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When The Bones Are Good

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Scott looked out the window and watched the Tampa skyline fade into the distance. Half a dozen concrete, steel, and glass buildings—sterile and cold. At night, multi-colored lights bathed them in garish artificial-looking colors. It really wasn’t much to look at, if he was being honest. It wasn’t supposed to end this way, if he was being honest..


I’m so happy for you and so proud. Give Paul a hug. Gotta run…

Scott slipped his phone into his pocket and finished packing his suitcase. He folded up his yellow Wu-Tang t-shirt.

”Want more water?” Jackie asked.

”Nah. I’m good. Thanks.”

Jackie watched him sort through a few items and as the pile of clothes grew so did her heartache. Begging him to stay was out of the question, though she desperately wanted to. She wanted to make it work. The last ten months had been fantastic. Getting to know Scott, spending time with him—all of it was like a dream. From the moment they reunited in Ilderton when she had returned for her grandmother’s funeral, their relationship had been a whirlwind. His first visit to Tampa for his birthday was the most fun she had in a long time. Her divorce not final (his fans made their displeasure very well documented) she didn’t take their status too seriously. No updating her Facebook page where she religiously posted her weekly activities. She continued seeing the doctor she had been casually dating when she met Scott but a few weeks after Scott made the trip to visit her, that was over.

Scott was like a yellow lab in human form; goofy, sweet, and fun. He fit in well with her group of friends and her family. He settled into her life in Tampa with a practiced ease. He spent his days fixing things up in the condo she shared with her parents, making dinner, working on his own projects, and relaxing in front of the television with a few beers. It was a contented life.

But when you buy a house quickly without an inspection, there are bound to be issues. It starts with a toilet that runs, maybe a window that doesn’t fully close, a squeaky stair. Soon, the leaks happen, the cracks in the foundation show up. And, before you know it—you realize the bones aren’t good. The home you couldn’t wait to buy is a money pit and you have to sell below market value or you risk losing everything.

The issues started with the fans. Jackie hadn’t really given it much thought when they began dating. She knew Scott and Tessa’s popularity had soared after the Olympics. The television appearances, the speculation about their relationship, but nothing prepared her for the outright hatred and scorn she received on a daily basis. She understood they were upset he had a girlfriend who wasn’t Tessa and she did note the irony she technically was Scott’s first partner. But, some of these people took it way too far—releasing her divorce documents, outrageously rude comments on her Instagram photos, thinly veiled threats on twitter and the one overzealous fan who took photos of Scott staining a table in her driveway.

That’s when she started to realize—his fans would go to any lengths to find out information and do whatever they could to ruin their relationship. It was disturbing and yet Scott never did anything about it. She eventually agreed that was the best way to handle it. He tried to assuage her anger-- told her not to worry, to ignore it, and that it would eventually settle down. But, it didn’t. If anything it ramped up; especially after Scott brought her to the Walk of Fame ceremony. Comments about her dress being a cheap Amazon buy (she actually had found it in a Macy’s department store) her inability to walk in heels (was it her fault her shoe caught on the red carpet?), and the endless comparisons to Tessa. (she knew how gorgeous Tessa looked—and for the record she did have a hair and makeup team) Jackie certainly wasn’t trying to stir up trouble when she agreed to come to the ceremony. She was being a supportive and proud girlfriend. He barely spent any time with her that night. She rode to the event with his family, sat with his family, and didn’t even get a chance to kiss him congratulations until nearly midnight in their hotel room. She watched from afar as he and Tessa glided onto the red carpet like movie stars—Scott looking devastatingly handsome in his tuxedo and overcoat with the collar popped up. Tessa had never looked more radiant. (Scott said so—in several interviews) The green dress she chose made her look like royalty—everything about her that night screamed perfection. Jackie winced as she remembered how teary eyed and emotional Scott was that evening. Not just because of the honor they were receiving, but because she knew he was thinking of opportunities missed. She saw how he avoided Tessa’s stare, avoided touching her—how choked up he got when he went off script on stage and declared himself unworthy of the star and Tessa deserving it and so much more.

Speaking of Tessa. Jackie knew her peripherally from ice skating and because everyone knows everyone in small towns. In Scott’s eyes, Tessa was amazing, extraordinary, brilliant, gorgeous, and kind. She had to admit Tessa was very respectful of their relationship. The phone calls and texts continued but they were for work matters only. And, the interviews were less their signature touchy-feely exchanges and more business-like. Scott seemed to struggle with how to juggle Jackie and Tessa. His solution seemed to be a bit of a radical bandaid; put as much distance as possible between Tessa and him. It wasn’t hard because Tessa had so much going on between her sponsorships and vacations. Scott easily slipped into role of a devoted boyfriend —who also just happened to have a stunning business partner.

At the beginning, Scott let Jackie know his relationship with Tessa was unusual. They were close and she had to accept that or they couldn’t be together. She had friends like that too so it was not a problem for her. And, it really wasn’t a problem. Having 1300 miles separate them from one another made it easier, but also Scott never made it a problem. He never gave Jackie a reason to doubt him. Until she did.

Jackie chalked it up to innocent pride when she saw the look on Scott’s face the day the announcement came Tessa was going to have her own Barbie doll. The adorable way his face scrunched up as he called her and gushed. His voice three octaves higher than normal as he asked if his nieces could have their own Barbie Tessas. And how he shyly asked for his own. She knew it was just a sense of comfortableness when called her “kiddo” or “T” on their phone calls.

Jackie appreciated his honesty when Scott admitted he and Tessa tried to move their relationship in a more romantic direction after the Olympics but Tessa struggled finding her footing and it made the timing of the situation difficult. But, it also wasn’t lost on her how he avoided the question when Jackie asked if he had been in love with Tessa. He merely said “of course I love her” and made a joke about Tessa being the best business partner ever. But, that wasn’t her question and the non-answer was definitely an answer. Still, Jackie wasn’t jealous. After all, Scott spent practically every moment he could with her. They enjoyed each other’s company, went on vacations, and made plans for the future. Even when her friends whispered asides to her—misgivings about his relationship with Tessa, she brushed them off. She knew in her heart he was not a cheater.

In the end, it wasn’t the fans or Tessa that broke them up. It was their “bones”.

She didn’t want to move back to Canada and he didn’t want to move to Tampa. He didn’t see how they could continue the long-distance relationship. He was heading back to Canada to help with the new skate shop and for tour choreography and practice. Jackie wouldn’t be able to join him on the tour bus for insurance reasons. She should have known a breakup or a long pause was inevitable but she thought Scott would change his mind and live with her. She thought he would understand why she couldn’t move back to her former home. She outlined her reasons: she loved her job, she loved her friends, she didn’t want to be a housewife and just follow him around. He tried to convince her it wouldn’t be like that—she’d find work and she had friends in Canada, but she knew better. She saw her future when she returned home a year ago to bury her grandmother. Nothing had really changed since she left 16 years ago to go to college. But she had and that made all the difference.

And, then there were the ghosts. Jackie had been bitten hard in her marriage. She was too young when she said yes. And, the ending was bitter. Never mind Mark was hot, had a great body, and the sex was terrific. She has loved him in a way she had never loved another man. So when he asked her to marry him, it seemed like the best thing that ever happened to her. Until it wasn’t. He began to change. And soon they were strangers living in the same home.

Scott was not Mark. But, at 34 years old, she was smart enough to recognize the same carnival ride when she saw it. A handsome face and a good time only went so far. Yet, she wanted to believe she and Scott were more than that. Besides the inability to agree on a home base, they couldn’t get past two other hurdles—what a future for them really looked like and Scott’s “unacknowledged but very much in the back of his mind” feelings for Tessa. Jackie knew in her heart she could never compete with Tessa for Scott’s affection and his love. No matter how hard he tried to make things work with them and he did—Jackie could still see it, even if Scott refused to. When it came down to it, Jackie knew what she had to do even if it would destroy her heart all over again. Scott deserved to be happy. More importantly, she deserved happiness.

Scott had been feeling the shift between Jackie and him for weeks. The fissures started to show after Mallorca. He made the trip to Newfoundland on his own. He still texted and called her every day but they didn’t have much to talk about despite the fact his days were filled with new adventures. And then there was Tessa. While he was careful around Jackie, deep down he had never gotten over Tessa. Never would get over her.

Tessa always said her relationship with Scott had a natural ebb and flow to it. 2018-2019 was the season of Tessa. She had a boatload of sponsorships and commitments. And while she struggled for a long time after PyeongChang, she thrived these last few months. She had never looked better (her new haircut that he noticed during a lurking session on Social Media was adorable) and she seemed to be handling the post-Olympic transition better. She was spending more time with friends and doing things that made her happy that weren’t about negotiating a contract or posing for a professional camera. At least she made it sound that way in their phone calls and texts. He would see for himself soon.

Goodbyes are never easy. And saying goodbye to your once-future is the stuff that all great country songs are about he joked to himself the night they called it quits. It was the most mature breakup he ever had—he and Jackie talked it out like adults, spoke caring words and decided to gently part ways. No fanfare, no hard feelings. A clean break.

Our “bones” just aren’t good is what he told himself as he rolled his suitcase to the Uber. It was that simple. Their relationship couldn’t weather the storms so better to cut their losses and move on. He kissed and hugged Jackie goodbye and promised to text when he arrived in London. They both cried—for what was and what would never be-- and then he was walking through the airport to his gate with a macchiato in his hand and his heart wondering why he couldn’t just get it right.

”Sir, may I get you something to drink?”

Scott pulled his earbuds out. “Sorry?”

”I asked if you would like something to drink.” The flight attendant smiled.

”A bottle of water would be great.


Scott smiled and inserted his earbud and went over the numbers again for the skate shop. There was still so much to be done before they could open in their new location. Finding the barn for sale was a stroke of good luck (and the fact that it was in Jackie’s hometown—at one time seemed like destiny and now it was like a cruel ironic joke). He read the numbers and compared them to Paul’s notes. The skate shop had been steadily expanding since before PyeongChang and now it was at a level where they either would need to buy a bigger space like a freestanding building, or lease a larger space in town. Scott had found the barn cum office space slash dance studio on a real estate website. A software company was currently occupying it but their lease was ending and they wanted to move operations to London.

The owner was offering to lease it for 3500 dollars a month. Scott wanted to buy. He had watched a video tour on YouTube and if the price was right, he thought it would make the perfect home for Moir Skate Shop. The owner wanted 450-thousand dollars. Their agent got him down to 400-thousand dollars. Scott was elated. It needed a bit of work but he was willing to do the renovations with Paul.

”We’re really doing the reno. Not like your house, right?” Paul asked teasing his nephew.
”Hey my house is almost done.” Scott protested.
”Sure it is. It’s only been what? Five years. But who’s counting. Maybe by 2025 you’ll be able to move in.”

When his uncle first brought up the idea of a skate shop several years back, Scott saw it as an opportunity to invest in his future. And Paul was only too happy to have a project with Scott.

We're in the homestretch of the hard times. We took a hard left, but we're alright Yeah, life sure can try to put love through it, but we built this right, so nothing's ever gonna move it

Scott turned the volume up on his phone. He loved this song. He made a quick mental note to bring it up to Tessa. Maybe they could skate to it for ‘Rock the Rink’ or for Scott Hamilton’s event in Nashville. He had heard the song months ago and at the time he found something about it was familiar but couldn’t quite figure it out. It wasn’t until he was in Newfoundland for the Great Kitchen Party trip that he realized how much it reminded him of Tessa.

May 22, 2019

”What’ll you have Scott?” Mark Bronson, a guest on the trip, asked.

”I think I’ll start with an ale.” Scott looked at the 5 x 7 card listing the beers.

”Sit, sit. I got it.”

”Hey there.” A familiar voice tickled his ear.

”Hey you.” He turned around and pulled Tessa into a quick side hug.

She was dressed casually but looked beautiful as always.

”You doing okay?” He asked, aware that she was never very comfortable at these events.

”Yeah. Fine. Thank you.” She smiled and squeezed his arm.

”So how have you been?” He asked.

”Busy.” She sighed. “I just feel like I have been going and going since Mallorca. I am looking forward to this trip. To just relax a bit. And you? How’s Jackie? I thought she might come.”

”It didn’t make sense. She took like ten days off work for Mallorca. Plus, she said she’s been to Newfie enough times.”

Tessa smiled and nodded. She had been to the east coast of Canada numerous times and never got tired of it.

As if on cue, Scott echoed her thoughts. “I love it here. We’ve been here so many times for competitions but still it doesn’t get old. It’s just gorgeous.”

”So are you and Paul still looking for a new place for the shop?” Tessa asked as she sipped her small glass of beer. It looked like the world’s tiniest pour but Tessa was a lightweight and she also didn’t like to drink too much.

”We are.” Scott’s eyes lit up. “I’ve been looking online. I found a couple of places. Would you—“He caught himself. They were supposed to be mingling with guests not shopping for real estate.

”I’d love to see them-- I mean--- if you wanted to show me.” She told him as she smiled a bit nervously.

”Sure. That’d be great. I’d love your opinion.”

Scott unlocked his phone and showed her the three contenders. Tessa listened attentively to his pitches. When her eyes landed on the barn, her face said it all. Especially when Scott shared the top floor housed a dance studio.

Maybe at one time Scott would have imagined Tessa teaching dance in that studio. But, that was a lifetime ago—and in this lifetime he had a girlfriend in Tampa and Tessa was back to being the “best business partner ever”.

They spent the next thirty minutes weighing the pros and cons of the spaces.

A new song started on the sound system and Tessa smiled.

”I love this song.”

Scott nodded. “Me too.”

A few of the couples from the trip made their way onto a makeshift dance floor. Scott put out his hand. Tessa threaded her fingers through his and they walked over to the group. Scott pulled Tessa into his chest and they turned slowly. Tessa relaxed in his embrace. It all felt so natural and comfortable. She reminded herself he was not hers. At least not that way anymore. That was her choice. And although it pained her, she thought it was the right call. She had her doubts at first but after he showed up with Jackie to their Walk of Fame ceremony she knew there was no chance they would ever go back. Still…

Scott was softly singing to her. It was like J-F always told them—your friendship is like a house. You have to make sure the foundation is strong, if it is, then nothing can tear it apart. What did he call it? Good bones. They worked tirelessly on reinforcing that foundation. And it was strong. It had weathered enormous challenges. Lately it had been a bit harder. Scott had spent most of his time in Tampa with Jackie and Tessa had been on the road working with her sponsors. They texted and talked at times, and of course, they worked on the tour prep but they didn’t have any one on one time.

But, tonight in a pub, surrounded by strangers—the tide began to shift, the flow headed in the right direction. Tessa knew better than to get her hopes up. Looking into his eyes as he sang off-key sent her heart racing. The way his eyes crinkled, the ever-present scent of mint combined with the yeastiness of the ale, the feel of his hand pressed into her back turned her on. She slid her hand up his shoulder blade and her fingers ever so slightly carded into his hairline. Her throat was so dry, parched really, as were other parts of her body. It wasn’t his fault and yet it was. He had marked her in a way that she craved his touch, his mouth on her, his dick inside of her. How vulgar she thought but sometimes the truth is. She knew she wasn’t alone. Even if they had spent the better of the year in separate cities, separate countries—Tessa could still read Scott like he was her favorite dog-eared novel. She could see he was struggling too, he was fully aware of the silent but dangerous tango they were performing.

The song ended and they pulled away and walked over to their table.

The next five days were vintage Virtue and Moir. Scott was his usual charming self, making everyone laugh while Tessa showered them with kindness. They posed for selfies and shared private jokes and then there was a moment they knew better than to acknowledge. A few days later they were off to Japan for three weeks.

The feeling he and Jackie were crumbling stayed with Scott throughout Japan. Jackie was excited about the skate shop and incredibly proud of him but that’s where it ended. He gently prodded her about moving to Canada and she would change the subject. The phone calls were less frequent and when they did happen they were subdued. He loved her. A lot. Just not enough to move to Tampa.

And wasn’t that always the problem with all of his girlfriends. He loved them. Just not enough.

Swearing they made the right decision, Scott started to live his life without Jackie. He reconnected with family and friends. And, he bought a barn. With good bones.

Scott signed the contract and handed the pen to Paul.

”So congratulations guys. You just bought the building.” The agent smiled.

”Woo hoo!” Scott put his hand up and high-fived his uncle.

”Here are the keys. Enjoy.”

Paul wrapped his fingers around the key and nodded his head. His eyes filled with tears and he gave Scott a watery smile. Scott wiped his own eyes.

”Whatdya say we head over there and make a list of what needs to be done?”

”So over here we can put the accessory racks. Along this wall, the skates.” Paul pointed as Scott took notes and sketched out the design.

“I think we should open the day after our star ceremonies. August 8th. That gives us three weeks to renovate and move in.” Scott sounded confident.

”Tight timetable but doable.” Paul responded as he tested a cubicle wall to see how difficult it would be to remove.

Scott’s phone buzzed in his pocket.

So? Did you buy a barn?

His fingers typed his response.

”Jackie?” Paul asked.

”Uh, actually Tess.”

”Tell her I said hi.”

”Will do.”

Another two hours passed as Paul noted changes that needed to be made while Scott jotted them down. He made a list of supplies. They finally locked up the building and agreed to meet at the hardware store the next day at 7 in the morning.

Scott pulled back the covers and crawled into bed. He hadn’t been this exhausted since training for PyeongChang. He thought sleep would come quickly but instead he was met with images of Tessa and an overwhelming feeling that he could only describe as lost with a touch of heartbroken. The moment they shared in Newfoundland was enough to convince him the spark was still there. But, he wasn’t sure what, if anything to do about it. If he had the courage to do what he really wanted, would Tessa respond positively or would it be too late. He scrubbed his hands down his face and sighed. He struggled to get comfortable in the queen-sized bed. He wasn’t sure if he had the right to ask Tessa to try again. He punched the pillow and willed sleep to take over. Finally, it did.

Tessa was so caught up in her sponsorship activities she hadn’t had time to swing by the barn to see what Scott and Paul had been up to these last few weeks. She and Scott exchanged plenty of texts and phone calls. She did manage to learn he had broken up with Jackie and she was sorry to hear about it. She tried to ignore the feeling bubbling up within her. She had no idea if Scott felt the same. They never talked about Newfoundland and Japan came and went. And, now here she was in a beautiful hotel room chasing another business dream wondering if the boy she liked maybe just maybe liked her too. It really was that simple. But, they would find a way to complicate it.

The first time they saw each other after Scott returned to Canada as a single man was at a motivational speech for Deloitte, a sponsor of the Great Kitchen Party. Part of their contract with GKP called for five motivational speech appearances throughout the season. Tessa noticed Scott looked healthier than he had in several months. Gone was most of the extra weight he had put on in the winter months, his hair was a bit longer, and he was slightly more affectionate. When he took her hand to pose in front of the welcome banner in the same position when they were 12 and 10, she noticed her stomach tickled in that way it used to during the comeback when they had cocooned themselves in a bubble and all the world saw their insane chemistry for what it was—two childhood friends who loved one other deeply but were too afraid to do anything about it so they channeled their passion into their mutual desire to win gold. The visit was quick and they didn’t have time to talk.

The next day she drove to a Tim Horton’s on the way to the cottage and bought a box of doughnuts for Special Olympics’ Day of Inclusion. She was meeting her mom for a quick respite before her trip to Toronto for two days of meet and greets—Friday with MAC makeup and Saturday, an appearance for Nivea.

She parked her car in the driveway, grabbed the box and headed inside. She toed off her sneakers and dropped her keys on the kitchen counter. Her phone buzzed.

She swiped it open and there was a photo of Scott and two of their colleagues from B2Ten. Scott had a doughnut shoved in his mouth. She laughed. Always a little boy.

She snapped a photo of the open box of doughnuts and sent it to Scott.

The porch door slid open and her mom walked in.

”Hi honey, how was the drive?”

”Good. I got the doughnuts. Would you mind taking a photo for me—once I change my outfit?”

”Of course.”

Tessa checked her phone again and this time Scott’s face—cheeks filled with doughnut—smiled at her. She couldn’t help but giggle.

Kate knew her daughter for 30 years and she knew no one made her giggle like that except for Scott. She had her eyebrow raised by the time Tessa looked at her.

”Scott. He’s sending me photos of his doughnut adventures.” She turned her phone for her mother to see.

”Always a goofy one.” Kate smiled and chuckled.

Tessa nodded and fired off a quick text.

When do I get the grand tour?
Scott MOir typing…

Tessa shook her head, she never changed the typo in his name. It wasn’t like she needed his last name anyhow, he was the only Scott important enough to be in her contact list.

How about before the WOF ceremonies?
Sounds good. I’ll text you.

”So how’s Scott doing with the breakup?” Kate asked.

”He seems to be okay. As best as he can be, I guess.” Tessa pulled the lid down over the doughnuts. She hoped that answer would satisfy her mother.

”And you? How are you doing with this news?”

Kate knew how close Scott and Tessa had become during the comeback. She was a keen observer and she prided herself on knowing her daughter. And, knowing her as well as she did, she knew something had happened. Tessa confirmed it for her, or rather Scott did, by accident.

Kate had called Tessa early on her birthday morning in 2017 and Scott answered her phone, mistaking it for his. They were sleeping in after a particularly rousing sex romp the night before as a pre-celebration to Tessa’s birthday. Tessa was a pretty deep sleeper and when the phone buzzed Scott thought it was his and reached over to the nightstand and answered. Kate would have ignored any implications if not for three facts: it was 6:30 in the morning, Scott’s voice sounded sleepy, and she heard the equally sleepy muffled voice of her daughter asking who would call at such an ungodly hour. The sound of Kate’s voice jolted Scott awake enough that he tried to pass off the fact that he was in Tessa’s apartment at the crack of dawn by simply saying it was her birthday and he was going to make her breakfast. Later that day, Kate confronted Tessa on the phone and she was forced to admit Scott had not just come over to make her breakfast—he had indeed spent the night and yes, they were quite non-platonic.

After they decided to end their relationship, Tessa shared her heartache with Kate on their trip to France. She didn’t want to ruin her mother’s vacation, but Kate’s intuition told her Tessa was upset and she needed her daughter to release all of that heartache. She finally was able to pull the reason from her. Tessa admitted she wasn’t ready for a real relationship with Scott back in February but now it was too late and she was devastated. Kate held her daughter and tried to ease her pain. She never lied to her and told her it was going to be okay. Instead, she told her the truth, it was going to hurt like hell. She would hate to see Scott with another woman, but she had to put on a brave face. When Scott brought Jackie to the Walk of Fame, Alma apologized to Kate. Alma was upset as well about his actions, but there was really nothing she could do. She had made her opinion known to her youngest son and he assured her it wouldn’t be a problem, but Alma was distraught. They consoled each other over a few glasses of wine and told each other lies like Scott should be able to celebrate his big night with someone he loved and he was a lucky man that so many wonderful people loved him.

Tessa fiddled with the napkins on the counter. She exhaled loudly and shrugged her shoulders.

”Tess—be honest. What are you feeling?”

”I think I made a mistake by telling Scott we couldn’t be together. I used my fear as an excuse to not pursue something. I was afraid we would ruin us. Instead, my fear did that so I guess I feel like I did that. He was so sure of us. He believed in us, in me.”

”Tessa—you most certainly did not ruin anything. And you believed—believe in him. You were struggling and you weren’t ready. That doesn’t make you a bad person. And I know Scott doesn’t it see it that way. Of course, he was hurt. He’s in love with you. He wanted to be with you. He was caught off guard. But, you had every right to cool things off. You needed time. You were a part of the relationship too and your opinion and needs matter as much as his. He may not have seen it that way at first, but that was his heart talking—his broken heart. Your broken heart is just as valid. When we make decisions, difficult ones at that, and they affect the ones we love, it can have unintended consequences. But, that’s the chance we take, isn’t it? Life can be a gamble. But, don’t ever regret something.”

A tear slipped down Tessa’s face and she used the pads of her finger to wipe it away.

”Is it wrong that I’m happy they broke up?” She whispered through her tears, her voice sounding hoarse.

Kate slipped her hand over her daughter’s. “No. It’s not wrong. It’s human.”

”I feel like a bad person. But—I-- l love him. I can’t help it. I have loved him since we were kids. Nothing has changed it—no one has changed it. No length of time ever will. I’m in love with him and I want to tell him.”

”Then tell him. Find your moment and tell him. If you don’t, that you will regret.”

”But what if he—if he doesn’t love me like that. I’m terrified it’s too late and we missed our chance again.”

”Listen to me my beautiful daughter, I read this quote the other day. Don’t wait until you’re not scared to do the thing you’re scared to do. Do it scared.” Kate looked into her daughter’s eyes brimming with tears. “If Scott is whom you want, tell him. And, if he doesn’t feel the same way, and somehow I doubt that, then at least you told him. You owe it to yourself and to him.”

Tessa sniffled and nodded her head. She knew her mother was correct. Hadn’t she been so scared to skate on her legs in Vancouver? And what happened? They won gold. Hadn’t she been scared to go to University? And now she was just a credit shy from graduating and she was going to get her MBA. Hadn’t she been afraid to come back and make a run for PyeongChang? And, they won two golds. When Tessa really thought about all of the times she had been afraid, lacked courage—it was Scott who made her feel strong, who encouraged her. She made her decision. She was no less scared than she was ten minutes ago, maybe even more so, but she was ready.

Sweat dripped off Scott’s face, his t-shirt was stuck to his back. He didn’t remember renovating his home being this hard.

”Give it another yank and it should come loose.” Paul encouraged Scott.

Scott grimaced and pulled at the cubicle wall. It started to give way. He tried a see-saw method to loosen it and it nearly toppled him to the ground.

Paul dragged it out the front door. Scott could hear it clang in the dumpster. He looked around the room—it resembled a crime scene. Angular pieces of sheetrock littered the wood floors. Tracts that once held the cubicle walls in place were still bolted to the floor. The space looked like it didn’t know what it wanted to be, much like Scott for the moment.

Scott took a long draw from his water bottle. He pulled off his baseball cap and used the hem of his t-shirt to wipe the sweat off his face. He noticed his muscles were beginning to take shape again which made him optimistic. Paul walked into the room humming to the country song coming from the Spotify playlist he set up on his laptop. He was quite proud of himself that he remembered how to do it given Sheri had shown him months ago.

“So I think we sweep up the rest of this stuff, remove those tracts and then we can start sanding down the floor. Painting after that. Sound good Scott?”

”Sure.” Scott stood still as his eyes took in the transformation from office space to skate shop. It was slow going, but rewarding.

Maren Morris’s voice lifted him out of his deep thoughts. He remembered Tessa would be coming by in a few days to see “the best damn little skate shop” as she called it in her last text to him.

”I like this song.” Paul announced. “It tells a good story.”

”Yeah. It’s a good one.”

”You and Tessie should think about skating to it. Would it be so awful if you guys skated to a country song? Or is she still holding out?”

Scott smiled at his uncle using his father-in-law’s name for Tessa. Grandpa Mac loved Tessa fiercely. Always bragged to anyone he ever met that he knew Tessa Virtue. When Scott would come home from Canton, his grandfather always wanted to know how his “Tessie” was and if Scott was taking care of her—not that she needed it—his grandfather told him, but it’s always nice to know you have someone to count on when the haul gets tough.

”That’s funny. I was thinking the same thing, actually. I need to run it by her and Marie-France and Sam. Tess does like it. We danced to it up in Newfoundland.”

Paul raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Like the rest of the Moirs (and the Virtues) he was aware his nephew and Tessa had a very special relationship. He kept his opinions on that matter to himself, though his wife knew he secretly hoped they would figure out their “shit” one day. A few days ago Scott had broken the news to Paul that he and Jackie were finished. Paul understood the challenges of long-distance. He had flown down to Tampa a few months back and noticed the tension between Scott and Jackie. Paul thought Jackie was a lovely young woman, maybe a little too into partying but his nephew liked to have fun. She seemed to make Scott happy but like he told his wife, Carol—there was something missing. Carol, never one to mince words snarked back, ’yeah Tessa’. It was well known in the family Carol was not pleased her daughter Cara had brokered some kind of reunion-set up between Scott and Jackie. She and Scott’s mom, Alma, had always thought one day Scott and Tessa would find their way to each other, they would get their timing right. When things sputtered out after PyeongChang, Carol knew in her heart Tessa just needed time to sort out her comedown from the Olympics. She saw how sad Scott was over the false start. So when her well-meaning daughter had Scott tag along on an outing with Jackie and it wound up setting the stage for a new relationship, Carol scolded Cara. It had been nearly 10 months and while Carol had accepted Jackie, she harbored doubts. When Paul let her know things had ended between Scott and Jackie, she simply smiled and nodded her head.

”Newfoundland?” Paul inquired.

”For the Great Kitchen Party? Remember? We had one of those auction trips.”

”Oh yeah.” Paul nodded. He took a chance. “Well it kinda reminds me of you and Tess. Your bones are good. Weather the storms and all that, eh.”

Scott swallowed. “Ye-ah.”

”So speaking of the lovely Tessa, is she coming by to see the place before it opens? Also, I think I want your skates to be the first I sharpen in here. Like a good luck charm if you will.”

Scott’s face broke into a smile. His uncle was sentimental like him—like all the Moir men. Hearts on their sleeves. “I like that idea a lot. I’ll tell T. She’s stopping in a week or so. I can get her skates from her mom.”

”So what are you up to after this?” Kelly asked Tessa as she added another wave to her freshly dyed bob.

”I’m heading to the cottage for a few couple of days with my mom and then we have the addidas shoot. I have that appearance at OSheaga over the weekend.”

”Excited for that. And how’s Scott?”

”Good. He’s renovating the new skate shop. I promised I would check it out when I got home. It looks it will be a fantastic space.” Tessa unlocked her phone and called up the photos from the skate shop Instagram account. “Here take a look.” She handed Kelly her phone.

”Hmmm. Very nice. Wait. Is that Scott with a tool?” Kelly laughed.

”Yes. A hammer I think. He’s actually handy when he wants to be. He helped me put together all of my furniture in Canton. And he did that partial reno of his home. He’s good with his hands.” Tessa blushed as she realized the implication of what she said. Kelly looked over Tessa’s head at Matthew the makeup artist who smirked.

”Any-how.” Tessa rolled her eyes. “Scott and Paul are doing a lot of the work themselves. I’m so proud of him.”

”What’s that?” Kelly showed her a photo.

”That’s a dance studio.”

”Oh, maybe you’ll get your pointe shoes out of the closet.” Kelly nudged her.

”Don’t think so.” She chuckled. “But, we can definitely choreograph something there.”

”What day is the star ceremonies?” Matthew asked.

”August 7th. I have my outfits narrowed down.”

”Cool. Just send me a few photos and we can brainstorm some looks. I’m thinking more clean and young just given the whole “hometown sweethearts” vibe.”

”Yeah. I agree.”

”Is your whole family coming? Scott’s too?” Kelly asked. The underlying question not escaping Tessa.

”Yes. Jordan and my mom for sure. And Casey. Kevin is trying to make it. Scott’s family too. All of Ilderton is basically Moirs.”

”Any skating friends?”

”I don’t know. There are surprise guests. Scott is convinced Colonel Hatfield will be coming because his ceremony is like the day before and he secretly is hoping Babsy will be there.”

”Oh my god, Babcock? Is he serious? How much does that boy love the Leafs.”

”A lot.”

”And, uh Jackie too? Is she coming in?”

Something flickered in Tessa’s eyes but it quickly disappeared. “Um. No.”

”Oh.” Kelly nodded and worked her fingers through Tessa’s hair gently.

”They broke up.” Tessa quietly admitted. “About two weeks ago.”

”That’s too bad. How’s he taking it?”

Tessa pulled her mouth into a tight-lipped smile. She knew Kelly was quite sore over Scott bringing Jackie to the original Walk of Fame event. When Scott had casually mentioned it to Tessa about a week before the event she took it in stride. But, in one of the only times she let loose her real feelings about the situation, she confided in Kelly how hurt she was that he felt the need to bring his fairly new girlfriend to an event that celebrated their partnership, their 22 year partnership. Kelly saw the social media comments blasting Scott for being a dick bringing Jackie to the event and she agreed. Kelly took a quiet satisfaction in how captivated Scott was when he first saw Tessa in her dress and how he could hardly look at her during the evening. It wasn’t like she picked sides; there wasn’t a choice to be made. She knew Tessa still had feelings for Scott and he felt the same way—but their timing sucked. Maybe now they could have a second chance.

”He’s pretty sad about it. I think he thought this would work out. He really invested in the relationship. They both did.”

Kelly appreciated how generous Tessa always was about Scott; even when he didn’t always return the favor. Sure, he was the first to call her to congratulate on her accomplishments. The Barbie Doll, Nivea, MAC, Juno Awards. Even something small like getting her hair cut. He did send her a sweet text telling her how pretty she looked and how much he really liked it. She couldn’t miss the smile that lit up Tessa’s face whenever he complimented her. And she knew Tessa carried around a scrap piece of paper in her wallet that Scott had drawn two stick figures on, skating hand in hand.

Tessa was lost in her own thoughts. She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t thinking about Scott and Jackie breaking up ever since he told her. It wasn’t like she was waiting around for him, but she just hadn’t found time for a relationship. That was only partially true. She never stopped loving Scott. How could she? He had her heart since she was eight years old. He grabbed her hand literally and never let go, figuratively. He had always come back to her, in some way.

Despite the rumors, the first time she and Scott had sex was halfway through the comeback. His grandfather had just died and so had Cale. Scott was lost, devastated. He had come to her hotel room needing her strength, but wound up triggering something neither was ready to fight off anymore. They talked for hours and then fell asleep. And, once they returned to Montreal, they spent even more time together. Coffee runs, workouts, counseling sessions, and dinners. Their connection wasn’t a slow boil—it was a rolling boil—that threatened to bubble up and spill over the sides of the pot. And, one night it did. They had dinner and finished watching a few episodes of ‘Suits’ together. Whether they were following the lead of “Darvey” or just their own years of pent up attraction, they stumbled into her bedroom, ripping clothes off and when Scott slid inside of her for the first time, they both knew the consequences were worth it. What followed during the next year was not a relationship but a release-ship. It wasn’t like they were using each other, to the contrary. Yes, they loved having sex with each other but they loved each other. And as time went on, it became more apparent, they were in love. They played coy with their family, friends, fans, and the media. They were horrible at hiding their feelings but by this time everyone was just used to the Virtue-Moir chemistry and pretty much just accepted the flirtatious banter as that—banter.

After PyeongChang, everything was a whirlwind and there was no time to adjust or even consider a real relationship. When their trip to Antwerp and France rolled around, they could finally take a breather and try to figure it out. But, it was too much for Tessa. She was already off-kilter and struggling. She loved Scott—was in love with him--- but she couldn’t commit. It was a catch and release moment. And, she regretted letting him go. When he told her about Jackie, she cried for two days straight. But, she refused to tell him that. She called Jordan sobbing so hard her sister thought one of their parents had died. As time slipped by, Tessa accepted she and Scott were not meant to be. Occasionally she would see flashes of what could have been but she knew he was happy or seemed to be and that was all that mattered to her.

”Look up.” Matthew tilted her chin so he could smudge eyeshadow under her lashline.

”I love this Mulch shadow on you. Makes your eyes pop!”

Kapow. She thought. That’s what Scott once said about her dress for Sochi. Funny how everything always came back to him.

Charlie handed him a beer and unscrewed the top off the one in his hand.

”So…” He sat down on the Adirondack chair with a bit of a groan. “How’s the skate shop coming along?”

Scott swallowed a sip of the cold beer. “Good. Good. It’s been a shitload of work. The outside is painted. We sanded the floors, took out the cubicles, painted the inside and moved the sharpener into place. About half of the inventory has been moved over. I think we’ll make the deadline.”

”Cool. Proud of you guys.” Charlie tipped the bottle towards Scott before placing it to his lips.

”Thanks.” Scott mimicked his older brother’s gesture.

”And you’re ready for the Walk of Fame ceremony?”


Charlie weighed asking about Jackie. He looked over at Scott to see if he could read him. He hadn’t said much about the breakup.

”And how are you?”

”Fine. Tired.” Scott replied.

Charlie raised his eyebrows knowing if he was patient Scott would talk. He always needed to talk. Scott was not one to retreat into silence.

”I really thought I could make it work.”

Charlie nodded. “What happened?”

Scott shrugged. “I don’t want to live in Tampa. She doesn’t want to live in Canada. So what are we s’posed to do?”

”Be happy. Whatever that means for you guys.”

”You say that like it’s so easy.”

”It is.”

”Says the man who met his soulmate at 19 and never looked back.”

”You met yours at 8.”

Scott glared at him. “Fuck off. I’m being serious.”

”I am too. Speaking of which, how is Big Hands?”

”Good as far as I know.”

”As far as you know? Do you not talk?”


”What the fuck does that mean?”

”You know it’s hard for us. For me. I needed to get away.”

”And now you’re back.”

”She’s coming by the shop soon.” Scott offered hoping that would get his brother off his back.

”Does she know about you and Jackie?”

Scott sipped his beer, his annoyance with Charlie growing. Not that the thought of trying again with Tessa hadn’t crossed his mind, only about a billion times since his breakup, but he wasn’t sure Tessa would be on board. Also, it felt like a dick move to even consider it let alone broach the topic with Tessa so soon after he and Jackie ended their relationship. He certainly didn’t want Tessa to feel like a consolation prize.

”I mentioned it to her.”

”Look I’m not trying to interfere—“

”Then don’t.”



”Let me just say this. You and Tess have been dancing around this relationship for years. And, we have sat back and let you all do your thing. I know something went down after PyeongChang. And that’s your business. And, I didn’t say anything when you and Jackie got together. But, I need to say something now. I need you to hear me out.” Charlie paused.

Scott side-eyed him while sipping his beer.

”Love—like you two have—is like once in a lifetime. Like once in a thousand lifetimes. I know you are madly in love with Tessa. And I know that she feels the same way. I know what that kind of love feels like. I have it with Nicole. I can’t imagine losing her. Don’t lose Tess. Don’t worry about what people will think. Don’t think. Just be happy. Just do it.”

Scott thought about coming back with a comment about his brother’s speech sounding more like a commercial selling sportswear than romantic advice. But thought better of it.

”You’re right.” Scott whispered.

The owls hooting to one another across the sunset-tinged sky overpowered his quiet voice and Charlie nearly missed it.

”So what are you going to do about it?”

”What can I do? If I tell her, it looks like I can’t be alone or that she’s my second choice. I look like a fucking dick. And, if I don’t tell her—“ Scott sniffed and steadied himself. “If I don’t tell her, I will fucking lose my mind. I love her so much, it hurts. I just---“ The tears fell from Scott’s eyes as he pressed the heels of his hands against them to stop the flow. Before he could even register what was happening, Charlie had his arms wrapped around him and Scott was sobbing into his older brother’s t-shirt as the two men stood in Scott’s backyard.

”Ifjdfhfdfhsjdfl.” Scott murmured—his voice muffled by the cotton blend.

”I know. I know.” Charlie held him tighter. He had no idea what Scott had said but he could guess.

Scott settled down with a few deep breaths. He shook his head to clear it and looked at Charlie for what to do even though he knew the answer.

”Tell her man. Tell her, I promise you she feels the same way.”

Scott ran his finger over the photo. You’re right ‘virtuemoirlove’-- it really is unfair for someone to be this beautiful. Scott was leaning up against a counter in the new skate shop while scanning through Tessa’s instagram account and reading comments. Paul was upstairs making a pot of coffee.

Tessa was in Montreal for an addidas photo shoot. She was on a party bus with Kelly and a photography crew. He could watch her eat raspberries all day. Another one of Tessa’s quirky but endearing habits, she ate copious amounts of fruit the way other people ate candy. She was dancing along to music on the bus and she looked like she was having a great time. She had texted him last night that she was heading to OSheaga after the shoot for a Nivea appearance and would be back in time to run by the shop for a grand tour before their star ceremonies next Wednesday.

He briefly wondered if Craig McMorris was going to OSheaga. When he had casually(though he felt anything but) asked Tessa about him after seeing a photo of her and Jordan and the McMorris brothers at an Arkell show, she laughed and said he was funny but too young for her and not really her type. Scott was comforted by that single thought. In fact, he clung to it like a life raft. It meant he still had a chance.

Sometimes he couldn’t fully absorb her beauty—she was always a cute little girl and she maintained that throughout her teenage years. But, when she reached her twenties, a different Tessa developed. A sultry, tantalizing woman who could level a man with a sideways glance. In the last few years, the only word Scott could use that would do her justice-- stunning.

Tessa had always been self-conscious about her freckles and pale skin. As she gained confidence, she learned to embrace them. Her eyes—green, gorgeous green, were her calling card. He saw the man he wanted to be when he looked at them. And her mouth which always spoke such kind and calming words to him—well now, he knew the wicked, sexy things it could do and he was hooked.

”Here ya go.” Paul’s voice startled Scott out of his daydreaming session.

”Oh! Thanks.” Scott accepted the mug emblazoned with a stylish ‘S”.

”Whatcha looking at that’s so interesting?”

”Nothing. Just photos.”

”So I think we can get quite a bit knocked off the list today.” Paul scanned the paper. “Are we settled on the paint color?”

Scott was still thinking about Tessa. He hadn’t heard a word Paul said.

”Scott! Where are ya?”

”Huh? Oh, sorry. I was just thinking about something.”

More like someone, Paul thought. He noticed Scott was staring at the photos as if he would be quizzed about them later. They had to be Tessa.

”When’s Tess coming by to check out the place?”

”This Monday. She has a sponsorship event this weekend.”

”Well we better get to work.”

Scott grinned and Paul was instantly reminded of when Tessa and Scott skated in one of their first competitions. They came in fourth but the look on Scott’s face screamed first place. He was missing his top front teeth but he didn’t care. He held up his trophy with a smile as wide as his face.

”Uncle Paul—look! Tess and me won a trophy!”
”I can see that. Good job buddy.”
”I forgot the steps in the middle but Tess reminded me.”
”She’s a good partner.”
”Best partner!”

The two men worked most of the morning and by noon, Scott’s stomach was begging him to stop. They decided to close up the shop and head out for a burger.

Paul looked over the menu and decided on a turkey burger. Carol had been nagging him to drop a few pounds. In a show of solidarity and perhaps a nod to his burgeoning abs, Scott joined him.

As they waited for their meals, Paul sipped his water. He cleared his throat.

”So, uh you nervous for the ceremony?”

Scott shrugged his shoulders. “A little. Mostly about the speeches.”

Scott and Tessa each had to deliver two speeches. At the Ilderton event, Tessa would speak about Scott. Then Scott would deliver his thank you speech. Scott and Tessa didn’t know but the town decided to name a street after them. A few hours later, at the London event for Tessa, it would be Scott’s turn to talk about her and then she would deliver her speech.

”Yeah, why is that?”

”I dunno. I’m not great at them. I just wanna make sure I thank everyone properly.”

”You always do.”

”I guess.”

”What’s really bothering you?”

Scott played with his silverware, tapping the spoon and rotating it on itself.

”I—I want to make sure I get T’s speech right. 22 years is a long time, ya know.”

”Yes it is. You’ll do fine. Just speak from your heart, when you do that you can’t go wrong.”

The server dropped off their burgers and they dug into the food.

After a few minutes of enjoying their meals, Paul wiped his face with this napkin. He took a sip of his Diet Coke and asked the question that had been on his mind for a week.

”Does she know?”

”Does who know what?” Scott asked around a bite of his burger.

Paul leaned forward. “Scott—I have known you since you were born. You’re like a son to me. I see the way you look at Tessa. The way you always have. Now, I liked Jackie. This is not about her. This is about you and Tessa. This is about the feelings between you and Tessa. Your feelings for her.”

Scott finished chewing. He looked around him making sure no one heard his uncle, but of course they hadn’t, his voice was quiet.

”What do you want me to say?”

”Start with the truth. You can tell me anything.”

Scott licked his lips and swiped the napkin across his mouth and crumpled it into a ball and dropped it on his plate.

”So uh Tess and I kinda got together during the comeback, it was uh casual. At least it started that way. But, I should have known-- we should have known, it could never just be that. We’ve been dancing around our feelings for the better part of a decade. After the Olympics, we tried to figure it out. Tess couldn’t--- she was in a bad place. She came down pretty hard. I tried to help but she—anyhow she said it was best if we just didn’t move forward yet. Not gonna lie Paul, it was awful. It gutted me.” Scott’s voice trembled. He took a second to get his emotions under control.

”Later that summer—“ Scott continued “Cara had me come along to a party and I saw Jackie and we just hit it off. We had a lot in common. It was so easy and really fun. She’s great. Really. I know it seems like we moved fast. We did. But, I saw a future with her and I know now I was still stinging from Tessa. I didn’t get with Jackie out of revenge. I just wanted to be with someone, to start a life. What Jackie and I had was real. I know I hurt Tessa. Bringing Jackie to the Walk of Fame ceremony was a bad move, but I wasn’t trying to send a message. And I’m man enough to know I’ve never gotten over Tessa, I can admit that much. I have loved her my entire life and I don’t ever see that not being the situation. And, now I’m single again and Tessa is single. She’s doing well and we’re heading off on this tour. I see an opportunity for us to start fresh, to start again and I have no idea how to tell her.”

Paul exhaled loudly. He could see the anguish painted on Scott’s face. He hadn’t seen Tessa in awhile but he had to assume she felt the same way about Scott.

”I think you need to tell her. Even if—“ Paul inhaled sharply. “Even if she doesn’t feel the same way. You won’t be able to move on, to make a life for yourself Scott. It will be hard to hear that but living in this in-between state is no way to live.”

”Tell me about it.” Scott snorted. “I should have waited for her. Waited until she was ready. But, my feelings were hurt. I couldn’t let her just have this.”

”Now hold on. Stop that. Tess wasn’t ready. She wasn’t in a place where she could move forward. This is not about time, but timing. You said she was struggling. You respected that. You didn’t push her. You didn’t go looking for Jackie. You found someone who was ready for you. And, you were ready too. It didn’t work out. And, there is nothing wrong about wanting to try again with the person who had your heart to begin with. Carol and I broke up twice before I got my head on right and proposed. We had to figure stuff out. Back in those days, maybe it was easier. It’s harder for you and Tess. You have this outside pressure of what your fans want and the story the media needs. But, you’re real people. And your story is not for their happiness. You want Tess—take the risk. Make her see she needs you too.”

”Not sure Tess will see it that way. I know I have to tell her. I’m just afraid I won’t be able to handle it if she rejects me again.”

”Scott—she didn’t reject you. She just had to deal with whatever she was dealing with and didn’t want to get you caught up in it. At least that’s what it sounds like to me. What did she say when you told her about you and Jackie? How did she seem?”

”She was sorry. You know how nice she is—she wanted to make sure I was okay. I feel like something is still there between Tess and me. In Newfoundland I felt—we had this—it was like old times. Before everything. I—“

”Scott, just talk to her. You owe it to her and yourself.”

Scott nodded and chewed on his bottom lip. He knew he needed to talk to Tessa but he wasn’t positive his heart could handle it.

Tessa hadn’t stopped thinking about Scott. Everything reminded her of him—someone’s coffee order at Starbucks (flat white or a latte), a song she heard (‘The Bones’ taunted her from every speaker), even a line in a book she was reading (the main character’s lover was described as having dark, thick hair and hazel eyes). She saw him in her daydreams, fucked him in her fantasies, but nothing compared to hearing from him in real life. His name would pop up on her phone screen and her body would respond—heart racing, other parts wet with excitement, her brain firing off warning signals. She swore she could smell him—that distinct Scott scent, an intoxicating combination of his natural pheromones (someone should find a way to bottle those), the shampoo he used, the lemon verbena body wash she bought him, his laundry soap, and mint gum.

Carrie the Nivea PR intern assigned to Tessa brought over water and snacks. She was a lovely young woman who was studying Marketing at the University of Toronto.

”Thanks Carrie. Where are we headed first?”

”To the Nivea Camp to take photos and then they want you to film a few videos for social media and then we head to the interactive booth.”

Tessa followed Carrie to the giant tent Nivea had constructed. A line had already formed at the sample table. Tessa made her way into the tent and was greeted by a few of the other ambassadors. She never really liked meeting new people and without Scott as her buffer her nerves were getting the best of her.

She filmed her videos and posed for photos. Carrie did a great job making sure she stayed hydrated and before she knew it was time to check out the concert. Carrie walked with her to the VIP area where they were greeted by the Marketing folks responsible for creating the Nivea campaign. Kelly was there too and Tessa quickly took a seat next to her.

Tessa’s phone buzzed and she swiped it open.

Hope you’re having fun at OSheaga.

She smiled as her stomach fluttered and she quickly typed out her answer.

Wish you were here.

Tessa waited for his response. When it didn’t come right away, she doubted herself. She shouldn’t have gone that route. She was just about to text him something witty and self-deprecating when her phone buzzed.

Me too. Can we talk Monday?

Tessa’s heart beat faster. Did he get back together with Jackie? Was he backing out of the tour?

Sure. Everything okay?
Yes. I just wanted to ask you something.
Okay. What time should I stop by for my grand tour?
Perfect. Guess what’s playing right now?

Tessa pressed the green phone button. He answered on the first ring, his voice sounding small and tinny. She held up the phone so he could make out the Lumineers. She let him listen for about 30 seconds.

”Do you hear it?” She said into the phone as she held it pressed to her ear, her hand covering her other ear as she strained to hear his answer.

”Hey…ho.” He responded. “Have they played ‘Ophelia’?”

”No not yet.”

”Sing for me when they do.”

”I will.” She paused for a second. “I’ll see you Monday.” Tessa wishing she could keep him on the phone a little longer, just to hear his voice. “Scott—“

”Miss you T.”

”I miss you too.” She hoped he could hear her over the concert.

She slipped her phone inside her purse and met Kelly’s eyes.

”He really likes this song.” Tessa said as if that was Kelly’s question.

Scott wiped the counter down for the fourth time in 15 minutes. He was nervous cleaning at this point. There was still a lot to finish up on the punch-list, but for the most part the shop was ready to open. He checked his phone. He had just enough time to run over to the Starbucks and get back in time to greet Tessa.

Tessa turned left onto Saint Claire. She was tapping the steering wheel to the beat of the music. She switched stations.

Call it dumb luck, but baby, you and I. Can't even mess it up, although we both try

Tessa rolled her eyes. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear every DJ at every radio station was conspiring with the Universe to deliver a message. Well, she heard it loud and clear. She just hoped Scott did too. Her thoughts on the subject matter ceased as her eyes filled with tears.

The rough and tumble barn she had seen a few months ago was transformed. Now the wood clapboard siding was a gorgeous deep gray and the Moir Skate Shop ‘coming soon’ sign in the grass welcoming everyone. She pulled into the driveway. She didn’t see Scott’s car or Paul’s. Grabbing her purse and the two coffees she purchased on the way over, she hopped out of her Acura. She didn’t want to go inside without Scott, she wanted him to see her reaction. Silly, she thought, but it was their way.

Scott cursed at himself. “Shit. Shit. Shit.” He knew he was going to be late. He hadn’t thought everyone in Kokoma would head to Starbucks at 10:30 in the morning. As he rounded the corner onto Saint Claire, he realized how nervous he was—his stomach was unsettled and his palms were sweating.

He saw her car and there she was standing next to it in the driveway. He hadn’t seen her with her hair down in person and it caught him off guard. He loved it shorter. She was wearing a white jean skirt and a pale pink t-shirt that had writing on it. She was holding two coffee cups. He had to laugh at how in sync they still were and took it as a sign.

He honked his horn and she jumped a bit and laughed. He could hear it through his closed windows and his heart leapt.

He shut off the car, opened his door, and grabbed the coffees and slid out. He walked towards her and held them up in a double-fisted toast. Her laugh rang out and a lump caught in his throat as he realized how much he loved hearing her laugh—and how much he loved being the one to make her laugh. He had to swallow back the tears.

”Great minds, eh.” He said as he reached her.

”Always.” She smiled.

”So you ready to head inside? I hope you weren’t waiting long. The Starbucks was crazy busy.”

”I waited for you.” She told him as if she was offering him a gift.

Those four words nearly broke him. He should have been the one to say them a summer ago. God he was an idiot. He felt the tears prick his eyes. He nodded and dramatically arched his arm out towards the front door. “After you m’lady.”

Tessa stepped inside. She was awe struck. When Scott and Paul opened the original shop two years ago, it was the beginning of a dream. The place was small but it suited them. It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done. But, this shop—this shop was magnificent. It had Scott written all over it.

Scott put the coffees down and stood shyly off to the side watching as Tessa took in everything. Her eyes were wide as she slowly began a panoramic look around the front area. He could see she was getting emotional.

”It’s beautiful Scott. Really. Can I take some photos?”

”Sure.” He managed to say feeling overwhelmed at her reaction.

She quietly snapped photos and ran her fingers over everything.

”So how about I give you a tour?”

”Yes, please.”

”So obviously this is the front. We have all of the accessories here for skating and hockey. On this wall are the hockey skates and sticks and over on this wall are the ice skates. In the back is the sharpening area. If you come over this way, I have something to show you.”

They walked side by side towards the ice skates. Their hands occasionally brushing against each other. Tessa didn’t miss a single detail or the way her body felt like it was burning her alive from the inside.

”So here we have four seating areas to try on skates. And---“

”Oh Scott!” Tessa spotted the surprise. Over each chair were four framed photos. The first series was photos of Scott and Tessa as children; skating at the Ilderton Fair and in a few other competitions. Tessa giggled.

”We were such babies. I loved that dress.” She pointed to the photo, the angle suggested the camera was slightly behind them. Both had their hands behind their backs poised and ready to start skating.

Tessa made her way to the next series which all were from their first Olympic win in Vancouver. Tessa pulled her lip up with her two front teeth. She remembered how much her legs hurt and how she powered through the excruciating stabs. But, it was all worth it. She looked so happy—ecstatic really. The jubilation on Scott’s face as he thrust his fists into the air was still palpable nearly a decade later.

The third spot held framed photos of Sochi and one from the Carmen win in London. Scott and Tessa caught in a steamy embrace, her legs wrapped around his waist, pressed up against each other. She felt herself react much in the same way she did whenever they performed the routine. God she wanted him. She pushed the salacious thought out of her mind.

The final set of photos was from PyeongChang. The bottom left photo—Tessa covering her face with her hands, obviously crying and laughing at the same time. Scott bent over, about ten feet from her, his hands in fists at his side. His mouth wide open celebrating what they believed would be their victory. The final photo was the iconic Greg Kolz shot of the two of them skating towards the boards, leaning into one another-- Scott’s hand in a protective gesture over Tessa’s stomach, her hand wrapped over it. His lips kissing her shoulder. Their fans joked it looked like the cover of a pregnancy book or engagement photos. If only… she thought, surprising herself.

”This is so unexpected. I—it’s beautiful.” Her words got caught in her throat. She turned her head and caught his eye. That’s when she saw it. The same look he gave her a year ago after their win at PyeongChang. They had made their way backstage after winning gold. Marie-France had found a small space just for the two of them. Tessa had never told anyone—not even Jordan—about what they said or did in that room. Sharing it would seem like a betrayal. They had confessed their love for one another—to being in love and when Scott leaned down and kissed her, Tessa lost her mind, heart, and soul.

Scott reached out and Tessa felt his thumb on her cheekbone.

”Aw, T. You’re getting emotional. It’s okay. Please stop—please. You’re making me cry, babe.”

Tessa couldn’t help herself. She didn’t know why she was crying. She was happy for Scott. How was she going to get through the ceremonies on Wednesday. How would she make it through the rest of her life without him? She let him go once, she wouldn’t let it happen again.

”I—I don’t know why I’m getting so weepy over these photos.” She turned back towards them. “I guess it’s old age.” She laughed at her own joke.

”It’s okay.” He grabbed her hand and squeezed. “I cried like a baby when they were delivered. No lie—Paul had to hang them on his own because I was crying so hard. Kinda hard to use tools when you’re always wiping your nose.”

Tessa giggled at Scott’s attempt to make her feel better. And he did. He always made her feel better.

”Wanna see upstairs?” Scott looked hopeful.

”Yes.” She sniffed.

They walked upstairs still holding hands. Scott showed her the galley kitchen and what could be a bedroom, but was being used an office right now and a bathroom with a shower. He saved the dance studio for last.

”Oh!” She dropped his hand as soon as she walked into the room. She twirled around, arms stretched out. “I love it!”

Scott leaned against the back wall and watched Tessa check out the room. There wasn’t much to see but she was quite thorough. She was running her hands along the barre on the opposite wall. He suddenly had an idea. He wasn’t sure it was a good one but he didn’t care. He slipped his phone out of his pocket and cued up a new song he really liked.

”Hey… “ Tessa looked over at the sound of his voice. “Wanna dance with me?”

She nodded and walked to the center of the room. Scott hit the play button on the video and the song started up. He made his way towards her and opened his arms.

We'll be the last ones dancing… When the lights go out

Tessa was surprised at his song choice. She had heard the song a few weeks ago and really liked it. Even thought it might make a good skating song. She had sent it to Sam for his opinion. He had texted back a thumbs up, which in Sam-speak could mean anything.

When there's no one to hold you. I will still hold you down. We'll be the last ones dancing. In the faceless crowd…

Scott held her close as they waltzed in a small circle. Tessa moved her arms so they hung loosely around his neck and he rested his on her hips.

”How very ninth grade school dance of us.” She teased as she took the opportunity to gently play with the ends of his hair.

”Go Cowboys!” He responded in a nod to his high school mascot.

”I have to confess.” Tessa looked up at Scott. “I sent this song to Sam to see if he could do something with it for us or for the tour.”

”Well if we’re playing the confession game…” Scott smiled.

Tessa’s heart began to pound. She licked her bottom lip, the smooth taste of the flat white still on her tongue.

”I heard this song in the car the other day and it reminded me of you. Of us.”

When there's no one to hold you, I will still hold you down. I will still hold you down

”Yeah. What about it reminded you?” She whispered.

”The fact that we’ve been partners for 22 years and I will always have your back. No matter what. No matter what happens between us—I will always be there for you T.” His eyes flitted down to her lips. He could remember how they tasted the first time they kissed. She was wearing a vanilla lip balm. He swore he could taste it on his own lips for days.

”I know.” She agreed with him as she tilted her head searching his eyes hoping to see something—anything that would let her know what he was really thinking.

”A lot has happened this last year. Some of it really good and some of it bad. You have to know I would never intentionally hurt you. Despite that, I know I hurt you. It kills me. I see what our fans say about you being in this partnership on your own, that I was just fucking around in Florida, that I didn’t care.”

”Scott—“ She wasn’t going to let him disparage himself. He may not have been as present as she would have liked, but he did help. He did a lot of work on the tour but he also deserved to have a life even if that life was with someone the fans didn’t approve of—even if it wasn’t her.

Find me when the party's over. Ride home with your head on my shoulder

Paul parked his car in the driveway behind Scott’s. He spotted Tessa’s Acura and smiled. He got out and opened his trunk. He grabbed a bronzed skate and used it to prop the front door open so he could unload the boxes he brought from the old shop. He didn’t want to bother Scott.

”Tess—listen to me. I don’t necessarily care what the fans think. I mean to a certain extent, yes. But, I know in my heart who the real me is. I thought I could make it work with Jackie. And, maybe I could have but my heart wasn’t fully in it. If it was, I would have done anything to be with her, even move to Tampa. But, we both knew it wasn’t going to work. We love each other—just not enough.”

Scott had stopped their little waltz and now they were just standing in the middle of the studio. He could see the back of Tessa in the mirror, his hands cupping her waist. They fit together so perfectly. Made for each other.

Last night's in the rear view mirror. Wake up and I'm still right here

Scott swallowed. His throat dry from the nerves that threatened to ruin this moment. His brain was jumbled and he felt like the room was spinning. He needed to calm down so he could make his case to Tessa.

Tessa stopped stroking Scott’s hair. She could see he was having a difficult time getting the words out, she wondered briefly if he was about to faint. He looked pale.

Scott slid his left hand into Tessa’s hair and cupped her cheek.

”God I’m gonna fuck this up. But, here it is.”

Tessa’s heart began pounding so loudly; it was all she could hear. She concentrated on his eyes. It was a relaxation technique Scott Livingston had taught them. Find the other person’s eyes and look at them. Lock eyes and breathe in and out slowly and you will begin to feel relaxed. Well, it wasn’t working now. Now, when she looked into his eyes, she didn’t feel relaxed. She felt like she wanted to declare her love for him, kiss him hard, and fuck him into oblivion all at once. Great advice, Scotty.

”Tess— I want to tell you that I—“

”There you guys are!” Paul said as he walked into the studio and then he noticed he had definitely walked in on something. “Oh—I—“

Scott’s shoulders sagged; he looked over at the corner of the room. His uncle had just interrupted what was the most important speech in his life.

Tessa let go of Scott and faced Paul. “Paul—I love it. It looks so beautiful.” She walked towards him.

Paul embraced Tessa and gave Scott an apologetic smile.

”Hey Tessie!”

”It looks amazing. The space is great. I love the color of the outside of the barn.”

”Did Scott show you the photos in the skate area?”

”Yes. They’re so lovely. I am so floored by the gesture. I can’t believe how little we were. I just look at the timeline and I am so grateful. We have been through so much. So many wonderful moments and you were a big part of them, Paul.”

Scott managed to calm down, his pulse returned to normal. But, now he was beyond disappointed he had missed his chance to tell Tessa he loved her and that he wanted to try again. Why couldn’t things just go smoothly for once.

”Well I’m going to head downstairs. I have a few more boxes to unload and then unpack. You kids hang out.”

”Are you sure?” Tessa asked. “We can help you.”

Paul looked at Scott. “Nope girlie. You stay here. Keep my nephew company.” He walked out and headed back downstairs whistling off key.

Tessa turned around to Scott. “I—think you were in the middle of---“

”It’s okay. I—we can talk later.”

”No.” Tessa barked out more sharply than she intended. But, she wanted him to finish, she wanted to hear him say it. She had to hear him say it.


”No, Scott. I’m tired of leaving things unsaid. Moments that just vanish. It’s not healthy.” She crossed the three feet that separated them. “Tell me what’s on your mind.”

The nerves were back. Scott rubbed his hands together and then stopped. He looked down at his hand and began to play with the scar on his palm—the scar from grabbing Tessa’s blade.

Tessa was tired. Tired of feeling like her life was running away from her. Tired of holding back her feelings. Tired of letting someone else get the happily ever after meant for her. She patted his hand to get him to stop picking at the rough skin of the scar.

”I am not leaving until you tell me what’s on your mind. I am tired of us not being in sync.”

”What does that mean?”

”It means—it means we’re always so afraid of saying the wrong thing to each other, of hurting the other, of letting the other one down--“

Scott interrupted. “But that’s a good thing. We respect each other.”

”As business partners. As ice dancing partners. Yes that works great. But, this-“ She gestured between them. “This—I know you feel it Scott. I know you know we have something. I can’t help the way I feel. Even though I was the one who ended us before we even got started. I regret that. More than you know. And, maybe I’m a bad person for thinking this. But when you told me the two of you broke up, I was happy. Happy because I thought maybe just maybe the timing will be right. For once. I know I told you we’re better off not pursuing a romantic relationship. I was wrong. I should have tried. I should have—“

Scott couldn’t hold it in any longer. “I should have waited for you, T. I was wrong. When you told me you couldn’t do us, I took it so personally. It rocked my whole world.” He smirked as he realized what he had said. “Anyhow, Michael Jackson aside, I just couldn’t understand why you would do that. I was ready to give you everything. But, now I see why you did it. You weren’t ready and that’s okay. I never stopped loving you Tess. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love Jackie or that I wasn’t in love with her. I just didn’t love her like she needed me to. She deserves someone who will love her and only her. And so do you.”

”So what are you saying?” Tessa felt every nerve ending in her body tingling as she waited for his answer.

”I’m saying I love you. I’m in love with you and I want to try again. I want us to be together.”

Her eyes filled with tears. The normally put-together and very much in control of her emotions Tessa Virtue was very much losing any semblance of control.

Scott inched closer. Tessa began to cry and laugh at the same time. She didn’t think she had ever been this happy.

”Are ya going to say something?” He asked.

Tessa nodded her head vigorously. “I love you too. I am so in love with you Scott. I am—“

Scott leaned forward and captured her lips with his and she fell silent. Her eyes fluttered closed and she kissed him back. Seconds later, her back was against the mirror and Scott was pushing her lips apart with his tongue. The part of her brain that controlled her lusty reactions to him kicked into overdrive and her hands snaked under his shirt and she scratched down his back as he pressed himself against her. She forgot all about his uncle downstairs, all she wanted right now was to have Scott inside of her.

Scott was on auto-pilot. His body was acting on muscle memory and Tessa was that muscle. He knew exactly where to put his hands to get the maximum reaction. He suddenly remembered his uncle was downstairs at the exact moment he felt Tessa’s nimble hands reaching into the waistband of his workout pants to drop them to the floor.

He pulled out of her grasp and whispered against her lips. “We can’t. We should wait.”

Tessa pulled back and looked at him as if he was insane. “What?” She asked breathlessly.

”I mean—I want to. But, Paul is downstairs. And, I think we should wait. I mean—I don’t want you to think I’m taking advantage of the situation.”

”If it makes you feel better, I’d very much like to take advantage of this situation.” She looked at him, her eyes on fire.

Scott wasn’t about to fight Tessa not when she looked determined to get what she wanted. ”Hang on a sec.”

Scott walked over to the door and pushed it shut and locked it. He walked back to Tessa and held her face in his hands. He placed a few sweet kisses on her lips then trailed down her neck. He kneeled on the floor and pushed up her denim skirt.

Tessa gripped the barre and leaned back against the mirror. She shamelessly spread her legs as he pressed his lips to her panty-covered core. She knew she was soaking wet.

Tessa always appreciated the talents of Scott’s tongue. They were plentiful. She had often joked she wanted to fashion a little gold medal he could hang over the tip of it. He was always so eager to pleasure her and some of her best orgasms came from his mouth.

He slid her panties to the side as he licked her gently with the tip of his tongue. Tessa hooked her leg over his shoulder to give him better access. He reached up and gripped the lace waistband and gently tugged her underwear down her legs.

Tessa’s head fell back onto the mirror. She held her breath in anticipation of finally feeling him—she braced herself. But, nothing could have prepared her for the cascade of emotions.

Scott traced a path up her inner thigh and across the crease. He inhaled, God he loved her scent. And, then, he pressed his tongue flat against her center and licked a long stripe up her outer folds. Tessa moaned and clapped her hand over mouth. Scott chuckled against her. Tessa eyed him and tapped the back of his head playfully.

He smiled at her and began to lap at her in earnest. He eventually worked his fingers into the mix finding Tessa’s g-spot. Tessa gripped the wooden barre so tightly she was afraid she was going to pull it out of the wall. Scott dragged his fingers out and replaced them with his tongue, delving deep inside of her and letting the tip of his nose knock her clit. Her hand gripped his hair and kept him in place. She felt an overwhelming flush of excitement and arousal. She had been without this man for a year and her body hated her for it.

She knew others would judge her decision to let Scott back into her life and between her legs so quickly but she honestly didn’t care. She had waited for this man her entire life.

The optics of the situation were not lost on Scott either. He realized two weeks ago he had been in Jackie’s bed—but this is how it always was with Tessa. He knew that now. He knew no matter how much distance he put between them or how many lives he tried to live without her, how he justified his decisions—he would never be over her. They would never be over each other. They were different people with different interests, but they were made for each other. Not because Carol saw something two decades ago, but because they saw something. They saw each other and they couldn’t ignore it any more—they didn’t want to and they both were ready to fight for it.

Scott was getting a faceful of thrusts and grinding from Tessa so he palmed her and held her in place as he worked her into a frenzy. He could tell by her panting she was close. He continued pleasuring her, wanting to brand her, to make sure she never doubted his love for her. He slid his hands up and gripped her hips pushing her into the barre. He knew he was leaving red marks at the very least—bruises at the worst and he didn’t care. He wanted her to be reminded of what she did to him and how greedy he was for her body. Tessa froze and rose up on her tiptoe—her release coming in a strong wave. It took over her entire body, she shook and trembled and bit down on the back of her hand as she felt herself gush. She could hear Scott sucking and licking—the weight of his hands holding her down as he lapped at her and manipulated her body.

Tessa was left panting and weak. She looked down as Scott looked up, his face wet from her, a shit-eating grin if she ever saw one. He certainly hadn’t disappointed her.

He had to help her swing her leg down onto the floor and he tried his best not to smirk when she asked him to help. He rose to his feet.

”You taste so fucking good. I could spend the rest of my life between your legs and it still wouldn’t be long enough.” He breathed into her mouth, her own scent invading her nostrils. He kissed her hard, his hand finding her clit as the cool air hit it. He pressed down and moved his finger in tiny circles. Within half a minute, Tessa’s body was seizing up again—and another release tore from her.

”Pretty sure Paul is wondering what happened to us.” She told him.

”Pretty sure he’ll take one look at you and guess.” Scott snarkily replied his eyes taking in her mussed up hair and flushed skin.

God he really could be smug. Not that he didn’t have a reason to be. He just gave her two earth-shattering orgasms in less than 20 minutes. A personal best for him.

”Stay here. I’ll get you a towel so you can clean up.” He kissed the tip of her nose.

He came back barely a minute later with a personal wipe and some toilet paper. He looked at her sheepishly. “It’s all we have. Sorry.”

”It’s fine.” She smiled and wiped herself up.

Fifteen minutes later, having been distracted by a quick make-out session, they joined Paul at the front of the store.

If he suspected anything, Paul never said a word. Tessa hugged him goodbye and Scott walked her to her car.

”This feels weird. I feel—“ He began-- so worried that she would feel cheap. They had just fooled around, not to mention confessed their love for each other and instead of spending time together, Tessa was driving home. It wasn’t right.

”It’s okay, really. I have a ton of laundry to do. Drycleaning to drop off and emails to send. You have work here.” She loved how concerned he was about her feelings.

”Are we—“ Why was he tripping over his words. “Do you wanna hang out tonight, maybe order dinner and watch tv? Is that weird? I have no idea why I’m making this so difficult. I just wanna do the right thing here, T.“

”You are. Come over later. Text me and we can eat dinner and definitely watch a movie.”

Scott grabbed her hand and gently swung it back and forth. “I’m really happy right now.” He leaned in and she met him halfway for a quick, chaste kiss.

”Me too. Really happy. See you later.”

Tessa wasn’t sure what to order for dinner. She finally decided on Thai and stuck a bottle of white wine into the fridge to chill. She had been quite productive since she left Scott, finishing three loads of laundry, dropping off two large bags at the drycleaner’s, and making her way through about half of her emails. She also fit in a call to Jordan but left out the details of her visit with Scott, only revealing the shop looked terrific and how they had hung the photos.

Her doorbell rang. A quick glance into the peephole and she saw Scott bouncing on his heels. She opened the door and he was sporting an enormous smile. In his hand was a box of her favorite chocolates from a little store in London.

He stepped into her home and she threw her arms around him. He nuzzled her neck and gave it a little kiss before backing away lest he be tempted to take her up against the wall of her entryway. Something he had done before and enjoyed immensely.

”Come on in. I ordered Thai, the wine is chilling.”

”And so are we.” He joked.

”Why do I still love your dorky humor?”

”I dunno. But I am glad you do.”

A few hours later, bellies full of good food and wine, Scott’s head in Tessa’s lap—they decided to watch a Hallmark Mystery Movie starring Sami from “Days of Our Lives”, Tessa’s favorite soap opera. Scott couldn’t resist when Tessa begged to watch it even if he wasn’t totally into it at first. But, soon enough, Scott was trying to figure out who was the murderer while Tessa played with his hair. It felt like old times, only better.

The movie ended and Tessa stifled a yawn. Scott stretched and stood up.

”I should go.” He told her as he helped carry the dinner plates to her kitchen. He rinsed them off and was stacking them in the dishwasher.

Tessa grinned as she propped her head up with her elbows on her kitchen island adn watched him tidy up. She always found it a turn-on to have him in the kitchen. Whether it was cooking or cleaning or when he fucked her on the very counter she was leaning on—the kitchen was always her favorite place.

”You don’t have to go, you could stay here.” Tessa suggested.

Scott turned around as he wiped his hands on a dish towel. “I—I would love to but I think we should wait to uh-“

”I didn’t say we would have sex. I just mean it’s late. You can sleep in the guest room, if that makes you feel better.”

”You don’t feel like we’re rushing?” He cocked his head.

”I don’t care. I’m so tired of caring and doing what I think people think I should do. I want you to stay over. I don’t think we should have sex. But, I want you here with me. I don’t care what it looks like. I don’t care if a fan comes by and snaps a photo of your car in front of my house. Let them say shit on twitter. They do anyhow. They don’t get to decide my life anymore.”

Scott looked a bit taken aback. It was always funny when Tessa cursed but this was a new Tessa. One that didn’t care what anyone thought and Scott was enjoying it.

He smiled. “Okay. And I don’t need to sleep in the guest room. I want to sleep with you. I mean I want to sleep in your bed. With you.”

”Good.” She replied. “Now finish throwing out the empty containers and meet me upstairs.” She tossed over her shoulder as she headed up her stairs.

When Scott made his way into her room, after making sure Tessa’s house was locked up and setting her alarm, he saw she had laid out a t-shirt and boxers. His t-shirt and boxers to be exact. She apparently had pilfered them. He could hear her in the bathroom. He walked to the en suite and peered in.

Tessa was brushing her teeth in a pair of pajamas—a chemise and little shorts. He scooted in and she handed him a new tootbrush.

They slid into the bed and she snuggled over to him.

He stroked her hair and whispered secrets into the darkened room until she fell asleep.

They had a quick breakfast—she made poached eggs and toast while he brewed coffee—and they said goodbye with a few passionate kisses. They would see each other later at the star ceremonies.

The Ilderton Arena was packed. The dirt area housed bleachers. In front of them were 100 folding chairs facing the large stage with a podium and about eight high-backed folding chairs. It was a similar set up to “Thank You Ilderton” a year prior.

Scott was upstairs in an office pacing from his nerves. The clouds were threatening rain and the awards committee was hoping it would hold off long enough to get through the 45 minute ceremony.

He was wearing dark jeans, a striped t-shirt and a lightweight blue jacket. Tessa walked into the room and he instantly felt calm. She looked gorgeous. A navy pantsuit with a striped t-shirt and bright red heels. They hadn’t even called each other to coordinate their outfits, it just happened. She took one look at Scott and laughed.

”We look like twins.” She barked out, the smile on her face quickly becoming the best part of his day.

”Come here.” He opened his arms.

He hugged her tightly and sniffed her. “I missed you. You look gorgeous.”

”You look pretty dreamy yourself, Moir.”

”Are you ready?” he asked.

”I think so.”

His family filed in and after a quick hug with everyone, it was time to head down to the ceremony.

Jeffrey Latimer, the CEO of Canada’s Walk of Fame, welcomed the nearly 400 people who had turned out for the ceremony. Scott’s heart was pounding, he couldn’t believe how many people had made their way to the Arena. He quickly spotted his family and Tessa’s. He was rubbing his hands together when he felt Tessa take his right hand and interlace it with hers.

After a brief speech about their commitment to sport and to Canada and being inspirations to young people everywhere, the Mayor was introduced. Mayor DeViet spoke warmly of Scott and his family. She talked about her own experience watching them win in Vancouver, their silver finish in Sochi and their triumphant turn in PyeongChang.

Jeffrey was back and he introduced Mike Babcock, the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Babcock hugged a very surprised Tessa and Scott.

”When Jeff asked me if I would be willing to give a little speech about Tessa and Scott, I didn’t hesitate. I met these two extraordinary athletes in 2009. I admired them from the jump. Determined and fearless for sure but they also had a sense of togetherness and partnership I had never witnessed. They embodied everything we love about a team. Tessa—strong, thoughtful, and wickedly talented and Scott—all heart and mind-blowing skills. These two kids—I can call them that because I’m old. Old with great hair, or so I’m told.”

The crowd laughed and whistled.

”These two kids are humble. They walk in humility. They have every reason to brag, to be boastful. But, they don’t. They have the “we” mentality as I call it. Notice every time they answer a question, it always starts “we” or “us”. I use them as an example to my players about what teamwork looks like at its highest level. What teamwork is about when times are tough and you are challenged. How they draw strength from each other.”

Scott swallowed. He knew today would be an emotional one. He wiped away a few tears. He loved Babsy. He had sought out the older man’s advice on numerous occasions and he never let him down.

”You wanna know where the Leafs were on February 19th, 2018? We were in the locker room—every television tuned into the gold-medal winning performance of Tessa and Scott. Imagine a group of hockey guys—half dressed in hockey gear—sitting on the benches and cheering on ice dancers. Shouting out things like ‘those twizzles are insane’ and gasping at every lift and collectively holding our breaths until the final spin. When they won that gold, the yelling that came from those group of guys would have you thinking they just won the Cup.”

Tessa looked at Scott and smiled, her eyes shining with unshed tears. He pressed his lips into a line and nodded.

”I’m always asked that question. By my wife and kids—by my players. Are they together? And when I answer honestly that I don’t know or I don’t think so, the disappointment is palpable. How could these two people with such insane and obvious chemistry be just friends? Easy. They know what the other’s value is and they appreciate it. Would I love to officiate a Virtue-Moir wedding?”

The crowd went wild. Clapping and yelling. Scott shook his head and Tessa laughed. Mike put his hand up to quiet everyone down.

”Y’all are so thirsty.”

Even bigger cheers and laughter as Mike put up two hands to steady the crowd’s response.

”Ya didn’t think I was that hip, huh. Look I get it. I see the chemistry, I see the love. But, I also think this friendship is extraordinary and defies definition. It doesn’t need a definition, what this friendship is--only matters to the two people in it. Let us be witness to something so magical, so powerful, and so decent—let that be a gift we treasure as much as they treasure each other. Tessa. Scott. I am so proud of the two of you. The way you have navigated this world, your success, and your friendship. The way you honor your partnership. You are a shining example to all of us here, to all of Canada and the world. You done good guys! You done real good.”

Scott and Tessa were out of their seats and in front of Mike within seconds pulling him into a double embrace and thanking him through thick tears.

Scott’s dad walked onto the stage and over to the podium. He adjusted the microphone. Scott exhaled. He didn’t know his dad was speaking. He wasn’t sure he could keep his emotions in check.

”I’m Joe Moir and I’m Scott’s dad.

Cheers went up and Scott stood to his feet and clapped for his father.

”I am so proud to say that. Every day. Scott is my youngest son. He was always full of energy. My wife and I were somewhat prepared as we had two other boys. But, Scott was different. His energy was different. He was funny and engaging and most of all, he had heart. Still does. They say around here that if you meet a Moir you found a friend for life. It’s true. Scott is loyal as the day is long. He never met a stranger.

Tessa squeezed his hand. She knew how special Scott’s relationship was with his dad. Joe was a good man. He loved his family deeply and Scott admired him with everything he had.

”I remember when Alma got him into skating, Scott says she tricked him. She did. He couldn’t skate and he wanted to be a hockey player. Scott has always loved his mother and would do anything for her so he agreed to attend skate camp. Which really meant he was goofing off, acting like a rascal, and not behaving. He did manage to learn how to skate. And was actually pretty good at it. Carol thought he’d be really good at ice dancing, channel all that energy somewhere, but none of the little girls at camp could keep up. You all know the story. A little girl with huge mittens and a pink jacket waltzed right in and showed Scott who was boss.”

Alma dabbed her eyes. She smiled at Scott. She couldn’t help but notice how tightly he was holding Tessa’s hand. She wondered what was going on—she hoped it was good news.

”This speech is supposed to be about my son. How terrific he is and he is terrific. He is an Olympic champion, twice. He is a good son, brother, uncle, and friend. But he got there not because of what Alma and I did—or what his brothers lovingly beat into him or his coaches instilled. He is who he is today because of that little girl with the oversized mittens. Tessa—thank you.”

Joe turned and looked at her. He smiled lovingly and nodded his head. Tessa’s eyes filled with tears for what felt like the millionth time that afternoon.

”When you came into our lives, you were a breath of fresh air. A sweet little girl—tiny with a big laugh and an even bigger heart. You never gave up on my son, not when he forgot the steps to your first skate or the second skate or the one after that. You didn’t give up when early morning practices were rough. You stayed in it even when you two were the smallest on the ice. And you were defiant when others said you guys shouldn’t waste your time moving away to Waterloo and then to Canton. We watched in awe as you fought back the pain at Vancouver and won gold. When you rose again at Sochi and when we told you that you were crazy to try again in PyeongChang. You have walked your truth with Scott by your side. You have loved my son even when he made it hard and I know he made it hard. You will forever have a place at our dinner table and in our hearts. Thank you Tessa—you have made my son better than I ever could.”

Scott couldn’t wipe the tears away fast enough. He could see his mother was bawling now.

”To you Scott, I am grateful every day for you. My sweet boy. Congratulations on this achievement, on all of your achievements. I love you son.”

Scott practically leapt out of his chair to embrace his dad. They spent awhile hugging and Scott thanking his dad. Joe hugged and kissed Tessa’s cheek.

Jeffrey introduced the next speaker. Tessa got up from her chair and walked to the podium. She took a deep breath.

”I have always said I can’t remember my life without Scott. It’s true. I was so young when we first met. I do remember writing in my journal about how I wanted to skate in the Olympics with Danny Moir.”

The crowd laughed and Tessa took a small sip of water.

”The first time I remember seeing Scott I was about seven. He was the rambunctious Moir boy who was also so cute. The other girls giggled at his antics and I was too shy to do anything. When his Aunt Carol asked my mom if I might want to skate with her nephew, I thought why not. I never imagined we’d still be skating together 22 years later. I never saw Olympic medals in our future. I just saw an opportunity to hold a really cute boy’s hand. And I liked it. I still do.”

Scott was beaming on the stage. He could barely make out Tessa, his hot tears blinding him but he could hear her and her heartfelt speech.

”A lot is made about Scott being the heart of this partnership and I’m the head. He’s the emotional one who wears his heart on his sleeve. And that is true. It’s one of a thousand things I love about him. But, he also is the greatest ice dancer the world has ever known and he’s the best man I have ever known. He is smart, caring, hilarious, and giving. He has stood by me and supported me. He has encouraged me when I doubted myself, carried me when I fell down, and told me all would be okay when I didn’t have any hope left. Scott—today is about celebrating you. The skater you are, the Canadian, the man. “

Tessa paused. “I can honestly say no one has loved me the way you have or do. People always ask what we are to each other. And honestly, it’s hard to put it into words. I’m not trying to be vague. How do you put into words 22 years? How do you tell people what it’s like to spend nearly your entire life with one person, to share your dreams, and to share in theirs. We are in the thick of it and we know the least about how it works, it just does. But, not without hard work. We make it work because it’s that important to us. You are that important to me, Scott. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have a fierce appreciation for all that we are to each other. This partnership is an example to all of what hard work and respect looks like and also what is worth fighting for. We were worth fighting for and we always have been. My life is infinitely more than it would ever have been because of you. My life is infinitely brighter, more vast and brilliant because of you. Thank you Scott—for choosing me. It has been the ride of a lifetime and I am so deeply grateful to you. I love you.”

Tessa turned around and right into Scott’s arms. He hugged her as hard as he could without hurting her. His hand covering his face as he sobbed into her neck. The love he felt for Tessa in that moment was something he would never forget or take for granted.

She pulled back and gave a little happy shake to his shoulders as she smiled at him through tears. He cupped her face and kissed her cheek and whispered he loved her in her ear.

Scott braced himself as he walked to the podium. His hands were shaking and his heart was pounding.

”My life changed when I took the hand of a seven year old girl at the Ilderton Skating rink. She had gorgeous green eyes, her hair was pulled pack into a bun and she was wearing a pink jacket with matching mittens. The most enormous mittens you have ever seen. My brothers instantly gave her a nickname, “Big Hands”. She had many nicknames over the years-- Tutu, Tessie, Tess, Virtch. But to me, she was just T. I don’t know what my Aunt Carol saw in us when she paired me up with Tessa Virtue. If it was divine intervention, woman’s intuition, a trained eye of a skating coach. But, I am so indebted to her.

Scott swallowed and exhaled. His nerves were getting the best of him. He wiped away the tear falling down his cheek.

”I didn’t want to take ice skating lessons. I wanted to be Joe Sakic and win the Stanley Cup. But, life has a funny way of steering you in the direction of your dreams—even if they are different than what you thought was at hand. I didn’t love ice skating. But I loved ice skating with Tessa. She was the prettiest little girl at the rink. Still is.”

A few murmurs from the crowd and someone shouted out, “Damn right” which drew laughter.

Scott laughed. “We have won medals for our ice dancing. Honestly, Tess deserves them for putting up with me. I’m a lot. Folks have stood up here today and showered me with praise. Praise I am not sure I deserve. I can be moody, demanding, quick to temper, and difficult at best. Ask Tessa—she knows all of the different Scott Moirs. It is clear to me that I didn’t get to this podium, or any podium for that matter, alone. I want to thank our coaches, Suzanne and Mister Paul. Marina and Igor, and of course our beloved Marie-France and Patrice. I owe so much to my parents Joe and Alma. They drove us to all of our practices, sat in the stands and cheered us on, they sacrificed so much so I could be here. I will never be able to repay all you have done for me. I tried every day to make you proud, to honor our name and I know I fell short sometimes and for that I am sorry. To my brothers—Charlie and Danny. You are the most amazing men I know. Good husband and fathers. I have watched the two of you create lives that are about doing for others and I am in awe. And to your wives, Nicole and Tessa—you really are queens for marrying these two knuckleheads and thank you for beautiful nieces and nephews. To my Uncle Paul and Aunt Carol. Thank you for everything and for always being there. Remember tomorrow we open our new Moir Skate Shop in Kokoma—so come check it out. Had to plug it.”

The crowd laughed and cheered. Scott began to relax a little. He took a quick sip from his water bottle.

”To my cousins, thank you. To my nieces and nephews, you are a bright spot in my life and I adore all of you—equally. To my friends. Thank you for always being so understanding and staying in touch even though it was hard and I sometimes made it harder. To our fans---“

Scott looked up into the crowd and smiled.

”You all are crazy but loyal. I am stunned at how much you have supported us. We looked up into the stands at competitions and saw the Maple Leaf and it meant so much. We hear you cheering and we read your letters and we get your gifts. This fandom has meant the world to T and me. You have been such a source of happiness. I am thankful and really at a loss for words. Thank you for supporting the ‘Thank You Canada’ tour and spending your hard-earned money on us. We got another tour coming up so if you wanna ‘Rock the Rink’, do so!”

He smiled as the crowd whistled and cheered. Scott made eye contact with his mother and winked at her. She was always a person of strength for him. They shared a special bond and today was no different. He knew she would be happy for him and Tessa. She always wanted this life for him—the one with Tessa in it.

”And to the little girl with the enormous mittens who grew up into the most gorgeous and amazing woman I know. Tessa Jane McCormick Virtue, I am in awe of you. You make me want to be better. You drive me every day to be a better skater. To be a better man. Your gentle strength has been a source of support for me. I know I’m the one that lifts you for a living, but you have been carrying me for two decades now.”

Scott’s voice faltered, he sniffed and blinked quickly hoping his tears would clear away.

” Tess—skating with you has been the single greatest joy of my life. You are my best friend and you have my heart. Letting you down would be the worst thing I could imagine. Not being the man you thought I was—is something I could not live with. We have been through so much—tough times and triumphs. There is no one I would rather go on this crazy adventure with than you. Mike Babcock once told me the scariest part about life is that you can have it all. I thought I knew what he meant when he said it. But, I didn’t. I went looking for the life I thought I wanted. It took me awhile to realize it was in front of me all along.”

Scott paused, his voice wracked with emotion. He was speaking the words but they were coated with his tears.

”I have spent quite a bit of the last two weeks listening to that song by Maren Morris called “The Bones”. It’s about how really good relationships like good homes have good bones. You know strong foundations so that no matter the storm or the trouble, the home is still standing. Our mental prep coach used to tell us that all of the time. He used to say T and me—we had a good foundation, good bones. It’s true. Your relationship is only as good as its bones. We have worked hard to make sure those bones stay strong so that nothing can break us. I am proud of you T. I am proud of us. The house don’t fall when the bones are good. T—I love you with everything I am and everything I have. I am forever yours, Kiddo. Thank you.”

Everyone stood to their feet and cheered. Tessa walked over to Scott and wrapped her arms around him. She had never loved him more than she did at this moment. Even though he hadn’t said it outright, this was his way of telling the world he was in love with her. She was beyond touched.

Scott clutched Tessa to him. He never wanted to let her go. In fact, he would have held her longer if Jeffrey hadn’t walked over to keep the ceremony moving along. The dark clouds were getting more ominous and he wanted to make sure there was still time for another special announcement.

”And now, to present Scott with his plaque, please welcome Canadian hero and astronaut and fellow Walk of Fame inductee-- Colonel Chris Hadfield.”

Scott’s mouth dropped open and he looked so much like a little boy. Tessa gave him a little nudge and he hugged the Colonel. Scott couldn’t speak. If anyone had told nine year old Scott that an astronaut would one day dedicate a plaque to him, he wouldn’t have believed it, not ever.

Scott graciously accepted the plaque which would sit outside Ilderton Skating Club. And then Jeffrey quieted the crowd for his next announcement. He brought the Mayor, Tessa, and Scott up to the edge of the stage.

”We have one more surprise for you both. Mayor—“

”Thank you. As a symbol of all that you mean to this community, for your good works, your exceptional skill, and for the pride you instill in all of us—I am so proud to announce that we are naming the road outside of the skating club “Virtue Moir Way”.

Scott looked at Tessa in shock. She cupped her hands over her mouth and began to cry and laugh at the same time. He side hugged her and then pulled her in for a deeper embrace. They hugged the Mayor and Jeffrey.

About an hour later after reunions with family and friends and a media scrum, Tessa and Scott were back in the room upstairs and finally decompressing. Scott was sitting quietly, still in shock over the day’s events.

”C’mere.” He beckoned her.

Once she got within striking distance, Scott pounced and kissed her fiercely. Tessa wrapped her arms around him and met his passion with her own fiery response.

When they pulled apart, Tessa confessed what they both had been thinking. “I don’t know if I can do this again. I mean—the speeches, the media. It’s so overwhelming.”

”Yeah. But in a good way. Besides you deserve this T. And later, we’re going to celebrate—just the two of us.”

”Oh yeah. Like ice cream and The Office.”

”More like our naughty parts and every surface of your house.” He growled out.

Tessa bit her lip. “Much better than ice cream—“ Her hands travelled down to his ass and squeezed.

Tessa’s ceremony at the London Museum was equally as lovely as Scott’s albeit a bit more subdued. Casey was standing at the podium speaking for all of the Virtues. He recalled how they all had fallen in love with their baby sister but hated her name and thought it was more suited to a family pet so they took to calling her Sam.

”After Vancouver, our brains understood Tessa and Scott were Olympians but it was a bit surreal. After all, she was still our baby sister. That is until about six years ago, here in London, it was the World Championships. They skated to their ‘Carmen’ routine. It was the first time Kev and I would see it. I don’t know if you all have seen it, but let me just say that it’s something. We were used to seeing my sister and Scott skate to very romantic music, very sweet, perhaps what some might call innocent love. Carmen is not. Carmen is not that at all. And nothing prepares you to witness your baby sister in a very revealing and sexy outfit while the guy she’s known since they were in elementary school roaring out loud to the music and touching your sister in ways that you didn’t think were legal to do on ice. I mean the entire four minute routine is just this side of ‘not safe to watch at work’. “

Tessa barked out loud in laughter. She couldn’t believe Casey was telling this story.

”After they skated, Kev and I confronted our mother. Did she just see what we did? How was she so calm? How could she let Scott do that to her baby girl? Naturally, our mother thought we were crazy. It was Scott, after all. The same Scott who had moved away with Tessa when they were 17and 15. The same Scott that had driven Tessa back and forth to Canton about 600 times. Kevin and I were apoplectic. So later on we all went out to dinner. Virtues and Moirs. Scott went to the restroom and me and Kev knew what we had to do. We had to confront him. We waited for him to come out of the restroom and we asked what he thought he was doing with Tessa. He looked confused. Nice try, buddy. We continued our bad cop routine accusing him of uh—deflowering our sister on ice and I can’t believe I am saying this—but off ice as well. We let him have it. Until he quietly looked us in the eye and said, ‘I’d never hurt Tessa. I’d never do anything that would jeopardize us. I love her. I will always protect her.’ We felt like idiots. Even more so later that night when we got sternly worded texts from Tessa telling us we were both enormous jackasses and how could we accuse Scott of something so ridiculous. She was right, of course. Scott would never hurt her. He always protected her. On ice and off. That’s who he is. That’s the kind of man he is. My sister knew that. We always did. We just needed a little reminder. So Scott thank you—thank you for being so good to Tessa. It’s easy to shower her with kindness and love—and you do it better than anyone. And to you Sam, we are so incredibly proud of you. The amazing woman you have become, the role model to girls and boys and quite frankly people everywhere. You are a shining star and now you have one to honor you. I love you.”

Tessa wiped the tear off her cheek and jumped up to hug Casey. He hugged her tightly and they shared a private joke.

Mayor Holder introduced Scott. For the second time that day Scott would have to talk about Tessa. He was eerily calm.

”Hello. Wow. I, uh—You know there’s a reason whenever we have to give a speech that I let Tessa do it. She’s so much better at words than me. But, I’ll try and do my best. See the thing is it’s easy for me to talk about Tessa. She has so many wonderful qualities and I am better qualified to talk about her achievements than I am my own. I can see so clearly all the ways in which she is a superstar and deserving of these accolades. I could tell you how she gave up the National Ballet for me not once but twice. She will tell you she made a promise to me and that was to skate with me. I don’t know if she could have been a ballerina, probably-- but I do know I am floored when I think about how young she was when she made that decision. That she knew at nine what commitment means. I could tell you that Tessa endured bullying throughout high school from girls who didn’t understand her, who didn’t get her sense of humor, her gentle and kind and mature personality. I will tell you I could have been better about protecting her, about making sure she was okay during that time."

Scott inhaled deeply and looked at Kate. She dabbed at her eyes and smiled at him. Kate was one of Scott’s biggest fans, no matter what—she always had a soft spot for him.

”I don’t know what Kate was thinking when she let me whisk her teenaged daughter away to the United States. I mean really Kate! How irresponsible of you." The crowd laughed along. "We actually had to have Tessa’s parents write a note saying I had permission to drive her across the border. The agents must have thought we were running away to elope. I barely looked old enough to drive and we would pull up to the checkpoint, Wu Tang blaring in an old Oldsmobile. Those drives were some of the best in my life, they forged our friendship and gave us a foundation to build upon. I could tell you about the time Tessa skated in excruciating pain in Vancouver—pain so bad she couldn’t even walk at times. And still we won gold. Because that’s who Tessa is—she is a fighter. I could tell you about the two surgeries she had to save her career—our careers. I wasn’t very nice to her during the first surgery, we don’t talk about it a lot. Neither one of us is very proud of how we acted and we promised each other never to act that way again.

Scott wiped a tear with the back of his pointer finger. He took a long pause as he gathered himself. The shame of how he treated Tessa after that first surgery always sat so close to the surface. He tried to ignore it but on a day like today, it all came flooding back.

The room stayed quiet, just a few distant coughs as they waited for Scott to continue.

”You all know about Sochi. How proud we are of those silver medals. I thought we were done. So did Tessa. But, the Universe—the Universe is always in charge. A chance look across a crowded bar in Scotland set things in motion. When Tessa sets her mind to something, she is stubborn as well. She’s determined. And she was determined to come back for 2018. I came back to skating because I needed Tessa. It was selfish really and I know that. But, I can’t apologize. I missed her and I desperately needed this. Training with Marie-France and Patrice was a dream come true. The two years of our comeback were a dream—we lived and breathed ice dancing. If it wasn’t good for us, if it wasn’t going to get us onto that podium, it didn’t have a place in our lives. And well, you all know how that turned out. Pretty damn well."

Scott waited for the crowd to stop laughing. “I look at Tess today and she’s the same little girl I loved skating with back then. She’s all grown up, but the excitement and the fire in her eyes—the ferocity of her spirit—it’s there. I am the luckiest man in the world to have lived out my greatest moments with this incredible woman. T—I am so proud of you. Proud of you for all you have done for our sport, for young girls and boys. Proud of all you have done for Canada. I said it before and I will say it again, I’m not sure if I deserve this honor but I’m damn sure you do. I love you til my dying day.”

Tessa inhaled a shaky breath as she walked over to Scott to hug him. She had changed outfits and was now in the same red dress she had worn to the Wanderluxe event earlier in the year. She had on black high heels that brought her eye level with Scott. She pulled back, her eyes shiny with new tears.

”Thank you.” She whispered. “I am just—oh Scott.”

”Stop it T. You deserved it and more.”

Tessa replaced Scott at the podium. She smiled at her family and took a deep breath.

”I have always loved the quote ‘What if I fall—but oh my darling what if you fly’. I used to be afraid to fall. Until I met a very loud little boy who promised to never let me fall. And he hasn’t. It’s quite literally Scott’s job to hold me. Of course, he will tell you I help him, that it’s a partnership and it is. A wonderful and heartwarming partnership. The question I get asked right behind ‘are you and Scott a couple’ is how do you guys do it? How have you made this last for 22 years? What’s your secret? In fact, companies and universities invite us to give talks on that very subject—our partnership. It’s easy, really. We care more about the other person than we do ourselves. We respect that we are such different people off the ice but share a common goal on ice. And we never, ever hurt the other. But doing that every day for 22 years is not easy. It takes hard work. It takes determination and it takes commitment. Commitment to the other person and commitment to something greater than yourself. Scott and I are equal partners. We do equal work, we get paid equally, and we are honored equally.

Tessa cleared her throat. She took a sip of water and exhaled. She smiled brightly at the crowd.

”When I look back on the great moments of my life, Scott has been there. He was actually half-responsible for all of them. He was also the one by my side in my darkest hours, when my legs betrayed me and I thought I would never skate again. When I wanted to give up during our comeback for PyeongChang. He was the one who reminded me we asked for it and now we had to show them we could do it. He never let me down. Think about that. How many of us have someone in our lives that we can say that about? Someone who no matter what happened, no matter how challenging circumstances got-- never let you down. So many other people have let me down. Showed me they weren’t worthy of my attention or my gifts. But, not Scott. He stepped up always. He showed me how a friend is supposed to treat you, how a partner is supposed to treat you—how a man is supposed to treat you.”

Scott wiped his eyes with both hands. He wasn’t deserving of the praise Tessa was giving him. He had hurt her, nearly wrecked them and yet somehow she still showed him grace. He was lucky beyond words.

”Scott likes to joke that he is difficult to put up with—but he’s not—unless he’s hungry or tired.” Tessa giggled at her own joke along with the crowd. “I am so humbled that he chose to stay with me, to continue this partnership for 22 years. I have so many people to thank. First and foremost my mom and dad. You both sacrificed so much so I could have this dream. Mom—you kept our family intact. You worked and made sure we succeeded and you earned your MBA and still found time to drop me off at skating practice and to all of our competitions. You put your life on hold to come be with me when I needed you. You deserve this star more than I do. You really are the star of our family. My brothers Casey and Kevin—I love you both. I may love your wives more and for sure my nieces. Thank you for being such honorable men. Jordan—you are my best friend. You are my sister. You are always there for me and you know exactly what to say to make me smile, to make me laugh, to make me feel better. I love you. To the Moirs. Alma, Joe, Charlie, Danny, Carol, and Paul—the kindness you have shown me and my family is heartwarming. You brought us into your lives and made us a part of your family. Alma—thank you for driving Scott and I to all of our practices—for cheering us on and for those amazing chocolate chip cookies. To all of our coaches—Suzanne, thank you for teaching Scott and I what being partners really means. You provided the foundation for Virtue-Moir and every day we work hard to live up to your standards. To Marina and Igor, you gave us roots and wings. And to Marie-France and Patrice, the gift you gave us is remarkable. You believed in us—you never doubted us and you wouldn’t let us doubt ourselves. You pushed us harder and harder. You made us love skating again."

Tessa turned and looked at Scott. She smiled as the tears came to her eyes. She blinked them away and began. “Scott—you have given me everything I could ever want.” She turned back to the microphone. “I stand here today my heart full of love and contentedness because of you. Because you have shown me what love is. You have shown me it is patient and kind. That it runs deep and true. That it is not fickle and it is not fleeting. I am eternally grateful. I have loved the last 22 years. You are my reason. Thank you.”

The crowd stood to its feet and clapped and wiped away tears. Scott walked over to Tessa and hugged her.

”I’m so in love with you right now Virtch. You have no idea.” He breathed into her ear. “I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Tessa stopped breathing. He was not doing this right now. No. No. No. She was not ready.

”Hey… calm down. I’m not proposing. I just need you to know this is it for me. You are my reason too and someday.”

They pulled apart. Tessa inhaled deeply and let out a little laugh. She smiled broadly and went back to the podium to receive her plaque.

”Tessa—to present your plaque to you is someone you know well. She and her skating partner are National champions five times over and two-time World Silver medallists. They also competed in two Olympics. Now they run a successful skating facility and among their many accomplishments was coaching you and Scott to your second and third gold medals. Marie-France Dubriel.”

Tessa could barely keep her emotions in line as soon as Marie-France appeared on the stage. She couldn’t believe Marie was here—she had told Tessa and Scott that sadly she and Patrice would have to miss their ceremony. She saw Patrice and Billie-Rose had settled in next to Joe Moir. Marie-France hugged her tightly. She handed her the plaque and they embraced again. Scott joined them and hugged Marie-France and waved to Patrice and Billie-Rose.

Tessa wasn’t sure how this day could get any better. Celebrating with family and friends such a special occasion left her heart full. She settled into the back seat of the car driving her and Scott home to her house.

They hadn’t had a chance to spend a lot of time together. At dinner, they sat next to each other but there were so many people to talk to that neither of them spent much time sitting or eating. She was starving. But, she also was ready to give herself to Scott again. The suit and tie he had changed into for her ceremony looked good on him. He was close to being back in shape and the numerous times she had hugged him she felt the hard planes of his muscles. She always envied how quickly he could lose weight and tone up. She had caught a quick glimpse of him when he changed shirts and his chest was still toned and teasing her. The grooves along his hip bones were back and she was dying to get her hands and her mouth on them. She was growing irritated as they seemed to be hitting every red light between the museum and her home. Like the Universe was conspiring against her.

The tension in the car was palpable. She wondered if the driver noticed. If he could sense what was going on. Scott’s hand was resting on her bare thigh. He began to drag it up higher—closer to where she needed him to be. She marveled at how Scott was able to keep up a running conversation with Marcus—the driver—about the Leafs and the moves they had made in the off-season all while moving his hand closer and closer to her panty-clad core. Tessa had to look out the window to distract herself from Scott’s manipulations.

He wedged his hand between her legs and gave her a nudge.

Was he seriously going to get her off while lamenting the loss of Patrick Marleau?

”The guy has so much heart. I mean he gave so much.” Scott tossed out.

A small moan escaped her—and she quickly pulled her lips onto themselves in an attempt to stop any other stray noises from escaping.

”I know man. He was the heart and soul.” Marcus agreed.

Tessa felt the pad of Scott’s finger press down onto her core. She gripped the door with one hand and the edge of the leather bench seat with the other. Scott clearly took this as an invitation to continue which it was, if she was being honest. He pushed aside her panty and stroked her center.

The leather seat squeaked as her hand slipped off and she re-gripped it. She fell back against the headrest. Scott was really going for it. His finger pushed slightly in and slid out. Tessa began to pant. She closed her eyes and prayed she either would come soon or they would get to her house in the next thirty seconds.

In and out he dragged his finger. Tessa opened her eyes and looked at him. Scott turned towards her and smiled. It was lustful and demanding. She clenched her legs together trapping Scott’s hand.

”We’re here.” Marcus said.

Finally, she thought, as she felt the SUV pull to a stop in front of her house. Scott slid his hand out and licked his finger and reached into his pocket for his wallet. He tipped Marcus and they thanked him and got out of the car.

Tessa walked down the front path to her house like a newborn deer. Her pussy was throbbing and wet.

”Steady there, Virtch. You okay?” Scott tauntingly asked her.

She glared at him and angrily whispered. “I’m dying and it’s your fault. When we get inside, you better fuck me like your life depends on it.”

Scott’s dick enjoyed that comment and grew instantly hard. He laughed. Tessa pulled her house key from her purse and fumbled with the lock.

”Need help?”

”Yes please.” She whined.

He slid the key into the lock and turned. He opened the door and she stepped inside. She keyed off her alarm and Scott shut the door and locked it.

Tessa stood in her entry way, her eyes taking on a feral look. She was breathing heavily as she pulled Scott’s tie and him towards her. She kissed him hard as he whispered filthy things against her mouth. She pulled at the knot and slipped the tie around his collar and draped it around her neck. She pushed his coat off and it fell to the floor. She unbuttoned his shirt buttons and let it fall onto the floor. She spread her hands up his chest and smoothed them over his taut skin.

She took her time—she was allowed to enjoy him. Scott leaned in and began to suck on her neck and placed open mouthed kisses from one side to the other as she worked his belt open and unzipped his pants.

He carded his hands through her hair and kissed her fully on the mouth, his tongue dueling with hers as she shoved his pants down his legs. He stepped out of them. She reached into his boxers and found him hard. She gripped him and stroked.

Scott moaned into her mouth and bit her lip. “God I want you.”

Scott pushed her back gently and turned her around. He slowly pulled the side zipper of her dress down. Tessa was soaking wet. She didn’t want the luxury of spending time undressing each other. She wanted all of her clothes gone and Scott deep inside of her. Scott had other plans. He let one side of the dress fall off her shoulder then the other. She tipped her head to the side to give him access to her neck. He nuzzled her and nipped her.

His hands slid up her dress and cupped her breasts and squeezed them through the fabric. Tessa bucked back into Scott hoping he would get the message to speed up. He chuckled and made cooing noises at her.

Her dress fell to the floor leaving her in just a strapless bra and a thong. Scott growled.

One flick and her bra was unhooked. She pitched forward slightly and the bra fell into her hands. She tossed it over their shoulders. He smoothed his hand over her bare ass cheeks and around the front. He stroked her through her underwear.

”You are so fucking wet.”

”Hmmm mmm”.

Scott dragged her underwear down her legs and she stepped out of them. She lifted up her foot so Scott would take her heels off. He stood up.

”Leave them on.”

Jesus, she felt like she just came. She turned around to face him. She had never seen him look this determined. His eyes were dark and full of hunger. He pushed her into the wall. He stroked her pussy spreading her wetness around.

”Please.” She begged.

Scott laughed against her breast as he pulled her nipple into his mouth. He licked all around sloppily as Tessa chased him with her lower half. She grinded onto him.

He held her hips in place. “Stop… I got this.”

In an instant he was kneeling on the floor and pushing his tongue into her core. He fucked her with his tongue with an urgency. She could feel his teeth nipping and tugging on her clit. She cried out. Her hands pulled at his hair. God he was destroying her.

A few long licks up her folds and he was back in her face. She could smell herself and see the wetness on his lips. He kissed her and she tasted her desire.

He hooked her leg around his back and wedged his hand between them. He grabbed ahold of himself. He wasn’t sure how much harder he could get. He pressed the tip of his cock against her and rubbed it around in her wetness. She clutched his shoulder blades.

The second he entered her Tessa released a moan a year in the making—it had been that long since he had been inside her but her body remembered everything he had ever done to her. He began thrusting hard and fast. Tessa held on and matched his ferocity.

The sound of their skin slapping against each other and their moans and mewls echoed around the small entryway. Their mouths latched onto any part they could find. Occasionally they kissed but it was more of a gnashing of teeth. Scott hoisted her up higher onto the wall. He held her in place as she wrapped both legs around his waist. He drove up into her with a relentless rhythm. Her heels hitting his ass every time she pushed into him. Everything he did made her wetter and wetter until he was sliding in and out with ease.

”I’m so close.” She managed to tell him.

”I can tell.”

Tessa whimpered. Her release was there for the taking. Scott slammed into her deeper and deeper. He filled her so fully at this angle, he felt like a steel rod.

”Hang on.” He warned her and slammed harder and harder.

Tessa cried out louder and louder, his name falling from her lips over and over.

And there it was—like lightning cracking across a darkened sky—her orgasm overtook her with such power she lost her breath. A high-pitched scream tore from her lungs as she came gushing onto Scott’s dick. Her walls pulsating as she rolled onto him trying to get him deeper.

”Oh, oh, oh, oh…” She let loose as she felt Scott tense up.

He roared out her name reminiscent of the Carmen roar as he came harder into her than she ever remembered. He pumped into her pushing her into the wall as he fucked her.

He reached between them and found her clit and tugged on it gently and then rubbed it in circles. Tessa helped him along rotating her hips in sync with his movements. Within seconds, they managed to coax another powerful release from her. She cried out.

Tessa collapsed against Scott’s shoulder. Her legs dropped to the floor. Scott held her in place, afraid if he let go she would fall. They stayed like that for a few minutes. She could feel his hot breath in her ear, smell their sex in the air.

Finally able to speak, her pulse back to normal, Tessa smiled. “God—what did you do to me? I can’t see straight.”

”Probably can’t walk straight either.” He joked.

She swatted his chest. “You are still incorrigible.”

”And you are still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.” He kissed her gently.

Tessa leaned into his hand that he had rested on her cheek. “Love you.”

”I love you. More than you know.” He told her.

”Do you mean ‘Moir’ than I know?” She laughed finding herself hysterically funny.

”Don’t do that. Don’t act like you’re funny and can tell a joke.” He smiled.

”You think I’m cute? Yes? Or no?” She grinned.

”Definitely yes, you dork.” He told her.

”Feed me and I promise to repay you.” She raised her eyebrow.

Scott made them veggie omelets and some toast. After inhaling their food, they climbed the stairs to her bedroom where Tessa repaid him with a slow fuck with her on top. She held off their orgasms for close to 45 minutes. Scott was hanging on by thread by the time she finally leaned down and kissed him and let them have their release. Her timing was perfect as they came together— and collapsed exhausted and sated.

They showered and slipped back into bed.

Scott snuggled Tessa close to him so he could play with her hair while he told her secrets.

He explained how astronauts poop in space (he had asked Colonel Hatfield), he was absolutely terrified of the Flyers’ new mascot, Gritty (he had already had two nightmares about the furry creature), he still sometimes used the same body wash as her (he wanted to feel like she was still around him), and she was his soulmate. (she knew that but it was still nice to hear)

”Thank you for today.” He told her as his fingers danced in her hair.

”Of course. Thank you.”

”Guess our bones are good.” He kissed her temple.

”The best.” She replied before she kissed him back.