Sorry it took me so long ladies. I think we were all hit by the Blocker Bug recently. But I like how the beginning of this came out. And I hope you like the... other parts... hahaha!!
Comments are always appreciated*
Very close to the end now!
That was it. The end of an era. The end of a season.
Mel stared down as the boys all shook hands with the Canadiens. It was a tough pill to swallow. The reigning Stanley Cup Champions being brought down in the semifinals. Sure, not every team could pull off back-to-back championships… but she’d wanted to believe that her boys could do it.
As Montreal skated off the ice to celebrate their victory and the fact that they would be moving on to the conference finals, she watched as Sid skated around the defeated group. He must’ve been telling them something, because a few smiled at him. He slid around the ice until he was directly in her line of sight.
She was talking with Erin about having a baby shower here in Pittsburgh, after the wedding and stuff, when one of the Pens staff came up to their seats.
“Miss Huston, I’m supposed to tell you that you should head home now because it’s going to be a long night but…” Mel stared at him, waiting for him to finish.
“Well… you know Sid… he’s putting on that game face. He says that he has a ton of things to do, and you shouldn’t have to wait for him. But I’ve seen this before. When we lost Game 6 two seasons ago. He waits until the lights go down, and then he comes back out and skates. And I know you don’t skate… much… but… I just, I just thought that you might want to keep him company.”
He would want her to leave. He didn’t want her to see him in this moment. She remembered his breakdown in Vancouver. He hated when anyone saw him like that. Mel nodded at Dana and placed a hand on his shoulder when he turned to leave.
“Thank you. I’ll make sure he doesn’t dwell on things too much. We’ll keep him out of a funk! Sound good?”
He smiled and told both of them good night before heading back down to go to the locker room.
“Sid gonna take this hard?”
“Of course. It’s Sid. He’ll feel like he let his teammates and friends down. Like it’s his fault that he couldn’t be the Canadian Wonder and pull a rabbit out of his helmet and win this.”
“But it’s an entire team. He should know better than to shoulder all the blame.”
“Don’t you think Geno’s going to feel the same way?”
Erin paused and thought about it for a moment. Then she sighed and grabbed her purse.
“Come on. Let’s go down there and take them away from the sadness.”
“Sid won’t leave just yet. But I refuse to let him go through this on his own.”
They made their way to the family lounge, hugging and talking with the other wives and girlfriends who were still at the arena. Vero was wringing her hands in front of her and biting her lip. She had said that this might be a hard thing for Marc to deal with. He was still going over the Olympics in his head, how he didn’t get to play a lot.
Surprisingly, Flower was one of the first guys out. Mel watched him as he made his way over to his wife. Vero was a little hesitant, maybe nervous about how he was going to react, but she opened up her arms and he pulled her to him. As the two stood there, enveloped in a deep embrace, Mel felt tears in her eyes. She could hear them speaking rapidly in French. Then he smiled that Flower smile and she stretched up to kiss him. They came walking over seconds later, Marc keeping her as close as humanly possible.
“Sid said to tell you, if you were down here, that you could just go home and he’d meet you there…”
“I was already told that by Dana. If I didn’t listen to him, why would I listen to you?”
Marc just smiled and reminded her that they would need to be back here tomorrow morning to clean out their stalls, so she shouldn’t keep him up all night. Then he leaned down and whispered something in Vero’s ear that made her blush. He squeezed her hand once more and started toward the exit. Vero looked torn between wanting to talk to them, and wanting to follow him. Finally she hugged Erin and Mel quickly and ran off, her heels clicking loudly as she chased after her husband. She yelled as she ran.
“See you tomorrow Mel, I need to get home and… bye ladies!”
The two of them took a seat and watched as one by one the men came out of the locker room. They all looked tired, but not beaten. She was glad for that. Each man had his head held high as he met up with his family, or talked with one of his teammates. Geno came out toward the end. It made sense, his being an alternate captain and all. He was talking with Gonch, of course, and when he saw Erin his eyes lit up and he smiled as he buried his face in her hair, his hand automatically resting on her belly.
“We go home. Get full night sleep.” He turned and looked at Mel. “Sid say that you can…”
“That I can go home… yeah yeah. I’ve heard that enough already. I’m not leaving until he does. End of story.” Geno smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder before he and Erin left.
“Two doors down, on right. Talk to Coach, he tell you where to go.”
“Thanks Geno. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“Yes. We need plan big party. Lots to drink. Good food. You cook.”
“Sounds like a plan. Good night guys.”
She hugged Erin once more and then walked through the doors, going deeper into the arena, instead of toward the exit. She knocked lightly on the door that was labeled ‘Head Coach: Dan Byslma’. She could hear papers shuffling and light music on. Turning the handle, she poked her head in and saw him staring at about six papers. And probably not reading any of them.
“Sir?” Dan’s head shot up from his desk and a small smile tugged at his lips. “I know, I know… go home. He’ll be there later. I don’t have to stay. Blah blah blah. Where is he?”
“He’s in the locker room still. Just waiting for everything to quiet down. The arena workers will be finishing up the quick clean-up, and then they’ll radio down that he can take the ice… I’m glad you didn’t leave. He’s very lucky to have someone as understanding as you are.”
“Well, let’s just hope he sees it that way. Will you be staying as well?”
“Nope. I’m the last one, aside from him. And I’ve got a wife and son waiting for me to come home. I promised Bryan we’d share a bowl of ice cream, win or lose, together after the game. I want to keep that promise.” She nodded and started to leave. “Melany…” she popped her head back in. “Do you skate?”
There were jerseys and pads everywhere. Bags were already being stuffed with things. Some of the guys couldn’t stop themselves. The locker room looked like a war zone. And he felt like the platoon leader who’d just watched all of his men get slaughtered. Tomorrow, they wouldn’t talk about how the Penguins had lost the series to the Canadiens. They wouldn’t reference how this was the first time in three seasons that they weren’t going to the Finals. No, the big thing that everyone would be talking about was how he couldn’t lead his team to another victory.
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t true. But that’s how it would be. Sometimes, mostly just tonight, he wished that someone was here to be the man to take the spotlight. Their playoff flame had been extinguished. Snuffed out by his childhood dream team. It didn’t really hurt as much as he thought it should. He was upset, sure, who wouldn’t be? But what was eating away at him right now was the fact that the blame was going to rest on his shoulders.
I can’t fucking pull off a miracle. I’m not God.
Sid sighed again and dropped his head down, running his fingers through his hair. He’d changed already, out of the uniform and into a Pens track suit that he always had ready. He’d hoped he wouldn’t need it tonight… but he knew that things wouldn’t always go his way. He’d promised his parents lunch after cleaning out his stall. Probably should text or call Mel and make sure she’s okay with cooking for the four of us. He had just pulled out his phone when the walkie talkie came to life and they told him it was all clear for him to go out onto the ice.
He stood and stretched before slowly walking the trail to the ice for a final time. There would be no more winding his way from the locker room to the door where they came out. Next year they would be in their new arena. Their new home.
But this was home. it was the only place he’d ever called home when he talked about arenas. It was kind of childish but… he’d made friends here. He’d gotten into fights, scored goals, set up amazing plays… the only thing he hadn’t done here was carry the Cup. Sure they’d won it and brought it back to Pittsburgh. But they hadn’t won it on home ice. That had to be the biggest regret he had about the loss tonight.
He found himself at the glass and as he lifted his hand to open the door to the ice, the lights started to go out. Everything was shutting down. Everything was ending. When he stepped out onto the sheet of ice, there were only a few bulbs still glowing. It gave off an eerie feeling. Not evil, just… lonely. That was the best way to describe it.
For once, Sid found himself wishing that he’d texted Mel and told her to stay and wait for him. He didn’t know what she would’ve done while he was out here, but at least he would’ve had someone here with him. as he listened to the sounds of his skated moving swiftly, he looked up and came to a stop quickly, throwing snow into the air. There, standing at the entrance to the rink… she was there. But she couldn’t be there. He’d told everyone to tell her just to go home. But she looked real. He glided over to where she was standing. He ran his hand through her hair, pulling her close for a quick kiss.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’ve never left you to wallow alone before… I’m not going to start now.”
“I love you.” She smiled up at him and repeated the words. He felt a smile form on his lips and then he looked down and noticed that she was wearing skates. “You don’t skate.”
“No, but you do. C’mon, let’s go.”
Sid watched Mel step out onto the ice. She had only done this… one other time maybe. He always made fun of the fact that she was going to marry him and she couldn’t ice skate. He told her once that she’d be the worst hockey wife ever because of it and she’d just laughed in his face and flipped him off. But she was here now, in his hour of need, and she was willing to try this.
She got both feet out onto the rink, moved one foot forward… and fell on her butt. He tried not to laugh, he really did… but she was staring up at him, looking like a little girl who’d just scraped her knee, and he couldn’t stop himself.
“Hey, asshole… are you just gonna stand there and laugh? Or do you think you can manage to help me up?”
He grabbed her outstretched hand and pulled her to her knees. Then he helped her stand, keeping her close to him. Spinning himself so that he was behind her, Sid wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Listen, it’s simple. Just glide.”
“Simple my ass…”
Laughing, Sid pushed himself off and let her move in front of him. Her motions were jerky, like she was thinking about it too much. He needed to get her mind away from what she was doing. It seemed like if she could relax, she’d enjoy it more and it would probably just come naturally. He thought of something to distract her.
“Mom and Dad wanna get together for lunch tomorrow. I was thinking maybe you could cook.”
“You don’t want me to be here, for the whole…”
“No. all of the guys will be here, and we’ll be swearing and telling stories that you don’t need to listen to. Honestly, not a lot of the WAGs come on ‘Clean Out Day’ so it’s not like you’d be missing a lot.”
“Well, I would have plenty of time to throw something together then. Did you have anything in mind?”
They talked more about lunch details. He asked a couple questions about the wedding that made her talk some more and he smiled. She might not realize it, but she was skating with him, not just letting him lead her around. They weren’t going fast, not trying any fancy spins, but just gliding around the rink... that she could do. He pulled her to center ice and stopped.
“Well, I think my head’s clear now. And we’ve got things planned for tomorrow. Do you wanna keep going or do you want to stop?”
“But we just started! It couldn’t have been more than…”
“Really. I told you, you just needed to not focus. Now, let’s see you skate over to the bench. Come to me.”
He slid away from her effortlessly and sat on the boards of the bench like they did from time to time during practice. Mel was standing there, still dead center of the rink. She wasn’t moving, he didn’t even think she was blinking.
“C’mon babe. I know you can do it. Just breathe. Don’t think about what you’re doing. Look at me. Come to me.”
Sid stared at her. He held his hand out and silently willed her to make it over to where he was sitting. She took a deep breath and rolled her shoulders. Then she looked at him and slowly started over the ice. He smiled and laughed and she did the same. When she’d just about reached him she hollered.
“Shit! Sid, I don’t know how to stop!”
He hopped off the boards and caught her in his arms, gently stopping her with a spin and keeping himself off the ice. As she pressed her cheek to his chest, Sid could feel her trembling against him. he hadn’t meant to do anything that might frighten her. And he was feeling so light-hearted. Brushing her hair from her face, he tilted her head up and saw the laughter in her eyes.
“That. Was. Awesome. We can do that again sometime, right?”
He sagged in relief.
“I’ll build you a fucking rink out back if you want.”
“Well, nothing that serious. I think just finding a rink every once in a while would be fun though! And I can learn how to skate better!”
“I thought at first you were scared. You’re still shivering.”
“Hey… genius… we don’t all have ice in our veins you know. And with just us, out here on the ice, it’s kinda cold.”
Sid let out a puff of breath and chuckled. He hadn’t thought about that. It was just so normal for him to be on the ice that he didn’t even realize when it was cold now. And she was just wearing a thin tracksuit. Definitely not something she was used to.
Putting and arm around her waist, Sid led her off the ice and down the runway. They paused in the locker room to unlace and switch back into normal shoes. He offered to let her change back into the clothes she’d been wearing but she just waved a hand in the air. She had sneakers in her car, so it wasn’t a big deal to wear her boots out to the lot. They walked toward the doors and he made sure that someone had brought his car around to the lot. Then they drove home separately. And crawled into bed together.
“Fucking Chicago,” Mel grumbled as she took her plate into the kitchen. She’d just watched them sweep the Sharks. That meant they’d be going to the Finals. Tomorrow the Habs and Flyers played again. And Philly could end it. they could end Montreal in five games. Assholes. And to top it all off, aside from a murmured ‘Happy Birthday’ and a kiss on the cheek, she hadn’t seen Sid all day. Then the front door opened. Speak of the devil.
“What the hell happened to you?!”
She stared at him. He was dirty, his clothes had sweat stains on them, his hair was sticking out everywhere… he was turning her on like someone had lit a fire beneath her. She wanted to be angry at him for leaving her on her birthday. She wanted to. But seeing him there, his t-shirt clinging to his chest, a drop of sweat dripping down his face…
Mel dropped the plate. She didn’t hear it hit the floor, didn’t hear it break apart. She was too busy running toward her fiancée. He caught her in his arms and she practically climbed into his body to get as close to him as possible. Her lips were on his, her fingers in his hair. She felt him palm her ass to keep her nestled against him perfectly. Moaning into his mouth, she wrapped her legs around his waist.
He was chuckling, she could feel it. Tearing her mouth away finally, she stared at the desire in his eyes. He bent his head forward and captured her lips again, his tongue plunging into her mouth. He tasted like iced tea. He never drank iced tea. She pulled back and dropped her feet back to the floor.
“What on earth have you been up to today? Where were you? How come you left this morning?”
“Who baby, slow down. First of all, I would very much like to continue this burst of lust that you just hit me with! Second, happy birthday, I’ve got a surprise for you. But first I, or we, need to shower. Third… what were the other questions? Mel? Helllllooo… Mel!”
Gazing up from where she was tracing his left bicep she gave him a dazed look.
“Forget it, it’s not important. I’m taking you upstairs. Now.”
Mel jerked as he grabbed her hand and started pulling her up the stairs to the bathroom. She started to object that the shower stall downstairs was just as good but Sid shot her a look that made her insides quiver and she closed her mouth.
In through their bedroom, Sid tugged at his shirt, trying to get it over his head while walking. She feared he’d smack himself into a wall so she stopped him and jerked the material up quickly. Her fingers trailing over the new expanse of skin as she lifted the shirt. Her lips pressed to his chest, her tongue sliding over one of his nipples.
“Fuck,” he gasped out. As she tossed the shirt, her fingers were already working n the button of his shorts. She could feel him pressing insistently against the zipper and licked her lips. They’d spent all night in bed but she felt like she hadn’t been with him in months. The need for him was that great. She had just wrapped her hand around his hardness when he lifted her over his shoulder and carried her still clothed body into the bathroom.
Quickly divesting her of her clothing, Sid kicked off his flip flops and pushed her into the shower stall. He turned the water on and she yelped as the cold water sloshed over her body. Her nipples, already hardened with desire, tightened so much that it hurt. The water heated up quickly and was just another shock to her body. Before she could wrap her mind around everything, Sid was behind her. He bent her slightly, held onto her hip with one hand and shoved himself ball deep inside her.
She was so wet from the thought that he slid in smooth. He filled her, pushed her for more, groaned as she widened her stance so he could be in her as far as humanly possible. She gasped as he pressed a kiss to the nape of her neck before sinking his teeth into her flesh. It wasn’t hard enough to break the skin, but to mark her… oh yes, it was hard enough for that. The sting of the bite shot straight to her clit and she reached down to work herself into a frenzy.
Sid felt her movements, or saw her hand, she wasn’t sure which… but he growled and grabbed her hands, bringing them up and around his neck. He started to thrust slowly, pulling himself out almost completely before bottoming out in her slippery depths again and again. She was just a touch away from heaven. She begged him to touch her, spank her, pinch a nipple… anything! He chuckled evilly into her neck.
“I already have a plan. Will you be a good girl and hold still for me though?”
“Make me fucking come and I’ll scream your name forever!”
“Close your eyes.”
She did as he asked, tightening her grip on his neck when the loss of her sight made everything a little wobbly. She heard him chuckle again and then he turned them slightly. She wasn’t sure what he was planning. His right hand slid down and parted her folds. She groaned as he bypassed that hot little button. Mother fucker. He swiveled his hips and started fucking her again. Just when the pressure got to the point of insanity, she felt the insistent pulse of the showerhead on her thigh.
“Sid.. whaaaaa… oh fuck! Yes! Fucking hell, yes!”
The water jetted out and hit directly on that bundle of nerves that had been craving some sort of stimulation. He held her open so that the pulse drummed against her in a steady beat. She screamed, thrashed around, her body bouncing itself over his cock. He was so hard inside her. As she came, her muscles clamped down around his invading girth. She dug her nails into the skin of his neck and shoulders.
When it was over, when she was more like a rag doll, he dropped the showerhead to the floor and pressed her against the tiled wall. It felt cool against her feverish flesh. He pumped into her twice, three times, and then called out her name as he stayed buried inside her. After a few moments he pulled her wet hair from her neck, placing a soft kiss over the spot he’d previously been rough with.
He laughed and they both shuddered as he pulled out of her. The next ten minutes were spent playfully washing one another and when they finally emerged from the bathroom, their skin was wrinkled like a prune. Mel wrapped the towel around her and padded over to her closet.
“So, this surprise… should I get dressed for it? Or is it something you brought me?”
“You definitely want to get dressed.”
“Okay. What should I wear?”
“Anything?? Pfft, give me something other than that to go on!”
“I’m wearing jeans and that thin, kind of white shirt you like so much, you know… the one with the buttons at the top that makes you want my body.”
“Sidney… every shirt you wear makes me want your body. Look at you!” Even as she said that, her eyes took in the toned torso, smooth skin, that indent between his pecs that just… “Fucking hell put something on before you kill me for real!”
Twenty minutes later Mel made her way downstairs. She decided on dark jeans with a tan cami, gold-tinted sweater with a thick brown belt, and a new golden starry necklace that Taylor had sent for her special day. She couldn’t wait to send a photo to show Taylor how much she loved it. She yelled at Sid from the bottom of the steps.
“Have you seen my brown bootie things?”
“Say what,” came the holler from the living room. She sighed and walked into the room, prepared to tackle him for being a punk when she noted what he had in his arms. There, looking up at her, was the cutest little basset hound puppy she had ever seen.
“Oh my god! Sid… really?! Look at him! Is it a him?” Sid nodded. “He’s soooooooo cute! Can I hold him??”
“You might get fur on your outfit…”
“I don’t care! Look at him! You got me a puppy!”
She took the sleepy little dog out of his hands and cradled him against her chest. Looking down at him, she giggled as he opened his mouth to yawn loudly, making one of those little puppy noises that is so completely adorable. Mel scratched at his belly and he stretched in the crook of her arm, his oversized ears flopping backward as he squirmed.
“This… he… I love you so much Sidney!”
She grabbed his shirt and pulled him close for a kiss. They were making out like a couple of teenagers when there was a little yelp from between them. Mel jumped back and giggled as the puppy shook his head and fell against her chest as he lost his balance.
“So, if this is my surprise… why did I have to get dressed?”
“He was just a part of it. There’s more. But,” he glanced down at his watch, “we don’t have to go anywhere. I could call Geno and them and say that you don’t want to go out on your birthday…”
“We’re going out??”
“We’re partying at Geno and Erin’s?”
“God, you’re a dick.”
Mel growled at him and turned, plopping onto the couch. She set her new little friend on the cushion beside her. He automatically stood and pranced over, crawling into her lap. He let out a couple puppy barks at Sid, who was coming over to join them, and then he tried to run at him, tripping over his own feet and dropping head first.
“Awww, my poor little… hmmm, what should we name you?”
“I like ‘Shooter’ for a name.”
“Patrick Sharp has a basset hound named Shooter. I saw it on a YouTube video!”
“Damn him. Okay... are you thinking dog name, or human name?”
“I don’t know… if it wasn’t for Max, I’d have two ideas already! But I can’t copy his dog and name him Stanley… and if I called him Maximus… I call Max that!”
“Oh god, please name our dog after him! We could give him so much shit in the locker room!”
Sid pulled up in front of Geno’s house and swore.
“Are we having a bonfire?!”
He heard the excitement in Mel’s voice. He wanted to tell her yes. But they weren’t, at least not until later. What the hell did they do?? He’d left them alone, with complete instructions. This should not be happening.
“Babe, why don’t you take the pup into the house. Find Erin. Relax. I’ll go around back and see how the guys are coming along.” And if I need to call the fucking fire department.
He left Mel at the door, listening to her holler through the house for Erin to get off her butt and come see the most adorable thing in the world. Turning and practically sprinting to the back of the house, he saw complete and utter chaos. The giant fire pit they had built this morning was literally spewing out flames, the tent poles that had been used to hold up the lanterns were crooked and toppling over, and the path from the house to the party area was missing a few pieces. And at least one of the coolers was melted.
“What the fuck happened?!”
He stared at Geno, Max and Flower. They all had looks of disbelief mixed with guilt. Maybe even a little dose of fear. Sid smacked his palm to his forehead and brought it down his face. This couldn’t be happening. He’d had it all planned out. Giant outdoor barbeque, makeshift dance floor… ending with a big bonfire and drinking. It was the big party that she and Geno had talked about doing. But unlike Geno’s idea, Sid didn’t want Mel to do all the cooking. He’d hired a couple cooks. It was going to be great. Now… now it was a disaster.
“Guys… the cooks are going to be here in,” he looked down as his phone rang and the hired help’s number popped up. Fuck. He spent the next two minutes listening as the guy on the other end of the line expressed his deepest sympathies but said that they would not be able to make it tonight. They would return his deposit and all that, but they had a bit of an emergency themselves. Sid hung up the phone and swore.
“Who was that mon ami?”
Sid glanced over at Max, who was currently poking the melted cooler with a stick. He shook his head.
“Cooks aren’t coming. You guys tried to burn down the area. Thank god Erin hasn’t seen this yet, because I have no doubt that she would completely…”
“What the fuck?! You said this would be a lot of fun! You said that it was going to be the party to kick off the summer! Is your goal to leave us homeless by the time summer actually starts?! Dammit Evgeni!”
Turning, Sid saw Erin standing by the backdoor. She had one hand on the frame, the other was covering her mouth. And she was alternating her glare between him and her husband. Then he heard steps and groaned, knowing Mel was about to see all this as well.
“Hey Erin, did Sid put out the… oh my… Ummm, Sid?”
“Surprise,” he croaked.
“What… uh, what was this supposed to be? It looks like… dancing?”
“I had this great plan babe, I swear I did. And the guys were just helping me with it.”
“I think you guys should stick with hockey.”
He couldn’t help it. He laughed. Everything was going wrong. And she was cracking a joke. She wasn’t angry. The party he had planned partially for her was ruined, and she wasn’t freaking out. This is just one of the reasons why I love her. She’s not dramatic. He made a mental note to add that to the list of positive attributes that Flower had told him to write down. They had been working on his vows… it was harder than he though!
“I don’t know what we’re going to do. The rest of the ‘guests’ should start showing up in like… two hours, maybe less. I have no one coming to cook, the area looks like a tornado came through it…”
“Give me twenty minutes, okay?”
“Twenty minutes? What could you possibly…”
“Have a little faith in me, okay?”
“This was for you though… you should be planning stuff!”
“You got real far without me, didn’t you,” she asked him with a small smile. He hated it when she was right. “Now, twenty minutes, if that! You and the guys try to clean this up. I’ll come back out when we’re done. Let’s go Erin.”
“Go? Go where? I’m not doing anything. I’m not fixing this. My genius of a husband thought that he and your man could pull something like this off without us. Let them fix it!”
Sid stared at the ground. He felt Mel slide her fingers down his arm.
“I’ll take care of that too, sweetheart. Be back soon. Figure this part out, okay?”
He nodded and as Mel pulled a very angry-sounding Erin into the house, he turned and faced his friends. They all looked around that the disaster. He had just started trying to straighten the poles, pulling the strings of lanterns back the way they should’ve been, when Geno came up to him.
“Sid… how we fix this?”
“I don’t know man. I guess we just try and make it look semi-presentable.”
Twenty minutes later they had everything but the dance area cleaned up. Geno had found some more pieces of plywood and they laid that down to make a walkway to the lower patio area that would now act as a place to dance. All of the flammable things were set far away from the fire, but it still looked bad.
“Sid! Come here!”
He looked up and saw Mel waving at him from the doorway. He jogged up, coming to a stop in front of her. she was still smiling. He hope that this was a good sign.
“Are you about to save my ass?”
“Yes. And I’m going to remember this one for awhile!”
“Anything you want. It’s yours.”
She laughed and explained that all she needed were the keys to the car, a credit card and someone to look after the puppy. And Max. He’d lifted and eyebrow, but didn’t question her. No, he just hollered for Max and dug out his card from his wallet. Max, who’d driven his SUV instead of his car, offered to drive. They took off and Sid wondered what she was up to. He got a text a couple minutes after they left.
Make sure there’s plenty of wood.
Sid stuck his phone back in his pocket and called the guys over to help him stack the wood beside the pit. They had just moved everything near it, and set up a couple tables, when he heard a car pull in, along with a beep. He made his way to the driveway and saw Mel pop out of the passenger seat of the car. She opened the back hatch and started pulling out bag after bag.
Soon after that she was setting up a big rack over the flames. They were having an ‘old-fashioned’ picnic Mel told him. There would be hot dogs and hamburgers, very simple and amusing, and she had called all the ladies and told them to bring some type of side dish or dessert. That must’ve been the list that Erin was working on when I walked in to get a drink.
Mel started cutting up tomatoes and onions for the burgers when Tori and Johnny pulled in. Tori walked right into the kitchen and started throwing a bunch of spices together. He watched the two of them work, in tandem, and wondered again why they didn’t just go into business together. Tori started folding the mixture of spices into the meat and then she began forming patties. The two of them had just put all the patties and hotdogs on a couple trays when the first of the rest of the guests showed up.
By the time everyone had arrived, there was enough food to feed a small country. Sid was astounded at the way the wives and girlfriends had pulled this all together so quickly. The tables were filled with different dishes, Geno had set up a separate table for alcohol like he had once before, last summer, after… he shook his head and forced those memories out.
Everyone, especially the kids, loved the simple fare that they had ended up with. There was music and laughter, it felt good. He knew that this would be one of the last times that they were all together, that they were teammates. Cooke’s son Jackson was chasing the new addition to the family. He was laughing and… they really needed a name for that little guy.
Sid found Mel sitting with a couple of the ladies. She was holding Craig’s little girl in her arms, the child sleeping soundly as Mel rocked back and forth slowly. She was making a cooing noise, her fingers tracing small circles over the baby’s back. His gut clenched. She looked so perfect, so beautiful, so natural. We said we’d wait, we said we’d wait. He repeated the mantra in his head. Then she looked at him and smiled.
“Hey you. Enjoying your birthday?”
“It’s been great! And we haven’t even had s’mores yet!!” He laughed.
“That little mongrel needs a name.”
“I was thinking about this earlier. I think we should name him Cole. It’s cute, and… it makes me think of you.”
“How in the…”
“Where are you from Sid?”
He laughed again. Only she would use part of his home town as their dog’s name. But, then again, Cole was better than naming him Harbor.
“Cole it is. I like it. Are you ready for dessert? That part isn’t screwed up. Promise.”
The rest of the night flew by. She blew out the candles on her cake, a couple of the guys made toasts, they danced for hours. When the final couples who actually weren’t staying left for home, the fire had died down and the sun looked like it would be coming up soon.
Sid asked Geno for a big, comfy blanket and then grabbed Mel’s hand and dragged her down to the patio. He pulled her back against him and wrapped the blanket around the two of them. Then, carefully, he sat down in one of the loungers with her on his lap. He was talking and laughing with her, reliving the year that they’d spent together. He looked down when she didn’t respond once and noticed that her eyes were closed.
“I see how it is. I bore you so much that you fall asleep on me,” he whispered. Burrowing down into the chair some, he smiled as she curled herself on top of him, her face buried in his neck. “That’s just fine. You rest up all you can. Because in three weeks we leave for Italy. And aside from sightseeing and a couple hours a night for sleep, you’re gonna need all the energy you can find.” The only response from that was a soft snore. Sid chuckled and tightened his arms around her as he drifted off to sleep.