World of Ice
Chapter 9 – Beware, Helen of Troy
Short of pawing the ground, that guy looks just like an angered bull, mused Rick as he looked at Maddy. Rick felt like the red flag out to antagonize. Her eyes were compressed to bare slits as Maddy squinted in concentration.
Expelling a sharp hiss of breath, she shot off like a well-tuned Maserati, going from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. It was a sight to behold. Maddy skillfully maneuvered past Monster's sheer terrifying body mass – Rick would have to beef up Monster's defense, fancy letting that slip of a thing pass through. However Rick too, did not have the luxury to be impressed, as Maddy charged right towards him.
If Shorty thinks I am going to serve this match to him in a platter, he had some major rethinking coming up.
Maddy feinted left and passed the ball smoothly over to Alec. Trace immediately got himself into an unguarded position and took over the possession of the ball. Unfortunately, having anticipated that move, he was simultaneously surrounded by several Charm defenders, rendering him immobile.
Trace swiftly transferred the ball over to Maddy in an overhead lob and just as the ball left her fingers towards the hoop, Rick loomed over her. He jumped, fingertips lightly brushing the bottom of the orange globe…
For that several seconds, time was put on hold. Breaths were held and there was a muffled hush over the crowd. The ball hovered and… SCORE!! As the crowd burst wildly into cheers, a long piercing whistle rang soundly throughout the stadium, signaling the end of the match.
"We were what?!"
"One point behind Charm," Trace drawled, as he explained to Maddy for the umpteenth time that they had lost.
"Why didn't you tell me for god's sake? I could have come through with a three-pointer instead of a two!" yelled Maddy, frustration bubbling as she curbed the urge to pull her hair out of the cap just so she could yank on something.
"Hell Sis, we thought you knew. That's what that thing is for you know?" he rolled his eyes heavenward, pointing to the digital scoreboard at his back with a thumb. Maddy glanced resentfully at the enormous numbers 90:91 and scowled.
"I'm sorry for actually being so concentrated at the game to have spared any energy to notice other things," she growled. "Well, hell! What are you going to do now? Why aren't you even upset? Don't you realize? You lost! The Charm-ing idiots are never going to accept you now."
"About that… Actually while you were giving off deadly vibes and plotting to smash that scoreboard after the match, I was casually informed that this was just an initiation ceremony. So, don't take it to heart," he laughed and patted her head.
Maddy's head snapped up, her gaze sharp as daggers. The hand that was patting her head retracted almost instantly.
"Just an initiation…? Don't take it to heart…?" Her eyes narrowed dangerously as Trace help up both his hands in defense and took a step backwards.
"Do you think I have so much time to fling around? Do you think I like dressing up like a bumbling idiot drowned in his own clothes? Do you honestly think I like having frayed nerves for breakfast? Of course, skipping an entire morning of practice at the rink for a little casual initiation definitely doesn't cost me anything."
With every word, she poked Trace in the chest, pushing him backwards and emphasizing her anger.
"You owe me buddy and you owe me big. Let me tell you where you can shove your little prank and don't ever come running to me the next time you need someone to save your sorry hide!" Pinning Trace with a killer glare and a last stab with her finger, she turned and swept out of the stadium dramatically.
Trace was sighing and thinking about the thousand and one ways he was going to die by the ruthless hands of his sister when Rick slapped his back.
"Hey buddy. Shorty looks mad as hell."
"She… I mean, he sure is," Trace said dejectedly. "Anyway, I heard about the party tonight. Tim's place right?"
"Yes, see you there. Get Shorty to join us too. He sure deserved the celebration as well. That was hell of a shot."
"Yeah yeah. I'm sure I could persuade him," Trace mumbled, after she strangles me to appease her anger that is.
Maddy grabbed her skates and leotard and proceeded right to the ice-skating rink to vent her anger. Everybody on the rink who was near enough caught the mutterings under her breath, as she did her jumps. "Nothing better to do… idiots… initiation my ass… just you wait" Naturally, they gave her a wide berth, that girl with thunderclouds hovering over her head.
An angry female is dangerous. An angry female in skates is lethal.
Drenched in perspiration, she toweled her face dry and sat at the stands catching her breath. Checking her cell, she realized there were ten text messages and thirteen unanswered calls from the thick-headed creature named Trace whom she was unfortunately related to.
"Where are you? Don't be angry. Need to talk"
"Party tonight at one of the Charm's place. Join us. Please?"
"Seriously Sis, could you chill and pick up the damn phone?"
"I'm sorry alright? Be nice and tell me you're going. Crazy parents not home tonight."
"If you're not going, I'm staying home with you. I mean it."
Maddy groaned, her brother knew the exact buttons to push and it irritated her to no ends. As much as she would like to snub her brother and skip out on the party, she knew Trace would keep his word about staying in with her. The party was, for Trace, an important prologue that would ultimately determine the story of his Charm life. She would be really selfish to put a damper on such an important chapter.
She sighed, fluently cursing her brother in four different languages as she text a reply.
Rick was looking for Shorty and he was nowhere to be found.
The party had barely started but people were already flooding Tim's house and spilling out onto the lawn. Booze and loud music were consumed without restrains as people mingled. There were several stark evidences of half-hearted attempts to decorate the place. Across the door frame was an unappealing banner screaming "Trace! Welcome to…", a few malnutrition balloons haphazardly floating on the ceiling and leaking helium from unsecured knots. There were streamers that hung on one end, with the other flapping about in the evening breeze. It seems like the person-in-charge got lured away by the siren calls of the party that was more enticing than the laborious duty of decorating.
A sudden bout of hoots and hollers brought Rick's attention to the boisterous group at the corner of the living room. There, he saw Trace with his Charm guys, as well as the team that Trace gathered for the match this today. Everyone's gaze was riveted on Monster as he flapped his muscled arms and crooked his face into a weird contortion. It was obvious he was trying to mimic a rising comedian and everyone was thoroughly amused by his antics.
Just as Rick was about to stride over to Trace and question him the whereabouts of his illusive friend, Shorty, another picture stole his glance away. An extremely attractive girl, with a glass in her hand, was meandering through the crowd towards the kitchen. She wore a grey toga dress made of… what's that material again? Rick mentally scratched his head. Chiffon! That's it. The soft, dreamy layers of chiffon fell way above her knees and floated with a graceful swish whenever she took a step forward.
Mesmerized, Rick inhaled after realizing that he had stopped breathing, and went after her instead.
Closing her eyes, Maddy leaned against the cool marble countertop of the kitchen cabinets and sighed deeply. The party was too loud, too big and too drunk. Trace was in one of his moods and his booze consumption had been alarmingly – and annoyingly – fast. Now, not only could she not enjoy the night, she was suddenly thrust with the role of babysitting. The strong beats of the bass throbbed in sync with her head and the image of a nice quiet evening disintegrated into thin air. Involuntarily, she expelled another sigh.
Maddy's head lashed backwards as she swiveled around, towards the voice. Rick Tanner stood at the entrance of the kitchen with a boyish grin plastered on his face. She took a gulp.
"Well, I don't habitually extend help to damsels in distress, but you sighed. Twice," he held up two fingers and wiggled them. His face solemn, he declared, " That's one too many to ignore."
Maddy's lip quirked upwards even though her heart flipped crazily. Oh god. What was she suppose to say? Was she supposed to reveal her true identity this morning? Flustered, she remained silent trying to work through the mess in her head.
"So…" Rick prompted when Maddy merely stared at him without a word. "You could start by telling me your name," he walked towards her. He desperately wanted her name. Something that he could have so if she disappears, he would have an inkling as to where he might be able to find her. He wanted it so urgently because there was a kind of doe-eyed, startled look that spoke volumes about her intention to scoot. Rick wanted her name as insurance.
"Maddy!" She tore her gaze from Rick and stared behind Rick's back. To Rick's utmost shock, Trace's drunken self staggered into the kitchen and slung his arms around the shoulders of the girl he was trying so hard to know.
"Whatchya doing?" He leaned into Maddy's petite frame and landed a sloppy kiss on her head. Maddy saw Rick's expression tightened and was confused. Was Rick angry at Trace? What she did not know however, was the fact that something sank in Rick and he felt an acute jealousy and disappointment in his gut. Something he could not even explain himself. It was absurd. It was crazy. He barely knew the girl!
"Trace!" Maddy said softly but sharply. "You have to stop drinking. Let's go home." She uttered a blasphemy under her breath as Trace hobbled, unsteady on his feet. She grabbed onto his waist and tried to take his weight.
Rick appeared at the other side of Trace and easily hauled him up. Maddy looked up at him and locked gazes with him for several long seconds. "If it's not too much trouble, could you bring him over to my car?" she stammered, wondering why in the world was she so nervous. Except the fact that his stares are so hot, he is practically burning me? How he had seemed more harmless during the match, she did not know.
Rick silently nodded and guided Trace towards the carpark where Maddy had her car. After laying him out in the backseat of the Chevy, he slammed the door shut and turned to face Maddy, who had been worriedly looking out for Trace.
"You know where he stays?" He asked, knowing it was a rhetorical question. Trace was her boyfriend. She should have an idea where he lived. It would be weird if she didn't. However, her reply rendered him speechless.
"Of course, I do. We stay together," she answered him with scattered concentration as she dug through her purse for the car keys.
Hell, the muscle in Rick's cheek ticked. If they were already cohabiting, there was no way he would be able to win her over. Win… what?! Hold that thought. Was he thinking of stealing his player's girlfriend? Jesus, he must be drunk to even consider breaking the Charm's code of honor rule number one: One must never usurp his brothers' possessions. He stared at the top of Maddy's head as a thought popped into his mind.
Helen of Troy.
A/N: Well, it certainly took me a long time to write this. Honestly, there was a period of time I rather read than write. But I was really encouraged by the reviews and some of you out there. So here it is. Hopefully I'll get more reviews so I could be motivated to write the next chapter. We'll see (: