Home > The Singles Game(6)

The Singles Game(6)
Lauren Weisberger

Jake stretched his arms overhead in the chair beside her and let out a loud exhale. ‘Like his life?’ He rubbed his chin with his forefinger and thumb. ‘I think so. He’s slowing down at work, yes, but not in the love department.’

‘The love department?’ Charlie reached behind her head to adjust her pillow. ‘That’s just plain gross.’

‘Oh, come on, Charlie. Twenty-four is old enough to acknowledge that your father is a man whore. There are worse things.’

‘Like what?’

‘Like your mother being one.’

Charlie couldn’t help a small smile. ‘Fair point.’

Her phone pinged. She turned to grab it so quickly from the night table that her foot twisted ever so slightly and pain shot up her leg. You playing new haven? the text read. Marco.

She smiled despite her pain and the fact that, no, she was not playing the Connecticut Open – nor the US Open, nor any of the Asian tournaments in the rest of the summer and fall. She’d be lucky if she were ready for Australia in the new year.

Hey! Just out of surgery. Rehab to follow. Fingers crossed for australia january …

Pobrecita! Sorry, bella. u ok?

‘You got a guy you’re not telling me about?’ Jake asked, looking suddenly interested.

Thanks! Good luck in cincy. Miss you! she pecked out with her thumbs and then regretted the moment she hit ‘send.’ Miss you? She didn’t even realize she was holding her breath, willing him to text back, until Jake spoke again.

‘Hello? Charlie? Seriously, ease up on the phone a little. You look like you might crush it.’

She relaxed her grip. Still nothing.

‘Wanna watch something? I brought the cable to hook up my iPad to the room TV, so we can watch a Shark Tank if you want.’

Another ping. This one had only two letters, the only ones that mattered: xo.

Charlie put aside her phone and, unable to wipe the grin off her face, said, ‘That sounds great. Cue it up.’

‘Come on, Charlie. One more! You’re not such a complete pussy that you can’t do one more, are you?’ Ramona screamed. No one else in the rehab gym even blinked.

Charlie was lying prone in a leg-press machine, but she couldn’t bring herself to push against the weight bar with only her injured right foot, as Ramona had requested. Instead, she cradled her broken wrist against her chest and used her healthy foot to assist the injured one. Ramona swatted away her left leg. ‘Trust it!’ she yelled. ‘The Achilles’ has been fixed, but you’re never going to strengthen it if you don’t fucking trust it!’

‘I’m trying, I swear I am,’ Charlie breathed through gritted teeth.

Ramona smiled and slapped a meaty, masculine hand on her own tree-trunk thigh. ‘Well, try harder!’

Charlie smiled despite her pain. Ramona and her filthy mouth were the only redeeming parts of what was starting to feel like endless physical therapy. She completed three more just to prove she was tough before collapsing in a heap on the blue mat.

‘Good. You actually did decent work today.’ Ramona gave Charlie a playful kick. ‘Same time, same place, tomorrow. Bring your A-game,’ she called over her shoulder as she headed to her next client, a Lakers player who was rehabbing a shoulder injury.

‘Can’t wait,’ Charlie muttered as she pulled herself to standing.

‘Great job today,’ Marcy said as she followed Charlie to the locker room. ‘You’re really showing huge improvement only five weeks in.’

‘You think? It feels like it’s taking forever.’ Charlie stripped off her sweaty shorts and T-shirt and wrapped a towel under her arms.

Marcy led the way to the hot tub and took a seat on the bench while Charlie gingerly lowered herself into the steaming water.

‘You’re doing it exactly right and according to schedule. It’s no small thing to come back from a ruptured Achilles’ and a fractured wrist in six months. Really five if you count the training you’ll need for the Australian Open in January. Most regular civilians would have trouble with it, not to mention a professional athlete who needs to compete at elite levels. Patience is key here.’

Charlie leaned her head back. Eyes closed, she flexed her feet to allow the Achilles’ to stretch in the heat. It ached, but the shooting pain to which she’d grown accustomed immediately after surgery was thankfully gone. ‘I can barely imagine walking without limping again. How am I going to jump and turn and lunge on it?’

Marcy’s neat blond ponytail was so thick and precisely tied that it barely moved as she rested her elbows on her knees and peered at Charlie. ‘Have you considered the possibility that it may take longer? That perhaps Australia isn’t completely realistic?’

Charlie opened her eyes and looked at Marcy. ‘Frankly? No, I haven’t. Dr Cohen said it was possible to make a full recovery in six months, and that’s exactly what I plan to do.’

‘I hear you, and I respect that, Charlie. I just think it could be wise to talk about a game plan if for whatever reason that doesn’t happen.’

‘What’s there to discuss? I’m going to work my ass off and hopefully be ready for Australia in January. If that’s absolutely impossible – like, I’ll damage it even more if I try to play – then of course I’ll have to wait a bit longer. What’s the worst-case scenario? Starting with Doha in February? It’s not ideal, but if I have to do that, I will.’

Marcy was silent. She clasped her hands together.

Charlie made little circles in the water with her right hand while taking care to keep the cast on her left arm dry. She thanked her lucky stars each and every day that it wasn’t her playing arm; all the doctors assured her it wouldn’t affect her backhand. ‘What are you so nervous about?’

‘Nothing, it’s just …’ Marcy’s voice trailed off as she looked down at the wet tiled floor.

‘Spit it out. Seriously, we’ve known each other long enough that you don’t have to mince words. What are you thinking?’

‘I’m just wondering … It’s my job to consider all the possibilities, to think through any possible complications or unexpected … you know.’

Charlie felt a little wave of irritation rise, but she took a deep breath and forced herself to sound neutral. ‘And?’

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