Bud felt the sweat running down his back. Andy showed him how to measure the lines so they come out straight. He showed him how to use the paint tool on wheels. When Bud offered to help Andy, he expected to mend a fence or tighten a leaky faucet, not re-paint the lines on the tennis court. Fortunately, it was a small court.
Bud looked up to see Natalia waving at him from the next court. He smiled automatically. He was still muddling over what Colin and Tina said. Would it be so bad to give romance another chance?
“Do you like tennis?” she asked.
“Not really. I’m helping Andy get some jobs done. I guess the court lines need to be re-painted.”
“So, no playing today?”
“Just for now. Andy said it won’t take but 5 hours or so to dry.”
They both stood there for a moment, in awkward silence.
“Say something!,” he thought.
“So, you like tennis?” he asked, feeling silly.
“Yes. I’m not very good at it; but I enjoy playing.”
“Say something ELSE!” his brain screamed.
“Have you given any thought to the nickname you’re going to give me?” There was a mischievous tone to her voice.
Actually, he hadn’t. He still wasn’t sure getting to know her better was a good idea.
“Does anyone call you “Nat”? He wanted to kick himself. But, to his surprise, her face lit up.
“No! No one has ever called me that.”
“Probably for good reason,” Bud admitted sheepishly.
“I like it. Okay, from now on, you can call me ‘Nat’.”
Bud smiled. There was just no resisting her. He shrugged. What was one more failure, he thought.
“When I’m done painting lines on the pavement, would you like to have lunch somewhere?”
“Yes! In the meantime, i can keep you company. I wouldn’t want someone else coming along and distracting you.”
“Someone else?” He looked puzzled.
“Don’t tell me you don’t have your share of girl admirers.”
Bud could feel his face turning pink.
“Uh, actually, I don’t.”
“Yes,” he chuckled, pleased that she’d think such a thing. “So, you can do some shopping, go to the salon, and walk around the Point; and when you come back, I’ll still be here painting lines all by myself.”
They both laughed. The awkwardness had vanished.
Tina was looking over the week’s accounts, making sure all the bills were accounted for and being paid. Her brain, however, was busy thinking about Bud and Natalia. Why weren’t her normally perfect plans panning out? She glanced at the clock–it was almost noon. Lunch time. How could she get those two together for lunch?
She looked up when she heard someone clearing their throat. It was John standing in the doorway.
“What are you doin’, Tina?” She frowned.
“What does it look like I’m doing?”
“I’m not sure.” He had that teasing look in his eyes–one of many ‘looks’ Tina had grown to love over the years. John came into the office and stood by the trash can. He picked it up and showed it to her. “Do these look familiar to you?”
Tina peered inside and realized she had thrown all the bills away!
“You’re still trying to put Bud and Natalia together, aren’t you?” he asked.
It was frustrating how well he knew her.
Just then, Andy came into the office.
“Hey, guys! I’m heading for lunch. I’m almost caught up now. Cort is fixing one of the park benches, Max is mowing the side lawn, and Bud is painting the lines at the tennis court. I think I’ll be all set after that.”
“Great, Andy. Thanks for your help,” John smiled as the young man left.
“Did you hear that?!” Tina jumped up, grabbing John’s arm. “Andy sent Bud to the tennis court!!”
“And, let me guess, that’s where Natalia is.”
“Didn’t I tell you to let nature take it’s course?”
“Well, ‘nature’ can’t handle everything. I wonder what kind of food Natalia likes?”
John had to laugh as she ran out of the office, her head brimming with new plans.