Wow, this season has been one hockey-induced depression after another. We'll get 'em next year, Pens.
It wasn't easy to stand in front of thousands—maybe tens of thousands—of people and know that they all knew the intimate things I had been doing the night before. As great as the people of Nova Scotia are when it comes to Sidney and his privacy, I had yet to earn that respect. I was a new girl; I was nothing to them. They looked at me with hardened eyes; I was no longer the Pittsburgh sweetheart who had somehow, mysteriously, won the heart of Canada's golden boy. I was obviously a harlot who had used my womanly wiles to blind him and entice him, to trick him into marrying me. They were skeptical, talking behind the backs of their hands.
I walked side-by-side with Sid when we arrived for his street hockey game. He insisted that I do so, because he wanted everyone to see the solidarity between us. "You've stood by me through everything," he said quietly in my ear before all the craziness started. "So now it's my turn to stand by you. You'll see, Nelly, that it's not big deal if we don't make it out to be one. If we don't give them a reaction, they'll get over it, and so will we."
I looked around to make sure no one, mainly Troy, was around to hear our conversation. "But, Sid, it is a big deal. I feel violated. It's totally creepy, and now all these people think they saw us have sex in a lake."
"But they didn't."
"They don't know that."
Squeezing his hand, I didn't even bother saying a thank you to him. I didn't need to. I smiled and kissed his cheek, and that made him smile back at me. That was probably our biggest display ever at that point in time, and everyone gobbled it up. It was like a show to them.
But once he started to put on all his goalie gear, I was relegated to the side again. All of the kids who were there to see their idol were focused on him, watching as he carefully strapped on the over-sized pads to protect him from injury. However, the adults and teenaged girls were trying to surreptitiously check me out. This was exactly what I was afraid of: that I would be in the spotlight, usurping center stage from him, and for all the wrong reasons to boot.
Marc-André was lacing on his roller blades for the other team, since one of Sid's friends wouldn't be able to return home for the occasion. I felt bad that Kevin was missing this, but the other guys seemed stoked to have one NHLer per team to up the ante and make things more even. Of course, to make things fair, Flower was going to play forward.
I stood next to Taylor and Véro, and we quietly whispered back and forth a little bit. Taylor didn't mention the video again, but I knew she wouldn't bring it up after she was the one who first alerted us to it. She asked, "How long are you staying here?"
"Not long," I sighed. Today was a Sunday, and I would be flying back to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. I only had Monday to spend with Sid alone before traveling back to Pittsburgh, where I would be alone for a few weeks. After that, though, Sidney would return to Pittsburgh to prep for training camp. "I'll be in town tomorrow, but I'm going home after that."
"Have you done any wedding planning yet?"
"No." I wanted to frown, but I didn't. Instead, I had my best smile plastered on my face for the public's sake. I knew I had to keep up appearances; it wasn't the first time I had had to cover up how I was feeling just so it wouldn't spark a rumor or add fuel to any fires. "Things have been too hectic lately—as usual—to get anything done. We don't even have a full year to plan, so I guess we have to start soon."
Then I gave her a genuine smile. "Do you want to come over and look at some catalogs for bridesmaids' dresses tomorrow?"
Her eyes got a little wide. "Are you asking me to help you pick?"
"Yeah, I could use another girl's opinion. I mean, if you have to wear one, you might as well have some input, right?"
Taylor nodded frantically. "Noelle, I can't wait! This is so exciting! I've never been in a wedding before. I'll help you pick something great. And no pink," she added, wrinkling up her nose, which made me laugh.
I had noticed how quiet Véro had gotten once Taylor had brought up the wedding. It wasn't my intention to make her feel left out. I nudged her with my elbow. "Are you guys sticking around for a while? I mean, I guess I really should be invited you over too, to help me out."
She cocked her head to the side and looked at me funny. "Yeah, we'll be around for the whole week...." Her voice faded away, and I could tell that she was confused by what I meant.
So I clarified it for her. "Great, because I could use your input, too. After all, I think you totally deserve to be a bridesmaid after you helped me and Sid—"
I couldn't even finish my sentence, because V squealed and threw her arms around me. I laughed and hugged her back. "So I take it that you're accepting?"
"Of course I'm accepting! Thank you, Noelle, I would be honored," she said. There were tears in her eyes, and I thought I was going to get choked up, too.
"What's going on over here?" Sid asked, walking toward us in his full goaltending gear. I always thought it was funny how Marc-André looked so big and bulky in his gear, but was so thin and sinewy without it. Sidney looked hulking, almost twice his size in width now that he was suited up. It seemed silly, all so he wouldn't get hurt during a harmless little game with friends. Then again, with Sid's attitude, he would play as hard as he needed to in order to win.
"V agreed to be a bridesmaid," I explained with another smile. It was easier to forget about all the watchful eyes around us when I was looking back at my beautiful fiancé.
He replied, "That's great!" Sid was unprepared for the hug that he got, too. He scrunched up his face for a second and sighed, "Women." He waited for Véro to pull away and then looked at Taylor. "Any advice before I head out there, coach?"
She rolled her eyes but told him, "Don't go down into the butterfly too early. Keep your eye on the ball."
"Yes, ma'am," he said. He went to put his hand on her head to ruffle her hair, but she ducked out of the way and scowled at him. Sid cocked his head and gave her a look, surprised by her reaction, but he didn't push the issue. Then he turned to me. "Do I get a good luck kiss?"
"For a street hockey game? I don't think you need any luck for that."
Sidney stuck out his bottom lip—at least farther than it usually stuck out—and pouted. "But it's for the Cup. It's a big deal."
I grinned. It amazed me how easy-going he could be today, after the disaster that already happened this morning. But it was his special day, and he wasn't going to let anything ruin it. I was totally aware of what was going on though, and I knew that I had everyone's attention as I placed my hands on his chest protector for stability, went up on my tip-toes, and leaned toward him. I think he was expecting a kiss on the cheek, since we never did much in the way of PDA, so he was surprised when I pressed my lips to his.
Hell, everyone had thought they had seen us having sex; after that, what was a kiss on the lips?
It was chaste, anyway, just a solid lip-lock for a few seconds with my eyes and closed and my left foot naturally kicking up like in The Princess Diaries. Sid put his hands over mine like he was holding them close to his heart.
I pulled back a little bit before I changed my mind and decided to kiss that luscious bottom lip again. After a quick peck, I leaned back and stood back on my two flat feet. You could hear the collective murmur of the crowd. Sidney squeezed my hands. "Wow, now I do feel lucky. Luckiest man alive."
"Gross," Taylor muttered under her breath.
We ignored her, just like we were trying to ignore the oppressive feel of everyone openly staring. "Play well," I told him. It was my usual thing to say to him before a game.
I watched the pick-up game that he was playing with his friends. No one officially kept score since it was supposedly to be friendly, but I knew Sid was keeping count so I did, too. Sid's team won, but only by a few points.
Every time Sid made a save—even a mediocre save—the crowd oohed, aahed, clapped, and cheered like they were at an NHL game. People clapped for the guys who scored goals (even on Sidney), but even though this was supposed to be all in good fun, the players were still overshadowed by Sidney. I felt a little bad for them, but I think they were simply appreciative to have a chance to fulfill a childhood dream of playing for the Cup, and even glad to have their old friend back in town for a while. Sidney had never asked for this fame attention; it just went hand in hand with being one of the best players in the world. Or the best player, depending on who you asked.
It was hilarious to watch Flower play as a forward. Everyone watched intently whenever Marc would try to score on Sid, but he never did. And every time Flower missed the net or Sid stopped a shot, he would just laugh, "I suck to score goals."
I stood next to Taylor the whole time, and Trina hovered a little behind us. I could tell that she was being protective, wanting to shield her family from prying eyes. Troy was off somewhere, I didn't know where, and I didn't care. I wasn't exactly happy with him at the present moment. I couldn't understand why he was fine with me as Sid's girlfriend but not his fiancée. Now that we were encountering problems, he was trying to use that against us. But I was determined to continue to be supportive and see this through.
When the game was over and the guys all had their pictures taken with the Cup and with Sid, we were ready to head back home. I let my fiancé put his sweaty arm around me, not even minding the disgusting-ness of it. We headed back to his house so he could shower and get ready for the dinner cruise.
We had a few hours to ourselves before we needed to worry about being where we needed to be, so we took the time to relax in bed—fully clothed, just lying around and being lazy amongst the craziness of the weekend. Sid's hair was still wet from his shower, and he was dressed in a plain white tee and a pair of black shorts, just something to relax in before we got more dressed up for the dinner cruise. We were curled up front-to-front, our faces so close to each other that our noses were almost touching. I was twirling the long ends of his hair between my fingers, and his eyes were closed.
"So tomorrow we have all to ourselves," I whispered, not having to speak too loudly since we were so close.
"Mmhmm," he hummed, obviously enjoying how I was playing with his hair. We had always enjoyed these kind of private, simple moments since our lives were always crazy like this.
"Do you think we can take some time to talk about the wedding? Tay and V are coming over to help me look at dresses, but I think we need to plan some things, you know, make some decisions first."
He nodded in agreement, but he complained just a little. "Can't we just have one day to ourselves? Seriously, I haven't been able to relax like this with you since the regular season. I could use a whole day like this."
"I know, Sid, I wish we could, too. But we're under a time crunch. We can relax all morning, talk in the afternoon, figure out what we need to, and then have a nice evening together."
"Okay." For a few minutes, he didn't say anything else. I started to wonder if maybe he had fallen asleep, but then he asked, "What time is it?"
I rolled over and looked at the clock. "Time to start getting ready for dinner."
But I felt his body move right behind mine. Sidney kissed my neck and shoulder, gently nipping at my skin as his hand came around to my front and cupped my right breast in his hand. He pinched my nipple, making me gasp and cry out as I felt a shiver go down my spine and my body begin to tingle between my legs.
Then, just as quickly as he started, he stopped. Sid rolled away and got off the bed. He looked back at me, taking in my shock and lustful gaze, and laughed, "More to come tonight, after the cruise."
I huffed as I watched him walk toward the closet for more suitable clothes to wear for the dinner, wishing we could just skip it all and stay in bed instead. After a moment, I got up and started getting ready, too.
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