Chapter Seven – Reese
“What have I gotten myself into?” I grumbled as Donna and I hurried away from where we’d left Dmitri and Mikhail.
“Oh, come on, you know you want to get with him.” Donna bumped my shoulder. “Dmitri’s the second hottest guy at the Summer Games.”
I stopped her and raised my eyebrows. “Second hottest?”
“Second to Mikhail, of course,” she said playfully.
“Yeah, right.” I chuckle-snorted and kept walking. “What is it with you two? I mean, you didn’t look twice at one another at Worlds last year. And now you’re practically exclusive after two days of flirting.”
“I don’t know.” Donna shrugged. “Maybe we’ve both grown up. Maybe I didn’t notice him until he started flirting with me. Maybe we never would have met if Dmitri hadn’t been pining for you.”
“Dmitri is not pining for me.” I scoffed at the notion. “He’s in love with Kira Zykina, remember.”
“That’s not what Micky said.” Donna shook her head. “She likes him, but he doesn’t like her.”
“They were kissing at World Championships, remember?” I pointed my arm to the north as if we could see all the way to Belgium from Paris. “They were the reason I fell off the balance beam during my final rotation when I had been in first place! First place! They cost me a gold medal. I barely held onto silver. Do you have any idea how mortifying it was to have the whole gymnastics world know that the reason I didn’t win a gold medal was because I had a crush on a stupid, cocky, showoff Russian guy who was hooking up with one of his teammates from the RGF? And the only reason he was flirting with me was to distract me so that his girlfriend could swoop in and win the gold. How the heck do you think that made me feel?”
I was breathing heavy and had raised my voice and drawn the attention from onlookers. Great. I huffed and kept walking toward the Metro line where we would settle in for a nice, long fifteen-kilometer train ride back to the Olympic Village. With any luck we’d be dropped off at the Team USA building before Dmitri and Mikhail even left the Bercy Arena.
Why would I ever think we’d be that lucky?
We hadn’t even gotten settled on the train before Mikhail and Dmitri slid into the seats on either side of us. Seriously? I folded my arms and scowled.
“Gosh, I hadn’t even gotten a text from you yet,” Donna said with a flirting lilt to her voice, practically batting her eyelashes at Mikhail. “And now here you are.”
“Well, we heard your heated argument as you were leaving the arena and Dmitri insisted that we hurry over here to make sure Reese was okay.”
“Oh, did he?” I turned and sneered at my nemesis.
“For the record—” Dmitri offered his best Bill Clinton intimidation and stated unequivocally, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman—Miss Zykina. These allegations are false.”
“Very funny,” I grumbled.
“Indeed, I did have a tiny relationship with Miss Zykina that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgement and a failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.” The comedic nature of his stoic face nearly broke my composure and I fought not to laugh, or even smile. “In my defense, she is a really good kisser. But kissing is all we’ve ever done. I promise.” Dmitri lowered his gaze and licked his lips with a puppy dog look in his eyes.
“You are impossible.” I turned away from him and lifted my chin, afraid that if I allowed myself to be taken in by those chocolate brown eyes, I would fall to his charms again and make a fool out of myself again.
“But am I forgiven?” he asked in a fabricated repentant voice.
“I’ll think about it,” I said.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Dmitri shifted right back into his cocky voice and attitude then rested his arm around my shoulders. “Now, what do you say we pick up where we left off in Belgium, before we were so rudely interrupted by my ex-girlfriend, and we can discuss the future of our relationship.”
“I thought we established that you weren’t allowed to touch me.” I peeled his arm from around my shoulders, but he took advantage of my hand on his and laced his fingers with mine.
“You were being so pleasant for a minute there that I thought I was already in bed and dreaming.”
“If you were in bed already, you wouldn’t need my hand in yours.” I pulled my hand away and cringed at the implications.
Mikhail laughed wholeheartedly and Dmitri sat back in his seat with a red face and neck. Good. Let him squirm. He deserved it.
“Is it warm in here?” Dmitri tugged at his collar playfully.
“Only because you’re getting all heated up over a hot American chick,” Mikhail said. “Even the Volchara has his limitations.”
“Reese Arnett is much more than just a hot American chick,” Dmitri chastised Mikhail. “She is a lady and deserves to be treated as such.”
“You’re so full of crap, Dmitri Volkov,” I said.
Dmitri leaned closer and spoke in a low voice. “But you like me this way.”
“I do not like you at all,” I insisted.
“Wow, we’ve jumped all the way to love so soon. You move fast, woman.”
I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose. This train ride was only half over, and I was ready to throw this guy out the window. That, or push him against his seat and press my lips to his, hungry for the touch I insisted I didn’t want.
Donna changed the subject. “Um, what does your strange nickname mean?”
“Volchara?” Dmitri seemed to be blushing. “Roughly translated it means enormous wolf.”
“What? Are your friends Team Jacob, or something?” I snickered.
“Our team is called the Russian Olympic Committee. I don’t know of a nation called Jacob.” Dmitri must never have read a Twilight novel or seen the movies, or he wouldn’t be confused.
“Never mind,” I said. “Explain why they call you an enormous wolf.”
“My last name, Volkov means belonging to the wolves, or originating from wolves,” Dmitri said. “A few years ago, I bulked up and one of my comrades joked that I was a volchara, and the name just stuck.” As if to emphasize the accuracy of his nickname, Dmitri flexed his arm muscle and wiggled his eyebrows at me.
“You don’t impress me.” I fake-yawned.
“Liar.” Dmitri must have realized I’d had enough teasing for one night, and he struck up a conversation with Donna and Mikhail about the mistake he’d made on the pommel horse.
I took a tiny bit of satisfaction from the notion that I was able to fluster him enough to mess up. He kept glancing at me and smiling and even winked at me once. I rolled my eyes and turned away, fighting the tiny grin pulling at the corners of my mouth.
I was in trouble already and this was still only the second day of the Games.
Chapter Eight – Dmitri
“So, where are you guys from?” Donna asked Mikhail while I fought the urge to make another move on Reese. She had already insisted that she didn’t want me to have my arm around her, or her hand in mine.
“We were both originally from Moscow,” Mikhail answered Donna. “But we didn’t meet each other until we both moved to Penza for training in our early teens,”
“Now we train in Novosibirsk,” I added. “We live at the dorms there and have a huge training center with a gym and great equipment, and its own competition arena.”
“You live in dorms?” Reese asked with a sneer.
“Yes, it’s very convenient,” I said. “Why? Where do you live?”
“With my parents in Michigan,” Reese said.
“And I train at the World Champions Centre in Spring, Texas.” Donna lifted her chin just a little. She had every reason to.
“Impressive.” I nodded with approval, then turned to Reese. “University of Michigan has a very good Gymnastics program. Is that where you plan to attend this fall?” I fought the urge to tell her I’d already been accepted to UofM, and my travel visa was in my wallet ready to leave as soon as the Games were over. I wasn’t ready to tell Mikhail yet that I was leaving. He would consider me a traitor and feel as if I was leaving him behind.
“Michigan is one of the schools where I’ve been accepted, but I haven’t signed a commitment letter yet.”
“Well, I think you should choose Michigan.” I wanted to jump up and down with excitement. “That maize and blue uniform would look great with your eyes.” I lost the will to tuck a lock of hair behind Reese’s ear and she didn’t fight me this time. Dang, I wanted to kiss her! Trying not to kiss her was harder than I thought it would be.
“Flattery will get you nowhere,” Reese told me. Her expression disagreed with her words and I knew I was getting further than she wanted me to. Or at least further than she wanted to admit she wanted me to.
Maybe this scheme could work after all. Not that I cared about the hundred bucks. I just wanted to take Reese in my arms and kiss her until neither of us could see straight. A few more days of flirting and maybe I could. Maybe.
Click here for more chapters in Meet Me at the Summer Games
(As always, feedback is greatly appreciated!)