Monday, July 6, 2009

6: Saturday Night, Part IV

I took a sip and thanked Sid. A question popped into my head. “Do you prefer Sid or Sidney? I don’t know what to call you.”

“It doesn’t matter to me.”

“So I can call you anything I want?”

“That’s not what I said.”

“Hmm, but if it doesn’t matter what I call you—”

“I said it doesn’t matter if you call me Sid or Sidney.”

“Whatever, Crosby. I’ll think of something.”

“And what about you?”

“What about me?”

“What do I get to call you? It’s only fair I think of something for you.”

“What’s wrong with Noelle?”

Those massive shoulders rose and fell. “Nothing’s wrong with it. All I’m saying is, if you get to think of something for me, I get to think of something for you.”

I hated the teasing, but I went along with it. “Then you better make it something good, but I’m not going to go easy on you, kiddo.”

“I think I can handle it. After all, I play with twenty guys who are absolutely unrelenting when it comes to picking on me. I’ve got thick skin.” He took a swig of his Jack and Coke.

“Yeah, it matches his thick skull,” said Marc-André.

“See what I mean?” Sid said. “Unrelenting.”

I could only laugh. I loved to see the way the boys interacted with one another. They did poke constant fun at each other, but they did it from the heart.

Max called over from the bar to us. “We’re doing shots again! Get over here!”

The guys quickly went over to the bar to join the guys—and my friends—for more drinks. My friends were enjoying the night in the lounge more than I was, if that was possible. I looked at Vero, and she moved further down on the couch that abutted mine to sit catty-corner to me instead of accompanying them.

“You aren’t going over?” I asked.

“No, I’m the designated driver tonight,” she explained. “You?”

“The same. My friends are getting too carried away, and someone has to stay sober.”

“You know, you and Sidney are very cute together.”

“Um, thanks, V.”

“Most girls can’t interact with him. They just drool or something. It’s nice to see someone who can just talk to him, and even better, to joke around with him, too.”

“I can’t imagine that it’s so hard for him to meet nice girls.” I glanced over at them, laughing and have a great time. I felt a tug at my heart and a warm sensation low in my belly. He exuded a sensuality that surely made women come running from miles away. If every girl you met found you attractive, one of them had bound to be funny, smart, and nice, too?

“Oh, you’d be surprised. He spends a lot of time with Marc-André and me, since so many of the players are coupled up. He’s a great guy, but he needs a woman to keep him company.”

“I don’t know why we’re telling me all this, V.” I must have honestly had a dumb look on my face, because she smiled with sympathy. As much as I would have loved to visualize spending some one-on-one time with Sidney Crosby, I couldn’t let myself—otherwise… well, those would be a lovely few moments, but it wouldn’t do me any good.

“You seem like a good person, is all I’m saying. Would you like to get together sometime? You know, just to hang around?”

“Sure,” I said, flattered for the invitation. “I’d really like that, V. Let me give you my number.” She handed me her phone, and I inputted my digits.

“Honestly, I don’t know how long we’re going to be in Pittsburgh before training camp, because we’re going back to Quebec at some point, but I will definitely call you before September.”

“That’s fine. I’m always up for meeting new people and doing things.”

“Oh no, mon ami,” came that gorgeous French accent. “Looks like they’re making friends.”

“And I am telling my new friend all the embarrassing stories I can think of about you two,” V countered.

Sid and Marc settled back in with us, with the latter sitting by his girlfriend and the former next to me. “So, what has Vero been telling you?” Sidney asked. I could feel his hot breath on my neck as he leaned in to speak, and I could smell the alcohol.”

“Oh, nothing too juicy.” I turned to look at him, and his face was very close to mine.

“Good. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression of me, Nell.” His speech was slurred, so when he tried to say my name, he strung the vowels together.

“No, but if you get drunk enough, you may do that all on your own.”

“I’m not drunk, just.... Okay, maybe a little drunk.”

Our faces were still close, my heart was in my throat, and I was trying to psychically will him to press those lips against mine. What will it take to get him to kiss me?

Eva, who has the worst timing, came over to interrupt my desperate attempt to manipulate his thoughts. “Hey, hey Noelle,” she said. She could hardly stand up straight. “Are you okay to drive? We are so plastered,” she giggled.

“Yeah, Ev, I cut myself off. Gimmie your keys,” I said. She reached into her pocket and handed them to me.

Max staggered over also. “You know, you could all stay at my place tonight! Just because the bar closes doesn’t mean our night has to end.”

“As tempting as that sounds,” I rationalized, “We won’t impose.”

“Please, it would be my pleasure to have you lovely ladies stay with me,” Max said. “I will use the puppy-dog eyes again if you make me.”

I laughed. “I’m sure you would love to have a bunch of girls staying with you tonight. But I think we’re all smart enough to say no. And your puppy-dog eyes hold no weight with me.” Max puffed out his bottom lip. “Not working!”

The bartender gave last call, and the boys ran to the bar for one more drink. The girls gathered around me. “This was sooo much fun, Noelle! Why don’t we do this more often?” Nat asked.

“Because either you’re working, or someone has plans,” I said, knowing the car trip home was going to be fun with three drunken people. I introduced them to Vero. They took up the rest of the sofa, and I really wished they hadn’t when Sidney returned and had to stand. I wanted him beside me. When I realized that, I wondered how I let myself get so caught up so quickly.

We all chatted in a group as some of the players departed early. Within fifteen minutes, security began clearing out the lower floor, and the V.I.P. lounge followed. We walked down the stairs and out the door.

I looked for Sidney before the girls and I were going to head for our car and drive home. He was talking with V and Marc, but he was looking at me. I meandered over, not wanting to interrupt their conversation.

“Hey, guys, we’re heading home,” I started. “It was really nice to meet you, Marc and V.”

Marc simply nodded, and V hugged me and promised to call. “We will meet up sometime, eh? I will not forget to call you.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” I laughed, and then turned to Sid. “And Sidney, thanks for tonight. We all had a lot of fun.”

“Hey, it was great running into you again, Nelly,” he slurred. “Are you going to come to a game this season?”

“I’m hoping to!”

“Yeah, I need my fan club there,” said Max. He always seemed to pop up when I was talking with Sidney.

“You are your own fan club,” I said, glad to be sober to make fun of him. He hugged me and kissed each of my cheeks.

“Are you sure you ladies don’t want to spend the night? I’m only about five minutes away.”

“No,” I repeated. “My bed sounds much more comfortable than your floor.”

“I have a king-sized bed,” he offered, and I blushed and shook my head.

“That’s enough, Talbo,” Sid said, and he pried Max’s arms from around me, only to replace them with his own. “This was fun. I will see you when you come to a game.”

“Okay,” I said, a little disappointed that this was the end of the night, and the end of my fun. But in the meantime, I was positively relishing in the feeling of being enveloped in Sid’s arms, which surrounded my shoulders. I nestled my head under his chin, wrapped my own arms around his lower back, and I couldn’t help but inhale. He smelled so damn good. I don’t know what cologne he was wearing, but it was intoxicating, and I felt more affected by his scent than the alcohol I had consumed earlier. We pulled away, and I instantly felt exposed without him.

“Well, have a safe trip home,” he said, and that was it. He, Max, Marc, and V turned and walked down the street while Nat, Megan, Eva, and I went up. I turned once and glanced behind me, to see Marc-André nudge Sidney and point up the street to us. Those two boys turned and looked behind them, only to see me staring right back. I waved one last time and turned back around.
Was this the last time I’d see them?

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