19 Walking a fine line

Mint checked her watch. It was early afternoon and she had just finished her practice hit. She walked to the locker rooms and took a shower. She was in no rush. There was enough time until her delivery arrived in this laid-back part of Europe.
Two days ago she had spent the whole afternoon searching for a 1-hour-photo store, without success. Luxembourg didn’t seem to be in any hurry to develop their inhabitants’ pictures. In the end she had to opt for a little convenience shop. The pictures should be ready this afternoon the owner had told her. It was quite a little adventure, she had thought. Usually she would just ask one of the girls who worked for the tournament to do this for her. But these were her special pictures. She had to do it herself, and it turned out to be a good challenge.

She had had a month now to look through all of the pictures. There were about three hundred of them. All showed players with other players or in the guy’s cases sometimes with random guys unknown to her. Some of the scenes were pretty graphic like the pictures of Andrea and Martina in a hallway. Most intriguing was the fact that photos were obviously taken to reveal the players’ hidden tendencies.
Mint got out of the shower and picked up a towel. Yes, she was certain that even the rather harmless picture of Sasha looking at one of the Ozolinis was intended to point out a desire unknown to the public.
She still couldn’t believe how she had gotten the pictures. Ted Curry. On a balcony. It was ridiculous. Had he taken the pictures all by himself? Mint had a hard time imagining Ted waiting in the early morning for players to come back from the Wimbledon winners’ ball. Or follow the players around to finally catch them in a dark corner. He didn’t seem the type to do that. More likely he would have someone do it for him. But why was he there on the balcony that night in New York? He must have found out about Mint and Chili and must have tried to get photos of them that night. It seemed the only good explanation for this weird encounter.

Mint shook he head and began to dress.
What did Ted want with these pictures? She could only think of two possibilities. Either he wanted to jerk off on the pictures or he intended to blackmail the players.
In the first case, Mint wondered why there were male players’ on the pictures. Was Ted bisexual? She almost laughed at this. He seemed a bit oversexed sometimes and it would shed a totally different light on the whole thing with Felicia and Amanda, Mint thought. It was funny to believe that Amanda was part of a threesome. Then again there were these pictures of Amanda and Elise in Wimbledon. They were not exactly jerk-off material. Mint had taken a long look at them herself. They were not overly sexual. In fact, they looked more like movie stills. Two people completely absorbed in each other.
So it must be the latter. Blackmail. Mint shuddered. But why? Why would Ted do that? He didn’t need money. And he was a far better player than any of the guys photographed. He didn’t need to buy wins against these guys. And then, why should there be pictures of the girls? It didn’t make sense.

Mint shouldered her bag and headed outside.
Whatever Ted was up to, if these were the only copies of the pictures, she was glad she had them. She wouldn’t blackmail her fellow players. Just have a little fun with them. She chuckled.
Just when she left the building someone called out for her. Mint turned around, surprised to see Polly Duke running after her. Mint never had much to do with the British player, but she admired her. One year ago she had cut her hair and now looked like a total hipster butch. She was really cool, Mint thought.
“Mint,” she yelled, catching up. “I wanted to ask you if you want to play doubles with me. The deadline is in two hours and I thought you might be free as Chili is not playing here.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Polly,” Mint answered. “I’ve already teamed up with Natsumi.” Natsumi and Mint had had a few good results earlier that year, before Mint started playing more with Cecilia. But for Luxembourg they had decided to play again.
Polly looked disappointed. She wasn’t very highly ranked in Singles and playing doubles at tournaments helped her gain a few extra bucks.
“Next time, ok?”
Polly nodded and smiled back at Mint before walking back into the building.