I Found My Heart In San Francisco

Book 13 Monogamy

By: S X Meagher


Part 17

Jamie leaned back in the bus seat, watching the scenery breeze by. She was sitting alone, as was every other player on the team. Having been on Ryan’s team bus, she knew that not all of the athletes on Cal’s teams were so reserved, but she had to admit that golf at the college level was a funny sport. One of the most individually focused sports, their collective success or failure depended on team results. Each individual score was added together, giving the team a score for the day. At the end of the three-day tournament, their cumulative scores were added up to create huge numbers. But even with a total of over 900 points, the difference between first and second place was usually only a few points. So a poor round – a single missed putt – by one individual, could drop a team from first to second or even third place.

In Jamie’s opinion, most golfers put a lot of pressure on themselves – but to have your entire team counting on you to hit a fairway or make a chip was often more than an inexperienced young woman could handle.

Scott Godfrey, the head coach, came down the aisle and sank into the seat beside Jamie. Leaning over so only she could hear him, he asked, "How do you feel about doing a little mentoring?"


"Yeah. We normally assign rooms at random, but I’m having second thoughts about doing that. I thought that I could assign an upperclassman to a room with each of the two freshmen to give them a little support. Lauren and Samantha both seem a little freaked out, and I thought it might help."

"I’m happy to help if I can, Scott," she said. "Do you mind a suggestion?"

"No, not at all."

"Don’t ask Juliet to do this. I know she’s the only other senior, but she’s so focused on her own game that I don’t think she’d be any help at all."

"Yeah," Scott nodded, "that would be like having one of the freshmen in a single room, wouldn’t it?"

"Just about," she said. "How about Margo? She’d loosen one of them up."

"That’s a good idea," he said. "Margo doesn’t let anything bother her – and that’s the attitude I want the freshmen to develop."

"Well, I volunteer to room with Lauren," Jamie said. "She’s clearly the more nervous of the two."

"Good deal, Jamie," Scott said. "Thanks for helping out."

"My pleasure," she said. "I’m very excited about this season. I think we’re gonna surprise some people."

* * * * * * * * * * *

After settling into their rooms, the golfers gathered in a good-sized banquet room. Scott and his assistant coaches stood in the center of a circle of chairs, and all of the girls chose a seat. Jamie looked across the room at Juliet, regretting that they’d barely spoken since the incident at Juliet’s home. But, even though Jamie felt bad about the chilly reception she got, she wasn’t about to go too far out of her way to reassure the woman. From her perspective, Juliet had issues far too complex for Jamie to understand; and given that the taciturn woman was loath to discuss them, she didn’t see many options.

Waiting until everyone was settled, Scott said, "Since we start our spring schedule tomorrow, this seemed like a good time to get to know each other. We’re going to have to be each other’s cheerleaders, since we don’t have a home course, and most of our matches are played quite some distance from Berkeley. So, what we’d like to do today is to spend some time learning the basics about everyone.

"I’d like each of you to interview every other player." The girls all gave each other puzzled looks, while Scott continued. "Ask your teammates any questions about themselves, their families, their golfing careers … anything that you think is important to know about a teammate. When we’re all done, I’ll ask some questions to see who did the best job. We have a very nice prize for the winner – so do your best, girls."

He passed out pencils and notepads to all of the players, then said, "Let’s go! We’ll be back in an hour to see who the best interviewer is."

* * * * * * * * * * *

To Jamie’s surprise, she won the competition hands-down; beating her closest competitor by 9 points. "Excellent job, Jamie," Scott said. "I hope you’re planning on going to law school, because you’d be a great trial lawyer."

"No plans to do that, Scott," she said. "Maybe I’ll become a journalist, instead."

Scott signaled one of his assistants, and to Jamie’s surprise, he came back in with a beautiful, new golf bag. "One of our alums is working at Titleist, selling golf equipment," he said. "She generously donated this beautiful bag that we’ll have your name put on."

"Wow," Jamie said, genuinely impressed. The big, navy blue bag had a large gold, embroidered logo of the university on the side, as well as room for Jamie’s name. "This is so cool, Scott!"

"I hope you enjoy it, Jamie. And, for the record," he announced to the assembled group, "we have one more. We’re going to award that one to the low scorer for the tournament."

"Thanks very, very much," she beamed, very pleased with the gift.

After a break for snacks, Scott introduced the next event. "Now, I’d like each of you to talk about your ultimate goal in golf. Don’t be afraid to be immodest," he warned. "Jamie, since you were the winner in the last contest, you can start out."

She collected her thoughts and said, "As you all know from the interviews, I played on my high school team. But, I didn’t think I had the game to play at the collegiate level, so I didn’t even try to get a golf scholarship. I made some changes last year that allowed me to play more of a power game, and that’s what gave me the nerve to try out for the team this year.

"I’ve found that I really love the game, and I don’t want to give it up next year. I know I’m not good enough to play on the pro tour, and I wouldn’t want to live that life even if I were good enough – but I don’t want to stop competing.

"So, I’d say I have two goals. One, is to play as well as I possibly can this spring, and help take us to the NCAA tournament; the other is to continue to play as an amateur, and eventually be able to compete in the U.S. Amateur tournament."

"Thanks, Jamie," Scott said. "I think that both of those goals are attainable. Now, who wants to go next?"

* * * * * * * * * * *

By the time they were all finished, it was time for dinner. The dining room was set up with a number of small tables, each one for 4 players. Jamie intentionally sat with the sophomores, since she knew those players less well than any of the others. They had an enjoyable meal, mostly talking about golf, as usual, but Jamie enjoyed herself, nonetheless.

After the meal, Scott said, "As our last planned activity, I’d like each of you to choose one person who you trust, and talk about your life goals. I know that it’s easy to let golf take over your lives, but I want you to think beyond that. What would you do if you couldn’t play any longer? Do you plan on having a family? What kind of career would you like to pursue? These are questions that many of us don’t stop to think about until our golf careers come to a halt – sometimes involuntarily. So, I’d like you to think about them now, and discuss your thoughts with a teammate. I won’t make assignments, since I want you to be able to open up, and I know that’s not easy to do with a stranger. So, pick your partners, and have a good evening. We won’t meet up again after this, so I’ll see you all at breakfast tomorrow."

The girls all sat around looking at each other nervously for a moment, then they all sought out their best friend on the team and took off. Not surprisingly, the only two left were Jamie and Juliet. Most of the girls were completely intimidated by Juliet, so it made sense that no one chose her, but Jamie had to admit that she had no more real friends than Juliet did.

Standing, she walked slowly over to the woman, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "Where would you like to go to talk?"

"Uhm … we don’t have to tell Scott what we talk about, do we?"

"No, I think he made it clear that this is private. Don’t worry, Juliet, this is only between you and me."

"Oh … uhm … I uhm … thought that if we weren’t gonna have to tell him what happened, we could go to our rooms. I don’t really have anything to say, Jamie."

Jamie stood a little closer to the woman and adopted one of her most serious looks. "Get up."


"You heard me. Get … up … now."

Eyes wide, Juliet did so, stumbling a little as she pushed her chair back.

"Look, you’ve been acting like an idiot. You made a pass at me, I told you no. Leave it behind you, for God’s sake! You didn’t stab me, Juliet – you showed me that you found me attractive. Now, you might be willing to have this level of distance for three and a half months, but I’m not. I want this team to win, and the only way to do that is if we play as a team. Now, get over yourself."

Juliet nodded, looking mortally embarrassed. "I … I’m sorry, Jamie. I don’t know what else to say. I’m very, very sorry."

"That’s over, Juliet. I’ve let it go – now, you have to."

"I don’t know if I can," she said softly.

"Let’s go somewhere and talk this out," Jamie said. "Do you want to go to the bar?"

"No, no, I couldn’t talk about this in a public place. Someone might hear."

Blowing out a frustrated breath that fluttered her bangs, Jamie said, "Fine. Who are you rooming with."

"No one. I’ve got the single."

"Come on," Jamie said, heading purposefully for the elevator.

Annoyingly jingling a pair of coins in her pocket, Juliet asked, "Are you sure you’re willing to come to my room? I mean … after what happened …"

"Do you have a hearing problem?" Jamie asked, nearly ready to resort to violence. "I told you that I have completely put that behind us. I meant that, Juliet."

"I haven’t had a thing to drink," Juliet promised. "Actually, I haven’t had a drink since that night. I don’t think I’ll ever drink again."

"Thanks for the reassurance," Jamie said, giving her a scowl. "Now, I don’t mean to insult you, but if you tried anything again, I’d knock your block off. I’m meaner than I look, Juliet, and after warning you once, I wouldn’t have a problem in the world with popping you one."

"Jamie, I swear I won’t …"

The blonde grabbed her teammate by the shoulders and gave her a rough shake. "Shut up! I’ll also pop you one if you apologize again. Jesus Christ!"

Not another word was spoken as the elevator doors opened to take them up to the third floor. Juliet’s hands were shaking noticeably as she slipped her key card into the lock, and Jamie felt a stab of regret for being so harsh with her. They entered the room, and Jamie sat down at the table, with Juliet choosing the most distant bed.

"Okay," Jamie said, trying to smile. "I guess I’ll start." At Juliet’s puzzled look, she said, "We have an assignment to complete … remember?"

"Oh! Right … go right ahead."

"Well … my goals for the future are to continue to work on my relationship with Ryan," Jamie began. "We’ve only been together since June, and we still have a lot to learn about each other. Actually," she said, smiling more genuinely, "I hope we’re always learning things about each other."

"That must be nice," Juliet said, trying to match Jamie’s smile.

"It is. And, since we love each other so much, we want to share our love with at least one child. Ryan hints at having a house full of kids, but I think we’ll be able to work out an accommodation."

Juliet looked at her with longing in her eyes. "God, I can’t imagine doing that."

"Having children?"

"Uhm … yeah. I ahh … don’t think I’ll ever do that."

"Why not, Juliet? A lot of women on the LPGA tour have kids."

The taller woman shrugged. "I don’t think I will."

"Okay," Jamie said, getting the message that Juliet didn’t want to reveal her reasons. "Well, even though Ryan will always be my top priority, both of us plan on having careers. I’m not at all sure what I want to do, but, luckily, I’m not under pressure to make a decision quickly. We’re going to take next year off and spend the time making some long-term decisions." Jamie looked thoughtful for a moment, then said, "I used to think that the most important thing was what you accomplished in life. But, I’ve changed my thinking on that completely. For me, I’ll have lived a good life if Ryan and I have a loving, caring relationship; and our children grow up to be good people. Accomplishments are so hollow if you don’t have someone who loves you and can’t wait to see you at the end of the day."

Jamie had been so focused on her thoughts that she hadn’t looked at Juliet for a while. When she turned to her, she saw the woman bent at the waist, her arms wrapped around herself; crying soundlessly. Jamie got up and went to the disconsolate woman, sitting next to her on the bed and gently touching her back. "Juliet, it’s obvious that you’re deeply troubled by something. I don’t want to intrude, but I would like to help you if I can. I’m a very good listener, and I promise that I’ll never tell anyone anything that you tell me."

"You’ll tell Ryan," Juliet sobbed. "You told her that I tried to kiss you."

"No, I won’t," Jamie said. "I only told Ryan about what happened at your house because that affected both of us. We both try to be honest about things that happen to us – because keeping secrets can harm our relationship. But, this is about you, Juliet, and it’s none of Ryan’s business." Continuing to stroke Juliet’s back, she said, "I promise that I won’t reveal anything you tell me – to anyone."

"I can’t …" Juliet sobbed. "I can’t …"

"That’s okay," Jamie said. "You don’t have to talk to me. I want you to know that I’m willing …"

"No, no!" Juliet got up and walked to the window, staring out at the parking lot. "I can’t ever have what you have, Jamie. I can’t ever have that."

"What?" the blonde asked, perplexed.

Juliet turned and faced her, tears streaming down her flushed cheeks. "I can’t ever have a lover who I can be proud of. I won’t be able to have children … I will always have to hide … always!"

Looking at her with compassion, Jamie asked, "Are you a lesbian, Juliet?"

The tall woman nodded, her eyes closing in pain.

"Why does that mean that you can’t ever be open?" Jamie asked. "You make it sound like you’re going into the military."

"It’s almost the same," Juliet said. "You can’t survive on the LPGA tour without sponsors, and sponsors run for the hills if there’s even a hint of lesbianism. The Tour is trying to focus on the pretty, straight girls to increase viewership and attendance, and they think they have to appeal to straight men to do that."

"So, you plan on what – dating guys, getting married?"

"I will if I have to," Juliet said, her normal determination back in place. "I’ve worked too hard to give up my dream."

"But, you have other dreams, Juliet. I can see that."

"Yeah, of course I do, but those dreams are going to have to wait. My life is golf, Jamie, and I can’t let myself get sidetracked. Being around you and Ryan and Mia made me start wishing for things I can’t have. For a short time, I let myself have the fantasy that I could live like you guys do – but I can’t. Not now."

"Juliet, it doesn’t have to be like this," Jamie insisted. "You could live a quiet, private life as a lesbian. I’m sure dozens of players do so."

"Yes, you can," Juliet admitted. "But, I don’t want to merely get by. I want to have endorsements, and opportunities to do other things in golf when my productive years are over. The only women who get endorsements now are the straight ones. That’s not my imagination, Jamie. It’s the truth."

"Only you know what’s most important to you, Juliet. That’s not the path I’d choose, but I’m not in your shoes. I uhm … guess this means that you can’t afford to be friends with me."

Giving her a wistful look, Juliet said, "I wish I could, but it’s too hard for me. I do better when I stick to golf and school. I can’t stand the temptation."

"I understand," Jamie said. She got up and walked to the door. "If you ever need to talk, I hope you know you can count on me."

"I do," Juliet said, nodding. "I want to normalize things on the course, Jamie, but I can’t see you socially. Is that okay?"

"Sure. I’d like to keep playing golf with you, Juliet. I’ve learned a lot from you during the times we’ve played, and I’d like to keep that going."

"I would, too." Giving Jamie a smile, Juliet said, "Thanks for everything. I’ve … uhm … never come out to anyone before. It feels … weird." Her head cocked and she added, "Good, but weird."

"I know, Juliet. Believe me, I know."

* * * * * * * * * * *

When Jamie’s cell phone finally rang late that night, she grasped for the little device and croaked, "Hi."

"Oh … were you asleep?"

"Yeah." She got up and went into the bathroom, so she didn’t disturb her roommate. "That’s okay. I wanted to wait up for your call, but I crashed. Did you just get home?"

"Yeah. Bad weather. We sat on the runway for three hours while an electrical storm was stalled over New Mexico. 8 beautiful hours to get to San Francisco."

"Poor baby. You get to sleep now. You’ve got an early class."

"I will. Did you have a good day? I feel out of the loop after not talking to you."

"Yeah, I had a good day. Mom and I took Caitlin to church at Poppa’s. It was pretty funny, Ryan. Cait got to go to communion, and she decided that she rather likes red wine. Her face scrunched up a little, but then she started looking for more."

"That’s my girl," Ryan said. "Never met a meal she didn’t like."

"I’ll let you go now, so you can get to sleep."

"Okay," Ryan sighed. "Love you."

"I love you, too, Ryan. See you soon."

After she hung up, Jamie stumbled back into bed, mentally slapping herself when she realized she hadn’t even asked whether Cal had won. Get your priorities straight, girl! You’re married to a jock!

* * * * * * * * * * *

Ryan was standing in the kitchen, getting a cold drink before she went to bed, when Mia got in. When she heard the noise, Ryan poked her head out, and was startled to see her roommate looking pale, tired and red-eyed. "Welcome home," Ryan said, padding across the floor in her bare feet to offer a hug.

Mia let out a sigh, unable to even summon the strength to respond with a smile. She wrapped her arms around Ryan, letting her cheek rest against the strongly beating heart she could feel beneath the ribbed undershirt. "She came out to her parents," she finally got out in a near monotone.

Ryan moved back and grasped Mia by the shoulders, holding her at arm’s length to get a good look at her. "How badly did it go?" she asked in alarm.

Realizing why Ryan looked so alarmed, Mia hastened to reassure her. "It didn’t go badly – I guess. I … I don’t know, Ryan. I feel so sad for her, that I’m sick to my stomach."

"Let me make you a warm drink," Ryan offered. "You go upstairs and put your jammies on."

"But what about Jamie? Isn’t she waiting for you?"

"She’s over in Vallejo, remember?"

"Oh, right. Now, where were you again?"

"Las Cruces, New Mexico. Luckily, we’re almost through with our nationwide tour. PAC-10 play can’t start soon enough for me. Now you go get ready for bed, and I’ll bring you some Sleepytime tea."

Five minutes later, the taller woman arrived with a warm mug and a warmer smile. Mia was still on the phone, but she got off quickly, relaying Ryan’s blown kiss to her lover. "She said she loves you, too," Mia said, trying to, but not matching Ryan’s smile.

"Here ya go," Ryan said, handing her the mug. "Come sit on the bed, and I’ll rub your shoulders. Your back must be stiff from all of that driving."

"Yeah," she said. "That and spending all of yesterday in a limo. I guess that’s as comfortable a car as you can have, but it still sucks as a bed."

"Wanna elaborate on that?" Ryan asked as she started to massage Mia’s tense shoulders.

"Oh, it’s nothing very interesting. The photo shoot was on the beach, and it was cold. So, while my sweetie had to pose on the beach all day in a tiny pair of shorts, I slept in the back seat of a limo. I got the better end of the deal."

"Tough weekend, huh?"

"In a way. But being with her is worth anything, Ryan. She’s so … I don’t know," she said, shaking her head. "I’ve never felt like this about anyone. She means so much to me." She glanced over her shoulder and mused, "It’s odd. You’re the one who lost her mom, but Jordan seems like the motherless child. Do you know what I mean?"

Ryan nodded slowly. "Yeah, I do. She’s very fragile – she seems so lost sometimes."

"You should have met the mother," Mia said, all traces of warmth gone from her voice. "She seemed okay at first, and if I didn’t know how Jordan felt, it would have been a decent visit. But I do know, and by the end of it, I felt like her mom had carved a hole in my soul and was slowly sucking it out." Her whole body shivered and she said, "She made me feel so inconsequential – so unnecessary, Ryan. I got a taste of how Jordan feels – and it sucks."

"Was she mean or bitchy?" Ryan asked.

"No, no, just the opposite. She was very cordial … but they acted like people who barely knew one another. They were polite – and that’s it! We were together for about an hour and a half, and she didn’t ask Jordan one question about herself. She didn’t ask how things were going in Colorado; she didn’t ask if she was getting any playing time – nothing! Her only concern was about herself – and how things were going to be for her when she got to Sydney."

"Brutal," Ryan murmured.

"It was brutal," Mia said. "Her mom didn’t give a good goddamn about us being lovers. I mean, it’s not like she approved or anything – she didn’t care enough to disapprove!"

"That’s the first time I’ve heard that reaction," Ryan shuddered, "and I thought I’d heard them all."

"Something else happened, but I don’t know what," Mia said. "She and her mom were together for about 20 minutes, and when she got back to the room she looked like she’d been beaten."

"And you don’t know what happened?"

"Not a clue. She clammed up and didn’t say a word about it – but she cried for nearly two hours after she talked to her father – so I’m guessing that the whole day finally caught up with her."

"Damn," Ryan said, shaking her head. "How was her dad?"

"Better. He seems to at least care for her – not enough to cross the street to see her, mind you, but he does seem to care in the abstract."

"She didn’t get to tell him in person?" Ryan gasped.

"Of course not! His masseuse was coming."

"Fuck," Ryan muttered. "Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have an aquarium – much less a child."

"They’re the poster parents for vasectomy and tubal ligation," Mia said. "I hope to God that Jordan doesn’t take after them if we decide to have kids."

Ryan’s hands stilled and she leaned over Mia’s shoulder to stare at her upside down. "Kids? You’re thinking of having kids together?"

Mia batted at her weakly, and Ryan went back to her previous position. "Yes, Ryan. I’m thinking of spending the rest of my life with her. That is what you do with people you love more than anything on earth, isn’t it?"

Ryan sank down to sit behind Mia, and she enveloped her in a warm hug. "Yes. That’s exactly what you do," she whispered. "I’m so glad she has you, Mia."

"I’m glad I have her," Mia sighed. "I only wish her parents loved her half as much as I do."

* * * * * * * * * * *

On Monday morning, Jamie woke slowly, the annoying buzz of an alarm barely penetrating her foggy brain. "Jamie … Jamie …" A soft voice insistently called her name, but she didn’t recognize the tone, and decided that she must be dreaming. "Jamie!" Now a hand grasped her shoulder and gave her a shake.


"Time to get up. We’re leaving in a half hour."

Forcing her eyes open, she regarded a very young looking, Japanese-American woman who was gazing at her with concern. "Oh!" She sat up rather abruptly and ran a hand through her hair. "Wow, I was really out."

"You’re very hard to wake up," Lauren Takuta said. "It’s a good thing we don’t have single rooms. I’m afraid you’d sleep all day."

"No," Jamie replied, stretching thoroughly. "I eventually hear the alarm. How much time do we have?"

The young woman looked at the clock again. "Twenty five minutes. You’d better hurry." She was giving Jamie such a concerned look, that the blonde didn’t have the heart to delay another moment. Slipping out of bed, she got up and gathered her shower things, noting that Lauren was completely dressed.

"I assume you’re finished in the bathroom?" Jamie asked over her shoulder.

"Yes. I’ve been ready for a long while now."

Finally opening her eyes wide enough to see the look of stark anxiety on the woman’s face, Jamie smiled and said, "We’re gonna be fine today, Lauren. It’s only another round."

"Not for me," she said. "My parents will be here."

"Do they put a lot of pressure on you?" Jamie asked gently.

"No, but it’s very important that I do well," Lauren insisted. "I have to keep my scholarship."

Jamie crossed over to the girl and put her hand on her shoulder, feeling the slight tremor that shook her body. "Lauren, you won’t lose your scholarship. Scott would never do that – even if you played horribly all season – which you won’t!"

Lauren nodded, but she didn’t look at all convinced. Glancing at the clock again she said, "You have to hurry. We’ll be late."

"Go on down to the restaurant," Jamie insisted. "I’ll be on time, I guarantee it."

"Okay," Lauren said hesitantly.

Jamie stood in the shower, trying to wake up. She considered the dynamics of the young team, deciding that they had the nucleus of a very good squad. The only problem was going to be convincing the less experienced women to believe that they were as good as they actually were.

When Jamie emerged from the shower, she shook her head when she saw that Lauren had neatly laid her uniform out on the bed. Who’s mentoring whom?

* * * * * * * * * * *

After Jamie made sure that Lauren ate some of the food that sat on her plate, the team hopped in the shuttle bus for the short ride to the course. They had an eight a.m. shotgun start – so every player teed off at the same time, albeit from different holes. This type of start was used often in tournaments, allowing every hole to be in use throughout the round. Jamie was scheduled to start on eighteen, and after warming up thoroughly, she headed on over to the tee.

A long-legged, raven-haired, beauty stood right next to the tee-box, dark sunglasses covering eyes that Jamie was quite sure were the color of the Aegean. The tall woman held two cups in her hands, and was sipping on the larger one when Jamie sidled up to her. "Come here often, good lookin’?"

"Every time I hear that there’s going to be a fantastic looking blonde playing golf here," she said. "I brought you a latte."

Jamie took the cup and stood on her tiptoes for a quick kiss, which Ryan gladly delivered. Taking a big sip of the still warm liquid, she smiled broadly. "What a nice way to start the day." Giving her partner an impish look, Jamie said, "I can’t tell you how hard it is not to wrap my lips and my arms and my legs around you, and kiss you until your knees turn to jelly."

"Same here, hot stuff, but I don’t think that’s how you want to start your spring season. You golf-types are supposed to be stoic, ya know. Besides, your opponent looks nervous enough to faint, even without us groping each other."

"Ooh, I hope she’s as nervous as she looks," Jamie said. "I’ll take every edge I can get." She took another big sip and hummed with pleasure. "This is so good, babe. It’ll start me off right."

"I know you don’t like plain coffee, and I figured that you hadn’t yet wound your coach around your little finger, and that he probably wouldn’t run to Starbucks for you. Only doing what I can to aid in the cause."

Jamie wrinkled her nose and said, "I appreciate the coffee, but what I’m really pleased with is that you’re here. Don’t you have somewhere you should be, though?"

"I’m not going to grad school next year," Ryan said. "So what if I flunk a class or two?"

Jamie knew the odds of that happening were exactly zero, but she played along. "You can always go to summer school," she offered. "Those classes are filled with you jock types."

"No way," Ryan said. "I’m gonna be way too busy this summer to waste my time in school. I’m spending the summer with an absolutely gorgeous woman. We’re gonna lie in bed and peel grapes for each other all day long."

"Sounds divine," Jamie said. "She’s a lucky woman."

"I hope she’s lucky today," Ryan said. "I wanna see some red numbers on that scoreboard, since I’m mortgaging my future to be here."

"Do my best," Jamie promised. "Help me put my ring on this necklace, okay?" she asked tugging at the thick gold chain she wore.

"How …?"

"Just unclasp the necklace and slip the ring through it," Jamie instructed. "I’d do it myself, but I don’t want to run the risk of not clasping it properly."

"Do you always do this?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah. I tried to do what you do and tie it in my shoelace, but I don’t want to drag it through the sand. I think this works better for me."

"That’s a pretty substantial ring to wear on a chain," Ryan said.

"I know," she said. "But, I’ll gladly look like Snoop Dogg to protect it. Now, kiss me goodbye and keep sending good vibes, babe, ‘cause I’m not going to look at you again until I finish up on 17."

"I look forward to being ignored," Ryan said. She gave her partner a chaste kiss and then accepted her empty cup. "Go get ‘em, bulldog."


* * * * * * * * * * *

Catherine didn’t show up until the twosome was on the fourth hole, and she was panting heavily when she came up alongside Ryan. "I got so confused!" she said, moaning dramatically. "I had no idea that Jamie wouldn’t start on the first hole. I’ve walked this entire course!"

"Aw … you poor thing," Ryan sympathized. "Want me to carry you for a while?"

Catherine gently slapped at her and said, "I can handle it, wise guy. I’ve been walking so much getting ready for the Three-Day that my neighbor’s dogs don’t even bark when I walk by any longer. I can easily walk this course twice."

"Not a doubt in my mind," Ryan said. "Jamie’s doing well," she indicated, pointing at the tote board that an affable-looking senior citizen carried.

"Red numbers are good, right?" Catherine asked.

"Right. Jamie’s one under par, so she has a red negative one by her name."

Catherine reached into her purse and took a photo of the board, showing EVANS —1. "This is so much fun, Ryan," she said, giggling girlishly. "She looks cute, doesn’t she?"

Ryan reached up and pulled her sunglasses up so that Catherine could see her eyes. "Was that a serious question?"

Swatting her again, the older woman said, "You’re very impish today, aren’t you?"

"A little," she said. "And yes, I agree that Jamie looks adorable. She looks good in those colors. Makes her hair look even blonder."

The Cal uniform consisted of a navy blue visor with Cal in bright gold script, a white polo shirt with a golden bear paw on the left sleeve, a navy blue sleeveless sweater with the Cal logo on the breast, and unadorned navy blue shorts. Ryan noted that under her white and navy saddle-style golf shoes, Jamie wore short socks with a bit of gold on the cuff.

"She really enjoys this, doesn’t she?" Catherine asked quietly, so as not to be heard by the players.

"Yeah. It’s been good for her. I had the feeling at first that she tried out for the team to make her father proud, but over time she seems to have changed her focus. I think she’s doing this only for herself."

Catherine reached down and grasped her daughter-in-law’s hand. "She needs to do something that she’s better at than you, too. You’re a tough person to compete against, Ryan O’Flaherty."

Ryan nodded, acknowledging the truth to Catherine’s statement, even though it embarrassed her to do so. "I think she’s far superior to me in dozens of ways, but I realize that she doesn’t always see that. I get a lot of acclaim for the things that I do, and Jamie deserves some of that, too."

"She does," Catherine said. "I’m glad that she’s got this. And I’m glad that you’ve encouraged her to play – even though it takes away from your time together."

"If everything goes according to plan, we’re in year one of a minimum 75 year plan," Ryan said. "I can bear having her gone for a day or two."

"I hope your plans all come true," Catherine said, squeezing the hand that she still held.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Jamie finished her round with a very respectable 73, and she seemed pleased with herself when she emerged from her tunnel-visioned state. After greeting her mother, the three of them walked back two holes to find Lauren’s group. The freshman was not having a very good day, and she looked very downhearted as she finished with a 77. Her parents were there to greet her when she holed out, and Jamie was pleased to see that they met her with smiles and encouraging hugs. "Who’s up for lunch?" she asked, now that she felt able to leave the course.

"I could be persuaded," Ryan said. "Wanna go to the clubhouse?"

"No way," Jamie said. "I have to eat dinner there tonight. The food’s not bad, but it’s not very inventive. I need something spicy."

As usual, Catherine knew of a place. They drove in Ryan’s car to a very tasty sushi bar, where Jamie’s spicy craving was well satisfied. At the end of the meal, she admonished Ryan to stay home the next day. "I’ll see you when you get home from softball practice," she insisted. "You need to go to your classes tomorrow."

"All right," Ryan said, her blue eyes peeking out of her bangs while she pouted. "But only if you’re going to be here to watch," she said, looking to Catherine.

"I wouldn’t miss it," the older woman said. "And I promise to call you when she finishes her first nine holes for an update."

"Now, that I can live with," Ryan said.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Continued in Part 18

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