Authors: Maddie Cochere
I flounced off and then ran to the women's locker room to get changed. After dressing as fast as I could, I took a quick look in the mirror. At 5' 7”, I was
trim and liked the toning
my arms and legs had from
strenuous sport. My shoulder-length blonde hair was loose today, and the barrettes on either side would hold my hair back from my face during play. My bangs were
not in my eyes.
I was wearing a baby blue outfit of soft
cotton shorts with a white-and-
blue striped matching tee top. I had on light blue socks with white shoes and white laces. I used to wear pink laces in my shoes as a kind of trademark, but gave up on the look a few months ago. I still liked to dress as femininely as possible o
n the court, and found
it gave me an edge
I had never anticipated
. An opponent once told me
she had me pegged for a ditzy blonde in froufrou clothes with no ability. It threw her of
f her game for at least half
the match, and I easily won.
I found our court and stepped inside. Samantha was waiting. “What happened to your clothes?” I asked her with a laugh. She was dressed in what
appeared to be
Larry's leftover clothes.
“I guess I wasn't as confident as I should have been
,” she said
I didn't bring enough clothes
didn't want to find a laundromat last night, so Larry dressed me today.” She burst out laughing as she looked down at herself. Her s
tocky build was actually
cute in Larry's baggy shorts and shirt. Her long, dark curly hair was in its usual position piled on top of her head with clips sticking out as they tried to hold the hair in place.
An hour later, we went down to defeat. We won the first game, lost the second, and then lost the third by
points. Maybe this match wasn't the time to stop running around like a chicken with
head cut off, but I did try harder to stay in my own quadrant. We both played well, and we weren’t ashamed to come in second. I still had my semi-finals match in singles, and then hopefully, the finals.
There was only
minutes until my next match, and I took the time to drink a bottle of water and cool down. Once again in the locker room, I pulled my hair back into a ponytail and changed into the same style of outfit as before, but this one was pink shorts with a white top and pink cap sleeves. Pink socks, white shoes with white laces, and I was ready to go again.
I nearly lost the match due a puffed-up, know-it-all, trying-to-make-me lose jerk!
The referee gave the first game to my opponent by giving her an unearned point when the score was tied 14-14. If a ball passed me on the left side, he continually stopped play and either gave the serve or the point to my opponent. He refused to wait to see if I could return the shot off the back wall. By the middle of the second game, I had smoke coming out of my ears.
“Come on!” I yelled up at the referee. “You aren’t even waiting
to see if I can return the shot
!” One of the shots I returned had
rolled out flat for a kill shot, but he was oblivious.
a small linebacker dripping
with sweat, gave me
a knowing smile. She knew
I had returned all of the disputed shots, but she wasn't going to complain about a free game and more free points. I called for a time out and left the court demanding to see the tournament director. I ended up in a near screaming match with the referee. The director finally assigned two line judges to our match. Going forward, the judges overturned several of the referee’s calls, and I went on to win the game, and then the match, moving me into the final bracket.
It was shortly after 2:00, and I was mentally and physically exhausted. I forced myself to eat a banana and drink a Gatorade. I put on my pink warm-up jacket, found a sofa in an empty corner of the lobby, and crashed on one end of it. Samantha
was on standby to be sure
I was awake by 3:15 so I could change clothes and warm up for
finals match at 4:00.
I had only been on the sofa for a few minutes when I felt a tickle on my nose. I was ready to bite someone’s head off, but I opened my eyes to familiar hazel-green eyes.
“Mick!” I exclaimed with delight.
Mick Raines was my love interest at the moment, although we had never made love. We were close to the moment once. After a late-night trip to the emergency room for several stitches to my hea
d from a racquet blow, Mick
helped me back
. It was nearly dawn when he carried me to the bedroom
, gently settled me onto the bed, and
After covering me with the sheet, he
kissed me softly on my forehead.
I was sure he would undre
ss and slip in beside
coupled with a slight concussion
was more than I could handle, and I quickly fell into a deep sleep. I awoke
hours later to a
note from Mick telling me
he would call me later, and to Darby, my best guyfriend and neighbor from across the hall, sitting on my
living room sofa watching Food Network on
Mick was also an absolutely drop-dead
gorgeous hunk of man
. He was
5' 10” with thick dark hair
a hint of a curl, and
the most beautiful hazel-green eyes I'd ever seen. A handball player, he was rock solid and had a fantastic build. He shared ownership of Raines Construction with his uncle, and Husky was one of their e
mployees. Mick had promised
if any of us won at tournament, he’d take us all out to dinner to celebrate before heading for home.
Now he was standing in front of me
in sexy, tight
jeans, a button-down shirt with wide stripes of gray, blue, pink, and white, and a midnight blue cardigan. The sleeves were pushed up to three-quarter length with just a bit of the colorful shirt peeping out of the cardigan sleeves. It was a super hot look. I stood up and was quickly gathered into his strong arms in a big hug followed by a quick kiss.
glad you could make it,” I gushed with happiness. “When you weren't here by noon, I thought you wouldn't be coming.”
“I almost didn't
make it,” he said in his
masculine yet warm voice. “The starter went out on the BMW, and I had to scramble for a rental car
which is not an easy task on a Sunday.” He gave me another qui
sat down on the sofa
, and motioned
for me to sit beside him. I scooted in close
and put my head on his shoulder
. He smelled wonderful. I loved his cologne with its woodsy, earthy scent and
ever so light citrus notes.
I wanted to bury my face in his neck and take deep breaths. I swear the guy was walking aromatherapy for me.
“I hear you caused quite a scene ea
rlier,” he said with
humor in his voice.
pulled up quick
and said with agitation, “Oh my gosh! You should have seen this guy doing his best to ta
ke points away from me.
I was pretty mad, and very loud, but it all worked out in the end.”
He nodded his head.
Husky, and he told me about your dustup with the referee. He looked into i
t right away and found out
the guy was from the same club as your opponent. He shouldn't have bee
n allowed to referee your match.”
“I figured it was something like that,” I said. I looked around
and was suddenly concerned
I might be late for my next
match. “What time is it
?” I asked.
“Well, I came over to wake you and tell you to go get ready, but I couldn't help myself and had to steal a few minutes with you.” He grinned at me like a Cheshire cat and looked at his watch. “It's 3:20. Is that enough time?”
“I can't believe I slept for an hour
,” I said surprised
It felt like two minutes.” I threw an arm around his neck and practically purred, “I'm wide-awake now though and ready to go.”
He gave me another quick kiss. “What are you going to wear? What fashion statement will you be making ne
xt?” He was still grinning
, and I knew he was t
easing me, but I also knew
he liked how I looked on the court.
“No fashion statement,
” I told him with a smile, “
but I did buy a new outfit just in case I made it to the finals. I'm taking a page from the Tiger Woods playbook and wearing Sunday red.” He raised his eyebrows, and I could see a gleam in his eye. “Solid red shor
ts and a matching top with
a little black trim around the sleeves. I know you'll like it
,” I teased him.
“I'm sure I will,” he said as he gave me a peck on
the cheek and shooed me off
“Ponytail or down?” I
“Oh, down, please,” he said. His smile was getting bigger by the minute.
I walked on air all the way to the locker room.
I couldn't have asked for a better finals
match. My opponent was a
Korean girl who was pleasant, fair, and good-natured. We both played smart, and our points were earned by strategically placed shots rather than blasting the ball to overpower each other. I won the first game 15-13. She realized late in the second game that my weak spot wa
s ceiling shots, but
Husky's coaching had made quite a difference, and I was at least able to keep the volleys alive. I won the second game 15-14 eliminating the need for the 11-point tiebreaker.
True to his word, Mick took
at Skip’s Barbeque
. Corey agreed to drive Husky's Escape home, so
of the guys celebrated our wins with a several pitchers of beer. The waitress brought a mountain of barbecue chicken, ribs, and wings to the table as well as French fries, coleslaw, and baked beans. You
think we hadn't eaten for a week the way we
attacked the food
. Halfway through the meal, I looked over at Larry and said, “I never did hear how you and Ron
. What's the story?”
Everybody at the table roared with laughter. Obviously, I was the only one in the dark. Lar
ry, still laughing, looked to
who was seated to my right
, and asked,
“Do you want to tell her, or should I?”
Ron's huge smiled and the tilt of his head intimated proudness rather than anything to be ashamed of, so I had no idea what he could have done now.
Ron had classic, dark, Italian good looks. He was a year older than me at 29, single, a player even, as he enjoyed dating
girls at one time. He
had no desire to settle
was always the life of the party. “You tell her,” he said with a goofy grin.
“Well,” Larry started, “we both had singles matches at noon. I won
in two games, so I went to see if
Ron was still playing
, but there
on the court. I finally found him in the lounge having a beer.” There was more laughter f
rom the table. “
opponent had a bad habit of blocking Ron's attempts to reach the ball. After they collided more than once, Ron protested to the referee, but the ref didn't see the problem. When the guy finally tripped Ron on purpose, and the referee wouldn't call the hinder, Ron gave the referee some very loud words to live by, and they were mostly the f-word. Then he went to the service box, dropped his pants, and mooned the ref
and all the spectators
.” Larry was doubled over with laughter now and could barely get the rest of his words out. “They threw him out of the tournament!”
The mooning may have been funny, but I didn’t think getting thrown out of the tournament was humorous. “Was he disqualified from everything?” I asked incredulously.
“Oh yeah,” said Larry still laughing. “Not only did he have to forfeit his singles match, which he was winning by the way, but he wasn't allowed to play doubles with me either, so we
were both out