Return to The Game of Love Chapter Twenty-Two

The Game of Love

Author: Shai
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Unfortunately neither Tara nor Willow are mine. Neither's anyone else in this fic for that matter!

Tara had gone straight home, and slept for a while. She was back up at 4:15, sitting in front of her laptop. She'd told the people at work that she would only be sending work in through the net that week, and it hadn't been a problem.

So there she was now, her fingers running over the keys of the keyboard, at a rapid space. She was just typing without really needing to think. After being with the station so long, the lines just came to her. By 5 p.m, she's finished working, and she just sat there, looking around her empty house. "Hmm...I guess it must be kinda fun living in the dorms, with people around you all the time" she thought.

Sighing, she rose from her seat and stretched her aching limbs. Looking at the clock on her wall she realized that it was still a good 2 hours before the rest of the team came, and Tara was restless. "I could get some studying done..." she pondered, but realized that she was in no mental state to cram. Finally she decided to go to the country club for a game of tennis with whoever was playing, since it was such a beautiful day.

Tara went to her room to change. Five minutes later she emerged in a pair of white shorts and a light blue singlet, with her tennis kit slung over her shoulder. Picking up her keys from the dining table she left the apartment, locking the door as she went. On her way down the steps Tara made a quick call to Anya, to make sure that the girl wasn't free for a game, and as it turned out she was right. Anya was at work at her father's photo lab. Promising to be back by 7, Tara ended the call, and got into the Mercedes. On any other day as beautiful as today Tara would have loved to take the Jeep out and feel the breeze on her face. The country club, however, preferred if you came in a posher set of wheels, and Tara didn't like the looks she'd gotten when she'd taken her precious manual there on some previous occassions.

Getting in she started the car, and was on her way to the country club, which was a mere 10 minutes away. Stopping at the first signal, Tara looked around, and saw the back of a girl with bright red hair falling a little lower than her shoulders walking down the street. She had a slim frame, and it didn't take Tara longer than an instant to figure who it was.

Rolling her windows down in rush she yelled "Willow!!!" The girl didn't respond to the call, and Tara tried again "Wiiiiillllllooooowwwww!!!!" still no response, and by this time the light was green. Seeing that the girl was walking the way she herself needed to go, Tara drove up to the side of the girl and was about to call out again when she saw that it wasn't in fact Willow. "Oops..." Tara muttered to herself, and rolling her windows up continued driving to the country club.

The damange was done though. The thought that Tara had tried to keep out of her head all day was playing over and over like a broken record in her thoughts now. "Willow's not coming tonight...Willow's not coming tonight..." Tara didn't know why she felt so lonely at the idea. "I live alone, and tonight there are gonna be 11 more girls at my house, so why would I feel lonely???"

Tara knew she would miss the redhead. She liked having her around, she admitted herself. There was something different about this Willow Rosenberg, something that Tara liked.

Driving through the gates of the country club, Tara gave a friendly wave of recognition to the security gurds, who saluted back. Giving her car to the valet, Tara made her way to the tennis courts at the back, the thought "Willow's not coming tonight" still going strong in that had of hers!

A man was playing tennis with the ball boys on one of the courts. He seemed to be around 40 plus, but in great condition. Walking to one of the chairs Tara watched as he chased down every shot the ball boy made, and returned it with precision.

He looked up at Tara and said with a smile "Hey, you wanna play?"

Tara smiled and nodded back, and the ball boy moved off the court. She began to warm up with the man on the other side of the net, who initially looked surprised at how well this girl played.

Tara had been playing tennis since she was 4. She would have loved to take it up as a career, but...Looking up, she indicated that she was ready to start a match. The man nodded, beginning service. Being a man his serves were powerful, but Tara still managed to return with ease. She beat him at virtually every kind of shot, her forehand precise, her one handed backhand a beauty and her speed, well, if she was good at handball in that department, she was better at chasing balls down at tennis!

The man deserved credit too, he was a good sportsman. "I guess my professional trainings making all the difference" she figured, smacking another forehand cross court. At the end of the hour, the match was over. The score read 7-5, 6-4, in Tara's favour.

Walking up to the net to shake hands, Tara smiled as the man complimented her. "I don't usually go home and tell my wife and kid that I lost at the club. And hey, I've never had to tell em that I lost to a girl. Guess that's gonna be a new forst today!" Tara grinned as they walked off court.

The brown haired man asked her as they walked off the court "Could I know what name I will have to give my family when they ask about who kicked my butt????"

"Tara" the blonde smiled.

"Pleased to meet you Tara. I'm Ira", he said, with a smile that Willow could have sworn she'd seen before.

Continue to The Game of Love Chapter Twenty-Four

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