I Found My Heart in San Francisco: Book 15


By SX Meagher



They moved Jamie to the regular E.R. at 3:30, and a little before 5:00 she was finally taken for an x-ray. A very tired looking young man showed up at 6:00, holding Jamie’s x-ray in his hand. “Hi,” he said, “Dr. Morgan. Looks like your elbow’s broken.”

“Damn!” Jamie said. “Can I see the x-ray?”

“Yeah. Sure. Looks like a simple olecranon fracture.”

“Displaced?” Ryan asked, looking over the doctor’s shoulder.

He looked at Ryan quickly, clearly puzzled that she’d asked an intelligent question. “Not much,” he said, pointing at the spot on the x-ray with his pen. “Maybe half an inch. It should heal fine.” He examined Jamie for a few minutes, checking to make sure she didn’t have any other injuries. “I’ll splint you, and then you can make an appointment to see an orthopedist in a few days.”

“Aren’t you an orthopedist?” Ryan asked, narrowing her eyes.

“I’m a resident,” he said. “But the orthopedist on duty looked at the x-ray with me. He agrees with the diagnosis.”

Ryan didn’t look happy, but she let him leave to get the material for the splint. “We’ll get you to a good doctor when we get home.”

“I’m sure we will,” Jamie said, smiling at her partner. “What does displaced mean?”

“Oh. Just that the little piece that broke off isn’t quite where it should be. That’s not a big deal, though. I’ve had that one.”

“You’ve had all of ’em!”

The doctor came back and wet some long strips of gauze. He asked Jamie to straighten her arm, and it took her a good minute to get it to comply.

“Would have been nice if I knew I should have it straight,” she grumbled. “It wasn’t so swollen yesterday.”

He didn’t comment, just started to wrap her arm in something that looked almost like lamb’s wool. Then he laid the gauze strips on Jamie’s arm. They were fairly slimy, and she made a face when one of them touched her bare arm. “That high?” she asked, when he placed them from her shoulder to her wrist.

“Yeah. Don’t want your elbow or your wrist to move.”

The gauze strips started to harden, and he fashioned it by making a few cuts with a sturdy scissors. Then he wrapped it in an elastic bandage, running it all the way up her arm.

“That looks lovely,” she said grumpily.

“You’ll be fine. Just keep it elevated whenever you can. The faster the swelling goes down, the faster you can have it casted.”

“I have to get a cast?”

“Probably. Depends on what the orthopedist thinks. But he won’t be able to do anything until the swelling goes down. You shouldn’t even bother seeing someone for three days.”

“Great. Just great.”

He held her arm up and looked at it. “Looks good. Take care.” Once again, he was gone before either woman could say a word.

“Do they learn that in medical school?”

“They must,” Ryan said. “It’s hard to imagine that all of these people figured out how to disappear on their own.”

“It’s time for us to disappear. I want some drugs and a bed.”

“Damn! We didn’t get a prescription!”

“I’ll call my doctor. She’ll prescribe something over the phone.”

“No, we should get something here. Besides, we’ll be home by this afternoon. We just need to make you comfortable until then.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!” Jamie said. “You’ve got games to play!”

Clearly shocked, Ryan stared at her. “We’re going home! We’ve got to get you to a real doctor and get you propped up in your own bed.”

“Fine. I’ll go home if you insist, but you’re staying here.” Jamie’s eyes were slightly narrowed, a sure sign of her determination.

Ryan sat down, looking tired and frustrated. Rubbing her face with both hands she mumbled, “Why are you being so difficult?”

“I’m not. You have an obligation. You can’t desert your team because I broke a bone. This isn’t life and death.”

Leaning forward, Ryan rested her forehead on the gurney. “Don’t fight me, Jamie. I’m tired and sick of sitting here all night. My teammates will understand.”

“You can talk all you want, but I’ll be very disappointed in you if you leave. It’s just not necessary.”

Ryan sighed. “Fine.” She got up, looking like the weight of the world was on her shoulders. “I’ll go see if someone will write you a prescription.”

A few minutes later Ryan came back with the doctor who’d spoken to them when Jamie was moved to the regular E.R. “Everything looks good,” she said. “Both the orthopedist and the neurologist have said you can leave.”

“Can you write me a prescription for the pain?”

“Sure. What do you like?”

“Uhm … I don’t know,” Jamie said. “I’ve never been injured before.”

The doctor gave her a funny look and Ryan said, “How about some Vicodin?”

“Okay. I’ll give you enough to last until you see an orthopedist. Is that all right?”

“Uhm … sure. That’s fine,” Jamie said.

The doctor took her pad out and wrote a prescription for ten pills. Ryan thought that was a little miserly, but she knew that Jamie could get more if she needed it. After the doctor left, they had an interesting few minutes trying to get Jamie’s shirt on. Luckily, Ryan had on a T-shirt under her warm-up jacket, so she took off the T-shirt and put it on Jamie, then zipped up her warm-up.

“Why don’t you put my shirt on?” Jamie asked, eyes twinkling.

“I’d look like the Incredible Hulk when he ripped the seams of his shirt.”

“I know. I think it’d look cool.”

“Maybe at home,” Ryan said, smiling tiredly. She gently helped Jamie to her feet and they went outside to get into a waiting cab.

After a stop at a pharmacy, they walked into the hotel where they saw a few of the players gathering in the lobby to head off to the course. Jamie spent a few minutes telling her teammates what had happened while Ryan called Coach Roberts on her cell phone. She was just hanging up when Jamie took her hand.

“Take me to bed.”

“Happy to. I called my coach and told him the whole story. He said I could be late if I had to.”

“You don’t need to be,” Jamie said. “You’ve got plenty of time to prop me up in bed and get there on time.”


Ryan looked a little miffed, but Jamie was determined not to let her injury affect both of their sports. As soon as they got in the room, Jamie was tearing at the prescription bag with her teeth.

“Can I lend you a hand, sport?” Ryan asked, chuckling at her partner’s attempts to work with one hand. She opened the container and shook out a pill, then filled a glass with water. “Here ya go.”

Jamie downed the pill and sat on the bed. “I feel like I’ve been beaten.”

“I’ll bet,” Ryan said, ruffling her hair. “This is a new thing for you. You’re not used to the drill.”

“I racked up a few skinned knees and a bloody nose or two. That’s it.”

Ryan sat down next to her. “How ya feeling? Pretty bad?”

“No, not too awful. It doesn’t hurt as much as I thought a broken bone would.”

“Sometimes they hurt more as the day goes on, but it’ll feel better by tomorrow. And, you can decide for yourself, but if it were me, I’d take ibuprofen and add a Vicodin only if you really need it.”


“That’s just what I do. Vicodin works on opioid receptors in your brain and spine and gut. It’s the gut part I don’t like.”

“It works on my intestines?”

“Yeah. You have opioid receptors in your gastrointestinal tract. Every time I take codeine or hydrocodone, I have trouble.”

“What kinda trouble?”

“It slows everything down, waaaaay down,” Ryan said. “I hate to be constipated.”

“Eww! I can’t imagine anyone likes that.”

“Good point. So I take ibuprofen and only add a Vike if I’m really uncomfortable.”

“A Vike, huh? Pretty familiar with these babies, aren’t ya, O’Flaherty?”

“Yeah. More than I wish I were.” She went over to the dresser, knowing that Jamie would have her clothing neatly arranged. “Ready for bed?” She pulled out a pair of pajamas.

“I’ll just wear your shirt. I like it.”

“Okay.” Ryan put the pajamas away and helped Jamie out of the rest of her clothes. When she had her settled, with pillows elevating her arm, Ryan sat down on the other bed and called room service. “I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I don’t wanna leave you.” When someone answered, she said, “Hi. I’d like some breakfast. Some kind of omelet … Yeah, that’s fine. And a bagel and an order of toast. No, that’s all.” She hung up and smiled at Jamie.

“Carb loading?”

“Oh. I got the toast for you. The Vike can be hard on your tummy.”

“You take good care of me, babe. I’m damned glad you were here.”

“Me too.” Ryan sat next to her and stroked her hair. “I really don’t wanna leave you, honey. Are you sure you won’t reconsider?”

“Nope. I’ll sleep the day away. If I feel horrible, I’ll let you take me home tonight. But I don’t think I will.”

“Okay,” Ryan said. “Uhm … wanna call your mom now?”

“Yeah. I guess I should. I just don’t want her to know I know where she is, since she obviously didn’t want me to.”

“It’s up to you,” Ryan said. “I’m gonna take a quick shower. Want the TV on?”

“Sure. See if there are any cartoons on.”

“It’s Saturday morning! This is America! Of course there are cartoons!”


Part Four

On Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m., Harvey the landlord opened the door to his office and nodded to Mia. “Well, you don’t lie,” he said, laughing.

“I do,” Mia said, “but I wouldn’t lie to you.”

Jordan watched her lover interact with the man, smiling at Mia’s effortless, probably unconscious flirting. Harvey was clearly charmed by her, but Jordan didn’t mind. She knew it was impossible to resist Mia’s allure.

Harvey took them upstairs and banged on the door before he inserted his key and said, “I’m sure they’re still asleep. Just ignore the bodies.”

As predicted, a man was sleeping on the sofa, and his boxers didn’t cover all of his equipment. The trio marched right past him, trying to look at the unit without commenting on the fact that a nearly naked man was either asleep or unconscious in the living room. The bedroom contained only two people, a man and a woman. Both were naked, but a rumpled sheet covered most of them. Mia and Jordan tried to visualize the bones of the apartment, but it was difficult to filter out the people and the mess.

“You don’t wanna see the bathroom,” Harvey said quietly. “We’re gonna have to put new tile on the floor and probably a new toilet.”

“That’s fine,” both women said quickly.

They looked briefly at the kitchen, but the grimy appliances were hard to see beneath the haphazard clutter of pizza boxes and take-out cartons. “I don’t think they’ve ever turned the oven on, and they never buy food, so this room won’t be too hard to clean.”

“We don’t have to clean it, do we?” Mia asked, chuckling.

“Not unless ya want to,” Harvey said. “Give you a month free if ya do.”

Mia was seriously considering the offer when Jordan said, “Can we go outside? The smell’s awful.”

Harvey nodded and they went out into the hall. “What is that smell?” Jordan asked.

“I think it’s pot, isn’t it?” Harvey looked to her for confirmation.

“Never smoked it,” she said.

“I have,” Mia volunteered, making Harvey laugh. “But it doesn’t smell like anything I’ve ever smoked.”

“Smells like a dirty locker room,” Jordan said, her nose wrinkled up in distaste.

“It’ll be fine once we replace the carpet,” Harvey said. “I’ve had places that smelled a lot worse than that.”

“Lucky you,” Jordan said, her nose still twitching.

They went back to the office, and he said, “So? Ya want it?”

“Could we step outside for a minute?” Mia asked.

“Sure. Just so you know, I’ve got someone coming at 9:00, and whoever puts the application down first wins.”

“No problem,” she said. “We just need a few minutes.” She took Jordan’s hand and led her out of the building. “What do you think?”

“Uhm … well, it was big,” Jordan said. “And bright. But I don’t know if it’ll ever smell right.”

“Oh, we could fix that,” Mia said, having no idea how to do so. “Do you think we can afford it?”

“Yeah, yeah, I guess so. It’s about $120 more than we pay now, but we could cut back on—”

“Entertainment?” Mia supplied, smiling up at Jordan. “If I didn’t go to Russia with you, that’d probably pay the difference for six months, wouldn’t it?”

Jordan’s face fell. She looked down for just a moment, then met Mia’s eyes. “Yeah. I budgeted $1500 for the trip.”

“There are other ways to pay the difference,” Mia said. “I was just … you know … thinking of ways to economize.”

“You don’t have to go to Russia,” Jordan said. “I’ll be fine.”

“It was about two minutes ago that you said you didn’t think I should go! Damn it, Jordy, I don’t know what you want!”

Jordan looked remarkably uncertain of herself. She refused to look Mia in the eye, seeming to inspect the outside of the building with great interest. Finally shrugging her shoulders, she said, “You shouldn’t come. I can tell you don’t want to.”

“Argh! Don’t think for me! We need to decide this together. I’m thinking out loud, Jordan. We haven’t decided anything.”

“Okay, okay,” Jordan said, obviously anxious to move on. “We’ll talk about it later.”

“So?” Mia put her arms around Jordan’s waist. “Do you wanna do it?”

Jordan looked down at her and smiled. “Yeah, but we should wait until we get home.”

Mia bumped her with her hip. “Come on. What do you say?”

“If you wanna move, this looks like a good deal. I’d rather not pay more than we’re paying now, but your happiness is worth a lot more to me than $120 a month.”

“$170 after six months,” Mia said, having omitted that detail from her sales pitch.


“It’s $450 for six months, and $500 for the next six.” She put her hands on Jordan’s hips and pushed her back and forth. “But it’s still a good deal!”

Jordan’s expression grew concerned. “A year’s lease? We’re only on a six-month now. I just assumed—”

 “We’re on a six-month lease? I didn’t know that. I assumed every place would make you sign for a year.”

“No, we didn’t have to,” Jordan said, obviously working out the numbers in her head. “Uhm … I guess we can swing it, but it’s gonna be empty most of the second half of the lease.”

“Oh, fuck. I didn’t think about that. I forgot you said that most people take time off after the Games.”

“Yeah, but we can come back here if you want.”

“No, no, I don’t want to. I wanna go home as soon as we can. Is it up to you where you go?”

Jordan looked puzzled. “Who else would make that decision?”

“I just thought that they might make some of you stay here. To keep the team going.”

“Don’t you get this? There is no team after the Games.”

Mia blinked, then shook her head. “I’m always feeling like there’s a big calendar somewhere, and you know what’s on it. For some reason, you tell me only what I have to know.” Her eyes were narrowed and Jordan backed up a step.

“I’m sure I’ve told you this stuff,” Jordan said, looking truly puzzled. “I’m sure of it!”

“Well I’m sure you haven’t.”

“Doesn’t matter now. We can move if you want to. This place is fine.”

Mia slapped herself in the forehead. “But if we move, we have to pay rent here and in Berkeley?”

“Yeah. Unless … no, you wouldn’t wanna do that.”

“What? What don’t I want now?”

“Well, we could stay with my mom. We wouldn’t have to pay rent there.”

“Good guess,” Mia snapped. “We’re not living with any of our parents.” She closed her eyes tightly and let out a breath. “Stay here. I’m gonna go tell Harvey I’ve got my head up my ass and don’t even know how long I can sign a lease for.”

“Mia—” But Mia wasn’t there to hear her speak. She was marching for Harvey’s office, and Jordan was fairly sure that steam was coming out of her ears.


It was a lovely spring day, and Mia didn’t want to spend it in their apartment, so when she exited the office she went to the car, with Jordan silently trailing along behind her. They got in the car and Jordan wisely kept her mouth shut while Mia drove. It soon became clear they were heading up into the hills, and after about forty-five minutes Mia pulled off the road and entered a state park.

They both got out and stretched, and Mia walked over to Jordan and took her hand. She didn’t speak, just led her to a lovely vista where they could see for miles. Jordan was just the tiniest bit afraid that Mia might push her over the railing, and she breathed a sigh of relief when Mia wrapped an arm around her waist.

Mia was looking out at the view, and she continued to stare at the scenery when she began to speak in a quiet voice. “We’re not telling each other some important things. You freaked out when I didn’t tell you how unhappy I was, but you’re hiding stuff from me that affects all of our plans.”

“I don’t mean to,” Jordan began, but Mia started to talk over her.

“Maybe you don’t like to think about the future,” Mia said. “Hell, I don’t know why you didn’t tell me about making more cuts on the team, but you didn’t. Now, you obviously don’t wanna talk about this, but we’re going to, Jordan. We’re not leaving here until I know everything that you know about this team, and your schedule, and your plans.” She looked into Jordan’s eyes. “I’ll leave you here if I have to, but you’re not getting into that car until you spill it.”

Jordan leaned on the railing and shook her head. “I’m so sorry I screwed up. I thought you knew this stuff, I really did.”

“How could I?” Mia asked, trying to keep the rancor from her voice. “Am I at your team meetings?”

“No, no, you’re not,” Jordan said, looking contrite. “I just get focused and assume everyone knows what I know. It’s so important … and I think about it so much …” She shivered and a few tears rolled down her cheeks. “I’m worried all the time. I’ve never felt this kinda pressure, and I guess I don’t talk about it just so I have some breathing room.”

“Jordy!” Mia’s arms were around her lover in moments. “I didn’t know you felt so much pressure. What’s going on?”

Jordan shook her head and swiped angrily at her tears. “I shouldn’t be letting it get to me. It’s hard to play well when I’m tense.”

“But why are you worried?”

Giving her a look that questioned her sanity, Jordan said, “I’m being judged every day, every single day! Do you know what it’s like to have your every move watched? Knowing that one bad day can kill something you’ve dreamed of for fifteen years?” Her voice was high and her cheeks were flushed with emotion.

“No, no, I don’t,” Mia said. “I have no idea of how that feels. But …” She tried to make sure she was framing her statement properly. “Why would one bad day hurt you?”

“Because they’re gonna make another cut next week, and then two more in July. I have to make sure that there are three people worse than me for the next three months.”

“Okay.” Mia put her hands on Jordan’s chest. “Tell me—in order—what’s going on for the next few months.”

Jordan blew out a breath and her eyebrows popped up as she considered the question. “Well … there’s another cut next week. Then we’ll have sixteen players in camp.”

“How many do you take to Sydney?”

“Eleven,” Jordan said, swallowing hard. “And we’ve got three people in Europe who’ll probably make the team, so … we’ve really got nineteen. That’s a lot of people to cut.”

“You won’t be one of them,” Mia said, enunciating each word. “Now, stick to the topic. What happens next?”

“We go to Russia. They’re gonna expect a lot out of us on that trip. They wanna make sure we don’t get spooked playing two great teams in a place where we’re uncomfortable and not used to the food and jet lagged. Then we’re home for two weeks to get ready for a short trip to Dallas and a few spots in Colorado. It’s like that the rest of the summer — a couple of weeks of travel and a couple of weeks at home.”

“Until September?”

“No. August. We leave for Australia about three weeks before the Games start. They wanna make sure we have time to adjust for jet lag and stuff like that.”

“And after the Games?”

“We’re done.” Jordan held up her hands. “As soon as the Games are over, the 2000 team is history.”

“What do people do then?”

“Everybody takes a few months off, then some people go to Europe to play. One of our best players is in Europe now. She won’t join the team until May.”

“Would you do that?” Mia was terrified of the answer.

“Mmm … if we weren’t together, I would; it’d be good for me to play in Europe. But I couldn’t ask you to do that. So I’ll probably come back to Colorado in six months or so. I can play in NORCECA matches and work with the coaches. It’s always a good idea to be here so they don’t forget about you.”

“Then the whole thing starts again?”

“Kinda. But if you’re returning, they try to give you more feedback about how you’re doing, at least that’s what Jill tells me. She says they let you know if you’re not gonna make it.”

“So we’d be here for … three … three and a half years?”

“Yeah.” Jordan nodded solemnly. “Seems like a long time, huh?”

“No, no,” Mia put her arm around Jordan and gave her a quick hug. “I’d just have to get a job and make a home for us.”

“But then you wouldn’t travel with me.”

Mia looked at her, meeting her eyes for a few seconds. “I couldn’t, honey. I’d have to have a job and make some friends, put down some roots. Three years is a long time.”

“You’d do that for me?”

Jordan was looking at her with such a tender, grateful expression that Mia pulled her down and kissed her. “Jordan, when am I gonna convince you that I’d do anything for you? Living in Colorado is no big deal. It’s beautiful here! And if we had our own place and some money to spend and some friends—we’d be set. It’s only hard now because we’re so unsettled.”

“But you were gonna go to law school.”

“I still can. I’m not in a rush to be back in school. I’ll go when we go home. You can get your masters in architecture and I’ll go to law school. We can be study buddies again.”

“But how will we pay for all of that tuition? And living expenses? I can’t imagine how—”

Mia placed her hand over her lover’s mouth, grinning at the outraged expression Jordan gave her. “My parents will pay my tuition. And you’ve got savings for yours, right?”

“Yeah, but we still have to live.”

“Don’t think about that now.” She slipped her arms around Jordan’s waist. “You worry too much. You’ve gotta learn some of that ‘in the moment’ stuff that Ryan’s so good at.”

“I’m no Ryan,” Jordan said, smiling.

“You’re my perfect Jordan, and I couldn’t be happier with you.” She kissed her tenderly, letting her fingers slide through her hair.

“Not mad at me?”

“Nope. I feel better now that I know what in the hell’s going on, but I think I get why you don’t like talking about it too much. Now we don’t have to talk about it any more. You can just focus on being your best every day.”

“Thanks,” Jordan said, nuzzling her face into Mia’s hair. “I’m sorry I screwed up and didn’t tell you a lot of stuff.”

“It’s okay.” Mia scratched Jordan’s back roughly, making her squirm. “I think we’re both trying to make sure the other one’s happy. We just have to keep talking rather than guessing.”

“I’ll try. Now … what are we gonna do about Russia? I’ve got the money, I’ve made the reservation, do you wanna go or not?”

“Let’s go home.” Mia had Jordan’s hand in both of hers and she was tugging her toward the car.

Jordan laughed at the playful look on Mia’s face. “What’s up with you?”

“I wanna go home and play with you.”

“Okay, I’ll play. Got anything in mind?”

Mia scrunched her face up, seemingly in thought. “I wanna play … hide the tongue.”

“Hide the tongue, huh?” Jordan slipped an arm around Mia’s waist and guided her to the car. “Sounds like fun. How do we play?”

“We get all naked and then try to hide our tongues on, or … in each other.”

“Hmm … and what’s the point of this game?”

“Don’t be so competitive! Isn’t just playing enough?”

“In this case … yes,” Jordan said. She reached for Mia and let out an “oof” when Mia jumped into her arms and wrapped her legs around her waist. “So I have to carry you, huh?”

“Yep. And I get to play the game first.”

“Sounds like a deal.” Jordan had to concentrate to hold on to Mia, and she was panting by the time they reached the car. “Hey, you didn’t answer my question. Are you gonna go with me?”

“Not sure,” Mia said. “Ask me again when I can concentrate. All I can think about now is where to hide my tongue.”

“Please don’t let me distract you. You’ve got a goal!”


Ryan quietly entered their hotel room at 5:30 that afternoon, pleased to see that Jamie was sound asleep. She needed a shower, but she didn’t want to wake her partner so she slipped off her warm-ups and lay down on the spare bed. She was so tired that she’d barely gotten settled before she was sound asleep.

A few hours later a soft voice said, “Honey, can you help me get up?”

Immediately, Ryan was on her feet. “Yeah. Just hold on a sec.”

Jamie smiled at her, taking in her wild hair and glassy eyes. “I just need to pee. No rush.”

Ryan went to the right side of the bed so she could use Jamie’s good arm to help her. “No problem. I inherited my father’s fire-bell response time.”

“You really did,” Jamie reflected. “Especially if I’m not feeling well. It’s like you don’t sleep soundly if you’re worried about me.”

“That’s the truth. I can’t concentrate on softball when I’m worried about you, either. Luckily, I didn’t play and we didn’t score, so I didn’t have much to worry about.”

“Ooo … another bad day?”

“I think we’ve scored three runs in the last two weeks. I’d say that’s a bad streak.” She slid her arm under Jamie’s back and helped her sit, then she ran to the other side of the bed and supported her while she stood. “Okay?”

“Not bad. I’m a little light-headed.”

“That could be from the Vike, or from being up all night.”

“I think I should have something to eat. You hungry?”

“Always,” Ryan said with a smile. She guided her into the bathroom and held her good hand while Jamie sat. “Call me when you’re done.”

“I will if I need you.”

“Need me,” Ryan ordered. “If you’re light-headed, I don’t want to take any chances. I’ll order from room service. Anything sound good?”

“Club sandwich, grilled cheese, something simple.”

“Okay. I’m right here when you’re finished.”

“Got it. Now go get us some food. And some ibuprofen.”

Ryan smiled. “I’ve got some in my bag. I never leave home without it.”


By eleven o’clock, Jamie began to nod off. Ryan was sitting in a chair, with her feet up on the bed, and she got up and perched on the edge of the bed. “Hey,” she whispered.

Jamie’s eyes blinked open foggily. “Yeah?”

“Time to sleep.”

An adorable grin split her lips and Jamie said, “Beat ya to it.”

Ryan kissed her cheek and ran her hand through Jamie’s mussed hair. “Yeah, ya did. Want to use the bathroom?”

“I’d better. Help me?”

“Any time, princess.” Ryan helped her put toothpaste on her brush and left her alone. When Jamie emerged, Ryan had put all of their pillows on the bed, some at the head, some at the side.

“What’s up with the pillows?”

“Trying to make you more comfortable. I think you’ll sleep better on your side.”

Jamie sat down, then scooted across the bed to lie down. She let Ryan move her heavy arm and place it on the stacked pillows. “Hmm … I think you’re on to something.”

“Feel good?”

“Yeah. Much better. It keeps surprising me how heavy this splint is. Is the cast gonna be even heavier?”

“You probably won’t have to wear one. You just need to keep your elbow straight. They’ll probably let you wear the splint you have. That’s what I did.”

“Mmm … not sure that’s my preference. It’s not very cool looking.” She cast a look at the offending appendage. “I want one people can sign.”

Ryan gently tickled Jamie’s bare hip. “If you get one I’ll put little hearts on it so everyone knows you’re my girl.”

“Ya know, I’m a little surprised by something.”


“I’m surprised that … you’re not more … mmm … freaked out about this. I was worried that you’d … I don’t know …”

Ryan bent over and kissed Jamie’s cheek, then nuzzled against her for a moment. “You lucked out,” she whispered.

“Hmm? What do you mean?”

“I feel bad for you, babe. I know it hurts. I know it’s a pain not to be able to do things for yourself and all that stuff. But it’s not like having … uhm … an illness or something unpredictable. I’m not worried about you, and that makes a big difference.”

“Huh.” Jamie smiled at her. “I’m kinda worried about me. This whole thing has freaked me out a little bit.”

Ryan stroked her back, leaning close to look in her eyes. “Tell me why you’re freaked.”

“I’ve never … ever had a serious injury. No stitches, no breaks, no operations … nothing! It’s weird to think of how easy it is to hurt yourself. I mean, I could have hit my head or broken more than just my elbow.”

“I know,” Ryan said, kissing her gently. “I know, baby.” She stayed right where she was and looked into her lover’s eyes. “We all walk around with this belief that we’re fine and safe, and nothing bad will happen to us. Most of the time, that’s absolutely true. But when something like this happens … that invincible feeling goes away for a while. Not very long, though.” She tapped Jamie’s nose. “In a few days, you’ll feel just like normal.”

“Kinda like earthquakes?”

Ryan spent a moment trying to figure out the analogy. Then she smiled and nodded. “Yeah. We could have one at any second, but you don’t think about ’em until you have one. Then you jump every time a truck rolls by.”

“I’m jumpy,” Jamie admitted. “I kept waking up feeling like I was falling.”

“That makes perfect sense. This is traumatic, baby. I’m sure I was the same way the first few times I broke something. I was too young to remember, but I’m sure I was,” she said, laughing.

“You always were a prodigy.” Jamie giggled and snuggled up against her pillows. “Now get into bed.”

“I’m gonna sleep in the other bed,” Ryan said. “I want you to have room to move around, and I don’t want you too close to the edge.”

“Aw, don’t do that!”

“This is just a full-sized bed, honey. You’ll sleep better if you’re not crowded.” She kissed Jamie gently, spending a few minutes basking in the softness of her lips. “We’ll sleep together when we get home.” She gave her partner one more kiss and a tickle to remove the pout that had formed. “Promise.”

“If I don’t break anything else. Or we don’t have a bad earthquake. Or our plane doesn’t crash. Or—”

Ryan put a hand over her mouth. “You’re doing really well at this ‘I’m not invincible’ thing.” She kissed her again. “Sleep now. I’m right here if you need anything.”

“You’re all I need,” Jamie said, yawning. “These Vicodin really make me sleepy.”

“They’re supposed to. Now close those sweet eyes and get some sleep.”

G’night, sweetheart. Don’t break anything while I’m not watching.”

“Good night, Jamie,” Ryan said, rolling her eyes. “Put that active little mind on hold. You can worry about things tomorrow.”

“Oh, I will. I’ve got a whole list.”


Jamie and Ryan repeated Saturday’s argument on Sunday, but Jamie insisted that Ryan play—even though Ryan knew that Jamie hadn’t slept well and that she was pretty uncomfortable. Ryan set her up with one of her textbooks and a large glass of ice water, then made sure her cell phone was on and fully charged.

“I feel like I’m abandoning you,” Ryan said, standing with her hands on her hips while looking around the room for something else to do to make her partner more comfortable.

“I’m throwing you out. Big difference.” Jamie smiled and said, “Come give me a kiss.”

Ryan did, then inspected her set-up again. “I’ve done all I can,” she said, looking unhappy.

“I can get up by myself and I’m not light-headed anymore. Now go play!”

“I will … but I won’t like it,” Ryan said, scowling dramatically.


Jordan got up at her usual time on Sunday and went to work out in the weight room. She usually did that on Saturday, but since she and Mia had been looking at the apartment, she’d skipped the usual team session. Now Mia was stuck at home with the roommates, so she decided to stay in bed rather than have to interact with them.

Around 9:00 she finally got up and took a shower. To avoid eating another bowl of granola, she took Jordan’s bike and rode to the Barnes and Noble to treat herself to breakfast. She was savoring her latte when she decided to give Jamie a call. She wasn’t sure whether she was home or on the road, so she tried her cell phone. Jamie answered promptly, and Mia smiled so brightly at just hearing her voice that she nearly lit up her corner of Starbucks. “Girlfriend!” she said.

“Oh! My best friend! How are you, sweetie?”

“I’m all right. Is this a good time to talk?”

“Yeah. I’m stuck in a hotel room in Tempe, Arizona.”

“Do you have a late tee off?”

“No. I … broke my elbow on Friday night.”


“I broke my elbow. I was outside talking to that idiot Juliet and she got upset about something I said. She stood up too fast and started to fall over. Instinctively … and I do mean instinctively … I tried to stop her and she pulled me over. I landed on my elbow and broke it. I should have let her fall. Check that. I should have pushed her.”

“God damn! It must hurt like hell!”

“It’s not too bad. Luckily, Ryan was here for a softball game and she went to the hospital with me. I’ve got a splint from my shoulder to my wrist, and when we get home I’ll probably have to get a real cast.”

“That is a major, major drag! I guess you’re done for the year, huh?”

“Yep. I hate to say it, but I don’t mind. It’s been so hard to leave Ryan. I never would have joined the team if I’d known she was gonna have such a tough time.”

“How’s she doing?”

“Have I talked to you since she had her meltdown?”

“Uhm … which one?” Mia asked, hating to phrase it that way.

“Mmm … good point. She has had a few. This particular meltdown was in LA when I went down to be with her for her UCLA and Washington games.”

“I talked to you that night. Remember? You were going out to some fancy restaurant.”

“Right, right. Well, this was after we talked then. We decided to stay in the hotel and tear up the furniture instead.”

“You’re fucking kidding me!” Several patrons turned to look at Mia and she slumped down in her chair and spoke quietly. “You are kidding, aren’t you?”

“’Fraid not. It sucked, but the end result was good. I finally got her to admit to some stuff she’s been bottling up, and she seems … better since it happened. She’s a long way from being herself, but at least I feel like she’s making some progress.”

“This has really been awful for you both, hasn’t it.”

“Yeah. Really bad. And I think it pisses her off that I haven’t had as hard a time getting over the whole hijack thing. I think it makes her feel like she’s … I don’t know … more broken, I guess.”

“That must be really hard for her. It’s obvious she likes to be strong and in control.”

“That’s obvious?” Jamie laughed. “Yeah, that’s my little lunatic. She has this self-image of being really strong, but the truth is that she’s as fragile as a beautiful piece of china.”

“Is that … hard for you?” Mia asked. “I mean … you didn’t know that about her, did you?”

“Yeah, I had a pretty good idea. None of this has been a surprise … except that I didn’t realize how having something bad happen would bring up all of her other insecurities. And she’s got a lot of them. She’s had more bad shit happen to her than most people have in their whole lives. I’m just thankful that she really wants to work through this and get back to normal. A lot of people would spiral into a depression they’d never get out of, but my girl’s a trooper.”

So’s mine. Makes me wanna hit her with a brick sometimes.” Mia laughed and Jamie joined in, both women acknowledging how their partners’ determination could have its drawbacks.

“Why’s she in trouble now?”

“Oh, the usual. Same stuff Ryan does. Athletes should come with a warning label.”

“As tall as they are, there wouldn’t be enough room for all of the cautions!”

“Nailed it! She’s worried about getting cut, so she doesn’t talk about the team when she’s at home. So there’s about a billion things I don’t know … even though they affect me! I almost left her on a mountain on Saturday. I told her if she didn’t tell me her whole schedule, she’d have to walk home. And I meant it!”

“Damn! You’re harsh!”

“You’d have done the same thing if Ryan had held out on you like Jordy has been.”

“Is everything okay now?”

“Umm … kinda. It’s been a scene, James. My mom dropped in … without warning … last week, and I’m still getting over that little encounter.”

“Your mom! How did that go?”

“You don’t have time. I’ll tell you all about it when you’re at home. Your cell phone’ll die by the time I finish whining.”

“Oh, you don’t whine. You’re as tough as Jordan, you just look sweet and malleable.”

“Can’t argue with that. You know my evil truths. But I’m trying to decide how malleable to be. I’d been planning on going to Russia with the team next week, but I’m having major second thoughts.”

“Really? Why? Russia’s really cool.”

“You went with your parents, right?”

“Uh-huh. And Elizabeth.”

“Right. Old Betty the Hawk. I swear that woman knew you were gonna burp before you ate a bowl of chili.”

“Oh, she wasn’t that bad. And we had fun in Russia. We read a bunch of books before we went so we’d get something out of the trip. Elizabeth hated to just have fun; I had to learn something, too.”

“How much fun would you have had if your parents and Elizabeth had stayed at the hotel and sent you out on your own?”

“Not much, I guess. Why? Is that what Jordan’s gonna do?”

“Basically. She can’t sightsee with me; she can’t eat meals with me; she can’t stay up late or go to a club. All we’ll get to do is sleep together.”

“Hmm … you could go on some tours, maybe hire a guide?”

“Don’t have the money for that. Jordy’s budgeted $1500 for me, and that includes airfare and hotel. I’ll probably have about $300 to spend.”

“Mia, don’t be hard-headed about this. Going to Russia is too cool, even just to just walk around Red Square. Let me hire a guide for you.”

Mia let out a sigh. “You know, I’d take you up on that if I really wanted to go. But it dawned on me recently that I’ve been looking at this as travel, while Jordan looks at it as work. And it’s really important work. It’s like her having to give a huge presentation at work, and I wanted to sit in the back and say, ‘Hey, let’s go out to lunch. Hurry up!’”

“Well, maybe you should just stay home. You don’t wanna make things harder for her.”

“Right! But I can’t decide what’s best for her. I know she wants me to go. She’s got this fantasy that I’m gonna go out and have fun while she’s playing. I’ll have had this great day while she’s at work, then we’ll sleep together. She really feels like she’s giving me something, James. She’s giving me a trip to Russia. But I don’t wanna go to Russia alone! I’d rather take that $1500 and use it to rent us an apartment, but I just found out we’re gonna be back in Berkeley for at least six months after the Games.”

“Cool! That’s fantastic!”

“Yeah, it is, but I was only vaguely aware we were gonna be able to go home! I just found us a nice apartment, but it’s stupid to rent it and pay rent when we’re in Berkeley. I tell you, she’s about to drive me mad!”

“Can’t make her tell you what she really wants, huh?”

“Yeah, I can. But all she claims to want is for me to be happy. But I can’t be happy if I don’t know what would make her happy.” She blew out a breath. “I gotta tell ya, men are easier.”

Jamie didn’t laugh and there was a tense silence that she finally broke. “You’re not … changing your—”

“Fuck no! Jordy’s it for me. She can drive me stark raving mad and I’d still wanna be with her. She’s mine. Until I kill her.”

“That’s my buddy! You had me worried there for a second.”

“No worries, James. I love her. I love her more than I thought I could love anyone. She’s kind and thoughtful and sensitive and smart and funny and—”

“Good in bed.”

“That goes without saying. A girl’s gotta have some standards.”

“God, I miss you. Life just isn’t the same without you, Mia. Things would be so much easier if you were home.”


“Yes, really. Ryan would be much happier if you were back. She does much better when there’s someone home. It gives her too much time to obsess about things when she’s alone.”

“Damn, James, don’t make me feel worse!”

“I don’t mean to, really. It wouldn’t fix Ryan by any means. It’s just that we both miss you and we both love it when you’re here. You and Jordan are part of our family—and neither of us likes to have our family members too far away.”

“I miss you too, honey. As much as I love Jordan, it’s really hard for me to be away. I’d come home in a minute if I thought she didn’t need me.”

“I know you would. You’re a good partner.”

“Trying my best. It’s tougher than it looks!”

“Amen! Good thing we’ve both got women that more than make up for the difficulties.”

“Damn straight. Or gay. Or bisexual. Whatever.”

“I’ve gotta go to the bathroom, and it takes me ten minutes to get there. I never knew how much that second arm helped.”

“You poor lamb. I wish I could be there with you.”

“Ryan’s here. She’ll be back in a couple of hours—watching me like a hawk.”

“Okay, James. I’ll call you later in the week. Tell Ryan I love her.”

“I will. And you do the same with Jordan.”

“Will do. Talk to you soon. Thanks for listening.”

“Part of the job. Best friends are always on call. Love you.”

“Love you too. Bye.”

Mia hung up and took a bite of the apple fritter that she’d purchased. The sweetness of the pastry didn’t come close to the feeling she had after talking to Jamie. Being loved was the sweetest feeling a body could experience.


Many hours later, Ryan returned, belying her oath not to enjoy her day. “We won!” she said, grinning from ear to ear. “We finally scored a few runs and threw a shutout. Best game we’ve had in weeks!”

Jamie knew her lover too well not to guess an added element. “You played, didn’t you, Buffy?”

“Yeah,” she said, smiling brightly.

“Some of those runs were because of you, weren’t they?”

“Mmm … kinda,” she admitted, looking smug.

“Home run?’

“Nope. But I drove in a run with a double, and I scored on a bloop single to left field.”

“From second base?”

“No. I stole third.”

She was grinning like a kid and Jamie wanted to smother her with kisses, but she wasn’t mobile enough to scramble around on the bed like she usually did. “Come sit by me so I can congratulate you.”

Ryan sat down gingerly and Jamie wrapped her arm around her neck and pulled her down for a few dozen kisses. “You’re such a stud,” she whispered.

“I’m a dirty stud. I didn’t take a shower yet. I had a good-looking girl waiting for me in my hotel room.”

“Go on,” Jamie said, waving. “Then you can help me get cleaned up. I wanna go downstairs and eat with the team.”

“Oh, boy! You sure do know how to show a girl a good time!”


The dinner wasn’t particularly exciting, but Jamie wanted to reassure her young teammates that she was fine. Both Lauren and Samantha were filled with concern, and all of the other women gathered around to check on Jamie’s injury. Everyone except Juliet, who had obviously decided to skip dinner.

Ryan entertained Lauren and Samantha with stories from their night in the E.R., and Jamie sat quietly, loving to watch her partner charm people. Ryan cut all of Jamie’s food and kept trying to feed her, much to the delight of the younger women. After dinner, Scott walked them back to their room, where he stated the obvious. “This is a heck of a way to end your season.”

“Yeah. I’m not very happy about it.”

“How’s Juliet?” Ryan asked. “Can she play?”

“Yeah. She seems fine. It hurts her to sit down, but it hasn’t affected her play. She had the low round for the tournament today. Shot a 68.”

“Fascinating,” Jamie said. “What time does the bus leave?”

He looked at his watch. “About a half hour. Are you going with us?”

“Yeah. Ryan’s team’s on the same flight. One big happy family.”

“Great. See you two in a few.”

As they watched him walk down the hall, Jamie said, “I wonder why Juliet’s making herself scarce. Lauren said she didn’t eat with the team yesterday either.”

“I hope her ass is so sore she can’t sit down to take a leak,” Ryan grumbled.


It was late when they got home, so Jamie begged off calling her mother. Ryan was a little puzzled by her reticence, but she didn’t want to press the issue. Jamie was only taking a Vicodin to sleep, but Ryan was still making her drink a glass of Metamucil—just to be sure.

Jamie swallowed the drink, making a face. Then she took Ryan by the hand and they went up to bed. “Can I finally sleep with you?” she asked.

“I promised you, didn’t I? I just didn’t want to squish you.”

“I’ll let you know if you’re squishing me.” Jamie looked at the bed. “We might have to switch sides.”

“Oh. Right. You need to sleep on your right. We’re figure out a way to keep you comfortable.”

“I won’t be comfortable without you,” Jamie said. “That’s the important thing.”


Early on Monday morning, Ryan gasped when she slid back the shower curtain and saw Jamie perched on the edge of the sink, staring at her balefully. Ryan grabbed a towel and wiped her face so she could see her partner. “What’s wrong?”

“I want a shower,” Jamie pouted.

“Ooo … I’ll give you a shower tonight. I just don’t have time now, babe. You kept me in bed too long.”

“I didn’t know you had to be at school so early.”

Ryan was quickly drying herself, doing a rather haphazard job. “I’ll give you a quick sponge-bath. Just give me a sec.”

Jamie grumbled to herself, but she adjusted the temperature of the water in the sink taps and handed Ryan a washcloth. “Just wash my right armpit, I can do the rest.”

“Poor punkin … can’t wash her own armpit.” Ryan did a thorough job, then asked, “Sure you don’t want me to do the rest?”

“No,” Jamie sniffed. “It’s undignified. I’ll do it myself.”

Ryan took her cue and scampered out of the bathroom, figuring it was better to go to school with her hair wet than hang around and annoy her ill-tempered lover.


Since she didn’t have to go to golf practice, Jamie got to observe her favorite morning ritual … drinking coffee and reading The New York Times while listening to National Public Radio. Getting to meet the day in a leisurely way improved her mood substantially, and she was feeling good when she finally called her mother.

“Hey, Mom,” she said when Catherine answered.

“Hello, dear. How did your weekend go?”

“Mostly bad. A teammate and I were talking outside the hotel and she fell backwards. I tried to stop her, but she pulled me over. I landed on my elbow and broke it.”

“Oh, my God!”

Jamie knew it was childish, but it made her feel good to have her mother over-react to her injury. “It’s not a bad break. Ryan’s had the same one and she said it’s not a big deal.”

“Why aren’t you in the hospital?” Catherine’s voice was so high-pitched it almost squeaked.

“It’s really not that bad, Mom. I just need to see a doctor in the next couple of days.”

“We’ll go today,” Catherine said. “I’ll find the best doctor in the Bay Area and get you an appointment. I’ll call you right back.”

Jamie stared at the phone in her hand, amazed that her mother was taking such control. Amazed and very pleased.


It took almost an hour, but Catherine delivered on her promise. “It looks like the best orthopedist is in the city,” she said. “The best I could do is five o’clock tonight.”

“You found a doctor who has office hours at five o’clock?”

“I’m not sure if he has office hours,” Catherine said, chuckling softly, “but he’s seeing you then. I’ll come pick you up at around 3:30.”

“Oh, Mom, that’s so far out of your way. I can drive myself.” She paused and said, “If I drive Ryan’s car. I’m not gonna be driving mine until my arm’s better.”

“You’re not driving anything, dear. Now don’t argue with me. We’ll leave early and have a little snack first if we have to kill time.”

“All right,” Jamie said. “Mother knows best. See you then.” She hung up, feeling much better than she’d started out. Her good mood lasted until she tried to get dressed and realized she couldn’t put on her bra or her running shoes.


Around noon, Mia was lying on the floor of the living room, beginning to do research for a paper for one of her humanities classes when the doorbell rang. She was hesitant to open the door ever since Jordan had told her about the rapist in the neighborhood, so she went to the door and looked out the peephole. The person in the hallway was standing far too close for her to make out who it was. “Would you back up please?” she yelled.

“Fed Ex,” the man said, backing up so she could see his uniform.

She opened the door and gave him a puzzled look. “For who?”

He looked at the envelope. “Mia Christopher. That you?”

“Yeah. What did I get?”

Smiling, he said, “I don’t send ’em, I just deliver ’em.” He handed her the electronic register for her signature and looked at her as she signed. “Maybe it’s a big check.”

“Ya never know. Thanks,” she said, taking the envelope and going back inside. The envelope was open in seconds and she fished inside, coming out with a couple of pieces of paper. The larger one was a piece of stationery, and her heart skipped a beat when she saw the elegant JDSE engraved on the outside of the folded note. Trembling fingers hastily opened it.


I’m taking advantage of the momentary weakness you showed when we talked on the phone. I know it’s hard for you to accept money from me, but I offer it because I’m your friend, and it’s important to me that you’re able to take advantage of some of the opportunities that are presented by Jordan’s being on the Olympic team.

You’ll be in your fifties by the time you can afford to travel to Russia again, so if you go, I really want you to see as much as possible. Russia might not even be on your list of places that you’d like to see, but it’s a remarkably lovely country, and I know you’d love it if you saw it. So—if you go, I’ve arranged for you to    have a tour guide. She’s the same woman we used when we went, and I know you’d like her. Send her an e-mail if you decide to go and she’ll work up an itinerary for you. She’ll bill me, and I’ll tip her. If you do          this, you’ll make me happy, and I know you want me to be happy, right?

Now, if you don’t go, I’m sending you a plane ticket back home. I don’t want you sitting in that apartment by yourself, and Ryan and I miss you too much to even think of you having time available and not visiting us. So, again, it’s all about me. If you don’t use the plane ticket now, you can use it later. It doesn’t have any restrictions, and it’s good for a year.

We love you sweetie, and we want you to make the most of this experience. If I had my choice, you’d come home while Jordan’s gone, but I want you to do what makes you and Jordan happy. That’s my goal.

       Love and kisses,


Mia reached back into the envelope and found the airline ticket. She pressed it to her mouth and gave it a kiss, wishing she could do the same to her best friend.


Catherine knocked on the door at 3:15, and Jamie dashed down the stairs to greet her. To her surprise, her mother almost broke into tears when she took in her massive splint.

“Oh, honey, that looks so awful!” She reached out and touched Jamie’s arm with a most gentlecaress, then looked at her face. “Are you in a lot of pain?”

“No, not anymore. This happened on Friday night. It hurt a lot on Saturday, but it’s better now.” She could see her mother swallow, then Catherine smiled and walked into the house.

She put her purse down and said, “May I get a drink of water?”

“Sure. I’ll get it for you.”

“Nonsense. I know my way around your house very well.” She went into the kitchen and got out a glass, then spent a minute letting the water run. She took a few sips and put the glass in the sink. Jamie could see her shoulders rise and fall, then her mother turned to her. “Why didn’t you call me sooner?”

She looked so hurt; Jamie felt the guilt hit her like a blow. Not having a valid excuse, she said, “I didn’t want to worry you, Mom. I was in Arizona and there was nothing you could do.”

Catherine approached and cupped her daughter’s cheek. She spent a moment looking into her eyes, then said, “That doesn’t matter. It’s important to me to know that you’ll call me when bad things happen to you. I don’t need to be protected, dear. I need to be involved.”

Her lower lip quivered and she started to cry. “I’m s…sorry.”

Catherine wrapped her arms around her daughter and ran a hand through her hair. “It’s all right, Jamie. It’s all right.”

“It was stupid of me not to call you. I … really feel bad.”

“It’s all right,” Catherine said again. “Just promise you’ll call if something major happens to you … good or bad.” She pulled back and kissed Jamie’s wet cheek. “I hope it’s all good.”

“I’m just … I’m a little emotional,” Jamie said. “I’m depressed about not being able to play anymore, and I keep finding things I can’t do, and it frustrates me!”

It didn’t take Catherine much thought to come up with a solution. “I’ll send Marta to stay with you until you’re better.”

“No, no,” Jamie said, laughing a little. “It’s nothing big. Ryan can take care of me.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

“Yeah. Would you mind tying my shoes? I could only put on these slip-ons, and they give me a blister when I don’t wear stockings.”

“Oh, my! I suppose you can’t tie your shoes. We’ll stop and get you some tennis shoes that you don’t have to tie.”

“I could use a nice bra that you don’t have to hook,” Jamie said, giving her mother a small smile.

“Are you sure you don’t want Marta to come? She could dress you and make you a nice breakfast.”

“Tempting, Mom, but I’m sure Ryan will be happy to dress me. It just didn’t dawn on me this morning before she left.”

“You keep a list, honey. If there’s anything you need, I’ll make sure you have it.”


They were almost a half hour early for the appointment. Catherine guided her Mercedes into an underground parking lot and had started to walk away when the parking attendant handed her a receipt. “Oh! I left something in the trunk. Would you press the button on the dashboard by your knee?”

The young man did as she asked, and Jamie watched her mother struggle to remove a large basket from the car. “What in the heck is that?”

“Oh.” Catherine cast a quick glance at the bundle. “I called a friend of mine whose husband is a well-known orthopedic surgeon. He called me back and said you didn’t need to see a surgeon, and he recommended the fellow we’re seeing this afternoon.”

“Uh-huh.” Jamie put her sunglasses back on when they reached the sidewalk. “Why the basket?”

“He told me that Doctor Maynard is a wine collector, so I bought him a few bottles for going out of his way for us.” Jamie tried to look in the basket, but her mother moved it to her other hand. “No peeking. You know too much about wine.”

Jamie made a face and laughed. “That bad, huh?”

“I hate to drop names and call in favors,” Catherine said. “When I do it, the least I can do is offer a little gift in return.”

“I saw an Haut Brion in there,” Jamie said, wiggling her eyebrows. “If that’s over ten years old … that’s not a little gift.”

“None of your business,” Catherine said, shaking her head and looking oddly adolescent. “This is my deal.”

“Let’s get some coffee,” Jamie said, twitching her head towards a Starbucks. “I’ll buy.”


When they were settled with their drinks, Jamie said, “You seem very chipper today.” Then she remembered what might have cheered her mother up over the weekend and she regretted having said anything.

“I’m just happy to be with you,” Catherine said.

Now that she’d raised the issue, Jamie didn’t want to let it go. “Did you have a good weekend?”

“Yes. It was … good.” Catherine smiled at her, offering nothing more.

“Did you do anything special?”

Catherine took a sip of her coffee. “Hot,” she said, frowning at the cup. She was clearly ready to let the question drop, but Jamie was gazing at her, waiting for an answer. “Special?” she asked, looking thoughtful. “No, not really. I went out to dinner, looked at some art.”

“At a museum?”

“No. I did a gallery stroll. Oh!” she said, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “I bought a new piece! I’ve been watching a young artist named Vincent Desiderio for a few years, and I’ve wanted to acquire one of his paintings. I saw one this weekend and knew it was the one.”

“Cool! I want to see it.”

“It’ll take a little while. It has to be shipped …” Catherine looked like she wanted to pull her sentence right back into her mouth. “I mean … delivered.”

“Right,” Jamie said, smiling tightly. “Well, let me know when you’ve had it hung.” She actually felt sorry for her mother, who looked a little ill. “Where will you put it?”

“In the city. My new library, I think.”

“Cool. How’s that going?”

“Oh, we haven’t gotten very far. Building permits and all that sort of thing. But I’m not in a hurry. I’m not really looking forward to having my new house in disarray, so even though I want a library—I’m not excited about the process.”

“You love to redecorate,” Jamie said. “Admit it.”

“Yes, I do. But I’m enjoying my new home, and I think there will be too much mess to live there while the work is going on.”

“Mmm … you could always stay at Dad’s place in the city. The doorman would probably wave you right in. ‘Good afternoon, Mrs. Evans.’ He’d probably act like he’d just seen you yesterday.”

Checking her watch, Catherine seemed to gather herself before she said, “I’ve made a decision about my name, honey.”

Jamie looked as confused as she felt. “Your name?”

“My surname. I’ve decided to go back to my maiden name.”

“You’re kidding!”

“No, I’m not kidding. I hadn’t thought much about it, but I need a new start. And one way to reclaim my identity is to go back to the name I was born with.”

“I’m … stunned.” Jamie’s eyes were wide and she looked like she might cry. “I … never considered that you’d do that.” She looked down for a moment, then asked, “Do you hate Daddy that much?”

Catherine covered her daughter’s hand, noting it was cool and damp. “No, of course I don’t. Your father and I are getting along very well, honey. Better than we did when we were married, to be honest. This has nothing to do with him.”

“How can it not?”

“I’m doing this for me, Jamie. I’ve been thinking a lot about my great-grandmother.”


“No. Smith. I think I’ve told you that her maiden name was Smith. I’m getting a late start, but she’s the person in my family I’d most like to emulate. I want to reclaim her name and remind myself that if she could make a difference in her world … I should have a very easy time making a difference in mine.”

Jamie blinked and looked at her mother for a moment. “Is that … is that something you’ve been thinking about for a while?”

“Yes,” Catherine said decisively. “Very much. It’s time to stop licking my wounds and start living my life.”

Jamie’s face lit up. “That’s so good to hear, Mom. Really.”

“I’ve been down for months. It’s time to get out of my funk.”

“God. If both you and Ryan start feeling better, I won’t know what to do!”

“Just relax and enjoy it,” Catherine said. “Live in the moment.”

“My God, you’re sounding more like Ryan every day!”

“Now that would be a goal!”


Continued in Part 5

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