Lauren sat in the icy bleachers, cheering her nine year old daughter on. Clapping after every good attempt at a new jump. Each time Erin landed on the hard ice Lauren felt her muscles tense and she winced in pain. Erin was a beautiful figure skater, fast tracked at the age of five. What was supposed to be a summer camp experience at the age of four turned into a twenty thousand dollar a year career. Erin pronounced that she was going to be at the Olympics in 2010 and Nationals much earlier than that. Lauren held her breath as she watched Erin make yet another attempt at her double toe jump. Erin flew effortlessly into the air and by all accounts the jump looked to be perfect until she landed on the ice. Her tiny ankle twisted just enough to sprawl the waif of a child across the ice. Lauren covered her eyes, waited for the crying that did not occur. Erin slapped the ice in frustration, stood up and glanced at her mother to judge her reaction. She shrugged with a big smile which was her way of telling Lauren, I am not going to quit. I will land it!
"She's a tough little thing now, isn't she?" Kendrick Larsen's jovial voice interrupted Lauren's negative thoughts. She had been second guessing her decision to continue to let her little girl put herself through what she had considered to be torture. Lauren shrugged in response to Kendrick's observations.
"She sure loves skating, but I can't stand watching her fall so hard. I am so afraid she is going to break her arm again." Erin had broke her arm in a fall last summer at skating camp. Since then Erin worried everyday that the tiny little girl would suffer a more serious injury, or worse yet, hit her head just wrong and suffer a life threatening head injury.
"Erin is fine. She's an incredible little skater, pretty little thing too. She'll make it to the big time, sure enough." Kendrick handed her a hot chocolate he had picked up at the donut shop. "Lysie's no star, but I still get a thrill out of watching her skate." He was referring to his teenage daughter Lysie. She had breathtaking blue green eyes, the kind that could entice a yes out of any one of her parents, regardless of what she had asked for. Lysie was tall, pretty, and had a great attitude, but no natural talent. Not like Erin.
"She is persistent," Lauren agreed. Just like her dad. She thought to herself with a small smile she tried to hide from Kendrick. He had been persuing her with a great fierceness over the past month. Several invitations to supper, a movie, or just a hot chocolate like today. Lauren had only been seperated from her husband for three months, and did not feel prepared to start another relationship. At the moment her children were the most important part of her life and after the terrible break up with her husband, she felt like she would never trust another man.
Over the next month, Kendrick made it his mission to treat Lauren as she had never been before. He was determined to win her affections. Kendrick appeared to be the perfect man, a dream come true. He was supportive, friendly, fun, attractive, caring, and good to Lauren and her children. She felt safe with him, and he was so romantic. Kendrick made Lauren feel like she was royalty. He rocked her world to put it simply, and she found herself resigning her decision to stay away from men for a very long time.
Over the next two years Kendrick stood beside Lauren while she and her ex-husband, Stephen, battled it out in and out of court. Initially Stephen had said he did not want the children, but suddenly custody of the children became a two year court battle and the whole thing was taking it's tole on Lauren's nerves. Kendrick comforted her when she hung up the phone crying, frustrated, and feeling defeated. Talking to Stephen always turned into a fight, he was so damned selfish, and threatened to stop paying her child support and alimony. Stephen disagreed with Erin's figure skating and did everything in his power to make it difficult for Lauren to keep Erin in the skating club.
"Doesn't he understand how important skating is to her?" she cried into Kendricks shoulder. They had retreated to the privacy of her bedroom to discuss the phone call. "I can't believe that he would try to take skating away from her, he is so selfish!"
"It's all about the money, you know that. He doesn't want to pay twenty thousand a year so she can skate, he just wants to buy his expensive cars and flaunt his money." Kendrick felt concern for Lauren and Erin. He believed that Erin was going to make her dreams come true. He saw that she had a natural talent, and when she competed her performances were breathtaking. The moment she stepped on the ice she transformed from a shy, frail little girl into an entertaining powerhouse and she was unbeatable. Erin was going to be a star and everyone knew it but her father. What a shame that her father is going to take it all away from her. Kendrick did not agree with what the incredibly self serving man was doing, but he needed the money and he had to stick to the plan no matter who he hurt in the process. He had to think of his future. That was all that really mattered. He had to convince Lauren that he was a dream come true, he had to win her confidence or the plan would not work. A part of him felt guilty, but fourty thousand dollars was a lot of money and it would solve all of his problems. He had no choice. He had to remember that this woman would only use him and hurt him too, just like all the others. He had to forget the feelings she brought out in him. He could not fall in love with her, never.