May 31, 2010

Chapter 28 (The End)

Maddie heard Max before she saw him. A long, white stretch SUV pulled to a stop in front of the Bellagio, where Sid and Maddie stood on the sidewalk. Max’s head was out the sunroof again, and he was howling.

“Are we going to In-N-Out again?” Maddie asked, climbing in.

“Hell no!” Deanne yelled, as the SUV took off.

“Let’s see it,” Kris said, holding out his hand. Maddie put her right hand in his. Everyone leaned in and “ooooh”ed appreciatively. Max slapped Sidney on the back.

“Well done, captain,” he cheered.

Maddie laughed. They were breaking every possible rule of the road. Cynthia had her legs over Kris’ lap. Max was holding Erin on his knee. Deanne was on the floor between Jordan’s feet. Joe and Geno were kneeling, leaning over everyone to see.

“Damn,” Joe said. “I should have joined this party days ago.”

The SUV pulled off the road and Jordan jumped out. Holding the door open ceremoniously, everyone piled past Sid and Maddie to get out first. Once they unloaded, Sidney climbed out. He held his hand into the car for Maddie. She took it, stepped down…

… and looked up at the Little White Wedding Chapel.

“Woohoo!” Everyone shouted.

The door to the small building swung open and an older woman in a matronly dress stepped out. “Mr. Crosby and Ms. Cartwright? We are ready for you.”

Everyone filed in, leaving Maddie and Sid standing in the parking lot.

“Are you crazy?!”

“Next time I’ll take you to the joust to really get married,” he said, taking her hand.

Deanne told them to wait five minutes in the vestibule. It was actually a gift shop. All the wedding accoutrements were available – from rental dresses and DVDs of the ceremony to mugs and teddy bears with photos of the bride and groom on their little shirts.

Sidney held up a china plate with a photo of ‘Bob & Bobbi’ on it. “What do you think? For Mario?”

Maddie was busy picking out a bouquet from the cooler. She chose a small bunch of daisies wrapped in a white ribbon. The door opened and the matronly lady returned.

“I am Mrs. Harrison. It’s so nice to have you here. I understand your ceremony is a little unusual, but I think we have everything set for you. Mr. Crosby, if you’ll take your spot.”

Sid raised his eyebrows at Maddie, and slid her ring off her finger. She rolled her eyes and smiled, waving him away. Then she gasped. “Wait?! Who is not giving me away?”

“That would be me.” Kris came through the gift shop doors from inside the building. He was wearing a t-shirt with the front of a tuxedo printed on it. “I gave you away once already, and look what happened!”

Sidney shook Kris’ hand and hurried into the chapel. Kris offered Maddie his arm.

“Could have been me,” Kris shook his head at her and smiled. “You were the prettiest sweaty girl I had ever seen.”

Maddie squeezed against his side. “I’ll always be your biggest fan.”

Mrs. Harrison swung the chapel doors open dramatically. A stereo played ‘Here Comes the Bride.’ Deanne, Erin and Cynthia were lined up on one side. Geno and Joe stood next to Sidney. In front of the altar, at the top of the aisle, was Max. He was grinning like a fool.

Kris walked Maddie slowly down the aisle. He kissed her cheek, put her hand in Sidney’s and took his place among the guys.

Maddie’s heart was racing. She knew this was in good fun, but it still felt very surreal to be standing in a 24-hour wedding chapel holding Sidney’s hand and waiting to wear his ring.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…” Max began. Maddie’s jaw dropped. He leaned in close. “I got ordained on the internet after lunch,” he whispered and winked at her.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the joining of two people who didn’t know each other last week. In the proud tradition of Las Vegas, they are now standing in a wedding chapel. But today, we celebrate something different. We celebrate the beginning of love. The spark of something new, something strong and wonderful. We celebrate the beginning of Sidney and Madeline.”

Maddie had tears in her eyes. Max was actually taking this as seriously as the situation would allow. Sidney’s eyes were also wet.

“Sidney Crosby, do you take Madeline Cartwright to be your girlfriend? To learn about and learn from, to cherish and protect, to fight with and lay awake at night thinking about? Do you promise to honor her, at all times, even on road trips, in the same hotel as three guys who can totally kick your ass?”

Everyone laughed.

“Do you promise to do the best you can to care for her always and never lose her?”

“I do,” Sidney said.

“Madeline Cartwright, do you take Sidney Crosby to be your boyfriend? To put up with and visit as often as possible? To take calls from in the middle of the night, to abide by game day superstitions and to console after tough losses? To keep him humble, be strong through the pressure and honest in the dark? Do you promise to do the best you can to care for him and never lose him?”

“I do,” Maddie said.

“You have promised before your friends and co-conspirators to be honest, faithful and do your best to fall in love with each other. We all know the road will be rough. Do you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, promise to support Sidney and Madeline as they embark on their journey?”

“We do,” everyone said.

“I invite you all back to church sometime in the future for a real wedding, at which I promise to preside as an actual official. For today, by the power vested in me by some website that we found on Google, I pronounce you, completely and happily, not married.”

Sidney lifted Maddie’s hand and slipped the ring back on her right hand. Again, he pressed a kiss to the spot where it met her skin.

“You may kiss the girlfriend,” Max said.

Sidney slid his arms around Maddie’s waist. She ran her hands up to the back of his head. They leaned in and touched their lips gently together. Maddie pressed and Sidney responded, opening his mouth and really kissing her. The crowd went wild.

Maddie lay in bed, holding her hand up and looking at her ring. Sidney sidled up next to her and looked at the same thing.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it,” she said, turning toward him. “How is this possible? In five days?”

He shook his head. “Maddie, I don’t care. If it’s one in a billion, I’m just glad it happened to me.”

She sighed. Sidney pulled his hand from beneath the blanket and handed her an envelope. “One more thing?” he asked.

“Is it amazing?”

“You decide.”

Inside the envelope was a plane ticket: Washington, DC to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dated the following Friday evening.

“You’d be at my house in time to sleep next to me. Less than a week.”

Maddie rolled to face him. She traced a finger along his cheek, down over his jaw and onto his neck. She put her face close to him and closed her eyes.

“Amazing,” she whispered. He kissed her forehead.

“My parents are dying to meet you,” he said. “They’ve been calling non-stop since the awards.” Maddie tensed. “Don’t worry, it’ll go a lot better now that you’re actually my girlfriend. I never called them back because I didn’t want to tell them you were a girl I met at the pool the day before. I was hoping you’d be more than that.”

“I was hoping too.”

Sid turned onto his side and guided her shoulder down to the mattress, laying her on her back. He moved his body over hers. She felt a shiver of anticipation to have him so close. As he settled his weight on top of her, and leaned down to kiss her lips, he said:

“I love you, Madeline.”

“I love you, Sidney.”


Chapter 27

The girls had packed for three days, not six, and a mad clothing swap was on. Maddie ended up with the strapless black dress that Erin had worn their first night. It was a bit shorter on Maddie, and instead of a silver belt she cinched a hot pink sash around the middle. She was tying it in front of the mirror when she realized something.

“Erin!” She snapped, spinning around. “What happened with Max last night?!”

Deanne laughed out loud and fell face first onto the bed. Erin looked skyward and put a hand to her face.

“Maddie, all I can tell you is there is an Erin-shaped indentation in the mattress of that room,” she said.


Erin was shaking her head. “Seriously. Waiting four days must have nearly killed him. Halfway through the night I almost offered to call him a hooker, I didn’t think I could take anymore. I practically had to crawl here this morning.”

“But it was…” Maddie began.

“I am ruined for all other men. Forever,” Erin said. “Even Joe Thornton.”

Cynthia leaned back from her plate. “I can’t keep eating and drinking like this. Otherwise I could stay in Vegas forever.” Kris took the invitation to steal a piece of chicken off her plate. The guys did not seem to suffer from overeating.

Sidney was running his foot up Maddie’s calf under the table. They were in a restaurant at the Bellagio, she couldn’t remember the name. Joe had met them outside, and seated himself next to Erin. She was a little antsy at first, but he was very charming. By the entrĂ©e course they were laughing and joking. Max sat to her other side, and a few times Erin unconsciously leaned into his shoulder. Max looked at Maddie and smiled. She remembered what he’d said in the golf cart, about wanting to find someone normal and fun.

“Ah, young love,” Sidney said softly, his breath tickling Maddie’s neck.

“Do we look like that?” she asked.

“Nah, we were never that subtle.”

“I can be subtle!” she shot back.

He leaned in closer, his voice lower. “Yesterday you wanted to lick the sweat off my body. I hope you’re not going back to subtle after that.”

They walked off their dinner with a lap around the casino. Kris, Max and Joe sat to play a few hands at poker. Jordan and Deanne went in search of gum. Sidney walked Maddie into the Petrossian Bar and took seats at the end of the oak bar. They each ordered a cocktail.

When the drinks arrived, Sidney paid. Maddie felt a little bad, she hadn’t paid for a thing since they’d met. Well, the boots, she allowed. But she remembered the look on Sidney’s face when he’d paid for her salon visit. Scared, and asking her not to make a big deal of it. She shook off the thought and raised her glass to him.

“Last night in Vegas,” Sidney said.

“The only thing we haven’t done is get arrested.”

“Not the only thing,” he replied.

A little nervous now, she let herself admit. He’d been making allusions to something all day. She thought he’d been a little rash when he’d asked her to the red carpet. Surely he wouldn’t be rash enough to do something completely insane. But there was a lot of ground between where they were and what Las Vegas might consider crazy. He didn’t say anything. She didn’t say anything. They sipped and wondered what was going on in the others’ head.

Geno came up into the bar. “We go now?” He waved them along as he turned away.

Sidney put a hand on Maddie’s arm before she could stand up.

“Maddie, thank you for this week,” he said.

She leaned in. “I’m not done yet, baby.”

Whoever Joe had called at Pure had done their job well. The bouncer waved them in past a long line of well-dressed party-going hopefully. They were shown to a large round booth, raised two steps and facing a packed bar. The dance floor was beside their area. The walls were white, lights were flashing and a mob of people surged around the club.

Every girl in the place was wearing less clothing than the last. A few wore bra tops and skirts, nothing else. Maddie saw how heads turned to follow the line of big, strapping guys being escorted to a VIP table. She felt the sharks start to circle. Sid looked back at her and smiled. Her heart melted a little bit – he was thinking of her, not any of the other women surrounding them.

Maddie slid into the booth and Joe climbed in next to her. He was on the end, so big and blond that he looked like a homing beacon for the countless women trolling the bar.

“So much for me and your cute friend, eh?” he said, leaning in to be heard. They both looked at Erin, across the booth. She was squished in next to Max, who had an arm around her back and was nuzzling her neck. “Guess I was a day too late.”

“Oh my God, Joe, if she heard you say that she’d die,” Maddie laughed.

“You can tell her later,” he smiled. “Now I suppose I’ll have to find someone to dance with in this mess.” He looked around. Maddie followed his eyes. It was a meat market for sure, a live-action music video set promising money and sex and surrender. It was intimidating.

“You guys surprise me,” she said. “You’re supposed to love this stuff. Fame, money, women throwing themselves at you. You’re like rock stars. And yet you all want to hang out with us and drink beers.”

“It gets old fast,” Joe said. “But hey, it’s Vegas! Let’s go with it.” He reached for the bottle setup in the middle of the table.

“Amen. And Joe, I’ll dance with you later.”

And dance they did. Everyone hit the floor, leaving cocktails behind. The dancers seemed to move as one, there were so many people crammed onto the floor. Go-go dancers on platforms shook their barely costumed bodies. People stood along the raised walkway, behind a glass railing, and watched the mass of motion.

Sidney and Maddie held on to each other tightly. More than once they’d each been blatantly hit on by someone who didn’t care they were tangled up together. Or who maybe wanted to join them. Maddie had gotten a couple of very nasty looks from other women, but she just kissed Sidney happily every time.

Each of the go-go dancers pulled a guy out of the crowd, and the closest one chose Geno. He climbed onto her platform, leaving at least ten very disappointed women behind. The dancer did most of the work, and Geno put on a pretty good show. At the end of the song, his dance floor harem was happy to have him back.

After a few songs, Sid and Maddie took a break. They passed Max and Erin dancing near the stairs – they were grinding slowly and to entirely the wrong beat, their heads pressed together. Sid raised his eyebrows at Maddie. They won’t last long down here, she knew.

Kris and Cynthia were at the table, talking to Joe. She appeared to be telling a story and had both of the boys laughing hard. As they came up, Joe moved to stand.

“Can I dance with your girlfriend?” he asked Sidney, taking Maddie’s hand.

Sidney arched an eyebrow at Maddie. “Try to control yourself.”

Joe and Maddie passed Max and Erin on the way back to the floor, still oblivious of the music or people around them.

“Wow, I really should have been a day earlier,” Joe said.

The DJ scratched a record and “Poker Face” came on. Joe stepped into Maddie and started dancing. He moved well, and was very funny, singing along and miming Gaga’s crazy, face-blocking hand motions. Maddie laughed as she danced along.

“Is it true you’ve only known Sid for a few days?” Joe shouted over the music. Maddie nodded. “I thought you two were a couple?”

“The awards show was our first date,” she yelled back.

Joe shook his head and smiled down at her. “No wonder he likes you. You’re ballsy.”

Sidney wove through the crowd as the song was ending. He tapped Joe on the shoulder and cut in the old fashioned way. Joe gave Maddie a kiss on the cheek and disappeared.

Sid put his arms around Maddie’s waist. The beat changed and the sound of a slot machine came over the speakers. The crowd screamed as Katy Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas” started to play.

Maddie pressed her body into Sidney. They danced, but it was more like swaying in time with the mob of people. Bass pumped through the floor, shaking the ground beneath their feet.

Shut up and put your money where your mouth is
That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas

Around them, the crowd was jumping and rocking. Sidney bobbed, holding Maddie tightly. She put her hands on his shoulders and moved her hips to the beat.

Get up and shake the glitter off your clothing
That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas

A loud pop sounded over the music, and a wave of glitter and silver balloons dropped from the ceiling. Flashing lights caught the flecks, throwing spots of color over the dancers. Everyone shouted and threw their hands up.

Maddie slid a hand behind Sid’s neck. Glitter rained down on them, catching in their hair and clothes. He smiled and she smiled, then she pressed a deep kiss to his lips.

“Let’s get out of here,” he whispered.

Holding hands and laughing, they rushed out into the warm night. The air was still and music carried from the bars and clubs into the street. They strolled along the wide sidewalk, Maddie pressed tight to Sidney with her arm inside his. She brushed glitter from his shirt.

Maddie knew this was their last night. And she knew it had been perfect. They weren’t even drunk. She wanted to be in the moment, remember every detail. She hoped Sid was thinking the same thing.

They crossed the street and walked in front of the Bellagio. Outside, stretching the length of the hotel, was the legendary Bellagio fountain. Hundreds of jets shot choreographed water shows into the air every half hour. Performances were set to a handful of different songs, so over a few days visitors may never see the same show twice.

The railing was starting to fill up. Sidney steered Maddie to the edge and put his arms around her from behind. The lights came on, signaling the start of the next show.

A single column of water rose into the air as Elton John’s “Your Song” began to play. Maddie gasped.

“This is my favorite one!” she whispered. Sidney pulled her in tighter and put his face into her hair. He swayed slightly back and forth with the music. The sound of the fountains firing water hundreds of feet into the hair accentuated the song’s piano. The cascades waved and danced.

When the song ended, Sidney held Maddie still. The crowed broke up and walked away. Soon, they were standing quite alone at the railing as people passed on the sidewalk.

Sidney moved next to her, against the fence, and faced her.

“Maddie,” he said, reaching into his pocket. “I told you I had one more thing up my sleeve. But I should have let you decide if you think it’s amazing.”

He looked into her eyes. “I am crazy about you. This week has been incredible. I don’t want it to end.” He paused. “I think if you were going to be scared away by who or what I am, it would have happened already. You have seen me famous and seen me completely anonymous. The fact that you’re still here after all that means more than I can say.”

Maddie stood stock still. She couldn’t guess what look was on her face. Anxiety? Fear? Excitement? She felt all those things and more. He was building up to something, but she didn’t want to guess what it might be. Her brain would not allow speculation.

“I don’t want to do too much, too fast, but I can’t let you walk away tomorrow without knowing this. I am falling in love with you. I would like the chance to continue falling in love with you.”

He opened his hand. A small, square, black velvet box rested in his palm. Blood rushed to Maddie’s head. The rich dark fabric seemed to suck all the light from their surroundings.

“I know it’s soon. I am not crazy. I’m not asking you to marry me. Not yet.”

The roar cleared slightly from her head. He’s not asking me to marry him. But he’s holding a box. Not YET? What does that mean?

Sidney lifted the lid on the box. Inside was a thin silver band. It was three narrow strands, wrapped over each other to give the slightest depth and texture to the ring. No diamond.

“Madeline Cartwright, will you not marry me? Will you be with me, unmarried, until someday when we are ready to be something more than unmarried?”

The tears in Maddie’s eyes caught the lights of the Las Vegas strip. She blinked them away to see Sidney’s face. His sparkling eyes held a look of hope, of nervousness and blind faith. He had the ring between two fingers, holding it out to her.

“Yes, Sidney. I will not marry you,” she nodded, a tear rolling down her cheek.

He smiled, a huge, relieved, thrilled smile. He took her right hand and slid the ring down over her fourth finger. He kissed the ring once it was on her, then pulled her in and kissed her. Maddie kissed him back hard, harder than she’d kissed anyone ever before. No one even noticed them. Just another happy couple – maybe they knew each other, maybe they didn’t – caught in the whirlwind of Las Vegas.

“Next time I’ll get you one for the other hand,” he whispered.

Maddie was staring down at her right hand. Sid was holding her left and talking on the phone.

“She said yes,” he shouted. “Okay. Bellagio, by the fountain. 5 minutes.” He snapped the phone shut.

“Up for one more unforgettable event?” he asked.


Chapter 26

The alarm on Sidney’s phone rang at 9 AM. He slapped around the nightstand, found the phone and threw it across the room. It kept ringing.

Twenty minutes later, Maddie was washing her face when room service rolled a tray into the room. She smelled bacon.

“Did you order that last night?” she asked.

“Yesterday before we left,” he said. “I knew I’d forget the minute you were in here with me.”

They devoured the bacon, with eggs, pancakes, juice and toast. Maddie wore her capri pants with a t-shirt. Sid had instructed her to wear sneakers. She had no idea where they were going.

He tossed her a sweatshirt. “Just in case.”

At 10 AM, they were standing at the hotel’s main entrance. A van pulled up with ‘Papillon’ emblazoned on the side.

“Crosby?” the driver said, sliding open the door for them.

They drove for a few minutes then turned off the strip. Sid was smiling, but refused to say anything. He’d snatched a laminated sheet from the driver’s console and sat on it before Maddie could get in the van. She gave up and watched out the windows as they approached a gap in the buildings. It looked like a parking lot until they turned the corner.


Two white choppers with orange and blue paint detail on their tails sat on a helipad outside a low-slung bungalow. The sign on the gate they drove through read ‘Papillon.’

Maddie snapped her head around toward Sid. “HOLY SHIT!”

A huge smile broke across his face and he clapped his hands. The van rolled to a stop and Maddie jumped out.

“We are going to the Grand Canyon for lunch!” Sid announced. Maddie jumped up and down and gave a little shriek.

“Who told you?” she demanded.

“Cynthia,” he laughed. “She gave up all your secrets.”

Maddie had always, always wanted to take a helicopter to the Grand Canyon. She’d been to Vegas a few times before but never taken advantage. It was kind of expensive, but not ridiculous for the fact that it was a helicopter to the freakin’ Grand Canyon. She’d floated the idea to the girls in preparation for this trip.

“I cannot believe this!” She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. Her eyes were shining. Sid squeezed her tight.

“Surprise!” he whispered and kissed her again.

Maddie’s stomach dropped as the helicopter lifted, bounced and then rose up from the ground. She was clutching Sidney’s hand in her lap, and her other hand was on his leg. They wore headphones with microphones so they could talk to each other and the pilot. Without them, the roar of the rotor was deafening.

The chopper hummed with vibration. Maddie watched the asphalt drop away. The sensation of moving straight up without going forward was new and unsettling. She met Sid’s eyes – he was having a little trouble with it too.

“Have you been in a helicopter before?” she remembered not to yell into the microphone at her mouth.

“Yeah, but it’s still really weird,” he squeezed her hand. “Don’t worry, you get used to it after a minute.”

The pilot broke in. “Hold on, folks.”

The helicopter cleared the buildings and swooped forward. Maddie’s stomach did another somersault. Outside the window, everything seemed closer than it should be. She could see the cars and tiny little people – nothing like being at 30,000 feet in an airplane. She took a deep breath.

As they flew away from the strip, they passed over Vegas’ urban sprawl. 15 minutes later, they crested a rise and saw the Hoover Dam. Behind it, Lake Mead sparkled dark blue in the sunlight. The pilot flew over the lake and circled south, giving them a view of the Dam’s famous 700+ foot high retaining wall. The helicopter banked and continued on its way.

“This is incredible,” Maddie whispered, though Sidney could hear her clearly. He lifted the microphone from her face and kissed her lips.

“It is pretty awesome,” he agreed.

For half an hour they flew over the desert. In the distance, the pilot pointed out where the rim and shadow of the canyon first became visible. Maddie and Sid watched as it grew closer quickly, the chopper eating up the distance.

“Here we are,” the pilot said.

The ground disappeared. Beneath them, the dust-colored rock cut away to reveal the depth of the Grand Canyon. Maddie gasped. The edges were sharp – it looked like the end of the world. She hadn’t expected the colors – dark green blue, even hints of red. It was fantastically wide. The chopper flew over the famous Skyway bridge that spanned a gap in the chasm. Tourists looked up.

“They’re jealous,” Sidney pointed out.

“I would be too!”

They took in as much of the Grand Canyon was twenty minutes would allow, then flew farther down its length away from the observation decks and crowds. Without much angle, the helicopter began descending.

“Did I mention that lunch is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon?” He elbowed her in the side.

Maddie’s mouth was open. She fought the urge to freak out in the chopper for fear of disaster or at least deafening the pilot. She settled for quickly pounding on Sid’s thigh to release her excitement.

Dropping into the canyon was like descending into the center of the Earth. When they reached the bottom, a Papillon representative ducked them beneath the rotor wash and led them to tented area looking out over the Colorado River.

As they dug into their lunches – locally farmed organic steak, greens and risotto, Maddie sipped her wine.

“Sidney Crosby, this is the best date I have ever been on. In fact, this is the best date in the history of time. Better than Romeo crashing Juliet’s party. Better than Wesley rescuing Buttercup from the Fire Swamp.”

“You’re nerding out again, babe,” he smiled. “But I’m glad you like it. I wanted to give you something back.”

She scoffed. “I was just thinking I haven’t given you anything.”

“And I was thinking about last night,” he smirked. “No really. You hardly even knew me and you took a huge risk going to the awards with me. I know it doesn’t seem like that big a deal here, but for me, that was huge.” He raised his glass to her. “Thank you, Madeline.”

“I would do it again,” she said.

He sipped. “There is always next year.”

On the way home, the pilot flew them over the Las Vegas Strip. Starting with the high tower of the Stratosphere, they passed the pyramid of the Luxor and the fountain at the Bellagio. All the landmarks were clearly visible for their low altitude. When they landed, Maddie felt dizzy with gratitude and adrenaline. She smiled the entire way back to the Palms.

She went upstairs to change into her bathing suit. A note was on the bed in Deanne’s handwriting: Cabana 93, bitches!

Sidney was alone in the cabana when she arrived.

“Hi gorgeous,” he said, reaching down from his hug to pull up her sundress. It went over her head and he tossed it away, then hugged her again.

They waded into the water and swam to one of the islands. It was Saturday afternoon and the pool was absolutely packed. Like the day they’d first arrived, music blared and the whole scene seemed one drink away from being a porno movie.
Jordan was laying on his back, taking up most of the island. Deanne sat next to him, happily sipping an umbrella drink. Jordan squeezed her hair, dripping the water down her back. Cynthia and Kris were in the water, leaning on the island and each other. Erin sat next to Deanne, her arms over Jordan’s legs, sunning herself. They all sat up as Sid and Maddie approached.

“How was it?!?” Deanne squealed.

“Amazing,” Maddie said. “Epic. Life-changing.” She turned to Cynthia. “Thanks for telling him about that one.”

She beamed. “It was that or having him somehow join the pirate show at Treasure Island, swing down in short pants and ravish you on the deck of a ship. The Grand Canyon seemed easier.”

“Mmm, pirates,” Erin said dreamily.

Sid and Maddie climbed onto the island. Sid lay down next to Jordan. Maddie put her head on his stomach and her feet in the water. She closed her eyes, soaked up the sun and relived the day’s trip in her mind. She kept thinking about the champagne toast right before they’d taken off from lunch to return home.

“Thank you for this. You are amazing,” she’d said.

“I have one more amazing thing up my sleeve,” he’d replied.

Maddie had been surprised when Sid knew where she lived. He certainly sounded like he planned to continue to see her after they left tomorrow. “Only 250 miles from Pittsburgh,” he’d said. But the season was months away, and she wasn’t sure when he’d be back in town. At least two months. Until then, she assumed he was in Nova Scotia for the summer. Maddie wasn’t sure she could wait that long. In two months time, this whole trip could seem like a silly fling, remembered only in photos from the red carpet.

Max jolted her from her thoughts. He swam up, grabbed her foot and pulled her off the island. She went right underwater with a little scream. She popped up, sputtering, to find Max shaking his wet self over Sidney and Jordan. Then Geno popped up behind her turned back and dunked her again.

“Hahaa, two times!” he laughed.

Maddie scooped the wet hair from her face, splashing him. Then, over his shoulder, she saw something and froze. The look on her face made Geno turn too.

“Erin,” Maddie hissed.

“What?” she said, turning. She looked at Maddie’s turned back, and followed her gaze. “Ohmygod!”

Joe Thornton was standing forty feet away, at the bar of a thatched tiki hut. By now, Deanne, Erin and all the guys were looking.

“Uh oh,” Deanne said.

“Oh you have got to be kidding me! Jumbo Joe?” Max said with mock indignation. He was smiling at Erin like he was hatching a plan.

“Nononononono. Max, please.” She was bright red. “I’m sorry. I… I….”

Maddie cringed, wishing she’d pointed Joe out in a more covert way. Her surprise had gotten the better of her. And she had no idea if anything had happened between Max and Erin the night before. What if they’d hooked up and I just gave her up liking another guy?! Maddie thought.

“Oh no, cherie. You will be sorry,” he smiled devilishly at her, stood up on the island and shouted, “JOE!”

Joe’s head swiveled around, almost like he was unsure he’d heard his name over the music. Max waved his arms over his head. It took Joe a second to see everyone on the island, then he recognized them and waved. He emptied the last sip of his drink and started walking toward the edge of the pool.

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” came from Erin. She looked ready to crawl into a hole and die.

Sid touched Maddie’s arm. “Are you going to freak out too?”

She shook her head, reasonably sure she was not going to spaz out. She might not be able to speak though. Joe stepped down into the water and walked toward them. Like Geno, he was very tell and the water only came to his waist. His curly hair was messy and bleached from the sun. He had a light beard growing. He was shirtless, which was nothing new – he was infamous for doing most of his post-game interviews topless. Erin and Maddie were well aware of this.

“Hey boys, ladies” he said, shaking Geno’s hand first. Maddie stepped a little behind Geno to hide. Sid and Jordan both sat up and shook, as did Max. Kris waved from the other side of the island.

“Joe, this is Erin, she’s a big fan of yours,” Max put his hand on Erin’s head. She smiled, almost painfully. She was still blushing but fighting it hard.

“Oh yeah? Nice to meet you.” He reached his arm across the boys to shake Erin’s hand. She was probably trembling. “Sorry you’re stuck with these clowns,” he said. He introduced himself to Deanne and Cynthia, who also waved. Then he turned to Maddie. Geno abandoned her.

“And you are the lucky lady,” he smiled. He was standing in front of her, all 6’ 4” of him, smiling down. That’s a lot of shirtlessness, Maddie’s brain said. She stuck her hand out to cover her silence.

“Madeline, Joe Thornton,” Sid said, laughing. “Maddie is a fan of yours too. And she gets a little spastic under pressure.” Maddie scrunched up her face and everyone laughed.

Joe put his arm around her shoulders. “Then you know she doesn’t like Ovechkin at all! You did well on stage at the show.”

“Thanks,” she managed. “I’m partial to Canadian boys.”

“Hey!” Geno said.

Joe flagged a waitress and ordered them a round of drinks. He pulled himself up onto the island and sat next to Jordan’s feet. He was wearing teal shorts, just like the Sharks colors.

“What are you guys doing tonight?” he asked.

Erin almost choked on her tongue. Max was next to her now, and slapped her on the back with zero subtlety. Then, just in case Joe had any ideas, he placed a gentle kiss on her temple.

“Okay babe?” he asked. She nodded. What a devil, Maddie thought. Did anything happen last night?!

Kris resced her. “It is our last night in Vegas. I think we should go big. What’s that place at Caeser’s?”

“Pure?” Jordan said. “I’d go for that. VIP baby.” He tickled Deanne’s midriff.

Joe nodded. “Sounds good. Some of my guys are still here, maybe they’ll join us. I’ll check in then get us on the list at the club.”

Maddie figured he would probably call someone with the NHL home office, or maybe at the Palms, to get them into one of the Strip’s hottest nightclubs on a busy Saturday night. When they were finally tired of lounging in the heat, they agreed to call Joe later and see if he wanted to have dinner with them beforehand.

“Cool, see you guys in a bit,” Joe said. Then, “Bye Erin. See you later.” He winked. Erin almost bolted.


May 30, 2010

Chapter 25

Maddie was still a little dizzy when she dropped into a pool chair. Sid was right next to her, looking dazed. She languidly turned her head and smiled at him. He lifted his arm up and flexed his bicep.

“All right?” Kris asked, leaning down over her. He touched the scrubbed red skin on her chest.

“It took a while,” she said. Sid snickered.

Maddie had spent 20 minutes scrubbing at the marker with a washcloth. Sid had a stroke of genius and ran to the gift shop for nail polish remover. When Maddie wondered why he knew about nail polish remover, he’d explained that it takes duct tape off just about everything.

“Nail polish remover?” Kris asked Sid.

Erin and Geno came running up, laughing. “We find fun for tonight!” Geno announced. He waved a flyer toward Max. Max snatched it from his hand, read and smiled.

“Oh yes.” He the brochure around for everyone to see.

Stoney’s Rockin’ Country – Grab the Bull by the Horns!

The flyer advertised a country bar with mechanical bull, saddle stools and line dancing. Friday night was “Shorts, Short and Longnecks” – girls in short shorts get in free, guys who buy longnecks get a free shot. “It’s a country bar – dress the part!” it encouraged.

“Yeehaw,” Erin yelled. “I said I was wearing something short!”

Maddie slid her credit card through the reader, signed the screen and picked up her shopping bag. Deanne did the same, and Erin snatched the card from her hand.

“Are you kidding?!” she said, reading it. “You are shopping with Jordan’s credit card?”

Deanne snatched it back. “He really, really wants me to wear boots. Really.”

Maddie zipped her dark denim shorts, thankful she’d packed them. She pulled the brown and red plaid shirt from her bag and removed the tag. Once on, she left an extra button open at the top and rolled up her sleeves. Next came the boots – brown leather cowboy boots with a box heel and little metal toe plate. She tied her hair into messy pigtails to complete the look.

The girls were versions of the same idea. Erin wore a red, short-sleeved camp shirt, white short shorts and black pointed-toe boots. Deanne had on the boots for Jordan – white leather with colored detail patterned across the sides – black shorts and a white top with a deep v-neck and collar. Cynthia had bought a cream-colored button down with gold rodeo trim to go with her khaki shorts. Kris’ signature was still scrawled across her thigh, though she’s removed the phone number with the same nail polish remover trick.

The elevator lobby seemed like a runway. They kept coming down in a group, with the group of guys waiting for them. Today, it was quite the show. The casino was full of girls in short dresses and heels, but no one else looked like the cast of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’

“Wooot!” Jordan yelled when he saw the boots. He picked Deanne up like a football and swung her around. He was wearing a gray shirt with the collar open, jeans and work boots.

The boys were all dressed the part as well. Max’s shirt was wide black and teal plaid over a white t-shirt and jeans. Kris wore a borrowed red check shirt – it was half a size too small and looked perfectly country. Even Geno was in on it, in a black button down tucked into jeans. Sid had on a blue and white plaid shirt with stitching and detail across the shoulders and back. His sleeves were rolled up over his thick forearms.

“Mmm, pigtails,” he said, hugging Maddie.

“Your jeans could be tighter,” she put a hand on his ass. “Like cowboy.”

“Free, free, free, free,” the bouncer counted off the girls as they pranced through the door. The guys each paid a cover and got a free drink ticket.

The bar was jumping. They were well off the strip and much of the crowd looked local. A line dancing lesson was wrapping up on the dance floor and the mechanical bull was spinning, empty and beckoning. Claiming a section of the bar, everyone ordered a longneck beer. The guys got free shots, and they ordered extras for the girls.

“Save a horse, ride a cowboy!” Erin toasted and they drained their shots.

Maddie pulled out a stool with a saddle for a seat. She swung her leg over and straddled it.

“Nope,” Max and Sid both called immediately, reaching to stand her up.

“No sitting like that in shorts, unless you want to have sex in the bathroom,” Sid said.

“With both of us,” Max added.

Maddie slapped the table. “I may die,” she said, gasping for breath.

“They should add this to team training, like a footwork drill,” Erin wheezed.

Jordan and Geno were line dancing. It was even better than Irish step-dancing the night before. The guys were sandwiched between Deanne and about 25 girls who had run into formation the second Geno touched the floor. They were stepping and kicking and turning at different times, to different beats, and not a single one of them cared. Jordan twirled the wrong way and Deanne ducked to avoid his arm.

Max returned with fresh beers and Sid behind him juggling four shot glasses. They took a moment to absorb the awe-inspiring sight of Staal and Malkin doing the Watermelon Crawl.

“I would buy this bar to get my hands on the security camera footage of this,” Sidney raised his glass. They all toasted and drank.

As the song ended, Sid took Maddie’s hand and headed for the dance floor. Keith Urban’s ‘Kiss a Girl’ came on next. He swung her in close and moved.

“Who knew you could two-step?” Maddie was impressed.

Max and Erin moved in next to them. Of course Max could dance. Anything involving pelvic movements was right in Max’s wheelhouse. He twirled Erin around, then reeled her in and held her close. She was giggling.

“That’s cute,” Maddie told Sid. “Max is making a play for Erin, I like it. It’s probably killing him not to window shop in a bar full of women.”

Sid laughed. “He’s not all that bad, you know. He used to be crazier. Now… now he’s a little jealous I think.”

A few songs later, Deanne wriggled through the crowd. “You guys better come quick!” And she was off.

They found her at the mechanical bull pen. Inside, Jordan was ditching his shoes. Geno stood at the railing, surrounded by all 25 girls from the line dance. Someone hilariously cued up “Ring of Fire” as Jordan climbed on the bull. Kris and Cynthia came running up just in time.

“Is there a list of things you’re not supposed to do in the off-season?” Erin asked.

“Jordan did all those things in the first week,” Kris said. “And no one thought to list this one.”

The bull started to move slowly. Increasing speed, it circled to the left. Then it began tiling backward and forward. The tempo picked up till it was doing all three at once. Then faster. Jordan’s legs were so long they went almost completely around and under the bull. Between that and the strength in his thighs from skating every day, he was able to hold on to the covered frame. He waved one hand over his head like a rodeo cowboy as the bull bucked. The ride operator was really trying to throw him now, but no luck. Jordan held fast to that bull until the crowd counted out the last of the 30 second ride.

Deanne climbed up the fake fence and jumped on Jordan. He caught her then fell back into the inflatable mattress. Everyone whooped and hollered as he carried her out of the ring.

“Another reason to buy this place,” Sid said.

More beers were ordered, and the free shots kept coming. Maddie tasted the quality degrading – fresh, sober customers got decent liquor, the drunker ones got rack labels and plastic handle varieties. Not that they complained. They were all well and truly drunk. Cynthia disappeared, and came back smiling.

“They’re going to play us a song.” She winked.

Thirty seconds later, Maddie guffawed. That is the only word to describe what happens to drunk girls when a packed bar starts playing “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” Without question the most ridiculous song in history, but also a fantastic country bar dance anthem.

Jordan shouted Max’s name and pointed. Max nodded and immediately began clearing bottles and glasses from the closest table. Jordan did the same on the other side. When he was done, he picked Deanne up and set her atop the table.

“Dance!” he yelled.

It was low, broad picnic table-type piece. Cynthia kicked the bench, decided it was sturdy and climbed up next to Deanne. Maddie was watching this when she felt herself being pulled. Erin was already dancing on the table behind her. She grabbed Maddie’s hand and hauled her up.

Maddie stepped right into Erin and they started dancing together. At the foot of the table, Max was smiling and Sid had his mouth open. Maddie turned around and shook her ass right into Erin’s lap. Erin leaned back and slapped it. They went for it, pulling every semi-stripper move they knew. Maddie silently thanked her cowboy boots for not being stiletto heels. Max made it halfway through the song before he jumped on the table and squished himself between them. He faced Erin, grabbed her hips and ground up against her. Maddie held onto his shoulders and pressed against his back.

Sid considered for a moment, but knew there was no way the table would hold them all. So he took out his wallet, peeled off a bill and waved it at Maddie. She turned around, stuck out her ass and dropped as low as she could while still dancing. He tucked the $20 halfway into the back pocket of her shorts.

As the song was ending, a waitress appeared. She handed each of the girls a fresh beer. “From the bartenders. They say ‘thanks for the show!’”

Maddie leaned against a wooden table on the porch, fanning her face. She was flush and sweating from dancing in the rowdy crowd of people. The outdoor breeze ruffled her pigtails.

“Woooo,” Sid took a seat. He patted his knee for Maddie to sit, then stopped.

“RIP, chair from last night,” she laughed, and got her own. She put her heels on his knee instead, admiring her new boots.

Sid leaned forward. “Will you come on an adventure with me tomorrow morning? Just us?”

Maddie nodded. She’d been thinking that tomorrow was their last full day in Vegas, and might be their last real day together. They hadn’t said anything about anything after that. They barely knew anything about each other. Well, she knew some things about him, but was famous. That was cheating.

“Sid, do you want to know where I live?” she asked.

“DC,” he answered. “Don't let Ovechkin find out. And you’re in PR. Which explains how you handled the press so well.”

Maddie raised her eyebrows at him.

“I asked Cynthia. You know some stuff about me, so I learned about you. At least the basics.” He sipped his beer. “I also know that you have an electric toothbrush and you smell like pomegranates. Those things Cynthia did not mention.”

“Anything else?”

He shrugged. “I know DC is only 250 miles from Pittsburgh.”

“Someone has been doing their homework.”

Sid traced his hand along Maddie’s calf and under her knee. “You have no idea.”

Maddie caught Erin’s arm in the hotel lobby. “Try to keep your pajamas on,” she said quietly.

They both looked at Max. He was ten steps away leaning on a table – dark, handsome and looking like he’d just had a roll in the hay that could be topped only by the one he planned to give you in 5 minutes.

“I have already lost that battle,” Erin declared.

"Keep the pigtails," he said.

Sid lifted the covers and Maddie climbed in next to him. It was 2 AM – an early night for this trip. They were tired and drunk, but the warmth of his skin had a magical healing affect on her.

She pulled in close and pressed her hand on his stomach. He lay back, letting her trace her fingers over the rise and fall of his abs. She grazed over his ribs, his pecs, his nipples. She crossed his lower stomach, the points of his hipbones, the indentations of his directional muscles. As she brushed below his belly button, she felt his body react.

Maddie rose on to her knees and lifted one over Sidney’s lower body. She sat down on his stomach, her ass barely too high to touch his penis. He put his palms to her breasts and stomach. She took one of his hands and slid each finger slowly between her lips.

By the time he was rubbing her thighs, Maddie was ready. She reached behind her butt and stroked him. As he swelled, his tip reached the cheek of her ass and pushed insistently into her flesh. She lifted her hips and guided him inside her wetness in a single push.

They’d been so hungry for each other the past few times they’d been together. Everything was still new. This time held the promise of learning and exploring.

Sidney reached for Maddie, but she pressed his hands down from her body. He cocked an eyebrow as if to say ‘have it your way’ and placed his hands behind his head. His smirked dared her to have her way with him.

Maddie did exactly that. She moved up and down on his cock, shifting angles to feel how and where he pleased her most. Moving her hips and watching his face, she also learned how best to please him. She leaned down, skimming her breast across his chest. His eyes asked permission to touch her, but she denied it. Instead she rolled her back, pressing down onto him from a different position. As he lifted his lower body to reach deep inside her, she gently sucked on his lower lip.

Maddie arched her back away from him and discovered that Sidney liked to be dominated, at least lightly. He was enjoying being toyed with. She placed her hands on the wall above his head, giving herself leverage to press down on him. Very slowly, she began moving her body to take all of him in on each stoke. She carefully timed a squeeze of her pussy so he felt every inch of himself drawing slowly out of her body.

When Sidney started to breath unevenly, and the look in his eyes grew foggy, Maddie changed her approach. The first time, he went with it. The second time drew a curse.

“Jesus, Maddie. You are killing me,” he croaked.

“You love it,” she said. “Or at least this part of you does.”

She slid off and changed spots. Bending his knees so his feet were flat on the bed, Maddie turned and placed one knee on the outside of his body and one between his feet, with his bent knee near her breasts. She was now turned halfway away from him. With a flick of her hips, he was back inside her to the hilt. This position allowed Maddie to swivel her hips in a wider arc, as well as pleasure herself with pressure from Sidney’s thigh between her legs.

Sidney view was now of her ass, moving up and down on his cock, as well as her lower back, arching and curling. He could see the line of her abs and curve of her stomach. Hidden from his sight, he felt her clit brushing against his inner thigh as she drew up and down on his body. Still he lay on his hands.

Maddie held off her own orgasm as long as she could. When Sidney started gulping air again, she pulled almost completely off of him. Extending as high as she could on her knees, she slid up and down, moving just the tip of his penis into her again and again. Her flesh caught the ridge of his head, flicking the raised ring of his skin against her tender entrance. Over and over she did this, feeling her nerve endings shudder and savoring the delicious promise of his entire length filling her. She pressed against his thigh and quickly felt herself getting lightheaded. Rocking a few more times, she’d had all she could take.

With a whimper, she dropped down onto the full heft of his rock hard cock. As he pushed against her walls, forced himself into every ounce of space, Maddie’s body released. Like a flash of lightning, all her muscles seized and then spasmed. She arched her back, drawing every last sensation from it. Her nails dug into his leg, her head dropped back and she cried out.

Sidney came at the same time. From being teased at the tip to being fully enveloped, his eyes rolled back and his body twitched. His hands came free as a reflex, pressing Maddie’s hips down against him and holding her still. She squeezed a few times, prolonging his tension. Finally she dropped against him, one shoulder to his chest.

“Let’s just stay here tomorrow,” he panted. “And do that again.”

Maddie giggled. “I probably can’t walk anyway.”


May 29, 2010

Chapter 24

“That’s never coming off,” Sid said, running his finger across Kris’ signature on Maddie’s chest.

She looked down, “Yeah, I didn’t really think about that. But it was totally worth it.” They were standing in the elevator lobby, safely out of sight of the casino. It had taken Maddie and Cynthia a full five minutes to stop laughing.

A mirror hung on the wall between elevators, and Cynthia examined the signature on her leg. “I am leaving this on and wearing something short later. I might cross out his number so no one copies it down though.”

Jordan and Deanne came around the corner, followed by Max dragging a very embarrassed Kris.

“Half the people at the table asked Tanger for his autograph!” Max announced.

“At least half give him their room number too. Including the guys.” Erin raised her eyebrows at him.

Kris looked at Maddie and faked a scowl. “I should have signed your face.”

Sid held the gym door open for Maddie. It was empty, as expected. No one was working out on Friday afternoon in Vegas.

“What are we doing here again?” Max asked, coming in behind them with Jordan and Deanne.

“I have a back injury that’s getting stiff,” Maddie said. “And I want to see if I can sweat off Kris’ autograph.” She climbed onto an elliptical runner, and Sid got on the one next to her.

Erin tossed a towel over the nearest machine. “I came to see some showing off, honestly. So get to it.”

Maddie started running, and Sid set his machine to the same resistance and pace as hers. She made a face at him. “I should be on the machine behind you. Much better view.”

Max walked around in front of them. “Allow me to help with that.” He pulled off his shirt, dropped to the floor and starting doing pushups. “Come on, Crosby. Let’s see what you got.”

Sid slowed, shaking his head, and got off the runner. He faced Max, so their heads were pointed toward each other in the aisle in front of Maddie’s machine, and started doing his own pushups.

“Uh uh, Crosby! Shirt off!” Maddie said. He knelt to remove it as Erin stepped onto Sid’s empty elliptical.

“Now this is more like it,” Erin said, opening her water bottle and squirting a shot of water over them.

I’m going to fall off this machine, Maddie thought as she stopped running. The girls just stood there watching. A ridiculous amount of musculature was flexing right before their eyes. Both guys had done at least 25 pushups and showed no signs of slowing. Sidney’s broad, pale back contrasted against Max’s darker skin tone and tattoos. Each of their chests went all the way to the floor before moving up. Erin made a purring noise, probably involuntary.

“Is this what girls like?” Sid asked, trying to look up but failing.

Neither girl could speak.

Deanne squeezed in between the machines. “Wow,” her eyes bugged out. “You guys should start a website. I’d pay twenty bucks a month to watch this.”

“Hey, I can do pushups!” Jordan called from behind them, where he was bench-pressing. Deanne went back to over to him and Jordan racked the weight. He grabbed Deanne, put one hand under her neck and one under her butt and started bench pressing her body.

Max and Sid called it a tie at 50 pushups each. Erin offered to pay them to keep going, and Max promised to give her a private pushup show later.

“Then I’m going to have a real problem keeping my pajamas on tonight,” Erin whispered to Maddie.

Maddie started running in earnest, as she had been when she’d first met Kris. Sid put his shirt back on and joined her. Max picked up a pair of free weights, shirt still off, and started doing bicep curls.

“You’re drooling,” Sid said. Maddie realized she’d been staring at Max.

“Hey, you put your shirt on,” she replied.

Half an hour later, Maddie had run herself out. Sid was breathing hard, but clearly had miles left in him. Maddie slowed to a walk, and Sid started to follow.

“Wait! Just give me two minutes.” She took a seat on the rowing machine behind Sid and admired him as he ran. The lower back of his shirt was dappled with sweat, and the hair along his neckline was damp. His calf muscles were so defined they looked carved into his legs. His powerful, chiseled thighs moved strongly and gracefully with seemingly no effort. His wide shoulders tapered down like a ‘V’ into a hard, narrow waist. And that ass, Maddie thought. Mother of God. Her heart was racing and it had nothing to do with exercise.

Sid concentrated on running evenly, knowing she was watching him. Normally he’d be self-conscious knowing he was being openly ogled from behind. But in this case, he felt he deserved it. He’s been unabashedly drinking in the sight of Maddie’s body for days.

Suddenly she was at his elbow. “Upstairs. Now. I want to lick the sweat off of you.”

Sid jumped off the machine before the pedals could stop moving. Without a word, then ran out of the gym.

Max looked at Erin and cocked an eyebrow suggestively. She shook her head, knowing she’d need a very cold shower to get clean after this workout.

Sidney barely had the door closed before Maddie was all over him. She wrapped her legs around his middle and he pushed her against the wall. The thin mesh of his running shorts kept no secrets and Maddie could feel that he was very into this. She shifted her weight, resting it against his growing erection. For good measure, she bounced a couple of times.

He moaned into her mouth. Pulling her hair tie, he spilled her ponytail. She could taste the salt on his skin. Reaching one foot down to the floor, Maddie uncoiled her arms and pulled Sid’s shirt up his back and over his head. His hands were on her breasts, through her jogging bar. He tugged off her shirt…

“I forgot about that,” he said.

“Agh!” She had also forgotten that Kris’ name was scrawled across her chest. “Let’s see if we can get it off,” she pulled him into the bathroom.

They stepped out of shoes and socks. Sid yanked Maddie’s shorts down in one movement, dropping into a crouch to clear her feet. He ran his palms up her legs and didn’t hesitate. He pressed his tongue right to her flower. She gasped, grabbing two handfuls of his hair. A hand pushed her feet farther apart, allowing Sid to move beneath her.

Maddie shifted her hips, following the rhythm of Sidney’s mouth. He circled his tongue over her lips, dipping the tip into her softness. She sighed and knew he could taste her wetness. He stroked hard twice across the length of her slit, then moved to her clit. He used his tongue to explore the folds of her flesh. An arch of her back told him he’d found the right spot. He sucked and nibbled, even sliding his chin gently around, hoping he had a few hours’ worth of stubble to heighten her experience.

Maddie lifted a leg and put it over his shoulder. Sid took the invitation to slide a finger, then two, inside her. Her juices ran down his hand. He drew in and out while continuing to massage with his mouth. A third finger disappeared into her body. He pressed forward and back, stimulating her alternately from inside and outside.

“Oh my God,” she panted.

He removed his fingers and used his hands to lift her ass onto the edge of the bathroom counter. Pulling her other foot over his shoulder, he shifted his weight until he was angled perfectly toward her dripping peach. He glanced up. Maddie’s head was tossed back. Her breasts bobbed up and down as she writhed against his face.

Maddie’s brain fizzed like a shaken can of soda, and threatened to burst like one. She could feel his tongue, his fingers, his other palm spreading her thighs. She could feel him breathing into her, the heat coursing all the way up her body. Sid trailed a finger along her outer lips – gently, then harder. She whimpered, and he obliged her by sliding his fingers back into her hot, dripping core. Her pussy contracted around him.

He was painfully hard beneath his shorts. Every sensation his hand felt was transmitted by his brain to his cock in anticipation of the next act in this show. He vowed to finish this first, though he was desperate for his own release. She’d give it to him, he knew.

Sid used his middle finger to press highest along the front wall of her darkness. His fingertip brushed the spongy spot that felt slightly raised.

“Yes, yes,” Maddie squealed.

Jackpot, he thought.

He circled the spot, barely touching its edges. At the same time, he lightly grazed her swollen clit. She bucked her hips against him, body begging him to finish what he started. A few more light caresses and he gave in.

He pressed, as hard as he dared, against her spot. That moment he also caught her clit between his lips and sucked hard, pressing tight. Her entire hands were white from gripping the marble beneath her. Her hips moved forward, giving him all of her, pressing into the sensation he was unleashing.

Maddie screamed something vulgar and unintelligible as her whole body jerked.

Sid felt a wave of warmth break from inside her. He eagerly lapped up the spill, moving his fingers ever so gently inside her. She clenched three times onto his fingers, her stomach contracting and her back folding in.

When her orgasm broke, Sid pressed the flat of his tongue over her clit. He felt it pulsing, beating the blood back into her body. Another moment and that subsided as well. He pulled back, wiping his chin for his forearm. Maddie met his eyes. Her hair was tossed and her eyes were heavy with satisfaction and fatigue.

“Let me catch my breath,” she whispered. “And then I am going to pay you back for that.”

Sidney reached into the shower and turned the handle. His cock was throbbing. He hoped Maddie could hurry.

Moments later, she was behind him. Hands went over his back, then around his sides and right to his lap, wrapping her arms around as she went. She slid one, then the other inside the waistband of his shorts.

He sucked in a breath. Maddie felt his abs contract. She wrapped her right hand around his shaft, felt his pulse beating through his whole body. Flicking her wrist, she stroked once along his length. Then, making a V with her first two fingers, she teased the ridge of his head. Her left hand reached down to cup his balls.

“Get in,” he rasped.

Maddie stepped into the shower, letting the warm water course over her. Sid followed right behind. She turned him so his back faced the spray. His body blocked the water from her face as she sank to her knees, smiling up at him.

Sidney put his hands out, steadying himself against the walls. Maddie ran her tongue over his cock, both sides, and then took him in her mouth. He was large, almost too large, and she breathed deep to reach the base. When he was as wet as she had been, Maddie began to move.

She slid her lips along him, the soft flesh of her mouth rounding over his hardness. On her way back, she wrapped her lips over the tip and swirled her tongue around his head. He groaned, pressing out with his hands. Maddie knew he would not last long.

She made a ring with two fingers and pressed it to the base of his penis. With firm, even strokes she took him far into her mouth. Every third stroke, she went all the way to her hand and felt his tip press to the bag of her throat. Sid’s hips bucked. It almost made her gag, but she broke away quickly and resumed her work.

Her other hand stroked his balls, balancing them and tugging lightly downward. They were high and tight in their sac. Not long now, Maddie thought.

One of Sid’s hands grasped Maddie’s hair. He held on, memorizing her pace. Soon he was gently increasing the speed, encouraging her to move faster. She obliged and began sucking, creating a pressure inside her mouth. He swiveled his hips to get closer.

“Fuck,” he grunted.

Maddie continued to move, feeling the pressure building inside Sid. She pressed the tip of her tongue firmly to the ridge along the bottomside of his cock, stroking along his hot spot. That did it. Sid thrust twice, grabbed the back of Maddie’s head with both hands and exploded.

Even with a deep breath in preparation, Maddie nearly choked. Sid released her slightly, but not all the way. She swallowed, then swallowed again as he drained himself inside her.

He sagged against the tile wall. Maddie stood to avoid the water spray. Sid opened his eyes.

“Fucking hell, Maddie,” he breathed. She smiled at him and dragged a finger along her bottom lip, like cat who’d gotten the cream.

May 23, 2010

Chapter 23

Sid was sitting at the desk, scrolling on his laptop. Maddie rolled over, felt around the bed and sat up.

“Are you looking?” she asked. He nodded. “How bad?”

He tilted his head side-to-side, noncommittally.

“The Sporting News says ‘Sid the Kid may be all grown up. He hit the red carpet at the NHL Awards with a tall brunette on his arm. She was stuck to his side all night – his doing, or hers?” he read.

“Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog says, ‘Get it Kid! Sidney Crosby finally mans up and lands himself a knockout date. If she knows a thing about the game, we hope he marries her soon. First order of business: a prenup as long as her legs.”

“And your favorite, Hello Canada says, ‘Sidney Crosby’s date, Madeline Cartwright, seemed perfectly at ease in front of the cameras and reporters at Wednesday’s NHL Awards in Las Vegas. Either she’s very comfortable under pressure or she’s had some practice getting her hands, and legs, on superstar athletes. She became part of the festivities when Capital’s star Alexander Ovechkin called her on stage, then carried her off in his arms. Crosby didn’t move to rescue her – he must be quite sure his paycheck is big enough to keep her from jumping ship with the strapping Russian forward.”

Maddie laughed. “Okay, okay. At least they didn’t call me ugly.”

“Honey,” he said. “They may have questionable ethics, but they are not blind.”
Jordan threw a paper down on the table at breakfast. “Guess what they have in the gift shop? Canadian papers.”

Max snatched up the Toronto Globe & Mail. He turned it for everyone to see – on the cover was a photo of Sid and Maddie from the red carpet. “The Kid Grows Up” was the headline. He turned the page. “Ooh, it’s an op-ed. Much more juicy.”

“NHL superstar Sidney Crosby may never escape his nickname, but he attended the annual NHL awards ceremony looking very grown up. Crosby made his first ever public appearance with a girl on his arm - a tall, leggy brunette named Madeline Cartwright. She even stole the show when Alex Ovechkin called her on stage and pretended to kidnap her from the Penguins captain. In a knockout pink dress, we might have tried the same thing.

It remains to be seen if Crosby’s first public girlfriend will last. As the face of the NHL and spokesperson for Reebok and other companies, Crosby has a very carefully constructed image to protect. While no one expects a young, wealthy, famous athlete to stay single forever, Crosby has long shown a solid business sense when it comes to marketing himself. Athlete love affairs rife with scandal are a constant fixture in tabloid news. Currently under a 5-year contract worth $43.5 million, plus endorsements, the hockey community has been waiting to see how the Boy Wonder will handle the challenging issue of women.

At the after party, I passed Cartwright flying solo, laughing and talking hockey with Brendan Shanahan. She looked like she could handle the situation with grace. Let’s hope Crosby can man up and do the same.”

Max put the paper down and everyone applauded. Maddie smiled sheepishly.

“That was a little harsh on you,” she whispered to Sid.

He was grinning. “I am used to it. I’m just glad they’re being nice to you.” He picked up the paper. “This picture is going on my fridge.”

Maddie squeezed Cynthia’s shoulder. “Potty party,” she whispered. Cynthia followed her into the Ladies Lounge.

“I think it’s time for Kris’ fandemonium moment,” Maddie said, and revealed her plan.

Cynthia shook her head. “You are an evil genius.”

Cynthia and Maddie hung back as the group trooped out of the restaurant. Sid moved to wait for them, but Maddie shook her head. He watched for a minute as Cynthia rolled the waistband of her skirt, making it much shorter. Maddie unbuttoned the front of her shirt and pulled her boobs up high in her bra. “Go,” she mouthed.

It took Sid a minute, then his eyes went wide. He went left, around the tables, to get in front of the group. Deanne and Jordan stopped at a craps table to watch the game, so Kris would have to stop behind them. Jordan looked over his shoulder and gave them a little nod.

“Oh my god!” Maddie screamed at the top of her lungs.

“It is! It is him!” Cynthia yelled, and grabbed onto Maddie’s arm.

Kris turned as the girls were running in his direction. He was just feet from a crowd of people at the table, some of whom also looked to follow the screaming. The girls ran right up to him, squealing.

“Ohmygod, ohmygod,” Maddie was loud, holding her hand over her chest and drawing a lot of attention to her unbuttoned top.

“I can’t believe it! Kris Letang!” Cynthia squealed. “You are, like, THE greatest hockey player in the WORLD.”

The craps game, and all the games around it, had completely stopped. Players and dealers alike were watching the scene.

“Stanley Cup champions! You were so hot in that last game, in the handshake line, your hair was all messy.” Maddie reached out to touch his hair and pressed her chest right up to him. “You’re dreamy.”

Kris’s mouth dropped open. He didn’t seem to think Maddie was actually going to do cause a scene. She winked at him.

“We are you biggest fans,” Cynthia carried on. “I can’t believe we are meeting you! Eeeeeeeeeee!” She threw her arms around him, practically jumping up and down.

Maddie pulled a sharpie marker out of her pocket. “Could I please have your autograph?” She pleaded, and moved right into him. “Please with a cherry on top?” She held the marker up in front of his face. He looked like he was going to burst out laughing.

She stepped back an inch and pulled the top of her shirt open, revealing a lot of exposed cleavage. She batted her eyelashes at him. He took the marker and scrawled his name across her chest, complete with a little #58.

Cynthia practically threw Maddie out of the way. “Me next,” she breathed. She pulled her skirt up her leg. Kris knelt down and Cynthia put the ball of her foot on his knee. He signed his name across her thigh and, slowly, wrote his phone number underneath it. Then he stood.

Cynthia leaned in an kissed him, then darted away. Maddie stepped in and, much to Kris’ surprise, pressed her lips right where Cynthia’s had just been. She ran her hands through his hair, then broke away.

“Couldn’t resist,” she whispered. She grabbed Cynthia’s hand and they ran off, leaving Kris standing kiss-stung and dumbstruck in the middle of the casino.

Chapter 22

“Let’s see a show,” Jordan suggested. He looked at Deanne. “A topless one.”

She kicked him in the leg. “And here I was hoping you’d suggest The Thunder From Down Under Australian male strippers. Typical.”

“You want a lap dance?” he asked, getting up from his chair.

They were lounging by the pool. Maddie and Sid were in the water, elbows propped on the edge of the deck. Kris paddled over on an inflatable raft he’d borrowed. It even had a little holder for his drink.

“I have a better idea,” Cynthia said. “How about the jousting show at Excalibur? It has horses and sword fighting and food, all stuff guys like.” She turned. “I offer this for Maddie, because she loves that renaissance faire, knights and chivalry stuff.”

Sid looked at her, “You do?”

She threw her head back. “Yes,” she said sheepishly. “Remember when I told you I like sci-fi books you’d associate with people who speak Elvish?”

He laughed. “Yes, but I have no idea what that means. I don’t speak nerd.” She splashed him in the face, and he shoved her under the water.

Max adjusted the paper crown on his head, tilting it rakishly and winking at himself in the mirror. He could see Maddie watching him.

“Does this do it for you?” he asked. “Do I need tights and doublet or something?

“Sir Superstar. It’s more about the horseback riding. You know – thighs straining against leather, that kind of thing.” She straightened his crown, then his collar. They linked elbows and headed into the arena.

The jousting ring was in the middle of the sunken floor. Rows of seats lined the sides of the arena, and each had a counter running in front of it as a table. Maddie sat next to Sid, with Max on the other side. Sid grinned at her – he too was wearing a paper crown. He reached up and took hers off.

“I got you something better,” he reached under the table. From a bag, he pulled a silver plastic tiara with small colored plastic jewels in it. He pulled off the gift shop tag and placed it on her head. Brushing a hair from her face, he pulled her in and kissed her softly on the lips. “My princess.”

They roared and clapped their way through dinner. The Green Knight, assigned to their section, jousted well. They ate with their hands – chicken pieces, broccoli, brownies for desert. A waitress filled their pewter beer mugs every time she passed.

How does she do that in the dark? Maddie wondered.

The story was something about a princess doomed to wed a bad guy. In the end, the Green Knight did win. They cheered to bring the house down. When they finally left, they were all pretty drunk. Jordan was lifting Deanne into the air every few steps. Kris nuzzled Cynthia’s neck. Geno and Max pretended to charge each other in a joust, and Erin waved a tissue like a favor for her favorite knight.

Sid grabbed Maddie’s arm. He pulled her aside, toward a display board.

"Look, you can get married here!" He pointed. "Well… I mean… not…” Sid stuttered. He turned to her, his face a little pale. "Sorry, that was awkward!"

They both laughed and Maddie kissed his cheek.

“That would really do Mario in,” she said.

They crossed the footbridge to the New York New York hotel and filed into the Nine Fine Irishmen bar. They claimed a table upstairs, on the balcony overlooking the Vegas Strip. A waitress followed them up.

“Two rounds for everyone,” Jordan said. “Drink ‘em before they’re warm.”

An Irish band came on, fiddling and shouting and playing songs the whole bar knew. Fantastically drunk by now, everyone piled downstairs onto the small, crowded dance floor. Jordan and Geno stomped to the jig, swinging the girls around. They were like a pair of step-dancing dinosaurs. Kris bought Cynthia and Max Irish car bombs at the bar.

“I am drunk,” Sid called into Maddie’s ear.

“Me too!” she giggled. She still wore her tiara from the joust.

He pulled her hand and led her out into the casino. Even with lights flashing and machines warbling, it seemed silent compared to the bar. Maddie laughed really loud and Sid pulled her around the corner, shushing her. It was Thursday night, and the casino and bars were getting pretty full. He tugged her right out the front door onto the fake Brooklyn Bridge.

She took a deep breath. The heat of the day had broken, as it does in the desert, and the air was crisp and cool. Sid rubbed his hands up and down her arms as they took a table on the outside of the quieter bar next door.

“Having fun?” She pulled her chair right up to his and plopped down. “Sidney Crosby, face of the NHL, Stanley Cup champion and captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are you enjoying yourself in Sin City?” She spoke into her hand like a microphone. Sid looked at the menu on the table and saw they were at ESPN Sportszone.

“Well, Barry Melrose,” he started. Maddie pulled a face – a huge, shocked expression. She quickly puffed the front of her hair and pulled two sides over her shoulders imitating a mullet. In a tiara.

“Barry, I am having such a good time that I don’t want it to end,” he answered, pushing her hand down. “I am quite honestly having the time of my life.”

Maddie smiled, a little lopsidedly. “Aw, Sid! Me too!” She got up and sat on his lap, kicking her feet out to the side. He moved to catch her legs, but leaned too far back. The plastic chair buckled, and then collapsed. All four legs shot off, flying across the patio and dumping them to the ground. Sid landed on his back, Maddie on top of him. They both sucked in a breath, then burst out laughing. Maddie staggered up and reached for Sid. He got to his feet just as a waitress was making her way over.

“Are you guys…” she said. And they ran.

They ran across the Brooklyn Bridge, past the main entrance and around the side of the building. They stopped halfway up the stairs to the footbridge. Maddie slumped against the wall, wailing laughter. Sid was right behind her, doubled-over.

“My… my….” she gasped. “My mullet was too heavy for that chair!”

They stumbled back into the Irish bar, more worn out from laughing than drinking. Kris and Cynthia were upstairs, unabashedly making out at their balcony table. Max was at the bar with Erin, telling a story with his hands. Geno danced with Deanne as Jordan took a break.

Sid climbed into a booth, out of the balcony’s line of site. He slid and Maddie sat next to him. They were both still giggling when they ordered a couple of beers.

“That would have made the papers,” Maddie said. “I wonder if they have a security camera."

Sid clinked his drink against hers. “I really hope they don’t.”

He sipped and looked at her. Her eyes were shining, wet from laughing and running and drinking. An occasional curl slipped down in front of her face. She’d been smiling for days, but it still caught him in flashes. She was wearing a red tank top with beading on the front, on the straps and down the middle of her back. Dark denim capri pants ended mid-calf, and she wore flat black sandals. She’d apologized for her feet hurting after two days in high heels, but Sid liked it. It made her shorter, so he could better wrap himself around her.

Maddie snuck a peek at Sidney too. He wore a black collared Izod shirt with short sleeves, making his sculpted arms highly visible. The dark color set off his hair and eyes. Dark jeans left just enough to her imagination. Maddie would have bet he was wearing white socks under his black shoes. She still loved the short hair, especially the very straight line it made across the back of his neck. She ran her finger along it and he smiled.

“I like your smile best of all,” she said out loud. He smiled more, and blushed. “I mean it. You’re so serious on TV. Even when you do smile, it never reaches your eyes. I know you have important stuff going on. But the smile, the smile is amazing.”

He put an arm around her waist. “I have smiled more in the last 3 days than all season long. Well, except for winning. And the parade.”

“So I rank third behind the Stanley Cup and the victory parade?” she asked. “I am doing pretty well!”

He kissed her cheek. Pulling her into him, he did it again. With a sigh, he settled against the wall and held her. “I haven’t asked when you’re leaving Vegas,” he said, “because I don’t want to know the answer.”

She didn’t look at him. “We’re supposed to leave tomorrow.”

“What if I asked you to stay? We are here through Sunday, a proper vacation. Tomorrow is Friday, then it’s just the weekend. Would anyone miss you?” He turned her to face him. “Could you stay?”

She tilted her head and smiled. “We’ve already changed our flights.” Then she laughed.

His mouth dropped open for a second, then he collected himself and kissed her hard on the lips. She slipped her tongue into his mouth and made it a real kiss, but short. When she pulled back she was still smiling.

“Jordan did it, actually. I think he paid for it too. He said there was no way he was letting Deanne go, nor did he want to be stuck with you guys for another three days.”

Sid pushed her out of the booth. “It seems I owe Jordan a drink!”

Maddie hit the dance floor with Max as Sid dropped into the seat next to Jordan.

“I owe you one, man,” Sid said.

“Ahh, she told you. You are welcome. You need it, captain.” Jordan tipped his drink toward Sid. “Haven’t seen you let go in a while.”

Sid sat back and watched Maddie. If he didn’t know Max, he’d have started a fight over the way he was dancing with her. The band was playing “One” by U2. Maddie had an arm across Max’s shoulders as he swiveled against her. They were laughing, talking over the music. Sidney loved that she wasn’t glued to his side, that she actually seemed to like everyone, want to know them. He thought that, and those legs, made her the most beautiful girl in the room.

The bar closed at 3 AM. There’s no real last call in Vegas, but when the party starts dying the bars drop off. Happily exhausted and drunk, they piled into the elevator.

Maddie walked into Sid's room and flopped down on the bed. He pulled of his shirt and kicked off his shoes.

“I knew it,” Maddie said. “White socks.”

Sidney unzipped her dress and rolled her out of it. He climbed into bed, pulled the blanket over them and hugged her to sleep.

Chapter 21

Maddie awoke to the feel of Sidney’s body shifting next to her. He was on his side, one arm angled down across her stomach. She lay on her back in the warm cocoon he created. She cracked an eyelid and sure enough, the Stanley Cup was still next to them in bed. She laughed to herself, shaking her body.

“I’m awake,” Sid whispered.

“So is Stanley,” she said, letting the laugh come out loud.

He rolled her onto her side, spooning against her. One hand ran down the length of her side, over the curve of her hip, onto her leg. He kissed behind her ear. Maddie reached back, traced across his smooth skin and smiled as she smacked his ass.

Sid flipped her onto her stomach. “Didn’t you say something last night about going to Max’s?” he asked, climbing on top of her. The soft mattress cupped as he shifted his weight onto her back. He used his arms to move his body against hers, and pressed his growing erection along the cleft of her bottom. “Still want to leave?” he taunted.

“Hmmm,” Maddie’s voice was muffled into the pillow. “Do I get to take the Cup with me?”

Sid laughed as he reached into his bag at the side of the bed and drew out a condom. He put it on and dragged his fingers along the back of her thigh. He moved them between her legs and felt wet heat. He lowered his body onto her back again, and slid himself inside.

Maddie trembled as he reached into her. From behind, Sidney felt even larger than the first time. She lifted her hips into him, giving herself the ability to match his strokes. He was holding himself above her, bracing his wrists in a push-up position.

Maddie wove her hand between her stomach and the mattress, to her clit. As she touched herself, her body responded to Sidney’s movements in a big way. He read her mind and dropped down to press his chest to her back. She pulled his hand under her, over her own hand, and he traced how she liked to be touched. Moments later, he was handling that himself.

Maddie came first, her body bucking and lifting Sidney’s weight clear off the bed. He held himself inside her as her orgasm rolled from her shoulders through her hips.

“Do… you know… anyone on this floor?” she gasped, her hands twisted in the sheets.

“No,” he grunted, pressing harder from inside and out, making sure she got every ounce of sensation he could give her.

She turned her head from the pillow and screamed his name.

Sidney was laughing and nearly crying when he came. He thrust into Maddie as hard as he could, gripping her hip with one hand and rolling himself down into her. His lips were at her ear, “Yes,” he said, “Yes.”

“Dressed, or do you want to go in the bathroom?” Sid asked as a knock sounded at the door.

Maddie looked at the Cup, then down at herself. She was wearing another set of Sid’s shorts and t-shirt.

“I kinda really want to see this,” she admitted.

Sid unlocked the deadbolt. “Don’t worry, this guy has seen some things.”

Phil Pritchard, Keeper of the Stanley Cup, rolled in with a big case on wheels. Sidney introduced Maddie. They’d moved the Cup from the bed to the floor. Phil pulled on his white gloves and reverentially lifted the Cup into the molded interior of the case. He closed the lid and fastened it with old-fashioned steamer trunk hasps.

“Bye Stanley,” Maddie waved as he wheeled it away.

Maddie shielded her eyes against the desert sun. It was easily 100 degrees and sweat prickled her skin beneath her polo shirt. She took a sip from her water bottle, then pressed the cool plastic to her forehead.

“Honk honk!” Deanne yelled, pulling up in a golf cart. Jordan was in the passenger seat, wearing shorts and cleats. Well, shorts on him. Pants on a regular guy. Three bags of clubs were tied to the back. Sid stopped alongside, driving with Max up front and Kris in the back. Cynthia hopped in next to Kris. Maddie heaved a cooler onto the seat and climbed in behind Jordan.

“Fore,” Max shouted as they drove off.

By the third hole, Kris and Sid were kicking everyone’s asses. Jordan hit huge drives, but the delicate putting game was his weakness. Maddie and Cynthia were a handful of shots behind, and taking advantage of the ladies’ tees. Max hit one into the woods and had taken a beer from the cooler to keep him company on the search. Deanne lounged in the shade of the cart, declining to play and calling herself the designated driver.

Cynthia and Maddie sat on a bench, just off the men's tee. Sid was lining up a shot. He was actually focused on the game, considering angles and wind. Maddie smiled to see how competitive he really was, how much an athlete he was in mind as well as body.

“That is a seriously incredible ass,” Cynthia said. Maddie snorted a laugh. “I see you staring at him, big smile on your face,” she continued. “I’m just saying. That body was built for sin.”

“Oh my God!” Maddie smacked at Cynthia, feigning distress. “You’re totally right. Those thighs….” They were cracking up together as Sid teed off and hit a big drive down the fairway. Deanne and Jordan came up. She smacked him on the ass and he kept moving toward the guys. Twirling around, she dropped onto the bench.

“Okay Maddie, did you or did you not have sex with Sidney Crosby last night?” she asked.

Maddie giggled. “And this morning.” They squealed and high-fived.

Deanne sighed. “I already knew. Jordan asked him this morning.”

“WHAT?!” Maddie was almost out of her seat. “What did he say?”

“Easy, killer. Sid said he doesn’t kiss and tell. Which Jordan of course knew meant that he had scored with you. Boys are not that clever. And Jordan is a perv, so he asked for details. Sid refused to give any, but Jordan said he had a very big smile on his face. So spill it, or we’ll never know.”

Maddie was blushing furiously. “It was epic. And… and he had the Stanley Cup last night. In our room.”

Cynthia screamed and the guys all turned to look at her. She slapped a hand over her mouth. Even Deanne knew that was a big deal.

“You had sex in the presence of the Stanley Cup. With Sidney Crosby,” Cynthia said, with reverence. She laughed. “I bet you're pregnant, and your baby will win 10 Cups while curing cancer and rescuing baby animals, then live forever like the Highlander.”

Kris stepped up to the tee. He’d turned his hat backwards since his blowing hair made golf impossible. Max came jogging up from the woods, brandishing his golf ball for all to see. Kris flexed his legs as he readied himself to swing. Max hitched up the sleeve of his shirt, revealing the tattoo covering his bicep.

“Speaking of ridiculous bodies…” Maddie offered, drawing the attention from herself.

“Hot damn,” Deanne agree. “Oh. I hope you guys don’t have plans for the weekend,” she said nonchalantly, looking away.

Cynthia and Maddie looked at each other. “Why…?”

Deanne spun around, a huge smile on her face. “Jordan changed all of our flights. We’re staying till Sunday!” She made little excited circles with her hands. “Isn’t he sweet? He asked me if we would want to stay, I said yes, and he did everything else. Didn’t tell me till after. Apparently someone on the team travel staff can just do that. How does he even know my last name?”

Maddie bit her lip. “They know mine. We gave it to the reporters. And we’re all on the same reservation.”

“Sneaky…” Deanne said. “And awesome! So surprise. Grocery shopping and cleaning the bathroom will have to wait.”

On the ninth hole, only Sid and Kris still cared about the game. Max and Maddie sat in the second cart, feet propped up and beers open. A curl had escaped from her ponytail. Max reached out and bounced it against her neck.

“The Kid treating you okay?” he asked.

Maddie smiled. “Of course, Max.”

“I know, he’s good people. You did great yesterday. Thank God, because he really likes you.”

She turned to look at him. “Has he ever done this before?”

Max shook his head no. “A couple dates, but nothing serious. He’s too in his head during the season. And he’s too scared of getting screwed over. It happens a lot, and to guys who aren’t half as nice as Sid.”

“You are as nice as Sid, Max,” Maddie smiled.

He gave her a look that said ‘can’t get anything past you’. “I am probably the worst person for the Kid to be around. Girls everywhere, none of them worthwhile, running my mouth all the time.” He took a sip of his drink.

“Max, are you sad?” Maddie sat up and moved closer to him. “I haven’t known you long, but I think you’re a pretty great friend to Sid. To everyone.” She paused.

Max smiled shyly. “Seeing you girls with the guys, having fun – you’re all great, normal girls. That’s what they need. What we all need.” He shrugged. “Now you know my secret.”

Maddie put her arm around Max’s shoulders and leaned into him. “Max Talbot, I like you even more now. A girl would be very lucky to have you,” she squeezed. “And if anyone gives you a hard time, send them my way. I ran off some of Sid’s puckbunnies, I can take care of yours too.”

“I think you’ll have your hands full with his,” he laughed. “But I hear you’re pretty good at it.”

“So what happens now?” Maddie asked.

Max finished his beer. “We have two months till training camp. Everyone will go home, relax and get ready to start again. What will you two do?”

It was Maddie’s turn to shrug. “We haven’t talked about it.”

A smile broke across Max’s face. “You could get married tonight. I do a mean Elvis impression.” He curled his lip and arched his eyebrow. “Uh huh!”

They were cracking themselves up with a round of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ when Kris and Sid finally finished. Sid announced that he’d won. Kris rolled his eyes, smiling.

May 22, 2010

Chapter 20

By midnight the pool deck was packed. Half the NHL was there, plus a not-surprising number of young women in small dresses and high shoes. A few people were even in the pool. The music was pumping the same bump-and-grind beats that played during the day.

Maddie was talking with Brendan Shanahan, who admitted they’d dropped the Ovechkin prank into the show just before starting, when Sid and Maddie had shown up on the red carpet. Sid had gone to ‘run an errand.’ Max, Kris and Cynthia sat on the edge of the pool, their feet in the water. Jordan and Deanne were dancing under a nearby palm tree. Geno and Erin were talking with Ilya Kovalchuk – though Erin was mostly watching people while the guys spoke Russian.

When Sidney came back, he joined Erin and Geno at the bar. Maddie walked over, shoes in hand.

“Seven o’clock,” Erin said as Maddie came up.

Maddie spun around to look. Sid’s gaze followed.

“Very stealth,” Erin mocked.

Behind them, a small group of people were sitting at a table. Maddie searched their faces and then grabbed Erin’s arm. She blushed and giggled.

“What?” Sid asked.

Maddie shut her eyes tightly. “I used to have the biggest crush on Scott Niedermayer. And there he is!”

Sid laughed. “Gandalf Greybeard? Really?”

“Shutup, Crosby!” Maddie punched him. “When I was little, he was dreamy. I used to ask my parents why I couldn’t grew up next door to a family like his. Between him and his brother…”

“Would you like me to introduce you?” Sid started pulling her in that direction.

Erin stepped between them. “No. Don’t. She gets very spastic when nervous.” Erin put her hand on his shoulder and turned him around. “Stay here and no one gets hurt.”

Maddie also turned her back. “Thanks, Er! Quality sighting.”

Erin gave her a thumbs up. “I’ll let you know if I see Joe Thornton.” Maddie put the back of her hand to her forehead in a fake swoon.

“Wow,” Sid said. “I think I’m a little jealous! You didn’t have a spaz attack when you met me. Guess I’m not that exciting, eh?”

Maddie met his gaze. “You have no idea.” She didn’t elaborate and he kept looking at her. “I… you… oh my God. Do you remember what I said? Something about your hair? Then something about giving you mouth-to-mouth? Your swim trunks were short circuiting my brain.” she said. He laughed at that.

“That’s not so bad,” he said. “Can I ask you a question? Be honest, what’s the first thing you thought when you saw me?”

“Poor Kris.”

“Poor Kris?”

Maddie rolled her eyes. “As in, ‘Poor Kris was probably hitting on me in the gym, inviting me to hang out, and he just lost his chance, big time’.”

Sid went to say something, then changed his mind. “You’re right. He came out to the pool talking about this hot girl from the gym who was really funny, and she had friends, and they were coming to join us. And then you did. But don’t worry, when I went back to the cabana to eat my sandwich, I asked him if it was okay to go for you. He made a deal with me.”


“Yup. If one of your friends wasn’t his type, I had to have to back off,” he said. “The next thing, Cynthia came to dinner and it was all good.” He nodded toward the pool, where Kris and Cynthia were shoulder-to-shoulder, still trailing their feet through the pool.

“Now I get to ask you a question,” Maddie said. “What’s the first thing you thought of when you saw me?”

Sid looked her in the eye and smiled.

“Poor Kris.”

Around 2 AM, people started to drift away from the pool. Everyone had taken advantage of the open bar and was looking a little dazed. They were sitting around a table, watching the party breakup. Geno had gone to get some bottled waters.

“I am going to bed,” Max announced. He turned and said right to Erin, “Alone. Again. Quel dommage.”

Erin smiled. “Well... I have to go somewhere. I am NOT seeing Jordan naked again.” She turned to Deanne. “No offense.”

Max’s face lit up. “Wait, let me get some more limes.” He trotted off to the bar.

Erin rolled her eyes and leaned across the table. “Geno snores. I’m not drunk enough to sleep there another night.”

Jordan took that as his cue. He helped Deanne to her feet, then swung her up onto his back. “Guess we’re in your room again,” he said. She looked like a backpack on his massive frame.

Cynthia stood and said to Kris, “I need something from the room, so let’s go with them. No more naked Staals for me either.”

Neither Maddie nor Sid made any move to get up. He was holding her hand between the chairs. They bid everyone good night, but stayed put.


“So,” she agreed.

He turned her chair to face her. “You were incredible today,” he said seriously. “This was a lot, even for me. And you handled it. First those girls last night, then coming on stage, then the lime thing… you are good at handling things, aren’t you?”

Maddie put her feet up on the arm of his chair, so her calves were across his knee and her shoes hanging over the outside. He ran his hand over her lower leg. “We’ll see when I search myself online.”

“Wait till tomorrow, okay? In case it makes you want to run away from me?”

He’s really worried, Maddie knew. It was plain as day on his face. She wanted to hug him, to tell him it would be fine. And she would have, but he was scaring her a little. He’d been through this all before, the spotlight and the criticism. As much as she was sure she could deal with it, his concern made her concerned.

“I can do my best to distract you till morning,” he offered.

Maddie stood in the same spot in Sid’s room where she’d been the night before. She looked out the window, over the Vegas Strip, and wondered how many other people were spending the night with someone they’d just met. It felt like forever, but Maddie reminded herself they'd known each other less than two days.

Sid came up next to her, put an arm around her waist and leaned his head against hers.

“Whatcha thinking?” he asked.

“That it feels like I’ve known you for a long time,” she admitted.

He squeezed her tighter. “Seems that way, eh? Today was a long day. I have something for you.” He pulled away.

“What? Sid, don’t,” she said, turning.

He reached into the closet and pulled out a hanger. It was a #87 Penguins jersey. Real, from the size of it.

“It was here for an auction. I said I’d get them another one. I wore it in a game – sweated in it and everything. I wanted you to have it.”

She pulled it off the hanger. The sweater was thick, the material a little stretchy. It was heavy with the logo, number and name stitched on. She held it up to her body. It was big, almost as long as her dress.

“Looks good,” he said, then he grabbed it and tossed it away. He pulled her in and kissed her.

Woah, here we go, Maddie thought.

His body was so solid. She could feel every angle and plane as she practically melted into him. She lifted her leg slightly and ran her thigh along the inside of his. He responded by slipping his leg inside hers, the pressure riding her dress riding up. Hands were on her shoulders, brushing her hair back from her neck. He kissed along her ear and down the side of her throat. He brushed his lips across her chest, where his fingers had earlier tucked the napkin into her dress.

Maddie pulled her hands down the slope of his back. At his waist, she pulled his dress shirt from the waist of his pants. She took her time unbuttoning every button and pulling it back. His broad, powerful shoulders bulged beneath his t-shirt.

Sidney traced his hand around the curve of her ass, down behind her lower thigh, and pulled her leg up so it bent alongside his body. She hooked her foot behind him. He slid his hand back up, this time over the top of her thigh. His hand was hot through the fabric of her dress.

He kissed her lips, then tilted her chin up. Even in the near-darkness, gold tones swam in his dark eyes.

“Maddie. I have never met anyone like you,” he whispered. “I intend to get to know you a lot better. And not just here,” he flicked his head toward the room. “So if you don’t want to do this, not tonight, that’s okay with me. I am hoping to have a lot more nights with you.”

Maddie sighed. Is this guy for real? she couldn’t help but think. This is some kind of alternate reality.

“Sidney, I really like you too. Especially when there’s no one else around,” she said. She pressed a chaste kiss to his lips. “But if you don’t have my clothes off in five seconds, I’m going to Max’s room.”

His face cracked into a smile. “Oh that is going to cost you.” Before she could ask just how, he shut her up with a kiss.

He slid his hands behind her and undid the clasp at the top of her dress. The zipper came down in one smooth motion. Slowly, he pulled one strap off her shoulder, then the other, before dropping the dress to the ground. Then he knelt and collected the dress from under her feet. He ran a hand up her calf and kissed the outside of her leg. Her dress went nicely over the back of the chair.

“I love that dress,” he said.

Maddie was wearing a black lace strapless bra and lace boyshorts. They even had a little lace-up in the back. Definitely the sexiest thing she owned. Sid’s eyes traveled over her, from head to toe, slowly seeing every inch of her body. He traced a finger down the front of her stomach, along the curve of her abs.

He pulled off his own t-shirt. Maddie undid his belt. She pushed her palm down across him as she opened his zipper and he sucked in a breath. He wore black boxer briefs, similar to the night before. His thighs were huge, so muscular he seemed to be flexing all the time. The fabric of his shorts stretched very tight across his bulging hard-on. Maddie took a moment to admire him, and also to make him wait.

He reached for her shoulders and turned her around. Pressing against her back, Maddie could feel his erection. He moved his hands over her breasts and down her stomach and over the lace of his panties. He slid them over her ass, between his body and her own. He gripped her hips and pulled her in even tighter, before running his hands down onto her thighs. One hand trailed across the middle, and he lightly grazed her crotch. She felt her body shudder. He was breathing a little heavily and stroking her through the fabric. He touched farther down, and Maddie knew he could feel that she was wet.

“Maddie,” he said softly.

She turned around and backed toward the bed, unfastening her bra. He followed and climbed above her as she lay back. With one knee on the bed, he tugged at the sides of her underwear and pulled them off. He stood and removed his own shorts.

Every inch of him was beautiful, as Maddie knew it would be. He returned to the bed and she reached down to grasp the length of his cock. She was impressed with his size, even for someone with a stocky lower body. She ran her hands along it, feeling his pulse beating through his shaft. Shifting under him, she positioned her hips just below her hands. He tore open a foil package and gave her the condom. She unrolled the thin filament over him.

“Sidney,” she whispered into his mouth as he kissed and she guided him inside her.

Immediately, she was breathless. He pressed slowly, and she felt every part of him filling her up. He pressed once, twice, spreading her wetness along his length. She hitched her hips up to make room for all of him. They got aligned, and he started moving.

Maddie was flat on her back, her legs stretched out and her feet hooked over his calves. She caressed his naked back, down onto his lower body. She pulled him into her on each stroke, showing him how she wanted him to move. He obliged willingly, reading the pressure of her hands on his ass. He kissed her neck, she shoulders, her mouth.

He stroked into her. She moved her hips in rhythm with his, giving him every inch inside her body. It wasn’t long before his breathing was getting more ragged. Maddie was feeling a little dizzy herself, that low, slow buzz was getting louder in her lower body.

“Sid,” she urged him on, feeling her wave of pleasure rising. He thrust harder, more quickly. She pressed down on him with all her might, and used her hands to twist his hips slightly. He shifted and she felt the tip of his penis brush her g-spot. A moan escaped her lips.

“Just like that,” she panted.

He did it again, and again. On the fourth stroke, Maddie felt thunder. On the fifth, lightning. She dug her fingers into his back to keep from moving. She probably screamed, but she couldn’t be sure. Sid kept going, rubbing over her soft spot and sending an earthquake through her body.

“Oh God,” he gasped. His body shuddered too, starting with his cock and rippling out through every muscle. He arched his back and pressed down hard, all his weight on Maddie, as she squeezed him inside her. After a few seconds, he dropped down onto her.

She put a hand through his hair and kissed his mouth. Sweat from his brow dampened her skin. He sighed, still catching his breath. Eventually he lifted his head.

“Now I’ve really got it bad for you,” he smiled.

She kissed his soft, ripe lips. Her heart was pounding against his chest.

“Me too. Me too.”

After a few minutes, Sid rolled off. Maddie removed her makeup and brushed her teeth. As she stood in the bathroom, Sid came to the door. He just looked at her, standing there naked, and shook his head. When she finished, she climbed into the bed, still naked. Sid had gone into the bathroom.

Wow, she thought in the quiet room.

Sid poked his head around the corner. “I have a surprise for you,” he smiled.

“I already saw that,” she teased. He was standing naked in the light spilling from the bathroom.

“Something else, something better.”

“Ha! Impossible,” she said.

He disappeared back into the hallway, and she heard the closet door open again. His voice came back to her.

“Remember by the pool, when you asked me if I slept with the Cup?” He came into the room, holding the Stanley Cup.

Maddie screamed. Just a short one, but it was loud. She gaped at the trophy. At Sid, holding it, stark naked. One side of it caught the light, shining like a mirror and throwing a reflection across the wall. Sid laid the Cup next to Maddie, then walked around and got in the other side of the bed.

“Holy shit.” That was the best she could do.

“I knew you would like it,” he said, arranging his body so Maddie could curl up with him. She rested her head on his arm and faced him. His leg slid over hers and his hand rested on her lower back. He kissed her, gently at first.

Maddie’s whole body stirred, remembering the treat it had just received. She instinctively moved closer to him. Her breasts pressed against his chest as their tongues touched and the kiss deeped. Then Maddie started laughing.

She craned her neck back to the other side of the bed. “I think the Cup feels like a third wheel!”

Sid just smiled at her. “Imagine what Max did on his night with the Cup.”