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Our Secret Moments

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Move the kitchen table out to the lawn

Roll up the rug, the stereo's on

All I can imagine is being in your arms

I want you to know

I don't need anything fancy

I just need me and you slow dancing

Hell's bending, keeping me captive

Heaven's here, it's right where you're standing

Slow dancing

(Tobin - “Slow Dancing” by Aly & AJ)

 

I want a key to your house

I wanna pick up your clothes

I wanna clean up your mess

I wanna know where you hide things

Wanna be in your photos

Wanna share your address

...

I just wanna stare at your face

Then spend quality time with your mother

We can over-drink at your favourite place

And we can waste the whole next day to recover

(Christen - “Share Your Address” by Ben Platt)

 

APRIL 25th

“Good morning!” Tobin called from the open window of Christen’s Subaru. 

Mal’s head shot up and her eyes widened comically. She looked between Tobin in the passenger seat, and Christen in the driver’s seat. She had not been expecting Tobin to show up and her face told both Tobin and Christen as much.

“Uh….morning!” Mal yelled back, getting up from the bench outside of the diner and putting her phone in her pocket.

“Sad that you had to trick her, but thank you, baby,” Tobin sighed, leaning across the console to kiss Christen. 

“Anytime,” Christen grinned, kissing Tobin deeply. “Try to get her back to her old, smiley self okay? I miss our kid.”

“I do too. You sure you don’t want to join? Breakfast is on me,” Tobin offered one last time. 

“You two should do this on your own,” Christen assured with a shake of her head.

“I’ll see you in an hour or two, then? I’ll text you,” Tobin sighed, knowing that Christen was right. She’d still miss her, even if for just a couple of hours. Christen had hardly been away from her side since surgery a few days ago, and Tobin wasn’t sure she wanted that to change, even if just for one breakfast.

Christen was feeling the same way, letting her hand rest on Tobin’s thigh, prolonging their goodbye as long as she could. “Remember, no weight-bearing. Use the crutches,” Christen said gently, a small smile on her face.

“Of course, Dr. Press,” Tobin saluted, pushing the door open and moving her crutches out before swinging her legs off of the seat slowly. 

"Have fun!" Christen yelled through the open window, watching Tobin crutch away. It made her heart tighten painfully in her chest, seeing her girlfriend in the soft cast and on the crutches, struggling to do something as simple as walk. She shook those thoughts from her mind and waved goodbye. “I love you!”

“I love you too,” Tobin said back, flashing a wide smile before she reached Mal and focused all of her attention on the younger UCLA soccer player. 

“I love you too, Mal!” Christen called out, smiling at the freshman before pulling out of the parking lot.

“She does love you, even though she duped you,” Tobin laughed. 

Mal looked anywhere except at Tobin, a weak chuckle escaping her. “She duped me good. I thought this was just our weekly, ‘Pressy and Me’ breakfast.”

“I asked her to give me the honor of taking you to breakfast this week, and after a lot of convincing, she agreed,” Tobin said, looking at Mal and feeling a soft pang in her heart at the way Mal couldn’t look at her. 

Mal nodded, crossing her arms over her chest, still avoiding Tobin’s gaze. “She’s nice like that.”

“Yeah, she’s the best. Want to get a booth?” Tobin asked, nodding toward the door. 

Mal shrugged. “Sure, sounds good.”

Tobin crutched toward the door, reaching out to open it for Mal. She had to hop back on one leg to get it open, but she was determined to do as much on her own as possible, something that Christen was struggling to accept. 

Mal cringed at the fact that Tobin was even struggling to open a door because of what she’d done. “Thanks,” she mumbled, feeling her eyes burn with tears already.

Tobin followed Mal into the restaurant, wishing she could ditch the crutches and wrap her arms around the freshman in front of her. She waited to say anything, letting a waitress lead them to a corner booth. It wasn’t until Mal had spent five minutes looking down at her closed menu that Tobin finally broke the silence. 

“I need you to do me a favor,” Tobin said, leaning back against the wall and straightening her leg across the booth. 

Mal looked up from the menu, her eyes sad and her mouth turned down in a frown. “A favor? From me?” she clarified.

“Yeah, a favor. I need you to stop walking on eggshells around me. Please,” Tobin sighed. 

Mal’s lower lip trembled and she looked back down at the menu in her hands. “I’m not walking on eggshells,” Mal replied, a bit defensive.

“Yes, you are. You can’t even look at me. I miss you. I miss my friend, and I don’t like not being able to goof around with you anymore,” Tobin said, resting a hand on top of the table, just hoping that she could bridge the gap between the two of them. 

Mal sniffled, swiping her hands under her eyes to catch the few tears that started to fall. She looked up at Tobin, her apology written all over her face.

“I’m really sorry,” Mal whispered, more tears spilling from her eyes.

“You don’t need to be sorry. The fracture was an accident. Mistakes happen. It could have happened to anyone,” Tobin said, her tone serious, urging Mal to let go of the guilt she could clearly see Mal was holding onto. 

“But it didn’t happen to anyone. It happened to you! I did that to you! You’re-” Mal blew out a short, choked breath and wiped at her nose.

“I’m healing,” Tobin insisted. “In fact, I’d say you did me a huge favor. If I hadn’t gotten hurt at practice, I wouldn’t have known about the bone growth. That would have hurt a lot more in the long run. It could have knocked me out during an important season.”

Mal looked up at Tobin, a small sliver of hope in her eyes. It seemed as if Tobin’s words were finally getting through to her, after weeks of avoidance and awkwardness.

“Everyone makes tackles that are probably a little too rough at some point in their careers. When I was a freshman at Penn State, I tackled Chris during the NCAA semifinals, and I was really worried I’d hurt her,” Tobin said, a soft smile gracing her lips at the memory. 

Mal sniffled again. “Was she mad at you?”

“She was really mad, and then we talked it out, and she forgave me. Mistakes don’t define who you are as a person or player, and I’m not mad at you,” Tobin insisted. 

Mal nodded, finally believing Tobin’s words. “Do you forgive me?” she asked quietly, her tone full of vulnerability.

“Of course,” Tobin nodded. “I forgave you as soon as I got to the hospital that night, but you’ve been avoiding me like the plague, so I couldn’t tell you without asking for Chris’s help.”

“Yeah...I just figured I’d ruined our friendship by being stupid. So I just tried to steer clear of you, so that you wouldn’t have to see me.”

“You didn’t ruin anything, and I don’t like when you steer clear of me. You’re my favorite freshman,” Tobin sighed. “Can you forgive me?” she asked. 

“Oh my gosh, for what? I’m the one who tackled you, Tobs!” Mal replied, a shocked, half-smile tugging at her lips.

“I was hurting, but that’s no excuse for snapping at you, especially when you were only checking on me and trying to apologize. I regretted it as soon as I took out my frustration on you,” Tobin said, wanting Mal to hear the honesty in each of her words. 

“I missed you,” Mal admitted, the first genuine smile gracing her features in weeks.

“I missed you,” Tobin grinned. 

“It was total chaos without my parental figures in the picture for a sec there,” Mal sighed, leaning back in the booth.

“We’re still here,” Tobin laughed. “You can’t get rid of either of us that easily.”

“Okay good, because there’s no way I can finish three orders of waffles myself. So you’re gonna need to step it up, Mom,” Mal teased.

“Three orders is child’s play,” Tobin scoffed, winking at Mal.


MAY 21st

“That is one sexy scar,” Christen whispered with a smile, her thumb rubbing along the thin pink line on the inside of Tobin’s ankle. She was sitting in Tobin’s desk chair next to Tobin’s bed, Tobin’s ankle in her lap. She was massaging the sore muscles in Tobin’s foot and shin and ankle after a hard day at P.T.

“Thank goodness you think so,” Tobin snorted from where she was propped up on her elbows in bed. “It’s not going anywhere.” 

Christen hit a particularly tender spot, causing Tobin to wince. “Sorry, baby. Is it feeling any better?”

Tobin groaned slightly, falling back onto the bed. “You and PT are definitely helping. I’m just tired of it hurting. I’m tired of watching games from the sidelines,” Tobin sighed. 

“I know. But you’re only 4 weeks out from surgery, and look at how far you’ve come already. Your P.T. was telling me that you’re weeks ahead of schedule,” Christen replied. 

Tobin took a deep breath, trying to sink into Christen’s optimism. “You’re right, and you’re very sweet to do this,” Tobin sighed, propping herself up again to look at Christen. 

“Maybe next Halloween I should go as a sexy doctor,” Christen winked, continuing the massage techniques she’d had the P.T. show her, the ones to help break up scar tissue and aid recovery. She knew this was hard on Tobin, and she was just trying to make it a little easier.

“Oooh why wait for Halloween?” Tobin hummed, reaching forward to get Christen to abandon the ankle and join her in bed. 

“I believe your actual doctor has yet to clear you for strenuous activity,” Christen teased, sitting back in the desk chair, her hands falling from Tobin’s ankle.

“Funny, you weren’t saying that last night,” Tobin husked, remembering how Christen had finally let her touch her the night before after weeks of forcing Tobin to rest and recover, which had been more torturous than restful. Christen had refused to return the favor, too worried that she’d hurt Tobin further, too upset with herself for letting Tobin distract her and turn her on in the first place. 

Christen’s cheeks flamed at the reminder. “That- well, that was a moment of weakness. I’m not keeping you from the field because I can’t control myself,” Christen replied, standing up from the desk chair, unable to stay this far away from Tobin. She crawled onto the bed beside Tobin and propped herself up on her elbow.

“Baby, I’m dying,” Tobin whined. “I promise not to be too good at it. I’ll keep my heart rate below 100,” Tobin pleaded. 

Christen narrowed her eyes playfully. “You’re getting awful cocky, you know that?”

“You did this,” Tobin said, pointing at herself. “You’re the one who told me this was the best sex you’ve ever had.”

“I created a monster. A sexy, confident monster,” Christen grumbled, her words lacking any bite. She merely grinned down at Tobin, completely enamored with the pout on her lips and the light in her eyes, the light that had gradually returned over these past few weeks. 

“All I want for my birthday is for you to stop telling me to avoid strenuous activity,” Tobin whispered, giving Christen the biggest pair of puppy dog eyes she could. 

Christen was a weak woman for those puppy dog eyes. She hung her head in defeat, every bit of fight she’d had a moment ago now gone. 

“The birthday card, really?” Christen sighed.

“I mean, if you don’t want to, we don’t have to. If I was too desperate, then we can just watch a movie,” Tobin said. 

Christen shook her head and scooted closer to Tobin. She reached out and cupped Tobin’s cheek, her thumb tracing across her cheekbone. 

“Want to know a fun fact?” she whispered, her eyes dancing between Tobin’s.

“Of course,” Tobin nodded, wrapping her fingers around Christen’s wrist. 

“I always want to. I’ve been trying to be good, to make sure you don’t get hurt any worse,” Christen murmured with a small smile.

“And you’ve done an excellent job, but now I’m good to go,” Tobin winked. “You can even bubble wrap my leg if you want.”

Christen laughed and leaned down to kiss Tobin softly. “I’ll make sure to bring some for your very special, very secret birthday surprise.”

“So, right now, we’re just going to go sans protection?” Tobin smirked. 

Christen’s laughter grew as she reconnected their lips in a kiss that was much less soft, far more sensual with far more tongue. “We do have an hour before your family gets home…” Christen whispered against Tobin’s lips, her hand sliding across the front of Tobin’s t-shirt.

“Honestly,” Tobin murmured against Christen’s lips. “After so many weeks without you touching me, I’ll only need ten minutes.”

“Start counting,” Christen mumbled, kissing Tobin deeply and slipping her hand beneath Tobin’s t-shirt.


JUNE 4th

“Come on, we’re getting out of the house!” Christen announced, waltzing into the Heath living room. 

“I didn’t realize our house was so stifling,” Tobin’s dad laughed from where he sat beside Tobin on the couch. 

Christen dropped her purse onto the kitchen table and leaned against the back of the recliner. She looked between Tobin and her dad with a smile. “It’s not, but Tobs here could probably use some fresh air. Right, babe?”

“Yes!” Tobin nodded, dropping the controller to the Xbox and pushing herself off the couch. 

“You don’t say?” he laughed, shoving Tobin’s shoulder. “That means you have to shower and put on actual clothes.”

“Sweats might not be the move when it’s 90 outside,” Christen agreed, her eyes tracking how much more confident Tobin looked on her feet. It was almost a month and a half post-surgery, and every day, Tobin got stronger and better. After getting her boot off last week, Tobin was in much better spirits and Christen thought they should celebrate that. 

“I’ll be quick...well, as quick as I can be without racing up the stairs,” Tobin said, moving around the coffee table with sure steps. 

Christen winked at Tobin as she passed. “We’re in no rush. I’ll just hang with Jeff until you’re back.”

“We’re gonna talk about you the whole time you’re gone,” Jeff laughed, sending Tobin up the stairs with one last grin. 

Christen waited until Tobin’s hobbled footsteps receded up the stairs before joining Jeff on the couch. 

“How’s she really doing?” Christen asked, fixing Jeff with a serious look. After being cooped up all summer in a boot, doing endless hours of PT and recovery, Christen knew that Tobin was getting frustrated and was eager to be back. But she also couldn’t be there all the time. She was living at her parent’s house, and Tobin was here, so she only got to see her girlfriend for a few hours a day, maybe a little more. Jeff was here all the time and would really know how Tobin was faring.

“I think I’ve officially seen the impossible,” Jeff sighed, leaning back into the couch and fixing Christen with a similarly serious look. 

Christen’s brow furrowed. “Oh no, what?”

“I actually think Tobin’s tired of playing Fifa,” Jeff laughed. 

Christen relaxed, her shoulders losing their tension as she laughed. “I never thought that day would come.”

“Other than feeling somewhat bored and that one day she got frustrated when Cindy wouldn’t let her juggle the ball in the house, she’s doing great,” Jeff assured Christen. 

“She’s quite resilient, isn’t she?” Christen observed with a smile, looking over her shoulder for a moment at the staircase that Tobin had disappeared up, before looking back to Jeff.

“She was always the kid we worried about the most. She couldn’t stay still when she was growing up. She was always running around outside, but she was also the kid who picked herself up, again and again, just wanting to keep playing or keep working until she achieved whatever she wanted to do. 

“She’s going to achieve it all, I think,” Christen replied, pride filling her chest at the thought of everything that awaited Tobin after her recovery.

“As long as she’s happy doing it, I think you’re right,” Jeff nodded. 

“I’ve never seen her as happy as she is when she’s on the field,” Christen said, knowing that Tobin would be happy achieving everything she wanted to on the field.

Jeff shook his head slightly. “She is happy on the field, but I’ve seen her just as happy off of it.”

Christen tilted her head to the side. “We’re talking about the same Tobin Heath, right? The one who is joy personified when she’s on the pitch?” Christen chuckled.

Jeff laughed, his eyes crinkling just like Tobin’s. “Yes, the same one. She’s been happy on the field since we took her to her first practice, but she’s also always been alone. Cindy and I worried a little bit that she would be so focused on soccer and being successful with her team and her individual achievements that she wouldn’t find a way to let someone else in and be happy with them. It’s nice to see we were worrying for no reason, and it’s nice to see that she can be just as happy, off the field with you as she is with a soccer ball at her feet.”

Christen felt a slight blush heat her cheeks, so she ducked her head. It was a bit overwhelming to be compared to the sport that Tobin lived for, especially by Tobin’s dad. Not in a bad way of course, but overwhelming all the same. 

“Well, um, thank you. I try my best, but she’s the real natural out of the two of us. She always knows just what to say or do, and I’m the one trying to keep up,” Christen replied a bit bashfully. 

“I think you’re doing just fine. Plus, you don’t fracture her ankles,” Jeff teased, trying to lighten the mood. 

Christen laughed, perking up at the sound of footsteps on the stairs. She turned to look over her shoulder and caught sight of Tobin casually strolling down the stairs. She was wearing a pair of Hawaiian shorts, a white cut-off tank top, and she was carrying the Mighty Ducks snapback Christen had given her for her 21st birthday last year in her hands.

“Told you I could be quick,” Tobin said, shaking a hand through her wet hair. She’d showered as quickly as humanly possible and grabbed the first, nice-ish, non-sweatpants outfit she could find. “This is okay, right?” Tobin asked, pointing at the clothes she’d grabbed. 

Christen nodded and hopped to her feet. “You look great, as always,” she replied with a sweet smile, the one she reserved only for Tobin.

“Hey, Christen,” Jeff called from the couch. 

Christen looked over her shoulder. “Yeah?” she asked, grabbing her purse from the table.

“Make sure you keep her out nice and late. It’ll keep her from moping around the house,” Jeff teased, smiling at his daughter. 

“You got it!” Christen grinned.

“I’m not that mopey,” Tobin whined, pushing her bottom lip out in a small pout. 

“Baby, you’ve been a little down,” Christen hummed, slipping her arm around Tobin’s waist as they walked to the front door.

“No way. I’m so pumped. I’m super chipper,” Tobin defended, pulling the front door open and waiting for Christen to step outside. 

Christen pursed her lips and hummed, pretending like she totally believed Tobin. “Well if you’re so upbeat, we can skip my fun date idea and just sit in the driveway or something?” she teased, stepping through the doorway.

“I’d like to follow through with your date,” Tobin admitted, grabbing onto Christen’s hand and giving it a soft squeeze. 

“I think you’re going to like this one,” Christen replied, leading Tobin over to where her Subaru was parked on the street. 


“Baby, is this the anniversary date?” Tobin asked, a huge smile spreading across her face as she took in the few tables in the garden and the piles of canvases, pottery pieces, and paints at the front on a long rectangular table. There were wine bottles at a small bar, and each small table had wine glasses. 

Christen quirked an eyebrow and sipped from the glass of ice-cold rosé she’d been given upon entry into the art garden. 

“It’s a little different, but kind of the same idea. Chan told me about this place and I wanted to check it out with you, since it’s all about finding peace through art and nature,” Christen replied, squeezing Tobin’s hand in her own and leading them over to a small table on one side of the garden. “It’s not a couple's paint night in a downtown L.A. art gallery, but it’s still cool, right?”

“It’s awesome!” Tobin said, her eyes still wide, glancing around the garden and at all the different paints she could choose from. 

Christen beamed and let out a small sigh of relief. “Thank goodness!”

“You didn’t need to be worried about that,” Tobin whispered. “All I want to do is spend time with you.”

Christen lifted their clasped hands to her lips and pressed a kiss to Tobin’s knuckles. “You’re very sweet. Now the only rule is that you can’t get any paint on me, I didn’t exactly think the outfit through today and I’d like to not ruin this top.”

“Deal. I’ll aim for the face only,” Tobin smirked before leaning over to kiss Christen’s cheek. 

Christen turned her face so that she caught Tobin’s lips, giggling into the quick kiss. “Come on, let’s paint, baby,” she whispered, kissing Tobin once more before setting her wine glass down on the table and making her way to the front table to pick out blank canvases and paint. Tobin set her cider down next to Christen’s wine glass and followed her girlfriend back to the front.

Christen grabbed a small, square canvas and an array of blue, green, and purple paints. She waited for Tobin, who was having trouble picking just a handful of paints to use. With a look of determination, Tobin finally settled on some oranges, pinks, blues, and dark purples, knowing that she’d probably swap them out for different colors later on in the painting process. 

They made their way back to their table just as the instructor came out into the garden. She laid out some basic ground rules for everyone gathered in the garden, things like don’t eat the paint and embrace your inner creative spirit. After that, she wished everyone a good evening and left them all to their own devices. 

“What are you painting?” Tobin whispered for the fourth time. 

“Hopefully something aesthetically pleasing,” Christen replied, poking the tip of her tongue out of the corner of her mouth as she hesitantly painted another swirl of purple on top of the light blue she’d already painted onto the canvas. 

“I like artsy you. She’s sexy,” Tobin hummed, smearing another glob of paint across her canvas with her index finger. 

Christeen blushed and shook her head. “I don’t know how. I’m having trouble enjoying the artistic process, so this look of frustration,” Christen said, gesturing at her face, “can’t be too attractive.”

“I can totally pull the helpful girlfriend card and sit behind you to help guide your hands,” Tobin smirked. 

“You’d enjoy that, wouldn’t you?” Christen teased, setting her paintbrush down in favor of grabbing her wine.

“More than you even know,” Tobin smiled, her eyes crinkling. 

Christen grinned and tried to crane her neck to get a look at Tobin’s canvas. “You’ve seen my trainwreck, work-in-progress painting. Do I get to see yours now?”

“No way, this is a first for me. I’m trying something new, and if it doesn’t end up going well, I’ll be ditching this before we leave,” Tobin said, shaking her head. 

“Oh come on, please?” Christen pouted, sticking her lower lip out.

Tobin stared at Christen’s pout, her heart melting at Christen’s sweet eyes and soft lips. “I’m weak, and you’re exploiting it.”

Christen’s pout morphed into a smirk as she sipped her rosé. “I might be,” she hummed.

“I’ve never done a person, so I figured a silhouette would be the best place to start,” Tobin admitted, taking a sip of her cider to focus on something other than the painting.  

Christen’s eyes brightened. “You’re painting a person? Is it me? Are you painting me?” she asked excitedly, setting her wine glass down and giving Tobin and the painting her full attention.

Tobin sighed, dropping the canvas onto the table so that Christen could take a peek. It was Christen. Tobin had been looking at Christen’s profile, making sure to get everything right. The scenery behind her on the canvas was Christen’s beach, or at least it was supposed to be. Tobin wasn’t finished with it just yet. 

Christen felt her breath catch in her throat, her heart thrumming in her chest just like it did whenever she got to look at another one of Tobin’s masterpieces. She shook her head slightly, completely in awe at the beautiful way in which Tobin had captured her and her stretch of beach. 

“Wow, baby,” Christen whispered, reaching across the table to lay her hand on Tobin’s arm. She ran her thumb along the inside of Tobin’s wrist, her eyes rising to meet Tobin’s. She smiled and blinked away the few tears that sprang to her eyes.

“Someday I’ll figure out how to do faces,” Tobin grinned. 

“I have no doubt you will,” Christen replied. “But even if you don’t, you’re still incredibly talented, Tobs.”

“You can have it if you want,” Tobin offered, shrugging her shoulders. 

Christen felt her smile grow as a small flutter of nerves filled her stomach. This was her opening, this was her chance to bring up something she’d been trying to for two weeks now. With summer in full swing and their senior year on the horizon, it was already a little late in the game to still be thinking about housing. But Crystal and Megan were on the hunt for a five-person house, and Christen just had one simple task ahead of her: ask Tobin to move in with her. Well, with them as a group, but mainly with her. 

This painting could be the perfect segue into that, so Christen blew out a small breath and took another sip of rosé for courage. She set her wine glass down and then tried to find the right words. 

“Actually, this painting could-”

“Once I finish it, of course,” Tobin interrupted with a wink, reaching up to tap her index finger on Christen’s cheek, leaving a small dot of pink paint there. She was incredibly happy to be sitting with Christen, doing something she loved. In fact, this date was probably the happiest she’d felt all summer. Every moment she’d spent with Christen had lifted her spirits and made her even more grateful for the girl she got to love. “You look good in pink.” 

Christen narrowed her eyes playfully, feeling the moment to talk to Tobin about housing slip away from her. There was always tomorrow or the next day. She still had a little bit of time. So, she grabbed her paintbrush and dipped it into the key lime green paint on her tray. She swiped it quickly onto Tobin’s forearm with a smirk.

“Not as good as you do in green,” Christen quipped, putting her brush back down.

Tobin couldn’t stop the smile that slid across her face and the laugh that bubbled up in her chest. “We’re really gonna be restaurant ready for dinner after this.” She looked back down at her painting, putting a few finishing touches on the pink part of the sunset. 

Christen looked down at the abstract mess she’d attempted and cringed at the thought of giving it to Tobin at the end of this garden-paint date. She blew out a long breath and added some more swirls and patterns, trying to salvage it. When she felt like it was only going to get worse, she abandoned the paintbrush and sat back with a sigh. 

“Thank god you don’t date me for my ability to paint,” Christen laughed.

Tobin looked at Christen’s painting, tilting her head slightly at the canvas. “I think it’s really cool, actually. You chose great colors, and you clearly have intention behind each pattern. Is this the kind of date where I get to keep your painting and you get to keep mine? Because I totally want to hang that up.”

Christen wrinkled her nose. “You want to keep this? Are you sure? I won’t be offended if it gets thrown out.”

“You made it with me. I don’t want to forget how amazing this date has been, and I’d love to look at this beautiful painting and remember it every day,” Tobin said, watching Christen intently to make sure that her insecurities faded away. 

Christen melted, smiling over at Tobin. Somehow, Tobin was able to make her feel like this catastrophe of a painting was actually something beautiful and something special. It might be a bit difficult to look at for too long, but it was a memory they made together. It was a chapter in their love story and Christen realized Tobin was right, she didn’t want to forget about it. 

Christen held the painting out for Tobin, her cheeks tinged a pretty shade of pink. “If you insist...this is for you, my love,” she hummed.

“Thank you very much,” Tobin smiled, pushing the painting she’d made for Christen across the table. “And this is for you.”

Christen gently picked up the canvas from the table. She handled it with care not just because it was still wet and drying, but because it was something Tobin made especially for her. 

“I can’t wait to have a whole house full of your art,” Christen grinned over at her girlfriend, her chest warming at the thought. 

“You’re welcome to take any and all that you want,” Tobin hummed, her eyes still tracing all the shapes that Christen had painted. 

Christen cleared her throat, feeling like this was another great opportunity for her to broach the housing subject. She opened her mouth to do so, but then Tobin chose that moment to continue speaking.

“This is actually really cool, Chris,” Tobin said, looking up from the painting and meeting Christen’s eyes. “The colors are seriously great, and I like how fluid your brushstrokes are. A lot of people have trouble with that.”

Christen sighed, this opportunity slipping through her fingers as well. She just decided to take the loss for the evening and talk about housing tomorrow. Instead, she focused on Tobin’s words and let Tobin’s compliments fill her to the brim with a shy sort of pride. She blushed deeply, feeling completely unworthy of the praise.

“Oh, um, thanks. I didn’t mean to do any of that...it just sort of happened when I was panic painting,” Christen chuckled, running a hand through her hair and then dropping her attention to the ring on her finger, fiddling with it nervously. 

Tobin could feel her chest warm at Christen’s shy, sweet reaction to the compliments. Christen was often confident and sexy, something that drove Tobin crazy and stoked the desire that was always present in her chest. However, it was less often that she got to see a shyer, more hesitant side to Christen, and when she did, Tobin made sure to appreciate that facet of her too. She made sure to notice the way that Christen blushed softly, the way that she sometimes rambled a little, the way that she played with the ring she’d gotten her for her Christmas to distract herself from praise. 

“I love you,” Tobin whispered. 

Christen looked up from where she’d been playing with the ring Tobin had given her and met Tobin’s gaze. She felt her heart flutter at the look in Tobin’s eyes, at the softness of her words. Even after all this time, even after hearing those three words hundreds of times, hearing Tobin say ‘I love you’ always took her breath away. 

“I love you too,” Christen replied with a smile. 

“Want to get some dinner?” Tobin asked, cocking her head to the side. 

“I could eat,” Christen winked. “But you should probably wash up first,” she added nodding at the paint all over Tobin’s hands and arms.

“Yeah, someone decided to get paint all over my arm,” Tobin teased, scooting out of her seat and kissing the top of Christen’s head. “I’ll hurry,” she mumbled before making her way to the main building at the garden center. 

Christen gathered their canvases and made her way to the front. As she waited for Tobin, Christen stopped by a table near the entrance to the garden with an assortment of hand-painted pottery. 

A small, heart-shaped dish that was stained a lovely shade of orange caught her eye. It had a small lock painted into the middle of the heart, and the edges were decorated with a series of yellow and white wildflowers. Something about it drew Christen in. She could picture her and Tobin putting their house keys in it, or jewelry or something. She could imagine them using this in a space that was both of theirs, and she knew she had to buy it. Maybe this would be the final push she needed to talk to Tobin about moving in together. So, she quickly purchased it from the instructor and stuck it in her purse. 

“I think I lost some arm hair,” Tobin laughed, lifting her right forearm up to show Christen the slightly red skin she’d had to rub the paint off of. 

Christen giggled and leaned forward to press a kiss to the newly cleaned area. “It’ll grow back.”

“I brought a towel,” Tobin said, reaching up to wipe the small dot of pink paint off of Christen’s face with a damp paper towel. 

Christen hummed at the gentle, delicate way Tobin swiped the towel across her cheek. It was a gesture tinged with such care and intimacy and love, and Christen knew that no matter what, she was going to ask Tobin to move in with her soon. She wanted to complete this next step more than anything.

“Good as new,” Tobin hummed, tossing the paper towel into the trash can at the garden entrance. She reached out a hand to take one of the canvases and linked her other hand with Christen’s now free hand. “Ooooh, I just thought of something sexy.”

Christen laughed and looked over at Tobin, lowering her voice so the other people on the sidewalk wouldn’t hear them. 

“Want to share?” Christen asked, her stomach tightening in anticipation.

“You ever seen those pictures of people who let their significant others paint their backs?” Tobin asked, her excitement palpable. 

Christen’s forehead creased as she tried to imagine how that could be sexy. “That sounds...messy?” she replied, her nose scrunched up in confusion.

Tobin couldn’t stop the loud laugh that left her lips. “Yeah, I guess it could be messy. We don’t have to do that,” she added, seeing the way Christen’s face scrunched up, possibly in distaste. 

“Hey, you tried kale smoothies for me. I can totally give sexy back painting a go,” Christen replied. 

“Painting on a shirtless you just sounds fun,” Tobin shrugged. “Obviously I’d get non-toxic, super gentle paint.” 

Christen paused and started to consider more than just the paint for a second. She had totally failed to realize this situation would require one or both of them to be topless, if not totally naked. She felt her opinion on the matter changing instantly. 

“I’m in,” Christen hummed, feeling heat pool low in her stomach and her skin prickle.

“All I had to say was shirtless, right?” Tobin said, cracking a smile. 

Christen waggled her brows and pulled Tobin to a stop when they reached her Subaru. “I’m a simple girl,” she murmured, leaning into Tobin and nuzzling her nose against Tobin’s. “All it takes is a shirtless you and I’m a goner.”

Tobin’s smile grew. “I love my family, and it’s been nice to be home, but I’m really ready to be able to get you topless any time I want,” Tobin whispered, pressing her lips against Christen’s. 

Christen let Tobin deepen the kiss, a small voice in the back of her mind telling her that they would get lots of topless time if they lived together.


JUNE 19th

“You can pass the ball with a little more force, Chris,” Tobin called across their practice field. 

Christen had been taking Tobin to train at the field near their houses for the last two weeks, only letting her take a few touches before insisting on a stretch and water break. Tobin loved that Christen was worried and wanted to take care of her, but she was chomping at the bit to actually play aggressively and train hard. 

“I know I can,” Christen shot back, sending an easy pass across the twenty or so yards that separated them.

“Baaaaabe,” Tobin begged, trapping the ball under her foot easily. “It won’t break. See?” Tobin jumped up and down on her right leg, proving that it was strong enough to stop a harder pass and hold up her body on its own. 

Christen put her hands on her hips and sighed. She knew this was frustrating, the slow recovery back to the same level Tobin had been at before her injury. But every day, Tobin was getting stronger and getting more and more of her skill back. It wasn’t a quick process, but it couldn’t be. It needed to be measured and purposeful and careful. Christen wasn’t going to let her desire to play with Tobin again, to do 1v1s against each other, to be physical and competitive, get in the way of that. 

Tobin flicked the ball over her head in a rainbow, smirking at Christen the entire time. She stepped forward and swung her right leg swiftly, sending the ball right back to Christen, probably harder than necessary. 

Christen trapped it and shook her head, a small smile on her lips. “Fine, fine. Back up, and we can do long balls. But only a few, Tobs,” Christen said sternly.

“Yesss!” Tobin cheered, pumping her fist at her side. 

“You still want to do shooting too, so only like ten or so of these with each foot,” Christen called out, striking the ball about chest height toward Tobin, the ball crossing the forty or so yards between them.

“What about seventeen?” Tobin challenged. “And then we can do twenty-three shots on goal,” Tobin added, trapping the ball with her chest and bringing it down to her left foot. 

“We’ll see,” Christen laughed, her cheeks hurting from smiling so much. Tobin looked so carefree, so content to be back on the field, with a ball at her feet. It was in her smile, in her laugh, in her easy, relaxed demeanor. Tobin looked like she was finally home and Christen couldn’t help but fall a little more in love.

“You’ve got heart eyes,” Tobin called, striking the ball and sending it toward Christen. 

Christen rolled those heart eyes as she brought the ball down with the inside of her foot. “So do you!” she yelled, flicking the ball up and volleying it toward Tobin as a bit of a challenge. 

“You look good in my shorts, that’s all,” Tobin said, glancing down at the number seventeen on Christen’s leg before she focused on the ball, trapping it easily and bending it back toward Christen. 

After trapping the ball, Christen pointed at the TOCA shirt Tobin had stolen from her a few weeks ago and never given back. “Yeah well you look good in my shirt. We’ve really blended wardrobes haven’t we?” 

“I like you in my clothes,” Tobin shrugged. “Plus, when you share wardrobes, you have twice the options.”

“All right smartypants, want to shoot now?” Christen asked, propping her foot on the ball.

“That was only like six passes,” Tobin whined. “This is what I get for dating a striker.” Tobin jogged toward Christen, ready to set up a few balls and take some shots. 

“Here I was thinking you’d be excited to shoot,” Christen grinned. “If you score more than me, I’ll let you skip the kale smoothies.”

“And if you score more than me, I’ll buy you pancakes for breakfast instead of a kale smoothie,” Tobin teased, just wanting to get out of Christen’s smoothie, no matter who won. 

Christen pulled her lower lip between her teeth and stepped closer to Tobin. “Forget the smoothies. If you win, we can try that...thing, that you’ve been wanting to try,” Christen smirked, reaching out to toy with the hem of the t-shirt Tobin had stolen from her. 

“You’ll come over right after this and we can do it?” Tobin asked, clarifying exactly what Christen was promising. 

“Right after,” Christen promised, hoping this was enough incentive to get Tobin to really focus on shooting to score, not just going through the motions to recover. A little competition was always the way to get Tobin excited.

“Deal,” Tobin said, a determined glint in her eye. “Prepare your fingers.”

Christen blushed and grabbed the bag of balls. She stood a few yards outside of the eighteen-yard box, the balls in a pile in front of her. 

“Ready? They only count if you hit the corners,” Christen said with a smile. 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know your rules, Ms. Press,” Tobin scoffed, stepping back and positioning herself to shoot. 

Christen sent a firm pass to Tobin’s right foot. She stepped out toward Tobin to give her some light pressure, just so it wasn’t too easy on her.

Tobin pulled the ball back with her right foot before using her left foot to move it around Christen in a crafty little move she hadn’t been able to successfully do since her surgery until right now, and sent a cracking shot into the upper ninety.

“22 more to go,” Christen grinned, high-fiving Tobin as she passed.

“And then we get to go to my house?” Tobin asked. 

“Unless I score all 23 too,” Christeen teased.

“Baaaaby,” Tobin groaned. She was determined to give it a good try, but imagining any world in which Christen missed one of the shots seemed impossible. 

“If we tie, we can go to your house too. But if I win, we get kale smoothies,” Christen replied, knowing full well she wouldn’t be getting a smoothie today. But she didn’t mind, not one bit knowing what awaited them. 

“Thank you,” Tobin said, kissing Christen quickly before jogging back into place. 

Tobin scored every single shot, as did Christen. When Christen’s final shot sank into the bottom corner of the goal, Christen laughed at the animated response from her girlfriend.

“We’re gonna do another first today! Are you excited?” Tobin asked, jumping up on and down on the grass. 

Christen could only shake her head as she walked over to Tobin, wiping the sweat from her face with the bottom of her shirt. “Not as jazzed as you are, Tobs.”

“Baby, this is a big deal for me. I’ve been wanting to do this for almost three years,” Tobin said, her smile spreading even wider across her face. 

“What if I suck at it?” Christen asked, her mouth dropping into a small pout.

“You probably will, but you’re super competitive, so you won’t stop until you win,” Tobin shrugged. 

Christen dropped her arms onto Tobin’s shoulders and pressed a quick kiss to her cheek. “I do really like winning,” she grinned.

“You know…” Tobin began, her smile making her cheeks ache. “When you liked my Instagram picture on accident freshman year, I was playing Fifa. It’s coming full circle. My girlfriend’s about to play it with me,” Tobin sighed. 

“Wait, you’re talking about Fifa?” Christen asked, leaning back, her brow furrowed.

“What did you think we were talking about?” Tobin asked, her eyes widening. 

Christen’s cheeks flamed. “Uh, nothing!”

“No, wait!” Tobin said, confusion taking over her entire brain. 

“Nope! BYE!” Christen yelled, backing away to run over toward their stuff so she could get water.

“Baby! What were you talking about?” Tobin yelled, running after Christen and wrapping an arm around her waist as soon as she caught her. 

“Tobs!” Christen shrieked, fighting against Tobin, but she was fighting a losing battle. 

“Please, tell me,” Tobin whispered against Christen’s ear, pulling Christen down to the grass with her. Tobin readjusted herself so that she was lying on the grass and Christen was on top of her, Tobin’s arms tightly around her waist. 

Christen wiggled against Tobin’s grasp, to no avail. She was trapped. With a sigh, she dropped her forehead to Tobin’s chest. 

“How were you talking about Fifa?” she grumbled, her cheeks still burning.

“I thought that’s what you meant. I’ve literally been playing Fifa indoors for months, and you’ve refused to play with me this entire time,” Tobin chuckled. “What were you talking about?”

Christen took a deep breath and just decided to take the loss. Tobin wouldn’t stop bugging her about this for the rest of her life, and she knew that with complete certainty. 

Christen lifted her head and dipped down so her mouth was right by Tobin’s ear. She whispered the thought she’d had ten minutes ago, the one she was sure they were both talking about. She kept her face buried in Tobin’s neck once she’d finished, embarrassment making her blush deepen.

“Can we do that instead?” Tobin asked, her cheeks red and her heart beating quickly with the new idea. 

“Nope, you won, we’re playing Fifa,” Christen mumbled.

“Can we do both? I’m injured,” Tobin pouted. 

“Your 23 goals say otherwise,” Christen chuckled, leaning back and looking down at her girlfriend.

“So you don’t want me to do that?” Tobin asked, arching an eyebrow in a challenge. “I mean, you’re already sweaty.”

At the feeling of Tobin’s hands wandering, at the cocky smirk on her face, Christen gulped. “Uh- I mean, um- both is great. Let’s do both. We should do both,” she stuttered out.

“The family’s going out tonight, so we should have the place to ourselves for a little while,” Tobin hummed, pressing a kiss to Christen’s forehead. 


“Ho- holy shit,” Christen panted, trying to catch her breath after collapsing back down onto Tobin’s bed. She threw one arm over her head and the other across her stomach, sucking in deep lungfuls of air.

Tobin couldn’t keep the smirk off her face. She ran her tongue over her lips and wiped her chin with the back of her hand. 

“We can do that any time you want,” Tobin sighed, kissing Christen’s shoulder. “That’s way better than Fifa.” 

Christen felt a smile tug at her lips at the cocky, self-assured tone she could hear in Tobin’s voice. She was too tired to form a coherent response, too blissed out to string a series of words together.

“You taste good,” Tobin mumbled, rolling over to wrap her arm around Christen and press her lips against Christen’s neck gently. 

With a happy sigh, Christen slung her arm across Tobin’s back, pulling her closer and tangling their legs together. 

“So do you,” she hummed, thinking about how she’d gotten the chance to go first, thinking about how she could still taste Tobin on her tongue. “You’re really great at all this, you know that?”

“I’ve learned from the best,” Tobin smirked, tracing shapes along Christen’s ribs with her index finger.

Christen chuckled and kissed the top of Tobin’s head. She loved these quiet moments that existed after the fire had burned out and left them both sated. Where they clung to each other and whispered words of love, where they pressed sweet kisses in some places and left gentle touches in others, simply because they couldn’t stop kissing and touching each other.

In these quiet moments, Christen always thought about how lucky she was. She always thought about how every day it felt like life with Tobin couldn’t get any better, and then every single day she was proven wrong because it did get better. She always thought about how they’d come so far and still had so far to go. 

Right now, she was thinking about the piece of pottery she’d been carrying around for two weeks and the question she really needed to finally ask Tobin. She’d been unable to find the words to ask for two whole weeks, but there was something about post-coital bliss that had her tongue loosening, that had the question falling from her lips. 

“Where are you living next year?” Christen asked quietly, her eyes on Tobin’s ceiling and her heart hammering in her chest. 

“Hmm...” Tobin sighed against Christen’s skin. She rolled her head to the side, to free her lips so that Christen could hear her response. “I’m not sure yet. Mal offered me a place in the house that she, Sam, and Rose are living in, but I’m not sure that I want to live with the three of them, no offense. I applied for a dorm and a random roommate in the senior class, so we’ll see what happens,” Tobin shrugged. She wasn’t thrilled about the new living situation. She felt like she’d been spoiled with Allie and Ashlyn and their townhouse. But, since Allie had been drafted to Portland, and Ashlyn was now going to be playing in Orlando, Tobin didn’t really have her roommates anymore or any of the furniture they’d supplied for their house. 

“Those your only two options?” Christen wondered.

“Yeah,” Tobin shrugged. “I don’t have furniture. That was Allie’s, so I can’t really rent a smaller house or an apartment without spending a ton on furnishing it. Dorms should be fine. It’s only one year.”

“I’ve got furniture,” Christen replied nonchalantly, her fingertips gliding across Tobin’s back. “Crystal’s got the couch, Pinoe’s got the recliners, Kelley supplies the snacks.”

“I’m glad you have furniture,” Tobin laughed. “I’m sure I’ll crash with you some this year if you let me, and I’ll be able to enjoy your furniture.”

Christen let out a long breath, resisting the urge to run her hand through her hair. “Okay, you’re going to have to be a bit more direct,” she thought to herself, a little entertained that Tobin hadn’t picked up what she was getting at yet. Christen knew it was definitely last minute at this point, but Crystal had just found the perfect house today and it had five bedrooms. 

“You could always enjoy the furniture and crash with me on a more...permanent basis?” Christen asked softly, her heart rate increasing again.

Tobin lifted herself up off of Christen, propping herself up on one arm to get a look at Christen’s face. 

“I don’t want to encroach,” Tobin said, her voice hesitant, despite how quickly her heart was beating in her chest, despite the fact that she wanted to say yes immediately. 

Christen held up a finger and slid out of bed. She walked over to her bag and grabbed the ceramic heart-shaped dish and came back to bed. She handed it over to Tobin, sliding back underneath the covers. 

“It’s a dish,” Tobin said, confused about what this could possibly mean, about what hidden meaning Christen was trying to express. 

“I was thinking we could keep our rings in it at night. You know, take them off before we go to bed in our room…” Christen trailed off, smiling a bit shyly.

“This is really sweet, baby,” Tobin smiled, tangling one of her hands in the hair at the back of Christen’s neck. “The dish and the invitation to move in. I just want to make sure that you’re sure and that your friends won’t mind.”

“The house we found has five bedrooms, and I think it would be pretty great if you’d come fill the last one,” Christen replied with a smile. “We all want you there.”

Tobin couldn’t help the smile that slowly slid across her face. “Living in the same house means sharing space all the time,” Tobin continued, trying to make sure that Christen had thought all this through. 

“Baby, we do share space. All the time,” Christen shot back, gesturing between the lack of space between them even now.

“I know,” Tobin laughed. “What if you get upset with me, and then we have to share the same kitchen, every single day?”

“Neither of us really cooks, so we’d probably struggle more with sharing the TV downstairs in the living room,” Christen teased. But seeing the slightly serious glint in Tobin’s eyes, she sobered. “But we’re going to be fine, baby. It won’t be all that different from how we did it last year. And if we need time or space or a break or something, that’s what our own rooms are for.”

“I don’t want space,” Tobin mumbled, laying back down and placing her cheek against Christen’s chest. 

Christen grinned and pressed a kiss to Tobin’s hair. “Me neither,” she hummed.

“So, you want to live with me,” Tobin verified, her voice taking on a bit of a teasing lilt. 

“I do, but this is more of a...group living situation. Like a cool little practice round before the real thing someday. If we can survive with Pinoe, Kelley, and Crystal around, we can survive anything,” Christen giggled, squeezing her arms tightly around Tobin and rocking them back and forth excitedly. 

If possible, Tobin’s heart beat faster when Christen used the word someday, when she talked about their someday when they’d live together, just the two of them. “And your roommates are aware that you’re asking me this?”

“They are. They’re really excited, baby,” Christen hummed. “The heart-shaped dish was all me though, they don’t know about that,” she added, a teasing lilt in her voice.

“I figured,” Tobin laughed, squeezing Christen a little tighter. “Thank you for asking,” Tobin sighed. “I really didn’t want to live in any of the dorms.”

“Now you don’t have to,” Christen replied softly. “The only thing I hadn’t really thought about was telling our parents....” she trailed off, cringing internally at the conversation she was going to have to have with her mom and dad. 

Tobin groaned slightly. She looked over at the clock near her bed. “Well, if you want mine to say yes, we should probably get dressed and leave this bed.”

Christen chuckled, tightening her arms around Tobin to keep her from getting up just yet, mirroring their positions from the field earlier. “Not yet, there’s one more thing I have to do.”

“Oh? What’s that?” Tobin grinned. It seemed like no matter how much time she spent with Christen, wrapped in her arms, pressed against her skin, breathing in the sweet smell of her shampoo, she couldn’t get over how lucky and happy and safe it made her feel. 

Christen used a hand to tilt Tobin’s head up so she could capture her lips in a kiss. She moved her mouth slowly, almost lazily, across Tobin’s, the pace unhurried. 

“Just wanted to seal the deal with a kiss,” Christen teased, kissing Tobin once more before scooting out of bed quickly. “Roomie,” she added with a wink over her shoulder, bending over to grab Tobin’s clothes from the floor and throw them at her.

“I’ll keep a drawer empty for you still,” Tobin mumbled, sliding out from under the sheets and catching her clothes that Christen tossed. 

Christen paused with her shorts halfway up her legs. She looked up at Tobin and beamed, feeling butterflies flutter around in her chest.

“You don’t have to, baby, I’ll be down the hall this time,” Christen replied, tugging her shorts on.

“It’s symbolic,” Tobin whispered. “Plus, I literally gave away half my t-shirts last year, so what else will I put in the drawer.”

Christen laughed and crossed the room. She wrapped her arms around Tobin’s waist and kissed the underside of Tobin’s jaw. 

“After all the ones you’ve stolen from me, you might not have space anymore,” Christen teased. 


AUGUST 1st

“I am so psyched Coach asked you to be a captain too,” Christen whispered, leaning over to squeeze Crystal’s arm excitedly.

“I’m like the ultimate third wheel now,” Crystal teased. 

“No, you’re not! You’re like...well, I guess you kind of are?” Christen laughed, relaxing back into the couch in the locker room.

“It’s okay. I love you both,” Crystal said, knocking her shoulder into Christen’s. “Where is Tobin, anyway? Usually, you both are attached at the hip.”

“Our moms needed the house keys so they could set up the kitchen,” Christen explained, shaking her head at the fact that Cindy and Stacy were unloading pots and pans that she and Tobin would probably never use. “So she stayed back to make sure they could get in.”

“Have they seen you two cook?” Crystal snorted. 

“They’re convinced we are going to ‘try it out’ this year since they bought us some nice kitchen supplies from Costco,” Christen replied with a chuckle.

“Honestly, they’re basically giving the kitchen supplies to me as a gift,” Crystal grinned. 

“See! The perks of third-wheeling already,” Christen winked.

“They bought us an air fryer,” Tobin announced when she pushed through the door to the lounge of the locker room. 

“I am so happy we roped you into rooming with us,” Crystal grinned, stretching her hands behind her head and relaxing into the couch. 

“Why? Stacy bought it,” Tobin laughed, bouncing down into the seat next to Christen. “She said she wants me to teach Chris how to cook. I don’t think she realizes that all I know is that one scone recipe.”

“Scones in an air fryer, now there’s an idea,” Christen teased, smiling over at Tobin and squeezing her knee gently in an unspoken hello. 

“There they are!” Coach Foudy called out with a large smile, striding into the lounge, a palpable pep in her step. It was a step they all understood because they had it too. With pre-season a day away, there was a sense of excitement in the air.

“Sup, Coach,” Tobin greeted, nodding her head up toward Coach Foudy. 

Christen slyly removed her hand from Tobin’s knee and leaned forward, placing her elbows on her knees.

“Hey, Coach!” Christen grinned.

“Foudy!” Crystal said with a smile.

“Heath, Press, Dunn,” Foudy nodded, pulling over a chair and sitting down. “So I hate to drag you away from move-in, but I wanted to sit down with you before pre-season officially starts and chat about some stuff.”

“Honestly, the break from moving is nice,” Tobin murmured, happy that her mom had offered to hang up some of her clothes in the closet while she was gone. 

Foudy cracked a smile. “I’m sure it is. What I really wanted to talk about is team chemistry. We’ve got some new freshmen coming in and I want them to get acclimated quickly. I know this environment is going to be even more competitive and intense with a third NCAA Championship on the line for you seniors. I just want them to get a chance to fit in.”

“We can definitely plan some bonding events,” Crystal offered. 

Christen brightened at the idea. “Yeah! There are a lot of really fun things we can do off the field to get everyone on the same page.”

“Escape rooms,” Tobin hummed. “Oooh or laser tag!” She couldn’t help but think about how dark laser tag rooms were, how she could possibly pull Christen into a corner, and they-

“Let’s avoid laser tag,” Foudy warned, already foreseeing how her competitive team would find a way to take it too far and maybe get injured.

“Yeah, dude. You just got cleared to play,” Crystal laughed, looking over at Tobin’s ankle. 

Christen tapped her foot against Tobin’s and looked over her shoulder at her. “We can do all the laser tag you want after we win the natty,” she said with a smile. “But I think an escape room sounds fun. Maybe a beach day or two, maybe get some fitness in out there so we’re not stuck on campus?” Christen continued, voicing a few other options.

“And team dinners are always good for getting to know everyone,” Crystal nodded. 

“That all sounds great, guys,” Foudy grinned. “I’ve got a good feeling about this year with you three All-Americans leading the team. What more could a coach want?”

“You’ll probably reassess that when you’re coaching your professional team,” Tobin said, cracking a smile at Foudy. 

“Yeah, Coach, I hear they got a lot of All-Americans at the Royals,” Christen joined in, feeling a bit bittersweet at the thought. Their final season here at UCLA was also Foudy’s last season. She was headed to Salt Lake City, Utah as soon as their season wrapped up.

“You could always try and draft us, that way you never have to miss us,” Crystal joked.

“You three are going to get snapped up faster than you think, and I won’t have much of a choice in that,” Foudy winked. 

“Well, why don’t we make this last year count then? Send us all out in style?” Christen asked, leaning back on the couch, her shoulder brushing against Tobin’s.

“While you’re here and we’re on the topic of going out in style…” Tobin began, a lopsided smile slipping onto her face. “We should talk about snacks.”

“Sour Patch Kids is not a locker room-appropriate snack, Heath,” Foudy chuckled.

“I don’t know. I hear they give you a good boost of glucose,” Tobin countered, happy to have made her coach laugh. 

Christen bumped her shoulder into Tobin’s. “You’re fighting a losing battle, Tobs. We can’t get anything except for plain oatmeal, the healthy peanut butter, and knock-off Goldfish.”

“What about graham crackers for the healthy peanut butter? Can we add that to the snacks?” Tobin countered.

Christen, Crystal, and Tobin watched as Foudy considered it. Finally, Foudy shrugged, “I’ll allow it.”

“This will be my legacy,” Tobin whispered under her breath. 

Christen snorted loudly and hid her mouth behind her hand. “Generations of Bruins to come will know who to thank for the upgraded locker room snacks,” Christen quipped.

“The important kind of legacy,” Crystal teased.

Coach Foudy grinned at the rapport between her captains and looked between them. “So, any of you three have something you’d like to talk about before I bring this first captain's meeting to a close?”

“Snacks were all I came for, so I’m good for now,” Tobin said. 

Christen rolled her eyes affectionately then looked over at Foudy. “What time do you want everyone in the locker room on the 3rd?”

Foudy shrugged. “Let’s say 8:45AM, fitness testing will start at 9. And Heath?” 

“Yes?” Tobin asked. 

“We’re running the beep test,” Foudy grinned, getting to her feet. “Bye, captains! See you soon!” she threw over her shoulder.

Tobin let out a long groan, leaning back in her seat and covering her eyes with her hands. 

Christen patted Tobin’s thigh. “It’s okay, baby, we practiced it all summer. You’ll be fine.”

“I know I’ll be fine. That doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy it,” Tobin grumbled. 

Crystal grinned as Tobin reached out to tangle her fingers with Christen’s, her eyes still shut. Crystal got to her feet and grabbed her backpack. 

“Don’t break the house tonight, Pinoe and Kel show up tomorrow, and I’m staying with my parents,” Crystal announced.

“Baby, she just gave us permission to-” Tobin began, her eyes still closed and a smirk across her lips. 

Christen slapped her hand over Tobin’s mouth, her cheeks tinged pink. She grimaced at her best friend. 

“We’ll see you tomorrow?” Christen asked, remembering their plan to get lunch together as captains.

“Lunch at 12:30. Have fun tonight,” Crystal laughed, pushing the door open and stepping out of the lounge. 

“We will!” Tobin yelled, her voice coming out in a garbled mess since Christen’s hand was still clamped over her mouth. 

Christen playfully smacked Tobin’s arm and got to her feet. “They’re going to regret living with us if we are this insufferable,” Christen teased, holding out her hand for Tobin to take.

“I’ll behave. Sorry,” Tobin smiled, taking Christen’s hand and intertwining their fingers. 

“Just until our moms clear out for the night,” Christen winked, pulling them out of the lounge.


“Okay, okay, I’ll get out of your hair,” Cindy laughed, tossing the last t-shirt at Tobin. 

“Thank you for helping, mom,” Tobin said, her heart clenching slightly the way it always did when she had to say goodbye. She hated goodbyes, and even though her family was only about an hour away, it was still hard to let them drive away. 

“Of course, sweetie,” Cindy nodded. “No way I’d miss helping you move for your last year at college.”

Even though she didn’t say it, Tobin could tell that her mom was thinking about what would happen at the end of the year, about how she could possibly get drafted somewhere across the country. As much as her parents supported her and her soccer, Tobin could see how hard it was going to be for them to let go. She could see how much this last year was going to mean to them. 

“You mind if I interrupt?” Stacy asked, knocking on the doorframe of Tobin’s room. 

“By all means. You’re my ride home,” Cindy laughed, beckoning Stacy inside. 

“I’ve got a little housewarming gift for you,” Stacy said, handing Tobin a small rectangular gift, wrapped in dark green paper. 

Christen followed the sounds of voices toward Tobin’s room on the far side of the second floor. She hovered in the doorway, eyeing the package her mom gave Tobin curiously. She didn’t know her mom had gotten Tobin anything, but it made her heart warm at the knowledge that her mom did that. 

Tobin looked to Christen, gauging whether or not Christen knew anything about what her mom had wrapped. Christen shrugged with a smile and nodded at the package, silently telling Tobin to open it.

Tobin ripped the paper, feeling a little self-conscious since she was the only one opening a gift. As soon as the paper had been ripped, Tobin could tell it was a framed picture of some sort. She looked down at the back of the picture frame where little metal clips held the picture in the frame. And judging by how thick it was, she could tell it was a double frame, one that opened like a book to reveal two pictures. She opened it carefully and looked down at the two pictures. 

The first picture on the left was a picture that Cody had taken of Christen and Tobin, posing with their NCAA trophy, both of them rosy-cheeked and sweaty and blissfully happy. It was the second one that really grabbed Tobin’s attention, though, because she’d never seen the picture before. 

It had been taken at the same game, without her knowledge.  Christen and Tobin were facing away from the camera, holding onto each other’s hands and planting, their faces turned up to the sky. It was a shot of just the backs of their jerseys. It was dorky and sweet and something only the two of them shared. 

“Thank you,” Tobin said, swallowing the tiny lump in her throat she felt when looking at pictures from that amazing day again. 

Christen pushed off the doorframe and walked over, stopping by Tobin’s elbow. She peered down at the photos and understood why Tobin sounded so emotional. She looked up at her mom with a smile on her face. 

“These are great, Mom,” Christen said, her voice soft. 

“I wanted to get it for you for Christmas, but the printer made a mistake, so I decided a housewarming gift is a good second occasion,” Stacy shrugged. 

“Those are great photos, Stacy,” Cindy complimented, taking the picture frame from her daughter so she could look at the photos. 

“We made pretty cute kids, I guess,” Stacy laughed. 

“Ugh, Mom!” Christen complained, hiding her face in Tobin’s shoulder.

“You don’t think I’m cute?” Tobin teased. 

“Not you too!” Christen chuckled, pinching Tobin’s side lightly as she leaned back.

“Stacy and I are tight. We have an understanding,” Tobin laughed. 

“Damn straight we do, kid. Now, Cindy, I’m feeling like a nice milkshake before we leave town. What do you say we leave the cute kids to it?” Stacy asked, wrapping her arms around Christen tightly. 

“Bye, Mom,” Tobin whispered as soon as she pressed her face into her mom’s shoulder and wrapped her arms around Cindy’s shoulders. “I love you.”

“I love you, kiddo. We’ll visit for the first game,” Cindy hummed. 

Christen turned in her mom’s arms and hugged her tightly. Her parents and Channing and maybe even Tyler were coming down to school in less than two weeks to go out for lunch with her and Tobin, but it still felt far away after spending all summer together. 

“I’ll see you soon. I love you,” Christen mumbled, her arms tightening around her mom.  

“I love you most, my sweet girl,” Stacy replied, her voice catching slightly.

After a few hugs and a few tears, Stacy and Cindy were on their way, waving as they got into Stacy’s car and headed out. 

“I had no idea my mom caught that on camera,” Christen whispered, her arm wrapping around Tobin’s waist as they walked back into the empty house.

“Me either,” Tobin admitted. “I’m glad she did, though. That was a big day.”

“We’ll need her to take another one in December,” Christen hummed.

“You gonna be one of those people who has a shelf dedicated to their trophies and pictures from big tournaments?” Tobin teased. 

“Our shelf would be so big, we’ve won a lot of things and we probably won’t slow down any time soon,” Christen replied, moving from Tobin’s side toward the fridge. “Want a water?” she called over her shoulder.

“Sure, baby,” Tobin nodded, leaning against the counter. “I know that our moms just spent an obscene amount of time putting cool gadgets in this kitchen, but do you want pizza?”

Christen groaned happily and shut the fridge, tossing Tobin a cold water bottle. “Have I told you lately that I love you?” she replied, beyond happy at the prospect of pizza tonight.

“Cheese? Veggie? Pepperoni? Pineapple?” Tobin prompted, already pulling her phone out. 

“What do you think?” Christen quipped, hopping onto the countertop next to where Tobin was leaning.

“Veggie’s already in my cart. I was just making sure you weren’t craving something different after moving so much furniture up the stairs,” Tobin said, holding her phone out to show Christen.

“Veggie is perfect. You know me so well,” Christen hummed, running her fingers through Tobin’s hair gently. She alternated between pushing Tobin’s hair away from her face and then behind her ears, and swooping it all the way over her head.

“I’m really happy,” Tobin whispered, wrapping one arm around Christen’s waist and ordering her pizza with her free hand. 

Christen grinned, feeling the exact same way. And then an idea popped into her head, an idea she’d been contemplating since they’d figured out this whole housing arrangement. 

“...so happy you’d consider doing a bit more work with me tonight?” Christen wondered, still brushing her fingers through Tobin’s hair.

“What kind of work?” Tobin asked, leaning back to look up at Christen. 

“Well...I just- I was kind of wondering if having two bedrooms was dumb,” Christen started, her focus on her fingers in Tobin’s hair. “And then I was wondering if maybe we could use one room mainly for storage and schoolwork, like more of an office, and then use the other for sleeping. Since it would be silly to switch where we sleep every other night or even every week-”

“Baby, you’re trying to sell me on something that I already want,” Tobin mumbled. 

Christen huffed out a laugh and looked down, into Tobin’s eyes. “You’d want to make your room, our room? Even after all the work you and your mom did today?”

“Of course. Baby, I already left one drawer empty, hoping we could move our clothes around and keep half of ours in each room. I don’t like sleeping without you. You know that,” Tobin hummed, pulling Christen even closer. 

“Just as long as we put everything back when either of our parents come to visit,” Christen warned, a teasing lilt in her voice.

“Or we just don’t take them up to our room,” Tobin said. 

Christen nodded and then kissed Tobin’s forehead, another long breath escaping her. 

“Were you worried about asking me that?” Tobin wondered out loud. 

Christen shook her head a bit. It was true, she wasn’t really worried, per se. She just knew that living in the same house, but separate rooms was very different from the same house and the same room. But she had no reason to worry. This was Tobin.

“No, baby. I just got nervous to ask for some reason, which is ridiculous,” Christen said, chuckling lightly at herself. “I knew you’d say yes.”

“So, you want to start moving things around before pizza gets here? Honestly, we could probably move both dressers in our room and put both desks in the office…” Tobin started to talk through moving the furniture. 

“I was thinking the same thing! And I already scoped out which wall our painting should go on,” Christen replied, kissing Tobin’s forehead again before hopping off the counter.

“I love you,” Tobin breathed out softly. 

“I love you more!” Christen threw over her shoulder, walking toward the stairs.

“Woah woah woah! We’ve talked about that!” Tobin said. 

“Have we?” Christen teased, pretending not to remember. She paused at the base of the stairs, waiting for Tobin to catch up.

“We love each other the same amount,” Tobin reminded, wrapping her arms around Christen’s waist. 

Christen patted Tobin’s cheek affectionately. “You love me now, wait until I move everything around in that room up there.”

“As long as I get to fall asleep with you, you can move anything you want,” Tobin mumbled. 


“To the left,” Christen instructed, closing one eye and poking the tip of her tongue out of the corner of her mouth.

“Remember when I was still recovering from surgery and you didn’t want me to do any work, and then I got better and you decided to boss me around again?” Tobin sighed, moving the painting to the left a little bit. 

“You like me bossy,” Christen quipped. “And go more left, baby.”

“I’m going left,” Tobin grumbled. 

“There!” Christen called out, right when Tobin hit the perfect spot on the wall for their painting.

Tobin pulled her hands away from the painting, not wanting to bump it and risk having to readjust again. She’d already carried Christen’s dresser, nearly by herself to the bedroom, and rearranged the clothes in the closet with Christen’s guidance. She stepped back, slipping on one of her sneakers that Christen had displaced from the closet and almost falling backward. 

Christen snorted at Tobin’s clumsiness and walked over, wrapping her arms around Tobin’s middle, pressing her front into Tobin’s back.

“You did good, baby,” Christen murmured, dropping a kiss to the side of Tobin’s neck.

“I’ve paid for the pizza, but I refuse to go get it from the front door after doing all this, so you’re up,” Tobin sighed, holding her phone out to show Christen that the delivery guy was almost to their house. 

Christen kissed Tobin’s neck once more. “Want a drink from the fridge?”

“Surprise me,” Tobin winked, flopping down on the bed. 

“Yes, ma’am,” Christen replied, turning on her heel and walking out of the room. 

Tobin looked around the room, taking in the two dressers that stood side-by-side against the left side of the room. The pictures that Stacy had given Tobin sat on her dresser on the right, and Christen’s jewelry box sat on her dresser on the left. On the bedside table was the small ceramic, heart-shaped dish that Christen had given Tobin. It held their matching rings for them, a safe place for their safe place rings.

The closet was packed with clothes, half were Tobin’s and half were Christen’s. Their soccer bags, coats, and jackets were in the other room’s closet. Christen had hung her twinkly lights up against the right wall next to the bed, and the painting was situated right over the headboard of the bed. The other paintings they’d made on their garden painting date were hanging above their dressers. 

Christen had graciously told Tobin that her bedsheets would be fine. They would use Christen’s when Tobin’s needed to be washed. The truth of the matter was that neither of them wanted to strip and remake the bed, at least not tonight. 

Tobin hadn’t really expected this. She wasn’t certain that Christen would want to move their things into the same room. She wasn’t positive that Christen wanted their lives so intertwined, but she would never complain. It was practical since they slept together every night, and it gave Tobin butterflies, just looking around at all of their stuff in one space. It made her think about possible futures and somedays and forevers. 

“So I wasn’t sure which flavor you wanted, so I grabbed raspberry lime and lemon,” Christen announced, walking back into the room with two pizza boxes and two cans of sparkling water.

“What’s your favorite?” Tobin asked, reaching for the pizza boxes. 

“Whichever one you don’t want,” Christen winked, holding up the two cans for Tobin to decide.

“Didn’t you once say the lemon flavor tasted like ass?” Tobin laughed. 

Christen grimaced, but couldn’t deny it. “It’s not great, but I can do it if you want the raspberry…”

“I’ll take the lemon, and save you the pain,” Tobin sighed. Lemon was a perfectly fine flavor, and she wasn’t sure why Christen didn’t like the lemon-flavored sparkling water, but she wouldn’t question it. 

“Thank god. I love you soooo much,” Christen replied, hopping up onto the bed after handing Tobin the lemon sparkling water.

Tobin turned the twinkly lights on and set her computer up for a movie before climbing into bed beside Christen. 

“First night in our first kind of place, what are we watching?” Christen asked, tapping her hands on the pizza box like it was a drum roll.

“I feel like this is a big decision,” Tobin said. 

“It is, baby. Better choose wisely,”  Christen replied with a smile.

“Last week you said you haven’t watched Stick It in years. Want to refresh your memory?” Tobin suggested. 

Christen’s mouth flopped open and her eyes lit up. “Heck yes! I love that movie,” she replied excitedly.

“I wonder why?” Tobin laughed, her words dripping with sarcasm. 

“The writing is chef’s kiss,” Christen shrugged, leaning forward to cue up the movie.

“Baby, you have a type,” Tobin muttered, taking a bite of her pizza. 

“You’re the only type for me, the rest is irrelevant,” Christen replied, pulling up the movie and then settling back beside Tobin. 

“Mhm,” Tobin sighed, “You’re telling me you don’t look at Hayley in this movie and think she’s hot?”

“I look at you and think you’re hot,” Christen beamed, shoving a slice of pizza in her mouth to get around answering.

“That didn’t answer the question, cutie,” Tobin winked. 

Christen pointed to the pizza in her mouth and shrugged, turning back to the screen. She reached out and tangled her fingers with Tobin’s, squeezing lightly to let Tobin know the only person she cared about was her.

“It’s the abs isn’t it?” Tobin teased when Hayley got out of the ice bath. 

Christen set aside her pizza box. She leaned over, pulled up Tobin’s t-shirt, and looked at her abs. 

“Yup, definitely the abs,” she grinned, winking up at Tobin and then dropping a kiss to Tobin’s stomach. She leaned back with a smile, grabbing her pizza box and putting it back on her lap. 

“Hmm...got it. It’s the curls for me,” Tobin whispered, twirling one of Christen’s curls around her index finger. 

Christen blushed and turned to look at Tobin, her mind no longer on the film. She had the wherewithal to reach out and pause the movie though. 

“What is it about my hair? You really like it. And it’s just...hair?” Christen asked with a small laugh.

“No I don’t,” Tobin laughed. “I really love it. It’s just soft, and it smells good, and it’s so natural and so you. When I hug you, I automatically smell it, so it’s just become...safe. It’s home. I love when you wake up and you haven’t put anything in it, and it’s a little wild, and I love when you get out of the shower and the curls are still a little wet and shiny. I don’t know,” Tobin shrugged, turning back to the movie. “It isn’t even the first thing I noticed about you, although I did notice it quickly. I guess I just like your hair because it’s yours.”

Christen let her eyes track across Tobin’s features as her heart swelled in her chest. Sometimes it was overwhelming how much Tobin loved her. But it was overwhelming in the very best way. It might render her speechless and send her into awe-struck silence, but it was a good kind of quiet. It let her sink into the moment and let every word from Tobin’s lips, every ounce of love within them, wash over her. 

“You don’t even try to say things like that, do you? It’s just...natural,” Christen whispered, her voice a little shaky as she reached out to run her fingertips along Tobin’s cheek.

“I’m just being honest,” Tobin said, her voice soft. She turned to look at Christen and noticed the softness in her girlfriend’s eyes and the tenderness on her face. She hadn’t meant to make Christen emotional. She’d just wanted to compliment her, to gush about something that she had always loved about Christen, something as superficial as hair. “Loving you is natural.”

Christen nodded, feeling the exact same way about Tobin. Loving Tobin was as easy as breathing sometimes. It was instinctual and so much a part of her, she didn’t always have to think about it. 

“I think we might have been made to love each other,” Christen whispered, still running her fingertips across Tobin’s cheek, up and down, just gazing at Tobin with every bit of love she was feeling. She blushed a little at the admission, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t all that different from soulmates or forevers, which they’d already said. 

“That’s pretty serious, baby,” Tobin breathed, pressing her face into Christen’s touch. 

“Good thing I’m serious about you,” Christen replied softly.

“Serious enough to…” Tobin thought for a minute. 

“Take the pizza boxes downstairs?” Christen supplied, her smile growing.

“Oh that’s a good one,” Tobin laughed. “I was gonna say learn how to surf or something.”

“Consider it considered,” Christen hummed, leaning forward to kiss the corner of Tobin’s mouth, grabbing the empty box from Tobin’s lap. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.”

“Make it a quick jiffy,” Tobin mumbled, already feeling needy and grabby and sleepy, like she needed cuddles and nothing else for the rest of her life. 

“The quickest jiffy in the universe of jiffys,” Christen winked, hopping from the bed with the pizza boxes and empty cans in her hands. She ran down the stairs, discarded everything on the counter to deal with tomorrow, and hurried back up the stairs, taking them two at a time.

“Wow, no wonder you always beat everyone on the field,” Tobin grinned. 

“I only use my speed powers for good,” Christen teased, jumping back into bed and then holding open her arms. “Come here,” she added at a whisper, already knowing instinctively that that was what Tobin wanted and needed.

Tobin rolled into Christen’s arms, sinking into her body immediately. “Since we’re taking ceramics together this semester, can we reenact that scene from Ghost ?”

Christen snorted, running her hands up and down Tobin’s back. “Isn’t someone naked in that?”

“I haven’t actually seen the movie...I just know it’s a sexy scene,” Tobin admitted. 

“I haven’t either, and I’m the romcom fan of the two of us,”  Christen replied with a breathy laugh. “Maybe we could just make our own version of it then? With far more clothes involved, of course. There are like fifteen other people in the class with us.”

“Clothes are lame,” Tobin sighed against Christen’s skin. 

“So lame, especially since we’re wearing them right now,” Christen teased.

“Oooh, would you like me to disrobe you?” Tobin laughed, poking her fingers into Christen’s sides. 

“We’ve got all night, baby. Let’s just lay like this for a while,” Christen hummed, content just to hold Tobin for now. “This is a pretty perfect moment.”

“Mhm,” Tobin mumbled. 

“Every moment with you always is,”  Christen whispered, pressing a kiss to the top of Tobin’s head.

“You’re feeling sappy because of the month, aren’t you?” Tobin teased, wiggling even closer to Christen. 

“It’s not every month that I get to celebrate a whole year of being yours. It’s pretty special,” Christen shrugged, a smile tugging at her lips at the thought. In a few weeks, it would be exactly one year since Tobin showed up at her hotel room in San Diego, since the two of them had decided to give this thing a shot.

“Do you have any secret plans?” Tobin asked. They’d been busy moving and getting back into proper shape for preseason. Neither of them had really talked about any plans they were cooking up. 

“I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve,” Christen grinned.

“Oh, and I’m just supposed to go along with them and throw my plans to the wayside?”

“That, or we can just make it a surprise-palooza and do both,” Christen replied, chuckling a bit at the indignation in Tobin’s tone.

“That sounds perfect,” Tobin sighed, clinging onto Christen’s shirt and burying her face against her neck. 

Perfect. Christen was inclined to agree with Tobin’s choice of word. Tonight was perfect, their impending one-year anniversary was perfect, their everything was perfect. Nothing could touch them and shatter the perfection of this moment.


AUGUST 2nd

Tobin’s head jerked up when her phone buzzed beside her on the bed. Christen’s head was on her chest, and her arm was pinning Tobin’s hips to the bed. Tobin reached for the phone with one hand, cringing when she saw that it was 6:12AM, way too early to be up on one of the last days before preseason. She looked at the number, her eyebrows scrunching in confusion when she saw that it was an international number. 

Her first thought was of Lindsey Horan. She’d left Penn State after last spring, having been called to play for PSG. She and Tobin had talked some over the summer. They’d played a few card games over FaceTime when Tobin was too injured to walk around, and Tobin had given her advice about some difficult moments at practice and with her coach. She felt slightly worried when she thought about what could possibly make Lindsey call her so early in the morning. 

Tobin lifted Christen’s arm off of her hips and slid carefully out of bed so that Christen’s head rested softly against the pillow. She slipped on a pair of shorts and tiptoed down the hall to the room that had been Christen’s, the room they now called the office. Tobin took one last deep breath, trying to wake herself up more before the conversation that awaited her on the other side of the ocean. 

“Hello?” Tobin asked, keeping her voice low.

“Is this Tobin Heath?”

“That isn’t Lindsey,” was Tobin’s first thought. It felt like her brain was too slow, like she was racing to catch up with the voice on the other end of the line, like she was still in bed, still asleep with Christen’s leg thrown over her thighs. 

“Yes,” Tobin mumbled. 

“Hi there, I’m Marissa Duncan. I’m the head women’s football coach here at Arsenal FC. I was wondering if I could talk to you for a few minutes? I wasn’t sure if you were in California or New Jersey, so I apologize for the early hour if you’re on the west coast.”

“I live in California now, but it’s not a problem,” Tobin said, her back tensing in preparation for whatever was about to be said. There was no reason that anyone from Arsenal should be calling her. There was no reason another coach should be calling her. There was no reason someone in England should be calling her. Tobin closed the door to the office, walking toward the bed and leaning against the mattress. 

“Spectacular! So I’ll get right to the point, Tobin. We’ve been keeping track of you over there in the States. Kept an eye on your recovery, spoken to your coaches at UCLA and Penn State. After all we’ve seen, we think you’d be a great fit for us. We’re a relatively young program, only been around for two seasons. But we’re building and growing every day, and we’d like you to be a part of that process.” 

Tobin’s heart was thrumming. This felt like one of the many dreams she’d had since she was a little kid. It felt just how she’d imagined it would. Someone wanted her to play for their team. And this wasn’t any team. This was Arsenal. It was a young team, meaning she’d be a big fish in a small pond, meaning she’d actually get significant minutes of play. 

“Wow, that’s incredible. I’m honored. Do you want me after I graduate?” Tobin asked, her brain still muddled and sleepy, her excitement fogging her brain. 

Marissa laughed on the other end of the line. “I was thinking a bit sooner than that. How’s next week?”