The hands of the clock moved lethargically, seemingly struggling to tick from one minute to the next all morning.
I worked to busy my hands and mind, collecting checks from all-too-eager parents, and filing several updated medical release forms. Some of the homeschooled gymnasts trickled in little by little, gabbing and gossiping with each other and glancing my way fearfully as they did.
When noontime finally rolled around, I couldn’t get out of the desk chair and out to my car fast enough.
Pulling open my glove box, I checked to make sure I had the air freshener—I did—and then fired it up and pulled out of the parking lot. I had to get out before my dad got in or I never would.
McDonald’s lit up like a beacon twelve blocks later, and I flicked the turn signal on in my Honda Civic with avid anticipation.
Everything felt good. I executed a perfect parking job in a spot close to the door. The sun shone vibrantly, warming my bones and radiating outward. And the line inside looked blessedly short.
Apparently, my good mood made me oblivious to the shiny motorcycle parked three spaces down from me.
I awoke swiftly at the sight of Nik, though. Floppy, ugly black hair tucked discreetly under an all black, backwards facing ball cap, well-fitting jeans, and another bright white t-shirt practically slammed their way into my vision like a brick wall.
And unfortunately, he noticed me just as speedily.
Panicked, I immediately accused him of the nearly impossible. “Did my dad send you here? How does he know I’m here?”
He looked around briefly, understandably confused, before excusing himself out of line and approaching me where I’d frozen the moment I’d spotted him.
When he got within two feet, my already tight body strung even tighter.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Callie. I’m here for a Quarter Pounder.” I relaxed for a second…until I realized how embarrassing my whole episode was.
He shrugged. “I would have snuck you in line too, let you order with me, but you kind of stopped moving.”
“My dad…” I searched for words, “doesn’t like when I eat McDonald’s.”
“Oh,” he breathed through a smile. “Well, your secret’s safe with me.”
I very nearly smiled back. “Thanks.”
He shrugged. And then winked.
Sweet good gracious.
“We’ve all got secrets, right?”
I sure as hell did. By supposition, I assumed everyone else did too.
I just wondered how many people’s secrets were of omission and how many were—
by Laurel Ulen Curtis
Released: September 29th 2015
Published by Self Published
Blood, sweat, hard work, and a disconcerting lack of tears—my entire life—was meant to culminate in a flourish of glory and significance.
I’d thought I’d always known exactly what that meant.
But I’d had the timing wrong by about three minutes.
I knew now.
This moment wasn’t everything. The one person I found myself wanting more than anything during it was.
One preconceived notion can haunt you for the entirety of your life.
I thought I owed it to myself and to everyone who’d ever backed me to do what was expected. What was right. What I was supposed to do.
But nothing is forbidden in love. Not circumstances or propriety or the denial of the object of said affection.
I knew now.
This was it.
If I wanted it, I had to take it.
This gymnastics love story is more than grips, rips, and battered hands.
For Calia Nickleson and Nikolai Bagrov, it was everything.
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