"The time between meeting and finally leaving 
Is sometimes called falling in love
The time between meeting and finally leaving 
Is sometimes called falling in love..."

Falling in Love ~ Lisa Loeb

April, the next year.
Lake Placid, NY...

“They’re here!” Wing-Yee nudged Mark excitedly and pointed into the distance. It was April again... a year had passed, and once again, the skaters were gathering in Lake Placid to get ready for the Spring/Summer leg of the tour.

“Wing-Yee!” Belle dropped her partner’s hand, and her bags, and rushed towards her friend. Jason smiled and resignedly picked up her bags and joined her at a slower pace.

“We’ve been waiting for ages,” Wing-Yee informed her friend. “I thought everyone would get here before you guys! Shelly, Tanja, Reena, Kirsten and Dave, Elena and Alexei...”

“They’re all here already?” Jason interrupted, surprised.

“Yeah.” Mark looked at his girlfriend and rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “But of course, Wing-Yee insisted on us staying out here until you two got here.”

“Are Liz and Phil here yet?” Belle asked Wing-Yee. “I’ve got a surprise for you guys... something to tell you...”

“Really?” Her friend smiled from ear-to-ear. “Me, too. But I don’t think I can wait any longer... I’ve wanted to call and tell you since it happened... Oh, Belle...” Wing-Yee lifted her right hand to show her friend the glittering diamond on her ringfinger.

Belle just stared, open-mouthed, for a moment.

“What?” Wing-Yee was worried. “Belle, are you mad at me for not telling you right away? I wanted to, but...”

Before she could finish her sentence, Belle lifted a hand to wordlessly deliver her own news. The diamond-studded platinum band on her finger caught the sunlight, perfectly reflecting her own glowing mood.

Both girls just gaped at each other for a minute, and then screamed simutaneously. “Oh my God!!”

Mark and Jason watched their fiancees shrieking excitedly and exchanged a glance.

“Women,” Mark remarked, shaking his head with a laugh.

Jason started to respond, but then looked at Belle adoringly and realized Mark was looking at Wing-Yee the very same way.

“Gotta love ‘em, eh?” he replied, and both guys laughed.

“What’s all the squealing and jumping up and down about?” Elizabeth greeted, appearing on the scene.

“Liz! You’re here!” Belle and Wing-Yee both flashed their rings at their friend, giggling.

“Oh. My. God.” Elizabeth stared dazedly at both girls. “You guys... both of you... Oh my God, congratulations! When did it happen? How did it happen?”

“Last Wednesday,” Wing-Yee replied, while, “Yesterday,” Belle answered at the same time.

Yesterday?!” Wing-Yee exclaimed. “Okay, Belle, you go first.”

“Yesterday, we were at home, doing last minute packing and stuff,” Belle began. “And we were talking about the tour, and how excited we were, and all that... and I knew we were both remembering last year...”

“Last year...” Wing-Yee echoed with a sigh. “Let’s not talk about last year. Anyway, go on.”

“Then Jason got all quiet,” Belle continued. “And he said, ‘Belle, do you remember where we were on this day last year?’ And I thought about it, and...”

“The first kiss?” Elizabeth guessed.

“Close.” Belle blushed.

“Ah.” Elizabeth grinned. “The first night. I see.”

“Anyways,” Belle went on hurriedly. “Then he reminded me of something we’d promised each other last year... that everything that started out wrong, we were going to erase, make it right. And he didn’t want us to always remember April 24th as the day when... just not remember tears and hiding and all the horrible stuff that happened... so he said, ‘Belle, let’s erase that, and remember today as something else’... and he gave me the ring.”

Both her friends sighed happily.

“God, that is too romantic for words,” Wing-Yee remarked. “And then?”

Belle made a face. “I can’t believe I did this, guys... I always swore I wouldn’t, but...”

“You cried,” Elizabeth finished for her.

Belle nodded, abashed.

“Oh, well, now I don’t feel so embarrassed,” Wing-Yee laughed. “So did I.”

“Trust me, guys,” Elizabeth told them knowingly. “For someone who’s been there, done that, let me tell you, it happens to everyone.”

“I tried so hard not to,” Wing-Yee admitted. “But even though my story isn’t as romantic as yours, Belle, I couldn’t help it.”

“So?” Belle realized that Jason, Mark, and Phil were standing there surrounded by bags, and were pointedly looking towards the entrance. “Oh. C’mon, guys, we’d better follow them in.” She shook her head and the guys, then leaned over and kissed herpartner. “All right, all right, we’re coming.”

They all grabbed bags and made their way inside, chattering the whole way.

“So, tell all,” Belle ordered Wing-Yee.

“Okay.” Her friend smile, remembering. “Wednesday evening, we were out walking by the lake, and all of a sudden, it started raining. And I don’t mean drizzling - I mean pouring rain. Luckily, Mark had an umbrella, so we’re huddled under this oneumbrella, running to get out of the rain... Suddenly, Mark just sort of dropped the umbrella and said to himself, ‘Why did this have to happen now?’ And I was all confused, and I asked him why, and he just sort of said, ‘I wanted to ask you something, but...’”

“ ‘... but now everything’s ruined’,” Mark finished, shaking his head with a rueful smile as the guys joined the conversation. “Here we were, absolutely drenched with rain, and I felt like a total fool, but I had to get it out... I’d already waited so long ... and so I asked her.”

“And I just sort of stood there, dripping with rain, and I was trying so hard not to cry, but then I did cry...” Wing-Yee reminisced.

“But not before she said yes,” Mark smiled, squeezing his fiancee’s hand.

“Belle here cried before she said yes,” Jason informed the others, slipping an arm around his partner’s shoulders. “I finally managed to ask her - God, I thought I’d never get it out - and she just stared at me, and the next thing I knew she was crying.”

“But I did manage to get a yes out,” Belle reminded him. He stared to say something, but she hushed him with a playful slap. “No matter how incoherent I was,Jay, dear.”

They all laughed.

“You guys have to be my maids of honour,” Belle told her two best friends. “Well, maid and matron of honour, I guess, since Liz is married...”

“Ugh.” Elizabeth made a face. “Matron of honour. I hate that term, it sounds so frumpy.”

“Maid, matron, be whatever you want!” Belle laughed. “As long as you say okay.”

“Of course we’ll say okay!” Wing-Yee exclaimed. “Only you have to reciprocate, Belle.”

“I will.” All three girls hugged.

“This year’s tour is definitely starting out a hell of a lot better than last year,” Wing-Yee remarked.

Belle just sighed.

Elizabeth looked at her worriedly. “Belle?”

“I notice one thing right away,” she said quietly. “Colin’s not on tour this year.”

Elizabeth nodded slowly. “I guess I was sort of hoping you hadn’t noticed.”

“Last year didn’t just disappear,” Belle replied. “Some things still linger. Some things will always linger...”

“Tell me about it,” Wing-Yee agreed sadly. “Do you know I haven’t seen my parents since this time last year? And I don’t know if I will be able to any time soon. It’s too much of a risk, for them and for me... I might pretend it’s all over, but they are still watching me.”

“And Colin is still avoiding me,” Belle added. “I know it’s not just a big coincidence that he’s not on tour this year... or that he hasn’t been at a single show orappearance he knew Jason and I would be at... He’s still mad. I don’t blame him, but I guess I wished...”

“There’s always going to be something that doesn’t go right, Belle,” Elizabeth reassured gently. “And maybe someday he’ll get totally over it. I heard...” She trailed off.

“Heard what?” Belle inquired.

Her friend shifted awkwardly. “Um... nothing. Just that ...”

“He’s seeing someone new,” Belle guessed.

Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah.”

“I’m glad,” Belle said softly. Her friends looked at her intently, trying to find any hints of insincerity in her comment. “Seriously, guys, I am glad. I hope he’ll be happy.” She looked over to the elevator, where the guys stood waiting for them, and saw her partner - now fiance - smile at her. She returned the smile. “I know I’m happy.”

“Me, too,” Wing-Yee put in.

“And I’m happy that you guys are happy,” Elizabeth laughed. “C’mon, guys... let’s go!”

The End
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