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Soulmates

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“What ya doing babe?” I ask as I yawn and then squint at the time on the clock on the wall. “Honey; its three in the morning. Please come to bed.”

“I’m sorry Kel; I didn’t mean to be up this late but I just got so involved in work that I lost track of time” Hope says as she turns to face me; a slightly guilty look on her face. “Am I keeping you up baby?”

“You’re not keeping me up; I just miss your warm body next to me” I say as I slowly pad over to the sofa and sit down next to Hope. “What are you working on?”

“I was just compiling my research for when we head out to France” Hope says as I lay my head on her shoulder. “I just wanted to make a few notes on different teams and different players I am not as familiar with so I can get a good understanding of everyone and not just the people I know.”

“That’s good babe but I am sure it can wait until the morning” I say as I close the lid on Hope’s laptop.

“I didn’t save that” Hope says and suddenly I am wide awake now.

“Oh, fuck Hope; I am so sorry” I say as I immediately open the laptop lid again; internally praying all of Hope’s info and work is still there.

“It autosaves every ten seconds and I haven’t added anything new for over a minute” Hope says with a cheeky smile as I slap her arm.

“I actually thought I had lost all of your work there; I felt so bad and guilty” I say as Hope laughs before she kisses me.

“Come on; let’s go to bed” Hope says as she stands up and holds out her hand for me to take. “I would carry you but you gave me a row for carrying a litre bottle of water yesterday in case I hurt myself or the baby and you are definitely heavier than that.”

“I would never think you would hurt the baby” I say as Hope smiles.

“I know that babe; I was just trying to make a valid point” Hope says as I take her hand. “I need to stop off at the bathroom to pee and clean my teeth before we get into bed. I won’t do both at the same time obviously because that would be weird.”

I just laugh at Hope as I shake my head in amusement. Hope’s slowly progressing and feeling better every day but there’s no time limit on grief; it can hit you any time or anywhere. Alice was a huge part of Hope’s life and she was the first person who truly loved and supported Hope. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what Hope is feeling but lately she has been less sad; her smiles are more genuine and she can talk about grandma Alice fondly.

I’m glad Hope can talk to her brother as well; those two have really turned a corner in their relationship. The only sad part; other than Alice’s passing is that Hope doesn’t speak to her mom any more. Hope won’t tell me what happened specifically other than they had a disagreement in Seattle before Alice’s passing and they’ve barely communicated since. I know I need to be patient with Hope and allow her the time to process things before she tells me but it worries me when I’m not around. Hope is very independent and I understand that she likes to do a lot of thinking on her own; she’s not made of glass and isn’t going to break or shatter if I’m not there but I still want to be there even if she doesn’t need me to be.

“Babe; you, ok?” Hope asks; her mouth full of toothpaste and a toothbrush. “You kind of zoned out.”

“Sorry; I was just thinking about stuff” I say as I offer Hope a genuine smile before I kiss her cheek. “I was just thinking about my emotionally strong wife; I love you.”

“Wuv ya too” Hope mumbles through the foaming toothpaste before she spits it down the sink. “Sometimes I can be going about my business just fine and then it hits me; that I’ve lost her. I know she wouldn’t want me to mope around feeling sad and upset; she told me as much. I think it helps though; its ok to feel down or upset. It’s also ok to feeling happy too; she lived a long life and she knew for the last two years that her time was coming to a close. She used to talk about it all the time and she was ok with that; she accepted that when she went then she wouldn’t mind. She lost my grandpa a lot earlier than she ever thought she would and the strength and resilience she had to keep going after that astounded me. I didn’t make her life easy at times; I know I didn’t but she still loved me and she helped me make peace with everything. I will struggle at times Kel; everyone will but I’m getting there.”

“I know you are babe “I smile softly as Hope pats her face dry with the towel before she pulls me into a hug.

“You’re my rock Kelley O’Hara” Hope smiles. “Let’s get you to bed; you have your last game with Utah tomorrow before you set off to win another World Cup.”

/

“Nice goal out there tonight babe; I wonder who taught you how to round a goalkeeper like that” Hope says as she pulls me into a side hug and kisses my temple as we walk up the tunnel.

“That’s a secret” I say as I laugh loudly. All those practices with Hope certainly did me justice tonight; I knew exactly which way the goalkeeper was going to move.

“Goalkeepers need to be subtle with their movements, otherwise if they make them too obvious then they are easily predicable and run the risk of being scored on” Hope says as she walks me to the locker room.

“Good job I have an awesome wife who can give me tips and tricks to beat a keeper” I say before we stop outside the locker room.

“I will get you outside at the car when you are ready babe” Hope says as she kisses my cheek. “I want to catch coach Harvey before we leave.”

“Ok baby; see you soon” I say as I depart and then go into the locker room.

“Hey” Christen says softly as I sit down next to her. “How’s Hope doing?”

Christen has being trying to give Hope and I some space so when Hope is in town, Christen stays with Rachel Corsie. They used to share an apartment last year but since Christen and I decided to share this year then Rachel’s had the place to herself. Christen thought it would be best to give Hope and I some time alone.

“She’s doing ok” I say with a nod as Christen smiles softly. “You know you didn’t have to leave the house.”

“I just wanted to give you two some privacy” Christen says as she places her hand on my leg. “I will be back home tonight though so I can get ready for heading to camp tomorrow; are you all ready to go.”

“Yep; all set to go to camp and then to win another world cup” I say as Christen and I smile at one another. We giddily laugh together; both of us remembering when we were two kids at Stanford having no idea that we would be capable of not only playing in Olympics and World Cups but also winning them.

“It’s been really good that we could travel on this journey together; from Stanford to the national team to Utah” Christen says as I nod; the nostalgia overcoming me.

“Journey is not over yet Press; I’ve got a few more tournaments left in me” I say as Christen laughs.

“Ditto O’Hara but let’s just focus on this one just now” Christen says as I nod in agreement. We’ve got a couple of friendlies with the US national team to send us off before we fly out to France in just under two weeks.

“One tournament at a time; one match at a time” I say. That’s all we can do; take it one step at a time. “Do you want to join Hope and I for some dinner?”

“Thanks for the invite but I’ve got plans with a bubble bath and then a facetime call with Tobin” Christen declines politely. “The game was pretty rough tonight so I can’t wait to relax in the tub.”

“Hope and I will grab a quick dinner and then we will be home; we won’t disturb your relaxing time though” I say as I stand up to go over to my locker to get ready.

“Ok Kel; see you later” Christen says as I walk off and offer her a wave.

I get ready as quickly as I can so I don’t keep Hope waiting for too long outside. I am also really hungry for my dinner as well so that gives me the extra motivation to go quicker.

“Hey baby” Hope says when I approach her as she leans against the car waiting on me.

“Hi” I reply as I peck Hope’s lips and hug her.

“I thought we could go to that pizza place you like; it will be a long time before we are back in Utah” Hope suggests and I agree. “I also thought we could maybe treat this like a date. We’ve not been on a date recently and I think it’s time that I treat my wife.”

“I wouldn’t say no to that” I reply with a smile as I lean in to steal another kiss. “let’s go babe. We mustn’t be late for our date.”

/

“To you; my awesome and gorgeous wife” Hope says as she holds her glass in the air as she proposes a small toast.

“To my equally awesome and gorgeous wife” I respond with a smile as I lift my water glass into the air and clink it against Hope’s glass.

“To us; awesome and gorgeous people” Hope grins before we both take a sip of water. “Do you want to split two pizzas?”

“Of course; why change our date routine when it is going so well?” I ask as I close my menu; I already know what we are going to order. It will be a meat medley pizza and a vegetable supreme pizza; with a side of salad for us both.

“I remember when you first brought me here” Hope smiles as she reaches over the table and places her hand in mine. “You told me that although I like to think I know Italian food because of my Italian heritage that this place would give me an education on Italy that I didn’t even know. I have to say you were right babe; I’ve learned so much just from the little quotes and facts on the menus.”

“It feels like a genuine Italian restaurant; one you would probably find in Italy” I reply as a thought pops into my head. “You should totally take me on vacation there; you always said you wanted to take me to Italy.”

“We are pretty busy this year but maybe we could wait off and go as a three; you, me and the little baby” Hope says and I can’t help but smile at the idea.

“Sounds perfect to me” I say before the waitress comes over to take our order.

This place is so relaxing and I love that its somewhere that both Hope and I have shared dates at before. It’s a bit like a tradition; to come here at least once every so often.

“Like you said; the rest of this year is going to be super busy so we should enjoy our date tonight” I say as Hope hums in agreement. Sometimes its nice to just take a step back and enjoy a simple date with nice food and great company.

“I actually found this really nice restaurant online; its in the heart of Paris and I am really hoping that if we both get some time off during the world cup that maybe I could take you” Hope says as she grazes her thumb over the back of my hand. “I did want to take you up the Eiffel tower and propose to you but we’re already married and you know heights and I are not that fond of one another.”

“It also sounds pretty cliché; I prefer something unique and different from everyone else” I say as Hope grins. “I think the way you proposed was perfect actually. If you ever feel like a do over you could always propose to me again in a few years and we could renew our vows.”

“Let’s just see if you can last being married to me for a year first before we decide on renewing vows” Hope says as I laugh.

“A year is miniscule compared to a lifetime and a lifetime is exactly the amount of time I want to be married to you” I say with a wink as Hope throws a wink back my way.

“Good answer, you smooth operator” Hope says as I can’t help but laugh at her cheesiness.

“I love you.”

“Love you too beautiful” Hope answers back as she continues to rub the back of my hand. “I will love you even more if you let me take you out for ice cream after pizza.”

“Honey I would let you take me anywhere” I add as Hope grins.

“Except to a nudist beach; you didn’t like it there for some reason when we went last summer” Hope says as we both cackle at the memory. I’m still not sure how we ended up there when all we did was go out on a hike with Sasha and Onyx.

“To each their own but no one’s seeing me in my birthday suit unless it’s my wife” I say as Hope smirks. “I know its not sexual and your body is your body and you should be proud. I am proud; I just don’t want to share it with complete strangers. I guess it’s supposed to be liberating; it just isn’t me.”

“It must be so cold walking around with no clothes on all the time” Hope says as I shrug in amusement. “And then when its warm you would need to make sure there is sunblock covering every inch of your skin.”

“With fair skin like mine you really would” I comment as Hope hums loudly.

/

“Thank you for walking me to my door; I enjoyed the date” I say as we stand outside the house; Hope’s arms around my waist and her chin on my shoulder as I search through my purse for the key to the house.

“Are you going to invite me inside?” Hope asks teasingly as she kisses the side of my neck. “I had a really fun date too but I don’t want to be presumptuous and assume I can come inside.”

“What would you do if I said no?” I ask as I fire back just as teasingly as I turn in Hope’s arms to face her; my hands hooking around her neck.

“I would ignore you and follow you inside anyway” Hope says as she leans down and captures my lips in a slow kiss. Any witty response I had prepared as a comeback is long forgotten as my brain focuses on my wife.

“I don’t usually let my dates inside after only one date” I say as we pull out of the kiss but Hope just smirks at me.

“Good job this isn’t our first date” Hope says with a teasing smile before she reaches into my purse and grabs the key. “Its also good that I know all the right things to say or do to persuade you to let me in anyway.”

“Is that so?” I ask as Hope nods eagerly before she puts the key in the lock and unlocks the door.

“Oh yes” Hope answers as she swings the door open and gestures for me to go inside first.

“I was thinking; maybe a massage to finish this date” I suggest as Hope hums lowly before she has me pinned against the back of the front door.

“Maybe something else as well” Hope says as she presses her body against mine; the small bump from her stomach keeping us further apart than we would normally be. Its so sexy though; the thought of Hope carrying our baby.

“I will do whatever you want” I say as I lean in for a quick peck that soon turns into something heavier when Hope’s tongue slips into my mouth. My mind goes blank for a second; I’m too busy focussing on the way Hope’s tongue is expertly exploring my mouth and making the pit of my stomach fill with excitedness.

“I wanna fuck you from behind” Hope whispers in my ear as we pull out of the kiss before she slowly walks away from me; leaving me leaning against the door like a horny teenager. “Meet me in the bedroom when you’re ready baby.”

Oh; I will be ready in two seconds flat. Something you don’t waste when you have your beautiful and sexy wife waiting on you is time. I really wish I had put on sexier underwear though but I can’t change that now.

Five minutes is all it takes me to go through my night time routine in the bathroom before I slip on my robe and make my way to the bedroom; a bottle of massage oil in my hand.

“Hey baby…” I say; the bottle of massage oil almost slipping out of my hands when I see the scene in front of me. Hope is lying atop the bedcovers with nothing but a silk lingerie set on her body.

“Hi beautiful; do you want to join me?” Hope asks as I nod my head enthusiastically before I turn the lock on the bedroom door. Christen is likely down the hall in her own bedroom and I know she would never come to my room but its best to lock the door just in case.

“You bet I do” I say as I rush over to the bed and straddle Hope’s hips; my ass landing on her thighs.

“Who wants to go first for their massage?” Hope asks as she smiles up at me; her ocean blue eyes filled with love and lust. I love this look in her eye; it really gets my heart racing because I know I am the only person Hope would look at in this way.

“I want to massage you first” I say gently as I squeeze the oil onto my hands before rubbing my hands together to heat it up. I start slow; rubbing the oil over Hope’s shoulders and chest as my hands go around in circular motions. I am careful not to go too close to the swell of Hope’s breasts in her brassiere because I know I would get far too distracted and never finish the massage. I move from her chest; very lightly rubbing over the part of her breasts that are showing before I trail my hands down onto her ribs and over her stomach. Hope’s stomach is very lightly swelled; not by much which is normal at this stage because bumps won’t normally show until the second trimester. I can tell there is a small bump though so I massage it gently before spreading my hands over to her sides and then down over her hips. I keep the massage appropriate because I genuinely want Hope to relax and benefit from it; I am not just doing it to satisfy my own sexual needs.

I move onto Hope’s thighs next but before that I squeeze more oil into my palms and rub them together before I gently get to work. I move my hands in firm circular motions; making sure I thoroughly rub every muscle and area of skin I find.

“That feels good baby” Hope moans as I rub her feet.

“Good” I say as I gesture for Hope to turn over onto her stomach. I don’t make her lie on her stomach for long; its ok for her to lie on her stomach at the moment because the pregnancy is in the early stages. I massage the back of her body as quickly and carefully as I can; really trying to focus on the task at hand but when my hands meet her ass, I can’t help but get carried away.

“Kel?” Hope utters.

“Mmhm” I hum; not even realising I am practically groping Hope’s ass.

“I think the oil’s absorbed enough on my bum cheeks” Hope says as she laughs gently before I let her turn back over onto her back.

“Sorry about that… can you really blame me though?” I ask as Hope giggles before she pulls me down for a kiss.

“Your turn babe; do you want me to do your back or front first?” Hope asks as we swap places on the bed and Hope straddles me.

“Either is fine but I must warn you…” I start as Hope squeezes oil into her palms.

“What?” Hope asks.

“I am fully naked under this robe” I say as Hope bites her lip as she stares at me. “I had to take my unflattering panties off and didn’t have an alternative to hand.”

“I am never going to be able to focus to give you a proper massage now” Hope says with a pout as I laugh gently. “You either keep the robe on and get an awkward massage as I try to avoid the material or we remove the robe and I get so lost in your glorious body that I won’t do it properly.”

“Sounds like a good challenge for you either way babe” I say before I untie the robe and slip it off my shoulders. “I prefer the latter though.”

“Fuck” Hope mutters as she unashamedly gawks at me. “Yeah, this will be difficult.”

“Yeah” I laugh seductively before pulling Hope down by the neck and connect our lips together in a passionate kiss.

/

“Can you not sit still for five minutes at least?” Christen asks as I wriggle around in my airplane seat. I’m stuck with the middle seat while Hope is sprawled out against the window sleeping soundly and Christen has the aisle seat where she can stretch her legs if she wants. We are on our way to New Jersey for National team camp.

“No, I can’t; do you want the middle?” I ask as I pout and sigh dramatically loudly. “Please just trade with me Press; I’m really uncomfortable and I don’t want to wake Hope up to ask to switch with her. You know she doesn’t like flying so its better if we can let her sleep.”

“I will switch with you for half an hour and then we switch back” Christen says as I nod eagerly before I pull Christen in for a hug.

“You’re the best, best friend” I say as we trade places. The flight attendant gives us a bit of an unimpressed look but I don’t really care. I need space to relax without being squished between two grown women.

“Half an hour and that’s all you are getting” Christen warns as she puts her safety belt on as she tries to get comfortable in the middle.

“Not a minute more; I promise” I say as I smile at Christen.

I totally go back on my promise because thirty-five minutes later I fake that I am asleep so that Christen won’t wake me up. Christen’s too nice of a person to disturb someone when they are sleeping so I use this to my advantage. It is sneaky and manipulative of me but I really don’t want to have to sit in the middle again.

Thankfully the plane journey ends after a couple of hours.

“Wakey-wakey you two” Christen says gently before she shakes me and then shakes Hope softly. “We’ve just landed and I want off this plane.”

“Hey Press?” I say as I stand up and stretch before I reach into the overhead luggage compartment to try and grab my bag, unsuccessfully doing so. “I was fake sleeping.”

“I know you were” Christen says as she grins back at me.

“Why didn’t you wake me up then?” I ask confused as Christen shrugs.

“Because I was being nice” Christen says as she smiles. “You are buying me dinner as a thank you sometime this week.”

“Deal” I say just as Hope awakens.

“Good sleep baby?” I ask as Hope smiles softly.

“I got a better sleep when Christen took the middle because she wasn’t elbowing me constantly like you were” Hope says as she stands up from her seat as she yawns. “I’m still so tired though.”

“You can nap when we get to the hotel” I say as I hold my hand out for Hope. “First though; can you grab my bag from up there because I can’t reach.”

“That’s what happens when you are five foot two” Hope says as I punch her arm.

“I’m five foot five; smart ass” I reply as Hope laughs.

“I thought you were five foot four and three quarters” Christen asks as she laughs this time.

“Can someone taller than me just get my bag for me please?” I ask as I fake huff before Hope easily reaches up and grabs my bag from the overhead compartment. “Thank you Hopey.”

“What have I said about using that nickname in public?” Hope asks as the three of us walk towards the exit.

“Not to use it?” I say as Hope smiles.

“Correct” Hope says before throwing her arm over my shoulder when we get off the plane and we walk towards baggage claim.

“Anyone want to go for lunch before we go to the hotel?” I ask; my stomach rumbling at the thought of how hungry I am.

“Sounds good to me” Christen agrees as Hope hums in agreement also.

“I’m eating for two so I definitely need lunch; you can pay Kels” Hope tells me; a small smirk on her face.

/

“Shouldn’t you get back to your hotel room?” Hope asks as we lie cuddling on Hope’s hotel bed; the movie long finished.

“I’m not going back tonight; I’m just going to stay here with you” I reply as I burrow my face into the crook of Hope’s neck. My roommate is Tobin and I kinda told her she could have the room to herself tonight knowing she would want to invite Christen over and spend time with her.

“What happens if Jill finds out?” Hope asks as I shrug.

“I don’t really care Hope; its not like the game is tomorrow” I say as I bask in the heat radiating from Hope’s body. “I just want to be with my wife and unborn baby tonight.”

“Fine by me” Hope hums happily. “I spoke to your mom on the phone when you were at your team dinner.”

“Cool; when is she coming out here?” I ask as I turn onto my side and throw my arm over Hope’s stomach.

“She and your dad are flying out tomorrow; Erin can’t make it out here for the national team games but she will be at the first game in France” Hope says as I nod. “You know you don’t need to get your mom to check up on me babe; I am doing better.”

“My mom checks up on you because she loves you Hope; I don’t need to ask her to do it” I say as I lift my head from Hope’s shoulder so I can look down at her. “I don’t want to suffocate you Hope. I am not going to lie and say it didn’t cross my mind to ask if my mom could call you when I couldn’t because I was worried about you but then I knew I had to let you do this your way. My mom loves you and in a way; she understands what you are going through a bit better than I do. Your grandma was your person; she was to you what my grandma was to my mom and my mom lost her.”

“Your mom is amazing” Hope says as I smile genuinely; I know she is. “But so are you babe. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t have you by my side. My grandma was so important to me and I am going to miss her forever but I know she would want me to be happy. I am happy because I had two persons; I had my grandma and then I have you. Amazing; awesome; beautiful… you.”

“I just want you to know that I am here for you; even when I am not physically present then I am still here” I say as I lean down to peck Hope’s lips. “I don’t want you to ever feel alone like you did in the past.”

“You are everything I ever needed Kel; you always make me feel loved and appreciated” Hope says softly as she reaches up and runs her thumb over my cheek. “I know I am never alone; ever since you came into my life, I have never felt alone.”

“Good” I reply; leaving the conversation there for now. I want Hope to know how much I care for her and love her but I also want to give her space to let her deal with things the way she wants to.

“Do you want to watch another movie?” Hope asks as I shrug.

“We could watch another movie but we will probably only get part way through it before I find you too irresistible and want to kiss you all night long” I reply as Hope chuckles before she pulls me on top of her. “Watch; my baby’s in there.”

“You’re barely touching my stomach Kel, its fine” Hope says as she pecks my lips before placing a kiss on my nose then each of my cheeks and then on my forehead.

“I know we are going to have a baby but I don’t think I’ve actually realised how much it will change our lives” I say as Hope pulls me into her side. “In a good way I hope.”

“I don’t think it will fully set in until we have the baby in our arms” Hope says as she threads her fingers through my hair. “Its one of these things where you think you can imagine it but when it actually happens it is completely different from what you envisioned.”

“Who would’ve thought that 2012 Hope Solo; established goalkeeper and 2012 Kelley O’Hara; relative newcomer to the team would be married” I say as I think back to where it all started. We started as two people that changed into two teammates then changed into two friends then blossomed into a romantic relationship which turned to marriage and now having a kid together. “And having a family together.”

“its funny to think that back then in 2012; at the Olympics in London, we really didn’t know this would be our future” Hope muses out loud. “You were just the annoying teammate who started getting regular call ups from 2011 and kept pulling pranks on everyone.”

“Yeah, and you were the grumpy goalkeeper who knew the game better than anyone I had ever met; better than any coaches I ever had” I say as I smirk into Hope’s neck. “You weren’t really a grumpy person though; you just made everyone think you were but when I got you alone in our hotel room, I saw the real you. I saw the woman I became friends with; the woman who could be vulnerable and cry over a sad movie; the woman who could admit if she was struggling; the woman who would smile so bright her blue eyes captured the room. We started as friends in London and I will always be grateful for that. Rio Olympics was when things really took off; we were both single and I felt something that I was no longer scared to ignore.”

“We didn’t win gold in Rio; we didn’t win anything at all in Rio… not in a soccer sense” Hope says as I nod and play with Hope’s wedding band on her finger. “But out of all of the Olympics I’ve been to; it was one of my favourites.”

“Really?” I ask in surprise; Hope’s never told me that before.

“Yeah” Hope says softly before kissing me on the head. “Its one of my favourites because it was in a dark bar after a quarter final loss in the Olympics where I let go and I opened up about how I really felt and instead of running away like everyone else did to me; you caught me. You listened to me and stayed with me and made me feel like someone actually saw me as me and not as the big bad goalkeeper.”

“I saw you alright; a little too much of you after too many drinks” I recall with a soft laugh. I don’t think it was the intention of either of us to sleep together that night but I don’t regret it for a moment.

“It completely changed everything for me and I wouldn’t change a thing, you made me feel ok to be me and made me feel loved” Hope says as she brings our interlinked hands up to her lips and kisses them. “You were that spark that I needed in my life to make everything brighter and make everything better.”

/

“Solo; what’s up dude?” Ashlyn says as she passes by the breakfast table. “Are you joining us for training today?”

“I can’t; I’ve got plans. I have a meeting in New York City with my agent” Hope answers as she turns to Ashlyn. “Plus, I don’t think Jill would be too happy with people who weren’t invited turning up.”

“She would be cool if it helps the goalkeepers; we could do with a fourth person if you fancy a workout” Ashlyn says. “Maybe tomorrow?”

“I will think about it” Hope says as Ashlyn grins and then walks off.

“You can come to practice if you want babe but no one is taking shots at you with my baby in there” I say protectively as I point to Hope’s stomach. “I’m dead serious about that.”

“Even if I came to practice babe I wouldn’t be getting shot at; I’ve not done any goalkeeper training in months” Hope assures me as she leans in for a kiss. “I need to go babe; Gary is waiting for me.”

“You mustn’t keep grumpy Gary waiting” I say as Hope rolls her eyes; I’ve always found Hope’s agent to be a bit of a sourpuss.

“It would be rude for me to be late when I was the one who asked him to fly out here to meet me so I really shouldn’t make him wait” Hope replies as she stands up. “Love you Kel; see you later.”

“Love you too; bye Hopey” I answer back; winking at Hope because I know the nickname annoyed her.

“Is Hope away?” Carli asks as she sits down across from me with her oatmeal and banana.

“She’s meeting Gary in the city” I answer as I take a sip of my decaf coffee; it really isn’t as good as the real thing.

“I wanted to talk to her about something” Carli says as she begins eating. “I will call her later.”

“You and Hope go way back, don’t you?” I ask as Carli nods in confirmation. “How long have you been friends?”

“For over a decade at least” Carli answers as she peels open her banana and takes a large bite. “Why do you ask?”

“I was just curious; that’s all” I answer as Carli smiles. “You were around when her dad died; weren’t you?”

“We were friends then; yeah” Carli answers softly before she smiles at Kelley. “She’s doing good Kelley. I know you are worried that she will react the same way to her grandmother’s death as she did to her father’s death. She went into a really dark place back then but I know she won’t fall back into that now.”

“How do you know?” I ask warily as Carli takes another bite of banana and smiles widely at me.

“Because Hope has something now that she didn’t have before” Carli says; scaping the last of her oatmeal out of her bowl.

“What?” I ask.

“You Kelley” Carli says like its simple. “Hope’s got you in her life now and I’ve never been less worried. She doesn’t need me hovering over her every minute of the day; calling her and driving hours to check she is ok. Losing her dad and her grandma are two major events that have impacted her similarly and differently at the same time. She’s not who she was twelve years ago. Keep doing what you are doing and she will be fine.”

“Ok; thanks” I say as I nod before I finish my decaf coffee.

“I am getting a van to training; are you coming or are you waiting for Alex and Allie?” Carli asks as I lay my empty mug on the table.

“I’m ready to go; I want to squeeze in a couple of laps around the training ground before we start practice” I answer before I follow Carli out of the dining hall.

/

“Good morning, Mrs O’Hara; are you ready for this?” Hope asks as she grabs me from behind; the glimmer slowly coming back into her eyes as each day passes. Hope and I agreed to meet in the hotel lobby before our appointment today.

“I certainly am; are you?” I ask back as Hope smiles and nods.

“You bet I am” Hope answers before leaning in for a kiss. “Morning Kel.”

“Good morning, babe; its scan day” I respond as I grin.

“That’s right” Hope says as we walk towards the other side of the hotel lobby. “Your mom and dad are here; they wanted to wish us luck before we went.”

“That’s nice” I say as I interlock my fingers with Hope’s and we walk towards my parents. My whole family came out for our send-off games and then they will fly out to France with Hope a few days after I go with the team.

“There she is; my little Kel-Bel” my dad says as he pulls me into a hug. “Morning middle child.”

“Your very happy for this time of day; you hate mornings” I observe as my dad lets me out of his death grip hug.

“Your mom promised me we can go sightseeing after shopping in NYC” my dad says as he grins. “She said I can have the best bagel New York offers for breakfast.”

“Score” I say as I shake my head in amusement. If you’ve ever wondered where I get my excitable personality from then it is this guy.

“How are you two feeling?” my mom asks with a motherly look; her eyes flitting between both Hope and I. “Hope you seemed nervous when we first met this morning; Kelley you are twitching like you do when you are nervous too dear?”

“I’m excited but nervous; yeah” I answer honestly as I look at my mom before my eyes land back on Hope. She does look nervous too but I feel less nervous when I know that we are doing this together.

“I was too; Dan was even worse” my mom says as she laughs lightly before she takes one of Hope’s hands in her hand and then she takes my hand in her other hand. “It’s normal to be nervous, this is a big step in your journey but remember to embrace it too. This is just part of it; but it’s also where you can ask loads of questions and learn all about what happens. Dan and I will be around so just call if you need anything and we will be there.”

“Thanks mom” I say gratefully as I hug her one last time before Hope and I leave the hotel and get a cab to the hospital. It didn’t cross our minds at the time until my mom suggested we could try and change our scan appointment to a hospital here rather than having to fly back to Georgia. We didn’t realise that we could do that but I’m glad we could.

“I’ve got a video call with my agent this afternoon; he wants to go over my schedule for France” Hope says as I smile at her. “Gary had to fly back to Seattle the other day so we didn’t cover everything. The BBC also sent through the details of the games I will be covering and different times for where I need to be this morning so we need to discuss that.”

“Are you going to be travelling up and down the country depending where the games are?” I ask as Hope nods.

“Yeah, but France isn’t as big as country as America so the travelling shouldn’t be too bad; I can cope with short plane journeys” Hope says. “I am going to check with the doctor today about whether the travelling effects the baby or not. I asked at our last appointment but I wasn’t planning on doing as much travelling as I am planning now.”

/

“I will just be one moment; I am just going to speak to a colleague” the doctor says as Hope and I look at each other in concern.

“Is everything ok?” I ask in a panic as the doctor smiles softly.

“Please don’t worry; I will just be one moment” she says as she leaves the room.

“She looked at that screen for a while and now she needs another doctor; Kel what is going on?” Hope asks as I smile warily. I’m trying to act calm but inside I am panicking.

The doctor comes back a few minutes later; wheeling in another sonogram machine.

“Is there a problem?” Hope asks as the doctor smiles warmly.

“No” the doctor says softly. “The first machine was malfunctioning.”

“Oh” I say; a bit of relief overcoming me as I take a deep breath and squeeze Hope’s hand.

“Here is the first image of your baby” the doctor says as she turns the screen around to face us. “Take a moment to absorb this.”

Hope squeezes my hands tighter and that’s when I feel the tears slip down my face. This is our baby; in about 25 weeks to 28 weeks, we should hopefully get to meet in person.

“Our baby” Hope says as she smiles gently at me.

“Our baby” I reaffirm as I wink at Hope.

The doctor goes over a few more details with us and tells us what happens next and what this scan means and how it will be different from the next scan.

“Your due date is the fourth of December” the doctor says as I smirk.

“I worked it out right” I say happily as Hope laughs. Ok, so maybe I was a day out and I calculated the fifth but it was close enough. As soon as we found out we were pregnant I downloaded all of these apps; including one which helps you work out your due date based on your last menstrual cycle. I’ve been telling everyone who knows we are pregnant that we are due on the fifth of December.

“She used the app” Hope says as she looks at the doctor before she turns back to me.

The scan went really well today; we got to see our baby and we found out that its healthy. There are no deformities or abnormalities. It’s still too early to find out the sex of the baby or any further detail but what we do know if positive and everything is fine.

“Want to call your mom and dad and we can maybe celebrate with lunch?” Hope asks as I smile before I pull out my cell phone.

“Sure babe” I answer as I dial my mom’s number.

“I’m going to use the restroom before we leave” Hope whispers before kissing me on the cheek and then she leaves while I call my mom.

“Hey mom; it’s me” I say as soon as my mom picks up. “Hope and I were wondering if you and dad wanted to meet for some lunch; we are just about to leave the hospital.”

My mom agrees to lunch; telling me my dad and her will meet us at a small little café down the street from our hotel.

“I’m back” Hope says as she slides her hand down my back before she squeezes my hip. “Ready to go?”

“Yeah” I say before we make our way outside to grab a cab.

/

“So, the appointment went well?” my mom asks as we wait on our food being served at the café.

“It went really well” Hope says as she grins at me. “The doctor says everything is normal; the baby is fine and growing just as they expect and there are no issues.”

“That’s really good; I am so pleased for you both” my mom adds as Hope and I smile at one another. It is such a relief to hear that today; we didn’t think there was any problems and Hope’s been fine so far but it is good to have the doctor confirm everything.

“I am really happy for you two” my dad says as he smiles. “I know I make a lot of jokes and I am rarely ever serious about anything but I mean it when I say that I am here for you both. If you need anything then I will be there.”

“Thanks dad; we appreciate it” I say as I thrown him a smile.

“Do you have training today Kelley or did you get time off for the full day?” my mom asks as I reach for my water.

“Tony gave me permission to have the whole day off but I may go to the gym later to lift some weights” I answer as my mom nods. Our assistant coach Tony Gustavsson is a really great boss and is completely understanding of all of our personal situations.

“Your father has bought us tickets for a local basketball game so we are doing that tonight” my mom says.

“Sounds cool. How did the shopping trip go earlier?” I ask; pausing for a moment while our food is served. “Thank you.”

“Shopping went really good” my mom says excitedly.

“By good your mom means she bought way too much stuff for the baby and we had to ask the store to ship it back to Georgia for us” my dad replies as I laugh. “Its didn’t occur to her until the last minute that we couldn’t bring everything back here since we are flying straight to France from here in a few days.”

“I found the cutest little jacket; its unisex so it will fit a boy or a girl” my mom says before pulling out her phone and showing Hope and I a picture of everything she bought.

“I found a dope t-shirt that says ‘my mommies are cool’ which should fit the baby when they get older” my dad says as I shake my head in amusement.

“Dad, when did you start saying dope?” I ask as I lean into Hope’s side and I steal a bit of cucumber from her plate.

“I’m trying to get down with the kids” my dad answers proudly as he shoves a mouthful of soup into his mouth. “I don’t want to be one of those old granddads who don’t know what’s going on the world. I’m going to be a cool grandpa.”

“Whatever you say” I reply as Hope and I share a look of sheer delight. I really do have the best family I could ever ask for.

/

Its gameday; friendly two out of two before we head off to France for the big one. The world cup is fast approaching and I cannot wait. I am so glad that Hope will be out there with me but it will be different from the last two big tournaments. Its not just different because we weren’t dating in Canada at the 2015 world cup or in Rio in 2016 but different because Hope’s not a teammate any more. She’s retired and moving onto new things and new projects. From the moment I stepped onto this team, she’s been there. Every Olympics and World Cup that I’ve played in; Hope has been a part of so it will be different knowing that now she is my wife; she is no longer my teammate.

“Have you been thinking about names at all?” Hope asks as she sits our sandwiches down on the table and then she sits down across from me. Hope wanted to take me out for some lunch so we could spend some time together before we need to be apart again. “Names for the baby if that wasn’t clear.”

“I’ve had some thoughts” I reply with a smile; that was a bit of random question from Hope.

“When I was waiting on our food; one of the barista’s nametags said ‘Mildred’ and it just got me thinking of what we could call our little one” Hope says as she takes a large bite of her chicken sandwich.

“I would prefer it not to be Mildred; it is a lovely name but its not for me” I say as Hope laughs.

“What a polite way to say; I hate it” Hope laughs as I roll my eyes. “I don’t like it; its just not something I would associate with a kid of ours.”

“What were you thinking of?” I ask as I uncap my water and take a sip. “Is Alice something you want? I know you liked Jeffrey because of your dad.”

“Alice and Jeffrey both mean a lot to me but maybe for a middle name” Hope says as she looks at me; her bright blue eyes shining. “I want our child to have a name that means something to us both; hopefully a name that truly reflects who they are as a person.”

“I had a few ideas if you wanna know” I suggest nervously as Hope grins.

“Of course, I want to know; what ya got babe?” Hope asks as she wipes her face with a napkin.

“I don’t have a favourite but there are some names I like; both boy and girl names” I say as Hope looks on in interest. “For a boy; I quite liked Benjamin, Jamie, Arthur, William and Rory and for a girl; Daisy; Caitlyn; Mia; Olivia and Paige.”

“I’ve had a look at those baby name sites on the internet but I’ve not found a name that immediately screams to me yet” Hope says as I nod. None of the names I’ve seen jump right out at me but I definitely have some I prefer over others. “I know names I don’t want; some I don’t mind and some I really like but I’m not sure I will know until the baby is born.”

“Do you think you want to know the sex of the baby before its born?” I ask as Hope hums in thought for a moment. “Its too early yet but they said there’s a possibility we could find out at the next scan.”

“I don’t mind whether we know or not” Hope says honestly as she finishes her sandwich. “I think whenever we find out; whether its at a scan or on the day of birth it will be an incredible moment for us.”

“I just know it will be up there as one of the greatest moments of our lives” I say as Hope smiles before she reaches for my hand.

“You could also be about to experience another greatest moment in your life” Hope says as she stares into my eyes. “The world cup; your third world cup and a chance to take home your second title.”

“No matter what soccer brings to me or what I win in soccer; I have a feeling that it won’t come close to what we are going to experience when baby O’Hara arrives” I say as Hope smiles softly before she moves her chair closer to me.

“It will be different but still amazing” Hope says as she places her free hand on my thigh. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been nervous these last few days; more nervous than I’m used to seeing you.”

“You noticed?” I ask as Hope nods slowly.

“What’s going on babe; is something bothering you?” Hope enquires; her hand slowly drawing patterns on my thigh.

“I’m worried to do this without you” I admit as I shrug nervously. “I don’t know why it suddenly just hit me but I was lying in bed last night and all I could think about was how this was one of the biggest tournaments of my life and I don’t get to win it with you.”

“But honey you do” Hope assures me. “You get to do this with me because when you win then I win; I may not be on the pitch with you or tending the goal but I will be there. I will be right at the front of the crowd waiting to hug you; win or lose. I’m glad I’m not playing anymore; my body is not up for it and all I want to do is support my wife.”

“I’ve never been to a tournament without you; a major tournament like an Olympics or world cup” I say as Hope smiles.

“And I’ve never commentated on a world cup without you but it doesn’t mean we can’t do it” Hope says as she pulls me into a hug. “Its ok to be nervous about playing and going to the tournament but you don’t need to be nervous about not having me because you will always have me.”

“Ok” I say as I smile because I believe her. I do have Hope; I always have Hope in my corner.

“You’re going to kick ass out there babe and leave nothing behind; I just know it” Hope tells me as she kisses my temple. “I’m in your heart Kel and you’re in mine; that’s all we need to be close to one another.”

/

That’s it; our last game before the world cup begins has just ended. The team are ready more than ever for this to begin and so am I. we are flying out as a team tomorrow and then Hope is flying out a few days later to meet up with her colleagues from the BBC so they can start their coverage.

“Good game Kel; you’re looking good out there” Hope says as she pulls me into her side.

“Thanks babe but it was only a friendly match; we will see how good I play when the tournament starts” I reply as I relax into Hope’s hold.

Jill’s given us the rest of the night to relax and do what we want to do before business officially starts tomorrow. I am spending my free time with my wife and my parents. Spending time with my family is exactly what I needed tonight.

After dinner we went for a walk along the river before coming back to the hotel.

“Your father and I are heading back to our hotel room now” my mom says as she stands up and pulls me into a tight hug. “Have a good flight tomorrow and I will see you in a few days.”

“Bye mom” I reply as I sink into my mom’s embrace; feeling more relaxed.

“See you soon Kel-bel, love you darling” my dad says as he pulls me into a bigger hug and lifts me off the ground. “Hope, I will see you in the morning.”

“Goodnight” my mom says as she pulls my dad away and they head towards the elevators.

“What are you doing tomorrow morning?” I ask nosily as Hope and I make our way to the opposite side of the hotel towards the elevators at that side; the side of the hotel where Hope’s hotel room is.

“Your dad wanted to go to this museum and your mom forced me to go because she didn’t want to go alone” Hope says as I can’t help but laugh.

“What kind of museum is it?” I ask as I press the button for the elevator to come down and we wait.

“Modern Art” Hope answers as she shrugs. “I don’t mind actually; I like looking at art. It will give me time to spend with your parents.”

“Hopefully you find it interesting.” The elevator arrives within a few minutes and then we head inside.

“Are you all packed for your flight tomorrow?” Hope asks as we lean against the back of the elevator and wait for it to arrive at Hope’s floor.

“I am fully packed apart from one thing” I say as I turn to Hope and give her a sweet smile. “I want to take your blue Nike sweatshirt.”

“Why? You’ve got your own” Hope asks as I curl into her side and she wraps her arm around me.

“It smells like you and I want something of yours to take with me so I can hug it if I get lonely” I say as Hope laughs softly; her chest vibrating against my ear.

“I will look it out when we get to the room; thankfully I brought it with me and didn’t leave it back home” Hope says just as the elevator dings to indicate we have reached our floor.

“So do you think I can sneak back to your room with you when we are in France?” I ask as Hope grabs my hand and laughs.

“If you do then Jill might just find out and kill you; or worse bench you” Hope says as I laugh.

“Jill doesn’t need an excuse to bench people; sometimes I wonder if any of her decisions has any logic in them” I say as Hope shakes her head.

“Sometimes she gives off the impression that she just has no clue what she is doing; the USWNT was only successful because we had assistant coaches who took the lead.”

“Jill’s not the best but…”

“She’s not anything near good” Hope says as we reach her room. “She doesn’t know how to manage people or communicate with people.”

“I guess but she’s the one who decides whether I play or not so I need to do as I am told” I respond as Hope gets a mischievous look on her face.

“She doesn’t have that kind of hold over me anymore so I can say what I like” Hope smiles as she winks at me. “I think her tactics are rubbish and I will let the world know that if I have to.”

“I’m sure you will; you’re nothing if not outspoken” I reply as Hope opens the door and gestures for me to go inside.

“Let me get that sweater for you before I forget babe” Hope says as she clicks the door shut and then makes her way across the room to her suitcase. “Do you want the blue and white one?”

“Yes please” I say excitedly before kicking off my shoes and bouncing onto Hope’s bed. “Sit the sweaters aside and then come and join me for some cuddles.”

“Coming” Hope smiles as she neatly sits the sweaters on the dresser before she crawls onto the bed and settles next to me against the headboard. “What do you wanna do?”

“Movie?” I suggest.

“Movie sounds good babe; you pick” Hope says before she slides down the bed and snuggles into me; letting me hold her in my arms for a change.

Ten minutes is all it takes before we are both sound asleep; wrapped up in one another’s arms. Fifty minutes though is all it takes for Hope to wake up and remember that I was supposed to go back to my room tonight so I am ready to leave in the morning.

“Kel; wake up honey” Hope gently says in her ‘just woken up’ voice as she gently nudges me.

“Go back to sleep; I’m snuggling” I complain as I close my eyes tighter hoping it will make me fall back into a deeper sleep.

“Babe you need to go back to your own room” Hope gently coaxes as I slowly turn to face her.

“Can I not stay here tonight and I will get up super early in the morning to go back to mine to get my things?” I ask as Hope debates it for a few moments. “I promise babe; we can set at least three alarms. I just want one more night in your arms before I’m left to sleep in bed alone for the next four weeks or so.”

“We’re setting four alarms and I want no complaints from you when I wake you up in the morning” Hope says; trying to pull a mean face but I see right through it. she wants me to stay overnight just as much as I want to be here.

“I won’t complain; I promise” I say as Hope gives in easily; far too easily.

“Take off your clothes and get comfortable” Hope says as I raise my eyebrow at her. “Not like that babe; I meant get out of your jeans and put something more comfortable on to sleep in.”

“Here was me thinking I was getting some action between the sheets before we can’t for a month” I say as Hope pulls me towards her.

“We can do that too baby; I have no complaints about that at all” Hope says as she winks before she flips me over on the bed; eliciting a squeal from me that only Hope is ever capable of getting out of me.