In Your Court By Cephalgia
Dedication: This is for my very good friend Joann who gave me the idea for this story. You are the nicest straight woman, wife and mother of three that I know.
"Monroe gets the ball from Hamilton just past half court. Dribbles down to the low post and back out, looking to pass the ball. Rogers breaks free at the top of the key. Monroe looks, fakes to Rogers, steps back and fires! Nothing but net from 3 point land as time expires in the first half with the visiting San Francisco Fog on top of the home favorite San Diego Surge by 5!"
Justine Grant pulled the earpiece connected to her Walkman from her ear and barely repressed a whoop of joy as her beloved Fog had staged an amazing second quarter comeback after a shaky start. She began a silent half-time show of her own as she moved to the dry erase board located behind the desk at the Cal State San Francisco library. Picking up a black marker she wrote "Fog 45, Surge 40 at halftime." Appreciative glances and the occasional thumbs-up sign greeted the posted score as many of the Fog fans were in the building quietly studying for mid-terms, putting last minute touches on a thesis or using the time to research projects on the web using the library's computers.
Justine was doing none of these. She was working one her usual four nights a week at the library supplementing the scholarship she had received to CSSF with a little cash. Though her academic scholarship came with room and board, any extra things the petite blonde wanted came out of her own pocket. Justine didn't mind the extra work though, on evenings when the library wasn't busy she was allowed to work on her own projects or surf the Internet if she didn't have anything pending.
Tonight however was saved for the Fog away game on the radio. The new Women's Professional Basketball League team had been in existence only a year and was growing more popular but they still didn't have a television contract for the out of town games. Justine knew that would change once somebody brilliant at one of the local stations got an eyeful of Toni Monroe, the new power forward for the Fog and last year's stand out player for CSSF. Justine was thrilled that her favorite player and secret crush had chosen to stay in the Bay Area after graduation and lend her talents to the new team. It also gave the blonde a chance to continue to attend Toni's games, something that had become a habit since Justine discovered the basketball team when she was a sophomore.
Toni had been a junior then and was emerging as the top talent on the CSSF team. Her long black hair pulled back in a ponytail served to cause her brilliant blue eyes to stand out even more than they normally would. The first time Justine had seen them flash in the heat of competition she had been completely overwhelmed and at once captivated by the tall athlete. She was joined in this by a throng of male and female students alike but Toni Monroe had a reputation for seeing only the game of basketball. There had never been even the rumor of a relationship about her.
Now Justine occasionally managed to join a few thousand fans in Yarger Arena wearing the customary gray sweatshirt with the Fog team logo on it to cheer the home team onto victory. Like college, there was still no rumor about the personal life of Toni Monroe.
Toni didn't need a personal life though, because Justine had come up with a great fantasy life for her. If only she had the nerve to meet her and tell her about it. The blonde had to smile at the many scenarios she had created in her mind for meeting Toni and getting to know the woman on a much more personal level. Much more personal. Justine had even gone so far as to access the Fog team website and click on the fan mail button. She had written letters to the basketball star telling her about her feelings and professing her undying love. She wrote them with all the heart and talent that the budding journalism major could muster and deleted them just as soon as she completed them.
Justine had a crush but she wasn't about to be known as some lovesick fan possibly crazed stalker when she wanted a career as a sports reporter herself. The student's secret crush would remain just that. Well, secret from everybody except her two best friends in the world, Celine Thompson and Meredith Bennett. The computer science majors had become close to Justine when they had been assigned to the rooms on either side of her in the dorm during their freshman year. They had been inseparable in the following three years but Celine and Meredith had been even closer than she knew and the student was surprised earlier in the year when they admitted they had a more than friendly relationship and were moving out of the dorm to live together. As if on cue the gregarious redheaded Celine and the more reserved ebony skinned Meredith entered the library from the chilly early March evening.
The pair waved at Justine and took seats at one of the library's computers. The blonde pointed at the dry erase board and pumped her fist twice in happiness. The women at the computer watched as the Fog fan resumed her work behind the library desk.
"You're sure we should do this?" asked Meredith.
"God, yes," Celine replied. When Meredith looked doubtful, Celine said, "Nobody loves a good joke more than Justine and you know it. The only reason she'd ever get upset is because she didn't think of something like it first. Besides, maybe it will help her get past this problem and start looking for a woman a little more attainable."
"Maybe you're right," Meredith said to her partner. "After all it's just a little April Fool's Day prank, she's done them herself. What's the harm?" They laughed and settled themselves in to work on their scheme.
Justine replaced her earpiece in time to hear the announcer intone, "We're back for the second half tip-off."
Justine's shift and the end of the Fog game occurred nearly simultaneously. After posting the Fog's 2-point victory on the board, she worked her way over to where her friends sat peering at the computer screen. Meredith was executing a series of rapid clicks with the mouse as the blonde approached.
"Hey guys, you missed a good game tonight. Toni scored 31, that's her season high."
"Well, we didn't know that but it's just a matter of time before we would have found it out I'm sure," remarked Celine as she indicated the computer screen. Justine assumed Celine was referring to the Fog's website and moved around behind the women to peer over their shoulders. The image on the screen nearly took her breath away as she was greeted by the brilliant blue eyes of Toni Monroe.
"What's this?" Justine managed to croak out. "A new page on the Fog's website?"
"No way," Meredith replied. "Seems your superstar went and put up a website of her own. Very nice too I will say." Celine glanced at her meaningfully but said nothing.
Justine regained her composure and was suddenly filled with questions. "When did you find this? How did you hear about it? How many seconds will it take for you to move your butts so I can get a closer look?"
Celine laughed at her friend. "We found it tonight, we heard about it in one of our chat rooms and don't trample us, we're moving now." They couple exchange places with Justine and she was immediately captivated by the open web page entitled "Toni's Home".
"You know, Justine, maybe this is the opening you've looked for. Maybe now you'll send one of those letters you've been writing to tall, dark and dribbling." Meredith indicated the "E-Mail Me" button on the web page. "I know you didn't want to send anything that might be read by the whole Fog organization but now it's just you and her." The blonde said nothing but only made a little "Hmm" sound in her throat.
Celine brought the student from her reverie by snapping her fingers in front of her eyes. "What did you say?"
"I said we're going to the Hideaway for an Irish coffee. You want to join us?"
"Um, yeah sure. I'll be along in a few minutes. I just have a few things to finish up and I'll meet you there."
"Okay, you got it," Meredith said. "And Justine? I still think you should e-mail her. You never know what might happen."
The blonde thought for a moment before answering. "No, I couldn't. I would be too embarrassed. What would I say? It's impossible, it's totally out of the question."
"Suit yourself," Meredith remarked as she slipped into her jacket. "We'll see you at the Hideaway." The pair made their way to the door, glancing back to see Justine's eyes still riveted to the computer screen.
"We got her!" Celine whispered.
"Hook, line and sinker," her partner replied as they left the building into the cool San Francisco night. "This is going to be the best April Fool's joke ever!"
Back at the keyboard, Justine had moved the mouse and clicked on the e-mail button. A fresh web page appeared and a pre-addressed letter appeared. The address was filled in; all she had to do was write the letter. The blonde licked her lips as she debated internally. Then she shrugged her shoulders and thought, "What the heck. Probably nothing will come of it anyway." With a deep breath, she began to type.
I don't know how I'm going to make this letter sound different than all the others you'll probably receive. Even that line sounded like one you'll hear over and over. I guess if I sound like everybody else, I'll just assume we all have the same great taste in basketball players and in women. I've followed you, your career I mean, since you were at CSSF, where coincidentally I still am. I'm a journalism major in my senior year. My name is Justine Grant and I am a huge fan of yours
Entering the Hideaway just down the street were Celine and Meredith. The Hideaway was an Internet café/bar combo. Making their way quickly to a table they activated the laptop there and accessed the mailbox to Toni's Home. As expected there was one new message.
"I've got to tell you, love, you did a wonderful job on this website," Celine observed. The visuals are outstanding. You are going to blow the socks off the graphic design world after graduation."
"No, we are. If you hadn't done the research work on this to make it authentic looking, Justine would never have bought it. This is going to be a superb senior project and I can't wait to get that degree and open our own business," Meredith returned. "Now let's see what our friend Ms. Grant had to say."
all the times I've told myself it's crazy, that crushes are for high school kids, but it doesn't seem to matter. I look at you, see those incredible eyes and I'm lost. I so badly want to know the person behind them. In my heart I somehow know we are destined to be together.
I don't have anything else left to say. I've pretty much opened my heart to you completely. My e-mail address is on this note so, as they say in your profession, the ball is in your court.
Forever yours, Justine
Meredith sighed as she read the obviously heartfelt letter. "That is the most beautiful letter I've ever read." She turned to her partner who had tears misting in her eyes.
"Oh, God, Meredith, what have we done? That isn't a letter written by someone who's worshipping a hero. That girl is half in love."
"Christ on a crutch, Cel, what are we going to do? We were just going to toy with her a little to show her all that soulmate stuff isn't realistic. We can't write her back as Toni now."
"The heck we can't, we have to. If we don't respond at all she'll be devastated. We have to do the only thing we can do. We have to write her back and let her down easy." Celine's mind was working now. "No, wait! I've got it! We can write and make Justine dislike her, and then hate her! When 'Toni' finally stops writing, Justine won't miss her in the least!"
"God, you're scary the way your mind works, you know that?" Meredith observed while shaking her head. "It's just insane enough to work though."
Warming to the idea, Celine laced her fingers together and cracked her knuckles. "Let me at that keyboard! We have a crush to well, crush. Hitting the reply tab, Celine began typing.
"Not too harsh to start," Meredith reminded.
"Not to worry," said the redhead. "Toni's just going to be a little unpleasant around the edges."
Thanks for your letter. I can only imagine how brave you must be to send such an open and honest note to someone you hardly know. I respect you for that. It's a trait I very much admire.
"Hey, where's the 'unpleasant' thing?" Meredith said as she nudged her partner.
"Just watch," Celine returned.
I think all you young girls are brave to do that. I'm actually amazed at the volume of e-mail I've received, which is why I started this website. Frankly, the other members of the Fog team were getting a little jealous.
"Okay, good. Now soften it a little at the end," Meredith coached.
Celine narrowed her eyes and shot her partner a look. "I know, I know. Who's the brains in this outfit, anyway?"
A heartbeat passed before they simultaneously said, "I am," and burst out laughing.
"Okay, let me finish up nice."
So, tell me more about yourself. I'd be very interested in hearing from you. I can't believe I didn't meet you while I was on campus. You may be right; maybe we are destined for one another.
Yours, Toni Monroe
At that moment Justine came into the Hideaway and the companions scrambled to minimize the screen. By the time the blonde made her way to the table, they were the picture of doe-eyed innocence. Justine never noticed the women's peculiar behavior as she was bursting to share some news
"Oh man, I must be the luckiest woman in the Bay Area! I can't believe it, nothing usually works out for me like this, but Virginia over at the library traded me a day so I can go to the Fog home game on the first! Don't you two dare plan anything for that date; you're going with me.
"To the Fog game on the first? On April first? As in less than three weeks from now?" asked Celine, cutting her eyes quickly to Meredith.
"Well, yeah. April is the month that follows March, oh soon to be a college graduate. I'm going to need support from both of you that night."
Meredith cast a "we are in so much trouble" look at her partner but kept her tone even as she asked, "Why exactly would you need our support at a basketball game?"
Justine blushed, glanced around her and lowered her voice. "Okay, true confession time, guys. After you left the library I e-mailed my favorite basketball player. I have to tell you, I have a good feeling about this. I think April 1st will be the day I finally meet Toni Monroe!"
Justine left the Hideaway walking on air but leaving two friends very much grounded in concern.
"Three weeks! We have three weeks to get Justine to despise Toni or she's going to do something foolish at that game. God, she just might walk up to her and say 'I'm the person you're having an Internet relationship with.' They're going to think she's crazy," Meredith groaned at the prospect.
"Can this get any worse?" asked Celine. "This was simple. E-mail her a time or two then show her how easily she could be taken in by a pretty face and a wily couple of computer science majors. We all laugh at the April Fool's Day joke and the ridiculous idea that you could meet and fall in love with your idol over the Internet. We introduce her to your cousin and maybe she gets on with her life. How did this get so complicated?"
"Okay," Meredith started. "The way I see this we have two options. First, we can stop this right now and come clean. We tell her this was all a set-up to a not so successful prank and we are interfering but well meaning friends. Second, we can take the next two and a half weeks, be sneaky and underhanded and try to get out of this by making Toni Monroe the bad guy."
They pondered a moment weighing the options.
"I think we know what we need to do," said Celine as she restored the web page. Meredith nodded in unspoken agreement. The redhead hit the send button for the e-mail.
"Sorry, Toni," Meredith sighed. The pair was ready to click off the computer when Meredith noticed another e-mail in the inbox.
"That's strange," Celine said as she clicked on the subject Your website on the e-mail list.
You are using the name and picture of your subject without that person's permission. We demand you close this website down completely and immediately or face possible legal consequences.
Sincerely, Internet Protective Services
"What the hell is this?" Celine demanded. "I thought you said we were covered on all the legal bases?"
"We are! I registered the domain name, put the disclaimers in about it being an unofficial site and everything else I needed to do! I bet this is the Fog's way of trying to intimidate people into not using any of their player's images. Well, this is America and we have our First Amendment rights. Just ignore it, we'll only have the site a few weeks anyway."
Celine reached again for the keyboard but hesitated for a moment as Meredith said, "What are you doing?"
"Just exercising my freedom of speech," Celine replied saucily and hit the reply button.
Dear Internet Protective Services,
Very truly yours, Website manager
"You are just incorrigible, Celine Thompson!" Meredith laughed as her partner sped the message on its way.
"Take me home and I'll show you just exactly how incorrigible I am, Meredith Bennett."
The women shut down the computer, gathered their belongings and left the Hideaway hand in hand.
The next morning Toni Monroe entered the San Francisco offices of Internet Protective Services and headed for the small glass enclosed office of Franklin Monroe. Flopping down into a leather chair in front of his desk, she propped her booted feet on a corner.
"Morning Frankie, how's business?" she asked her brother.
"Not too bad, Toni. Picked up two new clients yesterday. I'm a little surprised to see you here so early today. Didn't you have a game in San Diego last night?"
"Yeah, we took the red-eye back up last night. It was a good game and I guess I'm still a little hyped from it."
"Well, I'm glad you came in because I want you to see something. This just went online yesterday, the automatic web searches picked it up," Frankie said as he indicated the large flat screen computer on his desk.
Toni dropped her feet to the floor and moved around the desk until she came face to face with her own image staring out at her from the screen. She was momentarily speechless.
"That was my reaction, too. Whoever put this site up did a damn nice job. Are your eyes really that blue? Now normally I wouldn't have brought this to your attention because it doesn't show your face pasted onto someone else's body while being involved in an unnatural activity with a barnyard creature. The Webmaster has done all the right things, registered it in all the right places. They even have disclaimers if you dig at least three pages deep. This is what bothered me though." Frankie indicated the "e-mail me" button.
"They're pretending to be me? Damn, Frankie, they can't do that! We have to put a stop to it!"
"That, sister and business partner of mine, is exactly what we are going to do."
Two days later Justine walked into the library. She was an hour early for her shift due to an afternoon class cancellation. She planned on using the extra time to study for mid-term exams but was waved over by another library assistant.
"There's somebody looking for you. I told her you wouldn't be in until five o'clock but she said she'd wait. I told her she could use the small conference room."
Curious, Justine headed across the large library to the conference rooms on the other side. Turning the knob to the door of the first one, she walked into the room only to be greeted by the sight of the power forward of the San Francisco Fog. Blue eyes lifted and held onto the surprised green ones of the student.
The brunette rose and extended her hand toward Justine. "Ms. Grant, I'm Toni Monroe."
San Francisco was known for its earthquakes and Justine felt like one had just hit her. Her knees trembled, her skin paled and for a moment she felt all connection to the earth was lost. The only lifelines she had to hang onto were the incredibly blue eyes before her and hang on she did.
Toni moved forward when she saw how her presence had shaken the woman. "Ms. Grant, are you okay?" The tall woman assisted the blonde into a chair. "Can I get you anything? Some water?"
Without the effort of trying to remain upright, Justine seemed to come to herself. "No, that's all right, I'm fine now. I guess you could tell I wasn't expecting to meet you here in the library."
That made Toni smile. "I bet not. Listen, Ms. Grant "
"Call me Justine," the blonde interjected then smiled as a cute blush graced her features. "I mean, if you want to you can call me Justine."
"Okay, Justine," Toni smiled back. "I suppose I should tell you why I'm here."
A confused look took over the blonde's features. "I thought you were here because I wrote to you. Wait a minute, I didn't you're not here because I I'm afraid I don't understand."
Toni felt an unexpected stab of regret at having to let down the very attractive woman in front of her. She had read the blonde's letters to the website and knew she had genuine feelings. "There's a company I'm affiliated with called Internet Protective Services. They watch out for me and others in the public eye to make sure other people aren't using their picture or name for either profit or for less honorable purposes."
"Okay," Justine said, "I understand that, but what does it have to do with me?"
"There's a website called 'Toni's Home' which recently was placed on the web."
Justine's smile was wide and dreamy. "Yeah, I know, it's wonderful."
Justine's smile faded a moment later when Toni said, "It's not mine. Justine, I don't have a website. Whoever received your e-mails, I assure you it was not me."
"But then, who why?" The blonde tried to make sense of what she was hearing.
"Internet Protective Services managed to infiltrate the site and while we don't know who made it we do know that of the twenty or so e-mails this site received, yours is the only one that got a response. Do you have any idea why that is? We're hoping you're the key to this whole thing and that's why IPS tracked you down using the information you provided."
Justine was stunned momentarily. "I was the only one who got a response? You're joking!" As the words left her, she knew. A joke, a goddamned joke. A joke that was going to cost her whatever chance at happiness she had.
"Toni, I know what this is and who's behind it. I'll take care of it I promise you and I'm really sorry if this was a problem for you."
"Wait, you're saying you know who put up the website?"
"Yes, and I'm sure it was just an April Fool's joke on me. It certainly fits what I've seen," said the blonde thinking back to the night of the 'discovery' of the website. I can assure you the site will be removed immediately and I promise you there are going to be two very sorry computer science students soon."
Toni smiled at the student. "Well, if you think you know who did this and how to stop it, I'll leave the matter in your hands. If they have the site down in say, a week and don't answer any more e-mail posing as me, we won't go after them with our more drastic measures."
The almost audible clicking sound in the room was the lightbulb going on over Justine's head. Her lips curved up into a devious smile. "You know, Toni, if we could leave that website up for two weeks, I might be able to teach those jokers a little lesson of my own. I think I can come up with something more effective than just telling them to shut it down."
The brunette thought about it for a moment, looked directly at Justine and decided she could trust her. "Alright, Justine, two weeks. Do it your way." She rose and picked up a briefcase that had been resting on the table. "I guess our business here is done then. I'll leave you to your plan and be on my way. It was nice to meet you." Toni extended her hand and was pleased at the pleasant sensation she felt as they met in a firm handshake. She withdrew her hand with some reluctance and headed for the door. Justine rose from her chair and followed the taller woman on her way out.
"Good-bye, Toni. Um, Toni ?" The brunette hesitated at the door and turned around, eyebrows raised in question.
"Did you, um did you personally read any of my e-mails?" Justine blushed a bright crimson and could no longer meet Toni's eyes. The tall woman reached out, lifting the other's chin bringing green eyes up to meet blue.
"Justine, I'm really flattered by what you wrote but I could never get involved with someone I've only met over the Internet."
The blonde was crestfallen. "Oh, of course not, that goes without saying."
"However," Toni continued, "If I happen to meet the most attractive blonde I've seen in a very long time in the library and she accepts my invitation to come out for a cup of coffee, that might be a whole other thing."
Justine was practically speechless. Toni looked at her with an affectionate expression. "I think I'd really like you to come out for that cup of coffee when you're done here, Justine. What do you say?"
A wide smile of happiness broke across the student's features. "I say yes."
The first of April was sunny but still cool in San Francisco. The evening found Justine Grant, Celine Thompson and Meredith Bennett moving forward slowly with the rest of the Fog fans into Yarger Arena for the game with the visiting Reno Rattlers.
Celine and Meredith were desperate. Two weeks of e-mails had not discouraged Justine in her plan to meet Toni. There had been nothing they could say to get the student to change her mind. If it was possible, the blonde's e-mails has become increasingly passionate even as Celine and Meredith wrote harsher ones back. Finally the previous day they had written a simple message.
Leave me alone, don't write to me anymore. I have a lover.
When they showed up at the library, ready to support their friend in her grief, they were stunned by her reaction.
"If I have to share her it's better than nothing!" The pair could only stand there shocked at their normally shy friend.
On the way to the game Justine revealed her plan for the evening and her vision of what was going to happen. "I don't want to distract her during the game so I'll wait until it's over. As she's getting ready to leave the court I'll go up to her and say 'I'm Justine. I'm the one who's been e-mailing you. I'm the woman of your dreams.' I can see it now," she said with a dreamy far-off look in her eyes. "She'll come to me, unable to stop herself. She'll look at me with those beautiful baby blues then take me in her arms and kiss me like I've never been kissed before. Then we'll start our life together."
"You forgot about riding off into the sunset on the white horse she keeps in her locker," Celine muttered.
Justine ignored the remark but had a difficult time keeping a straight face. "You guys have been so terrific. If you hadn't found that website I never would have contacted her. You are totally responsible for this night happening and I really want to thank you. I love you two." The blonde gave them each a hug and turned to give her ticket to the arena gate attendant.
Meredith spoke quietly to her partner. "Okay, this is it, we've got to tell her now. We can't let her be humiliated when she tries to speak to Toni Monroe and then gets thrown out by Security or maybe arrested for accosting a player. We can't let this go on any longer."
Celine thought about it a moment then said, "We'll wait until after the game. She still might chicken out and not say anything. If she heads for Toni, we grab her and tell her the truth."
"Alright," Meredith agreed miserably, "but this is going to be the longest basketball game of my life."
Justine appeared oblivious to her friends' agitation during the game. She cheered with gusto and hassled the officials like any good fan but it was obvious her eyes were glued to Toni whenever she was in the game.
In a close contest, the Fog won with a three point shot at the buzzer. The fans around the three women went crazy with happiness and in the tumult Justine slipped away from her friends and headed for the court.
"Justine, no!" yelled Celine but her voice was lost in the crowd of fans chanting "To-ni! To-ni!" for it had been her shot that had won the game for the Fog. Meredith grabbed Celine's hand and they headed after the blonde. They caught up to her near the Fog bench where Toni Monroe had returned, apparently forgetting something there after the game. They were just in time to hear the student call out "Toni!"
The brunette turned and looked at the shorter blonde woman. Justine continued as she had said she would but concealed a wink at Toni from her friends. "I'm Justine. I'm the one who's been e-mailing you and I'm the woman of your dreams."
Toni walked slowly to the student and said softly, "You certainly are." She wrapped her arms around Justine and lowered her lips to the soft ones waiting for her. The intensity of the kiss rocked Justine and left her weak in the knees. This was much different than the short sweet kiss they had planned to share for Celine and Meredith's benefit. The several hundred fans left in Yarger arena went silent at the display on the court. The kiss broke and gazes locked.
"That...that wasn't what we planned, "said the blonde a little breathlessly.
"Plans change," purred the brunette. Justine smiled in wonder and pulled Toni down for another warm kiss. The formerly silent fans went wild, women high-fived each other and cheered them on.
Meredith and Celine could only stand and smile at the sight. "I don't get it but I like it," Meredith said.
Justine and Toni broke the second kiss and stepped back. The blonde blushed as she looked around her and said, "We have an audience."
Toni threaded her fingers with the students and said, "I don't care, but lets get out of here anyway." Hand in hand they walked off the court and past Celine and Meredith. Toni stopped, turned to them and said, "After I get a shower, Justine and I were going to head out to start our life together. You guys want to come along?"
The realization that they had been duped slowly dawned on the women. They laughed good-naturedly at the joke played on the ones supposed to be the jokers.
"Hell, yeah!" Celine said. "We'll meet you at the car."
Justine couldn't help but chuckle as she watched her friends leave. She turned to Toni and laughingly said, "I guess they got something unexpected for April Fool's Day!"
Toni laughed softly also and replied, "I think we all did."
The brunette's face sobered then as she gazed at Justine. "Seriously, there is one thing we have to clear up. It's about that first e-mail you sent me."
The blonde was confused. "What about it?"
"Well," Toni began in a teasing tone, "The term 'in your court'? That's tennis, not basketball. I just thought if you were going to be my girlfriend and a sports reporter you should know."
Justine's face lit up with delight. "Girlfriend? I sure like the sound of that. Man, maybe I shouldn't be a reporter; maybe I should write fairy tales instead! This sure sounds like happily ever after to me."
Toni laughed as she put her arm around Justine's shoulders and drew her in close as they left the court together.