Today I am so pleased to welcome Keira Andrews to Joyfully Jay. Keira has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, The Winning Edge. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thanks so much to Jay for having me here today to talk about The Winning Edge, my figure skating romance. The Olympics are in full swing, and I’m glued to the figure skating, as always! Although the Russian skaters are competing in Pyeongchang under a neutral flag due to Russia’s previous doping offences, The Winning Edge takes place at an invented Olympics in Annecy, France. I didn’t want to tie the story to any one Games, so this is a fictional universe.
I hope you enjoy this exclusive excerpt of American pairs skater Dev struggling through practice with his partner–then encountering his bitter Russian rival, Misha, in the shower room…
Buy The Winning Edge at Amazon or borrow in KU:
“There’s something you should know.”
Dev and Bailey shared a glance as the rest of the team climbed off the small bus behind them. Louise was waiting on the sidewalk, rather grim faced, even for her. A few of the Feds milled around, looking intense. Dev raised an eyebrow. “Don’t keep us in suspense, Lou.”
“There was some kind of catastrophic electrical problem and fire at the rink down the street that did a lot of damage. No one was hurt, but the ice melted and they’re not sure when the system will be fixed.”
Bailey frowned and nodded to the sprawling arena behind Louise. “But our rink’s okay, right?”
“Absolutely. But the organizers asked the federation if another team could use it this week too. They said yes. Olympic spirit and all that crap.”
Dev’s pulse spiked. “Which team?” Anyone but the Russians. Anyone but the Russians. Anyone but—
Bailey groaned. “Seriously? So instead of private practice, this will be just as stressful as official practice all week. Minus the reporters and spectators, at least. But still. This is supposed to be our safe space. What’s the point in paying all this money to rent a rink out of Annecy if we can’t have privacy? I know, I know. No one planned this.”
The Russians. Dev ran a hand through his hair. It felt like the universe was throwing Mikhail Reznikov into his path every chance it got. He was tense enough with the competition looming, and every time he saw Mikhail he didn’t know whether to punch him or kiss him. Now he’d see him again today, and this jumble of emotions would only get more tangled and fucked-up.
“Dev? How are you feeling about this?” Louise asked.
“I don’t know,” he answered truthfully.
“You know what this is?” Louise asked. “It’s a challenge, and you two are going to knock it out of the park. We’re still going to have different practice times. Very segregated. When the US team is on the ice, they’ll use the gym facilities, and vice versa.”
“Yeah, but they’ll be in the building. They can watch,” Bailey noted.
“Both the federations agreed it will be strictly forbidden to go near the rink when it’s not your scheduled practice time. This is a huge facility, and there’s lot of room.”
Dev glanced around at where the other skaters were receiving the news from their coaches. One of the federation officials tried to soothe an ice dancer. “It’s all right for the guys. There hasn’t been a Russian contender since Plushenko finally retired.”
“I still don’t believe it, by the way. He’s going to show up when he’s, like, fifty, and he’ll still be landing quads,” Bailey said.
Louise smirked, and Dev burst out laughing. With the tension broken, Dev shrugged. “It’s fine. We’ll do our thing, and they’ll do theirs.” Please, universe. I’m begging you.
“And if they’re watching, we’ll knock their socks off.” Bailey grinned. “Come on. Let’s get on the ice.”
Dev swore loudly as he skidded to a stop in the corner of the rink. “God damn motherfucking fuck!”
“You’re not staying in the circle. Your right shoulder’s dropping,” Louise said from where she watched on the other side of the boards.
“Then stop doing it. Now.”
Their side-by-side triple toes shouldn’t be a problem for him, but Dev couldn’t land one to save his life. He brushed off his pants and reached for Bailey’s hand as they circled the rink, dodging their teammates, engrossed in their own practices.
She squeezed his fingers. “It’s just nerves.”
“I never fall like this.” Dev shook his head. Even though he knew the Russians weren’t watching—all the curtains on the entrances to the seating were firmly closed—he felt as though Mikhail’s eyes were on him, searing into his skin. Making him want to do things and feel things that were completely insane.
“Come on, let’s do another lap.” Bailey gave him a smile.
They stroked around the rink again, and Dev closed his eyes for a moment. He soaked in the familiar sensation of being on the ice with Bailey beside him. They moved as one with easy grace, which had taken time and many, many hours of practice to achieve.
I can do this. There’s nothing else but me, Bailey, and the ice. Just another day at the rink.
“Relax. Let your body do what it’s trained to do. Use your muscle memory,” Louise called as they neared.
Dev breathed deeply as he separated from Bailey and they went into their three turns, changing direction back, front, and then back again as they used their toe picks to vault them into the air. Arms tight across his chest, Dev spun three times and landed smoothly on his outside edge, holding his free leg extended as he glided. Beside him, Bailey landed in perfect unison.
“That’s it. Now again,” Louise said. “Then we’ll do a short program run-through. It’s your turn for music.”
Dev loved their short program. “Lux Aeterna” from the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream had been used by other skaters in the past but not for several years. The propulsive score built dramatically, and Dev felt as if the orchestra was driving them onward, giving them energy and passion. They started with their triple twist—one of their best elements.
After they gathered speed, Bailey vaulted up with her toe pick as Dev snapped her up into the air above his head, bringing his hands almost all the way down to his sides while she rotated three times in a blur. He caught her by the waist in the air above his shoulders before placing her down on the ice. Sometimes she came down a little harder than others, but today she glided out of the catch and extended her leg as if it had been the easiest thing in the world.
Next were the side-by-side jumps, and they nailed them. They ticked off the other elements as they went—death spiral, step sequence, pair spin combination. Then it was time for the throw. As they skated around the corner of the rink, Dev drew Bailey in close with his hands on her waist. Their free legs extended in unison as they went into the three turn and he propelled her into a triple Salchow from her back inside edge. She spun in the air, tilting slightly as she came down and fought for the landing. She touched down with her hand, but didn’t two foot.
“That’s it. Muscle it out,” Louise shouted as they skated by. “Stay strong.”
Their last element was the lift. Each season there was a different style of lift required in the short program, and this year it was a hand-to-hand lift. He skated backward with Bailey facing him and took her hands.
“You got this,” she said as she gripped him. Sometimes they talked to each other during programs. It really depended on the day, and there was no rhyme or reason.
Bending his knees deeply, Dev pressed her up above his head with his arms straight as he began rotating down the length of the ice. They changed positions as Dev grabbed her hip with one hand and Bailey extended her legs out into a star position, her upper body parallel to the ice. She still grasped his other hand but then let go and lifted her arm to complete the star. Dev extended his own arm, balancing her just on one arm while she held on to his shoulder with her free hand. To bring her down, he lowered her over his shoulder and she spun out of the lift.
With speed and vigor, they skated into their final position standing back to back. Louise clapped and nodded, and Dev raised his hand for a high five.
Bailey slapped his palm with a grin. “Let’s do it again.”
“The next bus isn’t for an hour. I’m going to go take a run around the arena before I hit the showers. See you in a bit,” Bailey said before disappearing into the locker room.
It had been a long day, and Dev was more than ready to relax and let the steam soak up some of his aches and pains. He nodded to one of the Russian ice dancers as he walked into the locker room. Most of the skaters had caught the earlier bus, it seemed. Andrew glanced up as he finished lacing his sneakers.
“Hey, man. I was thinking about going for a run. You up for it?”
“No, but if you hurry, you can catch up with Bailey.”
Andrew’s face lit up. “Seriously? Later!” He disappeared so quickly he practically left a vapor trail.
The ice dancer chuckled. “So much energy,” he said in a thick accent. “To be so young again.”
“What are you, twenty-five?”
“Da. Feels like forty-five right now.” He rubbed his lower back.
“I hear ya.”
Dev unlaced his skates and stripped out of his simple black practice clothing. He pulled his flip-flops from his bag and grabbed a towel. The showers were down a short hallway. As he passed the door to the sauna, he saw a few skaters baking inside. The long shower room was divided into ten curtained stalls, with five on each side.
He headed toward the back and hung his towel on the hook beside the stall. There was one other shower running, but it stopped as Dev stood outside his stall, waiting for the water to reach the right temperature. He turned automatically when he heard the curtain sliding back.
Hand frozen in midair as he reached for his towel, Mikhail stood several feet away in the doorway of a stall on the other side of the room. Water dripped down his taut, lean body, and Dev couldn’t stop from staring at Mikhail’s long, uncut cock, hanging with his meaty balls. A trail of dark hair led down from his belly button to a neatly trimmed thatch. A small tattoo of a flying bird drawn with black lines—an eagle, perhaps?—adorned Mikhail’s left hip.
What am I doing? Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
Dev’s throat was suddenly dry, and he forced his gaze back up. Mikhail’s blue eyes were dark, and he licked his lips. The silence stretched taut between them. Then Mikhail moved, but instead of leaving, he shoved Dev back into the shower stall and under the warm water. Dev hit the wall and before he could even blink, Mikhail was on his knees, his hands like brands on Dev’s hips.
Gone was the cool and collected competitor as Mikhail looked him up and down, eyes wild. It felt as if all the blood in Dev’s body rushed to his dick, and he couldn’t move—could barely breathe—as he waited to find out what happened next. What were they doing? They hated each other. They shouldn’t want this. Yet Mikhail stared up at him hungrily as if waiting for permission…
Copyright © Keira Andrews
Can figure skating enemies find love off the ice?
After an explosive locker room confrontation with his Russian rival ends in the most intense sex of his life, American pairs skater Dev Avira is distracted to say the least. He’s worked for years to have a chance at Olympic gold, and he can’t let himself—or his partner—down. Playing cat and mouse with the steely and smoldering Mikhail Reznikov is the last thing he needs as he prepares for the biggest competition of his life, but they can’t keep their hands off each other as the Games approach.
Dev soon learns that beneath Mikhail’s arrogant and aloof exterior is Misha, a passionate man who warms Dev’s heart and scorches his bed. They’re both determined to win, but for Misha his freedom could be at stake if he and his partner take anything less than gold. Who will stand atop the podium? And can secret lovers from different worlds make a life together once the competition ends?
This gay sports romance from Keira Andrews features enemies to lovers, two alpha men, sequins, and of course a happy ending. Content previously published as novellas Cold War and Holding the Edge.
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”
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