Monday, June 30, 2008


I sighed contentedly and dug into my Chunky Monkey ice cream. The apartment was empty and I was mentally and emotionally exhausted from spending all day with my mother. I was finally granted peace and quiet because my parents had gone to the Pens game, but I'd managed to get out of joining them. They were a little upset that I had been so adamant about not going, but I still was not feeling up to seeing Sid, even from a distance.

My phone rang at around nine. I reluctantly answered it, even though I didn't feel like speaking to anyone. I was enjoying my self-inflicted isolation.

"Hey, what are you doing tonight?" Brad asked.

"Uh, not much. Just chilling."

"Come out with us."

"Who's 'us?'"

"People from the office. We're celebrating." We had just finished a massive project at work. PPG was looking at acquiring some small French companies, and our office had to present a detailed analysis of the past stability and future projections for the firms. It was a tedious and stressful project. We had finally presented on Friday, and just in time. I think we were all ready to kill each other.

"Thanks, but I think I'm just gonna stay in."

"Come on, Karine. Even Lisa is going. You never go out with us."

I sighed. Brad and the others had invited me out countless times, but I had always made up an excuse and turned them down. I had been hesitant about going out with them, especially Brad, because I wasn't sure how Sidney would take it. But Sid and I weren't speaking, and I hadn't been anywhere in ages…

"Alright. Where are we going?"

"McCreedy's, on the South Side," Brad replied brightly. "We're meeting at 9:30."

I snapped my phone shut and hurried into my bedroom. After trying on five outfits, I finally settled on my favorite pair of jeans and a sexy shirt. I quickly did my hair and makeup and took a cab to the South Side.

I pushed my way into the crowded bar and found Brad, Lisa, and my other coworkers in a large booth in the corner. I slid in and Brad poured me a beer from the pitcher sitting in the middle of the table.

"So you do leave your apartment!" Jonathan, one of my more likeable coworkers, joked.

"Sometimes," I replied, taking a large drink. I glanced at the large television positioned above the bar and my stomach lurched when I realized it was broadcasting the Pens game. My eyes remained glued to the screen and when I saw Sid leave the bench and take to the ice, I took another large gulp of my beer.

By eleven o'clock I was a complete mess. The Pens had shut out Atlanta five to nothing, and the entire bar was celebrating by drinking ridiculous amounts of alcohol. I stumbled into the bathroom and was shocked to see how terrible I looked—my hair was a mess, my makeup was running, and my eyes were bloodshot and glassy. I tried to count how many beers I had drank, but I lost count after six.

I returned to our booth and Brad suggested we move the party to Tré. "I'm drunk enough to dance!" he boomed.

You're so going to regret this, I told myself. I ignored my misgivings and agreed to go with them. Brad called a cab and we left for the club with Jonathan and Matt. Lisa and the others had decided to call it a night and didn't accompany us.

"I haven't had this much fun in forever!" I slurred.

"See? You should come out with us more often!"

"I'm going to have a killer hangover tomorrow."

"It'll be worth it," Brad replied, draping his arm across my shoulders.

The second we entered the packed, sweltering club I realized I had made a serious error in judgment by coming here. The Penguins had shut out the Thrashers, so they would be in the mood to celebrate…I crossed my fingers and prayed they had decided to party at Ryan Malone's and not at Tré.

Brad apparently read my mind, because he motioned to the empty VIP room. "No hockey players."

I relaxed a bit and made my way to the bar. Jonathan and Matt had already been pulled onto the dance floor by a pair of twins. I laughed as I watched them 'dance.' "I wish I had a camera," I said to Brad. "I want to document this train wreck."

Brad laughed and tugged on my hand. "Let's show them how it's done."

I downed my margarita in one drink and allowed Brad to lead me to the dance floor. The mixture of all the alcohol running through my system and the atmosphere of the dark club led me to feel completely uninhibited. Brad spun me around planted his hands firmly on my hips. I giggled at his audacity and swiveled my hips, not even caring that I was grinding with my coworker. I was drunk.

I spun around, our faces dangerously close. I was completely caught up in the moment. My usually logical mind didn't find anything wrong with me dancing provocatively with Brad, running my fingers through is blonde hair, feeling his breath hot on my cheek…

I felt someone tap my shoulder and I turned around with a grin, thinking I had another dance partner. It took me a moment to recognize the tall, thin man wearing a baseball cap low on his head. When I realized it was Colby, I inhaled sharply.

"Come with me," he said through clenched teeth.

My heart raced as my eyes flickered to the VIP room. It was full with what I assumed to be the rest of the team. I tried to find Sid, but it was too crowded and dark to see individual people.

"What's wrong? Who is this guy?" Brad asked, resting his chin on my shoulder.

Colby glared at Brad. "Step off, man," he snarled. Brad made an indignant sound and started to argue, but I shushed him and gently pushed him away.

Colby took hold of my upper arm and started to pull me across the dance floor. "Colby, what the hell?" I screeched. He didn't reply. When I realized he was taking me to the VIP area, I froze. "No," I said thickly. Suddenly my mouth was very dry and my legs were incapable of moving. "Colby, please. I can't see him. Let me leave," I pleaded. My heart rate had doubled and I honestly thought I was going to vomit.

Colby ignored me and pulled me into the VIP room. The loud room fell completely silent as I stumbled in. Sid slowly turned around and I noticed the blood drain from his face as our eyes met. Colby steered me across the room until Sid and I were standing inches apart.

"Talk." Colby ordered.

"Hi," Sidney said quietly, a happy smile spreading across his face. He raised his hand like he was going to give me a hug, then dropped them, obviously deciding against it.

"Hi," I replied with a shaky voice. I bit my bottom lip—a nervous habit I had acquired sometime in high school—and swallowed hard.

"Let's go over here." Sid placed his hand on the small of my back and a wave of contradictory emotions washed over me. I wanted to brush his hand away, but his touch made my skin tingle pleasantly. He led me to the far corner and said, "So, uh, how's everything?"

"Okay. You guys won tonight," I replied awkwardly.

"Yeah. Big win." There was a long silence and Sid rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. "I'm sorry Army dragged you in here…"

"It's okay." I paused as I felt my entire body aching to be touched by Sidney. My heart was pounding in my ribcage, my stomach was tied in knots, and my entire body felt weak. "I miss you."

After a slight hesitation, Sidney tucked my hair behind my ear and gently brushed my cheek with his thumb. I felt the familiar white-hot electric shock run through my body and tears sprang to my eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Karine," he whispered.

I couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my face. "I know," I choked.

He pulled me into a tight, warm hug and I began to sob. All the bad feelings melted away. I felt so safe in Sidney's arms, and I knew everything he had done was a complete accident. I couldn't be angry with him anymore; all I could feel was complete elation as I felt his heart beat and heard him whisper a thousand I'm sorry's into my ear.

Sid cupped my face in his hands and looked me straight in the eye. "We're okay?"

I took a deep breath. I wanted nothing more than to go home with Sidney and have everything be okay again, but things weren't that simple. "Sid...I can't make you choose between me and hockey. I know you have a lot to deal with and the last thing you need is a nagging girlfriend. So...I think maybe if we didn't see each other anymore, you would be able to focus better and you wouldn't be so stressed out," I replied quietly. I averted my eyes to the floor and braced for Sidney' reaction.

"No," he replied in a surprisingly firm voice. "You weren't nagging me—you were trying to help. I know I take every game way too personally, and I'm going to work on that. Because nothing has ever meant more to me then hockey until I met you. I love you, Karine. I know I fucked up and you know I'm sorry. It will never happen again. From now on, I'm leaving everything on the ice." He paused. I couldn't bring myself to meet his eyes. I was too afraid I would start crying again. "Now," he continued, "you can leave without me tonight but you and I both know it won't be over. I won't let it mean way too much to me for me to watch you walk away."

A smile formed on my face and I looked into Sidney's chocolate brown eyes. I knew he always got what he wanted, no matter how hard he had to work for it. That's why Gretzky dubbed him 'The Next One,' and that's how I knew he would do everything possible to fix us.

"Promise?" I asked.

"Promise," he replied determinedly.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Another week passed, and Sid and I were still not speaking. I had debated several times about calling him, but as my thumb hovered above the green 'Send' button I would change my mind. Things were still too fresh in my mind—I had seen Sidney's temper, and until I could ensure he would never lash out at me like that again I didn't want to speak to him.

On Thursday, Aunt Nathalie called me. "I just spoke with your mother. She and your father are going to be in town for the weekend."

"Oh, yeah, I'd forgotten." I had a fuzzy memory of my father calling last week and telling me he would be in Pittsburgh looking at some high school kids for the Canadiens. He was a scout, and he had the opportunity to travel throughout the United Sates and Canada, looking for fresh talent for Montreal.

"We're going out to dinner Friday night." She emphasized the word 'out.' Meaning I wouldn't be in Uncle Mario's house. She definitely knew Sid and I were having problems and she wanted to avoid the possibility of an unpleasant reunion during a family dinner.

"Great. I'll be there." I snapped my phone shut and slouched onto the couch. Seeing my parents was a chore—especially my mother. The last time we had spoken was during the Montreal game in late October. Apparently during intermission the commentators mentioned that Sid was dating Mario Lemieux's niece, and my irate mother called and demanded to know why she had to find out about my boyfriend from a hockey announcer.


Friday evening, I hurried home from work and changed into a black dress that was parent-appropriate. Meaning it was mid-shin length with three-quarter sleeves and a modest scoop neck. It looked like it belonged on a middle aged woman, but I couldn't bring myself to care. I wasn't trying to impress anybody.

I arrived at the restaurant fifteen minutes late. As I took my seat, my mother sent me a disapproving glance and my father told me my dress was very nice. Then I braced myself for the firing of questions.

"Why couldn't Sidney join us?" my mother asked. They hadn't met Sid yet. I had been trying to put it off and save him from my conservative, judgmental parents.

I noticed Aunt Nathalie's eyes flicker to me momentarily. "We're taking a break." I had been using that phrase a lot in the past week. It sounded a lot better than 'We're not speaking to each other.'

"I see," my mother sniffed. "That didn't last long. Although I'm sure you two were dating long before I knew anything about it."

I took a sip of water and ignored her.

"Are you alright, ma petite ange?" my father asked. I smiled. I had always been my father's 'little pumpkin.' "At least you two didn't get too serious. You've only been together a month, yes? So that's what, a few dinner dates?"

When it came to boys, my father lived in this alternate super conservative universe. Uncle Mario made a strange sound, like he was trying to choke back a laugh. Then I'm pretty sure Aunt Nathalie kicked him in the shin, because he colored and hid behind his menu.

"Could we talk about something else?" I suggested in a strained voice.

The conversation turned to my job. My mother couldn't understand why I was happy doing such dull work. "If you had to be in business, why couldn't you do marketing? That's slightly more appealing."

I clenched my jaw, plastered on an obnoxious fake smile, and managed to make it through dinner without throwing something. As we were getting ready to leave, my father suggested I show him and my mother my apartment.

"Why don't you come over tomorrow?" My apartment was a disaster area—empty takeout containers littered the kitchen and had begun to overflow into the living room, my bed wasn't made and most of my clothes were on the floor.

"I have to go to three games tomorrow," my father replied.

"I thought we could go shopping," my mother added.

"Oh. Yeah. Great." Inside, I was screaming NO NO NO. Shopping with my mother was more stressful than a final exam. Or a possible season-ending playoff game. Or being mugged at gunpoint.

"We won't stay long," my father said with a cheerful smile.

My parents followed me in their rented car to my building and parked beside me. "The building is nice," my mother observed in her least-condescending tone.

"It's brand new," I replied, leading them into the lobby. We took the elevator to my floor and I winced slightly before opening the door. "I really haven't had time to clean…"

My mother gasped when she stepped inside. "Karine, this is disgusting!" Her eyes scanned the dirty dishes and other random trash that was on every surface of my living room and kitchen.

"I'll clean tomorrow," I said sheepishly.

My father had made his way into my bedroom. "You know, I've always found that making the bed makes the entire room look better," he called. I rolled my eyes. My father had probably never made a bed in his life. I stepped into my bedroom and kicked a pair of red lace panties under my bed. Daddy didn't need to see that. "Other than your 'decorating,' the place isn't bad. It would be beautiful if you actually cleaned up after yourself."

I heard a clatter of dishes as my mother loaded my dishwasher. Always the perfectionist, she was probably about to go insane surrounded by my mess.

"Ah, Karine?" My father was peering into my closet. He pulled out one of Sid's suits and looked at me over his glasses. "Whose is this?" It was an inane question—he knew it belonged to Sidney. I think he was just hoping he wouldn't get the answer he was expecting. I prayed he didn't start going through my dresser. Somehow I couldn't see him finding a drawer full of Sidney's boxers ending pleasantly.

"Oh, I picked up Sidney's dry cleaning one day. I haven't had the chance to give them to him yet," I lied.

"Ah," my father replied, replacing the suit and looking very relieved. They left after my mother cleaned my kitchen and living room. She wanted to start on my bedroom, but I managed to keep her out. It was nearly midnight and if I was going to shop with my mother on Saturday, I needed a full nights sleep.


"So what happened between you and Sidney?" my mother asked as she tested perfumes at the makeup counter in Macy's.

"His temper got the best of him," I replied. I didn't need to go into detail. Not with her. "I told him I wanted some space."

"Ah. So you're punishing him for getting cocky."

"No, mother," I snapped. "I am not punishing him. Sid's under a lot of pressure, and I think he needs to calm down and relax a little before we start seeing each other again."

She sighed quietly. "Whatever, Karine." She shoved her wrist under my nose and ordered me to smell. "What do you think?"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I took a deep breath before entering the locker room after Monday night’s game. The Devils had won by a goal, extending the Penguins’ losing streak to four games. The locker room was eerily quiet. A few guys glanced up when they heard me enter, but most eyes remained fixated on the floor, including Sidney’s.

“Ready to go?” I asked him quietly. He didn’t reply—he just slung his bag over his shoulder and walked out of the locker room, his head hanging low.

The tension in the car was palpable. The usually short ride home seemed to take twice as long as usual, and even when we entered the apartment Sidney had still not spoken.

Without a word, Sid sat on the edge of the couch and found the game on our TiVo.

“Sidney…” I protested quietly, but he clenched his jaw and ignored me. I sat beside him and rested my hand on his forearm. “Stop doing this to yourself. I watched you play today—you were the hardest working man on the ice. It isn’t your fault the team lost.” Sid didn’t even look at me. “Come on,” I stood up and tugged on his arm. “Let’s go to bed.”

“Back off,” he muttered, swatting my arm away.

I reached for the remote, but Sid grabbed my wrist and looked at me in a way I had only seen him use on the ice—his eyes were intense, determined, and angry.

“Sid, you’re hurting me.” He was squeezing my wrist so tight his fingers were leaving white marks.

“I said, back off,” he growled, pushing me away a little too violently for comfort.

I was completely shocked. “Get the fuck out,” I shouted, rubbing my throbbing wrist tenderly. “Get the fuck out of my apartment!” Hot tears ran down my cheeks and I ran into the bedroom and locked the door behind me. I crawled under the covers, still wearing jeans and Sid’s jersey, and stared at the ceiling until I heard Sid slam the apartment door behind him.


My alarm went off the next morning, but I was already awake. I had been staring at my wrist for the past two hours, watching tiny bruises form where Sidney’s fingers had been. It took a full minute to summon the energy to reach over and turn off my alarm clock.

I didn’t get out of bed. Instead, I picked up my cell phone, noticing I had seven new messages, and dialed Christopher Fox’s number. I got his voicemail and left him a message saying I had the flu and I wouldn’t be able to come in today.

The seven voicemails were all from Sidney, each one more frantic and apologetic than the last. By the seventh message, Sid sounded like he was in tears. “I’m so sorry. Please, Karine, please call me when you get this. Please. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

I erased it and my eyes returned to my wrist.

At some point, I dozed off and when I woke up it was noon. Sidney had called me four more times, and I was sure my phone at work had been ringing off the hook, too. I had to talk to Sid—there was no way I could just screen his calls for the rest of my life. But at the same time, I didn't want to hear his voice. The thought of seeing him caused my stomach to churn. I knew he was under a lot of stress, but what he did last night was inexcusable.

I flipped open my phone and scrolled to his number. He should be at practice, so I could just leave him a voicemail.

As expected, the phone rang four times before switching over to voicemail. "I think you should stay away for a while," I said simply, snapping the phone shut.

Sid called back an hour later. I swallowed hard and stared at the phone. At the last second, I picked up, knowing that if I didn't talk to him now he'd call back until I did.

"Karine." He sounded relieved and I could tell he was smiling. "Are you okay? I called your office and they said you didn't come in. Do you need me to come over? I'm leaving the arena right now."

"No," I replied thickly. I was on my couch, wrapping leftover Chinese food around my fork. I didn't have an appetite but I knew I should eat something. "I don't want you here."

"I'm so sorry about last night. I wasn't myself."

"I don't care. I don't want you here," I repeated.


"You scared me last night. You hurt me, Sid. My wrist is bruised and every time I think of you I feel like I'm going to vomit. I know you're upset about losing. I know you're under a lot of pressure. But that doesn't mean you can take it out on me. I don't want to see you."

There was a pause, and I was about to hang up, when Sid asked in a damaged, quiet voice, "Is that going to change?"

"I'm not sure," I replied, feeling my heart sink. I snapped my phone shut and squeezed my eyes shut. I swallowed nervously and realized that if I let Sid back into my life, I may always be afraid to say the wrong thing. I knew he had a temper—all hockey players do—but I never, never thought he would purposely hurt me.


The week dragged on. I returned to work Wednesday, feeling exhausted and detached. I went through the motions of working and returning home to an empty apartment everyday. Sid hadn’t called since Tuesday, and I was relieved he was giving me the space I needed.

On Friday, Brad perched himself on the edge of my desk and asked why I wasn’t at Tré with Sidney last night. “The VIP room was packed. It seemed like the entire team was there.”

I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes. The guys probably went to Tré to celebrate their win against the Islanders. I hadn’t gone to the game or watched it on television. I was avoiding everything that had to do with Sidney Crosby.

Brad realized I was upset and apologized. “Sorry, did I hit a nerve?”

“Kinda,” I replied with a weak smile.

“So you two aren’t together anymore?” he asked quietly. It was fairly common knowledge that Sid and I were a couple, thanks to fan blogs and low-quality videos people had posted of us on YouTube.

I hesitated and ran my fingers through my blonde hair. “We’re taking a break,” I replied, using the cliché I detested so much. Everyone knew that ‘taking a break’ meant that a couple was on the verge of a breakup, but neither party wanted to be the one to end it.


My alarm jolted me awake at six o’clock the next morning. I heard Sidney groan beside me and my stomach did a tiny lurch. My mind ran over the events of last night. After leaving the club, Sid and I had returned to my apartment. I had intended for him just to walk me to my door and then go to bed alone, but his passionate goodnight kiss had changed my mind. I had pulled him inside and we had left a trail of clothing leading to the bedroom. I remembered Sid’s face hovering inches above mine, that hungry, determined look in his eye, his breath hot and pleasant against my neck.

I turned the grating alarm off and gave Sid a peck on the forehead. “Sorry,” I whispered. “Go back to sleep.”

I took a quick shower and was surprised to find Sidney in the kitchen. “Morning, beautiful,” he greeted, making me blush slightly. “I made crêpes!”

I wrinkled my nose at the charred mess he slapped on a plate and handed to me. “Looks delicious,” I lied. “But, uh, I don’t think I have time to eat…I still have to get ready for work.” Sid glanced at his ‘crêpes’ with a disappointed look, so I took an obligatory bite. “Yum,” I muttered, forcing myself to swallow.

“I should stick to hockey, huh?”

“Yeah,” I replied with a giggle. I turned to toss my crêpe into the trash and Sid wrapped his arms around me from behind.

“You smell good,” he whispered, burying his face in my hair. I groaned quietly as he kissed my neck. “Practice is optional today—you should call in sick and we can stay in bed.”

I hesitated. After last night, staying in bed with Sidney all day sounded more than inviting. “I can’t,” I eventually replied with reluctance. I turned around to face him and wrapped my arms around his neck. I looked into his soft brown eyes and felt butterflies rise in my stomach.

I pulled Sid into a kiss and wanted nothing more than to drag him back into my bedroom, but a glance at my clock told me I was already running late. “I really have to get ready for work,” I said quietly. Sid pouted and kissed me again. “Sidney.” I pushed him away with a laugh. “You’re going to get me fired.”

“Good. Then I can have you all to myself.”

“I don’t think so, Mr. Crosby. If I have to share you with the world, you have to share me with PPG.”


Time began to pass alarmingly fast, and before it knew it, it was November 6th. Sid and the team had just returned from New Jersey, where they shut out the Devils and ended a two-game losing streak. After a team dinner, Sid invited Colby and Marc-André to my apartment. About a week ago, I had given Sid a key since he slept at my apartment more than he did at Uncle Mario’s, and he had practically moved in. I had even sacrificed some closet space and a drawer for him—a major deal for me, because with the huge amount of clothes I had I needed all the space I could get.

Colby entered carrying a six pack and I swiftly took it away and shoved it in the back of my fridge. “No drinking tonight,” I said. Colby made a face at me and moaned. “You all need to be in peak condition tomorrow so I can watch you kick Daniel Briere’s ass.”

The Flyers were coming to town tomorrow night, and I had a personal vendetta against their star player that began way back when we played PeeWee in Montreal.

“Not a fan, Karine?” Marc-André asked.

“Not at all. We were always on rival teams in PeeWee, and that little fucker would taunt me to no end. ‘Get back in the kitchen, Karine,’” I mocked in a whiny voice. “‘Be careful, you might break a nail.’ UGH! This one time, I got so angry I hit him across the face with the blade of my stick. Best penalty of my career. He bled everywhere.” I sighed happily and remembered sitting in the penalty box, watching a six-year-old Danny clutch his face in pain. “I think he got over twenty stitches.”

Colby stared at me, his eyes wide. “God, you’re so violent.”

“Just don’t piss me off, Army,” I teased.


Philadelphia won the game by a miserable two goals. And Colby didn’t even fight Briere like he had promised.

“I don’t understand why we keep losing,” Sidney said dejectedly when we were back at the apartment. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at his hands. “I just don’t understand.”

I scooted behind him and began to rub his shoulders. “Things will fall into place,” I replied. “Something’s just not clicking, but you guys will figure it out. The team is loaded with talent. You all just need to find the momentum.”

Sid sighed. “We need to get it together, and fast. We can’t keep losing like this if we want to make it to the playoffs.”

“One game at a time, mon cher,” I said quietly, kissing his neck.

He twisted around so he was facing me and began to kiss me ravenously. “I love you,” he whispered as I pulled him down on the bed.

My heart fluttered. “I love you, too,” I whispered back.


Unfortunately, the Pens lost to the Rangers the next night, and again to the Flyers on Saturday. Sidney arrived home on Sunday in a horrible mood.

“You realize that out of six games we’ve played this month, we’ve only won one?”

I didn’t reply; I wasn’t sure what to say or do, so I just let him continue talking.

“What’s our problem? We’re better than this!” He made a frustrated noise and buried his head in his hands. “Do you see what we’re doing wrong?” He was speaking loudly and quickly. He was angry, but only with himself.

I shook my head. “Let’s go somewhere.” Sid stared at me with a blank expression on his face. “You need to get your mind off of this. Come on, you have a game tomorrow night…let’s go unwind.”

“No,” he replied firmly. “I need to watch these games. I need to see what I’ve been doing wrong.” He grabbed the remote and scrolled through the tons of games he had saved on TiVo and played the Tuesday night Philadelphia game. He leaned forward on the couch and stared at the television as if he was hypnotized.

“I’m going shopping,” I said quietly. Sid nodded, his eyes never leaving the TV.

I returned home late that evening and found Sid still sitting in the exact same spot on the couch. The only thing that had changed was the game—he was now watching Saturday’s game against the Flyers.

“Sid, come on.” I tried to take the remote from him but he held onto it for dear life. “This isn’t healthy.”

“Stop it, Karine,” he replied sharply, pushing my hand away. “Look, right here.” He rewound a few seconds and resumed play in slow motion. “See that? I should have had that shot. Or I could have at least passed to Colby…he was wide open.”

“Sidney,” I interrupted him sternly. “Turn of the television.”

“Shh, I’m trying to concentrate.” I positioned myself between him and the TV, blocking his view. “Come on, Karine, get out of the way!” he said, more than a little irritated.

“Give me the remote. You can’t keep obsessing over things you have no control over. You’re not the entire team, Sid.”

“Karine, move.” He raised his voice slightly.

I shook my head and held out my hand. “Remote,” I demanded. He sighed loudly and tossed the remote to me. “Thank you.”

Monday, June 23, 2008


I sighed quietly as the final buzzer sounded. The scoreboard displayed the ugly truth: Penguins 4, New Jersey 5. I waited a few minutes before heading for the locker room. Ordinarily, I would go straight home after a loss, because a room full of sullen hockey players was not a fun place to be. But tonight, Sid and I were going to a club with Colby, Marc-André, Jordan, Erik, Max, Geno, and their girlfriends. I guess that means I’m a girlfriend, too, I thought with a smile as I pushed the locker room door open.

Sid had already showered and changed into a navy suit and was surrounded by journalists. He gave me a small nod and I stood off to the side, out of the way.

“Good luck getting Darryl to go out tonight,” Colby muttered. My mood fell immediately. I was praying the Pens would win tonight, because I knew losses really brought Sidney down—almost dangerously so. Like I had noticed at the first home game, he took every win and loss extremely personally.

“I didn’t wear this outfit to go back to my apartment,” I shot back. I was wearing dark skinny jeans and a black low-cut v-neck top. I had overdone my makeup a little, but I justified it by telling myself it was a special ‘club look.’

The press began to filter out of the room and I approached Sid. He hadn’t moved from the bench in front of his locker and he was staring at his shoes.

“Ready to go?” I asked.

Sid shook his head. “I think I’m just going home.”

I shot Colby a look and he came to stand beside me.

“Sidney Patrick Crosby,” I said in a no-nonsense voice, crossing my arms across my chest. “Get your butt—”

“Your big butt,” Colby interjected, comically mimicking my pissed-off girlfriend stance. A small smile twitched across Sid’s face.

“—off that bench,” I continued.

“I’m really not in the mood for clubbing, Karine,” Sid replied flatly.

“Fine. Do what you want. But I’m going to Tré tonight. Maybe I’ll find someone fun to go home with.” I knew I had struck a low blow, but I wasn’t just being a bitch. I wanted Sid to go out and unwind a little. It wasn’t good for him to sit at home and analyze every play after a loss, which is what I knew he would be doing if I couldn’t drag him to the club.

I spun around and Colby draped his arm across my shoulders in a friendly way. “Let’s go, Blondie. We’ll get you laid tonight.” I smiled at Colby and mouthed, “Thanks.” Colby had done a magnificent job of being both Sid’s best friend and my partner-in-crime. He winked in reply.

“Wait,” Sid called.

Colby and I stopped in midstride. Between the both of us, we really knew how to push Sidney’s buttons.

“I just don’t want to stay out late, okay?” Sid said, intertwining his fingers with mine.

“That’s fine. I have work tomorrow anyway.” We walked hand in hand to his Range Rover.

“You, uh, wouldn’t actually leave with anyone else if I wouldn’t be coming, right?” Sid asked cautiously, like he was afraid of the answer.

I grinned and kissed his cheek. “Of course not. But listen, Sid, you really need to stop taking every loss so personally. You’re not the entire team. No one expects you to be. You guys play as a team, win as a team, and lose as a team. Stop beating yourself up. You’re doing everything you can.”

“Thanks for the pep talk, Coach,” he teased. I smiled and felt the mood in the car lighten dramatically.

We were the last of our group to arrive at the club. Tré was a brand new club in the strip district that had been a warehouse in a former life. Sid led me to a back entrance, where we were guided to the VIP area by a large bouncer. The VIP area was technically its own room, but it felt like part of the regular club because the walls were clear glass. Contemporary gray and black couches were spaced along the back and right wall, a private bar was positioned against the far left wall, and the rest was a spacious dance floor. The club was fairly crowded for a Wednesday night, but we were the only people in the VIP room.

I got myself a drink and joined Sid on one of the couches. He was quieter than usual, but I thought it was a huge accomplishment that I had even been able to get him to come. Even if I did do it by basically harassing him.

I felt my phone vibrate in the pocket of my jeans and looked at the ID. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but I picked up anyway.


“Karine, it’s Brad!” I had forgotten I’d given Brad my cell number after he had gone on a lunch run a few days ago and returned with Eel Roll. I loved sushi, but eel was just something I could not stomach. Brad had apologized and told me the sushi place didn’t have any California Roll left and he picked a random box. To avoid having to eat eel ever again, I gave him my number and told him to call if he wasn’t sure what to get me.

“Hi, Brad!” I stood up and moved to a corner where I could hear better. “What’s up?”

“Well, I’m at Tré right now, and I think I’m looking right at you. Are you in the VIP room?”

I glanced out into the general club area and tried to see him. I spotted him at the bar, sitting on a high stool and staring back at me. “Yeah, I can see you!” I gave him a wave and he waved back.

“How did you get in there?”

“I know some people,” I replied vaguely.

I felt Sid’s hand brush my back gently. “Who are you talking to?” he asked.

“Someone from work. He’s in the club, too,” I replied, cupping my hand over the speaker.

“Karine?” Brad sounded slightly frantic. “Are you with…Sidney Crosby?”

“Yeah,” I replied sheepishly. Sid still had his hand on my back, and I noticed he was peering out into the club, trying to figure out who I was talking to.

“No freaking way. Are you friends?”

“I have to go,” I cut him off quickly. I could tell Sid was getting a little pissed by the fact that I was talking to a guy, and Brad was annoying me. I flipped my phone shut and smiled at Sid.

“Were you talking to that blonde guy?” Sid asked, squinting and still staring into the club.

“Yeah. That’s Brad. He just wanted to say hi.”

“Oh.” I could tell by Sid’s tone of voice he wasn’t very happy.

I heard the opening notes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song “Phenomena” and gasped. “I love this song! Come on, let’s dance.” I tried to pull Sid onto the dance floor, glad for an excuse to change the subject.

“I can’t dance.”

“Everyone can dance.” After some encouragement from Max, Sid reluctantly allowed me to lead him to the dance floor.

“I really can’t, Karine.”

“Sure you can. Here,” I took his hands and placed them firmly on my hips and began to sway with the music. He stood about an arm’s length away from me and just stared at my lower body without moving. “Sidney,” I laughed, “you need to get closer.” I placed my hand on the back of his slightly sweaty neck and pulled him towards me. “See, it’s easy.” I put my other hand on his side and gently added pressure, guiding his body. He tentatively began move with me.

Suddenly, I was very aware of his body pressed against mine. A tingly warmth rushed through me and I buried my face in his neck. I could hear my frantic heartbeat pulsing in my ears, drowning out the music. Sid gripped my hips tighter and I could feel his breath hot against my neck. I ran my hand through his hair and pulled his face to mine. Our lips collided in a frenzy of frantic, hungry kisses. I wasn’t dancing anymore—suddenly my knees felt like Jello. I could hardly stand and the tingly warm feeling had evolved into what felt like a hot electric shock.

I heard someone, probably Colby, let out a high-pitched whistle. Sid broke apart from me and glanced over at his teammates bashfully. Colby, Jordan, and Erik had huge, stupid smiles on their faces. Colby gave me a discreet thumbs-up and I felt color rise to my cheeks. On the other hand, Max, Marc-André, and Geno looked absolutely shocked.

“I think we should go,” Sid said quietly, his mouth pressed against my ear. I nodded in reply and we quickly told everyone goodbye and exited the club.

I couldn’t even get my seatbelt fastened before Sid was attacking me with his lips again. “You are so fucking beautiful,” he murmured into my neck.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I brushed my black pants suit down with a lint roller one last time before exiting my car. I nervously entered the PPG building and rode the elevator to the twelfth floor, where Christopher Fox, my new boss, greeted me.

“Great to see you again,” he greeted with a blindingly white smile and a firm handshake. “How about a tour of the office before you get started?”

Before I could reply he briskly walked from the elevator into a large room filled with a dozen desks. Ten were occupied by identical looking men in dark suits, at one desk sat a youngish woman who looked extremely pissed off at her computer screen, and one was empty save for a computer.

“This is your desk,” Christopher said, running his hand across the faux-wood top of the empty desk. He moved on quickly and pointed to a closed door. “That’s my office,” he unnecessarily explained. CHRISTOPHER FOX was emblazoned on the door in inch-high silver letters. “We have a meeting room here, and a supply and copier room here.” I peeked into the rooms and found them to be painfully ordinary. “Any questions?”

I shook my head, still too nervous to speak.

“Alright then.” He handed me a thick stack of manila folders and flashed me his superwhite smile again. “We'll start you off with this. If you have any questions, just pop in.”

I thanked him and took a seat at my desk, very aware of the eleven pairs of eyes that followed my every move.

Around noon, a tall, blonde man perched on the edge of my desk. “We’re going out for lunch. Wanna come?” he asked brusquely.

“Umm, sure.”

“I’m Brad,” he said, extending his hand.

“Karine,” I replied, purposely omitting my last name.

My eleven coworkers and I left the office and walked down the street to a tiny café. “We usually just order in,” Brad explained as we waited for our orders, “but it’s not everyday we get a new girl.” I noticed how he put extra emphasis on the word ‘girl.’ When I had first entered the office and seen that I was outnumbered four to one, I hadn’t been very surprised. Everyone knew finance was a male-dominated field.

Lisa, my only female coworker, sniffed. “I would rather be eating in the office. I have too much work to do.”

“No one forced you to come,” Matt, a short, slightly overweight, man said with a dramatic eye roll.

“So you’re French, Karine?” Brad asked, ignoring his bickering office mates.

“Not quite. I’m from Montreal.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why are you in Pittsburgh?” I was sitting directly across the table from Brad, so naturally he was commanding most of my attention. Not that I minded—Lisa seemed like a complete bitch and the other men seemed generally uninteresting.

“My uncle lives here, so when I heard about the job opening I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s a nice change.”

"Your uncle...meaning Mario Lemieux?" Matt asked.

I faltered slightly and took a sip of my water. Apparently my reputation had preceded me. "Yeah," I admitted reluctantly.

"That's so cool. Could you get me Pens tickets?" Brad half-joked.

As we ate, Brad and I chatted about the city (he was a Pittsburgher, born and bred), the Steelers (I didn’t know a thing about American football but he filled me in on the basics), and my background.

"Is it weird being Mario's niece? He's a superstar around here," Brad said.

I shrugged. "I don't really think about it. He's just Uncle Mario to me."

"So do you know the team?"

"Personally?" Brad nodded. "Um, I've met a few," I replied evasively.

"Do you have a boyfriend?" Matt asked suddenly.

I smiled into my drink and fiddled with my napkin.

"That's an extremely personal question, Matt," Lisa said disapprovingly.

"Yeah, I guess. I'm kind of seeing someone." I kept my answer very vague, both because I wasn't sure if Sid and I were actually a couple, and if we were, I didn't want the entire world to know quite yet. We had spent most of yesterday together, but it wasn't what I would classify as a "date." It was more like two friends hanging out. We played a little hockey, then went back to Uncle Mario's and watched The Mighty Ducks—a personal favorite.

Brad's eyes met mine and I saw a small frown appear on his face. "So, what do you think of PPG?" he asked. In an instant the frown had vanished.


I returned home around five, feeling delightfully tired and happy. Although my job was somewhat tedious and rather unimportant, I liked it and generally liked my coworkers. Brad seemed like a nice guy and made me feel comfortable. As for the others...well, it didn't matter. They were only coworkers.

I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket and looked at the ID. Sidney was calling me.

“Hi!” I greeted him with excitement. We had just seen each other yesterday, but I was already missing him.

“Hey. How was work? Tell me all about it.”

“It was alright. The job itself isn’t anything to be excited about, but some of my coworkers seem cool. I don’t think I’ll dread getting out of bed everyday.”

We talked some more and made dinner plans for the next night. I snapped my phone shut and sighed happily.


Nerves caused my stomach to clench when I heard Sidney knocking on my door at ten after seven. I checked myself one last time before I answered—I had to admit, I looked good. My blonde, layered hair was perfectly straight and I was wearing just enough makeup to accentuate my blue eyes and fair complexion. My navy cocktail dress looked amazing, too. I ran my hands down my dress and opened my door with a huge smile.

“Hi,” Sid greeted, handing me a single red rose.

“Hi,” I replied. “You look great.” Sid was wearing a black pinstriped suit with a crisp white shirt underneath. The collar of his shirt needed fixing; I raised my hand to smooth it, but quickly withdrew it.

“You, too.” Sid hooked his arm through mine and led me to the elevator and then out of the building.

My palms were sweaty as I fastened my seatbelt. “So, where are we going?” I asked as Sid turned the key in the ignition.


I inhaled sharply. “Aren’t we a little…overdressed?”

Sid hit the brakes and stared at me incredulously. “I’m not taking you to McDonald’s. God, how hopeless do you think I am?”

I grinned with relief. “Pretty hopeless,” I replied truthfully. “I mean, you can’t even dress yourself,” I teased and reached over and smoothed his collar. It had been annoying me since he’d showed up.

“Thanks,” Sid said with a sheepish grin. “We’re going to an Italian place in the Strip District. I’ve never tried it before so hopefully it doesn’t suck.”

It didn’t suck. Actually, the food could have been absolutely horrible and I wouldn’t have noticed—I was so entranced by Sidney I couldn’t taste my pasta. We had both been fairly awkward and nervous at the beginning of dinner, but soon we had eased into a natural conversation. He told me all about his hockey career, staring with his stint with Tim Horton’s PeeWee team. I bored him with details of my life, although he was amused when I told him I was the most penalized player on my team my first year of Secondary.

There was a slight lull in conversation, so I asked when the next home game was.

“Next Wednesday. Against the Devils.”

“Hopefully I’ll be able to come. I wanted to be there for the Montreal game but I needed to get my apartment organized, so I just watched the game on television.”

“Oh. So you saw it.” Sid’s expression darkened slightly and he stabbed his scampi.

“Yeah. It was a good game,” I replied awkwardly.

“Let’s not talk about it,” he said firmly. He paused and his dark mood seemed to have passed. “You start work on Monday.”

I nodded. “I’m nervous.”

“Don’t be. You’re going to be the most beautiful, intelligent girl in the office. In the entire building.”

I grinned. “Nice line.”

Sid smiled and looked to the side. “A little too much, huh?”

“Just a little.”

Before we knew it, it was ten o’clock. “Oh man,” Sid looked at his watch and then glanced at me with a reluctant expression. “We’d better head out…I have to be up early tomorrow. We’re leaving for Toronto.”

We climbed back into his Range Rover and Sid took me back to my apartment building. “I’ll walk you up,” he said, opening the car door for me. He hesitated for a second and then reached for my hand. I noticed it was as clammy as mine and smiled.

“Thanks, Sid. I had a really great time,” I said as we arrived at my apartment door.

“Me, too.”

I paused for a moment and then leaned in and gently brushed his left cheek with my lips. “I’ll see you soon?” I half-asked.

Sid brightened. “I’ll call you.”

“Good luck in Toronto.”

“Thanks.” He gave my hand a light squeeze and walked to the elevator. I closed my apartment door behind me and leaned up against it. My heart was beating so hard I was afraid it would burst through my chest, and then I would die before I actually kissed Sidney Crosby.


When I awoke Saturday morning, I was still giddy. My mind kept reviewing the date over and over. I had had an amazing time—I didn’t feel like I had to put on an act. I was completely at ease with Sid, but somehow nervous around him at the same time. Maybe not nervous, more like expectant. For the first time in my life, I wanted to share my life with someone. But not just anyone…with Sidney Crosby.

I passed the day by shopping, and returned to my apartment to make a quick dinner and settle in to watch the game. The Pens won six to four, and as I watched the team congratulate each other after the final buzzer I couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret that I wasn’t there. I imagined Sid, Colby, Marc-André, and a handful of other guys crammed into a hotel room, celebrating their win.

I flipped open my cell phone and scrolled to Sid’s number. “Congrats!” I texted him, and then pressed the Send button after debating about whether or not I should add “I miss you” to the end. I decided not too, not wanting to seem too eager.

About half an hour later, my phone beeped. I opened it and read the text message from Sidney: “Thanks! Wish you were here to celebrate with us.”

I smiled and cuddled into my bed. Yeah…I had it bad.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


On Monday, I received a call from Allegheny Towers informing me that I could move in at my convenience. I immediately packed up everything I had brought to Uncle Mario’s and hired movers to take the rest of my stuff from my storage unit to my new apartment.

“Thanks so much for letting me stay here,” I said to Aunt Nathalie and Uncle Mario for the millionth time. I gave them both a hug before I loaded the last of my stuff into my car.

“You’d better come visit us,” Aunt Nathalie replied.

“Are you coming to the game tomorrow?” Uncle Mario asked.

I shrugged. “Probably not. I have a feeling my apartment is going to be a disaster area for a few days, plus since it’s against Montreal I’d probably be safer watching it on television,” I replied. Although Colby, Ryan, and a few of the other guys had dubbed me an ‘honorary Penguin’ at the afterparty on Saturday, my heart still belonged to Montreal and I didn’t want to make the boys angry by cheering for the opposing team.

I told Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie goodbye once more and started my car. Sidney was at practice, but I had already talked to him earlier in the morning. We had exchanged phone numbers and he had promised he would visit as soon as he could.

I felt a little sad as I pulled out of Uncle Mario’s driveway. In a way, I wished I hadn’t found an apartment so soon—I felt really comfortable at the large, busy house. Although I was excited to have my own place, I was going to miss constantly having someone around. And, I admitted to myself, I was going to miss Sidney.


Unpacking and setting up my apartment was a major ordeal. By the time the movers were finished, my kitchen and living room areas were a maze of boxes and furniture. I spent all day Tuesday arranging and assembling furniture. I was hoping to go to the game Wednesday night, but I still had a lot of unpacking to do, so I opted to watch it on television. I had conflicting emotions when Montreal beat Pittsburgh three to two. At first, I was happy when my favorite team won, but when they showed Sidney and the rest of the guys returning to the locker room, hanging their heads and looking extremely dejected I regretted cheering for the Canadiens.

Around seven o’clock the next night, my Gilmore Girls marathon was interrupted by a very loud knock on my door. I sighed and dragged myself off of the couch.

“I bought you a blender!” Sid said gleefully as soon as I opened the door.

“And I brought booze!” Colby added, lifting two large brown paper bags up in the air.

“You guys should have called,” I whined. “I look like shit.”

“We don’t care,” Marc-André assured me, entering the apartment behind Sid and Colby. Behind him, Max, Erik, Jordan Staal, and Geno invited themselves in. “Sid told us you moved, so we decided to throw you a housewarming party.”

“Uh huh,” I replied skeptically. “I think you all just wanted to party tonight but no one wanted to have to clean up their place the next morning.”

“Really, Karine, can’t your friends just stop in and say hi?” Sid asked, looking hurt.

“Make yourselves at home, guys,” I said sarcastically. Colby was setting up the blender and pulling bottles of alcohol and cocktail mixes from his bags, and Marc-André and the rest of the guys had taken over my living room and had tossed my Gilmore Girls DVD on the floor.

“You’re not mad, are you?” Sid asked quietly.

“No. I was getting kind of lonely anyway.” I gave him a small smile.

“Yo, Karine, do you have an X-box?” Jordan called from my living room.

“Uhh, no.”

“What?!” Marc-André stared at me in disbelief. “Everyone has an X-box!”

“No, every guy has an X-box,” I corrected.

“It’s cool,” Erik interrupted. “I brought mine.” He unzipped his duffle bag and pulled out the game system, along with a ridiculous amount of games.

“Colby, make me something strong,” I said. “I have a feeling I’m going to need it.”


A few hours later, everyone but Sidney had left. He was stretched out on my couch, about to pass out.

“What time is it?” he asked drowsily.

“Almost four,” I replied. Colby and the rest of the guys had left a short time ago, but Sid stuck around and offered to help me clean up. Not surprisingly, the boys had made a huge mess of my apartment.

“I guess I should go.”

“You could stay here if you want,” I suggested timidly. “I mean, if you’re too tired to drive.”

Sid sat up and looked at me with an unreadable expression. He stared at me so intensely I started to feel self-conscious. “What?” I asked, feeling blood rush to my face.

“Would you like to go to dinner with me?”

“Isn’t it kind of a weird time for dinner?”

Sid rolled his eyes. “I mean tomorrow night. Well, I guess technically tonight. Friday night.”

“I’d love to.” I felt my stomach do a tiny flip. Finally, I thought. Sid was right about me making excuses. The truth was, I had always been afraid to get too close to people, especially men. But I could already feel myself falling for Sidney Crosby. Although we didn't know each other very well, I trusted him and I was willing to take the risk and go out with him.

“Great!” Sid replied enthusiastically. “I mean, cool,” he amended, trying to hide his excitement. “I’ll pick you up at seven.”

“Perfect.” He told me goodbye as he slipped on his shoes and left my apartment. When he closed the door behind him, I turned off the lights and flopped into my bed. I felt an unfamiliar feeling rise in my core; a mix of tension, excitement, and nerves. Honestly, no other guy had made me feel this way before.


Uncle Mario, Aunt Nathalie, and I arrived at the arena about an hour before faceoff. I sat in Uncle Mario’s owners box and watched the Penguins and the Ducks do warm ups. I was wearing Sid’s jersey and my eyes kept finding number 87 doing circles on the ice.

“Hi, everyone,” Trina Crosby greeted brightly as she entered the box. Her husband, Troy, and their daughter, Taylor repeated the greeting.

Uncle Mario shook Troy’s hand and hugged Trina. They made small talk about the season and hockey in general before Uncle Mario thought to introduce me. “This is my niece, Karine. She’s staying with us until her apartment is finished.” I stood and shook Troy and Trina’s hands.

“Nice to meet you,” I said with a huge smile.

“Likewise,” Trina replied. I could already tell that Sidney’s mother was the friendlier parent—Troy seemed very nice, but somewhat reserved, like he was unsure of what to think of me.

“What brings you to Pittsburgh?” Troy asked.

“I got a job with PPG. I don’t start until the fifteenth, but I wanted to get to know the city beforehand,” I explained. We chatted some more until the arena went dark and the announcer began to introduce the team. Excitement surged through my body as the guys took to the ice. As Sid met the captain of the Ducks at center ice for the faceoff, I leaned forward slightly, feeling nervous tension build in my body.


The Pens won the game five to four, with Sid getting one assist. Although the Canadiens were still my favorite team, I had never gotten so into one of their games. I had so much excited energy pulsing through me by the final buzzer that I almost felt like I had been on the ice playing as well.

“Let’s go congratulate the guys!” Uncle Mario suggested after most of the 17,000 plus fans had left the arena. I followed Uncle Mario, Aunt Nathalie, and the Crosbys through a labyrinth of hallways, constantly twisting down until we finally arrived at the Penguins’ locker room.

As soon as Sidney saw his family, he jumped up from the bench and hugged them.

“Good game, Sid,” Troy said, patting his son on the back. Sidney beamed proudly. I stood back and allowed him to talk to his family, smiling at how giddy he was. After literally thousands of games, I could still see Sid was still very affected by every win and loss.

“So, what did you think of your first Pens game?” he asked, pulling me into a friendly hug.

I shrugged. “It was alright,” I joked. “I mean, nothing compared to a Canadiens game. You guys don’t even have a French announcer!”

“I’ll see what I can do about that,” Sid replied with a grin. “Hey, we were gonna go to Bugsy’s to celebrate if you’d like to join me,” he said quietly. I noticed he was staring at the Gatorade bottle in his hand and his face was slightly pink, but I couldn’t tell if it was from playing or blushing.

“Sure,” I replied, feeling that stupid grin spread across my face again.

“I have to go talk to the press, but I shouldn’t be too long.”

“Okay. I’ll wait for you here.” He winked at me, sending my stomach into a lurch, and exited the room after giving his family another hug.

The players began to empty out of the locker room and I wandered closer to Sidney’s locker.

“You coming, Karine?” Uncle Mario asked from the doorway.

“No, I’m going to Malone’s with Sid for a while,” I replied. I saw Troy arch his eyebrows and shoot an unreadable look at his wife.

“Okay. We’ll see you later.”

I told everyone goodbye and looked around the empty locker room. I felt bad for whoever had to clean up after the guys—empty water bottles, boxes of pizza, and other trash littered the floor. I turned around to look at Sid’s locker. It was relatively neat, compared to some of the others. Besides his gear, he had a few pairs of mesh shorts and Pens tee shirts folded on a shelf and a picture of him with his family taped on the back wall of the locker. I leaned forward for a better look—it had probably been taken when he was 16. I chuckled quietly when I noticed blonde highlights streaked through his dark hair.

“What’s so funny?” Sid asked from behind me, making me jump.

“Why don’t you have blonde highlights anymore? They looked really good,” I said sarcastically.

Sid groaned and rolled his eyes. “Not my best decision, okay? You ready?”

“Yep.” Sid slung his bag over his shoulder and we walked out of the arena and into the nearly empty parking lot. “You look so much better in black than in red,” Sid said, referring to the fact I was wearing his jersey instead of a red Montreal one.

“That’s a matter of opinion.”


After two hours at Ryan Malone’s, I was feeling an all-too-familiar buzz. I plopped down on the couch and smiled at Sidney, who was staring at me from across the room. He smiled back and shoved his pool cue at Evgeni Malkin and then came to join me on the couch.

“Having fun?” he asked.

“Yes. I don’t know what I’m drinking but it is goooood.”

Sid laughed and took a sip of his own beer. His brown eyes were slightly glassy and I could tell he was feeling pretty good himself.

“So. How is it possible that you don’t have a boyfriend?”

I blushed slightly and took a long drink from the fruity cocktail that Ryan had made me. “Lots of reasons,” I replied evasively. “I never had much time for guys. In high school, I was so focused on hockey I didn’t have time for anything else. And in college, I was so into my schoolwork I didn’t want to be distracted by a boyfriend.”

“I’ve always been a hockey maniac, but I had plenty of time for girls,” Sid replied.

“Oh really?” I raised one eyebrow and smirked.

Sid let out an embarrassed laugh and quickly turned the conversation back to me. “You can’t tell me you’ve never had a boyfriend.”

“Nothing serious. I’ve had a few flings here and there but nothing long term.”

“So now that you’re over your hockey obsession and you’re done with school, does that mean you’re on the market?”

“On the market?” I repeated. “I didn’t realize I was a piece of real estate. But no, I am not ‘on the market.’ I’m going to be really busy with moving and starting my job.”

“You’re making excuses.” I stared into my drink, unsure of what to say. To my relief, Evgeni came over at that moment with a tray of shots.

“Make Canada proud,” he said to us with a thick Russian accent. He handed us both a shot glass full of vodka and then took one for himself. He downed it without flinching and motioned for us to do the same.

“This isn’t fair, Geno,” Sidney replied. “This stuff was probably in your bottle.”

“No excuses,” Geno replied.

I grinned and tapped my shot glass against Sid’s. “To Canada,” I toasted.

“To Canada,” he repeated, emptying the glass.


The Pens played their first game of the season in Carolina, on October 5th. Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie had invited me to join them for the game, but I had opted to stay in Pittsburgh and watch the game with the kids. It was a frustrating game to watch, with the Pens scoring only one goal and losing four to one.

I woke up the next morning at six o’clock, two hours earlier than usual. I groaned and rolled over. I tried to fall back asleep, but eventually I gave up and took a shower. I went to the kitchen to make some coffee and found Aunt Nathalie pouring milk into four cereal bowls for the kids.

Bon matin!” she greeted me. Lauren entered the kitchen with the skirt of her school uniform pinned up, making it two inches shorter than usual. “No, Lauren. Roll it down,” Aunt Nathalie said sternly, pushing her out of the kitchen.

Lauren groaned and stomped to her bedroom. “You realize she’ll just re-pin it when she gets to school,” I said, taking a sip of coffee.

“Don’t tell me this, Karine,” she sighed. I helped her place the cereal on the kitchen island and she called for the kids.

Sidney entered the kitchen with Austen slung over his shoulder. He grunted and plopped Austen down on one of the chairs at the kitchen island. “You’re getting too big for that, buddy,” he joked, fluffing his hair.

“Morning, Sid. You’re up early,” Aunt Nathalie placed a gallon of milk on the island and asked what he would like for breakfast.

“Cereal is fine,” he replied, retrieving a bowl from the cupboard. “I want to get to the arena early.”

“Mario said practice isn’t until ten,” Aunt Nathalie replied.

Sid shrugged. “After last night, I feel like I have some work to do before the game.”

Aunt Nathalie shook her head. “You’re going to overwork yourself.”

“Nah,” Sid grinned. “You coming to the game tonight?” he asked me.

“Of course.” The Ducks were playing Pittsburgh tonight at Mellon Arena. It was the first home game of the season, and after last night’s loss I was sure the guys wanted to bounce back and win big tonight.

“My parents left me a voicemail,” he said to Aunt Nathalie. “They said they’ll be here around noon.” Sid’s parents, Troy and Trina, and his little sister, Taylor, were coming for the game tonight. They were staying at Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie’s for the night and then going back to Nova Scotia on Sunday.

“Okay, kids, in the car!” Uncle Mario came into the kitchen and poured coffee into his travel mug. “Morning Sid, Karine.”

“Morning,” we replied in unison. Uncle Mario steered the four children out of the kitchen and gave Aunt Nathalie a kiss.

“Hey,” Sid said to me with a mouth full of cereal, “if you’re not doing anything you should come with me.”

“Why? So you can beat up on me again?” I pouted.

“I need a goalie.”

“I’m not a goalie.”

Sid shrugged. “I’ll find you some extra pads and we can make you a goalie.”

I poured myself another cup of coffee and narrowed my eyes. “I think you just want to pay me back for winning yesterday.”

“You beat Sid?” Aunt Nathalie asked as she loaded the dishwasher.

“No,” Sid replied loudly. “She got a goal because she took a cheap shot. And I decided to end the game after she tried to check me and fell on her ass.”

I rolled my eyes. “He’s just embarrassed he lost to a girl,” I teased.

“You’re coming with me.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Don’t tell me what to do. Besides, having me in the goal would be useless. You might as well be shooting at an empty net.”

“You used to play goalie when you were little,” Aunt Nathalie interjected quietly.

“Fine,” I sighed. “Let me go get ready.” I ran up the stairs and pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a Montreal Canadiens tee shirt. I packed my gear into a duffle bag and hurried back downstairs.

“Seriously? You don’t have any Penguins stuff?” Sid asked as I returned to the kitchen.

“Nope,” I replied with a mischievous grin. I was glad Sid was feeling more relaxed around me. It looked like I was right about Marc-André reading too far into it.


We arrived at the arena about an hour later. Sid led me into a crowded equipment room and tossed a tattered pair of goalie pads to me. I held them up and laughed, seeing that they went to my chest.

“Marc-André is, like, six four. I’m five eight. This isn’t going to work.”

Sid laughed and took the pads. “Alright. We can just play some one-on-one. But no cheap shots. And you need to play hard,” he said seriously. “I need practice. And I need you to take off that shirt.” I raised my eyebrows and crossed my arms across my chest as he blushed furiously. “No, I mean…here.” He threw a jersey to me and hurried out of the room. I held it up and saw a golden “C” in the top left corner of the black home jersey.

I returned to the locker room, where Sid was pulling his practice jersey over his pads. “Are you sure it’s okay for me to have this?” I asked.

“Yeah. They give me tons. You brought your pads, right?”

“Yep,” I replied, pulling them out of my duffle bag. Sid left the room and I got suited up. I smiled as I pulled his jersey over my head.

I walked through the hallway and stood on the concrete pad that led onto the ice, not even noticing Sid was waiting for me at center ice. My eyes scanned the arena and I was overtaken by its size. I had been in professional arenas before, but never when they were empty. My mind flashed back to all those years ago when I told people I was going to be the first girl to go pro.

“You alright?” Sid asked, leaning on his stick.

“Yeah,” I replied, snapping back to reality. “You’re really lucky, you know?”

Sid smiled. “Yeah, I do.”

“When I was six, I was convinced I would be the female Wayne Gretzky,” I told Sidney, still gazing at the thousands of empty seats around us.

A playful smile fluttered across Sid’s face. “You still have time.” I rolled my eyes. “Did you play in college?”

I shook my head. “No. But I lived and breathed hockey in high school. I was obsessed.”

Sid dropped the puck on the ice and bent his knees. “Let’s see what you got, Blondie.”

We played real, intense, competitive hockey for the next hour. Sid didn’t go easy on me just because I was a girl, which I respected. At one point, he shoved me against the boards so hard I fell and had a hard time getting back up.

“Did I hurt you?” he asked, skidding to a stop beside me. His face was full of concern.

“No,” I lied through gritted teeth. As I inhaled I felt a sharp pain shoot through my body. “My ribs.”

He pulled me up and helped me over to the bench.

“Here,” he said, handing me a water bottle. “Try to take deep breaths.”

After a while, it didn’t hurt to breathe anymore. I stood up and stepped onto the ice. “So, what was it? You had three, right? And I made two.”

“No, we’re done,” Sid replied.

“I’m fine.” I stubbornly skated to center ice and got ready for a face off. “Get over here, Crosby.”

Sid grinned and joined me. “I don’t want to hear you whining if you can’t breathe later.”

We played until 9:30. I was drenched in sweat and absolutely exhausted, and despite playing my absolute best I still lost by two goals. Sid, on the other hand, was just getting started. If I hadn’t been on the ice, I wouldn’t have believed he’d just played two and a half hours of hockey. “Just a warning, you might see some naked Penguins,” he said as he opened the locker room door.

“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” I joked with a smirk as I followed him into the locker room. About half the team was there, getting ready for practice.

“Woah.” Ryan Malone’s eyes darted from Sid to me. “What have you two been doing?”

A few guys laughed as Sid blushed. I flicked my hair out of my sweaty face and pulled off Sid’s jersey, revealing my Canadiens tee-shirt.

“The Canadiens? Why?” Malone teased.

Je suis Quebecois. J’adore le Canadiens,” I replied. I handed the jersey to Sid.

“No, keep it,” he replied, pushing it back to me. “Wear it tonight.”

“Ooooohhh,” Colby teased quietly. Sid turned around and glared at him.

“Thanks,” I replied with a huge smile. I told everyone goodbye and went into the away team’s locker room to change out of my pads and sweaty clothes. I walked to my car and noticed I had a silly grin plastered on my face. I half-wished Sid didn’t have practice so I could spend the rest of the day with him.


The next day, I hopped into my newly purchased red Ford Focus and drove into Pittsburgh. Earlier that morning I had scoured the newspapers and made some phone calls. After asking Aunt Nathalie about certain neighborhoods, I produced a list of buildings I wanted to tour today.

I looked at a few complexes in the North Shore and a handful of buildings in the Downtown area. As soon as I entered Allegheny Towers, a brand new building only a few blocks away from PPG’s offices, I knew I wanted to live there. The building supervisor told me that most of the apartments were already full, but construction was being completed on the top two floors, and twelve more apartments would be ready in a week. He put my name on a short waiting list and assured me he would call as soon as there was an opening.


“I found an apartment today,” I told Uncle Mario at dinner that evening. “The building is called Allegheny Towers; it’s downtown, really close to where I’ll be working. They’re still working on it, though, so I can’t move for another week.”

Uncle Mario sighed dramatically. “Well, I guess that’s okay. I was planning on kicking you out tomorrow, but Alain would be pretty upset.”

I grinned. “Yeah, my father wouldn’t be too pleased to hear I’m living on the street.”

“We can put up for you for another week. Do you have any plans for tomorrow?”

“Not really. I was going to do more apartment hunting but I’m number nine on a list for twelve apartments, so I’m just going to hang out here I guess.”

“You should stop by practice. It’s from eleven to one, at Iceoplex in Southpointe.”

“Sure,” I replied. “I was actually looking for somewhere to skate today. Would I be allowed to take the ice after practice is over?”

“Of course. I’ll give you directions after dinner.”


I left for Southpointe at 11:30 the next day and arrived at Iceoplex around noon. A number of fans were seated behind the north goal, watching the team practice. I spotted Uncle Mario with a few other men on the empty away bench.

“Hi, Karine!” he greeted as I look a seat on the end of the bench. I placed my skates, stick, and puck on the floor behind me. He introduced me to the men he was with—they were all high-up team officials. I watched the guys do drills as Uncle Mario discussed franchise matters with the men.

Sidney skated near the bench and nodded in greeting. I gave him a small wave. I saw Colby chatting with a few players I hadn’t met. He pointed in my direction and I blushed slightly, knowing he was talking about me.

After Coach Therrin made the team do suicides, he ended practice early. The team retreated to the locker room and I pulled on my skates. I dropped my puck and stepped onto the ice and felt a rush of adrenaline surge through my body as I dribbled the puck towards the south goal. I shot at the net and skidded to a stop.

“Karine?” Sidney called from the concrete area that led off the ice. “What are you still doing here?”

“I wanted to skate a little before I went home.” I skated to him and leaned against the boards. “Wanna play?”

"Sure." Sid smiled and put on his skates.

I met him at center ice for the faceoff. “I promise I’ll go easy on you,” he said.

A familiar mix of anger and adrenaline began to rise. My heart began to pound in my chest and my breathing quickened. I was a naturally competitive person, especially when it came to hockey.

“Ready? One, two, th–” I shoved Sid before he could finish counting and took off with the puck.“Cheap shot!” he shouted as he scrambled to his feet. I shot the puck into the net and spun around to face him. “No more of that,” Sidney said, stopping in front of me and spraying me with ice. “This is just for fun.”

“That was fun.”Sidney shook his head and skated back to center ice. I won this faceoff too, but this time without knocking him over. I skated close to the wall down the ice, with him right beside me. He bumped into me, not overly hard, but enough to throw me off balance. I fell into the wall and he stole the puck.

“Hey! Don’t hurt le petit lapine!” someone yelled. I looked at the bench and saw Marc-André leaning over the bench watching us with a huge smile on his face.

“I’m fine,” I called back, skating hard to catch up with Sidney. I tried to check him into the wall unsuccessfully, and ended up falling on the ice.

“Alright,” Sidney laughed and helped me up. “You’re a little too physical for a pick up game. Let’s go.”

“You’re lucky I don’t have my pads,” I told him as we skated to the bench.

Sidney rolled his eyes. “Uh huh.”

“I really can’t have you beating up on my captain like that,” Marc-André said to me as we left the ice. “You’re going to bruise his ribs and his ego.”

I laughed and poked Sid playfully with my stick. “Sorry about the hits. I get a little carried away.”

“I can tell,” Sid replied, cracking his neck.

“So who won?” Marc-André asked.

“I did!” I replied cheerfully.

Sidney scoffed. “Hardly. If that had been a real game you would have been in the penalty box.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I teased.

We stepped out of our skates and walked out of the building.

“So, when do we get to meet your boyfriend?” Marc-André asked coyly. I noticed his eyes momentarily dart to Sidney, who was staring very intently at his feet.

I blushed slightly and laughed. “Not anytime soon.”

“Aw, come on, we’re not that bad.”

“No, no,” I replied quickly. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“Ohhh.” Marc-André smirked, raised his eyebrows, and glanced at Sidney again. “I see.”

I smiled awkwardly and pulled my car keys out of the pocket of my jeans. “I’d better go. I promised Lauren we’d go shopping when she gets home from school.” Lauren, Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie’s oldest child, was 13. It had been an entire week since I had been shopping—a personal record—so I had offered to take Lauren shopping so she could show me the best places.

“Yeah, I’d better head out too.” Sid told us goodbye and jumped into his Range Rover.

“You know,” Marc-André said as I turned to get into my car, “I don’t see Darryl like that too often.”

“Like what?” I asked, confused.

“Nervous,” he replied with a charming smile.

“I don’t…” Marc-André rolled his eyes.

“Didn’t you notice how he couldn’t make eye contact with you when I asked if you had a boyfriend? I saw it when we were all at Colby’s, too. The second you sat by him on the couch he tensed up. Sid has a lot of pressure, but you really stress him out.”

Now it was my turn to stare at my feet. I ran my fingers through my hair and blushed, unsure of what to say. “I think you’re reading too far into it.”

Marc-André shrugged. “We’ll see.”


“Have you had a chance to see the city yet?” Uncle Mario asked as he twisted spaghetti around his fork.

“Not really. My plane didn’t land until one, and I just wanted to get here. I’m a little nervous to explore by myself. I did a little research before I left Montreal, though, and I found a few buildings that I’m going to check out this week. Heinz Lofts…it’s on the North Side I think?”

“North Shore,” Uncle Mario corrected. “That’s where Heinz Field and PNC Park are. Where the Steelers and the Pirates play,” he explained.

“I also found a building really close to Mellon Arena…Washington something.”

“Washington Place?” Sid offered.

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“A few of the guys live there. Some of the apartments are pretty nice…I’m actually going to Colby’s tonight. You could come along and check out the place if you’d like.”

“That’d be great!” I replied. I chastised myself for sounding a little too eager. “I mean, if you don’t mind me tagging along.”


I helped Aunt Nathalie clear the table after dinner and returned to my room to change and get ready to go to Colby Armstrong’s apartment. Sid knocked on my door at eight and as I climbed into his black Range Rover I felt a tiny knot form in my stomach. Although people often described me as charismatic and I often made a very good first impression, I still got very nervous around new people. Plus, it didn’t help that I was with Sidney Crosby, who besides being a superstar in Canada was also ridiculously attractive in person.

“Mario told me you got a job with PPG.” I was thankful he initiated conversation as we pulled onto the freeway and headed toward the city.

“Yeah. I’ll be working as a financial analyst…I’m actually surprised I got the job. They were looking for someone with experience. I was pretty lucky.”

“I’m sure your last name had something to do with it,” Sid replied, smirking.
My eyes narrowed and I glared at him before I could stop myself. I opened my mouth to argue, then shut it again, deciding to tastefully ignore him instead. I crossed my arms across my chest and stared directly ahead.

“I’m sorry,” Sid apologized quickly. From the corner of my eye I could see he was blushing slightly. He had realized he’d offended me. “I’m sure you’re more than qualified, it’s just when people see the name Lemieux…”

“The name doesn’t mean a thing off the ice,” I shot back.

“I’m sorry,” Sid repeated.

The rest of the ride passed in uncomfortable silence. We finally pulled into a parking lot adjacent to the Washington Place Apartments. I stepped out of Sid’s Range Rover and looked around. The building was right on the edge of downtown, which would be convenient. The building itself was very contemporary-looking: it was longer than it was tall, with very large windows and a few balconies. I looked over my right shoulder and saw Mellon Arena a few blocks away. Sid led me into the lobby, which was both modern and comfortable.

“Army lives on the fifth floor,” Sidney told me when we got in the elevator. I nodded curtly. I wasn’t making an effort to be rude to him—I was just very offended that he suggested I only got the job because my name is Karine Lemieux. It made me wonder how many other people thought the same; I would really have to prove I belonged at PPG when I started working.

“Don’t hate me,” Sidney said, only half-serious.

I looked at him and grinned. “I don’t.”


“Promise. I’m not mad at you. It’s just that for every team I played with, all I’ve heard is how lucky I was to be a Lemieux. Like I was royalty or something. I always had to work twice as hard to prove to myself and my teammates that I had talent, not just the name. And I hate to think that I’m getting preferential treatment in my career too.”

The elevator arrived on the fifth floor and I followed Sid down the hall. He knocked twice and the door flung open. Colby Armstrong gasped audibly when he saw me standing beside Sidney.

“Darryl brought a lady friend!” Colby said loudly to the occupants of his apartment. I saw a few younger guys craning their necks, trying to see past Colby and get a glimpse.

“Darryl?” I repeated, raising an eyebrow.

“It’s my nickname. I got it in Junior League and it just kind of stuck,” he explained as we entered Colby’s apartment.

“Introduce us to the girl!” Colby demanded with a huge smile.

“This is Karine Lemieux,” Sidney said. “She’s Mario’s niece. She’s looking for an apartment so I thought I’d show her the building.” Colby nodded and smirked skeptically. “Karine, this is Colby Armstrong, Erik Christenssen, Marc-André Fleury, and Max Talbot. And that’s Colby’s girlfriend Lauren, Marc-André’s girlfriend Sylvie, and Max’s girlfriend Dominique.” I told everyone it was nice to meet them and moved into the living room with Sidney.

Colby tossed a beer to Sid and then held one out to me, but pulled it back quickly. “Wait,” he teased. “I can’t be caught giving alcohol to minors.”

“Sid’s only 20,” I reminded him.

“He doesn’t count. He’s the captain.”

“I’m 22,” I replied, snatching the beer from his hand.

“Ooh, Sid, an older woman!” Marc-André teased. Sidney blushed and I rolled my eyes.

“So, Karine, what brings you to Pittsburgh?” Max asked.

“I got a job with PPG as a financial analyst.”

Colby made an impressed sound and said, “Wow, Darryl, she’s smart. You’d better hold onto her.”

Sid shook his head and laughed nervously. “You realize we just met four hours ago,” I said to Colby.

He cupped his face in his hands and sighed wistfully. “And I can already feel the love blossoming.”

“Leave them alone,” Lauren said with a laugh, perching on Colby’s lap. “Look at poor Sidney. I’ve never seen his face that shade of red.”

I looked at Sid and smiled. He was blushing furiously and avoiding eye contact with me at all costs.


We left shortly after one am. “The guys are all pretty cool,” I said as Sid pulled out of the parking lot.

“Army is so embarrassing,” Sidney replied, shaking his head. “I’m sorry about that.”

I laughed. “Don’t worry about it. He’s funny.”

“They all like you.”

“I’m glad.” We pulled into Uncle Mario’s driveway and Sidney opened the front door for me. “Thanks for taking me tonight,” I said as we walked to our wing of the house. I yawned and stretched before I opened my bedroom door. “Night, Sid.”

“Goodnight.” He hesitated before opening his door and looked at me with a strange expression on his face.

“What?” I asked, suddenly feeling very self-conscious.

“Nothing.” He blushed and shook his head as a smile slowly spread across his face. “Night.”


“Salut, Karine!” Aunt Nathalie greeted me enthusiastically and kissed me on the cheek.

“Bonjour, Aunt Nathalie,” I replied, smiling widely. “Salut, Alexa,” I added, peeking around Aunt Nathalie to greet Alexa, Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie’s youngest child, who was hiding behind her mother.

“Hi,” she said softly.

“Here, let me help you with your bags.” Aunt Nathalie lifted one of my two suitcases and led me up the stairs. “Your room is in this wing,” she said, leading me down a hallway to the right. “You have your own bathroom, and it’s nice and quiet in this area of the house.” We passed a door on the left side of the hall. “That’s Sid’s room. I’m not sure if he’s home.” She hesitated, as if she was going to knock on the door, but then decided against it. “You’ll meet him at dinner. And here,” she said, opening a door a few steps away, “is your room.”

I let my suitcase fall to the floor and surveyed the room. It was bigger than my bedroom at home—in Montreal, I should say, at my parent’s house. A king sized bed rested in the middle of the room, right in front of a large plasma television. A door in the far left corner opened to a small, but gracious bathroom, and a walk-in closet was located on the opposite side of the bedroom.

“This is beautiful. Thank you so much!” I gave Aunt Nathalie a hug. “I really appreciate this.”

“Oh, Karine, it’s nothing,” she replied with a wave of her hand. “You’re family!” She smoothed my duvet cover and told me that dinner was at 6:30, if I would like to join the family and Sidney.

“Of course. I can’t wait to see everyone. It’s been so long!”

Aunt Nathalie left the room and I lifted my suitcases to the bed and opened them. Although I was only planning on staying with Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie for a few weeks at the most, I brought enough clothes to last me for quite some time. The rest of my belongings were in a storage center nearby.

I was very grateful Uncle Mario had offered to let me stay at his home until I could find an apartment of my own. I had graduated from McGill in Montreal in June, and had recently been offered a job by PPG at their headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh. The opportunity was too good to pass up, so I had frantically packed up all my belongings and bought my plane ticket. Although I wouldn’t start work until October 15th, which was two weeks away, I wanted to get to Pittsburgh as soon as possible so I could become familiar with the city and begin apartment hunting. I had planned on staying in a hotel, but Uncle Mario insisted I stayed at his house in Sewickley, saying it was too empty. I had smiled at that comment, because Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie had four children plus Sidney Crosby, the 20-year-old captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, living with him. The more the merrier, he had assured me.

I finally finished unpacking around four in the afternoon, after cursing myself numerous times for bringing so many clothes with me. My closet was half full, and I had at least twice as many more clothes packed in boxes, sitting in a storage shed somewhere nearby. At least I’m prepared for everything, I told myself. I had four cocktail dresses, over a dozen suits in various shades of blue, black, and beige, a ridiculous amount of street clothes, and, of course, all of my hockey gear. Although I didn’t play competitively in college, I was captain of my high school team and had been skating since I could walk. Like most of the Lemieuxs, I had a somewhat unhealthy obsession with hockey. When I was little, I told everyone I was going to be the first girl to go pro. When I realized that was all but impossible, I still played hard and often but slowly switched my focus to school and graduated from McGill with a degree in finance.

My eyes flickered to the door as I heard someone quietly clear his throat. Sidney Crosby was leaning against the doorway with a small, polite smile on his face.

“You’re Karine?” he asked. I stood and took a step towards him.

Ouais. I mean, yeah,” I stammered. Although I had seen Sidney countless times on television, I had never realized how attractive he was. He absent-mindedly ran his hand through his dark, wavy hair and shifted his weight. “Nice to meet you.” I extended my hand and he shook it softly.

“I'm Sid. Sidney Crosby.” Sidney’s brown eyes swept my room, stopping on my hockey pads that were piled in a corner. “You play?” he asked, motioning towards my gear.

“Of course I play,” I scoffed. “I’m a Lemieux.” Sidney grinned widely and his face lit up with amusement. “We’ll have to go one-on-one sometime.”

“Yeah. As long as you don’t mind losing to a girl,” I replied with a smile.

Sidney gave a short laugh and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, okay,” he said sarcastically. He glanced at his watch and excused himself. I watched him walk down the hall and into his bedroom, admiring his amazing body. He was only a few inches taller than me, but he was all muscle. I suppressed a groan as I turned away and closed my door behind me. That boy was gorgeous.