"Crisse de tabernak," I heard Kris mutter under his breath as the gates opened to the zamboni entrance and the ice girls poured out onto the ice armed with their shovels, squeegees and plastic buckets wearing their tight pants and half tops, too much make up and big, big smiles.

"Ah bon! Ma période préférée de l'année," Max grinned like the Cheshire cat and rubbed his hands together. "Un ensemble tout neuf de filles de glace."

"Otherwise known as fresh meat," Jordan added, leaning back against the boards and scrutinizing the new group of scantily clad girls like he was about to judge the Miss America pageant. "Hot damn! There's more blondes this year."

"You did, didn't you? You fucking voted online didn't you," Cookie muttered, shaking his head as he picked at some loose tape at the end of his stick. He wasn't watching but he was one of the only players who wasn't enjoying the view.

"Hey, Mister 'I'm married to a MILF', less of the back talk," Jordy laughed but no one else on the bench joined in.

"Do me a favor Gronk, don't talk about my wife that way," Cookie sighed, shaking his head.

"Are you saying it's not true?" Jordan asked and the next thing he knew he was eating the inside of Cookie's bacteria infested reeking glove.

"The boy doesn't learn," Kris laughed as he leaned out of the bench and eyed a particular dark haired beauty as she passed by the bench. "Tabernak de plotte sale, I bet she'd look good riding my….."

"Now, now tu petit crisse, remember your manners. These are ladies and deserve your respect as much as any…." I tried my best to raise the level of the conversation, to point out that they were just girls like any other girls just doing a job but, as usual, I was shouted over.

"Esti d'tapette de scalisse Crosby," Max growled. "That one wants to suck my fat cock. Look at her, she's fucking gagging for it," he added, reaching down into his hockey pants to underline his point I suppose, at which point the red-head with the plastic garbage pail shook her head and turned her back on the bench.

"Yeah, you're in there alright," I laughed as Max muttered something under his breath about it being her loss, in French of course while I went back to staring up at the screen, watching the last shot that I'd missed, over and over, analyzing how it was possible that I'd missed the damn net, again.

"Seriously, get your dick wet, you'll feel better, I promise. I guaranfuckingtee getting laid will help end a dry spell," Jordy offered, which I ignored, or at least I pretended to ignore it. It was easy for the rest of the guys to go out to a club, take a girl, or two, home. If I did it…well it would be all over the internet by the morning. I mean, you don't have to look any further than the fucking rig amoral over Tiger Woods to know that. At least I'm not married, and not fucking planning on it either. However, Jordy has a point and it has been a while…but still, never dip your pen in the company ink and by the company ink, I mean the highly infectious S.T.I. cesspool represented by the Pens Patrol. After all, if Max, Gronk, Tanger and TK have already been there…thanks but no thanks if you know what I mean.

"See what I don't get is how you of all people aren't getting any." Billy G said, leaning in, which got my attention because normally when it came to the sort of gutter level chatter that the younger players got involved in, the elder statesmen like Gonch and Billy didn't normally get involved.

"I'm busy," I grumbled, which has been my usual answer when faced with that kind of question, which has been often. Sure, being the poster boy for the team and the league means I get offers aplenty, but like I said, I'm not really into endangering my health and well being by sleeping with puck fucks and besides, when it comes right down to it, even though I date, I'm just never really sure if the girls say yes because they like me or if it's because I'm some kind of celebrity.

"He's studying to be a priest," Max laughs, hip checking me enough to make me stumble.

"I'm not saying you have to be the town pump like our boy Max over here," Billy added patting Max on the head who only grinned like it was something to be proud of. "I'm just wonderin' why you don't find yourself some cute young thing like Taylor Swift or…who's that actress from around your part of the world, the pregnant girl from that movie…?"

"Oh yeah, the girl from Juno!" TK grinned like he was gonna win something on the Price is Right or something. "I'd tap that," he added, nodding to himself like it was a possibility. "You don't have her number do you?"

"No," I sighed, shaking my head and laughing as the buzzer sounded telling us it was time to get back to work and, as far as I was concerned, not a minute too soon either. All these guys have girlfriends, none of whom are ugly in any way and none of whom deserve to be forgotten the minute a cute piece of ass goes by in a pair of tight pants and maybe that's my problem.

I was brought up to treat people, treat women, with respect. It's not like I can't have a one night stand and appreciate it as much as any other guy, but it doesn't fill up the space inside of me that's waiting for…for what I don't know. It's not like I'm looking but…it's not like I don't want to meet her either, whoever she is, but I know she's out there.

I just have to be patient.

"So," Max leans in, bumping my arm with his elbow. "Am I your wingman tonight or are you mine, again?"

"Oh tonight…I dunno…." That's right. We're heading to New York after the game and Max loves to party in the big Apple.

"C'mon Crosby, a couple drinks won't kill you. I promise. Loosen the fuck up man." Max knows I can never, or almost never, say no to him but I still make him work for it, just so he knows that I don't really want to go out. Because I don't. I hate going to bars. It always turns into a fucking gong show when I show up, except maybe in New York. In New York I just look like another Jewish med student, and Max knows it. "C'mon, be Superstar's wingman. C'mon, you know you're going to anyway, so you may as well just say yes."

"If it will shut you the fuck up then, fine, whatever. I'll stay until you hook up and then I'm going back to the hotel."

"That's my boy, chickachicksheee," he grins, doing his little happy dance as we mill around centre ice, waiting for the ref. "Max is going to get lucky in the Big Apple tonight, what what!"

"Is he always like that?" Zajac asks, lining up across from me, his stick on his knees.

"Max?" I glance over at my friend who's still doing his little dance, which the crowd is eating up and he knows it. "No, actually he's not but he'd hate it if he knew I'd told you that."

"Gemma! Gemma! Over here!"

"When did this start?" I mumble as I spin from the back of the town car, trying to keep my knees together as the flashes start going off. Not that I'm at any risk of doing a Brittany or anything. In fact I have an adorable pair of knickers on, black lacey things with frills on the bottom, but my mother would have a stroke over her tea if her darling daughter showed up in the Tabs showing more than just a little gams.

"You're a celeb now babes," my best mate, Esme laughs from where she's already standing on the carpet, looking like a thousand dollar strumpet in a way too short little black leather skirt that shows the tops of her lace up stay ups. She'd tried her best to get me into something similar before we left the hotel but I'm not about to dress like you could pay for my services, not even to get Perez Hilton's attention. I mean who wants a chalk cock drawn on them? I mean, aside from Brittany? I'd decided to stick to a high waisted black pencil skirt and a crisp white blouse.

"I'm not," I mutter, taking her hand and putting on my best big smile, newly whitened teeth and all. "No lipstick on my teeth right?" I ask through my teeth and Esme shakes her head, just enough so that I know.

"Gemma! Gemma! How's Ian taking the break up?" This is what I hate. I didn't even know who he was when he asked me out and we only went on two dates and I don't even like the guy and somehow that's enough for Tabs to have put us together. Break up? I just never called him and besides, the guy's an utter wanker and so are the rest of the poseurs in that little Vampire show of his.

"Ignore them," Esme drawls, waving at the cameras. If only they knew. She's sleeping with Rob Pattinson, but no one knows about that. It's all very hush-hush. "Just smile, suck your gutt in and stick the girls out."

"I didn't think they even knew about that over here. He was in fucking London for a week. A week!" I moan, wrapping my hand firmly around hers' and giving it a tug, wanting very much to be in the relative safety of a darkened club.

"That's probably some Brit photog," Esme laughs, blowing him a kiss, like she's fucking Katy fucking Perry all of a fucking sudden.

"Just come on will you!" She staggers after me as I stumble past the line and into the club, past them meaty bouncer who doesn't ask for i.d. and just lets us in because we came in an expensive car and one of the paparazzi seemed to know me. That, I suppose, is useful turn of events. Too bad Mr. Somerhalder wasn't better in bed. Maybe if he had been I'd have bothered to look him up when we'd crossed the Pond. "Bourbon," I call as we push our way through the throng of pretty faces and beautifully palates sculpted bodies and find a spot, well a wedge of light really, at the bar. The meatball behind the bar takes the twenty out of my fist and pours the smooth, dark liquid over two rocks and I lick my lips in anticipation.

"Bourbon eh? I admire a woman who likes a drink that doesn't have an umbrella in it." Turning I find myself looking into a pair of world weary blue eyes that quickly turn away again, but not before I get a glimpse of a smirk that says 'in about five minutes, you're going to be gagging for it.' He produces a fifty from nowhere, held up between two fingers and the bartender takes it, replacing it with a bottle of Tequila without a word being exchanged. If I didn't loathe that Golden Drug so much, I'd have been impressed. "Shot?" He doesn't so much ask as pushes an empty shot glass towards me before turning those eyes back on me with a raised eyebrow and a curled lip that is so far more suggestive of things other than alcohol that it makes me shiver involuntarily.

"You don't want to talk to this guy." Out of nowhere, this fuzzy faced man appears, bespectacled but brawny, and puts himself literally between me, the bottle of Tequila and the cocky guy leaning on the bar next to us. "Really, don't talk to this guy. He treats women like merde and I can clearly see that you are definitely not a women that a man should treat in any way other than a total princess."

"Oh and you're nickname isn't womanizer, Talbot?" Clearly pissed at having his game interrupted, the first guy, the sandy haired blue eyed stocky guy pushes himself off of the bar and tries to physically remove the interloper, who surprisingly enough, refuses to be moved.

"No, it's Superstar, not that I can imagine you would know what that feels like. You know, game seven, two goals, big hero, Stanley Cup…no, you wouldn't know anything about that would you?"

I share a look with Esme that tells me that we know it's wrong but isn't it lovely when boys fight over you as we wait for the bar stools and glasses to start to fly. I mean, obviously these two know each other and whatever blood there is between them, it's bad. The rest of the crowd around the bar seems to sense it too, and a hush falls around us as the crowd gathers, sharks sensing blood in the water. However, much to our dismay, a third gentleman comes in, a dark haired Prince of a man, and he calmly steps between the two squared off, placing a hand on both of their shoulders.

"Let me buy everyone a drink and we can all just calm down." I can't help but feel a sense of disappointment as the first charmer, clearly seeing that he's outnumbered, throws off the interceding hand of the peacemaker and pushes his way out through the crowd and disappears. "Fuck Max, do you always have to cause trouble?"

"That's what they pay me for little buddy," the bespectacled, fuzzy interloper replies with a wide, happy grin on his face, obviously pleased with the outcome. The peacekeeper only shakes his head and sidles up to the bar, ordering refills for our drinks which remain untouched and adds two shots of JD and two pints.


"So that looked…personal," Esme batted her fake eyelashes at the one called Max and his grin got wider as he nodded.

"I'll let you in on a little secret," he said, beckoning for her to lean closer and then whispering, "everyone hates that guy," when she did.

"Really? Everyone?" I asked, to which he nodded, looking and sounding very sure of himself.

"If they don't, you don't want to know them," he added raising his glass first to his friend, who was studiously and obviously ignoring him and then to us. "To beautiful women and the men who appreciate them."

"Uh oh," Esme laughed, digging her elbow into my ribs. "I think that guy might have been right. I think I see a warning sign on this guy's forehead."

"No, no, I love women. I mean loooove," Max insists, leaning close and raising a single eyebrow and grinning but not in a lecherous way, and neither Esme nor I could stop ourselves from smiling back at him.

"Oh dear," was all Esme could say in reply as she downed a shot of tequila, slammed the empty glass down on the bar and reached for the bottle.

"Ezzie," I reached to pull the bottle back but she only shook her head and pulled it out of my reach.

"I could fancy him," she whispered, before pouring herself another shot. "And his mate's tasty and all," she added, digging her elbow into my ribs for the second time. I glanced at his dark haired, pasty skinned friend who was still staring into space and shrugged. High cheekbones, sharp line along his jaw, full lips and long, dark lashes. She was right. He was a bit of a dish.

"Dance?" Max asked glancing from me to Esme and back.

"Go on," I give Esme a push, not like she needs the encouragement. Max wraps his hand around hers' and I see a look pass between them that tells me that I'll be going back to the hotel alone tonight. Unless….

"So, do you fancy a dance as well or…do you want to seduce me and take me back to your pad and have your wicked way with me?" For a long, agonizing moment, I think the strong silent type is going to remain just that, silent. But then he turns and gives me this long, considering look that actually makes me entirely weak at the knees. Damn American men and their cowboy hotness.

"You…and…me?" he asked slowly, narrowing his eyes at me.

"Is that such a horrible idea?" I asked, my gaze roaming across his wide shoulders and down his muscular arms.

"No," he replied, a small, thoughtful smile tugging at the corners of his full lips. "Not at all."