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Move Like Grey Skies (Move Like a Bird of Paradise)

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When Tobin’s alarm goes off right by her ear, her first thought is, it’s way too early.

Her bedroom is glowing silver-white through the turned-down blinds, so it must be just mid-morning. Didn’t I turn my alarm off last night? I could’ve sworn…

With a loud groan, Tobin kicks her tangled sheets off her legs and scrabbles her fingers on the bedside table for her phone. She doesn’t register, until she squints at the glaringly bright screen, that the sound she’s hearing is not her alarm. It’s her ringtone. It’s Moe. It’s Moe calling before nine in the morning. On a Saturday.

With another groan, Tobin puts the call on speaker and tosses the phone onto the other side of the empty bed. “Morgan Brian,” she mutters, burrowing herself back down into fetal position under the sheets. “What. The fuck. Is this.”

“Oh, sorry, didn’t wake you, did I?” Moe answers cheerfully.

“Mmmfph.” Tobin responds. Head half-under her pillow, she’s almost asleep again.

Tobin!

Oww, so loud.

“Moe.” Tobin rolls over onto her back, eyes still shut. Her throat aches. Her head is pounding. It’s like she can literally feel the blood pulsing through her temples. “What do you need. What is wrong with you.”

“What’s wrong with me?” It’s too early, Tobin thinks, for the level of exasperation in Moe’s voice. “What’s wrong with you!? Wait, are you actually still in bed?”

The gears in Tobin’s head are very, very slowly starting to turn. There’s a gnawing sense of dread. Why wouldn’t I still be in bed?

Moe continues, “Well, you’ve got fifteen minutes to get here, so, you better skedaddle. Don’t worry about groveling on the phone, you can kiss my feet when you get here. Bye!”

“Here”?

Wait…shit.

“SHIT!” Tobin shouts into the phone, but the line’s already dead.

Tobin’s definitely awake now. She flings herself out of bed, stumbles the few steps to her closet in nothing but her boxer shorts. She grabs the first shirt she sees, a black Nike t-shirt, and pulls it on while jamming her feet into a pair of slides. The clock on the dresser says it’s 8:45 AM. Shit, shit, shit.

Dropping to her knees, Tobin rummages in the red and blue duffle bag she’d dropped by the bedroom door yesterday afternoon. Stuffed in a side pocket, she finds it: a Nike logo-emblazoned folder that’s now bent in half and streaked with dried mud from a dirty shin guard. Oops. Inside the folder are several brochures and talking points, announcing Nike’s new collaboration with the city of Chicago: creating a fund for low-income Chicago students to attend sports camps and be mentored by Nike-sponsored athletes. The Chicago Red Stars had volunteered a few of their superstars to participate, and this morning, Tobin, Moe, and Alyssa are supposed to be at the kick-off event.

At the kick-off event that is starting in fifteen…Tobin glances up at the clock again. Shit, fourteen minutes!

Tobin flips frantically through the stack, scattering papers onto the piles of clothes and crap on the floor all around her, until she finds the address. She plugs it into Uber with one hand as she pulls on a pair of gray sweatpants with another. Am I forgetting anything? Got my keys…no time to brush my teeth…shit, I need to put on a bra. Where is my bra? It’s probably out in the…

Tobin flings the door open and walks smack-dab into a soft, warm body.

“Hey, Tobin.” The girl giggles. Her face looks only vaguely familiar to Tobin from last night. (In Tobin’s defense, it was dark in the club. And in the car home, and then in the apartment.) She’s short and curvy, and she’s got curly blonde hair and…no clothes on. “Sorry, I just went out to use the bathroom. Did I wake you?”

“Oh, uh…” Tobin scrambles for her name. Oh, forget it. No time for this. “No, my friend called. Had a great time last night, but sorry, I gotta go.”

The girl’s face wilts a little, but she maintains her little smirk. “Are you sure? So soon? I was really hoping for a repeat of…”

She’s talking at Tobin’s back already. Tobin’s racing down the hall towards the living room. Aha, bra. She picks up the gray cotton bra from the floor near the couch, where it’s lying near some other conspicuously scattered articles of clothing. She takes a glance around the living room—wow, what a mess. It looks way worse in daylight. Can’t believe I brought a girl home to this last night. “Nice meeting you!” She hollers over her shoulder as she maneuvers the bra on under her shirt. “Can you just lock the door behind you when you leave?”

There’s some disgruntled whining going on from the girl, but Tobin can’t quite make out the words as she rushes on. Whatever. The front door’s slamming behind her already.


Tobin’s late.

But just by an itty, bitty bit, she tells herself as she shouts a thank-you to her Uber driver and books it into Lincoln Park, looking for the event set-up.

As she jogs half-heartedly down the sidewalk, under a gloomy, overcast October sky, she curses herself for dropping the ball yet again. She wants to be annoyed at Moe’s nagging, but honestly, Moe has the right to be worried. They all do. Recently, Tobin’s been late for everything. She’s late for trainings, she’s late for press conferences, and last month, she fell asleep in her car after arriving at the stadium early and was almost late for a game. Rory very nearly murdered her.

She promised herself she wouldn’t be late for this event. Yet here she is, late.

She spies the balloons first, hundreds of colorful orbs tied to trees by the waterside. Then she sees an enormous cloth banner draped over the side of a building, featuring a 15-foot-wide Nike swoop. There’s a gathering crowd, with cameramen and curious onlookers. And finally, she sees Moe and Alyssa, standing on the edge of where the event’s being held. “I’m here!” she yells at them from fifty feet away, drawing curious glances from passers-by.

“I’m here,” she repeats, barreling up to join them, out of breath. “Only ten minutes late, see? Not too bad. Besides, it looks like nothing’s started yet.”

She expects them to look proud of her, or at least resigned, but instead, they both pull back from her in horror.

“What?!”

“Tobin.” Alyssa is already fumbling in her pockets for something. She pulls out a pack of gum and hisses under her breath, “This is an event for children. With children. You smell like booze from ten feet away.”

“And what is THIS?” Moe is staring a little frantically at Tobin’s neck. She reaches her finger out, and then cringes back. “Oh, my god, I’m not even going to touch it.”

“What?” Tobin protests groggily, swiping at her neck. Her palm comes back red with lipstick. Whoa. “Oh, uh, that’s…uh…”

“Stop, I don’t even want to hear.” Moe’s already got a hand on Tobin’s back, shoving her towards the front door of the nearby building. Moe and Alyssa basically drag Tobin into the women’s restroom.

For the first time that day, as Tobin chomps on a piece of spearmint gum from Alyssa and wets a paper towel in the sink, she gets a look at herself in the mirror. There’s no getting around it: she looks like shit. It’s not just her clothes—Moe and Alyssa are dressed in jeans and nice shirts, compared to Tobin’s wrinkled sweats—it’s that her hair is a bird’s nest and her eyes are bloodshot and she’s suddenly aware of the whiskey on her breath and her neck—

Well, it’s covered with glaring, unmistakable lipstick smears.  

Suddenly loathing herself, filled with red-hot shame, Tobin takes the paper towel and scrubs at her neck, hard, feeling the excess water drip down her clavicle and into the front of her shirt as she goes. Moe takes another damp paper towel and starts wiping Tobin’s baby hairs down, as if that could get the stink of stale alcohol out. Tobin goes at it with all her might until Alyssa mildly puts a hand over hers, draws it away from her neck. “No need to take your skin off too,” she says gently, but without making eye contact.

There’s a look in both their eyes that Tobin knows all too well. That she’s seen all too many times this year.

“I’m fine,” Tobin says, a little too loud, a little too harsh, even to her own ears. She just wants to say something, anything, to fill the silence. To get rid of that pitying, worried expression in her friends’ eyes. “I know, I said I wasn’t going to be late. I was just out a little too late last night and slept through my alarm.” (A lie: she had totally forgotten about the event. If Moe hadn’t called, she’d probably still be in bed with the blonde girl.) “You guys know I’m fine, right? It won’t happen again.”

“We believe you!” Moe chirps, just a little too chipper to be real.

Alyssa just leans back against the wall and shrugs, stone-faced.

Tobin isn’t sure which reaction is worse.

But she sucks in a deep breath and wipes her face down with one last paper towel. Her neck is now a little red from the scrubbing, but anything is better than that lipstick. (She wants to die a little, internally, imagining what the Uber driver must’ve thought of her. Or anyone she passed in the park on her way here.) She pulls her damp hair up into a messy bun. She surveys herself in the mirror. There we go. Passable, if still a little grungy.

Still in a bit of a hungover daze, she follows Moe and Alyssa back out of the bathroom and then the building. While they were inside, the crowd had swelled. “So I think there are going to be some speeches first,” Moe’s explaining to nobody in particular, “and then we’re playing some field day games with local kids? And then some interviews, I think?”

“Interviews?” Tobin gets a little panicky, her hand flying up to her still-red neck. “Interviews are the fucking worst. Do we really need to do them?”

“Relax, they came around earlier to ask who wanted to be interviewed, and we told them that we would do it, so you don’t have to,” Moe reassures Tobin, slinging a comfortable arm around her neck as they survey the packed park. Tobin relaxes into Moe’s touch, leaning her cheek on the other girl’s shoulder. Physical touch is definitely Tobin’s love language, and Moe’s little gesture seems like a bit of forgiveness. A little leniency, a little sign that the day is getting back to normal.

“Excuse me, are you all here with the Chicago Red Stars?” An official-looking woman with a clipboard, her mouth set in a stern, straight line, stops in front of them. She gives Tobin and her rumpled clothes a disapproving once-over.

“Uh…” Tobin can feel herself turning a little red, as Moe and Alyssa cluster protectively even closer to her. “Yeah, we are.”

“We need you to come register,” the woman says. “If you could step this way with me?”

Before the sentence is even out of her mouth, the lady is already steering Tobin by the shoulder. Clearly, there was only one right answer to her question. Tobin listlessly allows herself to be dragged, and exchanging raised eyebrows, Moe and Alyssa hurry after her.

They bustle through the set-up of tables and lawn chairs and speaker wires to a folding table, set up under a large tree, with Nike staff sitting behind it. “Last name Heath, Chicago Red Stars.” Tobin tells the woman behind the table. As the woman rummages for Tobin’s nametag and a bag of Nike giveaways, Tobin takes the chance to glance around the crowded park. There are tons of little kids there already, and she spies some familiar Chicago athletes milling around as well. The sun is just starting to peek out from behind the heavy cloud cover. Shake it off, she tells herself. It might not be a bad day after all.

“Morgan Brian, also Red Stars.” Moe pipes up after Tobin gets her stuff.

The woman starts bustling around looking for Moe’s nametag. “You need to put that on,” she snaps brusquely, gesturing at the nametag dangling limply from Tobin’s fingers. Tobin grimaces. She hates nametags. But reluctantly, under the woman’s death glare, she peels off the nametag’s backing and slaps it onto her t-shirt.

“This is actually pretty neat, that the kids will get their training paid for and get to interact with players from all these teams,” Moe says.  As Alyssa gives the woman her name and waits to collect her gear, Moe rifles through some of the promotional material and cards emblazoned with team names that are sitting on the table. “The Cubs, the Bulls, the White Sox…here’s the Red Stars! Cool, the Sky; I thought I saw some of the girls walking around earlier…”

“What’s this?” Tobin pulls a lone straggler of a card out from under a Nike water bottle. “Wait—no fucking way.” She bursts out laughing, and Alyssa and Moe crowd in around her.

“The Chicago Ballet Company?” Moe exclaims, snatching the card away to peer at it. “Get out. No way that’s real.”

“I didn’t realize Nike endorsed ballerinas.” Alyssa wonders, sounding almost impressed.  

“Yeah, that’s because you’d assume they only endorse athletes.” Tobin retorts. Moe cackles, and even Alyssa snickers a little. Tobin does feel a tiny bit bad, especially when she notices the woman working behind the table fix them with a disapproving stare, but when Moe stops laughing long enough to say, “Give us a twirl, Tobs!”, she can’t help the chance to make them laugh more. Better to keep them laughing at me. As long as they’re laughing at me, they’re not worrying about me, right? Raising her arms in a sloppy circle over her head, she adopts a hoity-toity expression and spins out crazily, away from the table, and—

Oof.

She slams shoulder-first into a girl standing in line behind them.

“Shit!” She exclaims, stumbling backwards, a little dizzy. She feels Moe’s hand on her back, supporting her, and hears Alyssa’s voice chiming in with apologies. “Whoa, my bad,” Tobin says. She looks up at the poor victim of her awful dancing—

and immediately loses her ability to speak.

It isn’t just that the girl is beautiful, and oh boy, is she beautiful. She has dark skin, black hair arranged in perfect, gleaming waves over her shoulder, and the greenest eyes Tobin has ever seen. It isn’t just that she’s poised and polished, standing straight and calm even after the collision that had sent Tobin reeling back.

No, it’s the expression on her face that catches Tobin off guard. She doesn’t just look pained or surprised—she looks furious.

Immediately, guilt washes over Tobin. She hates when people are upset with her. “I really…I really didn’t mean—I mean, I didn’t see you there, I’m sorry for hitting you,” she scrambles, cursing herself for being so bad with words, such a bad talker, such a bad apologizer. “Are you hurt?”

Without a word, the girl lifts her chin, side-steps Tobin, and waves Moe out of her way with a dismissive flick of her wrist. Behind her back, Alyssa raises her eyebrows, and Moe gives Tobin a sympathetic, worried shrug. “Rude,” Tobin mouths silently to her friends. I said I was sorry!

“Name and organization?” The woman manning the table asks.

“Christen Press,” the girl says. She doesn’t turn back to look at the soccer players, but her spine straightens higher, if that’s even possible. “I’m with the Chicago Ballet Company.”


“She looks sort of familiar,” Tobin whispers, “doesn’t she?”

After this total disaster of a morning, Tobin isn’t entirely sure how she’s still standing. After the incident by the sign-in table, where Tobin had fervently wished for the ground to just open up and swallow her whole, Alyssa and Moe somehow steered Tobin away into a far corner of the crowd, where they are now. The speeches by Chicago politicians and Nike executives have been going for a while, but Tobin hasn’t been paying any attention. Instead, she’s been staring at the at the beautiful, mean ballet girl.

Standing about forty feet away from the Red Stars players, the girl looks exactly like how Tobin would picture a ballerina in her mind: gorgeous, girly, skinny, fashionable. She’s wearing a floaty black floral dress and wedge heels, a stark contrast to the crowds around her in jeans and sneakers. And she’s standing ramrod-straight, nodding and smiling primly along to the speeches.

“Doesn’t she look familiar?” Tobin repeats in a whisper, looking at Alyssa and Moe for confirmation. “What did she say her name was? Christen?”

“Just because a girl is hot doesn’t mean she looks familiar,” Moe teases, already dancing out of the way in case Tobin tries to punch her in the arm.

“No, I think she does too,” Alyssa says, “and I think I know from where. Her face was all over the subway this summer when the city was promoting the Chicago Ballet Company. I forget which show it was. Anyway, I’m pretty sure everyone in the city knows her face.”

“Oh yeah, wasn’t it Sleeping Beauty or something?” Moe recalls. Tobin remembers now, too: those enormous, elaborate ads with that girl on them, wearing a white dress and crown of wildflowers and smiling insipidly.

“Yeah, Chicago must’ve spent a fortune on that ad campaign,” Alyssa continues, shaking her head. “I remember seeing the city logo in the corner. Can you imagine if they put half that funding into trying to get more publicity for our NWSL season?”

“We’ll get to the championship this year without their help,” Tobin mutters. And it’s probably true – with the playoffs approaching, the Red Stars are sitting near the top of the rankings. But still, like Moe, she chafes against the idea that the city was choosing to invest their funding in publicity for the fucking ballet instead of soccer. “Seriously, do little girls really need more of that idea in their heads? That they have to be perfect and skinny and wear dresses and literal fucking flower crowns all the time?”

In front of them, an older couple turns and frowns at Tobin.

“Sorry!” Tobin mutters, dropping her voice low again. The three girls back up even further from the nearest bystanders. “Okay, but seriously, come on. If Chicago really wanted to invest in culture they should invest in the NWSL and WNBA.”

“Hear, hear,” Alyssa mutters. “Okay, but on a different topic, we should probably apologize to her.”

“Apologize?!”

“Well, she did literally catch us in the act of mocking her,” Moe agrees, a little shamefaced.

“Okay, first, I wasn’t mocking her, I was mocking her activity.” Tobin makes a point of not calling it a sport. “And let’s be real. Prancing around in a tutu on a stage does not make someone an athlete. I still don’t get why she’s even here. And plus, earlier, when I bumped into her, I said I was sorry.”

The stern look on Alyssa’s face tells her she’s not getting out of this one.

“Okay, fine, I’ll apologize again,” Tobin mutters.

And she does try. Well, sort of.

After the speeches, Tobin halfheartedly edges through the crowd to stand near Christen Press. She’s still self-conscious about whether she smells like whiskey, but at least nobody’s turning around to stare at her in disgust, so she takes that as a win. When she turns and makes eye contact with me, Tobin tells herself, I’ll say sorry.

But Christen is swarmed by adoring fans, and though she passes within a couple feet of Tobin several times, she never once turns her head to look Tobin in the eye. It throws Tobin off, a bit. Why isn’t she looking at me?

Tobin slumps back to Alyssa and Moe. “I tried!”

“You did not try,” Moe snickers. “Standing within five feet of her, staring off into the distance, does not count as trying. You have to say something.”

Take two. After the games with the kids start, Tobin finds herself near Christen again. After the three-legged race, but before the hula-hooping, the ballet dancer is standing near a couple pre-teen girls, laughing at something they’re saying. Tobin reluctantly approaches her. “Hi,” she says.

Christen turns to face Tobin, seemingly surprised. The laugh dies from her face, and is replaced with a cool politeness.

“Hi,” she replies.

Christen’s bright green eyes catch Tobin off guard again, and she falters, unsure of her next move. But she waits a beat too long. One of the little girls says something, and Christen walks away to answer her, and just like that, Tobin finds herself standing alone again.

What the fuck is happening?

She stalks back towards her friends again, a little angrier this time. “Okay, I actually tried this time,” she whines. “I tried to start a conversation and she just walked off.”

“Tobin, you’re hopeless.” Alyssa rolls her eyes, and forges into the crowd herself. Defeated, Tobin watches as Alyssa authoritatively approaches Christen. It’s too far for her to hear what they’re saying, but they talk for a while. Even from a distance, Tobin can tell that Christen’s being all sweet and friendly, and even Alyssa’s smiling a bit.

So it’s just me, Tobin grouses internally. She just hates me, she’s nice to everyone else.

“I really tried,” Tobin sighs plaintively, resting her head against Moe’s shoulder again. Being around her friends always made her want to act like a little kid. “I wanted to say something, but I got all tongue-tied because she looked so mean, and then she left.”

Moe pats Tobin comfortingly on the top of her head. “It’s okay, Tobin. I know you tried. You can’t make someone like you if they’ve decided they’re not going to.”

Ain’t that the truth.

Alyssa returns to them, with the comforting affirmation that Christen was not mad at all about the encounter at the sign-in table. Tobin squirms, not quite believing that Christen wasn’t just a tad bit mad at her—but she lets it slide. She’s never going to see the ballet dancer again. And anyway, this day is about the kids, after all. They spend the rest of the morning playing some beach volleyball with some of the Chicago Sky players and a group of elementary school kids, as Nike videographers and photographers capture the event. Tobin loves kids, and she has them laughing and shouting the whole time. Even the judgmental sign-up lady from earlier seems pleased when she comes by to scope out the scene.

Towards the tail end, as people are already starting to trickle out, Alyssa and Moe finally get the heads-up that the crew is ready for their interviews. Tobin slouches along behind her friends as they head over to the building, where the interviewers are using the fancy stone siding as a backdrop. A bunch of athletes are lined up, answering a few questions on camera.

And there—just my luck, Tobin whines internally—is Christen Press, getting interviewed. As the girls approach, she smiles a little and waves at Alyssa.

She does not make eye contact with Tobin.

It’s fine, Tobin tells herself, though in actuality it’s really starting to grate on her. Why is she being so rude? I really did try to apologize. At least I said hi.  

Alyssa and Moe go off for their interviews, just a few paces away. Tobin drops down onto a nearby bench and tunes out a little, wishing she had a soccer ball to juggle right now. But then she starts to notice: Christen’s interview has been going on way longer than the others. Whereas the other celebrity athletes are coming and going pretty rapidly, it seems like Christen’s dozens of questions deep, and the guy moderating her interview is standing super close to her, adoringly. More often than not, when he says something, Christen giggles, and Tobin barely manages to not roll her eyes. Considering how unfriendly the girl was earlier, the giggle is probably fake. Also, the moderator’s eyes seem to constantly drift suspiciously low – definitely not on Christen’s face. For some reason, this irritates Tobin to no end, especially when Tobin thinks about what Moe had mentioned about the city’s funding disparities that morning. Seriously, she’s getting more speaking time to represent her organization because the moderator thinks she’s hot, and she’s flirting with him?

“Okay, last question here before I let you go, Christen,” the dude says, sounding breathless. “Can you talk to us a little bit about the beauty of sport?”

Jesus, keep it in your pants, dude.

“Yes, of course,” Christen responds sweetly, pivoting expertly from the guy to face the camera. “That’s one of the things I love most about dancing. I get to be not just an athlete—” Tobin swears she isn’t imaging that Christen pauses and glances slightly in Tobin’s direction “—but also, an artist. It’s been shown time and again that the discipline and creativity of dance has really positive benefits for young children. And so one of the things I’m most excited about, with the Chicago Ballet Company’s participation in Nike and the city’s efforts, is to introduce some of that beauty and creativity into a program where it otherwise might not be present.”

At this, Tobin raises her head, indignant. Alyssa and Moe glance over from their interviews just in time to realize that something’s about to go down.

But it’s too late.

“Where it might not otherwise be present?!” Tobin exclaims loudly. Heads turn. “What, like, basketball and soccer don’t have any beauty? Or creativity? Seriously?”

The nerve of this girl. Saying she’s the only one bringing “beauty” into the program? As if there’s no beauty in other sports? How dare she.  

Christen has the decency to at least look a little flustered. Her perfect, smooth skin creases a little between the eyebrows. But her interviewer is already defensively rolling his eyes at Tobin. “Excuse me, ma’am, we’re trying to film here,” he snaps. “Christen—sorry about the interruption!”

“Oh, don’t worry about it at all! Thanks for having me!” Christen chirps, with a sweet smile.

As soon as the guy gathers his stuff and turns away (looking a little disappointed to be parting from Christen), the cute expression drops off of Christen’s face. Without the sweet mask, Tobin doesn’t think she’s ever seen someone look so haughty and frigid. With her nose in the air, Christen’s about to sweep off down the path when Tobin jumps to her feet.

She hadn’t been planning on saying anything. She was going to let this all go. But maybe it’s the indignance Tobin still feels from Christen’s dumb “beauty of sport” comment. Maybe it’s the last remnants of her splitting hangover headache, or annoyance at the panicky babysitter stares Alyssa and Moe are shooting her way. But as Christen starts to head by her, she snaps, “You know, I said I was sorry, so what’s your problem?”

Christen turns on her heel to face her. “Excuse me? Come again?”

Just like it did earlier, Christen’s poise and dignity and sheer condescension are starting to get Tobin a little rattled. But she pushes on.

“I already said I was sorry, for earlier. Just feels like you’re still holding it against me, that’s all.”

Christen raises her eyebrows. “Let’s see. Earlier, you said, and I quote, ‘I’m sorry for hitting you.’ You and I both know that’s not the apology I’m looking for. And then you sent your friend over to apologize for you. Smooth.”

Tobin can’t think of a good response, so she plows on with her original point. “You’re being rude.”

“I’m not being rude at all,” Christen says defensively, though her frosty demeanor is betraying her very words. “Every time you’ve greeted me, I’ve greeted you back. I haven’t said anything insulting or impolite. Where have I been rude? Or is it…” a smirk is growing on Christen’s face. “Is it that I’m not falling all over myself trying to impress you?”

“What?” Tobin is flushed. She can feel her heartbeat pounding, indignant and frenzied, below the surface of her skin. She was not expecting the conversation to turn in this direction. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, I think you do know what I’m talking about,” Christen says, in a silky-smooth way that indicates that she knows she has the upper hand here. “I know your type. You literally can’t handle one person—one single person—not drooling all over you, trying to get in your pants. That’s why you’re interpreting my basic manners as rudeness. You don’t want people to be polite to you. You want people to worship you. Which I am not doing.”

“That is…so…fucking inaccurate.” Tobin is mad now. She may have flaws. She may have a lot of flaws. But she knows her flaws, and arrogance is not one of them.

She hates this girl. She hates the snooty tip of her chin, and her girly designer clothing, and the way she’s clever enough to run conversational circles around Tobin, making Tobin feel so fumbling and stupid.

Most of all, she hates the smirk that’s currently resting on Christen’s face. Christen knows she’s won. “Well, goodbye,” she says, light and breezy, her gaze already lifted over Tobin’s shoulder towards the road. “I wish I could say it was nice meeting you, Tobin Heath.”

Still desperate to end on a high note, Tobin leans back on her heels with a smirk to rival Christen’s own. “So, you say you don’t worship me, but somehow you knew my name?”

Christen’s smile is condescending and slick. “No, honey.” She reaches out, taps Tobin’s shoulder twice with a perfectly manicured finger. “It’s on your name tag.”

Before Tobin’s utter mortification can fully set in, Christen is already sauntering off down the sidewalk. Tobin can do nothing but stare, jaw hanging slightly open, at Christen’s retreating figure, her gauzy black dress blowing in the wind like she’s in a perfume ad.

“Wow, Tobes, that was…really something.” Moe pops up at Tobin’s shoulder. Alyssa’s only a couple steps behind.  

Tobin groans out loud. “Please tell me you guys didn’t just see that whole thing.”

Moe only grimaces, but puts her arms around Tobin’s shoulders comfortingly. “Tobito, you know we love you, but…I can’t say you didn’t have that coming.”

“Tobin Heath 0, Christen Press 1,” Alyssa mutters under her breath. And the three girls stand together and watch as Christen gracefully tucks herself into a gleaming chauffeured car, which slides silently away from the curb and out of sight.