“Tough luck on your free skate.” Gil Snider approached me in the lobby of Team USA’s building in the Olympic Village.
I was waiting for Jordan to emerge from the elevator so we could take a shuttle to the airport. For safety and an attempt to keep everyone healthy, athletes were asked to return to their home country as soon as they were done competing. With Jordan’s hurt wrist, we wouldn’t even be invited to skate in the exhibition at the end of the week.
The couple who would have earned the silver medal would be representing the pairs figure skating as the overall winner. My heart sank every time I thought about what could have been. If we had skated our original planned program, even with minor errors and deductions, we would have won the gold handily.
Even though people had told me over and over again that none of this was my fault, I didn’t agree. No, I wasn’t at fault for what Thomas had done. But I never should have dated him in the first place. I was in love with Jordan. I’d been in love with Jordan since the first time we held hands at the age of four. Why I took so long to recognize my feelings for him was beyond me.
Swallowing through a dry mouth and fighting tears, I met the gaze of the other boy I never should have dated. At least Gil was harmless and young and playful. He had flirtation down to a science but he was never sultry or charming. Gilbert Snider was boy-next-door cute with shaggy sun kissed hair that would make a surfer jealous, dancing blue eyes, and the swagger of a guy who knew he had every female in the room swooning.
“Yeah…” I didn’t know what to say. “Tough luck.”
“Your performance was incredible,” Gil said. “Even though it didn’t earn you a medal, it was fun to watch.”
“Thanks.” I tucked a lock of hair behind my ear with a shaky hand. “How many medals have you won so far? Three?”
“Four, actually.” He puffed up his chest. “Three golds for halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air. This morning I got a silver for the snowboard cross. I was just a little slower than the winner.”
“Bummer,” I said. “You need to work on your speed between now and Milan.”
“And you need to land a quad so you can match your partner.” Gil bumped my shoulder.
“If he’s still my partner by then.” I glanced at the patterned carpet and decided the color made me dizzy. I raised my gaze to Gil again. “We’re heading to different colleges in the fall.”
“Kind of thought you two were joined at the hip now, a package deal destined for wedding bells.”
“Jordan agrees with you.” I sighed. “But we’re too young for that.”
“Nah,” he said. “When it’s right, it’s right. And you guys are right.”
“I’ll take that into consideration.” My eyes pricked with unshed tears.
“Hey, none of that.” Gil pulled me into his arms and I laid my head on his chest. “Everything’s gonna work out exactly as it’s meant to be. Just like you and I were never meant to be, you and Jordan are.”
“But we had fun at the Lodge.” I grinned up at Gil with renewed hope. “Even if it was only for one night.” With his arms around me and us looking into each other’s eyes, we were close enough that I could have kissed him if I’d been so bold. Jordan was the only guy I wanted to kiss.
That’s probably not how it looked when Jordan stepped off the elevator and found me in Gil’s arms.
(As always, feedback is greatly appreciated. -Julie)
Click here to read another chapter of Take Me to the Winter Games