Return to The Game of Love Chapter Thirty-Eight

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!

"Aww, this is too easy!" Ira thought, hitting a forehand winner down the line. He looked up again, to see if he could spot Tara anywhere.

He saw the Club's tennis coach, Dave, get ready to serve again, and got in position to return. The tall, blonde, 30 something Coach tossed the ball, and whipped the ball at Ira, a serve that Ira returned easily, making Dave run to the other end of the court. Dave just managed to reach the ball in time, hitting a weak shot to Ira's side of the court, and Ira played a perfect drop shot, winning the point.

Watching the ball land, Ira began to walk towards the net to shake Dave's hand. "Game, set, match...6-1,6-1" he grinned, waiting for the tired looking Coach to get to the net.

Dave got there a few seconds later, and managed a smile, despite the loss. "Your games really picked up Ira. It's even better then back in the days when you played University!"

"Thanks!" Ira smiled, and turned to walk to the chairs. Looking up he saw a blonde girl, standing in a tennis skirt and tee, racket in hand, staring straight at him with a smile on her face.

"Hi!" Tara said, then looking at Dave and repeating the greeting.

"Tara...hey!" Dave said, and turned to Ira to introduce the two, and Ira, reading his mind, simply looked back at Tara and said "Hi Tara", and then turning back to Dave grinned and said "I've already had the pleasure of meeting this lovely woman."

Tara blushed at that, and looked down, as her mind raced "God! Where have I seen THAT smile????".

"Well, I've got to run" Dave said, "Meeting of staff and all" he added, as a way of explanation. "I'll see you two later, ok?" Ira and Tara nodded their heads at him, and watched him depart, before Ira turned to Tara.

"So, would you like to play? Or did that display scare you off?" he grinned.

"Oh" Tara replied, without missing a beat. "I was gonna ask you whether you wanted to play too, but was just reconsidering it, since you know, you just played a game..." Tara paused to take a breath, and Ira thought she really was being considerate...until she added "...And you know, age is probably catching up and all!" giving him a lopsided grin that Ira thought was simply adorable!

"Oh you would wish wouldn't you?!" Ira quipped back. "What say we raise the stakes today?"

Tara merely raised and eyebrow, with an expression that said "Keep talking", and Ira continued "The loser has to take the winner out to a good, wait...the loser has to COOK the winner a good meal...more work and all you know?!" he laughed.

"You're on dude!" Tara giggled, and walked towards one end of the court, slipping her wristband on, before slowly rotating her serving arm.

"Yeah Buffy?" Willow said, answering her mobile phone.

"Will! I need a favour!" Buffy panted on the other end.

"Sure, name it." WIllow said. She and Buffy had been friends for too long for her to even consider asking what her best friend needed.

"I know I could count on you! That Xander...he blew me off because he wanted to go see Anya at her work place!" Buffy said, sounding irritated. "Annnnyway..." she continued, "I've got to handle an extra shift at work today, since Mary's called in sick, and Joe's not letting me off the hook. Dawn's home alone, and she's got a history test at school on Monday. I've told her that she has to study today if she wants to go to her friend Zoa's party tomorrow. So...can I bring her over to yours and then you can make sure she studies???"

Willow laughed at her friends long explanation, and said "Of course! Dawn's like my baby sister too, and ooh, what fun, I even get to make her study! Serves her right for all the times she's called me a geek! Anyway, what time do you wrap up?"

"Not before 7:30. I finish my shift in the afternoon and then start Mary's!" Buffy said, sounding miserable.

"Alright, Dawn'll be here when you're done...come..and hey, you two stay for dinner ok? I'm sure Dad'll wanna see you too!" Willow said.

"Ooh thanks soooo much Will!" Buffy said. "I owe you one! Alright, I better get ready for work. I'll see you in the evening. Umm, so should I drop Dawn off on my way to work, in say, 20 minutes?"

"Sure Buff. You have a good day at work, ok? Bye!" Willow said, getting ready to hanging up.

"Thanks girl! Ciao!" Buffy said, putting her mouthpiece down as well.

"So, I hope you're a good cook!" Tara said, grinning as Ira walked slowly upto the net.

Ira made a sad face, but his gleaming eyes gave him away. "Good game...pity you had to lose!" Tara said seriously, before she started laughing.

"Ha ha" Ira said, sarcastically, before his face broke into a smile too."Someday I'll beat you Tara!" he grinned.

"Oh, and I'll be waiting Ira!" Tara giggled.

"Ok, so dinner, my place, say, 7:30?" Ira asked, before quickly adding "Don't worry, I lost honestly! This was not some kinda serial killer type plot to get you to my house!" Ira laughed, "Though after the way I lost I kinda think that'd make a cool excuse!"

Tara smiled, sitting down on the chairs they'd walked to. She trusted Ira, weird as though it might sound, and knew that he was harmless. "Plus, he hasn't since me kick box yet!" she mentally added, having full faith in her abilities if the unlikely scenario arose. "Sure, 7:30's good" she said aloud.

"Great!" Ira said, and opening his tennis kit he took out a book and paper and quickly jotted down his address, tore the sheet out and handed it to Tara. He proceeded to look at the time on his watch. "Uh oh! My daughters probably waiting for me at home!!! I should run! I'll see you this evening?"

Tara nodded her head, smiling at him, and simply said "7:30", raising her hand to wave as Ira turned to depart.

As she watched him walk away she thought "Ok, now what do I do?" Looking up she saw a small red headed girl walk onto the court, looking adorable in new tennis shoes. She was holding an older man's hand, and Tara presumed they were father and daughter.

"Red hair..." Tara thought, as her mind else where and her face took on a dreamy expression. Opening her eyes wide, Tara jumped up, grabbed her kit and headed straight to the gym. "....must not let thoughts drift that way again!!!" she muttered to herself.

Willow heard the door open, and quickly rose from where she'd dozed off on the sofa. "I'm home sweetie!" her father called, and then he saw his daughter on the sofa, her hair all messed up from her short nap.

Smiling, he walked up to her, and gently kissed her on her forehead. "My baby tired?"

"Mmmm" Willow mumbled, "Late night last night..." she said, before taking in her fathers shirt, which was still damp due to his perspiration. "Played?" WIllow asked, and Ira nodded.

"Won?" Willow asked again, and he shook his head, making a face.

"Same girl?" Willow questioned, smiling at her father's childish behaviour.

Ira simply nodded, and said "I even lost a bet! She's home for dinner tonight!"

"Uh oh! I told Buffy that she and Dawn could stay for dinner too tonight. Dawn's gonna be studying in my room all day, while Buff's at work, and I told her to come right here and wat with us.." Willow said, frowning.

"Oh that's ok...she's actually around your age..."Ira said, as the sound of honking came from outside.

"Oh, Dawn's here" Willow said, getting up to answer the door.

"Alright honey...I'm heading into the shower! I'll be with you in 15 minutes, and hey, let's watch one of the movies I picked up from Bangkok last time, ok?" Ira said, walking away.

"Cool Dad...I'll pick while you're changing" Willow said, opening the door. "Hey sweetie!" she said, enveloping Dawn, who was standing right there, in a hug.

Continue to The Game of Love Chapter Forty

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