I remained in my seat for a couple of seconds, utterly stunned, as Travis Connolly’s Grand Slam victory was announced. He’d done it! In spite of his accident, his hard work had paid off and he was now racing off the court and toward his team—Peter, Marie, Austin, Samuel and a few others. I was a few rows back, which was perfectly understandable given that the only link I had to Connolly was the fact we shared the same training facility. Though looking at him now, he probably didn’t need Los Carlos any more. He was back on form, the world at his feet once more. Hopefully, if I worked hard, I’d be in his position one day. Not winning the men’s title, of course, but I, Virginia Miller, could be another British tennis champion.
I had a long way to go, obviously. I wasn’t even seeded yet, never mind in the upper echelons. But I was determined if nothing else.
Shaking my aspirations from my thoughts, I carefully pushed my way through the excitable crowd to get down to the group from Los Carlos. I knew I was lucky to be there in the first place. As someone so low down on the sporting career ladder, I should really have been back at the academy, working my arse off, but apparently Austin had been feeling generous and thought I should have first-hand experience of a major tournament. I hadn’t had the heart to tell him I’d been to Wimbledon a couple of times already. It had practically been on my doorstep back in London, and a visit at an early age had sparked my love of the sport in the first place. Plus there was no way I was going to turn down the chance to visit a foreign tournament. Especially since Nadia was playing. And she’d gotten right through to the final.
She hadn’t won, unfortunately, but it had been very exciting to watch the matches she’d played. I hadn’t paid an awful lot of attention to the ball or the rackets or even the other players, though. I’d just let my gaze wander over Nadia’s delectable figure for the duration of her matches. The determined set of her face throughout, the bounce of her glossy brunette ponytail, her muscular yet feminine legs, the slight jig of the breasts that her sports top couldn’t quite keep in check… she was gorgeous. And I really liked her personality too. She’d looked after me so well since I’d been at the academy. Been a mentor of sorts.
When I reached the group they were still exchanging kisses, handshakes and claps on the back with Connolly. I tried to catch his eye, give him the thumbs up or something, but he was too caught up in Marie, the academy’s psychologist. And given the way he’d picked her up and spun her around and was now kissing her, I suspected she was a little more than that to him.
They carried on kissing for a little while, clearly uncaring of the millions of people who were watching them either in person or on the television. Finally Connolly pulled away, took Marie’s hand and dropped to one knee. I gasped—and I wasn’t the only one. Similar sounds echoed around me, and people started to murmur. Was he really going to…?
Yes, it seemed he was. Glad I was close enough to hear what he was saying, I waited, eager to know what would happen next. Would she say yes? Women all over the world would marry him in a heartbeat, I was sure, but perhaps Marie felt differently.
“Marie Sherratt,” Connolly said, clearing his throat, then continuing. “Marie Sherratt, I know we didn’t have the most auspicious of starts, what with me not being into psychobabble and all, but now, months down the line, I don’t care about that. All I care about is that the most caring, giving, intelligent, beautiful and sexy woman on the planet loves me and I love her. And more than anything, I want to make it official. So I have a question to ask. Marie, will you marry me?”
The crowd held its collective breath for a millisecond, then erupted in cheers, screams and wolf whistles. Such was the din that in spite of the short distance, I couldn’t hear her reply, but the beaming grin on her face and her body language indicated that she’d said yes. As did the fact that her now-fiancé picked her up and swung her around again. They were a couple very much in love, and although it was nice to see it also made me feel a little sad and quite a lot jealous.
Instinctively, I looked around for Nadia, whom I hadn’t seen since she’d left the court after her devastating defeat. That had been when I’d headed to the center court to see Connolly play. I’d thought perhaps Nadia would make her way into the crowd to watch the rest of the tournament, but I couldn’t spot her. It didn’t mean she wasn’t there, of course. The stadium held rather a lot of people, and she was just one face among thousands. But she was very important to me.
Before long I was swept up in the excitement of the Los Carlos gang, what with a grand slam win and a marriage proposal, and I didn’t get a chance to continue looking for Nadia. As soon as I heard mention of a celebratory party that evening, though, I found myself hoping I’d bump into her there.
* * * * *
Back at the hotel later that day, I was spending time dithering over my wardrobe. Not the actual thing made of wood, obviously, but the garments inside. I’d known there would be some swanky events taking place in New York over the course of the US Open, but I didn’t know the venues, or how many. As a result, I’d brought pretty much every posh dress I owned. And as I stood gazing at them all, I couldn’t decide whether it was a blessing or a curse. I was sure to have something that would catch Nadia’s eye, but only if I actually picked something, put it on and got to the damn party.
Then there was the small matter of finding out whether she even batted for the same team as me. I’d heard rumors about her but had no concrete proof. She’d been really nice and helpful toward me ever since I’d arrived at the academy, and we’d spent a lot of time together as a result of her mentoring, but I still wasn’t sure. I was never sure, actually. I didn’t seem to have the functioning gaydar that many people had, and as a result I’d spent most of my adult life as a somewhat sad singleton. I was no virgin, but I’d only had a handful of encounters, and they’d all been instigated either by the other woman or alcohol.
I suspected some of the latter would be essential for me to actually get the answer to my question. Especially since, if I got confirmation from Nadia that she was into women, I then had to find out if she was into me. Christ, relationships were such a minefield. It was no wonder I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had an orgasm that hadn’t been sparked by my own hand or a sex toy.
After a glance at my watch told me I only had an hour to go before the party started, I closed my eyes, put my hand into the wardrobe and resolved to wear the first dress I touched. When my fingers brushed fabric, I opened my eyes and pulled out the dark-purple number I’d blindly selected. Grabbing a pair of shoes that would go with the dress from the closet floor, I closed the doors, hung my dress from the handle and put the shoes down. Then I stripped off the clothes I’d worn all day and headed for the shower.
I deliberately took my time, washing and conditioning my hair, brushing my teeth, applying body scrub all over—except my sensitive bits, of course—shaving my legs, armpits and pussy, then applying a generous layer of shower gel. Once I was done, I was massively tempted to masturbate, but I reasoned with myself. The arousal that pumped through my veins, swelled my pussy lips and resulted in a delicious sensation between my legs could be to my benefit. That horniness would only increase when I saw Nadia, and perhaps the aching need of my neglected body would spur me on to achieve my goal—getting into her knickers. Or her heart, whichever came first. Or easiest.
Arriving in the function room five minutes into the party, I was pleased with myself. One, for not being too early and looking like a saddo or an alcoholic, and two, because I looked good. I didn’t often think that, but the purple dress and black patent high heels made my legs look slim and a mile long, and emphasized my athletic frame and ample chest. I showed just a hint of cleavage—enough to entice, hopefully, but far from enough to make me look cheap. Taking a deep breath, I headed straight for the bar and ordered a vodka and Coke, my poison of choice. The bill for the party was being footed by the academy and Travis Connolly’s sponsors, so I didn’t even have to pay. I could get well lubricated for free before I executed my plan.
Knocking back the first drink, I signaled for another, then carried it farther into the room, subtly looking around to see who was already there and who was yet to arrive. Unsurprisingly, the main man hadn’t yet graced us with his presence. Nor had Marie, and a smirk took over my lips as I realized why. They’d just got engaged, for heaven’s sake—they were probably fucking each other’s brains out up in their hotel room. I couldn’t say I blamed them. It had been an exciting day, especially for them, and they probably had lots of adrenaline coursing through their veins. What better way to make use of it?
Hoping I could make my day more exciting, I continued to look around the room, which was filling in dribs and drabs. Austin and a bunch of the academy staff and athletic sponsors were at a table in the corner, already making a good start on bottles of expensive champagne, by the looks of it. In another corner, to my surprise, I spotted Peter Ross and Rufus Lampani looking pretty cozy. As I tried to reason that maybe they were just good friends, I watched Peter slip a hand around the back of Lampani’s neck and pull him in for a lingering kiss. Raising my eyebrows, I averted my gaze. Wow. If things went to plan with Nadia, the academy would have a gay couple and a lesbian couple. Talk about equal rights.
Just as her name flitted through my mind again, a movement from the corner of my eye drew my attention, then a feminine voice spoke.
“Hey, V. How’s it going?”