Is this how a surgeon feels? Andy wondered. She sat in a chair near the window, a selection of local magazines arranged on the low table next to her. A room service menu was open on the desk. Detach yourself emotionally and ignore the beating heart you hold in your hands?
Sidney was in the bathroom. That alone made him feel like a fool. I pay for her to come here and fuck me, and I can’t change in front of her? He fixed the collar on his suit, adjusted the cuffs of his jacket. Everyone said he was too nice. Maybe she appreciates it.
He was no sap. Sid fully intended to make good use of his night with the beautiful brunette in the blue party dress. He just didn’t see a reason to be an asshole about it, treat women the way some of his teammates did. Especially the ones you pay for, he thought with a touch of self-righteousness. They probably get treated like crap all the time. A final fix of his hair and he felt ready.
If she’s smart, she’s looking at the breakfast menu right now.
Andy stared out the window. Sidney Crosby. Holy hell. This was not just a booking, not just a client. This was a national security issue, a fucking international relations disaster waiting to happen. Sidney Crosby hires call girl in DC, Canada declares war on US.
He seemed nice. She was so keyed up that anyone less than the Jigsaw killer would probably have been a relief. Sidney had decided he was hungry, but asked her if she wanted to go out to eat. And he meant it. When she agreed, he took his suit – already picked out – into the bathroom to change. That is cute, she thought despite herself.
“Ready?” he asked. He helped Andy into her coat and led her down the hall.
He’s shorter than Mike, she thought. Wider too, and deeper. Sidney had a more solid stature, weighty and thick with nothing but muscle. Where Mike seemed skinner from having lost weight over the off season, Sidney seemed compact and coiled. His shoulders were wide and his waist narrow, he walked with easy confidence. He was definitely not the mess Mike had been on their first night.
Mike, she kept thinking. Mike, Mike, Mike. Sidney stood close to her in the elevator.
The hotel got them a cab and sent them to whatever restaurant they’d chosen when Sidney called the concierge desk. Andy wondered if they’d had to drop his name to get a table somewhere at 8:30 PM on a Friday night during election season. They pulled up and Andy knew they had: Maestro was considered one of DC’s premiere restaurant experiences.
“I have never been here,” Andy said, breaking the silence.
“Me neither. The hotel says it’s good.”
“Everyone says it’s good.”
Andy kept her eyes glued to the maitre-d’s back as he let them to their table. She did not want to see if anyone in the dining room recognized Sidney Crosby.
Yeah, this is perfect, he thought. He was a little uncomfortable hiring a girl, though he’d done it a few times before. It was just too dangerous for him to pick someone up in a bar and trying to actually date someone in Pittsburgh or Nova Scotia was a fucking circus. Sidney had tremendous willpower and drive, he could go without for a long time. When he felt the urge, he could certainly afford to pay for capability and discretion. On those occasions, he liked to at least take the girl out for a nice dinner. And this one was certainly his type – fit and healthy-looking, thick dark hair and not too much makeup. Almost like a real girl, the mean voice in his head said.
“So I hear you’re a big hockey fan,” he tried. The hockey hooker. That had been his first thought when the answering service had suggested someone named Andrea who was an avid follower of the game. Either it was a convenient lie or this girl was working a real niche market. At the rate his teammates and the other guys hired girls, she probably made more money than half the third-line players.
“I’m a big Capitals fan,” Andy said. She couldn’t help but tease a little. Sidney Crosby! Oh shut up, slut. She was trying to put her mask on, the let her mouth speak without her brain thinking. “I may have said a few choice things about you in the past.”
Sidney made a face. “Ouch. You hardly know me.” And now what you know is even worse, he thought. Maybe this hockey thing was a bad idea.
“I will reserve my judgment for now, I promise.” Andy drained her first glass of wine in one gulp. Sidney pretended not to notice.
As they talked, she relaxed a little. Several glasses of wine helped, but not as much as simply looking at him. Sidney Crosby. So familiar. He was gorgeous, almost intimidatingly so, with full, pink lips and a quick smile. That laugh – almost girlish, definitely a giggle, always surprising – made a few appearances. She was so used to looking at him that she felt like she knew him a little bit. His eyes were more brown than anything she’d ever seen, sometimes gold, sometimes hazel, sometimes almost black in their depth.
Focus, she told herself during lulls in the conversation. As long as they spoke she could keep her mind in check.
I’m laughing too much, Sidney thought. He sensed her reticence and tried to overcompensate for it, laughing at his own remarks. She seemed happy to let him carry the conversation. I’m talking too much about myself.
“Andrea, tell me about you.”
It was easier when he called her that. Easier to stay where she needed to be, behind a wall. She told Sidney about living in DC, visiting her friends in the Carolinas over Labor Day weekend, what food she liked. Without intention, she didn’t tell Sidney anything that she had told Mike. Still they had some things in common and when Andy got more comfortable she found it was nice to make him laugh.
“… so I’m running through the terminal with my suitcase, knocking pilots and old ladies out of the way, and I get to the flight of stairs. Under and around the back is my gate. The screen is flashing ‘final boarding’ and the gate agent is on the PA saying ‘Last call – passenger Brattle please report to gate 29.’ So I throw my hand up and yell, ‘That’s me!’ The entire waiting area looks up, a hundred people, just as the guy on the mic says, ‘Here comes the bride!’ I ran right past him at full tilt and made my flight!” Andy put her arms down, having told the story with her whole body.
Sidney laughed so hard he didn’t make any noise. He covered his face with a napkin, beet read and tears in his eyes. A few gasps and he managed to ask, “Whose wedding was it really?”
“My friend in St. Louis. I totally stole her identity - used her fiancés name, her church, everything. I didn’t start out to lie, but it just snowballed and then it was too late.”
“That is an amazing story. But don’t tell me anymore or I’ll never get to eat.” Sidney giggled a few more time, chewing his steak. This was getting easier. Her smile was spectacular when she really meant it.
They passed on dessert. Sidney didn’t eat it and Andy’s nerves were creeping back as the clock ticked on. Sex, it’s just sex, she repeated in her head. Every time he’d firmly gripped his knife she’d gotten a flash of panic. While they waited for the bill, Sidney checked his phone. He made a little face.
“What?” Andy asked.
“The Caps just won.”
Just like that, she fell apart. She bit her lip and forced herself to keep her eyes open, knowing once they closed she would come up crying. Beneath the table her fingers twisted into the end of the white linen tablecloth. “What was the score?”
Sidney wasn’t sure what he’d seen. A flicker of something, a hint of a feeling. She’d covered it quickly and well. She would, she’s a professional. But still, that’s really worked up about some early-season hockey game.
“4-2, looks like Ovechkin got two. Backstrom scored, and Green.”
Kill me, please kill me now, she thought.
“Andy, you okay?” he asked.
“Yeah. Thank you, dinner was great.”
Mike hit the speed dial button again. Andy’s phone rang once then went to voicemail. Turned off, he knew. It’s only 10 PM. Still, he picked up a glove from the locker room floor and squeezed it as hard as he could to keep from throwing it.
Sidney slid close to her in the backseat of the cab. She asked the cab driver to take them past the mall and the monuments, sharing little known facts about the city’s famous landmarks. He admired her as much as the scenery – her perfume was something floral and feminine, her hair almost auburn in the dim light. When she put her hand down, he twined his fingers into hers. Andy’s hand lay open beneath his for a few seconds before she curled her fingers around too.
I’m going to throw up. I’m going to throw up a $200 dinner onto Sidney Crosby in the back of a taxi. He probably has another road game and needs to wear that suit.
He squeezed her hand in a way he hoped was reassuring. She was slipping away a little, the warmth he’d seen while laughing at dinner being replaced by a professional distance that frankly made him feel a little judged. Her skin was soft beneath the pad of his thumb, circling over the back of her hand. Come on back, he urged.
At the hotel, Andy again avoided any mirrors. She didn’t want to see herself with him, see how they looked together. She imagined they were a beautiful couple – he was stunning enough for both of them. His width and her slender frame, they’d be quite the complimentary pair.
She draped her jacket over a chair in the room. Sidney found it was impossible not to admire her – long legs in delicate high heels the same bright blue as her mid-thigh strapless dress. Her skin looked silky smooth as she ran the front of one foot down the back of her other calf.
Mike didn’t leave a message. It was nearly midnight. She is… busy. He looked out the window of the plane into the darkness below.
Just get this over with, she thought. It’s the anticipation that’s killing me. Remember before? Once we got started it all came around. She glanced toward Sidney, putting his suit coat on a hanger. He’s fucking hot. He’s nice. Probably a lamb in bed. It’s just sex.
Sidney closed the closet door. Andy heard the sound like a starter’s pistol firing. She didn’t think, just turned and in two steps, her mouth was on his.
He practically had to catch her she was moving so fast. All at once, every nerve ending in his body fired as her warm, soft lips insisted that he return her kiss. He grabbed, thumbs hooking into her sides and fingers meeting behind the small of her back, his hands easily spanning the width of her body. He slid them down over her ass and pulled in tight.
A little breath puffed out of her as their bodies fit together. His pillowy lips tasted like wine, dark with a hint of berries and chocolate. His tongue eagerly slipped into her mouth, though it was a moment too long before she reciprocated. It raised a tiny flag in his mind but he kept on kissing, deciding to believe her body instead. His hefty thigh was between hers, riding provocatively higher against the hem of her dress.
Andy’s body responded without permission. His shoulders were so wide, his chest hard against hers. Strong arms moved her wherever he wanted. Sidney’s legs were like tree trunks and it was impossible not to want to feel his sturdy form holding her up. She shifted her weight against his quad, sliding her own thigh dangerously close to his zipper.
He kissed her again, hard, and bought his hands to her legs. They slid up bare skin, sneaking beneath her dress and inching it up – each inch then quickly taken by his lower body until his massive, muscular thigh was ready to lift her off the ground.
If that doesn’t do it…. He kissed her again, his tongue sweeping hungrily between her lips. Again, it was an awkward moment before she gave into the kiss.
Shit, Sidney thought. He spent probably a whole minute standing there, grinding a leg against her panties with his hands feeling the lace stretched across her hips. His mouth was joined to hers, attempting to convince her that she wanted this. She wanted him. He was Sidney fucking Crosby and she was the hockey hooker – what more could there possibly be? Shit.
He tried again, moving his hands from beneath her dress and reaching into her hair. Soft and thick, it smelled like clean laundry on a sunny day. Palms slid down to hold her face. The tension in her neck was palpable beneath the heels of his hands. He almost flinched at the frozen muscles. Her lower body was stuck to his, but the rest of her was wound tight as a spring. She continued to kiss him without tongue, her hands on the flat of his back and not moving.
Shit. He wanted this. He’d made a purchase and was expecting delivery. More than that, he wanted release and he wanted it from this beautiful, delicious woman in his arms, in his room, whose mind was clearly elsewhere tonight. Shit.
“Andrea,” he whispered, pulling back from her soft mouth.
Her eyes were screwed shut, lines etched into her brow. She blinked them open slowly as if afraid of what she’d see. Those melted chocolate bottomless pools, a hundred colors swirling together, they looked worried.
“Who is he?” Sidney said.
An ice cold flash of adrenaline blasted through Andy’s body, like she’d been caught sneaking away from the scene of a crime carrying a bloody knife. She flinched hard.
“What? Shhh...” and she leaned back in for a kiss.
It took an incredible amount of willpower for Sidney to hold her still, keep her from reaching his swollen, kiss-stung lips that were so thirsty for more of her. He might even be impressed with himself someday. For now he just felt resolution – This is who I am. I can make a willing exchange with someone, but I cannot take from another person. Not this girl. Under different circumstances, I could be the one she’s thinking about.
“Who is he?” Sidney repeated. “Who are you so worried about?”
Andy’s mask cracked. She pinched her lips together between her teeth and tried to step away, but Sidney held her fast. They were still intimately connected from the waist down and he wasn’t letting go until he was sure he had to.
“Someone,” was the best she could do. Her shoulders dropped, rounding into his body. Instead of pushing her away, Sidney wrapped his arms around her back and stood them both up straight. His big hand, moments ago toying with her panties, stroked over her long wavy hair. They stood there for a few minutes, Sidney just holding her while she hardly breathed.
“You almost had me fooled,” he said, whispering into her ear. One thumb stroked the base of her neck, where it met her shoulder blade in painful, twisted knots.
It felt really good when she said his name. Too good. He lifted his head and looked into her eyes. They were gray, remarkable really and he remembered thinking earlier they were beautiful. Now they were troubled.
“… I’m sorry. I can still… if you want we can…”
Sidney smiled for absolutely no reason other than the debate was over. “Could you? Without hurting yourself, could you really?”
“No,” came a small voice.
“Andrea, stop. You don’t have to worry about me. I’m not going to take advantage of you. If you don't want to, we won't.”
She looked so relieved that he was disgusted with himself for ever having thought he could have her for a price. Dinner and compliments? What the fuck is that compared to making up your own mind about who you take to bed? Part of him hoped to forget that realization or it would be a long dry spell for Sidney Crosby.
White knight, hero, she thought. He certainly looked the part, staring at her intently like he was trying to read her mind. A shameful, deceitful part of her still wanted him, just physically, but it was shouted down by her heart.
“I like hanging out with you,” she admitted. “You’re funnier than I expected. I thought you’d be a little boring, really.” She laughed softly.
“Tonight was certainly not boring,” he said. “Is he your boyfriend?” Andy bit her lip. It made Sid want to kiss her again, the plump pink flesh giving way beneath the gentle pressure of… Stop. Stop it. Down boy. At least I got some new material to jerk off to.
“Kind of.” The image of Mike that came to her mind was not sexual, not even in the heavily charged atmosphere of the room. It was Mike standing at her door, flowers in hand, suit all pressed and eye black from a fight. Smiling like he was shy.
Sidney led her to the bed and sat her on the edge, reaching for the bottle of water on the nightstand. She sipped as he spoke. “No offense Andrea, but any guy who lets you do this is not good enough for you. If you were mine, it would be over my dead fucking body that you ever wanted for anything. Forget something like this.”
“This is new. He’s new too. Everything happened all at once and he’s on the…”
It clicked in Sidney’s head like a safecracker hears the last pin drop into place, revealing a fortune when the door swings open. “Holy shit. He’s a Capital.” Andy put her hand across his mouth. Those voluptuous, sensual lips disappeared beneath her palm. She shook her head silently, he just raised his eyebrows.
“Now I know all your secrets.” He smiled against her skin.
“I’m only kidding. You know my secret too. In fact, I’ll tell you another secret, so we’re square.” He reached back into her hair. “This is the first real exchange I’ve had with a beautiful woman in a long time, especially alone in a hotel room. You just became very special to me, Andrea.”
“Please, I hate that name. Call me Andy.”
“Andy,” he said, trying it out. “I like that better.”
Sidney fetched his phone from the desk and made a call. Andy stared at her hands: she had almost done something awful – a self-fulfilling prophecy when you’re an awful person. Maybe she’d looked the way Mike had that first night: desperate for someone to reach into the sea and pull out the drowning man. The phone snapped shut.
“New plan. Grab your coat.”
He wouldn’t tell her anything, just retraced their route though the hotel and into a taxi, gave an address and they were off. This time, she held his hand. The cab stopped in front of a nightclub, one smile at the doorman and they were in past the line waiting at the velvet rope. Hand in hand they threaded through the bodies and into a second cavernous room full of dancers. On the left, Sidney nodded his way past another bouncer.
“Sid!” ten voices all yelled at the same time. Buried beneath drinks and girls and a few more girls for good measure were guys that Andy recognized as members of the Pittsburgh Penguins. She stood behind Crosby’s shoulder, still holding his hand, suddenly feeling very overwhelmed.
“Who’s your date?” Jordan Staal untangled his lanky body from a chair and stood.
“This is Andy. She’s got a boyfriend, so be nice to her.”
“Booooooo!” Max Talbot shouted from beneath at least two blondes and maybe a third pair of legs. “You’re just my type!” She could see that smile got him out of a lot of trouble.
The other guys introduced themselves, Sidney got a round of drinks and Andy talked with Marc-Andre Fleury. He seemed excited to speak to someone else that wasn’t looking to hook up. If only she could understand his accent over the music. Sidney helped and they stood in a close circle, shouting conversation to each other and laughing. He made her tell the airport story again, which had Flower choking on his drink halfway through. Jordan asked her to dance, then she danced with Sidney to a few songs in a row, just standing close and holding onto each other. After a while, he looked at his watch, then Andy. She nodded slightly and slipped out through the crowd, onto the smoking patio, freezing in a little dress.
Mike’s phone was off.
An hour later, at last call, sober Sidney rounded his troops into cabs. Max howled when Andy climbed in too, having to sit on Sidney’s lap so the door would close. “After the party it’s the hotel lobby…,” Talbot sang. When they reached the hotel, Jordan and Max both openly propositioned Andy in front of Sidney who just laughed the whole time. Politely declining, Andy sent the boys to bed.
“It’s hard for me to keep up with them,” Sidney admitted when they were gone. “Being…”
“Being you,” Andy finished for him. She slid her hand into his and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “I’m really sorry, Sidney. You don’t seem like the type who does this for fun. You needed something tonight and I couldn’t help you.”
“Sabotaged by the Capitals,” he rolled his eyes. “I had a great time tonight, Andy. I actually had fun with a girl! And I totally felt you up before, so that was nice too.” She slapped him on the arm. “No, really. I had my hands up your dress.”
He laughed that high-pitched giggle, making her follow suit. “What color are your underwear? Just tell me that.”
“They’re leopard print.”
“Oh man! If I”d known that…” he pulled her into a hug, arms a safe distance above her underwear, and squeezed her in tight. Then he held her face and looked right into her eyes. “Seriously, Andy. Sort this out tomorrow. If whoever this guy is doesn’t step up, call me and I will. I mean it – whatever you need, I will make sure you get it. Promise.”
She nodded into his hands. “I promise.”
“I will call that number next time and you better not be available.”
“Or what?” she sassed.
“I will let you work it off. Like layaway. You can move to Pittsburgh and wear leopard print every day.” He pressed a long, solid kiss to her lips. “Bye Andy.” He was halfway to the door before the thought crossed his mind. “Uh, Andy?” he called. “See you Sunday?”
She gave him a sheepish look. “We’re not, uh… public. The team doesn’t know me.”
“Change that too, or I will.” He pushed open the door feeling better about the night.