It was hard to watch but Sidney could hardly take his eyes off of the Cup as Jonathan Toews lifted it over his head and spun to face his teammates. He even winced when the young forward pressed his lips to the cup, hoping it wasn’t his name that the kid was kissing.
It could be worse, he thought. It could have been Ovie. At least the Hawks had taken care of that particular foe.
“Maybe next year,” Max said simply, reading his mind as he so often did. Sidney shrugged and took another sip of his beer, remaining silent. It was hard enough to watch, he didn’t think he could talk about it too. “Face it Cap, we’re lucky to have gotten as far as we did this year,” Max added, to which Sidney could only shrug in reply. That was a sentiment upon which the two men differed. It had been in them to repeat, Sidney had felt sure about that at the beginning of the year, if everyone had put their best into it. That hadn’t happened.
Not that he blamed Max. Max was one of those guys who did give it their best every night, even if his best this season hadn’t been as good as it had been last season. There were other players that he could and had laid the blame directly on. Players like Geno.
“Okay enough of that. Turn that shit off,” Jordan grabbed the remote from the arm of Sid’s chair and turned the television off. “We’ve got places to go, people to see, Jello shots to shoot,” he added with one of those patented Staal grins that could only mean one thing – trouble.
“What have you done?” Sidney turned to see Max smiling back at him wearing that lopsided – c’mon buddy, don’t you trust me? - look on his face. “What are you two up to?”
“And why would you think it was just those two?” Sidney spun to see two of his other best friends appear through the doorway and was torn. Part of him was happy to see them and part of him knew that because they were there at that moment, nothing good could come of it.
“Bergy...Army...what the hell is going on?”
“Oh c’mon, it’s the night before the big event. You didn’t honestly think we’d let you get tied down without giving you one last kick at being a swinging single guy did you?” Army asked, that big shit eating grin that everyone loved so much on his face. Sidney shook his head. Visions of Colby’s own out of control bachelor party still caused him to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.
“No, no, no,” he put his hands up in self defense but there were more of them and despite his own strength, they were already dragging him out of his chair and towards the door. He felt the cold steel of handcuffs settling on his wrists and began to squirm in earnest.
“Ne tu inquiétes pas,” Max laughed, slapping Sid’s back. “We’ll take good care of you.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Sidney groaned as they dragged him, kicking all the way to the van waiting outside in the drive way.
“We’ll get you to the church on time, promise,” Flower added as he jumped into the back behind where Jordy and Max had flung Sidney, head first.
“We’re not getting married in a church,” Sidney groaned, apprehension sitting in the pit of his stomach like a lead weight.
“Don’t worry Creature,” Max grinned, looking a little too happy, “I’m the best man remember? I can’t promise what shape you’ll be in, but we’ll get you there on time.”
“Another tat?” Tish laughed as Mya looked up in the mirror to see who had come through the door. “You’re gonna look like that Kat Von D chick pretty soon.”
“Three tats. Three small tats,” Mya corrected her, “I don’t think so.”
“Do you even know if Sid likes these tats of yours?” Vero asked as she perused one of the art books that sat at the front desk. Mya grinned to herself but bit down on the inside of her cheek to stop herself from laughing.
“Yeah he does and that’s all I’m saying,” she mumbled, closing her eyes again as tried to find her happy place so she could shut out the pain. She concentrated on the buzzing of the gun and tried to shut out the chatter of her friends. The new tat was a sort of gift, to Sidney as well as to herself. Some might think it bad luck or even that it was tempting fate but Mya was throwing caution to the wind and having his number engraved in her skin on the nape of her neck. It wasn’t his number, not exactly, or at least not as it appeared on his jersey. It was highly stylized with two intertwined hearts making up the eight and a hockey stick standing in for the seven.
“And if Max does his job tonight,” Marti added from the seat next to the one that Mya was hugging where another gun was buzzing away “Sid will have his own ink by morning.”
“Sidney? Our little Sidney getting inked? No way,” Tish whooped, dropping the book she was paging through, which caused the artist to dig painfully into Mya’s neck. Gritting her teeth Mya shot Jordy’s wife a dark look and readjusted her position, once more closing her eyes.
“Maybe next time someone says something about a soother he can flash his ink and ask Ovie to man the fuck up,” Mya added, which caused everyone to laugh, including the woman holding the gun, though she was re-inking and wiping down at the time.
“Okay, okay girls, calm the fuck down or I’ll be giving her Kane’s number and I’m betting that won’t go over well.”
“Yeah, shut the fuck up so we can get this over with and then start drinking,” Marti added.
“What do you mean start?” Mya asked, grinning as she lifted a bottle of JD to her lips, taking a long swig before the gun began buzzing again.
Mya stared at the reflection in the mirror and didn’t recognize the woman staring back at her. The woman in the mirror seemed taller, longer and leaner. She looked like a model in Vogue. The heavy silver satin halter dress draped close to her figure, leaving her back bare, showing both of her tattoos, pooled around her feet and trailed at least three feet behind her.
“Honey, I don’t think you need the veil,” Tish sighed, from where she stood behind her, staring at the same reflection that Mya couldn’t take her eyes off of. “I mean...damn woman, if you get through your vows before that boy pops a chubbie....”
“Gee thanks for that image,” Mya cracked a smile as she shook her head at her friend.
“Well if it stops you from blubbering like an idiot,” Tish grinned back at her before handing her a glass of something pink and bubbly, “then I’ve done my job.”
“I might still blubber,” Mya decided as she sipped at the sweet champagne. “Especially if Troy keeps looking at me like he wants to rip my head off and shit down my throat.”
“Well you have the wedding license already, you’ve signed the damn pre-nup, what the fuck else does that loser want?” Marti asked, tugging at the rouched bodice of her matching black satin tie neck halter dress.
“Well at least I know that Max will be too busy drooling to cause trouble,” Mya sighed, shaking her head as she watched Max’s girlfriend struggle to keep her ample cleavage from spilling over. “As for my soon to be father in law, I’m not sure anything is ever going to please that man, aside from a grandson guaranteed to be an even better goaltender than Patrick Roy,” Mya added with just a hint of a smile.
“So are you next on the list? Will you be elbowing all the other girls out of the way when it comes to tossing the bouquet?” Tish asked, producing a roll of double sided tape from her purse and handing it to Marti. The room fell silent and Mya found that she wasn’t the only one staring at Vero who was now standing silently staring at the toes of her perfectly pointed stilettos. “Sorry Ver, you know I didn’t mean it,” Tish hissed, reaching for Vero who pushed her hand away. “We all just forget you’re not already married,” Tish added, wrapping her arms around the tall, thin dark haired girl.
“She’s right,” Mya added her own arms and soon they were all hugging Flower’s steady home town girl. “You two are so perfect together. We all think of you as the old married couple.”
“He’s the sweetest,” Tish added, glancing hopefully across at Mya who could only shrug in response. No one wanted a tearful bridesmaid but short of going out and strong-arming Marc Andre into doing the right thing by the cheerful but shy small town girl, there was little any of them could do to make this any easier on her.
“She’s right,” Mya agreed, lifting Veronique’s chin and grinning at her, hoping the grin would be infectious. “He’s the catch. Marc would never cheat on you and at least there aren’t whores all over the country begging him to marry them. You don’t have to put up with that, or a bunch of half retarded brothers,” Mya added, raising her eyebrows and glancing hopefully at Tish who laughed out loud.
“Christ yes. Has MAF ever shot you in the ass with a paintball? I didn’t fucking think so,” Jordy’s wife moaned, shaking her head. “And he’s a nice enough kid but you know, it could be worse, you could be dating TK,” Tish tried which did win a smile from the dark haired Quebecoise.
“And he’s not all furry,” Marti added with an absolutely straight face, which made them all laugh.
“But you like that Max is furry,” Vero sniffed, wiping at her tears as they all laughed.
“I like Max,” Marti corrected her. “The back hair...I could do without,” she admitted as she picked up her purse and pulled out a cold wax strip kit, “and when he’s good and drunk later...ziiipp!”
“Okay, I just want it on record, any screaming later is not necessarily me,” Mya laughed, choking on her champagne before she raised her glass to all of the women. “To the WAGs.”
“To the WAGs,” they all chimed in, raising their glasses together and clinking them hard enough to cause the bubbly to spill over.
“She’s not coming,” Sidney mumbled under his breath as he stared at the house, willing the doors from the kitchen to open.
“I haven’t heard any squealing tires,” Max whispered back, looking a little too pleased and a little too awake which still pissed Sidney off. He’d barely managed to shower and shave and get into his suit in time. There hadn’t been any golf game or fishing or even a street hockey game to calm his nerves.
“Then why hasn’t she come out yet?” Sidney hissed, checking his watch for what seemed like the hundredth time.
“Because she’s making you sweat,” Jordy shrugged nonchalantly. “It’s what they do. Something about women’s prerogative or some shit like that,” he added, fussing with his tie as if it was choking him. Sidney had a brief thought about choking the smug look off of the tall blonde’s face. After all, he had been the one toss him into the van sometime in the early hours of this morning, right on a certain very new, very tender, spot on his body and he hadn’t managed to quite forgive any of them for that yet.
“If you’re in that much of a hurry I’m sure we can go out to the driveway and find some willing girl to take her place,” Max offered, nudging him and giving him a wink which only made Sidney scowl. “Then chill Cap. When she’s ready she’ll....” Max’s voice slid away as the first notes of ‘You Picked Me’ by a Fine Frenzy filled the air. Sidney turned to see Max and Flower’s girlfriends appear through the doorway in their black dresses and though it wasn’t quite the sight he had been waiting for, his breath caught in his throat all the same.
He brushed his hands down along the thighs of his tuxedo pants and whetted his lips. Any minute now, he told himself as Tish appeared in a red satin dress that matched the style of the other bridesmaid’s dresses. He heard Jordy clear his throat and his heart beat doubled.
Rain against the windows
And the strong coffee
Warming up my fingers
In this fisherman's house
You got me
Searched the sand
And climbed the tree
And brought me back down
And all I can say
Is you blow me away
And she did, she blew him away.
Sidney watched, struck dumb as Mya carefully navigated the stairs down to the dock. The light was just right, the last golden light of sunset was disappearing behind the trees around the lake and the first lilac hues of twilight made her silver gown shimmer.
The lake was dead calm around them, turning from green to black in the changing light. The tiki torches around them that a moment ago had seemed only to be annoying and smoky were now softly flickering in the half light, turning her pale skin to gold as she walked towards him. His heart beat in time with every step she took and he was sure everyone could hear it, despite the music, despite the soft whispers of those around them which he could only just hear but didn’t matter, because no one and nothing else mattered, no one but Mya.
Like a shell upon a beach
Just another pretty piece
I was difficult to see
But you picked me
Yeah you picked me
She mouthed the words to him as she took the final steps that brought her to him and Sidney felt the small hairs on the back of his neck stand up on end as she turned to hand her bouquet of roses to Tish before she placed her smaller hands in his.
“You’re so beautiful tonight,” he whispered as he undid the tie around her neck, letting the satin loops fall onto her bare shoulders, following their soft caress with one of his own. He pressed his lips to her fragrant skin as he reached for the zipper on the back of her dress. He slid it down, slowly, carefully, the back of his hand brushing her spine. He watched with a mixture of fascination and pleasure as goose-bumps rose where he touched and his lips curled into a smile when she let out a contented sigh.
“Do you like it?” she asked reaching up to sweep her hair up and away from her neck. He’d let it down while they were dancing. He liked it down, preferred it curling around her shoulders in soft waves that he could run his fingers through. He brushed the new tattoo with his fingertips, mindful of the rawness of the new wound.
“I do,” he whispered, not for the first time this night. He pressed his lips above the top heart and below the bottom, upside down heart that made up the eight before carefully and lightly tracing the exaggerated hockey stick that made up the seven of his jersey number. It was exceptionally good work, very detailed, down to the Reebok logo and twined hockey tape just that perfectly mimicked the way he taped his stick.
“I know there are other girls…women with your number on them but…,” he kissed the twined hearts gently and chuckled. There would always be other women, girls with their signs and other tats, but there would only ever be Mya for him.
“Mine,” he whispered, digging his teeth into the curve of neck. “This says you’re mine,” he added, brushing his lips once more over the tattoo, making her shiver, maybe with pain but with need too.
“Yes, that too,” she replied, turning around to face him, one hand holding her dress modestly over her chest, the other hand turned so that the thin gold band on her ring finger caught the flickering light of the candles that surrounded the bed.“This,” she whispered, as he caught her hand in his and brought his lips down to the back of her hand. “This says I belong to you.” He smiled, thinking of the tiny black letters that were now hidden beneath the gold band and how his breath had caught in his throat when he’d seen them. S. P. C. Three little letters etched forever onto her ring finger that told him that she was his and his alone, forever.
“Mine,” he whispered back, turning her hand over and pressing his lips into her palm and then her wrist and the bend of her elbow. “Mine,” he repeated as her dress slipped from her grasp and pooled around her feet. Cupping her breasts in his hands, he lowered his head to suckle at her nipple while she raked her fingers through his hair.
She tasted of honey, sweet and warm he thought as he swept her up into his arms and carried her to the bed. Her skin glowed golden like honey as he laid her in the circle of flickering candle light.
She lay there, bare to his greedy gaze, relaxed and smiling and Sidney thought that he could never remember feeling this happy. Winning the Cup had been...amazing but bitter sweet and it hadn’t just been losing Randi that had made him feel that way. The Cup was a fickle mistress. His one day, some other man’s the next.
Mya was his and his alone, for now and forever.
“I love you,” she whispered, holding her hand up to him, beckoning him to join her in the soft warmth of their bed.
“More than words,” he added, tugging his tie loose and unbuttoning his shirt before wrapping her soft smooth body around his.
“Speaking of words,” she giggled, grabbing a hold of his belt and deftly undoing it with a quick flick of her wrist and a hard pull. “Let’s see.”
“Wait, wait,” he inched away from her, but she was too quick, her legs wrapped around his waist and in the next breath she had him pinned and Sidney was grateful for the thick down duvet beneath them. “You have to promise not to laugh.”
“Laugh? Why? What did Max do now?” she asked, grabbing the waist of his pants and dragging them down, as he rolled onto his stomach to better display the painful handiwork on his left butt cheek. He heard her make a sound that was somewhere between a hum and a muffled laugh and closed his eyes, inwardly wincing.
“Okay, I’m a pussy. Go ahead and say it. I’m sorry, I couldn’t take it.”
“I have a short name babe,” she chuckled, tracing the single letter that still made him drag a ragged breath through his teeth as her fingernail traced its’ edges.
“I don’t have a high pain threshold okay?” Sidney grumbled, thinking of all the ink Max already had and how Jordy had been able to joke around and hadn’t even seemed to notice the needles digging into his lily white skin while he had had to stuff his own t-shirt in his mouth to stop from crying like a baby.
“Well I guess it’s a start,” Mya giggled before bringing the flat of her hand down against his ass, causing him to let out a yelp he was sure that the entire house could probably hear. Once he’d regained his senses and stopped seeing stars, he grabbed her by both arms and rolled her beneath him, pinning her to the bed.
“I’ll tell you what’s a start, Mrs. Crosby,” he grinned down at her, holding her beneath him even as she wriggled to get free. “I’m going to start as I mean to go on, and I mean to make love to you every night that I can,” he added, leaning forward to press his lips over hers’, long and hard. He felt her relax beneath him and he eased himself down over her.
“Well you’ll have to do that while you can,” she whispered back, nipping at his earlobe as he kissed his way down her neck. “Because I mean to get pregnant and start having your babies as soon as possible,” she added, her hand sliding down between them and guiding him inside of her slick, hot entrance.
“Yeah?” he pushed himself up on his elbows and stared down at her, his heart fluttering nervously in his chest. She smiled up at him, candlelight turning her eyes a deep emerald green.
“The doctor says we can start trying again...if you want to,” she added, glancing away from him, suddenly the truly blushing bride.
“Yes I want to,” he groaned, wrapping her up in his arms and kissing her thoroughly. He hadn’t been sure before but he’d decided that had just been cold feet. Once he’d decided he wanted her, he’d decided that he wanted it all; her, a family, a home and a life – together and as he said it now he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he meant it, from the bottom of his heart. “I want us to have it all My, the house, the kids, the fucking picket fence, the dog...everything. I want all of that with you...if that’s what you want,” he added, searching her gaze for one long moment before she grinned up at him and started to laugh.
“I carved your number on the back of my neck. I put your damn initials on my ring finger. Yeah I fucking want it Sidney Patrick Crosby. Of course I do. I love you,” she laughed, pulling his lips down to hers’ and wrapping her legs around his to bring him deeper inside of her.
“Then let’s make a baby,” he whispered against her lips, cupping her face in his hands as he moved inside of her, feeling her muscles clenching around him and at that moment a cool breeze blew in from off of the lake and made all the candles flicker and pause at once and Sidney held his breath, waiting for the candles to go out, but they didn’t and for just a moment he thought he could see a figure standing near the window framed in the moonlight, a beautiful girl with green eyes smiling back at him and he smiled at her and knew that everything really was going to be alright.