Welcome to my portfolio! My name is Gabrielle Bryant, and I am a young author. I update my portfolio with writing advice, short stories, and excerpts from my manuscripts.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt from book one of my upcoming series, Intertwined.
NOTICE: All rights to this work go to the author. Please do not share this content; rather, direct anyone interested in reading to gabriellebryant.com
“Are you back from RAID?”
Monica was tying her skate tight around her ankles, checking for comfort by stamping her boot on the ground a few times. Cindy was doing the same: the usual routine for practice. The fawn-haired girl put a finger to her lips.
“Yes,” Cindy answered in a hush voice. “But keep quiet about it. I don’t want anyone but you to find out.”
Monica gave her a nod, “Yeah, yeah. I get it. But tell me! What are the people like there? Any hot boys?”
Cindy widened her gaze. It was not uncommon for Monica to ask such things. Cindy’s cheeks dusted a hint of red. “Well… there are some I’ve seen walking around town. But there’s one that stands out.”
“Oh, really?” Monica stood, both skates on her feet and tied. She threw her hands in the air excitedly. “That’s awesome, Cindy! You’re getting a boyfriend!”
Cindy once again brought a finger to her lips. “I don’t know if he thinks of me that way.” She lifted herself off the bench and pressed her covered blades into the soft tiles of the rink floor. “Plus, I’m getting to know him more.”
“Oh,” Monica sounded disappointed. She walked to the ice rink, zipping her jacket as the rush of chilled air escaped the door. Cindy held the door for her until she had gone through, then shut it. When Cindy and Monica got inside, a few other skaters were warming up on the ice. Cindy looked around for her coach, but he was not there. Instead, she saw Christian at the other end of the rink, toward an opening to the short set of bleachers. It was not often that Cindy’s rink held local competitions. Most of the bigger rinks in the city were home to all of the regionals. The girl was glad such occasions were never held here. Unknown people would be in and out all the time, making her home away from home uncomfortable, foreign.
After Monica, Cindy stepped onto the ice with ease and flew across it, excited, stretched out, and ready to perform better than she had ever done so before. Especially since Christian was there. For her, it was no longer an attraction, but the need to show him that she was getting better than him.
Better than everyone.
I know it’s selfish, thought Cindy as she dug her blades into the ice, rotating to go backwards and swizzle here and there. Occasionally, she would realize her eyes were on Christian. She hated every time her eyes seemed to automatically find the young man. But he was engrossed in his own world, throwing himself into the air and landing with ease. He seemed to be practicing from his short program, a dark, instrumental piece with only four sentences of lyrics:
“To leave you is to stay in the same place forever
To remain is to never be the who I am
Yet my heart still longs for the ties I will not sever
To the land where I know I can.”
Cindy shuddered as she recalled the lyrics like they were the back of her hand. But the song held such beauty, in its deep bass chords, its enchanting viola sounds, the angelic voice of a man who seemed so deep in sorrow. Cindy’s selected song had been something beautiful, but her coach had assigned it to her. He insured that with the song’s tempo, it would reveal her skating style and her skill. It had taken a while for it to grow on her.
Cindy shook her head when she realized she had stopped at the edge of the rink to watch Christian. She gritted her teeth and skated forward again. She hoped no one had seen her pause, especially Monica.
I’m over him, I’m over him. Celeste repeated the words as she sent her body in the air, landing a double axel. She threw out her arms and continued forward, spinning into her combination sequence. Leland is here now. And I do not need to rely on someone to make me strong. I am strong on my own terms.
She was not tired yet. She would be able to perform anything anyone asked of her – her coach, Christian, Monica. She growled, a noise too quiet for others to hear, but a voice of anger that resonated within her. Mindlessly, she jumped into her flying sit spin. It was the same spin Christian was forced to teach her long ago. She had since improved it.
Only a little, though.
Cindy felt herself losing control after her land. She rolled too far onto the outside edge of her blade. Before she knew it, she was tumbling out of the spin. She landed on her back, her head spinning.
“You almost had it!” Christian flew past her but turned to come back to her. He stopped with ease. “Your posture went downhill after you landed. Just.. be careful of that.”
He was gone before Cindy could respond. She tried to hide her stunned expression and the blush thawing out her frozen cheeks. She stood again, her breaths uncontrollable from the rage-skating she had just done. She skated slowly around the rink, reaching the small door that led back to the benches. There sat her and Monica’s water bottle. She sat down, caught her breath, and sipped her bottle.
“No slacking,” a voice said. Cindy looked up to find her coach walking past her. He had a duffle bag strapped around his shoulder, a smile on his face.
Cindy gave him the evil eye, bringing her water bottle to her lips. She swallowed. “Look, I’m sorr–” She stopped herself. Apologizing was a habit she needed to cease. “It’s okay to take a break once and awhile.”
“Right you are,” the coach winked. It was cheesy, Cindy always thought, but the man always winked at people. He must have seen it as cool. “I’ve noticed something different about you lately, Cindy. You seem to be getting a heck of a lot stronger. Good work.”
Cindy smiled at him, placing her bottle of water down. She got up from the bench. “Thanks.”
“Have you been doing things outside of our workout plan?” asked the coach. He was studying her now, Cindy could tell, as if he was looking for something on her.
“I might be doing something like that,” Cindy’s gaze fell. “It’s just something on the side.”
Like gunfights, meeting killers, making deals with gang leaders. The works, Cindy thought.
The coach shrugged and smiled, “You’re a good skater, Cindy. You’re getting better quickly. Keep up the good work, and you’ll be in nationals in no time.” He winked at her again and walked away.
Cindy, a smile on her face, stepped back onto the ice and avoided another rink mate as they landed a jump. The young lady heard her coach call out a correction to Christian, then to Monica. She snickered.
Even if I’m going to RAID more frequently now, I’m never gonna give up this sport. Cindy glided into another flying sit spin. This time, she would not spin out of control.
The same went for Christian. When he was near, when he was watching her, when he ignored her. She would not let her emotions spin out of control.