“What color are you wearing tonight?” the makeup artist asked me. Cara showed her a photo of my dress. We were in a salon in Ottawa, a few hours before call for dinner.
“No blue eyeshadow or anything, please,” I asked.
The artist shook her head. “Honey, I’m not sending you out looking like a ten dollar hooker. Maybe a thousand dollars, but….”
Ninety minutes later, Cara and I had been transformed into supermodels. Cara’s blond hair was slicked back with a little bouffant at the top and a very modern, edgy ponytail at the back. Her makeup was a masterpiece – bright colors that didn’t look cartoonish. Hot pink and deep purple eyeshadow combined to pop in a way I couldn’t have imagined.
My long brown hair had been straightened, then curled into flowing waves. It was mermaid hair. Fake eyelashes and several different eyeliners framed smoky, charcoal-shadowed eyes and a pale, just-kissed stain was on my lips.
On the way out of the mall, Cara stopped in front of a store window. I doubled back to find her staring at a pair of absolutely killer heels on display. They were stilettos, very high, with a small platform under the ball of the foot. A single satin bar crossed beneath the toes, the fabric wider at the edges and curving in over the foot. Another band of satin wrapped the ankle. Black ribbon laced along the edges of the colored fabric, and tied a sexy bow at the outside ankle of the top strap.
“Those are the exact color of your dress,” Cara said. “You have to.”
I bought the shoes.
Kris: Downstairs in 15 min.
“Fifteen, Cara,” I called from the bathroom. I finished putting lotion on my legs. From my makeup case, I took out the perfume Kris had given me for Christmas. I dabbed it on my wrists, neck, behind my knees and once in my cleavage.
“Mmmm, that smells good,” she said, coming in next to me. “Zip me up.” Her black, bias-cut satin dress stopped well above her knees.
I slipped into my dress and adjusted it in the mirror. It was form-fitting to say the least, but I thought I looked svelte and healthy. It was strapless and slightly v-necked where it hit just a touch higher above my breasts. The bandage-style tiers fell to a few inches above my knees. I wore Kris’ necklace. Max’s bracelet didn’t exactly match, but the sparkle really completed the outfit. I wore that too.
Finally I sat and strapped on my new shoes. They were high – I might be slightly taller than the guys. I didn’t think they’d mind. We each packed a small clutch purse, then wrapped our jackets around and headed down.
“Whooooooo,” Jordan howled as we entered the lobby. He strode over and grabbed Cara, kissing her. Most of the guys were there – almost all in suits, some without the jackets. Everyone looked expensive. There was a lot of trouble in the room already.
“I dearly hope you’re wearing a dress under that,” Bylsma said to me. My long winter white coat hung past the hem of my dress. “Or we might have a bloodbath in the lobby.”
Max came up next to me. “I hope you’re not wearing one,” he said loudly. Then he whispered, “Anyone who wasn’t in love with you before is now.”
We piled into a couple of SUVs the hotel must have called for us, and drove to a steakhouse downtown. The maître d’ showed us to a private room. Inside the space, I unzipped my coat and handed it to him, then turned. Kris and Sidney were standing together, staring at me. Sid let out a long, low whistle.
“Wow, Kay. You look incredible.” He leaned in, his dark curls brushing the side of my head. I breathed in his cologne. “Too bad Max says we can’t have our secret club meetings anymore.” I almost fell over. My hand flew up to his arm, locking him in place. I forced out a breath. He chuckled into my ear.
“Don’t worry, kitten. It’s for the best. I could fall in love with that dress,” he said. “Just live long enough for my date tomorrow, okay?” He moved away, around the table, and took a seat.
“Tu es plus beaux que les étoiles,” Kris said. “Do you know what that means?”
I shook my head no.
“You are more beautiful than the stars,” he whispered, brushing a soft kiss to my cheek.
He took my hand, led me to the table, and pulled out the chair next to Max. Kris sat on my other side. Across from us, Jordan whispered something to Cara and she burst out laughing.
Dinner was a rowdy affair. With the amount of liquor and wine flowing, I was pretty sure we would max out the Penguins corporate card. I had a steak, and at least one bite from every plate within reach. No one wanted to share my Brussels sprouts. Lucky me.
Bylsma tapped his fork to his glass, calling everyone to attention. “Alright, you fools. Happy New Year,” he raised his glass. “Now, I want to hear one resolution from each of you. Keep ‘em fairly clean.” He nodded at Cookie on his right.
“I resolve to always get out of my room when someone tells me to,” he said, looking right at Sidney.
Don’t look at me, don’t look at me! I exerted my full Jedi mind pressure on both of them. If Max did know something had happened, he was doing the same. It worked – Sid blushed and laughed, but never turned my way.
Flower resolved to never plastic wrap anyone’s hotel toilet again. Billy G resolved to do it in Flower’s place. Cara resolved to meet all of Jordan’s brothers, in case she could do better. Jordan resolved to kill his brothers before that could happen.
Sidney’s turn came and he felt safe looking at me. “I resolve to eat more pre-game meals. And go to the drive-in more often.”
I felt my face flush, but I didn’t turn away. Max didn’t know the significance of that and I didn’t want to give it away by reacting. The resolutions came around to our side. Kris, on my left, went first.
“I resolve to be more brave,” he said. Under the table, his hand touched my leg.
Now it was my turn. I felt the whole room watching me, waiting. There was not a single person present who didn’t know that Max and Kris were both in love with me. Who didn’t know all about us. And they all knew about Sid’s kiss, of course.
“I resolve to resolve,” I said slowly. A few of the guys nodded, and Cara smiled encouragement. “And I resolve to find a place in the Pens budget for all the damage we will do tonight.”
Everyone laughed, and Bylsma clapped. Then it was Max’s turn.
“I resolve to always know what I want, and understand that I cannot always get it.” He looked down and smiled. He touched a single finger to the bracelet on my wrist. “And I resolve to score the Stanley Cup-winning goal again this year.”
The table went nuts. Everyone hurrahed and applauded Max’s audacity.
Piling into the SUVs, I ended up squished between Sidney and Jordan. Sidney looked around, and seeing neither Kris nor Max in the car, put his arm around my shoulders.
“I was kidding about my resolutions. Mostly.” he said softly.
I put my head straight back, into the crook of his elbow. “Danger, Will Robinson,” I said to the ceiling.
Jordan had to practically shoehorn me out of the car. I looked up. “Are we at a church?”
Max handed me a glass of champagne. We were inside the Berkeley Church. The party was called Minutes to Midnight and there were at least 1,000 people. The main area of the church was cleared, lit and liquored. Music poured from the speakers. Somewhere in the sea of bodies was a dance floor.
We followed a host through the crowd. A set of tables had been reserved for us, and I was glad. Once separated, it would be impossible to find anyone again in this crowd. Our tables were a prime location – near one of the larger bars, and within sight of the dance floor. The crowd was well-dressed, young and featured a lot of hot girls in skimpy attire. I saw eyes light up all around the team.
Max swept his gaze around, then turned to me. “Don’t wander off in here, eh? I want to kiss you at midnight.”
Jordan turned up with a tray full of shots, like he’d mugged a cocktail waitress. He passed them around and looked at his watch. “We have well over an hour before midnight,” he said. “Try to pace yourselves!” Then he downed two shots in a row. We all followed suit.
Bottles and mixers arrived, drinks were poured and pounded. We wound our way onto the dance floor. In my crazy shoes, I felt a bit like a stripper. Luckily my dress prevented any really showy moves.
I felt hands at my waist as “Down” by Jay Sean came on. A body pressed against my back and started moving – I could tell it was Kris. I raised my hands over my head and leaned into him. He kept his hands on my hips, measuring my rhythm against his. The music, lights and liquor were making me fuzzy.
You oughta know, tonight is the night to let it go
Put on a show, I wanna see how you lose control
No no no, my good sense was fighting against the blur. I tried to keep my head as I relished the feeling of being so close to him. When the song ended, he mercifully released me and melted into the crowd.
I danced a few more songs before Jordan mimed a drinking motion. He bulldozed through the crowd with us in his wake. Partway through, Max was coming the other way. He took my arm and turned to walk with us.
“Sid needs you. I meant what I said before, but this is different. I feel bad for the Kid. And hey,” Max gave me a sly smile, “I’m feeling dangerous.” He pushed me forward.
Confused, I passed what seemed like a wall of people all looking in the same direction. I walked the path of their line of sight. At the end, Sidney was sitting at the table. As we came through the crowd, he caught my eye and smiled. He pulled out the chair next to him and poured me a vodka cranberry. I glanced up at the onlookers. Almost every one of the women was giving me a nasty look. It took an extra second for them to recognize me. Hands flew up to mouths as people leaned in to discuss this development.
“You shouldn’t be sitting here alone,” I leaned in and said over the music. “The wolves are circling.”
He smiled, placing his hand on my upper arm. “Max and I were kind of enjoying it. I think they were all waiting to see if you’d turn up.” He was casually watching them over my shoulder. “Lean in closer.”
I rolled my eyes. “Everyone here has a camera. I’m sure they’re shooting this now.”
“So let’s give them something to photograph,” he teased. “It was Max’s idea. And I’ve had just enough to drink that I’d love to piss my dad off right now.”
Over Sidney’s shoulder, I met Max’s eyes. He was wearing his troublemaker grin. He narrowed his eyes, giving it a moment of thought, then nodded slightly.
I put my lips to Sidney’s ear and whispered, slowly and very close, “This will have to do, Cros. Let their imaginations run wild.”
Even with Max’s permission and the impulsive feeling they were both giving off, I knew not to kick a hornet’s next. But I had to admit, sitting there, being The Kid’s girl in front of all these people was a heady rush. We didn’t need a public display of affection to seal the deal. I caught Max’s eye and he raised an eyebrow at me. I can resist some things, I told him telepathically.
Our group kept coming back to the tables. I began to feel exposed – a lot of people were half-watching us. We stood, better to shield ourselves from the public eye. I was careful not to stand too close to Sid or Max. Kris walked up and put his hand to my back. I moved slightly, cutting my eyes toward the larger part of the crowd.
“My fan club is here,” I said.
A smirk came to his face. “Well don’t let him kiss him if you don’t want everyone talking about it.” Great, even Kris is feeling reckless tonight. Another round of drinks went down, and we were laughing when the music changed. Instantly Jordan was in front of me.
“Too easy!” he shouted and hauled me in the direction of the dance floor. Everyone else was right behind us as Britney Spears’ '3' came pounding through the sound system.
“How do you know a Britney Spears song?” I yelled when he’d cleared a spot and released me.
“If there’s a song about threesomes, I’m going to know it,” he said, starting to move. “And you guys are fucking ridiculous. I have to make fun of you!”
Kris, Max, Cara, Sid, TK, Cookie and Marc squeezed into our available space. Seconds later a bevy of young women materialized just outside our group. TK and Cookie peeled off to go shopping.
There was no choice but to dance close with everyone at the party. Max was on one side of me and Kris to the other. I did my best to dance in my dress, but it was more of a shimmy. That suited them just fine. Pretty soon I was in the middle of a dance sandwich, Max laughing out loud behind me. Ridiculous is right, I thought.
Are you in?
Living in sin is the new thing.
Knowing I couldn’t fall with them holding me up, I lifted my hands and shook my ass down between them. Kris’ hands were on my hips and Max seemed happy to let him drive.
All around us, anonymous people were dancing the same way. I giggled to myself. I could smell Kris’ cologne and under it, the raw scent of his skin. His face was very close to mine. It was hot, and I was nearing drunk. I put one of my hands on his waist and the other on his shoulder, letting him show me how to move. Max didn’t need directions, swiveling his hips against my ass. He scooped my hair up and dumped it over my shoulder to the front. I could feel his breath on my neck.
Bad thoughts! My brain signaled an impending meltdown. Overload of sexy French Canadian-ness currently touching my body. Words flashed by. Hot. Drunk. Threesome. Thanks, right brain.
Negative! Does not compute! My left brain hollered.
When the song ended I said, “Whew!” and extricated myself from the tangle of bodies. Right into Sidney’s chest.
“I think you owe me one,” he said, threading his arm around my waist.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?”
He shook his head. “I’m sure it’s not. And I don’t care.” He spun me around, putting his back to our group. ‘Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga came on, to the screams of the crowd.
It wasn’t really a close dancing song, though the lyrics were sexy. Sid moved near me without being overt. Most of the partygoers were pretty drunk at this point, and none seemed to be paying any attention to us. They were busy jumping and shaking to the music.
“I think this should be our song,” he said into my ear.
I laughed. “Caught in a bad romance?”
His arms wrapped around my waist, pulling me to him. “I don’t want to be friends.” His voice was husky with liquor and he was smiling slowly, laughing at his own joke. I thought he was going to kiss me for real. But he stopped just in time, and smiled that goofy smile. Drunk, I knew. And feeling uninhibited.
“Not quite midnight yet,” he said.
3 years ago