Chapter Three

On the bus, heading to Edmonton. The bus rides were always the same, Jason thought to himself with an eerie sense of deja vu. Shelly and Tara, sitting near the front, catching up on homework; Kayla staring dreamily out a window, journal in hand; the Russians taking up a good chunk of the middle, with Elena commanding most of the attention, as usual; Dave, Phil, Kirsten, and a few others playing cards, and others sleeping or sitting quietly near the back.

He was part of the quiet gang on this particular ride, just watching the road roll by as his partner slept beside him. Ever since the tour had begun, they’d avoided each other in public as much as possible, but they’d figured one bus ride couldn’t hurt. After all, they were partners...

Elizabeth Chatingneau was another member of the group at the back of the bus. She was thinking... or worrying, actually. She looked across the aisle at Isabella, sound asleep, her head resting against her partner’s shoulder, and shook her head. There wasdefinitely something going on with that girl. Belle hadn’t been herself ever since the tour had begun, and as her friend, Elizabeth was concerned. She was usually so bright and upbeat, always smiling, always talking. Not this time. The Belle on this tour was quieter,seemed troubled, was trying too hard to appear like her normal self. The act was working on most of her tour mates, but Elizabeth knew better. There was something wrong... but what?

Sitting behind Elizabeth, Wing-Yee Chen had problems of her own. Here she was, in North America again, away from the watchful eyes of her federation... for a few weeks. Then what? Back to China, back under the prying eyes, back where she couldn’t goanywhere, couldn’t do anything, without approval. She sighed heavily. What was the use? What was the use of everything she’d done if it couldn’t get her what she wanted? What she wanted was to stay in North America, right where she was, for good. Wing-Yee had a secret that no one on the tour, not even Belle, her roommate and bestfriend, knew. It was too risky to tell. If anyone found out... if anything slipped... she knew what the consequences could be. And so she went on hugging her secret to herself, not knowing how long her happiness would last, knowing how fragile it could be...

Jason, too, was thinking about happiness, and what it meant. Here he was, with the one thing he never thought he’d have a grasp away, and he was torn up inside. Being with Belle made him feel... whole. And yet, being with her like this, having to keepsecrets, having to think twice every time he touched her, having the incredible guilt hanging over his head whenever he did ... it wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t be enough until he could be free to tell her he loved her with no restraints. He knew he should let her go, but he just couldn’t, and he knew why. She’d said she’d come back, but he was afraid... afraid if he let her go, she’d go back to Colin and remember why she was with him in the first place. She’d dismiss their connection as a silly mistake, as giving in to romantic tension, and she wouldn’t come back. He’d lose her ... and that was the one thing he feared more than anything else in the world. So he hung on...

Three people, three problems. Little did they know that soon, their problems would be more intertwined than they’d ever imagined...


Onto Chapter 4
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