I Found My Heart in San Francisco
Book 17: Quandary
By S X Meagher
Jamie sat in the stands of the softball stadium on Saturday morning. She leaned back and met her mother's eyes, both of them smiling at each other behind Mia's back. Ashley was sitting on the bench in front of Mia, who was painstakingly braiding her hair.
"I don't really like having that many braids," Ashley complained.
"There's nothing else for me to do," Mia explained. "You're the only one with hair long enough to play with.”
"I wouldn't mind a nice manicure.”
"Do you have a manicure set?" Mia asked, her tone almost chiding. "I didn't think so," she said when Ashley shook her head. "Just sit still. This is going to look cute."
"How is it going to look cute when you don't have rubber bands? The braids will all fall apart."
"It's not my fault you didn't bring the right stuff.”
"But I didn't want…” Ashley trailed off, having learned that it was difficult to change Mia's mind when she had it set.
"What time is it in the Netherlands?" Jamie asked
"About four. Why?”
“Do you have a number for Jordan?"
"Of course. Why?"
Jamie took out her phone and handed it to her friend. "I know you haven't talked to Jordan all week. Call her before she has to play her game tonight.”
Mia looked at the phone with a mixture of delight and regret. "I can't use your phone, it's too expensive.”
“I want to know how Jordan is doing, too."
Mia snatched the phone from her hand before Jamie could change her mind. She pulled a piece of paper from her purse and started to dial. Ashley turned around and mouthed "Thank you," to Jamie who winked at her.
Fidgeting in her seat, Mia's face lit up when Jordan answered, "Hi, Jamie!"
"Do you always sound that excited when you think Jamie's calling you?”
“Even better. How are you?"
"I'm bored to tears. When Ryan finally plays it's fun, but we've been sitting in this oppressive heat for what seems like a week waiting for her game to start."
"I saw on the Internet that yesterday's game was rained out. Were you at the stadium all day?"
"I think we were here three days. Maybe four. But I want to talk about you. Tell me how much you love me."
"You know how much," Jordan said, chuckling.
"I never get tired of hearing you say it.”
"I love you more than I love anything in my life. I love you more than a basket full of Olympic medals. I love you—”
"I love you too," Mia said softly, turning her head to have a modicum of privacy. "I really miss you."
"I wish you were here, but we're playing so poorly that I'm kind of glad I don't have to be humiliated in front of you.”
"That bad. Rumor has it that Amsterdam is really pretty. We get to see about 10 minutes of it when we're going from the hotel to the gym. I'm interested in Ryan. How's she doing?"
"She's doing great. I think this means a whole lot to her. I'm glad we got to come see her play."
"Who do they play today?"
"I don't know. Somebody or other. But she seemed pretty upbeat about it."
"We shouldn't stay on the phone long, baby. This is costing Jamie a mint.”
“I know," Mia sighed. “We just wanted to send you good vibes for tonight. Are you still in Amsterdam?"
"Rotterdam. Then on to Switzerland, where I'm going to meet my girlfriend. That will be the highlight of this trip, for sure. If you decide to come…”
"I'll write to you after the game tonight. How's that?"
"That's perfect. I've got to get going now. I love you."
"Me too, baby. Take care of yourselves until I get there.”
Mia clicked the off button and handed the phone back to Jamie. "She says they're having a terrible tournament, but she sounds happy. That's all that matters," she said, smiling.
Ryan was standing on third base in the sixth inning, dancing around the bag to try to distract the pitcher. "She looks so cute," Catherine said, not needing to identify whom she was speaking about.
"I think she's constantly cute, but when she's doing something that she enjoys so much her cuteness level does climb, doesn't it."
The batter hit a deep fly ball to the outfield, but the wind held it up and the right fielder caught it for the second out. Ryan tagged up and scored, easily beating the throw. The whole team ran out to congratulate her as they did for every run they scored. It was now three to one and Jamie felt some of the tension she'd been carrying in her stomach start to ease. "If they win this one…”
Catherine nodded. "We have to figure out a way to get Martin and the boys here."
"I love it when you can read my mind."
"It's not an arduous task, dear. You're always thinking of Ryan.”
That evening, Mia made the call she'd been dreading. "Hi, Mom. It's me."
"Hi! I'm almost finished packing.”
"Uhm… that's why I'm calling. I'm gonna have to delay for a day or two—”
"What?" Anna Lisa squawked, the decibels climbing. "What are you talking about?"
"I don't want to, but I feel like I should. The softball team won again today, and there's a chance they'll get to play for the championship. I just can't leave when Ryan's doing something that means so much to her.”
“Ryan? What about me? What about Jordan? I thought it was so important to be with her in Europe.”
"It is, but this is just a regular tournament for her. She wants to do well, but it doesn't really affect anything. And it's important for me to spend some time with you, but a day or two delay doesn't really hurt anything, does it?"
"I can't just change my plans. I got a very good airfare, and I got my favorite seat. If I had to make new reservations I'd probably have to be in the back.”
"Okay," Mia said. "You go ahead and go tomorrow. I'll come as soon as the match is over.”
"No! I don't want to go without you.”
"Mom, don't make this into such a big deal. I checked the flights, and there's plenty of room Sunday and Monday and Tuesday."
"I don't want to sit here waiting to decide which day I'm going. I like to make plans, and when I make plans I think of them as commitments. Something you clearly aren't familiar with.”
Holding her temper, Mia said, "I wouldn't do this if I didn't think it was important. I'm going to be here for Ryan, and you can either go ahead or wait a few days."
"I'll go ahead," Anna Lisa said coldly, "and I'll take Peter with me. He doesn't start his summer associate's job for another two weeks. I know he won't turn his nose up at such an opportunity.”
"Whatever. Have fun." She hung up and glared at the instrument for a full minute, then her anger ebbed and she allowed herself to feel the sadness that always threatened to overcome her when her mom unleashed her anger upon her. She started to cry, but then decided she didn't want to have her day ruined. She mumbled, “Fuck you,” at the phone and went down to Jamie's room to see if she could get anyone to go out to a movie.
Jamie was half asleep on Sunday morning when she heard Ryan quietly say goodbye and kiss her on the cheek. “Where are you going? What time is it?”
"It's 8:30. You go back to sleep. I'll be home by 10 and we can all have breakfast."
"Are you going to the airport?"
"No, baby," Ryan said, laughing. "I don't have a car, and my family isn't supposed to be here until around noon."
Jamie smacked her dry lips together. It looked like it was an effort, but she sat up. "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to church."
"Church? I'll go with you."
"No, don't bother. I'm not even sure what kind of service it is. I was down in the lobby and somebody said the van was going to take people to services if they wanted to go. I just thought I'd go for fun."
"You were down in the lobby already?”
"Yep. Nervous energy," she said holding her hands up on either side of her face and making her fingers dance.
Jamie flopped back down onto the bed. "I don't have any of that," she mumbled. "Say hello to God for me.”
Ryan was just about to reply when she heard something like scratching coming from the door to Mia's room. “Yes?" She asked when she opened the door and Mia shuffled through.
"I had a bad dream." Her hair was a mess of askew curls, and her eyes were almost closed. "I heard you talking, so I knew you were up.” She lay down and snuggled up against Jamie, who dutifully put an arm around her. “We don't have to get up yet, do we?"
"Not for hours," Ryan said. "You two have a nice nap.”
"I'd rather have you," Jamie said, turning on her side to spoon up against Mia.
"I'd rather have Jordan," Mia countered. "But you're not bad.”
By 5 p.m. the rooting section consisted of Jamie, Catherine, Mia, Ashley, Jenny, Martin, Maeve, Brendan, Conor, and Rory. They'd all enjoyed an early dinner together, and Jamie was still smiling at the memory of her mother trying to find anything that suited her pallet on Denny's gigantic menu. Ryan had left for the softball complex at three, and Jamie had rarely seen her so energized and anticipatory. She didn't seem nervous in a traditional sense; more like she was anxious to get going and frustrated by the slow ticking of the clock.
Now that her rooting section was present and her team was on the field loosening up, Ryan looked practically joyous. She and Jackie were tossing the ball to one another just loosening up their shoulders, and Ryan was beaming a smile that could have lit up the park. "It's a small price to pay to see herself look so happy, isn't it?" Martin asked Jamie.
"I'm not sure how much your ticket was, but whatever it was I know it wouldn't be too much for me. Whether they win or lose, she's going to have great memories about today.”
To the obvious amazement of the Cal players, they somehow managed to beat the odds on favorite, Arizona, 1-0.
The team celebration lasted for hours, continuing on through dinner and a trip to a miniature golf course. They didn't get back to their room until after 10, and Jamie noticed that Ryan looked introspective and seemed quiet. Ryan was sitting at the desk, looking something up on their computer when Jamie went and stood behind her, gently massaging her shoulders. "You don't look as happy now and you did a couple of hours ago."
"I'm happy. I just don't like to linger on how I feel about today. I like to get in a good frame of mind for tomorrow."
"How do you do that?" She looked over Ryan's shoulder to peek at the document she was reviewing. She wasn't certain what it was, so she asked. "What are you looking at, anyway?"
"Same answer to both questions. I got to watch UCLA's game the other day while we were waiting to play. I made this chart of what pitch their pitcher throws in what situation. I want to really have this firmly in my mind so I can guess on her pitches."
"Do you think other people do things like this?”
“No idea. Don't care." Given her tone, and the fact that she hadn't turned around, Jamie decided to leave her partner alone. She got ready for bed and lay down, waiting for Ryan to join her. The next thing she knew it was morning, and although Ryan was gone, her side of the bed was still vaguely warm, reassuring Jamie that at some point during the night they had been in bed together.
Continued in Part 11
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