Bonus Chapter! As promised to some readers on Mibba, here is an extended ending for this story. They busted me for ending it quickly – and I’m guilty. Usually my stories end because I’ve run out of things to say (and moved on to another story, at least in my head). I am flattered to know that some people wanted more of Leah and Sid as a couple, and happy to oblige. - J
“Where are you go… oh,” Leah cut herself off with a smile. She and Sidney had just landed in Halifax, the early June sun setting on the Maritimes. It seemed like ages since she’d been home but really only a few weeks had passed since she’d quit her job and made good on her promise to follow Sidney to Pittsburgh.
The end of the Penguins season had been hard. Sid was devastated and felt, as always, like their playoff loss was entirely his fault. Leah had expected it, but still she was heartbroken to see everyone so down. It also made her unsure of her place – she figured Sid must have a system for recovery, as he did for everything else. But she’d been wrong. Usually he just struggled through till it stopped hurting so much. This time he looked to her for help. With a few well-timed kisses, a couple of big talks and some new lingerie, he said it was the best worst end to a season he’d ever had.
Now they were back in Nova Scotia. Together. Sidney smiled as he turned off the road. The atmosphere wasn’t quite the same as the last time they’d been here: it was forty degrees warmer and he was slightly less nervous than the night he’d stood out in the cold hoping the gorgeous girl with the auburn curls would figure out his note. He parked in front of the rink’s closed entrance and got out of the car.
Leah did too, but she leaned against the passenger door and watched Sidney walk to the very place where he’d waited for her a little over six months ago. He stood in the same pool of light, hands still in his pockets. Leah’s heart was buzzing like a lightning storm.
“You’re not going to do something crazy, are you?” she asked from fifteen meters away. Like ask me to marry you?
Sidney had considered it. Strongly. In the end he decided it was too soon. He and Leah needed time to live as a couple. There were jobs to find and schedules to get used to, but first there was the summer to enjoy. They’d be back on this spot someday and his answer would be yes. He hoped hers would be too.
Sidney shrugged. “Since when do I give you a choice?”
Leah couldn’t resist. She made her way slowly to the very spot where she’d first found Sidney Crosby – the Sidney Crosby – waiting for her little old her. Hoping for her. She did now what she’d wanted to do then: reached her arms around his neck and kissed him, smiles on their faces.
“I love you,” he said.
“I love you too.” Leah rubbed her nose against his. “Still got that key? I hear there are bleachers in this place.”
Leah poked her head out from beneath the covers. Sid was sitting up next to her, leaning against the headboard and reading. Shirtless. She moaned quietly and pulled the blanket back up. A moment later, Sid folded it down.
“Good morning,” he said with that ridiculously handsome grin.
“It’s always going to be like this, isn’t it?”
“You, looking like that when you wake up. And you’re reading? Fuck.” She buried her face in the pillow. Three weeks of opening her eyes to the sight of Sidney Crosby every morning had not dulled the effect. “You’re perfect. It’s gross.”
Sid chuckled. Leah was pretty incredible herself in what barely passed as a tank top, her hair all tousled from a good night’s sleep that followed a good night’s roll in the hay.
“And this book has some big words. I’m also naked,” he reminded her.
Leah rolled her eyes. “Why do you think I wanted to stay under the covers?”
They lay quietly for a while, both trying to delay the coming day. Sidney did read a few pages of the murder mystery he’d picked up at the airport, while Leah examined his bedroom from the perspective of being in the bed. It was still very new to her. The night before they’d arrived back in Cole Harbour - Sid never said so but he’d planned their late arrival to give them a night alone, in the place where it all started, before the rest of their lives caught up with them.
He watched Leah from the corner of his eye as she studied her new surroundings. He’d persuaded her to give up the lease on her apartment and move in with him. They had until the end of June to empty her place. Sidney hoped that bringing in her things would make this house more a home for both of them. It would certainly help that she woke up in this bed every morning.
Her blue eyes shifted and she looked right at him. Busted.
“I was just thinking,” he said, putting the book aside and reaching for her, “that we don’t reallllly have to do this today.”
Leah wrapped her arms around Sidney’s waist. He was in fact very naked beneath the sheets, a truth that had stopped her leaving bed a million times in the last month. And would again.
“We do. I want to,” she said. “After everything we’ve already done, this is the only thing left.”
Sidney sighed and resting his chin on top of her head. “I hope you still love me tonight.”
Leah did her best to distract from his fears by letting her hand slide lower on his body. “I’ll keep coming back for the sex anyway.”
It was quick, but then they didn’t need much from each other to find satisfaction. Sid rolled on top of Leah, she wrapped her legs around his waist and he was inside her, pushing slowly as her head fell back, before they were even still. His huge biceps flexed as he pushed her hands up and held, using only his lower body to stroke as high as he could go. Leah gasped at the incredible feeling of him, thick and hard, riding deeply from the first thrust. Sidney loved the sounds she made, like she’d been waiting all night just to have him again. The hot, tight squeeze of her body always threatened to undo him. He wondered how any guy that wasn’t a professional athlete with years of pain management and focus training ever managed to last five minutes with Leah. They’d never have to worry about that again.
Leah wiggled one hand free and raked it into Sidney’s hair. He’d cut it short after the playoffs, shaving that terrible beard that she’d endured stoically for the sake of his superstitions. Even with it he was the hottest guy on Earth by a mile. Without it – well, her palm grazed his smooth cheek and strong jaw just before he kissed her fingers with those scandalous lips. Leah’s stomach fluttered, Sidney smiled as the feel of it rippled against his cock.
There was a breathlessness about the way Leah came that turned Sidney inside out. This girl who owned him, who gave him hell and made him earn everything, absolutely fell apart when they made love. Whether he was winning or she was giving in, Sidney didn’t care. It made him feel invincible and desperate and helpless and perfect. It set off his own orgasm every time.
“God,” he panted, falling spent across her body.
“Later, when I smile at you, that is what I’m thinking about,” Leah said.
Two hours later Sidney was holding Leah’s hand on his parents’ front step.
The end of the playoffs had come so quickly, and on the road, that Sid’s parents had not been there. That was better for him – the gut-wrenching aftermath of a loss hardly needed anyone yelling over the din. It was bad enough that his father had seen the video of Sid jumping on stage at Leah’s performance before he’d heard about it from his son.
“Now you are chasing her?!” his father had shouted down the hone when Sidney finally called. It was after Leah had come to Pittsburgh, after the Buffalo game. She had been upstairs in the shower when he called.
“I love her. We are together. You can either get okay with it or not. I’m sorry Dad, but I don’t care.”
It might not sound like much, but it was the single most defiant thing Sidney had ever done. He loved his parents and was endlessly grateful for their support, almost to the point of piety. Even if his father was rough, he was usually right. This time Troy was wrong. Leah was the first thing Sidney had ever found that was worth fighting back for. His father was surprised and that made him even angrier. Sid told himself he would only have to do this once.
His mother, ever the peacemaker, threw open the door and hugged Leah before she even got her name out. Every woman, no matter how famous her son, wants to see him made honest by a good woman.
“It’s so nice to meet you. You’re beautiful,” Trina put a hand to Leah’s cheek. “Sidney said you were.”
“MOM, GET OFF!” Taylor barreled down the stairs and threw her arms around Leah. “Hi! I missed you!”
Sidney huffed impatiently. “I am here too!”
Taylor, still hugging Leah, made a face. “You left me to the Inquisition here all by myself! There is a big ass trip to the mall in your future, brother.”
Behind the commotion, someone cleared his throat. They all dropped their stances and saw Sidney’s father.
“Leah, this is my dad, Troy. Dad, this is Leah. My…,” Sidney had planned a line; something that brooked no argument. He forgot it, of course. “I love her. We’re in love.”
Troy gave a skeptical eyebrow raise, as if someone incapable of coherent speech was probably incapable of important decisions. But he offered his hand.
“Nice to meet you,” Leah said. “I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you sooner.” She reminded herself that Troy only had Sid’s best interests at heart, even if it was hard to give up telling your son what to do when he became a man. Trina sat them all down in the living room and Taylor stayed close to Leah, like a bodyguard ready to take a bullet.
“So,” Troy said. He was a thick-set, gruff man. “You all moved into Sid’s place?”
“Our place, Dad,” Sid corrected.
“Not yet,” Leah laughed nervously and Trina joined in. “We have two more weeks, and I will probably get rid of some things. I, uh, left in a bit of a hurry, so nothing really got organized.”
“How’d you like Pittsburgh?”
“It’s beautiful. Bigger than home, of course. But I liked it.”
“See yourself there long term?” Troy asked.
“Dad!” Sidney could not help getting agitated. “We talked about this!”
“It’s okay, Sid,” Leah said. At least his father was asking instead of telling. “If your son is in Pittsburgh, I’m in Pittsburgh. That’s the way it goes, isn’t it?”
Troy shrugged. “I think there are a lot of ways it can go.”
Sid opened his mouth to protest but Leah put a hand high on his leg, like a flag marking a continent that she claimed as her own and would rule over as she pleased.
“Look, I know this is weird,” Leah admitted. “It’s weird for me too. Sid and I are just going to figure it out as it comes along. There’s no grand plan other than where he goes, I go. We’ll find a way to make that work for both of us.
“After all,” Leah knew this was her ace in hole, “it was his idea.”
Troy hmmpphhed like he wasn’t happy about that either. “We all saw that.”
“I thought it was really romantic,” Trina said. Leah knew she would like Sidney’s mom and find an ally there. After all, someday that could be Leah’s family too.
Leah smiled. “Me too.”
“I had to do something,” Sid said, looking at his father, “after she dumped me.”
Maybe it hadn’t been exactly like that – Sid and Leah were never really together so they never really split. But his heart had been broken at the thought of losing her and that was far worse than having the whole world gossip or facing his father’s wrath. The real issue here, the core of this debate, was like an elephant in the room: everyone saw it, everyone was avoiding it. Sid’s blood pressure was rising.
Leah saw Sidney struggling with the role of dutiful son. She wanted to jump in and say more, be more reassuring to everyone, but Sidney needed to stand up for himself. Then she’d make sure he never needed to do it again. He looked her way and she smiled.
Sidney remembered Leah’s words from that morning, in bed: “Later, when I smile at you, that is what I’m thinking about.” It had been funny, but it was also true. More than sex or pleasure or anything physical, Leah had been talking being alone together, where the outside world didn’t matter and they both knew exactly what they had.
He took a deep breath and said what he needed to say.
“Dad, Leah doesn’t want my money and she doesn’t want to be famous. I would have given her those things anyway, but she refused to have me until I got this right. You need to realize that she loves me. She isn’t running a scam or setting me up. I am lucky to have her. This family is lucky.”
Sid looked his father in the eye, man to man. Troy protected his family fiercely. In return he expected loyalty. Sid had always been on the receiving end of advice and instruction, but now he knew things from experience. His words carried weight.
“I know you’re looking out for me, like always. And I appreciate it. But you ever suggest that Leah is a bad person, or that it’s so impossible a girl might actually love me for anything other than my hockey sweater, you will never have to worry about me again.”
A deafening silence fell in the Crosby living room. Sid felt eerily calm. With firm rationality, he’d defended himself and Leah, and given his father an ultimatum. He watched for signs of outrage from Troy – red face, clenched fists. If anything, his father looked more alarmed. After a moment, the tightness in the elder man’s jaw began to loosen.
“I didn’t mean that,” he said. “That a girl would only love you for…”
Sid cut his father off. “I know. And you didn’t mean anything against Leah either. So we’re good, right?”
They weren’t, not by a long shot. There was a lifetime of family drama to look forward to. It would just be a little different now – more of a conversation among equals than a parent speaking to a child. Sidney felt Leah’s hand squeeze in his. She wasn’t going anywhere.
As little sisters often do, Taylor chose the best - or worst - moment to break the tension.
“So Dad, can I date James Neal?”
Leah looked up from her spot on the small dock that jutted into the lake behind Sidney’s house. He’d offered to get her a sunchair but she preferred the heat of the wood that soaked up through her towel. Then Sid admitted he didn’t have any chairs anyway. Leah knew he would have driven into to town and bought her one right away.
Honeymoon phase, she thought. Her reverie was interrupted by a roaring motor and shrieking yell before a wave of water leapt up and soaked her, like a skater snowing a goalie.
“Yeah!” Jake shouted. He was on the jet ski, pretending to drive but really Sidney’s hands were on the controls. Sid sat behind Jake, both of them in life vests, laughing. Leah flipped her wet-again hair back from her face.
“Oh yeah?!” Leah shot back. “Guess we’re having liver and cabbage for dinner.”
Jake looked horrified. “You said pizza!”
“You splashed me!”
“It was his idea!” Jake jerked his thumb backward. He was so disgusted by the idea of liver and cabbage he’d give up anyone, even Sidney Crosby.
Sid looked up at Leah. She was perfect – skin just starting to tan, at least any of it not covered by the pink and white bikini she wore. The dry half of her hair was curlier than usual. Behind her the sky was clear, endless blue that he knew matched her eyes. Nothing had ever looked more summery.
“I just said you looked hot,” Sid said. “Jake may have misunderstood.”
That night, Leah did order pizza. She even let Jake pick out the toppings. Sidney watched her going over the menu with the little boy and thought a lot of crazy things. Someday maybe she’d do that with their kids, in this house, during summer break. He tried to picture her among the WAGs and failed, as always. It only came through as a vision of Leah and Vero watching the game and whispering, making each other laugh. Sid knew they were talking about him. He didn’t care so long as they were smiling.
“Anchovies and mustard greens,” Leah said, waving the menu.
Sid blinked himself back into the scene at hand. “What?”
“Is this what you’re like in the off-season?” she asked, sliding her hands around his waist. “All spaced out and dreamy?”
He gladly accepted her hug. “I was kinda spaced out.”
“And you’re definitely dreamy.”
From behind Leah came a groan. “Gross!” Jake rolled his eyes and headed for the living room.
“Quick!” Sid pushed Leah against the wall, plastering his mouth to hers. The kiss fell apart to them laughing.
“I bet Jake gets a girlfriend this year, since you have one now. You’re his hero.”
Since I have a girlfriend now, Sid thought. It still sounded as strange as if someone said he had a tail. Just the word though – lots of the guys had girlfriends, so even with no experience Sid knew that Leah was more than a girlfriend. She was both his girl and his best friend; few relationships he saw had both of those elements in equal measure. He was absurdly lucky, and that didn’t sound strange at all. It just sounded right. Sid tucked a piece of Leah’s hair behind her ear.
“You know, if Jake hadn’t lost his helmet that night I never would have met you. So he is my hero.”
Leah got that now-familiar flutter in her heart. Everything about Sidney that seemed impossibly perfect from a distance was even better up close. But Leah had no intention of letting that go to his head.
She smiled. “You always did need a lot of help, Crosby.”
*END* (Really this time.)