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Authors: Jennifer Comeaux

Edge of the Past

BOOK: Edge of the Past
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Edge of the Past

by Jennifer Comeaux

Published by Astraea Press

www.astraeapress.com

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

 

EDGE OF THE PAST

Copyright © 2012 JENNIFER COMEAUX

ISBN 978-1-62135-106-1

Cover Art Designed by For the Muse Designs

 

To Jennifer Herd for helping me find the light when I was lost in the dark. Thank you for giving me your honest thoughts, being my “Emotion Police,” and listening to all my rambling ideas.

I wouldn’t have been able to finish this book without your help!

 

Also by Jennifer Comeaux from Astraea Press

 

Life on the Edge

Chapter One

February,
2003

 

Last
practice before Grand Prix Final. No mistakes!

I repeated that over and over in my mind as Chris pulled me into our pairs spin, our blades tracing tight circles on the ice. We whirled around, and I caught a glimpse of Sergei, our coach and my fiancé, keenly observing us. In two days I’d be visiting his home country of Russia and meeting his parents for the first time. All while trying to win one of the biggest competitions of the season.
No sweat!

“Em! Emily!”

Chris’s voice jolted me back to our program and the gentle orchestral strains of “Clair de Lune.” We’d come out of the spin, and I was doing the steps but not looking at my partner. I focused on Chris’s steady brown eyes, keeping the connection through the final seconds of our run-through. After we cooled down by stroking lightly around the ice, we met Sergei near the boards.

“You were a little shallow on the footwork,” Sergei said, rubbing the slight stubble on his chin. “But everything else was solid.”

I nodded and blew an errant strand of hair off my nose while Chris grabbed his water bottle from the boards. “Time to start the weekend, then!” he said and hopped off the ice.

I smiled up at Sergei. He smiled back but with a hint of concern in his deep blue eyes.

“You’ve seemed a bit distracted the last few days,” he said.

I twisted the end of my long ponytail around my finger and looked toward my training mates motoring around the rink. “I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about the trip.”

“Just remember…” He squeezed my shoulder, and my skin warmed from his touch. “Competition first, everything else second. We’ll have plenty of time after the event for family and sightseeing.”

I let out a long breath. As usual, Sergei held the key to calming my nerves. It was the reason he’d been the perfect coach for me the past four years. And one of the reasons I loved him beyond words.

Since we liked to maintain a professional appearance at the rink, I couldn’t give Sergei the kiss I wanted to give him at the moment. But I’d have more than enough opportunity later during our dinner date.

“I need to get home and do some more packing.” I reached for my bottle of orange sports drink. “See you at seven?”

“I’ve been looking forward to it all day,” he said, dropping his voice low.

I shot him a grin and stepped through the ice door, ready to unwind and not stress about the Final for a few hours.

****

Surrounded by two large suitcases and over half the contents of my closet, I stood with my hands on my hips, mentally scrolling through the wardrobe I’d need on the trip. My bedroom, which I normally kept as neat as the rest of the townhouse, looked like it had been hit by a tornado of clothing and accessories. My mother would give me a look of disapproval if she saw the room’s current state. The house on Cape Cod had been a summer retreat for my parents and me until I moved into it full-time to train on the island.

I snapped my fingers as I thought of the leather boots I needed to pack. My roommate Aubrey had borrowed them, so I jogged down the two flights of stairs to her room and found the boots strewn across the beige carpet. The distant chime of my cell phone quickened my return trip upstairs. I grabbed the phone from where I’d tossed it on the bed and saw my mom’s name on the tiny screen.

“Hey, sweetie,” she greeted me. “Guess what I have in my hand? Your wedding invitations.”

I gasped. “They weren’t supposed to be ready for another two weeks.”

“Just picked them up. They look beautiful.”

I smiled at Mom’s enthusiasm, remembering a time not long ago when she thought I was too young at twenty-two to get married. But during the past few months, she dove into the wedding plans and helped me organize the chaos amid my busy competition schedule.

“Can you bring one on the trip to show Sergei’s parents?” I asked.

“Already planned on it.” Shuffling ensued in the background. “I’ve been going over my Russian words and phrases every night. But you said Sergei’s parents’ English is getting better, right?”

I cradled the phone between my shoulder and ear so I could fold a pair of stretchy warm-up pants. “His mom’s is. Last time she called Sergei, I talked to her and we could understand each other pretty well. His dad hasn’t been quite as dedicated to learning.”
Because I don’t think he’s interested in talking to me
. Mom didn’t need to know that detail, though.

“Well, I guess as long as we can talk to one of them, we can get by.”

And oh, how Mom could talk. I had visions of her rambling to Sergei’s poor mother, who’d be totally confused. Hopefully, Dad would rein Mom in like he usually did.

“Can I call you back tomorrow?” I asked. “I want to finish packing before I have to get ready for dinner.”

“Sure, go ahead. We’ll catch up tomorrow.”

I surveyed the mess around me and set to the task of putting together outfits and transferring them to the luggage. By the time I ducked into my bathroom to shower and change, I had two tidily packed suitcases.

Sergei arrived a minute before seven, and my stomach fluttered at the sight of him through the narrow foyer window. His short golden brown hair and his blue eyes shone under the porch light as he stood casually with his hands in his pockets. Tall and lean with the perfect amount of muscle, he was in the same superb physical shape as the elite athletes he trained. I wondered if I’d still feel the butterflies long after we were married. Taking another glance at Sergei’s handsome face, I decided the answer was yes.

I opened the door and didn’t let Sergei speak as I locked my lips on his. He circled his arms around my waist, hugging me against his soft leather jacket.

“That’s a nice hello,” he said with a smile.

I gave him another quick kiss. “Let me get my coat.”

Sergei helped me slip my lightweight trench over my sweater, and soon we were in his SUV, traveling toward Hyannis’s Main Street. An earlier rain shower had slicked the roads and added dampness to the chilly evening. As we pulled up to the Roadhouse Café and walked across the parking lot, I could feel the long waves of my hair frizzing.

Inside the restaurant, the hostess seated us at a cozy table beside the brick fireplace. We ordered matching glasses of red wine and laughed when we correctly guessed each other’s entrée choices. The comfortable predictability never bored me. With so much drama in the skating world, I relished stability in my personal life.

Sergei took my hand, and our clasped fingers rested on the white tablecloth. “Did you get more packing done?”

“Almost finished. I just need to pack the gifts I bought for your parents.”

“My mother’s going to love you. Every time I talk to her, she tells me how excited she is about our visit.”

“She’s so sweet. I’m really looking forward to meeting her, too. It’s your dad I’m nervous about…”

Sergei’s face clouded over, and he gripped my hand tighter. “Once he meets you, he’ll see this is a completely different situation from what happened years ago.”

I took a sip of wine and cleared my throat. What happened years ago was something Sergei didn’t usually talk about much – his relationship with his skating partner Elena and her resulting pregnancy, which had ended their partnership. Sergei hadn’t seen or spoken to her since her wealthy and powerful father had sent her away and made her give up the baby.

“I understand he’s skeptical because you’re mixing your career with a personal relationship again.” I looked up into Sergei’s eyes. “But he needs to forget about the past. That was ten years ago. You’re not eighteen anymore.”

Sergei brushed his thumb over the solitaire diamond on my ring finger. “I know. I’m hoping he’ll be reasonable.”

“If my mom could get on board with us, then anyone should be able to.” I gave him a crooked smile. “No one’s more stubborn than her.”

“I’m very glad I’m on her good side now.” Sergei chuckled and took a long drink of wine. “It’s much nicer than the days when she thought I was going to break your heart and ruin your career.”

“I’d suggest she talk to your dad, but with her flimsy Russian and his limited English, that could be a disaster.”

“Well, like I said today, I don’t want you worrying about it during the competition.”

I nodded and toyed with the tea candle on the table. “It’s kinda crazy that our first competition in Russia will be in the same arena where you skated for the last time.”

Sergei turned his attention to the crackling fire. “That night feels like a thousand years ago.”

Knowing that time wasn’t a favorite topic of discussion with Sergei, I was debating whether to continue when our waiter appeared with our dinner, placing a steaming plate of shrimp and asparagus ravioli in front of me and a platter of baked scallops in front of Sergei. We set aside the serious talk while we ate and chatted instead about the various landmarks in St. Petersburg and Moscow that Sergei planned to show me.

The lingering smell of rain met me as we left the restaurant, and I huddled close to Sergei’s side to block the strengthening wind. He wrapped his arm around me, nestling me to him.

After the short drive to my house, we snuggled together on the living room couch and found an 80’s comedy to watch on TV. Not long into the movie, the double run-throughs Chris and I’d done at practice that morning caught up to me, and my eyelids began to droop. Sergei kissed my forehead.

“I’ll let you get some sleep.”

I lifted my head from his shoulder and yawned. “I’m sorry. Somebody worked me too hard today.” I poked his firm chest.

He caressed my cheek as his adoring eyes gazed upon mine. “Four months and two weeks until I don’t have to say goodnight anymore.”

“Why do I have the feeling you’ll want to leave our wedding reception as early as possible?” I giggled.

“I might slip the DJ some money to hurry up the last dance.”

“We don’t have to stay until the last dance,” I said, fingering the collar of his shirt.

“That is excellent news.”

Sergei kissed me, and I ran my fingers along the nape of his neck and through his hair. His lips traveled from my mouth to the delicate spot below my ear, sending a shiver through me. I wrapped my arms around his strong shoulders and sighed as he decorated my neck with more kisses.

We eventually made the slow walk from the sofa to the foyer, where we shared another long embrace. Every night it got harder to let Sergei leave, but waiting until marriage to be together in every way was important to me.

My family took our Catholic faith seriously, and I had always known I wanted my first time to be with my husband. Sergei respected my beliefs and had been so patient, waiting over two years and counting. We’d set boundaries for our physical relationship, but there’d been times we’d come very close to crossing them. Sergei had probably taken enough cold showers for a lifetime.

I waved at Sergei as he drove out of the parking lot and rubbed my hands when I returned to the warmth of the house. On my way upstairs, I peeked at my watch. Aubrey wouldn’t be home from her late movie date for a while.

After I got comfortable in my pajamas, I climbed into bed with my laptop to check email but never made it to my inbox. Thinking back to the conversation at dinner, I pulled up a search engine and typed
Sergei Petrov and Elena Gorshkova
. With a click on the Images tab, I landed on a page of photos from Sergei and Elena’s competitive days.

I’d looked at the pictures before – Sergei and Elena with their World Junior Championship gold medals, action shots from their winning free skate, and their celebration in the kiss and cry when they received their scores. But now I studied them longer, knowing I’d soon be in the city where all the history had taken place.

Elena and I had the same petite build, perfect for pairs skating, but our other physical features differed greatly. Her raven hair, cut in a bob, contrasted with my long, dark blonde locks. And her eyes were brown, almost black – the total opposite of my blue ones.

BOOK: Edge of the Past
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