Gold medalist, Peter Stanmore has returned home a broken man and intends to put the past behind him. But love isn't so easily repressed, and second chances are rare.
Jill Davenport has given up any hope of marriage and a life of her own, after all, years ago, she lost the only man she ever loved. But the truth is impossible to hide.
When secrets are revealed, decisions must be made in spite of the consequences. Can what was once lost be found, or is love destined to remain forever lost?
Peter Stanmore stood on the Olympic podium, the men’s figure skating gold medal surprisingly heavy around his neck. From the speakers to one side of the ice rink, the United Kingdom national anthem played while the Union Flag fluttered over his head. This is for you, Mum and Dad. Tears pricked his eyes as he sang along. He’d watched ceremonies like this before and couldn’t believe the number of athletes who shed tears during them, yet here he was doing the very same thing. Crying and smiling with overwhelming happiness and at the same time, in awe of what he’d just done.
It had to be the pinnacle of his career. Proof, if proof were needed, that God honors those who honor Him.
Peter had made a concerted effort never to compete on a Sunday, which resulted in him being dropped from teams or not even selected. Sundays were for God, not for skating and definitely not for competitions. And it seemed his faith and determination were now paying off. Just as it had for Eric Liddell decades before him.
Peter finally had the medal he’d craved, without having to compromise either his beliefs or his promise to the Lord along the way.
And the glory went to God, not him.
He waved as the anthem ended and posed for photos with the other medalists, including the obligatory kissing-the-medal picture that he’d never seen the point of before and still didn’t now. As the cameras flashed around him, the ‘if onlys’ began to filter through his mind.
If only things were different.
If only Mum and Dad were here. His heart broke that they weren’t here to share it with him. An accident had ripped his family apart just months before the Olympics, taking his parents from him and leaving him alone. He hoped that somehow they were watching him from heaven and shared in the mixed emotions that filled him.
If only Jill had been here to collect it with him.
His career had begun in pairs skating. He and Jill worked their way up to the nationals and just as they were about to make it big, he’d messed up completely. As a result he’d made a career decision he now wished desperately he could undo. He’d allowed himself to be persuaded the right hand path was better than the left. That meant leaving Jill behind, a decision he’d regretted every moment of every day since.
This should have been both of them, not just him. He needed to call her, to put things right, to try to atone.
Three hours later, he sat on the couch in the team hotel still trying to pluck up the courage to call Jill.
Winston Brown, one of the bobsleigh team, nudged him. “Hey, a bunch of us are going to celebrate your win with a bottle of soda and a game of darts. Coming?”
“Sure, why not.” He grabbed his coat and followed them outside. It was snowing again and the wind turned the heavy flakes into a blizzard. As Peter stepped out onto the wooden decking, his foot slipped on the ice beneath him sending him flying to the floor. His ankle snapped with an audible crack as he landed.
Pain ricocheted as stars danced in front of his vision. For a long moment he wasn’t sure if he would throw up or pass out. Either way, nothing made much sense. He closed his eyes, hoping the pain would just go away.
Sometime later he opened his eyes to find a doctor wearing surgical scrubs beside his bed. He remembered falling and vaguely remembered an ambulance, but that could have been a dream. The smell told him he was in hospital, and he was definitely awake. Wide awake. He glanced down at his legs, but his vision was obscured by a screen. His stomach plummeted. “Doctor, what have I done? And please, don’t sugarcoat it with platitudes. I need to know.”
“OK, Mr. Stanmore. When you fell, you shattered your ankle. So we had to operate to screw your ankle back together. The metal pins will need a mention in your passport—I’ll give you a letter for that. You’ll be able to walk, possibly without a limp eventually, but I’m afraid your competing days are over. Your ankle just won’t take the strain of the jumps and turns.”
The bottom fell out of his world. The irony was not lost on him.
Only a few hours ago, he’d been on top of the world, literally. Now, he was at his lowest ebb. As the doctor left, Peter closed his eyes as the words of Psalm 31 filled his mind.
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.
Jill Davenport picked up the local paper and put it on her mother’s tray. Despite it being the previous day’s news, her mother liked reading it over breakfast. Not that she remembered what she’d read, but it gave her something to do for a while. The headlines were once more dominated by the victorious Olympic team who, having won more medals at a Winter Games than any previous British team, had visited both Downing Street and Buckingham Palace yesterday.
In the middle of the picture stood Peter Stanmore—the kid next door who grew up to be a friend, then more than a friend, and a skating partner…until the lights of stardom called him away, leaving her behind.