This is a deleted scene from an early version of ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT. In honor of the winter weather today, I thought I'd post it. I was never an ice skater, but parts of this remind me of a boy I once knew who was a skater.
ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT is available here from Amazon.
ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT is available here from Amazon.
My nose and cheeks tingled with the cold the second I pushed open the car door. In ten minutes, I’d look like Jack Frost’s twin sister, but I didn’t care. No way Jake was going to beat me today; I’ve been working too hard for him to out skate me this time. I pulled on my gloves and grabbed my skates off the back seat. He was hot on my heels, but I didn’t even look back at him as we sprinted to the dock to lace them up.
“Bet you an extra-large chocolate chip scone you can’t beat me to the middle!” he yelled, sliding down next to me and throwing off his boots.
I rolled my eyes, and bumped his shoulder. “Seriously? We’re not ten anymore.” But the second I finished my laces, I took off, pumping my arms to pick up speed. We’d done this race a gazillion times, but it never got old. I could do it with my eyes closed. It didn’t even really matter who won—it was just what we did when we skated on the pond.
I raised my arms in victory when I got to the spot we always called the finish line. “I am the winner!” I started my victory dance, knowing he’d have done the same if he’d been first. I took a bow, and twirled around gracefully on my skates, just in time to see him come speeding at me. The moment before he careened into me, he stopped short, sheering ice everywhere. “You really are still ten, aren’t you?”
“Only when I’m with you,” he said, as he glided along the ice in a perfect figure eight.
“Ha! Aren’t I the luckiest girl.”
When the sun dipped below the tree line, something about the weird shadows chasing Jake around the pond make me stop and watch him. With a pretend stick in his hand, he raced toward an imaginary goal. “He shoots! He scores! And the crowd goes wild!”
His energy and joy wafted toward me like a palpable breeze, and everything melted away. No coach, no parents nagging me to do the right thing, no team counting on me to lead them to victory. None of that was going anywhere, but for now, I’d block it all from my brain. I’d just enjoy myself.
The ice on this part of the pond was about two and a half inches thick but the way the light reflected off the smooth surface, made it seem like it went on forever. The first time it cracked it sounded just like thunder, rolling far away in the distance. “It always freaks me out when it does that!” I said to myself, knowing he was too far away to hear. I skated in a few lazy circles, before Jake’s fancy moves drew my attention again.
He spelled his name and twirled a few times. The guys on the team would never let him live down some of the girlier ice dance moves, but he really was amazing on his skates. His stupid hat trailed behind him like a tail. It was so long, it could double as a scarf and wrap around his neck four times. He turned and waved the pompom on the end in my direction. It was the smallest of gestures, but suddenly I felt my face flush. It was like someone turned up the heat—like I was almost breaking a sweat. If I’d been near a chair, I’d have sat down.
“What’s up? Why aren’t you skating?” He stopped a few inches away and squinted at me like he could see into my soul. “You feel okay? You look like you’re about to pass out.”
Before I could answer, the thunder came from directly beneath us. In that second my only thought was if we were taking a plunge into the icy depths, we were going to take it together.
My next thought hit me like a hockey stick to the gut.
Oh my god, I’m in love with Jake.
In that instant, waiting for the surface to break open and the icy water to swallow us whole and knowing beyond any doubt that I loved Jake Gomes with my entire being, my reflexes reacted and I gripped his forearms like a life preserver.
He grabbed my arms in return and, I saw panic flash across his face.
We stood face to face, linked. Panic gripped my heart as I waited for the inevitable. My brain tried to get my feet to move and skate to shore, but I couldn’t let go of Jake arms.
He relaxed first. “Pen, what the hell’s wrong with you today? The ice is totally thick enough here. It’s not cracking.” But as he said the words, he pulled me into his chest and held me for a long time. I could feel his heart beating through his parka and I knew I’d scared him. I buried my face in his coat. I couldn’t look at him; if I looked at him, my eyes would betray my heart. As terrified as I was of my heart, I’d never felt safer in my life wrapped in Jake’s arms. Like I’d come home. After being away for a very long time.
He finally loosened his grip and looked down at me. I might have been crying or maybe my eyes were watering from the cold. And I wasn’t sweating anymore; my body shook with fear and cold and confusion. How could I never have known that I loved Jake Gomes? He took off his glove and wiped my cheek. Why had I never noticed that his eyes are turquoise? I’d been looking at him since we were seven, but I’d never noticed.
My heart had just started to calm down from my earlier panic, but as Jake leaned toward me, my pulse quickened in my ears.
I’d never imagined kissing Jake. I have no idea why I never imagined kissing Jake. Kissing Jake was amazing. I wished we weren’t wearing parkas because I wanted to get so much closer to him. He pulled away first, and started skating backwards away from me. He looked more scared now than he did when the ice cracked. “I’m sorry.”
I felt like I’d been punched again. I whispered, “Why are you sorry?”
He looked surprised. “I…I mean…I didn’t mean to kiss you.”
I skated forward, closing the gap he’d created. “I’m glad you did.” I wasn’t trying to be sexy, I just wanted to be kissing him again. In hindsight, maybe I was too enthusiastic. I misjudged the distance and caught him off guard. We both lost our balance and went down hard onto the ice.
When he started laughing, I started breathing again. I wasn’t sure what to do with this new Jake. The Jake who kissed me. The Jake with the beautiful blue-green eyes. The war in my head raged. This was the same Jake who had been like my brother for the last eight years. There was no reason to be nervous. “Thanks for breaking my fall,” I said, holding out my hand to help him up. I could pass my shaking hands off as being cold, right?
Jake grasped my hand and pulled me back onto the ice next to him. He pulled my hat off and ran his fingers through my hair, and then, finally, he kissed me again.