What happens if two Olympic champions fall in love, but fall apart off the ice?
“I love this story.” Kristine Kathryn Rusch, editor
Olympic Ice Dance Final (February 19th)
Jacinta Pham had imagined winning the Olympics’ ice dance competition with Wes Allan thousands of times.
Every time they strapped on their skates at 5:30 a.m. Every time their breath puffed out like dragon smoke in the cool, humid air of the rink. Every time she fell on her butt, or wrist, or even nose-first onto the ice. Every second she had to learn to walk again after not one, but two separate operations on each leg.
Reality was better.
She stared down at Wes—he had “died” in her arms during their free skate to Bizet’s “Carmen”—while the crowd roared around them and pelted the ice with roses and teddy bears. She knew that media and fans filmed their faces, their hands, their every gesture.
But this moment was for them. No one else would intrude for a few precious seconds.
She could still feel Wes’s hands imprinted on her back, arms, and thighs.
No matter what happened next, they would always have this. No judge could steal the magic they had woven with their music and their ice dance.
Not even her or Wes.
6 Months later (August 15th)
Can you come over?
Jacinta stared at her phone.
She and Wes had stopped talking after their triumphant post-Olympic gold skating tour of Japan and North America.
Of course, during the media frenzy that followed, they’d scored dozens of interviews and media takeovers. They’d kept up a good show on Instagram and Twitter for a few months. Well, she had, while Wes had mostly ignored social media.
But offline, when they didn’t have an event scheduled for them to smile and wave at the cameras, they’d fallen strangely silent. To the point where it felt awkward to text and truly uncomfortable to call each other.
Jacinta heart beat so hard, she could feel it in her throat as she began to type. What’s up?
He answered right away. Bert got pneumonia.
Jacinta’s stomach squeezed. When they were kids, Bert Allen, Wes’s grandfather, used to pick them up from the rink sometimes when their parents were in a pinch. Bert smelled like pipe tobacco and offered them apples, because he and his wife owned an apple orchard in Navan, Ontario, just east of Canada’s capital. In the Fall, they sold apples and pressed apple cider and apple-cinnamon donuts. In the summer, they were famous for their crab apple sorbet. Everyone loved Bert, especially Wes.
Jacinta glanced at the clock now, which read 5 p.m. The clock sat on a French provincial dresser near her room’s south-facing window. She’d curled up with a romance novel in her tiny, white bedroom with its antique metal bed frame.
Even this room reminded her of Wes. She’d modelled it after an apartment she’d loved in Paris, after Wes had said, “This is totally you.”
But she couldn’t think about that now. Wes needed her. As a friend. Nothing more.
She called him back, walking to the kitchen, trying not to notice the little apple charm on the windowsill, a gift from Wes’s grandmother. “Oh, Wes, that’s awful. How’s he doing?”
“Hey, J, I don’t want to worry you. The doctor said that he could go home on antibiotics, but he’s a bit confused. He wants to check the McIntosh and Honeycrisp trees, and he said your name.”
“Really? He said Jacinta?” It was an odd name in Canada. It meant hyacinth flower, and until she and Wes started placing at competitions, she kept having to explain that she pronounced her name as Ja-sin-ta Fam.
“Yeah, we’re pretty sure. I know it seems a bit random, and my grandma doesn’t know what to make of it, but do you think you could come to Navan? I’ll text you the address. I know you’re busy, and you’ve got all these sponsorship deals … ”
She blinked back a few tears. He had to ask? If it had been the other way around, Wes would have broken the time-space continuum to zip to her side. It was one of the things she lo—appreciated about him. Not only his broad shoulders, his yeasty smell, and the way he managed to joke before either of them had sipped their morning coffee, but his loyalty. Nothing mattered more than his family. He’d once said that he’d die for his two brothers, and she knew he meant it.
“I’m on my way,” she said, already grabbing her keys and shutting off the lights.
The rest of “Ice Dancers and Crab Apple Sorbet” is available through WMG’s Holiday Spectacular.
Ahhh. I became a Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir superfan after they won the Olympics for the second time. When Kris Rusch asked for “a romance short story for a pretend anthology called First Loves, Lost Loves,” I jumped at my chance to give my fictional ice dance heroes a happily ever after together.
This story cheers me up. I relate so hard to Jacinta’s “perfect” image and uncertainty. I’d love to write about Wes’s brothers finding their partners in related stories. I can imagine creating grace and beauty on the ice, and becoming tongue-tied before, during, and after falling in love.
But I worried about ever selling this story. Magazines don’t publish romance short stories.
Thank goodness for WMG’s Holiday Spectacular.
What is WMG’s Holiday Spectacular?
Kris loves holiday stories so much that WMG will send out 39 stories, one to your inbox every day during the holiday season. Mine will appear in Candy Cane Kisses, the romance anthology, but of course I’m excited about Crooked Little Christmas and Time Travel Holidays too.
If you want to subscribe to WMG’s Holiday Spectacular, you can still do so here: https://www.wmgpublishinginc.com/project/spectacular/.
AND they let me share “Ice Dancing and Crab Apple Sorbet” here until Dec 5/22 at 1300.
Plus I already got a note of appreciation:
From: Filip Wiltgren
Subject: Thank you for Ice Dancing and Crab Apple Sorbet
Dear Dr. Yi,
I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to read your Ice Dancing and Crab Apple Sorbet in this year’s Holiday Spectacular. You carry the routine strongly through the entire story and stick the landing hard enough to make me cry! Thank you for sharing the story with us.
Thanks, Filip. Thank you, Kris and Dean and WMG! Thank you, readers. Ho ho ho!
My last holiday sale in person:
Saturday, December 3, 10 am-3 pm, 19641 County Rd 19, St. Mary’s Centre, Williamstown
Maple Leaf Mystery Conference online
“Get Shorty” Panel: 9:30 a.m. Saturday, December 3
Our panel talks short stories. I look forward to interviews and other panels with Canadian crime authors!
You can still register here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/mystery-writing-conference-tickets-422123531847
12 days of Page Turners online
Tune in on December 10th at 7 pm Central (that’s 8 pm ET) on your platform of choice:
|Aimee Ravichandran will interview|
Melissa Yi (<–me)
And to all a good night!