(By the way...be sure to click on the links on the names of characters for a little extra insight!)
Nothing Abigail Phelps does is ever simple. She falls in love with complicated men, carries on complicated relationships... Even her figure skating career is complicated! She competed in ice dancing with Christopher Dean (yes...that Christopher Dean) for Great Britain, and then she competed in pairs skating with Sergei Grinkov (yes...that Sergei Grinkov) for the Soviet Union. Never mind that she's American! But then they all retired, and that was that. Except it wasn't. It wasn't at all.
They all decided to return to the ice in order to compete in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics - Chris and Abby for Great Britain, Sergei and Abby for...the United States. (It's complicated.)
By this time, Chris and Abby had been consistently falling in and out of love (though never really out of love...) for about fifteen years. In 1993, Chris was ending a miserable marriage to Isabelle Duchesnay (yes...that Isabelle Duchesnay). And Sergei and Abby were a couple. If you've read book one, I've Loved These Days, that's the one spoiler which may surprise you, but don't worry. You'll find out soon enough in Scenes From Highland Falls anyway. Speculation is running rampant that Abby is the reason Chris's marriage is ending, and that Chris is coming between Sergei and Abby.
AND ALL THEY WANT TO DO IS SKATE!
So, there you go...
I hope that you will click on this link (THIS ONE!!) and download your FREE copy of I've Loved These Days. It's only free for a little while longer... And then go on to book two, Scenes From Highland Falls and book three, Two Thousand Years.
But first...a carefully manipulated, relatively spoiler-free excerpt!
Of course, there was so much more to it than that for Chris, but he couldn’t tell her that. And if he had it only would have made things worse. So, he chose me, and she went to the press.
Speculation that we were having an affair, and that I would soon be leaving Sergei, ran rampant. Initially we said nothing to the media, but that only seemed to make it worse, so in February, Chris, Sergei, and I held a press conference in Simsbury. We expected some local reporters and probably one or two from the networks, but when we walked into that conference room, we were shocked to see hundreds of reporters and photographers crammed in there.
My opening remark got a good laugh, though I really wasn’t trying to be funny when I said, “Why do you people care so much about any of this?”
We had prepared a statement from the three of us, and as soon as we got seated at the table facing the press - Chris on one side of me, Sergei on the other - I began to read.
In recent days there has been an alarming amount of speculation as to the nature of my partnership with Christopher Dean and the stability of my relationship with Sergei Grinkov. This is nothing new. Those questions have always been there, and we’ve never liked to answer them because, frankly, the answers are no one’s business. However, the questions don’t seem to be going away, and we would like to shift the focus from our personal lives to the historic task that we, and several other formerly professional skaters, have undertaken. So, once - for the record - we will tell you the truth, though we have all been around long enough to know that many of you will not believe it to be the truth and the rest of you will wish it wasn’t the truth, because your version is more interesting. Chris and I have a long and complicated history, but we are the best of friends and ice dancing partners. Any reports, from insiders or otherwise, that we are involved in a romantic relationship are 100% false. Isabelle Duchesnay has filed for divorce, as she has already told you, and while we all, especially Chris, wish the marriage had survived, please do not read more into it than what exists. Meanwhile, Sergei and I are not separating, as has been reported. Believe what you want, but that is the truth.
Finally, the three of us would like to point out some things which we believe should be making headlines. There is a young skater named Chen Lu who is a serious contender for a medal in Lillehammer. If she succeeds, she will be the first Chinese Olympic medalist in figure skating history. There is another skater named Katarina Witt who won gold in both Sarajevo and Calgary for East Germany, and she’s returning to the amateur ranks - fully aware that the technical requirements of women’s singles today make her the ultimate underdog - purely for the honor of skating for her home country, which is no longer divided by a wall.
I only had one more line of our statement to read, but before I could say it, Chris contributed a few words which weren’t on the notes the three of us had put together the evening before.
“And there is a skater named Abigail Phelps, and she is the greatest and most legendary the sport has ever seen. With her as our partner, Sergei and I each won gold medals for our home countries, and now we have the overwhelming honor of accompanying her on this journey, and ultimately to Lillehammer, where we want nothing more than to be able to help return the favor.”
Chris looked at me and winked, just as Sergei put his hand on my knee and squeezed gently. I knew then that they had conspired together to put forth that little bit of very public solidarity. And that changed everything. It was no longer Phelps and Dean representing Great Britain and Phelps and Grinkov representing the United States. It was Chris and Sergei and Abby, representing everything we were to each other.
Through thick emotion in my voice and eyes clouded with tears, I looked down at my note card in order to say the last line and complete the statement.
“We don’t know about you, but we think that’s much more remarkable and newsworthy than any of the rumors about our personal lives could ever be.”