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quiet my fears with the touch of your hand

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Lindsey wasn’t sure what she had expected when she entered the party, but it certainly wasn’t this. The moment she crossed the threshold into the room, there he was. It was like he had been waiting for her. Honestly, she wasn’t even sure why he was there. He had been invited when he was Lindsey’s boyfriend, which he no longer was as of a month ago. Lindsey knew that her friends were too nice to uninvite him, but she thought he would have bowed out gracefully. But then, if he was the kind of person to do that, maybe they’d still be together.

When she saw him, she kind of panicked. She hadn’t prepared for this, wasn’t prepared to put on her happy face and have to interact with him all night, because she knew that he would want to talk, because she knew he wouldn’t leave her alone. She came to this party to celebrate her friends and have a good time, maybe even have a drink or two. But now, she was frozen in the doorway. She slammed her brakes so hard that Emily crashed into her back, unprepared for Lindsey’s emergency stop.

“Linds, come on, the beer is calling me.” Emily laughs from behind her but Lindsey is frozen in place. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

Emily has her arm around Lindsey’s waist now, looking around for what might be making her friend speechless. It only takes a second before Emily laid her eyes on him, squeezing Lindsey and resting her head on her chin.

“Just ignore him, let’s get something to drink.”

Emily moves her hands and places them on either side of Lindsey’s waist, guiding her to the bar. Lindsey tried not to think about how soft Emily’s hands were as they rest against the skin just above the waistline of her jeans, or about how calming it was to feel her thumb rub up and down gently while they walked. Emily flags the bartender to order their drinks and then turns back to Lindsey.

“Did you know he was coming tonight?” Lindsey shook her head. “Jackass.” She scoffs before reaching for their drinks.

Her reaction made Lindsey smile just a little. Emily had been there for her after the break up. She had hugged her and let Lindsey cry on her for hours without asking a single question. Lindsey knew that Emily wasn’t the biggest fan of the relationship, even though she tried (unsuccessfully) to hide it. Lindsey had joked about wondering why Emily wasn’t jumping up and down on the bed, yelling “I told you so!” over and over again. But Emily’s reaction really caught her off-guard. “Why would I gloat about your sadness?” And that made Lindsey think.

It was the same fight they’d had a dozen times before. He was mad that Lindsey wasn’t around more and he claimed she never made time for him. She was mad that he wasn’t being supportive of her career and her aspirations. She was mad that he only cared about her career when he could tote her around as his “celebrity” girlfriend. He was mad that she had made plans with her teammates that night rather than spend it with him (on the couch, where he would undoubtedly fall asleep after his third beer). There was a lot of yelling and slamming things but it was something he said that sent Lindsey over the edge.

“You can’t make time for me but you’ll spend hours on end with that dyke friend of yours?”

Lindsey shoved him out the door before slamming it in his face. This was her apartment, that she paid for with her job and he had the audacity to speak to her that way? To speak about her friend that way? It was inexcusable, reprehensible even. She hadn’t wanted to tell Emily what he said, too embarrassed at the fact that she would ever be in a relationship with someone who felt that way. But, of course, Emily pried it out of her. The look on Emily’s face when Lindsey told her broke her heart all over again. She tried to hide how hurt she obviously was, deflecting with jokes and hiding behind a soft smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

Lindsey was brought out of her thoughts by Emily pulling on her pinkie finger, a little secret way they liked to communicate. “He’s coming this way, what do you want to do?” Emily asked. Lindsey looks at her, completely unsure of what to do. Emily looks over her shoulder briefly, pretending to scan the room for something else before turning back around. “Do you trust me?” She asked.

Lindsey nodded her head, looking right into Emily’s eyes. Emily holds her gaze for a moment as she dropped her beer bottle back onto the bar top. With both hands free, she pulled Lindsey into her, moving one arm around Lindsey’s neck, pressing their bodies together. Lindsey tried her best not to show her surprise because she knew he was watching. She could feel his eyes on her. Emily pressed a kiss to Lindsey’s cheek, and then to her jaw.

“Is he watching?” Emily whispered in Lindsey’s ear before leaving a kiss just behind her ear. Even without seeing her face, Lindsey could tell Emily was smiling. She nods yes to Emily’s question.

He was staring, but that’s not what Lindsey was focused on. Instead, she was focused on the way Emily was stroking the back of her neck. She was focused on the little, warm puffs of air Emily left behind as she spoke. She was focused on wrapping her own arms around Emily, leaving her hands a little lower than what would be considered strictly platonic.

Emily was in full force. She continued her assault on Lindsey’s neck, and it made Lindsey squirm just a little (in a good way). She hadn’t been touched like this in a really long time. He hardly ever touched her like this, even before the break-up, it had been a while. The way Emily was slowly starting to move her hips to the beat of the music, it did something to Lindsey. She couldn’t explain what that something was, but it felt good. It felt good to know that Emily was giving all her attention to Lindsey. That wasn’t something she could say of him very often.

After a while, Lindsey stopped wondering if he was watching. Why should she spend her evening worrying about what he thought? She and Emily had given him plenty to think about, that’s for sure. But even when she wasn’t thinking about him or worrying what he thought about her, Lindsey kept her arms around Emily’s waist. Well, she keeps them there until Caitlin raised an eyebrow from across the room. Lindsey met her gaze and loosened her grip on Emily’s hips, causing her to turn around, confused.

“You good?”

“He’s gone.” Lindsey blurted out, not making eye contact.

“Oh.” Emily said it so softly that it’s almost carried away in the music, completely detangling the two of them. “I’m going to talk with Cait for a bit, you okay on your own?” It’s almost flippant, which isn’t like Emily and catches Lindsey a little off-guard. All she can do is nod before retracing her steps back to the bar.

As she made her way, Lindsey tried to think about what caused Emily to react in that way. Emily was her absolute best friend in the entire world and knew Lindsey better than anyone, maybe even better than she knew herself. Maybe it was because of the alcohol, but it seemed like Emily was upset that Lindsey had pulled away. Had she done something wrong? She appreciated the way Emily had come up with a plan to obviously make him jealous and keep him away at the same time. Lindsey tried not to think too much about how it had felt when Emily pressed her lips to Lindsey’s neck. She couldn’t focus on that, not right now.

Lindsey has always liked boys. Ever since sixth grade when Joey asked her to be his girlfriend, Lindsey has liked boys. She never really questioned her sexuality. Well, until about a year ago.

In the midst of the World Cup win last summer, she and Emily shared a moment. It wasn’t anything crazy, just a moment at the bar. They were dancing with Rose and Mal to some stupid pop song and Emily looked really good in that tank top. When the others took off to find more beer, Emily paused. For just a second, Lindsey was pretty sure that Emily wanted to kiss her. Lindsey was also pretty sure she wanted it too.

But then Rose came back, screaming about having four stars on her shirt, and the moment was over.

Ever since then, Lindsey had started to see her best friend in a different light. Most of the time, she felt guilty about it. He was still in the picture and Lindsey hated questioning herself. It was just a crush, they happen all the time, right? She told herself it would go away, that eventually she would go back to seeing Emily as just her friend. But it didn’t. If anything, it got worse. Lindsey started to over think and analyze every interaction with Emily, which made hanging out together stressful and she hated it. It was the stress that pushed her back into his arms again. She thought that if she was back with him, she would prove to herself that she was straight. That this was a stupid crush on her best friend.

But if she was straight, why did she close her eyes and picture Emily while he was all over her in bed? Why was Emily the first person she called about anything. Could be something as miniscule as the new selection of fruit in the store or her attempt at teaching Ferguson a new trick. But Emily was also her first call when she was doubting her soccer. It sounded so juvenile, but the World Cup had been a really tough time for Lindsey. She was so happy for Sam and Rose but, if she was being honest, she expected to play more. She knew how conceited she sounded when she was talking to Emily, but her best friend talked her off the ledge, telling her that her feelings were valid. If Lindsey thought she was over her crush, that moment showed her that she absolutely was not over it.

It took less than two minutes. Lindsey ordered her drink and by the time the bartender slid it her way, there he was. It was like he was lying in wait for her. He sidled up to the bar, draping his arm around the back of her chair.

“Come here often?” He tries to joke but Lindsey doesn’t even acknowledge him. He leans in closer, invading her space. “You smell nice. God, I miss that smell.” He probably thought it was sexy, but to Lindsey it was borderline creepy.

He moves his hand from the back of her chair to around her shoulders. She tenses but he doesn’t seem to notice.

“You know, Linds, I’ve been thinking.” He said, keeping his grip tight on her shoulder. “I think we should try again, I really miss you.”

Lindsey spun out from his grasp and stared up at him, her eyes as wide as saucers. “You want to what?”

“Come on, baby. I miss you, I miss us.” His voice was syrupy-sweet, almost sickly sweet and it made Lindsey’s skin crawl.

Lindsey stands up but before she could jump in and tell him exactly how she felt, suddenly a pair of arms was wrapping around her middle. Lindsey didn’t even need to turn to know who it was. Emily rested her chin on Lindsey’s shoulder after planting a chaste kiss on the exposed skin and Lindsey couldn’t help but lean back into the embrace. All the tension and anxiety that built up during her conversation with him (if you could call it that) just melted away now that she was in Emily’s arms.

“Everything okay, babe?” Emily is asking Lindsey but her eyes were trained on him, daring him to say something.

“It is now.” Lindsey smirked, turning to rest her forehead against Emily’s.

He looks incredulous, like his head might actually explode. He looked at Lindsey, then to Emily, and then back to Lindsey. He saw how Lindsey laced her hands with Emily’s, both sets now pressed against Lindsey’s stomach.

“Is this a fucking joke?” He exclaimed, gesturing at the two women. Lindsey felt Emily’s grip tighten, felt the way she was pulling Lindsey closer, protecting her. “You, you and her?” It’s almost comical the way Lindsey can all but see the gears turning in his brain.

“Do you have a problem with it?” Emily snaps, more bite in her voice than Lindsey has ever heard.

“Lindsey, are you fucking serious? Nice joke, trying to get back at me for what I said, very funny.”

Lindsey couldn’t believe this. That he was trying to turn what he said about Emily into a joke. It simultaneously made Lindsey sick to her stomach and lit a fire inside her. She pressed a kiss to Emily’s cheek, looking her in the eye before turning back to him.

“Dead serious.” Is all she said, taking Emily’s hand and leading her away.

It took a moment to find a secluded spot where they could talk.

“Linds, are you okay? I should go back and beat him up.”

This made Lindsey chuckle. “Son, I know you would murder him but it’s not worth it.”

“Like hell it isn’t! He can’t just force himself on you and talk to you like that. Linds, you’re so good and seeing him treat you like that, it just makes me so mad.” She spat.

“Good thing I have my white knight to defend my honor.”

Emily stood stock straight and gave Lindsey a mock salute. “At your service, my liege.”

“Seriously, Son. Thanks for… well, thanks.” Lindsey was suddenly aware that she was still holding Emily’s hand, rubbing small circles with her thumb.

Emily cupped Lindsey’s chin and tilted it back up so they were face to face.

“You’re welcome, I enjoyed it.” Emily smirked and it made something in the pit of Lindsey’s stomach twist. Or maybe it was lower than her stomach.

Lindsey couldn’t explain what came over her, but she wanted to wipe that smirk off Emily’s face. She steeled herself and leaned in towards her best friend.

It wasn’t an ideal first kiss. It was dark and Lindsey was so nervous, she mostly caught the side of Emily’s mouth. It was mortifying. She pulled away, shaking her head.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry…” Lindsey babbles until Emily speaks.

“Lindsey, shut up.”

Their second kiss was infinitely different from the first. When their lips meet, it was like they were transported to the climax in a romantic comedy. Lindsey had never felt like this when she kissed him. With Emily, it was like the stars were finally aligned, like everything was finally right in the world.

They finally have to separate to catch their breath, both panting a little.

“I’ve wanted to do that for about a year.” Lindsey said, breathlessly.

Emily cocked her head, a little confused. “Why the hell did you wait so long? We could have been doing this for a LOT longer!”

Lindsey doesn’t say anything. She just pressed their lips back together. The talking could come later.

***

It’s almost like nothing is different, like nothing has changed. Except now when Lindsey calls Emily to come over, she stays the night in Lindsey’s bed. It’s not that different, but now when they get invited to parties, it’s as “Sonny and Lindsey” as if you couldn’t have one without the other.