Excerpt for Trifecta by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Teresa Davis entered Good Time Charlie’s dance hall as the song, Red Solo Cup, blared from the stage and the patrons joined with the singers, holding their cups high. Scanning across the dance floor she saw her friends waving madly for her to see them.

Becca, an anorexic looking redhead, pulled out a chair for her. “Glad you could make it, Terry. You look great tonight.”

“Come on Becca, it’s the same old thing. Boots and jeans – not like I’m Cinderella or something.”

“Hey, get a load of that,” her petite friend Cindy said as she pointed toward the men at the end of the bar. “How does that saying go, “Save a horse, ride a cowboy?”

As the girls turned to look at the three handsome men, one of them stepped away from the bar and started to walk their way. Suddenly the girls were very interested in their drinks.

The music changed and dancers began to line up on the floor.

“Excuse me, Ma’am, may I ask if you line dance?

He was the tall handsome one they’d been looking at. He was asking Terry. “Ahh, yes I do, as a matter of fact.”

“Will you dance with me?”

Terry smiled as her friends turned away to hide the expressions on their faces. “Good God, is he a hunk?” Terry’s lifetime friend and comrade Sheila whispered a little too loudly.

Embarrassed by her friends, Terry extended her hand. “Sure, why not.”

Walking toward the dance floor Terry asked flirtatiously, “May I know your name, kind sir?”

With an engaging smile that almost melted Terry he replied, “Yes, ma’am. I’m Tony Rowe, and you?”

“Teresa Davis,” she replied as they joined the line dance side by side.

Terry had line danced forever, but didn’t know what to expect from Tony. It didn’t take long to find out though. This wasn’t his first rodeo either; he was good.

When the song ended Tony turned to Terry and took her hand. “Ah, Teresa, please stay for another dance.”

Terry loved the feel of this guy. Polite, considerate, and his grip on her hand was gentle, not desperate like most men. “I’d love to, Tony.”

After a two-step together they returned to the bar. His friends had been watching and were ready for him when he returned. As Terry left for her table she heard one of them say, “That one’s a hit, Homer!”

“Oh, my God, Terry,” Cindy blurted out, “You two look so good together. How lucky can you get?”

“Ah, come on Cindy. Two dances don’t make a relationship. I’m thirsty.” Terry took a quick slug of beer. When the band returned to the stage Tony walked up to her.

“Excuse me, Teresa, may I have this dance?”

He was so sweet and polite. “I’d love to Tony.”

“Teresa?” Sheila questioned the other girls. “Seriously, who calls her Teresa?”

This time they spent much more time on the dance floor. They were good together. When they quit, and started back toward the bar, Tony looked at Terry.

“You dress like a real cowgirl, Teresa. But can you ride?”

Terry looked a bit offended. “Of course I can ride.”

“I really don’t want this to end. I’d like you to join me for a horseback ride tomorrow. Would you?”

Laying her head against his arm, she replied softly. “Yeah, I’d like that.” Terry stopped suddenly and looked up at Tony. “Unfortunately I’m busy until noon though, so it’d have to be after that.”

“Me, too. What about 1 pm at Donnelly’s stables. I’ll make all the arrangements.”

“Done deal.” She said excitedly. “I’ll see you there.”

As Tony let go of her hand he smiled. “Thanks, Teresa.”

Something just came over Terry. She had so many feelings going on she couldn’t speak.

Terry made a wrong turn but arrived at the stable only a few minutes late. She thought Tony looked more handsome in the daylight than he did at the dance hall. He was so considerate, being concerned that Terry got a gentle horse, which she didn’t want. He offered to help her up, which she didn’t need. But, she had smiled sweetly through it all, hoping Tony didn’t take it personally. She didn’t know how good a rider he was, so she sure wasn’t going to mention her barrel racing days.

Their afternoon was delightful. Beautiful scenery; light conversation and lots of time to check out this hunk of a man she was so attracted to.

Where’d he come from? What does he do? Why me?

It didn’t seem right to break up such a delightful outing with an interrogation. Terry just hoped Tony would offer the information soon. She was simply dying to know.

As they arrived at the stable Terry looked over at Tony. “I really don’t know much about what you like or don’t like, but let me ask you. There’s a Culinary Show and Contest Monday evening. I plan to go. Would you like to join me?”

“Sounds very nice,” Teresa, “but I’m afraid I can’t. I’m sorry, but I have another commitment that night.”

“Well, alright then. Thanks for such a delightful day. Will I see you for a dance next Friday?”

“I’m sure about that,” Tony said as he turned toward his car.

“Oh, you didn’t say what kind of commitment you have Monday.”

Tony looked over his shoulder, “It’s just a racquetball game at Stewart’s furniture.”

Terry called Sheila, told her she had an emergency and had to meet her at Starbucks. When Sheila walked in, she saw Terry and hurried to her table. “What’s the emergency?”

Terry motioned toward the counter. “Get your coffee first, then I’ll tell you.”

A few moments later Sheila had her coffee and sat with Terry. Friends since childhood, they were like sisters, and had a deep, intense love for each other. Sheila was the brutally honest one. “Now, before you say anything else, I want to know about this emergency. What’s happened?”

“I think I’m just another one in Tony’s harem.”

Sheila’s face wrinkled and she looked confused. “What does that mean?”

Terry tried to rub a coffee stain off of her cup. “I just get the feeling that he sees me as, well . . . convenient.”

“How’d you get that impression?”

Terry sat back in her chair and looked at Sheila. “Well, he’s unavailable to be with me at something I think is important Monday night. Then of all things, he tells me he plays racquetball at a furniture store.”

Sheila could feel Terry’s confusion. “A furniture store? That’s ridiculous!”

“I know. That’s why I need your help.”

“Well Terry, you know I’d do anything for you. How can I help?”

Terry leaned forward. “Sheila, I want you to follow him Monday night.”

Sheila couldn’t believe her. “Are you serious?”

“Yes, very.” Terry relaxed a little and sat up, took a sip of coffee, then continued. “I’ve already made a commitment to be at the Culinary Show. What I want you to do is stake out this so called furniture store and see if Tony shows up. If he’s lying, I want to end it now. I’ll never spend time with a man I can’t trust.”

Sheila threw her hands up. “So, what makes you think he lied?”

“Just got a feeling; I felt like he was brushing me off with that furniture store farce.”

Setting her cup down, Sheila nodded her head, “Well, I agree, if you’re right.”

“Sheila, will you do it for me? Please? Tell me if you see him… who his playing partner is, if he has one at all; that kind of stuff. I need to know if he’s real or not.”

Sheila sat back and shook her hands in front of her. “All right! All right! But to tell the truth, I think you’re overreacting a bit. Not all that much understand, but still – overreacting.”

Terry took Sheila’s hand in hers “Good! I want you to be there right after work, and stay there until you see him. Okay?”

“Yeah, but what if I don’t see him at all?”

“Sheila, if you haven’t seen him by 9 pm there’s no sense in waiting any longer. But call me.”

Terry just loved the annual Culinary Show. There was so much to learn from the chefs. The fare sold at the booths was just out-of-this-world. And just being surrounded with people who have affection for the culinary arts was stimulating. But, she didn’t enjoy it this year as much as in the past. She was anxious and nervous, constantly checking her phone.

What is going on? Isn’t he there yet? What is Sheila doing?

Terry split her time between the show, the contest, and her phone. Finally, at 9:30 pm Sheila called, blurting into the phone before Terry could even speak.

“That’s the absolute last time I help you with any romantic detective work. Do you know how long I had to wait? Do you? I could have bought a house full of furniture in the time I’ve spent here!”

Terry was stunned by Sheila’s outburst. “I’m so sorry Sheila. I didn’t know. Why are you calling so late?”

“Because my butt wasn’t tired enough at 7 pm or 8 pm so I sat there until 9 pm before I finally saw him. And, you were right – he had a game with a woman.”

“What’s she look like?”

“Ah, red hair, long legs, tight shorts, loose tank top, and pillowy chest.”

Terry let out a long sigh, “Way to ruin my night. Sheila.”

“What? You sent me here. Remember?”

Terry nodded her head. “I know.”

Sheila was stern, “Well, if you didn’t want to know, why’d you ask?”

Terry leaned her head on her hand. “Sheila, I do want to know. By the way, can she even play racquetball?”

“I don’t think Tony even noticed if you ask me.”

“I did ask you, how good is she?”

Sheila settled down a little. She knew she was delivering news that hurt Terry. “Not bad for a woman, I guess. You’re a lot better.”

“Thanks loads. Now all I need is a figure. I owe you big time. Say, what’s the deal with the furniture store?”

“He was right. The guy that built the building is a big racquetball fan. He added six courts, men’s and women’s locker rooms – the works. Just like a club. Those furniture salesmen didn’t want to let me in ‘cause I didn’t have a bag.”

“So, how’d you get in then?”

“Well, duh! I went out and bought one.”

“Sheila, you didn’t? For me?”

“No Terry, I did it for me, so I could get in and watch your boyfriend’s cute little ass for an hour. Geez!”

“Well, thanks for that. I’ve gotta go, Sheila.”

“Hey, don’t leave yet. I’ve got good news.”

Terry was getting depressed. “What?”

“Well, hanging out there I saw this sign up board for the club co-ed championship. So I signed you up and paid the fee for you.”

“You didn’t, Sheila! He knows my name! He’ll catch on to that in a minute.”

“Ah, but I didn’t use your name, I used Terry. He calls you Teresa, right?

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well, how the hell is he going to know if Terry Davis is a man or a woman? Tell me that.”

Terry had to agree. “Ah – not bad, but I’m going to have to play him sometime you know.”

“Oh, come on. What makes you think you’re that good, or that he is for that matter? You’ll just be around, dear. You know, bump into each other, have a vitamin drink together, and stuff.”

“Not going to happen, Sheila. If I’m in that racquetball tourney, I’m in it to win.”

“Yeah, you do that Terry. Ever think that’s why you don’t have a man in your life? You’re always beating the boys, and end up a first place loser. I gotta go. You know, I haven’t even eaten yet.”

“Bye Sheila...” Buzz… “And thanks again,” she said to the dial tone.

Terry collected the two boxes of pastries she’d purchased, went to her car and made sure they were secure before driving away. Thinking back on the evening it wasn’t hard for Terry to understand why Tony couldn’t accompany her. He already had a date with the red head to play racquetball. As Terry thought about it she wondered if she was a one-time thing or a weekly routine. If Tony isn’t married, I’m going to do my best to latch on to him; girlfriends or not.

Thursday night Terry called the girls and asked them to meet her at Good Time Charlie’s on Friday night. Each one of them said no at first… dragging their feet, and making Terry confess Tony was the reason. Of course, not wanting to miss the action, they eventually said yes. Her friends wanted to support Terry, but they were going to exact a price from her in the process. Besides, who wants to miss a good romance?

Terry tried to get the same lucky table they had last week, but they missed out. Sitting at the next table still provided a view of the bar where Tony and his buddies hung out.

The girls had a good time comparing notes, sharing stories about their week, and ribbing Terry about “The Stake Out” and her constantly searching the dance floor like a beacon on a lighthouse.

“There he is,” whispered Cindy, looking at Tony and his friends ordering a beer at the bar. “Go ask him to dance, Terry.”

“What! I’m not doing that! If he wants to dance with me, he’ll have to find me. I can’t believe you said that, Cindy.”

The girls giggled. Knowing Terry was so distracted, she was an easy mark for teasing.

Tony left the bar.

Terry lowered her head and concentrated on her drink.

“Excuse me lovely lady, may I have this dance?”

Terry’s face lit up, she smiled and replied, “Yes, I would be delighted.”

As they walked to the dance floor the girls at her table giggled and laughed.

“Just what is she so shy about?” Becca asked. “My God, there are days she’d fight a tiger!”

Their eyes were now on the dance floor, feeling good about Terry’s good fortune, and admiring the body and moves of her partner.

Terry and Tony didn’t stop for a long while. . . line dancing, two stepping, chatting, and laughing together. Terry let Tony decide when they’d had enough, and enjoyed every minute they were together.

Tony smiled down at her. “Did you enjoy riding last week?”

“Of course, I always like riding, and we had such a great day together.”

“Well, I’m going riding at Gunnison Ranch tomorrow. It’s out east of town about fifteen minutes. Will you come and ride with me?”

Terry smiled and squeezed his hand. “I’d love to. Thank you for asking. Is this going to be a weekly thing we have going here?”

“Could be. I prefer to have standing appointments, so to speak, makes it easier to schedule work around them. But, as I think about it, we can’t ride next week. I’ll be in San Diego for a Triathlon.”

Terry was surprised, but didn’t say what she was thinking. “That’s a coincidence. I’ll be out of town with my girlfriends next week, too. Oh, remember I’m also busy until noon tomorrow. I can’t be at the stable until at least one.

“Yes, I remember. No problem. Want to meet me there at one?”

“I do, thanks.”

Tony led her off the dance floor. “Come on, let’s get a drink. I want to introduce you to my buddies, if you don’t mind.”

“Oh-my-God!” Sheila exclaimed. “Look! She’s going to the bar with him.”

“This has to mean something,” added Becca.

Cindy shushed her, “Pay attention.”

Tony ordered Terry a drink, and introduced her to his friends Frank and Jimmy while they waited. The girls could see Terry chatting with Tony’s friends, smiling and animated.

Terry smiled at them. “Gentlemen, I’d better get back to my table before my friends’ desert me.”

Tony turned to see the girls at Terry’s table. “I understand. Can I have the next two-step with you?”

“Of course,” Terry replied. “I’d be delighted. Just as soon as I cool off a bit.”

Just like every Saturday morning, Terry dodged parents blocking her way in the parking lot and exclaimed “Hallelujah” when she finally found a parking place, quickly turning her car into the open space. She closed the hatchback with her chin because her hands were full with a lawn chair bag, a cooler of water bottles to last the four games she’s coaching, her purse over one shoulder, and a snack bag over the other. Terry felt like a mule, and hoped she didn’t look like one. Trudging across the park between soccer fields already filling up with kids, Terry was startled. Standing in the field to her left was a tall man with a very nice build and appeared really attractive. She walked much slower, glancing to her left frequently, trying to get a look at this man’s face. When he did turn to look up the field, she looked straight at the ground and walked away as fast as she could. It was Tony!

Terry was so surprised to learn Tony coached soccer. She didn’t look again until she rounded the corner of the field, and used parents to shield her blatant stare. That’s when she noticed the woman. Sitting on a lawn chair next to him was a long legged blond dressed in white cutoff shorts, flip flops, and a red midriff tie top. It was obvious she was no one’s mother.

So, a red head for racquetball, a blond for soccer, and me for horseback riding. Hmm, makes me wonder who the Triathlon babe will be.”

Terry scurried to meet her team in her first game, looking over her shoulder all morning to make sure Tony didn’t see her. How embarrassing it would be to meet him and have to be introduced to his girlfriend.

Terry’s first game in the racquetball club tournament was on Monday night at 7. On the same court where Tony played with the curvaceous redhead. But Terry didn’t see them, since all courts were reserved for tournament games. Still, Terry won her game, against a man who either didn’t believe she could play, or couldn’t keep his eyes off her. Whatever! He was a loser, 21-8 and 21-5. Terry showered quickly and left without fanfare.

Sheila and Cindy wanted to drive to San Diego, while Terry and Becca wanted to fly.

“Listen, I’ve got patients Monday, Terry pleaded. We’re going to be dead tired Sunday night. We can’t drive home. We’ve gotta fly. Well, I’m gonna fly. I have to!”

Cindy looked at Sheila, “Well, the Doctor gets her way. Again! You know, if we’re going to have any fun, we’ve got to leave her behind.”

The girls laughed as Becca opened her laptop to search for airline tickets.

Looking like an owl searching for prey, Terry’s head swiveled in search of Tony and his marathon companion. I just know he has one; it would fit his patterns I’ve observed!

Damn! I know he’s here. Why haven’t I seen him?

Probably because Tony was behind her wondering why she hadn’t told him she was in the marathon.

Time had run out on her. She hadn’t seen him, and the officials called participants to the starting line; then fired the gun to start the event.

Swimming wasn’t Terry’s strongest skill, especially ocean swimming. But she forgot all about that when the long legs of the woman in front of her (and big feet by the way) kicked her in the face. With anger in her eyes, Terry focused on the woman. Ignoring all she’d been taught, Terry vowed that would never happen again as she fought her way up to and past “Big Foot.”

Bicycling let her frustration drain away. Terry settled into her normal cycling rhythm thinking about how good her start was. Her swimming time was the best ever. Now she has a chance for a great finish.

Turning in her best cycling time, Terry left with the pack to run the final leg of the half-triathlon. She felt good, still having spring in her step. The distance, of course, caused the pack to split up as lesser runners fell behind. Terry could see only three runners ahead of her, and heard one, breathing heavily behind her. Keeping her rhythm, Terry wondered how Tony had finished. He should have finished by now, since the men started first.

Is this Tony’s first half-marathon, or does he compete often? Does he have a girlfriend that competes? Where’s she from, Phoenix or San Diego?

A bell sounded letting Terry know there was only one mile left. Looking at the competition ahead of her, Terry was thinking about strategy when she heard Tony’s voice.

Off to the side, running on the sidewalk beside the leader, Tony shouted encouragement. “Come on Jenny, you can do it. Don’t forget my promise if you win. Run, Run, You’re gonna win!!”

Oh really? Well, I’ve got a promise for you buster! She isn’t getting hers!

Strategy thrown out the window, again, Terry drew a bead on the brunette’s pink hat and ignored everything else around her.

This Jenny person isn’t going to get away from me.

Terry pulled up behind her left hip and matched Jenny’s rhythm stride for stride.

By now Jenny knew she was being challenged, glancing at the determined looking blond beside her. Stepping up the pace didn’t shake her; Jenny increased the pace again, but it didn’t shake Terry.

All other competitors were far behind now. It was a two women race to the finish line, barely visible at the top of the hill.

Terry was ready to pull the trigger. She didn’t know the woman beside her, but she knew herself. Flat out for a quarter mile was in her. Time to take control and see what Tony’s woman was made of.

Terry started her kick way before most runners would, but she didn’t care. She was going to bury Tony’s promise. Deep!

Terry saw the surprise on Jenny’s face when she passed her. If Terry was going to win, she had to go all out now. Matching the pace, Jenny was now at Terry’s right hip, pushing to keep abreast.

Terry heard Jenny beside her. She heard her breathing getting heavier. Just what she wanted, Terry kicked up the pace a notch.

Jenny lost her rhythm when Terry pulled away, and had to push to catch up again. It wasted energy, but Jenny was now running beside Terry again.

“Come On Jenny! You can do it Jenny!” Shouted Tony, encouraging her from the sideline.

You could try “Come on Terry! You can do it Terry!”

She had tired legs and chest pain from labored breathing. Everyone wants to stop at this point, but Terry pushed on, letting her anger motivate her.

A promise, Huh? I’ll make you a promise, Bud; I’m going to squash your dream!

About a hundred yards from the finish line Terry went all out. As her pace picked up she lost the sound of labored breathing. She lost the sound of the other runner’s feet pounding the ground. Where was she?

The crowd was already cheering Terry’s win when Jenny quietly trotted to the finish line for second place. Tony didn’t know what to do first. Congratulate Teresa on an outstanding run, or comfort Jenny as she dealt with her first loss. Even more confusing were the names on the leader board. It said that Terry Davis won the race. For all he knew it was Teresa. But that name. . . it wasn’t the first time Tony had seen it.

The phone rang in Terry’s office around noon Monday. It was the racquet club, informing her that tomorrow’s match was switched to 8 pm that night.

She couldn’t believe it. She was still exhausted from the Triathlon and travel, but, she had to play so she showed up.

Her match was against a big burly loud mouth. Once they got on the court his constant chatter gave her a headache. Just dealing with this annoying man took effort and attention, leaving little for the game, which she lost 21-18. Not a good start, so Terry tried to ignore the bull in the box with her, and play racquetball. Whew! She won 22-20.

“Damn lucky there, Missy! You need to look up there and pick a seat to watch this tournament, ‘cause you’re done baby!”

Terry’s furry blocked out all sound and motion. All she could see now was the ball, the wall, her target, and the kill shots.

As Terry opened the door to leave the court she stopped just long enough to speak to her opponent “Hey baby, at least you got three points.”

Two more matches and I’m in the finals.

Wednesday, when Terry got home from work, she found a message on her home phone. Tony called and asked if she’d like to meet him at the dance hall Friday night.

Same woman, same day, same Tony.

Terry’s girlfriends sat at their usual table, wondering where Terry was. Looking over at the bar, they saw Tony’s friends, but not Tony.

Cindy was the first to speak. “Did anyone hear from Terry?”

Shaking her head, Sheila offered, “Just said she’d be here, is all.”

When the waitress brought their second round of drinks Terry appeared.

“Where have you been, girl?” Becca asked.

“Sorry,” Terry answered, “but I had a semi-final racquetball match at 7 pm Got here as quick as I could.”

“Well, did you win?” Cindy asked.

“Yeah, I did. Play the championship game next Monday night.”

Sheila couldn’t control her excitement. “Who do you play? Do you know yet?”

Terry looked over at the bar to see if Tony was there. She saw only his friends.

“Well, looks like I don’t know who I’ll play.”

“Are you kidding?” Becca asked. “Is it Tony? Oh, My, God! That would be crazy!”

“Actually, I can’t say. Tony has to play another guy for the other finals spot. If he wins, we play each other.”

Cindy couldn’t control her excitement. “You could be playing Tony! I want to be there. This I gotta see.”

Becca put her hand to her mouth and gasped. They all turned to look.

“Sorry ladies,” Tony said to Terry’s girlfriends, “but I’d like a little time with Teresa alone. Hope you understand.”

Well, sure they did. Giggling awkwardly, hoping all the time that he would want to be alone with Terry.

One table, a couple beers, and two chairs. Tony looked directly at Terry, grinned and asked, “Just why was it you didn’t mention you were going to the same place in San Diego on the same weekend?”

Terry looked ashamed. “I was so surprised when you said you were going to San Diego, I didn’t know what to say. Then I didn’t want you to think I was following you.”

Tony smiled at Teresa and chuckled. “I don’t think you can follow anybody.”

Terry lowered her head away from Tony’s gaze. “Well, it was pretty foolish.”

With his finger under her chin, he lifted her head gently and replied. “Well, I feel kinda foolish, myself. Why didn’t you tell me you go by Terry?”

Terry grinned sheepishly. “Honestly? If things didn’t work out between us, it would be hard for you to find me.”

“So, where are we on this matter? Am I the Teresa guy, or the Terry guy?”

Smiling warmly, Terry kissed his cheek. “You’re my Terry guy.”

Tony took her hand, and slid off his stool. “Come with me, let’s dance.”

Terry was relaxed, Tony was happy, and they had a great evening together. Preparing to leave, Terry mentioned to Tony, “I noticed you didn’t mention horseback riding tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I need my rest - got a big day Monday. I hope you don’t mind?”

“You know, I feel the same way. I’m exhausted. I had a big week, and need to recover.”

Tony put his arm around Terry’s waist, pulled her close enough to kiss her on the cheek and said, “You have a good weekend Terry. I’ll miss you.”

It was Monday and Terry had thought about the racquetball championship all day long. She just knew fate would make her play Tony. What was a woman to do?

After her last patient, Terry closed her office and changed into athletic shorts and an oversized T-shirt. She threw her purse over her shoulder, picked up her racquetball bag and headed out.

Standing by the court Terry waited for her challenger. It was none other than Tony. He didn’t make his appearance until the club had pulled back the curtain on the gallery in the balcony, and everyone could see him in his spandex shorts, chartreuse tank top and laces on his black shoes. Terry looked at herself and felt frumpy.

Well, at least I won’t detract the crowd’s attention away from him. Damn he looks good! Is he trying to distract me?

Tony approached Terry and smiled. “I see you’re dressed for work, Terry.”

Thanks for noticing!

“And, I see you’re dressed for show, Tony.”

Tony smiled at Terry warmly. “Well, it’s time. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

The small crowd cheered, but Cindy, Becca and Sheila screamed above them all. They were the only ones not cheering on the favorite, “Mr. Hottie.”

Yeah, Terry got in on it too. His tight spandex butt and broad shoulders were a distraction, helping him take the lead at five to two. But Terry had observed more than just his physical characteristics. She’d been watching him move to center court after every shot. She liked that.

Terry began placing shots behind his movements toward center court. It caused Tony to begin lunging, stretching, and straining to reach the ball. She led seven to five, and he still hadn’t overcome her tactics. Her next serve was painful. She put the ball into the tight right side of the front wall, sending it only inches away from the side wall as it approached Tony. Terry crouched, ready to pounce on his return. He caught it well, and smashed it right into Terry’s back, sending it at an oblique angle toward the high left corner.

Terry had seen this before. The ball would hit the ceiling, touch the front wall and simply fall like a dead bird for a point. She took two quick steps and dove for the front wall with her racquet stretched out at a slight upward angle. She couldn’t look up. She couldn’t see the ball. She had guessed, and when she stopped sliding her arm was outstretched as far as it would go. It hit the crease between the floor and the wall as the ball hit her racquet, deflected into the wall and rebounded over her racquet, rolling softly across the floor toward a stunned Tony Rowe.

Terry rolled into a seated position, yelled “Point,” and got back on her feet to serve again. “Serving 11-7.”

Terry knew she could win, but should she? What would it do to his pride? She could see all the men in the club teasing him forever if he lost. What about their relationship? Could he care for someone that humiliated him? What about the fact that she was even thinking about it? How would she feel? Had she proved her point already?

Ok, no more kill shots. But if he’s going to win, he’s going to work for it!

From then on, Terry always gave Tony a way out. He might have to race to the back wall, lunge across the court, play a ball out of the corner, but Terry always made sure her shots gave him a chance to recover. And he did, nicely. The crowd stood and cheered his 22-20 victory with enthusiasm as Terry’s girlfriends looked at each other in wonder. What happened to Terry? It looked like she was winning?

Instead of shaking her hand, Tony put his arm around her sweaty waist and kissed her on the cheek. “Thanks for the lesson. I’d like to share my trophy with you if I could. You earned it.:

Terry just smiled as Tony released his hold around Terry’s waist. The swat on her butt startled her. “Hey! Watch it buster!”

“Get used to it. If you’re gonna play like a man, you get treated like one.”

Terry didn’t feel very important in carrying chairs, bottles, and bags across the soccer park. Another day as ‘kid coach’ surrounded by snarling parents. If only Terry could quit, but she couldn’t; she wouldn’t. She did this for the kids. The parents were just the side show.

At the concession stand, Terry stopped long enough to get the schedule for the day. She had barely looked at it when an official approached her.

“Hey, Terry. Good to see you. Listen, a couple changes in the plan today. First, your 12-14 year-old team will be playing next week’s opponent. Next week, you’ll play the team scheduled for today. Okay?”

“Sure, I guess. Doesn’t make any real difference.”

“Good. Then, we want you to stay after your last game for a “Coaches Challenge Game.”

“What? I never heard of that.”

“I know. I know. We’re doing it for the kids. It’s a way to entertain them and their parents. You’ll help us won’t you? Please?”

“Yeah, I guess. I’ve nothing planned after. I’d better go now before I’m late. Thanks for the update.”

Walking to the field for her first game, Terry reviewed the schedule, saw the 12-year-old team her kids were playing, and stopped in her tracks.

“Tony Rowe is their coach?” she blurted, “Oh, no!”

When the referee’s whistle blew, calling the coaches together with their lineups, Terry wasn’t prepared to face Tony in center field while his girlfriend watched.

“Robert, here’s the lineup. Go give it to the referee.”

“What? Why, me?” he complained.

“Just do it. I’m busy here. Now go!”

Terry knew that Tony would be looking for her on the sideline, and Robert taking the lineup to the referee would confuse him. But it was inevitable that he would find her.

She got her team together and told them she wasn’t feeling all that well. If they needed her she’d be with the mother’s resting in a lawn chair. Robert and AJ knew what they were doing, and they would be their field coaches. The kids seemed okay with that. Terry sat her lawn chair next to a mother about her age, pulled the bill of her hat over her eyes, and laid a sports blanket across her legs.

Comfortably camouflaged, Terry scanned the opposing sideline. Yep, there she was – Tony’s blond concubine, dressed so no one would mistake her for a mother.

How in the world can I continue to be interested in a man that flaunts his relationships with so many women? I’m a bigger fool than I thought!

“Ladies and gentlemen, for your entertainment, all of the coaches in the blue shirts will be playing the coaches in the red shirts, for one period. I do believe that’s all they have in them, don’t you? Ha ha ha! Okay coaches, pick your lineups and let’s go!”

Terry scanned the blue team trying to locate Tony. She knew they couldn’t miss seeing each other. She was discouraged that they always seemed to be opponents? She wanted to be with him, not against him.

The game started out with lots of energy, but the intensity faded when 70% of the coaches ran out of gas. Tony ended up carrying his team, and Terry did the same for her coaches. They met on a breakaway. Tony gave her a good jolt and stole the ball at the midline. He raced down the left side with a determined Terry following one step behind. Still at full speed, Tony aimed a shot on goal. Terry stepped in front of the ball. Stopped it. And Tony stumbled to the ground. He rolled, saw Terry sprinting for her goal and ran like hell to catch her. Streaking up the middle with the ball, Terry zigged and zagged past defenders. Just as Tony was ready to make a move on her, she passed it away and her teammate scored a goal.

Panting heavily, Tony grinned at Terry. “Is there anything you can’t do?”

Walking toward midfield together Terry replied, “Can’t seem to have you to myself, can I?”

Leaving him to get into position, she missed Tony’s confused look.

Tony played forward aggressively. Three of his teammates were struggling to get the ball away from a group of defenders. Tony stepped in, got his foot on the ball and tried to force it out, only to roll his foot over the ball, and fall flat on his back. When his head hit the ground his teammates could see the lights go out in his eyes.

“Oh, Tony, Tony!” His blond girlfriend yelled as she came running onto the field. She knelt on one knee beside him, placed her hand on his face and asked, “Are you all right, Tony? We need a doctor here! Is anyone a doctor?” she yelled toward the crowd.

Shaking her head at this pitiful dramatic scene, Terry said, “I’m a doctor.”

The blond woman looked up with surprise. “You are? Oh, thank God. Please help him.”

Sure babe! Just for you.

Terry checked his breathing, his eyes, and his pulse. All seemed okay. She rolled her sweatshirt and placed it under his feet. Then she began to feel his chest, ribs waist and hip areas. The woman in Terry found enjoyment moving her hands over his body.

Teresa Davis, damn it, you’re a doctor. Now just act like one!

Steeling herself, Terry had a tentative diagnosis before he returned to consciousness.

Tony blinked his eyes and started to move. “Ohhh! What happened?”

The blond spoke before Terry could. “You slipped on the ball and landed flat on your back. But, don’t worry. You’ll be all good again. I found a doctor.”

Oh, pul-ease. I’m gonna throw up!

This was getting complicated for Terry. She was trying to deal with the quilt of playing Tony so aggressively; his injury; and “Miss Creampuff” gushing all over him.

The touched him gently on the cheek to get him to look at her. “Are you okay? Can you tell me what hurts?”

Tony placed his hand on his right hip. “My hip – from here to here. It feels like a nerve stinging.”

“That’s what I suspected. Can you move?”

“I’ll try. Why?”

“I want you to roll over on your stomach, hands down at your side.” When Tony was in position Terry ordered, “Good. Now, take a big breath.”

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Tony’s girlfriend asked.

“Not now please. I’m working.” Terry answered with a rude snarl.

“Tony, let it all out! As he did, Terry leaned into his hip and realigned the sacroiliac joint in his back.

“Good. Now I want you to take your time and roll slowly onto your back.”

When Tony was on his back, Terry stretched out his right leg until there was tension and in one swift move pulled Tony’s hip back into alignment. She then bent his knee, leaned over it in a stretching move, and found herself eye-to-eye with Tony.

“Do you know what you’re doing?” He asked.

“Of course. I’m a doctor.”

“Doctor. Doctor of what?”

“I’m your personal chiropractor. Aren’t you glad I’m here today? Now, can you get up?”

“Yeah, I feel much better.”

“Good, no more soccer today. I want you to see a physical therapist though. Personally, I’d recommend two weeks to make sure you’re in the clear.”

“Good call, Doctor. I think I can do that, since I’m a physical therapist. I’ll just make an appointment with myself.”

Terry was stunned. “You are? You’re a physical therapist?”

“Uh-huh. Isn’t that what I just said?”


The blond girlfriend took Tony’s arm.” Come on, we’ve got to get you home to rest. That was a nasty fall. Oh, Doctor, thank you for taking care of him.”

And I’m so glad, Sweetie. Hope it doesn’t ruin your evening.

Feeling as insignificant as a bracelet charm in a pawn shop, Terry had worn herself out lamenting her fate. Her growing love for Tony was relegated to a day of the week, just like the other women in his life. She felt like a leftover slice of pie.

When the phone rang Terry moped over to it in her robe and matted hair, comfy in her depressive pit.

“Hey Terry, this is Tony. How are you?”

“Feeling a little under the weather, to tell the truth. And you?”

“I’m feeling great, thanks to you. I want you to go out with me.”

“What are you talking about Tony?”

“Dinner. Tomorrow. Greatest restaurant in town.”

“Well, I don’t know if I should. It’s not Friday, you know. Don’t you have other commitments?”

“Are you kidding? Come on. Get out of those jeans. Dress up. I’ll pick you up at 6:30. I can’t wait. You’ll love it.”

Terry stood with her mouth open, confused by what she’d just heard. She dialed Sheila.

Sitting in the corner of her couch, she pulled her legs under her. When Sheila answered Terry didn’t even give her a chance to speak. “Sheila, what do I do? Tony’s asked me to a fancy dinner tomorrow night. I feel like a pawn. One of the girls. I’m Miss Friday, you know. I’m as insignificant as winter boots in July. If I can’t be special in his life why would I even want to waste my time? Dress up, for God’s sake? Come on – just to please him?”

Leaning against the couch, she listened to Sheila. “Girl, you’ve got so much doctor crap between your ears it ruins your eyesight. Damn it, the guy likes you. He’s trying to court you.”

Terry sat straight up. “I have what? You don’t understand. It’s me and three other girls.”

“And what are you doing? Kicking his ass on the racquetball court… beating his girlfriend at a triathlon… and showing him up with your soccer moves.”

Terry leaned her head against her hand and sighed.

“When the hell are you going to learn to wilt in a man’s arms like a beautiful flower? Huh? Terry, dress up and be a beautiful woman. Go out with him. If you don’t, I’m going to have you institutionalized!”

When Terry heard the knock on the door, she opened it. Tony looked stunned. She felt his eyes move down her from head to toe, lingering at certain areas before continuing on, making her feel very self-conscience. She started to say something to break the awkwardness, but was interrupted.

“Terry, you’re gorgeous. I had no idea how to picture you dressed up like this. It’s an honor to be your escort for dinner tonight?”

Now I feel like a piece of toast, all buttered up.

Walking down the sidewalk Terry noticed the red car parked in front of them.

She looked up at Tony. “We’re riding in this?”

“Yeah, do you like it?”

Terry took in the sleek sports car. “This is what physical therapists drive?”

“Yes, Terry. I’m single. Remember? It’s my fun outside of work.”

Uh-huh. You’re so deprived.

Well, it was a cool car. It was fun to ride in, and it was special just sitting beside Tony. The surprising part was the horse park.

“Tony, I thought you were taking me to dinner. Why are we at the horse races?”

Tony smiled broadly and placed his hand on hers. “This is where we’re having dinner.”

“Get real! At a race track?”

Tony got out of the car, chuckling, and opened her door. Offering his hand, he commented as she exited the car. “I know the chef here. She’s the best in town. Just because it’s the best kept secret around doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. Besides, she’s expecting us.”

“The chef is a she?”


“How do you happen to know her?”

“She was a patient of mine last year. Had a shoulder injury and needed a couple months of therapy. Now she’s back to work. You’ll love her style.”

I suppose you did too?


Terry was looking out the glass wall, admiring the beautiful horses on the race track, sipping wine, trying to get comfortable, when a voice tore through the stillness.

“Tony, Darling! You flatter me with your presence.”

Looking quickly over her shoulder to see who the next ‘babe’ in Tony’s life might be, Terry’s jaw dropped. She was looking at a babushka, thick enough to stop a wall of stones from falling. The woman had a wonderfully disarming smile as her huge arms reached out for Tony and engulfed him.

Whew! I don’t think I could have handled one more beautiful woman in his life.

“Terry, this is Hilda, the woman I told you about.”

“Terry is it? How lovely that Tony brought you here. I will make you specialty, no? Relax. Relax. No need to order. I pick everything, dear. More wine?”

Terry turned to Tony. She looked into his eyes and asked. “Tony, what’s the real reason we’re here?”

Taking her hand in his, Tony looked at her softly. “Terry, My Dear, I have something I want to say to you.”

“Well, couldn’t you have just called?”

Tony shook his head vigorously. “No, No! It’s very special. Terry, I want you to know that I’m falling in love with you.”

Terry ripped her hand from Tony’s grip. “What!” You expect me to believe that when you have all those other women in your life? Is this what you tell them when you want to get them in bed with you?”

Tony threw his hands up. “Whoa! Easy now! There are no other girlfriends.”

Terry leaned aggressively across the table. “There’s not, huh? Okay, then who’s the sexy blond that’s always by your side on the soccer field - is she your “ball” girl?”

Tony’s chuckle was like throwing fuel on a fire. When he spoke, Terry was seething.

“Terry, that’s my sister. She’s there because I coach her son. I know, I know, she doesn’t dress like a mother, but she’s always been the extrovert of the family.” Tony took Terry’s hand gently, and looked into her wet eyes. “Terry, I’m so sorry you had the wrong impression.”

Okay, one for three. Anyone can made a mistake.

“Well then,” she said, “while we’re at it, who was the woman dressed to seduce you in the racquetball court?”

Tony lowered his head and tried not to cause another reaction. “Terry, I believe you’re talking about Shelly. She’s the club’s woman’s champion. She has no one to play at her level, so they let her play in the men’s league. All the men play against her a couple times a year. I rarely see her around.”

“So, she’s not your girlfriend?”

“Far from it. I’ll admit she’s a flirt. It’s kind of embarrassing, really.”

“You? Embarrassed?”

“Yes. I believe that displays of affection between two people should be private. Shelly is everything but private. So, are you okay now that all your questions are answered?”

Both hands on the table, Terry leaned into his face causing Tony to lean back in his chair. “Just what makes you think I’m finished? Remember that woman you were cheering along at the triathlon? I was right beside her, yet you cheered for her. You acted like I didn’t exist. Explain that, will ya’?”

“Oh, I saw you that day, he said. You were the epitome of determination. I knew you were trying to crush her.”

Terry straightened up quickly. “If you knew all that, why didn’t. . . ”

Tony put a hand up to stop her. “What do you think my cousin would do if I started rooting for you to beat her? After all, I was staying at her house, living with her family for God’s sake. I’d be an idiot.”

Terry shrank back in her chair. Her head dropped into her hands. Her voice was so soft Tony could barely hear her. “That was your cousin?”

“Yes, Ma’am. I was between a rock and a hard place. Even though I cheered for her, my heart was on your heels. It was so hard to hide the fact that I was proud of you. Look, I want you to understand, you are the only woman for me. That’s why we’re here.”

Tony took both of Terry’s hands in his. Looking into her eyes, he said softly, “Teresa Davis, you are a woman for all seasons. All of my seasons. You’re my genie in a bottle. I don’t know how I found you, but I’m never letting you go. Do you understand?”

Terry nodded. I can’t believe I’ve been such a fool. How could I have been so blind?

“I mean it,” he said. Then he repeated “Do you understand that you’re the only woman in my life?”

A loud obnoxious vendor came down the aisle of the restaurant. “Last chance! One minute to race time! Stopping beside Tony he said loudly, “Hey, Mister, ‘wanna put some money on the next race?”

Tony smiled, looked at Terry and said, “Well? Do you bet?”

Terry grinned at him mischievously, reached into her purse and pulled out a ten dollar bill. “No, I usually don’t. But I’m feeling especially lucky today.” She handed the bill to the vendor. “I’ll take the trifecta.”


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