Losing at Love:
Game. Set. Match:
Losing At Love Synopsis:
Grass courts, tennis whites and the fiercest competition in the world. Wimbledon. After two crazy weeks in Paris, the girls of the Outer Banks Tennis Academy are headed to London with just one thing on their minds: winning.
Indiana Gaffney is fresh off a surprise win at the French Open junior tournament. Sponsors are clamoring for her attention, but what she wants more than anything—aside from a wild card to Wimbledon—is to be with Jack Harrison, but international fame and a secret relationship rarely mix well.
When Penny Harrison dreamed of playing at Wimbledon she never imagined agonizing pain shooting through her ankle with every step. With just a month until the tournament and the whole world expecting her to win, she’s determined to play, with or without the support of her coach or the love of her life, Alex Russell.
For the first time ever, no one expects anything from Jasmine Randazzo. After a crushing first-round defeat in the French Open juniors, the tennis world has given up on her, but worse than that, so have her parents, her best friend Teddy and maybe even her coach. With everyone writing her off, can she find it within herself to go after her dreams?
Philipe Chatrier Court, Roland Garros—Paris, France
Penny Harrison reached down, her fingers skimming the top of the walking boot encasing her foot. The strength of the sun, combined with the body heat of nearly fifteen thousand people, was pressing down upon the court and a rivulet of sweat slipped down from the back of her knee, making her skin itch where the plastic rubbed against it.
Though she stayed seated, her ankle protesting against carrying any weight at all, the crowd around her was on its feet, applauding and shouting, letting their appreciation be known not only for the championship match but also for two weeks of tennis at its highest level played on the red clay baking under the new summer sun.
“S’il vous plaît, Mesdames et Messieurs. Merci.” The chair umpire’s voice boomed through the speakers, his words implicitly demanding and receiving silence or as close to silence as possible before such an important point. Everyone settled back into their seats, the cheers morphing into a buzz, electrifying the moment, the last one in Paris until next year.
Alex stood at the far end of the court, as far away from the player’s box as he could be, trying to use the shadow cast by the court’s walls for some relief. He was just a point away from another championship and proving to the world that he was back at the top of his game. Penny scratched at her irritated skin again, twisting her mouth into a frown. Maybe in a month that would be her, standing on the grass courts at Wimbledon, back from an injury and celebrating a championship at a Grand Slam. It would be the first in her career, compared with what had become routine for Alex.
“Come on, Alex,” she whispered, knowing that even if he couldn’t hear her, he’d feel her support across the court. Her fingers caught on the chain of her necklace, a large old-fashioned penny dangling from the end, Alex’s good luck charm and his gift to her before the tournament. Now clutching it in her fist, she took a deep breath as he went out to serve the final point.
Alex bounced the ball beneath his racket onto the clay, a complete mess after three sets of hard-fought tennis, especially down at the baseline. Romero was opposite him; bent over at the waist, shifting back and forth, ready to receive the serve. One last fan let his voice be heard, a deep British accent from somewhere in the crowd bellowing, “C’mon Russell!” A few anxious people shhh’d him, but Alex didn’t even glance up. He coiled his body down, building power through his legs before tossing the ball high and, with a lightning fast stroke, attacking the bit of green fluff. He sent a low-lying laser beam across the court, skidding off the white T on the other side of the net and then past the outstretched racket of his opponent. The crowd erupted and Penny lost sight of him as everyone leapt to their feet, screaming, totally drowning out the umpire’s call of, “Game. Set. Match.” He came into view again as he was shaking Romero’s hand at the net, then he looked up into the stands, his eyes finding her immediately. She blew him a kiss, but he smiled and shook his head. Jogging over to the stands and climbing in, passing rows and rows of people who patted him on the back before he reached her, covered in sweat and mud, he leaned over the wall surrounding the player’s box and slid one hand into her hair, the other caught her hand and pulled her up against him, getting red clay all over her white eyelet dress as they embraced.
“I love you,” she whispered against the whisker-roughened skin of his cheek. It was the first time she’d said those words to him and they just slipped out. Panic shot through her for a moment before he pulled her closer, held her even tighter and said, “I love you too.”
DON’T MISS OUT ON THE GIVEAWAY!
Jennifer Iacopelli was born in New York and has no plans to leave…ever. Growing up, she read everything she could get her hands on, but her favorite authors were Laura Ingalls Wilder, L.M. Montgomery and Frances Hodgson Burnett all of whom wrote about kick-ass girls before it was cool for girls to be kick-ass. She got a Bachelor’s degree in Adolescence Education and English Literature quickly followed up by a Master’s in Library Science, which lets her frolic all day with her books and computers, leaving plenty of time in the evenings to write and yell at the Yankees, Giants and her favorite tennis players through the TV.