Tie Break

by Bonnie


© 2002

Disclaimer: They're mine, even if they remind you of characters in a certain TV show. An no, you may not play with them without asking my permission. I'm quite possessive.

Genre: Alt/Über

Sex: Chances are there's gonna be sex, but I'm not sure about the intensity of the description. So no rating here. Could be practically anything between PG-13 to NC-17, but it starts out harmlessly. <g>

Anyway, should you be unfortunate enough to live in a place where it's not allowed to read this kind of story, please, lock the door before you read this. Or better yet, move. If you're too young to read this, please come back later. I'll wait for you ...

Violence: There might be some violence of the verbal, psychological, and physical kind.

Angst: I've been told to warn people that this tale is not always a happy one. There are bad feelings and sometimes there's nothing anyone can do about them. People will get hurt in this story, and they will not always be comforted right away, but there are good times as well. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad. Not at all.

Language: English most of the time, and hopefully in a relatively coherent form. Nothing too bad, otherwise (I think). OK, some bad language. My characters don't always behave lady-like. Especially the tall and dark one.

Feedback: Let me know what you think! I love constructive criticism and praise.

Thanks: To my beta readers Deb and Stacia without whose invaluable work this story would not be what it is. Any and all mistakes are mine. I'd also like to thank my fellow villagers over at the Bards' Village who gave me the courage to try this, the feedback to go on trying and the kicks in the backside that make me want to finish what I had started.

Part 1


January 2002

"Have you told her yet?"

"Have I told who what?"

"Have you told her that you love her?"

"Mother, I …"


"I don't …"

"You are not going to tell me again you don't love her, Anne! You are just too chicken to tell her!"



"You know she's my best friend. Why should I scare her away? I don't want to lose her and what we've got. I need a good friend."

"Chicken," Irene Patakis mumbled under her breath, making clucking noises just loud enough for her daughter to hear.

"I'm not!" Anne protested.

"Anne," her mother said with a sigh, "you have been in love with Shana for almost fifteen years now. Fifteen! Don't you think she deserves to know that about her best friend?"

Anne Patakis and her mother had been having this conversation quite regularly ever since the blue-eyed young woman had come home from a tennis camp in Florida almost fifteen years ago, unable to talk about anything but the new friend she had made there. 1987, that's so long ago it's almost unreal. But then, Anne had seemed happy. At least when she was talking about Shana. For that alone, Irene Patakis loved the blonde girl from Texas like a second daughter.

It didn't take Irene too long to figure out that Anne was beginning to feel more than friendship for the blonde girl. She had hoped that Shana had the same feelings. She had also noticed that both girls were too insecure and shy to find out what they wanted or needed to complete them, so they both settled for a close friendship.

After several years, though, Anne had again withdrawn into herself when she was not with Shana. And even with Shana around she was much more reserved. It had worried Irene to no end - and it still did - that she was never able to pry the reason for Anne's silence from her daughter. It was then that Irene swore she would do anything to make 'her girls' happy. And to her that meant getting them together, which proved to be harder than she thought. She had been working on that for years now, dropping hints, throwing clues and outright ordering Anne to tell Shana about her feelings, but to no avail.

At least, Irene thought, Anne has stopped denying that she's in love with Shana. Now, how can I get things rolling? Ah…

"Anyway," Irene interrupted the silence, "the little one's coming tomorrow."

"Shana's coming here? Why didn't she tell me?" an irritated Anne asked.

"She said she couldn't reach you with all your running around for that charity tournament," Irene explained. "She said she had something important to tell you." And I hope it is what I think it is. Shana sounded so excited on the phone! And one of them has to come to her senses …

With that, Irene Patakis left the kitchen and her exasperated daughter, effectively ending the conversation.

Chapter 1

January 2002

Anne sat down heavily at the kitchen table thinking about the conversation with her mother. You're right, Mom, I love her. How can I not? She's the warmest and most gentle person I've ever met. And she's so beautiful.

In the privacy of her own thoughts she could admit to things she would never say in front of her mother. I probably should have told Shana ages ago how I feel about her. But then again, I wanted to … once. When did it get too late to really do it? She looked out of the window into the slowly falling snow and, unable to answer that question, lost herself in her memories.

It was just another sunny day at the Florida tennis camp that she had been going to every summer since she was 12 years old. She was now 17 and on the verge of starting a career as a professional tennis player. Her coach had wanted her to play professionally for three years now, but Anne's mother had insisted on a high school diploma. Anne possessed a very agile mind and - a fact her coach had always loved about her - a strong sense for tactics and strategy. She loved using her formidable intelligence to outwit her opponents on the court almost as much as she loved to outwit her coach and teachers off the court. Now, finally, she was ready to conquer the world.

Anne was by far the best amateur player the camp coach had ever seen. At 6'2'' she was taller than most of the other kids and she had a lean, muscular body due to her constant running around on the tennis court and a variety of other workouts. She was strong, she felt invincible, and she loved it.

On the first day of the second week, the coach asked her to meet a new girl that had just arrived at the camp. He introduced her to the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. She had never had the time to think about boys or girls, but this one definitely caught her eye. She was four or five inches shorter than Anne and had short blonde hair and green eyes.

"I'm Shana." She smiled and offered Anne her hand in greeting, only to pull it right back after the first touch and the electrical charge that accompanied it.

"Sorry," Anne said with a smile, "that happens a lot here. Welcome!"

Fifteen minutes later they found themselves on opposite sides of the tennis court under the watchful eyes of their coach. During their warm-up routine everything went well. Anne actually found herself enjoying the thought of being at least challenged by the skills she soon detected in her opponent. She never doubted she would win that match. The only question was how long it would take her.

"Do you want some games as a lead?" she asked Shana over the net. "I don't want to humiliate you."

"I don't think that's necessary," the blonde replied. "I'm sure I can manage, thank you." She hesitated for a second. "Any famous last words?"

"How about 'Hasta la vista'?" Anne said, waggling her eyebrows. "This is gonna be so much fun," she added quietly with a grin.

It was the last grin Anne enjoyed that afternoon. Just before Anne served for the first time, Shana gave her a bright smile across the net that made her legs turn to jelly. The small blonde won the first set 6-1, while Anne concentrated on walking.

"Hey, Anne!" Shana called over the net after the first set. "Do you want some games as a lead? I don't want to go on humiliating you."

Anne growled. "Shut up and play. This isn't over yet!"

"Okay," came the reply with another brilliant smile.

This time Anne thought she was better prepared. She tried not to look at Shana and concentrated solely on the ball instead.

After a while she started talking to herself. "Come on, Patakis, what's wrong with you? She's only a slip of a girl that sticks to the ground line most of the time. Get going!" Soon, her mumbling began to take effect and she turned the match around. Anne won the next two sets 7-6 6-4.

Anne shook her head with a smile as she returned to the present. She stared out the window, her eyes chasing snowflakes across the yard. "Some things never change," she said quietly to a stand of tall trees in the distance. "I'm the best tennis player in the world, and still I lose the first four games of every match against her." She grinned slightly, thinking about what she called the 'Shana factor'. "As long as I win most of the time, I guess that's OK."

The truth was that over the fifteen years of their rivalry on the tennis court they were evenly matched, with Anne having a small lead that she had gained during the middle years of her career. "The 'killer years', you used to call them," she said aloud to an absent Shana. "You never mention them anymore. Well, some things are better left buried, I guess." That was not a good time in my life.


The blonde head moved in time with the loud music that blared through the house from the stereo. Shana Wilson danced to the rhythm, totally ignoring the fact that she turned on the radio just to help her pack. Once the music had changed to an upbeat Latin number she couldn't resist the urges her feet sent her. Packing meant thinking anyway, and Shana found herself thoroughly sick of thinking. How convenient, a small part of her mind nagged. Packing would lead to leaving, leaving would lead to Anne, and seeing Anne would lead to …

"Finding a way to tell her. Unnh." She breathed out loud before the small attempt at logic was drowned again by the music coming from the other room.

Just then the station changed to a song that reminded her of her task again. It was a song she and Anne had played loudly and relentlessly for hours at the tennis camp that summer so many years ago. 1987. We were so young. Her mind drifted back to the past while her feet kept moving to the music.

After that first memorable match, she and Anne had become very good friends, much to the surprise of their coach. He later told Shana that the dark-haired girl was known as a loner, leaving her room only to play tennis or do some form of workout. Most of the other girls at camp avoided her. The coach had told her in all seriousness that before Shana arrived, he had never seen Anne smile, except for the occasional sneer when she won yet another match against yet another girl who wasn't able to keep up with her.

Somehow he had expected the tall girl to sulk at being almost beaten by a newcomer to the camp. Instead, she seemed to really enjoy the blonde girl's company. He decided to make them sparring partners for the duration of the camp, hoping they would both benefit from the other's skills and their difference in playing styles. While Anne was merciless and impatient, rushing to the net at the first opportunity after her big serve, Shana preferred to play patiently from the ground line, making incredibly accurate passing shots along the lines. So different, and yet so well matched, the coach had later said with a bemused shake of his head. He had hoped that their strengths would rub off on each other, thereby diminishing their weaknesses.

Shana brought Anne out of her hermit-like existence with her lust for life and her tendency to come up with crazy ideas, often in the middle of the night. On one such night the blonde walked into Anne's room at 3 a.m., dressed in her tennis clothes with her racket and some balls in her hands. She went over to the bed to wake Anne. Just as she reached out to shake the long body a sliver of moonlight fell through a gap in the curtain, bathing Anne's face in a gentle, silvery light. Shana was mesmerized. For the first time she realized how beautiful her sparring partner was. The moonlight perfectly highlighted the high cheekbones and the strong jaw. With its symmetrical features and aquiline nose, Anne's face looked like one of the statues of Roman goddesses Shana had seen at a museum in Europe some years ago.

She looked at the moon, trying to remember where the museum was and which goddess her friend reminded her of, but she couldn't come up with an answer. When she looked at Anne again, she was met by a pair of blue eyes that looked almost silver in the moonlight.

Neither of them said anything, but their eyes held their connection unwaveringly. Shana fought the sudden need to touch the beautiful face before her, and she was completely confused as to why that seemed so important right now. She shook her head, trying to remember why she was there sitting on Anne's bed in the first place. That broke the spell, and Shana noticed that her right hand was softly touching Anne's shoulder, making slow circles with her fingertips. She suddenly was embarrassed, even though they had touched each other casually before. But not like this, her mind helpfully added. And certainly not when one of you was naked.

Anne's body trembled slightly, and Shana realized that her tall friend's hand was lying on her bare thigh, just above the knee. She heard Anne swallow audibly and felt her remove her hand. Shana couldn't look at her friend and struggled to come up with an explanation for her presence and her behavior.

"Uhhmm." She cleared her throat before she tried to speak. "I was wondering if you wanted to have a little night match?" Suddenly the idea sounded stupid even to her own ears.

Anne's eyes widened a little. "What kind of match did you have in mind at …" she paused to check the alarm on her bedside table, "3.17 in the morning?" She gave Shana a confused look. Then she grinned slightly and added, "In my bed?"

The smaller girl blushed furiously and stuttered. "I didn't … I mean I did … aargh." She took a deep calming breath and tried again. "I felt like playing a set or two in the dark … but if you're not up to it …" She left the rest of the sentence hanging, daring her competitive friend.

"One of your crazy little ideas, hmm? No problem, I'm up to it. Just let me get dressed."

Shana blushed again. She practically jumped off the bed and ran towards the door. "I'll be in my room," she said before she left.

After closing her door, Shana leaned back against the wall and tried to calm her heart, which had been conjuring up interesting, but confusing images during the last couple of minutes. I didn't know she slept naked. God, she's beautiful. Is she that beautiful everywhere? Her skin is so soft. She didn't know what she thought and felt, or why she thought it, and that confused her. She remembered her concentration routine and took some deep breaths, trying to empty her mind of all troubling thoughts.

She succeeded after a minute and was relatively calm by the time Anne knocked on her door.

"Are you coming or what?" came the low voice through the door.

And that voice when she's just woken up, Shana's mind peeped up a last time before she walked out for their match.

"That night should have told me something," Shana mumbled, coming back to the present. She realized she had stopped dancing and was sitting on the bed, playing with a tennis ball that she kept on her bedside table. "But I didn't have a clue," she said to the ball.

She had found the ball in her room the day after that night match. She had noticed it because it was of a slightly different color than the rest of her balls. When she had picked it up to take a closer look, she found the contours of a small heart painted on its surface. "I just know that Anne put you in my room. Why didn't I know it then?" The ball kept quiet, neither confirming nor denying its provenance.

Shana put the ball back to its resting place and resigned herself to do some packing.


Irene walked by the open kitchen door and saw her daughter watching snowflakes twirling in the afternoon sun. She watched Anne for a few moments, unnoticed, then walked on towards the laundry room at the end of the hall.

She was happy that her daughter was obviously feeling at home. She also enjoyed the fact that her daughter was actually talking to her about her life. At least sometimes, Irene chuckled, happy with the way things were.

That children had a close relationship to their parents was rare enough, but with their history … it was practically a miracle. If Irene had practiced the Catholic faith she was brought up in, she'd thank the Lord every day for her daughter and her apparent sanity. But she had given up on God and organized religion a long time ago.

Irene took a look around the laundry room, checking on the progress of the washing machines that were lined up neatly against one wall. It's odd what people can be grateful for, Irene thought with a grin. She had always wanted to have a nice inn in the country, with guests she could care for. That had never been a possibility as long as Anne's father was alive.

He was a fanatical tennis parent. His kids and the game were what was important to him. Nothing more, nothing less. He didn't care that the rest of his family only went along for the ride. Anne was the only one who liked playing tennis every day of her life. It gave her an outlet for her frustrations, Irene now understood. What a shame that she didn't count for you, George. The only thing you ever wanted was the next big Grand Slam winner. You wanted a champion, a new Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe, only better and with more success! And now? You're dead, Peter is dead, and Anne is dead inside. Are you happy now, you bastard?

Chapter 2

January 2002

Anne sat down on the large sofa in front of the fireplace in the inn's library. It wasn't actually a library, but with its warm wooden walls and mahogany furniture the room had always given anyone who entered the feeling they should be surrounded by books. They weren't. There were actually only very few books in this room, but among them were some of Anne's most prized possessions. One was a signed first edition of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, and the other was The Times Atlas 1900, a huge book that rested on a small table to the side of the leather sofa Anne was now making herself comfortable on.

The tall woman had always loved books, but these two held a very special place in her heart. She had gotten the atlas from her mother after winning her first Wimbledon championship. Orlando had been a present from Shana.

They had taken a trip to Canterbury on a bright and warm May afternoon, playing hooky from the tennis court. They were preparing for the upcoming tournament at Wimbledon and had rented a house together. Anne had shown Shana the Cathedral and Shana had delighted in all the small shops she had found. She had bought a truckload of stuff for friends and family at home, while Anne had walked along, teasing the younger woman about her buying habit.

"Shana, you have almost as much money as God," Anne commented. "Why do you insist on haggling all the time?"

Shana just chuckled and shrugged. "It's a habit, I guess." She paused, thinking for a second. "On the other hand … no, I think it's more a principle. It doesn't matter how much money I have, I simply refuse to pay more for things than they're worth." She grinned at Anne, hoping that the older woman would understand that. Anne just smiled at her and nodded.

Around the next corner they came upon a small bookstore that obviously sold rare books. The tall woman stopped in front of the window and hesitated for a second. "Shana, would you mind if had a look at that shop?"

Shana just wondered what that was all about. She smiled inwardly. Well, well, Ms I-only-shop-when-I-have-to wants to check out a store. Outwardly she just grinned and replied, "Sure, why don't you twist my arm some more?"

They both browsed for a while under the friendly eyes of the elderly shop owner, who had greeted them warmly. Suddenly Anne gasped, looking at an obviously well-loved book. Shana went over to her to take a closer look at what had caught her usually stoic friend's attention. When Anne didn't even look up from the book, Shana tried to sneak a peek at the title.

"Orlando," she mumbled, having never heard of the book before.

"Yeah," Anne agreed absent-mindedly without taking her eyes of the well-used volume. "My favorite."

Seeing that she wouldn't get another response from her tall friend, Shana ambled over to the shop owner. "Can you tell me something about that book … Orlando?"

The white-haired woman leaned closer so as not to disturb Anne. "I won't tell you what it's about, because you should read it for yourself. What I can tell you, though, is that this novel is one of the greatest declarations of love ever written. Virginia Woolf," and here she paused to see if the blonde woman would recognize the name. Satisfied that Shana knew who she was talking about she continued. "Virginia Woolf wrote that book for her friend and probable lover Vita Sackville-West. It's the story of Orlando, whose life touches many people and centuries, from the Elizabethan time to the 20th century."

She smiled and lightly touched Shana's arm. "Your girlfriend really loves the book. I can see it in the way she touches the pages so reverently."

The Texan looked over to her friend. A slight pang of jealousy made itself known in her heart for just a split second. What …? This can't be what it feels like. It's just a book, girl. Get a grip! Shana shook her head, but her mind kept on dreaming. I just wonder what it would feel like to be touched by her like that. Stop! Don't even go there! She's your best friend, and that's all, Shana admonished herself, but couldn't fend off a slight bout of sadness that settled onto her mind at that thought.

Another touch on her arm stopped her thought process. The shop owner leaned into her and whispered. "Do you want to make your girlfriend a special present? One she'll never forget?"

The blonde just looked at her and smiled. The old lady vanished somewhere into the heart of the little shop, returning shortly with a loosely wrapped packet. Without a word, she opened the book inside and turned the first page over for Shana to see. There, under the author's name and the title Orlando was a small, but easily readable signature.

Shana breathed softly. "Is this what I think this is?" she asked quietly.

"A signed first edition of Orlando," the older woman whispered. "A very rare book."

"I'll take it!" Shana said without the slightest hesitation.

"Good choice, " the old woman beamed, "your girlfriend will love it. This book truly is a gift of love."

The blonde nodded absently. Girlfriend, she keeps calling Anne my girlfriend. And now that. A gift of love? Is this what other people think when they see us together? Nah, I would have seen some evil comment in the tabloids if people thought we were … lovers. Shana pushed away her thoughts, albeit reluctantly. Something nibbled at the back of her mind, trying to find a way back up. She ignored it and paid for the book.

"Now the only problem I have," she said to the shopkeeper, "is to get her out of here without that book she's so fond of."

"Leave that to me."

The old lady walked over to the tall tennis star and cleared her throat. Several times. When Anne looked at her after a few seconds, she said, "It's a wonderful book, isn't it?"

Anne nodded, her fingers lightly caressing its spine and cover. "Yes," she finally said. "I'd like to buy it."

"Unfortunately, this book is already reserved for another customer of mine," she lied. "I'm so sorry. Should I keep my eyes open for another one of those for you?"

Anne's disappointed gaze went from the book to its present owner and back. "No," she finally replied, "I'll just have to come upon another one by chance again. Thank you." She turned and walked to the door of the shop, where Shana was already waiting for her.

"I'm sorry." Shana said.

"It's OK," the tall woman lied, "can we go home now?"

Later that night, Anne had found the signed first edition of her favorite book on her pillow. A card was put between the pages. It read:

I had to get you this book, you seemed to love it so.

I hope it brings you as much joy as I had buying it for you.

Love, Shana

Anne picked up the book from its place and had another look at the first page. She sighed. She's such a beautiful soul and such a good friend. Why can't that be enough for me? I want so much more from her than just friendship. Oh, Shana, why can't you love me?


Shana picked up the telephone and dialed the number from memory. She settled herself among her still not completely packed bags and waited for someone to answer.

"Hello," the deep melodic voice finally came through the receiver.

"Hi, Mom." Shana smiled into the phone. "How are you?"

"Sweetie." Irene Patakis beamed on the other end, her broad smile easily audible in her voice. "I didn't expect your call. Should I get Anne for you?"

"No, no," Shana hastily answered. "It's nothing important really. No need to disturb her." Tomorrow is soon enough. I can't talk to her right now. I'd tell her everything, and I can't do that on the phone. "I just wanted to know what the weather is like in your neck of the woods. We've got another snow warning for tomorrow and I just wanted to make sure I can make it in one piece." So that Anne, or you for that matter, can kill me later …

"The weather's fine here, sweetie, as long as you're planning on using your SUV. We've got several feet of snow, but the roads are usually cleared by mid-morning even if it should snow some more tonight," Irene reassured her.

"That's good to hear. I was planning on taking the Jeep anyway in this weather. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't have to plough through knee-high snow to get to your place."

"When can I expect you then?" Irene asked.

"I'm not sure. I'll try to be there sometime in the afternoon."

There was a pause in the conversation. Shana was unsure if she should warn Anne's mother about what she had to tell Anne. Irene noticed even over the distance of a phone call that something was bothering the blond woman. She finally decided to just ask. "Is everything all right, dear?"

Shana could hear the concern in Irene's voice. What can I tell you? Yes, everything is all right, I'm just going to hurt your daughter pretty badly tomorrow? No, nothing is all right, because I might just ruin everything? But she had the feeling she should prepare the older woman somewhat for the coming events.

"Mom," she began hesitatingly, "I've got something to tell Anne when I see her tomorrow, and I don't have any idea how she's going to take it. I might need your help." She took a deep breath, waiting for the older woman's reaction.

"And I guess you can't tell me now before you tell her?" Irene asked with little hope and a lot of curiosity. "Just so that I can be prepared …"

"No, Mom," Shana chuckled at the almost predictable reaction. "I can't really tell you over the phone. But … I need you to trust me … trust that I only want what's best for Anne, although it might not look like it." She stopped speaking, fearing she had already said too much.

But the innkeeper seemed to accept her answer. "You know I love you like I love my own daughter, sweetie. And I do trust you. But whatever you're planning, please don't hurt her. She couldn't take it."

"I know." I know, I know, I know. But I have to. It might be the only way. I just hope I know what I'm doing. "Thanks, Mom. I'll see you tomorrow then. Bye."


Irene looked at the phone for a long time before she realized that Anne was staring at her. She put it down on the kitchen counter and smiled at her daughter.

"Who was that, Mom?"

"That was Shana. She just asked about the weather conditions here. She said she'd try to be here by late afternoon tomorrow."

"Oh," was all the tall woman said to that. She obviously didn't want to talk to you or mother would have called for you. She probably has her reasons. Busy packing, that's got to be it. Anne tried to reason away her feeling of disappointment. But there was a small child in her that couldn't let it go. "She didn't want to talk to me, did she?" she asked.

Irene put a hand on her daughter's forearm. "She was busy packing. She said you'd have all the time in the world to talk when she gets here." If I only knew what the little one wants to talk about. She was more than a little unsettled by the conversation with Shana.

She looked into her daughter's blue eyes and saw the veil of disappointment slowly lift a little. Anne had been in a grouchy mood all day, hiding in the library most of the time.

"What are you doing here anyway?" Irene asked her daughter. "Shouldn't you be doing indescribably hard things to your body to keep in shape? Or punishing some innocent tennis balls?"

Her attempt at lifting Anne's mood didn't generate the expected chuckle or grin. Instead, Anne didn't say anything for a very long time, staring unseeingly out into the snow. Finally she whispered to no one in particular, "I don't even know if I want to do that anymore. I think I might just as well stop." Then she gently extricated herself from her mother's grasp and left the room before Irene could say anything. Which she did anyway.

"What do you mean, stop?" the innkeeper said after she had put her jaw back in place. She stood in her kitchen, totally bewildered. "What the hell is going on here?"


Anne went back to the library and plopped gracelessly onto the love seat that faced the French door leading out to the garden. In the distance, behind some trees and her mother's rose garden, she could see her own, much smaller house.

She picked up the phone and began to dial a very familiar number. Before her finger could press the last number she hesitated, then interrupted the call altogether. After a few moments of silent contemplation she started dialing again. Another number, but one just as familiar to her.

"Hello," came a resonant male voice from the receiver.

"Hi, Kev."

"Anne!" Kevin Delaney exclaimed. "How are you, killer?"

"You know how much I hate that name, Kev, so stop it," Anne growled.

"That's just your punishment," Kevin told her.

"Punishment? For what?"

"For not calling me in a whole week, Anne. I almost forgot what your voice sounds like."

Anne smiled at the phone. This was exactly what she needed to get out of her bad mood. Kevin. Her best friend. The only person in the world who knew every single thing about her. Who knew her inside and out. From everyone, she had kept bits and pieces of her past - or her present. Not from Kevin. He knew about the 'killer years', he knew about her family, and he knew about her feelings for Shana. He knew her like no one else did. He was also her coach. "It's good to hear your voice, Kev."

"What's wrong?" he asked, instantly suspicious at the tone of Anne's voice. He loved Anne Patakis like a brother and was quite protective of her. He also wasn't afraid to tell her if she fucked up, and he had done so a number of times and in no uncertain terms.

"Does there have to be anything wrong for me to call you?" the tall woman asked. Knowing silence was the only answer. Anne slowly exhaled the breath she hadn't realized she was holding. Then, "Shana's coming down here tomorrow."


"And I don't know what to do anymore. I can't keep going on like that, it's driving me crazy." No further explanation. None was necessary.

Kevin knew what Anne was talking about. They had been friends for years before he even became her coach. "So … what are you going to do about it? Tell her? Get over her? Finally find someone else?"

"I don't know!" came the irritated reply, harsher than she had intended. "But I can't get over her. And you know as well as I do that I've tried. Hard."

"Anne, I wouldn't call fucking everything that has two legs and the ability to walk on them 'getting over her'," Kevin said sarcastically. "And it definitely has got nothing to do with finding someone else. No one ever really had a chance with you."

"No one was ever like her, Kev," Anne said quietly. "I can't help it."

"I know, darling," the coach answered. "Remember? I know what it feels like to love someone and to not know what to do." And he did. He had been a professional tennis player himself, and a quite successful one at that. Before the tabloids found out he was gay. Before all his sponsorship contracts got cancelled. Before he was gay-bashed during a tournament and had to spent two weeks in a hospital with a severely injured knee and a face that was beaten almost beyond recognition.

Anne had been a good friend through all the trouble he and his lover Mike had to go through. But as normal as lesbian tennis players seemed to be, gay players were something else altogether. Kevin had kept his relationship with Mike quiet for years, which had been difficult for both of them. The only thing that had kept them together was the fact that Mike could accompany Kevin to all his tournaments as his physical therapist. Still, they both had been tired of hiding. When Kevin was outed by a British tabloid, they had actually been quite relieved. But then Kevin was beat up and he and Mike decided that it just wasn't worth it anymore. Anne had made them an offer they couldn't refuse. She hired Kevin as her coach and Mike as her physical therapist, and both men had been adopted into the Patakis clan by Anne's mother. Oh yes, he knew.

"What am I supposed to do, Kev?" came Anne's voice through the receiver.

"Tell her, Anne! It's the only thing you can do, really. She loves you, I'm sure of …"

"Kevin, she's straight! She even slept with that dickhead Carlos, dammit!" Anne interrupted him.

"Yeah," Kevin mumbled. "Carlos. But you don't know that for sure …" He paused, pushing images of Carlos and Shana out of his mind. "I still think she loves you. I mean, that was, what … years ago? Has there been any man in her life since then?"

"Don't know," Anne murmured, "we're not talking about our love lives." And I for one don't even have one.

"Maybe you should."

"Maybe we should." Anne conceded. Maybe I should really tell her. What's the worst that can happen? She could tell me to go to hell. But she wouldn't do that. Would she?

"Anne," Kevin's smooth voice drifted to her ear. "She's not going to send you to hell for telling her that you love her. She's not that kind of person and you know that!"

"Do you always know what I'm thinking, coach?" Anne asked with a hint of a smile in her voice. She hesitated and then made a decision. "Kev, I'm going to tell her. Tomorrow." And she felt the weight of depression being lifted off her shoulders with that decision. Yes!

"Great idea, champ!" Kevin exclaimed with an audible grin. "God, I love happy endings."

"How can you be so sure, Kevin?"

"It's just a feeling, but I think everything will be all right. I gotta go now, Mike's waiting for me. Keep me posted, will ya. Bye, and I wish you all the luck in the world tomorrow." Though you won't really need it, friend. I've seen the way Shana looks at you way too many times to doubt her feelings for you. You just had to come to this point yourself.

Anne put away the phone and smiled. For the first time in days she felt relaxed - until she realized she hadn't told Kevin about her plans to quit.


Shana put down the receiver and rolled herself into a little ball on the bed, thinking about Anne. When did I realize that I love you? When did that feeling of friendship go deeper and deeper? Before that night? After that night? Before you turned into the 'killer' the tabloids so brutally named you? Well, that actually goes hand in hand, doesn't it?

"Oh, Anne," Shana sighed, lost in a tidal wave of self-pity. Then she tried to pull herself together and out of the wallow pit. She sat up and decided to continue packing. But before she had gotten completely off the bed, her anger caught up with her. Cursing at herself, she began to throw her clothes into her bags. "It's all your own fault anyway, you idiot!" she finally shouted at herself, not caring that there was no one close enough to deny that accusation.

The blond woman threw herself onto the bed. Lying on her back, she thought back to the time when she had realized that there was more to her feelings for Anne than mere friendship. And her own part in forming Anne 'The Killer' Patakis.

TBC in Part 2.

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