"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Toronto Pearson International Airport. Local time is 11:24 pm and the temperature is -7. For your safety and comfort, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until the captain turns off the Fasten Seat Belt sign..........On behalf of Air Canada and the entire crew, I'd like to thank you for joining us on this trip and we are looking forward to seeing you on board again in the near future. Have a nice stay." the captain announced when we landed in Toronto, Canada.
It looks so beautiful outside. The feeling of excitement is starting to build up inside me once again. I admit that this life can be quite tiring at times because of the constant traveling, I never feel like I have a home anymore. However, when I see a beautiful place, all that sadness is somehow forgotten for the time being.
"Wow, it's snowing.. must be my lucky day" I thought. Since I was a child, I already have this fascination over snow, ice, and the cold and that is probably why I have always been drawn to be on ice.
As I walk out of the airport, I search for someone that has a piece of paper with my name on it. That was the instruction I got from my coach before I flew here. I couldn't find my name anywhere so I decided to sit down since I think my service is late.
"MARYDALE ENTRATA!!! MARYDALE ENTRATA!!!"
I jump from my seat as soon as I hear my name. I must have fallen asleep from waiting.
"I'm Marydale" I yell back as I grab my luggage and bags. I must have been rushing so much that when I stand up, I bump into someone.
"Ouch, shit! That fucking hurts" he yells.
I look up and Edward John Barber, my new partner for the pair skating discipline in the upcoming Winter Olympics is here. "Edward?" I whisper.
"Yeah? I've been here for almost an hour now and here you are, sleeping?!" he tells me in a loud voice.
"Sorry, okay? When I got out, no one was here, so I fell asleep. Jesus Christ, I am tired, you know?" I yell back. I am tired and now, also frustrated.
"It doesn't matter now, I already am too late for the party I was supposed to go to anyway. Let's go" he walks away.
"Uhm... how am I supposed to carry all these? That guy has no gentleman blood in his body whatsoever" I mutter under my breath.
"HURRY!" he yells again.
"Coming!" I yell back as I grab all my stuff.
When we reach his car, Edward gets in, leaving me all alone with my bags. I mean it's not like I'm begging for help but I truly feel tired. I just had a nineteen hour flight only to be welcomed by the most uncivilized man in the world. So just to piss him off, I move as slowly as possible.
"Hey, can you hurry up? It's almost 3AM" he yells from the driver seat. I pretend to not even hear him and still move as slowly as I can. I then hear the car door opening and Edward is now beside me.
"How are you a figure skater and moves so slowly?" he asks.
"Well, these things are heavy. Also, I am tired." I answer back.
"Move, let me finish with that" he offers. I no longer have the energy to argue so I let him. I walk to the passenger side of the car as I wait for him. When he finishes, he shuts the trunk and gets in the car.
We travel in silence but I do not care. I feel too tired to even utter a word, so I just admire the view of the city. Toronto looks beautiful with the city lights that shine like stars in the dead of the night. This place is going to be home for six months before the Olympics. In the past, I competed for the single discipline but this year, my team has decided that it would be better if I do pair due to more sponsors and a bigger fan base. But why on Earth does my partner have to be Edward Barber?
According to all the magazines I read, Edward Barber is a pig, not in the literal sense of course, but he is such a womanizer. He probably slept with most of the female skaters already but he is the best male figure skater. On ice though, he has a different persona, so precise and graceful.
The first time I have ever met Edward was when we were both six years old. We both enrolled in an ice skating class in Manila as novices. Though we have the same passion, we did not get along. Edward was very handsome, a total charmer at the age of six. He was always surrounded by all the girls even the ones a bit older than us. I, on the other hand, was the total opposite; ugly, skinny, and and definitely charmless. I didn't have many friends but I didn't care because whenever I am on ice, I feel beautiful with all the make-up, hair, and the costumes.
I hated Edward since then, he always pointed out how skinny I was and always made fun of me.
"You look like a skeleton Maymay" he would often yell in front of everyone.
One time, when I fell on ice, he told me that I was clumsy and was not fit to be on ice. I remember him saying that figure skaters should be beautiful and graceful which are qualities I apparently do not possess. After that, I ran to our locker room and cried there. I cried and cursed Edward in my head. I promised myself that I will do my best and someday, I would be a world champion in figure skating and Edward would not laugh at me anymore.
With my determination, I became one of the favorites in the skating world. It was just unfortunate that I can no longer rub this in Edward's face because his family migrated to Canada. However, the ice skating world is really small because with my skills, I started joining many competitions until I became part of the Winter Olympics in 2010. And for some unfortunate reason, I ran into Edward once again.
Physically, he definitely became more handsome but his maturity level hasn't changed at all. I tried avoiding him the entire time but it's quite hard especially when we are both Filipinos. We belong in the same circle. It turned out that Edward kept his Filipino citizenship and he competes for Philippines as well.
One night, during our dinner after the competition, Edward approached me, "Hey, you look familiar, have we met?" he asked.
"Uhm, nope, never. It's my first time here in Canada so I don't think so" I denied of course.
"I used to live in the Philippines, so I thought...hmmm, wait are you sure?" he asked again.
"Very sure Edward, very sure" I insisted.
"No, no, no.. I remember now" he smirked, "we used to be in the same novice class back in the Philippines. Though I must admit, you look different now. No longer that skinny clumsy girl then, huh?"
His voice was pretty loud and everyone in the table heard him, so once again, I became a laughing stock. After all those years of building my reputation, all it took was one encounter with Edward John Barber and I am my six year old self once again. Even after winning the gold medal, I felt so small and all my accomplishments, gone.
Just when I thought I couldn't hate Edward more, he proved me wrong. I went home to the Philippines that year feeling like a loser despite the gold medal around my neck. Since then, I trained better and harder, so that I could keep my standing in the ladies single discipline.
But to my luck, my manager suggested I do the pair discipline. The offer was really great and it seemed too good to be true, so I agreed. The new sponsors are big companies such as Nike, Redbull, McDonald's, Milo, Coca-cola and many more huge international brands. When she suggested that I do pairs, I didn't know who my partner was, not until a few months ago.
"Out of all people Denise, why Edward?" I asked my coach.
"Because like you Marydale, he is a gold medalist, a world champion. Philippines wants the best representatives of course" she told me, "and besides why are you freaking out? He is the best male figure skater in the world, the world Marydale" she continued.
"Why can't I just compete in the single again?" I asked.
"Because you just got great offers. Think about that" she insisted.
Denise was right of course. With all the new sponsors lining up and the possibility of more was an offer that any sane person should not refuse. So, I didn't and now I am here in Edward's car, uttering a silent promise to myself that I will do my best and not let my personal issues get in the way of my dreams.
"Maymay, we are here" Edward tells me as he stops the car in front of the hotel.
"Marydale, call me Marydale" I ask.
"But isn't your name Maymay? I remember when we were kids..."
I stop him from talking, "We were kids then, I am Marydale now. Only my close friends call me Maymay" I inform him.
He raises his hand as if surrendering, "Fine, I get it. We are not friends nor close" he grins.
And I don't know why he is grinning, but instead of focusing all my energy on him, I grab all my luggage from the trunk of his car and head off to the hotel.
"Not even a thank you for picking you up?" he yells after me.
I turn crimson red in an instant because people are now staring at me. I feel embarrassed. I look back and glare at him as I say "Thank you" and turn around without waiting for a response.
Edward runs after me after giving his keys to the valet, "Do you even know where your room is?" he asks.
"No, but I can always ask" I answer back.
"Ask who? If you think Denise waited for you, you are wrong. She is probably fast asleep right now. It's nearly 3AM Marydale." he informs me.
Denise came here a week earlier so she could organize all the necessary arrangements with the team I am going to work with, sponsor demands, living situations, and plenty more technicalities that I do not really concern myself with.
"Think Maymay, think. Be witty, say something back" I silently thought to myself.
"I can ask the hotel staff." I answer.
"Well, maybe you are not informed yet but we are to avoid any staff here in the hotel. You can't trust anyone with a camera Marydale. If anyone recognizes you, your face will be on every social media platform by tomorrow and then it'll be hard to avoid any paparazzi. Then, you risk jeopardizing our routine to the other competitors" he lectures me.
Denise seems to have forgotten to brief me before flying here. Also, she forgot to tell me about Edward picking me up from the airport. Now, I am starting to get piss and what makes this worse, it does seem like I need to ask Edward about my room number.
"Okay, Mr. Know-it-all, where is my room?" I ask.
"Jeez Marydale, where are your manners? Can't you say please? Do you know that Canadians say please and thank you all the time, it's like a mantra" he informs me.
I am not usually this rude but Edward seems to be getting the worst of me. I usually myself to separate my personal and professional life, but with Edward, I find it very difficult to do so. But not to give him more satisfaction, I decide to play nice, even just for tonight.
"Okay, sorry. I apologize. Edward, where is my room?" I ask, purposely making myself sound as sweet as possible.
He smiles and grabs me, "Come, I'll bring you there. Your room is actually across from mine"
"What's with this guy? Earlier at the airport, he was so pissed, major attitude problem and now, he acts like an angel." I wonder.
Edward stops in front of what I assume is my room, "That is your room, and here is mine" he says as he points to the door across from mine. He leans towards me and from what it looks like, Edward could actually be kissing me when in reality he is just opening my door. He hands me my key card afterwards as he pulls back. I let out a sigh.
"Goodnight May, I mean Marydale" he turns around and opens his door, leaving me in the hallway.
"Goodnight" I mutter quietly.
I walk inside my room and put my hand on top of my chest, my heart is beating erratically. I start to breathe as normal as possible, trying to calm myself down and ignore the thoughts that are running in my head right now.
The next day, I am awaken by the loud knocking on my door. I get off my bed, peek through the peephole and open it.
"Good morning Marydale. Sorry I didn't wait for you last night, I felt so tired and passed out. Actually, I was supposed to pick you up from the airport but I was exhausted" she explains.
"Forgiven, but why send Edward?" I ask. I mean it is understandable that she couldn't pick me up, but why did it have to be Edward John Barber?
"No one else was available. The team had a party last night and before we knew it, everybody was drunk. Everyone but Edward, did you know he doesn't drink?" she informs me.
"Well, maybe not last night. You and I both know that he is a party animal, so of course, he drinks. He is a figure skater, surrounded by glam all the time, not even I can resist a glass of champagne during events" I answer her.
"Well, you should know not everything you read on magazines or social media is true" she answers back.
Not wanting to continue with the topic, I divert the conversation.
"So, what is the plan today?" I ask.
"Today, we will go to the ice skating rink that you and Edward will practice on, but that will be after lunch. You should rest more, I know jet lag can be a bitch" she tells me as she walks out of my room.
I cannot rest anymore though, the thought of being on ice excites me too much. I wonder when will these feelings start to fade away--probably never.
After lunch, we all got in the service van the sponsors provided for us. I settle myself near the window because I want to see Toronto during the day. Last night, the view was spectacular and I wonder how the day differs in comparison.
The whole team starts to get in the van and the last one who got in is Edward. Again, due to my unfortunate luck, he takes the spot beside me.
"Bonjour Marydale, comment ça va? (Hello Marydale, how are you?)" he asks.
"Porpo? Cava cava?" I ask.
"Est-ce qu tu parles francais? (You speak French?)" still speaking in French.
"I don't know what you're saying." I inform him as I avert my gaze from him, focusing on the beautiful view outside.
"Je veuz justre être son amie (I just want to be her friend)" he continues.
I understand him of course, being an international figure skater, I learn how to speak many languages. I don't know why I pretended I didn't, perhaps I am just not in the mood to talk to him.
He turns his attention to his coach and starts to ask him about our schedule before the competition. They are busy talking and before I knew it, drowsiness starts to kick in. "Stupid jetlag" I thought before I close my eyes.
"Marydale, Marydale, wake up" Edward trying to wake me up. It turns out we are outside the rink now and I fell asleep. To make the whole situation worse, I fell asleep on Edward's shoulder.
"Sorry" I utter as I got up immediately. This caused my head to hit the roof of the van. "Ouch" I cry as I rub the spot where a bump is starting to form.
"You okay Marydale?" he asks.
"Do I look okay?" I glare at him as I got out of the van.
"Still as clumsy as ever" he whispers and he probably thinks that I did not hear him, but I did.
"What did you say?" I ask.
"Nothing. I did not say anything" he answers as he walks towards the building. I follow after taking a few deep breaths in and out.
"Ah, here she is. Marydale, meet Mr. Cruz. He is the owner of this rink and he is lending us the space for the time being, so you and Edward can practice" I immediately extend my arm to shake his hand.
"Hello, nice to meet you Sir Cruz" I greet him.
"The pleasure is all mine. I am a fan Ms. Entrata. Actually, I am a fan of Mr. Barber as well. I cannot wait to see how this will all turn out. What a lethal combination for Team Philippines this Winter Olympics" he exclaims.
"Lethal? Yes, definitely. I might actually end up "accidentally" cutting Edward with my skates" I thought.
"Thank you Sir, I assure you that I will do my very best for Team Philippines" I smile.
Edward and I are being introduced to a few more sponsors before we finally changed into our skates.
"Okay, first. Edward, you show us your moves, then Marydale will follow. Afterwards, Denise and I will discuss on how to combine your best assets together, okay?" Eugene informs us.
Eugene is Edward's coach. He looks tough and scary. From what I hear, he is really strict when it comes to his talents. Eugene scares and excites me at the same time.
"Okay" Edward and I answer together.
"Wow, speaking in unison. Good start" Denise beams and I just roll my eyes. Why is she so excited for?
I move to the bleachers and watch Edward own the ice. If I didn't know him better, I might actually be his fan as well. He makes ice skating looks manly with his graceful and precise moves. The way he jumps and spins are so precise. His loops, flips, Lutzes, salchows, and axels are on point and he knows it. He oozes confidence, but more than that, he also emits an artistic side. His expression changes along with the music and if you look closely, his eyes tells a story along with his movements.
"He is really good, huh?" Denise suddenly breaking my thoughts.
"Yes, he really is. No wonder he won Gold in the Winter Olympics and other competitions" I tell her as I keep my eyes on Edward.
"Wow, compliments for Edward. It must be the Canadian air" she teases.
"Just merely stating the truth Denise, don't read that much into it" I tell her just as Edward finishes with his routine.
"Marydale, your turn" Eugene calls, and I take a deep breath.
"Break a leg" Edward tells me on his way to the bleachers.
I ignore him. It must be the nerves or the side comment he made earlier about my clumsiness.
I take my place in the middle of the ice and as soon as I hear the music, I let my heart decide my moves. I let the music guide me. I start to do my jumps, double salchows and triple loops. As the music ends, I did my final moves, starting with the camel spin transitioning to an upright spin.
I smile to the crowd after my performance, and everybody starts to clap. Everyone but Edward who is just staring at me. He then realizes that I finished already because he got up and joined the applause of our team.
"Okay, Edward come join us here" Eugene calls him.
"Individually, you two are really great and that is obvious because you both hold the gold medal in the single's discipline, but pair skating is totally different. You two will have to work together, use your strengths wisely and complement each other's weakness. Understand?" he asks.
"Yes coach" I answer.
"All clear Eugene" Edward mutters.
"Okay, position. Edward, you stand behind Marydale and lift her in the air" he instructs.
Edward does what he was told and lifts me. I suddenly start to feel different from his sudden touch on my waist so I start to fidget, and before I knew it, Edward and I's bottom are both on the ice.
"See, this is what I was telling you guys. Individually, you two are great but as a pair, you guys will have to work better" Eugene tells us.
"Sorry, I lost my focus. Let's try again" I tell them as I got up.
Edward tries to lift me again as he spins, this time we didn't fall but Eugene is still not please.
"Come over here you two" Eugene calls us, "Edward stand behind Marydale" he instructs, "now Marydale, I want you to fall back and let Edward catch you, trust that he won't let your ass fall on the ice"
I just stare at both of them, from Eugene to Edward alternately, all wide eyed. "Did I hear that right? Eugene wants me to believe that Edward would not let me fall on the ice." I hesitate.
"See, you guys will have to work on that, the judges will see that there is no trust between you two. The crowd will see that there is no chemistry either, and you two will ruin this chance at being the best of the best in the skating world" he lectures.
"I have an idea" Denise chimes in and now our attention are all on her, "it seems to me that the problem is that you two are just thrown into each other. I mean, you don't really know each other."
"Very wrong Denise, we actually have known each other since we were both six" I want to tell them but I let her continue.
"So I believe you two have to spend time to get to know each other so that you will be comfortable, and slowly build that trust." she suggests.
"I agree with Denise. So you guys will have this week off. You two will spend the whole week getting to know each other. I don't care how. Just get to know each other." Eugene informs us.
"But we only have six months until the Olympics, should we not spend all the time possible on ice? and train?" I suggest.
"Well, sorry to tell you darling, but without the trust, why bother training? It will be a losing battle anyway. So, stop being so stubborn and do as I say" he yells.
My face heats up and tears are threatening from my eyes. Eugene's intention is fair but even after being in this world for how long, I still cannot take it when someone yells at me.
"Are you going to cry Marydale? Cause if you are, please get off the ice. I don't do well with tears" he says.
"I'm not crying" I answer though my voice is small.
"Good, so are my instructions clear?" he asks again.
"Yes coach" I answer quietly.
"I can't hear you Marydale, are my instructions clear?" he asks again.
"Yes coach!" I answer louder.
"Then you two can go." he dismisses us.
After Eugene left, my tears start to roll down my cheeks and I start to sob. I immediately skate off the ice and run to the locker room.
Edward runs after me, "Marydale, don't mind Eugene. He is a tough coach but he only does it for the better. Believe me, I would know." his voice full of concern but I couldn't care less. I run faster to the girl's locker room and shut the door to his face.
"Maymay, I know Eugene is tough and all, but he is truly one of the best" Denise tells me as she enters the locker room.
I look at her, "You're good, and you have never made me cry like this" I tell her.
Denise smiles, "I know, but compare to me, Eugene is one of the best male figure skaters out there. He trained many champions in the past like Yuzuru Hanyu, you know him, right?" she asks.
"Yes, he is one of the best male figure skater, almost as good as Edward" I tell her.
"Is that a compliment I hear for Mr. Barber again?" she teases.
"Uh, no Denise. Just stating a fact" I tell her with a straight face.
"You know, I agree with most of what Eugene said earlier, but he made one wrong comment" she says as she ignores what I said.
"Fine, I'll bite. What is that?" I ask.
"You and Edward definitely have chemistry. See, I posted a picture of you two together earlier with our sponsors, and the netizens already came up with a name for you two already" she tells me.
I grab my phone and check Instagram, "MayWard?" I ask and she nods.
"It turns out, it's not only me who believe you and Edward are a great pair" she tells me, "You don't believe me? Read through the comment section"
"Perhaps later" I tell her as I gather my things, putting my phone away, and we both head out of the locker room.
Our drive back to the hotel is quiet, the tension is definitely in the air. Edward hasn't attempted to talk to me yet and I want to ask him what we are doing tomorrow. We are supposed to build a connection and get to know each other as per Eugene's instructions.
When we reach the hotel, Edward starts to walk to his room and I run after him.
"Edward, wait!" I call him.
"Oh, now you are speaking to me?" he answers back, and his voice sound sad.
"Well, I just want to know what are we doing tomorrow, for Eugene's task" I remind him
"Be ready by 8, and we will go somewhere" he tells me as he walks towards his room.
"8? 8AM?" I gasp in surprise.
"Yes. So sleep early Maymay. I mean, Marydale" he tells me before he enters his room. "Oh and bring your skates" he says before closing his door.
I open my door and start muttering things to myself "How am I supposed to sleep early? I have jet lag!" I groan in frustration.
I walk to the washroom and turn on the tap, filling the tub with water as I pour my favorite body wash and some Epsom salts for relaxation. I check the water temperature and it's perfect. I slowly immerse myself in the water, and close my eyes as I let myself relax.
"This should help me fall asleep" I thought.
The next day, I knock on Edward's door. He immediately opens it and I couldn't help but stare. Edward is just in jeans, water trickling down his neck and across his chest. He is currently drying his hair with his towel.
"WOW" I gulp.
"Sorry, I'm almost ready. Come in" he says as he gestures for me to come in.
"No, it's okay. I'll just wait here" I answer back. "and try to gather all my wits while I still can. Wait, what? Am I suddenly so affected by Edward? Edward Barber?" I wonder.
"C'mon Marydale, I don't want you to wait there. I still have to brush my teeth" he offers. He has a point, so I walk in his room.
I look around, and to my surprise, it is actually neat. On his bedside table, a picture of his family stands. I start to wonder where does he hides that picture when he brings all his whores over.
"Ahh, that's my family" he tells me from behind.
"They look nice" I answer back, though I am fully aware of his presence behind me. I can feel his hot breath on the back of my neck.
"I miss them" he tells me.
"Don't they live here in Canada?" I ask as I turn around.
"Well, they did. But they moved back to the Philippines. Nothing beats home" he says with a smile, though his eyes look sad.
"Will they be here for the Olympics? To support you I mean?" I ask. "Why am I suddenly so concern? What the hell?" I thought to myself.
"Yes, they will be. They will come to support us of course" he answers back.
"Good! Mom is coming too" I smile. "Did I just really voluntarily share that? What change?" I shake my head afterwards, trying to rid my mind with all these "edward thoughts".
"Let's go. I want you to see something that's why I asked you to come early." he says as he grabs my hand. I suddenly feel an electric shock when our skin touch so I immediately pull back.
"Sorry" I mutter.
"It's okay, but you know Marydale, you have to get use to it. After all, we will be touching and holding each other a lot during our practice and the actual competition" he says as he grabs my hand again.
And despite the electricity flowing through my body, I let him be. He has a point, I need to comfortable with him holding me. This is the purpose of this week after all--to build connection and trust.
He brings me to the hotel parking lot and opens the car door for me. "Thank you" I tell him and he smiles in return. I just realized that he has a very charming smile and his teeth are perfect. "Wait? What? What is happening to me?" I question myself. Why is it that I find myself wondering more and more about Edward.
As he enters his car, he leans in towards me and says "seatbelt Marydale. It's illegal here to not wear a seatbelt and I need you safe. We still have to rock the Olympics this year" he winks.
To be honest, I can't hear anything he is saying because his face is so close to mine. I don't know why I suddenly feel so conscious and aware of his presence and distance, or lack of it between us.
"Get use to it May. It is all part of this week's task" I encourage myself.
"I want to show you something" he tells me as he start to drive out of the underground parking space. As we got outside, I start to see snowflakes falling so softly from the car window.
"Wow" I mutter in awe.
"You like snow?" he asks.
"I love snow" I answer back.
"Is it your first time to see snow?" he asks.
"No. I have seen them before but every time I see the snowflakes fall so gently and melt as they touch the surface, I just can't help but feel like... like.." I trail of, suddenly embarrass that I am talking too much.
"Like?" he asks.
"Don't laugh, okay?" I ask.
"Of course not. So like?" he asks, keeping his eyes on the road.
"Like magic. It feels magical." I tell him honestly. The corner of his lips slightly raise. "Why are you smiling?" I ask.
"Because those were my exact thoughts the first time I have ever seen snow." he tells me as his smile grew wider.
"Really?" I ask in surprise.
He nods his head, "that is why I became a skater, I think. The ice is that one place I feel like I can truly be myself, that one place I can be free" he explains.
I suddenly found myself dumbfounded because he mirrors my exact thoughts and feelings; the same love and pull I have for ice and skating.
"Oh here we are" he says as he pulls in the parking lot.
"Where are we?" I ask. The place looks deserted and eerily quiet.
"This is just the parking lot. The place I wanna show you is about five minutes walk from here" he says as he zips up his winter jacket and puts on his scarf.
We start to walk towards a lake, but because it is winter, the lake is frozen and it looks like a skating rink. Edward suddenly sits on the bench nearby and put on his skates so I follow him.
"Edward, is it safe to skate there?" I ask.
"This is my safe place Marydale." he answers as he looks up and pat the spot beside him. "Come, sit. I will help you with your skates" he says as he takes my skates out of my grip.
The ice feels different, it is not the usual smooth surface that I usually glide on whenever I practice on rinks.
"You feel the difference?" he asks and I nod. "See, the lake is different. Every rough surface tells a different story, you have to learn how to adjust yourself with the ice much like life." he says with so much wisdom.
"Edward?" I call him.
"Yes?" he answers as he skates beside me.
"You think we have a chance on winning gold this year?" I ask him as I stare on the ice, concentrating on every rough surface, not wanting to fall.
"You went home four years ago with a gold medal around your neck and many more from various competitions afterwards. Why are you doubting yourself Marydale?" he asks.
"You heard what Eugene said yesterday." I answer him honestly.
"Eugene believes in the magic of tough love. He will tear you apart and build you back together if he has to. Believe me, he only wants the best for us" he mutters.
And I don't know why the word "us" suddenly made me lose my balance. Luckily, Edward caught me just in time which saved me from a possible injury. Something I can't afford so close to the competition.
"Thank you" I mutter quietly. I gasp in surprise once again as electricity starts to flow through me.
"We are partners now. If you fall, I fall" he tells me with a smile.
"If I fall, you fall." mirroring what he said.
"But Marydale, you have to trust me. I promise I won't let you fall, okay?" he says as he stares into my eyes.
I nod my head, a gesture that also surprised me.
"So, how do we do this?" I ask.
"We are supposed to get to know each other remember? Let's both ask each other questions from this moment until whenever, but we have to answer honestly" he suggests.
"Okay. You go first" I agree.
"Hmm" he mumbles.
"Go easy on me, okay?" I say, trying to lighten the mood because he seems to be deep in his thoughts.
"Marydale, do you hate me?" he asks.
"Wow. I said easy." I complain.
"Please. Just answer the question" he pleads.
"I don't hate you. Well, right now, I feel like I don't. Though I did for a long time" I admit.
"Why?" he asks.
"I'll answer truthfully, okay? And you can't be mad" I tell him and he nods. "When I was six, a boy made fun of me for being skinny and clumsy on ice. That same boy made me feel like I didn't belong on ice because I was neither beautiful nor graceful. And that little boy is, well, you" I told him as I keep my focus on the ice once again.
He stops skating beside me which caused me to turn around, "Me? I said that?" he asks and I nod, tears brimming in the corner of my eyes.
"I'm sorry Marydale." he apologizes. As soon as he did, tears start to race down my cheeks. Edward pulls me in for a hug, "I really am. I know this will sound like such a lame excuse but I was young, stupid, and a brat".
I look up, and Edward is staring at me, "and you know what else?" I ask.
"You are telling me there are more reasons? Oh God, how cruel have I been?" he asks as he smiles nervously.
"Pretty cruel" I answer with a smile.
"So what else did I do?" he asks.
"You never fail to remind me of my six year old self. In Vancouver before and now here." I tell him honestly.
"Sorry again. Come, let's sit" and I nod.
"I know it sounds like I'm giving reasons for my inexcusable behaviors but can I explain?" he asks.
"Please do." I answer. I want to know why he has been intolerable then and such a different person now.
"In Vancouver, okay.. it's lame but I'll say it anyway. Remember Kirsten? The girl who got the silver medal from Russia?" he asks.
"How can I forget Kirsten? He threw such a tantrum and even accused me of cheating." I shake my head as I remember her.
"Yeah, her. When she lost, she put out all her frustrations on me. Kirsten and I knew each other because I went to Russia once for a competition. When she was in Vancouver, she stuck by me because she had no friends, with her attitude and all. So I was already pissed that I was practically her companion the whole time and when she lost, I got an ear load from her. And I guess, I just put it out on you. I apologize for that" he sounds so sincere.
"I guess, if I was in your shoes, I'd be pretty mad too. I understand. That Dela Bitch is really something else. I am so not looking forward to seeing her in the competition this year" I laugh.
"Oh, but you will. And you will have to help me hide from her" he says as he laugh with me.
"She already hates me for taking the gold from her, and now she will hate me even more for taking her only friend from her" I tell him.
"Well, would you care so much?" he asks.
"No. That hell hag can hate me all she wants" I laugh.
"Good.. and for when I picked you up at the airport. I was really tired. Also, I am not so much of a patient person. I even asked the information desk to make an announcement for you, but nothing. It was really bad timing. Another lame excuse, but I am really sorry" he tells me.
"Now, I am beginning to think that you're lame" I tell him as a joke, but he seems to have taken it seriously.
"I know I am" he answers sadly.
"I was just kidding Edward. Many people admire you and looks up to you" I smile.
"Well, they don't really know me, do they? For most people, I am nothing but a page on a magazine or a face they see on TV and social media" he answers back.
"I know. I feel the same way sometimes. " I can relate, so many articles were written about me that were all lies. "I guess my next question would be, are all the articles written about you true?" he asks.
"Some." he answers as he shrugs his shoulder.
"Which ones are true?" I inquire further.
"Not a lot, but which articles have you mostly read about me?" he asks.
"Well, I was mostly focus on the negative things" I admit, "So I guess, uhm, are those true? that you are a party boy and the biggest bachelor in town?" I ask.
"I am not a party boy. I attend some social gatherings because I have to. I don't even drink or even if I do, I limit myself. And a bachelor? My mum and sister would kill me for that. My mum raised me to be respectful to women" he answers sincerely.
"So they aren't true?" I ask.
"The media can be a cruel thing sometimes Marydale. Did you believe the articles about me?" he asks and I nod. "You must really hate me then huh?" he asks again.
"Yeah, really bad" I tell him truthfully.
"And now?" he asks and he sounds hopeful.
"You know, I have never been the type of person who keeps hatred in their heart, and that is probably why I resented you for a long time. But now, hearing you explain and apologizing, it somehow lightens the burden I kept in my heart for so long. So no Edward, I don't hate you. To new beginnings?" I ask as I extend my hand to him.
Instead, he pulls me in his arms and hugs me. "To new beginnings. Thanks Marydale." he mutters.
"Maymay. Call me Maymay" I smile at him genuinely.
"Okay, Maymay" he says coolly but with the biggest grin on his face.
"Why are you smiling like that?" I ask.
"Because only your friends can call you Maymay" he says back.
"Correct, which we are now" I tell him.
All the hatred I kept in my heart since I was six is slowly being lifted off my chest as I spent the rest of the day with Edward. It turns out he really isn't that bad. He is genuine and caring especially towards his family. He loves his supporters who he spends time with whenever he can. And most of all, he is truly passionate about skating. It turns that Edward and I not that different after all.
The next week, as we face Eugene together for our training, Edward assures me that everything is going to be okay. We skate on ice with our hands intertwined, Edward said that this will show how comfortable we are with each other already.
Eugene seems surprise as he stares at our intertwined hands. Edward and I smile at each other triumphantly.
"So I assume last week's task was a success?" he asks.
"Yes coach" I answer and Edward nods his head.
"Let's see. Edward, stand behind Marydale. Same exercise as yesterday." he instructs.
"Remember May, if you fall, I fall" he whispers from behind me and I nod my head in acknowledgement.
I take a deep breath, and then I did my free fall. Though I know Edward will catch me, I still close my eyes as I anticipate the cold ice on my bottom. But instead, two strong arms caught me mid-air and pulled me back up. I turn around and hug him, "Thanks for catching me" I whisper.
"Always May. Always" he whispers.
"Good job. Now, let's get on to rehearsing. You two will have to learn the routine and learn how to feel each other on ice. You have to familiarize yourselves with each other's techniques and timing. You will get to know each other like the back of your hand, comprend? (understand?)" Eugene asks.
"Oui (Yes)" I answer automatically.
"Est-ce que tu parles francais? (You speak French?)" Edward asks in surprise.
"Yes" I admitted shyly.
"It's okay. I know you were pretty mad at me. Je comprends mon ami (I understand my friend)" he smiles.