Here's chapter 2. I'm sorry for the wait but here it is. It's completely from Payson's POV.
Like always, there are phrases taken directly from the Pilot of PLL and some references to the Book 1 of the 'Pretty Little Liars' series.
P.S. Brian in this story is Payson's brother, not Emily's - obviously -, and he's not in a wheelchair.
Characters featured in this chapter in order of appearance: Payson Keeler, Mark Keeler(played by Brett Cullen), Kaylie Cruz, Kim Keeler, Emily Kmetko, Max Spencer, Steve Kmetko, Alex Cruz, Sasha Belov, Lauren Tanner, Heather Whitmore and Brian Keeler(played by Wyatt Smith).
Characters mentioned in this chapter: Regina Turner(played by Milena Govich), Coach McIntire and Kelly Parker.
A TERRIBLY UNEXPECTED SURPRISE
11 June 2011
"Why when we do our darkest deeds
Do we tell?
They burn in our brains
Become a living hell"
(The Pierces - Secret)
Payson woke up bright and early the next morning. Today she would go back to The Rock and she was more than a little nervous. Going back there, seeing her old friends again but without Kelly… she shook her head. 'Don't think about it. She's gone. You need to accept it.'
The only bright spot in being back in Colorado was her meeting with Sasha. She couldn't stop thinking about him, their kisses, the way he was holding her… it was amazing. And even better he had send her an SMS after dinner: "I miss you already. I hope to see you soon. Goodnight, Sasha". She really hoped they could organize a date soon, she wanted to spend time with him, get to know him. She had never felt a connection like this with anyone before. She didn't want to lose that.
She reached the kitchen and after having drunk her morning coffee, she was ready to face the world. It was still early and her mum wasn't up yet. She decided therefore to go for a run to pass the time. After having put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, she was about to go outside when she spotted her father going down the stairs and she froze. "Payson..." He began hesitantly. Payson looked at him, suddenly nauseous. "Don't worry Dad, I'm still keeping your secret." She told him coldly. While in England she had tried to forget what she saw and pretend that it never happened. After all they were an ocean away from her, her father wasn't able to see her anymore and everything was okay. But now, being back here, everything was rushing back to the surface. The disgust for what her father had done, the sorrow and pity she felt towards her mother - especially because she was completely oblivious to it - and the guilt because she was lying to her since she had promised her father that she wouldn't have said anything. It was awful. She remembered everything like it was yesterday. It was a little more than an year ago, about eight months before Kelly's disappearance. She and Kelly had left the Spruce Juice that evening and they were simply walking around, relaxing after a long day of practice and sipping leisurely the smoothies in their hands. Suddenly the voice of Heather Whitmore, a blonde dorky girl with glasses, bobbed hair and braces that had joined the Rock eight months before, was easily heard just a few meters behind them. She was running after them, trying to joined them, and screaming their names to catch their attention. Kelly had suddenly turned to her, smirked and said "Not It." "Not It." Payson had immediately repeated. 'Not It' was an expression that Kelly had invented and that she used for the 'undesiderables', namely the people that she considered losers and therefore not worthy of their attention. "Come on, run." They had suddenly started to run away from the poor girl until they had turned a corner and that's when she had seen it. It was her father's car, she recognized it immediately, and her father was inside, kissing a brown-haired woman at least ten years younger than her mother, so easily in the open, where everybody could have seen him. The smoothie in her hand fell to the ground, its content splattered all over the lane. She vaguely recognized her face. She had seen her a couple of times when she had visited her father at his gym or during a game. She knew that her name was Regina Turner, that she was twenty-eight years old and that she was one of her father's athletes.
"I just wanted to ask you how you were. Being back here must be difficult after what happened." Suddenly her father's voice brought her out of her memories. He was looking at her with an evident look of disappointment on his face. Payson sighed. "Not it's not easy. But what can I do? We're here now, aren't we?" She didn't wait for him to answer, she just rushed outside, her sneakers' covered feet clashing against the ground, the fresh morning air caressing her face.
She ended up, without meaning to, in the trail that crossed the only public park present in Boulder and she noticed in that instant a familiar figure running in the opposite direction. It was Kaylie.
When they were three feet away from each other, Kaylie finally noticed her and stopped abruptly.
"Payson? Is that you?" Kaylie asked, widening her eyes.
"Ehy Kaylie!" Payson greeted her, a little awkwardly.
"Oh my god." Kaylie went up to hug her quickly before releasing her soon after. "When did you get back? I almost didn't recognize you. Didn't you have dark hair the last time we saw each other?"
"Yeah but I decided to go back to my natural color. I arrived just yesterday evening by the way. How are you?"
"Oh I'm fine. You should have called. It's a little weird, running into you here."
"We kind of lost touch Kaylie, remember?" Payson said a little sadly, shrugging her shoulders.
"Right." They exchanged another awkward look then Payson broke the silence."I saw a poster of Kelly yesterday..." she began but she didn't know how to continue her sentence.
"Yeah. It's awful, what happened to her. I mean, we all know she's dead right?" Kaylie exclaimed with a sad expression on her face.
Payson looked at her, a little surprised by her bluntness, but nodded. "I've just never heard anyone saying it before."
Kaylie smiled a sad, little smile and then asked her: "So, how was England? Everything you thought it would be?"
Payson smiled for real at that. "Yeah. London is… amazing. What about The Rock? What I missed?"
Kaylie frowned at that and immediately told her about McIntire's sudden decision to leave The Rock. "Not the best time to come back here Payson, I have to tell you."
"Wow. I can't believe it. And Lauren and Emily? I can just imagine their reactions."
"Uhm… I actually don't know." Payson looked at her questioningly and Kaylie explained further. "We didn't just fall out of touch with you Payson. We all fell out of touch with each other. I mean, we see each other every day during training but…"
"So you're friendly but no friends."
"Yeah." Kaylie shrugged, an expression that looked almost like guilt painted on her face.
Payson nodded at that. Already when she had left Boulder, they had started to drift away from each other, she couldn't really say she was surprised to hear it.
"I bet that if you see Lauren outside practice you won't recognize her." Kaylie continued.
"Why?" Payson asked curiously, a slight frown on her face.
"Well, she has lost weight, she wears make up and she dress fashionably. She and Heather are best friends now, besides having become the It Girls of The Rock." Kaylie said, putting emphasis on the two words that were used to describe the five of them together.
"Heather? That Heather?" Payson asked surprised. "That geeky girl who used to follow us around?"
"Yep. Except that now she's the farthest from geeky you can imagine."
"Wow. Talking about a makeover...".
After chatting some more, they continued on their morning run, knowing that they would see each other later at the gym anyway. Payson returned home and showered quickly. She wore one of her many blue leotards and after having fixed her hair in her usual bun, she was ready to go.
In the meantime her mother had gotten up too and she was starting to get ready.
"Good morning mum!" Payson greeted her with a smile.
"Ehy honey, are you ready to go?"
"Yup. Where's Brian?"
"He left about ten minutes ago. Lacrosse tryouts it seems."
"Of course." Payson smiled thinking about her little brother's love for the sport. It rivaled her love for gymnastics. "He's going to make the team for sure."
About half an hour later, Payson and Kim were getting in the car and after a fifteen minutes drive, they were finally in front of The Rock. Payson took a deep breath, trying to find the courage to get out of the car and go inside.
"It's going to be fine Payson, relax. You five were inseparable. Those feelings don't just go away."
Payson smiled, not really reassured but knowing that she had to face her old friends sooner or later. "Yeah except that I saw Kaylie earlier while running and it was more than a little awkward. I felt like we were more like strangers then girls that used to be best friends."
Her mother looked at her with a sad smile but didn't reply. Payson finally got out of the car and crossed the gym entrance. The little corridor that separated the entrance from the parking lot outside was deserted. Everyone was already inside.
After a last deep breath, she pushed open the glass and the many voices of a gym full of people assaulted her senses. She reached the locker-room in long strides and after having taken off her clothes, she was ready to begin training.
She didn't have any idea how they were going to get going without a coach but she imagined the assistant coaches were going to have their hands full the next few days, until a new Head Coach was found.
She reached the mat and began stretching. Suddenly she felt three pair of eyes watching her and she realized at once that Lauren, Emily and Kaylie had spotted her.
She turned her head and noticed first Lauren, saying hi with her hand at her - a blonde girl next to her who was probably Heather - and then Emily that smiled at her warmly. Kaylie waved at her with a smile on her face. None of them tried to come closer to Payson though.
She returned their greetings briefly and then returned to stretching. She didn't expect anything else really. Kaylie had warned her that morning after all.
Suddenly a voice coming from her left brought her out of her thoughts. "Payson Keeler. I thought you were supposed to be in Island or something. Wherever you were, it did you a lot of good." Max Spencer said to her, a flirty smile on his face. He looked at her from head to toe, his gaze lingering on her breasts and hips. It wasn't just her mentality that had changed during the past year, she had changed a lot physically too, thanks to her ballet lessons. Max didn't need to make it so obvious though.
"Uhm, England actually. And I just came back yesterday." Payson looked at him, mentally rolling her eyes and wondering why she used to like him so much in the past.
"Didn't you use to have a crush on me?" He asked cockily.
"I don't know. Did I?" She got up soon after, ignoring his stare and leaving him hanging.
The moment was soon interrupted by a commotion taking place at the gym's entrance. Steve Kmetko had just entered inside with his usual look of smugness firmly in place. Some things never change.
Payson decided to find out what the fuss was about and reached the little crowd that had formed around him.
Alex Cruz was suddenly standing near him, a big, satisfied smile crossing his face.
"I know that McIntire's sudden defection to Boston left all of you in a grave state of distress but I was fortunately able to find a more than suitable substitute even with such a short notice. Without further delay, may I present you your new Head Coach?" Mr Kmetko was saying.
In that moment a handsome, blonde figure that Payson recognized all too well, made his way inside.
'No, please. This is not happening.' Payson thought to herself, instantly beginning to panic.
"The four times Olympic Gold Medalist as well as the ex Romanian National Team Coach, Mr Sasha Belov." Steve finished pompously.
Payson gaped in disbelief. "Oh my God!" She whispered to herself, trying to process what was happening. She realized suddenly that she had been a complete idiot. During her meeting with Sasha yesterday, he had mentioned the fact that he had just accepted a job as a coach but at the time she had thought that he was going to train in Denver since she had heard that their coach was retiring. But when this morning she had talked to Kaylie and she had find out that McIntire had left, the fact that Sasha was going to train at The Rock should have been obvious. But she had had so much to think about that the idea of him being her new coach hadn't even crossed her mind.
She looked at him, waiting anxiously for him to cross her gaze. Sasha's serious look was browsing from one athlete to the next, his behavior very different from that of last night.
When finally his gaze clashed against hers, his stern façade melted away instantly and he paled, looking at her in disbelief. "Bloody Hell!" She heard him mutterer. He kept looking at her, not believing his eyes. Suddenly everyone else was looking at her too, probably trying to understand what was going on between the two of them.
Her cell phone beeping interrupted the awkward moment. Payson made her way to her purple and blue bag, grabbing quickly her phone from it and reading the text message that she had just received.
Payson looked at the SMS in disbelief. "Kelly?" She whispered, now more than a little freaked out. After all there was only one person except for her who knew about her father and that was Kelly. Was it possible that she was back? That she wasn't dead after all?
"Miss Keeler, using phones during practice is not allowed. Turn it off. Now!" Sasha's angry voice reached her.
"Yes. Of course Mr Belov… I mean Coach Belov." She stuttered, hurrying to turn it off and put it back in the bag.
Kaylie, in the mean time, had reached her side, maybe noticing her troubled look. "Are you okay? Who texted you?"
"Eh? Oh, it was… it was nothing. I'm fine." She smiled at her, hoping she would buy it but it was obvious that Kaylie wasn't the least bit convinced.
"Are you done chit-chatting now?" Payson winced at his tone. He was furious. "Good. Please all of you, sit down. I have something to say. And Mr Kmetko, Mr Cruz, I'd appreciate if, from now on, you and all the other parents could follow practice through the viewing area. I want only the athletes on the floor." He winced at his choice of words but nobody but Payson noticed. Payson blushed slightly at that and almost burst out laughing at the absurdity of the situation. She still couldn't believe that the man she was making out with last night, was now her coach. Laughing actually seemed like a good idea because if she did think too much about it, she would probably cry or scream in frustration. Payson shook her head, defeated. Why her? She had never felt a connection so strong with anyone before. Yesterday evening, the meeting between the two of them, had just been so perfect and passionate. Damn her but she liked him, so much. She knew it was wrong, to still want him but she just couldn't turn off her feelings. She wanted him like she had never wanted anyone before in her life and maybe if they were careful, no one would find out about them. It was more than a little risky of course but he was worth it. But how to convince him to give the two of them a chance? It was going to be difficult but she had to try. Maybe wait until later that evening. He was just so angry now. He couldn't even look at her.
While immersed in her thoughts, she followed Kaylie until the two of them sat on the mat, ready to listen to Sasha's speech.
"You are all very special. You've chosen to do something very few people are capable of. Look at each other!" When none of them move, he encouraged "Come on look!"
Payson looked first at Kaylie and then at Emily and Lauren, the two of them sitting away from each other behind her, but her gaze returned immediately to Sasha. Sasha though was determined to look at anything but at her.
"No one but your peers can understand what it takes to be the best gymnasts in the World! No one!" He continued to say, pointing towards the viewing room. "Which is why you need each other, but mostly you need me!
"I have a few simple rules: work as hard as I do, care as much as I do, sacrifice as much as I do! You will live, breathe, eat, sleep, bleed gymnastics and nothing else!"
Payson watched him, captivated. She bit her lower lip, observing the muscles in his arms and chest - barely visible through his clothes - tensing while he moved. His accented voice washed over her, making her shiver. He was so passionate. And thinking that that passion was directed at her just yesterday. She couldn't lose him, she just couldn't. More determined than ever to convince him to continue whatever they had started yesterday, she spent half of practice trying to catch his attention but Sasha was equally determined to ignore her. Not to say that he wasn't looking at her routines but always from a distance and he merely nodded his head from time to time to let her know that she was doing well but not once looking her right in the eye. Payson sighed and then decided to take matters into her own hands.
"Coach Belov!" She shouted to attract his attention. Sasha turned his head instinctively and Payson, taking advantage of the moment, executed her last tumbling pass on floor, the one she had been working on the last few months. It wasn't perfect yet but she was determined to have it ready for Nationals. It was a Double Arabian picked, one of the most difficult elements on floor and the only F level tumbling pass present in her floor routine. She was hoping to impress him and make him pay attention.
It was her best attempt so far and she turned around with a smile. Sasha though merely nodded his head at her and turned around once again, checking Lauren's new beam routine and going back to ignore her. Payson was ready to burst out crying now, hurt and angry by his behavior. She understood where he was coming from of course but they couldn't go on like that. She shook her head and decided to stop her attempts for the moment, not wanting people to pay too much attention to her. 'This is far from over though Sasha.' She swore to herself, gazing fixatedly at him for a moment more and then deciding to concentrate on her training for the moment.
The rest of the day passed slowly. She couldn't remember at time she had desired practice to end like she did now. She had always loved her time at the gym but right now all she wanted was for practice to be over so that she could talk to him. Of course she couldn't just talk to him right after practice, it would attract too much attention to herself, especially after their little scene of before. No, she needed to be patient and wait until late that evening. She was sure Sasha was going to stay late today, working in his office and maybe preparing a plan of action to make the best possible use of the little time they had before Nationals. It would be the perfect opportunity. But patience wasn't one of her best qualities.
Finally, finally, they were free to go home. She gazed at him one more time and for a fraction of a second their eyes clashed for the second time that day, blue against green, but he immediately looked away. Payson sighed once more and then she went outside. 'See you later.' She thought as a promise before getting in the car and driving towards the Spruce Juice. She really needed time to herself and that place had really good memories for her, no matter what had happened.
She ordered a strawberry smoothie and sat around one of the tables outside. Suddenly voices to her left attracted her attention. It was Lauren - fashionably dressed like Kaylie had warned her she would be and at least a few pounds lighter - with a blonde girl that Payson recognized as Heather, if only because Kaylie had told her that her and Lauren were best friends now. They were obviously about to sit at one of the tables too. Heather had the same blonde hair as always but that was where the similarities ended to the girl Payson used to know. She didn't wear glasses anymore, her clothes were completely different and even if her hair were still kept short, they were in a style that suited her very much.
"Payson!" Lauren exclaimed when she noticed Payson. Payson smiled at her and asked her and Heather to join her.
"Ehy Lo, Heather!"
"Hello Payson!" Heather said in a slightly high-pitched voice. "How are you? It's so good to see you. How was England? When did you come back?"
Payson looked at her a little in astonishment since Heather was talking to her as they were long lost friends but Payson smiled at her anyway and said "England was good. I was even able to see the gym where the Olympics will take place."
"Oh, wow. Imagine how it would be to compete there, an year from now." Heather said, her gaze awed, obviously daydreaming about it.
"We will compete there an year from now, Heather. There's really no one else who can hope to beat us Rock girls. And now that Payson's back, our team is complete." Lauren explained with a tone of voice that Payson had never heard from her before. It was obvious that Lauren had not only changed the way she dressed, her behavior was very different too. Gone was the shy girl of an year ago, replaced with someone completely different. But Payson couldn't really hold that against her. Payson herself had changed a lot in the last year.
"You can bet on it!" Payson said with a smile. Their moment was interrupted by a guy who was walking around, handing out fliers. When she reached their table he stopped and smiled at them. "Ehy there, lovelies!" he said before passing a flyer to each one of them.
"BLAST OFF! What's that?" Lauren asked with a flirty tone that Payson had never heard her use before.
"Oh, just the keg of the year!" The unnamed guy boasted. "Music, dance and all the beer you can drink..."
"It sounds awesome." Lauren continued with the same tone. "We'll be there for sure!" As soon as the guy was out of earshot Lauren turned to her. "Are you going tonight, right? It would be the perfect way to celebrate your return in Boulder."
"I don't know. I kind of have a... thing planned already for tonight." Payson answered, thinking about Sasha. "But if I'm able to get free early then I'll come for sure!"
"Great! See you tonight then." Lauren and Heather left soon after. Payson remained seated on her table for a little while before she stood up too, retrieving her gym bag from her seat. She reached her car that was parked just around the corner and she went back home. 'Tonight' she thought one more time.
The dinner that night was tense, at least it was for her. Payson looked around at her family, seemingly happy and without a care in the world and grimaced behind her napkin. Payson was a good liar but her father deserved an Oscar for the way he was acting in that moment. Every time she looked at her mother's happy face when talking with her father or while spending time with him, it was like a punch to the gut. She was so obviously in love with him still after all those years of marriage, how could her father do something like this? She couldn't understand it, or accept it for that matter. She was tired of staying silent, pretending, like her father was doing right now, that everything was okay. She couldn't do it anymore. She needed to tell her mother, she just didn't know how. How do you tell your own mother that her husband has cheated on her? She didn't think it existed an handbook for this.
"I made the lacrosse team!" Brian interrupted her thoughts with his happy voice. Payson smiled at him, proud of him. "Of course you did. They couldn't do anything else but allow you in the team."
"Your sister's right. They would be crazy not to." Mark Keeler said with a smile addressed to the both of them. Payson glared at him coldly and didn't reply.
"So Pay, I heard The Rock has already found a new coach after McIntire left. Do you like him?" Her mother asked her this time.
Payson chocked on the water she was sipping and she began coughing, finding it hard to breath.
"Oh my God, honey, are you okay?" Kim Keeler asked her worriedly.
Payson coughed some more but she finally took a deep breath and answered "Yes, I'm fine. The water went down the wrong way, that's all. The new coach seems fine, if a little stern maybe. It's Sasha Belov, you know? The four times Olympics gold medalist?" Payson answered with perfect nonchalance.
"Sasha Belov? The one you were obsessed with when you were twelve?" Her father asked with an amused smirk.
Payson glared at him and said "I was not obsessed with him. It was just...I don't know, I just admired him." She answered slightly embarrassed.
"Bullshit Pay." Her brother interjected, immediately reprimanded by their mother for his language. "You had an huge crush on him. You had posters of him all over the walls of your room and you didn't sleep or eat without bringing his biography with you."
"Shut Up. How do you even remember it anyway? You were like...10." Payson said, her voice harsh because of her embarrassment.
Her mother was the first to laugh, then her brother, her father and lastly Payson herself. Immediately they were all laughing, together, for a few good minutes. Then Payson crossed his father's gaze and she immediately sobered.
"Uhm, listen mum. There's a party tonight, an high school party, but it's kind of opened to everyone who wants to go. Can I please go? Tomorrow is Sunday, the only free day I have since the gym is closed on Sundays... And Lauren will be there. I kind of already told her I would go." Payson asked with pleadingly eyes directed towards her mother.
Kim smiled at her and told her. "Yes, yes, you can. Just don't be out late and don't drink!"
"Of course!" Payson smiled, happy, at her.
"Do you think that's a good idea, going to a party so close to Nationals?" Her father put his own cent into the conversation.
"It's just one night Dad. And I'm working really hard so I don't see what the problem is if I have fun for just one night." Payson answered harshly.
Her mother and Brian looked at the two of them alternatively but neither of them interrupted the conversation.
"Very well. But like your mother said, don't be too late!"
Payson refrained from rolling her eyes at him but nodded and stood up from her chair. She took her plate and put it in the sink before going to her room and started getting ready, not really for the party but to impress Sasha.
After a warm shower, she blow dried her hair and used the curling iron, arranging her hair in perfect curls. She then put the make-up, going for a smokey eye look. She put a little bit of blush on her cheeks and then her favorite red lipstick.
Payson then looked inside her walking closet, trying to find something nice and sexy for tonight. Something that was also okay for the party. At the end she opted for a black mini skirt, a white sleeveless top with chain detail and light brown high heeled sandals. She retrieved a light brown leather jacket from her closet and then a black leather handbag and she was ready. 'Time to talk to Sasha'.
Payson left her room, waved her parents goodbye and reached her car. A ten minutes drive later, she was parking in front of the Rock, hoping with all her heart that Sasha was inside, working. She needed to talk to him, now. She had waited all day, she couldn't wait anymore. She took a deep breath before descending from the car. After a few steps she found herself in front of the glass door and tried the doorknob but like she was expecting, the door was closed. Lucky for her, she had the key of the gym. She retrieved the key from her bag and opened the door, making as little noise as possible. She entered inside and noticed that every light in the gym had been turned off, but there was a tiny light coming from the office. She smiled. Sasha was there.
She climbed up the stairs until she was in front of the office door. The short curtain that covered the small window of the door was up so she could see what was inside perfectly. Sasha was sitting on the chair behind the desk, obviously working. The tiny light she had noticed when she had entered inside the gym emanated from the reading lamp placed on the desk. She knocked just out of courtesy and to attract Sasha's attention. Sasha jolted slightly and raised his head from the sheets of paper that had engaged his attention. Payson decided that she couldn't wait for him to invite her inside so she took matters into her own hands and opened the door, entering inside the office. The office suddenly seemed too small, too crowed and Payson stood awkwardly on her feet, waiting for Sasha to speak first, thing that he did a few seconds later.
"I locked the doors of the gym" He started, voice cold. "How were you able to get inside?"
Payson shrugged and answered. "I have the keys." At Sasha's questioning look she explained further. "My mom used to work here. She was the gym manager. I made a copy of the key a while back because I like to come inside when no one's around and train. It's more peaceful, working alone." She shrugged again. Sasha nodded at her but he didn't add anything else.
"Listen" Payson exclaimed in the end, since she couldn't stand the silence. "I had no idea that you would become my coach. When you told me that you just accepted an offer to train elite gymnasts, I thought you were talking about Denver. I had no idea The Rock had lost McIntire as its coach and I knew that Denver's coach was retiring so..."
"So you assumed that I would train the Denver Elite. Yes, this I can understand." Sasha finally said. "What I can't understand it's why you lied about your age."
"I didn't lie. I never told you how old I was." Payson defended herself.
"You told me you went to college and that you were just back from your year abroad." Sasha raised his voice slightly.
"No, I told you that I was thinking about majoring in physiotherapy and that's true. And technically it was my year abroad since I spent an year in England." Sasha sighed at that. "You made me believe that you were older Payson."
Payson sighed too and she replied sincerely. "You're right. I should have corrected your assumptions but I didn't. It's just that... God, you were flirting with me. I couldn't believe it. If I told you how old I really was, you would have run away screaming. "
Sasha looked at her intently and shook his head. He sighed again before speaking "Look, Payson, I think you're amazing. When I first saw you, I thought 'Who is this girl?' "
Payson smiled at him and came close to his side. She took his hand - that was resting on the desk - in hers and said. "I'm still that girl. Okay? Nothing's changed."
Sasha shook his head again. "Yes, yes it has. I'm your coach. We have to forget whatever happened between us yesterday and behave as a coach and his athlete from now on."
Payson protested immediately at those words. "I don't want to forget that this happened. I don't want to pretend like there isn't something between us. You can't ask me this. I know it's not just me. I know you feel like this is right for us too."
"No, it's not right." Sasha slipped his hand away from under hers and got up. "It was a mistake. And it can't happen again. We just can't." And with that he left the office without a backward glance. Payson felt tears welling up in her eyes but she hold them back. She would not cry, not for him, not after having been treated that way by him. If he wanted to believe that what had happened between them was a mistake and if he wanted to forget her, fine. She would do the same. From now on Sasha Belov would be her coach and nothing more.