Friday, April 12, 2013


(January 6)

“What?”  Sid sat straight up in bed.  From zero to awake in under one second.

“Deal’s done, they’re signing now.  Announcing in twenty minutes.  Terms are consistent with….” Pat went on but Sid could only hear the blood rushing in his ears.

“I, uh, I’ll call you back.  Later.”  Sid disconnected and stared at the phone in his hand - it immediately rang again.  His thumb slid the sound to silence.  “Hey.”  Now that he was conscious, he was coherent.

“You heard,” Mario Lemieux said.  He was Sid’s mentor, stand-in father and for the last four months, oddly balanced enemy and friend.  This was the first time since summer their relationship was back to normal.

“Yeah.  Just now.  It’s done?  They’re sure?”

“I’m calling from the owners to tell you it’s officially done. Everything’s over, we can finally get started.”

Sid mumbled something and ended the call.  If he was rude, let them chalk it up to waking him.  Let them take blame for ruining a full season and their relationship with fans.  For the first time in months, raw anger took the place of Sidney’s frustration.  He’d finally gotten healthy and they’d taken hockey away.  Now he’d finally gotten happy and they were taking that away too.

“No,” he said out loud to his empty room.  He was different now.  He had learned things about himself over two years of injuries and lockouts and time to think.  If he didn’t put those things into action right away, he’d lose them to the life he used to lead.  He was Sidney Crosby, and he was in control.  The first thing he was going to do was shove his phone under a pillow.

The second thing was across the hall.

Sid didn’t knock.  He turned the guest room knob and let himself in.  Leah lay on her back, hair strewn around and one hand tucked behind her head.  There was just enough light that he would never forget the sight of her asleep in his t-shirt.  Without losing a step, Sid lifted the blanket and got right in.

Sleeping through a door opening is one thing.  Sleeping through two hundred pounds of Sidney Crosby climbing into bed is something else entirely.  Leah instinctively reached out – her palm landed on his bare chest.

“Sid?” She opened her eyes, but it was too dark for anything more than shape and heat.  Neither of which could be mistaken.  Her hand was close enough to his heart that she could feel it racing.  His arm slid underneath her neck, turning her toward him.

“Lockout’s over,” he said softly.

Leah gasped.  Sid followed it right to her mouth with his own.  His fingers pushed up into her hair, his other arm closed over and drew her in tight.  The element of surprise carried him right into the kiss.

Leah’s whole world dropped like a roller coaster car.  She wasn’t even sure she was awake, and now this part couldn’t be real.  But the velvet brush of Sid’s tongue sent goosebumps down her spine, and she felt every single one beneath the searing press of his hand.

Over, she said to herself.  It’s over.  The lockout.  Their time together.  Them, essentially, the way she’d come to know it.  In ten days he’d taken over her life, and he would take part of it with him when he left. 

Without making any kind of decision, Leah wrapped her arms around Sidney and kissed him back.

It was better than he’d imagined, when he let himself imagine.  The shape of Leah’s body, both familiar and forbidden, came against his as it had when they were dancing, only now his strength and size were advantages.  He squeezed tighter, afraid she might disappear.  This time she clung back just as desperately.  They kissed until Sid was lightheaded and panting.  Up so close, he could still tell her eyes were blue even in darkness. 

Leah didn’t wait for Sid to speak.  She took her mouth to his neck and at the same brazen moment slipped her hands inside the back of his sweatpants.  Of course he wasn’t wearing anything underneath.  It was all smooth skin and rock hard muscle, like a statue that could move.  And move he did, rolling slightly and pinning her to the bed.  Leah’s hands had never been so full.

Sid had already run a red light to get here.  Now her hurry to get inside his clothes was a green light screaming: Go!  He pawed at her borrowed old t-shirt until it was gone.  All but lifting her onto the pillow, Sid brought his mouth to her breast and Leah’s entire body rocked as he twisted his tongue around one nipple.

He wanted to take hours and learn every curve of her body, but already his hands were roaming.  Those yoga pants felt even better than they looked; still he tugged and kicked till her feet were free.  He felt his way up the soft length of her leg until the lace edge of her panties grazed his fingertips.  For once, Sid didn’t care about anything but right there and then.  It was like being on the ice – everything else could wait.  Leah was not a game, but Sidney had never treated hockey as a game either.

Leah felt him pause.  She was scared too – scared of doing this, of not doing it, of missing the one last chance to be more than friends.  Either way, she would lose him.  At least after this she’d have something more to remember him by.  Leah lifted one knee and let Sid’s hand graze to her inner thigh; he did the rest.  Those thick fingers rubbed at the wisp of fabric stretched across her cleft and Leah moaned softly.

Sid felt her, hot and wet, beneath his touch.  On the return he tugged her panties aside and stroked her bare skin.  With one finger, he parted her slit just enough to feel like it was pulling all the blood from his own body.  Her underwear didn’t last another minute.  Sid tore at his own sweatpants, careless of his erection that throbbed against her thigh.

I can’t do this, he argued in his head.  But I have to do it.  She wants it.  I want it enough for both of us.  She will because I want to, she’d do it for me.  Even if I just asked.  She would never make me ask.

Leah saw a thousand thoughts cross his gorgeous features.  He was in no position to be diplomatic – there was no game face here.  Sidney was fighting with himself, over her.  She couldn’t lose.  Wrapping one hand around his shaft, Leah knew his eyes would open.  Black, or darker, they were beyond the point of wishing now that everything was happening.  She stroked his length, thick in her hand, and watched his lashes flutter closed.

I shouldn’t do this.  I should have done it before.  We can’t ever take this back.  Two weeks ago I didn’t even know him, her mind raced.  Two weeks ago, this was a dream.  Still not entirely sure she wasn’t just a sweaty tangle of sheets alone in his guest room, Leah caught Sidney’s mouth again and let her body take over.

He was on top of her in a flash, muscling her thighs apart with his own.  Clumsy, desperate, they moved as quickly as they could toward what they’d been avoiding.  Sid pushed his hands under the small of Leah’s back, holding her tight.  One of her hands was on his neck, fingers on his cheek.  He lined himself up to the spot as her hips titled, brushing the tip of his cock against her secret spot.  They both flinched, unready for the contact even now.

Leah bought his face to hers, Sid looked her right in the eye.  The corner of her mouth crinkled – almost a smile.  Better than a smile.  He pressed their foreheads together and held her gaze as he slowly screwed himself into her body.  Her frame got small in his arms as the sensation shuddered through them both.

“Ohgod,” Leah said so quietly that it might have been Sid’s voice instead.  He pushed steadily, supplying more as Leah’s body struggled to keep up with the demand.  He’d been big in her hand but this was something else.  The tension in her body, wound like a spring, didn’t help.  Leah told herself to relax and felt his cock slip another inch deeper.

“Leah,” Sid panted.  He groaned, worried he would lose it right then, halfway into her tight, hot core.  Sid lifted her higher to turn her hips down – the move made a fraction more space and he slipped, driving in right up to the hilt.  He bottomed out so hard that a drop of desire spilled before he clenched every muscle in his body and barely stemmed the tide.  A curse escaped his lips as Leah cried out.  Sid bit down on her throat and started to move.

Leah didn’t need to race – there was way too much of him to enjoy – but her body had other ideas.  Sid was bigger than any guy she’d been with.  Previously unknown places reported for duty as he stroked that thick erection right through her.  She shifted to get it all, exposing even more sensitive spots.  Sid pushed upward, she bent her knees farther and they crashed together again.  She felt his body recoil for another run, then snap back on her with twice the force.  The spot between her hips was turning to jelly.

There were so many things Sid wanted to do, so many ways he wanted to do them.  They popped into his head like his life flashing before his eyes: Leah on top, barely able to straddle his thighs, curls and breasts bouncing.  Leah in his lap, wrapped around him like she was climbing a tree.  Himself on Leah’s back, words whispered from his lips in perfect rhythm with her ass smacking his legs.  Sid twitched again, barely reigning in his release, then plowed her right into the bed.  He kissed her had to keep from begging, her tongue replying eagerly.  Leah wrapped her legs around his waist, hooked her feet together and pushed against him – giving what she got, asking for more.  He delivered.  She was sobbing out ragged breaths in no time.

Leah thought the first press of his cock had been good.  She liked the feel of him going slowly.  Those were nothing compared to what his body could really do.  He stroked home, thrust after thrust, like a machine designed to make her blood boil.  Leah bucked against him and he rode harder, right up to and through the finish line.  She came silently, head back and biting her lip to keep from screaming his name.  His own sound started as a growl and grew to low roar, the predatory kind, as he broke wide open inside her.

Sid came so hard he almost fainted.  His face was buried in her hair, chest heaving, fingers pressed deep into her soft spots.  He fell across Leah and she held him there, still buried inside her body.

Relief was not the word.  It was more like a victory he’d worked for.  A different kind of lockout ending.  Mentally, physically and emotionally, Sidney was wiped out.  He closed his eyes and fell asleep in the arms of his prize.

He slept like the dead.  Leah knew that well.  She could only guess that after the experience they’d just shared, he might be out for a week.  They’d drained all their desire, frustration and fear into each other, leaving her wrecked and wracked, but awake in his arms, in his bed, in his house.  In his life.  Because this was no longer her life at all.

“Lockout’s over” was the only thing he’d said besides her name and the sounds of surrender.  Now that their outburst was also over, Leah wondered if this was it.  If giving themselves to each other had been the same as giving up their friendship and giving into a world that said nothing about them could ever work.

A wry smile crossed her face.  She’d once been the first girl in ages to turn Sidney down.  She was definitely the first to lay post-sex and wonder if she should regret it.  But it had been too much, too good, too strong.  Almost scary.  And incredible, definitely incredible. The last ten days had been a flame, boiling them down as they tried to add things to cool the temperature.  Eventually, the burn had gotten them.

Sid moved his head, nuzzling against her neck.  He was hot to the touch and beyond heavy. Her body still throbbed deeply around his softening erection.  They’d done it just once: not enough to ruin her body but plenty to ruin everything else.

I’m those girls again, she thought.  Those girls who can’t keep it together; those girls he’s not friends with after.

Leah had fought hard not to be here.  Now she knew for sure that Sid had been fighting it too.  They’d both battled to make this friendship happen, then she’d practically invited herself to spend the night.  But he had asked.  She jumped at the chance.  He came into her room.  He kissed her first.  God damn, she’d been waiting for that to happen.  The worst part was that she didn’t want it to be over.  She wanted this and their friendship, she wanted him to stay in Cole Harbour and have nothing to do but spend time with her.  Leah wanted Sid to turn up at her door for morning runs, to watch TV marathons and cook dinner and sit with her at Jack’s games until those other guys went away for good.

I really am those girls, falling in love with him.

She rolled to face him, legs sliding together into another new, perfectly comfortable position.  There were Sidney smiles that few people got to see – real ones, honest and candid.  Leah bet no girl ever got to watch him sleep.

His lips moved when she kissed them, returning the favor even as he dreamed.  Leah pressed another kiss to his forehead and climbed out of bed.

Sid woke with a start, everything coming back to him at once. The lockout was over.  He had… thump.  Thump, thump.  He rolled.  This part had been real too – he’d been with Leah, and now he wasn’t.  His hand hit the mattress again, though he could see it was empty.  She was gone.  He sat up half-frantic, hoping to see the bathroom light on or hear her banging around in downstairs.  But the house was dark and silent, the clock said 5:34 AM.

A piece of paper on the other pillow – her pillow – caught his eye.

I’m really happy for you.  Love.

He crumpled the note.  “Fuck.”

Leah slid into her own bed without showering, still wearing the clothes she’d picked up of the floor in Sid’s guestroom.  The sheets were cold, the mattress hard – it seemed fitting.  Life would be less comfortable once Sid was gone.

She couldn’t wake up at his house.  She couldn’t let him wake up next to her, as if she had some right to expect such a thing.  Like he’d had the right to do what he did in the middle of the night.  Leah was glad he had though, it wrapped their relationship up in a nice little bow before tossing it off a boat and watching it sink to the bottom.

He really wanted me, she knew.  And I really wanted him.  They hadn’t done anything wrong, just something they couldn’t repeat.  Like the New Year’s kiss, once was a survivable number.  Twice was an epidemic that killed everything in its path.  Her twisted, hormone-soaked logic said that once could be put behind them and remembered fondly, something to joke about a few years down the line.  If she kept it to one time, perhaps she could keep Sid too.

The ringer on her phone cut through the darkness.  5:35 AM.  She hit DECLINE, shoved the phone under a pillow and closed her eyes.

Sidney threw the phone hard onto the mattress.  It bounced mockingly, reminding him that despite his renewed health and the apparent return of hockey, he could still be powerless and scared.

“You’re coming tonight, right?”  Gina asked.  She’d called three times before Leah even looked at the phone.  It hurt, actually, to see Sid had called three fewer times than she’d thought.


“Dinner!  Don’t tell me you forgot, I’ve been cooking all day!  Well, watching Travis cook.  He’s quite good.  I just wear an apron and lean over the counter a lot.” 

“Oh.”  Shitfuckcrapdamn.  “I remember.  Last hurrah, eh?  I’ll uh… I’ll be there.”

Gina had planned a dinner party for the last day of everyone’s work and school vacations, a Holiday Last Hurrah.  Leah hadn’t thought about it in ten days.  Today she’d run every errand, cleaned every square inch of her house and wasted the hours in between painting her toenails, doing her hair and getting everything ready for school in the morning.

The one thing Leah had not done was talk to Sid.  She wanted desperately to pick up any one of his hundred calls, but she didn’t know what to say.  Or she didn’t trust herself  - bursting into tears while begging him not to leave would not work.  Leah gave herself the day to get a grip, then she would tell Sidney Crosby, “Thanks, it was fun, I’ll miss you, call me sometime.”

“You’ve got an hour.  Bring wine because I already drank everything we bought.” 

Leah pulled black jeans and a soft blue v-neck sweater from her closet.  She wanted to wrap herself up and hide, so she chose knee high suede boots and left her hair down.  After dinner, she would call Sid.  That was a promise to herself.

“Welcome, welcome,” Gina pushed Sidney down the hallway toward the kitchen.  He steeled himself for the sight of Leah but it was just Travis and another guy, tasting something on the stove.  Gina took the bottle of wine from his hands and gave him a full glass.  Sid glanced over his shoulder – no Leah in the living room either.  He was beyond anxious to see her - equal parts angry and afraid – and to corner her about why she’d run out and then ignored him all day.  It also felt weird to be without her in public.  Sid didn’t like depending on other people, especially ones who would not be around in Pittsburgh in a few days, and these were his friends too now.  So he turned to the guys and joined their conversation, like any normal guy who’d just slept with his best friend would do.

Five minutes later the doorbell rang.  Adrenaline shot cold through his veins.

“Hey guys… hey,” Leah stopped short.  Her eyes flashed wide – she hadn’t expected him to be there.  The sight of him kicked her like a horse and Leah took a step backward.

“Hey Leah!” Travis called, and the other guys whose name Sid had already forgotten.  The doorbell rang again, Gina went after it.  Sid stood there, staring.

He wore a light gray crewneck sweater and charcoal corduroy pants.  Nothing about him was safe to look at now that Leah knew what it felt like – the muscles at the base of his neck that had flexed beneath her fingers; the thickness of his thighs that had pushed hers apart.  Leah’s knees wobbled a little.

“Hi,” Sid said carefully.  All the blood in his body raced inward, like a tidal wave, and swamped his heart.  He was everything at once – ecstatic, furious, terrified.  Leah looked as beautiful as he’d ever seen her: warm and happy and gorgeous, this girl who’d snuck out of his bed in the middle of the night.

“Hi,” Leah replied.  Her own heart was pounding.

Gina bowled into the kitchen with another two girls in tow; they piled into each other like derailed train cars at the sight of Sid.  Tearing his eyes from Leah to meet them was tough, and when he looked back she wasn’t there.

Leah retreated where she could hide for a moment.  Had she known Sid was coming?  Should she have assumed it, because she’d made him friends with her friends?  She’d invited him into her life and here he was, in her life. 

“DINNER!”  Gina called.  People and platters funneled toward the dining area before Sid could get ahead to find Leah.  She was already seated at the far corner, the new guy next to her.  Sid dove into the seat across – he had to be near her.  One of the new girls sat next to him but didn’t scoot close.  He figured she’d heard around town he had a girl now… even if that girl wasn’t sitting next to him.

Leah wanted to die.  There was a shadow over Sid’s perfect face, a little storm cloud accusing her of making him unhappy in a voice surely everyone could hear.  He looked across the table, his chocolate brown eyes saying, How could you leave?

“So, Sid, big day huh?  Lockout’s over?  What’s the latest?”  Travis asked.

As he had a million times, Sid turned on the autopilot.  He said what he knew and what he thought in a measured, perfectly reasonable way that could be quoted but not misquoted.  He felt a little bad using that trick on his friends, but his brain was in no position to think critically.  Leah had signed her note “Love” but now she sat there looking like she wished that morning had never happened.

It was easy – they talked hockey until it was talked out, then moved on to other topics.  Sid was no longer responsible for carrying the conversation.  This must be what it’s like with regular people, not hockey all the time.  He would normally find it refreshing, today it felt like abandonment.  Half-listening, he ate and nodded and tried not to stare at Leah, wondering how he could really have come this far and have only one sure thing in his life.

Leah felt his gaze anyway, all through the meal.  She threw in a remark or two and laughed when other people did, so no one would notice anything wrong.  Aside from the fact she wasn’t eating because her stomach was a knot.  A whole day figuring out what to say to Sidney had been wasted.  The phone would have been safe.  To his face, she was lost. 

Dinner was over before she had any kind of backup plan in place.  Dessert and coffee too.  She scooped up some dirty plates and ran for the kitchen, but Sid was right behind her.


His voice was so soft she wanted to cry.  Whatever happened between them was hard on Sidney too – after all, he was the one leaving.  She suddenly felt awful for leaving him that morning, when he’d finally let himself be vulnerable.  She’d taken advantage of something that wasn’t a weakness, but a gift.  She tossed the dishes on the counter, grabbed his arm and dragged him into the guest bedroom.  Then she turned and buried her face in his chest.

Sid’s arms were around her before she stopped moving.  The smell of her, vanilla and ruby red, calmed him instantly.  “Hey, hey.  It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. 

Sid had to lean back to see her face.  Her blue eyes were clear, no tears, but creased at the sides like she hadn’t slept all night. Or most of the night – he hadn’t let her.  The sense memory shuddered through his body, once again pressed to her’s. 

“You left.”  It was a simple statement of fact, but it wasn’t simple at all.  Sid was upset, he wanted answers and at the same time he didn’t want to upset Leah anymore.  He wanted her to give in and… he had no idea what.  But not hate him.

On the ice, getting mad was okay.  Even encouraged.  Off the ice, with teammates or his dad, Sid got mad and then got over it.  Leah was another story – another situation he knew nothing about.  Leah looked away, but Sid used one hand to turn her face back to his. 

“I didn’t know what to do,” she admitted.

“And you didn’t know I would be here.”

She glanced down, but it only gave her a view of the shape of his broad chest, cut and sculpted like a superhero out of costume.  “I should’ve guessed,” she said, “these are your friends too now.”

“You would’ve known if you took any of my hundred calls today.”

Leah sighed, still half-wrapped in his arms.  The instinct to touch him had been purely for comfort, to know that she still had the right to do something he let few other people do.  Only Sid was not letting go.  He was not going to let her off easily.

“I panicked, Sid.  It’s not exactly easy to be friends with you, okay?  There are a lot of rules and I kinda broke them all at the same time.  I didn’t want to make it worse.”

Worse for myself, she thought, when I know I can’t have you.

Sid took a risk – he closed his eyes and put his forehead to Leah’s, so close they could easily have kissed.  Half of him wished they would, the other half wish he would disappear.

“You scared me, Leah.  I thought you hated me for what I did.”

She slid her hands up behind his neck and for a moment, Sid thought she might lose control like he had and continue what he’d started.  Standing with her, even as worried as he’d been, was more intimate than anything Sid had in his normal life.

“You didn’t do it by yourself.”

“Well I did climb into your bed,” he admitted nervously.  That was the worst part – what if Leah really hadn’t wanted him?

“Half naked,” Leah added.

“You let me!” Sid couldn’t help but protest.

“Right, like I could have stopped you.”

Sid pressed his lips together – the best he could do to hide a smile was a smirk.  “You stayed over.”

“You asked me!”

“You said yes before the question was out of my mouth!”

Leah laughed weakly.  “Can we please not talk about your mouth right now?”

It felt so good to talk, like letting the air out of a balloon just before it could pop.  He leaned heavily against her, holding her tight. 

“It was good though, right?  That wasn’t just me?” he asked quietly.  Always the competitor, Sid wanted to be her best if only for one time.

“It was better than good, Sid.”  Leah’s heart was banging like a screen door in a hurricane. 
Better than good, she thought sarcastically.  Better than anything.  Which was precisely why he deserved more explanation, as much as she could give without giving herself away.  “I left because I thought I was saving us, Sid.  I want to still be your friend.”

“I don’t call people I’m not friends with.”  His voice was as stern as he could manage.

“Well I don’t usually sleep with people who are leaving town either, so we’re both out the window here, okay?”

“We are not that fragile, Leah.  I know I’m knew to this friends thing,” he made a face, “but give me some credit.  I’m not gonna break.”

That was the heart of it, Leah’s fear that it was all or nothing with them.  She was unsure of her place in his life and so tried to cling to the spot that seemed more permanent.  “Forgive me?”

Sid’s heart did a flip.  Forgive her, marry her, whatever she wanted as long as it wasn’t: never call me again.  “Maybe,” he joked, then turned serious.  “Will you forgive me?  I wish I’d….”  He was going to say done things differently, but that revealed that he’d wanted to do them all along.  Intent was the difference between an accident and a crime.  “I panicked because of the lockout ending.  You deserve better than that.”

“I don’t know - it was pretty romantic,” she dipped her head, blushing, “And, you know, hot guys don’t climb into my bed all the time, I probably shouldn’t freak out when it happens.”

“You think I’m hot?” he smiled, ecstatic over the way this had turned.  Leah didn’t regret the morning.  Maybe she hadn’t pulled him in here to have another go, but she was very much in his arms and smiling and telling him it wasn’t over.

“I will now even admit that you’re a good kisser.”

“Wow.  I should’ve started making friends sooner.”

“Oh that wasn’t me being friendly.  I can be selfish too,” Leah smirked in a way that made his groin ache.  He raised one eyebrow.  Leah shook her head, shutting him down before he could even flirt.  Her expression got a little serious.  “We didn’t do anything wrong, Sid.  And I really am happy for you.”

“I know you are,” he pulled her back into a full hug, focusing his mind on the way it felt to have someone care without wanting anything in more.  “You could have stayed, you know.  You didn’t have to leave.”

“I wish I could say the same for you,” Leah said.

Sid ate dessert.  Two pieces of apple pie on of the new girls had baked from scratch.  When he was done, he slid his plate underneath Leah’s as if to hide the evidence.

“I’m doing all kinds of things I shouldn’t today,” he grinned at her.

“Well this is the Last Hurrah,” she sassed back.

Leah felt a hundred pounds lighter.  It made her, she supposed, the appropriate weight for dodging bullets.  As Sid sipped a steaming mug of coffee and leaned back contentedly in his chair, she made a silent wish that he could find this in his life in Pittsburgh.  If she couldn’t be there for her, let there be people who could.

He deserves it, she said as a kind of amen.

Sid was the last one up from the table.  He didn’t want the night to end, but everyone had a big day tomorrow.  When the table was clear and everything put away, he couldn’t drag it out any longer.  He hugged Gina, shook Travis’ hand and opened the door for Leah to leave.  They went together down the hall, quiet but smiling.  When they reached the street, he walked Leah to her car.

Leah looked up at him.  It was the most awkward moment: a make-up date after big sex, instead of make-up sex after a big fight.  Sid’s full, soft lower lip was flushed red where he’d been biting it.

Sidney thought it felt like goodbye, when he wasn’t even leaving yet.

Oh hell, he thought.  “Do you want to come over?”

Leah almost laughed.  She really, really wanted to come over – and over and over.  Her skin was tingling with the idea.  But she knew enough to know a bad idea, even one that would feel so good.

“We’re just gonna…,” she said.

Sid sighed.  “I know.”

She put one hand on his chest, where it had fallen that morning as he slipped into bed beside her.  His heartbeat pounded just the same.  Leah leaned in and this time, she kissed Sid gently, quickly, on that legendary mouth.

“’Night, Sid.”

“YOU WHAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT?” Gina screamed at Defcon One.  Leah pulled the phone from her ear to avoid permanent damage.

“OHMYGODIKNEWIT! Didn’t I, Travis?! Didn’t I say something was weird at dinner?!  What?”  The volume dropped as Gina turned her face from the receiver.  “Leah slept with Sid.  This morning!  I KNEW IT!”  Back to full shriek.  “Oh my God.  Was it amazing?  What happened?  Did he tell you he loves you?  Because he fucking loves you, and I will tell you that.  Didn’t stop looking at you once all night – he tried to drink out of the salt shaker, just picking shit up off the table at random in those big, strong hangs… oh God,” Gina moaned and it sounded like she fell to the floor. 

“Hey!” Travis said in the background.

“Sorry baby, you’re the one for me.  But I thought our crappy IKEA chairs were gonna give out under the size of his ass.  So now what?”

“Now he leaves.  Probably Tuesday, I guess.  Maybe Wednesday.”

“That’s it?” Gina banged something down on her end.

“That’s it.”

“Oh honey, I’m sorry.  I thought… I don’t know.  I thought I was in a movie there for a second.  Are you okay?”

“I am,” Leah said, hoping it was true.  “I’ve known all along he would leave.  I even almost made it that far, right?”

Gina could be brash, but her excitement held a lot of empathy.  “Honey, nobody would have made it farther than you.  You were a really good friend to him – and he was to you.  I could tell tonight he really liked just being a regular guy, and you gave him that.  I think you made home really feel like home for him.”

“Thanks, Gina.”

A pause and Leah knew what was coming.  Gina cleared her throat, “So you’re home.  And he’d home.  Alone.  And he leaves in a day… so you’re not gonna….”

“No,” Leah laughed.  She was not going to go from bad to worse. 

“You know he wants to, right?  The way he was watching you….”

“Maybe,” Leah tried to be nonchalant, but a giggle rose up in her throat.  “Okay, probably.  But we can’t, Gina!  We have to stop ourselves before his leaving stops us.  It’s easier this way.”

“Damn, L.  That is some tough love.  Good thing I’m a girl, because being your guy best friend sucks.”


  1. Love this Sid, even now for what is to be sure, more painfully awesome awkwardness. Love this story!

  2. such good friends. I love how Leah is so strong and able to think clearly about how Sid should be happy and she wants him to find someone in Pittsburgh. But, he knows she is the one that has enabled him to see there is more to life than hockey. Great thought processes for each one.
    Anxiously awaiting to see what transpires before that flight is southbound :)

  3. Amazing update!!