Holding the Edge: Chapter One


“How nice of you to join us!”

As Misha pivoted in a crouch, spinning Kisa around in a death spiral, he craned his neck, trying to glimpse the rink entrance. The voice of the tour choreographer, Alice Jenkins, rang out again.

“You Americans, always fashionably late.”

Misha spotted a flash of Dev’s bright smile as he gave Alice a hug, and his breath caught. A moment later he was sitting on the ice with Kisa sprawled in front of him. With a curse, he quickly hauled her to her feet.

Heart thumping, he watched Dev at the other end of the rink, laughing and greeting the other skaters. Misha fought the urge to race down the ice and swing Dev off his feet. He longed to kiss and touch and breathe him into his lungs again.

With his dark skin and eyes and glossy black hair, Dev was stunning. But it was his smile—one that lit up his entire being—that had secretly drawn Misha to him for years. His joy in skating that had shone from him each time he took the ice. For so long Misha had yearned to touch him. Now to see him again after all they’d shared, he ached with it.

Kisa murmured as she brushed off her black leotard, speaking Russian as they always did when they talked only to each other. “With that face, everyone will guess very quickly.” She glanced at where the other skaters gathered. “But perhaps you are only being paranoid. If you stay away from home, what can they really do now? They are powerless. Why not just live your life?”

A lock of Kisa’s blonde hair had come loose from her ponytail, and Misha tucked it behind her ear. “You know why. You still live in Russia. My family still lives there. Until we are forgotten, it’s too much of a risk. It’s better for Dev too. Do you think he will get any more endorsements if the people know he’s gay? Let alone that he and I are…”

“What, exactly?” Kisa raised a delicately sculpted brow.

Lovers? Boyfriends? More? Less? “That we are what we are. It doesn’t matter—you know why we must keep it a secret. We may not be competing anymore, but we are still in the skating world. There are rules, even if they are not written down.”

Kisa sighed and tugged his hand. “True enough. Come, we must be polite.”

They skated over to the other side of the rink, passing rows of empty seats. The boards had been removed so chairs could be placed on ice level for the diehard fans willing to pay for them. High above, the lighting crews worked on scaffolding.

Dev, his partner Bailey, and a few other new arrivals were hugging the skaters who had been in Tokyo for two days. Dev’s back was turned as he greeted Hanako Hirano, the young Japanese woman who was the Olympic gold medalist. Dev’s hoodie stretched across his back, and his jeans clung to his lean, muscular legs.

To not be able to touch Dev and hold him close was a physical ache in Misha’s chest. Dev’s black curls had been cropped close, and Misha clenched his hands so he wouldn’t unthinkingly reach out. He and Kisa waited on the outskirts of the group.

Bailey’s fiery hair was pulled up under a baseball cap, and there were visible circles under her eyes. She and the other new arrivals stood by the edge of the ice in their sneakers. “I just want to note that your Canadians Brad and Ari are late too, Alice! It’s not our fault that hurricane delayed our flight for two days. Or was it a cyclone? And what’s the difference, anyway?”

“I think it’s the same thing?” Brad Chang, an ice dancer and new Olympic champion, frowned at his partner. “Ari, didn’t you see something on Discovery about that?”

Ariane Gagnon rubbed a hand over her face. Her brown hair was lank around her face. “I dunno. I barely remember my own name right now.” She muttered something in French.

Chuckling, Brad slung his arm around her shoulders. Like most ice dancers, they were only a few inches apart in height. “Alice, I think we need some coffee, stat.” He glanced over at Misha and Kisa. “Hey, guys!”

All eyes turned to them, and the crowd parted so they could skate to the end of the ice. Brad was holding up his hand, and Misha slapped it before they hugged. He gave Ariane a peck on the cheek and turned to Dev and Bailey. He met Dev’s gaze and immediately glanced away, his stomach somersaulting and groin tightening.

Bailey smiled and waved awkwardly in the sudden silence. “Hi, Mikhail. Kisa. Great to see you.”

Misha didn’t think he could bear to touch Dev at all in front of the dozen or so people. He nodded, lifting his lips in a brief smile. “Hello.”

Kisa nodded as well.

Alice cleared her throat. “Okay, so time to get back to practice. Scott, Dev, Bailey, Brad, and Ariane, I wish we had time for you guys to shower and nap, but the first show is tomorrow night, and I don’t have to tell you expectations from this audience will be high. I need everyone on their game. I’ve got enough gray hair already. We’re all going to work together as a team, right?”

They all nodded, and Brad grinned. “Alice, do you actually have any hair that isn’t already gray?”

With a fake scowl, Alice skated to center ice with elegant strides. At almost sixty, she was still a graceful and long-legged skater, her silver hair pulled back in a knot. A seven-time Canadian pairs champion and two-time world champion, she had been one of the top choreographers in the world for years. Misha did enjoy working with her—even if he’d rather not be skating at all.

“Newcomers get changed. Everyone else over here. You’re going to show them what we’ve worked on so far, and then they can join in.”

As the afternoon wore on, Misha tried to concentrate. Learning group numbers was part of doing any tour, and he could pick up the moves in his sleep. He went through the motions, watching Dev from the corner of his eye, remembering their last real conversation a few days ago. Like most of their phone calls since they left LA, it had ended with Misha on his back in bed, stroking himself, his phone tucked between his cheek and shoulder.

 “I can’t wait to touch you again. I’m going to fuck your ass so hard you won’t be able to sit down for a week.”

Misha groaned. “Da. I want it so much.”

“What do you want? Tell me.”

“Your cock. Inside me. Coming inside me. Filling me up until it’s dripping out of me.”

Dev’s breathing hitched. “Yeah. I’m going to fuck you raw, and you’re going to love it. I bet your legs are spread so wide right now. Are you fucking yourself yet?”

Misha sucked his finger loudly and reached down to push at his hole. “I am now.”

Dev panted harshly. “You love it, don’t you? We need to Skype so I can see you. God, I miss you so much. Fuck, I’m coming—inside you, all over you—”

“Mikhail!” Alice’s voice vibrated with tension.

Blinking, Misha realized all eyes were on him and that Kisa was pulling his hand. She glared up at him before smiling at Alice.

“Please forgive. He is not feeling well. He didn’t want to cause a fuss, but he feels cold coming on. He took some medicine, and now his brain is very…fuzzy, I think you would say? Do not worry. We will be ready for the show.”

Alice nodded. “I know you will. You’re not Olympic champions for nothing. All right, everyone take ten, and we’re going from the top.”

Most of the skaters put on their plastic guards over their blades and clomped to the backstage area, eagerly reaching for their phones and flopping down on couches. While Kisa tapped away, Misha perched on the arm of the couch beside her, knowing it was a terrible idea to text Dev in front of everyone.

Dev and Bailey trailed in, still talking about their part in the opening number.

American women’s champion Hallie Mitchell glanced up from her phone. “Hey, Dev. A little birdie told me you might be working in LA with Farley Clark after the summer.”

Dev swigged from a bottle of water. “Yeah, I might help out a bit. See how it goes.”

At the thought of being back in LA with Dev, in a house together on the beach far away from anyone who knew them, Misha couldn’t hide his smile.

“But the weird thing is that I heard Mikhail was the one who set it up or something.”

Misha’s smile vanished as all eyes swung to him. He shrugged. “They wanted me, but I am not interested. They asked who I thought might be. I gave a few names. That is all.”

Before Hallie could ask anything else, Zoloto raced toward him, shaking off rain. Her wrinkled and droopy French bulldog face made her look quite sad, while really she was the happiest little dog he’d ever known. She was almost all white, and Misha bent to scratch behind her pink ears, smiling at the PA who’d been tasked with minding her. “I hope she has been a very good girl?”

The young man nodded vigorously, and Misha was sure that even if Zoloto had pissed over everything, the boy would never say a word. Zoloto suddenly barked excitedly and scampered off before Misha could grab her, leaping at Dev’s feet. Dev scooped her up and kissed her head.

“Hey there!” He smiled nervously. “Uh, who’s this?”

One of the other skaters laughed. “Zoloto, our tour mascot. Wow, she sure loves you at first sight!”

Dev avoided Misha’s gaze. “Isn’t she friendly with everyone?”

“Of course she is.” Kisa stood and plucked Zoloto from Dev’s arms. “Aren’t you, sladenkaya.” She passed her back to Misha.

A few of the skaters exchanged glances, and Bailey spoke up. “Okay, if I don’t get another caffeine infusion, I’m going to face-plant out there. Come on, people. Hook me up.”

Most of the skaters shuffled off toward the food table. Zoloto whined as Dev walked away.

“I know how you feel,” Misha whispered, kissing and petting her, certain this day would never end.

# # #

With a deep breath, Misha put his eye to the peephole. No movement. He listened intently. The hallway was silent.

He quickly took a last look in the mirror over the dresser, fiddling with his short brown hair where it fell a bit longer over his forehead. He’d shaved and moisturized and dressed in jeans and a simple long-sleeved T-shirt that accentuated his muscles and lean hips quite nicely he thought. He stepped back for a final look. Perhaps the purple would bring out the blue in his eyes more, although the dark brown also suited him, and—

Dostatochno!” Enough, enough, enough. He was behaving like a teenager.

As he eased open the door, Zoloto snorted, and he froze. But she slept on, and he slipped from the room. He was only a few doors down when Hanako appeared from the elevator with a soft beep and swish of doors.

She smiled brightly. “Good evening.” As always, Hanako was unfailingly polite. “How are you feel?”

Misha smiled. “Better.”

“Please tell if you need…” She paused, clearly struggling for the right English word. “Any things.” She smiled again. As the tour headliner, she went out of her way to make sure the skaters were all happy and looked after.

He held up a padded bucket. “Just getting ice. That is all.”

“Ah.” She smiled and nodded deeply. “See you tomorrow.”

He nodded back as they passed each other, and he made his way to the ice room at the end of the hall. He filled the bucket, relieved he’d thought to bring it. When he peeked out, the hall was empty. He’d passed Dev’s room on his way, and when he neared it again, the door creaked open.

Misha ducked inside, and a moment later, he was pressed back against the door, ice cubes scattered over the plush carpet as he and Dev kissed. Dev was already naked, and Misha touched him greedily, hands roving as he groaned. “Oh God. A month is too long, Vassenka.”

Dev sucked on Misha’s neck, his light beard scratching wonderfully against Misha’s skin. He muttered as he yanked on Misha’s T-shirt. “I don’t know what that means, but it’s been an eternity. Thirty-three days, to be exact.”

All Misha could do was moan as they stumbled to the bed and got rid of his clothes. He bit his lip, the feel of their already-fevered skin sliding together making him want to scream the hotel down. Dev’s hair was still wet from a shower, and Misha gripped his damp curls as Dev sucked his nipples and rolled on top of him.

Rutting together like boys, they gasped, hard and leaking. “It was the worst practice ever. All day I longed to feel you,” Misha mumbled. “I could not think of anything else.”

“Me either.” Dev gripped Misha’s hips and thrust against him. “I need you so bad. God, I missed the taste of you.” He licked at the hollow of Misha’s throat.

Misha wanted Dev inside him already, but he was too desperate to deal with lube and a condom. He kissed Dev deeply, their tongues stroking. “Come all over me.”

Above him, Dev’s eyes darkened, his nostrils flaring. “You want that?”

Da, pozhaluysta. Please. Hurry.” Misha gasped out the words.

Dev pressed himself up on one arm so he could reach for his cock. Misha watched as the head disappeared into Dev’s fist, the foreskin pulled back. Dev’s body strained as he jerked himself roughly, his nipples hard, muscles straining.

Krasavetcs. Beautiful. I want to look at you forever.” Misha ran his hands over Dev’s trembling shoulders.

Breathing loudly in the stillness of the room, Dev worked himself. “Won’t take long,” he muttered. “Been half hard all day. Fuck, it’s so good to see you, Misha.”

“Oh yes. That’s it.” He could watch Dev for hours but didn’t want to wait tonight. “Are you going to come for me?”

“Yes!” Dev shuddered as he spurted. He striped Misha’s chest and belly and then aimed for his face with jerks of his thick cock.

Misha flicked out his tongue to lick up the pearly drops near his mouth and on his chin, savoring the musky flavor. He swiped his cheek with his finger and sucked it clean.

Pupils blown, Dev leaned down to kiss him messily. Then he crawled down the bed and swallowed Misha’s red, straining cock. Misha spread his legs farther and watched as Dev’s cheeks hollowed, his lips stretched. Misha couldn’t stop himself from lifting his hips, and Dev held him down, sucking harder.

He didn’t stop sucking as he reached behind Misha’s balls to tease at his hole. The feel of Dev touching him there again was all it took, and Misha pulled on Dev’s hair until Dev popped off. Misha’s cock slapped against Dev’s chin, and he took hold of his shaft as his orgasm tore through him.

Dev opened his mouth, and Misha aimed for it, splashing Dev’s cheeks and up onto his forehead, his milky cum pale on Dev’s skin. They were marking each other like animals, and it made Misha come so hard. Dev’s eyes were closed, and he swallowed every drop he managed to catch.

Then they were kissing again, and the taste of them both mixed on their tongues. They were sticky and sweaty and together, and Misha had never been happier as he licked Dev’s face clean. Dev ran his fingers through the mess on Misha’s belly and wiped it over the lines of the tattoo on Misha’s hip. Carefully, Dev traced the eagle’s wings with his spunk before following with his tongue as Misha shuddered.

Breathing heavily, Dev finally flopped onto his back. “You’re the best jet-lag remedy ever. You should bottle that. Although no, on second thought, I want it all for myself.” He idly caressed Misha’s thigh. “God, you’re amazing.”

Misha shrugged and tried not to smile. “Yes. This is true.”

“And as modest as ever.” Dev laughed before yawning widely.

“You are tired.” Misha curled on his side, sliding his leg over Dev’s. Drawing his fingertips over the hair on Dev’s chest, he kissed his shoulder. “Perhaps we should have waited. It will be a long day tomorrow.”

Eyes drifting shut, Dev shook his head. “No way. I waited long enough to have you again. No one else even comes close.”

Misha’s heart skipped a beat, and his hand froze on Dev’s chest. The question came out before he could stop himself. “Have there been others since I saw you?” His stomach clenched at the thought.

Dev’s eyes snapped open. “What? No, of course not.” Hurt flickered across his face. “Have you…?”

“No.” They were both rigid, and Misha soothed his hand over Dev’s chest, breathing deeply. He leaned over and kissed Dev softly. “There is only you.”

With a long exhale, Dev relaxed. “Good.” He rubbed their noses together. “I guess we should have talked about that, huh? I just figured we were on the same page.”

“Yes. The same page. The same sentence, I think.”

“Same word.” Dev grinned before his smile faded. “Hey, you didn’t bring Zoloto. I miss her.”

“Sorry, but tonight you are all mine, Vassenka.”

Dev nuzzled Misha’s cheek. “Tell me what that means.”

“It does not mean a thing, really. We do not have your name in Russian. But Devassy, it is a little like Vasiliy or Vassya, so…Vassenka. My little name for you.” He kissed Dev lightly. “If you do not like it, I will stop.”

“No, no. I like it. I like it a lot.” He smiled. “Just as long as you’re not secretly calling me an asshole.”

“Never. Well, perhaps from time to time.”

They laughed, and Dev rubbed his calf against Misha’s leg. Misha played with the hair on Dev’s chest. “Do you ever wear your tiny elephant?”

“After Worlds, I gave it to my mom. She was worried about some tests the doctor did, and I told her that little jade necklace would be her good-luck charm too.”

“Tests? You did not mention this.” Misha frowned. “Is everything all right?”

“Absolutely. She passed with flying colors.” Dev smiled.

“Good, good.” Misha was relieved, but there was also a twinge of sadness that Dev hadn’t told him about it. But why should he? She was fine, and there was no reason Dev should tell him every small thing.

“I’m so glad I’m finally here. Damn hurricane.”

“I checked the weather so often Kisa threatened to take away my phone.” Misha’s chest was sticky but he liked the sensation as it tightened on his skin. “I am very happy now. The whole summer we shall be together. And fall and winter and spring.”

Dev ran his fingers over Misha’s arm where it lay across his waist. “It’s weird, isn’t it? Not going back to training? Usually after Stars on Ice, it would be a week of vacation and then back to the rink. Meeting with the choreographers for new programs. Seamstress for new costumes. Then work, work, work to get ready for the fall. It’s going to be so strange not to be at Skate America this year.”

“It is finally over.” Misha sighed with a smile.

Dev shifted onto his side facing Misha. “You sound so glad. Won’t you miss it at all?”

“I would much rather be here in your bed than on the rink in Moscow.”

With a chuckle, Dev kissed him. “Duh. But sometimes I still can’t believe it’s all over.” His smile faded. “I know it’s different for you. Now you can leave Russia.” He caressed Misha’s cheek. “They can’t control you anymore.”

His chest tightened. “I hope they will not try now that we have given them gold. My family tells me not to worry about them, but things have become worse. Many arrests. Threats. Intimidation. The government says it is all to protect children, but they lie.”

“I’m so glad you left.” Dev exhaled sharply. “God, it’s so horrible what’s happening over there.”

“They were very angry when I refused to do a Russian tour. We said we had already committed to other tours. It was true enough. I hope that before long, they will forget about me. As long as I stay out of the papers, they should. There will be more skaters for them to control.”

Dev grimaced. “Yeah. I think it’s best if no one finds out about us for the time being. Best for Bailey and Kisa too. We have to think of them. The illusion of romance is part of pairs skating. If people knew about us, would they still buy me and Bailey skating to some Celine Dion love song? We all need to make money doing shows while we can. Never know when the offers will dry up. There’s no pro circuit the way there used to be. And you know how gossip spreads like a rash in skating. It’s better to fly under the radar. Not rock the boat.”

It was, although Misha wished it could be different. “What about your family?”

Dev rolled away and stared at the ceiling. “I haven’t told them yet. I just—they’re okay with me being gay. They are. But I’ve never really been serious about anyone, and I think that’s made it easier for them. You know what I mean? Like, it’s easier to accept that I’m gay in theory as opposed to reality. My mom has tried to set me up with guys, but she knows I won’t do blind dates, so it’s safe. I worry about how my parents will react if I…” He looked at Misha. “If we…”

Misha nodded. “Right now, it can be our secret, yes? Let us see how we feel after the summer.” He ran his thumb over Dev’s lower lip. “Part of me wishes I could scream from the rooftops how I care for you.” He chuckled. “Everyone would be very shocked, I think. They believe we hate each other very much.”

“They definitely do.” Dev laughed. “In the shuttle to the hotel tonight, Brad was all, ‘Wow, those Russians haven’t thawed out, huh?’” He traced the contours of Misha’s face with his fingertip. “If only he knew how hot you are. How passionate.”

Desire sparked in Misha’s belly, and Dev’s light touch sent a shiver down his spine. “It is enough that you know. It is just ours for now. Well, and Kisa and Bailey. And Zoloto. No one else needs to know until we decide.”

Dev’s lips quirked up. “I’m just imagining the looks on people’s faces. I think the Feds would have a group heart attack. By the way, they tried to convince me and Bailey to un-retire. Sue Stabler was at her most charming and persuasive when she came to see us on Stars on Ice.”

Misha’s breath caught. “Your federation wants you to continue?” A barrage of thoughts tumbled through his mind. Dev moving back to Colorado Springs to train. Traveling around the world to compete. Misha only seeing him a few times a year. No, no, no.

“Hey, hey.” Dev held Misha closer. “It’s okay. Bailey and I are done. We decided that last year. We’re going to do shows and get all the money we can before America forgets about us. And we’re going to enjoy the hell out of not being up at five a.m. every day to train.”

With an exhale, Misha relaxed again. “Okay.”

“We get to travel Asia together all summer, and then we’ll find a house right by the water in LA. I loved that one rental listing you e-mailed.” His eyelids drooped. “Looks perfect.”

“I thought so also.” Misha smiled.

Dev’s eyes closed. “Mmm.”

“Comfortable?” Misha pulled the thick covers over them.

“Uh-huh. I think…” Dev trailed off, his lips parting.

Misha kissed Dev’s forehead. “I think you sleep now.”

For a long while, he closed his eyes and listened to Dev’s soft snores. He knew he had to return to his own room and that they would be together again the next night. And the next and the next and the next. But he snuggled in closer. Soon he would go, but not just yet.

Copyright © Keira Andrews

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