Teaser chapter of ICE GAMESPosted by in Blog - Jessica Clare | Blog - Publishing Stuff | Blog - Writing | Jessica Clare
ICE GAMES comes out on Tuesday, so I thought I'd post a teaser chapter for those that want a sneak peek!
So I met my partner today. She’s the mouthiest chick I’ve ever met in my life. Won’t shut up for five minutes. Seriously. Stick up her ass, too. Determined to win this thing. Like it’s a real contest or something? Come on. We’re going to prance around the ice in skates like a bunch of goofballs. — Ty Randall, Private Conversation with his Manager
“Hi, I’m Zara,” I told him, trying to ignore the camera two inches from my face. “Nice to meet you.”
He grabbed my hand and shook it, lips twisting into a slight smirk. “Ty.”
“I know who you are. So, you excited to be on the show?”
“Am I excited to be on the show?” he mimicked, mocking my high pitched, slightly-nervous tone. “Do I look like I’m fucking excited?”
I dropped his hand like I’d been scalded. “Then why are you here?”
“I’m here because I have to be. No more, no less.” He glanced around, his gaze lingering on the slinky Annamarie. “Parts of it might be interesting.” He glanced over at me and seemed less enthused. “I’m not wearing fucking sequins or feathers, though, so get that shit right out of your head.”
“Oh darn, I guess this means I’m not going to have a lot of opportunity to use my Bedazzler,” I said sarcastically. “Gee, and here I was so looking forward to that.”
“Ha ha.” He didn’t sound amused. If anything, he sounded more irritated. “Look, missy—”
“Zara,” he echoed. “I’m just trying to lay down the law so you know what to expect out of the next few weeks. I’m here because it’s required of me. It’s not because I want to dress up in a goddamn tutu and flounce around on the ice. You understand me? So don’t expect too much.”
My jaw set, and I wanted to kick him in the nuts for his lousy attitude. “All right then. Well, let me tell you what I’m thinking, since we’re laying the law down and all. I want to win. I’m determined to win, even if I have to work around having you as a partner. Shit happens, but I’m good enough that I can make even a clown like you look light-footed. But let’s get one thing straight. I intend to win, so don’t you get in my way, understand?”
He stared at me. After a long moment, he added, “You going to fucking yap at me for the next two months?”
“Probably. And if you don’t make an effort? I’m going to make your life miserable. Understand?”
Ty looked amused. “That’s cute. You do realize you’re ninety pounds soaking wet?”
I was a hundred and two pounds, and what did it matter? “What does my size have to do with anything?”
“If you think you’re going to intimidate me, honey, it’s not working.”
“Don’t you ‘honey’ me,” I said, outraged.
A camera zoomed in next to my face, and I froze. I hadn’t even met my partner for five minutes and we were already fighting. Well, crap. This didn’t bode well for job longevity. The scathing putdown I’d been about to lay on him died in my throat. Instead, I gave him a tight smile. “We practice at 6:00 AM. Be there.”
I turned on my heel and began to walk away.
“I’ll consider it,” he called after my back.
“Six in the morning!” I yelled back.
“I can’t believe it,” my friend Naomi gasped in my ear. “You’re paired up with Ty the Biter? Have you seen the internet articles on him?”
I rolled over on my bed, staring up at the ceiling, my cellphone hot against my ear. We’d been on the phone for an hour, and even complaining to my best friend hadn’t made me feel better about things. “I haven’t. Just that he’s a fighter and he bit some dude on the nose. Give me the skinny.”
“Okay.” She paused for a moment, then said, “So, apparently he dates a lot of C and D list starlets. His name’s attached to a bunch of famous chicks. That’s why he’s such a big deal.”
Like I cared about that. “And?”
“And he has a type. Big. Blonde. Surgically enhanced.”
“Got it. Boulders. This doesn’t help me much, though, Naomi. I don’t want to date the troll. I want to know what to expect when we’re skating.”
“I’m looking, I’m looking,” she muttered. “Oooh. Let’s see. He played college hockey.”
I brightened. “That’s a good sign—”
“Got kicked out for missing too many practices.”
Damn it. “So what you’re telling me is that I’ve got a slacker with temper issues that can skate, but because I don’t have a pair of cannons strapped to my chest, I’m shit out of luck?”
“Kinda what it sounds like. Sorry, girl.”
I sighed. “That’s okay. I’ll just make the best of things. I mean, if I work my tail off, the show can’t blame me, right?”
“I have no idea. Sorry. I’ve never been on TV. I’m a pre-med student, remember?”
I remembered. And groaned. “Why couldn’t I have gotten a decent partner? All the guys got good ones. It’s so unfair.”
“Just do your best,” Naomi said cheerfully. “That’s all you can do.”
A loud “What the fuck?” came from the other room.
Naomi paused. “What was that?”
“You heard that?” I cocked my free ear, listening to the other room. Bottles clinked with rapidity, and and then I heard what sounded like a lot of bottles shaking. “That would be my roommate, Prince Charming. Apparently they’ve decided that things will be more exciting if we’re sharing a house together.”
Naomi gasped, the sound tinny on the other end of the line. “You have to share a house with him? Are you freaking out?”
“Nope. Too many cameras around for him to try any shenanigans. He’s here for PR. He’ll be on his best behavior.” I thought for a moment, and then added, “Theoretically.”
I heard stomping, and then someone banged on my door, a crude version of a knock. “Hey. Hey! Mouthy girl. Open up.”
I frowned at my closed door. The entire thing had vibrated when he’d knocked. It was just cheap wood, but still. I didn’t want him destroying my room. I had to live here for the next two months, after all. “I’d better let you go, Naomi. Talk to you later.”
“Good luck.” She sounded worried. “You’re going to need it. Break a leg.”
“You don’t tell a skater that,” I yelped at her, but it ended up being the dial tone. Damn it! I could practically feel the juju going south on me. I went immediately to my desk and touched each of my lucky talismans in a row, trying to reverse the negativity.
Skaters were superstitious. I was more superstitious than most, but I also didn’t like to take a chance on something like bad energy. I needed all my luck around me for the next two months.
Ty banged on my door again, and I set my phone down and went to answer it. I’d kept the door shut all afternoon, needing to unwind from the horrible meeting. One of the cameramen told me that we could be filmed anywhere in the house except for in our bedrooms, so I’d more or less hidden there. Like a coward. But I didn’t have to be ‘on’ until tomorrow morning, so I’d save my mental fortitude for then. I had a feeling I’d need every ounce of patience possible.
I opened my door and a crack and gave Ty a cross look. “There a problem?” Sure enough, there was a camera hovering over his shoulder.
He looked pissed. His eyes were narrowed and he held a bottle of beer in his hand. Likely a warm beer. “Yeah, there’s a problem. What did you do?”
“Do?” I blinked my eyes innocently.
“My beer’s hot. The entire fridge is fucked. What did you do?”
I ignored the question he asked me and posed one of my own. “You’re an athlete, right? You shouldn’t drink beer if you want to remain in top form.”
“I’m an athlete on hiatus stuck on a dumbass dancing show,” he told me, his eyes narrowed. “What did you do to my fridge?”
“Ice skating, not dancing,” I hissed at him. “And it’s still a sport.”
“Yeah. Okay.” He was clearly humoring me. He jiggled the beer in front of my face. “All I want to know is if you’re responsible for this.”
I eyed it, and then his angry Neanderthal face. Did I think his nose had been broken only twice? I’d probably sorely underestimated. And right now? I couldn’t blame those people that broke his nose. Heck, I’d be volunteering for a swipe right now myself. “If you’re going to be an athlete,” I told him, “act like one.”
His mouth tightened with fury. “So it was you—”
I slammed my door shut in his face.
Silence. I cringed, expecting to hear a roar of rage. Maybe he’d scream names at me through the door. Something. He didn’t seem like the type that could hold his temper. And they were filming, which wasn’t great.
“You and I need to have a talk,” he said through the door.
I ignored him.
“Fine then,” he said after a long, long moment, voice surprisingly calm. “You’ve got to come out of there sometime to eat.”
I sat down on my bed, cross legged, and pulled a box of organic granola bars off of my nightstand. I peeled one open and began to eat. I actually didn’t have to leave my room. My bathroom was attached to my bedroom, and I’d brought in bottles of water and snacks so I could deliberately hide away all evening. I peeled a bar open, feeling pretty pleased with myself.
“So you ignoring me?” he asked.
I said nothing. He wanted to be childish? I could be childish too. Just watch me.
“All right then. Since you don’t plan on answering, or coming out so we can talk about this shit, I’ll just use your fridge. Problem solved.”
I made a face at the door as he stomped away. It was going to be a long eight weeks.