Just a note before I begin this. This is a sequel to another story I wrote called Hey There Cinderella which can be found at either the Yahoo groups hockeyfantasyfiction or on fanfiction.net.
In my heart there always crept a jealousy that never slept
It lived on calls that never came, and whispers of another's name
But your love is a light that shines so honestly
And now because of your true colors I can see
No green eyes, no blue nights
No jealous heart and no little white lies
You showed me what love looks like
I had the colors all wrong, now they're right
No green eyes, no blue nights
Your arms laid to rest the fear, and let suspicion disappear
There are no ghosts of lovers past, just our love in the hourglass
And what you give me is so constant and so surely mine
That I can trust it's unconditional this time
(lyrics No Green Eyes, Suzy Boguss)
I think it was me, it must of been me,
I guess I did something wrong.
I tried too hard, wanted too much,
I guess that's why he's gone.
I lost my pride, I fought and cried.
I felt like a little kid.
What's wrong with me?
I still can't believe, I did the things I did
I couldn't change him, he was gonna break my heart.
I saw it coming, yeah, I knew it from the start. But,
When you love (when you love)
When you love someone like that, when you give what you can't take back.
When you love (when you love)
With all your heart and soul, it's so hard to let it go.
When you love someone like that.
Yea, when you love someone like that.
Girl it ain't right, it just ain't right.
Don't tell yourself that it was you.
You followed your heart, you gave it your best.
There's nothing more you can do.
Guys like him are like the wind, and you know it's just too bad.
They blow in and out again, and never know what they had.
(Lyrics From When You Love Someone Like That Reba McEntire & LeAnn Rimes)
I probably wouldn't be this way
I probably wouldn't hurt so bad
I never pictured every minute without you in it,
Oh you left so fast,
Sometimes I see you standing there
Sometimes it's like I'm losing touch
Sometimes I feel I'm so lucky to have had the chance to love this much
(lyrics from “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” LeAnn Rimes)
Chapter 1 ~
He placed the bouquet of red roses carefully beside the brass plaque that showed her name, Miranda De Luca, and the ominous date of her death, the best and the worst day of his life. He stared down at it, his eyes hidden behind a pair of dark shades, his full mouth twisted into a half smile. Glancing around to see if he was being watched, he knelt by the grave, his fingertips lovingly tracing her name.
He could still see her in his mind’s eye, but when he did it was always the same. Always that moment before he would kiss her, her lips parted and her emerald green eyes full of emotion. It made him smile, but it also made his chest hurt, made it hard to breathe. God he loved her, loved her so much still.
But she was gone, and all he had left was this; this place, this green grass and a small brass plaque.
“Hey Randi,” he whispered, his lips turning up into a smile when he said her name aloud. “Sorry it’s been a while babes, but, you know, I had all that family stuff to do and then there was Olympic camp,” he added as he sat beside her grave, turning his eyes up to the blue sky full of non-threatening white clouds. September, a few days before camp, but the weather was fine, warm and bright. “I usually hate this time. A lot of the guys are back but there’s always a few new faces and I hate change. I hate it,” he sighed, his fingers still tracing her name, smoothing gently over each letter as if it were a feature on her beautiful face. “So all that Cup stuff is over. The summer was so short. God...I wish you’d been there. It was crazy. So many people...so much going on. But it was good though. I had it on my birthday and everyone was singing happy birthday to me and Max was there...you never got to meet Max really did you? Just that once, when Jordy met Tish. They’re still together, but then you probably know that already,” he sighed, spreading his hand flat over the plaque and closing his eyes. It was a strange feeling being here. Partly it hurt like hell but partly it was soothing, almost relaxing, just being near to her. “Speaking of Tish, she was selling your place, your apartment,” he began, more quietly because he could hardly breathe, remembering standing outside the building, wanting to, but unable to make himself go inside where all the memories would be too close, too real. “Tish had this young couple with her and they were all...they loved your place. Of course they did but...I don’t know what I was thinking but I bought it. I mean...it’s not like I’ve actually been inside of it. I can’t, not yet, I miss you too much,” he sighed, clenching his teeth against the pain that rose in his chest, threatening to steal every last ounce of oxygen from his lungs. “I love you Randi,” he whispered, pressing the palm of his hand down on the cool metal until the raised letters bit into his hand and then, slowly, he pushed himself to his feet.
He looked up to see Mario leaning against the big black SUV, his arms crossed over his broad chest, his eyes tipped up to the late summer sun. With one last look back, Sidney smiled down at the little plaque bearing her name, and then turned and walked towards his waiting ride.
“What am I? Ten?” Mya mused as she tapped her fingernails against her desk staring at the title blinking back at her from her laptop. ‘What I Did on My Summer Vacation’. She’d hardly been able to believe that the Professor had been able to keep a straight face when he’d asked the entire class to have their essay ready in the morning, including the assistants. He’d been looking right at her when he’d said it.
But it wasn’t only the fact that it seemed like something an elementary student would be asked to do the first day back at school in September. What was really getting under her skin was the one thing about her vacation that she couldn’t quite forget.
It would be easy enough to write about her trip, which was a good story all in all, but there was just no way that Mya was ever going to include meeting Sidney Crosby in the five hundred words allotted for the task. That would get her some notice in class, sure, but only as a name dropper, an attention seeker, or worse – a puck bunny. Not exactly the start she’d be looking for if she wanted to be taken seriously.
Besides, it wasn’t as if she had much to say about him. They’d had coffee, twice, that was all, and then he’d just sort of disappeared of the face of the earth. Sure he’d given her his cell number. Not like she was going to use it. Yes, sure, he was cute as all hell, but she did have a little pride. If he was going to just disappear off the face of the earth without so much as a word, she sure as hell wasn’t going to go chasing after him.
Besides, it had just been coffee and they’d both been on vacation. It was nice while it lasted, one of those anecdotes she could tell at a party, maybe one day tell her grandchildren. Hey, guess what? Once upon a time, I met Sidney Crosby.
The annoying thing was he’d actually seemed interested.
Or maybe that had all been just a figment of her over active imagination. Maybe he’d never told her she had beautiful eyes. Maybe that was something her imagination had added on to make things more interesting. Maybe he’d never looked at her across the table and given her that flirtatious little smile.
No, he’d probably done neither. From what she could remember he’d really been too shy to do either of those things. So it was probably her over active imagination.
That and there was no way a guy like him would actually ever really be interested in a girl like her.
So, no, there would be no ‘oh and by the way, I met Sidney Crosby’ in her story in the morning. Just a girl, and her bike and a few hundred miles of road and that would have to be story enough. If she was going to make it as any kind of writer, she’d have to flush out otherwise boring stories. It’s not like she was going to start working for TMZ or the NHL network after all.
Fingers poised above her keyboard, Mya closed her eyes and banished the day dream of the dark haired boy who’d made her smile and turned her thoughts instead to the twisting highways and the crowded truck stops along the way. Maybe she could talk about the way fish and chips changed from one ‘choke and puke’ to the next. How at one stop it would be crispy and golden and made almost entirely of cod, or at least she hoped so, while at the next stop it would be less crispy and made of some kind of flat fish that they tried to pass off as halibut.
Yes, she smiled to herself. That would be a better angle than her brief encounter with the best hockey player in the world ‘cuz no one wanted to hear about him in this town, ha ha ha.
“So do you think you’ll move into her...your new apartment?” Mario asked after a long silence that had stretched into the uncomfortable zone. Sidney squirmed in the big leather chair. On one hand, he didn’t like thinking of Randi’s place sitting empty. On the other hand, he wasn’t quite ready to face moving in there alone either. “The only reason I ask,” Mario continued without waiting for his protégé to reply, “is Nathalie was asking. Not that we want you to leave,” he added, followed by a wide smile that made his icy blue eyes dance.
“I can’t imagine not having her cooking to come home to,” Sidney offered, which made the big man’s smile grow even wider.
“And we can’t imagine you not being here either and it will be especially hard on Austin, but then he thinks of you as his brother,” Mario added, turning his attention momentarily to the formal family portrait above the fireplace. His young son was showing signs he was going to be as handsome as his father. “But then there’s Lauren,” he sighed, the big man’s shoulders rising and falling before he turned those blue eyes back on Sidney, who nodded.
He knew. Everyone in the house knew. It was getting more awkward all the time and there was no guarantee that it was going to get any easier with Stephanie, although she’d grown so close, so attached to his sister Taylor, everyone hoped that maybe it would be different with her.
“You know I try not to encourage her,” Sidney began and his mentor nodded, raising a hand to cease any more arguments or explanations.
“We’re not trying to rush you out, and I know you’ve been spending a lot of time on your own since...,” Mario’s voice trailed away as Sidney stiffened for the blow of hearing her name. Choosing not to be the one to lower the boom on that particular emotion, Mario backed off and left her name unspoken, waiting until Sidney visibly relaxed before continuing. “What I was going to suggest is that maybe you and Max or you and Jordy could move in together?”
Sidney smiled. He couldn’t help it. The idea of living with either of those two party animals with their seemingly never ending streams of ‘lady friends’ was definitely not on the top of his to do list. It would be interesting. He couldn’t argue that. But he also couldn’t see it lasting for very long. He had a type-A personality bordering on neurotic, obsessive compulsive. That’s what the team psychologist had told him. She’d also told him that it didn’t bode well for a healthy personal life. So far she’d been a hundred per cent right about that, but Sidney knew that these ‘quirks’ as his mother called them, in his personality, sometimes made having friends difficult, especially ones like Jordy and Mark.
Not to mention he was just plain afraid of getting close to anyone now. Every person he got close to, allowed himself get close to, was taken away from him. Like Army, Bugsy, Whit...all gone. Not to mention....
“Maybe not them. Maybe Tanger...but...I’m just not quite ready yet,” Sidney replied honestly, looking over at his mentor, his sometime father, his landlord. Mario smiled indulgently and nodded, steepling his long fingers. Sidney spoke the words he knew that Mario wanted to tell him but wouldn’t. “I know, it’s probably not good for me to...stew in my own juices but...I’m okay. Honestly.”
“I know you are son, I know you are,” Mario nodded, looking thoughtfully up at his family portrait, the one that included Sidney as a member of the family. It had almost made him cry when they had asked him if he would join them. He was proud to have them as his family here and he’d certainly needed them since he’d arrived back in the ‘Burgh.
Back amongst all the memories, all of the places and things that made him emotional, made him think of her. He didn’t feel whole. He wasn’t sure if he ever would. He was just glad that he had this place, these people, who knew him well enough not to try and drag him out of self imposed shell. He felt safe here with them and he knew they’d give him all the time in the world to find his feet again, even though he couldn’t imagine when that would be.
“What’s that you’re writing, war and fucking peace?” Mya looked up from her laptop and smiled at the woman who was standing behind her in nothing but her birthday suit. Not that Mya really noticed. Not anymore. She could still remember the days when she’d come off the stage and immediately wrap herself in a robe or a towel. But now she was just like the rest of the dancers, completely comfortable with her own body and really didn’t see the nudity of the other dancers.
“A paper for class, history of the Pirates baseball team,” Mya explained, saving what she’d written so far. If Hannah, aka Raven was done her set, then it was nearly her turn to go on and she needed to retouch her make-up. She closed her lap top and reached for a tube of lipstick.
“The place is pretty full tonight,” Hannah added, dumping a handful of crumpled bills into her purse before pushing it back under her chair in front of the mirror and reaching for a hairbrush. “There’s a bunch of young guys in geiny row with more money than sense. My kind of night.”
“You headed home now?” Mya asked, puckering her lips in the mirror and running her thumb along her bottom lip, before reaching for the long black wavy wig that was part of her stage persona.
“In a bit. I’m hoping I’ll get called out for a lap dance or two before I go. I could do with some extra money this week. Donnie’s had this real bad cough for a few days. I want to take him to a doctor.” Mya nodded. That was understandable. She, herself, had willingly taken the few extra shifts offered to cover books and some new clothes and besides, she had her eye on a little sequined number in the window at Sugar Boutique. Blush paid well, which was why she’d decided to work here, but it never seemed to be enough. She needed the tips the men tossed at her, especially now, at the beginning of the semester. There always seemed to be things that she hadn’t thought of. Besides, the apartment she’d rented needed some paint and she wanted to get a bigger TV than the nineteen inch that had come with the supposedly ‘furnished’ one room. At least it was in a nice building, right downtown.
“Sugar, you’re up,” Cassidy, aka Dallas, called as she pushed the backstage door open, her curvy body bathed in sweat, an ice cream bucket full of small bills in one hand.
“I hope you left some money out there for me,” Mya grinned as she tugged at the wig to make sure it was going to stay in place.
“Don’t worry, that bunch has fists full and now they’re getting drunk and rowdy. Have fun,” Cassidy laughed, dropping her bucket down on the make-up table and grabbing a towel. Mya nodded, and picked up her Billy club and standard 8 point Pershing cop hat and headed out onto the stage.
It felt good to be skating on home ice again. It had felt good to skate in Calgary too. Well, more than good Sidney thought as he got down on the ice to stretch out his quads and hamstrings. He’d long ago got over his disappointment at not getting picked for Turin, and the Cup had definitely banished any thoughts he had about his abilities, but it was still huge. He was going to play in Vancouver for the Olympic Team, but first he had to stay healthy until February and that meant he had to stay strong.
Now he couldn’t wait for the season to start. Well, he was always a bit anxious to get to the first game of the season but now he had even more to work towards and the Olympic camp in Calgary had already got his juices going. The team was going to be great, no matter who he got to play with but he was already imagining what it was going to be like to play against Geno and Ovie. That would be tough.
“Are you here already Creature?” Max called from the zamboni entrance where some of the guys were still arriving. Sidney grinned up at his friend. It was good that there would be a lot of the old familiar faces this season. There hadn’t been as many changes over this summer.
“I’m not early, you’re late!” Sid called back, stretching out his other leg before raising a hand to wave at Tanger and Fleur who were following close behind.
“That’s because you don’t know how to have fun,” Max called back, raising his arm over his head, from which he was swinging something that looked a lot like a pair of ladies underwear, more specifically a thing. “We’ve been out team bonding. You should have come, right Tanger?” the furry Frenchman grinned at his two compadres who were nodding in agreement.
“Do I want to know?” Sid called back, crossing his left leg over his right behind him and feeling the stretch in his groin that place he injured too often and usually early in the season because he wasn’t warmed up enough. That was something he wanted to avoid if he could this season.
“How many times have I told you that you should come to Blush? They have a great lunch menu!”
“Right,” Sidney shook his head but couldn’t help grinning and laughing with his friends. Sidney Crosby getting caught in a strip joint, right, he could read the headlines now. Even now that he was more than old enough he knew that it would still raise an eyebrow or two. Besides, his mother would never approve and Taylor was going through a feminist faze right now, not to mention what Natalie or Lauren and Stephanie would say. No, Sidney shook his head as he thought about it. That would definitely not be a smart move on his part.
Besides, he thought more seriously, sitting and watching some anonymous women get naked would probably not help him in his current situation. He’d never been a promiscuous kind of guy, he was sort of old fashioned when it came to physical relationships, so missing Randi was more than just emotional. He missed her body, the warmth and softness of it. He missed making love. He missed just being able to hold her soft skin next to his. He couldn’t imagine how going to the "rippers" with the boys was going to help out with that.
“Want to do some passing?” Bill asked, tapping his young line mate on the shins as Sidney got to his feet.
“Sounds good,” Sidney smiled towards his teammate, accepting the puck onto his stick and digging his skates into the fresh ice. Practice was good. It was his home away from home and now it was his shelter from the memories that wouldn’t let him rest.