Rough Waters 15 - 'Cracks'

Notes of a Journey Trilogy
Book 2
Rough Waters

Chapter 15 - 'Cracks'

A Gaby FanFic by PB


 

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Photo Credit: Provided by PB.
 


 
Chapter 15
 
Three years later….

Hi Gaby;

I thought you’d like to know about something I saw today as school let out.

Remember that portrait your mother donated to the school just before you moved - the one of the two of you in your team jackets? Mr. Woods had it hung on the ‘Alumni Wall’ opposite the main doors, after final dismissal that day.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of students that have paused to look at all the photos on the wall and in particular, the one of you and your mum. I’ve noticed, especially this year, that Maddy has become your most regular viewer which considering her past actions, struck me.

Today I watched her as she stood in the corridor looking at your picture as usual, but this time I was close enough to notice evidence of a few tears. Rather than leave her standing in a crowded corridor, I took her back to my form until she collected herself. Unfortunately she didn’t want to talk about it, but I left the door open if she ever did.

By the time she left, the corridor was empty and I noticed that she again stopped at your picture. After ensuring she was alone (I guess I don’t count), she kissed the fingertips on her right hand and then reached up and touched, not just the portrait - but you. I also saw her lips move, but couldn’t hear what she said. Then she turned and ran out of the building

I realize Maddy is having some personal issues, but as I stated, I did offer my ‘ear’ if she ever wished to talk.

Your friend,
Fran

Guten Tag, Fran;

Thanks for letting me know about Mad. I guess from what you’ve told me, there’s still some hope. There must be something to the old saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, because it has for me! I know it sounds cliché, but there hasn’t been a day go by that I haven’t thought of her and the harder I try not to, the more I do. Jules says that’s a sure sign of 'love'.

It really makes me feel better knowing that she’s got someone to talk to, when she’s ready and if she does open up, it’ll probably be better talking to someone she trusts outside of the family, like yourself. If she does open up to you, I know you’ll try your best.

When we’re back in Third Levels, we both looked up to you and I hope that feeling has stayed with her. I’d like to think that you’ll be talking with her sooner rather than later.

Gaby ….

“… click … an’ send…," Gaby mumbled to herself as she sent the email to its destination. (sniff)

“You alright, dear?” Jenny was passing Gaby’s bedroom and heard her softly crying. As she entered she saw her daughter sitting in her chair in front of the computer screen.

“Not really!” Gaby whispered, as she looked her mum standing beside her.

With tears running down her face, she showed her mother Fran’s email and pointed to the last paragraph.

”How long’s this going to last, Mum? … Can you tell me that?”

Gaby’s mother shook her head. Drawing her daughter into her chest, Jenny thought for a second and then softly replied, “I don’t know, dear … I don’t know … sorry.”

“When I was your age and my boyfriend ever kept me hanging like Maddy’s done to you … I’d have written him off long ago.” Jenny quietly offered, not even sure if her daughter was listening.

“Maybe it’s time you should let her go … hmmmm?” Even though she knew the answer, she felt it had to be asked.

“Did you ever love someone as much as I do Maddy and end it?”

“No,” Jenny softly conceded.

“Truth be known … I’ve only loved one person as much as you seem to love Maddy ... and I’d never … ever … leave your father.”

“Just as you can’t leave Dad … I (sniff) can’t leave Maddy. I just (sniff) can’t,” Gaby tearfully whispered as she tightened her arms around her mother’s waist. After several minutes, she raised her head and looked her mum in the eyes.

Looking down at her daughter, Jenny whispered, “I used to think it was just ‘puppy love’ between you two … but now ... it’s plain to see I was wrong…”

Gaby rose from her seat and both mother and daughter fell into a long embrace, with the silence in the room only broken by the occasional sigh and odd sniff on her mother’s shoulder.

“Carol’s coming this weekend for your birthday … why not ask her to bring Maddy?” Jenny softly suggested.

“As much as I want her to … I don’t think so. If Maddy still hasn’t … I (sniff) don’t want her around if it’s (sniff) gonna cause prob (hic) lems between us,” Gaby tearfully replied in a quiet voice.

“At least you could ask her about Maddy, then?” Jenny asked.

Gaby reluctantly broke the hold on her mother with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “You know I will.”

“If you can take your mind off Maddy for a while, I’d like you to be with me while I run an idea past your father that involves the Youth Project. Think you can do that?”

After allowing her daughter to make herself presentable, Jenny took Gaby’s hand and led her out of her room in search of Dave. Finding him in his study, the two women each took one of the vacant chairs.

“Got an idea for the girls this season and I want to know what you think.”

“Okay, but you know you don’t need me to approve the training schedule.”

“This is a little different … and since you’re at the top of the food chain, you’ll have to be the one to sell it to George and the sponsor.”

(sigh) “Okay … go ahead.”

“Now hear me out, before you say anything … alright?” Jenny began.

Dave sat back in his chair and closed his eyes, a gesture that she knew all too well. He was ready to listen.

“For the last two summers, we’ve brought all the girls in the program, to Bad Neuenahr … taught them the sport and molded their development … as individuals. We’ve even entered them in several minor races … with a fair bit of success I might add … but again … only as individuals.”

“Your point?”

“Last summer, Maria and I split the group. She took the younger girls while I took the four older ones and taught them team tactics … and most importantly … how to work as a team.”

“But?” Dave probed.

“…But ... now I’m now proposing we take the older girls to the next level … as a team … and give them some international exposure … as a team!”

“Keep going…” Dave smugly urged. Although he remained relaxed leaning back in his chair with his eyes closed, he was obviously intrigued with his wife’s plan.

“The *BDR has several races on its 2008 schedule, including the German Nationals for junior women under 19.”

“Uh huh…”

“While school’s still in, you know the girls will still compete in races … as individuals. I’m proposing that once school’s out … we bring the other three of them here … and long with Gaby, let them race as a team.” Jenny proposed. “This new Junior World Cup Tour the UCI’s put together this summer would be the perfect platform to give these girls international exposure. What do you think?” Jenny sat back in her chair with a smug grin on her face.

“I guess Maria could continue to coach the other girls. I assume you see yourself taking the older girls?” Dave thoughtfully voiced.

Maria had retired from competition at the end of the 2006 season and had assumed her new role as coach for the Youth Project, allowing Jenny to become the full-time Training Director for the program.

“I’ve been working with those girls all along, so that makes me the logical choice … doesn’t it?” Jenny pointed out. “As the Director of the Youth Project, your place is here to oversee the program. If you feel you need some help, maybe you could get Jules when she comes home for the summer.” Jenny was only too aware of Dave’s dedication to the program. “If nothing else … we can see how each of these girls can perform on a team in actual race conditions, should any of them turn pro.”

Following a thoughtful silence, Dave opened his eyes and looked directly at Gaby.

“What do you think, Petal? You feel you’re ready for a World Cup Tour?”

“Uh huh,” Gaby enthusiastically vocalized, which was about all she could say given the size of the grin on her face.

Dave turned his chair towards the wall and then turned back to the two women.

“Okay … I agree with you. I’ll run it by George in the next day or two. Given the amount of travel you’re proposing, Corporate will definitely have to back this … but … I think they just might go for it!”

That following Monday, at the weekly meeting with the senior staff of both the Elite teams and the Youth Project, Dave laid out Jenny’s proposal. After Dave made his presentation, George appeared to briefly consider it, until he turned his attention to Jenny.

“Hmmm … Wen würdest du für die Mannschaft vorschlagen, Jenny?” George pretty well knew who Jenny wanted, but he still had to hear it from her. Jenny was prepared for this and quickly named four girls – Gaby, Judith, Kristen and Nina. With the exception of Nina, all the girls were currently 18 years old.

“Ist Nina ready for this … she ist only 17,” George mentioned.

“They’re all more than ready for this … and Nina turns 18 in June … well before this ‘Junior World Tour’ begins,” Jenny stated.

George silently sat back in his chair, pondering his Training Director’s proposal further and speaking only after several minutes.

“I agree … they are ready for this. Give me the details of this ‘Tour’ as soon as possible und I’ll pass it to Corporate with my recommendation.”

The following Friday afternoon, Jenny took the Volvo and drove into Bonn to pick Carol up at the airport. When Gaby arrived home from school, she walked into the waiting arms of her aunt.

“How’s my birthday girl?” Carol asked after she planted a kiss on Gaby’s cheek.

“Officially I’m not 18 until Monday,” Gaby countered.

“Well, I’ll be back home by then … so for the purposes of this visit, your birthday is all weekend,” Carol informed Gaby. “Now … how’s my niece?”

“Great … holding up … I guess,” Gaby replied as her voice softened. Carol both understood her answer and knew what she was going to ask next.

“How’s Maddy? Has she said anything … about us?” Gaby’s quiet voice took on a pleading quality.

“She’s said nothing directly to me or your uncle … or anyone else that I’m aware of, for that matter,” Carol quietly replied while pulling her niece into a tight hug.

“Don’t let her ruin your birthday, dear,” Carol whispered.

“Wouldn’t be the first time. Why should this be any different?” Gaby quietly and tearfully answered as she tightly held her aunt.

“I’m very sorry that happened,” Carol whispered.

Jenny took the cue and quietly left the room to let the two have some time together. As she stood in the front room, staring out the large windows, she realized how much it bothered her to see what her daughter was going through. After a while she returned and stood in the kitchen doorway with a well-used tissue at the ready, looking at her cousin and her youngest daughter, still in a tight, silent embrace. A few minutes later, Jenny quietly returned to the lounge, once again leaving those two alone. Upon hearing Dave pull up, she quickly stepped outside the front door to head him off.

“Dear … stay out here for a few minutes. Carol and Gaby are having a moment together,” Jenny explained.

“You’ve been crying, Jen,”

“I know … it’s been one of those moments,” She admitted and then proceeded to let Dave know what had set Gaby off.

“With all those two have been through together … sometimes … I just wish we could lock them in the same room and tell them they’re bloody well not coming out until they kiss and make up!”

“Did you just hear yourself? How many fathers would even care that much about their daughter’s happiness?” Jenny quietly asked as she gently held the sides of his face and looked him lovingly in the eyes.

“I should think every father would,” Dave flatly replied.

“Even when they know that happiness comes from being in the arms of another girl?”

“They should...” Dave softly repeated as he lifted his eyes up and stared off into space for several minutes before dropping his gaze back to face Jenny.

“Damn it, Jen! After all she’s been through … she deserves some happiness … and just when she starts showing any signs of it … shi … (sigh) sorry dear.”

Jenny put her arms around her husband. She sympathized with the frustration Dave felt and let him know with a gentle nod of her head.

“C’mon, darling … let’s take a walk down by the river. I think we can both use it. I know Gaby and Carol can probably use the time together,” Jenny suggestively whispered as she took his hand and started to walk towards the street.

“I’m sorry Jen … but I feel so helpless. If everyone else can see that those two should be together … why can’t Maddy?”

After walking in silence for a spell, Dave finally started to share his thoughts with his wife. She stopped under a large tree and gently pulled him against her as she leaned against the tree trunk.

“I mean why does Gaby have to be knocked down every time she tries to get up?” Dave wondered aloud.

“Sh-h-h-h …. I know, luv. It hurts me too … but someone’s going to have to be strong for her and that ‘someone’ looks like us,” Jenny allowed as she put her arms around Dave’s neck, drawing him into a long and passionate kiss.

“Maybe we should be heading back. I never told anyone I was going out and they might be getting a bit worried,” Jenny suggested a bit reluctantly.

If she had her way, she’d just as soon stay under that tree, cuddled into Dave.

“Besides, I’m starting to feel a trifle cool.”

With another kiss, they turned and walked hand in hand, back to their house, with Dave gallantly throwing his jacket over her shoulders.

“Hello!” Jenny called out as they entered the house.

“About time! Where’d you two get off to?” Gaby expressed some genuine relief when her parents returned to the house. “One minute you’re here … then Aunt Carol and I just turn our backs an’ ‘poof!’ You disappeared!”

“Sorry … I thought your dad and I would give you and Carol some time together,” Jenny apologetically replied.

“Well … ‘kay … I suppose,” Gaby softly allowed.

“Feel better, darling?” Jenny asked as she took Gaby into her arms for a prolonged hug.

“Not really ... but Auntie Carol says it’s the duty of every girl to have a good cry every once in a while,” Gaby whispered as she continued to hug her mum.

“What say we all go out for dinner? The usual?” Dave offered in an attempt to lighten the prevailing mood.

“Zur Saffenberg?” Gaby wondered.

“Sounds good,” Jenny answered.

“Now you girls go do whatever it is you do to make me the envy of all the men in the Ahr Valley and I’ll phone for reservations.”

“Maybe the Pinger’s would like to join us?” Gaby wondered as they started to go up to their rooms to get ready.

“Sounds like a good idea,” Jenny called down from the top of the stairs.

“Give the Pinger’s a ring and see if they want to join us.”

“Okay.” However, just as he reached for the reciever, the phone rang.

(Brrriing! … Brrringg!)

“Hallo? Oh … Hallo, George. Ja, sie ist hier... in deinem Büro um 10:00 Uhr morgen? Wir sind dann da … Auf Wiedersehen.”

Dave put down the phone and then proceeded to call the restaurant and the Pinger’s. Moments later Jenny came back down the stairs to join her husband.

“Who was that?” she asked as she walked up behind him.

“George … he reminded me to have Gaby in his office at ten tomorrow morning…” Dave replied as he turned to face Jenny and then in a hushed tone added, “At least that’s one thing going her way.”

“Enough of that David Bond!” Jenny quietly admonished her husband.

“This is her weekend … now don’t spoil it … okay, darling?” Jenny whispered as she wrapped her arms around him and planted a tender kiss on his mouth.

“You two keep that up and the Pinger’s will have finished eating before we even get there,” Gaby mischievously interjected.

“Umm … I think we’ve just been told,” Dave whispered to his wife, while Carol stood behind Gaby, with a silly smirk on her face.

When they returned to the house later that evening, Gaby took her aunt up to her room.

“I want to show you something. I got this email from Fran,” Gaby stated as she started to boot her computer.

Carol sat down in front of the screen and read it several times, finally rising from the chair and after a brief pause, walked over to join Gaby sitting on the edge of her bed.

‘Well … whaddya think?” With a solemn look, Carol turned to look at the love-struck teenager.

“When I think about it, Fran's email makes perfect sense and it certainly answers a few questions. Considering some of Maddy's recent behaviour, I think I know what she likely said.” Carol’s voice wasn’t much above a whisper as she took Gaby’s hands in her own.

“What?” Gaby softly asked.

“ I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if she was telling your picture … that … she loves you.”

“But ... you said that she hasn’t said anything,” Gaby quietly wondered.

“Not to us … but that doesn’t mean anything, dear. If she’s admitted it to herself … that’s a big step!”

“I know…” Gaby softly agreed.

“If it means anything … her father and I had reached the same conclusion some time ago,” she continued in a quiet voice that was only meant for Gaby’s ears.

Thanking her, Gaby gave her Aunt one last hug before they headed back downstairs. On the way out of the room, Carol noticed the framed the photo of Maddy that she had sent Gaby a few weeks ago.

“Would it be okay if I told Maddy that you have a framed picture of her in your room?”

“Yeah … an’ maybe if you think it might make a difference … let her know that … I still love her … please?”

Carol went to say something, but no sound came out. Instead she took one of her niece’s hands and gave it a gentle squeeze as she nodded her answer.

“I think we better join the others. They’re probably forming search parties by now,” Carol suggested after a couple of minutes.

Next morning, Jenny woke Gaby before her clock-radio went off.

“No ride?” Gaby asked, hoping her mum would say no and she could go back to sleep.

“Not this morning, dear! You’ve got an appointment … so dress smartly!” Jenny advised as she turned to go out of the room.

“Where?” Gaby called after her mother as she followed her out of the room.

“Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies,” Jenny playfully called back as she descended the stairs. “Could she really have forgotten?”

“Crikey!” Gaby mumbled to herself as she turned back from the top of the stairs to go have a shower.

I heard that young lady!” Jenny’s voice rose from somewhere in the house.

“I gotta find out how she does that,” thought Gaby.

Later as everyone went to get into the car, Dave threw Gaby the keys.

“You drive!”

“Really?” Gaby shrieked.

“Really, really…” Dave replied in his best ‘Shrek’ imitation.

”Know where you’re going?” Dave flatly asked, after noticing that Gaby was just sitting behind the wheel, staring out the front window.

“No.”

“George’s office…” Dave leaned over and whispered into Gaby’s ear.

Gaby promptly put the Volvo into reverse and with a huge grin on her face, backed out onto the street.

A little before the appointed hour, Dave, Jen, Carol and Gaby pulled into the Team Apollinaris’ car park. As they approached George’s office, Gaby noticed that he wasn’t alone.

“Ah … Die Family Bond … guten Morgen!” Upon seeing Carol, George asked no one in particular, “Zwei Jenny’s?” prompting Gaby and Jenny to stifle a few giggles.

"Nein … erlauben Sie mir, meine Cousine darzustellen …Carol Peters … 'cuz … this is the Director for Team Apollinaris … and my boss … George Müller. Carol kommt aus Warsop zu Besuch, wegen Gabis Geburtstag." Jenny introduced Carol and explained she was visiting from Warsop for Gaby's birthday.

“Willkommen … I hope you enjoy your stay,” George offered.

“Thank you.”

Jenny turned to look at the other occupants in the room. “Morgen, Eric … Frank.” Dave shook hands with both gentlemen.

“Morgen, Herr Weber … Mr. Bower.” Gaby acknowledged the two gentlemen as she approached George’s desk.

“Bitte,” George offered, as he invited everyone to sit at the large table in the office.

As they sat down, Jenny quietly explained to Carol who the two gentlemen were and that they were here to sign a third consecutive extension to both her and Gaby’s sponsorship contracts.

Frank opened the proceedings after passing out copies of the contract extensions to all at the table.

“Eric’s had his copy for a couple of days, so I’ll give the rest of you time to read them over, then Eric and I will answer any questions you ladies or George may have.”
After some time had passed in which Gaby and Jenny read their respective contracts, Frank again spoke up.

“You can see that they’re pretty much the standard extensions you’ve signed in the past. However, I noticed a couple of raised eyebrows. Let me tell you that according to our research … the two of you have been responsible for a very noticeable increase in interest and sales for our European operations and accordingly … the bottom line on your contracts reflects that. We hope that it’s satisfactory.”

Both women enthusiastically nodded their approval.

“In addition … George has made us aware that Apollinaris now has a junior women’s team. To that end … ‘Specialized’ would like to equip and support the junior team just like we do the Elite team.”

Frank noticed Gaby’s joyful expression and added, “Yes, Gaby … that means new bikes!”

In Eric’s presence, both Gaby and Jenny re-signed. Again, George countersigned both contracts, on behalf of both the pro team and the sponsor, while Dave signed on behalf of the Youth Project. Once all the business was concluded, George addressed Gaby, as they rose to leave.

“Gabi … Alles Gute zum Geburtstag.”

“Danke, George,” Gaby replied as she went back and gave George a peck on the cheek.

As she went out the office door, Gaby took Carol by the arm and leading her down the hall to join the others she answered Carol’s inquisitive look.

“He just wished me a happy birthday.”

“I’m still finding it strange to hear your mum speaking German like a native … but now … hearing you,” a bemused Carol confessed, much to Gaby’s amusement.

“I know what you mean. I felt the same way when I first heard Mum,” Gaby replied.

Once on the main floor of the building, Jenny and Gaby acted as tour guides, showing Carol the entire complex while Dave tagged along. As they were showing the exercise room to Carol, Gaby started thinking aloud.

“Mum? … ‘member when you were talking about the schedule for the junior team the other day? What’re the dates for the nationals?”

“I believe they’re being held June 13th to the 15th … with the actual races held on the weekend … why?”

“I was thinking … how about seeing if we can get Kristen to take a couple of days off school and bring ‘er over? That’d give us the full team. Think of the championships as a dress rehearsal … our first race as a real team.” Gaby enthused. “I’ve ridden with all of them … and I know we can do it, Mum.”

Now it was Jenny’s turn to beam with enthusiasm as she gave her daughter a big hug.

“Hmmm Cor! Somebody’s thinking! … Dave … what do you think?” Jenny asked turning to face Dave.

“It’s a bit unusual for us … technically, she’s still in sets. Let me talk to George … but, if he agrees and we can get everything together, I think we could do it…” Dave replied.

“…Providing it won’t impact Kristen’s exams … after all it’ll be nearing that time for schools back home,” Jenny added.

“True.”

As an afterthought, she added, “You girls will still have to do well in the other races to convince George we’ve earned the right to compete in the junior championships.”

“We will,” Gaby confidently replied.

Later that afternoon, Gaby sat down at her keyboard and decided to email Ally before they took Carol to the airport.

Hi Ally..

Apart from no Maddy, it was a great weekend. If I can find a gap in between races this summer, I’ll come see her because this separation has got to be resolved between us one way or the other. I really don’t think I can take much more – I’ve got to know.

Aunt Carol came for the weekend & my birthday. It’s always a joy to see her. I just wish she was able to visit more often & I know mum feels the same.

On Friday I re-signed my ‘Specialized’ sponsorship. More money for university! That evening I had my birthday with the family and the Pinger’s, but on Saturday evening, Kat and a few friends took me out, for an evening at the Casino in Bad Neuenahr. Meat Loaf was on stage doing songs from each of his CD’s in his ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ trilogy. All in all, it was almost a three hour show! I didn’t even know he was touring again, but I’m glad Kat did. I’ve seen him before, with Dad but tonight was unbelievable! If he has any British dates, you really have to go!

Hugs,
Gaby


“An’ send….”(click) Gaby thought to herself as she hit the keys.

“Whatcha doin’ Gaby?” Carol asked as she came into her bedroom.

“Just sent Ally an email about the weekend.”

As she rose from her chair and turned to her aunt, Gaby threw her arms around Carol in a tight hug.

“Thanks for coming. It meant a lot!”

“She’ll come around dear … I just know it. Coming to the airport to see your aunt off?” Carol asked, quickly changing the subject.

“Of course!” Gaby replied, giving her another hug.

“Let’s go, then!” Carol urged.

Following Carol’s departure, the remaining weeks leading up to the National Championships passed quickly. Between training, races and their studies, both Gaby and Judith were quite busy.

Back in the Fall before the girls entered their last year at Bad Neuenahr’s Are-Gymnasium, they had met with the school administration and arrived at a timetable that would allow them maximum spares each day for training. With Jenny’s intervention, Judith even was able to obtain an exemption from P/E like Gaby, because of her involvement with Apollinaris and cycling. Now both girls took full advantage of their forethought.

This time when Gaby rode in April’s Berlin-Bad Freienwalde-Berlin race, she took the overall win with a convincing six-second margin over the rest of the field. Despite a crash with 15km to go, Nina battled back to take fourth overall. Judith didn’t ride on account of a sprained ankle incurred in a fall during a training ride, the previous day.

Early June had seen Gaby, Judith and Nina place in the top ten in Kölns Deutsche Meisterschaften im Einzelzeitfahren, with Gaby taking the time trial championship in her class.

Of the eight road races on the 2008 *BDR Junioren U19 schedule leading up to the National Championships, at least one of the girls from the Apollinaris Youth Project, had made the podium in six of those races, with Gaby recording four wins and a second place.

As the big day approached, Jenny intensified their training. If it wasn’t suitable to go out on the roads, she had them work out at the training facility.

When she wasn’t racing with Gaby and Judith, Nina was back in Berlin with her local club. She kept a similar level of intense training to that of her teammates, as was Kristen back in England. On a couple of occasions in the last few months, Nina had even flown into Bonn to join her two friends for a weekend of training. Having her team bike at the training facility made such trips much easier.

Combined, all four girls were determined to make themselves known as a team in the championships, as much for themselves as for Jenny and Dave, and in the process validate the goals of the Youth Project.

Jenny had already found accommodation for the team during the championship weekend. In her words “a nice hotel only a few kilometres from the race course.”

Now having finished university, Jules was back at home helping in Dave’s office and getting just as caught up in the excitement of the upcoming championships as the rest of the facility..

On the couple of occasions, when the pro team had returned to Bad Neuenahr, Jules had volunteered to go out with her mum or dad in the support car, following Gaby and Judith as they rode with the pro Team on their training rides.

----------------------------

*BDR – Der Bund Deutscher Radahrer: The Federation of German Cyclists regulates all cycle racing in the German sport federation.

 
 
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