Sunday, July 28, 2013


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


(June 17)

“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.”

(June 18)

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?”

“Like what?”

“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?”

(June 26)

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.)

Thursday, July 25, 2013


(March 4)

Leah wanted to be the first one on the team bus.  She was nervous about everything except the hand holding hers, which was attached to Sidney, who seemed perfectly at ease.  As if it were everyday he took a girl home on the team plane.  Leah was still well aware of the many rules and guidelines he and everyone had broken for her and wanted to show them she didn’t intend to make a habit of it.

“Morning, Coach,” Sid said as they climbed onto the otherwise empty bus.

Bylsma looked from Sid to Leah.  She gave him a panicked look and the Penguins coach cracked a smile.  He seemed like a nice guy who tried to act the hardliner for the sake of his players.  After all, he was allowing all this to happen.

Sid took his usual seat and pulled Leah in next to him.  At least with her around it was unlikely the guys would rag him too badly about getting laid on the road.  Or getting laid at all.  The moment she was gone, he’d never hear the end of it.  Sid chuckled to himsef – it was a good problem to have.  Most guys didn’t care where they sat on the bus, so one more body made no difference as they came aboard.  He kept Leah’s hand in his, making sure she felt like she belonged here as much as possible.

The ride to the airport was quick.  As they walked through the lobby of the private jet facility, Leah whispered, “Technically this is illegal, you know.  I can’t fly to or within the US without a passport.”

Sid had thought of that already.  “Or out. I guess you’ll have to stay in Pittsburgh.”

“FedEx, babe,” she said.

With no shame, Sid grinned back at her.  He was finally able to do and say the things he wanted with Leah and he planned to take full advantage.  “I hope that package gets lost.”

The team plane sat on the tarmac, a set of portable stairs in place before the open door on the fuselage.  Leah had never been on a private plane.  She followed Sid up the steps; he sat in the first row on the left side of the cabin and once again she took the seat next to him.

“Ooooh,” Letang said behind her, passing. 

“What?” she asked Sid.  He didn’t get a chance to answer.  The next person in line was Marc-Andre Fleury.  Flower took one step toward them, stopped, then huffed dramatically even as a big smile was breaking out across his face.

“You’re in his seat,” Sid shrugged casually.

“Well, I….”  Flustered, Leah started to get up.  This was exactly the kind of thing she didn’t want to happen and now Sid was just blowing if off.

“Plenty of room back here!” Tyler Kennedy called from a few rows behind.

Flower made a face.  “I’d rather walk.”

TK laughed.  “I meant for her!”

“Now I’m not good enough for you?!” Flower yelled, making his way toward Tyler’s row.

“Ugh,” TK said, putting the armrest between their seats down emphatically.  “French guys.”

Sidney drove across Pittsburgh, his awareness increasing with every mile they drew closer to his house.  The last time they made this trip it had been full of promise.  Some of that promise had been realized, but Sid felt strongly the burden of the mistake he’d made with Leah.  He’d shown her a side of himself and his lifestyle that almost didn’t exist.  There was no reason for her to believe in him, given what she had seen.  Yet she did.  Leah loved him – she’d said so herself.  That was a gift and Sidney would never risk losing it again.

Leah looked out the window: same view, different circumstances.  The city was bigger than home but smaller than most, it seemed manageable and friendly in a way she’d never really considered before.  Of course it helped that Sidney was Sidney – but that would also get in the way.  Leah knew it.  The prince came with a price and now she was willing to pay it.

The tires rolled smoothly up the freshly paved driveway in front of his house.  Leah had been so impressed the first time she saw the red brick façade.  This was his other home.  It was like seeing Sidney’s own interpretation of himself – upstanding, stable, traditional.  Solid. 

Instead of going for their bags, Sid hurried around and opened Leah’s door.  He had done this before and she’d jumped into his arms.  The resulting kiss had been as delicious as it had been confusing.  Now Sid knew what he wanted and Leah knew it too.  He did not hesitate to pull her in and kiss her, his arms around her waist and her long hair lifted by the breeze.  Only this time he made sure her feet were on the ground.

Inside was the same as she remembered – big, gorgeous and a little empty.  She took off her coat, trying to place exactly what the room needed.  It was something about the décor; too put together and lacking a comfortable, familiar touch. 

Sidney also remembered how Leah felt about his house.  He left their bags in the entryway and followed to the living room.  Maybe the muted colors were a bit boring, not doing much with the midday light that poured in through the big window.  But she didn’t see the room now as he did.  Sid stood well back from Leah and saw how this girl, with her shape and smell and the auburn curls falling over her back, with the way she put her weight to the left and bent her right knee slightly, was the addition the room needed.  She was dazzling – a creation colorful and unique enough to make the whole house sparkle.

Leah knew Sidney was watching her.  She didn’t want to start changing things, marking her territory with flags and signs.  Instead she wanted to enhance his home and his life.  Their life together.  Even if this place didn’t quite feel exactly like home - yet.  She turned to face him.  Sidney had his big arms crossed over his big chest, his big lower body anchored him to the floor.  There were lines and muscles everywhere so Leah knew that nothing she brought into this house would ever look as good as what Sid brought with him everytime he walked in the door.

“Welcome home,” he said.

Leah felt like her heart might burst.  Those girls who lost their minds over Crosby really had no idea how good it could get.  She tried her best to keep a straight face.

“Where do I sleep?”

He gave her his captain look.  “No more guest rooms for you.”

(March 6)

Leah checked herself in the mirror for the hundreth time: hair curled and styled, makeup as perfect as her trembling hands would allow.  All around her she could feel the buzz of Consol Engery Center filling in.  It came from the floor and ceiling, from every side. 

The door to the ladies’ room swung open and a production staffer appeared.  “Ready?”

Leah almost laughed.  There was no being ready for this.  In the hallway, people wished her luck and smiled nicely and she wondered how many really wanted to see her succeed.  Not just tonight, but in general with her new life.  If they cared about the team and its’ players, she hoped most would support her.  Some would not.  She reached the top of the Zamboni tunnel just as the lights went out.

The sound was deafening.  Spotlights and graphics whipped around the ice – names, numbers, logos.  The starting lineup was announced.  Sidney got the biggest cheer.  During warmups there had been a few signs – “Hey Sid, I can sing!” and “Sure, NOW we’re on SportsCenter.”  Leah had seen them from a suite.  Down at ice level all she saw where people.  Finally the lights came up and the announcer called for attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise, remove your caps and join us as we salute Canada and the United States of America with the national anthems.”

The camera panned the Penguins bench, showing players with their heads down in concentration, then panned to capture the numbers on the backs of the Penguins’ starting five.  Everyone saw 87 on screen.  Leah saw it too, on the blue line in front of her.

“To lead us tonight, someone you may have heard before.”

She was ready for the joke, some nod to the very public events of the last few days.  Sid had slept deeply overnight while Leah was plagued by visions of their kiss video running on the Jumobtron or something equally mortifying.  Comparatively, this was a mild jab.  She smiled shyly, knowing her face was ten feet tall on the scoreboard. 

No point in being subtle.  This time, she wore a Crosby jersey. 

The crowd went crazy.  Whether a gossip frenzy or genuine delight at seeing Crosby’s conquest in person, Leah loved them in that moment.  Up ahead, she thought she saw the shoulders of the 87 jersey shaking with laughter.

“Please welcome, all the way from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Leah Hanlon.”


(May 23)

“Close your eyes.”

Leah rolled them first.  Sidney opened the front door of his house and led her inside by the hand.  He’d picked her up at the airport thirty minutes ago then driven home at the top possible speed.  She’d joked he was in a hurry to get laid.  In fact, he was in a hurry to do a lot of things.

The playoffs had left the Penguins bruised but not broken.  The night before they had defeted the Senators 7-3, and the following night they would eliminate Ottawa from the contest.  James would bust out of his slump with a hat trick and credit the whole thing to Leah.  No one knew that yet.  They only knew that school was over and Leah was in Pittsburgh with a few suitcases full of stuff and nothing to do all summer but make up for the two and a half months they had been apart.

Sidney brought her to the middle of the living room.  It had been rearranged to provide a perfect viewing angle of both the TV and the wall to the left.  The picture window spilled sunshine over what Sidney had placed in the previously empty space.  It was the only change he’d made since Leah left.  The rest she could make herself.  He leaned forward, putting his lips to her ear.

“Okay.  Open.”

Leah was already smiling.  Sidney was obviously so proud of whatever he’d one that she would have to love it.  Every idea went through her mind, from a Piscasso to a mural to macaroni pictures done by Dupuis’ kids.  But she had not expected this.

“Oh my God,” she said quietly.

A framed panoramic photo six feet in width spanned the wall.  It was less than three feet tall but showed, in perfect scope, the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia.  To the left was the rocky shore, tipped by the iconic white lighthouse.  The vista was surrounded a sunset sky, dusk pushing down on the sea from the inland side.  It glowed as if lit from behind but Leah could tell that was just the art of the photograph. [Here’s the picture.]

Sidney wrapped his arms around her from behind.  He had wanted to add something to this place, so Leah would feel free to do the same.  Not knowing where to start, Sid had searched for any art related to Nova Scotia.  He bought the photo without seeing it in real life and from the moment it arrived, it looked even better than expected.  Peggy’s Cove was on the far western edge of Nova Scotia.  Only an hour from Cole Harbour, it was a place visited mostly on family vacations.  Sid hadn’t been there forever.  He planned to change that over the summer.

The landscape would have been breathtaking regardless, but Leah had been to Peggy’s Cove many times.  It was one of her parents’ favorite places in Nova Scotia.  She settled back into Sidney’s embrace, surrounded by the warmth and energy that had buzzed between them since that first night back in the Cole Harbour rink.

“It’s home,” she said.

“Until we get home,” Sid added.

Leah turned her face and gave him a kiss.  “It’s close enough.”

*This was originally the end, but now there is one more chapter.*

Thank you all so much for your comments on this story! I really enjoyed writing it, especially since it had been on my mind forever. I really appreciate your feedback (all writers do) and I hope you had fun with this one! - J

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Story - The Boys 'Round Here

Sid and Leah aren't done yet, but I've started posting my new story.  It's a summertime hockey tale with no hockey at all.  Featuring John Tavares, plus James Neal, Steven Stamkos, Michael Del Zotto, eventually Sam Gagner and probably more (entirely non-slash).  Only in summer, right?  I hope you'll check it out!

The Boys 'Round Here

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


(March 3)

The morning came way too quickly for Sidney’s liking, though there was something to be said for waking up with Leah wrapped around him like a blanket.  Her dark curls everywhere were a testament to the wild night they’d had.  Sid felt a little sore in all the right places and a lot happy in his heart.  He lay there thinking about the future with nothing but hope.

Leah finally came around from what she was sure was the greatest dream in history.  And so real.  It felt like the dream was still in bed with her, warm and strong, twisting a piece of her hair between its fingers.  She picked her head up, already smiling.

“Hi!” she said like a little kid.

“Hi!” Sid couldn’t stop his own grin from lighting up.

They burst out laughing, which turned into tickling, which quickly turned into a kiss so searing it could have set the curtains on fire across the room.  Leah knew the rules – since they’d already broken every one – and kept her hands at the back of Sidney’s neck even as his body begged and throbbed for her to turn her attentions lower.

“OhmyGodIcan’t,” Sidney groaned, throwing Leah off of him so she landed a foot away, bouncing and giggling.  That certainly didn’t help matters.  They both looked down at his full-mast hard-on.  Leah sighed.

“I hardly knew you,” she said to his dick.

“We shall meet again,” Sidney replied.

He levered himself out of bed and right into the shower.  Leah had no doubt that he’d be taking care of that himself, but she nicely gave him six minutes to finish before wandering into the bathroom naked.

“Good God, woman!” Sid said from beneath the water.

All her stuff was in Jake’s room down the hall, so Leah just sat on the counter and watched through the glass as Sidney washed his hair and body with the hotel soap.  When it started to get really foggy, she asked, “A little help?”

Sid used his hand to wipe the clear just the section of the door level with his ass.

“Ahh, your best side,” she said.

When he finished she was still sitting there like a pageant judge.  Sidney pretended to ignore her while he slowly and with a ludicrous amount of flexing, thoroughly dried every inch of his body.  Then he brought his bag of stuff right in, brushed his teeth, combed his hair, even got dressed in yesterday’s jeans.  Leah tsked as he shimmied them up and buttoned the fly, like she was sad to see a beautiful sight covered up.  In another slow motion display of every muscle he could find, Sidney pulled a white t-shirt over his head and tucked it in.  Then he squeezed into a clean, bright blue sweater.

Leah hadn’t said a word.  She was using every particle of her brain to remember the sight.  When he was finished, she tipped her head to the side.  “You messed up your hair.”

He checked the mirror, saw she was right.  “I usually don’t dress with an audience.”

Leah hopped down, again with the bouncing and giggling that made Sid weak.

“Get used to it,” she said and sauntered out of the room.

By the time Sidney was done in the bathroom, Leah and her clothes were gone along.  He packed up his stuff then lifted the receiver on the hotel phone and pushed the button for the concierge.

“I need to rent two cars, please.”

He was transferred to a rental car company and briefly explained his situation.  Somewhere around telling the operator he needed to leave both cars in Buffalo, Leah came back.  She put her bag next to him on the bed and made a show of unpacking the one other outfit she’d brought.  Then she started stripping off her clothes.  Her top went first – up the flat span of her stomach, over the curve of her breasts and finally through her pile of hair.  It landed on top of her bag.

“Window,” Sid hissed.

Leah shook her head like she didn’t understand and stepped out of her boots.  She popped the button on her fly, slowing shaking out of the denim.  Sid glanced toward the still-open curtains on the window that looked over the city.  He couldn’t see anyone in particular, but that didn’t mean no one could see them.  He pointed toward it.

Leah turned her back, pushed the jeans over her ass and bent forward, all the way, peeling them off her legs.  Sid buried the receiver in the pillow even as the operator was talking.

“Babe,” he said.

She stuck her tongue out and threw her jeans at him.  Next was her bra, then finally her panties, while Sid sat there mute as the operator droned about the expense of one-way international car rentals.  Good thing it didn’t matter because he definitely wasn’t listening.  Leah performed the same routine getting dressed, this time into another pair of jeans, a dark green tank top and a gauzy white shirt over top.  Finally she put on dangly silver earrings, ran her fingers through her hair and got her boots back on.

“Thanks, we’ll be there in forty minutes.”  Sid hung up.  Leah stood in front of him, just out of reach, her hands on her hips.  “That was cruel.”

“Imagine,” she dragged one finger across her bottom lip, catching it and making it flush, “what I’m going to do when you’re on the road.”

Twenty minutes and another round of fixing their hair later, Leah and Sid walked into the lobby.  Everyone was already waiting.  Taylor had her ugly airport hat on, pulled low as if to prove to Sid she’d stayed out too late and not with James.  Neal looked fresh as a daisy.

“Good night?” James asked as awkwardly as possible.  Leah slugged him in the arm and headed out the door.

Two cabs took them to the rental car place.  Tommy volunteered to drive the SUV, with Kate, Jake, Gina and Travis.  That left Sid, Leah, James and Taylor for the four-door sedan.

“Oooh, double date,” Taylor whispered to her brother.

The woman at the counter asked who would be driving the second car.  At first no one answered.  Sid looked at James.

Blank stare.

Sid raised his eyebrows.


“Come on man, I’m tired!” Sid finally said.

James laughed, victorious.  “Setting a bad example, Kid, breaking game day rules!”

Taylor spun away.  “I’ll be outside vomiting.”

The ride was easy, under two hours.  Sid texted his coach and confirmed they would arrive by noon. He used his phone to make a reservation at the team hotel for everyone else, with early check in.  Then he leaned against Leah and fell asleep.

Leah watched Sid’s eyelashes flutter, knowing he was really out.  His skin was creamy and clear, his lips naturally the color of just-kissed.  Between the shaggy curl of his hair and the thick, dark lashes, he looked like a Disney prince, drawn to make other men pale in comparison.  She could not believe that somehow all this had happened.

His hand slipped between her knees, the way it had when he fell asleep watching The Hobbit.  Like she had that day, Leah held onto his arm and closed her eyes too.

“America, y’all,” James said, shaking Sidney awake.  Leah blinked blearily out the window.

“Good thing we flew to Toronto, or Kate wouldn’t have Jake’s birth certificate,” she said, searching through her purse.  The line wasn’t long so early on a Sunday.  James got into a lane behind Tommy and waited while the border patrol did the necessaries and waved the first car through.

“Probably said, ‘Sidney Crosby’s in the car behind us,’ he’ll vouch,” Taylor said.

“That only works coming into Canada, not going out,” James said.  He rolled down the window and handed the officer two IDs and two passports.  The boys had flown internationally to get there.

“Where you headed?”

“Buffalo for a hockey game,” James said.

The guard flipped open Sidney’s passport, did a double take then leaned down to look through the window into the backseat.  Sidney gave him a little wave.

“You’re lucky I’m not a Sabres fan,” the man said, giving back the documents.  “Good luck boys.”

They arrived at the car rental drop-off with fifty minutes to spare.  Cabs whisked them to the team hotel.  Sid checked his watch.  “Eleven forty-five.  Perfect timing.”

“…For lunch,” James added.  He paid the driver and hopped out to unload the trunk.  Taylor slid out curbside, followed by Leah and Sidney.  James handed them all their bags like he was in a hurry.

“Really hungry, eh Nealer?” Sid asked.  He just wanted to lay down and stay there, preferably with Leah nearby but not too close, and sleep for another day.  Instead he followed them into the hotel.

“WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!”  A huge cheer erupted the instant he walked through the door.  The entire team was there, like a misfit surprise party, waiting for them.  Already Pascal had Leah in a huge hug.  James wheeled around and grabbed Sid like he’d scored a goal.  The rest of the team followed.  Sid got so many face-washes and hair-musses that he didn’t see who half the hands belonged to.  When they finally stepped back, Flower delivered Leah right to his side.

“Welcome back!” TK shouted. 

Sidney was speechless, still laughing with a face bright red from embarrassment.  They’d drawn quite a crowd in the lobby too.  “Uh, thanks guys.  You all know Leah.”

“We know she too pretty for you.”  Geno said with a lopsided smile.  Leah winked at him.

“Nice kiss though, Creature.  We didn’t think you had it in you,” Pascal said.  Sidney knew no one had expected him to take that kind of risk, forget expecting it to work.  He slipped his fingers between Leah’s.  Someone awwwed loudly.

Leah squeezed his hand.  “Neither did I.”

She hugged every last Penguin before they went off to take naps and eat carbs and do whatever they do before games.  With her family and best friends watching, Sidney’s teammates had shown they were more than just teammates, they were a family of their own.  Leah wondered if they understood what that meant to Sidney, and decided they must.  Those guys had been inside Sidney’s barriers longer than she had, and Leah knew the feeling was intoxicating.  The way they talked about him, protected him – as if he needed it, as if they really could.  Then they opened their arms and made Leah part of that family too. 

Sidney rode with her up to her room.  They both knew he could not come in.  Enough exceptions had been made.

“Wish I could stay,” he said anyway, in the hallway with a dizzying carpet pattern.

“No hurry now.”  She pressed a kiss to his forehead and another to his lips.  “See you at the game.”

“I love you,” Sidney told her.

She smiled.  “Crosby, you sap.”

Jake stood so close his breath fogged the glass.  In the 87 t-shirt Leah had bought at him at the Hall of Fame, he fit right in watching the team skate warm-ups.  There were quite a few Penguins fans – no surprise there.  People shouted for Sidney and a few had signs, but the Kid was pretty well known for keeping his head in the game even before the game began.

Leah was surprised when he stopped at center ice and met her eyes.  She smiled shyly, not wanting to be any more of a distraction.  Instead of being cool, Sid skated right to them, bouncing a puck in one hand.  He tossed it over the glass to Jake, gave Leah a big grin and turned away.  She put a hand on the glass to keep from fainting.

“Mother of God,” said the girl next to her, awestruck by the close encounter.

Leah sighed.  “You’re telling me.”

After attending the game in Pittsburgh, Leah felt relatively at ease in Buffalo’s First Niagra Center.  The mostly Sabres-fan audience was as loud and raucous as any game she’d been too and they had had some very Canadian traditions, like passing the flag over the crowd and even performing the Canadian anthem before every game.  Leah could not help singing along.

Jake bounced continuously.  They were in the last row of the lower bowl, backs to a wall so he could climb all over them and not bother anyone else.  It was his first NHL game – he could hardly be blamed for not sitting still.  Just four minutes in, the Penguins scored on a sneaky play by Malkin.  James had an assist.  Leah ruffled Taylor’s hair when Neal’s name was announced.

“You know, if everyone keeps teasing me I’m gonna go out with him for real,” she said, fixing her part.

“He’s too old for you!” Leah said.  Now she sounded like Sidney.

“Fine!” Taylor groaned.  “Jack, do you have a girlfriend?”

“Uhhh, no,” he answered, eyes still on the ice.

“Do you want one?”

He shrugged.  “Okay.”

Sidney felt like he could fly.  Yesterday’s craziness and last night’s bliss were fuel today and he skated like he was brand new.  He assisted on the Pens second goal, just before the buzzer sounded to end the first.  It was a good thing too.

The video of the kiss had gone viral.  Multiple camera angles available.  Sports press who’d questioned Crosby’s absence from practice had a field day with the reason.  It even made Sportscenter in the US, which covered hockey about as often as Sid climbed on a stage and kissed a girl.  On his way into the locker room at first intermission, Coach Bylsma gave him the nod.  Sid stepped out of line.

“You talk to your dad?” Coach asked.  Sid shook his head.  Once he’d found Leah the phone stayed off until he’d alerted the team they’d be on time to the hotel.  Clearly James had called ahead a little more widely, which is how the guys ended up surprising them in the lobby.  But Sidney had ignored everything else.

“You?” Sid asked.

“Nope.  Declined about two hundred calls.  Mario?” Bylsma tried.

Sid had not talked to Lemieux, the Penguins’ part-owner and his mentor, either.

“Okay.”  Coach brushed a hand over his short hair, something he did whenever he was makiing a  game plan.  “Here’s what we’re gonna do.”  Then he turned and walked into the locker room.  The players were all sitting, changing, chugging water or eating a granola bar.  Bylsma clapped to get their attention. 

“Good period, I like this game.  Good pace.  What we need to do in the second and third is….”  Usually this is where Coach tweaked something minor or introduced a new scheme he wanted to try.  Not today. 

“… get Romeo here a goal.” 

He looked pointedly at his young captain. A couple of the guys cat-called and Sid blushed like a bride. 

“Maybe two,” Bylsma went on.  “Then there’s a pretty good chance we can keep our jobs.”

Sid didn’t mind getting razzed by his teammates.  It had always made him feel like one of the boys, like he belonged to the group rather than some rarified list of superstars.  Today it felt even better: he’d done something worth being teased for.

“Media’s gonna have a field day when they get in here,” Dan added.

Sid was well aware.  “I’m good, Coach.”

He did go out and score a goal. And another asisst, just to be sure.  During TV timeouts, when Sid allowed his concentration to wander, he looked in the general direction of Leah’s seats.  Jack must be having a blast up there.  If Sid had to be away from Leah at least it was for something like a really good hockey game.

The score was 4-1 at the end of the day.  Sidney dropped his soaked jersey and pads into the equipment bin, sat down and crammed his nasty, lucky, salt-stained Penguins hat over his hair.  Then he leaned back and waited.  When the media were admitted they came right toward him, as usual.  This time most of them were smiling.  Sid gave them a moment to get their recorders and lights in place.  Then he burst out laughing.  The reporters did too. 

The awkaward tension mostly broken, someone asked, “Who is she?”

“Her name is Leah,” he wiped a hand across his still sweaty face, wheezing.  “She’s from Cole Harbour.  Anyone want to talk about the game?”


Sid shook his head.  “I didn’t think so.”

Leah went back to the hotel with her family.  They were buzzing from the win.  She had no clue how long the players usually took to return after a game.  It would be plus twenty minutes for Sid to get interrogated, she imagined.  There was nothing to do – no clothes to change into, no snacks to eat – so she went to her room and waited.

Forty minutes later, Sidney opened the door.

He wore a dark suit, double-breasted and a little too long in the arms.  Leah shook her head – the guy had custom made jeans but looked like a low-rent hitman in this getup.  She gave him the once-over with a raised eyebrow.

Sid laughed.  He’d let Leah pile every one of his suits in the yard and burn them if she wanted.  She could start tomorrow.

“Come here!”  He threw open his arms; she ran over and jumped in.  If any of his teammates had seen that, Sid would never live it down.  For now he didn’t give a shit.  Leah kissed him, sliding down the front of his body until her feet found the carpet, then she kept on kissing.  It was a happy, silly kiss, not a breathless clothes-ripper.  A comfortable kiss.

“Nice game,” she said as she opened the button on his coat, “but this is a terrible suit.”

He let her undress him one piece at a time.  The jacket went over the chair, his button-down on top of it.  Leah threw his shirt on the floor and by the time she was opening his pants, Sidney didn’t care if he never saw them again.

Leah stripped him to boxer briefs.  He was like a layer cake, each one perfect and delicious  and left you craving more.  Muscles slid beneath her hands.  No matter how many times she felt that, Leah knew she’d never tired of waiting to feel it again.

Sid picked her up, earning a little squeak, and carried her to the bed.  She still had all her clothes on but he needed a minute anyway.  Leah did not complain when he kneeled over her on all fours.  It was easy to forget this Sidney was the same Sidney from before, at the game.  It was easy to forget her own name when he was naked. 

“Was the media awful?”

“No.  I think they were impressed.”

“Yes, by my singing,” she smiled.  “I’m talking about you.  Unless you were wearing this when you were interviewed.”  Her hand moved over his neck, toward his chest.

“They’ve all seen this before.”

Leah’s fingers dragged across one of his nipples.  “It doesn’t get old, Sid.”

He pushed her hand up over her head, holding it down.  “I will have to talk to my dad sooner or later, and my agent.  And Mario.  But that one will be okay, because you’ll be with me.”

Sid looked down into the blue eyes he had come to trust so much.  They crinkled at the corners.  Everything he’d done – and done wrong – to get to this point was worth it just to see Leah smile at the idea of their future.

“I can’t stay though.  I have to finish this year at school, Sid.”  She had been thinking about it since she realized Sid was in fact standing with her backstage, having heard her song, kissed her anyway, and put himself on the line.  She knew without hesitation now that could do that for him in return.  But like Sid, she was responsible and her commitments mattered - both to boys and jobs.  “School’s over in two and a half months.”

“Will you come as soon as it’s over?”

“I will get out early on my last day to be there sooner,” she promised.

No one knew if Sid’s season would last until the middle of May.  That was a hope whereas Leah was now a sure thing.  At some point soon they would be together – really together.  He dropped onto his elbows, blocking out the entire world from her view, and kissed Leah deeply.  She responded by wrapping her jean-clad legs around his waist and trying to pull his hips down.  All she managed was to lift herself clear off the bed.

“Jesus, Crosby,” she laughed.  He was made of stone.

“You’ll have to train harder, babe.”

(March 4)

Leah closed the hotel room door softly behind her.  She probably could have slammed it and Sidney wouldn’t have so much as rolled over in his sleep.  Padding down the hall, she saw her sister emerge from another room in the same fashion.  They rode the elevator down to the lobby and found coffee brewing in the hotel bar.  A few early rising business travelers were eating, but no sign of any Penguins.  Kate sat with her back to the window and dumped a sugar into her mug.

“So, Pittsburgh,” she said.

Leah sipped her own drink.  “For a few days.  I’m calling school before I go upstairs, I think I can get the week off.”

“I’m sure they’ve seen the video.”

Leah was relieved to see a mischevious look on Kate’s face.  She had been the first to warn early on that Leah would fall for Sidney and he would break her heart.  Now her sister looked relieved to have been wrong in the end.  Still Kate’s opinion was important, mostly because she would not hold back to make Leah feel better.

“Do you think it’s okay?” Leah asked.

“I do.  I didn’t before – it just sounded so nuts - and I saw the way you looked when you talked about him.  But I hadn’t met him.  Now that I know he’s….”

“Crazy?” Leah suggested.

“… completely in love with you,” Kate stressed, “you have to go.  And you still get to come back home.”

Leah was scared.  Everything had happened so quickly – meeting Sid, getting caught up and then getting hurt and just when she thought she was over it, getting it all back again.  At the end of the day there was still Sid and there was still home and those two things were very much a part of Leah, no matter where she went.

“This is crazy, Kate,” Leah said softly.

Kate smiled.  “You running off with Sidney Crosby?  Honey, you’re Cinderella.”

Leah went into the lobby and called the school, asking to speak directly to the principal.  He picked up on the first ring.  Apparently, her performance – and Sidney’s – was all over the TV news.  Getting the week off was easy, after multiple promises that she was definitely coming back.  Leah returned to where Kate was finishing her coffee.

“We were on the news at home,” she said.  “My boss saw it.”

Kate held up her phone, showing Leah the log.  There were six missed calls from their mother.  “Guess who else saw it?”