Authors: Elizabeth Moynihan
Writers Club Press
San Jose New York Lincoln Shanghai
All Rights Reserved © 2002 by Constance E. Moynihan
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system, without the permission in writing from the publisher.
Writers Club Press an imprint of iUniverse, Inc.
For information address: iUniverse, Inc. 5220 S. 16th St., Suite 200 Lincoln, NE 68512
Any resemblance to actual people and events is purely coincidental. This is a work of fiction.
ISBN 978-1-4697-8688-9 (ebook)
Printed in the United States of America
I dedicate this book to those who continue to join me on this joyous ride called writing, and willingly offer their knowledge, suggestions, and support. You give me strength and courage, and I will never forget your kindness.
To Bobbi Reidemann, and Cassondra Smothers, two wondrous, special women, whose encouraging input, and subtle nudging made this book come together so magically and wonderfully. What would I do without you both?
To Ethan, the new angel in Bobbi’s eyes. You’re a miracle and destined to do amazing things!
To Elise and Jarrod, my own special angels and the reason I wake up with a smile each day. Thank you for giving me the chance to see my dreams come true!
To my husband, Jeff, who understands how much my writing means to me and doesn’t mind me sharing my time (too much) with my characters; I love you.
And, as always, to Mom. Without you, none of this would be possible.
ergei, this isn’t a race to see how many back crossovers you can do in a minute, slow down and show me some style!” Frank Whittaker’s voice boomed across the wide expanse of ice and echoed off the high ceiling. Casting a frustrated look over his shoulder, he watched as Aleksei Rocmanov, World and Olympic figure skating champion, pushed through the double doors of the ice rink and strode to his long-time coach and manager’s side.
“How’s it going?” Aleksei asked, his tone deep and filled with amusement as he watched Frank roll his eyes in exasperation. Aleksei looked to the ice for his coach’s source of discontent and smiled as he watched his twenty-one year-old son race by him, separated by a waist-high wall. The breeze following Sergei washed over his father in a cool wave.
Despite Frank’s obvious frustration, the two men watched the young man as he continued to speed his way around the rink in powerful ice-eating strokes. Frank cast a dubious look up at Aleksei and was amazed, yet again, to see how much Sergei favored his father. Tall, and rapidly leaving the lanky musculature of a teenager behind, Frank shook his head in wonder as he realized Sergei looked so much like his father at the same age it was scary. Long legged, broad shouldered, and too handsome for his own good, Sergei was already fighting off girls. Inwardly he cringed as he remembered the wild streak Aleksei had displayed until he’d been partnered with the young woman who surprisingly turned out to be the love of his life, and Sergei’s mother, Jordan Jamison. That Sergei had inherited his father’s handsome dark looks, flashing ebony eyes and devastatingly sexy smile was enough to make Frank think of retiring, but the fact he’d inherited his mother’s extreme stubbornness and subtle knack for coercion, Frank found himself, once again, coaching a Rocmanov.
“He sure eats up the ice,” Aleksei stated proudly, watching the ever-lengthening strides as his son continued to fly across the ice.
“No doubt about that. Now, if he’d just show some style,” Frank complained, yelling yet another request toward Sergei as he sped by him. “Damn, his legs look long!” Frank mumbled.
“They are long. It makes his mother crazy because every time she turns around, costumes have to be remade. She can’t even keep him in pants long enough for him to wear them out. Besides going up, he’s going out too and Jordan’s threatening to cut him off from his weight training,” Aleksei chuckled, remembering Jordan’s exasperated expression over the latest stack of pants he’d outgrown and the pile of shirts that couldn’t stretch across his wide shoulders. As he watched his son skate, he again marveled that this muscular young man could have come from the petite woman he had married.
“Speaking of whom, where is Jordan? I thought you two were scheduled for the ice after this obnoxious son of yours was done scoring the surface,” Frank growled.
“Busy chatting with Cynthia in the office. You’d think the two of them hadn’t seen each other in a year the way they were carrying on when I left.”
“What? It has to have been at least a day and a half since they saw each other last.” Frank offered.
“If that–and they spent a good hour on the phone this morning so not much could have happened in the last three hours to warrant this kind of gossip session.” Aleksei added.
.” Frank concluded, casting a knowing nod over Aleksei’s shoulder as the topic of their subject pushed through the doors and walked toward the duo.
?” Jordan asked, first kissing Aleksei sweetly on the lips and then Frank on the cheek.
“Nothing,” both men answered in unison.
Jordan cast both men a disbelieving glance and quipped lightly, knowingly, “Bashing us girls again, aren’t you?”
Negative nods came from both men, but their guilty looks said it all.
“That’s okay, I love you both anyway, even if you are flawed males.” Jordan answered sweetly, turning her gaze to the ice, her eyes lighting with pleasure as she watched her son fly across the shiny surface. “God, he’s gorgeous!” she whispered, pride and love shining clearly in her emerald gaze.
“You’re prejudiced, love-you’re expected to say that-you’re his mother,” Aleksei stated, enfolding her in his arms, her back snugly against his wide, muscular chest, his chin resting on the top of her head.
“Do you disagree?” Jordan asked, her eyes never leaving the figure on the ice.
“Of course not, he is gorgeous. But what else could he be with us for parents?” Aleksei questioned lightly, his voice filled with laughter, his own gaze filled with pride and love.
“All right–enough of this mutual admiration society shit! I want to know how we’re going to get this kid to show some style?” Frank growled, yelling across the ice, yet again, for Sergei to slow down and show some finesse.
“I’ll handle it.” Jordan answered, reaching down to pull the blade guards off her skates and then handing them to her husband. With a quick shrug, her coat slid from her shoulders and into Aleksei’s hands also. “Watch and learn, gentlemen. Sometimes it takes a softer, female, touch to get past the macho ego and into the male brain.”
Jordan quipped, smiling sweetly and stepping through the doorway and onto the ice.
Aleksei and Frank watched Jordan skate slowly toward her son, accustoming herself to the now rough surface. Frank looked up at Aleksei and back at Jordan, shaking his head in puzzlement and wondering for the millionth time how he’d been so lucky as to stumble into coaching Jordan and Aleksei to Olympic Gold almost nineteen years ago. Somehow the time had simply vanished like mist in the sun and the only marker of those nineteen years now skated in the form of a younger Aleksei.
To see Jordan on the ice, looking more like a teenager than the mother of two children, a devilish smile lit up Frank’s lined face and the look he cast Aleksei was filled with mischievous glee. “It’s suddenly dawned on me,
, you’ve got a birthday coming up.” Frank stated casually.
Aleksei recognized the look, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. “Yeah…so?”
Frank shrugged his shoulders. “Just thinking out loud. I have to do that these days, my mind isn’t what it used to be.”
“Your mind is just as quick and devious as it ever was.” Aleksei stated firmly, one brow raised questioningly as he pondered what form his coach’s torture might take this time.
“I don’t know about that. You’re going to be what, fifty-three, fifty-four?”
“Whittaker, you’re pushing it. This is number forty-nine and you know it. You don’t need to add extras just for the hell of it.” Aleksei complained. His age never really bothered him, except when he thought about it. Somehow the years had raced by him, and despite the fact he didn’t feel any older than he had the twenty-five years ago when he’d first been partnered with Jordan, his body was telling him more and more frequently that time was marching on.
“To look at Jordan, you’d think she isn’t old enough to have kids at all, let alone a twenty-one year old.” Frank teased, nodding toward the still petite, very young looking, figure Jordan presented on the ice.
“She doesn’t look any different than she did the day we took Gold at the Olympics,” Aleksei stated softly. He remembered how close he’d come to losing her in a tragic accident, her long road to a complete recovery, despite the doctor’s predictions she would never walk, let alone skate, again, and then their Olympic victory. Silently he sent his thanks to God, yet again, for being blessed with her love and all she’d brought him, and his heart filled with joy and love as he heard his wife call out to their son.
Jordan’s soft voice carried across the ice as she called her son’s name and he immediately changed his direction and skated to her side, sliding gracefully to a stop beside her, spraying her ankles with glittering sparkles of ice.
Aleksei and Whittaker watched silently as the pair on the ice conversed quietly. Whittaker shook his head in amazement. Would he ever get used to the fact Jordan was so petite when compared to her husband and son? The two noted Sergei’s positive nod at something his mother said, then saw a broad smile light up his face as his mother took his hand in hers and the two of them began to circle the ice as a pair.
Jordan talked calmly and softly to her son as they skated across the ice, gradually picking up speed, and cued him when to three-turn so they were skating backward, then guided him as they started their back crossovers. Round and round they circled the rink, their pace controlled and steady, their arm and body positions perfect, their speed incredible as they flew across the ice silently, seemingly without effort. Jordan continued to practice with her son for several more minutes and with a last comment, released his hand and sent him on his own. Coming to a stop at mid-ice, she watched her son continue around the ice, his stride continuing at the same speed and pace as when they’d skated together.
“What do you think, Frank? That looks perfect to me!” Jordan yelled across the ice.
“Shit,” Whittaker grumbled, casting a disgusted look at Sergei as he passed by him, giving him a jaunty salute. “He’s been screwing with me again, hasn’t he?”
“Like father, like son!” Aleksei’s booming laughter echoed across the ice, memories of days gone by when he’d done his best to make Frank crazy flashed through his mind and his laughter grew as he watched his son race toward his mother, scoop her into his arms and spin her in circles. “After all, Frank, it’s a
, my ass, he just likes skating with his mom.” Frank stated, a light suddenly brightening his eyes as the very thought of making him into a pair came to life.
“He’s always liked skating with his mom. Hell, I like skating with his mom!” Aleksei laughed.
“So what if we find him a partner?” Whittaker suggested.
Aleksei’s eyes widened in surprise, his mouth opened and closed as he struggled to speak, his expression filled with disbelief. “You want to make Sergei part of a pair?” Aleksei finally managed to get the words out.
Whittaker laughed, “That’s the same response you had when I made the suggestion to you. Boy, the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
“You’re asking me if I think Sergei can be part of a pair team? Have you even approached him with this idea?”
“It just came to me. I thought I’d run it by you first. If I have your approval it will make it easier to coerce–I mean, convince–Sergei this is a great idea!”
“No, you were right, coerce is the right word for what you have in mind.” Aleksei growled, casting another look at the ice, a smile lighting his eyes as he watched his wife and son skate together. Maybe the idea wasn’t so absurd. As he watched the two skate together, he noted how Sergei automatically adjusted his stride to match his mother’s, just as he himself had done so many years ago, how gently he held her hand and how lovingly he smiled at her. Maybe it wasn’t crazy to think he’d follow in his father’s footsteps, although he’d always believed doing exactly what your father did put unwanted pressures on a son, and he’d never wanted to compete directly with his son, even though Aleksei’s own origins had been as a singles skater.
Frank stood leaning against the short wall, his stance casual, yet he was aware of everything around him. He silently watched as Aleksei’s eyes followed the pair on the ice. Frank could almost hear the wheels spinning in Aleksei’s mind as he silently voiced questions to himself and sought answers they could all live with. With more patience than he imagined he had, Frank stood quietly beside his friend and watched the pair on the ice.
“Ask him,” Aleksei finally stated softly. “But don’t be surprised if he tells you to blow it out your ear!” he finished, slapping his coach’s shoulder in camaraderie, then slipping his own blade guards off and handing both his and Jordan’s guards and coat to Frank. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go skate with my wife!” Aleksei bragged and stepped onto the ice, his long strides taking him quickly to meet Jordan and Sergei on the ice.
With a laugh, Aleksei pulled Jordan into his arms, effectively removing her from their son’s hold, and shooed him off the ice. “Go find your own partner–she’s mine and we’ve got work to do! And Frank wants to talk to you, so pay attention and think before you fly off the handle!” Aleksei yelled toward Sergei’s retreating back, and winked conspiratorially into Jordan’s upturned face, the question
clear in her unspoken look.
With another jaunty salute, Sergei made his way to the edge of the ice and stepped onto the rubber mat, accepting the blade guards Frank handed him and silently slipping them onto his skates. “Dad said you wanted to talk to me,” Sergei stated calmly, his eyes meeting his coach’s.
“Yeah, I’ve got a proposition for you…” Frank stated, and wrapping an arm across Sergei’s already broadening shoulders, led him out the double doors and toward the office.
“Why do I have the feeling Sergei’s not going to like the subject matter of Frank’s discussion?” Jordan asked her husband, her tone semi-serious as she batted away Aleksei’s wandering hands as he tried to pull her back into his arms.
Aleksei looked down at his waif of a wife, her shades of copper hair flowed in soft waves to her shoulders, her emerald eyes shone brightly with love, her smile full of secrets and mischievous. Her shapely figure still made his blood boil hotly and he wished he could whisk her away to some dark corner and ravish her body as he desired to. “Frank’s got some wild idea of turning Sergei into part of a pair.” Aleksei answered calmly, fighting the desire to ravish her right on the ice.