Never My Love
A Gaby FanFic
(based on the 'Notes of a Journey' trilogy)
Viewing Note: This story should be viewed with the Edwardian Script ITC font installed on your Windows platform in the c:/Windows/Fonts directory. Microsoft Word installs this font automatically.
Photo Credit: Permission to use the photo of Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, has been granted by the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts .
And The Winner Is...
“Here we are guys ... home sweet home,” Diane cheerfully said as her sister pulled up in front of large two-story house with a two-car garage, in suburban Calgary.
“Wow ... nice house ... but where’s all the snow? When we first landed there was about a foot of the white stuff, everywhere ... and a bitterly cold wind. Now, it feels and looks more like late October ... well ... if you ignore the odd patch of snow on the grass,” Gaby commented with a shrug of the shoulder.
“I thought you had white winters...” Maddy noted from the back seat.
“We do. We’ve even had a few real good ‘Canadian winters’ ... but we’ve got these things called Chinooks ... warm winds that come down off the Rockies and change the season on us... sometimes for days at a time. Come to think about it ... the chances for a white Christmas in this part of the province seem to run about 50-50,” Diane explained.
“Look on the bright side, guys ... at least we don’t need to wear boots tonight,” Cheryl cheerfully pointed out.
“HAH! With our luck ... we’ll probably get a major dump before the boys pick us up!” Diane sarcastically remarked.
“My sister ... the optimist! Look, sis ... when we get inside ... get the girls squared away in your room. I told Gaby that we’d take a look at what they had to wear tonight before making a final decision about what to do the rest of the day.”
“Okay! “ Diane enthusiastically agreed.
Ushering the girls into the house, Diane soon had them inside and up in her room with their one sports bag that was serving as their overnight. Cheryl soon joined them and Maddy started to unpack the same outfits the girls wore when they flew to Canada.
“I like this!” Cheryl enthused as Gaby laid out her cable-knit turtleneck and black calf-length skirt.
“I still think we should go shopping,” Gaby offered while Diane admired Maddy’s turtleneck sweater dress.
“Why? I’d say these are perfect for tonight ... casual but smart,” Diane suggested as her sister nodded her agreement.
“I think the knitted stuff will be too heavy,” Gaby replied.
“True...” Cheryl sheepishly admitted. “Well, if we’re going shopping ... you guys ever heard of Victoria Secret’s?”
“Who hasn’t?” Maddy enthused.
“You guys ever been to one?”
“They have stores here?” Maddy asked with amazement. “We thought that was strictly an online thing.”
“Nope ... they’ve been in the US for a long time, but it’s only in the last few years that they’ve set up shop in Canada and the only stores in Alberta are in Calgary and Edmonton,” Cheryl proudly informed their guests. The Edmonton store may be the bigger of the two ... but ours is nothing to be sneezed at, either.”
“It’s got everything ... a full line of clothes ... shoes ... some ... very sexy ... lingerie...” Diane suggestively added, emphasizing the ‘sexy’ part while she held up Maddy’s infamous babydoll and stared directly into the owner’s crimson face.
“And ... if you don’t find everything there ... the other stores in the Chinook Centre may have something,” Cheryl quickly pointed out, changing the subject.
“I take it this Chinook Centre is a mall?” Maddy asked.
“A big one,” Diane ventured.
”Until the West Edmonton Mall opened, it was the largest mall in Alberta ... and it’s right here in town!” Cheryl proudly added.
“All abooooard! ... Ha ha ha ha ha...” Suddenly the opening riffs of Ozzy Osborne’s ‘Crazy Train’ abruptly tore into the conversation.
“You really got to get a new ring tone, sis...” Cheryl playfully chided above the fast running, raw opening guitar riffs of the song.
“Why? It gets your attention,” Diane cheerfully shot back as she flipped her cell phone open. “Hello? ... Oh hi, darling...”
“Must be Mark,” Cheryl whispered as Diane blushed and took the hint, moving quickly into the hall to get away from the others in an effort to get a little privacy. “Better get comfortable ... she’ll likely be a while.”
After several long minutes, Diane rejoined the others and informed them that he’d drop around shortly to see Gaby, but declined to explain why. While they were waiting, they all continued to hang around Diane’s bedroom, talking about their upcoming plans for the day.
(Ding, dong ... ding, dong...)
“I’ll get it!” Diane called out as she darted out of her room and headed down the stairs towards the front door. A couple of minutes later she rejoined the others, holding hands with a very fit looking young man. After introductions, Mark got right down to the purpose of his visit.
"Diane said you wished you had something you could donate to the silent auction . . . right?"
Gaby nodded her agreement then watched as Mark produced a large 12” x 12” head-on photo, of an indeterminate number of cyclists, caught in the chaos and raw power of the sprint.
“Knowing how I like cycling, my aunt took it while on vacation in France last summer and gave it to me...”
As he carefully laid the photo on Diane’s dresser, the girls all gathered around to get a better view of it, but it was Maddy who first recognized the scene.
“Sweetheart ... doesn’t this look familiar?” As Gaby studied it, a wide grin slowly formed on her face. As she glanced at Mark, he nodded his agreement.
“It’s the final sprint on the last stage of the ‘Tour de Féminine’. See? That’s Gabs ... right here!” Maddy proudly explained to the others while pointing to a pair of sunglasses and a pale lime-green and mauve helmet, peeking out from behind several other riders.
“She beat all those women?” Cheryl asked.
“Nope ... Gabs came fourth this time ... but she won the overall race on the points she amassed over the course of the race,” Maddy proudly replied.
“How long’s this race, then?” Diane voiced.
“Five l-o-n-g stages over five days ... including two days in the Pyrenees,” Gaby wearily answered.
“Whoa!” Diane breathed, much to Mark’s amusement.
“Is this the race that she became World Champion?” Cheryl asked.
“No ... but the ‘Tour de Féminine’ is probably the most prestigious stage race on the women’s circuit and it was also won by her mother in 2003. Since then, it had always been one of Gaby’s goals to win it like her mum did. She actually won the World Champion title when she won the ‘2013 UCI World Championships’ in Norway, back last September...” Maddy explained.
Pausing briefly to let Cheryl and Diane take that in, Mark resumed letting Gaby know what he had planned for the night.
“What I figure is that you can sign it and I’ll donate it to the auction under your name. A friend of mine works in a photo studio, downtown and he’s assured me that he’ll have this suitably framed and under glass for me well before Wayne and I have to pick you guys up for dinner. He’ll even title it however we want. I’m kinda thinking maybe something like ‘The Last Sprint’... ”
“I like that,” Gaby agreed.
She then took the proffered pen and after some thought, lowered her hand to the photo and allowing for what she guessed was the width of the matte that would act as the inner ‘frame’ for the photo, wrote in the lower right-hand corner...
Tour de Féminine, 2013
– World Champion (Women’s Road Race)
“Perfect! I’ll get this to Steve. Cocktails are supposed to start around six, so Wayne and I will plan on picking you girls up around five, give or take, then drive to the hotel ... that okay?” Mark enthused as he gathered up the photo and prepared to leave. “A real pleasure finally meeting the two of you (turning to face Maddy and Gaby) ... see you girls later ... bye all!
“I’ll walk you to the door,” Diane sweetly offered. After he left, she re-joined the others and following any last minute checks of their make-up, they quickly gathered up their purses and got ready to ‘hit the mall’.
Thirty minutes later, the girls were inside Calgary’s Chinook Centre with Cheryl leading the charge towards their first objective, the new Victoria Secret’s outlet.
“How much time do we have?” Maddy wondered as the four girls entered the store.
“I figure we should be leaving here around three ... three-thirty at the latest ... if we don’t want to be too rushed before the boys pick us up,” Cheryl replied.
“Four hours. (sigh) Hardly enough time for this store, let alone the mall...” Maddy playfully lamented.
“You and Cheryl would make a good pair!” Diane joked. At that moment, a salesgirl who looked fresh out of high school, walked up.
“May I help you ladies with anything?”
“Actually ... yes. Time permitting, we’ll look through the store, later... but for now ... our two friends here, are looking for something they can wear to a semi-formal dinner this evening,” Cheryl replied while nodding towards Maddy and Gaby. When the sales clerk looked towards them, both girls returned an innocent smile and a little synchronized finger wave.
“If you follow me, our Holiday fashions are right over here. Do you have anything in mind?”
“I thought a skirt an’ top,” Gaby replied.
“I’m not sure. I could go with a skirt or a dress. Whatever looks good,” Maddy added.
“What about pants?” the salesclerk wondered.
“From what we know about tonight, I don’t think pants would be appropriate,” Gaby concluded after seeing Cheryl subtly shake her head.
Okay ... sizes?”
“Ummm ... don’t know?” Maddy sheepishly admitted.
“They’re visiting from Europe and aren’t familiar with the North American sizing. In Banff, they both took a medium when they purchased some ‘base’ clothing for skiing,” Cheryl quickly mentioned.
“Hmmm ... looking at you two ... I’d say an ‘8’ ... maybe a ‘10’. Why don’t we start there and see what happens.”
After walking a short distance through the store, they approached a section packed with clothing, from the casual right up to the formal.
“Here we are, ladies. The Misses section is right in front of you and the change rooms are along the back wall.”
At Diane’s suggestion to save time, they split up, with her and Maddy going off in one direction while Cheryl followed Gaby. They were only into their own shopping frenzies a few minutes when Maddy called Gaby over.
“Sweetheart ... are you sure you don’t want pants?”
“Look at the mannequin over there ... the one with the black leather pants and lace top. I think you’d look very sexy in that...” Maddy mischievously breathed when they were close together.
“That’s a hint, right?”
“You’re learning...” Maddy whispered with an impish smile.
”Maybe ... but, I still want to find a skirt for tonight,” Gaby softly replied, with a gentle squeeze of her wife’s hand.
As they again went their own way, Gaby found the salesclerk straightening up some nearby displays. After pointing out the mannequin to her, she was soon leading Cheryl and her to the appropriate clothing racks.
“Here’s the top. It’s completely black lace with short-sleeves and a double-V neckline with a cross-over back. We just put these out on the floor this morning.”
Cheryl quickly thumbs through the rack and pulling out a medium, holds it up against Gaby. As Gaby takes it from her friend and holds it against herself, she immediately comments on the length.
“OhmyGod ... you got to at least try it on!” Cheryl gushed.
“Kinda long ... isn’t it?” Gaby questioned.
“It’s supposed to hang down to just below your hips,” the staffer replied.
“In that case ... I like it,” Gaby voiced.
“We have them with either a black or a midnight blue silk camisole.”
“Go with the black, Gabs...” Cheryl suggested.
“I think you’re right,” Gaby agreed.
It wasn’t long before Gaby had two each of the lace top and the leather pants, in her arms. On the way over to the change rooms, Maddy came up and handed her two ‘grey’ miniskirts, same style but different sizes.
“I thought you and Diane were searching for your outfit,” Gaby wondered as Maddy stopped her.
“We are, but I saw this skirt and thought it’d go well with that top.”
“I like the colour...”
“Diane said it’s called ‘light heather’ ... now, hurry up and try them on so you can tell me what size I am,” Maddy smirked.
Gaby took the clothes and disappeared into the change room. It was after several threats to send in a search party that she reappeared modelling the lace top and skirt.
“You take an ‘8’ Mad! The ‘10’ was definitely too big,” Gaby announced as she stood in front of the others. “Whaddya think?
“You’ll need to find a strapless bra ... but other than that ... it looks lovely on you,” Maddy gushed. “Have you tried on the pants?”
“Already did ... I think I’m getting those as well,” Gaby replied.
“Some black pantyhose would look perfect with that,” Diane mentioned.
As she returned to get changed, Gaby requested the salesclerk properly fit her for a bra to make the search go a little faster, while Maddy and Diane resumed their hunt for the perfect outfit.
“C’mon ... I still have to find a black bra and some ‘pantyhose’ before we get outta here,” Gaby mentioned to Cheryl as she left the change room.
On the way to the lingerie, they had to pass back through the Misses clothing. Whether it was a lack of resolve or an excellent floor layout, Gaby soon spotted more clothes to look at.
“Just a minute Cheryl,” Gaby requested as she approached a circular rack of blouses.
She pulled out a very feminine silk blouse in a deep Maritime blue. The elastic cuffs were trimmed in black lace as was the drawstring hem. The most striking design feature was a very wide vertical stripe of black lace reaching out a few inches either side of the buttons that extended down the front of the blouse.
“Whaddya think ... with the leather pants?”
“Very nice! Is that your size?”
“Nope ... it’s a small. Hope there’s a medium here...” Gaby murmured as she continued to search through the rack. “Ahhh ... found one!”
When she looked up, she noticed Cheryl was holding an off-white sweater.
“Where’d you get that?”
“That pile over there. Wayne’s going to melt when he sees me in this!”
“Might as well surrender now, Mad!” Gaby mumbled to herself as she searched the pile for her size. Finding one, she pulled it out and examined it. “I’ve never seen this style of sweater before.”
“It’s called a Boucle shawl-collar. I’ve seen several girls at school wearing sweaters like this ... not this style, but this same knit.”
“Maddy’s gonna love that neckline ... I like the colour. Kinda an off-white,” Gaby declared as she held up the sweater in front of her.
“According to the tag, it’s called Vanilla-bean-heather,” Cheryl smirked.
“Who comes up with these names?” Gaby playfully asked.
“Back to the change rooms?”
“Uh huh ... or we’ll be here all day,” Gaby joked. A short while later, the two emerged from the change rooms and headed off for the lingerie department for a second time.
As they stood at the checkout waiting for Maddy and Diane, Gaby asked Cheryl about shoes.
“I really don’t want to wear boots with the temperatures called for tonight, but I really didn’t see anything that grabbed me as we walked past their shoes. Any other places in the mall you’d recommend?”
“Payless ... I get most of my shoes there. We’ll go there next,” Cheryl quietly replied.
“Find what you want, Mad?” Gaby asked as she and Diane approached.
“Yep ... and a couple more things. You’re not angry, are you?” Maddy wondered when she saw a lack of expression on her wife’s face.
“She can’t complain. This small one is mine ... these large ones are hers!” Cheryl revealed as she lifted her small bag while standing aside to show three large bags resting against the checkout counter.
“That makes me feel better!” Maddy joked.
She then proceeded to show Gaby everything as she handed each item to the salesclerk to be rung up, including a black fitted, mini-dress with scooped neck and sheer blouson sleeves with wide four buttons cuffs.
“That’s for tonight. This is to wear home...” Maddy produced a long purple and black plaid, calf-length skirt and a black silk blouse. “I think this would look nice with my dress boots ... don’t you?”
“You always did have a good fashion sense,” Gaby softly replied.
As soon as everything was paid for, Cheryl and Diane whisked the girls back out into the mall and down several stores to Payless Shoes. Once inside the store, Gaby and Maddy gave their bags to their friends before wandering down the aisles looking for that special shoe. They found a few styles that caught their eye, but when they had their feet measured their sizes weren’t in stock.
Before long, both girls did find that special pair. Gaby settled for an ankle-strap pump with a four inch heel and a half inch platform sole. Being five 5’8” in her bare feet, she thought she could use the extra height. Maddy found her shoe of choice - a Dorothy Mary Jane style pump with a four inch heel and a single strap over the bridge of the foot.
Once the mission was accomplished and the girls had what they needed for the evening, the four made their way back to Cheryl’s car and home.
It was just before five in the afternoon, when Mark turned into the Chamber’s driveway and pulled up behind Cheryl’s car. Minutes after Mark went into the house, Wayne pulled onto the curb in front of the house and joined the others, inside. Following a brief conversation with the parents, Wayne was helping Cheryl into his car before heading off to the dinner.
After taking a few minutes to show the girls the framed photo he was donating in Gaby’s name to the club’s silent auction, the remaining four left the house and got into Mark’s car for their rendezvous with Wayne and Cheryl at the hotel.
The journey from the Chamber’s residence to downtown Calgary was only a few minutes, but as soon as Mark entered the city streets, they encountered traffic and road construction. When things looked like they’d still make it on time, they encountered yet another red light just as their destination came into sight. After what only seemed like hours, the light turned green and he advanced through the intersection.
As he approached the first of four entrances to the hotel complex, Mark turned in instead of continuing on for another block to their multi-level parking garage, as he usually did. When they drove up beside the main entrance, he and Diane saw that the other two were already standing outside waiting for them to arrive. While his girlfriend was busy wondering how her sister managed to get to the hotel before they did, he swung into the reserved ‘valet parking lane’ before bringing the car to a stop in front of the hotel’s main doors.
When he turned to look at Diane, her expression seemed to question this pleasantly unexpected move.
“Valet Parking? ... Now this is new,” Diane sweetly stated with just a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
“You don’t honestly think that Wayne and I were going make the four most beautiful ladies in Calgary walk through a dirty ol’ parking garage ... do you?” Mark fought a losing battle to hold back a huge grin in the face of Diane’s glaring stare.
“You know that you’ve set a precedent for next year’s dinner... don’t you?” Diane playfully asked. She then leaned over and lightly brushed her lips to his before she sat up in her seat and allowed the Hotel Doorman to assist her out of the car.
Once they entered the large, open lobby, Mark and Diane led the small group to the long escalators at the opposite end.
“When you get to the top ... hang a right and wait for us there,” Mark called out to Gaby as she and Maddy got on the ‘up’ escalator several steps before the others.
“Where are we this year ... same place?” Diane asked as they started walking down the wide carpeted hallway.
“Yep...” Mark sharply replied as he caught sight of their destination. “...But it looks like they’re not quite setup yet ... the doors are still closed.”
“Guess we wait out here with the rest of the crowd,” Diane mentioned as she started to lead the girls over to one of the several leather covered benches that lined the wide hallway running outside the hotel’s conference rooms. “Grab that one ... it’s empty!”
“You guys hang here and I’ll go and try to find Bill. He’s probably inside directing things since I don’t see him out here. I know he wanted to talk to Gaby when she got here,” Mark suggested once the girls got comfortable.
“If I don’t come back out before they open the doors, I’ll meet you guys inside ... okay?”
A few minutes after he disappeared behind the closed doors, Diane turned when she heard a familiar voice call her name. Scanning the gathering dinner crowd, she saw some familiar faces heading directly towards them.
“Gaby? Do you mind if I let you introduce yourself and Maddy? I think it’d sound better coming from you,” Diane whispered as she directed Gaby’s attention to the approaching threesome, by a subtle nod of her head.
“Feeling a little awkward, are we?” Gaby quietly joked.
“Thanks ... I’ll leave you an opening...” Diane quietly acknowledged with a smile.
“You seem to know them. Do you think they’ll ‘freak out’ when I refer to Mad as my wife?” Gaby hissed. “I don’t want to cause a scene or anything.”
“I don’t think so ... but try it! We’ll both find out...” Diane quietly smirked.
“Oh, gee ... thanks!” Gaby sarcastically whispered as Diane’s friends drew near.
“Hi, Mrs. Wright ... Mr. Wright. I see Heather managed to drag you two out tonight,” Diane whimsically observed. “No Kaylee?”
“Babysitting for the Crane’s...” Heather flatly replied.
“That’s right! She told me a while ago that she couldn’t make it to the dinner. She said something about it being their anniversary or something like that,” Diane firmly answered, berating herself for her own forgetfulness.
“Heather saw some new faces sitting with you and thought we should come over and welcome them,” Mrs. Wright cheerfully admitted.
Turning first to both girls and then back to the Wrights, Diane began the introductions.
“Guys ... these people have been friends with my parents since before I can remember. This is Mr. and Mrs. Wright ... and their youngest daughter, Heather. She’s sixteen and one of this club’s rising stars. Their other daughter, Kaylee and I grew up together. Right now, we share an apartment with four other girls when we’re back at university... much better than staying in Residence...”
When Diane finished, Gaby took a firm hold of her wife’s hand. With a reassuring glance from Maddy and a gentle squeeze of their joined hands, both girls silently hoped for the best.
Previous to the night’s dinner, the girls had only attended one function together as a married couple and that was jointly hosted by Team Apollinaris and corporate Apollinaris at the end-of-season. For both girls, being among friends, family and a ‘few’ invited guests, didn’t count.
This was different. They were on their own.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Gaby Bond ... and ... this is my wife ... Maddy.”
When the Wright’s gave no outward sign of a reaction, both girls mentally breathed a collective sigh of relief as Diane resumed talking.
“They’re visiting from Germany and are staying up at Lake Louise. Sis and I found these two last Monday wandering the streets of Banff ... cold, confused and looking for a good sports store.”
“Well ... two outta three ain’t bad,” Maddy playfully whispered to Gaby.
“And I suppose you just happened to steer them to Monod’s...” Mrs. Wright smugly guessed.
“Naturally,” Diane smirked.
“Pleased to meet both of you,” Mr. Wright offered. “I must commend you on your English. I could easily have mistaken you for British if I hadn’t been told you were German.”
“Actually, Mad an’ I are British. My family an’ I moved to Germany about nine years ago ... an’ Mad’s family joined us a few years later.”
“What part of Germany?” Mr. Wright asked.
“Mayschoß . It’s a small town about an hour south of Bonn ... near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, in the Ahr Valley. Our parents still live there as well,” Maddy replied.
“Wouldn’t be surprised if my dad’s been there. He was based in Lahr with the Canadian Forces, in the late sixties,” Mr. Wright casually mentioned. “He liked to travel around the country ... when he had the time.”
“Great wine country,” Gaby put in.
“Then he probably knew it very well,” Mr. Wright replied with a chuckle.
“How long have you two been married?” Mrs. Wright wondered while she studied the girl’s rings, as if sizing them up.
“Seven months next Wednesday,” Maddy replied. “Gabs had to wait until the end of the season before we were able to get away.”
Thinking that she’d probably have an opportunity to talk to them later in the evening, Mrs. Wright changed the subject.
“Gaby? I’m curious ... are you by any chance related to Jenny Bond, the cyclist?”
“She’s my mother!” Gaby proudly admitted.
“I thought as much. You look so much like the photos of her that I’ve seen...” When Heather heard this, she blocked out the rest of her mother’s conversation while her eyes went wide in disbelief that she could actually be in company with the 2013 Women’s World Champion.
“OhmyGod! Is it really her?” Heather excitedly hissed to Diane.
“Yep...” Diane smugly confirmed in a whisper.
“I can’t believe I didn’t recognize her standing there! I’ve seen all her photos ... I even saw her racing last summer in Montreal. She looks so different off her bike ... more like a fashion model!” Heather softly gushed to Diane.
“...And you have all evening to talk with her,” Diane quietly mentioned.
“But she’s the World Champion!” Heather hissed.
“So? Does that make a difference?”
“I don’t know ... it’s just that ...” Heather meekly whispered.
“Look! Talking to these two is no different than talking to Cheryl and I,” Diane sternly whispered.
“But nothin’! They may be married to each other and Gaby may the World Champion, but they’re still regular people ... just like you ... me ... or Cheryl. Spending time with them has been no different for us than if we’re spending time with friends from school.”
“Really...” Diane confirmed.
“... Still no sign of cancer?” Mrs. Wright was still talking with Gaby about her mother when Heather rejoined the conversation after Diane gave her arm a gentle nudge.
“No, thank God! As of January, she’ll have been cancer free for nine full years.”
“Is she still involved with the sport?” Mrs. Wright asked.
“Currently, she’s the Training Director for the Team Apollinaris’ Youth Development Program ... but that doesn’t stop her from occasionally riding with the pro team on their training rides. She keeps tellin’ us that it’s just to keep her hand in...” Gaby proudly related.
“Jenny Bond was the 2003 Women’s Professional Road Race World Champion,” Mrs. Wright explained as an aside, to her husband.
“Gaby’s the current Women’s Professional Road Race World Champion!” Diane quickly added with some enthusiasm. “And ... she rides for Team Apollinaris, just like her mom did!”
“Like mother ... like daughter. Congratulations on winning the title,” an obviously impressed Mr. Wright mentioned.
“Guys ... I guess we should go in now. They’ve opened the room,” Diane observed.
“Would it be okay if Mad an’ I picked this up later? I’d especially like a chance to talk with you, Heather ... but right now, as I understand it ... Diane’s boyfriend is looking to meet us inside with your club president,” Gaby mentioned as she felt a discreet tug on her hand.
“See? That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Diane smirked as she calmly linked arms with the other two as the Wright’s drifted off.
“You knew ... didn’t you?” Gaby replied a she sported a wide grin.
“I tried to tell you guys at the house, there’s nothing to worry about ... period! These days, it’s almost as common to see same-sex couples getting their wedding pictures done in a park as it is to see heterosexual couples posing for their photos.”
“Kewl,” Maddy murmured.
“It’s been something like thirteen ... fourteen years ... since the first gay marriages were legally performed in some provinces, including this one. A few years ago, Ottawa finally decided to get off their butts and recognize same-sex marriages, making it legal all across the country. Now ... if people were upset about it, don’t you think the politicians would’ve done something before now?” Diane quietly reasoned.
“Even the Spring ‘bridal shows’ around here, have businesses show up that offer packages to same-sex couples ... so relax ... be yourselves and enjoy, just like you’ve done all week ... okay?”
“...’Kay...” the girls sheepishly chorused.
“I see Cheryl and Wayne over there ... now ... where’s Mark?” Diane wondered as she scanned the room.
“Ummm ... behind you?” Gaby playfully answered.
When the three girls were turned towards him, he started to introduce the two people that he was with.
“Girls ... may I present the President of the Calgary Cycling Club ... Bill Peterson and his wife, Jerry. Bill ... this is Gaby Bond and...” Mark’s voice began to trail off as he searched for the proper words.
“...My wife ... Maddy,” Gaby jumped in, with a smile.
“Gaby’s the 2013 Women’s Professional Cycling Road Race World Champion...” Mark quickly added as he suddenly found his voice.
“...And Maddy’s a microbiologist doing research at the University of Bonn.”
After the initial pleasantries were out of the way, Maddy and Gaby chatted with the Petersons for a while longer before setting out on their own and mingling with the other dinner guests, looking at the tables of donated items for the silent auction and meeting up to continue their talk with the Wright’s.
When dinner was announced, the room’s central partition was rolled back to reveal the full size of the ballroom and a buffet meal. As the guests began to organize themselves into two orderly food lines, Mark quickly ran back to the table they picked out near the ‘head table’. Placing the chairs so their backs rested on the table’s edge, he ‘reserved’ their table, before re-joining Wayne and the girls.
During dinner, the conversation at the table was kept light and any ‘shop talk’ about the sport, was noticeably absent. After dinner, attention was focused on the small stage and the podium set up in one corner at the front of the room near the ‘head table’, as the awards ceremony commenced.
“That’s all that I have to present,” Bill later playfully announced, as he completed handing out most of the awards. He then stepped off the small stage carrying the hand-held microphone and took a few steps over to the table where Gaby was sitting. When he came up behind her, he squatted down between the two girls and lightly tapped Gaby on the shoulder.
“How does this work?” Gaby joked as she slowly turned around in her chair and nervously accepted the ‘mic’ from Bill.
“You lift it up to your mouth and speak here...” he playfully replied.
“Thanks,” Gaby sarcastically replied while sporting a grin.
“You’ll do fine, sweetheart,” Maddy offered as she gently put her had on Gaby’s arm for re-assurance.
With a nod, Bill stood and walked off to join his wife at their table, while Gaby rose from her chair. Before heading up to take her place behind the podium, Maddy gently grabbed her wife’s hand and pulled her down for a quick, ‘good luck’ kiss on the lips.
After a few steps, Gaby stepped up onto the small stage and when she accidently tapped the mic against the wooden lip of the podium, she heard the quiet thud of contact. It quickly dawned on her that it had been ‘live’ the whole time that she had it at their table. Raising it up to her mouth and looking directly at Maddy, she sweetly addressed her lovely wife.
“Umm ... Mad ... did you realise this thing was still ‘on’ when Bill handed it to me and all these good people heard everything?” Gaby swore she felt her wife blushing. Then casually addressing the room as a whole, she added in a light-hearted voice.
“Ummm ... it’s okay ... we’re married.”
Gaby’s candid spontaneity seemed to be exactly what the room needed and she could feel any tension from Maddy’s unexpected affection towards her, evaporate.
Then turning to the matter at hand, she faced the room once again and got a bit more serious.
“I know I haven’t met everyone in this room tonight, so there’s probably more than a few who are wondering who this girl is an’ why is she up there? I hafta admit, there’s been more than a few occasions when I’ve asked those very questions, myself.”
Muted laughter rose from at least two tables in the room.
“In answer to the ‘why’ I’m here ... it’s to present the last of the evening’s awards to a young lady, who by her stats, richly deserves it. After learning that Maddy and I were in the neighbourhood, so to speak ... your Club President had the idea that the recipient of this award might get a bigger kick out of it if I gave it out, instead of him ... an’ so here we are.”
“Now, the remaining question... ‘who is she’?” Gaby playfully stated. In a calm and quiet voice, she answered her own question.
“Well ... my name’s Gaby Bond ... an’ ... I’m the 2013 Women’s Professional Cycling Road Race World Champion.”
When Gaby relaxed and looked out at the approximately 200-plus dinner guests seated at several tables, she was totally surprised by the room’s reaction. The clapping slowly started with a few of the female club members and quickly spread to the other tables. Before they were done, she was facing a room-wide standing ovation. As she looked over to the table where she had been sitting, Maddy openly blew her a kiss.
“I’m really gonna hafta ask Mum how she deals with all this,” Gaby softly joked into the microphone as she recovered from her shock. Shortly thereafter, the applause started to fade and people returned to their seats.
“Thank you ... all of you!”
After a deep breath, Gaby raised the microphone back up to her mouth and began to do what she’d originally been asked.
“Okay ... I’ve really got to hand this award out ... but before I do ... I’d like to say that when I first agreed to come here, I asked to see the stats for all the girls that were in competition for this award. To all of those girls ... an’ to the club as a whole ... I can only say that in my opinion ... you guys have some serious raw talent here!”
The polite clapping was easily drowned out by a more rowdy, but good-natured frenzy of loud clapping and cheers from the club members. After a few seconds, she held up her hand and once the clapping had died down, resumed speaking.
“However, as in all competitions ... there can only be one clear winner. Out of a total of nine major club races in her age group over the course of last summer ... this year’s recipient of this award, walked away with two firsts, a second and a three thirds. I think ... that in itself ... deserves a hand.” Following another round of applause, Gaby once again spoke into the microphone.
“The winner of the ‘2013 Most Podium Appearances by a Female’, goes to ... Heather Wright!”
The club president brought forward the award from a table that was against the wall behind Gaby and passed it to her. When Heather made her way up onto the small stage, there was a brief exchange of words and a congratulatory hug before Gaby handed her well-deserved award. After a few photos with the World Champion and the plaque, Heather excitedly returned to her family seated at one of the tables while Bill returned the award to the table for the remainder of the evening.
When Gaby returned to her table and resumed her seat beside her wife, Maddy leaned over and whispered a few words of her own.
“You tell her about your dad?”
“I told her to expect a call...” Gaby smugly replied in a soft voice.
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To Be Continued...
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