Eyes look upon me and my nerves kick in
Yeah, we're paper thin
You show me your heart and I love what you give
I've waited so long to be with you again
Our lips are dancing and are melting tight
You're taking over, you consume my mind
Don't wanna come down
'Cause I feel so high
I've waited my whole life to feel this alive
(Tobin - “Moving You” by VACAY)
There goes my heart beating
'Cause you are the reason
I'm losing my sleep
Please come back now
I'd climb every mountain
And swim every ocean
Just to be with you
And fix what I've broken
Oh, 'cause I need you to see
That you are the reason
(Christen - “You Are The Reason” by Calum Scott)
Tobin cringed at the way that Christen so abruptly said goodbye and hung up. She knew that her girlfriend was just hurting and frustrated and that they were still okay. But the hurt that Tobin heard in Christen’s voice simply made her want to figure out what to do even more. She tossed the last couple of t-shirts back in her suitcase, checking her room one last time before going to talk to her parents.
Tobin hadn’t been this tired since the beginning of the fall semester when she’d been waking up with nightmares nearly every night. But this tiredness felt so much better. After hanging up the phone with Christen and then talking to her parents, Katie had driven her to the airport. Her entire family had supported her desire to be there for Christen’s birthday, even if it meant leaving immediately.
She’d sat on a standby list for two hours, just waiting for a seat on one of the available flights to free up. She considered texting Christen, but the last thing she would want to do now was give Christen any false hope. Tobin didn’t know if she’d be making it to California at all, let alone soon, so it was probably best to hold off.
By 1:32AM, Tobin was desperate and jumped at the first available flight, knowing that she was in for an obscene number of connecting flights. Tobin went from Miami to Charlotte, North Carolina, and spent the next few hours trying to get some sleep before hopping on an early morning flight to Chicago Midway. From Chicago, she’d had a few options, and she’d chosen the most direct way to Los Angeles, which meant a connection and two-hour layover in Denver. By the time she was getting on the last flight that would take her to L.A., it was already almost noon in California, and she’d been back and forth across the entire country in the span of half a day. “You need to shower,” Tobin couldn’t help but think, sitting down in her seat. Her eyes felt heavy, and her legs were tired, but she was desperate to finally land in L.A.
“Rise and shine!” Stacy called, pulling open Christen’s curtains and letting sunlight into her bedroom.
Christen squinted at the sudden light in the room and swallowed the urge to groan. “Why must I rise and shine?” Christen grumbled, her voice gravelly with sleep. She sat up in bed and rubbed at her eyes, stretching her arms overhead just like she did every single morning. But this time there was a dull ache in her chest and a heaviness in her head she wasn’t used to.
“Because it’s almost noon, and we’ve got mother/daughter bonding to do since your birthday’s tomorrow and you’ll be far too busy celebrating to go on a walk with me and the dogs,” Stacy said, grabbing hold of Christen’s legs and giving a soft tug.
“Busy isn’t the word I’d use,” Christen shrugged, lying back against her pillows, refusing to get up for a few more moments.
“You’ve celebrated twenty birthdays without Tobin Heath. One more won’t hurt you,” Stacy sighed, leveling her daughter with a hard look.
“Technically she celebrated last year’s with me,” Christen huffed, only picking a fight because she was grumpy. “So, your count is off.”
Stacy shook her head, giving up on the tough love act. “Your dad is going out and getting one last present today, and we need to be out of the house for him to set it up.”
Christen couldn’t even find it in herself to get excited about presents. She couldn’t shake this funk that had descended ever since her call with Tobin last night. She felt awful about it, she felt downright terrible for taking out her hurt on Tobin. And now she was sad and missing her girlfriend and too stubborn to text her, so she wanted to mope around. But that didn’t seem to be on today’s agenda.
“We’re going on a hike with Channing, and you’re going to leave your phone here. It’ll be a nice, uninterrupted afternoon for the girls,” Stacy said, leaning forward and kissing Christen’s forehead.
“Are there donuts at the end of this hike?” Christen asked, pushing the sheets off her legs.
“Always,” Stacy nodded.
Christen could at least force herself out of bed for donuts. Something about the promise of deep-fried, sugary goodness was enough for her to get her teeth brushed and put clothes on. Before leaving her room, she sent a quick text.
[Chris 💗 12:13PM]
Good morning, or afternoon. I hope the storm’s not too bad and that everyone’s okay. I’m sorry for being so horrible last night, I just miss you a lot. I love you 💚
Christen left her phone in her room like her mom wanted her to, and slowly made her way downstairs. She barely had time to grab a banana and some coffee before Stacy was shooing her and Channing out the door, the dogs in tow.
They ended up taking a hike along the cliffs. It wasn’t too warm, thanks to the winter month and the breeze coming off the ocean. The hike itself was easy, and Christen actually found that she was glad her mom had dragged her out for this. The ocean was beautiful, the dogs were enjoying it, and she was glad for some uninterrupted time with her mom and her sister.
By the end of the hike, she was feeling a lot better and had resolved herself to call Tobin the moment they got back home. But they still had to stop for donuts.
“Chocolate sprinkle for Channing and an old-fashioned plain donut for your dad. What do you want?” Stacy asked, turning to look at Christen.
“A blueberry cake donut please, and a few donut holes,” Christen replied.
“I’ll get a few extras, since we both know your dad will try to sneak some of ours,” Stacy hummed, looking through the display case before ordering.
The employee at the counter loaded a bright pink box with nearly a dozen donuts and a small bag for Christen’s donut holes, and the Press ladies were on their way.
Christen grabbed her donut from the box and saw a glazed twist in the box as well. “Aw, Tobs loves these. I miss her,” Christen sighed, looking out the window at the passing scenery as they drove back to the house.
“I’m sure she’ll fly back home as soon as she can,” Stacy replied, glad she was driving and wouldn’t spoil any surprises.
“I know. I wasn’t very...understanding last night, though,” Christen admitted.
“What do you mean?” Stacy asked, her voice a little more stern than usual since her daughter had possibly been rude to the girl who had secretly taken four different flights just to get back to California.
“I was upset that she couldn’t come, so I was short with her and hung up on her pretty quickly,” Christen said, grimacing at the reminder. Yeah, she’d definitely be calling Tobin once she got back home.
“Woooow soooo rude,” Channing laughed, rolling her eyes at just how minuscule Christen and Tobin’s misunderstandings actually were.
“Sounds like you’ll be talking to her and apologizing to her when we get back to the house,” Stacy said.
“Already planning on it,” Christen assured her.
“Good, because I like her. She’s a good egg,” Stacy smiled, reaching out and squeezing Christen’s leg. She turned onto their street and rolled into their driveway, her own excitement bubbling up in her chest.
Christen carried the box of donuts into the house, following behind her mom and Channing, wanting to drop it off and race upstairs to get her phone.
“Donuts? For me?” Cody feigned surprise, flipping the top of the box open and grabbing his favorite.
Christen dropped the box onto the counter and headed toward the stairs.
“Christen,” Cody interrupted, a smile spreading across his face.
“What?” she asked, turning to look over her shoulder, her hand on the railing.
“You guys bought way too many donuts,” Cody laughed, pointing at the seven donuts left in the box.
“Mom said you wanted extras,” Christen shrugged, not thinking anything of it.
“Weird,” Cody laughed, earning an annoyed look from Stacy.
Christen was too tired to unpack why her dad was acting so strange and climbed the steps quickly, wanting to get to her room.
Tobin was officially wiped out. Her eyes were heavy and her head was pounding and she needed a shower, a nap, and the ability to brush her teeth.
Cody had picked Tobin up as soon as her plane had landed at LAX. He’d given her a big hug and thanked her for coming all the way out, especially knowing how difficult the trip had been. Tobin had waved him off, knowing she would have done even more to make sure she made it for Christen’s birthday. A few overnight flights weren’t too terrible in the grand scheme of things.
She’d fallen asleep on the way to Christen’s house, unable to keep her eyes open or join in on any conversation. Stacy had texted Cody from the donut store, suggesting that Tobin hide in the garage or something, but by that time Cody had already sent Tobin up to Christen’s room, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to stay on her feet for much longer.
Tobin had quickly brushed her teeth and showered, not wanting to get into Christen’s bed with four different airport smells and germs all over her. Under Christen’s warm covers, though, it only took a few seconds for Tobin to fall asleep, completely dead to the world and unaware that Stacy’s SUV had finally pulled into the driveway.
Christen opened the door to her bedroom, her mind a million miles away, in Miami, Florida actually. But she froze when she saw someone in her bed, under her covers.
Her momentary alarm bled into shock as she realized it wasn’t just someone in her bed, it was Tobin . Tobin, with still-damp hair and an adorable wrinkle between her brows as she huffed out small puffs of air, fast asleep.
Christen felt like her feet were rooted to the ground. She couldn’t move, she could barely process the fact that Tobin was here. In her bedroom. In her bed. In California. Tobin had been in Miami 14 hours ago, calling her and telling her that there was no way to get there because of the storm. But now she was here.
Christen felt that familiar prickle in the corners of her eyes. Tobin was here. Tobin was here , just like she’d promised to be. Finally unstuck, Christen crossed the room quickly, taking off her shoes and sliding under the covers of her bed. She pressed herself against Tobin’s back, wrapping an arm around her waist and burying her nose in Tobin’s hair. She felt like she could breathe again, and even if Tobin wasn’t awake yet, Christen felt like everything was back to normal. Everything was right again.
Christen couldn’t help the small litany of kisses she placed against the back of Tobin’s neck and across the back of the t-shirt she wore. She couldn’t believe that Tobin was here, in her arms.
“Baby,” Christen whispered, kissing the side of Tobin’s neck below her ear. She continued to drop kisses down Tobin’s neck as she pulled Tobin closer. She knew she should probably let Tobin sleep, especially after whatever overnight flight marathon Tobin had done to get here, but she couldn’t help it. She wanted to greet her girlfriend properly. She wanted to wake her up with gentle kisses and soft touches, with love.
Tobin let out a soft hum, rising slowly out of her unconscious state. She felt lips against her skin, tickling her neck. She could feel another body in bed with her, pressed against her own, their legs naturally tangling together. It wasn’t until she heard Christen’s soft voice that she blinked open her eyes.
“Happy birthday,” Tobin mumbled sleepily.
“You’re a day early, baby,” Christen hummed, nuzzling her nose along the side of Tobin’s neck.
“Better a day early than a day late,” Tobin sighed, blinking slowly.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” Christen said quietly, pressing her forehead against the place between Tobin’s shoulder blades, squeezing her eyes tightly shut and blowing out a long breath.
Tobin rolled onto her back so that she could actually look at the girl she’d flown across the country for. “I promised that I wouldn’t miss your birthday,” Tobin said, reaching a hand up to touch Christen’s neck with her fingers.
“But the storm-”
“It’s probably in Miami by now,” Tobin nodded, her lips quirking up into a smirk. “I was faster.”
Christen felt a small smile break out across her face, but she also felt the burn behind her closed eyes and knew she was moments from crying. It was the distance, it had turned her into a weeping mess.
“Tobs, I just- how are you here?” Christen whispered, shaking her head slightly. As the first tear slipped from behind her tightly-shut eyes, she couldn’t fathom that Tobin was here, with her. “I was so short with you last night and I didn’t even say ‘I love you’ back and now you’re here?”
“You said ‘Love you,’ so you almost got there,” Tobin shrugged.
“That was so petty, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry,” Christen sniffled, wiping the tear off of her cheek.
“You don’t need to be sorry. You were frustrated and sad. So was I,” Tobin smiled, threading her fingers in the hair at the back of Christen’s head.
“But you flew across the country and I just moped, our frustrations and sadness are not the same,” Christen huffed out a laugh, her eyes finally fluttering open.
“I was always planning on flying across the country. I just did it a day earlier,” Tobin replied, playing her trip off as an easy feat.
“You are way too good to me, Tobin Heath,” Christen whispered, reaching up to run her thumb along Tobin’s jaw.
“No way,” Tobin hummed, turning her head quickly to kiss Christen’s thumb.
“Way,” Christen replied with a smile.
Tobin rolled her eyes at Christen’s comeback. “So, what does the birthday girl want to do today?” Tobin asked, forcing back a yawn and focusing on the girl in front of her.
Christen closed the space between them and finally kissed Tobin’s lips, having waited long enough to do so. She kissed Tobin slow and long, the way their lips moved against each other’s unrushed and unhurried.
“I’d like to do a lot of that,” Christen hummed as she leaned back to rest her head back down on her pillow.
“My lips are at your disposal,” Tobin whispered, rolling closer to Christen and pressing her lips against Christen’s jaw.
When she felt Tobin’s hand creep under the hem of her t-shirt, Christen quickly wrapped her fingers around Tobin’s wrist.
“My parents are downstairs, your hands are not allowed to wander,” Christen hissed.
“First she complains about me not wandering, even making Crystal confront me about it, and now she’s telling me no wandering allowed,” Tobin dramatically sighed, moving her hand back into her own space.
Christen giggled and turned her head to capture Tobin’s lips in a sweet kiss. “No wandering yet ,” Christen whispered. “I expect them to later.”
“Don't worry. I can wait. I have plans for you this week,” Tobin smirked, laying her head down on her own pillow but keeping herself angled to face Christen.
Christen felt desire burn through her. That damn smirk always did it to her. She lifted onto her elbow and hovered over Tobin.
“Funny, so do I,” Christen murmured, letting her eyes trail down Tobin’s face, her chest, her hips, then back up to meet her eyes.
“Oh is one of those getting me a donut from downstairs?” Tobin teased.
Christen laughed and leaned down to kiss Tobin again, just because she could, just because she’d missed her maybe more than she ever realized.
“I knew it was weird that we got a glazed twist,” Christen hummed.
“Your mom didn’t believe me when I said just the one donut was fine. She told me she got me seven options,” Tobin grinned.
“She did. Come on, let’s go down. Otherwise, my parents will think we’re just hiding up here, making out or something,” Christen winked, jumping up from the bed.
“We could definitely do that instead. Keep up expectations,” Tobin sighed.
“Nope. Chop, chop, baby, donuts await,” Christen rounded the bed and held her hand out for Tobin.
Tobin stumbled to her feet, still exhausted from flying. She didn’t want Christen to know just how long she’d been awake, though. Coffee and donuts would do the trick.
As Tobin got to her feet, Christen immediately pulled Tobin in for a tight hug. She hadn’t been able to hug her since the airport and she wanted to replace the most recent memory with a better one, with this one, with the fact that her girlfriend had flown all night to be here for her birthday.
“Thank you for coming, baby. I love you,” Christen whispered, tightening her arms around Tobin’s shoulders.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I love you too,” Tobin responded, squeezing Christen closer.
Cody handed Tobin a stack of towels and pointed her down the hall to the guest bedroom. Tobin took the towels and headed off toward the guest room with a lingering look at Christen over her shoulder.
“No funny business,” Stacy said, pushing Christen toward the stairs.
Christen scoffed, pretending to be offended at the insinuation. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Do you need your mom to give you the talk again?” Cody threatened, his voice breaking with laughter.
Tobin’s laughter could be heard down the hallway from the guest bedroom.
Christen’s eyes widened and she glared at her dad, feeling her blush deepen. “Dad! Really?”
“Good night, Tobin,” Stacy called down the hall.
“Sweet dreams. See you guys in the morning,” Tobin said, peeking her head out into the hallway and flashing everyone a smile.
Christen felt her heart warm when Tobin lingered on her for an extra second, shooting her a wink before disappearing back into the guest room. A happy sigh escaped her lips as she leaned against the banister, her eyes on the closed guest room door.
“To be young and in love,” Cody teased, ruffling Christen’s hair slightly on his way up the stairs.
Christen rolled her eyes and fixed her hair. “Night, Dad,” she called up the stairs.
“Good night, Mo. Your room is up here,” Cody answered, not even turning around before stepping into his and Stacy’s room.
Christen waited for her mom to join her on the stairs before walking up. She wrapped her mom in a one-arm hug.
“It was a good surprise?” Stacy hummed.
“The best. Thank you,’ Christen whispered with a smile.
“Your dad and I didn’t do anything except pick her up from the airport,” Stacy shrugged.
“You all conspired and now you’re letting her stay, that’s a lot more than nothing,” Christen replied, squeezing her mom.
“We like her, in case you haven’t noticed,” Stacy grinned, kissing her daughter on the forehead.
“I noticed. Good night, Mom,” Christen murmured, stepping back toward her room.
“Good night, my sweet girl. We’ll see you tomorrow for a birthday breakfast,” Stacy whispered, stepping into her own room.
Christen walked into her room and shut her door behind her. She padded over to her dresser and picked up her phone, already knowing a text from Tobin was waiting for her.
[Tobs 💜 10:31PM]
The bed down here is really comfy
[Chris 💗 10:32PM]
And the stairs I would need to climb down to see you are VERY squeaky...
[Tobs 💜 10:32PM]
You’re missing out...I guess I’ll have to enjoy it on my own
Christen groaned and walked back over to her door. She cracked it open and peeked down the hall, noticing that the light in her parent’s room was off and their door was shut. She looked back down at her phone.
[Chris 💗 10:32PM]
Baby, the Charlie’s Angels-level of sneak it would take to get down those stairs without being heard is ridiculously high
[Tobs 💜 10:32PM]
Sweet dreams, Chris. I love you
[Chris 💗 10:32PM]
You gave up so quickly, baby 😉
[Tobs 💜 10:33PM]
Oh, I didn’t give up. I just know you really well.
[Chris 💗 10:33PM]
And what do you know?
[Tobs 💜 10:33PM]
A couple of stairs could never compete with Christen Press’ determination
Christen smirked at the text. She quickly tossed her phone onto her bed and pulled open her bedroom door. She crept down the hallway and then down the stairs, careful to avoid the really squeaky parts. Once she reached the bottom, she let out a small sigh of relief, and then -
“Christen?” Channing asked, squinting through the dark, holding a glass of water.
“Fuck!” Christen whisper-shouted, spinning around, a hand held to her heart. “Chan, what are you doing down here?!”
“What are you doing down here?” Channing countered, taking a sip of water.
“I’m-” Christen paused, her brow furrowing. “I’m getting a snack.”
“Oh I’m sure you are,” Channing nodded, a smirk sliding across her face.
Christen lightly smacked her sister’s shoulder. “Ew, don’t have that look on your face. Just- don’t tell mom and dad okay?”
Channing sucked in a deep breath, pretending like she was about to shout.
“Please, Chan? I’ll do the dishes for a week,” Christen begged.
“I’m teasing you. Happy almost birthday. Enjoy your girlfriend...just not too much,” Channing laughed, pushing past Christen and tiptoeing up the stairs.
Christen chuckled and found herself thankful for the dark house so that Channing wouldn’t see the fierce blush in her cheeks. After making sure Channing was all the way upstairs, Christen spun around and quickly walked toward the guest room.
She pulled the door open gently, trying not to make any noise. She then crept into the guest room, squinting in the darkness.
“Tobs?” she whispered.
“Well, she’s ready to be cast in the next Charlie’s Angels, folks,” Tobin teased, pulling the covers back for Christen to join her.
Christen grinned and treaded carefully through the room, crawling into bed. “Channing was awake, so that was a fun little surprise.”
“Did she give you some guidelines to follow?” Tobin smirked as she wrapped her arms around Christen’s waist.
Christen burrowed closer to Tobin, a smile creeping onto her face when she realized that Tobin was only sleeping in a sports bra. She pressed her face against Tobin’s neck, letting her fingertips trail across her bare stomach slowly.
“No, she did kind of refer to you as my midnight snack though, so things got a little weird for a second,” Christen chuckled, pressing a kiss to Tobin’s warm skin.
“Ew,” Tobin mumbled. “I mean I’m all for being that, but not when your sister suggests it.”
Christen chuckled again and let her eyes fall shut. She snuggled impossibly closer to Tobin. “I’m really, really happy you’re here,” Christen whispered.
“Me too,” Tobin sighed, her eyes closed and her breathing already slowing down.
Tobin opened her eyes, adjusting to the light in the room and the weight on her chest. Christen was almost fully on top of her, her forehead pressed into Tobin’s neck. Tobin couldn’t stop the huge smile from spreading across her face. She couldn’t stop the way her heart beat harder when she heard and felt Christen’s breath puffing out slowly against her skin. Tobin skimmed her fingers along Christen’s back, knowing that they should get up soon, especially if the noises from the kitchen were anything to go by. Christen’s parents were likely already cooking breakfast, based on the sound of pots and pans banging together softly.
“Happy birthday to you,” Tobin started singing softly, her hand continuing to trail along Christen’s back. Her voice was not fantastic on a good day. It wasn’t horrible but nothing to write home about. In the morning, though, her voice was husky and scratchy. She pushed past any kind of embarrassment and kept singing. “Happy birthday to youuuuu.”
Christen blew out a little yawn and scrunched up her face, suddenly realizing that the singing wasn’t part of her dream, it was actually happening. It took her a second to orient herself, to remember that she was downstairs in the guest room, that she was in Tobin’s arms. But when she did, a wave of peace washed over her and she felt a huge, beaming smile tug at her lips. She wiggled closer to Tobin, pressing her face further into Tobin’s neck and letting her lips ghost across her skin.
“Happy birthday, dear Chriiiiisss. Happy birthday to you,” Tobin finished, squeezing Christen in her arms and kissing her temple. “Happy birthday, baby, I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Christen whispered. “I’ve never been woken up like this before. It’s nice,” she hummed sleepily.
Tobin laughed softly. “I’ll try to serenade you poorly again in the future.”
“You mean beautifully. And you can, just remember that I prefer kisses,” Christen replied, tilting her head up to look at Tobin.
Tobin leaned down and kissed Christen’s lips, lingering in the first kiss of the day.
Christen smiled into the kiss, deepening it by running her tongue along Tobin’s bottom lip. She was just about to slip her tongue between Tobin’s lips when she heard a loud crash from the kitchen. Christen immediately shot up in bed, any thoughts of kissing Tobin gone from her mind.
“Oh my God, they’re awake?!” Christen hissed, turning to look back at Tobin with wide eyes.
“Probably making birthday breakfast as we speak,” Tobin mumbled, still reeling from such a nice kiss so early in the morning.
Christen shoved the covers off of her lap and hopped out of bed.
“Why are you moving so quickly, so early?” Tobin groaned.
“No funny business means no sleepovers!” Christen whispered, creeping toward the door.
“They can’t be mad at you. It’s your birthday. They’ll probably just ban me from their house until I make them food or buy your dad equipment for the grill,” Tobin sighed, stumbling out of bed.
“They can get mad. They have, it’s happened,” Christen assured quietly, cracking open the door and peeking her head out. She saw both of her parents moving around in the kitchen and her stomach dropped. She then saw Channing and sent her sister a panicked look.
Channing glanced down the hallway at Christen and rolled her eyes before making her way into the kitchen.
Christen turned back to Tobin and pulled her to the door. “Go, distract them with Channing so I can run upstairs.”
“I’m not wearing real pants yet,” Tobin whispered.
Christen looked down at Tobin in her sports bra and boxers and sighed. She shucked off her t-shirt and handed it to Tobin, then grabbed a pair of sweats from Tobin’s suitcase next to them.
“Here, go,” Christen instructed, pushing the clothes into Tobin’s hand.
“Are you serious?” Tobin asked.
Christen pecked Tobin on the lips quickly and nodded. “Extremely, get out there, baby,” Christen whispered.
“Christen’s just taking forever in the bathroom,” Channing said loudly from the kitchen, popping a strawberry into her mouth.
Tobin shuffled down the hall. “Good morning,” she croaked, smiling weakly at everyone. “Chris would have been better off just letting Channing do this,” Tobin thought, remembering all the times she’d tried to lie and how terrible she was at it.
“Tobster is up,” Cody called with a grin.
“In Christen’s t-shirt,” Channing mumbled, stuffing another strawberry into her mouth and trying her best not to laugh.
“How’d you sleep?” Stacy asked, turning around and narrowing her eyes at Tobin, clearly noticing the t-shirt too.
“Um, great,” Tobin said, reaching for the coffee pot and a mug, feigning nonchalance. “The guest bed is really comfy.”
Channing peeked out of the corner of her eye and saw Christen, in only a sports bra and shorts, sneaking out of the guest bedroom. Letting out a small squeak, she turned to look at Tobin with panic in her eyes. They needed to distract Cody and Stacy now .
“I haven’t told you guys about my classes for next semester,” Tobin blurted out.
“Oh...anything fun?” Stacy asked, clearly confused about Tobin’s words.
Channing rolled her eyes at Tobin’s attempt at distraction. They needed something far more drastic than upcoming classes. She caught Tobin’s eye, picked up her coffee cup, and pretended to spill it on herself.
Tobin grimaced, closing her eyes and tipping her coffee cup toward her chest and Christen’s shirt.
“Oh, shit!” Tobin yelped. “I- uh, I spilled!”
“Tobin, are you okay?” Stacy asked, rushing to Tobin’s side. “Cody, grab a towel.”
“Oh my god,” Tobin winced, pulling the shirt away from her skin.
“How’d you manage that, Tobster?” Cody wondered, handing Tobin a dish towel.
“Christen picked a total klutz,” Channing smirked.
Christen scampered up the stairs, having the decency to feel a little bad about the need for such a dramatic distraction. She grimaced at the way her parents were obviously very concerned about Tobin, hovering around her. She caught Tobin’s eye as she got to the top of the stairs and shot her an apologetic pout, hopefully communicating how sorry she was for everything that just happened.
“Is my skin blistering?” Tobin grimaced, hoping that her theatrics were enough to get Christen into her room without her parents noticing.
Stacy tilted Tobin’s chin up to get a look at her red skin. “You’ll live, Tobin. No burns or blisters are in your future.”
Tobin let out a sigh of relief. “Awesome, sorry about that.”
“You’re such a baby, it was like barely lukewarm,” Channing teased.
“Christen’s a lot nicer than you,” Tobin countered.
Channing shrugged and sipped her coffee with a knowing smile.
“Yeah, where’s your sweetness? You’re being a little pot-stirrer this morning,” Cody commented as he scrambled eggs at the stove.
Christen skipped into the kitchen. “Is Channing being rude?” she asked, yawning loudly as she entered the kitchen. She ran her hand over Channing’s head and whispered a quick, “Thank you,” as she passed.
“Watch it,” Channing muttered. “You look super chipper this morning, Christen. How long have you been up?”
Christen cleared her throat. “Just got up, actually. Thanks for being so concerned about my sleep habits.”
“Happy birthday, sweet girl,” Stacy said, wrapping her arms around Christen and kissing her head.
“Happy birthday, Mo!” Cody called from in front of the stove.
“Happy birthday, Chris,” Tobin said, pretending like she hadn’t woken her up with a birthday song and birthday kisses.
Christen looked from her dad to her mom, and finally to Tobin. “Thanks, guys,” she grinned, moving over to the coffee pot. She squeezed Tobin’s forearm and winked at her as she pulled out a mug.
“I’m gonna go change,” Tobin sighed, putting her nearly empty coffee cup down on the counter.
“Did you spill?” Christen asked innocently, trying her best not to smile.
Tobin grumbled softly, making her way out of the kitchen and back down the hall.
“Don’t take too long, Tobster! We’re picnicking!” Cody called.
“Why does Dad call her that now?” Channing laughed, bumping into Christen and putting her own mug down for more coffee.
“At least it got him to stop calling her his ‘barbecue buddy’,” Christen shrugged, hiding her smile as she sipped the barely warm coffee in her mug.
“She’s still my barbecue buddy,” Cody said.
Stacy sidled up to Christen and gave her a knowing look. “Don’t think I don’t know everything that goes on under my roof,” she whispered, keeping her voice down so Channing and Cody wouldn’t hear.
Christen choked on a sip of coffee and quickly tried to recover. “I, uh- I don’t know what you mean, Mom.”
“Your t-shirt looks good on Tobin. Yellow’s definitely in her color wheel,” Stacy hummed.
Christen winced and shot her mom an apologetic look. “I’m sorry? But it’s my birthday so...maybe you’ll let me off the hook?”
“We’ll talk later,” Stacy said, stepping away from Christen and starting to pack food up into a picnic basket.
Christen hung her head, turning to fill Tobin’s coffee cup up with fresh coffee. They both would need their caffeine today if Stacy was on their case.
“You want to be orange or pink?” Tobin asked, holding the kites up to Channing.
They’d already finished brunch, having slowly eaten the scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, and fruit that Cody and Stacy had brought down to the beach. Christen, Tobin, and Channing had already dipped their feet in the water and helped Stacy and Cody clean up the leftovers. Now, Tobin was trying to distract herself with kites, knowing that Christen was about to be questioned by her mom on their traditional mother/daughter birthday beach walk.
“Pink,” Channing grinned, taking the kite from Tobin’s hand and starting to run down the beach.
Christen watched as the kites took flight, as Tobin and Channing talked and laughed. It made her chest warm to watch Tobin fit so seamlessly into her life, like she was meant to be here. With a smile, she turned back to her mom and sipped champagne from her plastic cup.
“So, how did you sleep last night?” Stacy asked, jumping right into the conversation she’d been wanting to have with Christen for months.
Christen fought off a blush and looked out at the ocean, falling in to step with her mom as they walked down the beach.
“Cut it out, Mom. What do you really want to talk about?” Christen replied.
“That is what I want to talk about,” Stacy hummed.
Christen took another sip of champagne, letting the bubbly liquid dance across her tongue and make her brave. “In that case, I slept great.”
“I know that you and Tobin are getting serious…” Stacy started, looking across the sand dunes, searching for the right words.
Christen nodded. It had only been a few months, but it was something that had been two years in the making. This was real and serious and big , this wasn’t some fling. They loved each other, and the reminder of it had Christen smiling over at her mom.
“We’ve been serious, Mom.”
“I know, and I know that you two love each other. A girl doesn’t take four different flights to get to someone if she doesn’t love the person she’s flying to,” Stacy said.
“She took four flights?” Christen asked, a little surprised. She had known it had taken a lot to get here, to California, from Miami. But she’d never expected that many flights, that many connections.
Stacy nodded softly. “She did. And I see that the way you look at her, it’s different than you’ve looked at anyone else.”
Christen felt that blush she’d been fighting off finally make its way into her cheeks. “I never knew I could feel like this. It’s...scary, but in a good way?” Christen replied.
Stacy sighed quietly, preparing to say what she’d been meaning to say for a while. “When two people care about each other-”
“Oh, Mom! You’ve already given me the talk ,” Christen interrupted, her cheeks flaming and her stomach tightening.
“I’ve given you the sex talk, sweet girl. I’ve never given you the making love talk,” Stacy said, squeezing Christen’s hand in her own.
“What every daughter wants from her mother on her 21st,” Christen grumbled, her words holding no real bite as she sent a tight smile at her mom.
“Just suspend your embarrassment for a few minutes,” Stacy laughed. “Tobin hasn’t told you her plans or given you her gift yet, has she?”
Christen shook her head. “No, I didn’t realize there were any. Her cross-country flight is gift enough.”
“Well, then I won’t spoil it,” Stacy whispered. “I just...I know you’ve had sex before, but I don’t know if you’ve been in love before. You said yourself that you’ve never felt like this, and I want you to be careful.”
“Careful?” Christen parroted, unsure what exactly her mom was getting at. She was trying hard to push aside her embarrassment, but the fact that her mom was talking to her about having sex with Tobin was almost too much.
“You’re serious with Tobin. I can see that Tobin’s serious about you, and that’s great. I love that you have her in your life. With so much love, comes the possibility for a lot of hurt, though.”
Christen blew out a long breath. “I know that,” she replied quietly. “But what does that have to do with- well, you know.”
“I just want you to think before you jump into anything. You aren’t just-” Stacy sighed, hating this conversation possibly as much as Christen, but she wanted to save her daughter any heartache she could. “Sex is great. It’s super fun, right? But having sex with someone you love is amazing. With that amazing feeling, though, comes the chance to hurt one another, and I know that’s the last thing that either of you wants to do. You just need to make sure that you talk to one another and make sure you’re both ready because no offense here... your track record for communicating isn’t pristine. I just want you to make sure that you’re both ready, whenever that step happens. So that you won’t look back on things and regret them.”
Christen was finally caught up. Her mom was just trying to warn her, to protect her. But Christen couldn’t help but feel like it wasn’t really necessary. They were both ready for the next step, fully aware that sex could change things. Not just for better, but for worse too. She appreciated everything her mom said though, it just reinforced her gratitude that they’d chosen to wait this long, until they were on really solid ground.
“Thanks, Mom, really. I appreciate everything you just said, but we are ready. We’ve talked a lot about this and we’ve waited this long because we wanted to be sure that we were ready. We’re not the same people we were eight months ago. I...I’ve never been more sure about anything the way I’m sure about my feelings for Tobin or where we’re headed,” Christen shrugged, knowing it was a big admission and definitely a little serious for a beach walk.
“I love you, sweet girl. I love Tobin too,” Stacy said, turning to pull Christen in for a hug. “I just want you to be safe and sensitive with one another, which I know you already are.”
“I love you too, but can I be embarrassed again?” Christen mumbled against her mom’s shoulder, trying not to smile.
Stacy laughed, squeezing once more. “Yes, you can be embarrassed, not that there’s anything to be embarrassed about.”
“Talking to my mom about anything sex-related will always be embarrassing,” Christen replied, suppressing a shudder. She loved her mom, and they were close, but there was definitely a line and they were definitely close to it.
“You’re gonna talk to your dad about it if you aren’t more careful about sneaking into the guest room next time,” Stacy warned.
Christen groaned and leaned back, grimacing at her mom in apology. “I thought I was super sneaky, dodged every single squeaky step on the way down.”
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to get the stain out of your shirt that Tobin dumped coffee on this morning,” Stacy laughed.
Christen grinned and shook her head. “It’s okay, I wasn’t expecting such a drastic distraction.”
“She’s lucky I made that pot really early this morning and it wasn’t piping hot.”
Christen looked past her mom at where Tobin, Channing, and Cody were chasing after an escaped kite and she bit back a laugh.
“I’m the lucky one, Mom. Thank you for this,” Christen murmured softly.
“She’s lucky too. Don’t fall too hard to remember that,” Stacy reminded.
“Like she’d let me forget,” Christen rolled her eyes, a small smile on her face.
“She better not,” Stacy whispered. “All right, we better get back to the house soon. It’s almost 4:00,” Stacy sighed, looking down at her watch.
“Oh is there something to rush back for?” Christen wondered, seeing her mom would slip up and give anything away. She looped her arm through her mom’s and the two of them slowly made their way back down the beach.
“That’s for Tobin to reveal and you to enjoy,” Stacy hummed, pulling her down the beach to where the rest of the group was.
“You just need to go upstairs and change,” Tobin nodded toward the stairs.
“But what should I change into? PJs? A sweater? A bikini? What’s the vibe, baby?” Christen asked, wanting to know more than she did, which was next to nothing. When they’d gotten back to the house, her parents busied themselves unpacking the picnic stuff and Channing retreated upstairs, probably to her room. She and Tobin were left alone on the stairs, with Tobin standing on the step below her and frustratingly avoiding giving Christen any answers to her questions. Christen had no idea where they were going, what they were doing, or what she should wear, and it irked her in the best way that Tobin would only smirk at her repeated questions.
“Channing knows what the vibe is,” Tobin said, grinning at how much Christen seemed to hate not being in control of dates and surprises.
“Are you changing too?” Christen shot back, nodding at Tobin’s board shorts and sweatshirt that she’d donned for the picnic.
“Of course. I’m not wearing this,” Tobin laughed. She felt a huge urge to lean forward and kiss the frustrated, confused look off of Christen’s face.
Christen narrowed her eyes and stepped down a step on the stairs, bringing them almost level. “Does this have anything to do with that conversation we had in Louisville, at the movies?” Christen whispered, unable not to shiver slightly as a coy smile tugged at her lips.
“Oh?” Tobin feigned confusion. “I’m sorry what conversation are you referring to? Which part?”
Christen grinned, her stomach tightening with anticipation. “How much time do I get to get ready?” Christen asked, grabbing onto the strings of Tobin’s sweatshirt, tugging on them playfully, her mind stuck picturing a certain outfit they’d talked about and hoping it was going to make an appearance tonight.
“Half an hour,” Tobin whispered. “Twenty-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds...fifty-eight...fifty-seven...”
Christen’s smile grew as she leaned down to kiss Tobin softly, lingering in the kiss a little bit longer than she should.
“Forty-three seconds,” Tobin whispered, grinning against Christen’s lips. “Meet me out front when you’re done.”
“I’m going, I’m going,” Christen mumbled, kissing Tobin once more before scurrying up the stairs. When she opened the door to her bedroom, she was a little surprised to see clothes already laid out for her on her bed.
“Channing,” Christen sighed knowingly, realizing that while she was lingering on the stairs with Tobin, Channing was setting this all up.
On her bed was the black dress she’d worn on the double date with Sue and Megan, the one with the short skirt and the low neckline, the one that hugged her in all the right places. With a smile, Christen ran her fingers across the soft fabric of the dress, feeling her brow quirk when she caught sight of the strappy black heels on the bed next to the dress. So they were going fancy. That was one answer, but Christen still had so many questions.
Christen hurried to get changed. But first things first, she went over to her dresser and pulled out the...surprise she’d bought a few weeks ago, after the Final Four. It wasn’t anything crazy expensive or special, but she hoped Tobin would like it. If they were even going to get to that. She didn’t know what the night entailed or how it would end, but she decided that it was better to be safe than sorry. She’d rather kick herself for wearing sexy lingerie and never getting to show Tobin, than wear something totally not sexy and then be unprepared if things escalated.
After slipping into the newly acquired undergarments, Christen stepped into the dress and the heels. She threw on some light makeup and tried her best to style her curls after a day at the beach. They were a bit more wind-blown and full than she typically wore them, but Tobin had given her a time constraint, and Tobin also seemed to like when her hair was big and curly. Grabbing a purse, her wallet, and that lipstick that always made Tobin stare a little harder, she hurried out of her room.
“Thanks, Chan, I love you!” Christen said, peeking into Channing’s room and catching her laying in bed on her phone.
“I love you. Happy birthday,” Channing said, smiling up at her sister.
Christen smiled and then shut the door, hurrying down the stairs as quickly as her heels allowed.
“Bye Mom, bye Dad!” Christen called toward the kitchen.
“Have fun, kiddo!” Cody yelled.
“Enjoy your birthday!” Stacy hollered.
Christen grinned and then turned to the front door, very excited to see what birthday plans Tobin had in store for her.
Tobin tucked Christen’s backpack and her own suitcase from Florida in the back of Christen’s Subaru. She hoped that Channing had picked out everything that Christen would need. It looked like enough clothes and the right toiletries in the backpack, but she wasn’t a hundred percent sure. She shut the trunk and let out a long breath of air, checking her hair in her reflection of the window. She’d worn it up in a messy bun at the beach, and she’d had to wet it a little to get rid of the crease so that she could wear it down and relatively straight now.
So far, everything was in place. Thankfully, she’d packed nice clothing, preparing to fly in on Christen’s birthday anyway. She’d teased Christen about the suit from New Years', but she wasn’t one to tease and then not follow through. She straightened her shirt, making sure that it was evenly tucked into the black pants before she slipped the suit jacket on and headed to the front door. She’d lost the sneakers for this evening, choosing to dress a little nicer and wear black dress shoes.
Tobin jogged up the steps to Christen’s front door and rang the doorbell. Her smile grew even wider when Christen answered the door wearing the black dress that made Tobin think all kinds of wonderful thoughts.
“Whoa, happy birthday to me,” Christen hummed, closing the door behind her and joining Tobin on the porch. She couldn’t help but smile at the height difference between them now, with her in heels.
“Happy birthday to me, ” Tobin mumbled, her eyes raking over every inch of Christen’s body. “You look beautiful.”
Christen blushed and reached out to run her fingers along the lapel of Tobin’s suit jacket, her eyes holding fire in them as they met Tobin’s.
“You look beautiful, too. I- I love this suit,” Christen whispered, her fingers still toying with the jacket. “You made it very difficult for me to keep my hands to myself last year.”
“What? This old thing? No way,” Tobin teased. “I wouldn’t have stopped you if you’d touched,” Tobin added with a whisper.
Christen tilted her head down and pressed a kiss to Tobin’s lips, knowing she was already going to get a bit of lipstick on Tobin but not really caring all that much. She’d wanted to do this last year, the first time she’d seen Tobin in a fitted suit and undone bowtie. So now that she could kiss Tobin, she was going to take full advantage.
“I love this dress,” Tobin sighed.
Christen ran a hand along the side of it, a little self-consciously. “Yeah? I always worry it’s a bit too short or the top dips too low, or-”
“N-no-nope, it’s perfect,” Tobin stuttered, absentmindedly wetting her lips with her tongue.
With a beaming smile, Christen reached out to grab ahold of one of Tobin’s hands. “I’m glad you think so, baby. So...I might have heard there were some birthday surprises on my agenda tonight?”
“Speaking of which, we’re going to be late to the first one if we don’t skedaddle,” Tobin said, checking her watch. “You mind if I drive?”
Christen shook her head, letting Tobin pull her toward her Subaru and get them on the road quickly. She didn’t mind not driving, especially in heels.
“We have to make a quick pit stop at my house, but you can stay in the car. I just have to grab something,” Tobin said as she backed out of the driveway.
“Do I get to know what it is?” Christen teased, reaching across the console to hold onto Tobin’s leg.
“It’s your birthday present,” Tobin said simply.
Christen looked down at her middle finger, where her ring from Tobin was. She smiled down at it. “Now that I know you’re an excellent gift-giver, I can’t wait to see what it is,” Christen replied.
“I might be more nervous about this one,” Tobin replied, driving out of Christen’s neighborhood and toward her house.
Christen’s brows shot up, remembering just how worried Tobin had been about the matching rings. She wondered what it was about this gift that made Tobin even more nervous than she was last time.
“I’m going to love it so you don’t have to be nervous,” Christen hummed.
“We’ll see,” Tobin huffed out a long breath of air, pulling up next to her house and putting the car in park. “I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll be here,” Christen shrugged, taking her hand away from Tobin’s leg and letting her hands rest in her lap.
Tobin leaned across the console and pressed a quick kiss on Christen’s lips. She jumped out of the car and ran across the front lawn and into the house. It took her five minutes to grab the cardboard box that she’d packed before leaving for Florida. It was heavy and a little loud, since there were candles and a lighter and a hammer and nails inside it, but she managed to carry it down the stairs without breaking anything inside the box. Before heading back out the front door and locking the house behind her, she stopped in the garage to put her gift for Christen into a large black trash bag. Tobin couldn’t run across the lawn while holding all of her stuff, so instead, she quickly walked to the back of the car and opened the trunk.
Christen was busy sending off responses to the birthday texts she’d received today, spending a little extra time responding to Crystal and Megan and Kelley. When she heard the trunk open, she looked toward the back of the car and saw Tobin maneuver a box and a large, black trash bag into the trunk. She wanted to ask, but she knew better than that. Tobin wouldn’t tell her anything anyway, and she loved the sparkle of delight Tobin got in her brown eyes when she surprised her.
“Okay,” Tobin sighed after she’d made her way back to the driver’s seat. “Off we go.” Tobin pulled the car away from the curb and toward the highway.
Tobin watched Christen take the last bite of the slice of chocolate cake that they’d shared. She hadn’t been able to keep her eyes off of the girl in front of her for the entire time they were at dinner, too distracted by how lucky she felt to be sitting across from her. Now, though, she couldn’t keep her eyes off of her because Christen looked adorable with the bit of chocolate icing on the corner of her mouth.
Christen felt Tobin’s gaze and immediately held a hand up to her mouth. “What? Do I have something on my face?” she asked, her cheeks rosy thanks to the champagne they’d had with dinner.
Tobin reached across the table and ran her thumb along Christen’s bottom lip, wiping the chocolate off of Christen’s mouth.
“Not anymore,” Tobin hummed, sticking her thumb in her own mouth to lick the chocolate off of it.
Christen gulped, watching Tobin’s lips wrap around her thumb, watching her cheeks hollow as she sucked the chocolate from it. That simmering heat that had been just below the surface all night, beneath touches and kisses and looks across the candlelit table, was making itself known and almost impossible to ignore.
“You want to know something funny? Well…maybe not funny...kind of sappy, I guess,” Tobin asked.
“Always,” Christen whispered, shaking those thoughts from her head so she could focus on her girlfriend.
Tobin looked away from Christen for the first time all night, taking in their surroundings. The beach was to their left, the sand nearly under their table. The restaurant they were sitting in front of had market lights and was way too expensive for Tobin to afford regularly.
“I saw your freshman video,” Tobin mumbled, suddenly somewhat embarrassed, despite knowing Christen wouldn’t tease her or make her feel silly.
“My- oh,” Christen said, huffing out an amused laugh as she realized what Tobin was talking about. “That was really cringy, I don’t know why you watched it.”
“Because I was crushing on you and wanted to hear your voice,” Tobin said, her eyes focusing on Christen again. “You said your ideal date was to have food on the beach with someone,” Tobin said, the crashing of waves audible to her left.
“And that’s why you did this?” Christen said gently, an enamored little smile tugging at her lips as she looked across the table at Tobin.
“I mean...yes. I wasn’t sure if you meant picnic or restaurant by the beach, so why not do both in one day, right?”
“You’re right, that was sappy,” Christen replied, her smile growing as she reached across the table to lay her hand atop Tobin’s.
“I love you,” Tobin whispered.
“And I love you,” Christen hummed. “Thank you for a wonderful birthday.”
“It isn’t over,” Tobin said, her smile growing somewhat.
Christen cocked her head to the side, knowing it was already close to 7:30PM. “It isn’t?”
“Unless you want to go back to your parents’ house,” Tobin smirked.
“No! I mean, I’m good, we don’t have to hurry back there,” Christen said, her stomach fluttering at the thought of another surprise, of not going home just yet.
“Let me get the check, and we can head to surprise number two,” Tobin said, making eye contact with their waiter and getting her wallet out of her pocket.
After paying the bill and getting back into the car, Tobin’s nerves began to rise a little more in her chest. She drove as safely but quickly as possible, letting Christen fill the silence with questions and sweet words.
“Babe, this is not the way back to Palos Verdes,” Christen observed, wondering where in the world Tobin was taking them.
“I thought you didn’t want to go back to your parents’ house,” Tobin laughed, trying to dislodge the worry in her chest.
“Oh, I don’t, I just would love to know why we seem to be headed back up to L.A.”
“Because we are?” Tobin offered, turning on her blinker and changing lanes.
It took another few minutes, but finally, Christen realized where they were going. To say that she was now even more confused would be an understatement.
“Not that I don’t love where we go to school, but why are we going here now?” Christen asked, looking out the window at UCLA’s campus passing them by.
“You’re a little nosy tonight,” Tobin chuckled, weaving through the empty campus.
Christen had the decency to feel a little bad. She sank back into the passenger’s seat. “Sorry…” she trailed off, biting back the ten more questions on the tip of her tongue.
“It’s cute,” Tobin hummed. She squeezed Christen’s hand gently, turning onto their street and making her way to Christen’s house.
“I’m not even going to ask,” Christen announced, beyond baffled as to why they were outside her townhouse, all the way in L.A.
“You can if you want, but I probably won’t answer,” Tobin said, hopping out of Christen’s car and jogging around to open her door. “I need you to do me a favor.”
“What’s that?” Christen asked.
“I’ll tell you in a second,” Tobin smirked, loving every second of Christen’s impatience.
Christen playfully narrowed her eyes. “You’re liking this a little too much, baby.”
Tobin kissed Christen softly, hardly staying still enough to sink into the kiss. She grabbed Christen’s backpack and her own suitcase from the trunk and locked the car, leading the way up the driveway and to the front porch. She reached into her pocket to use Crystal’s set of keys, pushing the door open for Christen to enter first.
“If I was in a guessing mood, which I’m totally not, I would guess that we were going to be sleeping here tonight…” Christen trailed off, ignoring the thrill of anticipation that ran through her at the thought.
“If you want to. That was the plan,” Tobin whispered.
“Well it’s this or me sneaking into the guest room again, so...I’d much rather do this,” Christen replied with a smile.
“Good to know,” Tobin laughed, leading the way up the stairs and heading straight to Crystal’s room.
“Tobs, this is-”
“Crystal’s room. Yes, it is. I just need you to give me maybe ten minutes,” Tobin said, placing their bags on the floor of Crystal’s room.
Christen pretended to pout, turning to face Tobin. “Ten whole minutes? That’s like a lifetime.”
“I’ll make it worth your while if you promise to stay in Crystal’s room,” Tobin husked, running her hand along Christen’s waist.
Christen felt that simmering move closer to the surface again. She subconsciously wet her bottom lip, trying not to shiver at Tobin’s touch.
“Try to make it in eight, ten is way too long,” Christen whispered.
“Yes, ma’am,” Tobin saluted, closing Crystal’s door and running down the stairs and back to the car. She’d never been this nervous or wired for a surprise before. She grabbed the box and trash bag, trying her best to hurry back into the house and up the stairs to Christen’s room.
Tobin unpacked the candles that she’d bought for this surprise, placing a few on Christen’s dresser and some on her bookshelf. She pulled her gift for Christen out of the trash bag, placing it on Christen’s bed while she found the right nail and picture hook to nail into the wall.
At the first sound of a hammer hitting a nail, and that nail going into her wall, Christen jumped to her feet from where she’d been sitting on Crystal’s bed.
“Babe?” she called out, hoping Tobin could hear her.
“I still have three minutes,” Tobin called back.
“Please don’t break anything, like the wall!” Christen yelled.
“I’m just piercing it,” Tobin laughed, finally finishing and dropping the hammer back into the box.
Christen shook her head and sat back down on Crystal’s bed, trying not to worry about the fact that her girlfriend was hammering nails into her wall.
Tobin hung her gift on the wall, covering it with one of Christen’s extra bedsheets. She lit each of the candles and turned on Christen’s twinkly lights. Before leaving the room to get Christen, she tucked the box she’d used to store everything into Christen’s closet, tidying up a little bit, since Christen liked to keep her room clutter-free.
“Okay,” Tobin sighed, poking her head into Crystal’s room.
“Do I have to close my eyes again?” Christen asked, remembering back to the last surprise of Tobin’s and the way Tobin had led her into the Heath’s backyard with her eyes closed.
“Do you want to?” Tobin smirked.
Christen rolled her eyes and met Tobin at Crystal’s door, an excited smile on her face. Tobin held onto Christen’s hand and led her down the hall to her room.
“If it’s too much, just say the word, and you can go back to Crystal’s room, and I’ll put things away,” Tobin blurted out, feeling nervous about what Christen would think about her gift, about spending the night here, about taking a step that they’d almost taken at the beginning of the month.
Christen squeezed Tobin’s hand, trying to let her know that whatever was behind that door, it wasn’t too much, it was perfect. “Breathe, baby. Show me your surprise, and remember that I love you,” Christen hummed quietly.
Tobin grinned and pushed the door open...