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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL/SERIES: To Charity Begins at Home.
A Sundae on a Sunday
Blair and I have been spending every weekend together since we've finally admitted our feelings toward each other. In fact, after the charity golf tournament, we took the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday making up for lost time. I think if I had run a marathon, I'd have been less sore, but let me tell you, it was well worth any pain I had to endure.
Now, months later, I'm once again pinch-hitting for Blair, but this time it's a charity tennis tournament. She had signed up to participate in the ladies singles, but twisted her ankle practicing yesterday afternoon, and the committee has graciously allowed me to take her place. I'm pretty sure I'm going to regret not having picked up a racket since my days at Eastland.
I'd resigned myself to losing out in the first round, but Blair's boasting of my ability to her club friends has me bound and determined to at least make it to the second round. Maybe I'll luck out and draw some geriatric grandma who's still trying to hang onto her athletic years, and it would also be extremely helpful if she could be wheelchair bound as well.
Walking out to the courts to check the draw, I notice two of Blair's biggest rivals from the club looking over the scheduled matches of the women's division. I pull up short when I hear them snickering and pointing toward the middle of the bracket.
"Muffy, look who Blair's uncouth friend drew; she'll be lucky if she wins a single game," the haughty redhead says, laughing.
The equally snobbish blonde replies, "Oh, this is rich. Blair is going to be devastated, not to mention totally embarrassed when the Warner entry doesn't make it past the first round. I can't wait to see the look on her face."
I allow the two bitches to walk away without replying to their snotty comments. I'd much rather have them eat their words after I win my first match. Hell, better yet, I'll sic Blair on them.
Taking the last few steps to the bracket, I skim over the first round looking for my name and finding it at the top of the second tier. Hmm, I'm on center court so I definitely can't lose this one. Now, let's see who I'm playing.
Maria Lloyd? Why does that name seem so familiar? I wrack my brain to try to recall where I've heard that name, but I'm interrupted by a familiar voice.
"Hey, Jo. I'm so happy Blair asked Natalie and me to visit this weekend. It'll be just like old times," Tootie says, putting her arm around my shoulder. "So, who did you draw?"
"Um, Maria Lloyd. I know that name from somewhere, but for the life of me I can't recall," I reply as I point toward the name in question.
Tootie immediately drops her arm from my shoulder and turns toward me.
"Oh, Jo. You're going to get killed," my good friend Tootie offers.
Before I can ask who the hell Maria Lloyd is, we are joined by an obviously excited Natalie. Surely, she'll defend my tennis playing skills.
"Wow, this place is huge. Oh, hi, Jo. How've you been?"
"Nat, Jo drew Maria Lloyd for her first opponent; too bad it will be her last," Tootie supplies, shaking her head in sympathy.
"You're kidding. Jo, she'll wipe you off the court and utterly humiliate you in front of all those rich people. It's going to be the ultimate nightmare. You won't even be able to see her serve or her return; it'll be by you before you can even blink," Natalie responds as she mimics me standing on the baseline with a pretend racket in hand, looking at the invisible ball going past.
Okay, that's it. I'm not going to stand here and have my supposedly best friends undermine my already shaky confidence, but at the same time, my curiosity won't allow me to walk away.
With hands on hips, I ask, "Can one of you please tell me who Maria Lloyd is?"
"Don't you remember, Jo? She went to Eastland; she was the national junior champion our senior year," Blair answers from over my left shoulder. With a slight limp, she steps beside me and questions, "Why do you ask?"
Oh shit, that Maria Lloyd. Now I remember; she would have easily made the professional women's circuit had it not been for a serious knee injury. I had read somewhere that she had given up on her tennis career and went to law school instead. I had forgotten all about her until now.
Blair glances at the tournament draw while she awaits an answer to her previously posed question, and suddenly, all the color drains from her face. Reflexively, I put my arm around her waist to steady her.
"Maria Lloyd is entered in this tournament?" Blair asks in total disbelief.
Letting her vivid imagination run wild, Natalie replies, "Yes, and poor Jo drew her the first round. It's going to be like the gunfight at the O. K. Corral, only with Jo weaponless, or like Custer's last stand, but I'd truly hate to see Jo without her scalp, or like "
"Natalie!" Tootie interrupts the runaway train and adds, "Don't make this worse than it already is."
Ignoring the two bickering friends, I say, "It'll be okay, Blair. Surely, no one expects Maria Lloyd to be defeated. It was just my bad luck that I drew her first."
Blair stares at the tournament bracket in hopes that the names would somehow reorder themselves, but when they stubbornly remain in their current location, she focuses on the odds of me drawing Maria first. Suddenly, her expression changes to anger.
"Damn that Muffy. She has to be behind this. Why, I bet she already had Maria lined up to play, and she was going to put her opposite me. She knows the Warners have never lost a first round match," Blair remarks in a tone that I'm truly thankful is not directed at me, especially when she makes her next statement. "I'm going to pull out every one of her peroxided roots when I get my hands on her."
Pulling Blair closer, I whisper, "I'm sorry, Blair. I wish I could promise you that I'd win, but I don't think it's even remotely possible."
Blair forces a smile and replies, "Don't worry, Jo. I wouldn't be able to beat Maria either. I'll just have to gracefully accept our defeat, but I can assure you, I'll get my revenge on Little Miss Muffy; however, that can wait until later, let's go get your racket from Susan."
Tootie and Natalie accompany us to the pro shop and entertain us with their latest stories of both the literary and acting worlds. At least it will temporarily keep my mind off my impending massacre.
Arriving at the shop, Susan greets us and walks to the back to retrieve my newly strung racket. Blair takes the opportunity to look at the latest tennis attire while Tootie and Natalie continue to regale me with their tales.
"Here you go, Jo. Sorry to hear about your first opponent," Susan offers in sympathy.
Blair's ears perk up at the words, and she asks, "Susan, you usually draw up the bracket for the tournament. Can you tell me when Maria's name was added to the list of competitors?"
Looking apologetic, Susan replies, "Actually, Blair, Muffy insisted on making up the draw this year. I was going to protest, but several of the committee members were present, and they didn't seem to have a problem with it so my hands were tied. As for Maria, I never saw her name on the list."
"I knew it. Muffy's mom plays bridge with Maria's mom so she probably arranged the entire thing. Leave it to Muffy to bring in a ringer," Blair says in disgust.
I quickly fill Susan in on the recent developments while Tootie and Natalie attempt to calm a very angry Blair, but they are unsuccessful, because when we leave the pro shop, Blair is still quite steamed. I wonder if we have time to swing by the condo before my opening match. I know just the thing that will calm her down; well, at least I know what usually calms her down.
As I mentally make a plan to meet up with Tootie and Natalie later, an announcement is made over the club's PA system informing the players that the times have been moved up so the four of us hurry back to the bracket to check on the time for my match.
High noon? Maybe Natalie was right, this will be like a gunfight. The bad news is I don't have time to take Blair home and properly 'calm' her down, but at least we'll be able to make out for a few minutes in the dressing room before my showdown with Maria.
Taking center court, I nervously fiddle with my racket while I await my opponent's arrival. Tootie and Natalie are sitting front and center, but there is no sign of Blair. Several minutes later, she waves at me as she takes a seat next to Natalie. I guess she had to go to the restroom or something.
A polite round of clapping brings my attention back to courtside, and I see Maria striding toward me looking every bit a professional as Chris Evert. Damn, I'm going to get crushed.
The first four games are over before I can say, "Holy shit, this woman can play." I've actually been able to get my racket on three of her serves, and I think I startled her when one of my returns went over the net and landed inside the baseline. Of course, she promptly swatted it back for a winner, but I was proud of myself nonetheless.
On my second serve of the fifth game, I manage to hit the ball deep and into the corner of the service area. Maria makes a stab for the ball and immediately grabs her leg. I watch in disbelief as the trainer comes out and informs Maria that she shouldn't continue. The next thing I know, I'm being declared the winner of the match, and Blair is right beside me congratulating me for keeping the Warner first round win streak alive. Hell, I didn't do anything except serve wide and . . . hey, why did Maria just wink at Blair?
"Well, well, aren't you the lucky one, Blair? If Maria hadn't been injured your substitute would have been trounced," Muffy offers, moving toward the two of us.
"Her name is Jo, Muffy, and as for the match, these things happen in tennis. It's a part of the game. Why look what happened to me?" Blair replies in a sickening sweet voice.
Shaking her head, Muffy counters, "You got your first round win, but there's no way your sub can win the next one, but if she does get lucky, she'll have to play me in the finals. I intend to stay perfectly healthy when I beat the pants off of her."
Muffy turns and walks away, not waiting for Blair's response. Good thing, too, because I don't think anyone would misconstrue Blair's muttered reply, "No one takes off Jo's pants, but me."
The second match goes three sets, but I pull it out in the tiebreaker. My game is slowly improving with each set, and the extra incentive Blair offered me really helped my focus as well. Every time I'd get behind, I'd imagine my Blair hot fudge sundae, and my overall game suddenly elevated to a whole new level.
The final match with Muffy will take place tomorrow morning at ten o'clock so we drop Natalie and Tootie off at the hotel and head straight home. I can't wait for my promised dessert as I accelerate toward my final destination.
"What?" I can't believe what I'm hearing.
"You have to conserve your strength for tomorrow's match. Just think how much more satisfying your reward will be after you've dethroned the champion of the last three years," Blair explains as I stand in the bedroom doorway with whipped cream and chocolate syrup in hand.
Pouting, I reply, "But I want my reward now. You promised."
The next morning, I awake in an highly frustrated state. Blair wouldn't give in to my pouting or my begging. All I can think about now is crushing Muffy so that I can get my sundae. Hmm, a sundae on a Sunday; I can live with that.
The first set goes to Muffy on a tiebreaker, but I've noticed that she tenses up when I rush the net so I'm going to mix it up a little more in the second set. My strategy pays off when I take the second set 6-4. Now, we're on serve in the third set, and I just hope it doesn't come down to another tiebreaker because Muffy seems to push her game up a notch when the pressure is on.
My hopes are dashed when she holds serve to bring the match to 6-6, and she doesn't waste any time winning the first two points of the tiebreaker; however, something upsets her when I win the next point off my serve, and she immediately protests to the umpire.
"Hey, there was some sort of reflection in the stands that distracted me. We should play the point over," Muffy explains to the chair umpire.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Barrington, but I didn't notice anything. The point stands," the umpire rules, and a pissed off Muffy stomps back to the baseline.
I win the next three points, and Miss Muffy is not a happy camper. She keeps insisting that a glare is blinding her, but no one else seems to notice a problem. We continue play and exchange a few points before I get on a roll. Finally, I'm serving for match point.
This time, I see the distracting glare when Muffy makes the attempt to return my serve, only to miss the ball completely. The umpire calls, 'game, set, and match,' and Muffy storms to the chair and throws the mother of all tantrums.
Laughing, I watch the proceedings until Tootie, Natalie, and Blair rush onto the court to congratulate me, and when Blair reaches out to hug me, I immediately notice a silver Diet coke can in her hand. Surely, she didn't . . . nah, she wouldn't . . . or would she?
I don't have time to ask my lover if she is responsible for Muffy's protests because the chairman of the tennis club comes out to present me with the first place trophy. I decline to speak and allow Blair the spotlight instead.
Immediately following the presentation, Blair, Tootie, and Natalie accompany me back to the locker area to pick up my gear. I was planning to take a quick shower, but Blair promised to wash my back if I waited until we got home. Needless to say, I'll be showering in the privacy of Blair's condo.
As I'm gathering my things, Muffy comes in and completely ignores us as she walks back toward the shower area. Shrugging, I put my racket in my bag, and just as we turn to leave the room, Muffy screams, and the four of us quickly run to her aid.
Rounding the corner, we burst out laughing at the sight of a blue Muffy standing under the shower as the blue water continues to pound down on her face and hair.
Leaving the blue smurf to her own devices, we head for the door, and I catch a quick glimpse of Natalie sliding something into an open locker. Walking closer to the object, I'm able to make out a pair of pliers. I shake my head and follow my friends out of the room.
We walk Tootie and Natalie to the parking lot to say our goodbyes, promising to try to keep in touch more often, and the two women wave as they pull from their parking spot and head toward the exit.
Blair offers to drive when we get to our car, and I graciously accept. This way, I can concentrate on dreaming about my soon to be shower and dessert without having to worry about safely getting us home.
By the time Blair pulls into our drive, I'm grinning from ear to ear, but the grin falls from my face when I start to get out and note Blair is still sitting in the driver's seat with the engine running. Why isn't she getting out?
"Come here, Jo," my lover commands, and like the fool I'm not, I automatically obey.
Taking my face in her hands, she leans forward and sweetly kisses me for several glorious moments before she slowly pulls away.
"I'm so proud of you, Jo. Beating Muffy was the highlight of the entire tournament," Blair whispers lovingly.
Smiling, I reply, "It was my pleasure, but I do have a question for you. Did you use your diet coke can to reflect the sun into Muffy's eyes?"
"Well, I guess it could have been me. I was sitting in the middle of the court so it would have been possible for the can to direct a glare from my position," my lover innocently explains.
Deciding to change the subject to a more important topic, I ask, "Why is the car still running, and why aren't we already in the shower?"
Leaning forward, she pecks my lips and says, "I need to go pick something up at the store. I know I promised to wash your back, but why don't you go ahead and shower, and I should be home by the time you get out."
"What do we need?" I question, mentally running through all the necessary items for my treat.
"Cherries; you deserve toppings for your performance today," Blair responds in a husky tone.
Grinning, I jump from the car and race to the condo, heading straight for the showers. Hot damn, what a Sunday I'm having.
First I beat Muffy, and soon, I'm getting a Blair sundae with cherry toppings. I know just where I'm going to put them, too.
Today, it's definitely great to be me.
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