see the shock on his face. He looked at his watch, noting the time.

“Hey Alex, we need to leave. You only have a certain amount to time before we have to leave. Let’s get to the shop!”

Goose let Sid lead him out of the locker room and toward his car. He finally woke up out of his day dream and when they got to the little shop, he wasted no time in finding a ring for himself. But the panicked look on his face when the man asked him what Maggie would like… fuck.

“Alex, think about it… what would she like. Close your eyes. Okay, you’re down on one knee, she’s smiling, you pull the box out of your pocket and open it… what’s it look like?”

Goose opened his eyes a second later, a huge smile on his face. He picked out a beautiful set, content to hand the man his card without even asking the cost. Sid knew the feeling. He would’ve paid any price when looking at rings if his mom hadn’t thought of the heirloom. He laughed to himself as he recalled calling his folks.

“Good afternoon son. Make it back to Pittsburgh safely?”

“Yeah, and I got some great news! I… I’m getting married.”

“To Melany?”

“No, to some stranger I met on the plane ride back. Yes to Melany!”

“Are you sure about this?”

“I am. And no, I’m not changing my mind.”

“Well, I like her too… so if you’re going to go through with this, you have my blessing!”

“You don’t know how great that sounds coming from you Dad.”

“Give the little lady a kiss from me. I’ll let you tell your mother. And we’ll be down for the final home game.”

His mom had cried. She tried to tell him she hadn’t, but he heard the sniffles. She wanted to know all about it, did it fit, did Mel cry. Taking a deep breath, Sid looked up as Alex was grabbing the bag from the salesman. They were back in the bar and on their way back to the arena when Alex started talking about her, about Maggie. He told Sid about her signs, the Gold Medal game and how psyched he was for today.

“She makes these hilarious signs for the games that she’d been to. The first one she ever made was for you. It said ‘Sidney Makes Me Howl At The Moon’ and she said that she swears you fought because of it. That the guy you went rounds with made a comment on it or something.”

“Was that the game right before Halloween, against the Wild??”

“Yeah! She’s brought other signs though, normally creative things. She’s got them all in her bedroom at the townhouse she was previously living in. I told her I was going to frame mine from Valentine’s Day,” his friend said with a laugh.

“Valentine’s Day… wait... NO! You’re marrying the sign girl?! For real???”

“I am! She’s so great Sid. You should tell her about your amusement with her sign. She’d die of embarrassment, it’ll be amusing. You were the first one she ever made a sign for.”

“Are you sure you want me talking to her then? Don’t wanna cause a rift between you two on your wedding day. That would be real good… ‘Bride objects to own wedding to D-man of the Pens, tackles captain of the team instead.’ Could you imagine??”

“No worries... we’re… I don’t know how to explain it… connected I guess. You know what I mean. Look at you and Mel.”

Sid nodded thoughtfully and as they pulled into the parking lot again, he grabbed his phone and texted his woman. She should be at the doctor’s office by now, maybe she already had news on what was going on. He slid his cell back into his pocket and walked inside with Alex. They were all getting dressed, putting on suits, and Sid saw the anxious look on his face when they got to the rink itself.

Billy has outdone himself.

Sid sat in the second row, saving a spot for Mel. She’d sent him a text, explaining that she was on her way now and should be there before the ceremony started. He glanced back, happy that they’d been able to do this on such short notice. Mel popped her head out onto the ice and he waved her forward. She walked carefully in her heels, dressed in that yellow dress from her birthday last year.

I love that dress. Such memories.

She plopped down beside him, her hand finding his and she gave it a squeeze.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“So, what did the doctor say?”

“They took blood and stuff, just to rule out all kinds of things. He said that they should know within 48 hours for sure just what is wrong with me.”

Sid smiled and kissed her cheek. She smiled back, but it didn’t reach her eyes. The one thing she knew for sure already was that she wasn’t pregnant. With the way she’d been feeling for the past week alone…

I thought that was it, I really did.

It was true that she wasn’t just sick in the morning, but that sometimes happened. They called it morning sickness, but it was possible for it to be other times. Heck, Erin hadn’t really had any sickness at all. Turning, Mel found her friend in the crowd. Erin waved and then popped what looked like an animal cracker between her lips.

Pregnant women and their cravings.

Mel shook her head and went back to listing the reasons why she thought she’d been pregnant. She’d missed her last period. Looking back now, she had been really stressed last month. Getting everything ready for her sub, making sure the students were comprehending everything, dealing with Sid. He was worse than an entire class full of students sometimes.

She wasn’t feeling any hungrier than normal, but her breasts had been so freaking sensitive the past two nights… every touch from Sid had made her scream. Which had spurred him on and… Mel shivered from the memories of how he stroked and licked her body. Sid placed his arm around her shoulders.

“Are you cold babe? Maybe you should’ve brought more than a short-sleeved sweater, especially since you aren’t feeling well.”

“I’m fine Sid.”

Just not pregnant with your child.

She should’ve been thrilled when the doctor came in and smiled, telling her that was one thing they could definitely cross off the list. Instead of joining in with his jovial mood, hers had plummeted. And she hadn’t realized until he said ‘negative’ just how much she had been hoping it was ‘positive.’ Sid had already shown interest in that area.

She’d seen the look on his face when he’d thought that earlier this year. When she’d told him that she was moving here for a job, not carrying his future son or daughter. Of course he’d been happy, but he’d been disappointed as well. Now she knew how he felt.

Pasting a smile on her face, she attempted to pay attention throughout the ceremony. She couldn’t believe that Goose was getting married, but just looking at the two of them standing there… they were so precious together. There was laughter throughout the entire thing. Max was in charge though, so she didn’t expect anything less.

Her stomach started twisting again as the rings were exchanged. She took Sid’s hand, squeezing and looking at him. Her face had to be pale, and the thought that she would vomit during the wedding made her mentally sick. Taking a few deep breaths, she closed her eyes and willed herself not to lose the crackers she’d managed to get down on the drive over. Sid massaged the base of her neck, promising to get her out of there as soon as the bride and groom walked down the aisle. Mel smiled at him, his thoughtfulness.

Max pronounced them ‘Mr. and Mrs. Goooose’ and she stood with everyone else, applauding the happy couple as they walked down the carpet and toward the locker room. Sid put an arm around her waist and gingerly walked her with the rest of the group. He sat her down in his stall and she leaned back as he ran over to grab her a Gatorade.

By the time he returned she was feeling somewhat better. She’d already talked to Tori. Since Johnny had picked her up, she would take home the Denali and Sid could just drive her to the house. He agreed wholeheartedly and they told the newlyweds ‘Congrats’ once more before heading out. The guys were leaving later for Carolina and Mel didn’t want him being late because of her.

When they pulled into the driveway of the house, Sid surprised her by telling her to stay in the car while he unlocked the door, then he came back and carried her in and up to her room. After placing her on the bed, she curled around a pillow as he searched for something more comfortable for her to wear. He helped her change and tucked her under the covers.

“Are you sure this isn’t something more serious Mel?”

“I honestly don’t know what it is. I just feel like shit. And everyone else who seemed to have what I have… they’re all better again.”

“But we’re hockey players. We get the best drugs known to man!”

She knew he was trying to make her laugh, and even though she didn’t want to admit it, that last line made her smile.

“You suck. Don’t make me laugh, it makes my stomach hurt. Now get outta here.”

“I can stay for a while. I don’t have to leave right this second.”

“No, go now. Or I’m going to beg you to stay. And you can’t, so don’t make the words come out. Please.”

Hating the weakness in her voice, Mel frowned and buried herself deeper under her blankets. Sid made sure she had liquid beside her bed, and a bucket, and then he pressed his lips to her forehead and left for the airport. She felt the first tear fall after she heard the front door close.

Fuck, I hate being sick. It fucks up my emotions. She didn’t even know why she was crying! Bullshit, you know why. You’re feeling sorry for yourself, because everyone you know is pregnant or has kids. It was stupid, and she knew that she should be immensely relieved that there wasn’t going to be a Baby Sidney coming out to greet the world in about eight months. But for the past two days, she’d had herself talked into the idea.

Sid called her from the hotel that night. She tried to be peppy. It didn’t work. Instead, she ended up picking a stupid fight with him about needing to plan for the wedding. As if he could tell that there was something else bothering her, that the fight wasn’t something she really meant, Sid calmly told her he didn’t want to fight, said ‘I love you’ and hung up. She cried herself to sleep.

The next morning started a nine-day road trip. Five games separated her from Sid. It seemed like a lifetime. She went to work, came home for games. The doctor’s office called Monday morning to tell her that she was suffering from the flu. They called in a prescription for meds that would kick the sickness to the curb.

The school year was coming to a close as well, and right now… her students needed her. A bunch of them would be graduating in a little over a month. There were final exams to make, early term papers to grade. Group projects to assign for extra credit. Her mind was already in teacher mode, only half listening to Sid’s voice at the other end of the line when he called her after the school day had come to a close.

“.. and I miss you. Did the doctor call you today? Do you know what’s wrong?”

“I have the flu. They got me a prescription this morning. I thought I sent you a text, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry. I’m just glad it was nothing more serious.”

“What do you mean?”

Her voice had come out sharper than she’d planned, but the way he said that… it sounded like he was happy that pregnancy wasn’t an option. He started to explain that he’d just meant he was happy that she wasn’t dying or anything like that. She started to smart off about something when he interrupted her.

“Melany… what’s really going on? This is the second time you’ve tried to ‘pick a fight’ over the phone. What’s wrong?”

“Why do you automatically think something is wrong?”

“Because you aren’t acting like yourself.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she bit out as her hand slid over her stomach. Why was she being so snippy. It really wasn’t like her. She started to apologize but Sid cut her off.

“Listen, something is bothering you. And you obviously don’t want to talk about it over the phone. Let’s just wait until I get home Thursday night. I’ll come over and you can tell me what’s wrong. We’ll just talk then, okay?”

“Yeah, that’s fine. Are you going to call me at all?”

“I don’t think that would be smart right now. You’re worked up over something, and I seem to be bringing it out… I’ll call you Thursday when I leave the airport. I love you.”

“Love you too.”

Hitting END, she threw the phone onto the desk and sprawled out on the couch in the attic. She had three days before he’d be at her house, wanting to talk.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Sid locked his car and jogged up to the front door. Using the key she’d given him, Sid unlocked the door and stepped inside the darkened house. He’d talked Johnny and Tanger into having the other two ladies meet them at their places tonight. It was just he and Melany. This seemed like the best option, all things considered.

Now, let’s see what’s bugging her.

Sid kicked his shoes off, leaving them at the bottom of the stairs. He took off his jacket and laid it over the banister of the stairs. He took them two at a time, getting up there as fast as he could. Knocking softly, Sid opened the door and peered inside. Mel was lying on the bedspread. She had a book in her hand and he pulled it away gently before leaning down and whispering in her ear.

She shot off the bed like the house was on fire. Glaring for a second in his direction, she grabbed his shirt and tugged, smiling into the pillow as he fell beside her. His weight dipped the mattress and she rolled closer, aligning her body to his.

“Okay, now… I’m home… please tell me you are okay.”

“I’m fine. Just a bug like I told you. I just… I thought it was something different, okay?”

“Did you think you were pregnant?”

He saw a single tear float down her face.

“Oh babe… come here.”

Pulling her into his arms, he ran his hands up and down her back, rocking her gently as she sniffled into his shirt. He’d wondered the same thing, but given his penchant for jumping to conclusions, this time he’d kept his mouth shut. He hadn’t realized she was thinking along the same lines.

“I’m sorry. I hate being sick,” she grumbled into his chest. “It throws my emotions off kilter and I cry at the slightest thing!”

“Ha! Are you sure you’re not pregnant?”

He’d meant it as a joke, a way to get her to smile. But when he looked down, there was a mask of pain on her face. She started crying again and, not knowing how to comfort her, he just rocked her some more while she let it all out. They stayed like that for awhile, and then he could hear her breathing even out, the soft puffs blowing against his neck from when she’d crawled up his body in an effort to be as close as possible.

Sid wished he had known the right words to say. It was obvious from the way he’d brought on the waterworks that he needed to work on comforting banter. She looked peaceful now though. The frown was gone and her cheeks were dry. Shuffling them both, he sat up against the headboard, nestling her in the crook of his arm like you would a child.

He ran his thumb over her forehead, back and forth. His mom had done that when he was younger, it was a soothing, lulling motion. Now that she was asleep, and he had time to think, he had plenty to say. Well, if I tell her when she’s out like this, it gives me preparation to say it when she’s awake and I’m not nervous.

“I’m sorry it wasn’t what you thought. But maybe this is a good thing. It gives us a chance to be together, just be a couple, before we start a family. We have all the time in the world for that actually. I don’t plan on letting you go anytime soon.”

He fingered the ring on her left hand.

“I had my suspicions as well. But I didn’t wanna jump to any conclusions. Not like the last time. So, maybe we should count our blessings now. We’ll plan the wedding, not have to rush things around, and then we’ll just flow with it. See what happens. I’d kind of like to have you to myself for a while before we’re staying up every night with feedings and diaper changes.”

He chuckled as he thought about what Geno was going to do in a few months. It shouldn’t actually be too difficult. He’d been living with Gonch for a while before Erin came along, and they had the little girl. So Geno knew what it was like.

“I’m not saying I don’t want a handful of kids with you, because I do. But let’s not put the cart before the horse on this one… I’m glad you’re asleep right now. I don’t think I could’ve gotten all that out without you yelling at me.”

Stretching his arms over his head, Sid yawned and got ready to lift her and move her down the bed.

“I love waking up to you talking to me while I’m sleeping. I bet you do it a lot.”

He jumped at her voice. Looking down, he noticed first the smile on her lips. Then he saw the love in her eyes. No sadness, no half smiles. His Melany was back. He bent down and kissed her softly, barely moving his lips over hers.

“I talk to you when you’re asleep so I can get a word in edgewise,” he told her jokingly. She poked him in the side and laughed along with him. “Do you wanna talk some more?”

Mel shook her head before slipping off his lap and rolling to her knees. Then she slid one leg over him, sitting on his lap and facing him. Two fingers crept up his shirt until they were running back and forth along the collar. She undid the top two buttons, her fingers skimming over the neck of his tee under his dress shirt.

“I think we’ve talked enough. And we’ve got the house to ourselves for the night, don’t we?”

“I... I don’t know… maybe…”

“Oh, I was under the impression that you asked Kris and Brent to keep the girls away. Was I mistaken?”

Mel was placing feather-light kisses along his jaw. She nipped his chin, soothing the mark with her tongue. She did the same thing along his neck, first one side, then the other. Sid groaned, these light touches more of a torture than when she just pounced on him. He started to tell her that very thought when she dropped one of her hands and ran a finger over his cock. The quivering length under the two layers jumped at the slight touch and he gasped.

Over a week with no one touching him… he hadn’t even whacked off. Most of the guys at least did that, some found female company. But he’d kept his hands to himself, taking out his sexual frustrations on the ice, the puck, the opposing players. Now he was back home, and Melany was in his arms.

“Someone seems needy,” she breathed in his ear as his hips lifted, craving more of her touch.

Sid growled and grabbed her hands. Holding them behind her back, he buried his face between her breasts. He couldn’t get too much of her skin, not with the tank top covering her, but what he could see he teased with his lips and tongue. Moving her arms closer together, he held both wrists in one hand and then used his free one to lift the material.

Pulling it up to bare her breasts, he brought his lips down over one nipple, tugging on it with his teeth as she gasped and arched into his mouth. She cursed and thrashed but he held her to him, sucking hard on her flesh, tasting the body he’d been craving since he flew out.

Releasing her wrists, he brought both his hands up, pushing her tits together and using long, slow licks over both hardened tips, drawing a moan from her lips. Her fingers came up and she sunk them in his hair, managing to hold onto him even though he’d gotten it cut while they’d been in Florida.

“God Sid, you don’t know how much I’ve missed you.”

“You only want me for my body.”

“Never. That’s a bonus. Now shut up, you talk too much.”

He chuckled as Mel undid each button of his shirt before pushing it off his shoulders. He shrugged it off, lifting his arms then so she could pull his t-shirt off as well. She ran her hands over his chest, purring as her fingers touched each muscle over his stomach. They clenched and trembled under her touch. She bent backward slightly and went to work on his pants.

As she opened them, pulled down his briefs and wrapped her fingers around his throbbing cock, Sid closed his eyes and shuddered. She laughed and slowly slid her hand up and down a few times, jerking him off as she sat on his thighs.

“No,” he growled. Then, shifting quickly, he tossed her backward, hearing her intake of breath. She loved his dirty side. Sure, she loved romance, he knew that. But he knew what his dominant side did to her as well.

Sid stared down at her. Flushed face, shirt up to her chin, her breasts bouncing as she settled onto the mattress. He grabbed at her sweats and pulled, jerking them to her knees. Mel went to make a kicking motion to help him but he grunted and kept her legs together, bending them back. He needed this too much to waste time taking her pants off all the way.

Falling over her, Sid slung both legs over his shoulder and guided himself inside her. She was already wet and ready for him. So easy to get her warmed up, so lucky for me. He pulled back and thrust forward again.

Twisting her legs, he groaned as he sunk himself balls deep into her pussy, her body tighter because of the position. She felt fucking fantastic. Her cries of passion as he humped against her stroked his ego. Watching her through his hooded gaze as she clawed for purchase against the bedspread made him want to pound into her even harder.

“I’m not going to last long sweetheart. Sorry if you don…”

“Harder.”

Redoubling his efforts, he pushed her legs backward, pressing them almost to her chest as he ground his pelvis against hers. She called his name over and over, mingling ‘yes, oh god and Jesus’ time and again. He could feel his release churning in his balls, felt the heat of the moment almost there, creeping up his neck.

He was sure that his face was red, he felt sweat drip down his temples. She twitched beneath him, her mouth opening in a silent scream. He watched her head tip back and she jerked once before an actual screamed ripped from her throat. He felt her wetness cover him as he pistoned in and out. Holding onto her hips he bottomed out once more and let loose a guttural cry as he emptied himself inside her clenching muscles.

Sid managed to pull himself out of her sweet depths and tugged her pants back up to at least cover her for now. He flopped down beside her on his stomach, his face pressed into the duvet as he breathed in her scent through the blanket. He heard her gasping for air, and then she started giggling. Finding a burst of energy, he lifted his head up enough to ask her what was so funny.

“Well, you know… I am on birth control, but if we do want to wait a little longer, you should probably try to contain the number of times you let loose your demon seed inside of me.”

He barked out a laugh and pulled her into his arms, smiling as she giggled again and told him to get his sweaty body off of her. They lay there for a few more moments before standing and stripping. She crooked a finger at him and led him into the bathroom, where she showed him, once again, just how much she missed him.

They fell asleep, arms and legs entwined, and when the morning broke and the sun started shining in her window, Sid smiled down at the sleeping woman in his arms. Tucking a stray hair behind her ear, he thought to himself about when they finally did have a baby.

I’m a liar. I would be completely content if she got pregnant now. Okay, after we get married. Maybe right before.

He stopped thinking about it when she woke up, smiling up at him.

“Wanna make breakfast for a bunch of the guys? Let your roommates actually come back to the house?”

“Mmmm, sounds good. You call everyone. I’m going to grab another shower and then I’ll head downstairs and start cooking.”

A couple hours later they were all sitting around the table, laughing and talking about funny moments from the road trip. He could feel the excitement in the air already. The season was almost over and playoffs were coming up. They had a solid chance to go far again this year. Only time would tell though.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chapter 37: The 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Abridged...

Another update so soon?? WOW, I'm the shit*

********************************************************

“Okay, so the three of you are flying out later tonight, right?”

“Oh my gosh, for the millionth time yes. And let me tell you, Erin is extremely pissed that she can’t come out with us.”

Mel chuckled as her friend came into the lounge. There was that glow about her, the one that everyone said pregnant women get. It was true. Mel had never seen her so happy before. Well, okay she was glowing, but she didn’t look happy right now. Max was walking behind her.

“Come now chere, just let me say one thing??”

“Max, stop trying to talk to my stomach. It’s creepy! I don’t even want Geno to do it!”

“Can I touch it then?”

“Oh for the love of… NO! Next person who touches my stomach is getting punched in the face.”

Max held up his hands in surrender and backed away. Erin was grumbling when she finally made it over to where Mel was standing with Sid.

“He only has the best intentions, you know that.”

“I’m going to shove his Frenchie ass into the therapy tub.”

The three of them were talking when Mel saw Geno come lumbering through the doors, a secret smile on his face. He put his finger to his lips so that they wouldn’t give him away. She thought briefly of warning Erin, she didn’t want Geno getting punched, but then again… pregnant women were prone to mood swings.

I’ll bet she didn’t even mean it.

It happened so fast, Mel didn’t have time to react. Geno slid his arm around Erin’s stomach, gently rubbing over the slowly forming baby bump and Erin turned, her fist hitting his right eye and sending him sprawling backwards.

“Dammit Max! I told you not to… Oh geez! Geno!! I’m so sorry!!”

Erin dropped down immediately to her husband and that’s when Sid burst out laughing. Mel joined in, the astonished look on Geno’s face enough to make her double over. Max came back through the doors, saw the scene in front of him, and started laughing as well. Erin helped Geno up and he was still holding his eye when Tanger came in, tossing an ice pack at him.

“What you do that for?”

“I… I told Max… I’m sorry. I thought you were him.”

“Why Max touching you?”

“He’s not. I threatened him. Told him the next person to touch my stomach would get punched. Why didn’t you say it was you??”

“I surprise you.”

Erin and Geno walked off, the two trying to discuss the issue with the language barrier between them. Max shrugged and winked as he and Tanger took off for home. Mel was still smiling when Sid took her hand. They walked out to his car.

He was leaving with the other Olympians in an hour. His bags were already packed and in his vehicle. Her flight was in three hours. She’d already packed her suitcase, it was sitting in the dining room. She just had to shower and change into comfy airplane clothes.

Sid stopped by his door and pulled her close.

“I’ll see you tonight. Last chance to… visit… one another until the Games are over.”

“We’ll talk silly.”

“I know, I mean… last chance to fool around.”

“Horn dog.”

“You have no idea. I wish we were on the same flight,” he told her with a wiggle of his eyebrows. Mel snorted and pulled him down for a kiss. He growled and managed to pull away before they could do a repeat car performance.

She watched him drive away. She didn’t see him that night though. She didn’t see him again until after the first game against the USA had ended. As she watched them skate off the ice she cursed the ‘rules’ about visiting him.

Screw the damn rules. He needs me.

She sent him a text telling him that she was coming up for a visit. She expected a fight from him, something about doing the right thing. Instead, she got a text back that said there would be a key at the concierge and to go up now, he’d meet her once he’d changed.

Oh, this is worse than I thought.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

He literally felt sick to his stomach right now.

No, it wasn’t his fault that they had lost, not entirely anyway. But Sid couldn’t help but shoulder a good chunk of the blame. He was Canada’s Son when it came to hockey, right? He should’ve been able to pull off a win for his country tonight, right? His dad had stood there in the locker room, not saying anything, just giving him that look. It was the same look he’d gotten when Detroit had hoisted the cup in 2008. It was the look of a man who was ashamed of his son.

Don’t mind the fact that they had made it that far in the first place, or that he was only twenty years old at the time. No, all that mattered was that when it came down to the moment, he hadn’t been able to lead his team to victory. This past season, when Sid had skated around with the Cup… sure, his dad was happy. But he’ll never forget the look in his dad’s eyes when he’d said, ‘This should’ve been the second time you lifted that.’

So now, battered and bruised from the loss they’d just taken against the U.S.A., Sid sat there in his track suit, his head down, hands laced over top his neck, trying not to lose it. He couldn’t do that even if he wanted to. No, he was Sidney Crosby. Everything rested on his shoulders, and he had to grin and bear it. At least he didn’t have to bear it alone though. This time, he had someone on his side. Maybe if he could just talk to her… maybe she could help him make sense of it all.

Sid smiled as he thought about who was waiting for him at the hotel. She was his rock more often than not. And she gave him hell when he deserved it, and loving when he needed it. Tonight, tonight he needed the loving. Grabbing his lanyard and wallet, Sid stood up and stretched before heading out of the room. He passed Babcock on the way out, and tried to turn away, not wanting to see the disappointment that he knew would be on the man’s face. But a hand on his shoulder stopped him in his tracks. Turning, he looked into the face of the man he’d taken the Cup away from last year. He said the only thing he could.

“I’m sorry Coach.”

“For what?”

“I lost it…”

“Sid… Oh Sidney. You didn’t lose it. You gave it everything you had out there. I watched, I know.”

“But I shoul—“

“No buts. Go get a good night’s sleep. Find that woman of yours if that’ll make you feel better, you know some of the others will. But I don’t care what anyone says, you can’t be the whole team son. Okay?”

“Okay Coach.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon for practice.”

Sid nodded and started back on his way to the hotel.

Please be there already.

Fifteen minutes later he was sliding his room key into the slot, watching for the light to turn green, before he pushed down on the handle and opened the door. The room was almost dark, the only light coming from a desk lamp in the far corner of the room.

“Mel, are you here?”

He kicked off his shoes and stepped into the main part of the room. The Canadian jumpsuit felt heavy on his shoulders and he ripped the zipper open, feeling like a snake shedding his skin. Or a superhero pulling off his costume. Chucking the jacket over the back of the chair he turned to the bed and saw her.

There, in the center of the big, cushiony mattress sat a woman who had managed to worm her way into his life, his mind, and his heart. She was constantly keeping him on his toes. She never backed down from a confrontation, and she had shown him more passion, both personally and at the arena, than anyone he knew. Sid seriously didn’t know what he’d done before she was a part of his life. She brought laughter and spontaneity to his previously peaceful existence.

“Hey baby, no crazy press conferences tonight?”

“I don’t know. I left.”

“You didn’t…” He just nodded his head. “You did.”

“I couldn’t face all that disappointment.”

“What?!”

“I can’t deal with the fact right now that I’ve let down my team and my entire country.”

“Where is this coming from?”

“I saw my dad’s face after –“

“STOP!”

“What? I’m just stating facts,” he said.

Why is she getting so upset? She didn’t just lose.

“Facts? Facts according to whom?”

“Were you not watching? We lost by two to the Americans.”

“Yes, and you played hard the entire game. You got a goal to bring it within one; you gave your team the fighting chance. How can you say to disappointed everyone?”

“I should be able to do better than one goal.”

“Listen to yourself! You’re one man Sidney! No one expects you to be the savior of Canada!”

“Yes they do!” He couldn’t believe they were having this conversation. “I thought you believed in me!”

“Excuse me?!” Ok, maybe that was the wrong choice of words… “You don’t think I believe in you??”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Really? Well, let me tell you a couple things mister,” Melany nearly shouted as she leapt off the bed. In two strides she was in front of him, glaring up into his eyes. “Sit down,” she told him as her hands pushed against him. He fell to the bed, looking up at her now with wide eyes. He’d dealt with her temper before, and wondered what had brought on this tantrum.

“I know that look. I’m not having a temper tantrum. But I’m going to try and get something through that thick skull of yours. So you listen to me, and you listen well. Understand?” he nodded. And with that look in her eye, he knew he was in for a good tongue-lashing. Scooting up, he sat against the head board as she came around to the side, sitting on the edge of the mattress closest to him.

“Now, I realize that you just lost a game, and you’re feeling bummed, but we need to clarify a few things I think. First off, you are not a failure to your nation because your guys didn’t get a W today.”

“But –”

“Crosby…”

“Shutting up.”

“You cannot take on every nation by yourself. There are twenty-three of you representing Canada out there. Together, as a team, you have to face others. It’s not the Sidney Crosby Team. It’s Team Canada. So just because you lost tonight, does NOT mean that it’s your fault. Did you give it your all tonight?”

“Of course.”

“Good. Second thing, and I know this may bug you… the world does not revolve around the opinions of your father. Please don’t misunderstand me; he wants nothing other than the best for you. But he shouldn’t be putting all this pressure on you either. I don’t see him out there busting his ass to try and get Canada to a medal game. He loves you, and you love him, but he can be a completely dick sometimes.”

“He just knows the potential I could be playing at.”

“You can’t play anymore than you already do! You’ll kill yourself in the process. And then what, what good would a burned out, 22-year-old captain be?”

“They’re all counting on me!”

“I don’t care! Listen to yourself! The nation isn’t riding on your shoulders.”

“I’m supposed to be ‘The Next One’ dammit!” Sid blinked back tears of frustration. Men didn’t cry, especially not in front of their girlfriends. He felt like he was going to break at any moment though. Turning away, he blinked a few more times, but he felt her grab his chin, turning him back towards her. Then she was on top of him, her legs on either side of him as she held his face in her hands.

“Look at me baby.” Sid turned, no longer embarrassed of the unshed tears that he knew she could see. He saw her eyes shimmering as well, and he felt horrible for making her feel horrible. Everything was just piling on top of him right now, and he felt like he was suffocating. He didn’t even want to go to the rink tomorrow. He hadn’t realized that a tear had fallen until her thumb brushed over one of his cheeks. She pulled him to her, his face buried in her neck as she ran her fingers through his hair, whispering words of love to him. All of the pressure, the commitment, his father, everything. He let it out.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Melany held him tight, wishing she could just absorb all of his pain. He had so many things to deal with, too many for someone his age. And the whole ‘Next One’ bullshit… it didn’t help matters any. She thought of who might be able to help, and then got angry as she thought about whoshould be helping. Troy. But he was too busy making Sid feel bad to do any good. She’d call Mario in the morning; maybe he could help her figure out how to help Sid.

Pulling back from him, she tilted his face up, drying his face with her shirt and placing a gentle kiss on his lips.

“Now, you listen here Sidney Crosby. I did not take two weeks off from work, and secretly pack all of this lingerie, for you to sit here and be weepy.” She said the final part with a smile and he chuckled a bit too. “Do you feel any better?”

“I do.”

“Good, because I wasn’t quite finished with my speech.”

“Yes you are,” he told her and his arms tightened around her. “Hold tight,” Sid said as he slid himself onto his back before flipping them over so that he was on top of her, pressed close. “Thank you.”

“But I never got to the part about how much I love you.”

“I already knew that part,” he said as his hands cupped her face. He smiled down at her as his lips descended on hers. It was a kiss that was filled with so many things. She could feel the love and desire he always had for her, but there was also gentleness and some hesitance. Melany felt his tongue slide along her bottom lip and she relented under his touch, moaning as their tongues played Tag.

He kissed her until she thought she’d pass out before lifting his mouth, moving down to taste the flesh above the neck of her t-shirt. And as much as she loved the intimate times they spent together, she wanted to make sure that he knew how serious she was.

“Have I ever told you how proud I am of you?”

“You have.”

“But do you believe me.”

“There’s no one else in the world right now that I would believe over you when it comes to feelings for me. You’ve been a constant in my life and the one person who doesn’t make me feel like I’m not giving my all, all the time. Sometimes I wonder why you put up with me.”

“Explain.”

“I’m more moody than a sixteen year old girl. I’m gone all the time. Sometimes when I’m here I’m not really ‘here.’ You have to deal with the crazy fan girls, the media, my father… I don’t know how you handle it all. There are times when I think that you’re so much stronger than I am.” Melany had to blink back tears now. It had been so long since they’d had a conversation like this. Not that she didn’t know how he felt. She did. But it was so nice to hear him explain how much he cared about her.

“I deal with you because I want to. It’s as simple as that. You offered to be mine, and I refused to let you go ever since. I love when you’re on a road trip and then you come home, because the first person you see is me. And it’s like we’re together for the first time again. I love your moodiness, because I get to come up with ways to make you smile. I know that the fan girls want your hot body… who wouldn’t! The media loves to cause an uproar, and your father… I tolerate his insanity because I love your mom and sister. And I know that he just wants what he thinks is best for you. He’d be a bad father if he didn’t. I just think that he pushes too much, too often.”

“I know you two don’t always see eye to eye, but I think he actually likes you.”

“Really? How do you figure that?”

“He talks about you by your name. He doesn’t say ‘that woman’ or ‘your girlfriend’ or call you names. Whenever he asks about you, it’s always Melany or Mel.”

“I didn’t even know he asked about me.”

“I’m pretty sure he likes you a lot more than he lets on. And I feel like the way he acts around you is just that, an act. You scare him. You’re independent, outspoken, and you truly love me. It’s a lethal combination to him.”

“I’m glad you don’t seem so threatened by me,” Melany told Sid, a smile tugging at her lips.

“I’m deathly afraid of you. That’s why I can’t break up with you. See, you’ve made the perfect plan to keep me in your clutches forever.” He looked so serious that she burst out laughing. Sid joined in a split second later and before she knew it they were both nearly hyperventilating, lying side by side on the bed. After a few moments Melany was able to take a couple deep breaths. She turned, stretching out on top of Sid and nearly purring as he ran his hand over her hair and down her back, kneading the skin above the waistband of her jeans.

“Thank you for loving me Melany. There are times that I don’t feel like I deserve it and…” she didn’t let him finish whatever half-assed remark he was going to make. He talked too much anyway. So she stretched up to kiss him soundly as her hand traveled down to trace the outline of his cock through his track pants. He gasped and his hips jerked almost involuntarily. Feeling him start to harden made her juices start to flow as well. Melany lifted up, her lips parting from his and her body moving down his, closer to the prize she sought.

Fishing with the drawstring on his pants, she was finally able to pull them and his boxers down enough to free him from the material prison. She wrapped one hand around the base of his cock and her mouth moved forward. She held him still as her tongue slid up and down his length. He tasted like soap and Sid. She couldn’t seem to get enough of him though, so her mouth closed over him and she tightened her lips as she bobbed her head up and down. He was groaning and one arm was being used to prop himself up. The other was tangled in her hair, guiding her at the pace he wanted.

This side of him was one of the hottest things in the world. It was the only time she thought he could let all those frustrations out. So he took it out on her. Not that he would ever hurt her! Just the opposite. He was so loving while exerting his dominance. He growled and tightened his grip on her hair.

“Stop.”

Mel lifted her head, licking her lips as she sat up. He was a sight, his clothes bunched so that the important part was visible. His hair was completely messed up, sticking out since he’d just let it dry without gel.

She crawled into his lap when he beckoned her forward. He hissed as her denim slid over his cock. But he didn’t stop her. Mel worked the muscles in his shoulders as she slid back and forth deliberately. His hands were like vice grips on her waist. Every movement tightened his fingers and the pressure that had started building with his first kiss reached a new level as he let go of her with one hand and shoved it down her pants.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She let out a surprised moan as Sid went to work quickly on her clit. Her sweet, sticky juices were flowing freely and he pressed hard with his thumb as he angled his hand, shoving two fingers inside her dripping snatch. She jumped but he slid his other hand to the back of her neck, applying some pressure as he pushed her back down.

“No escaping me tonight Melany.”

Two little breaths puffed out as she tried to catch a breath. His fingers massaged her sweet spot perfectly and each jerk of her hips electrified his movements. Hearing her cry out his name snapped his control.

Sid lifted up and tilted her backwards. He didn’t stop his ministrations, but he did move more to her side. Staring down into her eyes, he focused his attention so much on her that when he felt her fingers close around his length he gasped, his member jumping in her hand.

“Fuck. Stop touching me.”

“But I want to tou--”

“I said stop.”

Reluctantly she released him and he took a deep breath. He’d felt ready to burst and didn’t want that to happen, at least not in her hand. He told her to hold onto his shirt or his arm. When she asked why, he forced a third finger between her folds and she screamed before grabbing hold for dear life.

Pushing his fingers as deep as he could, and still rubbing against the massive bundle of pleasure, Sid watched her once more. Her eyes were hazy with desire, her cheeks flushed. As her tongue slid out and licked her bottom lip he flicked his thumb over her nubbin once more. Her eyes widened and he smiled, sliding it back and forth twice. Her mouth opened, his name came out over and over and her hips bucked up as she found sweet release.

He held her to him as she shook in the aftermath. Pulling his hand from her jeans, he brought his fingers up and licked them clean, watching her pupils enlarge and her nostrils flare. Pushing her to the bed, he leaned down, his mouth a breath away from hers. Sid groaned as she brought her mouth up, her tongue darting out and tracing his lips. He knew she had to be able to taste herself as she slipped her tongue into his mouth and wrapped her arms around his neck.

As they battled for dominance in a kiss Sid took one hand, fumbling with the button on her jeans. Finally he pulled away, huffing out a breath, and reached down to peel the denim and ruined panties off, throwing them across the room. He grunted for her to lift up and he whipped her shirt over her head. It joined the other clothing and then he ripped her bra, much to her dismay, and flung it somewhere.

Mel tugged at the hem of his tee. Tugging it over his head, he heard a rip as it finally came off and sailed through the air. He chuckled as she pushed the waistband of his pants over his hips, loving her enthusiasm. He took a second to stand and step out of them, pulling off his socks too. Then he was back on the bed, pulling her on top of him and settling her over his aching hard-on.

“Do it,” he told her.

He closed his eyes and moaned as she wrapped her hand around him and slid down, encasing his entire length in her honeyed depths.

“Ride me.”

Sid clenched his teeth at her first movement. She lifted herself slowly and then dropped back onto him, taking him all at once. He felt her pussy quiver around him and wondered how long she would last. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to hold out very long. His thighs strained as he lifted his hips, bouncing her as he thrust.

Her hands clawed at his chest, her fingers into his flesh as she moaned and Sid clenched his teeth, his breath hissing out as Mel spurred him on.

“Yes, Sid… Oh god… yes, yes, fuck, fuck, oh shit!”

“Shhhh, you aren’t even supposed to be here.”

He watched her bite her lip, whatever she’d been about to yell now trapped behind her closed mouth. He felt her tighten around him, her body a giant tremor as she ground herself down on him. Sid launched himself up, his arms wrapping around her as he lost himself inside her. He held her close, his own body trembling as she pressed her forehead to his, whispering how much she loved him.

Bringing her down with him to the mattress, Sid wiped her hair from her eyes, smiling as she pressed her lips to his wrist. He shuddered when she nipped his palm. Then she curled against him, her body molding itself to his. They had been lying there for some time when she stopped drawing swirls on his chest and looked up at him.

“Do I need to leave before morning?”

“Fuck… probably. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. Is there a roommate who’s waiting to come in and get his sleep?” Sid laughed. “Are you rooming with Flower?!”

“Shhhh, don’t worry about it.”

Mel drug herself out of his arms and tossed the duvet around her body as she searched for all of her clothing. He stayed in bed, propped up slightly against the headboard, and watched her get ready. After dressing, she came back over and captured his lips once more.

“I love you. You’re amazing. No worries, okay? Just go… have fun.”

He nodded and walked her to the door. They made plans for lunch the next day and he took her advice. Practicing with Iggy and Nash, he ‘had fun’ while playing and it was like the good ol’ days again. They started gaining confidence as a team, their lines started meshing together better and he found himself smiling during time outs. They kept up the pace and Sid found himself trying to relax the night before the final day. It was down to them and the USA for the gold medal.

Tomorrow we play hard and fight together to bring home the gold for Canada. We can do this.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Mel wandered around the arena, taking in the sights. Sid and the guys were set to take on Brooks and the US in two hours. Amanda was decked out in all American clothing, and Mel walked beside her, covered head-to-toe in a Canadian track suit that Troy and Trina had bought her for Christmas. They got some weird looks, especially since they were linked arm in arm, but neither one seemed to notice.

Okay, I’m noticing the looks, but if she can ignore them, I will too.

Vero came running up as they were waiting in the concession line and practically leapt into their arms.

“It is great, non?!”

“It is! Wait… what is great???”

“You two did not get the text from Erin or Max?”

Mel pulled her phone out and saw the unread message. Opening it, she jumped, squealing with delight as she read that she was going to have a niece. Amanda was laughing and the three quickly grabbed their drinks before heading over to an open bench.

They sat and talked baby for twenty minutes and then Amanda begged of, promising to see them tomorrow night, back in Pittsburgh. She was sitting with Brooks’ family, a family who had welcomed her with open arms. Everything was starting to fall into place for everyone. Vero was sitting up in the box with Marc today, and Mel knew she was anxious to get up there.

“Go be with him. I’ll go find the Crosby’s. Tell them the good news as well!”

“I will see you after the game. We will compare the boy’s gold medals!”

She wound through the throngs of people, some recognizing her, high-fiving her and asking for photos. When she finally made it to her seat, Trina was smiling and holding out a hand. Taking it, they all settled in for the game.

It was a hard fought battle, and in the third period, Canada was up 2-1. Mel tried to remember to breathe as the teams exchanged hits and shots, neither one able to break the other. With less than a minute left, she started to let out a sigh of relief and suddenly the arena was quiet as Parise was tackled by his teammates.

No… no, no, no, no!! They were that close!

With twenty-five seconds left, the United States tied the game up at two apiece. They went into overtime, both wondering who’s shot was going to end it. Mel looked over at Troy. He was sitting still as stone, and his fingers were repeatedly drumming on his knee.

At the start of the OT period, each came out, looking for the fight of their life. It was weird to watch Sid playing on lines with people he was usually checking or shooting against. She watched him tap Luongo’s pads like he usually did with Flower after a huge save by the Canucks goalie, and she wondered how Marc and Vero were doing up in the box.

Centering her focus back on the game, she held her breath as Sid broke into the offensive zone. He drove down toward Miller but had no shot, and no chance to pass to anyone. Dipping back around the net, he faked a pass to Jarome and then took a random half-assed shot.

And the arena erupted.

The look on Sid’s face was hilarious and scary and Mel barely made out the image through her tears. Troy looked like he was going to smother his wife with a hug and Taylor was jumping up and down and screaming bloody murder. The entire team came out and tackled Sid on a group hug. It was, aside from the Cup, the greatest hockey moment she’d ever witnessed.

Watching them all receive their medals was hard, the USA players looked broken and defeated. Sure, they’d lost, but they made it farther than other teams. In the end though, that probably made losing even worse. They played the Star-Spangled Banner and Mel couldn’t stop herself from putting her hand over her heart and humming along.

But when the Canadian players got their gold, and the flag started to raise, her heart stopped for a moment. Sid had the biggest grin on his face, standing next to Nash, and he was looking around. No doubt he was trying to see if he could find her and his family in the thousands of people. O Canada started to play, the guys all singing along with the music, and she found herself antsy to get out of the arena and find Sid.

The closing ceremonies were already starting when she finally wove down into the area for family. The press was insane, cameras and recorders everywhere. She tried to look nonchalant but she was humming with excitement. When Sid broke free from a group of people and noticed all of them standing there, waiting for him, he jogged over.

His family wrapped him in a huge group hug and Troy even grabbed onto her arm, including her in the festivities. She laughed as they all surrounded him and congratulated him. When he was finally able to breathe and talk, he spoke to his family, but never let his eyes drift away from hers. Trina coughed and told them that they’d give the two of them a moment alone, pulling Troy away before he could put up an argument.

“You are, by far, the most amazing man I’ve ever met. And of course, it would have to be you that saves Canada.”

“I am pretty awesome, aren’t I?”

“And cocky.”

“And in stupidly in love with an argumentative woman.”

“Who loves you right back.”

He tugged her against him and she smiled into his chest as he seemed to just take a moment and breathe her in. Mel closed her eyes, completely content in this moment they had. There were cheers all around, champagne and those weird flowers flying everywhere. But to her, it was bliss.

“Let me get changed, tell my family goodbye, and we’ll go across to the ceremony, okay?”

Mel nodded and let him go, walking back over to her adopted family. Sid was back in no time and he hugged each family member before taking her hand and shuffling over to the opposite arena along with the others.

They arrived in time to hear the last few notes of Neil Young singing and saw the Olympic flame being extinguished. As the crowd died down some, the lights shut off and she wondered if they had missed everything. But then a spotlight came on and she recognized Michael BublĂ©… dressed as a Mountie.

Oh. Dear. God.

Everyone started laughing and he broke out into song, belting out his own rendition of “The Maple Leaf Forever.” There were scantily clad girls in versions of Mountie uniforms, dancing along to the music and they stripped him of his uniform, leaving him in a tuxedo. He crooned and swayed and Mel found herself swaying along with him.

Sid was standing behind her, his arms wrapped around her waist. She knew he was smiling, but she turned to make sure. He laughed when some giant inflatable moose came out, and she kissed his cheek. Michael started a medley of his songs and as his voice poured out the lyrics to “Home,” Sid turned her around in his arms.

“Today was perfect Sid. It can’t get any better than this!”

He stared at her, one hand coming up and slowly moving across her cheek. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled his hand back out, a beautiful antique ring between his fingers. It glittered in the stage lights. She stopped swaying, stopped moving completely, and stared at him.

“Sidney?”

“Marry me.”

It wasn’t a question. He didn’t get down on one knee. There were no roses or candles or violin music. He was just standing in front of her, love shining in his eyes, telling her to marry him. It was so like Sid. And she loved him for it.

“Marry me Melany.”

“Why do you think I became Canadian,” she whispered. Then she threw her arms around him and screamed ‘YES’ before planting her lips on his. She poured her heart and soul into the kiss, jumping up and wrapping her legs around his waist.

A few of the guys hollered for them to get a room, someone whistled, and from the corner of her eye she saw Flower and V watching them. Sid lifted up and grabbed her left hand. She wrapped her right arm around his neck tighter and a single tear slid down her face as he slipped the ring on her finger. Mel heard Vero scream ‘FINALLY’ as they made their way toward her and Sid

“Now,” he whispered as he kissed her tear away, “now today is perfect.”


******************************************

Okay, so... I changed the closing ceremonies around... Michael didn't do a medley as far as I know, but hey... my story right*

There will be more about the ring in the next chapter, and I hope you guys are happy that they're finally engaged!! Only... S-I-X more chapters and an epilogue to go... How will it end???? Who knows*

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chapter 36: Try And Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Can't believe I got all this out today! Yay me! And it's exciting for you* LOL
Comments will be greatly appreciated*
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Sid!! We’re going to be late!”

“We are not going to be late. Did you say this started at 3p.m.? It’s only 12 o’clock! I’ll be ready in two minutes. Calm down!”

“You calm down!”

Sid shook his head and stifled a laugh as he ran his hands through his hair. There was really nothing more he could do with it, no hope for it.

Fucking curls from hell.

He’d have chopped it off by now, but Melany insisted that she loved it at this length. He was pretty sure she just wanted something to grab onto when she was guiding him to her…

“COME ON!”

“God woman, you are really annoying sometimes, you know that right??”

He heard her grumble something about him and he grabbed the necklace he had in his overnight bag. He had planned on waiting until they got to her family’s house, but she had been so testy for the past two days. He knew it wasn’t him that she was angry with or anything but… It still didn’t make him feel good. Not being able to help her.

But for the first time since they’d met, she wouldn’t open up to him.

“Can I give you one of your presents,” he said as he leaned against the door frame to the bathroom.

“No! No presents until gift time at my aunt & uncle’s. Got it?”

“Got it. And I will adhere to that promise, and be ready to leave… as soon as you tell me what your problem is.”

“I don’t have a problem.”

“Liar. You’ve been wound so tightly for like… four days. What’s going on inside there?”

Sid pointed to her head and watched her stiffen under his gaze.

“Nothing. I’m just ready to see my family. It’s been awhile.”

“Okay… And what is the real problem?”

“John’s been at Christmas dinner for the past three years. And I haven’t told anyone yet that he deployed… and I haven’t heard from him in two weeks so I’m just a little worried.”

“Worried about him, or that your family will think you’ve just traded him in for someone else?”

“About him, jerk.”

Sid smiled. It may have sounded like an insult, but the smile he saw on her face told him that she didn’t mean it. He stepped over and wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly as he pressed a kiss to her forehead.

“He’ll be fine. He’s been over there before. He knows the risks. But he won’t do anything stupid. He’s got a wife and good friends to come home to. Okay?”

He held her until she finally nodded in agreement. Then, with a swift kiss, Sid smiled and jogged back into the bathroom to grab his bag. They had just shut the front door to Mario’s when he asked her if she wanted to drive.

“You don’t wanna drive? You’re a guy. They always want to drive places.”

“Well, I know that you know the way. And I don’t.”

“That’s true. Sure, I don’t mind. You still wanna take your car then? You trust me to drive your baby?”

“I have a better idea.”

Sid tossed her a set of keys. He watched as she looked down at the key ring.

“What is this?”

“Hit the unlock button and find out.”

Mel held up the fob and as she pressed the button, lights blinked at her from behind.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Sidney. What is this?”

He wouldn’t. She stared at the vehicle. It had a giant red bow on it. He would.

“Merry Christmas babe.”

“Sid. This… this is… this is too mu...”

“It’s not. It’s perfect. You needed a better car for winter here in Pittsburgh. It’s got more space than your car, built-in GPS, remote start for those chilly mornings. And it’s shiny. You like shiny.”

“I like shiny?? What am I, a squirrel?”

“No. But you can’t deny that this is nice. It’s got everything you wanted in a car.”

“You bought me a car.”

“I did.”

“I won’t be able to make you take it back, will I?”

“Nope. Say ‘I love it’ and give me a kiss.”

Mel shook her head but walked over to him. She grabbed his face in her hands and pulled him down. When his lips were almost touching hers, she whispered the words and then sighed as his lips captured hers in a heated kiss. They only pulled away when Nathalie yelled happily from the porch.

“I thought you had to be out of here by a certain time! You just wanna test the speed of that, don’t you?”

Chuckling, Sid grabbed her bag and put it in the cargo trunk. She noticed that all of the presents were already placed in there. But she had put everything in her car last this morning. How did he find the time? He’s been with me all morning.

She opened the driver’s side door and let out a laugh. Seat covers, floor mats, a steering wheel cover and dice… all in a Penguins theme. Maybe it was corny, but she loved that he’d bought them. After settling into the seats, he leaned over and pressed the power button on the console.

“Christmas music for the drive up?”

“I only have my iPod because I figured tha…”

She stopped talking as Sid smiled and pulled a cable out of the glove compartment and plugged one end into the media console. Then he held out his hand for her iPod. Shaking her head again, she pointed to the back seat where her purse was sitting.

As she pulled out of the Lemieux’s drive, Mel got a feel for her new vehicle. Only Sid would think that a GMC Denali was an appropriate Christmas present. And even though she’d initially thought something this big would be showy… she had to admit that she loved it.

The two hour drive was filled with lots of singing and laughing. And when they pulled into the driveway of the farmhouse, Mel couldn’t help but feel a pang of remorse that she hadn’t really made it up a lot this year. There were cars parked everywhere, most of the family already there.

She parked and, after taking a deep breath, grabbed a box of the presents and led Sid up the wide front porch steps. She could hear laughter and talking through the doors and she placed the box on the wooden floor and was about to knock when the door swung open and her uncle pulled her into a big bear hug.

Mel blinked back tears as she hugged the older man enthusiastically. The deep, rough timbre of his voice sounded like the sweetest melody as he told her Merry Christmas. He smelled like a cross between a barn and apple pie. And the way his thick mustache tickled as he kissed her cheek brought back memories of previous Christmas Eve nights spent here.

“I’m so glad you could make it again this year Melany. Wouldn’t have been the same without ya kiddo. And who is this young man? Where’s Johnny Boy?”

Mel stepped back and made the introductions quickly. She left out any mention of John though… she’d tell them all later. Her uncle ushered them into the house and Mel hurried to put the presents under the tree as she heard his booming voice say that it was now time to eat, since everyone was here.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“I told you we would be late,” she whispered to him. Sid just chuckled as he followed behind her.

Smiling, he poked her in the side as they made their way to the dining room. It was, as Mel had stated on the drive up, a classic farm house. Kitchen, living room, dining room and bathroom on the bottom floor. Four bedrooms and a bathroom on the top floor. Big attic and a wrap-around porch. The table in the dining room was even bigger than the one she had back home and Sid realized now that having a lot of people around the table was a comfort for her.

Note to self, have more dinners and stuff at Mel’s in the future.

Sid sat down in the seat Mel pointed at, a spot between both her and her mother. He watched her walk over to an older lady who was getting ready to sit down at one of the heads of the table. She spoke quickly and Sid watched the sorrow flash over the woman’s face before she pasted on a smile and nodded. As Mel made her way back over to him, Sid laced his fingers through hers, bringing them up and kissing her knuckles.

“You okay?”

“Yeah, I just wanted to make sure my grandmother remembered to pray for something a little extra before we ate.”

He nodded and watched how the family quieted down when the older woman stood up.

“Let’s bow our heads in a quick prayer before we eat. Lord, thank you for bringing us all together for yet another Christmas Eve dinner at my son’s. We give thanks that everyone made the trip safely and that they could all be here to celebrate together. We thank you for the time that you let others spend with us here on earth and we know they now watch over us from heaven. And tonight… tonight we ask a special prayer, please keep out men and women in the military safe. Let them come home swiftly and safely. Let John do his duty and stay out of harm’s way while he’s deployed in a land far away.”

Sid squeezed Mel’s hand and felt her give a small squeeze back. He hadn’t realized how hard this was for her. She hadn’t mentioned anything about being nervous or concerned. And he felt like an ass for not noticing. Or at least, for not realizing what she was upset about. No one could miss the anger recently.

Dinner was fabulous. It seemed like all the women in her family were cooking whizzes. Sid know he was going to have to do some extra work outs the next time he was at the arena. But he couldn’t stop himself.

After the meal was done, and the dishes were either in the dishwasher, or scraped off and ready to be loaded next, the group congregated into the living room. Mel told him to find a seat somewhere and she’d be by him once they were done passing out presents. He quirked an eyebrow and her uncle explained that the ‘kids’ always passed out the presents.

“So, even though they’re all in their twenties, they’re the kids still?”

“Yep. At least until Walter and Jr. over there get old enough to carry things to people!”

Sid laughed as he glanced at the little boy. He was blonde as blonde could be, and, according to his mother, ornery as hell. Currently, he was sitting in his mom’s lap, his little chubby fingers drumming lightly on her swollen belly. Mel would look gorgeous if she was pre… stop that!

He shook his head and watched, amused, as she and her cousins passed out gifts, making piles where necessary. In the end, there were multiple packages sitting in front of him. Most were addressed to Mel, but a few had both their names written on them and there were even two that were for just him. When everything was dished out to the correct people, Sid slid over a bit more, giving her room to settle down comfortably beside him.

“Is there a method to this madness,” he asked a moment later when people were ripping paper like crazy, crumbling it up into balls and throwing it at one another. He was so stunned in the beginning that when he got hit smack dab in the forehead, he could do nothing but blink.

“Is there really a method to any sort of madness?”

“Point taken. Why aren’t you opening your presents?”

“I like to watch their faces as they open each gift. It’s so great to see the smiles as they see what someone bought them.”

“Well, I think you should open this one. I hear the buyer saw this and knew, instantly, that it was perfect for you.”

Handing her the necklace, Sid leaned back and waited for her to open it. She carefully opened both ends of the gift wrap, then the long line, unfolding the paper and holding the jewelry box in her hand. Then, as Mel opened the lid, Sid heard the intake of breath as her hand flew up to her mouth.

“Sid… it’s beautiful!”

“I saw it and thought that it was the perfect present for you.”

“Where on earth did you find it? I love it!”

“When we were in Florida… saw this eclectic jewelry shop near the beach. Like I said, it’s you.”

She grabbed his face, her lips moving over his. Then she smiled and pulled back before something could get out of control. Sid didn’t know whether to be happy or pout. But she’d promised him quality make-out time in front of the fire before they went to bed… so he was content with her sweet torture for now.

“Open the present from me.”

Sid picked up the gift with her writing on it. it was small, not completely flat. Kind of reminded him of a flattened shoe box. He tore through the wrapping paper and then ripped the lid off. Peeling back the two pieces of tissue paper, he pulled out a passport.

“What is this?”

“Open it.”

Flipping the cover over, Sid saw her photo. Okay, I knew she had a passport. What gives? He tilted his head, not following along.

“Melany??”

“Look a little closer babe.”

He skimmed the image and the wording. He was about to ask again what she was talking about when he noticed the ‘Country of origin’ section. It said Canada.

“What does this mean?”

“I now have dual citizenship.”

Dual citizenship. That means no crazy paperwork to fill out after I propose! Wait is that why she did it? Does she know about the ring?

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Mel watched Sid’s face as he looked at her passport. The confused expression disappeared and his eyes practically lit up. But then she saw his brows knit together and he looked at her.

“You’re now Canadian and American?”

“I am. You know what that means?”

“It… ummm… it means that… no, what does it mean?”

Sighing, she explained, unsure of how he could not see the benefit to this.

“Now, in February, when you’re playing in the Olympics, I don’t feel like a traitor when I cheer for Canada! Duh!!”

“Olympics… Canada... Ooooh!”

“What did you think I meant?”

“I-I dunno. But now it makes sense,” he laughed as he pulled her close. She smiled and laid her head on his shoulder, inhaling the scent of Sid and Christmas.

It’s a very potent combination of smells. I wonder if he can be quiet on an air mattress.

The rest of the presents were opened. She could tell he was surprised and excited to open gifts from her family labeled for the two of them. And he laughed when he opened the package from her cousins that was specifically for him.

Inside the beautifully wrapped box had been American flag boxer shorts, a baseball, a recipe for apple pie and a roll of duct tape. Sid held the tape up. Mel groaned.

“I get the rest of the gifts, you’re trying to Americanize me… but what gives with the tape??”

“You’ve been with her for eight months and haven’t wanted to tape her mouth shut yet?! You’ve got a high tolerance for her constant chatter, don’t you?”

Mel growled and chucked a wad of wrapping paper at her cousin’s head. She should’ve known that James would be behind that. Her family launched into a series of hilarious family stories… all relating to her and her inability to keep her mouth shut.

“You know, this isn’t nice to do to you—“

“Shhhh,” Sid said. “Don’t make me use that tape. You got to hear all kinds of stories during my Cup day. I wanna hear more about you.”

“Bah… fine. Can we go get cookies and beverages first? This could end up being a long night, and I’m still hungry!”

Everyone migrated to the kitchen and dining room for coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and other desserts before returning to the living room and settling down for story time. It was about an hour later when Mel slid out of Sid’s arms and into the other room where her purse was. Coming back a second later, she held up an old VHS tape in her hand.

“I forgot! I brought this tape for us to watch, before we put in the Grinch! I found it the other day when I was sorting through a few boxes. I think it’s something you’ll all enjoy.”

Tossing the tape to her uncle, she snuggled back into Sid’s arms, leaning back against his chest and snatching one of the quilts from the pile in the corner. The tape started and her heart clenched as the camera wobbled slightly before panning around the room.

“Is this…”

Mel nodded at James. This video was the last Christmas that everyone had been home for. It was over fifteen years ago. She had been five or six. As the video played, Mel found herself smiling and laughing, and tearing up when the camera had focused on her grandfather.

Glancing around the room, she saw everyone else staring at the screen as well. He had passed away probably ten years after that video was shot. 2002. Seven years ago. And yet, watching him smile and make faces at the camera, it felt like yesterday.

Stifling a sob, Mel turned some and buried her face in Sid’s chest as the tears ran down her cheeks. She heard a couple other sniffles and felt Sid’s hand rubbing gently up and down the middle of her back. It was still such a fresh wound in the center of her heart. The man who had been more of a father than grandfather… had been practically the center of her world… hearing his laughter was a blessing and a curse.

“I’m sorry you lost him babe. Just watching this makes me think he would’ve been an amazing man to meet.”

Sid had whispered the words into her hair but she heard them. Turning to look up at him, her eyes no doubt shimmering with the few tears that hadn’t fallen, she managed a wobbly smile.

“You would’ve loved him. And he would’ve loved you too.”

She closed her eyes as his thumb swiped away the wetness on her cheeks and then he bent down to kiss her forehead. Taking a deep breath, she twisted back into her previous position and watched the rest of the video. When it was over, she held it to her chest throughout the cartoon Grinch movie. No Christmas Eve dinner was complete without the original Grinch.

It was only eight o’clock when the movie ended, but as the chorus of ‘Bah Who Bores’ rang through the speakers of the television Mel found herself yawning. Since they were driving back down to Mario’s for a Christmas brunch with a bunch of the guys she wasn’t at all perturbed when everyone suggested calling it a night. Or at least decided to go up to the bedrooms.

“Alright mom. Text me when you get home okay? And tomorrow you get to see my new car!! He actually bought me a friggin’ car! Can you believe that?!”

“Who do you think told him to get the Pens mats and the shimmery gold version??”

“Ha ha! I love you! See you at Mario’s!”

She kissed her mom and grandma goodbye, they were going back home tonight, and then went through the ritual of hugging and kissing everyone else who was staying. Her aunt and uncle asked once more if they were sure they didn’t mind sleeping in the living room. All her cousin’s had called dibbs on their old bedrooms, and the attic was too chilly.

“Really, we’ll be comfy down here by the fireplace. Did James bring the air mattress with him like I asked?”

“Right here,” her cousin shouted as he tossed the boxed up mattress at Sid and then the electric air pump landed in her hands.

“Well, if your sure. You know we would love to see you in the morning. It’s been so long since everyone has been back home together on Christmas morning! And, even though I’m sure there will be plenty of food, I’m sending you home a ‘care package’ and I won’t take no for an answer!”

Mel was still laughing as she and Sid changed into their pajamas. He was filling up their bed when she propped herself against the doorway to the living room. Staring at him, she felt that now familiar ache the lined her lower belly as she watched him stretch, his stomach visible as his arms came over his head. When he turned her way, she licked her lips.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

How is it possible that she looks so good in monkey flannel pants and a thermal, long-sleeved shirt?

Sid stared as Melany ran her tongue over her lower lip. He was sure she moved quickly, but he felt like he saw the movement in slow motion. She’d curled her hair today and it now fell in loose waves, the light from the fire bringing out brilliant red highlights. He was so transfixed that he had to blink and ask her to repeat herself when he finally realized that she was talking.

“I said, you better watch that thing closely. If it gets too big, it’ll burst.”

I’ll show you something that bursts when it’s too big.

As the thought crossed his mind, he felt his cock start to stiffen. And there was no way he’d be able to hide an erection behind the soft material of his plaid pants. He wondered how she felt about sex at her relative’s…

Sid cut off that train of thought and cut off the pump, shutting the cap on the mattress. He placed a few more big logs on the fire and shut the wire gate before crossing over to where Mel was still standing. He pushed her flat against the doorway and buried his face in her neck, breathing in her scent and smiling as her silky tresses brushed against his cheek. He nibbled on her neck before trailing kisses up to her ear.

“You smell wonderful. You taste wonderful. Like pie. Did you slather it onto your skin or something?”

She snickered.

“No, you dork! Stop drooling on me like I was a piece of pie! Go finish getting ready, I’ll make the bed.”

He laughed and pushed himself away from her, walking into the bathroom and shutting the door. As he listened to her quiet movements, he drew in a few deep breaths. He wanted her. Now. He needed to have her softness against him, hear her breathy little moans as he pushed deep inside her, feel her nails dig into his arms or back as she came for him.

Giving her another minutes, he hoped that she was serious about ‘make-out time’ by the fire because he was burning up. Brushing his teeth quickly, he ran a hand through his hair and then turned off the light as he stepped into the hallway and turned into the room.

There, in the middle of the airbed, was Melany. She had put sheets on the mattress, along with the pillows they’d brought, and a few quilts. She must’ve been under all the blankets, and she had thrown back the top few because as she sat there, the only thing she held up against her body was a snowflake patterned flannel sheet.

Why is she holding a blanket up?

The answer came quickly when she lifted her arm to tuck her hair behind her ear. An arm that, instead of being encased in thermal material, was bare. He audibly swallowed and pulled at the neck of his own shirt. Seemed to be an answer to the question he’d asked himself earlier. Padding quietly across the floor, Sid took notice of the shirt and pants that were lying on the arm of the rocking chair near her side of the bed.

Pulling his shirt over his head, Sid dropped it beside the air mattress. He grabbed the sheet and tugged it away with a grin, expecting to see her nakedness. Instead, she wore a red satin and lace strapless masterpiece. The material opened down the middle and he could see matching red boy shorts. A ribbon, and probably a hidden clasp, held the fabric together at her breasts.

“Is this another present for me to unwrap?”

She didn’t answer him, just crooked a finger for him to join her. He dropped his pajama pants and watched as she licked her lips. Sitting down on the side of the bed, Sid twisted toward her and reached out, pulling the ends of the bow. A silver clasp appeared and he popped it open. The material fell away and as it dropped to the bed he pushed her shoulders back. Sliding alongside her body, Sid shivered as her smooth skin brushed against him.

“Are you cold Sidney,” she purred as she opened her arms to him.

His lips came crashing down on hers. One of her hands moved up his side, her fingertips tickling his ribs before curling in his hair. One of them moaned. He wasn’t sure who it was. His tongue dueled with hers, her breasts pressed against his chest.

Sid, fueled by her desire and his, pushed his hand under her panties, feeling how ready she was for him. lifting his hips, he pulled last barrier down her legs before covering her once more and sliding himself home.

“God Melany, you undo me…”

Feeling her legs come up and wrap around his hips, Sid growled out her name again and lost himself inside her willing body. He pushed deep, pulled her hips up to his, listened to her sharp intake of breath each time.

They moved together at the leisurely pace, neither in a hurry. For once, they had all night to be with one another, without worrying that he’d be tired for a game tomorrow, or that she’d have to get up early for school. It seemed like the first time, since summer, that nothing was there in the background.

Sid brought his hand up, running it through her hair, spilling it over the pillow as he pressed deeper, and the bounce of the mattress shoving her back up at him. He traced over the lines of her face. He kissed every inch, her lips, nose, eyelids… he nipped at her chin, cradled her head in his hands.

He started to thrust faster, still not frenzied though, and he heard her gasp. She tightened around him, sweet contractions that showed him how this time together was affecting her. She begged him to go faster, give it to her harder, but he ignored her requests.

If anything, he slowed down again. Each movement calculated. His thumb was drawing circles over her clit and he listened as her breathing grew shallow, her cries of passion became sharper and her nails dug deeper into his flesh.

She told him how close she was, how much this slow burn was driving her crazy. He changed the movement of his thumb, making tiny figure eights now. She jerked against him and Sid brought his mouth down on her quickly when she opened her mouth to cry out.

“Shhhh,” he whispered against her lips. “Don’t wanna get in trouble, do you?”

The sweet torture was getting to him now as well. Feeling her body getting ready for that final release only served to push him to drive her into oblivion before he found his own release. He buried his face in the crook of her neck and started moving hard, punishing her body with deep, brutal thrusts that had her biting his shoulder to keep from waking the rest of the people in the house.

“Fuck, you feel so good.”

“Sidney… please… Oh god please…”

Tweaking her pleasure button, Sid felt her entire body go taut and he covered her mouth with his other hand as she screamed into his palm. Her fingers clutched his shoulders, definitely hard enough to leaves marks and probably even drawing blood, and then she had her arms wrapped around his neck.

She held onto him with her arms and legs. Sid shoved himself as deep as he could and roared against her neck as quietly as possible. His teeth sunk into her skin, his fingers gripping her hips tightly.

He collapsed on top of her. Part of him was concerned about moving, the other part refused to ever leave the sweet depths of her body. She was running her fingers over his back and since the blankets had fallen away the sheen of sweat on his body was cooled quickly and her actions only made him shiver.

He chuckled as she poked him in the side to make him lift his sated body off of hers. Then she sprinted into the bathroom, grabbing her clothes off the chair as she ran as fast as she could from the bed to the bathroom.

She returned quickly, clothed now sadly, and handed him a warm washcloth to clean up with. He threw his clothes back on as well and was already under the covers when she came out of the bathroom that final time. He tucked her against him, pulling all the blankets over them and sighing with happiness as she lay against him, her cheek resting on his chest.

She was humming Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas as he drifted to sleep, her voice like a sweet lullaby.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The drive to Mario’s was filled with more Christmas music, but they were both quiet. Mel smiled to herself, recalling the tender yet powerful way Sid had been with her the night before. Her body was still aching in certain spots and she reveled in it.

She had just turned off the exit ramp and headed back to Sewickley when Sid grabbed her free hand. She glanced at him, smiling for what had to be the millionth time since she woke up, and he just smiled as well.

And I still have a surprise in store for him.

He didn’t think his family was coming in this Christmas. Trina had told him that they couldn’t get Taylor away from school and hockey, commitments that she had made, yadda yadda yadda…But she had set everything up so that they would be there when the two of them pulled in at Mario’s.

Turning into the driveway, Mel beeped her horn a couple times, giving them the heads up that she’d promised. There were cars everywhere. Most of the guys were coming for brunch. She had left things for Nathalie to whip up as a contribution. Even after hearing repeatedly that she didn’t need to help…

“I think we should take our bags up to your room and then come back down to see everyone.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

He grabbed both bags and Mel fetched the big bag of their gifts. They made it up to his room without any interruptions and she took a moment to freshen up, changing into a more appropriate outfit than a pair of his warm-up sweats and Reebok shirt. Comfort of cuteness while driving, but to see the family and everyone, cuteness was a must.

She dressed quickly and then they walked down the steps. She was wondering how she was going to surprise him with his family when the need was taken away. They had just reached the bottom of the staircase when Austin came barreling through the foyer, Taylor hot on his heels.

“Taylor?? TAYLOR!!”

Mel leaned against the wall as Sid ran and grabbed his little sister in a hug, twirling her off the ground and around in circles. They were both giggling like teenage girls when he set her down and turned toward her. His parents came in from the living room and Mel smiled as the small family was reunited on Christmas.

“What are you guys doing here?? I thought that you couldn’t make it!!”

Troy laughed and stepped away from his son. Mel watched him, the pride in his eyes, as he stared at his wife and kids.

“Well, Taylor is probably going to have to play extremely hard when she gets back, but… we figured it was worth it to get to be together for Christmas. And she’s got all her assignments and a ‘tutor’ per say while we’re here for the week, isn’t that right Melany?”

“A week, that’s great! Mel, isn’t that great??” She was too happy for him to actually say anything so she just nodded. Sid stared at her, then his parents, and then back to her again. “You did this, didn’t you?”

“You deserved to be with your family on Christmas Sidney.”

He crossed over to where she was still planted by the wall and pulled her against him, his mouth covering hers in a possessive kiss. She heard Trina laugh, Taylor made a gagging noise, and somewhere in the background Max was cursing in French… probably playing pool with Geno again… but nothing mattered except for the man in front of her.

“Thank you. This is one of the best things you could’ve done for me. I love you.”

“I love you so much, I just… I wanted to make sure our first Christmas was a good one.”

Her phone rang then, and figuring it was her mom asking once again how to get here, she didn’t even look at the caller ID.

“Seriously Mom… I’m getting you a GPS system so you don’t keep asking me whi--”

“Mel???”

“Jess?! Hey! Merry Christmas chica! I planned on making happy phone calls later, you beat me to it! How are yo--”

“John’s coming home.”

“What?? That’s GREAT! When does he get in?!”

“He’s… there was a skirmish outside the base… he was…”

Mel felt her legs give out and she dropped to the floor. Sid was there in an instant. She knew that they were all looking at her with concern. She realized that she was crying, but the tears couldn’t be stopped. Her one fear about Johnny was that he’d die so far away from home. She found her voice.

“Jess… JESSICA… he’s not… please tell me he’s no--”

“He’s been in surgery three times. The only thing I know is that he’s alive. I-I know it’s Christmas and you’re probably enjo--”

“Do you need anything? Anything at all?!”

She would drive straight to D.C. right now if Jess asked her to. Sid was rubbing her back, Trina came in from somewhere with a glass of water and she heard Sid filling them in on who John was and what he did.

“No, I’m good. I just felt like you of all people should know as soon as I did. I’m sorry for ruining your morn--”

“Don’t be. God, I’m so sorry Jess.”

“He’s alive Mel. That’s all I can think about. I don’t care what happens, as long as he stays alive!”

“And he will. He won’t die on you. He knows that you’d be too pissed off at him if he died. Like he’d risk your angry wrath,” Mel chuckled, getting a small laugh from Jess as well. “Listen, anything you need… I’m serious. Name it.”

“I’m home for the holidays. I’m flying back to Washington tomorrow. He’s in Germany right now. Once he’s stable he’ll be shipped back here.”

“Go be with your family hun. They’ll help you right now, I know it. Tell your dad to give you a great big hug from me, okay?”

“Roger that. I’m sorry again for calling you like this.”

“Stop apologizing Jessica. I’d be more upset if you had waited, and you know it! Call me anytime, day or night, got it?!”

“I will. Tell Sid hi and have him make your day brighter… I’ll be in touch.”

“You better be! Talk to you soon.”

Jess said her goodbye and Mel hit END and took a deep breath. The tears she was afraid would fall didn’t come. She realized that she was too angry for them to fall. Angry at John for being over there again, angry at the government for making this war necessary, angry at God for allowing her friend to be wounded.

“Talk to me babe.”

“He’s not dead. That’s all I know. That and he’s in Germany waiting to be brought home to the US. And they’ll transfer him once he’s stable enough. What if something else goes wrong?”

“Shhhh, he’s going to come home and heal and be fine. You won’t let him be anything less than whole again. I know you.”

She let out a laugh and broke down again. At least this time it wasn’t gut-wrenching sobs. Sid simply held her, the two of them alone in the middle of the floor. She knew that everyone was staying away on purpose, and she was grateful that they were giving her time to get it out now.

Sid pulled her into his lap more and just rocked her back and forth, smoothing her hair out of her eyes, whispering calming words as he sat with her. She took a few deep breaths and leaned away from him.

“I seem to be falling apart on you a lot in the last twenty four hours.”

“And both times, and any time in the future, I’ll be here to try and make it better. I might not always be able to be here in person to hold you, but I’ll do my best to take away the pain. You understand that, right?”

“M’hmm, I do. You’re amazing.”

“Ha, I’m just holding you. You’re the amazing one. You’re so brave and strong right now. You could be falling apart, but you’re not.”

“What do you call this then?”

“a defensive breakdown. We have those from time to time on the ice, but then we bounce right back. You’re like that. You don’t give up, don’t stop when you’re down.”

“you and the hockey analogies,” Mel said with a giggle. She stood and wiped at her eyes. Sid brushed a stray tear from her eye.

“Wanna go join the group?”

“I’d like that. I’m kind of starving!”

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A week later Sid was sitting with some of the guys and their girlfriends. They were watching the Winter Classic at Max’s. Pregame stuff was on right now. He had his phone in his hand, waiting to hear from Mel. Erin came and sat down beside him.

“What time does Mel get into DC?”

“The plane should be landing about now. I told her to text or call once she met up with Jess. Should be hearing from her any minute now.”

John came home the day before. Two cracked ribs, a broken leg, torn ligaments in his shoulder, shrapnel in his back and a bullet to the chest should’ve taken down a weaker man. But from what she told him before she left this morning, John was going to come through all of this and make a full recovery.

His phone buzzed in his hand.

Made it safely. Riding with Jess to the hospital. Will call later. Love you!

He typed back and settled in to watch the game. Philly tried, they really did. It took until OT, but Boston wouldn’t be denied. They promised to reveal the USA line-up for the Olympics after the final buzzer. Brooks hadn’t received a call yet, and Sid felt bad.

The man was a great defenseman, a great player. He deserved to play. They were all sitting and watching the screen when NBC came back on. The announcer started naming people. He heard them call out Bugsy and smiled. It would be fun to go against him.

Sid had gotten the call on the 30th, so he knew that he’d be playing. Mel had told him it was a given, and he had figured as well, but nothing is ever a sure thing. Geno was playing for Russia, along with Gonch. Flower had gotten the call as well.

“From the Pittsburgh Penguins, number 44, Brooks Orpik!”

Amanda screamed, Max shot up and yelled ‘YESSSSS!’ and Brooks sat there, mouth open and eyes wide.

“Congratulations man! Looks like we’ll all be up against one another. Vancouver is going to be great.”

Sid wondered if anything he’d said got through to Brooks. He was sitting there with a stupid grin on his face. Sid couldn’t blame him though. That was the same face he’d made when he got the nod. That meant there were five of them going to the Games. It was going to be an amazing experience.

His phone buzzed again.

Tell Brooks congrats and that he’s going down! John says if you beat America he’s going to beat you! Love you!

If he was saying that, then he seriously would be okay. Sid let out the deep breath that he’d been holding since Christmas when Mel had collapsed in his arms. Olympic teams had been chosen, John was going to survive his war injuries… Things were looking up. Now they just needed to keep up the wins.