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if not for the first time

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1

It's not like he's never gone down on her before. Danny is a generous man in general and in bed in particular. But usually they're trying to fit sex in between practices and meetings, road trips and the boys, and usually all they have time for are quick fucks that aren't any less amazing for being hurried. They've never done this before, though. Danny's never pushed her down onto the bed and buried his face in her cunt and eaten her out with an arm over her hips to keep her there when it's almost too much and she tries to squirm away from him.

Claude's lost track of how many times she's come now, only knows that it's a lot, and that he's still there, still has his mouth on her, everything wet and sensitive. She can barely move now, just take it and take it and take it and come again.

Danny barely pauses, just turns to kiss the inside of her thigh and look up, meet her eyes, before he puts his mouth right back on her.

Claude moans weakly. It's so good, and she's so close to coming again and so close to being done, unable to do this anymore, and God, there's no one she's ever going to be able to tell how thankful she is for Sylvie, but after this she's going to be so nice to her, even nicer than she has been, for the rest of her life, and Danny licks her, sucks hard at her clit, and she comes again.

 

2

Despite what people think, Claude does own bras that aren't sports bras. She has a couple of boring but comfortable beige, supportive things, and a strapless bra she hates but wears under some of the dresses she ends up wearing for weddings, charity events, and awards dinners.

She has never, however, been inside a Victoria's Secret, and she's still not entirely sure how Danny talked her into one now. Much less how he talked her into this. This being a series of lacy bras, the latest of which is a dark pink that even she can tell clashes horribly with her hair.

"What do you think?" Danny asks from outside the dressing room.

Claude sighs. "I hate them. I can just wear something I already own."

"You should have something pretty to go with your dress," Danny says, which is the thing he said that got them here in the first place. "What's wrong with them?"

"They're all lacy. I'm just not a lacy person."

Danny hmms. "Hang on a minute."

Claude stares at herself in the mirror. Even in a different color, this wouldn't look good on her. The only good thing about this whole experience is that it's Wednesday morning and there's no one in the place but her, Danny, and the saleswomen.

There's a knock on the door. "Try this one."

Claude opens the door just enough to grab the hanger Danny's holding out, then closes it before he can see what the current monstrosity looks like on her. She switches out bras without thinking too much about what she's putting on, and then she looks in the mirror.

The bra Danny's brought her is a dark turquoise that looks good against her skin - somewhere she has a shirt the same color - and it's plain, just smooth satin cupping her breasts, drawing them in and up, but not enough to look weird. "I like this one."

"Let me see."

"Aren't you not supposed to see it until I actually wear it?"

"It's not a wedding dress."

Claude opens the door and steps back so Danny can slide into the room with her. He stands mostly behind her, looking into the mirror over her shoulder.

"I like it."

Claude leans back against him. "Have you gone bra shopping a lot?"

"Mostly I just bought Sylvie things." Danny kisses her shoulder. "There are matching panties."

Claude looks up from his hand on her stomach to the picture of the two of them in the mirror. Danny's not looking at her boobs; he's meeting her eyes in the mirror.

"Do you wish I were lacy?"

Danny kisses her shoulder again. "No. I do wish you wouldn't tell Hartsy about our sex life." He kisses her neck, and his hand slides up. "You should get this one. It'll look good under your black dress."

She gasps when he cups her breast. "No, wait," she says, and then she switches to French just in case any of the saleswomen are hanging around close enough to hear them. "'Flyers captain caught having sex in Victoria's Secret fitting room' isn't the kind of headline we need."

Danny kisses her neck again, but lets go of her breast. "We'll save that for sometime after you retire then."

Claude shivers at the promise in that. "Have you done that before?"

"Not in Victoria's Secret." Danny kisses her jaw. "And we didn't get caught. Get dressed. I'll go find the matching panties." He slips out of the dressing room, and Claude heaves in a breath - it does interesting things to her breasts like this - and exhales slowly before she takes off the bra and puts on her sports bra and t-shirt.

Danny takes the hanger with the bra from her, and the saleswoman at the counter smiles at Claude when Danny hands her the bra and panties. Claude manages to smile back, and lets Danny pay for them.

 

3

"Sorry," Danny says. Claude can hear him clearly from where she is, in the kitchen desperately grasping a coffee cup. "It's one of those mornings. There's coffee in the kitchen."

The front door closes, his footsteps go up the stairs, and Sylvie comes into the kitchen. She pauses for a moment when she sees Claude, and then she says, "Good morning," and goes over to get a mug out of the cabinet.

"Morning," Claude says. She's suddenly aware of what she must look like. She hasn't brushed her hair yet. She's wearing a pair of Danny's pajama pants that are a couple of inches too short and cinched tight so they won't fall off her hips. Worst of all, she's wearing one of his shirts and no bra. And not, like, one of his Flyers shirts, which wouldn't be all that noticeable if she were wearing it. But, no, she's wearing a Sabres shirt, old and worn so much that it's soft and permanently smells like Danny.

It's not like Sylvie is always perfect, like some of the wives and girlfriends, but every time Claude sees her, she's always pretty put together. Claude probably looks like the mistress she isn't.

She gulps at her coffee, and pulls her arms in, not that it really does anything to cover up the fact that she's braless in Danny's shirt. A shirt, she thinks, and then nearly chokes on her coffee, that Sylvie actually could have worn before.

"Boys running late this morning?" Sylvie asks, even though that's obvious.

"Mmmhmm." Claude makes herself relax the grip on her coffee cup. She has to use those hands for practice later, and she doesn't need them all cramped up. "You know how it goes."

"Yes," Sylvie says, not unkindly, "I do." She sips at her coffee, and they look at each other across the center island. It's even more awkward than conversations with Sylvie usually are.

Carson wanders in with a shoe in his hand. "Where's my other shoe?"

"Where did you last have it?" Claude and Sylvie both ask, Claude in French and Sylvie in English.

Carson gives them both a disgusted look and leaves.

Sylvie sips her coffee, still looking at Claude over the edge of it, like she can't decide whether or not to say something.

"Don't forget your hockey bags," Danny yells, and then he comes into the kitchen and takes Claude's coffee cup. "They'll be ready in a minute," he says to Sylvie.

Sylvie drinks what's left of her coffee and puts her cup in the sink. "Thanks for the coffee."

"You're going to need it." Danny gives Claude's cup back, kisses her on the cheek, and walks Sylvie out.

Claude can't be exactly sure what the look Sylvie throws her means, but it probably has something to do with what she's wearing. Or not wearing.

"Bye, Claude," the boys chorus from the entryway, and Claude calls back a goodbye.

Danny comes back to the kitchen once the house is quiet, and slides one hand up Claude's shirt.

Claude looks down at the logo on her chest. "Did Sylvie wear your clothes?"

Danny pulls back and looks at her, then down to her shirt. "Not very often," he says cautiously.

Claude swipes his clothes half the time she's here. "Oh," she says. "Do you like it that I do?"

Danny smiles at her, the corners of his eyes crinkling up with it. "Yes. Want to find out how much?" He takes the coffee cup from her and sets it down on the counter, and his other hand slides farther up her shirt.

 

4

Claude gets dressed at home and lets Danny pick her up for their anniversary. Two years since she'd had enough of the tension that ebbed and flowed between them and kissed him in the middle of the kitchen while the boys were playing hockey on the neighbors' outdoor rink. Two years since Danny kissed her back and let her choose what they were going to order for dinner. Two years since they made out on the couch after the boys were asleep until Claude's lips were sore, then held hands up the stairs.

She would have flown to Germany to be with him for it if they lockout hadn't ended.

Both Schenns whistle at her as she passes them on her way from her room to the coat closet.

"Somebody's getting lucky tonight," Brayden says.

"Not you." Claude has to dig through the closet to find the really long coat she knows is in there somewhere. It covers up her dress, only the trailing end of the skirt and her shoes showing from under the bottom of it.

"I could," Brayden says.

"No, you couldn't," Luke says. "Unless you hit on the girl at the froyo place. You see her often enough."

Claude grabs her purse and leaves them bickering while she goes down the stairs to open the door for Danny. He leans in to kiss her, and she kisses him back and then pushes him out the door.

It means he doesn't see her dress until she slides her coat off when they get to the restaurant, and she gets to watch Danny's face as he takes it in. It's black and it covers her from neck to wrists to ankles, but it's made out of something slightly stretchy that clings to her and shows off the muscles in her shoulders, the curves of her breasts, and the swell of her ass before it drapes from her hips to the floor.

"Wow," Danny says.

Claude grins at him and says, "Wait until you see what I'm wearing under it," as she sweeps past him to follow the hostess to their table.

It takes Danny a moment to catch up to her. "I should have upped my game," he says when he sits down across from her.

Claude looks him over. He looks good, but then he pretty much always looks good to her. "You're wearing a new tie." It's a plaid pattern she hasn't seen before.

"You're wearing that," Danny says with a gesture at her dress. "I don't think I even own anything that lives up to that."

If she has to wear a dress - she didn't have to, but it seems like the kind of occasion for it - getting this kind of reaction from Danny definitely makes the hassle worth it. Claude's tempted to abandon dinner and just go home with him, but they made plans to do something special for their anniversary, so she tamps it down and looks at the menu.

They don't hold hands over dinner, but only because they're in public and they're careful about what they do in public. Bad enough to live in an age of cell phone cameras; the last thing either of them wants is to be public enough to invite media scrutiny of their relationship.

Their concern is warranted. They're halfway through dinner when a woman and a little girl come over to their table.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," the woman says, "but she really wanted to meet you."

Claude and Danny both put their forks down and smile at the little girl.

"This is Grace," the woman says.

"Hi, Grace," Danny says. "Nice to meet you."

Grace smiles uncertainly at him, and brighter at Claude. "You're my favorite player," she says, and once she's said that, it seems to unlock a torrent of words. "I play hockey, and I'm the best goal scorer on my team. Jacob Andrews says I can't play hockey when I grow up because I'm a girl, but you're a girl and you play hockey, and I'm going to play in the NHL just like you."

Claude doesn't have to fake her smile for Grace. "You can play in the NHL," she says. "Definitely. You have to work really hard and eat your vegetables, but you can do it."

"Do you eat all your vegetables?"

"I do." Claude takes a bite of the broccoli on her plate to demonstrate. "They'll make you healthy and strong so you can get good enough to be in the NHL."

"Okay," Grace says with a determined nod. Then she looks at Claude sidelong and asks, "Can we take a picture?"

"Of course."

Grace beams at her, and Claude brings her in close so Grace's mom can take the picture.

"Thank you so much," Grace's mom says.

"Of course," Claude says. To Grace, she says, "I'll look forward to seeing you on the ice."

Claude turns away from them as they walk away to find Danny looking at her with his lips pressed together in a way she knows means he's at least a little bit amused.

"Sorry," Claude says with a shrug.

Danny's look turns into a rueful smile. "Part of the job. It's been a decade since I had an anniversary that didn't get interrupted by someone wanting an autograph or a picture. This is the first time it wasn't me they wanted to talk to."

"Now you know how Sylvie felt," Claude says.

Danny makes a face. "She was always nice to people, but she wasn't very happy about getting interrupted, especially at the end."

"Oh," Claude says. "Do you hate that she wanted to talk to me?"

Danny shrugs. "It'll probably bother me eventually," he says. "This time it just makes me want to take you home right now."

Claude can feel herself flush with want at how matter-of-factly he says it.

"Watching me be a role model gets you hot?"

"Watching you do everything gets me hot." Danny picks up his fork. "Finish your dinner so we can go home."

Claude gulps at her wine before she keeps on with eating her dinner, Danny's eyes on her hot as a touch. She looks back, and drinks more because he's driving.

They don't order dessert.

 

5

"I dropped the boys off at Dad's," Danny says when Claude drives across the river to meet him for dinner at his place in Gatineau.

"Just us," Claude says with a smirk. Summers are the best time to fuck: no games or practices to get in the way, and plenty of people to watch the boys.

Danny kisses her, dirty and slow, and doesn't even pretend like he's going to get her off before they eat.

"You're a cruel man," Claude says.

"Just patient." Danny drags her into the dining room.

He went all out and got them food from the Italian place they like, so Claude doesn't actually mind having to wait until after dinner. Except then Danny drops a bombshell before they can get up from the table.

"I'm retiring," he says. "After next season."

"You can't," Claude says without thinking, because she can't imagine playing without him on the bench and in the locker room, as part of her team.

"They're not going to renew or extend my contract," Danny says gently, like she's the one who needs to be protected even though he's the one losing hockey. "And I'm not going to ask them to." He shrugs. "I'm getting older. It's about time for me to retire anyway."

"But." Claude blinks. "I want you on my team."

Danny smiles at her. "I'll still be there for you to come home to."

Claude swallows. "Promise?"

"Yes." Danny gets up.

"Where are you going?"

"Just getting something."

Claude turns to watch him rummage through one of the kitchen drawers.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to do this tonight," Danny says, and he comes back and kneels next to her. The thing he got is a box, and when he opens it, there's a ring. "Will you marry me?"

Claude stares at the ring. She wasn't expecting it. They've talked about being together, but not about marriage, and she knows, because she heard Cameron ask Danny about it one time, that Danny and Sylvie talked about getting married a lot before they did it. So if they were ever going to get married, she thought they would talk about it a lot beforehand, not Danny just surprising her with a ring.

Danny's patiently waiting for her, and she snaps out of her shock. "Yes," she says. "Yes."

He puts the ring onto her finger, and she slides off her chair and into his lap.

Claude doesn't realize she's crying until Danny kisses her cheek and says, "I'm always going to be there for you to come home to."

 

+1

Claude's the captain, so they hand her the Cup. Thirty-five pounds feels like nothing when she lifts it above her head, and it's like flying when she skates it around the ice, hometown crowd roaring their approval.

She's planning to give it to Jake when she comes back around, but everyone else skates back a little and Hartsy actually pushes Danny forward.

Danny's as happy as she's ever seen him, laughing and smiling, and he puts his hands up, takes half the weight of the Cup, and meets her eyes for a second before he leans forward and kisses her. It's barely half a second of their lips meeting, and the noise from the crowd surges around them. Too many people have seen them out together not to know that they're a couple, and Claude wears her engagement ring when she's not on the ice, but they've never wanted the hassle and publicity of the press knowing; this is the first time they've acknowledged it publicly.

Claude pushes her way into the crowd of her team, Hartsy hanging onto her while she turns in the middle of them to watch Danny take his lap around the rink. His last game, and it was at home and they won. They won this.

Danny gives the Cup to Jake, and Hartsy pushes Claude toward Danny, and this time she gets to kiss him for real. There are some enthusiastic catcalls from the guys, but the crowd and the cameras are mostly too busy watching Jake to pay attention to them.

"We'll have another ring to go with the wedding rings," Claude says.

Danny laughs and kisses her one more time before letting her go because they still have to hug every other person who helped make this happen. "Married to this too," he says, gesturing at the rink and the crowd and their team and the Cup.