Samuru (Sam) Ogawa is on track to be in his life’s dream…the Olympics as a figure-skater. All is gliding along smoothly until he literally bumps into one of the biggest bullies he’s ever met; a hockey player named Brett Zephyr. He’s well known for being a brash, hot-headed, caveman who thinks about nothing but hockey and his bimbo girlfriend.
Things are tense and the walls between them build until unforeseen events begin to break the ice between them. But as the coolness melts away; other players come in to build them back as quickly as they fell. Family forces, friends, and secrets threaten to destroy all they’ve created.
Can Sam and Brett make things work or are they just too opposite? Can a figure skater find true love with a hockey player?
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“….and swing your leg out, that’s it…” He watched Amber’s skinny leg jut out awkwardly as she attempted the maneuver, his eyes trained to her posture as momentum brought her around to face him. “… and land on the pick, and down,” he instructed, as he heard a ‘slap’ of Amber’s blade hitting the ice, not the crisp sound that his made. She’d landed on the flat of the blade again. He looked up into her eyes, which were as brown as the hue of her tightly-bunned hair. She looked nervous, scared actually, but accomplished.
He let go of one of her hands and her mouth was open wide, half-smiling and half-wondering.
“How’d I do, Sam? How’d I do?” She was practically jumping up and down with glee.
Sam scratched his black hair. “You did pretty well, Amber, really. Not bad at all for doing just a few of these.” He wanted to build her confidence. Nothing was ever served by bashing a bad landing, unless it was either technically incorrect or painful to do. If she landed on a flat, so be it.
“So now I can do waltz jumps?” Her eyes beamed and she did a quick twirl on one foot, nearly toppling over at the end of it, which Sam rescued her from.
“Whoa there… watch your footing now. You start just spinning off like that, you’re going to need a lot more practice,” he teased, tapping her button nose. “I’m not your full coach yet, hon. I’ve got my own to contend with, remember?”
He winced, thinking of his harsh coach, the ever prominent Harry Fuchs, which of course, was converted into all sorts of nasty translations when his back was turned or he wasn’t around. But despite his nasty temper, he had been one hell of a figure skater in his day, a gold medalist, and one of the best ever in the region. Sam was in great hands, at least as for the sport. They’d never be friends, which Harry had all but assured him was fine with him.
Amber finally let go of his hand and stood back, her eyes trained on him. “Come on, Sammy, show your best friend one of your waltz jumps again, so I can see how it’s really done.”
Sam groaned, but in complete jest. He didn’t mind being the center of attention, especially when it came to his art, his sport, his craft...hell, his life. Figure skating. Something his mother pushed him into when he was four years old and despite some roughness at first, he’d grown to adore it. He was nearly at national’s level; he had yet to perfect his triple axel though. Most were doing quads, but he didn’t feel that strong….yet.
“Alright, alright, just a few, okay?” He expertly maneuvered away from his friend and began a short drill of back crossovers and finally to a forward three-turn into what he considered a fair waltz jump. He’d mastered it so long ago that the move was now blasé to him, but it was gold to Amber.
She applauded every step he did, even the landing, which he noted she was bent over, seeing how his foot was on the ice. “So that’s how it’s supposed to look.” She fingered her bun, looking nervous. “Sammy… I’m not supposed to land on the full foot, am I?” she pouted, and he couldn’t help but smile at her.
“Sweetie… no. But you’re learning… but no. Harry told me a long time ago the sooner bad habits are broken, the easier it is to move on to how the move is really done.” He held out his hands to her. “I’ll show you again, if you want.”
With a gasp, Amber nodded. “Of course! You’re the best teacher ever, Sammy. I’ll get it right this time, you watch me!” She waggled a finger at him and he laughed to himself. With a firm grip on both of her hands, he led her around in a circle, and then counted out the steps again.
“Now turn, stretch, and point your toe…” He held onto her hands extra tight as she finally landed on the toe pick first, but quickly went to the rest of the blade. It was ideal!
“How was that?” she asked anxiously.
“It was great! You did it!” Sam replied, his voice happy and bubbly.
Amber gasped. “I did? I did!” She realized it at last and pulled him in for a hug. “Thank you!
Her happiness was contagious and he enjoyed the thanks he received. He wished he got it from Harry too; he waited until he was home to be congratulated by his sister, who was his biggest fan. Kimora, or Kim which is what she went by, was only ten, but was also working her way up the skating ladder. It was only a matter of time until she was ready to compete on a grand scale.
“You are very welcome.” He patted her hands and let them go. So many people thought that they were an item, but nothing could be further from the truth. They were the best of pals, on and off the ice, but that was all. Sam’s heart lay along a different destiny, one which his parents did not know about, nor his coach. It was hell not being able to tell them he was gay; not even in a sport where a few of the other boys were as well, but he dared not speak about it. He’d found solace in Amber being the only one to know, and it was enough for him. At least for now. A gentle whack was felt on his arm and he turned to see Amber grinning at him. “Buy you a soda if you want. I don’t have an apple for the teacher.”
He rolled his eyes. “Oh, no thanks. I’m good. I’ve got my water bottle over there. Too much soda will keep me up too late and give me cavities. Can’t have that.”
“Oh, heavens no,” she agreed and after a quick push-off on her blade, she was gone.
Sam let out a deep sigh. It’d been quite the January afternoon with Amber there. Just the two of them… and the few dozen other skaters who fought their way around the oval like they were on a cold treadmill. The oval was never enough for him; he had to do more.
A sudden wave of boisterous voices broke his silent reverie as he nearly slipped from the prep for a scratch spin. Oh shit, he thought as he saw what they were wearing. It was the hockey players… what he called the ‘demons’ of the ice. They left ruts so deep he’d requested the Zamboni nearly scrap the surface down to the base. He dug his toe pick in, fists balled, and snatched his water bottle from the top of the wall before the rude, crude boys could make their way over to it and knock it over, or maybe spit in it.
You won’t touch my bottle, oh hell no. Why did they have to share the ice with these assholes? Why couldn’t they have an entire rink devoted the athleticism and beauty of figure skating and not the boorish, blood sport show that hockey was. What was the whole point of it anyway? To see how many fist fights one could get into in a single game? Sam shuddered at the thought. He’d seen these games in action and the teeth flying out of their mouths. No thanks.
As the boys passed by, a few called out to him as he stood by the wall and drank his water; he retreated the closer they came. “Takin’ a break, Sammy boy? I’m sure that’s such hard work, huh?” One of the boys started harassing Sam. He looked over his shoulder at his chuckling brethren.
Sam didn’t respond but continued drinking. He wished they’d just go away and leave him alone.
“Hey, where’s your hottie, Sammy?” another asked, obviously referring to Amber. He wanted to reply, but why give them what they wanted by responding?
After most of the line passed, carrying their enormous overstuffed bags and spitting randomly into the seating area, Sam glanced up and saw someone he kinda knew, unfortunately. It was that big kid, Brett Z…something. He could never remember last names of the people who got on his nerves. His parents had worked with him to remember names, but he still had a tough time with it. Like now.
As the tall, built blond passed by, Sam caught his eye briefly - that was a mistake. Brett stiffened and shot him a look back.
“What the fuck are you lookin’ at, ice fairy boy? You just go about your little twirls and shit. This is a man’s sport.” He held up his bag and slapped it, fairly snarling like a grizzly bear afterwards.
Sam narrowed his eyes, but didn’t respond. He’d been called all sorts of names from his classmates; this was nothing new to him, unfortunately. Amber usually was there with him, but he’d trained himself to ignore their digs. Go ahead, what will it be this time? Dweeb? Loser? Geek? Princess? Faggy boy? The moniker ‘ice fairy’ was somewhat new to the repertoire; it must’ve been made up by Brett himself. How precious.
As he felt his ire rise and the coolness of the ice fade with his warming blood, a refreshing sound was heard next to him.
“What’s going on, sweetie?” Amber asked, putting her soda down next to his water bottle. “Is this Neanderthal giving you trouble again? Whatsa matter? The other cavemen leave you behind for your afternoon gruntings?” she shot at Brett, with Sam hiding the smile he so badly wanted to show.
“Nope, just makin’ sure this little princess ain’t giving me any looks. I’ll bust your ass, boy, you just wait.” He pointed a threatening finger at Sam, and he had to admit, the gesture was more than a tad scary, especially given Brett’s size. But the bigger they were… at least that’s how he calmed himself enough to not look petrified.
Another voice broke the scene. “Brett… you stirring up trouble over here again?” A tall, slinky blond skated up and gave Brett a kiss unlike he’d ever seen. His parents would certainly never do that in public, much less in front of him. It was as if their faces had melted together and morphed into one big, blond beast.
Brett slipped an arm around her very slim waist, and it nearly went around her circumference. “Just making sure I’m not gettin’ the eye from this one. I gotta go practice, babe. See you later, hottie.” He kissed her again and he squeezed part of her anatomy, which brought a blush to her face.
“Okay, baby. Be careful now. I’ll be watching.”
Without another word, Brett slipped by the other two and into the locker room, and thankfully he shut the door. The overwhelming din from there already hurt Sam’s ears.
As if a switch had been flipped, the tall blonde turned to them, an accusatory finger pointing at them. “You two leave him alone, you understand? He needs to work on his game and he doesn’t need your distractions, fairy boy, doing your little twirls. I see you out there, you show off!” She put her hands on her slender hips and harrumphed at him. My, my, someone was jealous!
Sam beat down the laughter inside of him that wanted to come pouring out, and he kept a tight grip on it. “I’ll certainly try to tone it down, Tiffani. I wouldn’t want to get anyone injured.” He tried to keep the smarminess from his tone, but at this moment, it was too irresistible.
Tiffani was a pain the ass, a hockey cheerleader, of course, involved, apparently quite heavily, with the captain of the team, who was mister fabulous caveman, Brett. She was a tall drink of water, at 5’11”, and all hair and mouth. There was little physique to her. Amber was slim, but this one disappeared when she turned sideways. Too thin in Sam’s opinion, but that was him.
With a sneer, Tiffani skated off, back to doing the ovals that she’d mastered. What pride she must have in that accomplishment…not. Oh well. It wasn’t for him to judge. … but with that attitude, he wouldn’t dare approach her to offer lessons in this lifetime.
He took Amber’s hand as he caught the guard coming out with the orange cones to separate the rink into two areas; one for them, the other for hockey. “Come on, let’s have fun while we still can.”
With a smile, she nodded and joined him. “Sounds good, sweetie. Come on.”
Within ten minutes, the two were laughing and having fun again. Sam sported a lovely scratch spin and spiral just for Amber who had requested that. She tried the moves herself, but had slipped both times.
A bang of the metal door interrupted them again as the loud hockey team made their way to the ice for their practice. It was like watching a horde of killer robots approach you and here you were, trapped in the center, with no weapons except your might and your words. It wasn’t fun, but Sam tried to adapt to the rink’s not-so-brilliant brainstorm of shared ice time. It was all to make money, of course. Hockey brought in the bucks, not figure skating. Wait, scratch that, it did, but only if it were a major competition, but they hadn’t won a bid for one of those in years. Hence the hockey goons and hence Brett.
Sam had to admit they all looked very buff in their uniforms. They didn’t have all the gear on for this, but just the jerseys looked nice on their built bodies. He also had to admit, Brett did look good, but that was all that was good about him. He wished silently that they practiced at the other rink a few miles away, but it was too small he supposed. As for them sharing the ice, he’d have to deal with it or go home in defeat and hell no, that was not happening. Amber steered his gaze away from the others. “Come on, show me a toe loop again. I keep getting confused on what’s what.”
How could he say no to that? He couldn’t. Not with those eyes and the sweetness that was Amber. He wished so many times he weren’t gay and they could be a couple, but as hard as he tried and fought things, it wasn’t meant to be; he was who he was and he was very happy to have a dear friend like her.
“Alright, I’ll show it to you step by step, okay?” he offered, appeasing her wish and began to make the move. “Remember now, three turn, then pick, then kick… and then land.” He glided backwards on his blade and she applauded.
“I’ll never get that one,” she pouted.
He stopped in front of her and groaned. “Stop saying things like that. You’ll start to believe them and make them come true. Come on now, you can do it. I know you can.”
As patiently as he could, Sam led her through the steps, slowly and methodically. He caught a blur going by them from time to time, one who was barely there and figured it was Tiffani. She circled them like an anorexic vulture. But the other blur, was a big one. It was Brett. What the fuck was he doing this close to their zone?
He ignored it for now and continued helping his friend. “Alright, now put your toe pick in, then turn…” She looked scared to death, but he clamped her hands tighter. “I’ve gotcha, it’s okay.”
When her nerves were assuaged, her movement continued… and he guided her to rotate and finally land on the other foot, shakily, but it was something.
“How’d I do?” she asked.
Sam patted her arm. “It needs some work, but not bad for your second one of those…ever.” He laughed. “It takes months to years, Amber. Trust me, and it’s different for everyone. Just because I can do it, doesn’t mean you can do it just like me.”
“Lemme see yours again!” she requested. With a sigh, Sam nodded and let go of her hands and began his entrance to the jump again. He’d keep it to a simple single, not only to go easy during the practice, but also not to overly ‘show off’ for the vulture.
With his toe pick firmly in the ice, Sam kicked his free leg around and made a perfect rotation in the air, and landed on the takeoff foot perfectly, just like Harry and the book showed how to do. But wait…there was something else… what the?
With the force of a brick wall hitting him, or at least akin to it, Sam collided with something or someone…and they didn’t budge. He pitched forward and fell down, knee-first on the ice. His face contorted and his fingers, ungloved, clawed at the cold surface for a grasp, to stop his forward movement. It didn’t work. He was aware of voices, and laughter, loud, raucous laughter, with one higher pitch tone screaming out. It had to be Amber. The vulture was too busy laughing.
Finally, his motion stopped, friction, thank goodness. He tossed his black hair to the side and looked up, seeing all the faces around him. There was Amber, Tiffani, and the guard. Tiffani stood way back, right next to Brett. The guard and Amber were right there though, with waiting hands to help him up.
“You alright, hon?” It was Megan, the sweet rink guard that was his age and in his class. She always kept an eye on him.
Sam started to nod at first, but he was still in shock over the collision. What had he hit? His dark brown eyes darted around, wondering if he’d hit the wall. No, too far away. It had to be… he glared at Tiffani. Of course… but wait, her body was slimmer than his, surely she wouldn’t feel like a brick wall. There was only one who could feel like that… and he trained his eyes on Brett.
“Wha…What happened, Amber?” he asked her, hoping she could supply the answer.
“You…and Brett hit each other…as you landed… he swung out of his side and into ours.” She had gritted her teeth and had an angry look he’d luckily only seen a couple of times. So it was Brett!
Sam took Megan's hand in one and Amber's in the other and they hoisted him back to his feet.
He grunted and glanced back at Brett, who looked like the cat that swallowed the canary.
His ire rose and he stared the blond down, as much as he could at his height and all hunched over.
"You! Why'd you run into me?" He pointed his finger at the smarmy teen and felt his blood start to boil.
"You could've really hurt him!" Amber added.
Brett put up his hands and backed away. "Geez, chill the fuck out, willya? It was an accident!"
Amber tsked at him. "Ha! I'm not buyin' that! You tripped him on purpose!" she practically screeched. Sam didn't like it when she sounded that way; it reminded him of nails on a chalkboard.
"I did not!" Brett shot back, but he was defeated by the looks Sam and Amber gave him.
A sweet voice broke the stare fest. It was Megan. "Are you alright, Sammy?" She'd always picked him up after his falls or collisions with the other skaters.
In the back of his mind he could have sworn she had a crush on him, but perhaps it was all in his head.
With a soft grin and a gentle touch to her hand, Sam responded with a nod. "I'm fine, Megan, thanks again. You're my guardian angel."
She blushed lightly and patted his shoulder. "Anytime." With a last quick glance, she dug in her toe pick and with a fast push, skated off.
Amber didn't seem convinced. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Her hands were on her hips...uh oh. A sure-fire sign she was pissed.
"I'll be okay, Amber. I think I'll go take a breather."
He looked over his shoulder at Brett, who was being corralled by his hockey goons.
He didn't look the least bit remorseful about any of it, especially not with any of them around. Though, his mouth was open and his hand was reaching out... until the others showed up.
Was there even hope he was truly human after all? No. Couldn't have been. He was a jackass, and that's all there was to that.
As Sam dug his toe pick in, his knee twinged and he felt pain in it, but wouldn't let on, not in front of all those assholes. They were practically salivating, waiting like a pack of wolves over a fresh kill. It was nauseating.
"Let's just go in."
With a quick nod, Amber took his hand and they skated quickly to the end of the rink and walked into the warming room.