I need your thoughts. I had more ideas for more drama in this story but now that I've written this chapter it feels kind of complete. Thoughts?

Chapter 24

"Safe?" The word tasted strange on her tongue and sounded unreal. She gripped Sid's hand and felt his reassuring squeeze in return. The FBI agent in his black suit with his shades pushed up on his forehead and his identity shield still in his hand nodded.

"With the death of Mario Rosa we feel confident that any immediate danger to you and your niece has definitely past and it's doubtful that anyone from the Angels that might take his place as the head of the organization would have the same personal vendetta against you. I'm not saying to let your guard down entirely but yes, we think that you will be safe now." Cody shook her head. It didn't seem like it could be possible.

"So I can just...we can just do anything, go anywhere?" she asked, looking and feeling doubtful. The agent smiled and nodded.

"That's right ma'am, business as usual. Or in your case, start your life here like nothing ever happened." Cody felt her cheeks get warm as Sidney gave her hand another squeeze. There was no threat of their sending her home to Vancouver. Not when Sidney Crosby had just told them that she was his girlfriend. 'Fiancée' she rolled the title around in her head as she glanced up at him. That word was like a bright and shiny brand new coin that she wanted to rub her fingers over the embossing of and wanted to keep in her pocket and not spend right away. "The Agency does apologize that we were not adequately able to protect you ma'am," the agent added, his warm smile disappearing, replaced by a solemn, all business expression.

"You protected my niece," she reminded him, "and she was the witness after all. If she'd been taken instead..." Cody let her voice fall away. She didn't want to think about what might have happened had Becky been in her place in that cage in that basement. Sid's other hand sliding over hers told her that he wasn't eager to think about what might have been either.

"We want you to keep us on speed dial, obviously, and feel free to contact us if you receive any kinds of threats or if you see something that concerns you in any way," the Agent handed them both a card with several emergency contact numbers on it. "I hope you won't need it," he added, holding his hand out to Sidney who only freed one of his hands to shake it. "Take care." Sidney nodded and then put his hands protectively around Cody's again so that the Agent could only pat her shin gently before he turned and headed out of the room.

"That wasn't how that should have happened." Cody looked down at his hands surrounding hers' and smiled.

"Are there rules for these kinds of things?" she teased, glancing up at him and tried to raise a single eyebrow. It hurt a little but she did it anyway.

"Of course there is," he replied quickly. "There's supposed to be flowers and music and I should have had the ring, which I do, by the way," he added, turning to sit on the edge of the hospital bed, facing her. "It's at home," he added in a whisper as he looked down at their hands. "Just so you know that I didn't just blurt that out. I meant it, every word of it."

"Okay, so get down on one knee." She waited for him to look at her, for him to appreciate what she was saying. He looked back at her quizzically and then one corner of his mouth turned up.

"Yeah?" he asked and his grin broadened as she nodded. "You don't want to wait for the ring and the flowers and the...?" Cody shook her head.

"In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not really the flowers and trinkets kind of a girl," she whispered. Giving her hands a squeeze, Sid leaned forward and pressed his lips to the center of her forehead. He let go of one of her hands and slid off the side of the bed and then he looked at her, searched her face. She waited while he gingerly got down on one knee. Still holding her hand, he pressed his lips to the back of her hand.

"When I thought...when I let myself think you might not come back," he coughed, like it was hard for him to even say the words, like he had to force them up through his throat and out of his mouth, "I couldn't imagine it. I mean, I know we haven't known each other than long but...you and Becks...you're everything to me. I...," Sidney looked up at her, tears glimmering in his hazel eyes. "I love you and the thought of being...of waking up without you...of not having you to come home to...I can't Dakota. I don't want to. So...will you put me out of my misery and promise that you won't ever leave me again?" The answer bubbled up from the center of her chest and did a happy dance on the tip of her tongue but she didn't blurt it out, as much as she wanted to.

"Are you sure?" she asked instead and his brow furrowed.

"Yes," he replied hoarsely. He cleared his throat and blinked rapidly and then got up off of his knee to stand beside her, looking down at her and searching her face.

"But look what I just put you through," she whispered, emotion getting the better of her as his free hand reached out to gingerly cup her cheek.

"Yeah, look at what you did," he smiled down at her, a single tear escaping to slip down his cheek. "I've had guys take beatings for me before but fuck, not like this," he added in a hushed venerable tone, his fingertips barely brushing over her bruised cheekbone. "I've never met a woman as brave and loyal as you Dakota. I just want the chance to spend the rest of my life trying to make this up to you, trying to be deserving of you." Cody turned her head and kissed the center of his palm.

"Better go home and get that ring then."


"You look fine." She'd been in the bathroom for longer than usual. Cody hadn't been kidding around when she'd said she wasn't a high maintenance flowers and trinkets kind of girl. All of the flowers the other guys on the team had sent she'd had the nurses give out to other patients and every last one of the balloons Max had brought when they'd arrived to bring her home she'd had him take down to the children's cancer ward. She hadn't wanted a fuss, she'd said, not even the special candlelight dinner that he'd had planned. She'd just wanted to come home. But now, as he stood behind her in the semi dark of their room, seeing her despondent expression as she gazed at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, Sid knew there was some vanity in there somewhere.

"I look like I've been through a meat grinder," she sighed, turning her face and staring at her profile. Most of the swelling had gone down over the few days they'd kept her in the hospital but the ribbons of flesh her assailant's rings had dug from the flesh of her cheeks and the fading bruises that were beginning to turn a sickly yellow green definitely altered her appearance. Having seen her when she was nearly unrecognizable, however, to Sidney she already looked almost like herself.

"You're beautiful," he whispered, closing the gap, sliding his hands up her arms until he was pulling her back against him while he pressed his lips to the soft, fragrant and unblemished skin beneath her ponytail. "I'm so glad you're home." He felt her hands cover his, felt her body sway back against his. His head swam with the scent of the lavender bath oil she'd spent an hour soaking in. Her skin was still warm and so soft.

She made a contented humming noise as he kissed his way across to her shoulder and didn't struggle when he undid the towel and dropped it to the floor. Her hands guided his up to cup her breasts and their gazes met in the mirror.

"If it's too soon just say so." He didn't want to stop, his body was aching for hers', but he hadn't asked if there'd been more than beatings and the last thing he wanted was to hurt her more.

"Please," she whispered as she closed her eyes and laid her head back on his shoulder.

He could take her right there, he knew as he kissed his way up the curve of her neck. He could slide his pj bottom down, press her forward over the sink and ease his way inside of her but that wasn't what he wanted now, wasn't what he'd been day dreaming about since he knew she'd been found.

"Come on," he whispered, lacing his fingers with hers and turning to head back into the bedroom. He led her to the bed and waited while she climbed up on it before he checked the new lock on the door. He'd wanted Max and Mel to take Becky but Cody hadn't wanted to let her niece out of her sight. That didn't mean that he wanted any unwelcome visitors right now. He slid the bolt home and then turned to see Dakota already almost entirely hidden beneath the sheet that she was holding up nearly to her chin.

The shake of his head was purely internal as Sid crossed the carpeted floor and climbed onto the bed. He didn't even try to pull the sheet down. Instead he reached up and behind her and pulled the elastic holding her hair back free. Then, running his fingers through her still damp but silken hair, Sidney leaned in and kissed her. He reminded himself to be gentle. He could feel the rough edges of the scab that dissected her bottom lip as his mouth moved over hers and heard her sharp intake of breath as his body eased hers down onto the bed. He'd seen the still darkly purple bruising along her ribcage and the boot print on her back. He knew he would have to be careful, but he knew how those kinds of injuries felt and how to avoid making them worse.

It felt a little like the first time. They were as tentative as strangers as he patiently waited for her to relax into him, for her to give up her death grip on the sheet. He waited for those little signs that said she was okay, that they were okay.


She wanted him. She wanted to climb him like a jungle gym. She wanted him to press her down into the mattress and fuck her like a twenty dollar whore. She was also terrified. She was afraid he'd hurt her. Not like...not the way that man had. She knew deep in her bones that Sidney would never hurt her like that. She was just afraid that they'd be doing it and it would be incredible and suddenly it would just hurt and they'd have to stop, that he'd be upset.

She tasted the metallic tang of her own blood as her mouth opened beneath his and his tongue swept over hers'. Cody started to pull back but Sidney didn't let her. He held on, ran his tongue over her lip and then kissed his way across her jaw and began to nibble his way down her neck. With a moan she let go of the sheets, her shield, and reached up to dig her fingers into his thick dark hair.

She sucked in a ragged breath when his weight transferred further down her body but that momentary sharp pain was quickly dulled by the feeling of his lips and teeth worrying at her nipple through the thin cotton sheet. She could feel every scratch, every contusion, and of course the three broken ribs but none of that discomfort was anything compared to feel of his lips sucking her nipple into his mouth, or better than that, the press of his erection against her leg. There had been hours, long dark hours when she'd been in that cage that the thought of his, of being in his arms again, had been the only thing that had got her through the next few minutes, the next hour.

"I want you inside me," she whimpered, kicking at the sheets, now eager to erase the barrier between them.

"Soon," he whispered, pressing a gentle kiss on her sternum before kissing his way down the midline of her body, placing butterfly kisses around her belly button.

"But I...," she began but was quickly silenced by the warning his gold flecked eyes gave as he stopped just below her navel and looked up at her.

"You wouldn't let Max make a fuss at the hospital. You wouldn't let me take you out to dinner. You will let me do this," he added sternly, sliding down the length of the bed and dragging her by her heels with him. She had every intention of explaining that she still looked like the creature from the black lagoon but her words turned into nonsensical sounds and then into a wordless cry as Sidney pressed the flat of his tongue against her entrance and very, very slowly licked his way upwards.

"Oh god," she gasped, arching her back and tipping her head back. Her entire body became one raw nerve and her brain turned into an explosion of sparks as if it had become the bumper of a tail dragger. She hiccupped as he sucked her clit into his mouth, whimpered when he blew his warm breath across it and lost all ability to make speech at all when his tongue turned into an inch worm and crept slowly up and down and across it.

Cody shoved her knuckles in her mouth. It was either that or scream the entire fucking house down and just maybe wake the entire neighbourhood. Her heels drummed the bed. Her free hand pounded the mattress, but he held her there, staring over the edge and into the abyss, but he wasn't quite ready to push her over; not yet.

Everyone knows the term 'whistle while you work'. Sidney hummed. He hummed and vibrated and sent her teetering, arms wind milling as she fought to save herself from falling and every time she tried to, was about to, he would only come up for air with a playful grin on his face and then begin it all over again, blowing warm air across her so sensitive skin and leaving her helpless but to do anything else but bite down harder into her own skin and watch, wild eyed, as he slid one and then two fingers up inside of her while he made wet, warm circles with his tongue around her feminine pearl.

Cody reached back for a pillow and pulled it over her face. If she died, suffocated herself, she didn't care. She was going to die happy and he'd have to explain to the authorities why his fiancée was naked and spread eagled on his bed with a grin a mile wide on her face.

She felt the dip in the mattress, just barely, as his body curled in next to hers. She felt the heat of his skin, the hard solidness of him, but mostly she felt his fingers still working in and out of her heated, slick core. His free hand pulled the pillow out of her hands and she was forced to look up into his green and bronze eyes as he gazed down at her, watching her, enjoying seeing the effects of his ministrations on her. He leaned on his hand and stared down at her as she whimpered and shuddered as he forced her to climb back up the steep cliff just to send her falling over the edge again.

"Sidney...please," she begged, reaching out and pulling uselessly on the tree branch of his arm. As if she could budge an immovable object, especially one that was so clearly enjoying the view.

"I like watching you cum," he told her, his voice deep and thick with desire. Cody let go of his arm and reached instead for a handful of his dark hair and tried to pull his lips down to hers'. She caught sight of the two carat diamond solitaire on her hand and stared at it, at the way the white gold band and brilliant sparkling princess cut stood out in strict contrast to his thick, dark waves. It still didn't seem real. He still didn't seem real.

"Why?" she asked and forced her gaze back to meet his.

"It's my job," he replied, leaning in and capturing her lips with his. She let him kiss her, because it felt good, because it meant the solid width of his chest pressed against her own and because it meant the work his fingers were doing slowed. But as he came up for air again, she shook her head.

"No," she cupped his face, dragged her hand down the sharp line of his cheek and then, as she let her hand fall away, turned it so that her ring was in his direct line of sight. "Why this? Why me?" Sid pressed his lips to her hand and took her hand in his and pressed it back over her head as he moved his body to hover above hers'.

"Because I love you, because you're my brave and beautiful Cody," he told her, carefully and gingerly nudging his way inside of her. Cody sucked in a jagged breath. Not because it hurt, but because the opposite was true. It felt amazing. It felt right. He fit her. He filled her completely. "You make me want to be better at everything off the ice. I want to take care of you, be with you and have you with me, always." He began to move in long, slow strokes that stole her breath with their perfection. He took her other hand and laced his fingers with hers and pressed that too above her head as they moved together, as he held her gaze and she did her best to breathe even though the air seemed suddenly very thin and lacking in oxygen. "Tell me it's felt like this with anyone else," he dared her as he slid his entire length into her, until she could feel him touching places within her that only he could reach. Cody could only shake her head. There was no point in lying. He knew. They both knew. "Cum with me," he whispered, dipping his head down and capturing her lips again.

Cody was already spinning down the chasm, his tongue twining with hers and his quickened, shallow thrusts only made her spin faster. She raised her hips and dug her heels into the tree trunks of his thighs and did her best to meet him thrust for thrust. She was going to go first. She only hoped to last long enough to bring him with her.


It hurt. It hurt like hell. It felt like a fire heated brand was being shoved through his shoulder but Sid clenched his teeth and fought through the pain like all of his years on the ice had taught him to do. Sweat dripped into his eyes and his arms started to shake, but he ignored the muscle fatigue and the sharp thrust of pain. She was close, again, and he was close and he wouldn't let a little pain ruin this moment. He held her gaze and threw his hips forward, his body meeting hers with a solid but wet sound and she cried out. It was a sound that was as beautiful as the songs of celestial choirs to his ears.

"That's it baby," he hissed through clenched teeth as he swung his hips forward again, ramming himself into her once, twice and then a third time that made her eyes roll back in her head as she called out his name. His balls tightened almost painfully as her body tightened around his and with a shudder as his arms gave out, he emptied himself into her with a grunt that was part relief, part pain.

"Oh my god, you're hurt." He was lying on top of her, knowing he was probably causing her untold pain as his deadweight pressed against her broken ribs, but Cody didn't seem to notice that. Her fingers had already found the raw, puckered flesh of his shoulder. "You didn't tell me...you never said anything," she muttered in an angry tone as her fingers carefully probed at his wound.

"It's nothing," he sighed as he carefully rolled off of her and reached to gather her to him but she pushed him away and straddled him instead.

"It's clearly more than nothing," she snapped, smacking his hands out of the way when he tried to pull her down to him. "What is that?" she asked as she turned her eyes, blazing, to meet his. "How did you get that?" He thought, for just a moment, that he'd lie and then he thought he would try to sugar coat it but looking up into the fury in her eyes, he decided that the truth was his best and only choice.

"I took a bullet when I tried to stop them...when they took you." It sounded better than being shot, less violent somehow. Cody's gaze searched his and then she went back to looking at the puckered pink skin left behind by the surgery to close the wound.

"I didn't even know you were there," she said quietly, reaching out to gingerly stroke the skin around the wound. Sid reached up and took her hand and brought it to his lips.

"I would have rather they'd taken me. I would have gladly taken your place," he told her honestly. When he thought about what she'd been through, rage boiled in his veins. It was a good thing for him that the snakehead was dead because Sid wanted to kill him for every single cut and bruise on her body. "This is nothing," he reiterated, waiting until her gaze met his again. "Honestly I wish there was more so I could say I did something."

"You took a bullet...for me," she whispered, her gaze turning tender as she settled herself onto his chest, laying her chin on the back of her folded hands as she regarded him with an expression akin to wonder.

"I'd take a hundred bullets for you. For both of you," he responded honestly, his fingertips once again finding the angry red furrow on her cheek. "So when you ask me why...that's why. I've never felt like throwing myself in front of a bullet for anyone else. A puck or two, maybe," he added with a wink when she rolled her eyes.

"Had a lot of call to take a bullet have you?" she asked sarcastically, pushing herself up and sliding her body further down his until he could feel her wet, warm folds surrounding his cock. He groaned. He was tired, it had been a long day, but there wasn't a chance in hell he was going to say no. Not when she looked down at him like she was now, like he was everything in the world in that moment.

"I'm hoping not to get anymore practice than that," he replied, reaching for her hips and then letting out a long, low groan when she rotated them slowly, rubbing against and over him.

"Well then I guess there other things you could spend your time practicing," she grinned as she cupped her breasts, holding them high and together like an offering. Sid moaned as his cock stirred back to life.

"Yeah, I guess there is," he coughed as he watched her tug on her nipples, her gaze holding his.

"That's good," she replied with a lascivious grin, "because I had this thought...more of an idea really when I was cooped up with Vero and...," she threw her head back and laughed when he felt his eyes get wide. "Yeah, you wish...well, actually Flower is kinda cute..."

"Evil woman!" Sidney used his size and strength to roll her over and pin her beneath him. "No. No sharing. Not ever."

"Awww!" she complained and then giggled when he fell on her like a starving man on a piece of bread.