Researching Athletes - So Much Fun!!! by Laurel Ulen Curtis + Excerpt
Sucked into the vortex of YouTube? Must be researching athletes.
Spending extra time wiping drool from my chin? Must be researching athletes.
Considering doing multiple things in a day that WILL kill me? Must be researching athletes.
Researching These Battered Hands was a little like coming home for me.
I spent years of my youth as a competitive gymnast, and it’s not the sort of thing you forget.
My mind had muddied, my memories had fogged, but with one click of my mouse and the stream of a video, I was there again. The sights, the smells, the sounds, and the pain—all of it.
I could feel the chalk on my skin as I watched videos of girls rubbing it into theirs, and I could taste the tears of frustration from trying to force my body to master something new.
And I craved it. I wanted to live it, breathe it, and immerse myself in that world.
That mindset never leaves. Unfortunately, physical ability does.
At twenty-eight years old and lacking in physical fitness, I had to talk myself out of dying at least four times a day while I was writing this book.
But I wouldn’t change any of it.
I wouldn’t ask for the hours I lost to watching bottomless talent, and I wouldn’t ask to unsee any of it.
In fact, I’m doing it now.
Fun research never ends.
Laurel Ulen Curtis
Third time Olympic hopeful gymnast, Calia Nickleson, has spent her entire life teaching her body to be physically flexible. But when she’s forced to choose between glory and love, she learns that no matter the amount of effort expended, you can only bend so much before you break.
Nikolai Bograv, a former competitive power-tumbler turned elite gymnastics coach, is used to tackling challenges head on. But he’s never been faced with the one of a kind, powerhouse package that is Callie.
This story is more than grips, rips, and battered hands. For Callie and Nik, it was everything.
His eyes were like actual pools of water—moving, flowing, and changing color along with depth. Each time his focus shifted, so did mine, zeroing in on a new fleck of deep blue and trying to help it float through the much more abundant aqua. Their magnetism made it hard to focus on his words, but I wouldn’t have traded those moments spent studying their nuances for all of the words in the dictionary.
Sure, looks were shallow and words could mean everything, but in those split seconds when his eyes changed before my own, I would have sworn on my every Olympic medal it was the opposite.
And right now, I needed the comfort of that feeling. I needed it to swaddle me in its warmth and make everything feel right again.
The word wrong had never been a concept worthy of my focus, but as I tried to make sense of what was happening, denying its existence was no longer an option.
Up felt like down and left very nearly tricked me into believing it was right.
Voices called out to me constantly and on repeat, but none of them were the one I wanted. Like they were speaking through water, every pronunciation of my name seemed foreign and unwelcome, and my brain did nothing but scream another.
I tried valiantly to talk my uncooperative body into bending to my will, but for the first time in my life it wouldn’t.
Digging deep down into my gut, I found the last vestiges of my energy and willed them into one single action.
Into one single word.
Priorities shifted and silence mocked me.
My entire life had been a series of events all specifically driven toward this very moment. I’d known all of my work was meant to culminate in a flourish of glory and significance. I’d known there’d be a second in time when I knew why each part of my life had played out the way it had. Why I’d worked, why I’d sweat, why I’d fought to keep going well after most people’s journeys were done.
I’d even known it would probably happen now—on this stage, in front of all of these people.
I’d just had the timing wrong by about three minutes.
But I knew now.
This was it.
The thing I found myself wanting most during this moment—that was everything.
He was everything.
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Laurel Ulen Curtis is a mother. She lives with her husband and son (and cat!) in New Jersey, but grew up all over the United States. She graduated from Rutgers University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology, and puts that to almost no use other than forecasting for her friends! She has a passion for her family, laughing, and reading and writing Romance novels. Oh, and she's addicted to Coke. The drink, not the drug.