So here's the relatively innocuous beginning to my story "The Outside Edge." Things get much more edgy later, for good reasons, and there's a romantic element as well, enough that it was reprinted in Best Lesbian Romance 2010.
The Outside Edge
Suli was fire and wine, gold and scarlet, lighting up the dim passageway where we waited.
I leaned closer to adjust her Spanish tortoiseshell comb. A cascade of dark curls brushed my face, shooting sparks all the way down to my toes, but even a swift, tender kiss on her neck would be too risky. I might not be able to resist pressing hard enough to leave a dramatic visual effect the TV cameras couldn’t miss.
Tenderness wasn’t what she needed right now, and neither was passion. An edgy outlet for nervous energy would be more like it. “Skate a clean program,” I murmured in her ear, “and maybe I’ll let you get dirty tonight.” My arm across her shoulders might have looked locker-room casual, but the look she shot me had nothing to do with team spirit.
“Maybe, Jude? You think maybe you’ll let me?” She tossed her head. Smoldering eyes, made even brighter and larger by theatrical makeup, told me that I’d need to eat my words later before my mouth could move on to anything more appealing.
The other pairs were already warming up. Suli followed Tim into the arena, her short scarlet skirt flipping up oh-so-accidentally to reveal her firm, sweet ass. She wriggled, daring me to give it an encouraging slap, knowing all too well what the rear view of a scantily clad girl does for me.
I followed into the stadium and watched the action from just outside the barrier. As Suli and Tim moved onto the ice, the general uproar intensified. Their groupies had staked a claim near one end, and a small cadre of my own fans were camped out nearby, having figured out over the competition season that something was up between us. Either they’d done some discreet stalking, or relied on the same gaydar that had told them so much about me even before I’d fully understood it myself. Probably both.
Being gay wasn’t, in itself, a career-buster these days. Sure, the rumormongers were eternally speculating about the men in their sequined outfits, but the skating community was united in a compact never to tell, and the media agreed tacitly never to ask. A rumor of girl-on-girl sex would probably do nothing more than inspire some fan fiction in certain blogging communities. That didn’t mean there weren’t still lines you couldn’t cross in public, especially in performance—lines I was determined, with increasing urgency, to cross once and for all.
But I didn’t want to bring Suli down if I fell. That discussion was something we kept avoiding, and whenever I tried to edge toward it she’d distract me in ways I couldn’t resist.
Suli’s the best, I thought now in the stadium, watching her practice faultless jumps with Tim. You’d never guess what she’d been doing last night with me, while the other skaters were preparing for the performance of their lives with more restful rituals. She’d already set records in pairs skating, and next year, at my urging, she was going to go solo. It was a good thing I wouldn’t be competing against her.
I won’t be competing against anybody, I thought, my mind wandering as the warm-up period dragged on.
It had taken me long enough to work it out, focusing on my skating for so many years, but the more I appreciated the female curves inside those scanty, seductive costumes, the less comfortable I was wearing them. Cute girls in skimpy outfits were just fine with me—bodies arched in laybacks, or racing backward, glutes tensed and pumping, filmy fabric fluttering in the breeze like flower petals waving to the hungry bees—but I’d rather see than be one.
I’d have quit mainstream competition if they hadn’t changed the rules to allow long-legged “unitards” instead of dresses. That concession wasn’t enough to make me feel really comfortable, though, and I knew my coach was right that some judges would hold it against me if I didn’t wear a skirt at least once in a while. This year I’d alternated animal-striped unitards with a Scottish outfit just long enough to preserve the mystery of what a Scotsman wears under his kilt, assuming that he isn’t doing much in the way of spins or jumps or spirals. I knew this for certain, having experimented in solitary practice with my own sturdy six inches of silicon pride.
So why not just switch to the Gay Games? Or follow Rudy Galindo and Surya Bonaly to guest appearances on SkateOut’s Cabaret on Ice?
If you have a shot at the Olympics, the Olympics are where you go, that’s why. Or so I’d thought. But I was only in fifth place after the short program—maybe one or two of the judges weren’t that keen on bagpipe music—and a medal was too long a shot now.
I knew, deep down, what the problem was. Johanna, the coach we shared, had urged me to study Suli’s style in hopes that some notion of elegance and grace might sink into my thick head. Suli had generously agreed to try to give me at least a trace of an artistic clue. But the closer we became, the more I’d rebelled against faking a feminine grace and elegance that were so naturally hers, and so unnatural for me.
This would be my last competition, no matter what. Maybe I’d get a pro gig with a major ice show, maybe I wouldn’t. If I did, it would be on my own terms. “As God is my witness, I’ll never be girlie again!” I’d proclaimed melodramatically to Suli last night.
“Works just fine for me,” she’d said, kneeling with serene poise to take my experimental six inches between her glossy, carmined lips and deep into her velvet throat.