I Found My Heart in San Francisco
Book 17: Quandary
By S X Meagher
It was almost 10 o'clock at night when Ryan finally had a moment alone to call Jamie on Wednesday. When the phone was picked up Jamie answered with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. Hi!
Uhm hi. You sound awfully perky. I could use a perkiness transfusion. Can you help me out?"
Jamie laughed. "I'm not really perky, I'm wired. My espresso is so good that I've been drinking more than usual. I think I had four today.
Ryan whistled. "That's a whole lot for you. Why did you drink so much?"
"I was up really late reading this fantastic book by Isabel Allende. I didn't finish it so when I woke up early this morning I made myself get up so I could get back to work. I finally got really cranking at about 11, and now I'm wired to the teeth."
Chuckling, Ryan said, "Leave it to you to have a drug problem with caffeine.
"I know. Lame, isn't it? Mia says she could get me something to make me sleep, but I think I'll decline.
"I think moving to Colorado is the best thing Mia ever did. That's her best chance of staying out of prison.
"Enough about me. Tell me all about your day."
"To tell you the truth, it sucked. It was media day, and a couple of stupid reporters kept trying to make me the story instead of Cal. It really ticked me off."
Focusing intently so she could determine if Ryan was being honest, Jamie said, "Did it bring any bad thoughts up?"
"Just for a couple of minutes." She paused, and Jamie heard a quiet noise that sounded like a tsking sound. You know, she finally said, "I must be pretty well healed. I just got irritated, and that was mostly because it's unfair to make a big deal about the third string catcher.
"I'd love to give you a big wet kiss.
"I'd love to get one.
"I'm proud of you, honey. You've worked hard to get back to normal, and I think you're there.
"I'm feeling pretty good. I don't mind traveling by myself well, me and my 20 friends, I'm not having nightmares anymore, and I don't worry about you when we're apart. I'm not sure I'm 100%, but I'm a lot better than I was even a month ago."
"Our sex life is pretty darned good, too. Don't forget that important detail.
"Oh, I won't. That's a big detail. It's been almost a week. I'm missing some sweet Jamie.
"I'll be there tomorrow and you can have your fill. Actually, I want to make sure I have my fill, but you'll be taken care of as well."
Laughing softly, Ryan said, "That's one of your best traits. Your generosity. Now get to sleep or find a plane that comes here tonight. You might as well make use of your day."
On Thursday morning, Mia, Jamie and Catherine sat in uncomfortable seats at the airport waiting for their flight to be announced. Fueled by a pair of lattes at home and another one once they arrived, Mia was wide awake and playful.
"How many times have you been to Oklahoma, Catherine?"
"Counting today? Once," she said. "I might add that I have been on a plane that didn't have a first-class section." Her grin was teasing. "That was when I went to watch Jamie play golf earlier this year."
"I was kidding Jamie about that just the other day."
Looking slightly offended, Catherine said, "Do you often discuss my pampered lifestyle?"
"No," Mia said, smiling sunnily, seemingly unconcerned by Catherine's frown. "It doesn't come up very often."
Jamie put her arm around Mia and gave her a rough hug. "She was reminding me of how many sacrifices you've made to go to all of these events with us. Sometimes I forget that you weren't raised like I was, and I was practically carried around on a pillow."
"I'd hardly call flying to Oklahoma City to be with Ryan a sacrifice," Catherine said. "I think I'd consider it a gift." She looked very pleased with herself for the way she'd characterized their trip.
Mia patted her knee. "I still say you're a trooper, Catherine. Anytime you don't charter a plane, you're roughing it."
"You act as though I didn't try," Catherine said drolly. "But it seems such a waste of fuel for just the three of us. If I could have convinced any of the O'Flahertys to join us
"You might be able to get Martin on a private jet, but I'm fairly sure he'd have to be sedated," Jamie said.
"You wouldn't have any trouble with Conor," Mia said. "I'm not sure about Rory. He's harder to read."
"He is harder to read," Jamie said. "But I think he's more like Martin than Conor."
"Conor does seem unique among the clan," Catherine said.
"He's a good guy," Mia said. "He'd do anything for you in a pinch. When he grows up a little bit he might be the pick of the litter." She did a double take, seeing Jamie's narrowed eyes. "Of the boys. Only of the boys.
"He seems very mature to me," Catherine said. "He actually seems more adult than Ryan, but I suppose he should since he's older.
"Ryan's more playful," Mia agreed, "but she's also more mature. Trust me."
They arrived at their motel in the early afternoon and found a note from Ryan saying that the team was going to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in the morning and would go straight to the softball complex when they were finished. "When does the game start? Mia asked.
"Not until six," Jamie said. "When do you want to go over?"
"About 7:30, she said, looking cherubic. But I'll be ready whenever you want to go.
"I could use a nap," Catherine said. "I feel like I'm still three or four time zones behind.
"Okay," Jamie said. "Let's meet in the lobby at 5:30.
What do I do until then?" Mia asked. "Who's going to feed me?"
Jamie put her arm around her shoulders and led Mia toward the elevator. "You stick with me, kid. I know how to keep you happy.
"She does," Mia said, grinning at Catherine. "She really does."
They were staying at an ordinary motel not far from the softball complex. Even though her mother had been a very good sport, Jamie was a little concerned about the quality of the place. During her travels with the golf team she had gotten used to the rough feel of 50 threadcount sheets and the tiny towels that most motels used. But she doubted that her mother had stayed at a motel more than twice in her life. She knew that her mom wouldn't complain, that wasn't Catherine's style, and she was well aware that these inconveniences were very minor, but the issue was on her mind.
She put Catherine in the room furthest from the elevator and ice machine. Regrettably, it was on the highway side of the building. Jamie knocked on her door at 5:30, but there was no answer. Assuming that her mother had already headed for the lobby she walked down the staircase rather than waiting for the very slow elevator.
Neither Catherine nor Mia was in the lobby, and since there wasn't a bar she figured that Mia was still in her room, late as always. But Catherine was always prompt, so Jamie called her cell phone. Mia showed up while the phone was still ringing. Jamie hung up when it had gone to voicemail. "You didn't happen to see my mom did you?"
"Yeah, I flew here from San Francisco with her.
"Always funny," Jamie said trying to keep the testiness from her voice. "She's not in her room and she's not answering the phone."
"Hmm. There's no bar " Mia's brow scrunched in thought. There's no way she'd be at the pool. Her Jacuzzi is bigger than that little thing, and I can't see her sucking the diesel exhaust from that constant stream of traffic.
"It's not that bad."
"I didn't say it was bad. It's just not what she's used to.
"Oh, and you are?
Frowning, Mia said, "What's got you acting so snarky?
"Sorry. Jamie closed her eyes. "I've got a nasty headache. That beer we had at lunch wasn't a good idea. I think this heat is getting to me, too."
"The 50° temperature difference from home to here isn't as bad as that friggin' wind. It feels like it's blowing straight over from the Sahara. I didn't know there was sand in Oklahoma.
Jamie chuckled despite the throbbing in her head. "I think that was dirt or grit. I know the wind was at least 30 miles an hour when we walked back from the restaurant. Do you remember reading The Grapes of Wrath in high school?" When Mia gave her a completely befuddled look, Jamie said, "The dust bowl people moving across the country because the land wasn't arable anymore does any of this ring a bell?
Nope. What's your point?"
Making a dismissive motion with her hand, Jamie said, "It's not important. I was just trying to make a point about how the dust blows across the plains."
"Fascinating," Mia said, straightfaced. "If we can't find your mom can we skip the game?"
"We'll find her. And if we don't, I have to go anyway, and I'm taking you with me.
Once again Jamie knocked on the door to her mom's room. This time, she heard a faint, "Yes?" That was quickly followed by, "Oh, my." Catherine open the door, her hair mussed and her eyes glassy. "I didn't think I could fall asleep."
"I think you managed." Jamie took her by the shoulders, turned her around and marched her back to bed. "Lie back down and wake up when you're good and ready. You can call a cab to bring you over to the stadium."
Protesting very weakly, Catherine lay down and mumbled something before she started to breathe heavily. Jamie took a notepad and wrote the name of the complex down and assured her that if she didn't make the game it wasn't a big deal. Then she headed back to the lobby, hoping that Mia had stayed put.
At 10 o'clock that night, Ryan locked their door with a thud, crossed over to the bed and fell onto it face first. "I'm beat."
Jamie took aim and carefully draped herself on top of Ryan. "Me too."
"I feel like a heavy weight has been added to my burden. Ryan laughed, making Jamie jiggle.
"It has. I've missed you, you know. Now I not only have to engulf my senses in your deliciousness, I also have to congratulate you on playing an excellent game."
Ryan's voice was breathy, and it was clear she couldn't take a deep breath. "You congratulated me already."
"Not in private," Jamie said, trying to sound seductive. "I want you to play just as well tomorrow, so I think I'd better give you a very nice reward for winning today. You know you do better when you have a goal."
"I'm not the kind of girl who refuses a reward, but I've got to tell you that seeing the faces of my teammates when we beat Oklahoma tonight was enough to keep me going for weeks." She put her hand on the bed and pushed herself over enough to dislodge Jamie gently. "Team sports rock.
"Tell me the truth," Jamie said, lying on her side and gazing at Ryan's face. "Did you think you'd beat them?"
Pinching her, Jamie said, "Give me more than one word."
"No, I didn't." Ryan stuck her tongue out, and continued, "Oklahoma is really good. I thought our freshmen would be too tense to play well, so I thought we'd be going home tomorrow. But given that we beat them, I'm feeling really good about the next game.
"Cool. I am too.
"The weather report's pretty bad for tomorrow. I think there might be a lot of waiting around for rain delays." Ryan propped her head up with her hand. "Maybe you should send your mom and Mia to do something fun, and call them when and if we get to play."
"We'll see. Mom is really jetlagged, so she could use some extra rest."
"She hasn't looked quite right to me. She looked pale tonight."
"I'm sure she's fine. It always takes her a while to feel like herself after she's been to Europe, and she doesn't do well in the heat. Don't worry your pretty head about it.
Ryan looked at the clock on the bedside. "I've got 12 hours until the bus leaves. Why don't you give me something to occupy my attention? She batted her eyes, and smiled sweetly.
"First, we shower. I'm not sure which of us is dirtier."
Ryan reached over and slid her thumb across Jamie's forehead. "That wind really drives the red dirt into your skin, doesn't it? The weather here is so different from home that it doesn't seem like we're on the same planet."
"I know. When we have a windy day we usually get that moist air from the Pacific. Here, it was ridiculously humid, but the air still felt dry and gritty.
"I don't think I could live anywhere where it got hot and humid like this. I need my cool, moist air."
"Given that you would only choose to live in San Francisco or Ireland, I think you're gonna get your wish. Jamie rolled off the bed and got to her feet, and extended a hand to Ryan. "Come on, pigpen. Let me scrub that dust off of you, then check every place with my tongue.
"I love having a girlfriend," Ryan said, her smile blissful.
Continued in Part 10
Return to the Academy