On behalf of Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and Elizabeth Ducie, I’m thrilled today to be hosting an extract from the wonderful novel – Gorgito’s Ice Rink.
Gorgito’s Ice Rink was runner up in Writing Magazine’s 2015 Self-Published Book of the Year Awards.
Two small boys grieving for lost sisters — torn between family and other loves. Can keeping a new promise make up for breaking an old one?
When Gorgito Tabatadze sees his sister run off with a soldier, he is bereft. When she disappears into Stalin’s Gulag system, he is devastated. He promises their mother on her death-bed he will find the missing girl and bring her home; but it is to prove an impossible quest.
Forty years later, Gorgito, now a successful businessman in post-Soviet Russia, watches another young boy lose his sister to a love stronger than family. When a talented Russian skater gets the chance to train in America, Gorgito promises her grief-stricken brother he will build an ice-rink in Nikolevsky, their home town, to bring her home again.
With the help of a British engineer, who has fled to Russia to escape her own heartache, and hindered by the local Mayor who has his own reasons for wanting the project to fail, can Gorgito overcome bureaucracy, corruption, economic melt-down and the harsh Russian climate in his quest to build the ice-rink and bring a lost sister home? And will he finally forgive himself for breaking the promise to his mother?
A story of love, loss and broken promises. Gorgito’s story, told through the eyes of the people whose lives he touched.
My website page: http://elizabethducieauthor.co.uk/book/gorgitos-ice-rink/
Kindle universal link: https://geni.us/3OHR
Until 14th October, Gorgito’s Ice Rink is only 99 p/c in all territories.
Nikolevsky, June 1995
Context: Driving in Russia is not always as disciplined as in UK, and incurring the wrath, and the on-the-spot fines, of the traffic police is a risk many drivers take every day. In this scene, Gorgitos has insisted he will drive his honoured guests, from the Health Ministry, back to their hotel. Emma and her team follow with their hearts in their mouths.
As Gorgito pulled away, Mikhail tucked the minibus in behind him. Emma bit her lip and stared out of the window into the darkness. It was going to take the best part of an hour to get back to the hotel. The road was narrow and much in need of repair. There was no light, apart from the moon and the headlights of an occasional car coming in the other direction. Until they reached the outskirts of Nikolevsky, they would be driving through thick forest. By day a visually stunning mixture of pine and silver birch, it looked mysterious and lonely at night.
Mikhail looked over his shoulder at Emma, as he braked gently and let the Mercedes move away from them.
‘Mrs Emma, I’m going to try to keep a short distance behind them. If I get too close, Gorgito Evgenyvich will be angry. If I hang back, we might lose him.’
Emma nodded as they began mimicking the car in front, as though being towed.
To start with, the two vehicles flew along at way above the speed limit. Then, for no apparent reason, they slowed right down, before setting off at speed once more. Emma saw the car in front weave occasionally–although most of the time, it kept in a straight line, as though on automatic pilot.
‘Emma, can you believe this is happening?’ whispered Helen. Emma turned to find her team gathered around her, staring out of the windscreen. Even Charlie was sitting on the edge of his seat with his eyes wide open.
‘I don’t believe this. These Russians are crazy,’ she heard him say softly.
There were moments when everyone in the minibus held their breath. At the brow of a steep hill, Gorgito swerved the Mercedes towards the centre of the carriageway, missing by centimetres a huge lorry thundering past. Minutes later he narrowly avoided crashing into the deep, water-filled ditch running along the side of the road. When a dog suddenly ran across almost under the wheels of the Mercedes, both vehicles braked sharply. Emma felt someone clutch her arm and heard Helen let out a squeal. Mikhail’s knuckles were white as he clutched the steering wheel.
They finally reached the outskirts of Nikolevsky. As Gorgito’s car slowed, Emma leaned back in her seat and exchanged a smile of relief with Mikhail in the rear-view mirror. Helen and Vasily went back to listing their favourite rock tracks. Charlie’s eyes slowly closed again and even Sergey seemed to be relaxing.
The vehicles were approaching a road junction just inside the town limits, with traffic lights strung on high wires across the road. Just as Gorgito reached the junction, the lights turned red. Sergey and Mikhail gave a collective groan.
‘What is it?’ said Emma.
‘See, over there, Mrs Emma,’ Sergey said, pointing to the side of the road where a blue and white striped car was parked in the shadows.
‘It’s the traffic police,’ said Mikhail, ‘and it’s the end of the month. Their wages will all have been spent.’
Emma had seen the traffic patrols most days, sitting in their cars, or standing at the side of the road with the plastic paddles they used to stop vehicles. She guessed the policeman might see the driver of such an expensive car as fair game, especially if he’d been drinking.
Mikhail pulled the minibus up next to the Mercedes at the traffic lights and everyone peered across, waiting to see what would happen.
‘He’ll know Gorgito’s been drinking—he won’t be able to miss it,’ said Helen.
Although they were too far away to hear anything, they could follow what was happening from the gestures. The policeman demanded Gorgito’s papers. Looking completely relaxed, Gorgito reached into his pocket and handed them over. As he glanced out of his window at the watching crowd in the minibus, Emma could have sworn he winked at them. Then he reached into his other pocket and took out his cigarettes. He calmly took one out of the box and reached for his lighter. As the flame appeared, it illuminated his face.
‘Just like a scene in a movie,’ said Charlie, who was by now wide awake again.
The policeman recoiled slightly, and his back stiffened. Then, handing back the papers, he saluted smartly. He waved the car on and stood watching it drive away. As the minibus started up behind it, Emma looked back at the figure in the road. There was a look of admiration and respect on his face.
‘Gorgito might be a relatively tiny player in our industry,’ she said to Charlie, ‘but in this town, it looks like he’s a bit of a giant.’
‘And, what’s more,’ Charlie said, ‘he’s a giant who’s going to build an ice rink.’
Author Bio – Elizabeth Ducie
When Elizabeth Ducie had been working in the international pharmaceutical industry for nearly thirty years, she decided she’d like to take a break from technical writing—text books, articles and training modules—and write for fun instead. She started by writing travel pieces, but soon discovered she was happier, and more successful, writing fiction. In 2012, she gave up the day job, and started writing full-time. She has published four novels, three collections of short stories and a series of manuals on business skills for writers.
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