I Found My Heart in San Francisco

Book 6: Fidelity

By S X Meagher






Part 10

After a quick breakfast, Jamie decided that she needed to get her heart rate up for the first time all week. Ryan’s down in Santa Cruz working her ass off, and I’m sitting on mine eating enough butter and cream for a small country! She wasn’t familiar enough with the neighborhood to feel comfortable going for an extended run, so she decided to swim. No one else was up yet, since it was only seven o’clock, and she slipped down to the pool area, relishing the alone time.

Her mind was occupied with thoughts of Stephanie and Trey, and she had slept quite poorly, now feeling disconnected and a little frazzled. Even though she was able to speak to Ryan every day, and they were able to connect emotionally, there was something vital lacking in their interchanges. I think it’s because we don’t spend our time talking about our days, she decided. I don’t really want to burden her with the details of what’s going on with my cousins. I mean, she can’t do anything about it, and it seems like such a waste to spend the little time we have available talking about problems that neither one of us can fix. Still…not knowing everything about her day and not sharing all of mine is so different from what we usually do that it is really making me feel unsettled.

She stepped into the warm water, her skin reacting with goose bumps as she did so. The day was going to be a warm one, but there was still a bit of chill in the air, and the 85-degree water felt soothing to her stressed body. Submerging herself fully, she shook her head to get the water out of her eyes and then began to loosen up. A few slow laps of each of her stokes had her feeling awake and energized, and she began to extend her body in the water, enjoying the tug and pull of her lats and traps as her back muscles powered her through the water.

Nearing the end of the pool, she decided to work a little on her racing turns, her technique having severely eroded since she no longer swam regularly. The first one was more than a little sloppy; while her flip was good, she hadn’t twisted her body properly to return to her lane, and she wound up a few feet away from the line she was carving in the water.

I bet this week is harder on her than it is on me, she reflected. She’s not only away from me, she’s separated from her whole support system, and my baby needs her family to keep her happy. I hope she’s gotten to know Jordan or some of the other women on the team better so she has someone to talk to down in Santa Cruz –although I haven’t seen much indication that Jordan is the sensitive chat kinda girl. Oh well, maybe Ryan can help her to learn how nice it is to be able to share your feelings openly. She’s the poster child for sharing, she thought, as a warm feeling settled in her stomach at the mere suggestion of being able to share all of her own thoughts with her partner very soon.

* * * * * * * * * * *

As she executed her 35th racing turn, Jamie straightened her body to the fullest, cutting through the water as swiftly as possible. Her form had smoothed out, but she was not really concerned with it. Nor did she care about her time, which was actually quite good. Rather, she was trying to use Ryan’s technique of full immersion in a task to dispel her anxieties about her cousins

It took 22 strokes to reach the end of the pool, one strong racing turn and another 22 strokes to the other end, and soon the only thing on her mind was "stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe." It had taken many laps, but she slowly began to enter that state of flow that Ryan seemed to achieve so easily. Thoughts of Stephanie and Trey and Adam and Carolyn and Skip and Sara all drifted away as she sliced through the warm water, concentrating only on her breathing and the cadence of her strokes.

She began to feel lighter, both physically and emotionally, as she continued to lose herself in the experience, eventually becoming one with the water to achieve a kind of high that she had realized only a few times in her athletic endeavors.

By her 50th lap she began to tire, and she slowed down a few laps later and turned onto her back to do a few lengths of a lazy backstroke.

When she climbed out of the water, her mother was sitting in a lounge chair, sipping a cup of coffee. Catherine gave her daughter a bemused grin as she padded over to her chair. "Are you going out for the swim team or the golf team?" she teased.

"Definitely golf," Jamie answered with a smile. "I hardly ever swim."

"Really? You look so sleek in the water, like you are a natural swimmer. I guess it’s a good thing I married your father," she reflected. "No one in my family has one iota of athletic talent. Our best sports seem to be drinking and doing drugs," she added with a healthy dose of self-derision.

Jamie patted her leg as she sat back completely in her chair. "Anyone can become an addict, Mom. You don’t have to be a Dunlop."

"No, but it helps," she said with a weary smile. "Are you warm enough, Honey? I can go to the cabana and get you a robe."

"No, I’m fine." Jamie was wrapped in a bath sheet, the chill of the morning air helping her cool down from her tiring swim. "I think I’ll go get some juice, though." Before the words were fully out of her mouth, one of the white-jacketed servants was standing next to her chair.

"Something for breakfast, Miss?"

"A glass of orange juice would be nice," she said, smiling at the young man.

He nodded, and left for the kitchen, and as Jamie watched him leave she asked, "How do they know to appear just when you need them?"

Catherine pointed to the edge of the cabana. "Closed circuit cameras, Honey. There is a monitor in the kitchen so they know when people are poolside."

Catherine was puzzled by the nearly scarlet blush that immediately covered her daughter’s face and neck. Trying to appear casual, Jamie ran her fingers through her wet hair, fluffing it a bit to help it dry.

Observing her carefully, Catherine asked, "Something on your mind, Dear?"

Okay, Jamie, you want to be honest and open with her. How open do you want to be? She thought for a second, finally deciding to reveal a little of the camera fiasco in Pebble Beach. "I uh…was just thinking about being down in Pebble Beach," she said slowly, trying to decide how much to censor. "We um…didn’t…rather, I didn’t remember that you had installed those security cameras, and we uh…"

"You were being affectionate?" Catherine suggested helpfully, a teasing smile settling on her face.

"Yeah…that’s it," Jamie said, relief flooding her features. "We were being affectionate, and I didn’t want you to find out about us that way."

"Wow," Catherine said, shaking her head as she smiled. "Thank you for that, Honey. That would have been tough for me."

"It’s the closest I’ve ever come to having a heart attack," Jamie laughed, recalling how absolutely panicked she had been at the time. "Luckily, Ryan’s brother knew all about this type of system, and he knew that you wouldn’t necessarily see the tapes."

Looking very empathetic, Catherine reached out and placed a hand on her daughter’s arm. "That must have been terrifying for you, Jamie. I’m glad that her brother could reassure you. Obviously, we didn’t review the tapes, so your private life will remain private."

Jamie nodded, deciding not to tell her of the lengths to which she and Ryan had gone not only to find the tapes, but then erase each of them. She didn’t think her mother would be angry, but she didn’t want to tell her how terrified she had been at the prospect of what she assumed would be a very poor reaction.

Catherine cocked her head at her daughter and carefully framed her question. "Was the beach a…special time for you, Jamie?"

Once again blushing to the roots of her hair, she admitted, "Yes. It was. The beach was where we made love for the first time."

Catherine nodded her head slowly, a dozen thoughts buffeting her mind. She was relieved that Jamie had technically been telling the truth when she'd visited the house in Berkeley in April to ask about Ryan, but at the same time, the news gave her pause. Something about the surreptitiousness of the trip niggled at her mind, even though she wouldn’t have dared speak her concern to her daughter. She decided to banish her worries and show Jamie her most generous side. "I don’t know why, but something about the way you talk about your trip made me think it was very special for you. I hope you will go back often, Honey. When I bought that house, I hoped that someday you and your family would enjoy it."

Jamie’s smile was so bright that every inch of her face lit up. "That’s very sweet, Mom. I would love to go back with Ryan. Maybe it could be a little anniversary tradition for us."

Catherine looked wistful as she commented, "Your father and I had room 215 at the Claremont Hotel. I find it charming that your room at the beach will always be special for you both."

Jamie blushed again and Catherine began to laugh heartily. "But I see I shouldn’t assume that your room was the special place," she teased.

"Let’s just say that the whole house will live on in our memory," she admitted through her crimson blush.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Over a bowl of cornflakes, Jordan looked across at Ryan with a twinkle in her eye and asked, "What did Jamie think about your new boyfriend?"

"I uh…didn’t get a chance to tell her," Ryan admitted, a little perturbed that her friend continually managed to focus on all of the things that she was already a little uncomfortable about.

"Hmm…imagine that," Jordan said dryly. "You…not revealing something to Jamie…who would have ever thought it!"

"Hey, uh, Jordan?" Ryan asked, looking up at her quizzically, "how many long term, committed relationships have you been in?"

"One less than you have, wise-ass. Does that mean I can’t express my opinion?" It was clear that she wasn’t angered by Ryan’s question, but equally clear that she thought her view was the correct one.

"No, of course you can, but I think that things look different to an outsider than they do to someone in the relationship. I plan on telling Jamie everything that has happened since she’s been gone, but I’m going to do it when I think the time is right, and not a minute before."

Shrugging her broad shoulders, Jordan gave her friend a smile and said, "Don’t come crying to me when she pops you one, pal. You’ve been warned."

"Time and again," Ryan agreed, rolling her eyes.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The chill had definitely left the air by nine o’clock, and the Evans women spent a few minutes in the warming sun planning their day. "I think Uncle David is planning another sail for this afternoon. Would you like to join him?"

"I don’t think so," Jamie said, shaking her head. "I really like to sail, but I like a little excitement when I’m on the water. Sailing with Uncle David is like going on a Sunday drive in the country."

"Shopping?" Catherine asked, trying to find an activity that they could enjoy together.

"I guess we could," Jamie agreed, shrugging slightly.

"Not an overwhelming level of enthusiasm there, Jamie." Catherine’s lively brown eyes were twinkling, showing that she was teasing.

A sheepish grin settled on Jamie’s face as she admitted, "I am officially bored, Mom. Besides missing Ryan, I miss my routine. I miss making my own meals and going for a run in the morning." She looked up helplessly and said, "It doesn’t sound all that interesting, but it means a lot to me." She paused a moment, rolling her eyes at herself, then added, "Well, maybe it is mostly that I miss her. I could run here, and the cooks would probably welcome my help as long as Aunt Patsy didn’t catch me. The little things are just so much more fun when Ryan does them with me."

"That makes perfect sense Jamie," Catherine said, "but I think you’d probably be somewhat bored even if she was with you. I don’t think this lifestyle has ever appealed to you."

"No, no it hasn’t," she agreed. "It’s not just that we don’t do many things here, Mom, it’s that everything is so…so topical. I don’t feel like I know these people any better than I did when I got here, and that just seems like a wasted opportunity."

Catherine nodded slowly, her brow furrowing slightly as she said, "It’s funny, but I’ve never noticed that before. I suppose that we are a little distant from one another…"

"It’s not that bad, Mom, and I know it’s not all that different from the way most families are. But I’m used to talking about everything with Ryan’s family–and I really miss that openness. When you don’t have that, spending one day with any family is really long enough. That’s plenty of time to see everyone and hear what’s new with them."

"I suppose you’re right," Catherine mused, a troubled frown on her face. "I’ve had a perfectly marvelous time with you, Honey, but I’m going to be lost once you leave."

"Maybe you can try to get some of your relatives to interact with you a little more. You could change the pattern."

Catherine’s gentle laugh caused her narrow shoulders to rock slightly. "I think I have my hands full just trying to figure out how to be more open with you, Dear. I’ll need a lot more experience to take on this group."

"Well, keep an open mind, Mom. You never know when an opportunity will present itself. It sure sounds like Sara might need someone to open up to. I can’t imagine that Trey’s problems aren’t getting to her."

Catherine nodded, looking very pensive. The comfortable silence stretched on for several minutes as she considered how her cousin and his wife were dealing with their son. "Have you ever taken drugs, Jamie?" she asked slowly.

Hmm…truth or evasion… Deciding on truth, Jamie cocked her head and made a proposal. "I’ll tell if you will."

"Sneaky, Dear. Very sneaky." Sighing heavily, Catherine shrugged and nodded her acceptance of the terms. "I’ll tell, but I think there should be some sort of statute of limitations here."

"Okay," Jamie agreed slyly. "You only have to go back to when you were sixteen," recalling that her mother had denied drug use at that point in her life.

"I still don’t know why you aren’t applying to law school," Catherine smirked. "You obviously have a gift!"

"Stick to the facts, Mom."

"I asked you first, Dear. After you."

"No, you go first," Jamie insisted, "then I’ll know how honest to be."

Smiling fondly at her child, Catherine agreed. "All right, Dear. I smoked grass in college, but I stopped when I was pregnant with you, and never did it again. It just didn’t seem like the kind of thing a mother should do, do you know what I mean?"

Jamie nodded, and asked the obvious follow up question. "Does that mean that you and Daddy both did it?"

"I don’t really feel comfortable talking about his habits, Dear. I think you should ask him if you want to know that."

"Okay," Jamie said, appreciating that her mother kept her father’s confidences. "Guess it’s my turn, huh?"

"The ball’s in your court," Catherine agreed.

"Okay." Jamie took a breath and said, "I’ve smoked grass."

"Is that all?" Catherine asked, chuckling softly. "By the look on your face, I was afraid that you’d been smoking crack!"

"No, nothing more than grass." Looking a little embarrassed she added, "I’ve never told Ryan, and I don’t think she’d approve."

"Ahh, so you and Ryan don’t smoke together," Catherine said.

"Lord no! Ignoring the fact that she doesn’t like to be out of control, she would never intentionally inhale smoke–no matter what type! She’s very, very protective of her body." She chuckled a little and added, "Well, that’s only partially true. I’m sure she’d do just about anything for a rush, no matter how dangerous it was, but she’d never risk damage to her lungs."

"Have you done it many times?" Catherine asked.

"No, not really. I smoked a couple of times in high school," she admitted. "Remember Scott Hastings?" At her mother’s nod, she continued. "When we were going out, he was always getting high. Since I was just a sophomore and he was a senior, I think I wanted to impress him a little with my worldliness," she laughed. "I wouldn’t sleep with him, which I’m sure was his first choice, so I smoked pot with him a few times at parties, just so I didn’t seem like a total dweeb."

"What about in college? I’d think Mia would enjoy getting high."

Jamie laughed at her mother’s accurate perception. "Yeah, she’s open to most experiences. She and I have gotten high a few times…not very often though. Jack would not have been happy if he knew, so I never did it when he was around. I seem to pick people who are quite abstemious," she laughed.

"That’s not a bad trait, Jamie," Catherine said softly. "You’ve seen what drug use can do to a person." Jamie nodded, and they spent a few minutes musing about the topic. "Are you afraid to tell Ryan that you’ve smoked grass, Honey?"

"No, not afraid, per se," she decided. "But I hate to have her think less of me."

Catherine gave her a grin and teased, "Doesn’t she have any faults? You’ve never told me one thing about her that wasn’t a glowing compliment."

"Hmm, let’s see," she mused, pursing her lips in thought. "I know this sounds crazy, but she hasn’t shown me any yet. I mean, I might find out that she’s really a psycho, but she’s kept it very well hidden." Her hearty laugh showed that the chances of finding that out were very, very slim in Jamie’s opinion.

"Nobody’s perfect, Jamie," Catherine warned. "There have to be things that will come up that hurt or disappoint you."

"Oh, don’t get me wrong, Mother, we have issues, but so far her only hot button has been my desire to spend money on her!" she laughed. "We had kind of a big fight at the beach because I bought her a $350 leather jacket. She really got angry about that. But we worked it out after a long talk."

"I’d be miffed if you spent $350 on a leather jacket for me too, Dear," she chided. "Surely you could have bought her something nice."

Jamie tossed her head back and laughed for a full minute. "She wasn’t mad because it was cheap, Mom. She was angry because it cost too much!"

"Where on earth can you get a decent leather jacket for $350!"

"It was used, Mom. We bought it at a second hand store in Carmel."

Pursing her lips, Catherine shook her head slightly. "That’s one affectation of youth that I never understood. Wearing someone else’s clothes seems…I don’t even know the word, but the attraction eludes me."

"I like wearing Ryan’s clothes, but I see your point," she agreed. "It doesn’t bother me, but I can see that it wouldn’t be for everyone. I think Ryan just likes it because they’re a good bargain. She hates to pay a dime more for things than she absolutely has to."

"Then you had better hide the receipts for your new clothes! Goodness Jamie, the lingerie you bought her cost nearly as much as that used jacket!"

"Maybe I should leave everything in Hillsborough and bring things back to Berkeley one at a time," she laughed. "I’m sure that we spent more this week than her entire wardrobe cost."

"We’re just going to have to work on her, Jamie," Catherine said conspiratorially. "She would look so fabulous in Armani…Once she had some nice things, she’d never go back to second-hand stores."

Jamie laughed at her mother’s confidence, shaking her head slightly. "Don’t underestimate her, Mom. She’s not easily influenced. The chances are just as good that I’ll be shopping at Goodwill!"

* * * * * * * * * * *

Morning practice was so exhausting that Ryan and Jordan decided to head back to the dorm as soon as their mid-morning meal was finished. To their dismay, they had both been working so hard that they had a hard time relaxing enough to sleep.

"You awake?" Jordan’s gentle soprano called out.

"Yeah. My heart rate’s been up for so long that I’m having a tough time slowing it down. Do you think Coach is actually trying to kill us?"

"That would seem to be counterproductive," Jordan replied lazily, "but all signs point in that direction."

"I’ve had a lot of coaches, but Coach Placer drives us harder than anyone I’ve ever played for. Is he like this during the year?"

"No, not at all, as a matter of fact. He just tries to set the tone during training camp. He figures that if we get used to working really hard now, we’ll keep it up during the year. I think he’s right, but it’s a tough week to get through."

"Thank God Jamie’s not here," Ryan said. "If she saw how many times he made us sprint the length of the gym, she’d pop him one!"

"Yeah, but we should be in better shape than a lot of the teams we play. Stamina is really important for us because we got taken to five games quite often last year. If we can hold it together in long matches, it will really improve our chances."

"Yeah…makes sense." Ryan rolled onto her side and thumped her pillow a few times, trying to make the thin foam into something that would help relax her. "I’ve got to get to sleep," she muttered. "I’m so tired I’m slap happy! Thank God this is over tomorrow. I can get a good night’s sleep in my own bed before my girl gets home."

"What’s the deal with your living situation, anyway?" Jordan asked through a yawn. "Do you stay with your parents sometimes?"

"Yeah. We live with my family in San Francisco on the weekends, then we have Jamie’s house in Berkeley to ourselves during the week. It’s kinda nice."

Jordan rolled onto her stomach and propped her head up with her hands. She eyed Ryan curiously. "Do you have to do that, or do you want to?"

"Uhh…why would I have to? I’m not under house arrest or anything." She laughed softly and said, "I love my family, and I miss them when I’m gone too long. Is that so strange?"

"Uhh…yeah, it is to me," Jordan said, her face very serious. "I’m already trying to come up with a good excuse to avoid going home for Christmas, and it’s only August."

Looking closely at the other woman, Ryan said, "I guess I understand why you didn’t attend UCLA."

"Yeah," Jordan laughed. "They wanted me pretty badly, but I had to get away. I’m still pissed that Stanford didn’t recruit me, though. Just my luck that they only had a couple of scholarships to give out for my class and the other contenders were local. I think the coaching staff felt more comfortable going with people they'd scouted more often. Damn! We would’ve been something," she mused idly, visions of a national championship dancing in her head.

"That would have been something," Ryan agreed. "They recruited me, too. If we’d both gone there, we could’ve cleaned up!"

"Oh well, I guess we just have to make Cal into a powerhouse," she decided. "Do you have any younger sisters to carry on our legacy?"

"Nope. Three older brothers. I’m the closest thing to a girl in the family. What about you? I know you have a brother. Anybody else?"

"Uh-uh. Just two kids. Well, I guess you could count my father in that number, but technically, he’s an adult."

"What’s he do?" Ryan asked lazily.

"He’s in development at Paramount," Jordan replied. "You know what that is?"

"Nope. Not a clue."

"Hick," she chuckled, getting great pleasure out of teasing Ryan for her naiveté about Hollywood. "He works with writers and directors, trying to get ideas translated into movies. He spends most of his time going out to lunch and dinner, near as I can tell, but then again, I don’t see him very often."

"Are your parents divorced?" Ryan asked, surprised that she knew so little about her new friend’s family.

"Yeah. My dad moved out when I was seven, but they went back and forth for two years before they finally decided to get divorced."

"Wow, that must’ve been tough," Ryan sympathized.

"Yeah," she sighed. "I thought he’d come back home at some point. You know how kids are. They believe in fairy tales."

"You must have been awfully broken up when they finally decided to call it quits," Ryan said softly, seeing the pain in her friend’s eyes.

"Changed my world," she murmured. "Oct. 1, 1987."

"Damn, you either have a fantastic memory, or that was a very traumatic event."

"Both," she sighed, turning over onto her other side, signaling the end of the conversation.

* * * * * * * * * * *

"As much as I dislike limos, it’s kinda nice to have someone drive us to New York," Jamie mused as they sped along Interstate 95 "I’d hate to have to manage midtown traffic in this big car."

"So would I," Catherine agreed. "New York is best explored in taxis and limos. I give credit to anyone who can drive a car here and keep their sanity."

"So what would you like to do first?" Jamie asked.

"I need some new perfume. Do you mind spending some time helping me choose some?"

"Not at all. I’ve become quite interested in my olfactory perceptions since I’ve been with Ryan. She has the most extraordinary sense of smell. If she wanted to, she could get a job at one of the perfume companies creating new fragrances. She can honestly differentiate between all of the elements of a scent--and name them. It’s really remarkable."

"Then I think we should devise a scent for you and put her to the test," Catherine declared.

* * * * * * * * * * *

"A little more Asian pepper, I think," Catherine decided as she sniffed delicately at the cotton swab that held the latest mixture her scent designer had just created.

They were seated comfortably in a small, well lit room at the Creed Boutique, and Jamie was getting a demonstration of the art of perfume design. The elegant shop specialized in creating personalized scents for their clients, and at $500 an ounce for the customized fragrances, the demonstration was far from inexpensive. Catherine had been having her perfume custom made for years, but Jamie had never had much interest in taking the time to do so. However, at her mother’s urging, she was also participating. The designer had created Jamie's first, and she had dabbed a small amount on one wrist and was now letting it settle and blend with her natural scent. The designer had instructed that the fragrance would change and mellow as it was warmed by her body, and as she took another sniff she had to agree.

She had chosen a light, sporty, citrusy scent composed mostly of Indian lime, clementine, and kumquat, thinking that style of perfume best suited her lifestyle. Catherine, on the other hand, was looking for something sexy and romantic, and Jamie hoped that bespoke the vitality of her parent’s intimate life.

The perfume they were now sampling was heavy with spice and had a decidedly woody flavor. Jamie considered the ingredients and smiled when she realized that her mother had a few key elements of a good pumpkin pie going on. The scent incorporated cardamom, Asian pepper, amber, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, honey, geranium, and cedarwood, and even though it should have smelled like something from the baker’s rack, it most certainly did not. On Catherine, it smelled decidedly sexy, and Jamie wished she could buy one like it for Ryan. But the purpose of the customization was to match the combination of scents to the particular body they would adorn, and she didn’t want to make a mistake at these prices.

Once she was satisfied with her choice, Catherine paid for both creations, insisting that Jamie should spend her own money on buying something nice for Ryan. Their car was waiting for them, as expected, and as they entered, Catherine asked, "Where to now, Dear?"

"I wish I could buy some perfume for Ryan, since she loves scent so much, but I’m not sure what she’d like."

"What does she wear now?" Catherine asked.

"Usually Coast soap and baby-powder scented deodorant," Jamie laughed. "I don’t think she owns any perfume."

Leaning forward to address the chauffeur, Catherine instructed, "Rockefeller Center, Richard, and hurry!"

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Coach, I don’t know whose idea this was, but I’d like to kiss whoever came up with it." Ryan was smiling broadly at Coach Placer, pleased beyond measure that the staff had decided to hold afternoon practice in the Olympic-sized pool. The workout they were subjected to was actually more strenuous than the ones in the gym, but the buoyancy of the water made it seem significantly easier.

"I thought I’d take pity on you guys for a change," he smiled. "I want you to work on your spiking technique, but I don’t want you to take that much pounding on your legs."

"You’re getting my vote for humanitarian of the year," Ryan called out as she executed a shallow racing dive into the pool.

The team spent the next hour jumping as high as they could to spike the ball over the low net that the staff had strung across the pool. The team had split up for this exercise, with the shorter players–who couldn’t possibly get up high enough to spike over even this low net--moving to the indoor fitness pool, which had a shallower end. That left the outside hitters and the middle blockers, all of whom were at least 5’10". Their competitive urges quickly came to the fore, and they spent a solid hour banging the ball into the water, while the ball girls struggled valiantly to retrieve their efforts from the five-foot depth.

By the time they were finished, every muscle in Ryan’s body ached, and it was all that she could do to drag herself to the nearby spa to collapse for a good long soak. The trainers scheduled everyone for a deep tissue massage, but Ryan chose to go last, in order to stay in the spa as long as possible. She sat in the hot, bubbly water with Jordan, Heather, Grace, and Ashley, none of them having enough energy to even converse. As he was preparing to leave the pool deck, Coach Placer called out, "Who’s up for a farewell dinner downtown tonight?"

Not a single hand went up, and he shared a conspiratorial smile with Ken Nakajima, one of the assistant coaches. "That’s one way to stay within my budget. Get them so tired that they don’t have the energy to go out and spend money!"

* * * * * * * * * * *

"How did you know there was a Sephora store in Rockefeller Center?" Jamie asked as they entered the brightly lit space.

"I’m truly a psychic when it comes to shopping, Jamie," she smiled. "I know by instinct where every potentially appealing store is in the entire city."

"Sounds like Ryan. Only her ability is limited to finding sporting goods stores. I swear she can smell the leather from the baseball gloves or something!"

"I’d really like to spend some quality time with her," Catherine said. "You two will have to come to the house for a long weekend."

"We’d love to, Mom, but I think it’s going to be a while before Daddy shares your opinion on that."

Recalling the last conversation she had with her husband, Catherine had to agree. "That will change, Dear. We just have to give him a little time. Now, what type of fragrance would you like for Ryan?"

They were approached by a tall, thin woman in a black lab coat who asked, "May I help you find a fragrance today?"

"Yes," Jamie said. "I want something for a woman who is very…earthy," she decided, thinking that single word best described her partner.

It took quite a while, and they had sampled over 20 fragrances before Jamie came upon the one she wanted. "This is it," she said decisively, holding up a bottle of Eau de Guerlain.

"This is technically, a man’s fragrance," the salesclerk said, "but it can easily be worn by a woman."

Catherine picked up the card that listed the ingredients and read them aloud. "Citrus, thyme, Bergamot, mint, tarragon, neroli. Reminiscent of the aroma of fresh cut hay." Sniffing delicately, she declared, "It’s nice. Clean and decidedly earthy."

"That’s my girl," Jamie agreed brightly, handing the bottle to the clerk to ring it up.

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Ryan! Jordan! Get out of there this minute!" Coach Placer stood on the side of the pool, yelling at his two seniors, both of whom were submerged at the bottom of the pool.

Ryan’s hand broke the surface, holding up one finger in a plea for just another minute. "If one of you bursts a blood vessel I’ll kick your butts all the way back to Berkeley!" he yelled, to the amusement of the rest of the team. All twelve of their teammates stood on the deck, anxiously watching the women, while Grace held the stopwatch. The competition had started out innocently enough, but when the hyper-competitive seniors were involved, things quickly got out of hand.

Jordan knew she was about to surface, so in a last ditch effort she leaned forward and pushed hard on her friend’s stomach, causing most of the air to leave Ryan’s lungs. Not to be outdone, with the last of her reserves Ryan wrapped her arm around Jordan’s neck as she tried to swim away. Once she had her secured, she clamped her arms around her waist and squeezed as hard as she could, making the blonde flail about wildly as her air was forcibly expelled. They surfaced together, arms and legs thrashing about as they tried desperately not to drown. Both women were coughing and spitting water, much to the delight of their teammates. Their coach, however, failed to see the humor in the situation. "Out of the pool, you two! You’re going to kill each other with these ridiculous games!"

"Sorry, Coach," Jordan gasped, struggling to the side of the pool. "Ryan just can’t stand to lose!"

"Me?" Ryan cried.

"Enough!" the coach warned. "Tell that to someone who hasn’t seen you play for three years," he muttered to Jordan, rolling his eyes at the purple-faced young women. "I honestly don’t know which one of you is worse."

"She is," they both charged, pointing their fingers at each other.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Continued in Part 11

Return to Main Page