Pairs on Ice, a Novel for Tweens
Jamie, 12, is a competitive figure skater who dreams of the Olympics. She won a medal at the U.S. National Championships and is getting ready for the next season. At the rink one afternoon, her coach, Christa, tells her that some people are coming to watch her skate, but won’t say who or why. Jamie’s best friend suggests that they could be millionaires who want to sponsor her skating. Jamie laughs, but then wonders if maybe it could be true. At the end of her lesson, she skates her freestyle program.
“Good job,” Christa said, “but not perfect.”
“And you gotta be perfect to win.” Jamie said it before Christa could.
But Christa wasn’t listening. She was scanning the bleachers again. Jamie followed her eyes to three people—a man, a woman and a boy—sitting by themselves near the top. How could she have missed them before? The man looked like any parent, with dark hair, brown jacket, and a cup of coffee in his hand. But the woman! Her pouffed up bleached hair and white fur jacket wasn’t like any mom Jamie had ever seen. Jamie studied the boy. He was wearing all black and . . . her eyes froze. He was the wild skater who almost ran her down!
“That’s the O’Connors,” Christa said, turning back to Jamie. “I’ll introduce you to them, but first, we have to talk. Let’s go to my office.”
Jamie watched them clump down the bleachers. The woman led the way. No one smiled. Jamie knew one thing already–they didn’t want to sponsor her skating. A knot formed in her stomach as she followed Christa to the edge of the rink. She had a bad feeling about this.
They stepped off the ice, only to find their way blocked by the woman. Christa took Jamie’s arm and tried to maneuver around her. “Nice to see you, Violet. Jamie and I will meet you in the snack bar in a few minutes.”
She might have been talking to the air. The woman didn’t budge. The stiletto heels on her black boots dug deep into the soft flooring surrounding the rink.
“I don’t know, Christa,” she said, waving long red nails at Jamie. “She’s the right size, but how can you think her skating’s up to Matt’s? I mean, she two-footed the landing of her one triple and . . .”
Jamie flinched as the woman attacked her skating.
“Violet, please,” Christa interrupted. “Not now. I told you I had to talk to Jamie.”
The woman kept talking. “. . . her form in the double combination wasn’t all that good.”
The boy in black looked at Jamie as if she were a bug he wanted to squash. “I have two triples down cold,” he said. “I’m not going to skate with anyone who can’t even . . . Hey, I bet you’ve never even skated pairs, have you?” He jabbed at her. “Huh?”
Jamie stepped back. Who WAS this kid? And why was he talking about pairs?
Christa tried again. “Please, all of you. Get yourselves a snack and wait for us.”
The session ended and skaters poured off the ice. Violet shook her head at the crowded counter. “It’s too busy in there. We should go to your office.” She looked at Jamie again. “Although I think we might be wasting our time.”
The man in brown smiled at Jamie. He put a hand on his wife’s shoulder. “Come on, Violet, let’s do what Christa says. And if you want my opinion, I think the young lady skates beautifully.”
From the look Violet gave him, Jamie knew she didn’t want his opinion.
The Zamboni rumbled onto the ice to start its slow circles around the now-empty rink, leaving a layer of clean, smooth ice with each pass.
Jamie shivered at Matt and Violet’s icy glares. “Could somebody maybe give me a clue about what’s going on?” she demanded. “’Cause I have better things to do than stand here and freeze.”
Christa sighed. She shot an angry look at Violet before turning to Jamie. “Okay, I guess I didn’t handle this very well.”
Ya think? Jamie thought.
“I’m sorry,” Christa said. “I wanted the O’Connors to see you skate . . . but I had planned that we’d talk . . . you see, you’re a talented skater, but you . . . so when Matt needed a partner . . .” She took a deep breath. “I thought you and Matt would make a good pairs team.”
Pairs? With Matt? Jamie’s eyes widened. She wasn’t a pairs skater. And even if she was, she’d rather eat worms than skate with someone as full of himself as Matt, whose crazy mother already hated her. What was Christa thinking?
ELIZABETH WEISS VOLLSTADT has many happy memories of skating on a nearby pond when she was growing up on Long Island, NY. Like Jamie’s stepmother, she marveled at skaters who could jump, spin, and glide over the ice. When her daughter became a skater, she enjoyed several years as a skating mom.
Elizabeth has also written Young Patriots: Inspiring Stories of the American Revolution. She lives in Florida with her husband where she enjoys reading and boating on the St. Johns River.