The Man She Married
Fitzgerald was drop-dead handsome in his crisp white shorts and dazzling polo.
    “Normally I’m working but my assistant manager is covering for me. You remember PJ, don’t you?”
    “I do indeed. She’s quite the saleswoman.” Trip laughed. “Mom appreciated my shopping spree.”
    “PJ’s one of a kind. I couldn’t run the shop without her,” Maizie said, then changed topic. “I realize I’m a terrible tennis player, but do you think there’s any hope for me?”
    Trip patted her shoulder. “Of course there is. You’re a good athlete. You’re just a little rusty.”
    Who was he kidding? Rusty didn’t begin to describe her—totally oxidized would be more appropriate. But now that she’d started on this tennis venture, she was eager to learn.
    “Okay, ladies, let’s get ready to run,” Trip announced with a maniacal gleam in his eye.
    The two other ladies in the class were both well under thirty. Why couldn’t she be content to “sweat to the oldies”?
    Trip set up a serving machine and had them hitting ball after ball—forehands, backhands, overheads and volleys.
    “Turn, step into the shot, watch the ball, follow through.” If Trip said that once, he said it a dozen times. “Ladies, it’s a backhand. That means it’s coming from the other side. Turn, step into it. Watch the ball!”
    His tirade was usually followed by her favorite. “Get your butt in gear! This ain’t no sewing circle. I want to see some per- spi -ration. Ya hear me. Run. Get it going.”
    She had to wonder whether teaching a bunch of klutzes had driven him around the bend.
    “Mrs. Walker, don’t swat at the ball. Bring your racket back and get prepared as soon as it comes toward you. Once it bounces it’s too late.”
    Maizie took a deep breath before she put her hands on her hips. Sweat was dripping from every pore. Glowing—get real. Even her socks were soaking. “I told you before. Call me Maizie. You’re making me feel ancient.”
    He had the temerity to laugh. “Yes, ma’am. Uh, Maizie. You’re not ancient, believe me.” He tapped her on the bum with his tennis racket.
    What was that about?
    The lesson had lasted only an hour, but it was the longest sixty minutes in history. Maizie felt as if she’d been through the wringer. She used her arm to wipe the per- spi -ration off her face. Mama would absolutely die if she saw her. Maizie was so busy burrowing through her bag for a towel she didn’t hear Trip walk up.
    “Have you considered taking some semiprivate lessons, or perhaps even a private? I think you have potential.”
    She wasn’t sure if this was Trip’s version of marketing or whether he was telling the truth. But either way, she’d played along. It worked just fine for her own purposes, too.
    “Is there someone who could do a private lesson with me tomorrow?” It wouldn’t hurt to have PJ run the shop again. She’d appreciate the bonus and Maizie would love one more day without dealing with people like Jeannine Crabtree. And if Trip could teach her, so much the better.
    “I’m available. Do you prefer morning or afternoon?”
    “Any time is good.”
    “Why don’t we go back to the office? I’ll check the appointment book.”
    Maizie tossed the racket into her sports duffel and followed him across the court to the sports complex.
    “I’m dying of thirst. How about you?” Trip asked as they passed an outdoor snack kiosk.
    She’d glowed so much she probably didn’t have a drop of moisture left in her system. “I’m pretty sure I’m dehydrated.”
    “I’ll buy you a Coke.”
    Thirty minutes later, Trip glanced at his watch. “As much as I’ve enjoyed this, we need to scoot on over to the office to set up your lesson.”
    “I’m sorry I’ve kept you.” During their conversation Maizie had discovered they were close to the same age and amazingly they enjoyed many of the same thingsand even had some mutual acquaintances. Making a new friend was like scoring a

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