I had to take a break from the Sergei POV scenes to work on some FIGHTING FOR THE EDGE stuff, but I have a new one here to share with you! This is a "never before seen" scene from LIFE ON THE EDGE. If you haven't read the book and you don't want to be spoiled, you'll want to stop here ;) If you don't mind spoilers, feel free to read on!
This scene takes place at the 2001 National Championships in Boston. After Emily and Chris's victory, Sergei didn't celebrate with them, so how did he spend that time? You'll find out! Quick note: his conversation is in Russian but of course written in English here :)
I shut the hotel room door and loosened my tie. I should be downstairs in the restaurant celebrating with Emily and Chris and their families, but I couldn’t be around Emily. Not tonight. Not after the passionate way she’d skated and how emotional she’d been atop the podium. When I’d held her in my arms backstage, it had killed me to let her go.
Part of me had wanted to stay downstairs to see if Drew would join the party. I was curious what exactly was going on with Emily and him. After they’d been inseparable in Paris and he’d sent her those flowers, I assumed they were more than friends. But I saw the way Emily still looked at me. She hadn’t been able to forget what happened between us either. All the time we’d spent together, the kiss at the cliffs… I should’ve put it all out of my mind, but instead I was holding onto it like a lifeline.
As I dropped my jacket and credential badge onto the bed, my phone vibrated in my pocket. I pulled it out, knowing exactly who the caller would be.
“Good morning,” I answered, referring to Moscow time.
“I hope you have good news this morning?” My mother’s cheerful voice rang clear. “I could hardly sleep, wondering how Emily and Chris skated.”
“They skated better than they ever have.” I sat in the chair next to the window and stretched my legs over the ottoman. “And they won the title.”
“Sergei, that’s wonderful! I know how much you wanted this for them. You’ve worked so hard.”
I smiled at how proud she sounded. She called after every competition to ask about my students’ results, and she was always supportive, regardless of the scores.
“It was a great night. I’ll send you the videotape so you can see it. The crowd was so loud I couldn’t hear the music at the end.”
“You must be getting ready to celebrate. I won’t keep you.”
I stared at the quiet, empty hotel room. “I’m pretty beat, so I left Emily and Chris with their families.”
“Sometimes I worry you work too hard. You need a life outside the rink… so you can meet a nice girl.”
What if I’ve already found the perfect girl inside the rink?
I hadn’t been able to talk to any of my friends about Emily because they were all fellow coaches. My mother was probably the only person I could tell. It might feel good to talk about it out loud after months of arguing with myself in my head.
“I actually did meet someone,” I said.
“You have? Tell me all about her!”
Visions of Emily filled my mind, and I rested my head against the chair. “She’s beautiful. And it’s not just the way she looks. It’s... the person she is.”
“She sounds very special.”
“She is. She’s sweet and smart and so talented. And we have a lot in common. She loves to read as much as I do.”
“You’re a perfect match,” she said, and I could hear her smiling.
I sighed and rubbed my hand through my hair. “Not exactly. There’s one big problem.”
A pause hung over the line. “She’s not married, is she?”
“No,” I said quickly. “Nothing like that.”
“Then what is it?”
I tapped my fingers on the arm of the chair. “The girl is Emily.”
Another few beats of silence followed before she spoke, “I see how that might cause some problems, but coaches and skaters get involved all the time. Many of them get married even.”
“That’s true in Russia, but it’s a lot different here. Our federation doesn’t want coaches and students dating. It’s a very strongly implied rule.”
“Oh. Well, that does make it more difficult.”
“It’s so frustrating because if Emily wasn’t my student, I know we could have something more…”
“Sergei, please be careful. You’ve made such a good life for yourself there, and I’m so proud of you. I don’t want you to lose everything.”
She sounded genuinely afraid, and I couldn’t blame her. She’d had to watch helplessly as I’d lost my chance to skate at the Olympics, all because of my bad decisions.
“I won’t let that happen,” I said as I worked the knot on my tie loose. “I just don’t know how to get Emily out of my head.”
“Maybe you can’t be together right now, but she won’t always be your student. Your time can still come.”
I thought back to Paris and seeing Emily kissing Drew outside the hotel. My jaw clenched, and I yanked the tie from around my neck. “I can’t expect her to wait for me, and there will be plenty of guys interested in her. There’s already one.”
“If you’re meant to be together, it will happen, no matter how much time or how many people come between you.”
I wanted to believe life worked out that way, but there were too many unknowns. Someone could swoop in and steal Emily’s heart, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.