The Ten Weeks, 28 January, Sometimes Things with Women Don’t Go as Planned

Jack’s fall from grace with Denise meant that he was also off of the “head table” with her and her friends. He chose to hang out more and more with Brent Murchison. Their fathers were law partners, and their sons got along, whether they were doing well or behaving badly.
Jack was especially unconversational as they sat in the cafeteria. He sat staring at Denise and her court over in the corner.
“You’re still bummed out over her ditching you?” Brent asked, tired of talking to the wall.
“Yeah,” Jack replied blankly. He finally came back to earth a little bit. “Today’s her birthday. She’s having a big party tonight over at Pete Alter’s house. You know, it’s on the beach, and his old man and lady are off the Island.”
“We’ve got that match with the hayseeds tomorrow,” Brent noted. “She’s got to play that Carla Stanley.”
“She doesn’t think that Stanley can beat her,” Jack observed. “Besides, for Denise, when it’s time to have a party, it’s time to have a party. Why wait?”
“Guess so,” Brent shrugged. “Hey, speaking of Stanley, you and Maddy are spending a lot of time in the hall together. Anything going?”
“Not really. We just get thrown out of class a lot together.”
“I thought so. Guys say to me, ‘Why is he messing with her? He knows she won’t go all the way.’”
“She’s different. . .” Jack said.
“They’re all the same,” Brent casually observed. “Look at Alicia Decker.”
“Robbing the cradle,” Jack said, laughing.
“It was easy,” Brent replied. “Since it was the first time for her, she didn’t know what was coming. First, I took her out. Then, I got her drunk. Next, we went to the beach. As they say, the rest is history.”
“Maddy wouldn’t be that easy, and you know it. She’s no weenie, either.”
“You want her. You know it. Admit it.”
“Okay, I admit it. . .”
“But you’re scared of her.”
“No, I’m not!”
“Yes, you are. You’re scared she’ll say no.”
“Am not!”
“Then just ask her out! Forget about the rest. I dare you!” There was another long silence.
“I can’t,” Jack confessed.
“You’re a chicken.”
“She works miracles,” Jack finally observed. “What happens if she gets mad at me and turns me into a frog?”
“Hadn’t thought about that,” Brent admitted. “You could just hop away. Maybe she’ll kiss you and you’ll turn into a prince. That would be an improvement.”
“That’s great,” Jack retorted sarcastically.
“You know I dated her once last year.”
“You didn’t tell me.”
“It didn’t work out.”
“Why not?”
“‘Cause talking with her is like playing tennis with her,” Brent replied. “The minute you think you’ve got her put away, she lobs one behind you and you’re back to deuce.”
“And then you can hear in the background, ‘Advantage, Mademoiselle des Cieux.’” Jack added. They both burst out laughing—until they felt a soft presence standing in front of them. They looked up and saw Madeleine, holding her books and staring a hole in them.
“I heard my name being called,” she said.
“Oh, we were just talking about what a great tennis player you are—or were—or will be after you’re better,” Brent stammered.
“I visited the doctor yesterday,” she announced. “He is very happy with my progress. He said I could start playing tennis again, although he could not promise how high on the ladder I might go.”
“So you’re going back on the team?” Jack asked.
“After what I have been through, including the fracas over the healing of Carol Yedd, I hardly think so.”
“Too bad you can’t play on our team,” Brent said. “We could use all the miracles we can get.”
Madeleine smiled at the thought. “It is very sad,” she said. “You guys could use a miracle.” She turned and walked out of the cafeteria. The guys couldn’t help but notice that she strutted away like she was on the runway at a Paris fashion show.
“Maybe she is different. . .” Brent mused.
“I hope that Stanley wipes Denise’s butt all over the court tomorrow,” Jack said.
“You know,” Brent added, “so do I.”

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