Authors: Khloe Wren
|Fire and Snow |
|Rogue Phoenix Press (2014)|
After watching his older brother win the heart of his mate, Conner White can’t wait for his turn. When he finally has his first dream of his mate, he is both relieved that he knows who she is and worried as he hasn’t been able to get near her since he caught a glimpse of her at his brother’s wedding weeks earlier.
Tina Anderson is beyond miserable. Her mother abandoned her after a life altering injury that left the vibrant gymnast in a wheelchair. Her father has been forced to leave her to go work off shore. She’s been left in the care of a harsh bitter woman who is only after her father and will do whatever she deems necessary to take her place in his life. No matter the cost.
Conner and Tina’s road to happiness is filled with twists, turns and pot holes, but are they strong enough to pull each other through it all?
Fire and Snow: Book Two
Published by Rogue Phoenix Press
Copyright © 2014
Electronic rights reserved by Rogue Phoenix Press, all other rights reserved by the author. The reproduction or other use of any part of this publication without the prior written consent of the rights holder is an infringement of the copyright law. This is a work of fiction. People and locations, even those with real names, have been fictionalized for the purposes of this story.
To my parents.
Thank you for your endless support and love.
Two and half months ago
With the AIS Gymnastics Hall filled to capacity for the final Olympic Nomination Trials, Tina Anderson stood before her mother wearing her brand new long sleeve leotard in the Tasmanian team colors of navy and red. She was so nervous her stomach was filled with butterflies. This was it. Her last chance at making the Olympics. At twenty years old she was rapidly getting too old to compete at these high levels.
She knew her routine, was sure she could do it. But in front of so many people, the prospect of failing was a crushing weight pressing down on her. With trembling fingers, Tina checked to see if her bun was still secure and every strand of hair slicked back where it should be. As she did, she looked at her mother. Ms. Gloria Anderson stood proud, her bleach blond hair perfectly styled, makeup flawless. The fitted low cut blouse showed off every inch of cleavage her pushup bra gave her. Her tailored charcoal grey suit pants fitted in just the right way to show off the curve of her hips. The three-inch stiletto heels looked out of place down here on the floor. A wave of cold flowed through her as she watched her mother raise her hands to check if her hair was all in place. Focusing on her face, Tina hoped to find some reassurance. But all she saw was expectation. No love, no kindness, just ice cold determination and expectation.
The same as always.
Tina had realized years ago her mother enjoyed living through her, loved the glory of being able to brag about her daughter's accomplishments. When she found out Tina had made the Olympic Trials, she'd thrown a huge party to make sure everyone knew.
"Okay Tina, you're up next. Do me proud and leave them all dead in the water."
The words her mother spoke were encouraging but her tone was flat and serious. Over the last few months Tina had started to wonder if her mother loved her at all or if she only loved her accomplishments.
Before she could get too buried in those thoughts, the announcer's deep booming voice came over the PA system announcing she was up at the uneven bars. She walked towards the platform, stopped briefly at the bowl of chalk to dust her hands, then fitted her wrist grips on her way to the starting position in front of the apparatus. She closed her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths while she mentally ran through her routine and gave herself a little pep talk.
I can do this, I've been training since I was eight years old; I know my routine by heart.
When the buzzer sounded she stepped forward, raised her arms, bowed to the judges then jumped, grabbed hold of the lower bar and swung herself up to start her routine.
The coolness of the bar felt good under her grip, the familiar sensation of her flesh sliding around the timber grounding her. Everything was going brilliantly, her kip and hip circles were perfect and her Stalder flawless. She spun around the upper bar in a Backward Giant, she let go of the bar with her right hand and flipped herself over, ready to descend into a Forward Giant. She went to grab the bar with her right hand but missed; her left slipped and she found herself adrift, desperately reaching for the upper bar. She panicked, tried to focus over her racing heartbeat that pounded in her ears, to search her mind on what to do to save herself.
She felt the lower bar connect with her left thigh. A loud crack accompanied a level of pain more intense than any she had ever felt before. The soft floor mats broke her fall as spots swam before her eyes, her coach and teammates crowded around her. As her vision began to dim, she desperately searched for her mother's face but was unable to find it before darkness was all she saw.
~ * ~
As Tina broke through the surface of consciousness, she was greeted with her mother's voice, raised and angry.
"You need to come and get her." Pause. "I don't care. My life doesn't have room for this in it." Pause. "Yes, just like I didn't have room for you in it all those years ago." Pause. "So help me, Dale, if you don't get your ass up here to collect her, I'll be dropping her off at your doorstep."
From the pauses she guessed her mother was on the phone, and from the words spoken, her mother was dumping her on her father. A man she hadn't seen in over four years.
Dale Anderson had always been kind to her. Every year he dutifully posted presents and rang for both her birthday and Christmas but that was about it. Whenever Tina had asked him why, he would tell her that he'd love to ring more often but couldn't. He would always refuse to elaborate on why. He'd told her she could ring him whenever she wanted, and as long as he wasn't offshore on a rig, he'd always answer her calls. She'd tried to ring a couple times only to discover that her mother had somehow managed to have his number barred from both her mobile and the house phone. She'd always felt guilty over her parents' breaking up. Whenever she'd thought back over those years surrounding her parents' divorce, she'd always drawn the conclusion that it had been the stress of being apart, with her and her mother in Sydney, while her father remained in Tasmania. But maybe it wasn't. From what she'd just overheard, her mother would have left him regardless.
She heard her mother sigh before pushing back into her hospital room. Tina's heart rate began to race as anger coursed through her.
"Oh, you're awake, sweetie."
"How dare you?"
Her mother's eyes widened before she blinked with feigned innocence.
"How dare I what?"
"Call me sweetie after what you just said to Dad. And don't try to deny it, I heard you."
Tina's temper rose higher as her mother's mouth opened and closed, obviously she was searching for a plausible lie.
"Don't bother with a response, mother. The look on your face says it all. Why don't you just go? I know you have so many more pressing engagements on your schedule than comforting your only daughter. I'm sure Dad will be here just as soon as he can get a flight, wouldn't you say?"
"I never said—"
With a tone laced in ice, she cut off her mother. "Get. Out."
Tears burned her eyes but she refused to allow them to fall so long as her mother was there to witness them. Straightening her spine and brushing imaginary creases from her shirt, Gloria slung her handbag over her shoulder before heading to the door.
"Well, I do have the party over at the Wilson's tonight. I'll tell them how sorry you are that you are unable to make it. Good bye, Tina."
The second her mother strode from the room, Tina squeezed her eyes shut as tears leaked out. Behind her closed lids, her accident played like a movie bringing her focus back from her mother and onto why she was in a hospital to begin with.
In a panic her eyes flew wide open as she twisted her head to the side to look down her body. Her left leg was encased in a weird metal contraption which started at her waist. There were long rods running down the length of her left leg to below her knee. What truly had her blood running cold were the pins. Thick metal pins attached to the rods disappeared into the bandages on her thigh. She had a horrible feeling those pins were attached to her femur, probably holding the thing together.
Tina had no control over the great heaving sobs that racked her body. Certainly her career in gymnastics was over now, and so was her mother's use for her. Understanding, of why her mother had been so quick to abandon her, slammed into her. There would be no more medals or awards for her mother to brag about. Her suspicions confirmed; yes, her mother had been living through Tina's accomplishments, relishing the glory of being the mother of an elite athlete.
A torrent of emotions overwhelmed her and her body shook under the pressure of them. Pain from her leg shot up her spine in protest of her body's movements, but she couldn't stop the tears. Tina buried her face in her hands as she tried to deal with the fact her entire life would have to completely change now. As she cried, she stupidly craved the loving embrace of her mother, but she wasn't here. And probably never would be again. A fresh stab of agony sliced her heart and bruised her soul, making the pain in her leg feel like nothing more than a paper cut.
Her tears slowed when she felt a warm hand rubbing her shoulder and upper arm. A soft calming voice spoke kindly to her.
"Tina? Honey? Are you in pain? Can you tell me what's wrong?"
Tina lowered her hands as she stopped crying and started hiccupping through the last few tremors. She looked up into a lovely round face. A nurse stood over her with an expression filled with worry, concern and compassion. Kind of what she had expected—wanted—to see in her mother's face.
"My leg hurts."
Not half as much as my heart bleeding out does, but no drug is going to fix that.
The nurse smiled kindly at her. "The doctor will be in shortly to do some tests and explain to you anything you want to know. But in the meantime, I'll give you another shot of morphine for the pain."
Tina relaxed back into the bed as the nurse injected the drug into her chest port. She welcomed the numbness it brought on. The pain in her leg eased and her mind became fuzzy. Allowing herself to fully fall under the morphine's effect, she drifted off to a dreamless sleep.
~ * ~
Dale hung his phone up with a frustrated growl. He was sick to death of his ex-wife. Days like today, he really wanted to wring her neck. Their daughter would possibly not walk again with her injuries and all she cared about was getting back to her damn social life. Thankfully he was on his two weeks off rotation, so he was home and could make the trip up to Sydney to collect his daughter as soon as he could get a flight.
Shit, he hadn't seen Tina in what? Nearly five years? When Tina had won the state championship in gymnastics, Gloria had decided to take her to Sydney to further her
. Dale had not agreed. Sure, he was proud of his little girl, but at fifteen she did not need a
But he had loved Gloria and Tina; wanting to see them happy he gave in. Working oil rigs out in Bass Strait meant it made sense for him to stay behind in Tasmania while they went off to Sydney. Soon after, once it was clear that Tina was going to go far with her gymnastics, he'd received the paper work announcing their separation.