16 Between the lines

Comfortably sat down on a leather armchair, Amanda accepted the cappuccino from the waitress and turned back her attention to her friend Natsumi on the other side of the coffee table. It was a relaxing day for the Australian after an extremely tough match the day before against Stephanie Moeller. She had come back to the hotel sore and exhausted, so today she had done only the minimum. Spontaneously, she had decided for a chat in hotel lounge with Natsumi while she waited for Elise to return from Flushing Meadows. They would later have dinner in the hotel restaurant, as Amanda didn’t feel to go out tonight.
“I should spend some time at home then fly directly to Tokyo,” Natsumi mused. “How about you? Looking forward to going back to Japan?”
Sipping on her coffee, Amanda lost herself in a timid shrug. Natsumi was surprised. She knew that Amanda loved Japan and was always eager to play there.
“Elise will skip Japan,” she explained.
Elise hadn’t signed for Tokyo, which meant they would spend another week far from each other. She had thought once that she had got used to such context, with her previous relationships, but apparently she still had a hard time dealing with it.

A few seconds passed by before Natsumi bend over the coffee table. With a big grin, she winked at Amanda.
“I know exactly what you will need when in Japan.”
Curious, Amanda frowned and began to play nervously with her coffee spoon, turning it around in her drink. If she kept on doing so, she would start digging into the cup itself.
“And what is it, exactly?”
Over-enthusiastic, Natsumi rise her hands up in the air and literally shouted in the hotel lounge, catching the attention of some clients.
“A girl’s night out! In town! Like in the good old times! I know you won’t say no to a stop by Nori The Third. Your favorite sushi place in the whole wide world.”
Amanda grinned. They had had a good time in Tokyo, indeed. And she wouldn’t be able to refuse such an opportunity. Of course, she would prefer Elise to be there with her but perhaps it was even better this way. Nights out with Natsumi could turn pretty wild pretty fast.

“See? That’s a deal! But before Tokyo there is this little tournament called the USO and it requires all our attention first. How do you feel after yesterday? It was one hell of a match!”
Amanda giggled and put down her empty cup on the table.
“It was tough but I loved it out there. The fight. The crowd supporting me. I really enjoyed my time on the court so much and when I was down a break in the third set I just kept on fighting. I just wanted to stay out there longer.”
Natsumi cracked up laughing and shook her head. A bit taken aback, Amanda frowned and bit her lower lip. What was so funny now? What had she said to make Natsumi laugh so hard.
“What is it?” Amanda wanted to know.
Natsumi swallowed another wave of laughter and grinned.
“Nothing, really,” she smiled at Amanda. “It’s just that you sound like Elise. That’s totally something she would say!”

Seeing how the Australian blushed, Natsumi cleared her voice and tried to come back to more serious matters.
“So. Uzilenko tomorrow?”
Amanda nodded gravely. Lana could be a dangerous opponent.
“Yes, tough one but I’m ready. If things didn’t go well in Paris and after, it’s all finally coming back. I have a much better feeling since Toronto.”
Amanda lifted her head.
” I can’t miss out on the opportunity to gain as much ranking points as possible here. It might be too late in the Asian swing,” she explained. “I’m here to give my best and I want to get back into the Top 10.”
“Oh, and I thought you were here to win a Grand Slam,” Natsumi teased her.
“Sure,” Amanda replied with a chuckle. “Who isn’t?”